COVID-19 and us

Well, . . . because of the COVID-19 “pandemic” our governor wants all older people to stay at home. OK, but . . . we have to eat and don’t have several weeks of food stockpiled, as I didn’t go panic shopping last week(end). We have medical tests to take and appointments with several doctors over the next few weeks.

A dentist called and cancelled my wife’s appointment today saying they were closing, except for emergencies, for the next two weeks.

Between us we have more than a dozen prescriptions to pick up each month.

We’ve got TP and paper towels that I bought a week before the panic set in and plenty of cat litter and cat food.

So, I’m going to go grocery shopping, stop at the pharmacy (two that we use), put gas in the car, see the doctor and go for short drives when my wife gets her anxiety attacks. And, yes, I’ll stop at Starbucks for a white hot chocolate with whipped cream that she likes so much.

We had Chinese food delivered last night (Egg Roll King in HB) and finished most of it tonight.

Social distancing?

Being retired and with my wife being unable to walk, we don’t do much socializing but our TVs and my music run up a big electricity bill from Edison. So, “social distancing” won’t be much of a hardship for us.

But I do need to get gas for the car, go grocery shopping, stop at the pharmacy and see the doctors. I can’t just stay at home. That is, unless somebody wants to run all of the errands for me or bring stuph to our house.

Oh, yeah, the IRS hasn’t changed the date our income taxes are due. I have to go out Thursday and see the woman who does our taxes. Hopefully, the home care service has someone to stay with my wife during that time as I cannot leave her home alone for any extended period of time. I have a CT scan scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and have to bring her with me — we’ll probably take a drive after that and stop in for a white hot chocolate, some drugs at the pharmacy and a few groceries at Vons, TJs and/or Smart & Final. Also, Merry Maids is scheduled to come tomorrow.

Our library is closing down for the next month, so I’m out of luck for checking out books and I do not like reading them electronically, but . . . oh well.


We have good doctors, health insurance and Medicare. That, along with good pensions, should ensure that we’ll get through the COVID-19 panic and pandemic with a minimum of problems. I’ll not lay odds on catching the virus as I don’t trust the numbers I see coming from the government. They seem too sparse and not based on any form of reality — just like the figures coming from China. Or, do you trust the numbers coming from China? Why?

The self-serving people who run our government, especially at the national level, are clearly incompetent to deal with this crisis and almost as incompetent in explaining their inability to deal with it. “Not my responsibility,” HA!

Teachers, give your kids a couple of weeks to deal with things. Two weeks of enforced boredom and having parents yelling at them (those who have parents who can stay home with them) ought to see them amenable to, at least, some online instruction.

So, there we are: a few disjointed thoughts on COVID-19. Stay healthy, my friends.

Dragons’ Roost — Part 6

Durnair heard a long, deep sigh escape Konna and turned to watch him. Though she knew she did not have the talent, she heard his thoughts, Fool. You have woken Asyra. She will not be happy with you.

Siir? Asyra? Could it be? Durnair shuddered as the hill behind the magician and his flames began to open, and the ground trembled as though it was come the end of the world.

An almost reptilian head, three, four, more meters in length, emerged from the crevice. The color of phosphorescent jade shedding brown soil as it rose; its emerald eyes ran with veins of gold. Needle-sharp teeth in what might have been the hint of a smile were of shiny pearl the length of a large man’s arm.

The head was followed by a sinuous neck, another ten or twenty meters in length. The dragon stretched, yawned and growled, roared and sent a brilliant green flame another hundred meters into the sky.

“Siir, you have come in answer to my summons. These are blasphemers. Kill them all. Obey my words and kill them all. Burn them to ashes and send them to hell,” commanded the magician.

“Blasphemers all, kill them, kill them,” screeched the priest.

The dragon continued to emerge from the hillside and her true size quickly became apparent. The body was easily more than twenty meters in length and the tail another thirty. Her wings unfurled, thirty meters to a side.

“Obey? Summons?” she questioned and laughed, deep and long. It was a laugh from the depths of the earth, a laugh both feminine and terrifying. “You disturbed my well-earned sleep magician. You disrupted my rest to do murder and satisfy your greed.

