July, 2020 Archive

On the Edge

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

July 21

I hear the toilet flush every few minutes.

At dinner tonight, Jan seemed out of sorts and only picked at the meal I’d prepared. She said she’d been having intestinal discomfort all afternoon. When I’d finished, she asked if I could clean up the kitchen so she could lie down.

I went back to the bedroom after I was done and she told me she had bad diarrhea and that she’d looked it up.  That was an initial symptom of Covid 19.  Of course it could be just a stomach flu or food poisoning, since she’d had so little contact with people and was always masked and distant, but who knows.  It was best for me to sleep in my study.

I went back there and read that though not well known, this is a relatively frequent first symptom, especially among the elderly, and that  sometimes it signals a very mild case though sometimes its a prelude to the more serious respiratory symptoms. We will call Dr. Hanson in the morning and try to set up a test.

In the morning I have an appointment to meet Jeff W. at the farm and receive a check for $25,000, the first of two installments of a donation to City Farm by Larry C., whose promise has made the last two weeks some of the most joyful in my life.  They have been filled with plans and prospects and exchanges with all the people associated with the Farm about how this donation, and the possible additional support it can leverage will allow for a campaign to make the place live up to its vast potential within the next two years.  During the same time we have taken on a dynamic new tenant and received word from another quarter of a donation of the money and work to add a 40 tree orchard, along with promises of weed abatement from our neighbors and the City, the commitment of Jen, a highly capable consultant to lead business plan strategizing and a commitment from Josh to help organize a charette for ambitious site development. Also the announcement we were  awarded a  grant from the City Human Relations Commission and the submission of an application for a renewal of our Sprouts Foundation grant.  Also contact from Cheryl at NRCS indicating that she will put in for several EQIP grants for appropriate Farm Projects.  As a result of the concerted efforts of Tree, Shane and me, the vegetable garden has come to full fruit and blossom such that everyone who shows up is astounded. The closest to this I can compare was the news in 1988 that I was hired for the tenure-track job at Cal Poly, a logical, wished-for and seven-year-deferred opportunity to take control of my future and build some long term accomplishments. I’ve been working full time as a volunteer at the Farm an equal amount of time hoping just for this to happen.

But accompanying the excitement has been a  undertone of foreboding.  With the sadness and fear that’s come over the world since last February, how is it possible that I could be so blessed?  With the  powerlessness felt by so many, how can I dare to feel so empowered?

It’s still possible that Jan’s condition could be a false alarm. But unlikely. If not, the grand new changes will be overshadowed by others.

I remain in this space: http://www.stevenmarx.net/2012/06/biopsy/

July 22

Jan sleeps all day and doesnt eat. I make an appointment for COVID test for both of us, for the next day at the Vet’s Hall.  Last time our results were negative.

I’m at Farm on and off.

July 23

Jan wakes up feeling better, but still strange.  We drives separately to the Vets hall for the test. No results available for 4-6 days.  Neither our primary physician nor her nurse is available. Jan sets up protocol whereby we approach only at 6 foot distance, both masked.  She has me set up table beside bedroom door where I leave her food and other stuff.  We communicate mostly by text and email.

I write a thank you letter to Larry outlining plans for use of his donation, ready to send as soon as the check is deposited. Jeff meets me at the farm with the check, I deposit it and send letter, and correspond with Connor about the Tuffshed barn. Jan’s students are submitting their masters’ theses about which she and they have fretted for months. She’s deeply gratified by the results.

July 24

I finalize the Tuffshed order–alot of poor communication with the salesperson. Corey gives me a hard time when I tell him we’ll need his front acre starting January 2021.

I pick 12lbs of peaches at Cal Poly.

I experience slight dizziness, which get me scared.

July 26 8:00 a.m.

Jan organized a Zoom birthday party for herself yesterday and led it from the bedroom, still in quarantine.  Attended by Joe, Amy, Abel, Ethan, Mark, Sonia, Travis, Hana, Dahlia, Claire, Lucas, Gregg and me.  Claire supplied balloons, bday cake and banner.  A lovely time, but a little anxious.

I woke this morning to an email with my test results: negative.  Big relief, especially after hearing yesterday’s Sci-Fri podcast about the long term after-effects of infection.  I’m impatient to hear Jan’s.  She sleeps for another two hours, gets up but her results not sent. We maintain distance.

July 27

At my bathroom run at 2:30 A.M. I see light under the bedroom door where Jan is quarantined.  I dont knock but wonder what’s happening. When I come out at 5:00 she’s still asleep, but as I drink my coffee in the arm chair her door opens and hear her glittering voice: “I got the results.  They’re negative.”

This Changes Everything

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Dear Larry

Your visit to City Farm SLO yesterday and commitment of funds to enable us to “Think Big” marks a momentous occasion.  This changes everything.

Along with that, your bringing along Jerry  to help with farm issues and our discussions of specific strategies signals more support than the essential contribution of real money.

Your offer has already released a cascade of pent-up dreams and impending tasks. It allows for the kind of long-term planning we’ve needed for years that’s been hampered by our limited and unpredictable finances.

On the other hand, for me it highlights a need for caution and deliberation. We now face a myriad of decisions that need to balance need, opportunity and constraint. Before our Board meeting on Tuesday, I will propose a process to formulate goals, means, procedures, schedules and budgets that includes City Farm’s diverse stakeholders.

Our discussions yesterday already produced a first pass at such a plan:

·      Proceed immediately with development of entry  area to build a cooler and wash/packing station for use of all tenants

·      Begin beautification program to include elimination of all eyesores and add designed signage, fence upgrades, and landscaping improvements and maintenance.

·      Begin engagement with other urban educational farms, (e.g. Coastal Roots Farm, https://www.farmbasededucation.org/members, https://fairviewgardens.org/, https://soilborn.org/

·      Step up efforts to engage the school district in long term predictable scheduling and funding of our  educational programs .  I mentioned that I expect Jen (https://www.jenerator.me/ and httpss://steamaheadcamp.com) to join in that effort.

Since our meeting at the farm, one model has already emerged: the back and forth among several players about the infrastructure and design of the well/pump area.  I hope that within the week we can to move on that so as to have tangible evidence of where we are going in place by the Fall, but it’s also important to keep entertaining alternatives.

I believe “thinking big” at City Farm warrants a name that gives notice that we are embarking on a program to more fully realize the potential of the land entrusted to us, for example,   “Harvest 2022” or  “City Farm Growth Initiative.” I’m not satisfied with either of those and hope you and the Board will come up with others.

In partnership,

Steven