Dog people.

If you’re one of those Extremely Online people, you’ve probably seen the Wall Street Journal dueling op-eds from a couple weeks back. The woodcut-type illustrations say it all:

I don’t have a thing against cats, but I’ve never had one. Alan’s allergic (he claims), and so we’re a dog family. Needless to say, Wendy has been a perfect colleague over the last seven weeks, better than an Apple watch for suggesting, maybe it’s time to stand up, stretch your legs, and…maybe take a stroll around the block? If that doesn’t work, she’s always up for a nap.

People do a lot of dog-walking around here, and when the weather was chilly, it was one place you might run into your neighbors. At the very least, you see another dog-owner, and you nod, or wave. If a person has a dog, there’s a good chance — not a perfect chance — that they have some decency to them. I respect anyone’s choice not to have a dog or cat or bunny or hamster, but someone who simply dislikes animals? Can’t trust ’em. Pets undeniably bring complications to a human life — vet bills and hair and more hair and sometimes middle-of-the-night barfing (thanks, Wendy). But there are so many rewards; they really do enrich your life.

So I was interested to read this piece in the NYT about presidential dogs. Especially this passage:

It’s true many presidential dogs have been used to help shape a politician’s image — cue Richard Nixon and his Checkers speech, or Herbert Hoover’s campaign photo of himself posing with his shepherd, King Tut. But surely the presence of an FDOTUS has other, less cynical effects. Is it so wrong to think that Donald Trump’s character might have been changed — just the smallest bit — if there were a dog beneath his roof?

It almost happened. On Thanksgiving in 2016, Mr. Trump’s friend Lois Pope told the president she wanted to give him a Goldendoodle named Patton (after the general). Ms. Pope thought it might be sweet for Barron Trump, the president’s son, to have a dog in the White House. She showed the boy a photo of Patton, and she said later, “This big smile came over his face, and it just brought tears to his eyes.”

But Mr. Trump told Ms. Pope he was too busy for a dog. Later, he told supporters he didn’t need one. Because “that’s not the relationship I have with my people.”

Maybe. But if he’d become the owner of a Goldendoodle, maybe he’d have had a different relationship — and not just with “his people,” but with all of us. Because a dog might have encouraged Mr. Trump to take himself just a little less seriously. Because a dog might have given him someone to love besides himself.

A man who watches TV all day, has a vast staff to take care of his household needs, including feeding, cleaning up after and walking the dog, gives a refusal that is not only insulting, but like everything else out of his mouth, fundamentally dishonest. And narcissistic. But not a bit surprising.

But you knew that.

A good weekend here. Got one room cleaned down to its individual molecules. Got a bike ride. Got Wendy walked a few times. Got groceries. Can’t ask for more than that.

And now week eight begins. Hard to believe, but there it is.

Posted at 9:52 pm in Current events | 72 Comments
 

The badge.

Sherri said something late in the comments on the last post, about how it’s time for the elected position of sheriff to go away, and mentioned Joe Arpaio. I’m agnostic on the position itself (for now), but she’s right about the office attracting a disproportionate number of lunatics.

Back in the…80s? Maybe? When the tax-protest began to gather steam, there was another group growing alongside them, the Posse Comitatus movement. You can google the Posse Comitatus Act, signed in 1878, but the part that applies to the movement is this:

The purpose of the act – in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807 – is to limit the powers of the federal government in using federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States. …The title of the act comes from the legal concept of posse comitatus, the authority under which a county sheriff, or other law officer, conscripts any able-bodied person to assist in keeping the peace.

These lunatics read this to mean: They don’t have to follow any damn laws they don’t want, at least none that federal law enforcement are involved in (like tax protest). And the only legal authority they respect is the county sheriff.

Now, I’ve mainly lived in urban areas my whole life, where the county sheriff worked more or less like the city police chief, enforcing the law in the unincorporated areas of the county. But as the divide grew between whiter, more affluent suburbs and blacker cities, the divide between law enforcement did, too. And lots of county sheriffs got kinda… full of themselves.

