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It Was Friday 13th Two Years Ago And COVID Was In The Air

In my manuscript, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth  I finished a chapter about the ‘elderly Dutchmen party with Alison Alexandra’ on Friday 13th. I took a trip and, on 19th March, began what turned out to be nearly a full year of Pandemic writing.The next chapter of the novel begins “In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored.”

I started planning to write about the Pandemic the day after I heard that China was constructing hospitals solely devoted to COVID patients. I knew then the world was going to be in a lot of trouble. I was proved right.

 This is how that chapter began.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored. And though she doesn’t want to test the theory, she believes she would rather be ill than bored.

“I’d step lightly there,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

“You would?”

“I would,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “And I know what I’m talking about. Yes – I do.”

Within the week of Wuhan City in China being shut down, and the building of emergency hospitals to house the sick, Alison Alexandra knew this would inevitably become the fate of the world. It might have intruded a bit more quickly than she has anticipated, but not by much.

Alison Alexandra of course thinks about the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. But she also knows that this is a phrase in English that has no Chinese equivalent. The closest curse in Chinese is “Better to be a dog in peacetime than a human in time of war”.

“I won’t argue with that,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

And she doesn’t.

So, it was at the beginning of the Chinese curse that Alison Alexandra sets her plan into motion. It is simple, though dependent on circumstance.

Alison Alexandra arranges to get those with whom she’d like to share the End Times – if End Times they prove to be – to join her at her house and wait out the famine with a feast or two. Or three.

“I don’t think the End Times are supposed to be good times,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost/

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” says Alison Alexandra. “But aren’t you supposed to know?”

“Point taken,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

Franz Kafka [Again] Faces The New Year During His Own Pandemic

I posted this last New Year, little thinking it would be appropriate for this New Year. However, it already has many viewers today, so why not give it another run?

+++++++++++++++++

Not only did Franz Kafka go through ‘The Spanish Flu’, he contracted it and survived.

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in his missing diary entries.  Two such are New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

I will point out that Kafka was often abrupt in his real diaries. There are just two sentences for Sunday, 02 August 1914, the day the First World War began: “Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming in the afternoon.”

**********************

From Kafka in The Castle

31 December 1917

The end of the year. The end of a love. The ebb of a life. Even the Empire can not last much longer.

01 January 1918

It is strange how we are expected to wake up on a Tuesday morning – just as any Tuesday morning – and be full of hope because it’s the first day of some arbitrarily appointed year. I walk the streets and it is still Prague.

A Meal For Sailors Home From The Sea & Staying Together During A COVID Pandemic Lock Down

It is ever-practical Linda who knows a thing or fifty-two about what sailors who have been long on the sea want to eat and drink when first ashore, who suggests a menu, and is more than willing to prepare it all herself, but is convinced by Bridget that, in this instance, too many cooks will not spoil the broth.

“So what’s first?” asks Bridget.

“Always beer,” says Linda. “And a small bowl of nuts. And since this is so special, make them cashews.”

“That’s like a tease,” says Amanda.

“Yes.”

“And what’s next?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Potato canoes, with lots of bacon in the mix,” says Linda. “And cook the bacon at the time, so he can smell it.”

“Crafty,” says Bridget.

“Tricks of the trade,” says Linda.

“What’s up next?” asks Amanda.

“As fresh a salad as you can make,” says Linda. “If there are cucumbers and mushrooms, so much the better, because those don’t keep well on a ship.” Linda winks. “And throw in some dried cranberries.”

“You’ve entertained sailors home from the sea,” says Amanda.

“I have,” agrees Linda. “My father and my brother. All this I have learned at my mother’s knee.”

“Home cookin’.” says Alison Alexandra. “What’s the main course?”

“Steak – always,” says Linda. “Sirloin tip with the cap on – or better.” She speaks sternly. “And don’t overcook it – even though they say that’s what they want. They don’t. They want the taste, and will appreciate it.”

“I hope we’re all getting this,” says Amanda.

“And fried onions,” says Linda. “On the side.”

“For the smell,” says Bridget.

“Always a winner,” says Linda.

“Any other side dish?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“Fried rice,” says Linda. With BBQ pork and onions in it.”

“But we already have potato,” says Amanda.

“They can’t get too much starch,” says Linda. “And they get to choose as much as they want out of the bowl.”

“Large bowl,” says Bridget.

“You bet’cha,” says Linda.

“Is that it?”

“Yes.”

“What about dessert?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“We offer apple pie with ice cream, and rice pudding with a velvety skin on top.”

“That’s quite a choice,” says Bridget.

“Oh, those sailor boys will choose some of each.”

“Is that it?” asks Amanda.

“No.” Linda smiles. The end is a pot of bitter Chinese tea, a plate of thin, crisp, mildly sweet cookies, and a bottle of amber rum.”

“I’m stuffed,” says Bridget.

“Welcome home,” says Linda.

Alison Alexandra Has Novel Expectations That Don’t Have A Ghost Of A Chance In The Pandemic

“I’d like Bridget to meet you,” says Alison Alexandra.

“No.” R/Jane-the-Ghost shakes her head. “That can’t happen.”

“She’s my cousin,” says Alison Alexandra. “Blood relation, and straight as a die.”

“No – that’s not the way it works.” R/Jane-the-Ghost smiles. “Even though I like your little pun. Trust me.”

“She’s been to the Mansion.”

“Not my department,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “As you know – I have not.”

“I’ve noticed that,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Different stages of departure,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “As for me – I am well and truly dead.”

“Well then.” Alison Alexandra actually tries to see her companion. “Do you have any advice?”

