28 June 2020

A Letter to Our Friends...

Thai Town, Los Angeles, California

Dear Friends—

I hope this finds you all well and happy.

A week ago we went on a grand adventure and four of us traveled to Claremont and had a long afternoon lunch with Eva. Henry was in great form and managed to walk up to Eva’s door using his walking frame and walk through the house and sit in the parlor. Eva made us deviled eggs and had a wonderful Hungarian cheese made from sheep milk. LC brought two bottles of good Champagne. Dinner was a corned brisket of beef and cabbage and a hazel nut cake for dessert. It was a good beginning to a good week.

Henry had several long therapy sessions with physical and occupational therapists and spent long times using his prosthetic and walking frame. His mobility is improving and he spent some time at the Observatory and Elysian Park during the week. He really wants to drive again but we could not get an appointment at the DMV so that will have to wait. The line was around the block and one of the staff told him even disabled people had to arrive at 6AM to get in line.

I’ve been spending the week dealing with my anxiety and depression by meditating daily. I’m trying to take care of myself by eating healthy and practicing the mindfulness meditations I’ve learned at least twice a day. Henry and I both have some sleep deprivation: neither of us sleep well these days. The prospect of a longer lockdown here in Los Angeles is very real and this has us both concerned and a bit depressed. I wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere and I stay as far away from strangers as possible. Neither Henry nor I can afford to catch this virus. 

Henry is working on colouring in a colour therapy book one of the therapists sent him. It helps him relax and keep his mind active and he loves it. I spend my time with Henry and reading and writing when I can. I’ve decided to return to my long essay project “Forbidden Knowledge”; the writing keeps my mind relaxed and is good for my mental health as well. I’m also reading “Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas: A Novel” by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis in a new translation; It’s very entertaining and gives me great joy to read. I have a large line up of books to read this summer and I am looking forward to the time to read a lot of books, mostly French and classic works that have gathered on my list. I also have time for a new Daniel Silva thriller—a guilty pleasure and a book that gives me strong dreams!

We would normally be preparing to go away this week and next to celebrate my birthday and relax over the Fourth of July holiday, but not this year. Instead it looks like we will be in quarantine like everybody else these days. I hope you are well and being safe. As I said earlier, it’s very depressing and alienating to spend so much time without being able to interact freely, but it’s better than becoming ill. Henry and I make sure to have an end-of-the-week special dinner and have a glass of wine or Champagne to celebrate the accomplishments of the week and feel like we are going out, though I can’t make liver and onions as good as Musso and Frank’s does.

Both Henry and I wish you all the best of health and happiness. Please let us know how you are doing. We are well but miss all our friends.

Remember, be fierce and thrive!


13 June 2020

06.13—Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world...

06.12 (From my diary: Beware The Thin Ice)

I'm reading Yeats before bed time as a form of meditation. His words inspire me and pull together my dark thoughts about our country and the pandemic the world is experiencing. 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
                   —WB Yeats: The Second Coming

On the right is the route Henry walked with his PT today. It's over three quarter of a mile around our neighborhood and through a shopping center, up the escalators and down a steep ramp to our street. He was so excited about the achievement that he cried tears of joy! He and his therapist are very close and the work he is doing is making him stronger and more capable of dealing with the pain both physical and emotional. He is most alive when he is able to take control of his life and get out and about with people. I am an introvert but he needs people to interact with. 

His therapist reported that all along the way during his walk people stopped and talked to him and gave him words of encouragement: one man even made a U-turn on the street in his car to cheer him on. He didn't know any of these people but his soul is such he draws people to him. On our street everyone knows Henry and they see him out practicing walking with the walking frame and his prosthetic every day: they all call out to him and greet him with lots of love and encouragement.

Earlier this week on Monday we went to an appointment with Dr C at CRI. Our friend Tim drove Henry's car and Henry was able to sit in the front seat and get in and out of the car with the help of the walking frame. We used the wheelchair to get him into the offices. After the good meeting with the doctor we went to West Hollywood and went to AAA to get his membership renewed and pickup a Handicap placard. We had a great time waiting in line and seeing all the people out on the street; nearly everyone with a mask. Henry loved being out and about other people. This coming Sunday morning Henry and Tim will venture out to get their hair cut and perhaps go to the beach to sit by the road. These little trips go a long way in keeping his morale positive.

Today his therapist, A came by for a long extra session with him—she also fixed the limb support on his wheelchair. As I type this they are out taking a walk around the neighborhood. 

After he finished his shower we cooked together with him making lemonade and supervising me while I prepared the collard greens for tomorrow (he's the chef). Then we played cards, talking and enjoying each other's company. We met 30 years ago this week and I consider them the best 30 years of my life.

Be fierce and thrive...!


© Ph/HOPBELL Beware The Thin Ice 2019-2020

06 June 2020

Full Catastrophe Living...

I have been remiss in posting here for too long and I am sorry. I'll try to do better in the following weeks. Today I'm posting an excerpt from my diaries this week.

Woke at 4. 
Slept better after MBSR practice for 45 minutes

Arrived and Henry was still asleep. He finally woke at 7:30 and reported that he slept through the night. He got up immediately and had cereal and coffee in the front room. Still in pain and none of the supplies have arrived and the provider and our doctor still haven’t connected to extend Henry’s wound care. It’s frustrating that I have to bird-dog these guys to get them to fill out an authorization. Dr C is good with getting the scripts requested. I spent all day writing emails, texting, and making phone calls speaking only to voice mail or answering services and no one responded. Such is my life.

