Sunday, March 29, 2020

Science Fiction Movie In Real Time

Food Lion this morning


Bill and I are still self quarantined here at our home.  This morning I went to our grocery store again. This is our only outing. Bill stays in the car while I go into the grocery store. Bill wants to go to Ace Hardware and I want to go to my favorite local nursery. I don't even know if they're open but if they are, we'll hold off for now. I'm trying to minimize our contact with the outside world but I'm not going to totally isolate ourselves here at home. No home delivery for us, yet anyway. 

Each time I'm at the store they have upped their safety measures.  This morning the cashier wiped down the conveyor belt after each customer's order is checked. Takes a little longer but worth it to help control the spread of this horrible disease.

The store shelves are slowing being filled up but there is still many empty shelves, including my favorite Progresso soup. I was able to get more beef stew meat and artisan bread which I will have today. Today's slow cooker beef stew I am making with red wine. I love cooking with wine. White wine for chicken and red wine for beef. Delicious!

After I finish this blog posting I'm gong out to the Back Forty and rake more grass. I couldn't do that yesterday because of the rain. Today is cloudy and foggy and the temperature is a perfect grass raking fifty-six degrees.

While laying in bed I contemplated the next few months of life around here at Casa Tipton-Kelly. I'm going to miss going into work at the hotel. For thirteen years I've been working at least two days a week, sometimes more at the hotel. I'm used to that routine, a discipline in my life that I prefer. When we moved here from Pennsylvania in November 2007 I didn't have a job. After we got settled down here at our new home, I felt at loose ends. By the following April I ventured out of our new Delaware home and applied at every hotel I could find nearby here at this seaside resort. I got a job the first week. And I've been working every week except for a three month recuperation period when I fell on the ice in 2015 and tore my left leg quadricep muscle. While working after their retirement isn't for everyone, it works for me. 

It looks like I won't be working for at least three months. I'll tell you right now I'm having some trouble adapting. But I will adapt. Hopefully we'll all get through this latest Threat to Mankind and life will get back to normal. But I doubt life will ever be normal again after this science fiction come to true life movie we're living in real time now.  But we will adapt just as I will adapt to finally being retired, temporarily at least. I look  forward to the call to return to work. I'll be ready.


Friday, March 27, 2020

Social Distancing


Checkout line at my grocery store this morning
This morning I made another early run to my local supermarket. The past two weeks the many of the shelves have been empty. This morning, it looked like things were getting back to normal. Oh sure, there were still empty shelves but there was chicken and hamburger. And more important my Limeade was there. 

I made the run for mushroom. I'm cooking a crock pot beef stew this morning. My beef stews aren't beef stews unless they contain mushrooms. Now maybe some reading this blog will think "He endangered himself JUST to get some mushrooms for his beef stew?"  Uh, yes.  I'm not going to totally isolate myself. I kept my distance. In fact my supermarket even took more precautions. See the sign above about placing our items on the conveyor belt. I waited until the older gentleman finished checking his items. Then when I got to the cashier, whom I have great respect for all cashiers who are putting themselves at risk during this health crises, who had a plastic shield screen outlines in red tape to protect her. Thank God the store is taking measures to protect these selfless individuals.

My supermarket cashier this morning, unsung heroes during this health crises


Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Real Letter

Letter I received yesterday

Yesterday I received a real letter. Yes, an actual handwritten (in cursive) letter. Not a typed letter and not a sales solicitation but a real letter from a real person.  

For those of us a certain age (old), remember when we used to communicate this way? Not that there is anything wrong with the way we communicate today, i.e. this blog posting, but it is sad that a cursive handwritten letter seems to have fallen by the wayside in today's digital world.  

I've always been a letter writer. I have save most of the letters I have received over the years. My father, who was always so dismissive of me in other area, actually made me a wooden box to save my letters when I was a teenager and had numerous pen pals. I still have that wooden box in my bedroom closet stuffed to the top with most of those pen pal letters.  Bill convinced me to throw out several hundred of those letters from pen pals when I moved in with him in 1965 but I did manage to save several packets from my favorite pen pals. I even save my Christmas cards.  I know, I know but I do enjoy going back and looking at them, especially the very old ones with notes.

The letter I received yesterday was from a friend of my longtime friend Don McK., whose co-op building Pat and I stay when we visit Philadelphia twice a year (spring and fall).  I had taken a photo of him with my new iPhone during our visit last year. I had the photo printed and framed and presented gave it to him for Christmas. Unfortunately he was in the hospital when we visited Don this past December so I left the framed photo with Don to give to David when he got out of the hospital.  He just found it and realized it was from me and not one of the old ladies from their co-op group. 

When I saw that envelope yesterday in my mail, which usually consists of bills and advertising circulars, I almost threw it away. Some junk mail comes in to me that looks like it was handwritten, from real estate agents and hearing aid salespeople, but aren't. I've been fooled too often by those fake hand written "letters."  I'm glad I didn't throw this one away.  

I don't know why I decided to get out my letter opener and read this one but I'm glad I did.

Thank you David for taking the time to write your letter to me, what a nice reminder of how life used to me. 

I wrote a letter back to him as you can see by the photo at the end of this post. The photo is of me, David and Don outside Don and David's co-op in center city Philadelphia. 

My wrist was a little sore from writing the letter, not like in the past when I was a long younger and could push out three or four page letters several times a day. 

Now I'm enthused about writing another letter to someone else.


My answer to David's letter





Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Laid Off



Mike, my manager at the hotel where I've worked part-time for the past thirteen years as a front desk agent, called me today. I knew why he was calling even before he told me. He called to inform me that I was temporarily being laid off because the hotel was cutting back on staff because of the virus that is spreading like wildfire across the world.

He advised me that I could apply for unemployment insurance. At first I said "No, that won't be necessary" but then the more I thought about it I thought "why not?"  I'm losing pay. Although I only work part-time at the hotel, the $12,000 (average) I make a year pays for my trips and helps out with the extra bills here at Casa Tipton-Kelly (which there always seems to be).  

