a virtual road trip

So Ed (war correspondent in Brooklyn) texts to me (writer in Massachusetts) and Chien-Chi (photographer in Austria), "When this is all over, we make the grandest road trip of all times. We channel Steinbeck and Kerouac."
    Chien-Chi says, "I write, you take pictures, and Claudia sits back and relaxes."
 C: Who drives?
Ed: CC can't, and you drive too slow.
C You drive too fast! We aren't even on the road yet, and we're squabbling in the back seat!
Ed: Just stay on your side of the car. And, no, we are not stopping for ice cream!
C: Are we there yet?
Ed: Stop hitting CC. If I have to stop you are both in trouble.
C: He hit me first!
Ed. You are older. I don't want to hear it. Turn up the radio. Let's play license plates.
C: I'm hungry.
Ed: You just ate.
C: When are we gonna be there? I really am hungry. I'm really starving!
Ed: Finish the hamburger next to you.
C: It's yuik.
Ed: It is not yuk. CC finished his.
C: Is so!
Ed: Is not!
C: You like CC better than me.
Ed: Of course! He finished his burger!
C: You don't care if I'm starved to death.
Ed: I do care. If you starved to death back there I would have to clean the car.
C: When are we gonna be there?
Ed: And don't tell me you have to pee. We have only driven ten miles.
Yes and no


who's zooming who

Flip grabs his laptop and prepares to go to his virtual dojo in the basement. He is going for his (black belt) fourth degree, or dan, which is master level in Tae Kwan Do (he has also studied karate and ju jitsu), and misses his real life dojo.
    Erin is in her office in another country, vitrually. Usually it is someplace in Africa, but at the moment it's Iraq. On a nice day, you might find Madison outdoors in her French class on a laptop or Eva in her Italian class, with her professor who is actually in Italy.
   You would likely find me on the phone in the sun. It has been a long time since I talked on the phone except to certain people (you know who you are!), but these times seem to call for it.


world tradeoff

Photographers all over the world are stuck at home. It may be harder for them than the rest of us, since documentary work requires travel—or at least going out. So they are taking pictures at home—see Chien-Chi-Chang's and other Magnum work in National Geographic—or diving into the  archives.
    Donna Ferrato, like others, is selling prints with half the proceeds going to help in the current epidemic. As a long time champion of battered women, however, her focus is different. She is seeking donations for Sanctuary for Families in New York City. The last time her home (and mine) was so convulsed was during the terrorist attack of 9/11. But now intimate terrorism, always higher during holidays, has spiked all over the world as families ironically "shelter"—French police say calls have gone up 30 percent. "After 9/11 Tribeca came together and came back stronger than before. I am optimistic that this time we will come back even stronger but only by working together," says Donna. She is offering signed, limited editions of her Tribeca photographs for $100. Check out the collection on her website. Click print sale.


a wasper's nest

I think this is the river behind Bill's house. Bill?
 Franklin and his dog, Mercy, await breakfast at the Goose. The picture was taken by his mom, Carly, a friend who visits me there every few years. We became friends through this blog, as a matter of fact, when I first started it in 2005. At the time she was in California and I was in New York. You can read more particulars here.
   Anyway, she and her son needed a nature break from Kansas City, and she had the dubious privilege of opening up the Goose. One year it was the dead squirrel who had tried to chew its way out of the Goose and failed. One memorable year, Changping was with me when I opened, and it was the plague of fleas, It is pretty much the same problem I have in Block Island every year, though there it is more likely mice and leaks in the plumbing.
The river behind Bill's on Carly's first visit, when her now college kid was Franklin's age.

Franklin is not holding a wasps' nest
Anyway, this year it's hornets, or, as Bear calls them, waspers. Carly (who Bear was deeply enamoured of back in the day when he was still speaking to me) killed three or four in the bedroom the night she arrived, and several more the next day. She duct taped the windows and doors, and still they kept getting in.
    I know their nest is about 12 feet up in the back of the Goose—or it was when I tried to kill them off last year.They seem to have the hollow of a cement block filled with their kind. There is an entry and an exit hole, but how they ae getting into the house—or why they would want to—I have no notion. Anyway, we caved. Carly is going to call Dianne's exterminator. Stay tuned!


civic duty

Erin and Flip head out to deliver groceries from the food bank to senior citizens' housing. They have been told that there is a case of COVID-19 in the food bank building, and that the apartment dwellers in the senior housing can be a problem. Some make a rush for the bags; some want to stay and chat; many are confused; some are desperate; most don't understand the necessity of staying far away from others. I look forward to their report.
  Meanwhile, here's an article about Block Island's mainland distancing.
     Douglas said, "Sounds as bucolic and tidy as the picture, but the longer this thing lasts, the more likely the social structure on the Island will reveal its fragility. With no income, no business, no imported help, no tourists, how long before tempers flair? The Island is just one powderkeg, a microcosm of what may be coming. Hang on to your hats, it’s only the beginning."
   I pretty much agree with him. And the first case on BI was identified two days ago: Seventy-year-old guy in hospital on mainland. Douglas and his son Simon had fled the island for decent broadband in Providence the day before.


