May 13, 2023

Dateline: Seattle, Washington

I’m spending my birthday weekend with the family in Seattle. I hadn’t been up here for six or eight months so it was time to check in on everyone, especially my 90 year old father and my uncle who also turns 90 in just a few weeks. Geriatric assessments are done. Advice has been imparted to various family members. There are no major looming disasters and I just have to get through my usual talk to the residents of my father’s senior living community in order to complete my busman’s holiday. I haven’t done much the last few days other than be with family. Not strictly true, I allowed my sister to give me a second tattoo as a birthday present. When the cover artist for your books is also a tattoo artist and a close relative, it was only natural to have the cover character emblazoned on my left shoulder in celebration for having actually completed somewhere around1000 pages of accidental published writing over the course of the last three years. When the last volume comes out this summer, it will have been less time than I spent in high school, college, or medical school from the time I wrote the first words of what became The Accidental Plague Diaries until the completion of the project. And that is with working full time and all the other things I do. I figured a celebratory tattoo was worthwhile. I’ll post a picture when it’s healed up a little.

I would be remiss if I did not send out a huge message of thanks to all of you who reached out by phone, text, message, Facebook etc. with birthday greetings. (Something over 600 at last count). Having been raised to acknowledge some things, I did try to thank everyone individually. Of course, by typing Thank You many hundreds of times, I fell afoul of some Facebook algorithm and was blocked from posting anything for 24 hours for ‘violating community standards’. I’ll remember to tell Zuckerberg that apparently thanking people is verboten and not to be borne next time I see him. It’s always interesting to scroll through the greetings, no matter how brief, and see the names of those who sent them and then recall how and when they entered my life. Elementary school playmates, high school and college classmates, old colleagues, performers I’ve worked with, internet buddies – they’re all there. When I get grumpy and down and worried that my efforts in life have not been particularly worthwhile, I need to go back and look at that list of how many lives of how many kinds have intersected with mine and realize that yes, each of us is a thread in the pattern and every thread is important for the tapestry’s picture to be whole.

Seattle is having lovely weekend weather. I’m going out for a walk to enjoy the sunshine in a bit. And then, after my talk, the family gathers for grilled salmon and conversation and catching up on everyone’s life. I am fortunate in my family. We all seem to have matured into adults who are friends and we don’t fall back into traditional roles from childhood when we get together. There were some family traumas in the late 80s/early 90s that forced us all to confront each other as mature adults and reforge relationships. I can’t recommend that particular method of learning to get along better with siblings and parents but the end result was a positive one. No, I’m not going to go into specifics on what all happened as much of it is not my stories to tell. I try to tell my stories (or dead husbands stories as they no longer have their own voice) but not the stories of other living people. That’s their business, not mine.

The flights out were uneventful. I was seated next to a very nice couple on the cross country flight who were traveling with two small dogs, a maltese and a bichon. Both animals were very quiet and well behaved in their carriers and I didn’t hear a bark all flight. They did come out and were lap dogs for a bit midflight. I have no objection to other people’s animals and they both gave me a bit of a tongue bath. With all my house calls, I have been around other people’s pets in close proximity more times than I care to count. I am fine with being sniffed, jumped upon, licked, but I draw the line at biting. Those that bite must be put up before I’ll come in the house. I’m even OK with the occasional ferret, parrot, and snake (as long as it’s not going to wrap itself around my neck).

Flying in these post pandemic days isn’t the most pleasant. The airports cannot hire enough people to staff its services so lines for food and coffee are long and slow. The planes are stuffed to the gills with minimal service. I’ve taken to paying extra on Delta for their Comfort plus seats so that I’ll at least have a bit of leg room for my longer shanks. I wedge myself in my window seat, put on bad movies, or read a page turner and hope for it all to be over soon. My current plane book is an alternative history novel about modern America had the Revolution been lost and the scientific method regarding medicine never developed. A cholera epidemic has started and is spreading. It’s a prepublication proof sent to me by the publisher who have asked for a cover blurb from the author of The Accidental Plague Diaries. It’s not bad so I will oblige. Someone somewhere is reading them…

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