The more things change. …

“No, I don’t want any Girl Scout cookies. I want to get the hell out of here.”

We popped round to the Dark Tower yesterday to visit Herself the Elder.

The weather being cooperative, we decided to make it our first bicycle drive-by of the new year.

The State had recently made some noise about changes to its protocol for visiting residents of long-term-care facilities, but for our purposes, that’s about all the announcement amounted to — noise.

After looking over the four-page document we decided that for everyone involved, the simplest, least bothersome way to enjoy a little face time (not FaceTime) with HtE remains peering through a closed window and speaking via phone.

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36 Responses to “The more things change. …”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Still waiting to hear from the Old Man to find out when or if he wants visitors.

    I just had my first shot today. No side effects yet.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We’re also a delivery service for HtE: Ensure, Cokes, bits of this, that, and the other. No cakes with files in them. Not yet, anyway.

      No shots, either. Not for us, anyway. HtE has had both of hers.

      I’m starting to wonder whether we might’ve gotten shoved further back in line now that teachers have gotten the go-ahead. Doesn’t bother me. I have less human contact than a Supermax inmate.

      Which brand of shot did you get?

      • khal spencer Says:

        I am getting the Pfizer through LANL. Apparently between my advanced geezerness (compared to the rest of the work force) and history of asthma, I got put in the high risk employee category. Fine by me, since if there is an issue of substance, I have to go up and deal with people in the Cone of Silence.

        Good news is my better half got the call today too through DOH. Gotta get her up to Espanola tomorrow for the Modena Vinegar shot. Or Moderna. Or whatever it is.

  2. Dave Watts Says:

    Wish we could do the window meeting where the M.I.L. lives now, but they won’t let us do that there. We do occasionally leave new belongings and gifts in the facility’s front foyer, which they quarantine for a day and then give to her, that is if they don’t lose the tags saying who it is intended for. Sadly, the Zoom meetings don’t always go as planned — dependent upon whether the headphones they give her work, and if she can see the tiny screen they have us on. But… someday in person again? Problem is she’s really getting on in the years, and well, you know the rest.

    2nd shot today for me of the Pfizer kind. Arm hurts. Tomorrow maybe will be a day away from the crowds whilst I hurt a bit more and then unhurt hours later. 20% down now at the store. Only 80% more to the finish line (though I’ll bet not everyone will get ‘er done).

    At least the weather is back. 65 today. Would have been nice to spend it outside more except for the driving, the wait, the shot, more waiting (15 min. to see if you don’t die), and more driving. But it sure looked good.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We’re lucky in that HtE’s window is easily accessible. It’s a 10-resident house, and I think there are only three windows you can get to without going into the back yard, which is verboten.

      She used to do FaceTime, but I think that ship has sailed. She has an iPhone and an older iPad, but only the phone gets used anymore. I’m not quite sure why — they’re basically the same thing, just different sizes — and it’s too bad, because we could have a decent video chat if we could get her back to using that iPad. Her hand is too shaky for video on the iPhone, and I think her eyesight has slipped a notch or two. A trip to the opthalmologist might tell us something, but if she leaves the joint to get checked out it’s two weeks’ lockdown in her room.

      I hear that second shot is the real deal. Wakes up all the troops. “INCOMING!” Condition Red. The works. Hope you get a pass on that and all goes smoove like butta.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Folks I know who got the Pfizer shots say the second one is the mother of all shots. But still better than losing 17 lbs of muscle mass on a 140 lb frame and living on an oxygen tank and rat poison (blood thinners) for weeks, as one of my best friends from college did after some thoughtless asshole hacked goobers of infected phlegm on him in a supermarket in Lost Wages.

      My friend has been on the road to recovery, but its been a motherfucker of a trip.

      • B Lester Says:

        My 88 yo father got Pfizer shot two last Thursday. I checked in yesterday and he said that he had nothing, except less shoulder pain that the first one. Go figure.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yup. I think the shot is definitely preferable to The Bug®, from what I’ve heard. Like K I have asthma, but I haven’t gotten the callup yet, probably because I work from home, when I work at all.

      Hope your friend comes through with no long-term issues, K. That ordeal sounds hideous.

  3. Shawn Says:

    I can’t imagine the sadness felt by those who have been in a senior home quarantine for the past year. My heart goes out to those of you with parents that you are unable to see more than just through a window or a zoom connection. I just hope that the underwriters and attorneys for those senior homes are able to loosen visitor restrictions in the near future. Perhaps though, it may take until a high percentage of the populace has been vaccinated.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      At least she’s nearby — just an eight-mile round trip. When Herself’s older sister had her out in Florida she was living on her own, in an apartment that was in one of those geezer plantations that can take you from solo living through assisted living to the full-on nursing-home setup. That didn’t work out for a variety of reasons and now she’s out here, in this smaller group-home sort of deal.

