The Tokyo Olympics just ended, but can you believe the Beijing 2022 Winter Games are less than six months away? Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On With Your Day.
A medical worker rests last week at a Covid-19 ICU ward in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
The average number of new coronavirus cases in the US has increased ninefold since the beginning of July, and hospitalizations are at their highest rate since February. In some parts of the country, hospitals are at capacity, and loved ones of those battling the virus are pleading for access to life-saving equipment. As if the situation isn’t bad enough, new concerns are starting to arise: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the continued spread of the virus could allow new variants — possibly ones more resistant to vaccines — to emerge and spread if more people don’t get vaccinated. Experts are already seeing more cases of the Lambda variant, which is designated by WHO as a coronavirus “variant of interest.”
The Taliban has seized five provincial capitals in Afghanistan and let loose a string of violence as foreign forces, led by the US, complete their withdrawal from the country. Among the areas now under Taliban control is Kunduz, a strategically important provincial capital that marks the first major city to fall to the Taliban since it began its offensive in May. Afghanistan’s swift descent into violence has been alarming and follows international warnings that a foreign troop withdrawal could lead to a Taliban resurgence. Now, there is concern that even the country’s capital of Kabul could fall. In the past week, the US has increased airstrikes against Taliban positions in a bid to halt its advances.
The Senate has voted to cut off debate on the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, clearing the way for a vote on the final passage of the bipartisan bill. Sixty-eight senators, including 18 Republicans, voted to invoke cloture (quickly halting the debate) to break the filibuster and push the process forward. The Senate is now expected to hold a final vote tomorrow morning. Senators are confident the bill will pass, but there’s been some recent shuffling of necessary Republican support of the bill. If it passes, it wouldn’t just be a win for President Biden’s agenda; it would also be a win for both parties, which have worked for months to come to an agreement on the bill. An affirmative Senate vote wouldn’t make it a done deal, though. The bill would still face significant challenges in the House.
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a new report, and the message is clear: Deadly and irreversible effects of climate change are already here. Unlike previous assessments, the report also concludes it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused the climate crisis. It states the world has rapidly warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels and is now careening toward 1.5 degrees — a critical threshold that world leaders have agreed should represent the upper limit of global warming. Scientists say the only way to keep from reaching this point of no return and to prevent even more catastrophic damage is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
The Bing cherry is named after Seth Lewelling’s Manchurian orchard foreman and friend, Bing. Bing was over 7 feet tall. The Rainier cherry, named after Washington State’s famous volcanic peak, was created in 1952 by cross-breeding the Bing and Van varieties.
Yesterday I ate the last cherry in the white bowl on the varnished wood counter
In my warm kitchen.
It sat there in the bowl, shiny, impervious to dust, all afternoon staring up at me like a disemboweled eye.
Why did someone name the cherry Bing?
after a 7 foot tall Manchurian, a candidate for the forgotten man?
In my mouth the cherry felt like a vulnerable marble: warm not cold and very round yet porous; wondrous, and intimate: impossible for an explorer to resist. I pierced the shell of the cherry with my one Wisdom tooth and tasted through my teeth the sweet and the bitter, surprising youth and pungent old age. Holding it all under my tongue slowly moving the pieces I wondered was there anything else so delicious on earth as the last bite of anything on earth?
For the longest time I thought I might become
I could be Norwegian and learn the language well so people would say how
no one could tell I wasn’t a native.
My hair would miraculously turn blond.
It would be ok to like sex.
I like the sounds of their desserts.
Or I could be a lawyer in Manhattan wearing crispy tight suits in black with very high heels and click click click across the court room floor stating my case with brilliant red lips and always winning.
Rootless like a malformed carrot I
refuse to flourish in one place.
I know this is a problem this rootlessness.
It’s prevented me from
applying myself to much of anything: love, housekeeping, friendship, home repair… you get the story. I kept a suitcase filled with cash hidden in my house and a bag packed with essentials which changed from month to month.
Now my rootlessness fits right in. No one is going anywhere but everyone would like to be rootless.
Where will I go when I can go anywhere?
Hawaii because I can’t get the music of palm trees out of my head.
