The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

Inspired by our new coronavirus normal of stepping back, physically and in the way we now find ourselves living our lives, Patti has chosen “Simplicity” as the subject for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  Follow the link to Patti’s original challenge post.

When it comes to simplicity we can take a lesson from dogs.  Dogs have simplicity down to a fine art.  Eat, play, make us smile and sleep.

Lexi running dog park 2

Lexi romping in the park

Rainey padre pio

Rainey peek’s from under the table


Lexi catching some Z’s   

Continue reading

We’re establishing a routine in the midst of the abnormal.  Order out of disorder.  A calm within the chaos.  Welcome to the homelife of covid-19.  Put up with being pent up.  Pent up physically and pent up frustrations.  In fact I’m not aware of any frustrations within our home.  We seem to be coping well.  Maybe for Cora and I the shelter in place isn’t so much of a departure from our retirement routine.  We’re fortunate here within our little domestic circle.  We’re at less risk than many others and for that we’re thankful.  That’s not to say that we’re completely free of angst.

Our abnormal normal should be easy for families like mine to adapt to but if they’re like us then they feel the same lingering anxiety.  It isn’t anxiety over the virus itself.  I feel, strangely I guess, that I have some control over it.  Stay home, stay clean, cover my ass figuratively and mouth and nose literally and I think we’ll get through it.

It’s those things that I don’t have any control over that I brood over.  It’s the other virus that floats around in the news.  It’s symptoms are anger, confusion, fabrication, obfuscation, discombobulation and incompetence.  During the past week we’ve seen a nationwide manifestation of those symptoms. Continue reading

Covid-19 will be written in the history books, largely in cold numbers with equally cold facts; your typical who, how, why, what, when and where.  While they have their value, cold facts and numbers fail to present the human stories of fear, loss, hope, bravery, perseverance, discovery, love and all the joys and heartbreaks of daily life in hard times.  It’s the personal stories that put the meat on the bare bones of cold facts.  This Covid Chronicles series is my way of leaving my own personal narrative.

Today The Covid Chronicles is taking a short detour and frankly I need it and my readers could probably use it as well.  It’s hard and it’s going to get even harder and it gets tiring and after the news of the last few days I need a rest.

My daughter Jessica blogs in fits and starts, that is to say that she’s a busy young woman with two children and a job so blogging is often placed on the far back burner. That’s an unfortunate thing.  I believe that beyond being thoughtful and level headed she is an extremely talented writer.  I would like to say that she gets it from her dad but I think that the writing flair jumped a generation from her grandfather (my dad) directly to her.

Today she took to her keyboard after a slightly more than 2 year hiatus and wrote a timely, heartfelt piece which I encourage you to read. If you feel the urge to comment on her piece I encourage you to comment directly on her site (you may if you wish to, copy your comment to my site).
Click on Hotmess Mama to read Jessica’s piece.

Another breath of viral free air to celebrate the beauty of America with some favorite images of mine (some previously posted in earlier pieces).

Our time in Maine last summer was unfortunately cut short when Cora became seriously ill and we had to fly home. During the few days that we spent in Maine we were treated to picturesque harbors, classic lighthouses and local color.

Boats Pt. Clyde

Port Clyde Maine

Marshall Point Light

Dawn at Marshall Point


Lobsterman’s Buoys

Port Clyde Maine

Port Clyde Maine


Mendocino, California
Cora and I visited the coastal towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg during their annual salmon festival. Mendocino was originally founded as a logging town in 1852. Fort Bragg, a few miles north of Mendocino started out as a military garrison in 1857. Today both towns are popular for their festivals, views of the Pacific, hiking and whale watching.

Mendocino Beach

Town of Mendocino from the banks of the Mendocino River

Foggy sunrise

Foggy sunrise at the mouth of the Mendocino River

Below, Fort Bragg Salmon Festival.  Salmon on the grill.  Flipping fish.


Three years ago Cora and I drove south from Mississippi through Louisiana. Near the town of Lafayette we took a swamp tour and then headed south to New Orleans.  Swamp panorama edited

Bluish bird editedGator on log

Louisiana swamp

Washington DC and Virginia
In 2015 Cora and I travelled to Washington DC. It started out as a short vacation to watch the San Francisco Giants play the Washington Nationals for a weekend. We turned it into a two week trip, seeing more of the nation’s capital and the state of Virginia.

