Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19

Push Pull

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The world is in the midst of a bizarre pandemic contrast of simultaneous good progress and bad outcomes. The calamity of skyrocketing cases that are overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums in India has been widely reported at the same time we hear about travel opening up in the EU. In the US, states are ending mask mandates, and relaxing restrictions.

I heard a story on NPR about the lack of vaccines in the Philippines creating a massive crisis of surging cases. In Colombia, violent rioting has erupted, triggered by a proposed tax fix for their pandemic-battered economy.

Things seem to be getting better and worse all at the same time. I suspect there will be a time lag of ramifications that continue to appear for quite some time.

The US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, made a good point advising that people not focus so specifically on the percentage number of citizens vaccinated (be it 70% or 80%) toward achieving herd immunity. He pointed out that it doesn’t work as a switch when a specific percentage is achieved, suddenly ending transmission.

Realistically, there will be a gradient of improvement, one we appear to be seeing early hints of locally. It feels odd to be enjoying the reduced pressure to isolate when other parts of the world sound like they are getting so much worse.

Causes a real push-pull on the senses.

 I suppose it’s not unlike a lot of things in life where good things and bad are in perpetual interplay.

While our horses are showing good signs of becoming more comfortable with their situation here, Cyndie needed to call for the vet yesterday to check on Light who appears to have a possible sinus infection. While he was here, Cyndie was able to confirm our suspicions about Swings suffering from a bout of rain rot, a skin infection.

A little odd that they both seem to have an infection at the same time, but we are told they aren’t related.

I hope they don’t tell us the horses should be wearing masks.

You can bet that would be a real push/pull.

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Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Conflicting Thoughts

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There’s a battle raging in the available space of my brain between the wonderful goodness all around us and the repeated failings of improvement where the needs are well known. We just heard an update on progress to vaccinate for COVID-19 that lamented the low percentage of the neediest people receiving shots, despite the advanced knowledge that this should be the priority. Even when there is broad public awareness of the need to get the first vaccinations to the communities most impacted by the virus, insufficient effort to make this come about leaves things to play out as usual with the advantage going to people of privilege.

It is a lot easier to talk about what “should” happen than it is to actually enact the changes needed to achieve high ideals.

Sounds a little like the way things always go in our governmental system. Two-party politics for passing legislation advancing the lofty goals of a nation results in a lot of sounding off but very little in the way of bringing lasting positive change. Progress is slow for the poor and disenfranchised citizens of our country.

We have passed the 1-year milestone since the pandemic took over all of our lives and Cyndie and I have thus far dodged illness. Others we know have not been so lucky, including some who are currently suffering symptoms. We are sending love to those of you experiencing the virus first-hand.

News reports announcing crazy-high numbers of small earthquakes in Iceland, combined with several other notable recent quakes around the planet suggest something big is about to go boom. It’s a strange threat to contemplate from our relatively stable geographic landscape.

A strong spring melt is underway at Wintervale and the chickens are thrilled over the ever-expanding “tillable” terrain becoming exposed again.

The south-facing slopes are free of snow but the rest of the forest is still covered like the surfaces of an old-fashioned freezer. Walking the trails is a fascinating demonstration of how much chill emanates from the icy carpet below.

Delilah loves to pause and rub her face in the snow-cone texture. Her head was all wet at the end of a walk yesterday from rolling in the slushy snow.

It’s incredibly calm and soothingly optimistic with the promise of spring unfurling right before our eyes. The animals all seem giddy and I guess that is contagious.

It’s a welcome contrast to the more unsettling thoughts looming.

Here’s to visions of the days ahead when COVID sufferers can come walk our trails, breathe the health of our forest air, and hang out with our chickens for a while.

We’ll send you home with fresh free-range eggs.

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Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2021 at 10:28 am

Never Over

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When I looked last night, the COVID-19 death toll for the U.S. was beyond 450,000. Multiply each individual death by the number of people who loved them and the total is easily beyond two million.

While I pine for the day when we can look back and realize this pandemic is officially behind us, the harsh reality remains that for all who will have lost a loved one to the disease, it will never be over.

This moves my impatience to a much more humbled perspective.

To everyone coping with the permanent loss of a person to the virus, I pause to contemplate your grief and lift up my heartfelt love as a soothing balm for your pain.

