**The Pandemic From Here**
Is this not the weirdest time you have ever lived? It seems to me that people are wearing masks much more, and all businesses are now requiring it. We have tourists, though the national park is not open. The gallery is open, but a mask is required, and you will need to text or call the number on the door. We are pretty cautious, though it seems easy to stand too close, or forget to sanitize our hands. Also it seems business globally has taken a chill pill. You can’t depend on anything getting done on time. I guess it’s OK, but can be a little frustrating. Commercial and magazine work made me deadline aware, and I still adhere to it, but if everyone in the chain doesn’t have the same approach, there's not much you can do about it. There are other great side effects. Marci and I seem to be getting along very well. Little things that might lead to a disagreement seemed to almost vanish, and even sticking points now, are quickly dissipated. We are enjoying our time together much more. I feel very lucky to have someone to hug and hold and share things with in this trying time. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to date right now. I hope all of you are as lucky as I am.
In the last month we have enjoyed seeing the comet. Here it is from our back porch.
**Happy Birthday Marci**
My sweet wife is having a birthday on the 5th. I won’t say what decade she is beginning, but she is still as beautiful as the day I met her. Hopefully we will soon be moving into this amazing house she has designed.
**Jim and Stevie (but not the Vaughan Brothers)**
I was up late at night and thinking about an old friend of mine. So, I googled him, but I didn’t find anything. So I looked for his younger brother Steve, and learned he had recently passed away. There was an obituary, and it mentioned survivors and his brother Jim was one. His wife was listed as well. There was an image of Steve with a Santa Clause beard. His eyes, I thought yes. So I called the funeral home and asked him to give my name to Steve’s wife, and asked if she would pass it on to Jim. About 20 minutes later I get a phone call, and it was Jim Kearns. Jim Kearns. WOW, I haven't spoken to or seen him in over 50 years. It was truly hard to believe. We talked for about 20 minutes, and continued emailing for the next couple of days.
I hung out and played with both of them individually. Steve was younger and a wild kid. We were always doing crazy things, but nothing criminal, just mischievous. First, let me set the scene. We lived in the “ Projects.” Low income housing. Each building had three floors with four units on each floor. It went up to a roof, where you could walk 50 to 60 feet and enter another set of units. Each building having 24 units. There was also a basement for storage and incinerators. It was completely open for us kids to roam around in. I guess they figured if they tried to lock anything, it would just get pried open. We would catch mice in the basements, then take them up to roof and try to drop them into a bucket of water we had on the ground three floors down. Believe it or not they all seem to survive, and every now and then we hit the bucket.
Then there was an old woman we called Crabapple. We teased her incessantly, and she always threatened to call the cops, but she never did. In some perverse way I think she liked the attention. We would take firecrackers and a lit cigarette and place the fuse near the burning end of the butt, and get as close as we could without being seen to the bench filled with old people. Then wait for it. It seemed funny at the time. We hopped trains and rode them till they slowed down enough for us to jump off. Sometimes it could be a long walk home. Steve called me “Mouse” because I was a small kid.
Jim, on the other hand was a genuine sweetheart. He was just good. It seemed our conversations were more serious. Our one bad thing was to walk down the railroad tracks less than 1/2 mile to a spot where we kept a pack of True cigarettes hidden. We would smoke a couple end off end, though I don’t think we were inhaling, and talk about stuff, though honestly, I can’t remember one conversation. But it seemed important. Jim was more like the older, smarter brother.
My brother Billy, Jim and I would all go swimming at a hotel pool on Saturdays. We would walk there most of the time, but Jim remembers riding bikes too. We would pay a couple of bucks and swim all day. I remember being so hungry, but not having money for food.
Jim’s mom often had a big pot of pasta sauce in the fridge, and I remember many times dipping into it with some Wonder Bread. It was so good.
We didn’t have much as kids. Nobody I grew up with was wealthy. It was very democratic. We were all poor. But I had the best childhood, and I loved being a kid. We had to be street smart, and our parents trusted us to make good decisions. We never got in real trouble because our Mom instilled in us to do the right thing. She loved us.
I went to India last year. It was an amazing experience. I met lots of children and their parents too. The kids were all so happy, entertaining, and funny. Their parents were demonstrative with their affections. So, there it is. Love is the answer.
Thank you all for your love and support of my work, and my life in this beautiful desert.
Happy Full Moon. Get Outside.