bicoastal reunion

Who's been zooming who? Last night the Gasner clan gathered for a chat. Some in California, some on Block Island, some in Providence and me in Massachusetts. It's actually hard to figure out what to talk about en mass, and since we mostly talk to one another anyway, there wasn't a lot of info to exchange. Basically, we were like my grandson's classroom Zoom waving and saying "Hi" for an hour. But it was fun to see what this platform was about and to see all these sleepy people.



 The early-blooming azalea I call The Azalea That The Deer Don't Eat is blooming.
 Sweet smelling hyacinths are popping also.
The weenie daffodils Erin calls jonquils are up too. The garden is in business!


the new gym

In the basement, Flip has set up a gym in a space that used to be Eva's art studio. For me, Flip just put a bike on a stand that makes it a stationary bike. I had quit going to the gym in New York two weeks before I went to Hawaii for fear of getting the flu—not Covid-19, which hadn't shown up in force yet. meanwhile I have since gotten zero exercise. So I guess I better get with the program!


rainy day roundup

It's Sunday, and I don't usually post on weekends, but it's also Quarantine, and people are asking me where I am and what I'm doing. Including two high school boyfriends.
   I am in Massachusetts with my sister, her husband and her two daughters who got turfed out of their colleges. I have been here for a week tomorrow in sort of quarantine. It feels very odd to have three homes and be unable to live in any of them. Ed says, "Bottom line: You do not get to be you. And I don't get to be me while others are at stake."
   You all know the situation in New York City. In Block Island, the unwelcome mat is out. See here. They don't want outsiders in Missouri, either. See here. (I did have the phone service turned on at the Goose and the house cleaned, and it looks as if a friend from Kansas City and her son will stay there for a bit. A neighbor said he would make sure the cityfolk were safe.) The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is sending in the guard. See here.
    So my plan was to go to a rental house of Hannah's and wait it out for however long it takes to make it to Block Island. The renters moved out of the place last night, and it is empty but for a full freezer. I mean empty. Hannah guys and Erin guys have lots of extra furniture and stuff, so I will be ok if the cops don't check my license. Fortunately, my plates say Missouri, and I can prove that I was in Hawaii and then quarantine, thanks to this blog!
   On the other hand, I could let Flip shop for me and Erin cook for me and sit here in front of the fire until spring comes.
   What should I do?



The jonquils are up. The hyacinths are up. And The President of the Garden Cub (emeritus) chose yesterday to spread corn gluten on the lawn. Corn gluten keeps crabgrass from sprouting, an organic weed killing method. It doesn't harm already established grasses and is apparently dog friendly.


the last luau

 The night before I left I went, protesting, to the Cassel Castle one last time. I thought it was foolhardy for Ruth, but they can't imagine having fewer than ten people to dinner at once. As Hawaii's governor said before he shut down the island to tourists, people in Hawaii live very close to one another, many to one house, and the virus would spread quickly there.
   Block Island decided the same thing. The town council decided that people should only travel to or from the island except in essential roles until April 15. Any landowners showing up would also have to quarantine for this time. No sort term renters (ie my business) at all. They can extend the time at any time. See Block Island Brings Down the Hammer.
 Now Hawaiians too will have to learn not to gather—hard for them to do. But like all densely populated islands, like Manhattan, which is doubling rates of infection every three days, it's stamp it out or die. Clearly, I should have had my elective knee surgery done last fall. This fall ain't happening, nor is my resting with my internist in April. At the moment I'm sort of thinking I could shelter at Hannah's place, her former house in Providence that is empty since renters moved out. I am afraid of wearing out my welcome in Missouri too.


out the window

Well, Honolulu to Holliston is quite a change, but I made a soft landing. The plane was completely packed, since Hawaii instituted a strict two-week quarantine the day I left, basically kicking out all tourists. The woman I sat next to was fully and professionally masked, and was wiping down her seat area with a chlorox sheet. She asked me if  wanted one, and I said sure. Then she asked me if I was sick. I didn't think to ask was she.
  But when we parted ways  said, "Is this where we exchange phone numbers in case one of us gets sick?"
  "No," she said!
There were loud teenagers en route home from their semester in Australia and a screaming baby who the father walked up and down the aisles with his butt hanging out. The father, not the baby. He was a prince, though. The father.The baby was a princess.

My seatmate's selfie

My selfie