Have I got a Corona Virus for YOU!

Since getting my rosy “Not Detected” test results, I’ve put on hold calling these times the Hostage Crisis, and instead I’m going full stir-crazy, just like doing 10-to-life for a crime you never committed.

Can anyone guess my big accomplishment today? Not 1, but 2 complete one-piece Cutie peels! Jeez.

Can you guess where I’m going with this? For my next trick….

Also, you should know about me, I’m a news junkie. But not just straight consumption, no that’s too easy. I’m a corroborator, a fact-checker, a BS-detector, a genuine disbeliever in almost every story I’ve only seen once. I take in a variety of sources, starting with my Seattle Times first thing in the morning, then moving on to whatever form of Internet News finds itself under my fingers on the keyboard, to the evening news. I’ve been known to look for the same story in the paper, then on CBS, then on NBC, then pop over to MSNBC, thence to CNN, etc. You get the picture. It’s absolutely mind numbing how the same basic news event can get spun so differently based on the source.

In the act of all this news-hounding, I’ve noticed that each outlet has it’s own Corona Virus Mascot, if you will. There are so many different pictures out there of “THE Corona Virus”, some scary, some Shrek-like, some downright beautiful, that I’m becoming convinced that nobody really knows what it looks like, just that it needs to be blasted on the screen to get somebody’s attention. Here’s a small sampling:

Similar, sure, in that they all look like they could sink a ship

I have reasonably convinced myself that the general structure of the virus, regardless of how it looks, has been adopted by most authorities as “a spherical protein, encased in a lipid membrane, with protruding attachments, all housing a strand of DNA that, by itself, can do no harm until it finds, attaches to, and invades a cell that lines our respiratory system, and uses that cell’s inner machinery to replicate”. The trick, I understand, to defeating the virus before it defeats you, is that lipid membrane.

Lipids are fats, basically a grease. This thin shell on the virus acts as a food for the receptor cell that ingests the casing and thus the inner DNA strand, which starts the infection cycle. If you want to stop the virus in it’s tracks before it has a chance to get inside you, the key is to disrupt the lipid membrane. Really, anything that cuts grease will do the job. Soap, the foamy type, works great. It zaps the lipid membrane and dissolves it, and the inside goodies just deteriorate without their protection. Alcohol, in relatively high concentration (65%+) will do the same. (Sorry, but Vodka won’t). Heat melts the membrane, just like it does the grease on the engine block in my 1968 MG Midget. Any industrial grade de-greaser, like we use mixed with a little Lysol (mostly for the nice fruity fragrance) to disinfect our office and loading bays, will easily do the job. Dry air also works pretty good, as do the UV rays from the sun. That wimpy little lipid/DNA bundle hates UV.

So, fear not, you have many weapons around you to battle whichever of the above demons you wish. Me, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the view. Just me ‘n Tippy.

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Corona Virus Hostage Tips #2 3/4

Well the results are in! The SCAN lab just released a batch of test results for those tested on the first day, and I’m negative! Technically speaking, “Not Detected”, since this is a research study, self-collected specimen, without any chain-of-custody for the sample, and no official CDC lab certifications. But, you know what? I’ll take good ‘ol Mr. Gates generosity without reservation.

I’m not sure if being told I’m negative is better than not knowing, actually. Except that my stepson (and by extension daughter-in-law and grandkids) also tested negative. So that means, technically, that we could get together for a visit without too much concern. Not that we’re planning that, but Grandma is gettin’ kinda itchy for a grandkid fix.

It’s been reported that of all the tests done (I’m assuming that means the certified tests), about 7% are returning positive. I don’t have anything to relate this too. The “parent” of this SCAN survey is another survey, funded by the Gates Foundation, done annually for penetration of the flu virus du jour into the community; the SCAN survey was re-purposed from that. I’ve never seen any of the results from that survey. If that result came back much higher than 7%, which I suspect might be the case, that means one thing. If it routinely comes back lower, that means something else. Never the less, I guess overall I’m a bit relieved, even if only because I know this will make the rest of my family and friends feel better.