“I see your crimes and sentence you to death. I shall feed my hunger and cleanse your stain from the world.” Before the magician could run, she impaled him in her teeth. A short scream and squirt of blood, and he was gone.

The priest ran and Durnair shouted, “He’ll leave a bad taste in your mouth.”

The dragon laughed at the woman, roared and sent a searing lance of verdant flame that enveloped the would-be fugitive. The blaze quickly consumed him, but not rapidly enough to consume the stench of his passing.

She turned back to face the leading wagon and settled her green eyes upon Durnair. “Greetings, granddaughter of Aphasa. You bear the mark of the steppes and your family well. Good fortune to you, to your husband and your children.”

“Thank you, Mistress of Sky and Mountain,” returned Durnair. “Thank you for your help in our hour of need. We shall work to prove ourselves worthy of that aid and your good wishes.”

The dragon dipped her head and seemed to smile as she turned to gaze on Konna who smiled at her.

“It has been a long time husband. How fare you and our children?” asked the dragon softly as Fysal, Durnair and the others stared open-mouthed.

“I am well, Asyra. Our daughter has happily re-married after the accidental death of her first husband. She now has a son in addition to the daughter who has been adopted by her husband. Our son has a trade wagon of his own, a loving wife and strong son. He is happy.”

“Is it time, Konna?” she asked.

“Yes, my love. I believe it is,” he answered.

“Come then. I have rested enough, and I think there may still be some adventure to be found in this old world. Let us find it before it disappears.”

“At your word, my love,” Konna said. He dismounted from the horse and turned to his friends. “Fysal, Durnair, my horses, wagons and their contents are our gift to your children. Thank you and be well.”

“Be well, Konna,” they replied as he walked to Asyra.

Konna used her lowered right wing as a step up to her neck. Seeing that he was well seated, Asyra extended both of her wings and launched herself into the sky. Circling the caravan as she slowly gained altitude, Asyra gave them a tale to tell their grandchildren.

A minute later Konna rolled off, drawing gasps from those watching below. But as he spread his legs and arms, his body lengthened and his wings unfurled. They continued to circle as he grew in size. Those on the ground could not distinguish which was larger, nor tell green from black.

Eventually, Asyra and Konna reached a comfortable altitude and flew north, into the clouds and over the mountains. Into history, into legend and into myth–until the next time.

to be continued?

Dragons’ Roost — Part 5

Barking dogs, yells and the ringing of clashing swords shouted that the ambush had been sprung early. Two men on horseback, one with an arrow protruding from his right shoulder, and a dog hurtled around the bend in the road ahead closely followed by a dozen other riders.

Durnair had three arrows in the air before she realized what she was doing. The guards fronting the lead wagons loosed their crossbow bolts almost as fast. Scarcely had the ambushers seen the caravan and seven of them were already down.

As the others turned their horses to flee, they too had their lives sundered from them.

“jer’Mon, see to our flanks and rear, Konna and I will command the van,” shouted Fysal.

Throwing a fist in the air to acknowledge the command, jer’Mon turned his horse and began issuing instructions to keep watching the brush and trees to the sides and to bring the wagons closer and to overlap where the road was wide enough. When the attacks came, those in the caravan were ready.

Up front there was a flash, green fire and smoke appeared in the roadway, and the sound of thunder echoed across the sky. The priest stepped from the smoke and shouted, “Lay down your arms and you will live. Fight and the sky-lord will consume you in his flames.” Blue fire then enveloped the priest, and he disappeared.

Fysal shouted, “Trickery, to hell with these bandits.”

Another flash and red fire began to fill the hillside to the left of the road, yet nothing burned. A wave of heat swept the caravan, and a voice from the depths of hell began to chant,

“Siir is coming,

Comes the dragon,

Siir is coming,

Comes the flame,

Siir is coming,

Comes the dragon,

Siir is coming,

Comes death on green wings.”

