Monday, March 1, 2021

Anniversary of Pre-Pandemic Innocence: February 2021

Cronan Ranch, Pilot Hill
The month of February 2021 is one-year anniversary of our pre-pandemic life. February 2021 is also the month that both of us became fully vaccinated. Dan got his second Moderna shot and I was able to get both of my Pfizer vaccines. March 12 is the end of my two-week post vaccine period. Not sure how or if our lives will differ but we already feel some relief that serious illness and death from Covid-19 is less of a possibility.

We navigated through February much the same as any other post-pandemic month. Neighborhood walks, cat walks, birdwatching, and some hikes. There was not a lot of excitement.

On a cool, misty morning we hiked the Monroe Ridge Trail at Coloma. It's only about 3 miles and there is a nice view of Lotus and Coloma from the top. Coloma is where John Marshall's discovery of gold in 1849 brought immigrants from around the world to California in search of riches. Even though this trail is quite close to home, this was my first time on it.

View from the highest point of the Monroe Ridge Trail

Another beautiful day we returned to Cronan Ranch to hike the Up and Down Trail to the Sky Ridge Trail (5.4 mi). The oaks were beginning to bud and grasses were turning Spring green.

Dan and Chaz ahead

Our one bird watching road trip was to Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in West Sacramento. 
Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area with I-80 in the distance
Shovelers
Snowy Egret
Great Egret
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron (Above and Below)

"Walking" our cats leaves a lot of time for photographing Spring's progression in our yard and also for listening to podcasts and audiobooks.


Crocus (left) Dwarf Narcissus (right)
Narcissus
Manzanita blossoms
Hellebore (Lenten Rose)
Daphne
And, cats! They have both been on diets since their November vet appointment when they were ruled fat. It has been a struggle to return them to their former condition of svelteness. They both seem to constantly be starving even though the scale shows little progress. To supplement his calories, Syd chewed and partially opened one of the cat food cartons and a cat (identity unknown) attacked and consumed part of a round of freshly baked sourdough bread cooling on the counter. I would have accused Dan but since the divot was removed from the center top it appears the assailant had no thumbs. Most recently four roasted beets cooling on the kitchen counter before being peeled were attacked mercilessly (again cat identity unknown). I checked paws and lips and there was no sign of red beet on either of them. A missing beet was found in shreds on the floor the next morning. 

Pandora (left) and Syd (right)

Lizard hunting season has begun





Tandem grooming sessions on the washing machine grooming table.

January 2021 was the worst month in our county for deaths due to Covid-19. February brought a decline in cases, deaths, and hospitalizations but the county continued to be in the purple (Widespread) tier. In February there were 761 additional positive cases and 21 additional deaths. With February's stats there have been a total of 9120 positive cases and 100 deaths since March 2020. The county is slated to move into the red tier in March if the positivity rate continues to decline.

In the year since our orbit shrank and my life evolved into documenting our cats and how our landscape progresses through the seasons, we have both chaffed at the inability to travel--especially overseas travel. Last year's road trip was the brightest six weeks of the last year. The rest was just running in place. Looking toward the future with hope. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

It's a New Year, Fingers Crossed: January 2021


It is just possible that there might be an end in sight to our Pandemic Life so I've been tackling some long overdue chores. The big item I wanted to accomplish was to pull together all the bits and pieces related to our year living in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was our first live abroad adventure. My online journal began on Apple's long discontinued iWeb which kept us hanging onto an old computer with that software. Dan's emails with a now defunct email address were also scattered on old computers. At that time, 2007-2008, we were still using film. Sadly, the film was often badly processed and subsequent scanned images were at low resolution. There were some 8mp images from a point and shoot digital camera which helped in organizing events by date. My mind was living 10 years back while I organized everything and uploaded all to Blurb.com. Now we're waiting to receive the finished product: Our Georgian Odyssey, We Said. Next chore is to wipe those computers and get rid of them.

