Good Sunday morning from Sisters, Oregon. It's another stunning, but cool morning here. Low last night was at freezing. I had to run into town for coffee beans this morning and there was frost on the windshield. The high temp today should reach the low 70's with light cirrus clouds above us.
Depending on where you get your news regarding COVID-19 and quarantine, and maybe we can agree news, in some quarters, has been uneven at best lately, the country is beginning to open up for business again. If you're still watching the president's virus briefing each day and, if you're still of a mind to try and discern our president's messages and advice about the virus and/or treatments, bless your heart.
I mentioned this in my last post, but frankly, our nation has to come to terms with the fact many of our citizens will never see 45's flaws and will continue to believe he's the answer to their prayers. Lacking discernible skills to weigh the evidence put before them, they are faithful to a fault and are being played like a fine violin. I'm concerned, left to their own devises, they will attempt to kill us all.
I see them out there at the market with no masks, walking around as though they're invulnerable. I suppose I should be thankful we're located in an area with few cases of COVID-19.
If you've ever wondered what you'd do should a pandemic strike, you're doing it now for sure. There's no shortage of advice from many angles and sources and we here in Sisters share it amongst ourselves in the evenings, sometimes over dinner. I'm both grateful and amazed at times at the ideas being put forth realizing most routine comfortable first-world existence has ceased to be recognizable.
I'm certain there are many out there now who are coming to realize the downside of defining themselves mostly by work they've done for many years. Hobbies? What hobbies? Nobody's got time for that kind of trivial nonsense. Well, at least nobody had the time. I've often suspected one reason more people don't retire when they can comfortably do so is they lack imagination about how to fill their time if work isn't involved.
I'm grateful for both the reasoned and often spiritual discussions we have around the dinner table with our hosts here in Sisters. While I don't subscribe to much that defines organized religion and faith, there's much solace to be said for the Christian notions of loving and caring for each other. Melanie and I are fortunate to be living with two loving and caring retired priests.
We don't know yet when we'll leave Sisters to begin again our travels. Progress in opening up and relaxing stay-at-home orders out west seems to be a bit more measured and, may I say thoughtful, than in some places in the east. Watch this space
Here's my first attempt at putting together a video with my D500 camera while out on a bike ride on April 29th.
A Bike Ride along a portion of the McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway
Day whatever of quarantine. Right? What day of the week is it? What time of day? Untethered and cast out of any semblance of our comfortable (?) lives and routines. Forced into closer, much closer, proximity to others with whom we're related by blood and marriage. Forced to define or redefine what it means to love someone dear to you. Who are these people anyway?
It's the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Here in Sisters quail are roaming the back yard and a gentle rain falls.
I found and saved the above "Fuck Trump" image (not mine) a few weeks back because it spoke to me. I figured there might come a time when I could use it for something. Maybe I'd just pull it up on occasion as a form of catharsis. Regardless, it's also a great metaphor for these times.
It speaks loudly of "leadership" that regularly attempts to quell reasoned dissent. By firing, belittling, name calling, dissembling. And lying. So much lying. This administration gives new meaning to incompetence. They are showing us what it means for all of us when government has been dismantled to the point of ineffectiveness when we need it most.
But we are also learning there are fellow citizens, specifically dear leader's white evangelical base, those who have those sincerely held beliefs about what they think the Bible says, who think dear leader is God's answer to their prayers. They believe they are winning and they make up approximately 25% of all voters. Let that one sink in for a moment.
For them, the lesson seems to be Supreme Court justices, laws against abortion and the economy (see also the perverse notion of the prosperity gospel) are more important than competence, morality, character, and the common good once were.
How has COVID-19 and the fact government was woefully unprepared for the economic disaster that has ensued changed any this? Will the white evangelical cult remain loyal? The vote in November will tell us whether the remainder of us are now motivated to change the madness of the past 4 years. It may tell us whether we've also had enough of crony capitalism.
According to my calculations, we've been in residence with our hosts, the Reverends, Christy and Jack Erskine, since April 2nd. I liken living here with the Christy and Jack to the MTV show "The Real World," except the participants are all retired and lack the energy, or inclination, for drama. Cast together in unlikely circumstances, strangers seek solace and friendship during a pandemic.
