Happy Halloween!

So, have you lost your mind yet? Or, better yet, how have you not?

I spent five weeks in the US up north with my brother and his wife, who generously housed and helped me during my trip to have my kidney stone zapped and scooped out of my ureter (the tube between my left kidney and my bladder).  The  doctor put it a stent and then removed it eight days later.  The hospital staff were wonderful and efficient, and all procedures were done as out-patient.  After my night from hell in the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville in May (great urologist, shitty night staff), I learned to stay overnight only if absolutely necessary; I think the staff at the Mayo would agree.

Both of my sisters-in-law are great cooks, one in southern cuisine and the other in Italian. It continues to amaze me how normal people eat.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a good cook; but I make a big pot of something and then eat it for three days or until it runs out.  Different meals every night with varieties of side dishes are a treat for me, particularly when so well-prepared. 

My flight back was, shall we say, interesting.  I anticipated problems with United at check-in, but that actually went well, except for the closure of the counters on the departure level. Thank god I was the last off the shuttle bus and I convinced the driver to bring me around again and drop me at the level below.  Once inside, the process went smoothly.

I also had ordered a wheelchair, since I couldn’t stand or walk long distances. I highly recommend this form of transportation.

Oh, and after my last five-hour first-class flight during which I was served a box of crackers with a tin of hummus, this time I actually got a sandwich. Go, United!

You know how whatever you fear will happen doesn’t, and what you never expect does? Well, upon arrival, I showed proof of negativity for covid, which was a requirement for avoiding quarantine. Who knew I had taken the “wrong” covid test? So, after a long delay and numerous conversations, I had to sign an agreement to quarantine for 14 days in order to be allowed in. 

Upon my arrival in Baggage Claim, I discovered that my large bag had gone missing. Yeah. The one with all my clothes, medications, vitamins, and purchases (except my laptop). I attempted to pull on the heart strings of the airport guy, Christian, by stressing my fragile health and the importance of recovering my bag, while making a strong case for United pay me a lot of money for its contents, most of which cannot be bought here.

My pusher (wheelchair, that is) told me that people often grab bags without looking at them.  I didn’t believe that, in this case, it was an error; since none of the remaining bags looked anything like mine, which, by the way, was brand new and shiny. I also found it hard to believe that anyone would be dumb enough to grab it, watch it go through screening prior to exiting the airport, and put it in one’s car without noticing that it wasn’t one’s f-king bag.

I spent the next two hours vacillating between panic and figuring out if and how (and for how much) I could replace the more critical items.  I then received a call from Christian informing me that he had called the numbers on all remaining bags and located the woman who had taken my bag. She had been on her way home and agreed to return to the airport and exchange my bag for hers. He then sent it to my house.  I’m now Christian’s biggest fan.

The condo was fine except for the rain leak in the laundry room and the termites in my upstairs entertainment room.  In October, the mornings are lovely and then the torrential rain arrives, accompanied by thunder that sounds like the world cracking in half.  The leak was patched, but the termites remain. I’m still negotiating a return by the exterminator who treated the wood beams before.

My quarantine will end tomorrow and I will be allowed to leave the house. I plan to start walking every day, and it will be nice to be able to go to the bank and local market for fresh produce. I have most of my groceries delivered from my local Price Smart, where the prices are good but the quantities ridiculous. I am prepared for six-month shortages of everything not fresh, and I’m thinking of renting a booth to sell toilet paper and paper towels, which I accidentally ordered twice.

I’m busier than I care to be, but it compensates for the absence of a social life. As always, I read a lot and watch Spanish-language soap operas and CNN Español,  which blessedly covers more stories and more countries than the English version, which seems to believe that there is only one country on the planet and only two stories in that country: its elections and the coronavirus. Yes, both are important. But, for the love of god, I never imagined that a news station could or would fill 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on two topics.  I think such persistent single-minded obsession has turned CNN into a porn channel without sex. After the elections and the blowback, if it ever stops, I guess it will be just covid all day every day.

My latest sojourn with family has reminded me of the joys of solitude (e.g., silence, inner peace and control of one’s environment) and its downside (isolation, lack of human contact, boring meals and general weirdness). 

One good bit of news is that there is no second or third wave here due to people congregating in enclosed, heated environments as the weather cools.  There are only two seasons, and the differences are in the amount of rain and not in the temperature. My house neither has nor needs heat.

Enjoy the day and let’s hope the spookiness will subside soon.

Ciao for now. Stay safe.