With California's Stay-At-Home Order, our travel destinations continue to be limited. Our first trip was to Cosumnes River Preserve located just south of Sacramento. While it was still light, we watched and photographed birds in the fields surrounding the preserve. Watching, photographing, and listening to birds has been such a stress reliever.

White-Fronted Geese
The light was somewhat hazy but there wasn't a breath of air to disturb the reflections. As light was diminishing and fog was rolling in, we drove to the preserve. At the preserve we headed down the walkway toward some distant swans stopping along the way for interesting trees and lighting. I stopped for a photo of a tree filled with birds who suddenly flew away while I was still photographing. On the walk back twenty minutes later, that tree was completely obscured by fog. I don't think I've ever experienced fog descending so rapidly. 



Between those two photographs of the tree, I took a couple of photographs of the curtain of fog closed in.


By the time we got to the swans they were indistinguishable from the blanket of fog.

On one of the warmest January days, we took a drive to Marysville to see the wintering swans and Ibis. We were not disappointed. I've never seen the Ibis so close and in such good light before. These Ibis have the most beautiful iridescent feathers that glint green and rust colors in the sun. They wade quickly as they graze flooded rice fields.

White-Faced Ibis
It was so warm, these Tundra Swans were lazy and mostly sleeping. 



January weather brought sunny, spring-like days as well as a snow day. We woke to a dusting of snow and very cold temperatures on January 25. Our drought conditions were somewhat mitigated by a several day atmospheric river system. 

Another outing was to Sacramento for two purposes. First, we wanted to see how our state capitol was being protected post Jan 6 and before the upcoming presidential inauguration and second, I wanted to take photos of the 65-foot ferris wheel that was installed in Old Sacramento last winter. We didn't ride it that evening as it was a weekend and there was a long line.

The perimeter of Sacramento's Capitol was completely fenced. State Police officers and vehicles stood guard inside the fence while National Guard troops were stationed outside the fence. National Guard troops also stood guard at nearby State Buildings. We wished them an uneventful deployment.





In Old Sacramento on the MLK weekend, people just seemed to be having fun. The ferris wheel and merry-go-round were busy. Most people had masks on so while crowded, it didn't seem hazardous to our health. It felt nice to be in the midst of people having fun.



A couple of weeks later, we returned to Old Sacramento to ride the ferris wheel. We were the only riders as it was before noon on a weekday which means there isn't much hang time at the top for photographing. The wheel stopped briefly at the top on our last revolution and then returned us to the bottom to exit. The carnival rides will continue through March 31.

View of the Tower Bridge from the top of the Ferris Wheel
Much of the rest of the time was spent with our cats. Syd seems to be controlling his hyperesthesia episodes. He isn't as panicked by them as he was initially. We help by holding him, grooming him, reassuring him. He's still on a diet as is Pandora and both have lost a few ounces. We take them outside when the weather is good and when Syd feels like he can do it. 


Yep, I feel the same way Pandora!



The first spring flowering bulbs are blooming in our winter landscape.


In our county so many more people have died from Covid-19. Except for two, all deaths have been people in the 65+ category. As of January 29, 2021, the county has a total of 8,359 positive cases and 79 people have died. At the end of 2020, there were 5,719 positive cases and 24 deaths. The January statistics are devastating but positive cases seem to be declining.

Vaccines are being made available in El Dorado County. Dan, considered high-risk, received his first Moderna vaccine January 23 through his doctor's office. (The office actually called him). His second one will be on February 20. I have an appointment at our county health department to get my first vaccine on February 5. I think it will be the Pfizer vaccine. 

I don't think I've ever watched an entire presidential inauguration, but I watched the Biden/Harris inauguration with pleasure. Even though they are still puppet masters, the grifter family is finally out of DC. Hoping so much that good and common sense will prevail. Joe, Kamala, and the Biden cabinet will need to be miracle workers to save us. Fingers crossed!