“History is important. If you don't know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.”
― Howard Zinn
So, maybe it's because I grew up during a time when people of color had had enough and had no stake in much of anything except trying to eek out an existence among white folks who (mostly) didn't give a good damn about people of color, except as they knew their place and provided services making their white and privileged lives comfortable. Those people of color, descendants of slaves, victims of lynchings and Jim Crow laws and myriad of other shameless horrendous acts, decided to burn it down and arm themselves and white folks in power had no choice but to pay attention because, you know, private property and their stuff. Maybe it's because some things then changed, but some white people and their descendants didn't. Not really. Maybe it's because I grew up working class, but with the help of many people along the way, including government grants to pay for some of my education, I eventually was able to get a legal education. Maybe it's because I've never really made enough money to keep me in line, at least not for too long a stretch of time. Maybe it's because I saw early on in my Christian inculcation my fellow "Christians" weren't really all that serious about following the teachings of Jesus causing me to want badly to opt out of that charade. Bless their hearts. Maybe following Jesus for many has mostly always been form over substance because, consciously or not, most know in their heart of hearts, capitalism, especially crony capitalism, the political economy since Reagan and Christianity were never really a good mix, at least not for the majority of people. No, not ever.
And now, here we are at yet another seemingly insurmountable precipice before we will surely tumble off into the abyss of authoritarianism, fascism or some other "ism," but God, please don't let it be Socialism, much like we were during those tumultuous '60's. But this time, we, the people, elected, mostly through benign neglect (not showing up to vote will cost you, my precious) a demagogue to serve as our president and he's up for re-election in a little over a month. We who have opposed much of what can only be described as the most chaotic and crooked presidency of modern times, are often baffled by his cult-like followers' undying love of all things happening under his rule. We search for ways to make sense of why anyone can objectively look at what's happening day after day, we rationalize and ruminate, ruminate and rationalize and come up with nothing short of one frustrating exercise after frustrating exercise. And then, pandemic. And now Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And we're all bearing witness to just how fragile is our democracy and the rule of law, not to mention our very sanity.
I've struggled with what to say to people about all of this. I'm tired of the memes and the endless gnashing of teeth and apocalyptic speculations. Weary, actually.
Because we travel full-time, we experience different communities on a regular. Many of our fellow citizens living in other states strike us as just like the ones we find in our home state of Alabama. I used to respond when people would say, well, there're rednecks everywhere. Yes, but not everywhere are they elected to office and allowed to make the laws for everyone else like in Alabama. I'm learning that's not necessarily so now. And I don't mean in just the old confederate states either.
I've come to the conclusion, like many of you, that all we have left is our numbers. We must show up in sufficient numbers and take back the government from those who are not capable, would destroy it by various means and have only their self-interest and the profit motive in mind.
That's a monumental task given we are currently not all operating with the same facts. Which brings to mind a Netflix documentary we watched a few days ago entitled, The Social Dilemma. A must watch. Here's a synopsis by Andrew Sullivan in his weekly newsletter:
[We] will be lucky if the country doesn’t erupt in large-scale civil violence by the end of [this election cycle].
And the reason this dystopian scenario is so credible is not just the fault of these political actors. It’s ours too — thanks to the impact of social media. I think we’ve under-estimated just how deep the psychological damage has been in the Trump era — rewiring the minds of everyone, including your faithful correspondent, in ways that make democratic discourse harder and harder and harder to model. The new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, is, for that reason, a true must-watch. It doesn’t say anything shockingly new, but it persuasively weaves together a whole bunch of points to reveal just how deeply and thoroughly fucked we are. Seriously, take a look.
The doc effectively shows how the information system necessary for democratic deliberation has, in effect, been jerry-rigged in the last decade to prevent any reasoning at all. It’s all about the feels, and the irrationality, and the moment, which is why Trump is so perfectly attuned to his time. And what’s smart about the documentary is that it shows no evil genius behind this unspooling, no sinister plot deliberately to destroy our system of government. One of the more basic motives in American life — making money — is all you now need, the documentary shows, to detonate American democracy at its foundation.
