Yesterday, Suzanne and I were sitting in our rocking chairs, looking out at the abundantly glorious garden, eating a truly delicious dinner*, when Suzanne said, thoughtfully, “I think it’s going to be aliens next.”**

I glanced in her direction and she clarified, “Big spaceships, hovering over major cities. Or maybe an asteroid.”

I chuckled, as seemed appropriate, and then said, also thoughtfully (although nowhere near this coherently), “You know, stories — fiction, non-fiction — always take place in the center of the action. There’s never a story where the protagonists are sitting on the sidelines, watching in dismay, with nothing much to do, except…” I shook my head and shrugged. “…appreciate their rocking chairs, I guess?”

Humboldt County, where we are located, has had three deaths from Covid, at least two of which were at a nursing home. You can buy toilet paper in stores, and also meat, although prices are going up. And to the best of my knowledge, the police aren’t murdering people, or spraying tear gas on peaceful protestors so our elected officials can stage photo ops.

The other day I wrote to my aunt and said, “I feel so torn these days between the choices of living in contented oblivion or informed misery. It feels like there is some inherent virtue in informed misery, like knowing the terrible things going on in the world is bearing witness and that bearing witness is an action. But really it’s just passively sitting around being depressed. Bearing witness is a useless action (unless, of course, one is physically present while the cops are killing people with a camera phone running).”

I am very grateful that I have not been physically present while the police are killing people. I’m hoping to continue to avoid that. But I am firmly on the side of this Facebook post:

I’ve got two books on hold at the library: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism and How to Be an Antiracist. That doesn’t feel like it’s doing much, but it’s better than sitting in my rocking chair and completely closing my eyes to the world, tempting though that is.

* Dinner was so good that when contemplating two delicious dessert choices — ice cream or GF ginger cookies — I wished I could have seconds of our meal instead. So for future reference: In a cast iron frying pan, I sautéed an onion in a little butter, then added chopped up chicken apple sausage. I cooked it for long enough that everything was thoroughly browned and the pan needed deglazing, meanwhile also cooking GF pasta. I removed the onions and sausages, deglazed the pan with a little red wine, added halved cherry tomatoes and a generous dash of chili garlic sauce, sautéed them briefly until the tomatoes were softened but still cohesive, returned the onion and sausage to the pan, added the pasta, a generous scoop of goat cheese, & some finely chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, then mixed it all until the goat cheese was entirely melted into the pasta.

**I’m not quoting word for word, because my memory is not that perfect.

Edited to add: Actually, we could delete the word “innocent” from that graphic, too. I think the police should stop killing people entirely, innocent or not.