The Known Unknown

I violated curfew to get this shot of a completely empty Sunset Blvd. last week.

For me, this period we’re in has the qualities of a kind of never ending lent, a period of solitary reflection, a time to face fears, anxieties and consider what’s really important in this life. Such periods are hard, painful and full of uncertainty. That said, I’m thankful that, for me, there isn’t the added physical danger of having to work as say a nurse or grocery store clerk.

Images on TV or the interwebs of the “before time” when we could all gather in groups safely seem surreal, like a long lost memory. Of course, people have been gathering in large groups in the past week for what I consider to be a worthwhile cause. But I live with someone who is likely vulnerable to Covid and who takes care of a relative who is definitely vulnerable and I can’t risk transmitting the virus.

While the protests have been going on politicians of both parties have been concocting opening plans or have long since decided to just sacrifice our elders. These plans have nothing to do with any scientific understanding of the virus. They feel like an attempt to feign certainty during what is a very uncertain situation. The fact is that we’re only five months into a virus whose transmission pathways are not known. It may be that large groups outdoors with partial mask use isn’t much of a risk. We’ll find out in two weeks. It may also be that Covid is seasonal and we’ll all have to go into another quarantine in the fall. Again, we just don’t know.

I have a feeling that many people are reluctant to leave quarantine despite the scenes of large gatherings we see in the media. I was on a few Zoom calls with people of different age groups this weekend. I asked if people were out and about. The answer was, universally, no.

As for life here at the urban homestead, we get avocados and eggs from our yard but we get most of our food from our local Vons via their pickup service. You do your order with an app and head to their parking lot when the order is filled and they load the groceries into your car. It’s not perfect but it works. I made one trip to a local lumber yard to get some wood for some bookshelves I’m making for Kelly’s office. I called in the order and they loaded the wood directly on top of my car with a forklift. I hope these pickup methods are better for employees since they don’t have to interact with customers as much and risk getting the virus. But, like everything else, I’m not sure.

One thing I do know is that I have many demons to banish this week–too much looking at the news and Twitter and too much laying about on the couch. Things are more uncertain than they’ve ever been in my lifetime and that’s just the way it’s going to be for a long time.

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  1. You know, I live north of you up in the Owens Valley. This place is totally dependent on tourism and by the looks of the majorly increased traffic, tourists are dependent on this place. While my understanding is that Californians are not yet supposed to be travelling for leisure and recreation ,I am seeing cars, trucks loaded with bikes, kayaks,fishing stuff, pulling trailers, etc.coming north up hwy 395. However all or most of the campgrounds,visitor centers,small mountain lodges and bathrooms are still shut. Dispersed camping is allowed but most people do not know how to properly dispersed camp. Am seeing rogue camping in bushes right next to camp grounds. Who even knows where most are going to the bathroom. And of course camping means random unsafe campfires. That’s scary.
    And on one more note, I have started seeing lots of car wrecks. Like people forgot how to drive during the closed down time. So our small town volunteer fire department has to respond and likely can not social distance as well.
    The concern in an area like this is the super small medical system getting overwhelmed.
    But from the look of all the action one would think the pandemic was over. It leaves me wondering how it will all unfold.

    • I have to say that I’m annoyed with my friends, relatives and neighbors who are spending weekends recreating in rural areas. It’s not fair for city people to burden the already stretched health and emergency services of rural towns and counties. And people here are driving like maniacs too. I haven’t been on my bike since the quarantine started. I don’t think it’s safe with all the increased speeding. In fact, we’ve had the same number of traffic fatalities here in LA as we did before the quarantine despite greatly reduced driving.

  2. It seems like the powers that be are doing everything to convince us this the covid pandemic is over. But nothing much has changed materially since we first went into lockdown in mid-March (except that about 110,000 people have died). The virus is still out there and every bit as dangerous as it ever was, but it seems like a lot of people just don’t want to think about it anymore.

    I hear you on the anxiety. I’ve had anxiety induced IBS for the past month. It really is crazy out there. The way this medical issue has been politicized is just… crazy. Here’s hoping we get a vaccine soon, though I think it’s still a year out at least for most of us. Let’s hope we have better leadership that actually listens to the scientists by then as well.