The last time I applied for unemployment insurance was when I lost my job at the bank in my hometown in Pennsylvania. I was fired from that job because a new boss came in and when he discovered I was gay, he fired me. Which at that time he could because, as the unemployment office at that time said "He could fire you for any reason, even if he didn't like the ties you wear." Of course he wasn't so blunt as to say that's why he fired me but I found out later at my new bank job. Another new employee was a woman who used to work for this same person in Philadelphia. When she found out I worked for him she said "Did he fire you because you're gay?"  I told her I didn't know why he fired me because I had always got good job performance reviews.  I just assumed he wanted to clear the deck when he came in and he didn't like me. She told me that when she worked for him in Philadelphia (she was a lesbian) that he was known for manufacturing reasons for firing gay employees who worked for him (he was a vice president).  She suspected he did this because he had a son who was gay and he hated gays.  She also said that's probably why he lost his job in Philly and came out to my hometown which is a suburb of Philadelphia.  Of course he was eventually fired from his job at my former bank.  Sorry to go off my subject of this blog but my losing my job today brought back all those bad old memories. 

Anyway, when I lost my job I collected unemployment funds for a while until I got a part-time job at a hotel. And I've been working at hotels ever since. Now the irony of losing my job at the hotel where I work now.

My job loss now isn't all bad news. I'm just being temporarily laid off until life gets back to normal, if ever, after this conoravirus, Covid-19, pandemic passes. I hope I don't die and I can go back to my job at the hotel. 

My part-time job was a nice balance with my retirement. Not only did it provide extra funds for my trips and to help out with unexpected financial bills here at home, it gave me a purpose in life. I know others who retire prefer not to have any job in retirement and that's all right, if it works for them. But for me, who has had some kind of paying job other than home chores like mowing grass for my grandmother, since I was ten years old. Just some of the jobs I've had since I was ten years old in chronological order:

Paper boy (five years)
Dishwasher
Meat Market (a real one at the Farmer's market)
Cleaning offices
Shoe store clerk
Department store clerk
Army
Hotel night auditor
Accounts payable clerk
Remittance clerk bank trust operations
Trust operations manager
Bank reconcilement manager
Estate gardener (when I lost my bank job)
Hotel front desk clerk (last 21 years)

I may have missed some jobs that were short-lived. As you can tell from my work history I wasn't one of those Chosen Children that had parents who guaranteed a college education for their eldest son. My Mother told me when I was in eight grade when I had to make a decision what kind of course I was going to take as I entered high school; academic or commercial. She said "We're not going to pay for your college education. If you want to go you'll have to work your way through college."  Back at that time in my life I was so beaten down psychologically by my father (who constantly belittled me), I didn't have the self confidence to embark on that course. I chose the commercial course in which I learned to type and I have never regretted since as I type this blog entry. See how somethings work out?

I eventually got my college education via the GI Bill after I got out of the Army. I guess in a way I did "work my way through college."  

Do I sound a little bitter that I wasn't among those "Chosen Children" that had parents who paid for their college education? Yes, I plead guilty. Something I'll never get over but which I probably should let go at this time of my life. What my Mother's statement said to me was "you're not good enough to go to college" and thus the rest of my life I've always felt "not good enough" when I socialize with those people who led that privileged life of having their parents care enough for them to provide a college education or them. Of course I wasn't the only goofy fourteen year old who was told their parents weren't gong to send them to college. Both my brothers and my good friend Lar had the same situation. My brother John eventually got his college education by working his way through while he was in his Forties. 

Notice how I veered off the subject title of my blog? That folks is how I blog. I don't do blog entries ahead of time. I do them in real time. Once my finger start typing I let go with my pent up thoughts, ideas, wishes, and yes, even grievances. 

Probably what got me started on this subject today was being laid off, which reminded me when of that day in September 1998 when I lost a job that I loved and was well paid, for nothing else other than the fact that I didn't hide the fact I was gay. How did my new boss know I was gay?  We went to lunch one day (which he did with all his new employees to get "to know them better") and I introduced him to Bill, "my partner."  That was the beginning of the end. A few weeks later he wrote me up for poor job performance. Funny thing, when he called me in I thought I was getting a promotion for a job well done, which I was doing.
Enough of this memory, which I will bury now in the back of my mind.

Now that I'm laid off from my job at the hotel, my so called "lifestyle" will change. I have to admit I do feel safer in this new dangerous environment where a stray droplet which contains a deadly virus would infect me and cause me to die a painful death of suffocation. 

Interesting times we live in folks. If this pandemic passes and I survive, I still plan to go to Palm Springs and help Pat prepare his condo for sale. Always have something to look forward to.  

By the way, I applied for unemployment compensation today online. That was an ordeal, wow. At least I didn't have to go in person like I did back in 1998. Even online it took me about an hour to fill in the forms. Now I await to see if I am approved for pay. I have to tell you  I'm not holding out much hope though because I only work part-time and I receive three small pensions, payments combined which are less that what I make at the hotel.  Banks don't index pensions, that's only for government workers. But I'm thankful for the pensions. Who gets a pension these days from their job?

I have to tell you though, I am looking forward to spending more time at home, doing yard work and caring for Bill. He always got sad when I went off to work but he understood how important my job was too me. Hopefully I'll get some pay with unemployment and stay at home until this virus passes. Also, and this is very important, I feel a lot safer now that I'm not going to the hotel and interacting with guests.  I do feel a bit relieved. I don't want to get sick nor see Bill get sick because at ninety-one years of age, he is definitely at the high risk category. 

Long blog posting folks. I have time on my hands.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs, California Febraury 16, 2020


North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California February 16, 2020 at the height of the tourist season (and yes, that is Pat in the chartreuse day glow green T-shirt taking his sweater off)


Yesterday I saw this picture posted on my Twitter account of North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, California.  This picture was just taken yesterday, it showed a deserted street. Normally this street would be packed with tourists, April being the height of the season in Palm Springs. 


North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, California yesterday after the governor's proclamation to close all non essential businesses and and public gatherings

Last month Pat and I were on this street, which is the main street in downtown Palm Springs. It was so different. Jammed packed with folks seeking the warmth of the sun in the cold month of February. Little did we know that we would be in this dystopian nightmare scenario that we are now.