“Fool,” shouted Konna. “You cannot control her. When she wakes, you and yours will die. Run, run now and you may live to see tomorrow.”

jer’Mon and most of the guards were making short work of those attacking the flanks and rear of the caravan. Two who made it through the guards found that women who daily gutted fish and fowl kept sharp knives. The guards’ casualties were light, only wounds and none of those serious. The captain was returning to the front when the ground began to quake.

The magician finished his chanting from the flames and began to laugh. It was the sound of the insane and the damned coming from the pit.

to be continued

Dragons’ Roost — Part 4

The morning was warm and dry as the wagons approached the foothills. The air was still, and even the birds were quiet at the caravan’s approach. It was too quiet in these hills where there was more life than in the plains below.

jer’Mon, the captain of Fysal’s guards was a careful man who had learned early in life to play his hunches. At his word two more scouts rode out ahead of the caravan, and those asleep from the last night’s watch were wakened. Crossbows were loaded, and the safety straps on scabbards were loosened. Two of the eight dogs were unleashed and encouraged to run in front.

Fysal approved as he too was nervous and picking up on unvoiced cues. Word was passed down the line, “‘ware the ambush.” Drivers put their blades and clubs on the benches beside them. Women and children pulled out their knives, and wrapped their babes in extra quilts.

Fysal’s wife strung her re-curved horn bow and checked her quiver of arrows. She was a child of the steppes, and although he had married her, Fysal had not even been tempted to tame her.

Konna had left his wagons to their drivers, saddled and ridden his roan to the head of the caravan and pulled up by Fysal.

“Something is wrong, my friend,” said Fysal. “There is always life in the groves here. It has always seemed a quiet and benevolent place. It feels . . . it feels as though someone is trying to pervert that benevolence.”

“Yes,” said Durnair, Fysal’s wife, as she honed her knife’s curved blade. “There is perversion here. Someone is trying to waken an ancient force he can neither understand nor control. They all will perish in the fire, and we may be caught and turned to ashes as well.”

“‘A quiet and benevolent place.’ I like that turn of phrase Fysal. It was here that Asyra left this life. It is to these groves, these trees in the foothills that I have returned once each year when the new snow first whitens the ground. It is peaceful here, and she has rested well.

“Durnair is right. If she is disturbed, fire will consume the transgressors, but you and your families will be safe and need not fear the flames.”

Durnair heard surety in Konna’s words and looked at him in a different light. His black eyes were tinged with gold. “An ancient power”–those were the words her mother’s mother used to describe eyes such as these.

A powerful shaman in her own right, Aphasa was said to have been the last to have converse with Siir and her black dragon before they flew off the edge of the world. Flew off the edge of the world and left to men their delusions of greed and power.

Durnair shook herself. She’d always thought the stories were just that, stories. Stories made up as lessons for those too young to listen to reason. Like the banded wolf that roamed the grassy steppes looking for the wandering and disobedient child, she thought.

Feeling what she felt and looking at Konna, she was no longer so sure. Replacing her knife in its sheath, she pulled an arrow from its quiver and readied her bow while looking to the road ahead.

to be continued

Dragons’ Roost — Part 3

Abben fa’Don was a bitter man. He was not particularly smart, but he did have one talent: he could motivate other envious and bitter men. He had already done so, and the trap was ready to be sprung a day or three hence.

Leaving town by a different road than the caravan, fa’Don whipped his buggy’s horse into an angry gallop. It took him till noon the following day to reach the ambusher’s camp. His use of the horse wasted it, and the horse died as he slowed to allow the sentry to approach him.

There were more than a hundred of them, ex-soldiers, deserters, outlaws, destitute farmers, prostitutes and unemployable town riff-raff. All of them were after the quick score of what they thought was an under-guarded caravan, the looting of which was sanctioned by a priest because those in the caravan worshipped other gods.

Speaking with his captains, fa’Don told them of the idolatrous innkeeper and his strongbox. The box would go to the man who brought the innkeeper’s head to the priest. They would eat now and break camp that evening.

Tomorrow morning they would be in position to spring their ambush. The magician was already there. He and his assistants were laying the groundwork for a spell that, if it worked, would decree doom for all in the caravan. And if it didn’t work, its preparations and accompanying confusion should guarantee the slaughter of the caravan’s distracted guards.

to be continued