Quarantine Diaries – Weeks 30 to 32

A lot of the country is seeing a third wave and/or surge in the virus right now. San Antonio is trying to keep things together, but it’s hard given some of the conditions at present. Schools, at university level and below, are letting students in at quick rates, far quicker than is wise, but the public school system at least doesn’t have a choice in the matter per the state education department. Ever since the schools opened up in early September, we’ve seen our decreasing numbers flatten out and then start increasing again. It’s a slow trend so far, and technically we’re on a plateau now, but the city leaders are definitely preparing for another surge – especially as so much of the rest of TX is seeing that surge begin. It feels like we’re in “buckle up, it’s about to get wild” territory again, and frankly that just makes me really tired. I hope our area can keep it together and continue our plateau, if not lower it further. We’ll see.

(rolling average, Bexar County)

Week 30 – Oct 2nd to 8th: 59,323 cases; 1,171 deaths. Moving daily average this week was 144 cases (up a bit). Our positivity rate is currently at 4.9% – first time under 5% in months – but our 14-day case trend is currently on a slight incline and hospitals have been seesawing around the same numbers for weeks now. Makes it difficult to understand how schools are announcing that after only three days at Phase 3, they’re already moving to Phase 4 (20 kids per class) next week. “Phase 3 is going well,” they say. Um, dudes, it takes several weeks to know if this is going well! But considering they’ve gone from all-virtual to Phase 4 in less than a month, I’m not surprised by the announcement – nor am I surprised to learn that over 100 people have now been diagnosed with covid in the schools, half of which are students. Sigh.

The big news this week is that a pair of philanthropists in SA have partnered with the city to provide mass asymptomatic testing. Their lab was already helping poorer school districts with mass covid-testing with 24-hour turnaround, but they now have full FDA/CDC testing approval to do this on a larger scale, and are phasing it in to test over 12k folks a day if the demand is there for it. It’s really incredible what people can do if they use their massive wealth for the good of the community!! On the other end of things, a less charitable bajillionaire here – Pastor John Hagee, who runs a major megachurch and who has refused to follow any safety regulations, not to mention he sued to be able to open his church’s private schools despite the risks – has reaped the rewards of his narcissistic behavior and is now stricken with covid. Does that sound callous? Oh well. The man has said covid is God’s way of punishing the wicked, so fuck him.

Other news includes the discovery that city sanitation employees are cramming ten-to-a-van without masks (UGH), the governor is allowing bars to reopen if county judges opt in (thankfully ours isn’t yet), and the city isn’t canceling trick-or-treating (just providing guidelines for safety). At home, we actually had a bit of a riskier week, tbh: Ambrose spent the weekend with his friend Tyler, then Tyler came over for a few hours Sunday; my friends Nat and Chris came over Saturday; there were vet interactions for Ash; and my dental cleaning (can’t wear a mask for that!). (PS – masks were worn and we kept physically distant during all visits!)

Week 31 – Oct 9th to 15th: 60,258 cases, 1,209 deaths. Moving daily average this week was 134 cases, and our hospital levels have popped up to over 200 patients again. Our positivity rate is up slightly to 5.8%, following the same slightly-upward trend that has been going on for the last few weeks. It means that the recommendation for schools is no more than 6 folks to a classroom, but since they’re already at 15-about-to-be-20, I doubt the schools are going to pay any attention Metro Health. It’s really frustrating that the TEA took away the health authority’s jurisdiction on this. (Also found out this week that apparently all kids who want to be back in physical schools can return next week, as that’s the deadline TEA gave schools regardless of regional outbreak. Grr. Thank goodness that our district is still giving people the option to go virtually if wanted. And yes, Laurence will continue his schooling virtually!) We had some further stats info given out this week, regarding the entire first six months of the pandemic:

