Sunday, April 26, 2020


Saturday was warm and sunny.  Been a long time.  Most of April has been at least three layer weather (tee shirt, sweatshirt and flannel or similar long sleeve), often with a jacket for good measure.  Yesterday I worked my ass off wearing only a tee shirt and pulled a muscle in my shoulder.  The pile of tree branches that fell  during the winter (Silver Maples shed like dogs) got cut up and moved to the front yard where the town will pick them up sometime.  The two  trees in Harry's yard that have required trimming for years got trimmed.  Now I can mow under them.  I put the pickets that had fallen from the fence over the winter back  in place. I had a nice lunch with a beer.  I tilled the garden place where we plan to put the long-wished for asparagus patch and Hickory hauled in some horse poop which I  tilled in again and then I  dug an asparagus trench.  (Someplace in this process, I fucked up my right shoulder. I had a two-beer break.  Will and Swillar made a delicious burrito dinner.  

On Thursday I hired the computer geeks and they spent an hour trying to get Zoom to work, which it finally did.   There was a big problem with the sound.  It worked fine for the Democratic Committee meeting Thursday, but crapped out early on Friday when we attempted to happy hour with friends.  No sound.  Will be back to the geeks tomorrow. 

So instead of watching my friends blather drunkenly on the Zoom, I watched Contagion.  It's a typical movie from the 80s made in 2011.   It has a couple of smart assed heroes, Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding.  They break all the rules but stand for truth and justice and, appropriately,  science.  Kate Winslet is the hottie who,  with  a 21st Century twist, is also a scientist, but she is mostly a hottie who is in love with, but divorced from, Dustin Hoffman, and dpoesn;t get what all the shouting is about until FINALLY she listens to Dustin.  There is  an evil  military guy, Donald Southerland. (How many times has he done this scheming bad guy role?)  It has a bad virus (some form of ebola, also a popular choice for movie plagues). And there are a bunch of dumbasses who unwittingly (for greed) spread around the virus.  (Unlike our current dumbasses who spread it  around by exercising their First and Second Amendment rights.) There are some nice small town folk victimized by the virus and in danger of being even more victimized by the military industrial complex, Finally there is a lot of chasing about by car and truck and helicopter.  I say this movie is better than Birdman.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


I have a hard time seeing "news" in the obvious.  The big story this week seems to be the discovery that people are more likely to die in nursing homes from Covid 19 than in any other environment.  Why is this a surprise?
  • First, nursing homes are for profit and care about the money before they care about the people. 
  • Second, nursing homes are created for the most vulnerable populations. People who cannot take care of themselves because of dementia or  heart disease or physical disability or diabetes, kidney failure and other mostly age-related infirmities. 
  • Third, people packed into close environments are more likely to get Covid 19  than people who are not.  Airline passengers, cruise shippers, convention goers are high on the list of early affected populations.  (I don't think we have begun to see the actual numbers from jails and prisons.)
  • Fourth, nursing home employees are overworked, underpaid and vulnerable themselves. Minority communities (most low-paid nursing home  employees are African American) have less access to health care and are more likely to not have health insurance.  Thus less able to miss work days and more motivated to come to work sick.    My experience with Harry's  nursing home stay last year was that the employees are tired, abused by their bosses and resentful.  Few are willing to go above and beyond to care for their  charges and many to the bare minimum required. 
So who could be surprised at the fact that at least a third of the Covid 19 deaths in some communities come from nursing homes?  


               Are we living in an alternative universe?
               I have had that feeling on and off since that fool  was elected.  How else do you explain the early angst over who had the largest inaugural parade.  The Moslem immigration ban.  The growing evangelical support for an accused rapist who bribed a porn star to keep her silent about their affair.  A president more loyal to Russia than to the USA.  Who refuses to believe the work of his intelligence community.  Not in my rational universe.  