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Written by johnwhays

February 1, 2021 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Dramatic Difference

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Despite those who continue to cling to a belief that the global COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax dreamed up to make the outgoing President of the United States look bad, the amount of impact on the world is unsettling. In our little valley in Wisconsin, U.S.A., I have yet to hear about anyone who has tested positive.

Of course, due to social distancing, I’ve not seen or spoken to our neighbors for about ten months. They could be sick and I’d never know.

For the first, oh… seven months of the pandemic, I didn’t learn about anyone I knew who had tested positive. In the last month, that number has jumped up to around ten. I’ve heard about two coronavirus associated deaths from people I know, but otherwise, the reports have all involved minor symptoms.

The dramatic difference in impact swinging from asymptomatic to causing death is perplexing. For the many cases of obvious underlying risks bringing about the fatal outcomes and the healthy people barely suffering, there are smatterings of too many descriptions of unexpected miserable results.

When my turn eventually comes, how will it affect me?

I may have written about the story that startled me from a doctor, when asked by NPR to share a personal example of one case that had a profound impact on him, in which he talked of preparing to discharge a patient who had recovered enough to go home but before they processed him out, his symptoms returned and he ended up dying before the end of that day.

Sure, a large percentage of deaths are occurring in elderly people in group care facilities, but kids and healthy adults are dying, too. Other healthy adults who survive are being walloped by weird and prolonged complications.

Meanwhile, most people I know take it easy for two or three days and then get on with their activities with no ill after-effects.

I’d prefer to be one of the latter, thank you very much.

I guess this dramatic difference will be one of the main memories I will carry from this pandemic. Particularly because the economic impact of the outbreak looks to be similarly disparate. While many have lost jobs and are facing incredibly difficult financial challenges, others have actually profited and are in a stronger position than if the pandemic hadn’t happened.

A global pandemic is one thing, but its impact is innumerable.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2020 at 7:00 am

Virus Mania

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It’s as if there is some sort of pandemic or something. The coronavirus is everywhere. That invisible little bug that half the people think is being way over-hyped while over a million others are dead from and hospitals are being stretched beyond capacity is not magically disappearing in the way some hoped.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Radio on-the-street interviews capture a scary number of people who complain they are tired of the pandemic and frustrated with officials who are struggling to mandate protocols that can limit the spread. Not the proudest moment for the human race.

Staying home all the time is too hard. Really? How hard is it?

What if we had to practice avoiding others for a whole year? I don’t know. Maybe try imagining how hostages who are held for four times that long muster the ability to cope.

We have the promise of vaccines to look forward to, so the beginning of the resolution of the pandemic is within sight. It would be nice if people could rise to the occasion of not making things any worse than they already are while we work through the process of vaccine distribution on the way to achieving herd immunity.

Try pretending that it isn’t a hoax. Play along with us for a little while, for the good of the rest of the world population.

After it’s all over, maybe all the people who have lost jobs and businesses can be retrained to become firefighters or search and rescue EMTs to deal with the increasing wildfires and flooding hurricanes that global warming has continued to exacerbate while we have been distracted.

Just call me little miss sunshine this morning.

Forgive me. I’m just reacting sideways to the unending reports of GOP and White House lunacy stinking up the remnants of our democratic election here in the U.S.

I trust there is hope for a better day hiding out there somewhere. [Insert joke about expecting to find a pony in here someplace.]

I’ll keep digging. And staying home as much as possible.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2020 at 7:00 am

Not Complicated

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For the record, in case you have grown numb to the subject and completely stopped paying attention, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic of COVID-19, a contagious coronavirus respiratory and vascular disease, the results of which have economies teetering on the brink of various calamities and stressing vulnerable populations in myriad dramatic ways.

Dealing with the ripple effects on our daily activities can get wearisome, I know, but giving up and sacrificing the best long term solutions in order to satisfy a desire to be done with it right now is totally counter-productive and basically downright irresponsible.

We will only ever be as successful in controlling the spread of the virus as the weakest link of our collective effort. Adherence to the best health and safety practices does not involve excessive demands on individuals in order to accomplish the goal. Is it really that hard to just pay attention to what matters in this situation?