  • more than 1 in 5 cases (22%) in our county come from people in their 20s, and our pediatric rate (cases under age 20) remains around 15-16%
  • 75% of all cases are from Hispanic folks even though they only make up 60% of the city’s population (and some people claim systemic racism doesn’t exist…)
  • 20% of all hospitalizations have resulted in death
  • 70% of deaths are from folks with underlying conditions, especially diabetes (at which point, frickin’ Judge Wolff immediately equated “diabetes” with “obesity” and went on to again claim that obese people don’t exercise or eat well, fucking asshole…so I’m bringing back this photo from a few months ago –> )

Now let’s compare once again two rich folks and how they’re handling the pandemic. A former Spurs basketball player is hosting a large Halloween party here at a bar, despite all regulations. Face. Slam. On the other side, the owner of Shiner Beer Brewery is contributing $1m to the private lab that’s doing all the asymptomatic testing for schools. Who do you prefer?? Ugh.

Other news: The county judge decided to open bars after all, under specific strict guidelines. Probably barely matters given that 2500 of 3000 bars here already converted to “restaurant” status, and at the moment, only 10 of the remaining have applied for reopening. Early voting started this week, which meant super long lines outdoors in the heat with everyone trying to space six feet apart. I was able to vote; Jason is planning to do so next week. Schools here saw an increase in covid cases (as expected given the quick filling of classrooms!), which led to games and events being canceled or delayed. (Because of course football is still happening here – football is an integral part of high school in TX!) I’m not sure how they’re going to have a full season, though, just like watching all the NFL games get delayed and pushed out for the same reasons. It just doesn’t seem plausible to continue on like this! It’s a weird balance between trying to be safe and having some sense of normality.

On the home-front: Jason’s brother and his wife traveled down to Mexico on vacation this week on tickets they bought pre-pandemic. I had no idea Mexico would even allow visitors from the US at this point, and I was astonished that they actually went! We had another workman over, this time to fix the less-than-a-month-old dishwasher (the pump cracked, apparently). My cousin’s kid was tested for covid after developing flu symptoms; thankfully it came back negative. My grandfather is having a lot of major medical issues and it’s not looking good.

Week 32 – Oct 16th to 22nd: 64,014 cases, 1,232 deaths. Moving daily average this week is at 168 cases – numbers are definitely on the rise as this is the highest it’s been for awhile. Positivity rate didn’t change since last week. Hospitals are seeing a fluctuating change right around 200 people, not going down at all anymore. None of this bodes well! We have definitely plateaued, if not worse.

But San Antonio continues on. In fact, two major events are currently planning to go on as normal, with minimal changes for safety. The first is the Rock and Roll Marathon in December. They’ll stager start times, but there are thousands of people who participate in this, not to mention spectators. The second is the annual SA Stockshow and Rodeo in February. Much of this takes place outdoors, and the rest is moving outdoors, but it still draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and I can’t think it’s even slightly safe…hopefully there’ll be a vaccine by that time! Otherwise, the library system announced that it’s moving to Phase 3 of reopening, which as far as I can tell just means that the computers will be open by appointment only at all branches (instead of just a handful). I’m still trying to find out if this means they’re accepting volunteers now, because I’d really like to start doing that.

On the home-front: Jason got to vote this week. Laurence had his wisdom teeth surgery and that went well. Six students at our local high school tested positive for covid this week, so we’re SO glad that Laurence is still doing virtual classes! I had my first eating-in-a-restaurant experience since the pandemic hit us in March, a little sandwich shop in Bandera after a hike. Bandera County (the whole county, not just the one small town) has only had 178 cases and 8 deaths total during the pandemic, so this was relatively safe, though I admit that it was really unsettling that the employees weren’t bothering with masks. Neither were the customers (obviously they wouldn’t wear them while eating, but they didn’t wear them before/after either!). There was clearly no occupancy limit, either. We were the only ones in there when we arrived, but by the time we left, almost every table was taken. Oy.

