Something About Isolation

It’s been seven months since this pandemic thing started and while I am fortunate enough to be back working and getting some semblance of normalcy, I know that many people are still isolated.

I can’t for the life of me understand how they must deal with this. I mean there is only so much for one person to do and reliving your day to day existence like that movie Groundhog Day, gets old, very fast. At least when I was cloistered for six weeks, I had my writing and my books, along with Netflix and Redbox DVDs to compensate for the dreary drudgery of day to day existence.

Seven Months? I’m absolutely certain I would be roommates with my stepson at Eastern State Hospital by now. I had many people ask me how I enjoyed not having to work while I was in isolation and I told them, it stressed me out to some degree. Mostly, it was the uncertainty that maybe I wasn’t needed anymore and that​ ​I would be replaced by someone younger and more​ ​capable than me.

At least that didn’t happen, and now it appears I will be looking at retiring come next March and possibly enjoy myself, being more focused on writing and perhaps getting more of my books published.

I don’t try and plan too far into the future because no one truly knows what the future holds. God knows, but He keeps all of that a guarded secret.

Earlier last month I was asked to write something on isolation through my Spokane​ Fiction Writers’ group. Naturally, it was fiction and has to do with what may be the final chapter​ ​of a novella I’m working on. In it the main character is going to find the antagonist on a​ ​reservation in Montana. He has the corona virus and his intent is justice for all the people who​ ​became this evil man’s victims through the​ ​years. He is isolated and determined. Perhaps that’s​ ​how I should view how others feel toward their own self-isolation.

Loneliness of Life Part 3

Cujo here along with Spike the other crazy Cockatoo.

“Speak for yourself. I’m perfectly rational and sane.”

“Of course you are, but now is not the time dwell on our states of mind. That dog is what we are all unhappy about.”

“Coco!” Elsa announced.

“Yes, coco has not been seen for awhile and the humans who feed us and makes us squawk about are mum about it. They act if she never existed and she was here long before me. It is a mystery and I haven’t a clue about her.”

“I suspect she made Mommy human unhappy and something dreadful happened to the poor little creature,” Harley announced.

“I don’t believe you were ever a part of the conversation, Macaw.”

“I believe I am mighty mouth.”

“Cah, Cah, Cah, yourself.”

“Come on boys,” Elsa scolded them. “It’s perfectly reasonable she just up and left for no reason.”

“I do miss her, don’t you?” Spike asked the flock of six different birds who lived a life of leisure inside their cages.

“Of course we missed her. She was fun to mess with. It never took much to get her
rattled,” Harley opined.

“I would act as though someone was at the door and start squawking like the world was coming to an end, and here she comes, barking and carrying on. It was so funny,” Spike stated with a chuckle.

“Yeah, Zeus doesn’t react the same way she did. He can barely make it back up the stairs anymore because he’s gotten so old,” Cujo said. He used his beak to clean out a nasty little parasite embedded in his feathers.

“Can I offer an opinion?” Snowball the cat asked.

“No!” They replied in unison.

“I’m going to anyway. Mommy and Daddy both talked about that dog. Mommy was
convinced she was sick and needed to be put to sleep…”

“What does that even mean? Bobby the old cockatiel asked alarmed.

“I’m not sure but I did overhear them talk about me the same way. It has something to do with them leaving here and going somewhere else, though I have no idea what a Gooding Idaho is. Do you Cujo?”

Cujo inspected the outside from his window vantage point where he could see the wild birds fly freely about searching for food year-round. He envied them. “I can’t say as I do know what that is.”

“Well, what ever it is, it can’t be good if they are putting us to sleep.

“You guys are probably safe. You aren’t old like me and that dog Zeus, though I help as much as I can with catching and killing the mice here.”

“Oh, you do no such thing. You are so lazy and a fibber on top of that,” Avatar stated
with venom in her Pionus voice.