              And here is the new madness.  Oil prices are in negative numbers.  This happened on the day that I went to Costco and, thinking I likely needed gas as I always do when I go there,  realized I had filled up last week and still had a full tank.  I don't drive anymore.   Nobody drives anymore.   This is the fact that sets in motion a perfect storm.  Nothing rational about most of it.  To begin with the Russians and Saudis decided to run each other and all competition out of the market by ramping up oil production to levels unheard of.  And they persisted despite obvious ever-dropping oil prices.  We learned that USA oil companies had long been overvalued and were operating mostly on investors' money. They would call this a Ponzi scheme except that the market is allowed to operate on unrealistic expectations (assuming no one has intentionally been mislead.)   And they kept pumping.   The USA because  they had to keep pumping to  keep the investor money flowing, stupid or not;  Russia and Saudi because ... stupid is as stupid does. And putting on the brakes is very hard to do anyway because it's hard to shut down an oil well.  So they are  pumping and pumping and pumping.  And there is no place to store the oil.  So they have to pay you to take it.  The good  news?  With oil trading at -$37/barrel, the presnut has decided maybe he can add 75 million barrels to the strategic oil reserve.    Has the fool finally made a good business deal?  The really bad news besides the fact that the entire industry has crashed... they may end up dumping millions more gallons in the Saudi desert, on the Russian Steppes, in North Dakota farm fields... 

Sunday, April 19, 2020


               I remember when I was in college a week  in April that seemed to exist to punish.  I owned a thin ancient trench coat (all the rage when I got it in 1962) and it was no match for the biting winds that launched themselves off the edge of Mt. Oread and came screaming down the valley as I trudged back to the dorm to work.  It was bright and sunny and bitterly cold.  I hated that.  This week's weather has reminded me of that week.  Sunny and lovely and 40 degrees with a stinging, biting cold.  I'm boycotting the outdoors until we get come actual sunny weather. 

               On Sundays I spend the morning with the NYT.  I usually get through the front section and save the rest for the week.  Two articles:
an indepth look at what the next year or two  may look like: 

               The weather is again sunny and cold.  I should note this is good for my solar production, which improves with lower temperatures (generated 462 KWH in the last week).   Still I'm not going out, and neither is Fred.  We acquired Fred last year after my brother died and Fred ended up in need of a home.  Originally known as Fred Weasley, he has become Fred Friendly here.  The sun looks warm and inviting.  Fred taps on the patio door, asking to go out.  I open the door.  Wilbur, the other dog, goes out.  He prefers cold  weather.  Loves sleeping in snow drifts.  Not Fred.  He steps onto the deck, turns around, comes back in.  Gives me a look.  Too damn cold.   Ten minutes pass.  Fred taps on the door.  I open the door.   He sticks his  head out, it  is still cold.  He comes back in.    I warn him not to interrupt again.  Ten minutes pass.  He wants to look again.  Fred is an optimist.

Fred, left and Wilbur. 

               So yesterday I decided to make oatmeal cookies.  I use the Quaker Oats recipe with an extra half cup of raisins.  Got the butter and sugar started and reached for the brown sugar. OOPS!  We have less than a quarter cup. And I'm not going shopping until Tuesday.  Here is a cooking challenge right out of the Chopped pantry!  What to do?

 I have plenty of white sugar and powdered sugar and white Karo that I use for pecan pie.  There is molasses, which is a possibility, but I  don't want a flavor that strong.  I remembered that one of Harry's nurses had given me a pint of her hand-made NO.  2 maple syrup as well as a pint of what is essentially black strap maple syrup, which is like molasses, but has a better flavor profile.  Like maple and chocolate.  How much to use? Less than half cup, I figured it would be sweeter than the brown sugar?   I poured it in until it  looked right.  The result?  They took a little longer to bake, delicious.  I may do  that again.  

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Beautiful sunny day here, but cold. Definitely tired of the cold. I hate this.

Here is some stupid for you. South Dakota Governor Christy Noem, operating from one of those bizarre libertarian platforms, has refused to make any effort to keep people at a socially safe distance. From yesterday's WAPO: "Citing scientific modeling, the governor acknowledged this month that up to 70 percent of residents in her state may ultimately fall ill with covid-19. But, she suggested, it wasn’t up to government to tell them how to behave." Admittedly its one of our lowest population states, 900,000. That means 630,000 people in South Dakota could get the virus. On the low end (three percent death rate) that means 27,000 dead. High end, 60,000. That does not include the many people in neighboring states who are sure to be exposed when all those free thinkers start to think it's time to get the hell out.

No surprise flour is hard to find. I haven't baked bread in more than a year, and now I'm baking a loaf every other day. Last night Will and Swillar took a notion to make doughnuts. something no one has ever done in this house. They were delicious. I imagine thousands of people all over the country having the same idea. Time to kill, Get out the cook books and start baking. About three weeks ago I could find no flour on the shelves at Mendon, but found one at Wegpersons. Last week, having burned through that one, I found a bag at Mendon, although the shelves were close to bare. Tuesday, I found five pounds of organic flour, a premium at about twice the usual flour price at Mendon. I did see that Costco has 25 pound bags. More than I need... for now anyway.