Moving forward
Just trying to brace ourselves right now. It feels like we’re on the edge of a precipice, the same as it felt near the end of May when everyone kept saying that our increasing numbers were due to backlog, and yet the hospital numbers were going up, too. I’d really like to be able to continue our small, distanced hikes, and to see a few friends and family in safe ways. I’d like to maybe have my family over on the deck, if it’s finished, for Thanksgiving, outside and with masks and such, and that can’t happen if covid is exploding all over the place again. I know better than to hope people will be less risky, and I also know that some people flat-out don’t have a choice. It’s not like the government is helping all that much with lost wages or housing situations or anything. So I just have to hope that one of these hundreds of vaccine trials in the works will lead us to safety soon. And also that the election brings us competent leadership in a few weeks.

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The Night Swim, by Megan Goldin

Rachel runs a successful true crime podcast and is in the process of recording her next season, which follows a live case as it is tried. While she’s doing this, she’s approached via letter from a woman claiming that her sister was murdered 25 years earlier in this same town. Hannah begs Rachel to help her, and Rachel can’t help but to be intrigued, especially as the two crimes may not be as unrelated as they appear at first glance.

CW: rape.

Gotta admit, this one had a lot of flaws. I’m never a huge fan of books told in letters or journal entries or other untraditional prose, and there were letters, emails, and podcast transcripts here. Despite that, I didn’t mind the format too much, though honestly I could have done without the entire Hannah subplot – Rachel’s current case was already a full novel’s worth of information and intrigue. It’s also very politically charged, the coverage of a rape trial with two high-priced lawyers and a he said/she said back-and-forth narrative, Rachel trying to remain unbiased (but clearly leaning more toward the accuser in this case). All that would have been enough without Hannah’s subplot, which honestly not only felt superfluous, but a bit weird. This investigative journalist with good instincts just starts to follow directions left by an anonymous stalker in letters attached to her car or left in her hotel room? I mean, come on!

Then, there were just a lot of plot holes. Somehow Rachel finds evidence in the current case that the police missed – evidence, btw, that there’s absolutely NO WAY the police would actually have missed. I mean, it was self-evident long before Rachel even realized she had a lead! Not to mention minor discrepancies like the flip-flopping on whether or not the judge had ever had one of his decisions reversed (this changed like three times). Those smaller things didn’t really affect the story, but it certainly made the book feel less polished/edited. And the big ones were just a let down.

The Night Swim was easy enough to read quickly, and interesting enough to keep me engaged, but in the end, it wasn’t the best of stories for me.

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Forest of Souls, by Lori Lee

From Goodreads: Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo. And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life. Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

I was iffy on starting this one. Could be good, could be a lot of overused tropes. I was tempted to give it up toward the beginning, because yeah, there are a lot of overused tropes, and there’s a lot about this book that feels very familiar. A “chosen one” type character (many books). A dark forest that impedes everything from warfare to trade (Shadow and Bone). Familiars (many books). An all-powerful queen set on destroying a particular race of people (many books). Even an ending that was extremely reminiscent of the first Mistborn novel. But once the story got going, I did get invested. The forest was creepy and intriguing. I liked many of the characters. I wanted to know what happened. Will I read the sequels? I’m not sure. It’ll depend on if this one sticks with me over time, I suppose.

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Sunday Coffee – Stress and Release

It has been one hell of a week! You know how 2020 feels like it’s been about ten years long? That was this week for me. Each day was a week of its own. Sheesh. I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail here because most of the stuff happening involved other people, but in the general: four different people in my extended family suffered from major health problems this week, some of which are ongoing and may cause longterm problems. It’s really hard to be away from people re: the pandemic when stuff like this strikes. I can help out my immediate living-at-home family, but I’m out of luck when it comes to anyone else! I can’t even go and see them during their recoveries. I miss seeing my extended family so much.

The one health issue we had this week that was in the immediate at-home family was at least a planned one. Laurence had his wisdom teeth out on Friday morning. His bottom two had grown in this summer but were too cramped, and the top two were impacted. Morrigan had this surgery last year, so we knew a bit of what to expect, but these two kids were like night and day when it came to their reactions. Laurence was overly dazed post-surgery, not awake at all for at least an hour and not really awake for about three hours. His bottom lip stayed numb for almost 24 hours, making us worry that he was the one-in-a-million patients that get nerve damage. He never had much pain, though, and never required any pain meds beyond OTC stuff. Today, he’s still got a bit of pain and he’s still eating softer foods, but for being only two days post-op, he’s doing really well.