  3. The death of public health and the undermining of science by politics
    Our country is a disgrace
    The media doesn’t report ; it comments ; what happened to the free press ? Listen to science do what is best to keep yourself and family healthy. Please do not avoid hospitals if you have an underlying medical condition. I was an OR nurse and my friends tell me
    People stayed home with chronic conditions and now they are very ill because they waited to come in. Wear a mask social distance and wash your hands practice kindness love always wins and will defeat this climate of hate and division

  4. We are essentially holding vigil for my quasi-mother in law who is hospitalized with covid in Mexico City. This is going about as well as you would imagine.

    The low grade stress is taking its toll. I think of my female forerunners and the multi-year stress they endured getting their families through two world wars and the Great Depression. That long-term low grade stress (or high grade, depending on what happened to the rest of the family) had to have had a lasting impact. I’m starting to understand that, even if the economy stays afloat, there is an energetic crash ahead of us. Money, politics, social justice….all that aside….most of us going into an energetic debt trying to navigate everything while maintaining a pleasant face and payment is going to come due.

    • Very sorry about your relative. I’ve heard that things are bad in Mexico. And I’m worried about the economy too.

  5. Heat and summer isn’t stopping transmissions—it is going up here in Texas with our highest hospitalization rates happening today. Two weeks ago was Memorial Day weekend.

  6. Infection rates are rising in AL, yet things are opening up somewhat. Not me, I am staying at home. I am waiting to get resolution on clogged arteries until this is all over. Hopefully, I won’t have a heart attack before I can be treated properly. I am home, safe, happy, not bored, just waiting it out. I can do this.

  7. I have to agree with you about the crazy drivers out there!
    I am happy staying home. I feel like I am on a nice vacation and doing all the things I planned to do when I got ‘free time’. I do go to the market because I do not like to feel I am putting others at risk to get my groceries for me. Curbside service is wonderful with the stores that have it.
    Maybe I am finally finding some peace in all this quarantine business as I am no longer feeling as frustrated as I did at not being able to see my friends. We are spending a lot of time talking on the phone, making me feel like it was before cell phones. When we walk around on a land line with a 50 ft curlie cord, talking for hours while we cooked and did other things. Anyway, I wish you and Kelly peace and the chance to do all the things on your home adgenda. It seems you have done so much to make your place a peaceful retreat. Blessings to us all.

  8. My parents, in their 70’s, have been extremely careful since the quarantine began, but told me today that they’re feeling increasing pressure to accept social invitations from friends in their age group. Until now it had been understood that socializing was out of the question. With the “re-opening” their refusal of invitations is starting to feel anti-social, and they are really struggling with the guilt. So far they are staying the course, thankfully, but the peer pressure is getting to them.

    As for our family unit (two adults in our 40’s, and a 5-year-old) we’re lucky to have jobs we can do from home. We’re grocery shopping once every two weeks, at a store where carts have been sterilized and masks have been required since early March. We also get a CSA box, and have a vegetable garden. We started visiting the grandparents (we are their only visitors, and they are our only contact) after 8 weeks of quarantine. It’s hard and lonely for a 5-year-old, and we worry how the low grade stress, weirdness, and social isolation is affecting her. On the plus side, she’s learning lots about plants and gardening, has learned to ride a bike and tie her shoes.

    Without all the background noise of busyness, traffic, and airplanes, the quiet has been a revelation. I can’t tell if there are more birds this year, or if we can just hear them better.

  9. There was a science piece on a show I was watching yesterday which was discussing something called “caution fatigue,” where the human brain’s amygdala is only able to really respond well to serious threats for limited periods of time. Given enough time, that part of the brain eventually fatigues and humans begin taking more risks, even if the threat remains the same. I think that’s what we’re seeing here. Perhaps some amygdalas are sprinters and some are capable of marathons where COVID is concerned?

  10. I live in southwestern Ontario, Canada. The bread basket of Ontario,beautiful agricultural soil competing with thousands of towns and cities and unchecked urban sprawl. That’s a lot of commuters. My husband and children and I farm 3500 acres, randomly located in a 35km radius. We farm over 50 fields, the largest being 110ac. We have to travel the roads a lot with our equipment. This was the nicest spring we have had in a decade for moving from field to field…very few cars, no road rage directed at us because we are slowing people down. No tailgating, fist shaking, fingers and harrowing passes around us. This spring has been lovely. Things are opening up here now as well and traffic has noticeably increased. Back to normal I suppose!

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