Thursday, January 28, 2021

Words from the Nahuatl

Someone mistook a Nahuatl word, tecolote, for a Spanish dialect, citing donkey, burro and ass as meaning the same thing in English. 

I replied, Nahuatl, an Uto-Aztecan language, is not even remotely related to Spanish, which is an Indo-European language related to Latin. Spanish could be considered a dialect of Latin, but Nahuatl is not even from the same language tree. 

However, you already speak some Nahuatl. Words from the Nahuatl that entered into English by way of Spanish include Asteka, cacahuatl (cacao), chocolātl (chocolate), chayotli, chictli (chicle), āhuacatl (avocado), āhuaca-mōlli (guacamole), xipoctli (chipotle), tomatl, chīlli, tamalli, nopalli, potzolli (pozole), xicamatl (jicama), Mexcalli, Tequila, poliuhqui (pulque), mizquitl (mesquite),peyotl, coyōtl, ōcēlōtl, tecolote (owl), and wueh-xōlō-tl, or guajolote is turkey. 

Had he said homonym, we could’ve agreed.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

An adult in the White House


I didn’t let the overwhelming emotions in until I was getting ready for bed, then as I donned my flannel nightie, I burst into years. (Stet, that typo says it all). So much pent-up grief seeking release. I presume the elation will come in small doses, like a fine mist or dew gathering on the grass. Bit by bit. We drank vinho verde, the bubbles tickling our senses. Small hard-earned steps toward the process of recovery. But first, there is more work to do. Time to roll up our sleeves and get into good trouble. Hello Joe Biden. Goodnight, Moon.

CBS Biden’s first day on the job.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A real president elect

A lot of turbid water has flowed under burnt edifices and fallen bridges these past four years. The term shipwreck comes to mind. Marooned these past four years, we have all but shattered the vessel of democracy. But today, we will pick up those shattered pieces of democracy, we will mend our republic, and we will anoint that receptacle with truth and justice, and polish it with good humor and love. Then we will fill that vessel with good trouble. We will roll up our sleeves, there is much work to do in the days and months ahead. For four years we were repressed, ‘and still we rise.’ I presume the elation will come in small doses, like a fine mist gathering on the grass. We take mall hard-earned steps toward the process of recovery. But first, there is more work to do.

CBS Biden’s first day in office 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Madame Vice President


Tonight, the wind


I don’t like this at all, the wind is blowing like a banshee and it’s unseasonably warm. Way too warm for January. Tonight the wind is  fiercely raging, I gave up on the concept of sleep, or, rather, sleep gave up on me. The winds of change. Portent of things to come. Spellcheck thinks portent isn’t a word.

All I can say, is, that with all this wind, hopefully a little rain will come too. Otherwise, what’s the point? It’s the middle of the night, a particularly bad time to fly a kite. The wind is moaning, now a howling, raging beast outside the window. The wind rosins its bow on the perimeter of the eye of the storm. A nearby tree limb is singing its squeaky one note song. It moans and sighs and then moans some more. I don’t know what it wants but it’s an unhappy tree limb sobbing its sorrows in the wind. 

If the wind were the ocean, and the sky, it’s color, then, the trees would be forests of seaweed and kelp. Wow, it is seriously blowing now. Sounds like high surf raging outside my window

What I don’t get, is that PG&E has not turned off the power. These winds are just as fierce as those October winds that brought the fires. And we have not had enough rain to protect us from more fires. I’m surprised that we still have power. Of course there’s a fire at The Geysers. Firefighters are on the scene. And the wind just kicked it up a few more notches. It was last clocked at 97 mph on the ridge tops.

Outside the window, dawn backdrop, the Douglas fir and the redwood sway in unison their branches moving like frantic hula dancers or dervishes. The non-native Italian pine looks like it’s flipping a finger to the sky.

