Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Accidental Hoarder

So, after several expeditions to line up outside the grocery store an hour before they open, in order to lay hands on ONE 4-roll pkg of toilet paper, I've taken to buying one package whenever I'm in a store that's selling them.  My latest score:  a 20-roll pack of Scott Tissue.  If you need some, hit me up.

Of course, the mere fact that there actually was toilet paper available during the day tells me that the TP panic is passing.  However, I do understand the mountain of the stuff we found in my MIL's unused hall bathroom tub.  She liked to shop at Walgreens, probably because it reminded her of the small neighbourhood grocery stores we all knew and loved.  You know, Dearly Beloved...the Piggly Wiggly and the A & P.  She would clip the coupons and there was always some sort of TP on sale, and she would always buy it.

The other thing I appear to be accidentally hoarding is coffee filters.  Picked up a package every time I went to the store in the past couple of weeks, and now we have 3.

We also have enough boxed mac & cheese to build a small fort.

And a slight surfeit of onions, along with enough garlic to ward off the vampire apocalypse.

Are we there, yet?

Friday, April 10, 2020

Coronavirus Day Forty-eleven

So we are still here, and still all right.  We haven't been evicted yet.  Power is still on, which is a Good Thing, because thence cometh air conditioning and Wifi.

I venture out almost every day, which helps keep me sane.  Even if it's just for a drive around to look at the spring leaves springing forth.  They seem to do this regardless of whether we are out noticing them.

We are all screaming at each other once in a while, and meals are pretty much what you would expect.  Kids eat what kids eat, so there's a lot of cereal and sandwiches being consumed.  Meals around here are snacks on steroids.  They are still happening every day, though.

We seem to be sleeping in segments...a couple of hours here and there.  I usually know what day of the week it is, but not always.

Ethan is doing pretty well at his computer learning, but this school district seems bound and determined to tax the kids past what any reasonable human should be required to do.  I guess they didn't get the memo that kids are going to finish the year with pass/incomplete instead of percentage and/or letter grades.

The Wee Heathens are the Wee Heathens, and hell on wheels.  Somebody got into the Dr Pepper, and everyone was caffeinated and sugared up yesterday.

Aidan is conducting daily arms practice in the back yard.  By the time this is over, they will all qualify as pages and I can foster them out to other castles.  Looking forward to that day.

However, we are devolving.  I can no longer form a lower-case "s" with pen and paper, and my lower-case "b" and "l" have become interchangeable.  Looking into purchasing a manual typewriter in case the Wifi goes away.

We need:  batteries, duct tape, bungee cords, and heavy duty hooks.

Don't ask.

Send beer and whisky.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Little History...Copied From Facebook

Copied from a Dan Hester’s post via his friend Lloyd.
Copied from a private group:
So I thought I would throw up a little history lesson for everyone on both sides of the political divide. I think it’s important that we understand the truth, especially come November when it’s time to vote. Forgive the length. But, hey we all have time on our hands to read, right?

In December 2013, an 18-month-old boy in Guinea was bitten by a bat. Then there were five more fatal cases. When Ebola spread out of the Guinea borders into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone in July 2014, President Obama activated the Emergency Operations Center at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC immediately deployed CDC personnel to West Africa to coordinate a response that included vector tracing, testing, education, logistics, and communication.

Altogether, the CDC, under President Obama, trained 24,655 medical workers in West Africa, educating them on how to prevent and control the disease before a single case left Africa or reached the U.S.
Working with the U.N. and the World Health Organization President Obama ordered the re-routing of travelers heading to the U.S. through certain specific airports equipped to handle mass testing.

Back home in America, more than 6,500 people were trained through mock outbreaks and practice scenarios. That was done before a single case hit America.

Three months after President Obama activated this unprecedented response, on September 30, 2014, we got our first case in the U.S. That man had traveled from West Africa to Dallas, Texas and had somehow slipped through the testing protocol. He was immediately detected and isolated. He died a week later. Two nurses who tended to him contracted Ebola and later recovered. All the protocols had worked. It was contained.

The Ebola epidemic could have easily become a pandemic. But thanks to the actions of our government under Obama, it never did. Those three cases were the ONLY cases of ebola in our country because Obama did what needed to be done three months before the first case.
Ebola is even more contagious than Covid-19. If Obama had not done these things, millions of Americans would have died awful painful deaths like something out of a horror movie (if you’ve ever seen how Ebola kills, it’s horrific).