“Just you wait, bird you’ll eat those words as I’m devouring you. I hear Daddy getting
up. I need to go outside and give myself relief.”

“Why don’t you do that in here? You have that box downstairs,” Harley told the cat

“I also want to not be put to sleep either. I’ll just play it safe and talk Daddy into letting me out. Meow, Meow, meow.”

They watched the cat make a fool of herself while Daddy let her out the front door and relocked it. He went to the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker, then stumbled blindly back inside his bedroom.

“Do you think that old cat is telling the truth about Coco?”

“It’s hard to tell. That cat has such a poker face, you can never tell if she’s being honest or lying,” Cujo told Harley.

The Loneliness of Life Part 2

I stayed home and didn’t like it. Daddy always takes me to wherever, but this time only the dog named Coco went, leaving here alone. Maybe it was the way they both talked and looked at her that got me thinking that this trip Coco took wasn’t such a treat after all. They took a box with them. Yesterday Daddy dug a hole by where those things that spring from the ground are grown. I don’t know why but I noticed it wasn’t a big hole, just big enough for…You don’t suppose, do you?

But it makes perfect sense now that I think about it. They leave with Coco. They haven’t come back yet, so it wasn’t to the store where all the yum-yums are kept. I wonder where they went. I remember long ago after we all moved here from that other place out in the country, we had an old dog I called grandma, but they called Princess. She was a Boxer and extremely sick with very little fat on her. The day after we moved, she made a mess in the hallway of the new house and Princess and I went to a place far away.

I remember it so clearly. He placed a leash on her and they went inside together. A moment later though, I felt this coldness struct me and he came out without Princess. I cried out. I knew he had punished her and she was no longer here. Is the same thing happening to Coco?

I hear them approaching and I go to the back door and listen for the garage to open. They are home. Is Coco with them? I run out to greet them, Daddy brought the box inside and set it on a table. I go to it and sniff. Coco was in there, but she wasn’t there now.

Daddy then went out to the hole he dug yesterday and refills it. Odd? Most definitely. Maybe someone else took her off our hands. I now have Mommy and Daddy all to myself. Well, there is still that silly cat Snowball and those crazy, angry birds I am forced to endure. I hope they too find a good home.

The Loneliness of Life

Coco is a dog. She doesn’t understand what’s about to occur to her later on today.

I’m not sure I understand. She doesn’t deserve this; no one does but options outside life come into play.

Yesterday Mommy called someone and told her she needed to put me down. I don’t know what that means. Everyone, Daddy and Mommy seem different toward me today.

They look down at me with their eyes so sad. Daddy is outside digging a hole in the yard near the rose bushes and the mint that grow so abundantly.

Mommy has a box she set aside and I watched her place a blanket inside. She hums a sad song. Daddy comes in and washes his hands in the bathroom. He nods at her and tells her in human language that I vaguely understand that it’s ready. What is it?

“Coco let’s go for a ride. Not you Zeus, you stay home.”

“Zeus is my life partner,” I bark at her. But she doesn’t listen to me. He whimpers as I go into Daddy’s car. We leave now. The garage door closes and I’m in Mommy’s lap. The box is in the backseat with a folded towel inside. I don’t know where we’re going. But, I have this sense it can’t be good.

Zeus always goes with me, everywhere. Why is he not with me?

In Darkness is Light

“You two are trying to kill me!,” my wife and I were startled out of a deep sleep. “Hello, yeah I’m calling to report a murder You better get here right away. My mom and dad are attempting to kill me.”

It was her son. It’s been two years since his last episode. It’s happening again. It’s probably a little worse this time, my wife and are aren’t as strong as before when this has happened. Now we live in fear of what he might do.

In case you are still unaware of what is going on, my stepson is schizophrenic; has been since, well as far as I’ve known him anyway. And every two years something or someone triggers it. This time it was hallucinogenic mushrooms. Before that, a nasty breakup with a girl. Who knows what will trigger the next outbreak?