Well, tomorrow is finally today. It’s 6 AM, tho I am unwilling to admit defeat to sleep, I’ve all but finished my flask of tea, and its still as dark as midnight out there. So much for the concept of morning. That one tree branch won’t give it up. I think it’s rubbing against the house, a complaining Cypress with a lot to say. Four years worth of complaints. Moans and shrieks like a banshee in distress.

During the brunt of the windstorm, the roosters were strangely silent. They’ve gotten a late start announcing the dawn. A lone raven braving the wind is plummeted and bandied about. He looks like he’s on speed. He attempts to land on a branch and misses the tree entirely. He zips off again banking against the northwestern wind, does a flip, then spirals out of control. Incoming, kamikaze moves. He slides at right angles to himself. He flies sideways in order to go forward. The wind before the storm.

Westron wynde, when wyll thow blow
The smalle rayne downe can rayne?
Cryst yf my love were in my armys,
And I yn my bed agayne!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Vaccines and blue horseshoe crab blood

Still pondering the novel idea that I now have traces of rare blue horseshoe crab blood in my body. And that somehow, this primitive creature is offering me immunity from the coronavirus. It has begun to affect my dreams. The other night I dreamed that the crabs all rose up and marched along the liminal boundary of the shore and I could almost translate their primitive whisperings. 

After a week of symptoms, followed by another week of relative calm, today I’m running a low grade fever, my arm hurts, the headache is persistent. Nothing like before. My body is girding its loins, gearing up for battle. Soon I will return to receive even more indigo blood in my arm. I will dream of the color of the ocean. I am regressing back into the coral reefs of indigo colored time.

“Considered living fossils, horseshoe crabs trace back 445 million years, before the first animals crept onto land. Not a crab at all, but genetically closer to a spider, it’s a relic of the ocean insects that scuttled across prehistoric sea floors.

“They survived the catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs; they survived the ice age, and the coming of man. These creatures changed so little that an Ohio church set out a 68-foot fiberglass horseshoe crab as testament to divine creation over evolution.”  How the Coronavirus vaccine relies upon Maryland’s strangest fishery, horseshoe crabs, Baltimore Sun

According to Wiki, at 244 million years old, horseshoe crabs are literally living fossils—their ancestors date back to the Ordovician period, ca. 450 million years ago. They are a sister group of “Ricinulei within Arachnida. Subphylum: Chelicerata, suborder Xiphosurida, and order Xiphosura, family Limulidae.” Wiki I learn that there are four species: like the four directions of the earth. Limulus polyphemus, the Atlantic horseshoe crab is oor man, the one extending our lives. Giving us hope in these darkest of times.

My friend Eric Painter said, Did you know that blue crab blood, lysate costs $60,000 per gallon? I learn that it’s not so much about their blood, which contains hemocyanine, which is cool in and of itself, but their unique immune cells which are used to detect and destroy deadly bacterial contaminants. 

Because the poor ugly buggers are a hot pharmaceutical commodity, with their copper-based blue blood, which contains a rare compound,  Limulus amebocyte lysate, they are now an endangered species. Fishermen need to make sure their cold-blooded patients don’t die of exsanguination. Sheesh. What a time to have a shellfish allergy. Poor noble-blooded limulus crabs. Their brains may be the size of a pencil tip, and technically they have no hearts, but that blue blood coursing through their open circulatory system offers us hope, and maybe even love.

I got my first vaccine shot on Jan 6. Moderna. A stormy day all round. My preemptive preparation for the next round will be to take aspirin and Benadryl beforehand. Have a water flask for the hour-long wait after the shot—my mouth got positively cottony and I was woozy, so the trips where I lurched to the water fountain were surreal journeys. I was afraid of falling over. Like a drunk in a swaying choir.

I had an epipen at the ready, there was no swelling. But it hurt like hell, I couldn’t even sleep on my left side for a week. Felt like someone, maybe The Hulk, had sucker-punched me repeatedly with brass knuckles. Strangely, there was no fever on my arm. How could it hurt that much, and yet have no fever? I had to lift my sore arm with my other arm in order to use it. My bones ached. All my old injuries coming home to roost.

