Reset Day 8

Sunday night I managed not to fix a real dinner or eat it at dinnertime. I microwaved a frozen burrito and opened up an avocado I ought to have eaten two days ago. It was mostly defunct, and what wasn't defunct was funky. That's the problem with buying produce ahead of time. The time ends up getting ahead of the produce. The local certified farmers market is still operating, and it's somewhere in the parking lot of the plaza over by Trader Joe's every Wednesday morning from eight o'clock until one in the afternoon, but I don't know about walking over there.

I found an article about the farmers market in Altadena, and there they have gone entirely to online ordering. You drive up (or bike or walk up, I suppose) and pick up your order already bagged. I do usually like to select my own produce, but given the circumstances this alternative might be a better idea. It's too bad Altadena is some six hundred miles away.

There was more rain early Sunday morning, but I slept through most of it. It ended about noon and since then we've had only a few sprinkles, though it has remained overcast all day. There could be a few more showers later tonight, but Monday is likely to be merely cloudy. Then we get whipsawed. The high on Wednesday is now predicted to be 81. That's just a bit extravagant for April. So far I can't say I'm very happy with how 2020 is turning out. And as much as I'd like to be cheerful about the prospects for improvement, I can't shake the feeling that it's going to get a whole lot worse.

Now for the rest of the night I'm going to go escape into a book written in the past, until I can fall asleep. At least I don't have a lot of dishes to wash tonight. Thanks, microwave.
caillebotte_man at his window

Reset Day... Six? No, Seven

For the second day in a row I fixed something resembling a dinner and ate it at something approximating dinner hour. This is surely a fluke. Odds are it won't happen again for a very long time. Something else that will soon not be happening is cool days. Sunday will be cool and rainy, as Saturday was, but then Monday and Tuesday will get warmer and on Wednesday it is predicted to pop up to 80 degrees. 80! And then there are about ten days in the seventies, the first five of them being 75 or hotter. How the hell did this happen? Just yesterday the forecast was predicting cool days through most of the next two weeks. Oh, well. The pleasant weather had to end sometime, I suppose. It's California, after all.

Sometime late this month we are supposed to be able to see a comet— the first to be visible to the naked eye since Hale-Bopp in 1997, so it's a pretty rare event. For a wile it should be visible even from Chico, despite the mini-metropolitan lights washing out the night sky. Comets, of course, have historically been seen as portents. I hope this one doesn't portend some terrible disaster. Oh, wait.

Just in the last few minutes I have grown very tired, and have come unfocused (more than usual.) My mind wandered briefly and I was undone. How does that happen? There was something I was going to say, I'm sure, and it has vanished. It must be time to sleep.

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Reset Day Six

To my surprise I had dinner at something like dinnertime tonight. It was around eight o'clock, which according to George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's play and George Cukor's 1933 movie based on it, is when the ritzy people eat dinner. My family was working class and ate dinner only on Sunday afternoons. On weeknights we had supper, and that was at five o'clock, unless my dad had to work late.

Only later in my life did I find out that ritzy people also ate supper, but it was much later at night and was something you did after the theater or a night of clubbing, and was frequently shared with, and a prelude to sex with, someone to whom one was probably not married. Given how irregular my schedule has become I guess I could say that I've had a lot of late suppers in recent years, but sex never seems to be involved. It could be, I suppose, if I wanted to call one of those telephone numbers they used to advertise on late night cable television shows, but the thought of that never appealed to me. Plus it's expensive. I'd rather spend the money on better food for supper. My lonely late supper.

Anyway, dinner ended up being ready at around eight this evening, not through any plan but just as a random event. I made a small pot of beans, and they just got done at that time. They were not too bad, but I made a bit too much for one meal, and not enough to save any for another meal, so I ate the whole thing and now I feel stuffed. I also got them a bit too salty, which left me thirsty, so now I'm drinking some Stoly with lemonade and lemon flavored sparkling water, which is very tasty, but it is sort of re-stuffing me. Also, since I had beer with dinner, it's likely to make me sleepy, which is why I want to get the journal entry done, before I pass out.