Monday, April 13, 2020

               So hey, it's a blustery day.  Expecting winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour.  It's always a little concerning here at the farm, where we have 9 silver maples, each somewhere near 100 years old, keeping us cool in the summer.  They have dropped some pretty big branches in the past...notably one out front that lay itself  across the road to the great annoyance of the commuting public.  The two biggest trees are just behind the house and could wreck havoc if they cut loose some stormy night. But  I'm confident that we are safe.   The largest one straddles the septic tank so you know it is well nourished and content. And I think it's true that the other trees follow its' lead.  Likely they see this big wind as an opportunity to frolic, throw a little caution about, sow some  wild hares.  They have seen everything happen here for many years.  I expect they will do for many more.

               I'm not good at most brain puzzles. Never crosswords.  I do the first word in the Scramble every morning and skip onto the sports page.   For about the last year, however, I have been taking on the Bee Hive in the NYT.   You get seven letters and have to spell as many words (five letters or more) as you can, each word must include one designated letter.   I do well-enough at this to bring me back every week.  I almost always score "good," the lowest level, and I often score "excellent," which is like getting a silver medal.  Rarely do I score "genius."   EXCEPT TODAY!!  Gatekeeper.  There's a word for ya.

               I'll be making Shepard's Pie without onions tonight.  It's all about leftovers from last night, roast beast and potatoes and carrots and gravy.  But no onions.  Tomorrow is shopping day and I'm out of onions so none for the pie.  It's a condition worth getting used to.  Imagine all the driving I would save if I made this rule permanent.   Make do with what you have.  The perfect is the enemy of fuel economy. Better habits may come out of this. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Saturday driving home from the store, listening to a pleasant family tale on This American Life, rudely interrupted by NPR to take me urgently to the White House where the presnut had something important to say.  The NPR's common taters blabbed on a  bit about what an important moment this was, what with the presnut talking about the virus and all.  I have an alternate button on my radio for anytime the NPR bullshit gets too deep.   It  interrupts their program in favor of our local jazz station. Hello Thelonious Monk. 

So Sunday I spent a couple of hours working in the yard (it was beautiful, sunny, 49).  In the kitchen the radio is playing and it's there again,  the  presnut with another very very important message.  Took me a minute to find an appropriate CD.  Dixie Chicks.

What did we learn from these important interruptions?  There is a terrible reporter at NBC who foolishly tossed the presnut a softball (Mr. presnut what do  you say to all the Americans who are sacred?) to which the presnut responded by charging the mound.  Is it finally clear that the presnut is not in control?  Is it clear to the media that they should just ignore the presnut's pronouncements;  report only his actions, not his words? Or that he has no real intention of being much help? 

In the famous press briefing last Friday, the presnut said he was invoking the Defense Production Act which would allow use of the defense contracting process to produce needed medical supplies.  Well enough.  However, the executive order requires a lot more work  from the administration, as it has delegated broad authority for contracting to  Health and Human Services,  Alex Azar.

Azar is admittedly one of the more competent cabineteers, having served as deputy at HHS during the regime of that Moron George W. Busch, but how much support does he have to get this moving? Not so much, apparently. No evidence that even Azar is serious.   The WaPo reports this morning that the presnut is concerned that actually ordering manufacturers to focus their efforts on production of necessary medical supplies will make the USA look like Venezuela.  What we have here is an oligarchs utopia.  They remain safe in their strongholds, surrounded by armed guards and money.  The poor people die off and the handful of technocrats needed to keep the oligarchy happy are rewarded by their corporate employers.

Illinois Governor Pritzker and our own Andy Cuomo have been asking that the presnut take the lead in coordinating the supply process, something that can only be done from the top.  The problem, Pritzker says, is all states are now forced to compete with each other for supplies.  Cuomo notes he had a contract for masks only to be later informed that the price had gone up. Competition from other states.  Cost inflation and shortages.  Thanks presnut "I am not a supply clerk."  Of course, no matter what else happens we are assured by the presnut that he is not responsible.