It’s ironic that BECAUSE President Obama did these things - we forget that he did them because the disease never reached our shores.

Now the story of Covid 19 and Trump’s response that we know about so far:

Before anyone even knew about the disease (even in China) Trump disbanded the pandemic response team that Obama had put in place. He cut funding to the CDC. And he cut our contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Trump fired Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, the person on the National Security Council in charge of stopping the spread of infectious diseases before they reach our country - a position created by the Obama administration.

When the Outbreak started in China, Trump assumed it was China’s problem and sent no research, supplies or help of any kind. We were in a trade war, why should he help them?

In January he received a briefing from our intelligence organizations that the outbreak was much worse than China was admitting and that it would definitely hit our country if something wasn’t done to prevent it. He ignored the report, not trusting our own intelligence.

When the disease spread to Europe, the World Health Organization offered a boatload of tests to the United States. Trump turned them down, saying private companies here would make the tests “better” if we needed them. But he never ordered U.S. companies to make tests and they had no profit motive to do so on their own.

According to scientists at Yale and several public university medical schools, when they asked for permission to start working on our own testing protocol and potential treatments or vaccines, they were denied by Trump’s FDA.

When Trump knew about the first case in the United States he did nothing. It was just one case and the patient was isolated. When doctors and scientists started screaming in the media that this was a mistake, Trump claimed it was a “liberal hoax” conjured up to try to make him “look bad after impeachment failed.”
The next time Trump spoke of Covid-19, we had 64 confirmed cases but Trump went before microphones and told the American public that we only had 15 cases “and pretty soon that number will be close to zero.” All while the disease was spreading. He took no action to get more tests.

What Trump did do is stop flights from China from coming here. This was too late and accomplished nothing according to scientists and doctors. By then the disease was worldwide and was already spreading exponentially in the U.S. by Americans, not Chinese people as Trump would like you to believe.

As of the moment, I’m posting this, the morning of March 22, 2020, we have 15,220 CONFIRMED CASES in the U.S. The actual number is undoubtedly much higher. (3 days later, March 25th, 65,000)But we don’t know because we don’t have enough tests. Why don’t we have enough tests? Remember back when Trump turned down the tests from the W.H.O. and prevented our own universities from developing them? Remember back when Trump had cut the funding to the CDC?

Every time Mr. Trump goes on camera and blames the previous administration for the mess we are now in, I scream at the reporters from FOX, CNN, and MSNBC - “Why aren’t you reporting the actual historical facts?!” How dare Trump tries to blame Covid-19 on Obama. He has no one to blame but himself.

I hear Republican pundits try to put the blame on China. And they are correct - after all, the disease started there. And the Chinese government handled it poorly and dishonestly. So it’s fair to blame the government of China for the EXISTENCE of the Covid-19 virus. BUT THAT MISSES THE POINT. Obama didn’t blame Ebola on Guinea. He helped them stop it. Trump let the disease invade the U.S.

And he is still not doing all he could to save lives. He keeps talking about invoking The Defense Production Act but hasn’t actually done so. He’s making the same mistake twice - waiting until it’s too late to take action.

Invoking that act would require factories with the right equipment and know-how to start producing life-saving ventilators for our hospitals, protective masks and other gear for our front line health workers. And the plus is it would actually employ people to do so. 

UPDATE: he just invoked it, FINALLY, way late.

Them’s the facts. Take them as you will. I’ll go back to trying to find toilet paper on-line.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Covipocalypse 2020

So the HEB has gone from being open from 6 AM till 1 AM, to an 8-8 schedule.  I sneaked in last night a few minutes before they closed, and, as I was leaving, the Truck arrived.  12 hours of stocking!

I got there this morning, right at 8.  The line snaked down the strip center, around the corner by the Cotton Patch Cafe, and clear back almost to the street!  Wow!

Forty minutes later, I got into the store.  It is a cold, blustery morning out there, spitting minute drops of rain hither and yon.

Was only allowed one pack of toilet paper, but that's OK.  I know that no one was filling up their pickup truck with All The TP and selling it on Craig's List.  There were security guards all over the store.