In Fort Wayne, the sheriff openly scorned the city, and referred to the county as a “donut,” the hole being Fort Wayne. He ran for mayor, perhaps after he was carried to a legal residence within the city limits on a litter, but lost pretty badly. (See Alex’s comments about the county GOP’s ineptitude in this area.)

Here in Detroit, where the suburban counties go way past mere scorn for Detroit, the model for the county sheriff is pretty different from that of the police chief. You can imagine how.

(Another weird Hoosier detail: The sheriff got a pretty good salary, in keeping with what you’d pay a department head, etc., but he was also permitted to keep a portion of all late property taxes he was somehow able to collect. Indiana is full of weird policy like this, much of it holdovers from the 18th or 19th century. As one of the the GA reporters, a native Bostonian, said in wonderment: “What is this? Medieval France?”)

Anyway, much of the tension in Michigan these days is around the governor’s stay-home order, and the fact Covid hasn’t really reached the hinterlands yet, at least not in the sort of alarming numbers that led to the order in the first place. Four county sheriffs up north have essentially said you can’t make us and announced they wouldn’t enforce the parts of the order they didn’t think were necessary up there.

I find myself torn between two common-sense ideas — that public-health directives are generally not made just for flex, and that local control is best. But one of the sheriff’s made a comment that had an undertone of sneering to it, and was ignorant to boot, something about how “fresh air” was the best thing for this illness. Unsaid: So let’s just get some and wait for it to skip over God’s country, as we all know it will.

Sigh. I grow weary.

So… what else? I am often weary these days, suddenly and without explanation. Zoom fitness, masked trips to the store and the same few rooms are getting on my nerves. Can’t forget the weather, which teases us with one 60 degree day, followed by a week where we’re lucky to hit 40. I told myself I’d go for a bike ride every day it was over 50, and there haven’t been many of those.

Just a bit of bloggage:

An old-style, crazy-polluter, zombie-wasteland steel mill is closing hereabouts. I’ve ridden my bike past the main-road entrance, and always wanted to go back to take a look, but security is very tight.

When a friend offered to take me trash fishing past it last spring, I jumped at the chance, just to get close on the water side.

It looks…foreboding:

The story about the closing is pretty good. We forget that well-paying work around here was often at the price of blowing black snot into your handkerchiefs.

That’s it for me, then. Stay sane, all.

Posted at 6:13 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 113 Comments
 

Astroturf.

Various news sources that have drifted past my eyes this weekend — I apologize, I didn’t pluck each one from the raging river, note the URL, then free it to float on — have indicated that the “grassroots” protests in recent days and accompanying social-media blitzes indeed are not grassroots at all. In fact, they may in fact be organized at a higher level, and I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been so shocked since it came out that Liberace was not losing all that weight because of the Watermelon Diet.

When the Bug spreads back to the rural areas of these various states, they’ll die and claim they aren’t dying, they just had a bad reaction to the Watermelon Diet.

Hope everyone’s weekend was good. Mine was amazingly productive. Project Paint the Living Room is nearly over, enough that I had the distinct pleasure of mopping the entire floor with Murphy’s Oil Soap this morning. I was the only one up and the sun was streaming through the windows onto the clean floor. It was a Zen moment, like looking at a clean notebook page. There is still stuff to do, but the biggest part is done and we can move the furniture back in, which we’ll do as soon as I’m over the pleasure of looking in at a totally bare room with fresh paint and a clean wooden floor.

Does anyone else ever dream of houses? I hardly ever remember my dreams, and the ones I have are mainly of houses. (We’ve discussed this before, I’m fairly sure.) The other night, it was books. But mainly: Houses. Maybe that’s why I like looking at my new living room so much.

I also got Kate’s taxes done, did a deep clean of the kitchen, started Sally Rooney’s “Normal People” and got a few other things done. I also scored a 12-pack of toilet paper, so that minor anxiety is abating. We’re good for a couple months with that.

And now, it’s a little Criterion collection and bed. What a week ahead.