For Facebook and Google and Instagram and Twitter, the business goal quickly became maximizing and monetizing human attention via addictive dopamine hits. Attention, they meticulously found, is correlated with emotional intensity, outrage, shock and provocation. Give artificial intelligence this simple knowledge about what distracts and compels humans, let the algorithms do their work, and the profits snowball. The cumulative effect — and it’s always in the same incendiary direction — is mass detachment from reality, and immersion in tribal fever.
With each passing second online, news stories, graphic videos, incendiary quotes, and outrages demonstrate their stunning utility to advertisers as attention seizers, are endlessly tweaked and finessed by AI to be even more effective, and thereby prime our brains for more of the same. They literally restructure our minds. They pickle us in propaganda. They use sophisticated psychological models to trap, beguile, outrage, and prompt us to seek more of the same.
Alternative views, unpleasant facts, discomforting arguments, contextualizing statistics, are, with ever-greater efficiency, filtered out of what our eyes can see and our minds absorb. And what we therefore believe becomes more fixed, axiomatic, self-reinforcing, and self-affirming. We become siloed into two affective tribes, with dehumanization of each other deepening with every news cycle. And we know what happens when dehumanization through social media is fully exploited. Ask the Rohingya of Burma, whose horrifying persecution was a function almost entirely of a Facebook disinformation campaign, seeded by a few in government and then unleashed by the masses in a spasm of genocidal violence.
And finally, I'll leave you with one of the best explanations I've read recently about why, given everything our president does on a regular basis that would seemingly make any sane and rational person want to run screaming from the building, his followers still support him. Stop trying to make sense of their madness and show up and vote in November.
The question was asked why people continue supporting Trump no matter what he does.
“You all don't get it. I live in Trump country, in the Ozarks in southern Missouri, one of the last places where the KKK still has a relatively strong established presence. They don't give a shit what he does. He's just something to rally around and hate liberals, that's it, period. He absolutely realizes that and plays it up. They love it. He knows they love it. The fact that people act like it's anything other than that proves to them that liberals are idiots, all the more reason for high fives all around.
If you keep getting caught up in "why do they not realize this problem" and "how can they still back Trump after this scandal," then you do not understand what the underlying motivating factor of his support is. It's fuck liberals, that's pretty much it.
Have you noticed he can do pretty much anything imaginable, and they'll explain some way that rationalizes it that makes zero logical sense? Because they're not even keeping track of any coherent narrative, it's irrelevant. Fuck liberals is the only relevant thing. Trust me; I know firsthand what I'm talking about. That's why they just laugh at it all because you all don't even realize they truly don't give a fuck about whatever the conversation is about. It's just a side mission story that doesn't matter anyway. That's all just trivial details - the economy, health care, whatever. Fuck liberals.
Look at the issue with not wearing the masks. I can tell you what that's about. It's about exposing fear. They're playing chicken with nature, and whoever flinches just moved down their internal pecking order, one step closer to being a liberal.
You got to understand the one core value that they hold above all others is hatred for what they consider weakness because that's what they believe strength is, hatred of weakness. And I mean passionate, sadistic hatred. And I'm not exaggerating. Believe me. Sadistic, passionate hatred, and that's what proves they're strong, their passionate hatred for weakness. Sometimes they will lump vulnerability in with weakness. They do that because people tend to start humbling themselves when they're in some compromising or overwhelming circumstance, and to them, that's an obvious sign of weakness.
Kindness=weakness. Honesty=weakness. Compromise=weakness.
They consider their very existence to be superior in every way to anyone who doesn't hate weakness as much as they do. They consider liberals to be weak people that are inferior, almost a different species, and the fact that liberals are so weak is why they have to unite in large numbers, which they find disgusting, but it's that disgust that is a true expression of their natural superiority."
Dunning-Kruger all up in your face.
Well it's all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it's all right, if you got someone to love
Well it's all right, everything'll work out fine
Well it's all right, we're going to the end of the line
Good morning from Stanley Ranger Station just outside of Stanley, Idaho (where connectivity is mostly not an issue).
We've been in residence at Mount Heyburn Campground for the past six going on seven days now. The weather here at about 6,500+ feet above the level of the sea has been nothing short of amazing. We begin our days in the 40's, reach the low 80's around 4:00 p.m. and then suffer through the 70's then 60's as night falls around camp. Dark thirty is at around 10:00 p.m. though it doesn't get dark until after 11:00 p.m. Humidity levels are generally less than 50%, but mostly in the 20% range giving new meaning, at least for this Southerner, to the blissful days of summer.
