Hailstones

Some people on the right use the term “snowflake” to describe liberals. I started down this path of looking for who came up with the term. I had no idea it had such a long history of being considered a derogatory term. As an example it was used to describe those opposed to the abolition of slavery. But that is not really what this post is about.

I was reading through hundreds of proposed bills for this session of the Oklahoma Legislature and got to thinking that there should be a term kind of like “snowflake” but to describe a few dozen GOP members of the Oklahoma State House and Senate.

I mentioned this to Kelly and said that at least snowflakes are each unique, they are beautiful to look at and they are good for crops and yards. She said, “hailstones.”

And that term is perfect to describe those legislators I have in mind. They really do no good.

Hailstones only do damage. They destroy crops, like fields of wheat or cotton. They can kill livestock. They damage vehicle bodies and windshields. They tear up roofs on homes. They break windows. They’ve even killed people. When they melt they may add moisture to the ground but only after they have damaged the plant life growing in the soil.

In the coming weeks I plan to highlight some of the hailstones in the Oklahoma Legislature and some of the bills they are proposing be passed into law.

Black Eyed Pea Hummus

This is my column in this week’s Minco Millennium. It was too late for New Years Day this time, but it was really just too good to not share now. I’ve literally made three batches of this since December 31st.

I always eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day. And I also make everyone else in our household eat at least one bite on that day.

I won’t go into the different stories (or superstitions) of why southerners believe you should eat black eyed peas on New Year’s but all the different stories agree that they help bring good luck for the year ahead. Even when the past year has been bad, we still think how much worse it could have been if we hadn’t eaten our black eyed peas!

I actually love black eyed peas, especially when they’re cooked with jalapeños and bacon. My hometown (Hollis, OK) used to have an annual “Black Eyed Pea Festival” and I remember my great uncle Glen McGee used to plant them on his farm and let anyone who wanted to come pick all they wanted for free. Black eyed peas are great for the soil adding important nutrients back into the ground that many other crops drain from the earth.

Kelly always, without fail, says they “taste like dirt.” I guess Allie’s tastebuds must agree because she sent a recipe a few days before the end of the year for black eyed pea hummus.

Hummus is usually made from chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans. But I thought I would try out the recipe. It is really, really good!

I’ve shared a recipe previously for hummus chicken, which is delicious. But hummus really is best eaten as a dip. Eat it with fresh veggies like celery, carrots, and bell peppers or with chips, crackers or pretzels.

To make this recipe of 6 servings you will need:

2.5 cups of cooked and drained black eyed peas

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of tahini

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

I went to three stores looking for tahini, the only ingredient I didn’t have on hand. None had it. But it’s easy to make. It’s made from ground up sesame seeds, oil and salt. You can do it in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder. The recipe I pulled up didn’t give measurements. But you grind up the sesame seeds add in a little salt and then enough oil to make it a creamy paste.

Once you have all the ingredients ready for the hummus, blend them all together in your processor or blender, until it is mixed well and smooth.

Move it to your serving bowl and then you can garnish it (if you choose) by pouring a little more olive oil on top then sprinkle with more paprika, salt and red pepper flakes if you want to spice it up a bit.

I cooked dry black eyed peas in my InstaPot (25 minutes) for this recipe. But if you are using canned black eyed peas be sure to drain and rinse well.

This is an excellent way to serve black eyed peas to those who don’t like them on New Year’s Day, or any of the other 364 days of the year ahead!

Tuesday morning drives: Willie, music and death

Every Tuesday morning I leave the house in Yukon at 7:30 a.m. and drive to the office in Minco. I wait there until I receive a phone call saying the newspapers are printed and leaving the print shop in Lindsey. Sometimes they call before I actually get to Minco so I don’t even stop at the office. We then meet up in Chickasha which is almost the halfway point between Minco and Lindsey. They transfer the papers to me and then I drive back to the office in Minco. My drive from Yukon to Minco to Chickasha and back to Minco usually takes up about two hours.