      Could be worse. Lots of folks can’t even get a window peek. Here’s to better days and less confinement for everyone.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I’ve been calling my old man periodically and he has two full sons living nearby who stop by from time to time. But his significant other passed away of non-Covid causes about a month ago. Fortunately, he is a pretty good hermit and does well for an 87 year old on his own. Still can get around and as long as he has reloading supplies, he goes out in the back forty and plinks a few rounds here and there. But this is a shitty way to spend one’s twilight hours and days. If I were 20 years older and still could get around on my own getalong, I might not want to be living under a rock.

  4. Pat O’Brien Says:

    If it wasn’t for our double bubble of friends, last year would have been much tougher. The four of us will have our second shot by the end of the month. So, two weeks after that our risk calculations will change. Now, we will be concerned about not infecting others until the data on that gives the CDC more answers. Based on CDC guidance our double bubble will expand to a triple when two more friends have their second dose. We are all over 65; four of the six over 70. Bottom line is that being alone when you are older stinks! Hope Herself the Elder has developed friendships with staff and doctors that have sustained her so far. When my Dad was in a nursing home he was treated like an old buddy by most of the staff. Well, off to repair the effects of 40 years in AZ, much of the time outdoors. Moh’s surgery this morning. How am I? Slowly falling apart, but the rate of decline is acceptable at this point.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Good on you for forming that alliance, Paddy me boyo. The brain and heart need stimulus, even more than the pocketbook.

      We get regular doses of entertainment from the squirts in the ’hood, who like ringing our doorbell and then running away to hide. The eldest is back in school two days a week, and with the public schools going back full-time starting in April I imagine her charter school will do likewise. Her sis is in either preschool or kindergarten, I can’t remember which. They’re both active little monkeys and it will be a miracle if Mom doesn’t wind up in the screw factory getting rethreaded.

      Herself the Elder is blessed with excellent staff, genuinely nice, caring people with senses of humor. It’s very much not your typical clinical situation. No Nurse Ratcheds in this place.

      Moh’s, hey? Here’s hoping the sawbones goes easy on you. I’ve not done Moh’s before, but I have had a dermatologist take a melon baller to my right cheekbone, just under the eye. Looks like someone shot me with a .22LR. Also the usual freezes and scrapes that a sunburnt desert rat must endure from time to time. It’s kind of a slow weight-loss program that doesn’t affect your diet.

    • SAO' Says:

      My in-laws, both looking down the barrel at 90, have had a tougher row that my 8 and 10 year old daughters. They 100% understand the risks, and they’re both big Fauci fans who spent last March and April sewing masks and setting up grocery delivery for their neighbors. But at the same time, they have not been able to stop going to church, to sewing club, or to occasional get-togethers. Even after a post-baby-shower outbreak killed our aunt.

      The social part of this is a BFD.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        All this isolation is a good deal easier for antisocial types like me. Growing up in a military family (well, my military family, anyway), was an ongoing exercise in relationship management titled “You Will Never See Them Again, Get Used to It.”

        Herself has friends she went to kindergarten with, swear to God. Me? I am in semiregular touch with one college pal (second college) and two newspaper bros (one of whom is the old college pal). Pelkey and I touch base from time to time (the sonofabitch owes me an email from last week). And then there’s you lot, some of whom I’ve actually met and failed to scare away.

        But even I find it difficult to thrive under these conditions. If I couldn’t get out of the house for an hour or so every day to air out the voices in my head I’d be watching passers-by through a Leupold scope, and not just for laughs, either.

        • Shawn Says:

          Yep, us convicts seem to be able to cope with the covid isolation reasonably well. Give me a bunch of good books, some fresh air and open roadway every once in a while, and a grocery store that stays opens really late so only a few shoppers are present, and I’m not too bad. Although my wiser elder needs a bit more social contact so the skype and zoom calls along with periodic doses of Downton Abbey on DVD are important. She is anxious to get the second injection so that social interaction with other than my ugly mug will be possible in a month or two.

          But reading the exploits of you old geezers and youngun’s is appreciated and helps sooth my irritated interactions with the carefree attitudes of those in my area that believe if they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Forgive my prejudice but I sure wish more people had the benefit of a little biology and statistics education to better understand what we are experiencing. Along with sourcing their information from numerous trusted sources to balance what they believe is reality, then we would all be in a better world. Let us all (us and those who govern us) sit back in the future and realize that yep, New Zealand had their manure together.