• • • (Deleted text)

I bought another 10 cloth masks today. Henry and I now have about 40 pairs of cloth masks that I wash and disinfect when used. I keep the surplus for friends who visit who don’t wear a mask. I need large gloves or xl gloves but can’t find them anywhere. Every day I count back 14 days and look at who I interacted with, where I went, who came to the flat. I live like so many others in constant terror of contracting the virus. I don't believe either Henry or I could survive it.

• • •

Woke at 5
Long day. 
It’s only 19:00 but I am very tired and will go to bed in 30 minutes. I spent all day on the telephone and on the hospital app trying to get wound dressing for Henry. Finally at the end of the day the Doctor got the fax and called the Health Care company so we can get a nurse again. It’s been six days since his wound has been dressed and I still don’t have any supplies. I’ve order a few boxes from Amazon at $50 for five pieces!

Henry had a speech class and then we met with the Social Worker for an hour.

Meanwhile the country is still in turmoil over the Police murdering black men. I really dislike the Police Culture.

Meditated for 45 minutes—

Woke at 3
This is the 84th day of our quarantine or isolation. Though neither of us has been entirely isolated and I am in constant fear of contracting the virus. I wear a mask everywhere I go and I wash and disinfect my hands constantly. This morning the Uber driver told me he works at night and picks up young people who are coming home from late night house parties that they pay a cover charge to get in. The host pays the local cops to ignore the party. All our police are corrupt in one way or another. It’s the culture the police are trained in that bothers me and so many others. They are above the “law” and act as judge. Now that there are cameras everywhere it is harder for a police officer to get away with bad behavior. Unfortunately, our justice system favors authoritarianism. 

• • •

I am reading Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary and it’s a great insight into her experience in quarantine. Very personal and very interesting. She writes wonderfully about her family and neighbors. I'm very interested in how much time she spends on social media. I gave up on FaceBook a long time ago and I deleted my Twitter account when I retired from Disney. But I do miss the social interaction of bulletin boards and message boards. It seems Chinese people use the medium a lot though It may be my misinterpretation. Some people speculate that the virus will go away once the weather turns hot which it did last week and will do again later this week. I don’t know if the warm weather affect SARS or not.

The manager of the building I live in posted signs outlining how to use the pool during the pandemic. He likes to use words like “protocol” and “procedures”. The young tenets all think it’s amusing.

Henry is sleeping late today. I arrived before 7 and made coffee and it is now 8:30 and he is still in a light sleep. The birds are singing loudly but the sky is grey with clouds. It is supposed to be cool today but next week very hot. Luna is already up and barking at every person who dares to walk passed the building. Luna is our downstairs neighbor’s dog. She is a large mixed breed and very gentle though her bark is deep and gruff sounding. She loves Henry because he used to bake dog biscuits for her and gives her left over steak.

Looking back on the last seven days I have to say it’s been rough dealing with Henry’s pain—though he has to experience the pain directly it affects me as well in that I worry about him and there is little I can do to help him. When he has physical therapy with E or A he feels better and the activity gives him a morale boost. He’s walking a lot during the week: back and forth on the sidewalk up and down the block where we live. Last week he walked a third of a mile in one session. 

Next week he has an in office appointment with Dr. Cushing and I am setting up his next appointment with Dr. Moon to see when the next surgery will take place.

I am waiting for UPS to arrive for a delivery of dressing supplies that were ordered over a week ago. The Health Care company claims the delay is due to the protests which sounds like BS to me. We have no dressing for Henry’s wound and I want to make sure we get these on hand so he can be comfortable.

It is 10:30AM. He’s had breakfast and so the day begins.

Sitting quietly reading and writing and listening to Jazz with Henry sitting close by reflecting. I went to the market to buy some dinner and I made a lasagna that we’ll have with broccoli. I also found some bottles of rubbing alcohol and I spent part of the early afternoon disinfecting the bathroom and the hard surfaces of the front room. The store manager told me, incidentally, that they can’t keep rubbing alcohol in stock for much longer than half a day before word gets out and someone cleans them out of every bottle. He put four cases aside to put out slowly so people like me could have some to buy. The store I go to requires the workers there to change masks every hour and disinfect the counters every time a customer uses it. They keep hand sanitizer nearby as well.

We waited eagerly for the post to arrive as I hoped the dressing supplies would arrive and when they did not I texted the case manager who wrote back that they had been delayed until Monday. I was so angry I cried. It’s unacceptable for this to happen since the company knew three weeks ago that the authorization was ending last week. Instead the case manager waited until last Wednesday to seek approval. It is painful for Henry to sit or lay on his back for long and the pain becomes all encompassing down his leg. It puts us both in terrible states of near despair but somehow we both manage to stay somewhat happy and even content in our quiet sitting. He meditates for 45 minutes to help with the peace.

• • •

He didn’t really want any dinner but he ate a big slice of
lasagna and a hotel spoonful of broccoli. He went directly to bed at 17:45 and I kissed him and left for home. Tomorrow is Sunday and Henry will attend his Church service by YouTube and take communion which the Church delivered to him a few weeks ago. He’s a believer and I’m not.

I’m going to have a glass of wine and read a bit of Fang Fang then go to bed at 19:30.

Be fierce and thrive...!


©2020 Ph/HOPBELL—Beware The Thin Ice