I love those two hours of time. It’s just me in my pickup listening to my music. And I never know where my mind will drift. I have had some of the most productive brain storms on those Tuesday morning drives. Sometimes the music makes my mind flow to thoughts about music. Sometimes it rolls with ideas about making money or directs me to think about plans for the future. I’ve come up with answers about projects I was tasked with on many Tuesday mornings.

This past Tuesday, December 28, 2021, my drive was different.

One of my Christmas gifts was a gift card for iTunes (which I love because there is always more music I want than I can afford to buy). I downloaded the new Willie Nelson Family album. I listened to it nonstop on my two-hour drive.

About halfway between Minco and Chickasha I just started boohooing. The Nelson Family album, released on November 19, 2021, includes Willie, his sister Bobbie, his daughters Paula and Amy, and his sons Lukas and Micah. It is a very spiritual collection of 12 songs that last 32 minutes.

When the frog entered my throat and the tears started to flow I was on my second play through of the complete album and I thought it sounded like a “Goodbye” from Willie. I thought, “Is Willie dying and this is his way to say goodbye?”

When I got back to the office I looked up Willie’s tour schedule and he is booked through April 30, 2022. So I don’t want people to start spreading a rumor that he’s dying. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen his children post on Facebook and Twitter that their father is alive and well and not on his deathbed, despite the clickbait or rumors being shared by others.

But after hearing Willie sing “Too Sick to Pray” and Lukas sing “All Things Must Pass” and the whole family sing “Family Bible” my brain just went there. But I think my reaction probably had more to do with the death of others.

From December 14th to Tuesday morning (two weeks) I personally knew five different people who had died, two of which were cousins, husband and wife that died eight days apart. In Tuesday’s newspaper we had four obituaries, which is a lot for our little newspaper. One was for a two year old and one was for a friend’s brother who was only 47.

I had also just read a news story about all the deaths due to Covid-19. Oklahoma had more Covid-related deaths per capita in 2021 than any other state. So far more than 12,400 Oklahomans have died from Covid, more than 823,000 Americans have died from Covid and worldwide more than 5.42 million people have died from Covid.

I think my reaction on this Tuesday morning drive was healthy. And I don’t want to discourage anyone from buying and listening to the Willie Nelson Family album. I love the album and have listened to it dozens of time since Tuesday and not had that reaction. It is not a depressing album.

In addition to the three songs mentioned above it also includes one of my mother’s favorite hymns “In the Garden,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord” and Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” and the uplifting Carter Family tune “Keep it on the Sunnyside.”

My favorite however is one Willie wrote. He recorded it in 1996 on his “Spirit” album. His youngest son Micah sings it on the Family album.

I haven’t been able to play and sing much since before Thanksgiving because of congestion and a cough. Finally antibiotics and steroids seem to have taken care of that problem. So here, on this last day of 2021, is my attempt at “I Thought About You Lord.” I’m strumming a 1950s Kay guitar that is still for sell at my antique shop.

Progress is coming, but not because of Oklahomans elected to Congress

In bipartisan votes in both the US Senate (69-30) and the US House (228-206), finally the USA truly had “Infrastructure Week” with pressure applied and leadership from President Biden.

But not a single Representative or Senator from Oklahoma voted for the historic $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation. Not one.

The US House voted late Friday, November 5th and the Senate voted back in August. In the Senate, all 50 Democrats voted in favor of the bill as did 19 Republicans. In the House all but 6 Democrats voted Yes, while all but 13 Republicans voted No. President Biden will have a signing ceremony soon.

There is so much needed help in this legislation. Oklahoma cities, towns and counties have needed this type of help for decades. And that may be one reason that Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt was a leading spokesman in favor of passage of this bill. Mayor Holt is a Republican.

Late on Friday after the bill passed in the House, Mayor Holt tweeted (in a five part thread):

“For a decade, across three presidents of both parties, our nation’s mayors advocated for a historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure. This year Republican & Democratic Senators came together, supported by the White House, and finally introduced a bipartisan plan. This plan brings historic funding to core infrastructure needs, including roads and bridges, public transit, passenger rail, water infrastructure and broadband. It passed the Senate with 69 votes, including the vote of Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Tonight it passed the House as well and now goes to the President’s desk. Over the next few years, this legislation will finally provide cities the major national infrastructure investment we have needed for so long. Also, the bipartisan nature of this legislations’ development and passage demonstrates that our nation can still work together to do important things. I was proud to co-chair our national @usmayors effort to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill with Mayor @nanwhaley. Congrats to all involved and thank you to all who made it possible! Onward!”

