Putting aside the unnecessary death, the financial collapse, and the ever-present sense of dread, is there anything about this pandemic that you’ll remember fondly?

I know the world is pretty terrible right now. Jobs have been lost. Friends have passed. There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty and anxiety. But, I suspect, for most of us, there are also the occasional moments of happiness, when we realize that, at least for a fleeting moment, we’re well, happy, and have things in our life to be thankful for. Last night was a good one for my family and me. We snuggled up in front of the fireplace and watched Double Indemnity on my computer amid bowls of rice pudding, popcorn and Win Schuler’s cheese spread. I don’t know that it was necessarily my favorite memory of the lockdown, as I’ve also really enjoyed playing badminton between our patches of kale with my daughter between, building structures from twigs and vines in the backyard with my son, and cooking with my wife, but there’s something really nice about drawing the curtains, shutting out the outside world, and just losing yourself for a few hours in a good Barbara Stanwyck movie. [I’d also recommend The Lady Eve, if you’re looking for a double feature. And, if you’ve got the time, and want to be really ambitious, maybe start things off with her first film, the pre-code Baby Face.] So, what’s it been for you? Assuming we live through this, are there things that you’ll look back on with fondness?

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32 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed my small yard in a way that I never had before. I feel as though I know each of the plants and trees a lot better.

  2. Nobody
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I have been taking long walks with and without my wife and kid, changing up the routes to go through places I have not been before. It has been really calming. Very few cars driving around. On Saturday, my daughter and I discovered a large protected wetland about a mile from us that was filled with frogs chirping. That is something I sorely miss, and will be going down there frequently with a chair to just listen to them now that I know where they are.

    I have been seeing a lot of spotted towhees on my walks. That has been a treat. Also saw about 8 cedar waxwings in a tree in my backyard, a blue heron up close in the creek down the street, a few younger eagles sparring, and a young coyote pup at the back edge of a playfield down the street.

    Back in February, I had a few chances to go out paddling and got to see well over 100 male and female merganzers at the mouth of the slough feeding north lake washington. Lots of Barrow’s Golden Eyes and Buffleheads. Also saw a pair of western grebes. Lots of cormorants too feeding on lake perch. They have this dead cottonwood next to the site I launch from that they roost in. It is funny as hell seeing 50 or 60 of them all jockeying for space.

    This was the first year my kid’s school participated in a local program to raise salmon. I helped set up the tank with a few other parents who know way more than I do about biology. I am grateful for the time and knowledge they have shared. We received a state / tribal fisheries permit with 200 coho eggs from the local hatchery. We were able to raise them to the parr stage, but had to release them in the lake earlier than planned due to the school closure. It was a great experience for the school, for my kid, and for me personally.

    On one of my walks, I also discovered an area close by that is doing habitat restoration for coho. Apparently, the chinook hatch and go straight out in the spring to the ocean. The sockeyes go into the lake for a year or two first ( where they are known as kokanee ). The coho stay up in the streams in areas that widen into wetlands… where the current slows enough for them to better manage their energy budget. They hang out there for a year before making the ocean tour. Fascinating stuff. These habitats are critical to their survival. Another habitat that is important is the estuataries where they can spend time adjusting to the change in salinity. Their kidneys need time to switch how they manage salt and if the change is too abrupt, it kills them. That leads into the topic of intertidal zones and the importance of eel grass and bull kelp, but I have probably lost 95% of readers at the first paragraph.

  3. John Brown
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    Nobody, That’s sounds like some fun exploring. My good buddy works in salmon restoration for FWS in Vancouver, WA. I’m familiar with your area from past work on Lk Union & Washington. We have Rufous Sided Towhees at the Brown’s Michiana Compound, which are somewhat elusive, and just arrived a week or two ago. Also woodcock. Good flush of flowers on the peach trees this year, so hopefully a big crop. Lettuce doing great, another ten days or so and we’ll be self sufficient for greens the rest of summer

    My favorite part of covid so far is the great entertainment of watching agent orange accomplices twist themselves into pretzels to defend the indefensible. Truly amazing feats!

