Friday, May 15, 2020

Rain And A Van

I woke up late yesterday and Rusty was a long way from bothering me for a walk. Even I the human could hear the wind and the rain lashing the house. I kept the hurricane shutters up after Hurricane Irma to keep the bedroom dark when I worked nights and the rain hitting the metal sounds very cosy, like sleeping in a. tent. On the other hand yesterday was a day off so I would have preferred the usual sunshine and mosquitoes. Beggars can't be choosers.
Oh, the van. Well that happened like this. After I struggled out of bed, kicked the dog awake and mooched out to the deck I had a look at the world through my Internet connection which is very inexpensive and not always brilliantly effective. However I did find a Custom Coach Creations post on Facebook pointing out that work continues. I was more than a little surprised to see my own creation appear, not finished but definitely in progress. I am pretty sure it's my van thanks to the color, a $100 option from Promaster that requires a four month wait for delivery so Bob told me this is only the second gold colored van he has converted.  I wanted maroon but my wife slapped me and said that was too bright and we compromised on gold. They also offered to order the external accessories in black so when I saw the running board and roof Maxfan in black I was pretty certain this is Gannet 2 being assembled. The narrow rear window over the raised bench seats is also what we ordered.
The funny part is we were supposed to get a video of the roughed out interior last week but so far we have had no word from the factory which lack of news set my neurons jangling. Patience, she counseled so here we are, spotting the soothing beast through the foliage of Facebook.  This is progress I thought as I made tea and girded my loins for a visit to the doctor for a semi annual check up. turns out I am alive and blood pressure is normal and my legs s till work,  $25 co-pay and back into the rain. Jolly good. And the van is coming along...
Dr Grider in Big Pine is what I like to think of as a thoroughly modern but old fashioned practical sort of family practice doctor.  He's up to speed with the latest medical news but he operates thoughtfully with good practical common sense. It would not be difficult to imagine him in Mayberry making house calls with a black bag and a cheerful smile. Of course this is 2020 and I drove to his office where we went through a coronavirus caper to get into the office.
I parked the car and called the office. A figure appeared through the murk ready to escort me to the verandah because apparently most patients forget to bring an umbrella when it's raining. How that is possible I couldn't say as the rain was coming down in apocalyptic bucketsful and was thus hard to ignore.  At the top of the stairs I sanitized my hands and they took my temperature and escorted me into a waiting room rather in the manner of more furtive and possibly illegal transactions. Life in the time of plague has become like that. Whereas once entering a bank wearing a simple hat was illegal and suspicious, nowadays not being masked is the mark of the irresponsible and undesirable customer. 
After my good health was assured I hauled myself to the gas station to refuel my wife's Fiat 500 which she, working from home, isn't driving and I use it when not transporting the hound from hell. It really does get excellent mileage. Too bad they aren't selling them anymore, as our convertible is a keeper.
There is something especially dreary about the Keys in a prolonged rain storm. Once the pleasure of the variation in weather has worn off the heavy downpour  curtails outdoor activity and steals away one of the great joys of living in the tropics. However the pandemic restrictions have modified some of my feelings about rainy weather. Rusty and I aren't walking but he is not fond of the rain and he is smart enough to appreciate the roof over his formerly stray head. He curls up on the couch in this kind of weather and waits for better days.
Matinee movies are off, museums are closed, music is nowhere to be heard, so alternatives to rain are limited as usual  by the damned virus and so we revert to the home.  My great hope about the interior of the van which we will have to test is that it will be a pleasant enough space to live in when we have to deal with unpleasant weather. Small it will be, but I hope it will be comfortable enough not to have us going nuts inside as the weather outside batters the tin shell. We shall see.
I didn't bother to bring Rusty on this trip as there was no point. It felt odd, slightly unnatural not have my partner on the back seat. I stopped to take some pictures and pictured him at home curled up sleeping. He had the right idea on a day like thus. Niles Channel Bridge:
Traffic is light these days except for a few more vehicles than you might expect during rush hour which by any urban standard is hardly measurable as commuter traffic. In the rain it felt like there was even less than normal which gives the community a feeling of emptiness even more pronounced than usual.
I saw a lot of discussion online about the fifty odd people who gathered in Key West a few days ago to demand the Sheriff take down the roadblocks on US 1 and Card Sound Road. I don't know how you measure accurately the numbers for and against keeping non residents out but it seems to me from a distance that the people who want the county opened up are much louder than the majority who want to keep things as. they are. The absolutely appalling thing about the protest was that it was engineered and paid for by a local hotel and souvenir shop owner who was seen handing out signs and money to the rent-a-mob.
I have my own problems with the coronavirus shut down as I see the point of people who want to work and take their chances as opposed to entering the twilight zone of no money no prospects and no hope of a new Great Depression. As one who has a job and whose wife works I don't feel it is my place to argue for or against the shut down as we aren't being directly impacted and my wife with her immune system problems is very grateful to stay at home and remain isolated.
 It seems to me that if there is going to be a legal requirement not toward and to stay home the people and institutions ordering the shut down should take financial responsibility for it. It just doesn't seem fair to deprive people of their livings and to tell them to take their chances. European states offer free comprehensive health care, stipends, the freezing of bills including rent and mortgages and spends money like water to compensate. Here in the US on the one hand we reject socialism in any form whatsoever, even ones that don't really exist and yet we deprive people of the chance to make a living. And fund major corporations as usual with public money and then scream poverty. It is as incoherent as the medical advice we do and don't get.
I confess I am confused. I don't feel like laying blame or getting mad or ranting on Facebook. I stay home, hug my dog, support my wife, go to work and stay six feet from anyone. At the grocery store I wear my mask, at work I use disinfectant and sanitizer and try to measure people who call 911 that we are. there to help. And no, I have no idea when the roads will reopen. Not this month at any rate.
The county has said hotels can start to take reservations for future dates but there is the proviso they may be canceled (and refunded) if the closure of the county continues. For now the Keys are closed to outsiders. And our numbers are officially very low, not that I expect them to be terribly accurate. However there are about a dozen people in hospitals I think, around a hundred confirmed cases and three deaths the last time I checked the newspaper. On a population of 75,000 we are cooking with gas and no one doubts keeping the doors closed is keeping the contagion away. Lucky us.
In my estimation the true hero of this respite we have from the coronavirus is the Sheriff. Singlehanded Rick Ramsey is the only countywide leader who has been seen everywhere lending a hand lots of encouragement and keeping the virus out of the county with his roadblocks. The sheriff told the state he was keeping the roads closed when they told him to re-open them. He has helped organize food distribution and clean ups and everywhere he goes he has his mask, his crisp pressed uniform and words of encouragement. 
So we keep on keeping on and hope for the best.  Hoping for the best, staying strong, being safe, all those bromides are flying around the ether but I wonder how prepared we are to face the economic consequences of this virus that is killing us, trapping us, and giving us a chance to see what it feels like to lose all sense of normal, and certainty and the ability to make plans and look into the future with confidence. If we lose our minds and our sense of humor and sense of neighborliness through all this daily hassle the virus wins. 
School is in session and Rusty is learning by osmosis. I think. I'm going to take a nap as the rain hasn't stopped.