I awoke with violent headaches for the next three days. However, during week two, my arm began to itch, there was a faint swelling, a light rash, and some heat at the injection site, and I had a low-grade temperature for a couple of days. Nothing to worry about. The fatigue is real. I spent the next few days in bed, resting and sleeping.

As far as reactions go, this shot was nowhere near as bad as the yellow fever vaccination I got in the late 1980s. Back then, the delivery base use was albumen, or eggwhite, hence the reaction, as I’m allergic to eggs. I also did not fare well with a flu shot, circa 2000. I haven’t had one since. My reactions to shots have been so extreme, that my Kaiser travel nurse suggested that I forgo booster shots if I could help it. I traveled through Latin America with only a half-vaccine for yellow fever, and no tetanus shot.

I have an iodine allergy too. Since horseshoe crabs are shellfish that are loaded with iodine, there is some cause for concern. Except only their rare blue blood is used. I once had a dramatic reaction to a barium iodine stain drip for a kidney x-ray. I got hives inside my throat. Also, my cough syrup with tincture of iodine worked great, except it always gave me an itchy throat. I didn’t realize that was an allergy in the making. 

Luckily horseshoe crabs are arachnids, or rather arthropoda, not even related to crabs, or most shellfish. But they do have a shell, ergo there very well could be a shellfish allergy reaction—which is usually the source of an iodine reaction. So, epipen at the ready too. Sea dreams to sea change. The future is nigh. This vaccine is a saline base. It is is of the ocean. My nightmares will dream in the language of blue horseshoe crabs. We are made of the ocean, and this archaic creature, a living fossil from the ocean will offer us immunity from this novel virus.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Post vaccine blues

Yesterday I awoke with massive headaches, and an unhappy GI tract, but I think I’m through the worst of it. I like to assume that’s my body working hard to produce antibodies. No Covidlike symptoms, not even a fever. Definitely plan for a few low key quiet time out days if you overreact negatively to vaccines the way I do. At least I can raise my arm with effort. It feels like I was bare knuckle slugged by The Hulk. Meanwhile, more mobile morgues have been dispatched to Sonoma County. Scary stuff. Shit’s getting real.

Nothing was worse than the Yellow Fever vaccine I got in the late 1980s. My arm swelled from shoulder to elbow; it was so hot, it was like a furnace—I was laid up for two weeks. When I received a flu shot in 2000, I had a similar reaction. The last tetanus booster did not go well. So I don’t take this vaccination process blithely. But so far, so good. Even the Kaiser travel nurse suggested that I abstain from future booster vaccinations. It was probably the delivery method, not the vaccine. So I sweat it out. Albumen, or egg whites were commonly used as a delivery vehicle. 

I have anaphylaxis to certain foods, specifically hazelnuts. Shellfish has added itself to my list—I can’t take glucosamine for my joints. I’ve experienced anaphylaxis when being tested for cedar and pine pollens at Kaiser. Yep, I know exactly what adrenaline shots feel like, every single muscle simultaneously contracting at once, including scalp muscles! So far, I do not have antibiotic reaction. I read the ingredients for Modena, no albumen, the big culprit is the delivery vehicle, not the drug. The things that may threatening my life may very well save my life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Waiting to be Moderna-ized


I’m standing in line at the back offices of the Marin Civic Center waiting for my number to be called. Waiting to be Moderna-ized. It took a while to find the place. The Covid vaccination clinic is well hidden behind the back offices of the Civic Center. No signage. Nada. As if they don’t want anyone to know. 

A man in black, looking official walks by, carrying an empty black insulated package, I realize it’s an empty medical transport package. That many more people have been vaccinated. How many doses per package? 