I had to cut my shopping short, because I needed to use some of that TP (if you know what I mean), and I was damned if I was going to leave my cart, with unprotected toilet paper, outside the ladies' room!

On the way out, I learned that the entire royal family of England is divorcing itself, and that Brad and Jen are doing something again...

We are surviving, so far.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Lifetime Achievement Award

And a very special thank you to

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient 
Frank Benge
for his twenty plus years with Sam Bass in various capacities.
He served on the SBTA Board both as President and Marketing for numerous productions. He directed the countless shows and acted in many more. 

This is what the Sam Bass Theatre posted on its website to honour Frank Benge.  It's sort of a tag, under a joyous paean to their Volunteer of the Year.  I certainly don't mean to denigrate the recipient of that recognition, because I know that Sam Bass runs on volunteers, and will not exist without them.  

But about Frank:  could their statement be any more generic?

Even I don't remember exactly when Frank landed at Sam Bass, but it was somewhere in the early to mid 1990s.  The first show I recall him directing was Hot L Baltimore, which endeared him to me right away.  I had never heard of the show, but it was edgy and dark and brilliant, and I loved it.

The first show I costumed for him was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  He told me, "Each of these characters represents one of the seven deadly sins, and I need them dressed accordingly."  I had never costumed like that before. Usually, it was our practice to scrounge up whatever would fit (or could be made to fit), look period, and not clash with the set.  Here was an entirely new concept.  His vision for this show was absolutely stunning!  He designed his own set.  Brick and Cat's bedroom became a cage.  It was brilliant, and only a taste of what would follow.

Like the authors of the tribute above, I can't list all the shows he has directed or acted in, but I can name a few highlights.  He directed Table Settings twice, and it was excellent both times.  His Chalk Garden was beautiful and moving.  He was never afraid to tackle plays that should have been impossible on the tiny stage at Sam Bass.  The Women was one such, and Harold and Maude, another.  They succeeded brilliantly, and they are still discussed by those who acted in them and those who saw them, to this day.

As to his acting...who can forget his Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner, or his Judge/Caiaphas in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot?  Never mind Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace, or Dottore in A Company of Wayward Saints.  He has the depth to do the hard roles, such as Roberto Miranda in Death and the Maiden, and the comedic timing to absolutely kill Inspector Pratt in Murdered to Death.

He guided the Board of Directors at Sam Bass through some perilous times, and his work in publicity put our tiny theater on the map.  Sam Bass had always been respected for doing good theatre, but he was the one who got the greater public and critics to notice us.

Frank has been through a lot with his health in the past couple of years, and some issues are still ongoing.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but he is currently in hospital, and will be for some time to come.

I certainly hope that, when they finally get around to actually presenting him with his Lifetime Achievement Award, it will come with a better summary of his lifetime achievement than that posted on the website.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Oh, Yes--Gluttony

I am, without doubt, a glutton for punishment.

Once again, I am embarking on the Journey...I am directing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, again!  For the fifth time.  The first time was 26 years ago.

All of my kids and half of my grandchildren have been in this show, over the years, and the last two will be in this one.  It's like a rite of passage for my family.

If you're local and would like to play, show up at the theater October 12th and 13th, 7:30-9:00 PM.

I'll be there.  Again.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend

As often happens at this time of year, I am thinking about grief.  Thinking back to the first time I met this powerful adversary-slash-friend.

I was 19.

I had got married at 18, to an 18-year-old.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time.  We got married on the 23rd of November, and by Christmas Eve, I knew I was pregnant.  It was a miserable pregnancy, beset by nausea, poverty, and fear.  Things were so dire, we were obliged to ask my parents for help.  That relieved the poverty, but brought a new set of problems.  We had to try and get on our feet and away from them before they found out I was pregnant.  We were not exactly embracing impending parenthood.  About 5 months into the pregnancy, my mother walked in on me in the bathroom, and that was the end of that.  Without the concealment of my baggy clothes, my condition was obvious.

My husband was dispatched to the big city, where his father lived, to find work and a home for us, and to prepare for the coming joy.  I was put to work in the old fashioned way, stitching baby clothes to prepare for the coming joy.