Nats Park

National’s Park


Detail Women’s Vietnam Memorial

USMC sunrise 2

Marine Corps Memorial 

Arlington changing of the guard 4

Changing of the guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Chancellorsville 3

Sunrise Chancellorsville Civil War Battlefield 

Gravestone Fredricksburg

Union soldier’s gravestone Fredericksburg VA

Rural farm VA 2020

Rural Virginia

Below, Music at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia. Hiltons is a tiny town deep in the woods of southwest Virginia.  The Carter Family Fold is a music venue dedicated to the preservation of old timey and bluegrass music.  Janette Carter of the famous country music Carter family (June Carter was the wife of Johnny Cash) founded the Fold.  Drinking and smoking are not allowed and musicians are not allowed to play electric instruments.  The rule against electric instruments was set aside for performances by Johnny Cash.  Cash played his last concert at the fold 5 months before his death.

Carter Fold 1

Monticello View

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Mabry Mill VA 2020

Mabry Mill, Virginia

Be safe, keep your distance and soon we’ll be travelling again.


Monday, March 30th, 2020
The Butcher’s Bill 11:00 AM, PDT (only a momentary snapshot)
Cases: 725,300 Deaths: 36,900
United States
Cases: 158,400 Deaths: 2,919

It’s National Doctor’s Day today.  They should make 2020 National Doctor’s Year; and nurses, lab techs, researchers, janitors, hospital and doctors office and healthcare workers in general, first responders, truckers, delivery drivers, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics and anyone else who keeps our shit functioning, cashiers, stock clerks, transit workers, daycare providers, foodbank workers, those helping the homeless, teachers trying to keep their students engaged, factory workers, farmers, ranchers and other food producers, therapists helping those who are having trouble dealing with these difficult times and of course toilet paper manufacturers.  If I’ve left someone out I apologize for the omission. Continue reading

Sunday, March 29th, 2020
The Butcher’s Bill 10:30 AM, PDT (only a momentary snapshot)
Cases: 691,867 Deaths: 32,988
United States
Cases: 130,478 Deaths: 2,314

Misleading Stats
Most mornings I get up, put on the coffee and look at the numbers.  Nationwide they still go from bad to worse.  I try to take some solace in our own county numbers but when I realize that they’re faulty any semblance of consolation disappears.  Most of the time I’m in a no man’s land between hopeful fantasy and heavy reality.

Contra Costa County runs along the shoreline of San Pablo Bay on the west and north.  It’s about 65 miles from Richmond in the west to Discovery Bay on the eastern edge where Contra Costa opens up to San Joaquin County and the swath of farmland that helps feed the nation.  From the shore of San Pablo Bay and the C&H Sugar Refinery in picturesque Crockett in the north to the upscale homes of Danville at the southern border it’s roughly 30 miles.

The population of 1.5 million runs the spectrum from the rich and famous such as celebrities like baseball star Buster Posey, money ball’s Billy Beane and Vince Neil of Motley Crue in Danville and the southwest corner of the county to society’s forgotten ones or the ones much of society would like to forget.  Those are the ones who live in the shadow of the refinery, downwind from the landfill and astride the big railyards; the rundown neighborhoods served by mom and pop shops because any supermarkets pulled out long ago.

Out in the Danville area you’re probably more likely to get tested for coronavirus than if you live within sight of the refinery stacks.  That might be a mechanism of the fact that as Bob Dylan once said “money doesn’t talk it swears,” and if your money swears loudly enough you’ll get your test.  It might also be a mechanism of the relative lack of medical services out on the west side.  That’s all despite the claim made by Trump a little over 3 weeks ago that, “Anybody that wants a test can get a test. That’s what the bottom line is,”

The president’s bottom line is just another fabrication.  The real bottom line is that my nephew and his wife returned from the Philippines and found out that they may have been exposed to someone with the virus while there.  They asked for a test and were refused because they didn’t yet have symptoms.  Trump’s tall tale of testing continues today with the assertion, “We have more cases because we’re doing far more testing than anybody in the world.”  It’s a fabrication of course if you take into account the more important per capita statistic.  The U.S is testing 1 in 366 people compared to Italy where 1 in 133 people are being tested.  That the county has 168 confirmed cases of the virus and 3 deaths should give some solace.  Truth is that there’s no comfort in those numbers, particularly if you’re one of the 168.  The dearth of testing makes the numbers just another administration shell game.  Continue reading

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
The Butcher’s Bill 6:30 PM, PDT (only a momentary snapshot)
Cases: 663,037 Deaths: 30,851
United States
Cases: 123,498 Deaths: 2,211

