Day 61-SIP-KETO Be Damned

After two days of intense rain we have sunshine again. The wetland behind my house looks like a swamp, filled to the edge of my yard with water. The geese honk on a continuum, probably warning other geese to keep their distance. I haven’t seen any sign of babies yet, but I know they are there. My Mallard ducks are not in the pond, but I know they are close by. Yesterday, I watched the male sitting comfortably in a growth of sedum in the pouring rain with water running off its feathers like they were made from silicone. He was happy. I never saw his mate, but she may have been sheltering her clutch from the pouring rain.

I spent most of the day writing and watching videos. Later I descended into my shop and worked on intarsia. This project is turning out fairly well. It is the fastest I ever completed a piece, one week from pattern to production. Today, I will embellish it to make it uniquely mine.

The virus noise has changed its frequency and now smacks of how people are violating all the government recommended protocols for maximizing safety. For us in the Chicago area it was easy yesterday, because of the rain, but I sense a relaxation all around me. Traffic is heavier, there are more people walking the paths, more bicycles, more picnicking, more people shopping, as compared to a couple of weeks ago when we were still in full hunker. I will say one thing though, almost everyone wears a mask when in a building like a grocery store.

My phone went through an automatic update a week ago and I now have new feature on my weather program. I get a daily update of the latest COVIAD-19 confirmed cases. The very first report I saw showed 47 confirmed, and I was pleased that it was low. Then everyday since, the number has grown to a peak of 147 confirmed in a single day, and today it dropped again to 76. This tells me as I suspected all along that we are lagging New York and our epidemic is still on the rise. This is not the time to let our guard down. On the other hand, our businesses are really feeling it. Our little town has lost three businesses permanently. Thankfully, the sit down restaurants repurposed themselves into carry out places and are doing some business.

Last Friday, I treated myself to a restaurant meal. I dumped my KETO diet in favor of a good old fashioned Italian meal, chicken parmegian with mostacolli, topped off with the restaurant’s signature banana cream pie. KETO be damned, I needed that. Today, I am back on the regimen of low carbs, fat and protein. Since I haven’t lost any weight lately, I found a ketosis meter and test strips to see if I am really on a true KETO diet. My numbers so far have been .3 and .8 just barely in the range. Just like people relaxing the COVID-19 protocols, I have fallen off the KETO protocols. It is sad because I slowed to a crawl just five pounds short of my goal.

It is time for me to sneak off to the grocery store for the final ingredient in my mother’s recipe for stuffed cabbage, then the day turns into Cooking for Joe. I wish I had the sense to video my cooking, everyone could see how sloppy I am. Maybe that would be the title of my cooking videos “Cooking Sloppy With Joe.”

Day 60-SIP-Blogs, VLOGS, Videos, and Podcasts

As part of my routine of killing time everyday while in place and hiding from COVID-19, I listen to a lot of radio through my hearing aids. I have a blue tooth pendant that hangs around my neck that connects my iPhone to the hearing aids. Hell, I spent a fortune on that phone so I am going to get some use out of it, the same with the hearing aids. The system also feeds TV into my ears, and of course the telephone, i.e. if the connections are all made. What are the connections you ask? Number one the bluetooth pendant has to be charged and turned on, then it must be paired with the phone, once that is done I have to connect the phone to my hearing aids. It only took me two years of trial and error to understand and make all those connections. It all takes but 10 seconds to accomplish. Old folks don’t adapt too fast to these new fangled contraptions.

Another time waster is watching Youtube videos. My grand daughter kind of pointed me to that when I asked her what her favorite TV show was. Her response, “I don’t watch TV.”

“How do you find entertainment,” I asked?

“I watch Youtube videos.” That is what pushed me into watching Youtube. At first it was to learn how to cook. I found that if a recipe exists there will be any number of chefs making videos on how to combine the ingredients. I have gotten so spoiled watching cooking videos that now before I attempt to do anything I will search Youtube and watch other people do it. Some are fantastic entertainment and some are so so. What I’m learning about with this is that: 1. people make videos in the hope of making money, and 2. people would rather learn by watching than by reading and understanding a recipe.

Oma is a carbon copy of my mother.

Another thing I have become acquainted with through streaming are Podcasts. When my favorite radio programs are over and I am still in my shop grinding wood or glueing, I listen to Podcasts. First I found Fox News Channel with all my favorite people, and discovered that they are not broadcasting live news they are streaming podcasts and turning conversation into something entertaining and also educational. A favorite is listening to Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss politics, or history.