I have sworn I am only going shopping twice a week and have already broken the rule.  Harry always needs something.  If you could just stop by the store to get this, he says, or I just need a couple  of things, he says.  I'm putting my foot  down.  Twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays. So I went today to Costco and the liquor store.  Very little traffic on the streets.  Costco had toilet paper, which I don't need.  I bought cat litter and peanut butter and dog food and coffee.  Essentials.  They did not have Handiwipes or Clorox wipes or Lysol etc: 

Today I paid with Costco rebate bucks, which you get in one certificate annually and they give you change in cash.  I am old enough to be mostly cash based...unlike my  youngest (Will) who thinks money is plastic or maybe stored in his phone. A couple weeks ago I loaded up on money so when I went to put the Costco rebate money in my wallet it was chock full.  I realized I have not spent any cash in at least two weeks.  Usually it's casual beer money, lunch with by oldest (Aaron), and quick trip to the store money.  No lunch with Aaron for three weeks?  No  stops for a beer.  The store quit taking money last week.  Is it the end of the world as we know it? 


I have to feel for the poor sports writers.   The DnC has a total staff of about 8 reporters now.  One food writer, one beer writer, two doing the work of the 28 or so public affairs and business and cop reporters they used to have... and four sports writers.  (OK I may not  have these numbers exactly right, but I'm close.)
The sports page is  minimum six pages and is no problem to fill up in the normal world.  There are prep sports and colleges (we have several, although only Syracuse gets much coverage), and everything from swimming and golf to fill in all the spaces left after the Bills have been thoroughly analyzed and dissected and bloviated.  Most of that stuff is gone.  What to do now? 
They write a lot about Bills potential free agent trades to built the ideal powerhouse team, after draft rebuilding coverage.  Lists of possible draft picks free agents is to be expected.  There are always the how great Syracuse will be someday stories.  Then nothing.  So they are applying the Bills formula to  prep sports. What to expect from returning starters from 11th grade?  An interesting stretch.  Histories of famous local sports events and heroes are being written.  And recently, in a moment of editorial desperation, two whole pages of TV shows and movie favorites from the entire sports writing staff. Gotta fill that news hole.   But they didn't include Porky's  or Blues Brothers,  Oh Brother Where Art Thou  or A Boy and HIs Dog.  And no Birdman?


Some days you get up in the morning and think you are sick.  That little cough?  Do you have a fever?  I take my temperature twice a day. Are those sniffles that have been hanging on since January just an early  symptom?   Not my annual reaction to leaf mold? Hickory is worried that her cough, also a seasonal event, is something more.  Paranoid?  So is the rest of the world. So should we all be.

Every day is 14 days from sometime.  I ran across a receipt from the last day we had dinner out. 
March 10 at the Winfield Grill.  They had a modest crowd that night and apparently we ran into no one who was sick. And the next day and the next?  Nothing more threatening than the grocery store, a doctor's visit for Harry in there someplace and of course three times weekly to dialysis.  The grocery now has shields between the checker and the customer, Costco enforces crowd control, keeps the carts six feet apart.  The Vet called with my cat's test results and left the medication on her porch.

 We are shutting down more and more here.  Hickory's job is resettling refugees from Afghanistan who worked with the USA during our occupation of their homeland.  It requires a lot of dealing with local relief agencies, landlords and volunteers, not to mention hand-holding with recently arrived refugees.   They see her as everyone's mother.  She has done a lot  of necessary traveling about and visiting in the last month, but this week brought it to a halt.  Too much exposure.  She is  staying home.

I learned how to navigate PFCU's cumbersome money transfer system so I can move money and pay bills from my desk. I changed my weekly shopping days to  Tuesday and Friday, and am sticking to it.  Hickory  has severe allergies and keeps a small supply of masks gave me one for going out. I  never thought I would wear a surgical mask to the grocery, but it's comforting.  I also carry baby wipes with me (can't buy anything else) to clean off shopping carts, gas pump handles, countertops. 
A good thing is we have Will and Swillar with us.  They cook a lot and help about the house. It's a great opportunity to get to  know them together.  So far every night is a dinner party.  Food, wine and conversation, the approved method for surviving a plague. Aaron is sheltering in place.  Wish he could visit us here.


Talked to Aaron yesterday about him coming to visit.  We are fairly confident of being safe except that Hickory's last visit with the Afghans was only a week ago and she is concerned that they may not be obeying all the separation rules, as she found them at a large social gathering.  So we wait until at least next weekend. 