So yeah, there was a ton of stress this week, and other than Laurence’s situation, nothing to do but worry. So I drank way too much coffee, and spent a lot of time walking or running in circles around my house. Literally. I walked, ran, or hiked – not in my house of course – a total of 17 miles this week. The last four of those miles were yesterday morning at (somewhat) nearby Hill Country State Natural Area with five other women from the leadership of my hiking group. We hiked our 4+ miles and climbed up about a 400 foot elevation, all in the misting, foggy morning. It was exactly what I needed. Time, wide open space, a challenging climb, and a circle of support. We did yoga poses on the top of the mountain, made up songs about how often we slipped and skidded on rocks, and took pictures in fields of flowers. One of the ladies found a toad on the trail, and not only did I get an awesome photo, I got to pet his cute little back too! On our way out of the park, we ran into a dozen or more riders on horseback, and then we stopped to have lunch in a little sandwich shop about ten miles away. (Notably, this was my first indoor-restaurant experience since March 13th!)

It was an incredibly tiring day, especially given how early that we all had to get up in order to make the 1.5 hour drive out. I’ll admit that when I was driving in the dark with my terrible night vision, and it was rainy, and the roads were unfamiliar, and then construction began…I definitely regretted my choices in life. But I kept going. I knew that after I arrived and found my group, after I’d gotten past that agoraphobic portion of the trip, I would be okay. No, not just okay – happy. Because these women and these group hikes bring out the happy in me. No matter what’s going on in my life or how tough things are, they help me release all that stress into the wilderness and come back to the present. For the first time in so many years, I have my real smile back.

At one point on the trail (above), as the mist was rising and we could see a bit more of the mountains surrounding us, we stopped walking and held still and silent. For a few moments, there was no sound at all. Have you ever heard true silence? It’s an incredible experience that I really can’t put into words. Like everything else from yesterday’s adventure, it was beautiful.

PS – Happy 20th birthday to my oldest child, Morrigan. Because he’s off at college and not here to give me feedback on what he would want, it feels a bit intrusive to write an entire post on the subject. But I couldn’t let the day go by without at least wishing him happy birthday here on the blog!

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One by One, by Ruth Ware

Ten guests arrive at a ski chalet in the Alps for a corporate retreat. One doesn’t come back from a ski trip. The rest may not survive the avalanche that nearly buries the chalet soon after, or the murderer residing among them.

Ruth Ware is a bit hit or miss for me, but this one was more on the hit side. The premise is classic claustrophobic murder mystery, and reminded me very strongly of another snowed-in guests-dying-off-one-by-one thriller I read a few years ago (An Unwanted Guest). Ware tells the story from two points of view: one, a chalet employee, and the other, a guest who is there for this corporate retreat though she no longer works for the company. Tensions start high, as the employees are split in how they want the company’s future to go, and of course the disappearance, avalanche, and murders do not help things. (Ha!)

As far as mysteries go, this was all right. For quite a bit of time, I equally suspected all the guests, including the one who goes missing. From the way they were written, they could all be guilty or innocent. However, not long past the halfway point of the book, it becomes painfully obvious who the culprit is. So obvious that you have to wonder if it’s going to be a decoy. That didn’t bother me so much, because I was interested in watching the situation unfold. I would have preferred if the book hadn’t “split the party” as they say, leaving the two narrators in one room trying to figure things out, or if there had been more than two narrators so that we could spread the viewpoint around if they had to all split up. But that’s a minor complaint. The story was interesting outside of the mystery aspect, and I never felt my attention flag even after the truth is revealed so early in the book.