Posted at 9:23 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 124 Comments
 

Thirds.

From my reading of social media and the limited eavesdropping I can do while maintaining social distance, the tribes seem to be dividing into three. I would call them:

The fearful: These are the people who can not sanitize, wipe down, bleach or otherwise disinfect their immediate environment enough. Some of them can get a little hostile about it, if they perceive you are not doing the same. “If I see ***anyone*** outside my house without a mask on, I’m going to yell at them!” was an actual Facebook post I saw not long ago, and she was absolutely serious; a few more sentences of finger-wagging followed, all in the same near-hysterical vein. A Grand Rapids doctor posted a video on YouTube that, as we used to say but probably shouldn’t anymore, went viral, explaining how, in his medically educated opinion, we should be handling our groceries. Step one: Leave them in the garage for three days. I didn’t watch any further than that, but millions of others did, and this seems like the fearful Ur-text, if you will.

The what-me-worrys: The Rush Limbaugh listeners and their fellow travelers. It’s just a flu! I got sick in November, so I figure I had it! This is all a plot by the Dems to strip our freedoms away! Anyway, masks are stupid! Anyway, I work out every day in the fresh air and figure I’m immune! Anyway, I’m no pussy! The president said it’s a choice, and THIS IS MINE! Anyway, fuck off!

The rest of us. I wear a mask in an enclosed environment – a store – or outdoors if I have to be fairly close to others. I do not wear one while riding my bike or walking the dog. This doesn’t strike me as socially irresponsible. If this disease were so contagious that just breathing the air after an infected person passed through the area at some indeterminate earlier moment would get you, we’d all have had it by now. Anyway, if I masked up while exercising, I’d faint from oxygen depletion within half a mile. I’m not fatalistic about it; I take prudent measures. But I’m not spraying the bottoms of my shoes with bleach when I come in from outside.

On the other hand, I think I don’t have any of the co-morbidities that maybe the woman yelling about masks is likely to have. Other than being…kinda old, you know.

Still healthy, still sane. Still in a hot spot; god, these numbers.

Some of you asked about the demonstration in Lansing yesterday. I wasn’t there, can’t tell you much about it, other than this: If this was about policy, there wouldn’t have been so many Trump flags there.

What’s happening is, the divide I alluded to a while back is very real: Outside the cities, especially in the deep rural areas where the virus has not established itself yet, many people feel they’re somehow immune, and resent the executive orders from Lansing. An actual county sheriff said, in so many words, that fresh air would somehow “be the best thing” to defeat the virus. I guess some people gotta learn the hard way. Maybe they will.

With that, let’s move to some truly amusing bloggage, an obit of a climate denier, Fred Singer:

A chief talent of Fred Singer, the world-famous climate denier who died on April 6 at 95, was bullying scientists whose work he could never match, and whose findings threatened the bottom lines of his corporate polluter clients.

…Singer seemed to take special pleasure in discrediting scientists who investigated the ways that human activity threatens public health and the safety of our planet, the sort of research that informs regulations to solve problems ranging from acid rain’s toll on forests to DDT’s impacts on wildlife, as well as — of course — the effects of climate change on us all.

…Singer always denied that he took corporate money to spread disinformation, even after evidence came to light that he had: In a 1993 deposition, Singer admitted under oath that he’d been funded by coal interests, and had consulted for Exxon, Shell, and the American Gas Association on topics including climate change.

Just for fun, I googled up the Heartland Institute tributes to him, which only underlined the premise of the obit: He was a major asshole. As the obit points out:

They say you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I spoke ill of Singer that day, and I feel no need to stop just because the bastard doesn’t breathe. What I saw that day was the face of evil, a detestable animal shoveling fine food into his fanged maw. Many have said to me in private that they also found him evil. That’s why evil persists: because too many fear risking the high salaries that pay for nice meals at French restaurants by speaking up in public. I would prefer to eat bologna sandwiches on stale bread and preserve my dignity.

As writer Anne Lamott once noted, “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Nice way to end the week, eh? Get through it, we’ll talk later.