Pat is back in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario Canada. I just got off FaceTime with him. He was walking the empty streets of Hamilton. 

I was going to go down to the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach but yesterday our governor issued an order that closed the beaches. I decided not to go to the boardwalk. Instead I took a walk through our development here this morning.

Bill and I are sheltering in, which actually isn't ad at all. Made me realize that most times we are sheltering in all the time anyway. The only different is that we're not going out to our local supermarket (Food Lion) as often. Usually I take Bill for his ride every day, Food Lion being our usual destination. But since we're fully stocked up with toilet paper, we don't need to go every day. I'll still take Bill out for his ride but perhaps just down to the river. We won't encounter and potential coronavirus carriers during that outing.

I called into the hotel where I work part-time so ask about the occupancy. I still have my job and the hotel continues to stay open. My co-worker told me the only room occupied was the nurse who was there when I last worked on Thursday. The owner of the hotel will keep the hotel open even if we have no guests, just in case someone needs a room like this nurse who is helping out at the local hospital which is only three blocks from the hotel.  

If the occupancy increases at the hotel I will have to rethink even going into work. I am, at the age of 78, in the "at risk" category of individuals.  My health is relatively good, except for kidney stones and recovered from prostate cancer and a defective heart valve. My main concern is that I catch this virus and bring in home to Bill who is 91 years old.  Bill, except for his sight and hearing and circulation problems in his lower limbs, is also in relatively good health. But I have in the past brought home colds and flues for Bill (not intentionally) and I just don't want to take that chance. I think the only way our hotel occupancy would increase is if we start housing the homeless or others who need a place to stay while their loved ones are in the nearby hospital. I fully expect that to happen.  Fortunately for me all of my co-workers are much younger than me. I'm the Old Guy. Being the old guy is strange for me because most of my life I've always been the youngest in my group. Now I'm the oldest.  A paradigm shift for sure in my life.

Stay safe everyone!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Shelter In Place


(Nancy Sinatra Benefit for Plaza Theater Palm Springs California February 16, 2020)

California's governor last night issued an order for all residents of California to shelter in place. 

So far our governor  hasn't issued a similar order for Delaware residents. But I realized today that Bill and I actually live our everyday lives most of the time sheltering in place. We never go to large gatherings of people, never. The last time I was at a large gathering of people was when I was in Palm Springs with Pat during Modernism Week. One event where we were really packed in was at a fund raiser for the Plaza Theater in downtown Palm Springs. Nancy Sinatra was there with her tow daughters and other celebrities like James Darren. We were packed in that old theater. At times I was a little spooked at how crammed in that building, thoughts going to what if there was a fire and we had to get out?  I don't know if I have the coronavirus, can't get a test here in lower slower Delaware, but if I do have it that's where I got it. 

Nany Sinatra (center) with other celebrities at Plaza Theater Fund Raiser February 16, 2020, Palm Springs, California

The only times Bill and I go out of Casa Tipton-Kelly is when I take Bill for his daily ride.  Most times he doesn't get out of the car.  This morning he did when we went to BJ's Wholesale store in Millsboro. All sanitizing practices were employed. In fact we were even greeted at the door of BJ's by a lady who handed us a wipe. Under normal circumstances I always take a wipe and wipe down the handlebars of the cart I'm pushing, whether or not I'm shopping at Home Depot, Food Lion of BJ's, our main shopping venues. 

I don't go to restaurants here in Delaware instead saving my money for my quarterly outings with Pat in California, Canada or Philadelphia. Speaking of which, I doubt if we'll be able to meet in Philadelphia the end of May as we had planned. In fact I doubt if I'll even go to Canada at the end of August for my annual trip. I'm pretty sure the boarder between the United States and Canada will still be closed at the end of summer. My feeling is that this health crises won't relent until next year.  Yes, that means no Halloween, Thanksgiving for Christmas. Life as we know it will be changed, hopefully not forever.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Trip To Palm Springs Cancelled



This afternoon I bowed to the inevitable, I cancelled my April trip to Palm Springs. I made this decision with Pat after the news that border crossings by Canadians to the United States are temporarily closing for non essential traffic. Pat getting his condo ready for sale is non essential, on that we agreed. Then later today on the news I heard that Palm Springs itself has ordered residents to shelter in. Case closed.

I cancelled my American Airlines reservation for flights to and from Palm Springs. They're crediting my payment back to my credit card. 

Actually, I feel relieved. There is just too much going on with this corona virus pandemic. Pat is going to manage getting his condo in Palm Springs spruced up (new floors, painting) for sale. I think it will work out well. No need to be there in person. And of course, this trip to Palm Springs would be nothing like our February trip. Those days are gone folks, probably for a long time. In fact I'm wondering if we can even go to Palm Springs next year for Modernism Week.  Life has definitely changed in the United States and the world. 

One thing Trump said today at the daily press briefing on the coronavirus update was true "We have never seen anything like this before."

Bill and I are doing well. When I take Bill out for his daily ride now, I leave him in our car while I go into the store.  We still are at some risk because I continue to work at the hotel twice a week. Tomorrow I go to work again. For the past five years I've always wiped down the surfaces at the front desk which seems to be paying off, I haven't caught a cold or flu since I've done this routine. In the past when I caught a cold or flu Bill always eventually got it. Bill hasn't had a cold or flu since I've been practicing my routine. 

My gravely ill brother called me yesterday. He's undergoing extreme treatment right now for his lymphoma cancer which has returned. He is very at risk. I fear for him. 

As far a social distancing, we're already doing that here folks. We never have had large gatherings here at Casa Tipton-Kelly. In fact, we've never had any gatherings here, just occasionally a visit from our neighbor. We don't even have overnight stays from guests. The last one was Pat and that was two years ago. 

I hope every one who is reading this blog is safe and well. 

We are indeed living in interesting times folks.




The Stand



Many years ago I read the Stephen King novel "The Stand". It scared the daylights out of me.

This is a description of the fictional horror story that Stephen King, the author of "Carrie" and many other horror stories, which I took from Wikipedia:

"The stand presents a breakdown of society after an accidental release of a strain in influenza that has been modified for biological warfare causes an apocalyptic pandemic, killing off more than 99% of the world's population."