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Vote! 2020 Election

Early voting started in Bexar County yesterday. Apparently we had a turnout of just over 33k folks on Day 1, down slightly from the totals we had in 2016 and 2018 (likely due to pandemic, mail in ballots, etc, since we also have the highest number of registered eligible voters here ever). Unfortunately, because of the pandemic – limiting indoor spaces, six feet of distance between people – the voting lines are insane…and outdoors. In Texas, in October, which means HOT.

(representing about 1/5th of the line, including the part that wraps around)

But you gotta do what you gotta do, right? So this morning, Jason dropped me off at the library, where I walked to the back of the line (nearly a quarter mile down the street and around a corner), and slowly moved up over the course of the next two hours. Around the two hour mark, I made it into the building, and fifteen minutes later, I had finished the voting process.

I wore my F*uck Trump lipstick, as promised, underneath my mask. And I was also quite irritated with some of the things I saw out there while I was waiting: campaign volunteers not wearing masks properly; one of the poll workers – the one in charge of handicapped voters, no less! – refusing to wear a mask at all, even as he leaned into people’s cars; people discarding their plastic gloves (we each had to wear one) all over the place so that they were blowing around the park and trails attached to the library grr. People can be so awful! But whatever. The voting is done. I’ve done my part, and I hope this election isn’t a total farce like in 2016.

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Voices in the Snow, by Darcy Coates

Clare is in an accident during a major snowstorm, and wakes up in a stranger’s house in the middle of the woods. Dorran seems kind, but something about the house is forbidding, and something lurks out in the unnatural weather beyond.

1) I think I’ve gotten a bit more of a measure of this author now – she tends to write creature-paranormal, not ghost- or psychic-paranormal. The stories are very imaginative and the creatures are horrifying.

2) Though this book only came out in January, there are three sequels already published! Notably, the story of this volume mostly wraps up, but leaves plenty of things to uncover in future volumes.

3) This is a post-apocalyptic novel, with very little discovered about what’s going on beyond the house-in-the-woods where Clare winds up. We see all the crazy weather, and experience all the crazy creatures, but as for the rest, much of it is still up for discovery. Makes me anxious to read the next books, but so far my library doesn’t have any of them. Boo!

4) Somehow, I managed not to see the face on the front cover. I saw the eye, of course, but didn’t notice the contouring of doll face under the snow. Not until I was heading to bed, with the spine of this book facing me, and suddenly there was a smaller version of the face staring at me in the dark. Needless to say, I turned the book around when it was on my nightstand! No need to wake up to that in the morning!

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Sunday Coffee – A Day of Sorrow and Hope

It’s been awhile since I posted about Ash’s situation. As a recap:

In December, we moved into our current house. About a week later, Ash stopped eating, and began to lose weight. In the past, he’s often done this after a move, and we spend some time giving him special/extra food in an area where he’s by himself (no competition from the other cats), until he recovers. This time, he didn’t recover.

January saw a flurry of vet visits in which we learned that Ash was extremely jaundiced and dehydrated. Our vet said the unexpected words “complete liver failure” and “discuss quality of life.” We had an ultrasound that revealed abnormal nodes on his liver and in his digestive system, and at the emergency vet where we had the ultrasound, they wanted me to decide right then and there if we were going to sedate him and get a biopsy. It was overwhelming and terrible, but in the end, his blood numbers weren’t healthy enough for sedation anyway, so we brought him home. Our vet called and said that the treatment was the same regardless of what the biopsy found (in other words, no need to do the biopsy), and we started a round of steroids.

There was a brief improvement on the steroids, but Ash quickly went back to his lethargy. He had IV fluids and several rounds of subcutaneous fluids, and we switched him to all wet food with extra water for the dehydration. The jaundice cleared up, and Ash began to eat and drink a little again. It wasn’t enough, though, and he was mostly eating gravy and cat treats, refusing to eat any regular dry food or even the meaty chunks in wet food. We went through every brand we could find, but pretty much the only thing we could get him to eat regularly was treats. Even then, he’d sometimes ignore them.