Posted at 8:13 pm in Current events | 89 Comments
 

Pay to the order.

The news today kind of overwhelmed me. It overwhelms me pretty much every day, these days. Local (giant cuts coming in Detroit budget), state (oh god), federal (oh god times a million). Plus, I was feeling a little punky today, but not with a dry cough and fever – just some garden-variety middle-of-the-night reflux that woke me up around midnight coughing and trying to find the Tums I knew we had but couldn’t find.

I never get reflux, and by never I mean maybe three times in my life, but they’ve all happened in the last 18 months or so. I suppose it’s a new wrinkle on aging. All I can tell you is, it ruined my sleep.

And just a few minutes ago, I learned that stimulus checks will carry the president’s name.

Why, I believe my sleep may be disturbed again tonight.

Sleep well!

Posted at 9:45 pm in Current events | 58 Comments
 

A big circle.

I make a to-do list every week in my hand-written planner. It’s not a bullet journal, but has some of its DNA. It’s not a calendar, but has some of that DNA, too. As the year unfolds, it serves as something of a work diary. I just turned the page for the week ahead and made a note: Week 5. Hardly seems possible, and yet: There you go.

At least this weekend was productive. I took care of body (bike ride), soul (socially distanced visit with friends, outdoors), and cleaned the bookcase in my office, which had become a ridiculous dump where I shoved everything, and subsequently couldn’t find anything. Among the finds was the pocket notebook I carried during my year in Ann Arbor. Best jotted-down quote: “I’m a journalist. My toolkit is demolitions.” Random note: “Norwalk virus in a dorm. Lines outside the stalls in communal bathrooms, signs on doors reading ‘sick.'” The most puzzling: “Image-kissing as idolatry.”

If anyone who knew me then can explain that last one, I’m all ears.

I told myself I wasn’t death-cleaning, but it is tempting to just pitch shit out. On the other hand, I’m glad I kept that notebook, even if I haven’t paged through it in years.

I also compiled a master notebook called KATE. Has all her report cards, PSAT scores and pages of unclipped school pictures. I always ordered the bare minimum, but we always had too many. Wallet-size were the dumbest of all. Who carries wallet-size pictures anymore? We used to pass them around in junior high school, but no one does that. So I have pages and pages, from kiddie cuteness through middle-school awkwardness into high-school loveliness. I’ll do something with them, but not sure yet.

Riding back from my friends’ house, I came across this teen hang in an otherwise empty parking lot:

This is becoming a more common sight, as the weather warms: People talking in driveways 12 feet apart, or in big circles of lawn chairs. We’re social animals, and the winter has been pretty damn long.

And now we start the next month of this. It’ll be in the 40s all week, dammit.

Stay well, all.

Posted at 8:16 pm in Current events | 56 Comments
 

One weird week.

Well, let’s see, what happened today?

Alan, on furlough next week, originally planned to work on the boat, get it ready to launch on a date TBD. But the boatyard is closed. Then he thought he’d go fishing, but the hotels up north, ditto. So he decided, instead, to paint the living room.

Today the governor extended the stay-at-home order, and extended the list of non-essential businesses to paint stores. This led to an explosion of activity downstairs, lots of loud phone calls, debit card numbers read, arrangements for pickup made (I’M GONNA SEND MY DAUGHTER IS THAT OK?) and then the two of them peeling out of the driveway in separate cars to get…paint.

Paint. This is such a weird period. My editor went to a Seder-on-Zoom last night. He complained there wasn’t any food, other than the matzo-ball soup he made himself. Tomorrow I’ll record a podcast about the week’s events, and I’m not sure what I’ll say, other than: Well, that was weird.

Me, I went to the grocery store. I bought Oreos. Fuck all y’all, OREOS. Because why not. Then I came home and wrote a column about the governor’s fashion choices of late.

Yesterday it was 65 degrees. I just looked outside and saw snowflakes driving down. Kill me now.

Thank god we have wine. Although it’s…the last bottle. And lord knows what will close next.