Not involved and not thanked are Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, and US Representatives Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern. They all voted against infrastructure for Oklahoma.

This is a breakdown of what is in the bill that every member of Congress from Oklahoma voted against:

$1.2 Trillion over 5 years ($550 billion is entirely new investment)

Transportation

• $110 billion – Roads & Bridges

• $66 billion – Railroads

• $39 billion – Public Transit

• $25 billion – Airports

• $17 billion – Ports

• $15 billion – Electric Vehicles ($7.5 billion for charge stations and $7.5 billion for zero-emission school buses)

• $11 billion – Safety (roads and pipelines)

• $1 billion – Reconnecting Communities

Utilities

• $65 billion – Power Infrastructure (The Grid)

• $65 billion – Broadband (expand in rural & low-income areas)

• $55 billion – Water Infrastructure

• $47 billion – Resilience (Cyber security and climate change mitigation, addressing droughts, flooding, wildfires, coastal erosion, etc)

• $21 billion – Pollution Remediation (Clean up abandoned mines, old oil wells, etc.)

• $8 billion – Western Water Infrastructure

That all is new spending which adds up to $545 Billion. There is some other small investments, but the majority of the $1.2 Trillion is money that is spent normally on infrastructure. Yet, every elected official Oklahoma sent to Washington, DC to represent our state voted against all of that, every penny.

They also voted against new jobs.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that the passage of Biden’s Infrastructure Deal will create 660,000 new jobs. The bill does include some provisions and funding for more job training.

On Saturday after the legislation was passed, President Biden tweeted, “The vast majority of the jobs created by my Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal don’t require a college degree. This is a blue-collar blueprint for our Country.”

But Senator Inhofe, Senator Lankford, Rep. Hern, Rep. Mullin, Rep. Lucas, Rep. Cole, and Rep. Bice all voted against those jobs.

On Saturday when President Biden spoke about the passage of this deal he said, “I know we’re divided, I know how mean it can get, and I know there are extremes on both ends that make it more difficult than it’s been in a long time. But I’m convinced if we let the American people know that we’re committed to enhancing their ability to make their way, we’ll all do better.”

We are deeply divided but we can become more United. But not with the current crop of elected officials we’ve sent to DC. Oklahoma needs to elect Republicans like David Holt and Democrats like Joe Biden.

Unless or until we in Oklahoma have a massive awakening of the 50% of Oklahomans who are eligible to vote but don’t vote, nothing will change. All seven of the elected officials we sent to DC voted against the interests of our state, our counties, our cities and our towns because they thought it was more important to deny a “win” for President Biden. They have proven over and over they are more partisan hacks than they are representatives of our state and our people. Just be sure to remember this over the next few years as they show up for celebrations and ribbon-cuttings as infrastructure deals begin and are completed. The coming progress will happen in spite of their votes.

The shifting Oklahoma voter registration landscape

With State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister’s switch from Republican to Democratic Party registration on October 7 and former Senator Dr. Ervin Yen’s switch from GOP to Independent on October 19, I thought it would be a good time to look at voter registration in Oklahoma.

As I stated in my previous post about Supt. Hofmeister’s announcement, until 2014 Democrats had always held the majority of voter registration in Oklahoma. Republicans took the lead in voter registration after Hofmeister’s entry into the race for State Superintendent against GOP incumbent Janet Baressi.

I was surprised when I compared voter registration numbers as of January 15, 2021 to those as of October 1, 2021.

Total registration fell from 2,272,252 to 2,197,574. That’s a drop of 74,678.

The only political party that gained in that time was Libertarian. They gained 1,482 registrations going from 15,734 to 17,216.

Republicans lost 26,354 voters going from 1,138,947 to 1,112,593.