  4. Anonymous
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I had several colleagues get ill very early in the Michigan epidemic. They were not allowed to come to work at the hospital, and we had no idea on how they were doing. My favorite memory was seeing one, then two, then three of them back. They had been very very ill at home. Unfortunately, one of them passed, and that is my least favorite memory so far. My second least favorite memory was consoling as colleague who had been reassigned to a COVID unit who had an anxiety attack after three patients on her rotation died on the same day. We couldn’t talk her out of her containment suit very easily, and I think she resigned the following day.

  5. John Brown
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Anon, that’s heavy. This experience has been super disparate so far with some traumatized by deaths and bankruptcy and others bored and unaffected. The utter absence of empathy from the sociopath agent orange clan doesn’t help.

  6. Bob
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    There is some channel called Movies on basic cable. Channel 293 on Comcast. I’m not sure how else you find it. They’re doing Sunday night noir and playing a bunch of really good movies. I’ve got my fifth grade daughter interested in film noir. Last week she was particularly into the 1950 women’s prison classic Caged. This week featured two Robert Mitchum films plus the Big Heat.

  7. Sad
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I loved staying home, not driving and reducing my consumption.

    I can’t wait for the Green New Deal stay at home order from President AOC.

  8. Nobody
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Anonymous – I feel a similar sense of unease that I felt when a friend of mine went off to fight in the Gulf War as I went off to college. I would send my friend Mike letters with tins of Kodiak, but other than that I was a college student and he was a door gunner out in the desert. He is still dealing with PTSD. My neighbor is a nurse at a local hospital. I asked her how I can help. She said letters of support, gatorade, and packaged food/snacks. I brought her the requests, along with my supply of N95 masks. Other than that, I’m doing my best to stay out of the hospital.

    A friend of mine’s cousin works for Ford. I believe he is an EMU grad, if memory serves right. He did a stint recently at 3M to try to help with increasing N95 production. Here is a link to the story….

    https://www.at.ford.com/content/atford/fna/united-states/en/homepage/news-and-clipsheet/news/2020/4/3m.html

    JB – That is awesome. The towhees are such beautiful birds. They hang out on the ground, so it is like a treasure hunt finding them with my kid. I’ve been hearing the distinctive whir sound of the varied thrush on my walks, but have not seen one yet. Part of the work my kid’s class was doing this year was a Citizen Science project testing water quality along Thornton Creek near where it empties into Lake Washington. They were tracking e.coli counts along with rainfall, water level, temp, and velocity. It was very interesting. We are very fortunate that NOAA is close by, along with all the fisheries people both there and working out of Fisherman’s Terminal. There is a lot of deep knowledge.

    Years ago, I wanted to do an inventory of trees in Ypsi. There were so many beautiful and majestic trees planted in public spaces that would never be a first choice of urban planners now. With ArcGIS, it is relatively easy to create a geospatial database of them now… along with a dashboard for making an interactive narrative.

    Mark / Bob – The cinematographer Allen Daviau passed away recently from covid 19. I re-watched Empire of the Sun. It is a great film, and somewhat appropriate for the times.

  9. John Brown
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Just found out that Lakeland prison in Coldwater where my Hillsdale County connection friend works has 12 dead and 800 positive out of a population of 1500. But 80% we’re asymptomatic despite being an aged population. Over a third of staff has tested positive with some getting very sick.

    He just responded that he tested positive on the 20th and is quarantined at home. His 1st grade son is currently displaying symptoms and he’s trying to negotiate pediatrician visits, versus ER, versus containment. All complicated by an extremely rural setting.

  10. EOS
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ll fondly remember that I quit my job of no real significance and am no longer tethered to a desk staring at a monitor for 50 or more hours a week. I now have the time to workout more consistently and get in better shape. I need to workout because I bought a stand mixer and am now making all kinds of homemade bread for the first time in my life. Bought some LED lights and am growing flowers and vegetables from seed. Been doing a lot of yard work and getting fresh air and sunshine. I’ve been able to grow closer to my extended family as we stay in touch much more frequently.

    And during this much needed rest, I can pause and contemplate what the plan will be for the next stage in my life. I have time to pray more, to thank God for how He has blessed me and taken care of all my needs so that I can contribute to groups and causes that are on the front lines battling this virus and economic shutdown.

  11. Sad
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Wait you quit your job?

    How is that battling the economic shutdown?