We are ordering out tonight, and yes, we’ll take all the recommended precautions that so many folks have forwarded from Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, Cedars Sinai, and a plethora of others. But you can’t dodge every single bullet in a hailstorm. We’ll do our best to lower the odds, and be fine with that.

Tippy, as always, is our inspiration.

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Corona Virus Hostage Tips #2 1/2

I’ve received messages from Followers (thank you for following!) about any results I might have received from my SCAN testing (see the last post).

SCAN is the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, funded by the Gates Foundation, for surveying penetration of the virus into our community populations. It is voluntary, you must apply and be accepted, is all done at extreme hands-off distance with the kit couriered to your house, and USPS Priority Mailed back.

I applied for the program on Monday March 23 at 8:30AM. The kit was delivered just before noon the same day. I swabbed, packaged, and dropped it at the post office that afternoon by 1:30PM, and they received it the next day.

I received my first notification this morning, March 26, with the results “Pending”. Tick tock….. They seemed extremely expedient to get the swab, maybe not so much on getting the results.

That’s OK, I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

Tippy will help me out.

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Corona Virus Hostage Tips #2

Big day in the old Muddscape household. A big DIY day, that is.

When God gives you flour, salt, yeast and water, make bread. Wendy whipped up a loaf of her Rustic No-Knead Bread, and the house smelled just fabuloso all day!

When you live with a baker, who needs a supermarket! This stuff is really, really good just fresh out of the oven.

While that was going on, I responded to a call for volunteers published in the Seattle Times. The Greater Seattle Coronovirus Assessment Network, SCAN for short, was asking for volunteers to self-test for the virus so that they could develop more accurate models for the penetration of the virus into our communities. They were looking for young, old, sick, well, homeless, living in a home, anybody types so they could get a good cross-section of our populace for the data.

The website is scanpublichealth.org, and you can volunteer by filling in a short survey and submitting your application. They will select about 300 people a day, the number of self-test kits available at present. If you are accepted, they will courier over the test kit (mine arrived in about 3 1/2 hours), it takes about 2 minutes to conduct the test and package it back up, and they give you a pre-paid Priority Mail envelope to return it. The results are available in a couple of days, and if you are positive, they will put you on a list for further medical assistance if needed. If negative, you get a letter telling you so. In any event, it’s good to know. They will only test one person per household, since it’s pretty well accepted that if one is positive, very probably all are positive. And vice versa.

The test involved putting a swab up my nose about 1.5 inches or so, rotating it 5 times, then sealing it up in a tube, which went into a bag, which was sealed and put into a box, then sealed into a mailer. Very mild discomfort, not at all like the news outlets have been reporting. And off to the Post Office it goes! Easy peasy! Glad to do my part. For her part, Wendy has joined a network of seamstresses that will be making fabric masks for our first responders and medical professionals to help and stretch the supply of N95 masks needed for critical situations.

Tippy is always doing his part.

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Corona-rona, bo-bona, Bonana-fana fo-fona, Fe-Fi-mo-mona, Corona!

In these strange times, it helps to remember all the things that make our lives wondrous and happy. And to do some of them. C’mon, you surely have the time!

Eat well. Make it more fun by challenging yourselves to use everything in your fridge and cupboards. Example: breakfast at Grampa’s Cafe today – a Frittata.

Eggs were very fresh, but all the veggies were near the edge

Spring cleaning? Depending on how much you procrastinated over the winter, this could eat up a lot of hostage time!

Washing the car. After a winter parked in the back lot, my truck had green algae “drips” running from every nook and cranny!

Blog. ‘Nuff said.

Power walking. Tired, but predictably satisfied.

Art. In any form. Share it. (see: Blog)


Sing. Maybe by yourself, ask your significant other for advice. The title above can give you a starting place.