Beautiful weather yesterday, rainy and cooler today.  I'm starting in-door projects, like the long-delayed organizing of the books.  I have about 180 feet of book shelves, most of them full.  Only one set of shelves, the 56 feet in the main hallway (which I built myself) is reasonably organized and then only in a way that makes sense to me.  It's mostly the history collection, but includes a selection of  miscellaneous favored novels, books I  thought were interesting once but may not have read, and current politics...  stuff that is sort of history, but  without the perspective offered by people who think about history professionally.    I have two book cases, a shelf set of about 30 feet that has mostly detectives, spies, historical novels  organized by author.  Count 44 Bernard Cornwells, 22 Michael Connelly, a complete set of C.S. Lewis' Heratio Hornblower novels and of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin. Dos Passos.   Grisholm and Dick Francis are pretty much in one place, but Elmore Leonard,   Larry McMurtry and John LeCarre are scattered hither and yon. (Explain to Joyce Carrol Oates why she doesn't have her own place on the shelves? )  There is a lot of work to  be done. 


Everyone now seems to have recommendations for reading while isolated. Have some more:

My top five favorite novels about war: 

James Jones, The Thin Red Line  (You may want to start with From Here to Eternity, also a great book, and no reason not to read the Some Came Running and Whistle after you have gone that far.)

Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead  (As gritty and real as Thin Red Line.)

Mark Halprin, A Soldier of the Great War.  Had not been for Hemingway we may never have known there was such a war.  Halprin gives it great depth and polish.

John Dos Passos, Three Soldiers.  War is mostly hanging around waiting to be abused by some asshole noncom.  Read all about it.

Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage.  Rich, rewarding, thoughtful.  Crane writes as though he were there.  (He wasn't.)  A good companion to Jones and Mailer.

(Bonus book)  Thomas Keneally, Daughters of Mars.  Keneally, best known for Schindler's List, tells the story of two sisters who go off to war to work as nurses at Gallipoli.  Beautifully told.  Like most war stories, it doesn't end well.

Really excellent 19th Century romances:

Literature from the USA in this period is pretty thin.  Fennimore Cooper has a couple of favorites, The Deerslayer and Last of the Mohicans.   

For an eye-opener, I recommend Uncle Tom's Cabin.   It's the most important book of the century, so ask yourself why no one ever asked you to read it in school. It's preachy and packed with heretical Christian theology (Harriett's daddy, a famous preacher of the day, moved the family to Ohio from Massachusetts in order to save the new state from the ravages of Catholicism).  It  presents a clear picture of the 19th Century white liberal view of slaves and black people in general.   Uncle Tom is Uncle Tom, and there is the  mischievous Topsy,   but there is true romance and adventure (remember those young lovers from King and I?) and a view of what slavery was like. (Turns out Harriett Beecher Stowe meticulously documented it.)  This is a picture of life under slavery not again attempted in American writing until very recently.  And of course, as Abraham Lincoln pointed out, it's the book that started it all.

Read anything by Jane Austin, although I didn't care much for Northanger Abbey.

Anything by Thomas Hardy.  Be cautious with  Jude the Obscure.  It's the first Hardy book I  ever read and I think of it often still, but doubt that I will read it again.  It's very moving and terribly sad. Favorites include Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess D'Ubervilles, and The Mayor of Casterbridge.
I got interested in George Elliott when I decided I had to finally read Silas Marner, which I was supposed to read in high school.  I looked her up on the Wiki.  Mary Ann Evans was well-regarded editor who started writing fiction late because she wanted to put more reality into fiction written by women.  Then  she published under a man's name.  The pseudonym also allowed her to avoid the notoriety that would draw attention to the fact that she was shacked up with a married man.  I read Middlemarch, supposed to be her finest work.  I recommend Adam Bede.


So I went to  Costco  today.  I think it's a safe place to shop because they clean every cart and enforce the crowd rules.  They are limiting the number of people in the store, which means the line this morning  was very very very long.  Whatever I went for I didn't need that badly.
While cleaning the basement (a worthy task for this season) I find many boxes and bags of sheebees.  A sheebee, of course, is  something you have when you need it.  The beauty of a sheebee is you may not know when you need it but you will know when you do. The solution when you find many of them  is to find a large box and put them all  in it.  Then you have a box of sheebees.


Happy Easter Eggs, eh? I'm never too sure when its Easter so we had the ham last week.  This week we are back to pot roast.
I think I recently discussed new skills you learn when you are in plague defense mode.  Such as transferring money using the clunky banking system at the local baby credit union.  So lately I have expanded my skills and  have been manically ordering shit from the internets.  

Usually when I have a home project it takes several trips to the Man Store to  get it done.  This is mostly because of lost tools, lost parts and most importantly, poor organization and planning.  Nearly two weeks ago we had a decent weather day so I  went after this project of cutting back  this massive hedge that every year tries to overwhelm my solar panels.  It's right behind the solar array and about 10 feet tall, which allows the top branches to grow over the panels.  I usually just cut back the top branches.  This year it's coming down to four feet or so.  Serious cutting ahead.