The extra drink is not only making me sleepy, it has made me a bit more cheerful than I've been lately. Maybe I should do this more often. I'll probably be dead soon anyway, so there won't be time for me to ruin my liver. It makes a lot of sense when I think about it— at least at the moment. Of course I don't know how I'll feel about it tomorrow morning. Today I ate the last donut from the half dozen I bought last Saturday, and I don't know when I'll get more. It's been a long time since I've had a morning after without a donut to temper it. I don't know if cookies will work as well. But I guess I'll find out tomorrow. It probably won't be raining yet when I wake up, but it's supposed to rain by afternoon. I'm looking forward to it, since I can't go out anyway.

Now I'm going to wash the dishes while I'm still able to stand upright, and then eat a bit of chocolate and read for a while before I sleep. It's taking me forever to get through my current book, since I keep nodding off after a few pages. Being old is so tedious sometimes.
caillebotte_the orangerie

Reset Day Five

Did my face always itch this much? Now that I'm trying not to touch it, it seems to be itchy all the time. I know I used to scratch it occasionally, but I don't remember it being as often as I want to scratch it now. Now sometimes I just grab a tissue and rub it over the itchy spot, or I go wash my hands and then scratch away. It never satisfies me for long, though. And if I'm this itchy hen I'm awake, what am I doing while I'm asleep? I imagine my hands getting all over my sleeping face, like something in a horror movie. It's another bit o the generalized weirdness that has taken over reality.

People were hanging out on the bike trail beyond my back fence again today. I couldn't see how many, of course, but it sounded like at least three. At least one was out there, either talking to herself or talking to someone on a phone, when I woke up around eleven o'clock, and others came and went all afternoon. It's probably the bush that grows along the fence that makes it an inviting spot. It sticks out a few feet then drapes down along the edge of the pavement on this side of the trail, making a shady, sheltered area along the fence. I don't know if anybody is out there tonight, but if they are they've been very quiet for several hours.

It was sunny and close to 70 degrees Thursday, and will be the same again today. Th storm that is supposed to arrive Saturday will bring much cooler air, and some pretty strong winds, but not a whole lot of rain. We are supposed to get half an inch Saturday an an inch Sunday, and possibly some traces of rain Monday. I'm guessing the trail will quiet down for the weekend. The bush provides some shade, but wouldn't give much protection in a rainstorm, so I can't imagine anybody will want to hang out there then.

Rooting through some stuff that got shoved to the backs of kitchen cupboards I found a package of stale peanut butter cookies. It has a "best by" date of April 21... 2019. They might not be too bad dipped in tea, which is what I intend to do with them when the rain comes. They are so stale that a couple more days won't make any noticeable difference in them. I'll save my fresher cookies for a later date.

Dammit, there goes my nose itching again. I think the little nerves in my face want to kill me. Well, they'l just have to wait. I'm going to go read something now. I hope the indigestion the one cookie I sampled is bound to give me doesn't interfere with my sleep. I'd like to sleep as much as possible for the next few weeks. It helps pass the time— even if I am scratching the hell out of my face the whole time I'm out.

Reset Day 4

The weirdness continues. Bit by bit I'm munching through my food supply, sipping through my beer supply, cleaning through my paper supply and soap supply, and reading through my book supply. About the only things not being gradually diminished are the anxiety supply, the sadness supply, and the boredom supply. Those items have a way of increasing. I anxiety were alcohol I'd be flat on my ass day in and day out by now. Too bad anxiety isn't alcohol. I'm sure my liver would outlast my patience.

There wasn't much laundry yet, but I decided to do it anyway since nobody was around here today, which gave me the laundry room to myself. Usually I just use warm water for the laundry, to save on energy for the water heater, but under the circumstances I decided to use hot for a change. The difference in my white socks was a revelation. Sadly it didn't work as well on the cheap sherpa throw. The white, fake wool side still came out pretty dingy. But then that is some sort of synthetic fiber, not cotton like the socks.

