I cant think

May 31st, 2020

This is supposed to  be a place for tempered reflection, but events of the past couple of days have left my  mind  scrambled.  The police murder of  George Floyd in Minneapolis (which I still dont have the  stomach to watch on video), the ensuing riots encompassing the country, the Minneapolis mayor’s pivot from demanding  a murder indictment for the cop to mobilizing  the National Guard, Trump’s  oscillation from calling for shooting of looters to phoning Floyd’s  family and then to threatening the use of dogs and weaponry on White House protestors,  the battle between him and the CEO of his main mouthpiece, Twitter, the complete eclipse of  Corona Virus news of the last three  months by the perception of danger now reduced and by everyone’s having enough  of lockdown, and finally, this afternoon, the  glorious launch of Elon Musk’s Space-X rocket. Humans ugly and beautiful, impotent and omnipotent. No matter how much I’d like to turn away from news,  the  pace and magnitude of the drama keeps me captive.

I tried this morning,  as I have several times this week, to avoid it by taking a long walk with the dog up horse canyon on polyland–and by working at the farm a couple of times a day.  But back home, after the compulsory nap,  I’m back into the NYTimes or Google news, lapping up the latest.  Out in the woods I phoned Joe to try to set up a backpacking trip in Idaho as one way to break routine, now  that air travel has just become  permitted, but he hasnt answered the call.

Old Man Ouchies

April 28th, 2020

After weeks of feeling grotesquely privileged by April days of growing gardens, walks on the beach, leisurely prepared meals, low anxiety about getting stuff done, luxurious entertainment by TV, music and books, against a backdrop of news offering suspense and amusement, last night and early this morning provided a brief dose of the darker reality.

A phone conversation with Peter, my  younger brother stand-in, detailed his excruciating post-operative condition after successful surgery removing slow-growing tumors from his kidneys.  He’s had four botched catheterizations and is now sending urine to a bag, since his urethra is blocked.  This makes for continuing pain that the painkillers cant control and required an emergency trip to a urologist in Courtney from which he’d just returned after several days in a Vancouver hospital.  Prognosis uncertain.

My last night brought repeated awakenings with more pain than usual in hands, shoulders, back and knees.  I applied Jan’s cream, took more Tylenol, tried cannabis oil, and went back to bed exhausted after morning bath.  There I  half-dreamt that these were early symptoms of infection with the virus and visualized being set up in our guest room, wondering which exposure–Costco to get the Mac and Cheese for the Homeless Shelter or not wearing  a mask when seeing Claire and Greg–had led to it.  It was only after a third cup of coffee and two more Tylenols that I returned to a semblance of the new normal–readiness to go to the farm to carry out today’s ambitious plans for harvest and planting with Shane and Tree and meeting with Josh and Shea to measure the layout for her planned outdoor farm school.

Digital Legacy

April 16th, 2020

I’ve embarked on the effort to create a digital legacy with Jake Smallwood from Fertile Minds, a protege of Dusty who got this blog started.  If it can work it will cost about $400 to create a setup with wordpress that approximates the setup I had with Dreamweaver in the 20th century.  Back to the future.  Corresponding and speaking with them brings back memories of Dusty and grief for his loss.  But also emphasizes the relevance of the project.  Creating a digital legacy.  Moving forward on the effort initiated with this.

A life as a project, coming further into focus as the ratio of past to future increases, or alternately, the ratio of future to past decreases.

The project enhanced by current reading a biography of Leonard Bernstein. Fascinating information in immense detail, but all of it external from interviews with his acquaintances and public records–nothing about his own perspective and inner life, since sadly the authoritative author was denied access to the vast archive in his estate by the executors.

The blog form–a dynamic record, allowing for the additions of data created by an ongoing life and of changing of perspective provided by reconsideration of old snapshots, combining immediacy and distance.

Covid in Ketchum

April 16th, 2020

We follow the Idaho Mountain Express online to maintain indirect contact with Joe and his family who are sheltering at home in the middle of the highest per capita infection rate location in the country. The news there doesn’t tell us much about what’s really going on and neither do his reports but Jan came up with a long article in Buzzfeed, a national outlet, that gave us a fuller picture–both about the course of the spread and through a number of interviews with rich and poor victims, about the range of human impacts.  This quote stayed with me and dominated my morning quiet time in the bathtub and while meditating:

The infectious disease doc came in and said, “You have COVID, and I don’t think you’re going to survive, because you only have 61% of your lung capacity.” They asked him, “Do you still want to have this DNR [do-not-resuscitate order]?” He said yes. “Do you want to be put on a ventilator if needed?” He said yes.

Meanwhile, my dad was gradually improving. He said it was so hard to be alone, with the only people he came into contact with wearing full protective gear. He said it felt like they were scared of him. But he’s a tough cookie. He couldn’t get out of bed or go to the bathroom for nine days, but when they let him out, he took a shower, and came home — that was March 29 — and surprised everyone on the family Zoom call. It was my parents’ 51st anniversary. My mom was just totally taken aback and so happy.


My most persistent concern over the last several years has been the dual business of departure and legacy.  The “Better End” talk I wrote for the Sangha and the updating of our estate and advance directive documents last year addressed the first.  The effort I’ve put in to scanning photographs and retroactive updating of my blog with uncatalogued writings and documents address the second.  But both tasks are far from finished, the opposite of the kind of closure they intend. The ongoing Pandemic adds to my age and health status to make completing them more urgent, and the lockdown should provide the opportunity to get it higher on my list of priorities, but so far that urgency has issued only in procrastination pressure rather than action.

The questions, answers, and subsequent outcome of the old man in the Buzzfeed article captures my confusion about the  advance directive.  At the moment of actual decision he reaffirmed his DNR, but rather than abjuring any heroic artificial lifesaving efforts, as included in my directive, he asked for the ventilator, which then saved his life and brought happiness to his family. This goes against the news that I read lately indicating that those embattled ventilators have the desired effect only in a small  proportion of cases. When writing the directive, I didn’t envision Covid 19, but rather something like a stroke or heart attack after which any recovery would only prolong infirmity. But since then I’ve been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, suffered a (tiny) stroke and a syncope and agreed to the installation of a pacemaker.  And life is good. So if I become infected how will I answer those questions?