So of course the battery powered sawzall disn't work, and I'm contemplating an extra trip to  Le Depot des Hommes.  No unnecessary shopping!  I choose the internets which delays the effort nearly a week... but you know, I'm not  in a hurry.  I  want to get it done before the new growth comes on, but there are a few weeks before that happens.  It took three separate orders.  One for the saw, one when I realized It didn't have any batteries with it, and one for blades.  Fortunately I got all those orders in a single  day.

Since then I have ordered camera batteries, ink for my printer and a massive roll of plain brown paper.  I think I had had too much to  drink when I did that. 

It's day 30 or so of the plague if you are trying to count from the beginning of COVid 19 in the USA.... much longer if you count the days since January 20, 2017 when the presnut took over.  Today I got up early and drove to Target to get supplies.  Harry had picked up a rumor from his nurse that Target was fully stocked so we drove over there after I picked him up from dialysis.  "Tomorrow, the young woman at the door told me.  We open at 8."

I have not been a hoarder and am beginning to worry  that was a mistake. I remember being stunned to laughter the day I went to Costco and discovered they were out of toilet paper.  I continued to scoff.  Two weeks earlier I had bought an extra 30 pack because I had noticed that Harry was paying twice the Costco price.  I sold him half and still have surplus.   We have plenty of toilet paper and no concern about food.  But  I have lately had to concede the need for disinfectant wipes and such things.  We ran out fast and now have none.  So I'm driving to  Target at 8:30 this morning, thinking of The Russians, Hedrick Smith's (1975) book about life in the Soviet Union.  Scarcity was the hallmark of the Soviet economy.  Common  Russian citizens always had an ear to the ground for rumors of available goods, always carried a shopping bag  and often would join a queue at the state stores whether or not they knew what the line had been formed for.  Maybe it would be something you need.

So I had a hot rumor and was going to Target.   I needed anything that resembled Handi Wipes, Clorex Wipes or, a special request from Harry, ass wipes, the allegedly flushable man cleansers.  Hoped I was not too late.  There is very little traffic out this morning.  That is also a sign of the plague years.  The mall parking lot is nearly vacant.  Only two places open, Home Depot and Target.  Target seems to have a crowd, but I still get a spot near the door, a good sign, grab my shopping bag.  I haven't taken 20 steps inside the door when I score...  a table in the first isle has about five three-can packages of Clorex Wipes... limit one to a customer.  I take my one.

What else do they have that I could use?  Purell?  (No.) Clorene bleach? (No.)  I spot a woman with a package of toilet paper on her cart.  Where?   I ask her. She points to be back corner of the store.  I score a 20-pack of Scotts.  I become a hoarder.

On the subject of hoarding, there is Harry (and Shirley).  My in-laws live across the street.   I have been Harry's official caretaker since he began dialysis last February. They are both 87, and neither can drive now.   Medicare pays me to drive him  to dialysis, do his shopping, worry about his diet, occasionally cook.  I told him  I  could do anything but wipe his ass.
Harry is an accomplished worrier,  an unusual condition for someone who spent his life betting on horses.  Maybe his age, maybe his condition (the "rehabilitation center" they sent him to last year tried to kill him).  He is also remarkably optimistic.  Every time he gives me a shopping list, which is almost daily, he includes Purell, ass wipes and Handi Wipes, and every time I tell him that stuff isn't available he just says he needs it and sometimes claims to  know someone who  just bought some somewhere.  So please look, which I do but I don't think he believes me.
In the meantime.  Second trip out.  I'm baking  cake for Hickory's birthday. Figured baking would save me driving to Wegman's to buy one.  No cocoa.  Can't make a cake without it.  I drive to the local market to  buy cocoa and flour.  They are out of both.  Drive to Wegman's. They have a few bags of flour left.  I buy one. No Cocoa.  I buy a Wegman's cake.  Truth is they are excellent and often preferred to my humble offerings.  On a positive note Wegman's bread racks are FULL.  Last week there was no bread. 

Notes from the positive universe:  Black Button distillery, known for its excellent Gin, has shut down its booze manufacturing and taken up making its version of Purell for local  doctors and hospitals.  Hickey Freeman will be making facemasks and scrubs. They are looking for  at-home seamstresses, a boon to the Afghan community, as many of the women are skilled but won't or can't work out of the home.   A limitation is availability of materials.  Gov. Cuomo said  today that they state is working with international suppliers to get it.