The sixth of July found us living on the road for a year and a half (18 months full-time travel, 20 months living in Miranda). Another milestone in our travels. Life, even in times of pandemic, remains nothing short of amazing.
The negatives of full-time travel remain, at least for us, very minor. Melanie still misses having our cats around, though FaceTime with Tate remains good for some kitty contact as we can see Gus and he and Zoe's new kitty, Poppy, sometimes once a week.
We miss seeing our friends in Birmingham though in these times we most likely wouldn't be in direct contact with them on too regular a basis anyway. And sometimes our friends are able to meet us along the way. We were stymied back in April when friends cancelled a planned trip to San Francisco where we were to spend time, but we're currently traveling with a long-time friend (and my brother from another mother) who met us almost two weeks ago.
In our opinion, there's never been a better time not to own real estate and be stuck, so to speak, in one place. We really enjoy having options about where we live and how long we choose to stay. We stay abreast of the latest news regarding COVID-19 and try our best to stay clear of the reported "hot spots." While it's unfortunate many areas of our country have made mask wearing and social distancing a political tool, or maybe I should say the political tools and hacks are running amok in parts of our country making it difficult to get the virus under control, we have been able to steer clear of the misinformed. An ability to be agile in a pandemic is proving to be a good thing for sanity.
The great people we continue to meet along the ways. Physical distancing, not necessarily social distancing. We wear our masks when they are called for. We stay away from all venues that are statistically high for virus infection.
Local produce and restaurants. We aren't eating out as much, but that's made up by being able, especially now during the growing season, to purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables. We mostly eat out when we can be outside and properly physical distanced.
We are increasingly aware of how little one needs to actually be happy. Large living spaces are not on the horizon for us. Once off the road, we see ourselves living in a small, but comfortable space with emphasis on the outdoors.
We really love living most of our days outside. We sleep and shower, sometimes eat in the van, but much of the day is spent outside. Today Melanie is working on a picnic table at Stanley Ranger Station.
The many and varied places we continue to travel to and through while not being on vacation. Before COVID-19, we were often planned to be located in church parking lots on weekends for Melanie's work. Since churches are not currently meeting, we can move at will and travel where we please as long as Melanie is connected for work. Sometimes that proves challenging, hardly ever impossible. Flexibility of movement equals great freedom.
Experience may vary depending on what you're willing to compromise.
Bogus Basin, Idaho (July 9-12, 2020)
Day trip Stanley Ranger Station to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho with JW (July 19,2020)
Good afternoon from Klamath Falls, Oregon where we're in residence for a few days at Rocky Point Resort. It's a sunny day here, low this morning was 42. It will reach 68 degrees this afternoon sometime. The resort is situated on Recreation Creek which flows into Upper Klamath Lake. Beautiful serene spot.
We've now been out on the road and away from quarantine in Sisters, Oregon for just over two weeks. We traveled down the Southern Oregon Coast into northern California as far south as Fortuna, California.
After leaving Fortuna, we moved inland and north to Trinity Center, California. The drive away from the coast and into the mountains along the Trinity River to get there is a truly amazing and remote experience. Recommended with the qualification, if you're driving a vehicle that's 25' in length or more, you must give yourself more time than you imagine the mileage dictates due to mountain roads being up and down and curvy.
We were in residence at a KOA Campground near the Trinity Lake for a few days. The campground is large and many of the people camped there are seasonal, some from the California coast who want a bit more of the summer's warmth Trinity Center has to offer them.
Connectivity was somewhat a problem at the KOA, so we cycled over to Trinity Center a few days so Melanie could work at the local market that had outside tables and where our Verizon signal strength was much better. The church across the street from the market had a sign asking people to join The State of Jefferson. Who knew? A modern-day secessionists' movement that encompasses Northern California and some of Southern Oregon.
All that's missing from their sign is a Confederate battle flag. White people wanting to over turn Reynolds v. Sims, a case originating in Birmingham, Alabama that established the one man-one vote principle. They don't like taxes. Imagine.
We took several nice bike rides along California Highway 3 and Trinity Lake. I took a ride to a trailhead into the Trinity Alps Wilderness one afternoon.