“About what?”

“How to deal with this Pandemic?”

“You’ve got booze stacked away?”

“Yes. And more coming.”

“Then that pretty well covers it,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “Creature comforts for the creature. Your spirit will take care of itself.”

“Body and soul,” suggests Alison Alexandra.

“When threatened, your body will be more aware of your soul.” R/Jane-the-Ghost smiles. “The booze will make it easier for you to say ‘hello’.”

“Cousin Bridget would like to know that.”

I Am Among The Anointed Pure Of The Earth

I have had my second shot (or “jab” as her Blessed Majesty, The Queen, refers to it}.


Pfizer, one month earlier than scheduled,


I didn’t follow the yellow brick road (though it was as good as) but a series of yellow tape arrows down some stairs and then down more stairs then through a Fire Door [DO NOT LEAVE OPEN] and then a corridor that led to another corridor where a fellow got my name and checked his iPad and looked at my card and before I could say “Yes, it’s me” a voice came from an office door “Dale, is that you?” and in i went and appreciated how efficient it all was.

So I sat myself down and was asked ‘which arm’ and then asked if I wanted some warning or if just to give the jab and I had barely indicated the latter choice And a little round band aid was applied. and then it was done. Didn’t feel a thing.


 Then I got a piece of paper with the time limit to which I was supposed to wait {10:59} and  a little pin I could pin to my shirt which says “Fully Vaccinated” with a cross of two band aids underneath.


And when 10:59 popped up I was offered my freedom and before I was out the door my chair was being disinfected for the next person, kept outside in an antechamber.


And then, back along the yellow lines and arrows {except going against the arrows}, and I didn’t leave the fire door ajar, and up the two flights of steps and into the sunny (and not too hot) morning.


Jeez – maybe I should have worn my button.

Not A Ghost Of A Chance In This Time Of Pandemic – Rum Necessary

My crew of characters in my novel, “There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth, have been with me for about five years. When COVID hit, they decided to stay together in one dwelling. To pass the time, they decided to tell Ghost Stories.

Since 29 09 2020, I have been writing nothing but Ghost Stories. Seven all told.

In affect, I have written a complete book of short stories, all stand-alone, for the past seven months. Each story was true to each individual character, but that was not important to the stories themselves. It was important to the novel.

This has been a unique situation ofr me, to wander off in the midst of a novel to do something else. It has been exhausting.

When I returned to the actual novel, my characters had to deal with the Pandemic. They (and I) have been dealing with the Pandemic for over a year. I think I am four or so ‘ordinary’ chapters away from the end of the novel.

Each ghost story was followed by a short chapter where my characters commented about the ghost story they had just heard. This is in part to keep the novel in the forefront, and the type of thing people would do. They always had a meal and and an exquisite tot of rum.

“BOO!” to all

The Ghosts Tread Heavy In This Time Of Pandemic

o-ghosts-facebook

There are a lot more ghosts

Now

Than there were before.

The earth,

And the heavens (of course),

Heavy

With ghosts.

Weighted down with

The new/old arrivals.

There are ghosts behind the ghosts.

There are legions of the dead,

Lined up to peer

Over my shoulder.

They breathe with satisfaction,

Upon the hand

That writes the word

Ghosts.

The millions of departed,

Disturb the air enough,

To stir the hair,

On my moving wrist.

They keep a place in line,

Patiently waiting,

For me to join them.

[Image] https://s-i.huffpost.com/gen/1315880/images/o-GHOSTS-facebook.jpg

Is The New Year In A Pandemic The Time To Change Your Ways?

From my novel in its five year progress, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth.

Alison Alexandra sometimes thinks of turning over a new leaf.

Sometimes at the most traditional of times, like at New Year or her birthday or under a full moon or when the tide is at its highest.

But then she remembers that well into her pre-teen years she thought the expression to turn over a new leaf meant reaching into the branches of a tree and flipping her wrist (somewhat like Amanda does when cutting cards) and when she found out the flip flip flipping concerned paper pages she was so bored she never did it. No, not once.

And anyway, why would she overturn anything in some sort of orderly fashion when she pell-mell turns things over at the very time they seem that they need to be overturned and not a minute or an hour or a full moon or one leaf later.

That now is indeed now is, indeed, now and as she daily finds out from her windows or cliffs overlooking the ocean; tide and time await no Alison Alexandra. So she will not wait for them.

Alison Alexandra has often thought – and she also often thinks – that she could happily turn over all her leaves just from her prow-of-a-ship room jutting into the sea or the cliffs that, as yet, do not erode under her feet as she walks them looking out to sea.

But that would be unwise and probably as stagnant as a rotting fish that sometimes lodges itself at the base of her cliff and though she has not traveled as often as those sailors and their spyglasses, she has traveled as far as many of them just to keep those leaves flip flip flipping.

So, today she is going to walk to town.

(IMAGE) https://poetryclubs.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2021-happy-new-year-picture.jpg

Franz Kafka Faces The New Year During His Own Pandemic

Not only did Franz Kafka go through ‘The Spanish Flu’, he got it and survived.

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in his missing diary entries.  Two such are New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

I will point out that Kafka was often abrupt in his real diaries. There are just two sentences for Sunday, 02 August 1914, the day the First World War began: “Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming in the afternoon.”

**********************

From Kafka in The Castle

31 December 1917

The end of the year. The end of a love. The ebb of a life. Even the Empire can not last much longer.

01 January 1918

It is strange how we are expected to wake up on a Tuesday morning – just as any Tuesday morning – and be full of hope because it’s the first day of some arbitrarily appointed year. I walk the streets and it is still Prague.

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