A few months ago I was in conference with my financial advisor. He asked me how I spend my time now that Peg is gone. I told hm I was struggling trying to find suitable TV that was worth watching, but that I loved reality programs. He told me about how new companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc. are now doing original programming to compete with network broadcasters. So, I checked out what Amazon has. Since I already subscribe for their Prime shipping service I also get what is termed their streaming service. Streaming allows a person to tune in to a program at the moment you are ready to watch it. There is no need to remember to watch at a specific time. You find a program, and click watch and it happens on the spot. Needless to say, I got hooked on a several of their original programs and love watching TV this way. It allows me to turn on the set when I am ready to see something and to see it immediately.

If all of this sounds old to you remember I am old and it takes longer for this kind of stuff to register as useful. Long gone are the days when I was entertained by a floor model radio that had a speaker as large a pizza that I sat in front of with my ear glued to the sound. Those were the good old days. The good old days are different now, we sit in front of a huge color picture screen with high definition picture and stream material we never could have imagined before.

The use of these new technologies has inspired me to wonder if I shouldn’t be getting into making videos and/or podcasts. Grumpa Joes Place is my number one vehicle to spout off steam and to talk without actually speaking. I like writing because words seems to flow from my mind easier than does speech. One of my speech problems is that I always say the opposite of what I actually mean. If I want to tell you to use your right hand to do something, it will come out as use your left hand. Or, if I want to tell you the sky is blue it will come out the sky is grey. I have done this repeatedly for years and I believe it is some form of dyslexia. Anyway, I want to try videos and podcasting as a form of expression. At this point though, I don’t know my rectum from a hole in the ground.

One Idea I have for a podcast is to promote Lions. I would interview Lions Club Presidents and discuss what he does with his club to serve the community. With over 46,000 Lions clubs in the world I think I have some work to do. One curiosity leads me to compare club size to town population. In the nineteen eighties Frankfort population was 2500 residents, but the Lions had 130 members. Today, Frankfort population is near 20, 000 residents and the single Lions Club has seventy members. Why so? Take another example, the La Moille, IL Lions club has thirty members and a town population of 750. What are they doing that is so different from Frankfort? I think I could use that kind of information to make an interesting video for Lions all across the world.

My body clock is running down and I have a lot of work to do before the main spring finally reaches the end and stops ticking. This pursuit however, may make life more interesting along the way. What ever I do, I’ll give you a report on Grumpa Joes Place in the future.

Day 59-SIP-Thinning the Crop

Finally, we have a nice day and I was able to work in the garden. I don’t last much longer than an hour but each hour counts toward getting a nice view. Today, I completed removing pond grass from the stream in front of the water fall. The root system is enormous. I wound up cutting into the root mass and pulling the grass out that way.

When my pond was first installed, I had a small pool at the base of the waterfall. To give it interest, I planted a single grass plant on each side. Needless to say, over a period of twelve years that single plant spread to the point where several things were happening because of it. First, the grasses grew so high they blocked the view of the water fall. Second, the root masses grew so thick that they made the stream narrower and thus deeper. That meant the water often spilled over the banks. Thirdly, the grasses created a sieve which collected silt and fish waste. This also made the pool in front of the waterfall shallower which in turn caused number two to happen.

It took me three years of staring at the system to finally understand why I was losing water from the pond. The water progressing downstream was being sucked up into the root system by siphoning and then over the banks into the garden . Have you ever wondered why it is green next to a river?

To solve the problem I installed a special valve which allowed me to trickle feed the pond with fresh water everyday. My water bill showed it. The next chore is to cull the iris plants that have done the same as the grasses. They have managed to take over one end of the pond. It looks messy and out of balance, because there is too much growth in one place. I feel that pond plantings must be in balance to make the picture pretty. Without constant maintenance the pond would become overgrown and eventually turn back into land.

When I have finally completed the iris thinning I will install a new pump and restart the water fall and river. The last pump ran for three years without stopping and crapped out in January when it was way too cold for me to do anything about it. If you have ever had your bare hands in 32 degree water you know what I mean.

In between the one hour of garden time and the three hour recovery, I am finishing my latest intarsia project which I am calling Corona Tester? It is a teddy bear dressed to look like a nurse and she will be holding a thermometer.