          • Pat O’Brien Says:

            I believe the term “double bubble” had its origins in New Zealand, and it was picked up by Canada a short time later. Hurben can fact check me on that. That was one part of great response the people of New Zealand had to COVID. They seem to care about each other. Here? Too many “patriots” who do everything but the patriotic thing. Public health and spreading of respiratory viruses ain’t rocket science.

        • khal spencer Says:

          I’m kinda like you, O’G. I seem to lose touch with folks or never even meet them when they are in arm’s reach. Its like shipping off on a one way voyage and leaving everyone behind. I share space with a whole gaggle of introverts.

          But if you get too close to that Leupold scope notion, give a holler. We can go out to the BLM land and pop off a few discarded beer cans rather than anything that would object to being shot at.

    • SAO' Says:

      Moh’s? Good luck! I got lucky and got a whole bunch out of the way in 2019, so I feel ok about skipping the dermatology (and doing two virtual annual physicals) this past year. Wish I could go back 40 years and tell me 20 year old self about floppy hats and sunscreen! Good news is they do pretty good work these days. I’ve got a bit of a dent on one side of my head (looks like the Mrs whacked me with an ax handle, which of course would have been justifiable, and we can spare the court a laundry list of my misdeeds that she would cite if charges were ever pressed). But the other scars you really have to hunt for.
      Again, good luck!

  5. John A Levy Says:

    Had both the Pfizer shots due to the infected abcesses in May 2020 and 24 days in hospital and 12 weeks of IV antibiotic. not much in the way of side effects but second shot did give me muscle aches and joint pain for3mabout 24 hours. Nothing Naproxen Sodium couldn’t handle (Aleve). but the new guidelines say 2 weeks. Flipping keep the bar moving don’t know what is what. Me Espousa is on waiting lists all over the county. Public health, Walgreens, Private pharmacy, and Albertsons. She is tre p.o. ed as she turns 65 this month. Reminds me of being s little kid to get the polio vaccine in 1959. I am an old fart.

  6. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Done and dusted, and it wasn’t that bad. Tilly hat and sunscreen is definitely a better option.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well done, sir. My last visit was the .22LR in the cheek and a bit of whittling along the tops of the ears.

      “We recommend SPF 80,” the doc sez to me, she sez.

      “Yeah, I usually go with SPF 30,” sez I, I sez.

      “Uh huh,” she sez to me she sez, “We recommend SPF 80.”

  7. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Oh for shits sake it turns out the front vents on your bike helmet let in killer death rays. At least that is what the skin doc told me as she carved a biopsy off my noggin last month. Sho nuf..when I got home and put the helmets on, the hole in me forehead lined up quite nicely with the vents. I’m going to have to be one of those goofy cap under the helmet guys or adopt the pirate bandanna look. Well there is always biking after dark if one wants to get run over instead of melanoma.

    • JD Says:

      Herb: Headsweats and Sweatvac make some great summer and winter beanies/wraps/do-rags. I wear the appropriate ones year around. Solar rays protection, no sweat in the eyes, some look pretty cool just by themselves if you wanna play the stylish cyclist/MTB’er role too! 🙂
      Full disclosure: I have NO affiliations with either producer.

      • Herb from Michigan Says:

        Thanks and I’m giving them a try JD. I believe I’ll have room in both helmets and if not-it’s new helmet time anyway. The pads in most expensive helmets are not worth squat. I see from reviews on the headbands and caps that many riders just take the pads out. I know sunblock ate the hell out of my expensive Giro helmet pads.But you know what is REALLY expensive?Replacing the sliding lower rack in a dishwasher. $180 fekkin bucks for some plastic coated wire! Damn!! Home appliances are now the worst value you’ll find.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        I used Headsweats and liked them even on cold rides. Plus you get that little tail sticking out the back of your helmet. Stylin!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I go with the pirate look, matey. Got bandanas in red, blue, desert camo, green, and white. In a pinch one will do as a mask, arr.

      For cold weather, or when the afternoon sun is really low in the sky, I have an ancient Red Zinger cycling cap. It’s the only one I own that’s big enough to go over a tuque and still fit under the helmet.

    • SAO' Says:

      Lou Brock should sell his umbrella hat patent to Smith! Maybe a hair net / sausage strap retro helmet with a parasol is the way to go.

    • Shawn Says:

      I agree with you Herb. Although my “spot” wasn’t in the vent region, it was in the temple area just where my helmet arches over. That’s an area of minimal hair and it just glistens in the sun when the sweat washes off the sunscreen. FYI: My family background has some Native American and we’ve always tolerated the sun well. I’m the only one thus far that’s had the spot issue which leads me to speculate that lots of sun, sweat and hours out and about on the bike is probably a key factor.

      POG: Red Zinger? Did you ever chew the tea with Moe? Great guy. Great bike race.

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