Wednesday, December 2, 2020

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better: November 2020


November began with a nod to Dia de los Muertos, the end of Daylight Savings Time, and a scheduled Biden car rally. We decided to have a downtown lunch to watch the scheduled Biden car rally motor down Main Street. Unfortunately the Biden campaign canceled their planned rally because of aggressive thuggery elsewhere by Trump fans in pickups. So instead it was Trump fans cruising Main Street with Trump flags on their vehicles. Their flags/signs had conflicting messages. There was "Keep America Great" while "Make America Great Again" was on the signs of those who were too cheap to buy 2020 signs. Flags with "TRUMP 2020 STOP THE SHIT" and "Trump 2020 FUCK YOUR FEELINGS" fly in El Dorado County. Flying Trump flag while wrapping yourself in an American flag is the antithesis of patriotic. The Biden rally cancellation was disappointing because we are a threatened species in this red-pink county. We were already on pins and needles waiting for election day. 

For Dia de los Muertos some Placerville Main Street shops displayed shrines inside or in front of their storefronts to honor those who have died. Main Street Yoga set up a comprehensive shrine honoring the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Yoga studios must be off limits for El Dorado rednecks because the flowers and photos set up outside were not vandalized.

Getting past Election Day didn't help allay the pins and needles. As the counting, recounting, lawsuits, and decision dragged on in the swing states, we were still holding our collective breath. The final, certified result in El Dorado County was 43.7% for Biden and 53.25% for Trump. There were 118,133 votes cast, and Trump won by 10,000 votes. 

For much of the month we returned to our cat walking/chaperoning chores and taking photos to capture the color changes fall weather was bringing to our yard. The sasanqua camellias began to bloom as did the very short-lived autumn crocus. While November was initially quite warm, we soon had a freeze that put an end to our tomato plants and dahlias.

Autumn Crocus
Oakleaf Hydrangea
Next month a flock of Cedar Waxwings should fly in to eat the toyon berries. This month we were delighted by multiple visits of a flock of Western Bluebirds. In all the years living here we've only had sporadic sightings of these chirpy bluebirds. A good omen?
Toyon (a California native)
Toyon with Orange Berries
Coral Bark Maple
Crimson Queen Maple
Purple Heart Redbud
Our backyard

Our rainfall season begins July 1 but our first rain of the season was just this month. On November 8 we had a short, pea-sized hail/snow storm that left the air fresh and clean. Our last rain was November 19. In total over several days we've gotten 2.01 inches rain plus snow in the mountains. Our precipitation is far behind what we received by this date last year and our normal average rainfall to date is over 8 inches. The weather service now advises that we shouldn't expect to see any rain through the end of the year. If January and February 2021 continue dry, it is going to be a very bad year for drought and more fire. 

On November 14 we took both Syd and Pandora to the vet for their annual checkups. The vet bluntly said both cats were fat. Pandora needs to lose 1 pound and Syd 2 pounds either through more exercise, less food, or both. Pandora is a little squishy around her midsection but Syd doesn't feel or look fat at all. Despite that, I complied by feeding each one 1/4 ounce less per meal for a total of 1/2 less food per day. Syd almost immediately began acting like he was starving but I held firm. Neither cat has adjusted their body clocks to standard time so they also start lobbying for dinner one hour early.

Then the next week, we weren't home by 5pm one night and Syd's dinner was three hours late because Dan and I had dinner with my brother and his family who live in Antioch. It must have been a perfect storm combination because two days later, Syd began having twitching episodes (rolling skin, manic grooming, hiding under furniture). Current triggers are going outside, watching birds through the window, and using the laser pointer inside. So now neither is getting any exercise. We returned with Syd to the vet for an unsatisfactory appointment and a diagnosis of Feline Hyperesthesia about which not much is known. 

Syd has always been so comfortable with vet visits. In fact, the vet was never able to listen to his heart because his purr was too loud. On the second visit, Syd did not purr. The vet did hear his heart and judged it normal as were the lab tests. 

Pandora looks delicate, but she is the unsinkable Molly Brown with a garbage disposal for a stomach. We are gradually transitioning Syd to an organic food, no seafood, no once-a-month Heartgard pill, and the vet thinks he shouldn't have his rabies shot next year. Right now both are indoor cats and no one is losing weight. 

When an episode begins, we gather Syd up, sometimes wrap him in a towel, hold him tightly, and begin grooming his head and neck until he starts purring. This seems to short circuit whatever impulses are happening with him. So far, he hasn't been aggressive with either us or Pandora. He just seems scared; we are on pins and needles. 

Sweet Syd

With family Thanksgiving dinner canceled, we were invited to an outdoor/patio heater Thanksgiving late lunch at the home of friends who were once our neighbors. In this year of social distancing that has turned into almost a hermetic existence, dinner and conversation with friends was just what we needed. 

For a post Thanksgiving meal I made a small turkey breast dinner for the two of us (cats were confined to the garage) with some of the wild rice we bought on our canoeing vacation in Ely, Minnesota.

This month we reactivated and quickly re-suspended our gym membership. We went a couple of times at less busy times, but as so few people at the gym wear masks, we decided it wasn't worth the risk. Without twice daily cat walks Dan and I have more time for walking ourselves.

Tis the season of deer mating and we've been seeing a number of large male bucks following does around. On one walk we spotted an 8-point buck (4 points on either side) stalking a disinterested doe. One evening when I was driving and also had my camera, I spotted another large buck and managed to get a photo of him in a neighbor's yard.Last week, at the end of a neighborhood walk, we spotted a tornado-shaped cloud at the end of our walk. I think it's called a tail created when cold air from above drops through a cloud layer and pulls the vapor with it.

A tornado-shaped cloud

In November, as our county was adjudicating our progression from the orange tier to the red tier and county supervisors were advocating for "personal responsibility" instead of mandates, the county zipped right into the purple tier. Needless to say, the county did not receive a pass on advancing to red because we were already in Deep Purple. 

There were 1158 additional positive Covid cases just in November. At the end of November our county had a grand total of 2,546 positive Covid cases, 9.5% positivity rate (8% moves the county to purple), 16 in the hospital (5 in ICU), no new deaths.

Trump is still fighting his loss to Joe Biden. I expect Trump will leave deep fingernail groves on the top of the Resolute Desk as he is jerked out of the Oval Office in January. BYEDON!!!