The days are long enough now that I can take my walks or ride my bike in daylight after supper. Then it is time for a movie.

Day 58-SIP-Mystery Hatch

It all happened under my nose. Some wonderful creature of nature decided to use the decorative pine tree under my office window as a maternity ward. I never saw a thing, even though I pass by the tree to get into and out of my house everyday. It wasn’t until two days ago that I found some egg shells on the front lawn. At first I thought someone’s garbage got blown away and I happened to catch it. Then I looked more carefully at the broken eggs, there were six of them, scattered about. I cook with eggs everyday and I could not have broken an egg like these were broken. Duh! The light went on. Something broke these eggs from the inside. It had to be a chick of some kind, but what? Snakes lay eggs, and I have a rather large garter snake that shows up very year about this time, but these eggs were too large even for the big reptile, and garter snakes have their young live. No one in my neighborhood raises chickens, so I figured that is out, and these were much too large to be a song birds eggs. Maybe a turtle? Nah, I’ve uncovered turtle eggs before and they were not even half of these. That left me wondering if the two mallards that have been lolling about my pond for the past few days are it.

A little more probing and I found the nest under the decorative pine. There are the remnants of at least four more eggs in there all with openings. The eggs are about the same as a large chicken egg, but the color is just a tad different. Only the ducks and the geese are left. I truly believe that these eggs are a mite too small for a goose. So again the finger of suspicion points at the mallards.

This Is What I wish I Will Soon See in My Yard

A couple of days ago, when I reported that the mallards were hanging around I expressed a wish that they would have a family in my yard and use the pond as their training ground for the babies. A wish come true perhaps? Except there is no sign of babies anywhere. Could it be they were discovered by a raccoon who had a feast and left his mess for me to clean? Only the mallards know for sure. I will have to keep my eyes open for them to see where they hide when not in my yard. I’ve counted nine to ten eggs shells, so that would be about the right size brood for a duck. What a joy it will be to discover mama and papa feeding and nurturing the family for me to watch.

Day 57-SIP-Volunteer to Serve

There is no question but that the COVID-19 is still very active in my county. Today’s report added 77 new cases of confirmed Corona virus. That brings our total to 3,973 cases. I’d like to see it coming down, but there are a lot of other things I would like too, but never seem to get my wish.

Every year at this time I would like to see so many people step up and want to be leaders in our local Lions Club that we have to turn people away. That hasn’t happened yet. Why is it that whenever a person is asked to take on a leadership role he/she shirks the responsibility? Only a very few special people want to lead. The remainder are satisfied being led.

My experience with volunteer groups spreads over a span of fifty years and many organizations, and it volunteering to lead hasn’t changed. Even worse yet, I have still not learned the secret of recruiting successfully. One thing I did learn however, is that people want to belong to an active moving club with a positive attitude. Nobody wants to join a negative, sorry-assed, dead club, and I don’t blame them. Why would I join a club whose reputation is for doing nothing. When I join something it is because i believe in the activities and function of the club. When I joined a bicycle club I joined because I wanted to meet bike riders who I could ride with. Riding alone most of the time is boring. I joined the Boy Scouts of America because i wanted my son to have a decent Troop to join into. I joined the Garden club because I was tired of killing plants and wanted to learn how to make flowers grow. I first joined the Lions because I needed something to deflect the grief I suffered from my wife’s death. Then, after I joined and learned what a great organization they are I dedicated my life to helping our club to serve the community.

As President of the Frankfort Lions I conducted a survey to determine how to make the club serve more. One of the things I learned was that most people join because they want to ‘give back.’ They feel so blessed with their own life that they want to extend that same gift to others within their community. My philosophy has always been that serving the club as an officer is serving the community, and qualifies as ‘giving back.’

An organization that is over a hundred years old and still growing has to have something going for it. Lions are pushing 1.5 millions members in over 200 countries, and in 45,000 clubs. We all follow the same goals, the same ethics, the same constitution and by-laws. Only our languages, customs, and ethnicities differ.

When I first joined I learned that Lions were challenged by Helen Keller to become the Knights of the Blind. At the time I didn’t know a single blind person and thought that perhaps the need for helping the blind has diminished since 1925 when she made the challenge. I was wrong. The number of people who are blind is growing. As the population ages more and more of us is affected by age related macular degeneration. The longer one lives the better his chances of losing vision becomes.