My mockingbird visited for a few minutes this afternoon, but there was no sign of Taylor the lizard. For quite a while there was a strange person on the bike trail. I couldn't see her, of course, through the solid, sev">thisn-foot fence, but I could hear her. At first she was laughing periodically, quite loudly, which was making the dog who lives on the other side of the trail bark. I decided she must have been listening to something funny on headphones, as the only other explanation I could think of is that she was schizophrenic and had very comical voices in her head. Then she started hallooing at somebody some distance down the trail, telling them to come down, but I don't think they ever did. Maybe she decided to go to them instead, as after a while (it seemed like quite a long while) the commotion stopped and I've heard no ore of her since. It was actually rather disturbing, but at least it helped pass the time.

For most of the day it was reading and Interneting and a bit of tidying. I came across this interesting article on the L.A. Eater foodie web site. It's interesting to me because it's about the now-mostly Asian San Gabriel Valley, the part of town where I was born and lived for forty years. The area appears to be handling the pandemic better than much of the city, with lower rates of infection largely thanks to the population having been better prepared, as one might expect Asian Americans to be, many of them having relatives and friends in the regions first affected by the virus. The thought of all that carefully prepared and sanitarily packaged takeout food from all those restaurants is making me hungry. I'll get nothing like that here.

The boring mini-metropolis of Chico will get a couple more mild days before the rain comes back Saturday and Sunday. I suppose I might hear the mockingbird again, and maybe see Taylor, but I have no plans to be going anywhere anytime soon. If going shopping again becomes unavoidable, I hope to put it off for at least a couple more weeks. In the meantime I'm expecting the same vacuous weirdness to continue indefinitely. I hope that crazy lady doesn't come back.

Reset Day 3

I just realized that April Fools Day is coming up. I hope I don't prank myself this year. One year I almost gave myself a heart attack faking a heart attack. I scared myself so badly that I wasn't able to eat pats of butter or entire pounds of bacon at one sitting for weeks after that. And I was so pissed off at myself when I said "April Fool!" to myself. My pranks on myself are so cruel sometimes. I can really be a total dick.

After Monday night's sleep fiasco, I did get back to sleep Tuesday morning, though not until about eight o'clock, and slept another five hours. Sleeping as much as possible seems like it could be a good way to get through the next few weeks, but I'm not sure I can keep it up. The sleep didn't leave me especially refreshed or alert. I'm pretty sure I had bad dreams, though again I don't remember them. The day was ultimately no better than any recent day has been. Although I did get a glimpse of Taylor the lizard, who scampered around the far end of the yard for a few minutes.

Around sunset I remembered the wheelie bin was still out at the street, so I took a walk down the driveway to bring it back, and checked the mailbox on the way. Both were empty. That was my exercise for the day, and the excitement. Also I think the homeless guys who were camping along the trail the other side of my back fence are gone. I heard them early this afternoon, but this evening there's not a sound over there. Too bad. They were about all the company I get these days.

It should be sunny but cool for the next couple of days. Rain is still on for Saturday and Sunday, and maybe Monday, but the high temperature should remain in the sixties for at least the next two weeks. What a great spring this would have been for going out and exploring the town. Thanks, microorganisms!

Reset Day 2: The Lost Monday

It's three o'clock in the morning. Did I miss a day? I think I missed a day. I think it was Monday. If you're going to miss a day I guess Monday would be the best one to miss, although most days are the same now. I'm not sure what happened since I just this minute woke up. The thing I remember before waking up was picking up the book from the bedside table, sometime around nine o'clock in the evening, and reading a few lines, and then it was three o'clock in the morning (though I didn't know that until I looked at the clock phone) and I had no idea where I was.

Oh, that's right. Here I am. Could I go back to sleep please? Things are all weird. I mean I have to look at a phone to find out what time it is, and the phone is all flat, like it got run over by the future. It's likely I've been run over by the future too, but I don't remember it happening. Al I know for sure is it feels way worse than getting run over by the past, which is what used to happen all the time.

Okay, it's been a few minutes now (actually about thirty of them) and the fuzz in my brain is starting to clump itself into dust bunnies. Now I remember that I ate a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches late Monday afternoon, since I had not gotten around to eating any lunch, but most of the rest of the day is still vague. I would eat something again now, but that would keep me awake until sunrise, and I'm really hoping I can get back to sleep, since the six hours I got will surely not be enough to get me through Tuesday.