His weight stabilized somewhere in the 10-11 lb range (he’s supposed to be around 12 lbs), but we knew something was still very wrong. The hair they shaved for the IV and ultrasound in January wouldn’t grow back, and the eye infection that we’d been treating for two years still wouldn’t go away. More vet visits, new eye meds, and the process of quarantining our baby continued. Oddly, he did have a random period of improvement, with his eye healing briefly, and his energy and weight suddenly going up in June. He grew the hair back during that month as well. Then just as suddenly, the improvements quit, his energy dropped, his weight dropped, and he started to get the eye infection and jaundice again. Furthermore, he began vomiting more often (something he was already prone to, since he was about three years old).

Things didn’t improve over the last few months. He was skin and bones. He wouldn’t try to jump if it meant going more than about a foot of distance. He walked gingerly and sometimes winced if you touched him wrong. He had liver spots on his face even though he’s only 11 years old. Whatever food he managed to lap up went straight through him. While he used to leave his quarantined room sometimes, he no longer did, and spent much of his time hiding in the back corner under the bed.

Cats don’t really show outward signs of illness unless things are really bad, and after ten months of worsening conditions, we knew it was time to have hard conversations with the vet. He went in this Monday afternoon, and Jason and I braced ourselves to say goodbye. Then oddly, the vet said 1) Ash shows no sign of jaundice, 2) his muscle condition hasn’t deteriorated, and 3) he weighs more now than he did in January. She gave us some new meds to help with joint pain and stomach issues, and we’re giving them a few weeks’ trial. It might just be delaying the inevitable, but it’s a ray of hope. Maybe our baby will get a little bit of his life back. We’re really love him to be able to. But we also know that we’re ready to give him peace if that’s what it comes down to, no matter how much grief that gives us. He’s been with us since he was four months old, and whether he’s with us another three weeks or another few years, we’re going to spend as much time doting on him as we can.

In the days since, a couple of things have happened, all of which feel hopeful. The pain meds seem to help, and he’s not wincing and walking gingerly anymore. We went down to the pet store and bought half a dozen different specialty brands of food (new store, new brands), and there was one brand that Ash actually ate the entire can of! Not just the liquid! He hasn’t eaten any solid food except treats in months. It’s not just the medicine, either, as he ate the first can before receiving any of the new meds. All of the other specialty cans we got, he ignored, but this one brand (Tiki Cats), he’s eaten every single variety we’ve opened for him. He also hasn’t once thrown up since he began eating it, and for a cat that was throwing up daily, that’s major improvement! We’ve actually gotten him to play with toys again, wrestling around with catnip balls and such, which is such a 180 change in his behavior that it’s nearly unbelievable. We just hope this isn’t a temporary boost from the meds and that he can continue to sustain the energy and improvement over time!

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Bad Moon, by Todd Ritter

On the night of the moon landing in 1969, ten-year-old Charlie Olmstead disappeared. The official report said that he’d been in an accident – slipped into the creek on his bike and washed over the falls – but his mother never believed it. Now, forty years later, her dying wish is for her second son, Eric, to find his brother. Eric was only an infant when Charlie disappeared, but lived his entire life in the shadow of his missing brother. He calls in Nick Donnelly, now no longer a cop but a private investigator of cold cases, and Nick brings in the town’s police chief, Kat, whose father investigated the initial disappearance.

This is a follow up to Death Notice – the next Perry Hollow story involving the recurring characters of Kat, her son James, Nick, and many other folks in the small Pennsylvania town. The cold case brings them through unexpected twists to five other unsolved cases of missing boys between 1969 and 1972. To note: this isn’t a true sequel but more of a separate, standalone story that involves the same characters. It could be easily read without first reading Death Notice.

The good: I was worried that this book wouldn’t live up to the first, mainly because cold cases aren’t my favorite topic, and they can be plodding and unfocused. It also seemed from the description like the story mostly involved a forty-year-old history, rather than the present-day characters. Neither of these turned out to be true. This was an engaging story, with lots of fun new routes discovered while in pursuit. I learned a lot about subjects I’d never heard of before, like the Centralia mine fire. There were interesting new characters, too, ones that I hope will reappear in the final volume of the series.