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Just saw a male bufflehead in Independence Lake County Park, by far the most beautiful and underutilized of Washtenaw County Parks. There’s a whole extra spur of disc golf range and x country ski trails that no one else seems to use, which is good because I need to open up my lungs and the dogs need to be dogs in the woods. I think I’ve only seen one or two other bufflehead in southern Michigan. It’s breeding season and this guy seemed lost.
    Hope he finds his way.

    I’m struggling because I really know how to use free time well but my energy remains very low due to this now 8 week bout of something with abnormally low blood o2 levels. Covid test was negative as predicted but my doc says that doesn’t mean I didn’t have it. I’ll probably never know. The not knowing is hard. I don’t have to worry about infecting anyone else on the short term at least. I’ll take each day as it comes. Would be nice to feel productive again. Here’s hoping I find my way too.

  13. Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Bob – Here is where viewers in the Detroit area can watch the Movies! Channel

    Detroit / WJBK
    Over the air 2.2
    WOW 131/151
    Comcast 293 / 298
    Charter / Spectrum 192
    Brighthouse / Spectrum 82

    If you are elsewhere in the US check this link for details on where you can find the Movies! channel.
    https://moviestvnetwork.com/wheretowatch/

  14. Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    In many ways, my life is the same. I was already working remotely from California for the winter so I am still working remotely from California. The biggest change has been the challenges related to getting groceries delivered. Easy before, quite a challenge now.

    I have been very grateful about a lot of things. Interestingly this quarantine much like my cancer, has made me grateful for all of the things I do have in my life, including my immense privilege. I wish everyone could have the good fortune I have had! I have a great job that I love in an industry that I love. I have friends who let me stay with them for free even when the visit has needed to be extended due to quarantine. I have been cooking and even sometimes enjoying it. I have my homemade camper van so I can get home without being in contact with others. I even have found a website that allows me to search for weird free campsites on my route home!

    I have enjoyed myself on this trip to California even though I haven’t been able to do all of the things I was planning on doing. Still, just hanging out on the back deck with my very good friend of over 30 years has been pretty nice. We also all had fun watching Tiger King on Netflix.

  15. Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    JH, I wonder how reliable the antibody tests are? Since we aren’t sure if having those actually makes one immune, I am not going to try to get tested but I did have an illness in late January and I have seen some research that suggests that it was in the community here in California then. So it is possible but unlikely. It would be nice to know though. If we find that antibodies do confer immunity, I will see if I can get tested.

  16. Mab
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ve noticed a lot more activity on Tinder. I think people are really getting lonely.

    It’s been such a great stress reliever for me to be with women from all walks of life who have similar pent-up desires, fear, and anxiety about the situation. Everyone is feeling these things — young, old, black, white, disabled, immigrant, city, suburbs, rural.

  17. Bob
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    EOS, are you suggesting that God created this virus to get you out of the house and office and working on your gut? How come nobody ever blames God for stuff like this but figures he’s gonna guide them through? If God’s is in charge, he’s a dick.

  18. Satan
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    That’s the spirit, Bob.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    My serology test was negative, so I guess what I am doing with keeping safe is working so far.

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    “Pandemics are nature‘’s aphrodisiac”—Chaz

  21. bet HW that McCabe wouldn’t be fired and all I got was this stupid name
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Aloha EOS, sounds great. I am happy for your retirement. It is about the only thing late stage capitalism still provides. Worry about my daughter and her peers. I am doing many of the same types of things absent any in-person interactions outside my wife.
    Attacking some long over due maintenance issues with the house, and having video happy hour with friends and relatives.

  22. iRobert
    Posted April 29, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    The clean air has been nice.

  23. Nobody
    Posted April 29, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    There are two scenes in Empire of the Sun that are haunting. The first is the British heading to a masquearde party in their limos as the starving Chinese are pounding on the cars in desperation. The second is the British in the “arena of opulence” scene starving to death after months of the Japanese feeding them only boiled potatoes and dirty water.

    I read today that farmers are destroying their crops and livestock in astounding numbers at the same time that we have 22,000,000 newly unemployed people. We have had a century since this last happened to make sure there are safeguards against this kind of waste.

    There are now currently thousands of empty hotel rooms at the same time thousands of people are living in tents in our parks and along our highways. I heard the other day ( but have not confirmed ) that 1/2 of all renters in the US did not pay rent last month.

    We are quickly transitioning from the masquerade scene to the arena of opulence scene…..