Life at the moment is rather like being trapped in a lumber room during an earthquake. I do not approve.
caillebotte_man at his window

Day1b (Day 14a)

There is a sense of disorientation hanging in the air, or maybe it's in my brain— it's difficult to differentiate anymore. Where does the world stop and my brain begin? Or are they the same thing? Is one of them a delusion of the other, and if so, which is which? Given a choice, I'd rather that my brain was the delusion, and that way the other is not my fault. Somebody is bound to get blamed for that mess eventually, and if it's my delusion then I'll have only myself to blame.

All day I've been sneezing and my nose has been running again. One would think that the rain would have washed the pollen out of the air, but apparently not. The sun came out this afternoon, and it grew almost warm for a while. There are still some clouds about though, and it could still rain a bit more tonight and tomorrow. But the weather in the forecast looks very nice for the next couple of weeks. Not really cold and not really hot, and just a few days with a chance of showers. Perfect spring weather! How nice it would be to go out and do something, even if I kept sneezing and my nose kept running.

This evening there popped into my mind, or the world's delusion of my mind, the memory of some photos I took ages ago that I never got around to digitizing and which burned in the fire. Three in particular I recalled which I had taken on Bunker Hill, the old neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles which was then in the early stages of demolition for an urban renewal project. Well, the part south of Second Street was being demolished. The larger part to the north had already been destroyed for expansion of L.A.'s monstrous civic center and a freeway. I have no personal memory of that part of the neighborhood, though I've seen other people's pictures of it.

There were three of my photos in particular I recall. I've actually written about them before in an essay for a creative writing class a bit over twenty years after they were taken. My only copies of the essay burned in the fire too. One of the photos was of an old couple on Bunker Hill Avenue, a narrow street at the crest of the hill. The old man wearing a shabby fedora was sitting on a low retaining wall in front of his house reading a newspaper. The woman had a scarf over her head. I can't remember now if she was standing or sitting. The memory of the lost photo is now growing as dim as the memory of the day I took it.

The second photo was of another old man in a hat standing on the small plaza at the top of Angel's Flight, the block-long funicular which then ran along one side of the steep hill from Olive Street down to the business district on Hill Street where Third Street entered the tunnel under the hill. The man had his back turned, and I don't recall if any of his face was showing, but he was looking at the apartment building just north of the Third Street right-of-way, right next to the stairway people who didn't have the fare for the funicular used. The building was being demolished, parts of its front and side walls already turned to rubble, and the exposed rooms of the upper floors were showing. I wondered if perhaps the old man had lived in that building, and was remembering things that had happened there.

The third photo I recall was of one of my friends who had accompanied me that day. On our way to the hill we had stopped at a drug store across from Pershing Square, and he had impulsively bought a bottle of that bubble blowing soap kids used to get, with a little wand from which you blew bubbles. I snapped a photo of him just as he was blowing a large bubble, and it popped just as the shutter clicked. I expected the bubble wouldn't be in the photo, but the timing had been fortuitous and it was there. It was one of my favorite photos I had ever taken.

It occurs to me that I could now be older than the two old men in my photos, and I am surely at least almost as old as they were then. At that time they seemed like relics to me, like most of the buildings in the doomed neighborhood in which I found them. I could never have imagined then the old man I have myself become now. I don't recall noting such thoughts in the essay I wrote twenty some years later, either, though it was fraught with nostalgia. Going on forty I no longer thought of myself as young, but now I know I was. I takes decades to learn to appreciate the fleetness of time. That comes only when you see the the scraps of your memories fluttering away to oblivion, like so much refuse caught in the wind of its swift passage.

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Day Thirteen, Now Zero

Although I spent most of the morning debating myself back and forth over whether I should go to the store and do my own shopping or not, I finally decided I would, so I broke my isolation on the thirteenth day, and went from being one of the really cautious old guys to being one of the really rash old guys. It took very little time to get to the store, as traffic was very light, but there was still more traffic than I've seen in Internet photos of Los Angeles and other larger cities recently. I think maybe Chico hasn't been taking the situation as seriously as larger places. Of course it is a bit of a backwater, and the county still has (or had of this morning) only five identified cases of C-19, but still.

