Sunday, April 12, 2020

All hell

Oh dear – its been a very long time since I last blogged.  Someone and I had a marvelous mini-vacay, returning home just a few days before all hell broke loose with the Corona virus (COVID-19).  It was a perfect time of year to go – early March (last days of University #1’s Spring Break) – we spent two days hiking in the Smoky Mountains.  The weather forecast was supposed to be rain, rain, and more rain.  As it turned out, the weather was cool but not cold, the skies were cloudy, but no rain at all, and the sun peeked out a few times as well.  Ideal. 

Thanks to my surgery and efforts with physical therapy, I’m proud to say that I was able to hike 6.5 miles up and down mountain sides on the first day, and nearly 8 miles the second day.  A restaurant clerk recommended a marvelous app, which I downloaded and we used (and still use) – the AllTrails app.  It uses your phone’s GPS to show trails near you – you select a trail and the app sends directions to your selected navigation app to take you to the trailhead.  Perfect technology for when you are unfamiliar and you don’t want to waste time driving around looking for a trail (well, perfect as long as you have a signal so that you can use the app).

The Smoky Mountains are beautiful.  Lots of rocky creeks - the streams were raging (not flooding), but lots of waterfalls and white water.  The creeks are mostly rocky and shallow – the fun kind to play in if the weather was hot and water not so fast.  There had been wildfires a few years ago and we could see areas of burnt trees and downed timber.  Even so, still very beautiful in those mountains.

On one of the trails, we came to a creek where there was a single railroad tie-sized timber across the creek with a crude, rickety board handrail to help you balance.  The bridge was about 6 feet above the rocky creek rushing with about three or four feet of water below, and about 15 feet long.  It looked scary; Someone doesn’t like heights, and I was a bit worried about him or me falling off the narrow bridge and how we might climb out of the creek if we did fall in, or even if the water might carry us on downstream.  After about a minute of assessing possibilities, I said, “Let’s do it.”  Someone went first.  No problem.  I stood on my side and declared, “I’ve changed my mind.  Let’s go somewhere else.”  Someone gave me a can imagine.  He crossed back over and no more than stepped onto the bank on my side when courage and determination took over.  I stepped up onto the timber and crossed the bridge – defeat was not an option...  Once safe on the other side, I raised my fists in triumph and looked back at Someone, who gave me a look (you can imagine), shrugged, and crossed back over again.  In the early evening, heading back toward the car, we had the same concerns (though unspoken at this point) about the bridge.  But there was no choice, and we were both tired and hungry.  We crossed uneventfully.

In our evenings on vacation, we walked around Gatlinburg which is purely a tourist mecca - not my favorite kind of place, but plenty to see and do there if you like shopping, restaurants, and tourist stuff.  Our room was great.  We had a giant jacuzzi bathtub which I enjoyed the hell out of after those long hikes.  We also had a fireplace with gas logs which was marvelous.  Instant ambience.  I’d love to have gas logs in our fireplace at home (no work of cutting wood and carrying it into the house, and no messy ashes), but the cost of running a gas line to our house makes having one impractical. 

Now, about COVID-19...all the classes for University #1 were moved to online format by mid-March and all faculty and staff are working from home.  I love it!  Gracie and Molly love it because they are not home alone all day.   Someone is going into work two mornings a week (in essence, his work-week cut from 25-30 hours to 7 hours).   He is driving me crazy.  He tends to talk incessantly while I’m trying to work.  He finds a reason to go shopping every day – not only for us, but for his mother, sister, and mother’s friend.  In my opinion, he’s doing his very best to catch the virus and bring it home. 

Gracie and I have quality time every day now

As far as I know, we don’t have many people infected around here, less than 30 at any time – thank the Lord.  There is not much where Sarah lives either.  Where Erin and Emily and Katie are living, there is plenty of it.  The thing is, how would we know how much of it is really around?  People aren’t being tested.  They go to the doctor with symptoms, they’re tested for flu and then sent home.  If they don’t get better, they return another time or two before they are finally tested for COVID.   If you get better, you’re never tested.

Who knows when things will get back to normal – maybe they will never be the same.  Maybe we will have a new normal.  It seems that we will always have worry until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.  We are learning a lot from this pandemic, or at least, we should be.  There will be more pandemics.  We definitely need to be moving the manufacturing of our drugs and critical supplies back into the U.S.  These things will cost more as a result, but perhaps things cost more to make in the U.S. because of tax laws and regulations that we comply with.  I’m not saying that we need fewer regulations or lower taxes, but perhaps if we can eliminate duplication of local, state, and federal regulations, the cost of compliance can be reduced. 

I’ll put the soapbox away.  I’m not one to discuss politics.  I HATE POLITICS.