Looking over a car dash toward a highway.

The hill down to the highway. Very bumpy.

Crisp and clear, refreshingly clear.

I spent most of the morning and into the afternoon getting photographs together for this project. So what I have would be a story of a project about a project for today, which seems a little too solipsistic to be interesting. Arlene came in at one point, put on heroddly knowing face and asked, “How much longer will this go on?” I think she thinks the whole thing is a bit silly. Maybe she’s right, but I’ll push on to the end of the month, give it a bit to settle, and then pick through the ashes and bones to see what’s there.

I recalled a certain minister who was quite obsessive about his diary, so I searched around for information about him. I think that was a thought that reveals some of my feeling about the tedium of the Memory-project. At any rate, I found the fellow I was thinking of. (How do I remember these strange things?) His name was Robert Shields, who started to record what he was doing every five minutes in 1972 and kept it up until 1997, when a stroke stopped him. Among his entries: “Passed a large, firm stool, and a pint of urine. Used five sheets of paper” (July 25, 1993, 7:05 am). And: “I shaved twice with the Gillette Sensor blade [and] shaved my neck behind both ears, and crossways of my cheeks, too” August 13, 1995, 8:45 am). His papers are at Washington State University, if you’re interested, though you have to wait until mid-century to have at them.

I ordered a book by Ernst Bloch called Traces (in German, Spuren), translated and issued by Stanford University Press in 2006. I’d read some of Bloch’s work on hope years ago, and I studied at “Ernst Bloch Universität” – the name Marxist students gave the University of Tübingen in uprisings in the 1970s. Bloch was a faculty member there, and he died in Tübingen when he was in his nineties. I had recalled the German title of the book (Spuren) as I was pondering this project a few days ago in the middle of the night. I thought it was maybe the work of Heidegger, but a quick bit of searching in the morning landed on Bloch. The reviews I read said that it is a readable and masterful book, and I got the impression that I’m glancingly doing in this project what he more painstakingly took on in his book. Looking at a story as a “trace” of something else. Anyway, we’ll see what old Ernst has to say. I just hope that the translation is good. Some people can really hack up German, especially German philosophy, but I’m not willing to take Bloch on in German at this point.

I got my insurance cards straight, mostly, I think. I went into Walgreens to pick up the annoying prescription, and they lady asked me if there was an “Rx” card. I don’t know, I had only what I had: a Medicare card (“A” and “B”) and a Medicare supplement card. The cost wasn’t that bad, though higher than I was expecting. I’m shifting over to drugs by mail, since it’ll save me from some annoyance. Maybe.

Picked eggs. We got thirteen of them, but that’s over a couple of days. Maybe three days. I need to be better about the routine of picking eggs. It’s a bit of a pain, since the chickens manage to lay their eggs in places that are difficult to reach. I have to take a ladle out with me to extend my reach and roll the eggs to a place where I can grab them. At least no one’s broody, and the temperatures are low, so it’s like the things are in the fridge.

I was in charge of dinner last night, since Arlene and Natasha went to Carrboro to look at some statues that are from artists in Zimbabwe. We actually have a few pieces, and Arlene brought home a little “riverstone” elephant, all shaped and polished. Natasha’s family still lives in “Zim,” and she arranged to get a used smartphone to her mother through the fellow who has the sculptures. He’s going to Harari in the near future, and he’ll get the phone into the country. Natasha’s mother will have a friend make the connection there, and she’ll be able to have a phone.

The ways of commerce and exchange are varied, and the example of the smartphone for Natasha’s mother shows how human connections mitigate deficits. But, oh, how Zimbabwe is suffering. It’s pretty much a basket case economically, but not without hope. Apparently the pandemic is crushing there now, too.

A final note to reassure my family and friends: At least I’m not reporting the size and consistency of my stools or how many sheets of toilet paper I’m using. I’m sure I use more than five sheets, anyway.