On the road in Alaska with my sister, Elaine, and my brother-in-law, Bob.
August 21, 2022, Sunday, Juneau Alaska
Perhaps because I’d drunk coffee at lunch (having no decaf in the house) I slept relatively poorly last night [August 20, 2022]. Guilt and worries about Covid also may have interfered. Elaine is now infected, Bob tested negative. Ramifications of my refusal to mask during the flight now flourish—another form of infection. How many others have I possibly infected? I wrote daughters Katy and Joey who spread the word to Lynn; all wrote commiserative notes. Several on yesterday’s Extinction Rebellion call also expressed sympathy. I continue my required hibernation, aka, isolation.
Elaine offered wine last evening after dinner; I replied that I stop drinking any alcohol after 1 pm because of my insomnia. I suggested crackers and cheese instead. We sat on lawn chairs on my grassy patio and chatted about our Covid experiences—to date I feel no anger or recrimination from Bob and Elaine over my role in spreading Covid. We analyzed our children, various deficits, N’s relatively high level of functioning, the role of beauty in Joey’s development, etc. And the whale project/park which I visited yesterday afternoon at her urging.
Earlier outside I’d noticed thru my large picture window tiny insects flitting about, none biting me so far.
The whale park is new, built in 2016, features a huge breaching whale with jets of water spouting from various parts of its body, periodically exuding a great gush from below. About 20 people, perhaps mostly tourists, hovered while photographing the whale and each other with phone cameras. I lined up several images from the channel side, to show the surrounding mountains and the visitors, also to play with the pool, how much to reveal. If done properly, one image might appear to show a live whale mid-breach .
I also walked the harbor side path with a series of interpretive panels which amply explained how the walkway and whale sculpture evolved and functioned. Other panels explained various aspects of whalehood, including how they filter feed on plankton; migrate yearly to Hawaii for breeding, a distance of some 2500 miles; and were earlier hunted nearly to extinction but now thrive.
I wonder how ocean level rise will affect this particular patch of earth, whether within a relatively short period of time all this might be underwater. [Elaine later explained that the land is rising because the glaciers—mega tons of ice—retreat. Thus, effective ocean level is either stable or decreases.]
The day before I’d risked a short walk downhill and back, testing my strength during my infection. Worked well, so yesterday I felt confident that I could not only reach the park but manage the steep hills home. Along the way, I checked out about 5 free boxes in yards, filled with clothes, books, etc. I snagged a blue and white shirt from one box, tried it on this morning, find it is a bit small, but I’ll keep it to supplement my only other shirt, the teal one once Dan’s.
Today I might go a little further, into downtown to watch the tourists and to observe close up the five or so cruise ships in town. They expel some 15,000 extra human beings in Juneau, whose normal population is 33,000. Yesterday from the walkway I photographed some of the ships from a distance.
For my insomnia, Martha P recommended Suzanne Richman, a spiritual advisor founding a service called Hummingbird Spiritual Care and Community Chaplaincy. I reached Suzanne and might ask her to advise me about the existential dread component of my insomnia (climate destruction, nuclear war, unending war, and fascism). I also mentioned E’s potential need for such a service, but after I’d sent info to Elaine, Elaine replied “Suzanne seems like a fine person but not appropriate for E.”
How does my current Covid condition compare with the problematic conditions of some other groups? For instance, Ukrainians, especially in crisis spots like eastern Ukraine generally and specifically Odesa which I read about this morning. And immigrants from Texas surging into NYC, sent there by the Texas governor perhaps to embarrass Democratic leadership who push for increased immigrant entrance.
Hardly any comparison. Elaine and Bob provide me with ample food, shelter, and security. I am not at risk of starving, medical services are available, I may be slightly inconvenienced but not under significant threat. I may not be able to revisit the Alaska State Museum or other indoor settings, nor eat inside at one of Juneau’s consistently expensive restaurants. This will pass. However, for the Ukrainians, war continues; many have fled their homes unsure when if ever they can return. Some have lived in underground shelters, may still be. Who delivers their food and water and for how long? Refugees generally, although not necessarily war-threatened, usually lack secure housing and other services like food, medical care, and legal aid. They are stranded. I am with family. I will eventually return home, inshallah.
Some refugees, like me may regret choices we’ve made, imperiling others and themselves. Guilt and second thoughts may afflict us all. Had I worn the mask on the plane maybe I’d not have Covid. For the Ukrainians, had X chosen to remain in her home—or had she decided to leave—her outcome may have been different. Uncertainty and impermanence prevail. We do what we can; we strive to do our best.
How do I feel at the moment? Grateful to be alive, grateful for Bob and Elaine, grateful to be in Alaska (even if not in British Columbia). Confident I will survive this change in plans and health. Hopeful that I will eventually return home and once again immerse myself in the quotidian, periodically punctured by surprise, challenge, and achievement.
TO BE CONTINUED
3 thoughts on “ALASKA: COVID-19 AND ME-PART two”
Wow, Skip, I haven’t gotten covid yet but I relate to feeling like the world is falling apart.
Thank you for sharing what is going on for you and I hope you do make it back home and feel secure being there.
I cant believe that breached whale photo! It sounds like you are still testing positive but your symptoms are mild? when do you get back??
yes, still positive. return tomorrow, inshallah.