Democrats lost 49,761 voters dropping from 748,222 to 698,461.

Independents lost only 45 voters going from 369,349 to 369,304.

I reached out to Misha Mohr, the public information officer with the State Election Board. She pointed me to several valuable pieces of information regarding voter registration in Oklahoma.

On April 16 of this year the Election Board issued a news release which stated, “The State Election Board completed its routine, statutorily-mandated, biennial voter list maintenance on Thursday, April 15. The process removed 4,034 duplicate voter registrations and 110,973 inactive voter registrations from Oklahoma’s voter rolls.”

So with this additional information I decided to look up the voter registration numbers by party after the April 15 purge.

Interestingly from April 30, 2021 to October 1, 2021 Republicans gained 13,175 voters, Libertarians gained 1,063 voters, Democrats lost 836 voters and Independents gained the most with an increase of 16,707 voters.

In his announcement yesterday that he was switching his registration Dr. Yen said, “I have had several friends who have recently changed their registrations from Republican to Independent.  I invite like-minded Republicans across the state to do what I have done.  I hope and pray that there are a significant number of other Republicans, like myself, who will unregister as Republicans and truly move our state forward instead of backward.”

Dr Yen also said,  “The Oklahoma GOP has left me.  Seemingly, every other day, I receive a communication from the Party being rabidly opposed to mask mandates as well as Covid-19 vaccine mandates.  The majority of the Republican Party also seems to believe that the Presidential election was stolen from our former President.  I vehemently disagree with these views and that is why I have withdrawn my Republican voter registration.  I have not changed, the Party has.”

In an interview with the Tulsa World Supt. Hofmeister said something similar insinuating it was the Republican Party that changed not her.

Supt. Hofmeister told the Tulsa World, “My loyalty is to Oklahoma families, not to structures or party. I am changing parties, but I haven’t changed who I am. I have the same values, and they haven’t changed.”

It will be interesting to see if the numbers for registration by party make significant changes over the next few weeks or months. Will registered Republicans who are pro-science and anti-misinformation, pro-education and not anti-tribal sovereignty follow the leads of Hofmeister and Yen?

If I remember to check, I’ll update these numbers in the months ahead.

On being a pragmatic progressive joyful for Joy

I’ve written something like this so many times over the last two decades. But usually I don’t share it.

I know it will piss off a lot of my progressive friends. And I am a progressive, or liberal if you prefer, on most issues. When I’ve taken those quizzes every four years to see which Presidential candidate is my best fit, it’s been the Ralph Naders, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warrens that are my closest matches.

But I truly believe in the big tent. And I think that is the only way Democrats can ever win again in Oklahoma. At least until there are truly seismic changes in beliefs and attitudes and education of those who vote. We have to welcome liberal Democrats, and moderate Democrats, and conservative Democrats. And we have to work together to win.

Let me tell you a little story. Well it may be a bit longer than a little.

From February 1996 to July 1999 I worked for the Oklahoma Democratic Party. As an intern for a few months until I was promoted to political director. I came back later and helped out for a bit at the ODP in 2002 and again in 2006.

In 1996 Democrats had control of both the State House and the State Senate. We had the Attorney General, State Superintendent, State Treasurer and State Auditor. And we had the 3rd Congressional District.

That year, according to the professional predictors, we were supposed to lose control of the State House. We at the ODP were criticized by many in the party for focusing too much on the legislative seats and not enough on the Presidential race and congress. But we only lost one Democratic-held seat that year in the state house and two seats in the state senate. We retained control with 59 Democrats to 42 Republicans in the House and 29 Democrats to 19 Republicans in the Senate. We lost the 3rd Congressional District to former-Democrat-turned-Republican Wes Watkins.

1998 was a repeat of 1996. We were again supposed to lose control of the State House. Some of the seats shifted, but our numbers in the legislature were exactly the same. We kept the four statewide positions and picked up State Insurance Commissioner.

But at that time in the late 1990s and early 2000s many Oklahoma liberals and progressives were complaining loudly. And many decided they’d rather have Republicans elected than conservative Democrats. “At least then we would know what we’re getting,” I heard so many times from friends. They refused to vote for conservative and moderate Democrats.