A detailed macro shot of a blue woman human eye.
Lions Of Illinois Foundation Mobile Hearing and Vision Screening Vans

By a process of evolution I have become involved in helping the blind. First by manning our specially equipped mobile vision screening van. We schedule a date for the van and invite the public to come and get thier eyes screened for diseases like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and more. More recently, I helped initiate a children’s vision screening program within our village. Lions purchased a special camera to measure the eye. The camera compares measurements to what is normal. If a measurement is out of the normal range it alerts us to send that kid to get his eyes examined by a professional. So far, we have screened two thousand kids and we’ve alerted two hundred. Many of those 200 kids now wear glasses to make their vision better.

Lions learned that pre-school aged kids have problems that can be corrected before a kid starts kindergarten. Yet, most school districts will not require testing until a kid enters first grade. Lions believe that if a pre-schooler is screened and found to have a problem that his eyes can be corrected by the time he enters school. All kids should have the same advantage for an education. If one of them has a problem seeing the materials he is at a disadvantage.

Frankfort Lions Conduct a Vision Screening at Movie on the Green Where They Also Distribute Free Pop Corn

Since COVID-19 we have put our screening programs on hold, and we hope there is some way to get them rolling again soon. Stay tuned I’m working on it.

Day 57 a.m.-Traffic

This morning I had to attend to a number of errands which I have been putting off until such a time it was worth risking a trip into the public forum; Post Office, Accountant, Bank. One thing I noticed was the greatly increased traffic since my last venture out. This can only mean that people are beginning to lose interest in COVID-19 and are giving Governor Pritzker the finger for his directives.

Otherwise, it is a beautiful spring day in Illinois, the sun is actually shining. This will bring out people en-mass to the walking paths. The dogs in the community seem to be losing interest in their owners sudden burst of energy for exercise. Many are no longer leading on the leash, but rather lagging and requiring a tug to move forward. Although the dogs navigate on scents, and with so many dogs marking the same routes there are many new and interesting chums to check out.

My Tuesday Night Stray Bar Club meeting on Zoom is also beginning to lose members who opt to do other things. It just isn’t the same drinking as a group within without social distancing rules. Pouring your neighbor more wine is not possible, so the ability to get a hot lady high is just not happening. Not that the group is so crazy as to cohabit, but the conviviality, and bawdiness of the conversation makes for more fun.

As soon as I hit the post button I will descend into the bowels of my home to the wood shop to make dust on my new project. I began with a burst of enthusiasm, but over the last couple of days I have faltered and ignored the project, the same has happened with my garden goals. Sunny days should be spent in the garden and rainy days in the shop. The prediction for today was for rain, therefore my desire to grind wood, and not transplant perennials. The ground is still cold and the plants will be healthier if I leave them alone for another week.

Day 56 p.m.-SIP-Biological Warfare?

I have had enough wine to loosen my mind and to write about less politically correct subjects. Doesn’t COVID-19 smack of biological warfare? Think about it. I would guess that every major country has a program to develop biological weapons. I know the USA has one, and Russia has one, and now we learn that China has one.

The Pandemic has taught us how easy it will be for anyone of these countries to unleash mayhem upon another without firing a single bullet or sending a single rocket. My God! All an unethical non-moral regime would have to do is load up an a bunch of airplanes with people who have some of the biological matter on them, and when they land in the target country, they let it loose to do its work. One rogue country can unleash a worldwide pandemic within a matter of hours. It will be cheap, effective and quick. The countries distributing the disease bring the attacked to their knees and destroy their economies thus their people.

A really smart attacker will insure that they had the antidote or vaccine, and have their population 100% inoculated before the attack. Its the only way one can win. If the agressor is as susceptible to the virus as the enemy it would only serve to backfire upon them.

I believe that germ warfare such as the COVID-19 Pandemic is more effective than chemical warfare. To date chemical warfare was used in World War One, Korea, and in some of the Mid-Eastern countries like Iraq and Syria. The problem as I see it, is that chemicals only affect those that come in direct contact with it, while in germ warfare the germ is invisible, silent, and transmissible so it keeps on moving and killing.

The last questions I have are these, “Did China release the COVID-19 as an experiment as a test to determine how vulnerable the USA, and the rest of the world is? Or, did they release it as an attempt to bring down the world in order to dominate? Or, did it happen by accident and they are taking advantage of the data generated? Or, is the virus just a natural phenomenon?

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