Back on Track

Gratuitous picture — I have lots of these now at my fingertips — of niece Ellie, who has a birthday today about two decades beyond the taking of this photo, right on the cusp of her graduation from college. Where does the time go?

I know, I know, I know. It’s not much of a daily blog when it comes out once a month. I have missed May Day, May the Fourth Be With You, and today is both Cinco de Mayo and my niece Ellie’s birthday.

But there has been no oxygen in the room so to speak, and it has pretty much left me without fuel for thought. There is also my picture project, about which I am like a peg-legged sea captain with a whale. I am doggedly determined not to get this started and then leave it as an even bigger mess the way I have done with so many projects in my life, particularly those like this one that turn out to be so much involved than anticipated.

Then there’s my new internet shopping habit, which went just swimmingly when I purchased my photo scanner but which has failed me badly in the past week. Lynn did hand-deliver my oximeter today, after it spent four full days sitting in its post office of origin and another three reposing in a Midwest distribution center before finally — a week after the company mailed it — arriving in Denver yesterday. At which point the U.S. Postal Service closed my help request, despite the fact that my package had yet to make it to Gunnison or be delivered.

I’m still waiting for another order from a different company that didn’t provide tracking information but told me delivery was expected last Saturday, and on Friday I shipped my concentrator to Denver, where I hope the guy is more efficient at repairs than he seems to be at communication.

Having not heard from him at all for two days, even though Gunnison Shipping told me my concentrator should arrive Monday, I checked my tracking on that. Only to discover that UPS left it “at the front door” at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The repair company’s website lists its hours only as “seven days a week by appointment,” but I’m having trouble picturing someone on-site on a Saturday evening, so I’m wondering if this means UPS just left my concentrator outside, unattended, available to both the elements (which have been elemental of late) and opportunists. While we might not think of an oxygen concentrator as a marketable commodity, every website I have examined has warned they are “going fast.” One company specifically said it could not ship to India.

Now that concentrators are Pandemia’s newest toilet paper, I feel even less relieved to know that UPS efficiently delivered my package just one day after I shipped it. I sent an e-mail to the repair company inquiring about its status, but have yet to hear back.

[Update: As I am writing this, I have heard back: “Yes, we received it.” That’s the entire e-mail. No attempt to tell me if he’s had a chance to look at it, no estimate for a repair cost, no report on a potential timeline . . . but at least it didn’t fall victim to vagrants. Or perhaps the weather, although maybe it did sit outside all weekend.]

I would probably be in panic mode about this, having started to log sleep in uncomfortable hour-long increments, but for the part where Jim Barry rode to my rescue yesterday, as he’s done so many times before that I stopped counting decades ago. He and wife Judy, who have functioned as a second set of parents to me over the years, brought their visiting daughter Ann out to the house yesterday morning — along with an oxygen concentrator.

The Barrys fortuitously forgot to take this concentrator to Goodwill on their last trip to Grand Junction, so now their intended goodwill becomes my good fortune, and I slept with oxygen last night for the first time in longer than it takes the Postal Service to get a package from Illinois to Colorado.

I still woke up earlier than I wanted to, but it feels like my sleep was of better quality. Now that the oximeter has arrived, I can get all scientific about this and find out for sure.

We shouldn’t overlook the part where the Barrys brought daughter Ann along with them. She was on the last day of her first two-week venture out of the Seattle area since Pandemia, and they were the first maskless (vaccinated) guests I’ve welcomed into the house in 14 months.

[Contractor Dusty, also maskless and vaccinated, did come in the house last week to replace the broken light fixture that shot out of the ceiling. In what has been a constant refrain that we hear from the repairmen who show up here, he said, “I’ve never seen this happen before.” He reported that the electrician groaned that of course it had to happen at TL’s house, and the man at the electrical store, wherever that is, was certain that the homeowners had to be messing around on the ceiling because these light fixtures apparently never break. Except at our house. Whether we were messing around with the fixture or not. What exactly, do you suppose, the sales clerk envisioned us doing?]

Ann, with a son about to graduate high school, was a reminder of how fortunate we have been here in Gunnison. It’s one thing to let the news flow past about the difficulties of remote learning, and another to hear a mother talk about how miserable this has been not only for her own child but their entire school district, which she reported has a failure rate of 30 percent in this Year of Covid.

While any student who wanted to attend school in person has been successfully doing this since last August here in Gunnison, along with participating in a semblance of extracurriculars, Ann’s son only went back to the classroom, sort of, two weeks ago, with a month-long track season set. He goes twice a week for three hours at a time, and Ann said they’re not really in class but rather working on “projects.”

Still, she was taking this slim offering gratefully. “Anything social,” she said, making me realize that once again, we here in Gunnison have dodged a lot of the worst of all this. While kids here have gone to school and been able to interact with one another, even though probably not in usual and preferred manners, many, many more have been stuck at home, with interactions limited to peers deemed safe by their parents.

Perhaps, then, in this spirit, I should start counting the positives: the Barrys forgot to take their concentrator with them to Goodwill, leaving it available for me to use; my original concentrator is at least in the repair company’s hands, although who knows for how long or to what end; the Postal Service managed to discover it can move packages beyond the borders of Illinois; all of our kitchen lights are working once again — for now; Ann’s son is finally getting a tiny taste of what Gunnison schoolkids have had all year; and I think, but am not completely sure, that I managed to locate my scanner photos in my computer and move them to my regular “pictures” folder.

Oh, and I managed at least one blog entry this month. We should not discount that, right?

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