I understood their frustration many times with some conservative to moderate Democrats on specific issues in the legislature. But I never agreed it would be better for Republicans to win instead of conservative Democrats.

When we had the majority in the state legislature, which was made up of liberal, moderate and conservative Democrats, we had the Speaker of the House and we had the President Pro Tem of the Senate. That is who sets the agenda. And the agenda back then was so much better than what it has been since Republicans took control of the legislature.

So I say again to my progressive friends, working to elect only Democratic candidates that you agree with on everything, only liberals or progressives, is not good for you, for me, for our schools, for our healthcare, for our state. It is not going to happen. Not in this decade. Not in Oklahoma. You may feel good about it, but you’re just going to keep having an Oklahoma controlled totally by the GOP.

I’ve already seen some activists in the Democratic Party saying it is because of racism that so many Democrats are jumping with joy about Joy Hofmeister switching from GOP to Democratic and running for Governor because there is an already announced Democrat running for Governor.

Former state Senator Connie Johnson announced several months ago she was running. Johnson is an African-American.

And I hate to admit that there could be and probably is some racism in it. I’ve seen racism first hand in some past Democratic campaigns. But by and large, most racist left the Democratic Party some time ago.

Johnson has run for statewide elections before. She was the Democratic nominee for US Senate in James Lankford’s first senate race in 2014. She received 29% of the vote. She ran for Governor in 2018. She received almost 39% in the Democratic primary against Drew Edmondson who won the primary with 61.4%. Of course we know when the general election arrived in November, Kevin Stitt won with 54.3% of the votes.

But when one looks at 2018 numbers Joy offers us some hope.

Stitt received 644,579 votes for Governor. Hofmeister received 687,468 for State Superintendent. She received 42,889 more votes than did Stitt. That’s a positive thing.

I do want to say here that for most of my life I have been more of a vote-for-the-person rather than a Yellow Dog Democrat. I just usually have believed that the Democrat is better than the Republican. There have been a few times where I left a race blank because I’ve known both candidates and I didn’t like either one. But I have voted for Republicans at every level previously at some point in my life (I’ll be 56 this coming Sunday). But since Trump (and Trumpism) took over the GOP I doubt I will ever vote for another Republican again.

I for one am joyful for Joy! It is a good thing she has left the GOP. More should follow her lead. I welcome her to the Democratic Party and look forward to kicking Stitt out of the Governor’s Mansion next year and ending his dreams of running for President of these United States.

Just a couple more points I would like to make. Some of the best Democrats today are former Republicans.

I feel honored and privileged to have been able to work on all of Jim Roth’s campaigns, both his 2002 and 2006 campaigns for Oklahoma County Commissioner and his statewide campaign in 2008 for Corporation Commissioner. He has been a favorite of progressive Oklahomans. Jim is a former Republican.

My good friend Calvin Rees is President of the Oklahoma Democratic Party Veterans Committee. He helped start that important organization. He’s served as a district and county officer in the Oklahoma Democratic Party. He is a far better Democrat than I. Calvin is a former Republican.

I made this point in a tweet but want to point it out here as well. Oklahoma had always been a Democratic-registered majority state. Until 2014. When Joy Hofmeister announced in 2014 that she was running for State Superintendent, thousands of educators switched parties so they could vote for her over the terrible, horrible incumbent Janet Baressi in the GOP primary.

After Joy’s entry into that race Oklahoma Republicans gained 30,463 registered voters. They surpassed registered Democrats for the first time in state history. On November 1, 2014 there were 963 more Republicans registered in the state than there were Democrats.

I’m hopeful many of those former Democrats-turned-Republicans will return home over the next few months and help to end the terrible reign of Kevin Stitt.

Blast from the past

On Labor Day a lady I don’t follow on Twitter posted a photo of several books. She said she found them at an estate sale. Each book was all of the Oklahoma Today magazines for the year on that book’s spine. I saw her post because she tagged the current editor of Oklahoma Today, who I know and do follow on Twitter.