What is being asked of us is not complicated.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when you are around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid large gatherings.
  • Maintain social distancing.
  • Monitor your health daily and be alert for symptoms.

As if we needed any more proof of the reality about how we invisibly spread droplets and aerosols by merely talking, let alone the more obvious coughing and sneezing, I encourage you to view the fresh evidence presented by The Slo Mo Guys followed by a couple questions from Gavin Free to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

We can’t *wish* this outbreak away. We *can* put in the worthy effort of enacting the simple steps to protect ourselves and others.

Don’t be selfish. Do your part!

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Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

RS Interview

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Relative Something just landed a scoop interview with *the* John W. Hays delving into a variety of topics he was willing to discuss with us. Out of respect for his personal privacy, we are leaving out the questions he declined to answer. Here are some selected excerpts where we talked about the pandemic…

RS: How are you holding up under the stresses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic?

JWH: Hanging on by a thread? I say that as a question because, even though I am coping rather well, it feels a bit shaky much of the time. I am acutely aware of a diminished buffer between my sensible self and my flip-my-lid self as I go about my days. A total meltdown looms large on the fringes of every day. It’s just grace that has allowed me to keep from blowing a gasket over the simplest of foibles, like a napkin slipping from my lap or inadvertently catching my toe on a perfectly flat floor surface and suffering that universal “D’oh!” feeling.

RS: Have you heard of anyone in your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus began impacting the United States?

JWH: Not at the closest level, despite several reported situations and symptoms that triggered reasons to be tested. None of those have become known positives that caused me concern about a need I should self-quarantine as a precaution. There have been some reports of second-person or third-person cases, and just recently dear friends in another part of the world who have the virus, so it doesn’t feel very far away from me. I still take my temperature every morning and log how I’m feeling on the COVID Near You site. So far, so lucky, is the way I interpret my days of being spared.

John & Mike socially distanced in the great outdoors, autumn forest bathing.

RS: Do you ever think about how the last seven months might have been different if there hadn’t been this global pandemic?

JWH: Maybe in a few fleeting retrospective moments, but really, that’s a luxury that serves no purpose. The harsh realities we are coping with every day leave little space in my head to go there. Equally, it has sapped much of my energy toward looking ahead to plan anything in the future. Despite my attempts to remain as positive as possible, I all too easily fall into a “what’s the point” despondency about making any plans until the virus is under control.
Luckily, I have Cyndie’s precious energies enriching my life with her willingness to make some things happen. With masks on our faces, we have achieved several socially distanced get-togethers with some key people who have helped to keep me from becoming a complete shut-in hermit on days I’m not at the day-job.

RS: Will the pandemic affect how you vote this year?

JWH: We already voted! So, no. For the previous election, Cyndie was going to be out of town, so she requested an absentee ballot. It was so flippin’ convenient that I ordered one for myself. It was a no-brainer for us to go that route again for this election, except, with the very noticeable disruptions in our Postal Service recently –including delaying the delivery of our chicks, which cost the life of one of them– Cyndie chose to drive to the home of our township clerk to hand-deliver our ballots.
I don’t know that they’ll be properly counted, but I’m satisfied that we did our part to get them there. We’ve been reciting a mantra of “Fifty-Blue-States” to envision a landslide so obvious that a certain person finally gets the message he has to accept the results. However, just last night it occurred to me that 50 blue states would be so unbelievable it would serve as a justifiable reason to question the results.
I just hope the popular vote is what determines the outcome and not an electoral college or the Supreme Court.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Supreme Court could put an end to the pandemic? Declare the coronavirus unconstitutional!

RS: Hard to object to that.

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

Final Rest

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Under the wearisome pall of constraints in place due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Cyndie’s family orchestrated a laudable graveside service for a small number of family and friends to say final goodbyes to her dad, Fred Friswold, under a mostly cloudy but otherwise dry Saturday. Masks were required and reasonable social distancing requested for the limited 30-minute window of time allowed by Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

We were instructed to arrive at a precise time and remain in our cars until ushered in a parade of vehicles to the gravesite.

The Friswolds have a family plot where Cyndie’s grandparents, her aunt, and her sister have now been joined by her father’s ashes.