I just got off FaceTime with Pat, who lives in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. We are/were scheduled to go to Palm Springs next month to prepare Pat's condo for sale. While I was on FaceTime with Pat the news came across that all travel between Canada and the United States would be restricted to "non-essential" travel. I think we can assume that preparation of Pat's Palm Springs condo for sale is "non-essential." 

We both still have our airline reservations but I think that will change shortly. Pat can't get out of Canada and I don't think that situation will change by next month. I have a feeling this coronavirus pandemic crises is just amping up and will get even worse. I think we will be in this for months, not weeks. 

While I was talking to Pat on FaceTime he looked out his tenth floor window of his Hamilton condo and saw few people on the streets below. That reminded me of the opening passages of the book "The Stand" where one of the few survivors walked the empty streets of a city that was depopulation by the fictional influenza virus. 

I've always had the feeling something terrible would happen during my lifetime. I was brought up to fear the atom bomb. Remember that? Hide under your desk kids when the bomb goes off.  Even then my eight year old mind knew that wasn't likely to happen. Sure, that Doomsday scenario came close during the Cuban Missile Crises. Folks, I think we're here now. 






Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Update Here In Delaware



Yesterday when I went into my 3 PM shift at the hotel I heard the news that the governor of Delaware declared a state of emergency. 

As of 8 PM last night, restaurants were limited to take-out and delivery. We had five rooms at the hotel last night. Yes, we're having cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic but there are still people at the hotel. One of my responsibilities to our guests is to supply restaurant information. 

I called around the restaurants and made up a list to pass out to our guests of those restaurants that were converting to take out only. Some were even planning on doing deliveries, which is new. As someone said on the TV yesterday, "We're all in this together."  

My co-worker Oz placed our hand sanitizer, which we always use even before this coronavirus threat, right on the counter where the guests check in. 

The first guests, an elderly couple (most of our guests are elderly couples) I checked in I nodded towards the hand sanitizer before they handed me their credit card. At first they seemed puzzled then I saw a smile slowly develop across the lady's face. She pushed the plunger to squeeze hand sanitizer on her hands. She thanked me. Her husband also availed himself of a squirt of sanitizer. I frequently availed myself of the hand sanitizer during my eight hour shift.

When they came back from dinner I asked them how was it.  They told me the restaurant was packed.  She said the atmosphere was like the Last Supper, a festive Last Supper. Then the restaurant did close at 8 PM. Take out only from now on to further notice.

Later on two long term guests came to the front desk and said "The bars are closed!"  These two men are long term guests from South Africa and Namibia who are working at the Georgetown airport refitting custom planes for Arab sheiks who have too much money. I told them "Yes, per order of the governor of Delaware state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic." I didn't have an alternative for them. 

Those two men, along with the rest of us are now facing the reality that our normal every day activity is going to change, at least temporarily.

Also racing through my mind last night was the question "What if I already have contacted the coronavirus?"  I've been following closely all the reports of the symptoms; shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. I don't have a fever but I do have a shortness of breath and I do cough. But then I've had those conditions for years. Of course I imagine the worse, that I have IT and I will pass it to Bill is of the very vulnerable age. What do I do?  What should I do?

Yesterday the news also came out that drive in tests would be available today here in southern Delaware, only a few miles from where we live. I may be walking around with the virus unknowingly. I checked the restrictions for taking this drive in test. I don't meet the requirements. You have to have a fever, been in contact with a known carrier of the virus, and or returned from one of the infected countries. There shouldn't be any requirements like this if we're to get a handle on this pandemic. 

Yesterday, for the first time Trump actually acted like a president at the daily briefing. I don't know what he was told but he actually was serious and didn't take his usual potshots at his perceived enemies and lie about the seriousness of this pandemic. Of course no one knows how long that attitude will last. Already he was hate tweeted the New York Times after that press event. God, can you imagine how much better we would be off in this country if we had a real president instead of a reality show racist president who has zero empathy and is only interested in his reelection. 
Sorry for the rant but sometimes I just have to vent about this awful situation our country is in because of Trump.

I went to the store this morning to pick up some milk and was surprised to still so many empty shelves. I was able to get four cans of my favorite Progresso Tuscan Bean soup and Bill's milk but still no eggs. 

Still no eggs at our local supermarket

Talked to Pat on FaceTime this morning about our pending trip. I fully expect domestic air travel to be suspended by the time we plan to leave for Palm Springs on April 13th. If the planes aren't flying, we may just drive out. I always wanted to experience a drive across the country. Good time to do it do, light traffic.




Monday, March 16, 2020

End Of The World?

Soup shelves at our supermarket yesterday - one of my regular stops

Bread shelves yesterday at our supermarket - at least there was some bread

Milk refrigerator at our supermarket yesterday

The coronavirus pandemic situation continues to worsen.  

Schools are closing. 

Bars and restaurants are closing. 

Trump, and his sycophants continue to lie and paint a rosy picture. 

Thank God we still have Dr. Anthony Fauci who, for some reason Trump permits, tells us the truth, this is going to get worse.

I visited our local supermarket yesterday and was able to buy some of our necessities. Fortunately for us, I'm a natural hoarder thus I have at least three month's supply of toilet paper. I even have month's supply of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. I buy in bulk from BJ's.  Looks like that habit of mine is paying off now.

I'm still on for my flight out of Philadelphia to Palm Springs on April 13th. The flight will probably be cancelled this week but as long as it's not cancelled, I'm going. 

I'm still going to work today at the hotel. I have hand sanitizer at the front desk. We always have hand sanitizer at the front desk, even before this pandemic. I always wipe all surfaces when I begin my shift. Just another habit of mine, like stocking up on toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, that some friends often tease me about. 

The CDC is advising everyone to stay at home. That won't be hard for me and Bill.  We're already there. I did make a change though when we go to our local supermarket, I have Bill to sit in our car and wait for me to do the shopping instead of going into the store with me.  

We have no children around us.  Our neighbors to the left of us left yesterday for parts unknown with their two daughters. Their mother is a school teacher and schools are closed for at least two weeks. She ask us to collect their mail.