Another lady commented that her dog was in one of those books. Nate, the editor, responded (among other statements) that that lady could see her dog online as all the past issues are archived.

So I started looking at past issues. I knew I was in one issue. I thought it was in 1983, so I looked at all those first. I wasn’t in any from that year. So I looked at the 1984 issues. There I was in the September/October issue.

In October 1983 I was privileged to get to attend the very first Oklahoma Arts Institute training session for adults. I was still a senior in high school. But the late Gene Williams, a pharmacist in my hometown of Hollis, paid for me to go in photography and for my friend and classmate Dennis Myers to go in acting.

In the photo on the first page of the article, I’m the third from the right in the back. I’m sitting up on a big stone and it looks like I’m wearing a white coat (I think it was actually gray).

The instructors were awesome. David Fitzgerald was well known for his photos of Oklahoma and he taught at OU. But I’ve probably used more of what I learned from Bernard Plossu. His specialty was taking pics of people, but he liked spontaneously taking pics, not posed ones. I prefer those too. Plossu was from Paris, France but was living in New Mexico at the time we were at Quartz Mountain.

I took some really amazing photos that weekend at the workshop. Sadly I have no idea where they are today. It would be cool if I could find some of the people who also attended this and see if they had any pics they’d taken that weekend.

Yes, I’m Judgmental

I was accused of being judgmental on Facebook last week and I freely admit, yes I judge others. I judge what they say, I judge what they do, I judge who they associate with. I try really hard to not judge others by their appearance. But sometimes I fail at that.

I know “Judge not” but it continues, “that ye be not judged.” That sentence is from Matthew 7:1.

I’m prepared to be judged by others, I expect to be judged by others, I am judged by others – by my words and by my deeds (and sometimes by my hair).

I don’t quote the Bible a whole lot, but sometimes it is good to do.

If one keeps reading Matthew chapter 7 eventually Jesus basically instructs us to judge others. 


“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” – Matthew 7:15-20

The fruits that were yielded on Insurrection Day – January 6, 2021 – were bad fruit.

The entire rally was based on lies. The election was not stolen. There was not election fraud. Not one single court found any fraud (in over 60 cases brought before courts) and even the Trump Justice Department announced on Friday, January 15, 2021 that it was ending its investigation because they found no fraud. It was all based on lies spread by many false prophets. The fruit from that tree was rotten.

It’s true, one bad apple can spoil a whole bushel. The same can be said of people in groups. 

I’m sure there were some people at the January 6, 2021 rally-turned-riot who truly believed they were doing the patriotic thing based on the lies told to them by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, James Lankford, Kevin McCarthy, Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity and hundreds of other false prophets. But what I can’t understand is why one’s conscience would not set off alarms after seeing who was standing with them in that crowd.

There were thousands of bad fruit. Some had swastika and Nazi tattoos, some were wearing T-shirts that read “Camp Auschwitz” and “6MWNE” (6 Million Was Not Enough – meaning murdered Jews), there were loud Proud Boys, vocal white supremacists, Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters and numerous other despicable groups.

Former four-star General, National Security Advisor (to Reagan and Bush Sr.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (for Bush Sr) and Secretary of State (for Bush Jr.) said, “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”

People judge us by the company we keep and with whom we associate.  

So yes, I judge others because by their fruits we know them.

Welcoming a new year with the Corona virus

Here it is the first day of a new year and I would like to be filled with relief and hope. After all, the year just ended was perhaps the worst in my 55 years. Good riddance to 2020.

This is also my 10th day of symptoms from having COVID-19. I’m better but still have an irritating cough, body aches and easily become fatigued. I’m really tired of being tired!

My worst two days were Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Both of those days were bad all day long. I had a really bad evening on the 29th. This has been a very different and strange illness. The symptoms are many.

I’ll feel fine and then all of sudden I just drop. My eyes hurt all the time which keeps me from reading much and the diarrhea comes and goes and comes again. I’ve never lost my senses of taste and smell, but today I have a horrible metallic taste that I can’t get rid of by brushing my teeth or using mouthwash. I couldn’t sleep last night because my legs wouldn’t relax. My throat also felt like I swallowed some powder and no matter how much water I drank I couldn’t get rid of it. I still have moments of nausea followed by dizzy spells.