The problem was, we were both 19, and Husband had an ultimatum for me:  if I insisted on keeping the baby, he was gone.  History.  Pasado.  I would be on my own, with a baby and no safety net, except my parents who never would have been able to shut up about the irresponsible lout who couldn't shoulder the responsibility for another life.  I knew he was right, and that neither of us was ready for this.  But I vacillated, because I really wanted to be ready for this, and I wanted him to be ready, as well.

Eventually, he found us an apartment in an old Victorian house in Vancouver's West End, and the pregnancy progressed.  The decision to put the baby up for adoption was made.  Tentatively, on my part, and positively, on Husband's.

I found out later that, somewhere during this part of the adventure, Husband had approached my parents to see if they would "take the baby."  They refused, hoping that their answer would spur him to a sense of responsibility.  This was something I never would have consented to--they were old enough to be my grandparents, and the idea of dumping a helpless infant on them when they were in their 60s would have been unfair both to them and the child.

So we visited the adoption agency.  They browbeat me unmercifully, in an attempt to make sure I really wanted to give the baby up.  "Do you want your child to grow up in foster care?"  "How can you do this?  What kind of human are you?"  I was adamant.  Having made the decision, I wasn't about to be talked out of it, no matter how guilty they made me feel, or how hard I cried.

Suddenly, one night, I started to get an unpleasant backache.  It sort of came and went, but, according to the doctor at the clinic where I had been getting prenatal care, it was a signal to call the hospital.  We called the hospital from a phone booth, and they told us to come in.

The labour was bad.  It was in the dark ages of hospital delivery, when women were left alone to labour, drugged to the max, in a ward with only curtains separating us.  I remember snatches of conversation from the next bed...something about the wages of sin and such, between the moans of a woman who was a bit farther into the process than I.  I remember thinking that at least she had a woman with her, even though there didn't seem to be much encouragement there.  Husband had been run off already, and, of course, my parents hadn't been notified (and couldn't have got there on such short notice, anyway, as their trip would have involved a ferry ride).

One way or another, both baby and I survived.  The maternity ward was an odd place, in those days, with at least 12 beds, separated by the ubiquitous curtains.  I sat there with my baby (brought to me at visiting hours), so we could sit alone while the other new mothers had family and friends come to gush over their accomplishments.  Some of my friends did come, and so did Husband, but he made sure to come to see me when the baby was safely tucked away in the nursery.  It wasn't until the last day of my hospital stay that I finally managed to bring him and his son together for a look-see.  I guess I was hoping he would be overwhelmed with fatherhood, and change his mind.  He had more sense, even though he was probably afraid of the very thing I was hoping for.

The day came when I left the hospital without my/not my baby.  I don't remember the trip home, except for hearing Janis singing "Piece of My Heart" on the radio.  I understood Janis, and felt that she understood me.  I don't remember Husband and I ever discussing the situation.  I don't even remember how long it was until we had to go in to the office of the adoption agency and sign the papers, relinquishing our baby to the fate chosen for him by the social workers there.

And that was when it hit me.  The grief.  The overwhelming, horrific pain that I had never before experienced or even known of.  The shaking, sweating, ugly-crying agony, so much worse than the labour that brought him out of me.  Husband seemed embarrassed by it, but I was beyond caring, in the throes of something so vast that there was nothing else but to let it take me.  I don't remember it stopping, but eventually, we got on a bus and went home.  It came back over and over when I was in the bath.

I also don't remember ever talking about it with Husband.  There was no counselling, no reading material on how to cope, no friend who had "been there," and could sympathize.  I was completely alone.

I did hear from my mother.  It took a week or so after Husband had notified my parents of the birth and adoption; I guess she had to take some time to process her feelings.  What I got was a letter, castigating me for giving up my child.  Abrogating my responsibility.  Of course, they would have helped, had I only asked.  Of course.  I was selfish, shallow, inconsiderate, and a total failure at human-ness.

From the depths of my depression, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and wrote back, saying that if she wanted to have any sort of relationship with me going forward, she was to never ever, bring up the subject again.  And she didn't.

The courage to say that to her came from the absolute knowledge that nothing she said or did to me could touch me after what I went through signing those papers.  I had felt the most terrible and terrifying thing possible, and I had survived.

So, yes.  Grief can be a gift.  And a friend.