I'm feel healthy. I just have my usual mucus collection at the base of my throat, a condition that I acquired two years ago. I'm not exhibiting any coronavirus symptoms that have been stated. Bill isn't either. 

I will take a coronavirus test if one is available. I heard on the news that Delaware is one of the states that is offering drive by coronavirus tests. I don't know where it is. I'll wait until information is forthcoming. So far that is the big failing of the Trump administration, information that a common person like me can use to keep safe and keep others safe. I would like to hear just one, JUST ONE, of these Pence lead coronavirus press briefings that isn't thanking everyone for the "wonderful job" they're doing and just give us information we can use.  And I especially don't want to hear any more praising of Dear Leader about what an "incredible" job he is doing. Trump has totally failed in his leadership role during this health crises. Government exists to protect us, not to insure Trump's re-election so he can spend his weekends at Mar-a-Lago golfing and hate tweeting.  Every time I hear one of Trump's weak assed sycophants praise him on TV I want to scream. STOP IT!!

I'll keep you posted folks. I don't know how many people are reading this blog but I do feel an obligation to those who have been following my blog to keep you all  up to date as to how these two old men who live in southern Delaware are managing during this latest crises to threaten life as we know it.  Long sentence. However, as I said many times before, I blog (write) as a form of therapy. I'm not the cleverest person nor even the most interesting person on this planet but this is my life and I'm doing the best I can to make the most of it. Writing about my life gives me a sense of calm and completeness. It works for me. 

Stay safe everyone.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Thoughts on Coronavirus Pandemic



Here we are folks on this spring Saturday morning sinking deeper into the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.  Just the latest threat to life as we know it. Look for the movie next year.

We survived the Avian Flu, Mad Cow Disease, SARS, Ebola and many other threats to civilization on this planet as we know it. But this one does feels different, concerts are being cancelled.  toilet paper is disappearing from the shelves of stores. This latest End of the World As We Know It is different. 

Of course I'm not going to let this blog post go through without acknowledging the absolute total failure of Our Dear Leader (Trump) to prepare us for this pandemic. From disbanding the pandemic office in the White House to the failure of testing for the virus, I don't know where to start. Trump lies like the rest of us breath. He's been lying his whole life (and getting away with it), he knows no other way.  Let's just acknowledge Trump only cares about himself and getting reelected and move on from his lies and hate to the adults who are assuming leadership in this crises.

How are we doing here at Casa Tipton-Kelly?  We're not panicking, I can tell you that.  Although when I went to our local supermarket this morning most of the shelves were empty.  I'm not sure if they were empty because they're cleaning the shelves or they were just out of food. I only wanted to get a five pound bag of backing potatoes, strawberries, and twelve grain bread for egg salad sandwiches. Nothing, empty shelves.  Store was packed.  Lines were long. And this was early in the morning. After I post this blog I'll go to another store nearby for my potatoes and strawberries. If they don't have them, I'll manage.

Pat and I are still planning on flying to Palm Springs February 13th, to get his condo ready for sale. Seeing and hearing about the panic on news and at the store this morning, made me more determined to go to Palm Springs.  Sure, it will probably be a semi-ghost town, and the crowds will be gone and no events. So what?  We're there to prepare Pat's condo.  The wide, beautiful streets are still there. Hopefully some of the restaurants will still be open. If not, we'll cook our own food in a VRBO rental.  We'll manage. You ask, "Aren't you a senior citizen? Should you be flying?" I suspect the plan won't be full like it usually is. Brings back memories of a time long ago when I flew to San Francisco (1979), when there were so many empty seats on the plane I took back to Philadelphia, that the airline attendant asked if I would like to sit in first class because there were empty seats.  Would I?  I did and it was fantastic!
Maybe I'll get lucky again on my flight this April 13th?  But one thing is for sure, as long as the planes are flying, I'm taking it. Especially after seeing that scene at my local supermarket this morning, I'm not panicking. I'm to going to hole up in our house here, afraid to do anything. Of course I'll take precautions. Washing my hands, using my hand sanitizer, not shaking hands (there was a slip up this morning when my friend Frank made a mulch delivery - he put out his hand and I shook it before I realized what I was doing. So used to shaking hands, I have to retrain myself). 

I'm starting to ramble here folks. Time to wrap up my meandering thoughts on this latest crises. Hey, I grew up working about the atomic bomb. As a six year old first grader I was told to get under my desk when "the bomb" went off. Even then my six year old brain had figured out that getting under my desk wasn't going to help me much if an actual atomic bomb dropped on the East Ward School in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Same here folks, I'm taking precautions but I'm not going to retreat into a canonic state. Besides, I have plenty of toilet paper to last for months.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Random Thoughts On An Early Spring Day 2020

Our driveway this morning after I returned from my early morning walk - daffodils in bloom - yes, that is my shadow

"What's rolling through your head this morning Ron?"  

See how I began this post without using a personal pronoun? I also didn't begin with using the useless word "So", mainly because I fear a Raybeard slap down.

So (whoops, there I go) here is what is roiling (not a misspelling) through my seventy-eight year old brain this morning:

I'm glad Joe Biden did so well in the Democratic primaries last night. Sure, Uncle Joe is boring and has difficulty completing sentences and his speeches sometimes meander off but he can beat Trump for the presidency.  What about Bernie "Free Stuff" Sanders?  I never was a fan of the Angry Old Man Shouting campaign offering free stuff to his cult like following of youngsters who want their college debt paid off.  Now all Joe has to do is stay disciplined and give speeches like he did last night and not screw up in the last Democratic debate later this week.  

Change of subject, switching lanes here folks:

Trump has sealed his fate with his grossly incompetent response to the coronavirus threat. He can't bullshit and bully his way through his catastrophic failure of leadership in protecting us from a pandemic. As with everything in Trump World, it's all about him. He's only concerned with the falling stock market threatening his chances for reelection. I could go on and on about this Criminal In The White House and the Republicans sycophants and toadies who have enabled Trump to be the greatest threat to our country has ever endured. I wonder if his cult Evangelical followers  will say Trump's failure of leadership is God's way of finally opening the eyes of his cult followers that the emperor has no clothes?