ON EDIT:

You’ll want to read this, as ghastly as it is:

Medical workers at Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace paint a grim picture of the hospital’s emergency department these past weeks as they scrambled to care for coronavirus patients: patients dying in hallways and nurses searching for body bags and places to put the dead.

Horrifying.

I wish I had more to say. We’re fine, we’re healthy, stay safe everyone.

Posted at 9:50 pm in Current events | 75 Comments
 

Black.

It seems to help to pay attention to things. This weekend I took note of signs in business windows. Some were hand-lettered, some printed on the on-site computer, some had obviously been designed by a pro and downloaded from Corporate. Sandwich boards, too, on the sidewalk — that was a thing. The longer ones explained they were closed for the duration, and seemed to take a lot of words to say so, about how much they valued their customers, but the governor has determined, etc. The shorter ones got right to the point: OPEN FOR CARRYOUT. We are OPEN. Call ahead for CURBSIDE PICKUP.

One restaurant put a sign in every window, written in Sharpie Magnum: OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN. Only for carryout, of course. But it’s the only lifeline most restaurants have. It’s worth making a display of.

My pet store has it totally dialed in. Not only is this place incredibly clean (even the animals that exist primarily to be sold as food for others, like the white mice, look happy) and super cheerful, they have conquered online commerce, and they’re a very small business. Either someone has a kid who does this work free, or they have a surprisingly large budget. Within just a few days of starting walk-up service only, they posted a new website offering most of the inventory online. You shop and pay, get an order number and a time when it’ll be ready, and then show up. They’ve rigged a doorbell on the sidewalk and a bench, where they drop your order for no-contact pickup. The employee wears a mask, but smiles beneath it, and you can feel it. Instacart, but for a little pet store. It’s great.

We pause for this word from Alan, who was driving to Belle Isle for some R&R and fly-casting:

Only in the Pointes, I always say.

Meanwhile, I dug up my mom’s sewing machine and made a proper mask out of this:

I folded and stitched it into an oblong and added a hair band as an elastic strap. Rudely Elegant was an empty movie theater in Columbus. A gay artist bought it and turned into a nightclub that was only open one night a month. The monthly party went all night long — not sure how he swung it with the liquor license, maybe by making it a private club or something — and had a theme, usually a color. I attended the White party, and the Red party, but not the Black party. That’s because Black = Leather and it was a very wild scene; I’d be surprised if women were even allowed in the door. Note the rooster. Nineteen eighty-one, in the Chinese calendar, was the Year of the Cock. I might still have the handbill announcement/invitation somewhere. There was a nude young man — I’m told he was an OSU athlete of some sort, very deeply closeted — wearing a mask, with a live black rooster blocking his privates.

All I got was the party favor, the handkerchief.

That year was also the first that AIDS appeared in the U.S. The party was in March, I think, and no doubt many of the people having party sex that night were positive. Anyway, pretty much every gay man I knew then is dead now, so it seems appropriate to finally pull out that hanky and make it my mask for the new plague.

And we head into week? Four, I believe. More ahead, but I guess we’ll muddle through somehow.

Stay safe, stay sane, see ya soon.

Posted at 8:14 pm in Current events, Detroit life | 113 Comments
 

What immortal hand or eye?

Like many of you, I spent seven hours of my life watching “Tiger King” on Netflix this week. Kate and I got into it; it was our mother/daughter quarantine jam.

I have two (2) experiences with so-called private zoos to share before I get into “Tiger King.” When I was at Bridge, I reported on a story about some bills that were introduced not long after the 2012 incident near Zanesville, Ohio, when a mentally disturbed owner of a private zoo — a state, after watching “Tiger King,” you may assume most of them live in — killed himself, but not before opening all his cages and freeing his animals to roam. By the time the police were done dealing with the grisly aftermath, I believe most of the animals were dead and at least a couple had “disturbed the corpse” of their former keeper, which is how they put it at the news conferences.

