As the world reopens (sorta)...

Well, it's been one helluva year, and 2021 is slowly getting better. Emphasis on "slowly." Remember my previous 2011 post "I Want MY Country Back?" Well, first in 2016 we lost it, but finally on Jan. 20 of this year we got it back--contentiously, at times violently, and with our democracy ever more fragile. I am cherishing what we have, because due to the rise of "alternative facts"-worshipers and conspiracy-theory "Q-koos" (feel free to use that epithet, I won't copyright it), we may lose it again come Nov. 2022. We hold the Senate by a single vote--that is, VP Harris' role as tiebreaker--otherwise, it's 50-50. And our robust 2018 House margin is now razor-thin, in the single digits (with the death of yet another Democratic member).

The GOP is united in fealty to its base; but we're splintering once again into the moderates who urge Biden to employ his renowned bipartisanship skills (egged on by so-called GOP moderates who have no intention of doing the same) and progressives who want it all and want it now. Of course, Democrats urging bipartisanship are Charlie Brown getting ready to kick a field goal (unable to try for a touchdown despite the progressives insisting on a "Hail Mary" pass all across the field from their own 10-yard line), while the GOP is Lucy, who will yank away the football at the last minute. 'Twas ever thus. This is the reason so much legislation gets reduced to taxing-and-spending so it can be pushed through via budget reconciliation--it's the only way around the GOP filibuster (which dooms attempted bipartisanship and progressive idealism alike). Sigh--where have all the liberals gone?

Of course, 2020 was also the year of lost jobs, sports, events, trips, dreams, plans--and, tragically, friends & loved ones--as well as at least 10% of restaurants. At its least onerous, it was still "the year without gigs" for those of us who couldn't figure out (or afford) the tech necessary to livestream. Chicago is entering what looks like a third wave (and the nation a fourth) of the pandemic, but because of the availability of vaccines, mitigations haven't been tightened since they were loosened in March. But because they were (carefully) loosened, and we oldsters got ourselves vaccinated, too many Gen-Z'ers & millennials thought the worst was over and began gathering, partying and traveling like mad--and so sprang up the viral variants. The variants are definitely "zoonotic:" they're spread via "party animals." The first wave hit the elderly & boomers the hardest--just the opposite now.

This is why I'm still not posting any live in-person gig dates. I will be webcasting a solo concert Apr. 23 (with live Zoom "reception" afterward) I recorded at Wild Hog in the Woods up in Madison a couple of weeks ago (when all concerned were fully-vaccinated and it was safe to cross the IL/WI state line)--it is for the benefit of the Wil-Mar Community Center, which not only hosts Wild Hog but also food pantries, afterschool & senior programs among other wonderful services for the people of Madison. "E-doors" open at 7:15, and the show runs 7:30-8:30. Donations are strongly encouraged via an onscreen link. Details are at wildhoginthewoods.org. I'm donating my share of the online proceeds to the Wil-Mar Center. And the Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Festival (second weekend in June) will be virtual once again this year--only there will be entire sets recorded by the performers specifically for the festival (Andina & Rich recorded ours live up in Madison too) instead of single-song video clips contributed by the artists from their archives. And there will be live Zoom workshops--I'll be teaching a couple from my living room (unlike a concert, they don't require broadcast-quality production values). And I'll be watching & listening, just as I would under a tent or in a meadow--just mute your mic when it's not your turn to play or talk.

There's a bit less of me than there was a couple of years ago: due to doctors' orders, I shed (on purpose) over 50 lbs. (as of today). I'd actually continued losing weight during the first months of the pandemic, eventually losing a total of >65; but stress over my health (see below), current political & societal events (where do I start, so I won't), and then being unable to exercise after straining my back...followed by Chiberian Snowmageddon. Hence, my "quarantine 15" occurred fairly recently, and I'm slamming the brakes on it. I've spent quite a bit on a new, much smaller-size wardrobe (after Marie Kondo-ing the hell out of my closets), and I want to keep fitting into it. So back to "dead animals & leaves" near-keto it is.

Those online shows will go up on my calendar shortly. Meanwhile, I did get to be in a few numbers in the abbreviated online 2020 Bar Show "Change of Venue." Alas, due to the vagaries of current events rendering them inappropriate or irrelevant, some numbers were up for only a short time before being taken down and others never did get put up.  Next year, in Jerusa....uh, the Merle Reskin stage. "Kinahurrah," as my splash page music video goes.

And if you haven't been to my CaringBridge page lately, I can tell you that my treatment for ocular melanoma (diagnosed in July & treated in August 2020) went well--I had internal ("plaque brachytherapy") radiation, and things are holding steady. In this case, "no progression" is a good thing. Still have no idea how I got it--it's extremely rare (1 case per 4 million people), and the only risk factor I had is being somewhat fair-skinned. No freckles, no blue or other light-colored eyes, and blonde is not my natural hair color (well, not since I was a toddler, but you probably figured that out). Never went out in sunlight without polarized shades, either. And it had nothing to do with my breast cancer (knock wood, still "no evidence of disease" on that front...pun intended). I'm getting updated genetic testing this week to find out if I have a gene for it, since my testing in 2015 revealed no mutations. 

So if you haven't done so already, roll up your sleeve (you need only one arm per dose) and get vaxed. For those idiots out there who still believe that the vaccine is a plot by Bill Gates to inject a microchip, that's ridiculous! I got the Moderna vaccine, which contains the George Soros chip--far superior and kosher to boot!

(Oh, and I got the second of a matched set of knee replacements in 2013. Between those and the hardware in my R leg & L arm from various orthopedic repairs, I'm tons of fun at metal detectors). 

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