Changing lanes again here folks:

I've made my airline reservations for April 13th to fly out to Palm Springs for a ten day stay to help Pat prepare his condo for sale.  I heard that the CDC recommended that elderly folks (that's me folks) not fly because we are more at risk of catching the corona virus. Trump slapped that recommendation down.  I have to agree with him there. Let's not go with the "everyone takes off their shoes when going through TSA airport security."  Millions of people have taken off their shoes since the failed attempt of the Shoe Bomber, how many potential shoe bombers have they found? Nada?  Security theater. Banning seniors citizens from flying would be the same thing, theater. Of course I will take precautions. Hand sanitizer, and not touching my face (which is harder than you think).  I am concerned though that things may get worse by April 13th and I will be banned from taking my flight.  What happens to my payment for my flight? I hope American Airlines does the right thing and holds my payment as a credit for a future flight just the way I would hold a hotel guest payment as a credit or refund. But you never know with airlines, they're pretty greedy.

Change of lanes:

I completed my taxes yesterday and filed them. I always dread doing my taxes. This year was no exception. Good news again this year, we get a refund. Ever since Bill and I got married in 2013 and I could file a joint return as head of household we get refunds. Of course I've been head of household since Bill retired at fifty-five years old thirty-six years ago but I always owed more money at tax time.  It took a long time but thank goodness that discrimination ended. Now to make it to next year to file our taxes again. The years sure do seem to fly by.

Change of lanes:

I got a ride to the Philly airport on April 12th. For my early flights out of Philly I now reserve a hotel room at the Airport Marriott Hotel the day before my flight. My flight out of Philadelphia 6 AM on April 13th.  Much less stressful to rise from my king size very comfortable Marriott hotel bed at 4:30 AM than get up at 2:30 AM from my Delaware home to catch my ride, more expensive but worth it, my new normal.

Change of lanes:

The stock market continues to drop. I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I see my already small stock portfolio shrink even more. I thought when the stock market plunged in 2001, that would be the last of my lifetime, apparently not. At least this time I don't have all of my money in stock, I did keep some in cash.  Of course my fears are all relative, as Pat often reminds me "First world problems."  I have my health, a fabulously comfortable home, great relationships, and enough food to eat. All my limbs work too, albeit a little stiffer because of my enriching arthritis.  But the daffodils are out and I know I'm one of the lucky ones.

Have a great day!








Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Back To Palm Springs Next Month



The Intrepid Duo, Pat and Ron in Palm Springs CA February 2020

Yes, you read that right, Pat and I are going back to Palm Springs next month. 

We're leaving April 13th and staying for ten days, returning April 23rd.  Pat is selling his condo. His two year tenant is moving April 12th. Pat and I will be preparing his condo for sale.  

We'll be staying at his condo which should be interesting since it won't have any furniture. That shouldn't be a problem though.  I stayed in my present home for months without furniture. All I had was an air mattress and some lawn furniture. That's what we'll do when we're staying in Pat's condo, cleaning it up and getting it ready for sale.

I made my airline reservation last night. What a difference in the price!  For my last trip in February I paid over $900 for a round trip to Palm Springs. This time the round trip was only $398. Of course I added upgrades like a seat with more leg room bringing the total cost to just over $500. At least I'll be saving money on not renting a VRBO. I'm assuming Pat won't be charging me to stay in his condo.

Some of you may be thinking, "Aren't you one of those senior citizens who are advised not to travel because of the coronavirus?"  Well, yes I am. First of all I'm assuming the world hasn't come to an end by Easter Sunday, April 12th, the date of my hotel reservation at the Philadelphia Marriott Airport (my flight leaves the next day at 5 AM).  If this latest pandemic threat hasn't wiped everyone out, I will take my hand sanitizer with me and avoid close personal contact with strangers like handshakes. Life does go on folks. 

Of course Pat didn't have to twist my arm to go with him to return to Palm Springs this year. Sure, it's more expense but as I have said before, that's just less than my twenty-three nieces and nephews (grand and grand-grand) will inherit when Uncle Ronnie makes that final trip to the Palm Springs in the sky.

As is my habit, I will take plenty of pictures and videos. Where would I be without my iPhone XP?


Sunday, March 08, 2020

Daylight Savings Time 2020




That time of year again folks, turn the clocks one hour ahead of "spring ahead!"  Seems like we just did a "fall back."  I don't know about you but to me this constant changing of clocks annoys me. Perhaps it's because we have so many clocks, thirteen in my bedroom and bathroom alone. Sure, I acknowledge that I have more clocks than the average bear (about sixty in the manse at last count) but this constant changing. We have two clocks that are set high on the wall that we need to bring out the ladder to change. One of us is eventually going to fall changing those clocks.

There is good news on the horizon though. Delaware is set to put into law to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. 

Hallelujah and amen!
  


Now that makes sense. But first it has to coordinate with our neighboring state Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and even New York.  I feel confident this time next year we will have a permanent Daylight Savings Time. Just makes a lot of sense.  This changing back and forth was just to mainly accommodate those moms who didn't want their kids standing in the dark waiting for their school bus in the morning. Hey, wintertime the days are shorter. Deal with it.  

My Mother used to tell me that Daylight Savings Time was enacted mainly to give rich people more time to golf. I believe her. But it was nice today at 5:30 PM to have the sun still shining brightly in the sky.  Spring is coming and the days are getting longer. Let's keep it that way.



Saturday, March 07, 2020

Martini Kings Shag Store Palm Springs California February 2020





Every year when we're in Palm Springs one of our must stops is at the Shag Store. Pat introduced me to Shag, Josh Aigle. If you're not familiar with his work, you would probably recognize it if you saw his pictures. 


During Modernism Week Shag holds two events on a Saturday to introduce new Shag paintings.  Pat and I were able to attend both events this year.


This is a video of the Martini Kings (playing "The Lady Is A Tramp"), the live entertainment Shag offers during his events. Also free drinks are available, thus the long line outside waiting. 