The store was not especially crowded, but they have hired extra help so there was no waiting at any of the check stands— at least while I was there. There was also an employee out front sanitizing the shopping carts, though the also still have the little dispensers of wipes at the door. I took one with me for opening dairy and frozen food section refrigerator doors and such. The place was pretty well stocked, too, with only the baking needs aisle seriously depleted. I was hoping to get a small bag of sugar and a box of Bisquik, but they were sold out. I got everything else on my list, though, with only a couple of substitutions needed. The checkout clerk, apparently a new hire, had some trouble with the unfamiliar equipment, but it was soon resolved. I only heard one customer cough. If I die I want her charged with murder.

So now I'm pretty well fixed for at least two weeks, and maybe even three, except for milk and vegetables which are bound to run out sooner. But I've got donuts for breakfast for the next six days, which I've missed. It didn't occur to me until just now that I could have bought two boxes and put one in the refrigerator, but what the hell. I did well enough for an old coot in the early stages of dementia. I even made a pretty good dinner tonight, with some fried ham and microwaveable rice pilaf and fresh asparagus. I mean it wasn't to die for— at least not figuratively— but pretty good. Hey, give me a break. If it wasn't for gallows humor I wouldn't have no humor at all these days.

My utility and water bills got put in the mail, and there won't be another to send out for about two weeks, assuming I'm still around then and thus need to pay rent. If not, well, the insurance company gets a break and the Social Security system is better off, but the landlord has to sanitize the entire apartment and find somebody not yet dead to rent it. Inside every silver lining there's a dark cloud. Speaking of which, it began sprinkling just as I got back from the store. It made me a bit sad that I didn't dare go for a walk in it. I used to enjoy a nice walk in light rain, back when I was younger and practically immortal. What became of that guy?

Day Twelve, Who Will Delve?

I'm running short of some things (and have already run out of a couple) so I'm considering breaking my isolation tomorrow. I've arranged a ride to one store adjacent to two others, and with careful planning of my list I think I can get through pretty quickly, if the places aren't too crowded. I've been told that the recent frenzy has cooled down quite a bit, though I don't know if a Saturday would be busier or not. The market I'm going to is usually less popular than Safeway, and that might still be the case. It's also very close to a mailbox so I can send in the two bills I've got to pay. Anyway I don't really have to decide until Saturday afternoon. I'm sure my niece would be willing to take my list and shop for me, if I get cold feet at the last minute.

Tonight I'm pretty sure a couple of guys have bedded down on the bike trail right on the other side of my back fence. I've heard their voices several times, and when I first heard them I also heard something scraping against the fence, so maybe they've set up some kind of lean-to. It's getting pretty cold out tonight, and pretty windy. It's supposed to rain, though not until afternoon, but sometimes it does come early.

I've been wondering if I ought to rat them out. The town is supposed to be expanding its homeless shelters, even taking over some actual motel rooms, which are vacant since tourism has pretty much collapsed. These guys might be better off elsewhere. I do hear cars going down the bike trail many nights, and I think they are usually police cars, so they might get nabbed anyway. But then maybe they don't want to be in a homeless shelter during a pandemic, and I certainly couldn't blame them for that. It's really disturbing that we even have so many homeless people in California these days, now that we've torn down most of the SOR hotels and zoned out the rooming houses the very poor used to be able to get a toehold to a normal life in when I was a kid.

Oh, I forgot to make any dinner again tonight. I guess that means another bowl of ramen. Too bad I get so unfocused and lose track of things anymore. But I am saving on beer, since I don't drink it with ramen. The public health officials are expecting the big surge in CV cases in California to come in two weeks or so. I hope to get enough stuff tomorrow that I won't need to go out again for anything, or have anything brought to me other than the very few perishable items I use, for at least a month. I have a suspicion that things are going to get way uglier than we've imagined. No government of a developed nation on Earth has handled this situation worse than ours has— not even Italy's. The fact that a few of our State and local governments have done marginally better might not probably won't be enough to prevent a general catastrophe.

Enough of such cheerful thoughts, though. I need to eat something so I can go to sleep and have some more of those disturbing dreams.