There’s only one reference to this in “Tiger King” — a brief snippet in the opening sequence, in which the governor or someone says, “We were amazed that anyone can just own a tiger or lion.” Yep, they can, and my story, which seems to have been re-topped with maybe some editing notes lost in a CMS migration or two, because that’s really not my style, only scratched the surface of the weirdness of private zoos.

In Michigan, as I remember it, some members of the traditional zoo community — facilities like your city’s zoo, with a board of directors and responsible habitat duplication and so on — were pushing legislation that would have made private zoos like the one in Zanesville much harder to establish and run. The legislature, always happy to help out a pal, countered with a bill to protect a single roadside outfit in the Upper Peninsula, where orphaned bear cubs were available for visitors to pet, hold and have their photos taken with them.

As I worked on this, I was introduced to the tension between the AZA, or Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the ZAA, or Zoological Association of America. What’s the difference? Here’s me:

“The confusion is that AZA and ZAA are basically two different things,” said Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo and an opponent of the legislation. “The AZA is the gold standard.” It is the accreditation body that recognizes the zoos most people visit, five in Michigan – Potter Park, the Detroit Zoo, John Ball Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids, Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek and the Saginaw Children’s Zoo.

The ZAA, Harrison said, is for smaller, frequently privately owned “roadside zoos” where visitors can not only see animals, but sometimes interact with them.

To differentiate the two, Harrison says, she points to the AZA’s 70-page application for accreditation, as well as numerous protocols pertaining to safety of animals, enclosures and visitors, veterinary care and more, while the ZAA’s, available on its website, “is three pages.”

Here’s one of the pushback bill’s co-sponsor’s take on Big Zoo:

Hune thinks the difference is also one of size and market. The AZA, to him, is the big-money, big-zoo club trying to quash the entrepreneurial upstarts who represent competition for not only visitors, but prestige. The use of the term “roadside zoo” is offensive to many who keep these smaller facilities, and rely on tourists or limited trading of animals to survive.

Very Tea Party, that guy. But reporting gave me an excuse to go visit his family’s camel farm on my way home from Lansing one day:

To Hune, who raises Bactrian camels on his parents’ farm outside Fowlerville in Livingston County, the Zanesville incident was an outlier, a rare and random act by a mentally unstable individual. Not that he would deny animals can be dangerous – in 2004 his father, David, suffered a skull fracture when one of his son’s camels picked him up by the head as he worked nearby.

“It wasn’t an attack,” said the younger Hune. “He just wanted attention.” The incident left the elder Hune with a plate in his head, but that didn’t dampen the family’s enthusiasm for exotic livestock; four camels still live on the farm, along with ponies, donkeys and a few head of cattle David Hune raises for freezer beef.

Anyway, my point is: There are legit zoos and there are “Tiger King” zoos, and I bet even the ZAA wouldn’t want shit to do with that guy. Which brings me to my second anecdote, which happened years ago, when I was sent to write about a private zoo, with tigers, down in southern Ohio, around Logan. I took my friend Becky along for company on the drive and what the hell, how often do you get to spend a day at work visiting a tiger outfit.

This zoo, near Logan, was pretty much a dump, run by two guys who drank beer most of the day and messed around with their animals. I really don’t remember much, but I remember feeding time, which was terrifying. One guy came out with a bucket of meat and the other guy drew a large-caliber handgun and covered him.

“Is that necessary?” I squeaked.

“Oh yeah,” the other guy said. Dinnertime ended without serious incident, but it made me far more appreciative of the Columbus Zoo, where the big cats managed to be fed without Smith & Wesson getting involved.

Anyway, like I said, Joe Exotic, the titular star of “Tiger King,” was leagues beyond these guys — a narcissistic, half-nuts redneck who ran a private zoo in Oklahoma where he bred and sold tigers to terrible people and antagonized a particular animal-rescue sort named Carole Baskin, a feud that led to his downfall. My takeaway: Don’t pick a fight with a deep-pocketed woman married to a lawyer.