The bad: There were a lot of loose ends and weird assumptions. I can’t talk about the rest of this without spoilers, so skip the next paragraph to avoid those.

Spoilers: Eric talks about leaving a note for his mother (Maggie) when he left home, but his mother told Kat that no note was left. It was a big enough discrepancy that I expected it to come back into the story as more of Maggie’s illness was revealed. Instead, it just seemed to be a plot hole or unanswered question. Maggie’s illness was also a bit weird – like the assumption that if she had postpartum depression with Eric, it made no sense that she didn’t have it with Charlie – as if all women must experience each birth the same way? That’s just weird. (And wrong.) There was also the oddity of one character being able to resist the strength of the current right before the falls – more than once, and once when elderly – but others having no control when stuck in it. There’s also no answer to whether those around the killer suspected him, or why the murders stopped after 1972, or what the perpetrator’s psychology was like in the years since – all of which seemed rather important to the story. The whole cold case and current psychology hinged on a lot of coincidences that just felt a bit farfetched. End spoilers.

Anyway, while that’s a long paragraph of “bad,” I enjoyed most of the book. The bad bits were relatively small in comparison to the rest of the story, and I sped through this novel a lot faster than I expected. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment, and I’m sad that there are only three books in the series.

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Race Report: Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run (Virtual) 5K

It doesn’t appear that Covid is going to allow any in-person races any time soon, so even though I’m not the hugest fan of the virtual thing, I decided to run a few this fall. First up on my list was the Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run. This used to be called something like the Great Pumpkin Run, and the swag I saw out of 2019 was frickin’ awesome. I was less enamored with the medal this year, but the shirt swayed me. Heh. And I figured this would work well as an “autumn” event for my Running Bingo, since the event evokes images of pumpkin patches and turning leaves and apple cider.

The problem with virtual 5Ks is that you can do them whenever, and there’s no festivity or cheerleaders to sweep you up into that excitement of a true race. There’s also no one to map out a specific course for you, or hand you water/snacks throughout. Really, there’s no difference between a virtual 5K and just going out for a practice run. So that’s essentially what I did. I decided on a date (9/30), mapped a route (8x around my running park is 3.12 miles), and set out.

The weather started quite chilly at 52 degrees – hence why I chose that date! – but I wore a tank top anyway, knowing it would be almost 70 degrees by the time I finished. It took a full half-5K for the weather to warm up. The second half was much warmer, with lots of direct sun in places. I was glad I chose the tank top! I was less glad that I chose my newer shoes instead of my older Hokas. The Saucony pair was only 12 miles old, and while it didn’t cause problems due to newness (I’ve used Saucony for ages), these shoes seem better suited to walking. Even when I tie them loosely, my feet swell when I run, and then there’s too much pressure on the tops. It caused a lot of leg strain for most of the 5K, a strain that I don’t feel in the Hokas. Lesson learned.

I stuck to general 60:30 run:walk intervals for this event. Honestly, I think I prefer longer intervals for longer distances (and a 5k, for my slow-runner self, is a longer distance!). Still, I didn’t do too bad for time, considering that I only managed about a dozen runs since finishing C25K in May, and have only run seven times in the last ten weeks. (Thank goodness for cooling temps and potentially getting out there more regularly again!) I finished the Gourdy’s 5K in 50:12 – just shy of the under-50 mark that I strive for – with a mile average of 16:05. Not my best time ever, but I’m really okay with that. Especially, as I said, with how little I’ve been running, not to mention the leg strain re: my shoes.

My swag package has yet to arrive, so it’ll be a bit before I can wear my shirt, hang my medal, etc. I’ll update this post (assuming I remember!) when it comes, which should be in the next week or two I believe. In the meantime, here is my updated Running Bingo card:

The Gourdy’s Pumpkin 5k completes my 5th square of the Bingo – that orange one off to the right – with more to come soon! This is the first of at least three virtual 5Ks I’ll be doing through the rest of 2020.

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