We left Trinity Center on Monday morning traveling to Klamath Falls, Oregon and our current spot on Northern Klamath Lake. We'll be here until Friday morning when we'll travel north and west to Eugene again. We'll resupply and head toward the Oregon Coast again and northward into Washington State.
Our plans to stay at a campground just north of Crater Lake National Park were dashed yesterday afternoon when the park service extended the closure of Diamond Lake campground due to concerns about COVID-19. Drats.
We'll most likely take Miranda to Crater Lake tomorrow morning for a brief visit, hopefully the weather will cooperate.
It's a bright, sunny and cool day here in Sisters, Oregon. Current temp is 50 degrees, but when I went out to Miranda this morning to make our coffee at around 6:30 a.m., it was 33 degrees. The days may be getting longer, but the temperatures still feel like early spring.
Melanie and I have decided, after being quarantined in Sisters for almost two months, we are ready to begin our travels again. We do so, as you may imagine, with some trepidation, but armed with good information about how to stay safe in the time of pandemic.
We will miss our spot in Sisters. Our stay here has been nothing short of great. Even as the virus continues to plague many areas of the country. We are fortunate to have been invited to shelter here and grateful for our hosts, Christy and Jack. It's good to also know, if things don't go as we hope and plan once we're back out traveling, we have a place to which we can return, if need be.
It's the Sunday before Memorial Day. The New York Times headline, U.S. Deaths Near 100,000 an Incalculable Loss. Meanwhile, 45 spends Saturday and today golfing and posting racist tweets from a racist supporter. No mention by 45 of lives lost due to COVID-19. So it goes.
Memorial Day 2020
We end our Sisters quarantine tomorrow and begin our travels anew. First to Eugene, Oregon, then on to the Oregon coast.
I'd intended to cycle one last time into the Cascades on McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway to McKenzie Pass, but there's much to do in preparation for departure tomorrow. Aside from the beauty and great exercise I've gotten from my rides around Sisters and on the scenic highway, I'll miss the many and varied conversations I've had with people who take the scenic route.
Always maintaining the proper physical distance, I was reminded by a physicians assistant from Bend that physical distance didn't necessarily mean we had to forego social contact. We could talk to each other from safe distance.
I met someone from my hometown of Columbus, Georgia one day while in Windy Gap. She had worked in Portland, but retired with her husband and now lives in Sisters. While we went to the same high school, she is younger and so I missed knowing her when we both lived there.
There was the guy from Bend who misunderstood me thinking I was being critical of him when I said you'd have to be missing a brain not to understand the gravity of our situation during the pandemic. His response was to declare he had a very large brain and to ride off abruptly leaving his companion to apologize to me. Luckily, I saw them both again and was able to explain my comments were not critical of him. I did not mean to insult. He apologized too and, I assume, all was well.
I met another couple, John and Susan, from Bend as I was stopped and was drinking water at the closed seasonal gate on the highway. John asked if my bike was an electric assist. When I responded, yes, he mentioned his was also. We struck up a conversation as we ascended the highway and Susan mentioned that John would soon turn 91 years young. I suddenly felt like a kid.
Turns out John, who is a retired Mathematician/Physicist, had, for a time, taught at Auburn University in 1958. John has a blog, Hoalablog, you may find interesting. He suggested I start at the beginning, I would suggest you also start there and peruse at your leisure.
I've exchanged emails with them and hope to stay in touch from time to time. Susan sent along places along the Oregon coast she and John have enjoyed for us to consider.
Here's an excerpt from John's blog:
It is fall, 1957. I am newly married to Barbara, my first wife. We are in Auburn, Alabama where I am a Temporary Instructor in the Physics Department at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, later to become Auburn University. We have ended up in Auburn because Barbara was acquainted with Dr. Howard Carr, head of the Physics Department and knew that the department badly needed people to teach elementary physics to engineering students and liberal arts majors. Letters written from Innsbruck plus a positive reference from my graduate adviser at Stanford (Georg Polya, a well-known mathematician) sealed the deal. Of course, I had pretty much forgotten the little physics I had ever known so I would need to learn the subject from the text I was teaching and try to stay a week or so ahead of my students. Since I was planning to become a physicist anyway, this was a fun challenge and I didn’t do too badly in meeting it. Certainly, I could appreciate and relate to the difficulties my students were having with the subject. Meanwhile, Barbara had decided to switch her major from mathematics to English literature so was taking graduate courses in the English Department.