Sounds counter-intuitive, but stay away from social media. Or at least read everything with a severely jaded eye. Be a detective, corroborate! After all, all of the world’s knowledge (credit: Brin and Page, Google) is at the end of that wire. Start with this post.

Read. That stack of “books for later” has your name all over it. And maybe the author’s.

What are you waiting for? Lastly, Tippy’s got one for you.

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Escape to Orcas

For my birthday we traveled up to Orcas Island, where my sister and Brother-in-Law maintain a vacation cottage.

We did this just ahead of the Washington state-wide advisory not to travel needlessly, which I thought was pretty fortuitous, until Governor Newsom of California banned seniors from leaving their houses. My sis, a senior, whose normal residence is in San Diego, would have fallen under Gavin’s mandate had she not, just the day before, escaped to Washington for a planned Spring Cleaning of the cottage. These upside-down times have a senior escaping to a “hot zone” to gain her freedom. You can’t make this stuff up.

We were rewarded with a beautiful, but cold, sunny day, something in very short order lately in the Pacific Northwest. These sunny winter days provide some of the best scenery to be had in these parts, and it’s a big reason why we live here. The ferry gliding into the landing on flat water, and the pre-dawn shots from the front of the cottage give you just a wee taste of it.

Our ferry ride over was as empty as I have ever seen it, and the Island felt deserted too. Winter has something to do with that, I suppose.

The beach in front of the cottage is rocky, not sandy, and sheltered. This makes it one of the best beaches I’ve ever seen for sea glass hunting. It gets just enough churn through the tides and chop to bring tons to the surface. My sister is especially tickled to find “letter glass”, pieces of bottles or other stuff that has readable letters in it. Jeff, my brother-in-law, found Christ on that beach, literally. Printed right there what might pass for a large piece of a Brew Growler. I’m sticking with that story, by the way.

Finding Christ on the beach!
Some of the sea glass we found in only 1 hour

The cottage yard is decorated in “everything floaty”. Driftwood pieces, old boats, net floats, etc. On the beach today was a very large, rusted out buoy that once was used to support a log-boom breakwater. She had her eye on it, and a caper had been hatched to snatch it from the jaws of the ocean.  It’s a good idea, when possible, to get this stuff out of the water so it doesn’t end up floating out into the channel and killing some small sport boat that doesn’t happen to see it. Once towed up onto dry land and emptied of its floating core, it will be placed in a deserving spot in her landscape. Too bad I won’t be staying long enough to see that project through! I did, however, help the BIL to get a float and rope attached so he could come back the next day with his boat to tow it over to the marina launch facility, where the boat hoist can grab it to put it on his trailer. Future story spoiler: there is a twin to this one still floating off their beach, attached to the last rotting piece of the log boom.

For my birthday dinner, we visited the Orcas Hotel (www.orcashotel.com), right at the ferry landing. It has been there practically forever and now has new owners, Julia and John, who are both chefs. They are refurbishing the grand dining room, but graciously offered us a table in their small café coupled with some gourmet dining. If this is a small sample of what they will be offering in the finished restaurant, we are in for some very fine times on the island in the future. Fabulous! They have cleverly created an intimate “dining special” that includes a four-course meal and a bottle of wine in a private room, for $100. Great people, great chefs, great creativity.

On our return trip, we saw something I’ve never seen from off a ferry vessel (it has happened a couple of times while I’m on the boat). A full emergency stop by the Samish enroute from Anacortes to Friday harbor. No explanation given, just a full-reverse dead stop as she was passing us. Those things are big, and it’s impressive how short of a distance they can bring them to a halt! I’m going to guess the captain had suspected they might have run over a crab pot line and he was taking action to clear the line from the shafts before it could do any damage. Just a guess. It was underway shortly after that.