Like Eloise, I could move into the Four Seasons hotel on the Big Island and go down to dinner every night sitting at the bar overlooking the lapping ocean generously tipping the bartender so that he always saved my seat.
And oh yes there is the spa with palm leaves that rattle above your hut while you are having a massage. Preferably a Lomi Lomi massage and I don’t know what that is.
I have entertained myself all day thinking of places I would like to go when I can go anywhere. Frankly, it may be better in my imagination. That’s been a life long problem of mine.
“I bought a trailer because I joined a gang.
My feet itched and my rain was shutting
down so I became a nomad
something I’ve always wanted to be.
Some language has a word for it: people
who don’t feel like they belong anywhere.
That’s me. I’m pretty old so I was worried
about camping places
alone. Don’t get me wrong I’ve got two
dogs but they haven’t been trained for
but disobedience which I am fond of.
I am old now so no one would be interested
never knowing that I have a flipstack of cash
stored in my hubcaps: left front and right
I’ve always liked going north.
It doesn’t matter where I start
I just like heading north.
And I like it
Taken from the Missouri Star interview with Lulu Roamer photographed in front of her Teardrop camper
I am the last woman on earth.
I live alone in my house and every day I do the Schedule:
yoga, coffee, meditation, breakfast, look out the window, laundry,
make the bed,
take a shower, take a walk, lie on the floor, wait for the dogs to
jump on me, eat stuff from the fridge,
gaze into it awhile. Brush my hair.
Add blush. Add mascara after thinking about how long it will take
to remove later.
Yesterday I considered a small glass of red wine with breakfast.
I can’t remember the day.
My neighbor’s new dog barks
enough to make napping problematic.
I drink a lot of tea with half and half and maple syrup which is
tastier than sugar.
After 6 my garage is a café for friends
and dinner comes in white cardboard boxes. We slip food under
our masks like horses with feed buckets or dogs with muzzles.
We are dreamers who believe
next month will bring hope back and neighbors come
two by two
like passengers on Noah’s Ark
run aground and have a hard time leaving.
I’m glad for the distraction and for the wine and anesthesia.
I don’t tell anyone about the hopelessness.
I hate Italian families.
When you see them in a group they’re always laughing and eating,
kissing and hugging and touching each other as if they really mean
it and they don’t mind being close.
Don’t they know that they’re not supposed to behave like that?
In the best of WASP families you never touch anything but a cheek
with another cheek.
You have children but they leave the house
To a WASP there can be no answer as
nothing is written down.
It turns out your family will never resemble an Italian family.
Wasps require large houses because everyone needs a greater than normal
amount of space in which to sequester themselves from their
So if they can afford it they move into mansions and most of the
rooms are left empty.
Certainly on holidays there is one long table but it’s like
Covid before Covid.
I’m trying to learn how to be Italian.
I’m a genetic aberration.
I used to have a friend in the mafia who definitely was Italian.
He used to take me to dinner at the Italian club and during the meal
the table would shimmer and shake according to who was shooting what
weapon at the gun range on the floor below.
Having dinner with Vincent made me feel weirdly protected but
apprehensive . Like having indigestion before you even thought
about eating. I asked him to adopt me but that wasn’t what he had
I found out a year ago that Vincent had died. I hate that.
People that you keep thinking of for years
and years and then suddenly you hear that you shouldn’t
have been thinking about them because
they were dead.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we bury the upper crust!”
Motto from a WASP funeral company
In the December desert near the crepuscular
hour many people experience subtle, ocular
change. Sometimes these changes are
permanent. Saguaros (Te
quiero) can begin to move
and appear to challenge with their arms
the delicate prickly pear while the Feather
cactus plays, “catch a falling Star“. It is, however,
the Christmas cactus that interests me:
blooming blood red pink like a baby‘s lips exactly at the
time they say we had a virgin birth.
Who will tell it to bloom now that we have lost faith:
a world divided, no party lines, no Avon lady, no
agreement not to kill each other?