That fall we were totally absorbed in life. I was passionately in love with Barbara and working hard on learning elementary physics and doing well with my teaching. As a faculty member I had easy access to football tickets and enjoyed going to games. The Auburn team that year was winning all their games, a new experience for me after watching games in high school and at Stanford. In high school I watched Punahou lose 64 – 0 to Kamehameha in their first game and lose every subsequent game thereafter. Stanford had a similarly bad season my freshman year. In retrospect I think that the Auburn team was the best college team I’ve ever seen. They had an overwhelming defense often holding opponents to negative yardage on the ground. Their games were not exciting because they did not seem to be very fired up. They would get a lead of a few points, shut down their opponents, and play out the rest of the game in a boring manner. There was only the suspense of wondering if the opposition would score on a fluke play. When it came time to play the last game of the season against arch-rival Alabama, the press was wondering if there would be an upset because Auburn’s wins had been less than dramatic while Alabama hadn’t done all that badly. The game started in a usual manner. Auburn won the toss and, as they always did in such circumstances, elected to kick. As the kickoff sailed down the field I suddenly realized I was looking at a different, fired up, team. The Alabama receiver took the ball in the end zone and started up the field, making little progress as flying tackles narrowly missed their target. The runner was shortly overwhelmed at about the 15 yard line. In the next few plays Alabama lost yardage and finally fumbled after a hard hit in their end zone. Auburn 7, Alabama 0. Subsequently Auburn finally displayed their offense. They did have an all-American end, Jimmy Phillips, who played sensationally and their ground game became effective. Final score 40 – 0. What impressed me about that Auburn team was the philosophy of doing the minimum necessary to win, in a relaxed manner, never playing to potential unless necessary or in a game with Alabama. This attitude, with its suggestion of power held in reserve, smacked of the Zen I would later encounter.
Also in that Fall Quarter I was becoming acquainted with Barbara’s family and numerous relatives, taking in the friendly Southern atmosphere, which overlay a terrible racism, seldom explicitly on display to me. However, I knew it was there. The first morning in Auburn I was awake at dawn, still not adjusted to the time change, so got up in the early light and headed to town up the main street. A black man came down the side walk in front of me, began to hesitate when about thirty feet away, then stepped off the sidewalk three or four feet into the street and cowered, half turned away from me with head bowed, as I walked by. I was totally appalled, having grown up in Hawaii where there are too many races and racial mixtures for serious prejudice though people other than haoles (whites) had been quite subjugated in the days before I grew up. By the time I was in high school, however, one could be taunted for being a haole and perhaps beaten up, so what prejudice there was operated in all directions. In Alabama, because I am a realist and definitely a coward as well, I never openly challenged the mores of that time, but tried to treat black people with respect.
From Oregon Health Authority on Memorial Day 2020
The (Coronavirus) War Prayer
Lord our Father, we beseech Thee, declare our lives more worthy than the aged or infirm, than any who might perish so that we may return to ways that are more comfortable. Let them gasp for air, for we are afraid of losing status. Let them be martyrs, collateral damage in our campaign to dine out when we want, to cut and shampoo and bowl as we please. Let our grandmothers die alone, so our lives do not have to change. Let our neighbors and uncles and aunts and even our children succumb, so our other sons may play sports before crowds.
Let us return to normal quickly to recover our losses, Lord, even if it causes this plague to persist. Allow us to feel good about that, Lord. Let our cries of “freedom” wash our sins away.
We ask it all in love. Amen.
Thanks, John Archibald
It's late morning here in Sisters on a rare cloudy day with rain in the forecast. The weather here has been very spring like of late with temperatures reaching into the low 80's Saturday past. Near noon now, it's hovering in the low 50's. Life in the high desert.
While Melanie and I are still physical distancing, we've begun to think about continuing our travels. It's not likely we'll leave Sisters before the beginning of June, giving ourselves a few more weeks to carefully consider how to proceed with everyone's safety, including our own, in mind.