With the exception of Bio-Rad most of the businesses in our little town of Hercules exist to support the residents who commute elsewhere. To call Hercules a town is overestimating . Hercules, or more accurately the town’s planners and low rent politicians want our little berg to be a player.  Hercules started out in the 19th century as a company town for a dynamite manufacturer, the Hercules Powder Company.  Since then it’s become a bedroom community.  During the three decades that we’ve lived here a string of mayors and city councils has left in their wake a series of half baked schemes meant to turn Hercules from a spec on the map to a dot.  Most efforts have resulted in massive expense with minimum results.
Our own home is in the Refugio Valley, which starts at about sea level and gradually works its way a few hundred feet up over about a two and a half mile stretch. Our home is typical of 1980’s developments; two stories on a slab sitting on a smallish lot at the upper end of the valley.  Here at the far end of the valley we’re not exactly isolated but we’re not in the midst of it all either. And given the current viral state of affairs I’m more than happy that we’re in the far reaches of a speck on the map rather than a dot, or a splotch. Continue reading

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

Friday, March 27th
The Butcher’s Bill 11:00 AM, PDT (only a momentary snapshot)
Cases: 558,502 Deaths: 22,251
United States
Cases: 91,255 Deaths: 1,353

As of today there are 25 states under a statewide order for residents to shelter in place. That means 25 are not and one wonders if the 25 not under shelter in place are living in blissful ignorance. While the fine print likely varies from state to state the general message is, unless you have to be somewhere essential, (grocery shopping, pharmacy, medical visit, essential work,) then stay at home. The exception to essential movement here in California is exercise that doesn’t involve interacting with others besides your canine companion or significant other. The important maxims are to maintain social distancing and no assemblages of ten or more.

The Year of the Rat
How did we get here? In our household, covid-19 appeared on the radar in the runup to the annual Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  The 2020 parade was scheduled for Saturday, February 8th.  In any normal year Chinatown is packed during the weeks leading up to the big parade; lion dancers prowl the streets stopping to cavort to the sounds of drums, cymbals, and gongs, the noodle shops, dim sum restaurants, meat markets, souvenir shops and bakeries are packed with shoppers and it’s all punctuated with the popping of firecrackers. Continue reading

A personal journal of life during the time of covid-19

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

The Morning’s Butcher’s Bill (only a momentary snapshot)
Cases: 492,603 Deaths: 22,184
United States
Cases: 66,057 Deaths: 946

The day starts on an inauspicious note. I’m waking up to Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference and it’s less than inspiring. On this her 80th birthday her remarks range from rambling to almost incoherent. She’s sounding less like the Speaker of the House and more like someone’s confused grandma. Perfect, an incompetent president and a befuddled speaker.

Negative Nancy
I don’t know which tone is more troubling, the addled one or the partisan one.
“We take some pride as I said earlier that congressional democrats in the Senate and in the House were able to flip this over from a corporate trickle down Republican version to bubble up, worker first, families first legislation….Can you believe that it was every Republican, 49 Republicans last night voted to deprive those on unemployement insurance of the additional $600 a week? How could it be that in this time of stress and strain and uncertainty about health and life and livelihood that they would vote that way.”
Such a seduction to engage in partisanship; the ravishing allure of getting in the last word, seems almost sexual with these legislators. There’s no need for McConnell to bait the left and Pelosi to piss off the right and then in the next sentence give a weak nod to bipartisanship. You’ve done the damage with the damning of your opposite.
Listening to Pelosi this morning and Trump yesterday I wonder, where is our leader? Who is going to be the man or woman who will set aside blame and have us believe it. Who will be rolling up his or her sleeves and getting to work and exhorting us to roll up our own sleeves?
Immediately following Pelosi, that man emerges but I’m saving him for last. Continue reading

A personal journal of life during the time of covid-19

Wednesday, March 25th

5:30 in the morning and as per the routine I’m the first one up with Lexi a split second behind. Get dressed in the dark while Cora sleeps.  I’ve decided that I’m going to have a dedicated “in the house” garb.  My “travelling clothes should go into the hamper once I’m home although I’m not as religious about it as I probably should be.  Laziness in the time of covid isn’t exactly a capital idea.

Bright red Adidas sweatpants and a red sweatshirt.  At least I won’t get this confused with any other of my clothes in the closet.  It doesn’t leave the house except to go down the street to get the mail and given the bright screaming red that’s probably a good idea. Whatever possessed me to get those pants? Continue reading

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