Melanie and I live in the Erskine's downstairs space. We have everything we need, including a separate entrance so we don't necessarily disturb our hosts with our comings and goings. Not that we're moving about all that much. Melanie has set up an office space downstairs facing out towards the Cascade Mountains. And the Erskine's chicken coop. We have the use of one of the Erskine's vehicles.
We generally gather in the evenings for socializing and dinner upstairs. Meals are prepared with the participation of us all. I've mainly been the one (mostly) going out to market, occasionally making my way into Bend for items not available in Sisters, population about 2000. Costco in Bend finally had toilet paper yesterday. 😎
Dinner conversations are wide-ranging. Like us, the Erskine's are campers (their camper tag is REVED UP) and are widely traveled. We share a love of politics and the Erskines are politically active. Currently, they are working with Common Purpose Now which seeks to mobilize voters, now in the time of COVID-19.
We've been watching a series of lectures given by David Domke, professor in the Department of Communications on leave from the University of Washington in Seattle. The lectures are enlightening and we've had great conversation around them.
The Erskine's home is just outside Sisters and near the Deschuttes National Forest. We've all been able to get outside for exercise. Christy and Jack walk most mornings, Melanie and I have gotten out on our bicycles.
We continue to be grateful for our hosts generosity and the love they've shown us during this time of quarantine. Happy Earth Day, y'all.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Matthew 25:35
Good morning from Sisters, Oregon where Melanie and I have been for the past 9 days and counting. Like many, hopefully all, of you we continue to wash our hands, wear our masks and keep a safe distance from people when we must be in public venues for groceries and the like.
For those of you who celebrate the Christian tradition of Easter, I wish you a very happy Easter. I know you'd rather be in your favorite place of worship today. I hope you've found some solace with an online service and maybe being physically close with some portion of your family. Welcome to the new (hopefully temporary) normal.
While Melanie and I miss the road, we are most grateful for the hospitality of our hosts, Christy and Jack Erskine, two retired Episcopal priests, who had invited us to stay with them before the current stay in place orders were given. Christy is a great cook and has made sure we are eating well. Our surroundings are picturesque and we can't imagine a better place to be than with the Erskines here in Sisters.
Sisters is the kind of place that makes your nomads begin to commence to think about real estate again. But it's still way too early on in this pilgrimage for that sort of thing.
Jack has a part-time job as a Chaplain at a hospital in Bend, Oregon, just south of Sisters where he currently meets with and ministers to staff and family members of those in the hospital. I've subscribed to the Oregon Health Authority's "Coronavirus Update" which comes to me via email daily. As of today there have been 52 deaths due to the virus. Most every death caused by the virus has been accompanied by some underlying medical condition. Most of the deceased are elderly.
While Jack isn't close to anyone with COVID-19, he takes all the precautions necessary to stay safe, including removing his work clothes outside in a camp shower he's set up on their porch when he gets home, then showering immediately afterwards.
This past week found us making masks for a local organization to donate to health care workers. Between the four of us, I had the very minor role of ironing straps for the masks before they were sewed, 100 masks were made and donated yesterday.
I continue to be the "designated hitter" for essential errands. Jack, as mentioned, is working, but Christy and Melanie are mostly staying in. We have a complement of hand sanitizers and masks and gloves for protection. We're fortunate Oregon is, and continues to be, ahead of the curve.
When we arrived, we traveled from Burn, Oregon to Sisters through Bend, Oregon on a Friday afternoon and were very surprised at the number of cars on the road and people going about their usual business in the stores. Granted, they were doing the physical distancing thing, but few were masked or gloved.
The Whole Foods market was only allowing a certain number of people in the store which felt good and everyone was cognizant of keeping their distance. Whole Foods had an employee sanitizing all shopping carts after use. We found both toilet paper and hand sanitizer there. Score. We got take out at a local burger joint which was nice since all the restaurants we encountered in Nevada over ten days there were closed.