I do not know where I contracted the virus. We really have tried to stay in our pod of 8 since we first locked down in the spring.

Of course life couldn’t totally stop because of the inaction of our federal and state governments. I’ve still had to travel on Tuesdays to pick up our newspaper from the printers (they are just transferred from one vehicle to another), I have to go to the post office twice on that day, and I deliver the newspapers to the stores and machines. We however did not put out a newspaper this week.

I do go to the grocery store. But we also do more delivery or grocery pickup.

I wear a mask everywhere except at home. I keep alcohol wipes in my pickup. I wipe down my steering wheel, my phone, my hands. I wash my hands habitually and have since my first job 40 years ago at the Pizza Hut. I try to avoid people, by more than 6 feet apart.

I still got the virus. It is not a hoax. It is not like the flu. It helped to make 2020 the deadliest year in history for the United States. But here in Oklahoma more people than not are still going about their daily lives like nothing has changed. Our governor spouts “personal responsibility” yet refuses to wear a mask when he’s in the public. Apparently our citizens are following his lead.

Let’s hope 2021 brings better days and real leadership at least at the federal level.

Blackout Redux

Well it happened again. We were driving to El Reno on RT66 Saturday afternoon and at first I just thought I was having motion sickness. Luckily I was the passenger.

I was nauseated and said I was just going to close my eyes to see if that helped and I guess I blacked out and did a little seizure sort of thing. Kelly pulled over and let me get my wits. Then we went thru a drive through and got a bottle of water and returned home to Yukon.

She wanted to drive me on to the hospital but I wouldn’t let her. So we hung out at home for about an hour. I was hoping it would pass and I’d return to normal. Kelly called our Namina who is an RN.

I did not improve and the gang up of Kelly and Namina convinced me I should be checked out. So we loaded back up and hit the turnpike. Kelly took me for my fourth trip in six years to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.

When we went in the ER entrance, because of COVID-19 they would not let Kelly go back with me. But before she went back to wait in the van we told the entrance nurse what was what and she sent for another nurse to come get me.

To my surprise that nurse was an old friend, the wife of the bass player in a band I was a member of back in the late-80s to mid-90s. She wheeled me back to an ER room.

This time I was surrounded by four women (remember two nights before it was six men). One nurse was asking me questions and typing in a computer. One was telling me to take off my shirts. One was sticking my arm and taking blood. They hooked me up to monitors and then in came the doctor.

I retold him what I’d told them.

They all left me alone and then it was waiting. For bloodwork results.

Then a nurse came in pulling a huge contraption and took chest X-rays. She left.

Another nurse came in for me to sign paperwork. She left.

I really needed to pee so I rang the nurses station to see if I could be unhooked from all the gadgets and go to the bathroom.

No. But they brought me a bedside urinal. I’ve never been able to use one of those laying down or even sitting up. So I stood up beside the bed and was successful.

I closed the lid on it and then it popped off. I tried again with the same results. I rang the nurses again and the one on the other end said someone would come get it. I tried closing the lid again. It popped back off. I hung it on the side of the bed with it open.

Then another nurse came in and told me I needed to take off my pants. She was pulling in another large contraption. She put it right beside the bed where the urinal was hanging and in my mind I could just see it being knocked off and my urine going everywhere. I told her my worry and she moved it for me and left.

I try taking my pants off. None of this is easy to do with all the wires attached to me from the left and blood pressure cup attached to me from the right. I drop my glasses on the floor. But I get it done and lay back on the bed and cover myself best I can with the backless hospital robe.

Same nurse comes back and runs an ultrasound thingy with warm gel from my right groin down to my ankle. Then she does my left groin. She leaves.

After about two hours the doctor comes back in and says everything looks normal. Blood work is good. Chest X-ray is good. Ultrasound is good. He told me to follow up Monday with my cardiologist.

So I really don’t know anything but apparently the problem isn’t my heart which is a good thing.

The adventure continues.