We are greeted by a sprinkling of rain. A chain of lenticular clouds in the sky make an uneasy river, where it leads to, I don’t know—towards the east. I’m hoping to God it doesn’t rain any harder because I do not even have a jacket. This down vest is useless in a downpour. Lord knows we need the rain, but now? Really?

A real cloudburst. I run to the car, and grab my car screen shades for an umbrella, the laundry bag was too small to be of use. Small mercies, they move us to an unused auditorium, out of the rain. My car screen shade is a sensational hit, works better than an umbrella. When in doubt, think outside the box. Survival depends upon it. 

I am amazed by how everyone suddenly forgot to socially distance themselves while trying to squeeze inside the building. Rats entering a sinking ship. We are mostly all dressed in black. A somber purple. Midnight blue. Storm grey dots the crowd. 

We are a mixed mob, mostly older folks. Three nuns from Dominican huddle together. I am strangely comforted by their presence, thinking of the nine cloistered nuns who needlessly died of Covid. I am glad the sisters are proactively seeking protection.

We are now more than an hour behind, one woman with the same time appointment as me says, I’m gonna die of old age. We laugh. Someone quips, at least you won’t die of Covid. We laugh harder yet, what else is the, besides gallows humor? We are waiting in line to avoid a probable death sentence. I think, at least we have escaped the seditious politics of the day for a moment. But the bad news finds us. Armed protestors on the senate floor. The government is in a lockdown. We no longer live in a democracy. 

The guard calls out names for the 11 o’clock crowd. then 11:09. He yells Mary O’Sullivan, I look to see if it’s a relation. IDs out and at the ready, proclaiming our individuality. I realize that we’re all related. 

He yells out Padilla, Ortega, Sondheim, Sung. The guard tries alternate pronunciations hoping someone will recognize their name. He calls Magdalena. Another guard delivers bottles of hand sanitizers. The call guard resorts to first names, that humanizes us. Magdalena, where are you? he asks for the third time. His voice is hoarse. I imagine that he has been yelling out names for days. I hope that she won’t regret not showing up.

I worry that the guards won’t accept my application, and if they do, what if I react to the serum. There is always that risk. My ID is at the ready. I have to trust the process.  It’s well past my call time, but at least it’s dry. We’re up to 11:15, but it’s well past noon. I’d kill for a cuppa coffee. And still we wait. We have the rest of our lives to live, no matter what the outcome, it’s always finite.

Ok, I’m on the paramedic’s special watchlist. Got my shots. Woof! As Sinead Dinsmore says. Feeling a little lightheaded, spacy, but adrenaline is a funny thing. So far, so good. I still feel lightheaded, burping like a tree frog, mostly nerves, but I think I’ll live. Vaguely altered states. One guy is having a bad reaction, but for the most part, it’s pretty uneventful. Took a benadryl just in case. Lower lip is hot and reacting, it could be from the mask. I’m surrounded by paramedics and health care professionals on both sides of the equation. Now I’m getting chills, left (shot) arm is cold. Anxiety is not helping. Otherwise no real symptoms. 

I’m at risk because I have experienced anaphylaxis. Nurses conferred with doctors and paramedics, and had me wait longer than the proscribed time frame. I also had to tell the paramedic in charge that I was on the watchlist, so I had to sit up front where he could keep an eye on me. As it was, he had someone react negatively to the vaccine.

Five more minutes. The sun came out, the sky is angry. Ok, 40 minutes, I have left the building. The car is way more tranquil than being inside, people are ignoring social distance, they are huddled around cellphones getting the news. Politically, all hell is breaking loose. Trumpsters have taken the White House. 

I’m trying to stay calm. No anaphylaxis but definitely a small hot hive on my lower lip. Next time, bring a water bottle, and premedicate with both benadryl and aspirin. I need a coffee! Benadryl slowed down the lip hive. It’s no longer hot. I also took off my mask, which may be the source of the problem. Dare I drive Scary times all the way round.