I love winter in the Islands. I would encourage anyone to take a day or two up there, and to enjoy the raw nature. Treat yourself to a nice dinner and bottle of wine with our new friends at the Orcas Hotel (I had the bacon-wrapped venison meatloaf, yum!), do some shopping in Eastsound, maybe get a cottage out at West Beach Resort (www.westbeachresort.com). This is the time of the year you can actually get a reservation! You won’t regret it. And neither would Tippy!

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Jones Island Tiny Deer? Fairies? Really?

Yikes! It’s been over a year since the last post. How time gets away when you turn your head.

Well, to say the least, we’ve been busy. Yes, in 2019 we made a few trips in the trailer, went to some fun spots. Did our usual Mother’s Day trip to Deception Pass, and all that. And we have plans for 2020, and it’s likely that some of that will make its way into a post.

But this post celebrates a new “chapter” (pardon the pun, or don’t) in the Muddscape. I’m already a published author, even if it’s just a short E-Book, on Amazon. But I had the opportunity to finally get a children’s book into print early this year, with the help of my 4 year old granddaughter, Samara.

She’s quite the artist. Given enough paper and ink, she will eventually cover the face of the earth. She got a ream of copy paper for Christmas, and went through more than ½ of it that very day. While she loves to draw almost anything, she is particularly fond of drawing fairies, princesses, and queens. It’s a 4-year-old thing, I’m sure, but she tends to just grab pen and paper and become a high-speed “fairy mill”, with one drawing barely floating to the ground while she starts another one.

A Storm of Fairies, Princesses and Queens

I wondered what it would be like for her to have some direction, or focus, for an art project. So I suggested “Sam, if I write a short story, would you draw the pictures for it?” I knew just the story, one I have told countless times. I tell it when we are on vacation in the San Juan Islands, and make our annual day trip to Jones Island, a small island that is also a Washington State Park. Jones Island is home to a herd of tiny deer, the only ones I’ve ever seen.

When we all boat over to the island for a picnic, we have a short walk through a forest to get to the beach. Of course, the young ones all want to know the story of how the deer came to be tiny, and over the years my story of the magic fairies in the trees enchanting them has become one of their favorites. It doesn’t take long on our walk for the kiddos to start seeing them, sparkling and shiny, flitting through the trees and ferns.

I wrote all this down, stapled together like a book, and gave it to her. Her mom, Rachel, offered a little assistance with some deer drawings, and Sam took off like Bob Ross. In about 2 hours, she had the whole story illustrated. It was beautiful! I thought, “This would look great as a hard bound book, and a great gift for Sam!” and that got me started. I quickly found there are dozens of self-publishing websites that will print a single copy of a book for you. In that process, I also found that I had forgotten I already had a publisher, Kindle Direct Press, which could do the same thing for me. One thing led to another, and before long, Sam was a published Illustrator. At 4 years old, this is not only quite an accomplishment, it’s a very good demonstration of the true Superpower of our great country: the ability for a 4 year old to become an entrepreneur by utilizing a talent and effort to accomplish a purpose. I’m inspired!

So inspired that I now have 3 publishers. One, Bookemon.com, will produce hard-cover or paperback in a large format, and also list the book on Amazon. Kindle Direct Press, a division of Amazon, will only produce paperbacks, and in a smaller format. The third, IngramSpark.com, will produce the book in both hard cover and paperback, for distribution to retailers, bookstores, and libraries at wholesale costs in case lots of 134 books each. Next month, their Children’s Book Catalog will be issued that has our book, and I’m very interested to see if we get any traction on that. For now, it looks like Amazon is the outlet for the paperback, and Bookemon/Amazon for the hardcover (which is pretty darn expensive at $32 for single print orders!).

Grandma Wendy got into the act too, becoming our Marketing and Press Agent. She came up with this cool promotional idea, and is on the cusp of deploying it. We have a local toy store that is her first target.

Who knows? Maybe there is a Jones Island book signing in our future!

And, as always, h e e e e r ‘ s Tippy!

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