My wife is in the bathroom talking to the 911 operator and explaining to her what is going on. She comes in and tells me, “The police are on their way, but it might be awhile.”

I don’t say anything, but this is how whole family members get killed in the middle of the night; by a psychotic family member who has suddenly started hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there. An hour later, an officer does arrive and he talks with my stepson who suddenly appears lucid and rational and tells him, “I’m fine. I don’t know what her problem is.”

He leaves and tells her if he appears okay and refuses to go and get evaluated, there is nothing he can do. She told me this. I’m still in my room hoping the nightmare will end soon. Almost two months ago an intoxicated man busted into someone’s house not far from here. The son of the homeowner shot this intruder dead after all other attempts of de-escalation had failed. My gun though was in my office, far from my room. Fortunately, he doesn’t know that.

I guess he finally went to sleep and I kinda-sort of went back to sleep and was awaken by the silvery streaks of morning light passing between the gap in the curtains. I got ready for a long and stress-filled day where we all have to walk on eggshells and endure his rants and outbursts.

“Where’s my goddamn cellphone?” He demanded, screaming into his mother’s face. I can’t defend her like I’d like to. He is after all, a bigger and stronger man than me and has a 24- year advantage in age difference to his favor. The best thing for me to do is mash my teeth in silent rage while he verbally assaults her.

He does an all-out search, high and low , here and there for his phone. She tries calling it several times, but either the batteries is dead or the thing was turned off. He screams in her face, “Fine my******phone!”

“I don’t have your phone.” He disappeared into the garage. The smoke outside has made it impossible to breathe and all work to get her moved to Idaho has been delayed. I cower in my office and hope I can at least eat a decent breakfast before his next outburst.

She calls the local mental health facilities and seemingly gets the run around because he is too early in his initial psychotic episode to do anything.

“Why are you on the phone? What lies are you saying about me now? Give me that thing!” He snatched from her hands. “I’m not in my right mind. You can’t hold me. She’s lying to you. She’s trying to get rid of me! You can’t touch me. I’ll sue you. I’ll sue all of you!” He threw the phone down on the floor. Unlike him, though she bought a plastic cover to protect the phone. All of his cell phones, if he hadn’t loss them, have war wounds of when he’s dropped it or thrown it on the floor.

Twenty minutes later she call us back. “I told you so,” my wife stated to her pointedly.

But it’s apparently not enough. So we must all endure his mouth, his filthy, obnoxious mouth for another ten hours before a point was finally reached and she talked directly with the psychiatrist charged with treating him before police, an ambulance and her, the doctor show up at our house and take him away.

He comes down the stairs from where he was drinking outside on the deck. “You stupid bitch! You done called the cops on me to arrest me. Where’s my guns? I need to defend us against them!”

“What?” His mother asked in disbelief and possible a hint of relief because it was so long ago when she last called and they continued giving her the same story that it was too early yet. Now, apparently it was time.

The house is calm now. The birds have relaxed and nestled down in their beds; Zeus is happier. He wags his tail in relief. The cat comes in to eat. Snowball takes it all with a grain of salt because she probably knew long ago how crazy he was. I watched him get wheeled away to the ambulance. I see his lips move but I’m not hearing what he told the EMT, but by his attitude it was an angry and loud voice.

He’s at a local hospital where he will be evaluated for two weeks. After that, if he has shown no improvement, they’ll send him to Eastern State Hospital up in Medical Lake for six to nine months before he final snaps out of it, and then the cycle begins again.

Labor Day Fun

Monday brought an extreme weather event that in January would be called either a Polar Vortex or an Alberta Clipper. On this day it was hell on earth. Winds came out from the east. The event not only downed trees, power lines that in turn created new fires or reignited old ones that many fire departments in the area assumed were out.

We all learned that it wasn’t just California Wildfires that has gripped the West this year, and with corona virus restrictions in placed, it has created a nightmare scenario.