In an unfortunate but inconsequential oversight, the canopy ordered to protect from possible rain was missing. The threat of precipitation waned as the appointed hour drew near and by the time we stood as a scattered group to hear various readings and prayers, there were a couple of brief openings in the clouds that revealed blue sky and bathed us in sunshine.

A flock of wild turkeys idly wandered past as if we weren’t there.

Masks served to catch many tears.

From the cemetery, we all drove to the University of Minnesota where the staff of the McNamara Alumni Center –the building Fred and two alumni buddies were instrumental in shepherding to existence– provided a pandemic-constrained space for a meal and program.

It was a day for which I’m confident Fred would approve, partially because only a fraction of the people who would have gushed over his greatness were able to be present so to do.

He touched a lot of people’s lives and impacted exponentially more who never knew him.

I appreciated hearing three different perspectives from people in his world of financial guidance to the YMCA and U of M, as they revealed to me how little first-hand exposure I had to anything but his home and family life.

Fred died in June from a cancer diagnosed the previous December which only compounded preexisting heart and lung ailments. He was clear-minded and fully aware right to the end. In the months since he died, the new reality of his being gone from us was settling in. Yesterday’s events have served to punctuate anew the depths of how much he is missed.

It’s a shame the end of life celebrations are so difficult to hold during a pandemic.

Cyndie’s family did a fine job of achieving all they possibly could under the circumstances.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2020 at 9:06 am

Just Love

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Certainly, there could be worse things to keep coming back to, but my mind has begun to develop a healthy habit of naturally settling on thoughts about sending and receiving LOVE amid the swirl of good and bad circumstances that wash over us with unrelenting regularity.

We learned last night of an unexpected death among our extended family, all too close to the time of Cyndie’s dad’s passing that has everyone already raw with grief. The increasing infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic is pressing firmly against the frustrations of being locked down for months and disrupting dreams of resuming some previous activity.

Plans for the fall are far from settled as to whether schools will be able to open safely and entertainment venues will figure out a way to host events.

It is almost becoming a physically painful thing to not be able to hug people, on top of the ever-awkward absence of a genuine handshake.

Still, we are showered with ongoing blessings that become more precious with each pause for acknowledgment. The gestures of condolence that have arrived in the last two weeks have warmed our hearts.

Last Sunday, Cyndie and I worked on preparing the brooder for the anticipated arrival of 12 new day-old chicks this month. As hard as the loss of birds is on my tender wife, she couldn’t stop herself from ordering more. New life is coming to Wintervale again!

Summer is in full swing in all its glory around our land, regardless of the recent loss of some big trees. We’re preparing to host travelers we’ve not met before from my virtual community, Brainstorms, in the days ahead. We offered a free parking spot for their small RV on their trek home that is taking them right past our neighborhood on the interstate.

I keep imagining how pleasant it would be if the news media took several days off from mentioning anything a certain person says or does and simply focused on news that matters without any distractions or fabricated drama. I do struggle to muster enough love to offset the disturbance that rolls out of the nation’s capital like the irritation of a lingering dead skunk smell.

The high heat and excessively oppressive tropical dewpoint temperatures are hanging around lately even longer than skunk odors, which is definitely exacerbating the angst of those who lack artificial cooling in their homes.

There is good and bad roiling around in a weird mix. What can we do to cope effectively but love?

Just love.

It sure can’t hurt to try.

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— special love goes out to Carlos today for his sorrow and loss —

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Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Return Appearance

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It is challenging to chronicle the uncertain timing of the otherwise inevitable end of the life of a family member. In-person, a question often lingers over whether the latest departure salutation might actually be the last goodbye. Cyndie and her brothers have been rotating days of tending to their father in his hospice-care phase of life for several months. The task is now being transferred to professionals at a nearby hospice facility, unfortunately, under the current constraints of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

It appears we have reached timing now measured in a matter of days, possibly even hours.

A hospice facility is a precious place. I had a great experience at a home where my mother spent her final days and our family was able to gather around her. It breaks my heart that we will be unable to do that for Cyndie’s dad. Visitation is very limited to protect everyone from the coronavirus.

I scanned some of my past “Words on Images” posts to see if something might grab me in this moment and chose “Appearance” from just about a year ago.

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Sending F.R.F. to a higher plane with beams of love and peacefulness…

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2020 at 6:00 am