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I eventually sold that VW bus to a guy in Colstrip, Montana

March 21, 2020
Typical day for me when we drove the Volkswagen to Alaska.

March 21, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic coincides with daily surprises, front page news.  Deaths in Italy increased dramatically.  Numbers of cases surged in New York and California.  Many schools and restaurants and bars in Billings have closed or changed their manner of doing business. Half hour ago I returned from Masterlube (R) where three workers washed our camper.  It’s Saturday afternoon and hardly anyone is seen downtown.  Perhaps four or five people on the street as I drove a couple of miles through the heart of Billings.  The sky is blue, the sun bright, the temp about 60 degrees F, slight breeze.  Pleasant, but practically vacant of human beings.  One woman on a bicycle.

We got a new roof, thanks to a squad of workers who replaced the house, garage, and woodshed roofs in a little more than two days.  I stayed out of their way.  Today I split some firewood and picked up those annoying little cellophane strips that come from shingles.  Also, three shingle nails from the driveway.  From the margins of the driveway.  Just takes one, I think.

Good to get out of the house, where we two (three, including Gunther) have spent most of the past week.  P. has been making quilts, I read, do puzzles, take naps.  At least Gunther isn’t barking, now that the workers have gone.  As I write, G. is sitting on my neck, a perch he seems to like.

Whenever I sneeze or cough I worry that I’m getting sick.  I will resume my internist’s admonition to abstain from singing, caffeine and alcohol and to take omeprazole twice daily.  This is to reduce irritation to my larynx.  It doesn’t mean anyone else needs to avoid those things, just me because of my laryngeal inflammation.

Mostly I miss the many people I’m used to encountering at singing practices, NOVA Theater, and the “church of the fervently religious.”  Oh yes, our relatives, too.  The ones in Billings whom I see at least once or twice a week.  I keep telling myself to get back to writing this blog, with its tens of readers.  No lack of material for writing.  I’m considering the following topics:

  • Mrs. Daisy Jacobs, who taught us in second grade at Washington Grade School in Missoula in the late 1950s.  Something about her genuine interest in us kids, her generous affection.  I mean, she liked us.  
  • Dana Graham, my ex-sister-in-law, powerful woman, artist, huge personality.  She died young following the death of her daughter Hannah.
  • My mother’s queen anne chair, which she inherited from her mother, then recovered with needlepoint flowers.
  • Our six years living in student housing in Missoula.
  • The seven years in the Marine Corps, when P. and I launched our family together.
  • The amazing story of my sister Carol and her friend Kurt Fiedler who spent their early years breaking into the buildings at Fort Missoula to explore the former Italian internment camp of the early 1940s.
  • My seventeen years commuting to the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations for the Public Health Service.
  • The alley behind our house, with its shifting stories and barking dogs.  Gunther loves to walk the alley and taunt his doggy cousins.
  • Mowing lawns and amputating the tip of my finger.
  • Swaggering around my grandparents’ apple orchard in Kalispell.
  • Trying to build a fort out of boards using a hammer and screws and nails.  I mean, why can’t you pound screws in with a hammer?
  • My quest to make gun powder.
  • The youthful desire to explore every building on the university campus undetected.
  • A history of my mental health.  Or any other kind of health.  Wait, I’ve already told you and everyone you know about that.
  • The story of our journey to Alaska in a green VW bus that blew up 20 km from Edmonton.
  • Our good fortune to end up atop a mountain lookout tower, and getting paid to do it.

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