Then there are the rumors and the fake news. It seems that the fires in Oregon were arson caused by the antifascists groups that are demonstrating in Portland. State officials said no, it was the easterly winds that caused most of the fires.

I didn’t realized the severity of what was happening until I saw the plastic on my bay window had shredded off and the umbrella over our deck table had blown off, landing on the front lawn, one of its ribs snapped off. A tree two houses down blew over, but fortunately nothing more serious. I still had power and wasn’t threatened by fast approaching fire.

I watched the news with a sense of morbid fascination. Are our forests so badly mismanaged that super infernos like these are the new normal? It appears to be that way. And regardless of whoever is our nation’s President, it is a topic that needs serious looking into.

The most important issue besides COVID-19 is climate change, and what industrialized countries need to do to make it less costly on all of us. Granted, our planet goes through changing cycles such as climate change, but man has accelerated that by burning ungodly amounts of fossil fuels that creates greenhouse gases and causes our entire ecosystem to dramatically change, increasing wildland fires, hurricanes, floods and melting polar icecaps.

It was a fun holiday to celebrate our nation’s labor force and all workers including our first responders. It’s too bad they didn’t get to enjoy it.

Monsters in the Closet

Well, not monsters but mice which I didn’t realized until earlier this week what big problem they became.

It’s uncertain when they made their presence known, and I even written earlier blogs on this subject before, but I cleaned house earlier on my first week of vacation and discovered to my utter horror and disgust the four or five mice I see from time to time were much more than that.

The reason I’m doing this because my mother in law needs my wife to help take care of her. She’s in her 80’s and is getting harder for her to do the things she wanted and my wife \ was chosen to be her caregiver. I’m staying behind and my stepdaughter will come and live with me. Her boyfriend who works at houses like the one I am presently at for a living—refurbishes and resells—will help in getting it fixed up.

Now back to the mice. In helping clean up the house, I have come across evidence of perhaps hundreds more mice living in between the walls. It’s as obvious as the mice droppings I discovered on the kitchen counters that I cleaned and sanitized.

It appears I’ll need a professional service to come in an eliminate the problem once and for all. Or tear the house down to its foundation and build a new, a much more expensive solution. Apparently a neighbor had a similar problem and that was his solution; tear down and rebuild. The coming days and weeks will tell the tale.

What I Got from the Crazines

They’re finally over, the conventions I mean. It used to be an exercise in civic duty and pride, now it has become a three-ring circus of blame games and fear mongering the lights of which I have never seen.

The fact that the incumbent is an unflattering demagogue who cares less about anyone but himself, is beside the point. Both sides paint a dark and gloomy picture of this country should one or the other become President. Neither Party showed us an opportunity for greatness that is the hallmark of this country. Neither party bestowed virtues for future generations to aspire toward.

Instead, this week, Republicans had the nation’s political stage to make their case, just as Democrats had it the previous week to make theirs: against Trump as a lying, racist, corrupt, would-be authoritarian.

Trump pointed out in his closing Speech, “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.”

It sounded like the same speech writer wrote out the same speech but for different audiences. I know from my college days in Advertising 142 that negativity sells better than positive messages of hope and greatness. The Electorate will vote on the better of two evils: Two old men who shouldn’t even be here in the first place trying to convince us voters they will save us from them.

I think that is why I liked a more moderate, positive voice to come out and beckon our better angels to greatness. I remember Reagan’s campaign ads in 1980 and 84. They were full of

hope for the future. Certainly there were the negative ads too, but the ones I remembered were more positive messages.

While I don’t personally remember JFK’s election, being I was just two at the time, the Advertising class I mentioned above, did play them out, and for the most part Kennedy used a lot of positive messages to promote him and his style. We weren’t shown any of Nixon’s ads, though I’m sure they had the same theme, though with more Republican message.

