1. I don't remember the last time I watched a tumultuous news story unfold moment by moment by watching television coverage. I know that on March 30, 1981, I was home, down with the flu, when John Hinkley shot President Ronald Reagan and I watched as it was being covered. I think that's the last time I watched a story develop moment to moment on live television. Today, I checked in online from time to time, wondering if the Capitol had been secured, wondering when the Joint Session of Congress would convene to certify the results of the Electoral College.
I knew essentially what was going on at the Capitol. I read updates, saw pictures. I felt and thought a wide range of things. For now, I prefer to keep those things mostly to myself, but I will say that given the many comments and articles I've read, my thoughts and feelings aren't unique.
I devoted much of my attention today to more personal matters. My cousin Judy's husband, Jack, died this week and, on behalf of my sisters and me, I ordered flowers for Judy and her daughters, Cyndi, Angie, and Michelle. I wrote them a card to go out in Thursday's mail. I also wrote a card to Kathy, whom I've known since we were very young, whom I've written about in this blog. Over the last year or so, I've played trivia, attended a Gonzaga women's basket, had meals out in Spokane, and seen a movie with Kathy. Most of these outings included Mary and sometimes Linda. This week, Kathy fell terribly ill. She had abdominal surgery. She tested positive for Covid 19. She's at Sacred Heart hospital, getting a little better, but in serious condition. I also followed up my conversation on Tuesday evening with Rita with a card.
I would have written these cards today regardless of the developments in Washington, D. C. I didn't write them to escape the news. My cousin Judy and her daughters' grief over losing Jack, Kathy's illness and hospitalization, and my nearly thirty year old friendship with Rita were my primary concerns today. Not having the sound of the television on helped me keep my focus on family and friends. The internet gave me a way to quietly check up on events in D. C. from time to time. And I did. I also listened much of the day to the J J Cale station on Pandora.
2. Late in the afternoon, I fixed a batch of Amish Wedding Food Wide Noodles and heated up the clove, allspice, and cinnamon forward chicken broth with vegetables and added chunks of chicken to it. I loved this chicken noodle bowl. I'm thinking that next time, especially if I'm cooking for myself, that I might increase the amount of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice I add to this broth. It's a flavor I profoundly enjoy.
3. I returned to Donald Hall's Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety for my bedtime reading and read his essay, "Way Way Down, Way Way Up". It's Hall's astonishing examination of his eighty-sixth year. Reading it, I wondered how Mom would have written about the indignities of her eighty-fifth and eighty-sixth year: the falls in her house, her bout with cellulitis, edema, gradual loss of mental abilities, being admitted into Kindred, a raving roommate at Kindred, failed physical therapy, and other difficulties. Along with Christy and Carol, I experienced all of Mom's difficulties from the outside. Donald Hall's essay takes his readers inside the experience of advanced aging. He chronicles and takes us into his loss of intellectual energy -- he can barely write and his reading stamina is greatly diminished --, his difficulties moving from one place to another, a debilitating UTI, the onset of congestive heart failure, frequent 911 calls and hospitalizations, and how he experiences isolation and loneliness.
He also chronicles good times like the relief of recovery, being able to attend a stage presentation of This American Life that included excerpts from a 1998 interview he gave Ira Glass, and giving a late in life poetry reading.
Far from self-pitying, Donald Hall's essay gives readers a rare opportunity to not only understand, but to experience the difficulties of growing old, giving us a way to transmute what he writes into compassion for those we know whose lives are nearing the end.
I slept for a while and woke up to visit the bathroom and suddenly I was wide awake. This doesn't happen very often, but I gave in to my temporary insomnia and read an essay from Carolyn Bly's book, Letters from the Country. It's entitled, "Back at the Ranch, Small Dragons, Small Princesses". Situated in the rural area near and in Madison, Minnesota, Bly published the essays in this book, before collecting them, between 1973 and 1979. I'm not sure when she wrote "Back at the Ranch . . .". In it, she examines young people of this time period, with special emphasis on those who, rather than leaving rural life for the city life of the Twin Cities, settle in run down rural structures and devote themselves to throwing pottery, writing poetry, raising their own food organically; in short, they do not begin to climb the ladder of material success, but live closer to the land and to making art.
I might write more about Bly's essay at another time. For now, I'll just say that when I was a student at Whitworth I admired and wished I could be more like fellow students who advocated for a kind of social responsibility aligned with simplifying our lives, sharing goods and commodities with one another, living more organically, assigning great worth to dance, painting, ceramics, writing songs, poetry, plays, and fiction, and with reducing the exploitation of natural resources. Early this morning, as I read this essay, I felt like Carolyn Bly was taking me back to Whitworth in around 1974-78 an enjoyable experience I'd like think more about, possibly write more about.
A limerick by Stu:
There’s three ways that chaos can end.
Two conclusions are bad, walls or rend.
The last of the three,
Means that dislike or agree.
When it’s over you’re still called a friend.