As I've mentioned before, we are very fortunate and thankful for being invited to take refuge and quarantine off the road. Our hosts, our new friends, are kind and generous souls and we've throughly enjoyed spending time with them in their home. It's nice to know we have a place to be in case we need to be off the road again.
I receive the Oregon Health Authority's COVID news email daily. Governor Brown is slowly beginning to open the state back up. From what I can tell, new cases and deaths from COVID-19 have remained pretty level in the state for some time. Yesterday, Oregon reported 51 new cases and 3 new deaths. Most people who die from the virus here, as in many other states and locales, are elderly, most, but not all, have underlying health problems. There are no known cases of the virus in Sisters, another reason we are happy to be here.
Good information about the virus is not hard to come by, but that doesn't keep people from believing all kinds of nonsense about it. Spend any time on Facebook lately and you know conspiracies and propaganda are abundant. It's increasingly difficult for me to garner the patience necessary to navigate all the misinformation promulgated by people who are suffering from various quarantine maladies, some without a whiff of self-reflection or meta-cognition.
It's increasingly clear to me that we are not all in this together though we're all certainly in the same boat. People still largely don't understand why wearing masks in public are as important as maintaining social distance. Information coming out of the White House, where Trump and Pence, among others, don't wear masks and where wearing masks is now, only yesterday, deemed mandatory, is largely to blame for much of the confusion. For months they have attempted to flattened the truth on the virus.
Mercury Must Be In Retrograde Again, but at least it's not just hanging around pretending to be my friend. Jus' saying
A friend messaged me yesterday that she was a little tired of her house and her children and her husband and pets, but otherwise, she was okay.
Over the past several weeks as I've spoken up on Facebook when I see misinformation or self-serving, largely thoughtless, economic arguments about opening up the economy and getting "back to normal," as if things were really ever normal before the virus, strange things have been coming my way. Some might argue I deserve what I get for even responding or thinking for half a minute a rational discussion might be had amidst all the chaos.
A few weeks ago, for example, someone on Facebook told me he was envisioning breaking my jaw if I had been fortunate enough to be standing in front of him. I'd simply asked him why an article he'd posted was not simply a selfish, self-serving economic argument leaving out any potential major detrimental consequences of opening the economy without a plan. To his credit, he did suggest he was sorry about the threat and offered he'd pray for me. Thoughts and then prayers.
How much is a life worth?
Another told me, indirectly, in a post different from the one in which I'd left a responsive comment to an article she posted, I could disagree with her, but I didn't need to be a dick about it. An ad hominem attack as response. My favorite. If that's all you got, then nothing is all you got.
Forty percent of our fellow citizens couldn't come up with $400.00 for an emergency before the virus hit. And we're going to open up and go right back to normal? As is usual in the U.S., the poor will continue to take it on the chin and the rich among us continue on at a safe distance.
See Also, Poor People's Campaign Virtual March on Washington, June 20,2020.
Meanwhile, a member of a Facebook group of owners of the RV Melanie and I live in posted RVing After COVID-19 from a publication put out by Camping World. Not a mention of physical distancing, wearing a mask, being mindful of traveling into a town where you're a stranger and maybe carrying the virus with you as you travel. No, life will once again be beautiful. Like you, you intrepid traveler.
If your intention is to travel, you should at least know the risks and how to avoid them.
How Freedom Turned Sociopathic in America.
Physical distance. Be considerate, wear a mask. Stay safe.
And so it was, in the second month of quarantine, I shot video (and a few stills).
Before we began our travels 16 months ago, I invested in video editing software and a few other items I thought might assist us in making videos of our travels on occasion. I'd followed couples who traveled and had YouTube channels and what they were producing seemed like a fun exercise.
When life on the road began, shooting and editing videos suddenly seemed too much like work. The software was complicated and I knew from prior experience producing a video that met minimal standards was, well, time consuming. There was simply too much to see and do to warrant hours sitting editing video.
Then quarantine, right? So, after a very rudimentary start at learning my editing software (you'll note a few glitches I didn't feel like removing) and without giving content too much consideration, here's my first attempt at some video of a part of what I've been fortunate enough to be doing regularly. I've added music you may not like, but for me, this is a marker of sorts. It represents part of what's happening right now in Sisters, Oregon as we quarantine.
Timelapse in Deschutes National Forest
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
Steven and Melanie