I don’t remember who the speaker was Monday night, but he made a statement that gave me pause, that it used to be we Democrats and Republicans believed in the same things but had different results and our job as voters was to choose the best possible solution. Not anymore, and he’s right. The extremes of both political Parties have taken over and it won’t improve until more moderate, positive thinking Americans step up to the stage and make their cases for American greatness.


Does Corona virus mean death of college towns across the United States? As a Washington State University alum, I can safely say I’m worried this pandemic may harm all of us more than we think if it turns out to be the death knell of many towns across America that relied heavily on colleges and universities to get them by. Pullman is a prime example.

Pullman, Washington is nestled deep in the heart of Palouse country where golden fields of wheat are seen among the rolling hills. The first day I went there in early July 1984, I thought the drive was an end-less winding adventure that I never really got used to driving from where my parents lived over in West Richland.

As it was, the town I learned was an enjoyable community of courteous citizens who looked forward to The students return each fall semester starting in August. I decided after my first year to just live there through the summer. I never regretted the experience.

When all 19,000 students arrived the town of 10,000 town residents supports them, opening their homes and businesses and reaping the benefits. The highlight for locals and students alike was football, where alumni, parents and friends of students flocked to cheer on our beloved Cougars. Six Saturdays in three months of autumn, highlighted every other year by the Apple Cup, loyal fans in their Winnebago’s, Chevy’s or Dodges would flock this town and spend millions of dollars on the local economy including restaurants and hotels.

Now it seems, this may become the beginning of the end here. The hope of course with everyone was this pandemic would have been suppressed to the point where such return-to-normal activities like sports could be back in time for football. Instead, the numbers tell us all a vastly different story.

The Pac 12 along with Big 10, as well as many other conferences cancelled all fall athletics And, it’s not just about school sports either. It’s a national crisis. Like Pullman, many small and rural communities whose lifeline is the college or university it calls home are desperately in need of a miracle right now. This is unlike anything this country has ever experienced and no national relief is going to resolve this either. Certainly, it would help if our Congress and President made certain an amount of this relief package would also include helping small businesses in these towns whose sole source of income is supporting those colleges.

I only hope this crisis ends before it is too late.

What is Freedom Really?

There’s a quote from Robert F Kennedy that defines to me what freedom is all about, treating all Americans with justice, understanding and tolerance. But, there are those people out there who define freedom as a choice to disobey mandates set forth by a Democratic governor because doing so mean giving up their own freedom of choice.

Instead of doing the right thing for the common good of all, these people see wearing a mask as some sort of gesture toward totalitarian rule. I suppose these people see traffic laws and other laws as infringements upon their freedoms and rights too.
It wouldn’t surprise me if these same people believe this whole pandemic is some sort of hoax, a conspiracy to throw Trump out of office and install a Democrat as the next president. I’m sorry that I don’t share these views.

Instead, I see freedom not so much as an individual choice to do whatever he or she desires, but in the broader picture of cooperation. An all encompassing understanding that being a citizen means sometimes making the right decisions to better serve everyone.

This other view seems to presume that laws and mandates are only for certain people and that they are seemingly above the law. This is considered, in my view, anarchy and in a country where the rule of law must be adhered to, anarchy does not work, and will never work.

Freedom in this society is not anarchy. freedom is speaking one’s mind without fear of repercussion, making choices of worship, and protecting oneself and his property from government persecution and repression, and having a fulfilling life free of want and need.

So my next question I wish to pose at these pro-freedom people, did they ever serve in the military? If they had, they know or should know that sometimes freedom comes at a cost to your own individual liberty. The entire military machine is founded on principles of discipline, honor and duty to country. We are a brotherhood, esprit de corps is every branches’ motto, not just the Marines. There are no individuals, but units that work together as a team to achieve a common goal.

If these patriots believe that by refusing to wear a face covering, they are achieving some higher standard, they are ignorant to what this country was founded on. We have no right to expose our countrymen to sickness and death, period.