Pat has purchased several Shag products as have I. They're expensive but worth it to me and Pat. We get a lot of enjoyment from what we purchase from  prints, lamps, pins and this year a Shag shirt. 


A Shag event, just another reason for visiting Palm Springs in the winter during Modernism Week!



Pat finds his happy place relaxing at the Shag store with a vodka cucumber cocktail. 

Pat relaxing at Shag

Friday, March 06, 2020

Getting Ready For The End?



With the coronavirus fears sweeping our nation and the world at this time, I'm thinking "Is this the end?"  Personally I don't feel an immediate threat other than my stock market portfolio that is sinking. Even though I don't have that much in the stock market it is all that I have.  It's so frustrating to see it sink because it just hit new highs. Seems whenever my portfolio is looking good, something happens that punctures that Balloon of Hope.  

Am I concerned about my personal health? Of course I am. I am taking all the precautions such as washing my hands and avoiding handshakes. But I'm not panicking, actually I don't panic. It's not in my nature. I just weigh my choices and try to make the best and safest decisions to survive. 

What I've heard is that the people who are most susceptible to the serious effects of the coronavirus are old folks like me. I remember the last time I had a bad cold or the flu (still not sure what it was).  It was about five years ago and I thought I was dying. For the first time I went to the doctor for a cold. She told me it was good that I can because one of my lungs was already half full. I was on my way to pneumonia. I haven't had a serious cold since then. Probably partly luck but I think a lot because I take precautions. I always wipe off my work surface when I arrive at work at the hotel. I wipe off the surface of shopping carts like I did today when we went to BJ's and Food Lion. I stay away from people with colds.  Bill has also had bad colds in the past. But both of us have avoided having the flu and/or bad colds for the past five years. We always get our flu shots. That probably helped. 

We both are very old now and our health is fragile. We're not the young whippersnappers who had that inexhaustible energy we took for granted at that time of our lives. That was especially noticeable to me during my recent two-week stay in Palm Springs. I had to take a couple of days off and stay in our condo watching TV just to recover my energy from a previous day of the activities we participated in Palm Springs. We both grunt and groan a lot getting around our Casa Tipton-Kelly. 

We have dilemma here. I don't want to die before Bill, leaving alone. He won't survive. But then I don't want him to die either then I would be alone. The only time I've really been alone in my life was a brief period in my life after I got out of the Army  in 1963 and before I got my job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia. Prior to that window of alone time, I always had a good friend from my earliest memory. I had none when I got out of the Army, I was alone and I didn't like it. 

Just expressing my thoughts here folks as I confront the latest challenge in our lives. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Dancing In The Streets of Palm Springs California



While walking on the main street (North Palm Canyon Drive) of Palm Springs during our annual visit, the live music was so compelling that I just had to put a few moves on in public. Of course being the shy, retiring guy that I am I could only do a minute or two before I handing my iPhone over to Pat to really show us how to dance. 

Always so much fun to visit Palm Springs, time to let my hair (or what is left of it) down. I love to dance. Of course I realize I "Elaine Dance" but hey, I enjoy dancing none-the-less. Watch out for next year. I really plan to let loose. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

James Lipton



When Pat and I were in Palm Springs last month, I had a chance encounter with James Lipton, the longtime host of "Actors Studio".  

Pat and I were having lunch at our favorite vegan eatery, Nature's Cafe in Palm Springs. While I was waiting for Pat to collect our order (no waitress/waiter service) I noticed that James Lipton had entered the restaurant with friends. 


Pat waiting for our order at Nature's Cafe, Mr. Lipton and his friends came in that door to the right a few minutes after I took this picture. I didn't take a picture of them, respecting they privacy.

I mentioned to Pat "There's James Lipton."  Pat said "Who is James Lipton?"  I told him that James Lipton was the longtime host of the PBS program Actors Studio.  Pat wasn't aware of that program. Pat and I have a lot in common but I know a way lot more of celebrity, both Hollywood and New York, than Pat does. But then Pat knows way more music groups than I know. Vive la difference!

I excused myself and went over and introduced myself to Mr. Lipton.  I tapped him on his shoulder, and as he turned I said to him that I was honored to meet him or something to that effect.  He turned his head to acknowledge me and responded "You're going to ask me for an autograph are you?"  I told him I wasn't and actually I wasn't. I don't ask for autographs of celebrities.  I told him we had similar names. He replied "Oh."  I only spent about a minute talking to him and left him and his friends to place their order for food. I am very careful when I encounter celebrities (which isn't that often) and invading their privacy. But I do feel a need to acknowledge them if the opportunity presents itself.

Later in the week I encountered Mr. Lipton again, when Pat and I were attending an event at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.  Mr. Lipton was there with the same group he was with at Nature's Cafe. He was attending a movie at the Camelot Theater. He was also wearing the same flowered shirt.  I didn't say anything to him at that time, figuring I already bothered him enough. However, I did tell the counter clerk who Mr. Lipton bought popcorn from who Mr. Lipton was.  The counter clerk didn't know him either. 

Thus I was very surprised this week when I read in the paper that Mr. Lipton died. He seemed fine when I saw him in Palm Springs two weeks ago.  Just more proof how fragile life is. You could be her today and gone tomorrow. A cliche for sure but this is one reason I visit Palm Springs. For most of my life I've put off taking trips, "doing things", waiting for that perfect time.  Well, now folks it is the perfect time.  

My time in Palm Springs with Pat, who is the perfect travel companion/buddy, is a realization of some of my lifelong dreams. I'll probably never move to Palm Springs full time but I do love visiting this oh so perfect location in the midst of winter. A dream come true. 

Right now is the best of times folks. I don't know how much longer it will last but for now, I'm living and enjoying every moment, hour, day, week, month and year. 


Pat and Ron in Palm Springs, 2020







Sunday, March 01, 2020

Update On Bill's Vision

Bill with his VA eye doctor

Two days after I returned from Palm Springs, I took bill to the Wilmington Va for more extensive tests on his vision problems. When we last left this question, Bill was very dissatisfied with his previous doctor after his cataract surgery. After his cataract surgery Bill still couldn't read the eye chart. His doctor discovered that he had macular degeneration.  Bill wanted another doctor's opinion. Thus I arranged an appointment with the eye clinic at the Veterans' Administration in Wilmington.

