December 26, 2021

Snow in Seattle

Dateline: Seattle, Washington

Happy Boxing Day everyone. I think it’s still celebrated in the UK, mainly with after Christmas sales in the larger retail establishments. A friend tells a story about a couple of elderly ladies at Harrod’s on Boxing Day getting into it over a tea cozy or an egg cuddler or some such leading to a knock down drag out that would make a Wal-Mart proud. Sad to say, it will be a few more months before I can do any shopping at Harrod’s. Not that there’s much there I need but it’s always fun wander the Food Halls. On one of my last trips to London, I and a friend went to Harvey Nick’s (it was during the original run of Absolutely Fabulous – Don’t Judge) and had lunch in the top floor restaurant. As we were waiting for our check, I looked over at the cashier and a pair of women were settling their bill and they were dead ringers for Patsy and Edina. Cell phone cameras were not yet a thing -if they had been, I would have taken a picture.

The clan gathered
The six of my generation

The American branch of the Saunders clan gathered at various houses yesterday for presents, Christmas cheer and our traditional feast. We almost had a full complement with 16 of the 19 members present and accounted for including all six of my generation being under the same roof for the first time in fifteen or so years. Usually either I or my cousin Jack who resides in Connecticut is missing. The other four are all Seattle based and easy to get together. My maternal grandparents John and Alison Saunders were British emigres who arrived in the 1930s and settled in San Francisco. Their two daughters, Alison and Margery, both ended up in Seattle as both of their husbands ended up on faculty at the University of Washington. The two families lived blocks apart so the three Duxburys and the three Hellmanns of my generation grew up in a tumble together and my first cousins on that side are more like siblings in some ways. I am the eldest of the gang and Jack brings up the rear eight years later. We are all accomplished each in our own way and I am delighted to say that I truly like my family, as well as love them. In all of my work with families over the years, I have found that this is not always the norm, but we all get along famously well. My generation now also includes four spouses, most of whom have been present for decades and there are now seven members of the junior generation rapidly growing up ranging from age eleven to twenty-two – a mix of first and second cousins. And, in another decade, I imagine there will be another generation still. That’s the way the world tends to work.

It snowed last night. It’s a good thing it held off until then as Seattle roads can become impassable in a snowfall and Seattle drivers immediately jettison all rules of the road and common sense as flakes start to fall. My uncle’s house, the usual site of gatherings these days, is down a steep and winding lane at he base of Magnolia Bluff and it would have been quite interesting trying to ferry everyone down there if the snow had begun yesterday afternoon. But it did not and I woke up this morning to three inches covering everything in a blanket of white and six busses stalled on the hill in front of my hotel. Fortunately, it’s only five blocks to my father’s from where I am staying and I was able to nimbly work my way around stalled busses and bewildered drivers. As I write this, it’s still falling. Fortunately, I am only three blocks from the light rail station with direct service to the airport so I’m not worried about departing tomorrow. I wouldn’t trust car based transportation. As far as I know, I’m still good regarding my flights home tomorrow and nothing has yet been canceled. If something goes wrong, I’ll manage.

Other than family festivities, it’s been a quiet weekend. I’ve deliberately done nothing much the last couple of days. I haven’t been giving myself enough down time recently and I’m trying to listen to my body and my psyche and make sure I’m properly renewed. This does mean that there are a couple of work projects that I haven’t finished up yet that need to be done before the end of the year. I’ll get to them…. I’ll get to them…

There’s not a lot to report on the covid front. The news media has switched to heart warming stories of family reunification, holiday cheer, and best of the year lists like they do every year around this time. They’ll be back to gloom and doom soon enough. What I have been able to glean is that omicron is causing significant disruptions mainly due to vast numbers of workers needing to be in quarantine more than being caused by significant illness burden. The parts of the country where hospitals are being inundated (currently centered on Cleveland and the upper midwest) the cases are still mainly due to delta variant marching through unvaccinated populations. Of course, the omicron wave is still too new for us to really know what hospitalization and death patterns are actually going to be. The best thing you can do to combat the virus, both personally and socially, is get vaccinated and boosted. It remains the only real weapon we’ve got as we live in a society that can’t really be locked down as we refuse to use public money to support ordinary people without huge political battles.

The fact that somewhere between a quarter and a third of the population flatly refuses vaccination also doesn’t help. At this point, I’m pretty much done with someone who’s refusal is due to political or ersatz religious beliefs. I think we’ve seen a great example of the irrationality with the blowback against former president Trump for his remarks in favor of vaccination this past week. It also shows that the current fascist movement in the country, usually referred to as Trumpism, is very much independent of the man. He may have helped let the genie out of the bottle but it was never really about him. It’s antecedents are much older dating back to before the founding the country when some groups assumed an inherent superiority over others. Choose life. Choose health. Get vaccinated.

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