So today on Facebook I posted a piece written by a black woman who was raised by white parents which Gloria Steinem had originally posted. It’s been up for a few hours and there’s only one comment. No likes. A friend of mine “unliked” it saying it was biased. I think it’s right on. The writer describes what it’s like to be black in a world where racial profiling is a part of our national profile. It’s a very moving and passionate piece expressing what the writer feels in her own life and asking us, the white people of the world, to do something. She says that prejudice can only be changed by the people who are prejudiced. We are all prejudiced. We can’t help it. No matter what the reality was of the shooting incident in Ferguson, the cops there would probably have hesitated if the guy had been white. Yes, he may have robbed a convenience store prior to the incident, but that mean he should be shot on sight? The only way we can have true equality as a society is if those of us who are in the position to speak up do so. What would it be like if everyone was “colorblind”? It’s not up to the underdog to change things, it’s up to the people of the world who never had to worry about being the underdog. Change happens at the top of any organization. If everyone made an effort to look at their own misplaced fear of those who are different than we are, interesting and positive things will happen.
Hybrid Drivers: Compassionate or Insane?
So every morning Stan and I go for a two mile walk long before most normal folks have even batted one eye. It’s really lovely here by the bay and one can hear many sweet, early morning noises. I used to listen to the news on my IPHONE but one day the battery died and I realized it was much nicer to hear only the natural noise of the neighborhood. We walk up a long set of stairs about half way through the walk and Stanley tries to delay things by pretending to have to pee or sniff the very important grasses along the way.
At the top of the stairs there is a fairly busy street that runs across Sausalito and up to the highway. The street is narrow and it is difficult for two cars to pass one another due to this narrowness as well as the cars parked on the side of the street. As we walk along this street we often pull into a small space between the parked cars to allow a car to safely pass us. I hear the cars coming and usually find a place to pull into with Stanley as I find it safer for both of us.
Now I think of myself as a patient person as well as one who tries to be courteous to others but these days I have noticed there is a war starting in our neighborhood. The hybrid car drivers are really angry and have no patience at all. I noticed this a few years ago on the highway when I became aware of the speed and aggression of Hybrid car drivers. It actually frightened me. So I began to hypothesize about why this was happening. Did the bulk of hybrid drivers buy the cars because they wanted to save money on gas? Did they buy hybrid cars because it was better for the environment? I really don’t know the answer to these questions but I do know that for the most part hybrid car drivers are really pissed they are in these cars in the first place and seem determined to show the rest of the world how aggressively they can drive and how fast they can go.
The other morning Stanley and I were honked at by a hybrid driver who had silently driven up on us and even though we were within our rights to be walking on the side of the road, the driver apparently felt we weren’t giving her enough attention.
The honk was really loud and made both of us jump. I turned, startled by the noise and thinking there was a real problem, only to see that this woman wanted to go even faster than she had been and I was delaying her by seconds by walking my dog around a car.
Now I am perplexed. Isn’t part of the thinking in having a hybrid about being environmentally aware and isn’t sound a part of that awareness?
Isn’t there another solution? Like rolling down her window and calling out,” Excuse me, please?”
The one thing I have managed to maintain (knock on wood!) in my old age is my hearing and those hybrids are really quiet! If I were driving one I would worry about honking at people at such close range thinking I might hurt their ears or be bothered by my rudeness.
The last time something like this happened a young man honked at me and I shouted out at him, “That’s very rude!”
I know, I know. I should learn to just ignore these people but I can’t because I think they have no idea what they are doing.
This young man stopped his car and asked me what I had said which was very strange as I know he heard me. Perhaps he wanted to become belligerent with a 5’5 inch 120 pound lady walking a beige Chihuahua who is really a mutt but is so much more! In any case I said that he would probably have a heart attack if he didn’t learn to calm down and become a more patient driver. Then I told him meditation might help and that there was a class in the evening right down the hill.
He sat there in his car with his mouth open and then just floored his gas pedal and shot off into the morning. You can’t tell me these folks are happy.
So here’s what I think. I think the hybrid drivers are sheepish about their cars and want to prove to the world how powerful they are both mechanically as well as spiritually and they are unable to do either.
I will never drive a hybrid car as I would never progress beyond my own driveway. I like to make a lot of noise when making an entrance!