We got up there early Wednesday morning. The doctor saw us right away. For the next two and a half hours he performed tests on Bill's eyes. The result?  Bill has macular degeneration. In fact they determined that Bill is legally blind. Needless to say Bill is very upset about this. He's convinced that if he get just the right pair of glasses that his vision would improve. 

The chief eye doctor and a health care provider came in to talk to me and Bill about what his options are. Audio books. That's not an option, Bill doesn't read and he certainly isn't going to sit still and listen to an audio book. Another option was to go to Philadelphia to a specialist which basically will provide a big magnifying glass for Bill to read. Bill doesn't want to do that either. The health care provider was concerned about Bill's mental state. I appreciate their concern but this is a problem that Bill and I will have to take care of ourselves.  

The health care provider called me the next day to discuss more options. There are no good options. Bill is hard of hearing and now his sight is going. I will take care of him.  When we got home I made him a new batch of chocolate chip cookies. I also fixed his iPad so he can check the weather and his mail. He has trouble seeing his iPad but he manages. 

Those days of the past when we were both so healthy, we took our health for granted. These days, when I'm exhausted most of the day and Bill has his hearing and vision problems, is a new reality for us. We'll manage. 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Palm Springs Visit 2020

Me and Pat on the balcony of our VRBO rental condo at the Biarritz condo with the Mount Jacinto mountains behind us


Another Palm Springs visit has come and gone. Already I'm looking forward to our visit to Palm Springs next year.

What a wonderful time we had during our two week visit. As usual the time went by so fast.

Unlike last year when we encountered torrential rain, this year every day was sunny and mild. The highest the temperature reached was 80 degrees. At night the temperature never dropped below 50 degrees. What a nice respite from the cold temperatures of Canada and Delaware during February. 

We stayed at the Biarritz condos in downtown Palm Springs.  The Biarritz is within walking distance of all the attractions of downtown Palm Springs, which we took great advantage of. Both Pat and I got a lot of walking in, walking that we both miss now that we have returned to our cold homes in Canada and Delaware.

Pat coming down the steps at our rented condo at the Biarritz handing me my key


Our stay in Palm Springs this year like last year was during Modernism Week.  Pat arranged for several tours.  One was a two and a half hour walking tour of famous homes. Very interesting but I was winding down after two hours.  But we did get to see the Lou Costello and Joseph Cotton homes and the stories behind their stay in Palm Springs. We saw many other famous homes including Barry Manilow and Suzanne Sommers who have homes up in the mountains. 

Later in the week we attended a fund raiser at the historic Plaza Theater in downtown Palm Springs. Nancy "These Boots Are Made For Walking" was the featured guest along with two of her daughters and James Darren. We were packed in the theater and the sound was muffled where we were seated but it was fun and interesting to see Nancy who, of course, performed her "Boots" song. She's still got it folks even though she has turned into a little old Italian lady and is no longer the young leggy blonde with white boots. Bless her heart.

On another day we took the double decker bus tour of famous homes hosted by the comedian Charles Phoenix.  We were in luck again, another perfect day for sitting on the upper deck of the bus although leg room was tight. Reminded me of my airline flight out to Palm Springs.  Of all these events I will post videos in future blogs.

Pat and I also revisited out favorite vegan eateries.  We eat healthy when we're in Palm Springs. This year we tried a few new places including to Tiki bars, one of which had wonderful chicken and vegan egg rolls as well as delicious Tiki drinks. Those places were the Tonga Hut and The Reef. We never did make it to the local gay bars like Hunters or Streets. We had too much fun at the Tiki bars. Met so many nice people at this venues also. In fact, during our two week visit we made many new friends who I hope we see again next year.  

Palm Greens Cafe - one of our favorite vegan restaurants

We also attended two parties at the Shag Store.  We always visit the Shag Store when we're in Palm Springs. Pat is a big fan of Shag as I am now. Every year they have a party at the store with free drinks with the Martini Kings band playing outside. I took many videos of which I will post.  Pat is quite the dancer.

The only downside this year is that I fell again and injured my right arm which is still aching. I would like to just once, not fall down during our quarterly get togethers.  What happened this time was I was walking back to our condo by myself (the sun was getting to me) and I was looking at the directions on my iPhone.  I tripped over several sand bags which were on the sidewalk from the previous night's street fair.  This time I didn't fall on my face but braced myself with both of my hands, my iPhone being in my left hand. I ruined my iPhone, which I had replaced at the Apple Store (I had insurance).  My right arm, which I fractured five years ago when I fell going into the American Legion Post 28 to sign up for a van ride to the VA.  Yes, I hit that same arm again. Still hurts.  I may have to get it X-rayed.  

Folks, all my life I looked forward to making visits like this but I never had a friend to do it with. Pat is the perfect travel companion.  He's fun, stays with me and pays his share unlike travel companions I've had in the past who disappeared on the Hunt (for sex) as soon as we arrived at our destination including those "friends" whose way I paid (Brad Corrill, Bob  Murphy, Bob McCamley, Ed Cage - you know who you are).  Yes, I name names.  After those bad experiences I traveled alone but traveling alone is never as much fun as it is traveling with a friend. 

I have so much to tell about our two weeks in Palm Springs including the huge Dodge Ram 2500 truck that Hertz rental upgraded Pat too. Man oh man did we ever butch it up during this stay.  We even fooled a fellow renter at Biarritz who thought we were construction workers like him (he had a Dodge Ram 1500 parked in the Biarritz parking lot near ours).  He was looking for construction work and thought we were fellow construction workers.  Oh my, he must have been so disappointed after he talked to us.  It was fun driving around in that Dodge Ram but what a gas guzzler and parking was also a challenge.  But yet another fun experience driving around Palm Springs in that tank.

Me with our Dodge Ram 2500 with a running board

I took over 1,000 pictures and videos.  I won't subject you all to ALL of those photos and videos in future blogs but I do have some choice ones I will share. Taking photos and videos is perhaps my major joy in our trips. I love taking them and then looking at those videos and photos later and reliving those good times.