  24. Posted April 29, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    That is certainly true, nobody. This pandemic is making our existing class structure all the more visible. The question is what now? Will the proletariat rise up and demand better? I am thinking not. However, if people do, it would certainly be a HUGE silver lining to the pandemic.

  25. Nobody
    Posted April 29, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Lynne –

    I have a vague memory of a Japanese folktale about an emperor whose kingdom is stricken by disease and poverty. Rather than continue with all the luxuries he had become accustomed to, he chose to live a simple life on par with his constituents. That sounds like the right approach. There is a certain sacrifice that the ruling class makes in terms of the burden they shoulder, but that does not entitle them to believe they are separate from us and deserving of luxuries. That an expense with no increase in real assets.

    Another interesting story is about Lycurgus of Sparta. At the time he became the ruler of Sparta, the Spartans were at each others throats. There was rampant inequality and indulgence in luxuries ( they seem to go together ). Lycurgus had a consult with the oracle at Delphi, like all good greek rulers looking for the authority that comes from divine support. He then convinced the Spartans to give up all of their property to have it re-divided and distributed equally. He then got rid of their currency of gold and replaced it with ridiculously large and heavy iron ingots. He then promoted a culture of simplicity in speech, housing, food, and clothing. After all the laws were put in place by him, he had a number of leaders take an oath to uphold the laws, left to make an offering at Delphi, and starved himself to death.

    It is difficult for the hoi polloi to exercise self restraint when their leaders cannot.

  26. Posted April 29, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I believe Jesus had a similar message but fwiw, all one need do is tour the Vatican to see how well that message went over. Even the fear of Hell doesn’t stop it!

    I get it though. I am reluctant to give up the many luxuries in my life too. Everyone is for the most part although I have met some people who voluntarily live very simple lives but even then, it is so they can enjoy the luxury of free time. It would be nice if we could elect a leader who would lead by example in addition to working towards a policy that will ease the class issues we have here but I don’t think that is especially realistic either. I will settle just for policy.

  27. stupid hick
    Posted April 30, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    It was during the lock down that I discovered literature:

    https://tacobellquarterly.org/menu/drive-thru-boss/

  28. stupid hick
    Posted April 30, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Poetry too:

    https://tacobellquarterly.org/menu/packet-hoarder/

  29. Nobody
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    So, farmers out near Yakima and up in the Skagit Valley are destroying their crops. This last week someone in my neighborhood decided to make contact with farmers to try and get their produce to food banks. Honda donated a Ridgeline truck and some money to help purchase the produce. Many other people have stepped up to help as well. This is evolving, so I don’t know how it will go. We are volunteering to help pick up produce this week with our truck.

    Is there any similar effort going on in Michigan? I remember years ago Lori Saginaw was running a nonprofit called Food Gatherers. Is that still around?

    I just learned about an app calle MEANS that connects farmers with food banks to prevent food waste.

    https://www.meansdatabase.com

  30. Jean Henry
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Foodgatherers is still at work. It’s one of the most successful food rescue programs in the country. For better or worse, farmer’s markets are back in operation here, so there will be no crops tilled into the ground that would not have been otherwise.

    The issue with food security in America is political (and racist) not about limited food supply. We have great excess in food supply.

  31. Posted May 2, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Nobody, that’s great to hear. I love hearing what you’re up to out there in the Pacific Northwest. And, yes, Foodgathers, as Jean just noted, is still going strong. As for produce going to waste here, I haven’t heard of it. It’s anecdotal, but I know that sales at Argus Farmstop have been incredible the past few months, which I take as a very good sign for local farmers. I haven’t heard anything about the amount of produce moving through the Growing Hope Farmers Market, but Linette and I were just looking at their website this morning, and it looks like they’ve not got a system in place to facilitate online sales, etc. So my sense is that local farmers are doing OK. I’m not sure about bigger farms to our north and west, though.

  32. Jean Henry
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    We have a remarkably resilient local farm system here. That’s the by product of decades of hard work by many local people. I often questioned the necessity, but lately their work has been tested and rewarded. I’ve been very impressed with how quickly these businesses adapted and worked together to mutually assist and survive. And Argus Farm Stop has been central to that. They distributed 200k to farmers in the month of March from their sales on site and by pre-order. They had the whole thing up and running in a week.

    That’s one thing we got right here.

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