That’s really the TV Guide synopsis. It is so, so much weirder than that. I lack the energy right now to describe it, so I’ll defer to New York magazine:

Every time you think you’ve gotten a handle on what exactly the crimes are in this true-crime series, Tiger King throws you another curveball. Thought it was going to be about illegal animal breeding? Well it’s also about murder. But not the murder you thought! Well okay, yes, it is about the murder you thought, but it’s also about more murder. All of that seems like plenty for one series, right? Ha ha, there are also cults! And polygamy! And everyone has lions and tigers just lying around their homes, all the time! Tiger King is absolutely “good,” in that I watched all of it as quickly as possible, often with my jaw on the floor.

…There’s a whiff of class tourism here, not that different from shows like Toddlers and Tiaras or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo — shows that treat their subjects like sideshow acts in a circus, where the circus is poverty. You feel okay watching this?

No, not entirely. But I did. It beat watching CNN.

Kate and I went for a much-needed bike ride today. The river was blue, the sky was blue, and it was warm for once. It felt very good. Of course, the information never stays at bay for long:

Have a good weekend, all. Stay separated.

Posted at 8:17 pm in Current events, Television | 59 Comments
 

And now, this.

It rained hard overnight Friday. I was on the early-morning-weekend-update shift (we rotate), and I was lying in bed, preparing to get up, when I heard a different rhythm to the rain on the roof. A separate drip-drip-drip that didn’t belong to the dripdripdripdripdrip coming down on the bathroom skylight. I thought Alan might be awake, so I asked him:

“Do you hear that?”

“Yes.”

And that, friends, is how we were up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, me trying to aggregate the fucking onslaught of overnight news — Friday night was when the president christened “that woman in Michigan,” our governor, “Half.” (Her name is Gretchen Whitmer. If you don’t get it immediately, think about it.) There was also a hot nursing home and the usual skyrocketing disease numbers. And Alan was clambering around in the attic, trying to set up drip-catchers and figure out where the leak was coming from, because it is indeed the Month from Hell, house-wise.

On March 2, we had our gigantic backyard oak tree taken down. Very close to the house, very tall, and I hated to do it but it had to be done — the thing was rotten all the way through. But hoo-boy, expensive. A couple weeks later, the hot water heater started to leak because why? Because it had rusted clean through. So the new water heater came next. Now, a leaky roof. And a pandemic.

But we’re all healthy! So that’s good. Seriously, it’s good. I’m reading more and more about people younger than me dying, older than me dying, lots of people close to dying. (Like John Prine, please keep him going just a little longer.) The tree, the water heater, the roof — all these can be fixed with money. Your health can’t.

Good to remember. But man, I wish I made a lot more of it.

So it was only a half-terrible weekend. Except that the auto show was finally cancelled, for the upsetting reason that FEMA is taking over the Cobo Center (now known as the TCF Center) for a 900-bed field hospital for the next six months.

I did have to do some food shopping. I put a bandanna over my mouth, which did nothing but maybe made others feel better. Kate went with me; her bandanna was red, which, she said, meant she was a Blood.

I’d like an N95 mask, but they’re only to be had in 300,000-piece lots. I’d like some more hand sanitizer, and businesses are making it, but again, only in gigantic lots. When this stuff trickles down to the retail level, someone let me know.

Or maybe I could buy one “out the back door,” like the president says.

Anyway, the Kroger now has floor stickers to space people out in the checkout line, and plexiglass sneeze shields between customers and the checkout clerks. Our new normal.

Kate says we can make our own sanitizer, but we’ll need aloe gel. That’s probably disappeared from the stores, too. Might have to sacrifice our kitchen aloe; her day may well have come. We’ll see.

What to read? Here’s something I wrote: An obituary, but non-COVID. No, just the tragic loss of a 33-year-old man, widely beloved, who had an aggressive form of colon cancer. He first had symptoms on his honeymoon.

An entertainingly written history of Purell, from the WP.

And I guess that’s all. For once I can ask, what fresh hell awaits us in the coming week and be almost entirely sure there will be some, and a lot of it.

Stay safe! Keep washing those paws.

Posted at 7:13 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 104 Comments