Nine days later in Sisters, many more people are wearing masks, at least in the grocery stores. Some of the local trails have been closed, but there are many people out cycling and walking the roadways which have nicely marked bicycle lanes.
We're located about 2 miles outside of town on a road that runs into the Deschuttes National Forest. I've been riding a 16 mile loop that runs through the National Forest and through downtown Sisters. The weather here, after a few days of snow/rain with lows in the low 20's has been clear and seasonally cool, sometimes dipping just below freezing. No precipitation is expected until next Saturday.
We've also been assisting Christy and Jack get ready for the upcoming fire season. They have a pile of dead tree limbs, pine cones and straw they are burning in preparation for dry weather. Out here the forest service suggests you keep a 100' defensible space around your home to protect it against potential wild fires, so burning is allowed to rid yourself of all dead and dry wood and debris.
Be well, stay safe.
This was shared with Melanie and me a few nights ago after dinner by one of our hosts, Reverend Christy Erskine.
The message was written on March 16, 2020.
This moment humanity is going through can be seen as a portal and as a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the portal is up to you. If they repent of the problem and consume the news 24 hours a day, with little energy, nervous all the time, with pessimism, they will fall into the hole. But if you take this opportunity to look at yourself, rethink life and death, take care of yourself and others, you will cross the portal. Take care of your home, take care of your body. Connect with the middle body of your spiritual house, all this is synonymous, that is to say the same. When you are taking care of one, you are taking care of everything else. Do not lose the spiritual dimension of this crisis, have the aspect of the eagle, which from above, sees the whole, sees more widely. There is a social demand in this crisis, but there is also a spiritual demand. The two go hand in hand. Without the social dimension, we fall into fanaticism. But without the spiritual dimension, we fall into pessimism and lack of meaning. You were prepared to go through this crisis. Take your toolbox and use all the tools at your disposal.
Learn about resistance with indigenous and African peoples: we have always been and continue to be exterminated. But we still haven’t stopped singing, dancing, lighting a fire and having fun. Don’t feel guilty about being happy during this difficult time. You don’t help at all by being sad and without energy. It helps if good things emanate from the Universe now. It is through joy that one resists. Also, when the storm passes, you will be very important in the reconstruction of this new world. You need to be well and strong. And, for that, there is no other way than to maintain a beautiful, happy and bright vibration. This has nothing to do with alienation. This is a resistance strategy. In shamanism, there is a rite of passage called the quest for vision. You spend a few days alone in the forest, without water, without food, without protection. When you go through this portal, you get a new vision of the world, because you have faced your fears, your difficulties…
This is what is asked of you. Let them take advantage of this time to perform their vision seeking rituals.
What world do you want to build for yourself? For now, this is what you can do: serenity in the storm. Calm down and pray. Everyday. Establish a routine to meet the sacred every day. Good things emanate, what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith and love.
Good afternoon from Sisters, Oregon. We've been parked at the home of friends, Jack and Christy, for a few days. Melanie and I are very grateful for their invitation to stay with them while America attempts to flatten the curve. Efforts by Oregon to keep the number of cases down via Social Distancing measures seem to be working for the state. We're happy about that.
It's easier to live full-time in an RV in some areas of the country (and world) than others though Melanie and I had no trouble finding both BLM and private commercial RV parks open in California, Nevada and Oregon over the past month. We're pleased, however, Jack and Christy offered us a spot. We look forward to being on the road again, but feel good about being parked in Sisters with friends.
Our location in Sisters is a bicycle ride away from everything we need though Christy has graciously allowed us to use her car to run errands. It's also nice having the Three Sisters in view from time to time.
I had some much needed dental work done yesterday, but I'm looking forward to being in the kitchen with Christy once my mouth has healed in a few days. I'm grateful for our hosts' dentist, Dr. Friederes, for taking me on as a new patient under the circumstances. Because of our remote locations in Nevada, I had been nursing my dental problem along for about a month until I could get to Sisters. I'm glad the problem is resolved. Really glad.
Stay at home. Stay safe. Watch this space.
Steven and Melanie