After navigating the phone menu system and a few minutes on hold the phone rings and a nurse practitioner picks up…
Nurse: “What can I help you with today Mr. Cooper?” Me: “I need to schedule a vaccination.” Nurse: ” You can do that by going to our website and clicking on the COVID link at the top of the page.” …and she continues with an obviously well rehearsed answer with information on getting a COVID vaccination. Me: “Stop! Not COVID… Tetanus!” A long pause… Nurse: “Let me find you an appointment time, do you prefer the Kona clinic?”
There is a meme running around that relates all too well at the moment…
Worst month ever! What do you mean this is only the 1st?
Anonymous social media meme
This month is only four days old and we are quite ready to agree with whomever coined that meme.
Sunday, August first started out peaceful enough. I was looking forward to a relaxing day with a few chores about the house. The only nagging worry was keeping tabs on the large brushfire raging towards Waimea, though it was many miles away. As the winds picked up this worry also intensified, to where I had to the local emergency radio feed streaming on the computer speakers.
When the fragmentary radio chatter from the fire units indicated that the fire had jumped Highway 130 I knew what was coming next… An evacuation of Waikoloa Village.
It was not happy news when we learned that Love’s bakery would be shutting down earlier this year. After 170 years of baking bread this Hawaiian business would shut off the ovens for the last time. The COVID pandemic pushing yet another business into closing. Much of their business was supplying bread to the resorts and hotels, business that disappeared with the tourists.
Love’s whole wheat has been a staple in our house for many years, the basic bread we always have on-hand for toast and sandwiches. When the last week of production was upon us I bought several loaves, placing all but one in the freezer. Now a couple months later the last loaf is on the counter and I am making a PBJ sandwich for lunch.
Franz Bakery has picked up the Loves brand, shipping bread from their NW bakeries to fill shelves in island groceries. We have tried it, just not the same, not as fresh.
It is a subdued Fourth of July around the island. Most large scale gatherings are still cancelled such as the annual 4th of July Rodeo at Parker Ranch. There will be some official fireworks in Hilo and Kona, but Deb and I are not planning to attend.
It remains to be seen how many illegal fireworks there are in the neighborhood, something I have usually considered a local measure of economic optimism. Given the oddness of the year I suspect that will not be a good proxy this year. Nothing is predictable this year.
There have been rumors of shortages in supply as well, maybe the reason for some loud bangs in the neighborhood over the last week… Improvised fireworks or more illegal imports?
A good evening to reflect on history, where we have been, and where we might be headed. Celebration will remain quiet and introspective, in this household at least.
Lives are often measured by the great events that take place during our short spans of existence. Wars, revolutions, social movements, mark both the great saga of human history as well as our personal stories.
The COVID pandemic will certainly be such an event. An event with worldwide impact, so many changes, so many lost.
While the start of the pandemic was slow, the events unfolding over weeks and months, I can mark it’s end as today. At least in a personal sense. Today I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine, a moment I will likely remember, a moment that forever marks my personal journey.
This pandemic is not done, with me or the world at large. The pandemic will still have impacts, and the deaths continue, years from now when I look back this moment is where I will likely consider it done, at least in a personal sense.
For much the last year Deb and I have lived quietly, marking time, staying home. Re-discovering the small joys in life… Cooking, gardening, spending time under the stars with a telescope.
Time to move on with life. The timing seems even more appropriate in that I start a new job on Monday. I can plan for events more than a few weeks away, even consider some travel further than the shores of this small island.
It may not be over, but in my life, in my mind, it is over.
This pig was one of the two I am trying to catch, all that remains of the original eight in the group. One big white pig and one young black, they have evaded my trap for over a month, sometimes stopping by, but hesitating to step into the wire cage.
A bit of a surprise… Contrary to my assumption big white was female.
While she had been quite shy of going into the trap, a bait tray loaded with banana peels, pineapple scraps, and sweet potato peelings had proven irresistible. The trap slammed shut just after 4am. Lightly dozing I heard the plywood door drop and knew immediately that I had caught another pig. Oddly this pig was silent, no squealing to wake the neighbors.
This time I had help loading the pig, my parents are visiting for the holiday. Trapping and handling a feral pig is another story to tell when they get back home.
There is only one pig left of this pack, a mid-sized black that is the last of the litter mates. He was hanging around when we removed the older female this morning, is still hanging out in the area. Got the trap right back into position and baited in case.
After going almost two weeks without catching anything I get two pigs in two nights. As usual the pigs came in to check on my compost pile. The sliced up apple proved too much a temptation and into the trap he went.
I have been been using apples from the sales rack our local village market. There is a shelf at the back where spoiled produce is placed at cut rate prices. A bag of bruised apples for a dollar makes good pig bait.
As you can see there is another pig outside the trap in the video below. Actually I think there are three more remaining in the neighborhood after this one. One big white spotted and two more smaller black pigs. The trap will be reset and ready tonight!
I have had it with the pigs, stealing my ripe tomatoes crosses the line!
The pigs have been around for months, but the damage had previously been minor. A mother and a litter of piglets caught on camera.
As the piglets grew in size so has the damage. Thus I find myself in the pig trapping business and learning the art of baiting pigs. It is not easy, pigs are wary critters.
The trap comes from a local guy who works for the village association, the result of a few emails to put us in touch. He stopped by a morning later with a very nicely made pig trap. Every few mornings I send him a text with an update, and occasionally a pic of the latest catch.
I was looking for another photo and came across a few I had forgotten about. In 2002 the Collings Foundation flew several WWII aircraft into Tucson International Airport and provided tours.
Each year the foundation took a few aircraft and toured the country, allowing visitors to tour the aircraft and for a more substantial donation provide sightseeing flights. For those who simply toured the aircraft on the ground they allowed something special, allowing guests to climb through the aircraft and see the inside.
As the airport was just a few minutes from work I had to take advantage of this opportunity. Deb met me for lunch and we headed over together to see the aircraft.
All last week I was suffering mild respiratory symptoms… Sore throat, stuffy and hoarse, mild muscle aches. Of course one immediately considers the worst case, that somehow despite being careful I had contracted COVID-19.
Not out of the realm of possibility, after a long summer of almost no cases our island has had a rash of infections over the last few weeks including a few deaths. The virus is clearly here and in the community.
I got swabbed on Saturday, and after a weekend of wondering I finally got the results on Weds evening.
Oddly enough I found the result while on the phone with my parents. I had told them about the symptoms and testing a few days earlier and they were calling back to hear the results. While I had not gotten an email notifying me of results, I checked the lab web portal anyway while on the phone. Two simple words… Not Detected.
All clear… This time.
While that was a relief to me and my parents they passed on family news.. My brother has tested positive and is now quarantined for a few weeks. While he has shown no symptoms and is fine, I am glad to hear he is taking the diagnoses seriously.