An Ill Wind

ill wind 0720
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I have many things on my mind this morning, which is not helping any effort to focus.

It may have frozen a few wee hours ago, on July 1. July. You might want to worry about everything you thought would happen only if Hell froze over. It is 2020 after all, the year where things seem to go from bad to worse.

[I could tell you for sure what the overnight low was, but the internet is out. Again. Still. It has officially gone from irritant to annoyance.]

This low temperature was presaged by the windiest end to June I can ever recall. The wind, usually quiescent except in the afternoon, started Thursday overnight and didn’t let up all day, breezy and cool.

To be clear, I will take cooler weather over hot any time, so I should be as happy as anyone that Hell might be freezing over. It was no less a light than Huckleberry Finn who looked around him at the people sure they were going to Heaven, equally certain Huck’s friend Tom Sawyer was headed straight for Hell, and decided he would vastly prefer the company he would find down below and thus wasn’t at all interested in spending eternity with the likes of the virtuous.

Virtuous or not, I started this cold, windy height of summer in the aftermath of a little scare, where I thought maybe I was having heart issues. Starting about 9:30 Thursday night, I felt discomfort from the center of my chest, radiating sideways and back to front and along my left shoulder.

Now, I have a long history of knotted muscles in my back causing chest pain, and Lynn, poking along my spine, found what could have been a rib out of place (as turned out to be the case — the rib, the shoulder, and several points along the ribcage were all out of place, as my chiropractor determined yesterday).

A veteran of heartburn, Lynn recommended an antacid, which didn’t help anything, although after I called the emergency room somewhere around 2 and the man I talked to (he gave me a first name but no other credentials, although he seemed very medical) said it sounded more gastrointestinal, I took an omeprazole. Never an instant fix, it nonetheless caused all the discomfort to subside about an hour later.

I had plenty of devices to monitor my heart rate, which never left a healthy 60-70 beats per minute, my oxygen and my blood pressure (124/85), plus the results of the test I took last August that showed zero plaque in my heart arteries. As the omeprazole and the chiropractic work put everything back to normal, I think it’s safe to say I did not have any sort of heart episode.

But it did make me realize one thing: I have a lot of stuff left to do before I start punching my ticket to join Huck and Tom. None of which, mind you, is going to make anyone’s bucket list.

There was no sense of, I’ll never see Europe, or never compose an opera to be performed at the Met. My aspirations are a lot more pedestrian: I was lamenting the wood projects I would never complete. And I worried a lot about the mess I would be leaving Lynn with, household bills I need to pay that are in well-hidden heaps on the table; boxes all over the garage; books strewn everywhere for the used bookstore that isn’t moving very fast toward opening (although one of Kara’s friends became our first official customer yesterday).

Obviously it’s a small little life I lead, but it is mine, and it became apparent to me — if it wasn’t already — that I’m in no hurry to leave it. At least until I get it cleaned up — which is as good excuse as any to not do this cleaning.

*****

Yesterday, among my not-so-medical issues, I took a cat to a second vet because the first had not bothered to get back to me about Na Ki’o’s screaming blood sugars and ever-increasing girth.

It took half an hour to get anyone to answer a phone and come outside to get Na Ki’o, which wasn’t an auspicious start, and nothing conclusive was determined, except that my concern — a possible tumor — appears unfounded, which is good.

Now, after two sets of comprehensive blood tests and x-rays and urgent care admits, Lynn may have located the problem without any veterinarian assistance: instead of mice, we have cats — cat — sneaking behind laundry appliances to help himself to pet food stored underneath.

Unauthorized meals would certainly explain an otherwise inexplicable weight gain along with an otherwise perplexing lack of interest in his regular food. Since most of what he’s been swiping is formulated for dogs rather than cats, it may also be adversely impacting his digestion.

Food has now been relocated, and we’ll hope this solves Na Ki’o’s woes without any additional trips to vet offices.

*****

A week or two ago, I finally applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the federal government. This was an already existing program, usually for businesses damaged by natural disasters. I don’t know if a pandemic counts as natural, since it feels very unnatural, but the program has been repurposed for that this year.

Predictably, the program got overrun early on, then suspended, then re-opened but only for agricultural interests, and then finally available to all businesses on a much more limited scale than it had been, with loans maxing out around $25,000 rather than $2 million.

But these loans came with an advance that is essentially free money, $1,000 per employee up to $10,000. So I applied on behalf of Pat’s, answered their few quick questions, which included the number of employees as of Jan. 31, and our gross profit and cost of goods, also as of Jan. 31. Pay attention to that: as of Jan. 31.

Kara and I agonized over how much of a loan to request, but the form never asked how much we wanted. Reading on-line suggested someone from the Small Business Administration might get back to you about this, but I never heard anything and suddenly one day $7,000 got plunked into our checking account. No letter, no e-mail, just $7,000 from the SBA, one thousand for each body at Pat’s in January.

Well, now I finally have a letter, and it’s one of rejection. The SBA has determined that based on our Jan. 31 numbers, we have not been economically harmed by the pandemic that shut businesses down in March and therefore we do not qualify for disaster assistance.

However — this being the federal government, I suppose — we are free to keep our $7,000 with their blessing. Wouldn’t you think, if they determined we hadn’t been damaged, that we ought not to get any money at all? And if we were eligible for some money we ought to be eligible for more?

I can’t begin to explain the federal government to you or me or anyone else, so I’m not even going to try. The craven point of the initial exercise was to get the advance, not necessarily the loan, so now I don’t have to go through any inconvenient payback process and its incumbent paperwork — but I am rather dumbfounded by the entire procedure.

(For the record, lest you think I am ripping taxpayers off, our net “income” was down 123 percent as of June 30. If that doesn’t count as economic damage, I’m not sure what does.)

I’ve always heard it’s a very ill wind that doesn’t blow some good, so I guess most of the news from our breezy pre-freeze ultimately ended up for the best: bad bones and digestion, not heart issues; an overabundance of ill-gotten food, not a cat tumor; and the financial assistance we sought without any paperwork hassle.

I think that means I ended the first half of the year on a high note. Or something like that.

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