My doctor died!

I went to my GP yesterday, for regular tests – cholesterol, etc. and he asks me if I have a new cardiologist. I said, “Why would I need a new cardiologist, I have, Dr. Barquet?” and he says, “He died.”

I thought I didn’t hear right. Apparently this youngish doctor died of covid in May. I was in shock. I couldn’t move for a minute. This guy was the sweetest guy ever. My GP told me he was so loved by the medical community that they are all still in mourning so many months later. My GP was in tears.

The crazy part is that he wasn’t part of the medical arts community, you know, in the medical office or hospital with hundreds if not thousands of doctors and patients every day. He bought his own building off from the madding crowd and only had his own patients. He didn’t use elevators or deal with masses of people every day as you would in hospital or medical arts building. He had a one floor office which only consisted of his staff and his own patients.

I had a cardiologist because one of my bothers passed away some years back. My youngest brother had heart or artery problems and as a precaution, doctors had my other brothers and me go to cardiologists for check ups. I would go every couple of years, I guess.

The first doctor I went to was not a nice or friendly guy. The few times I went to his office they would throw me on a gurney and start tests before I could open my mouth – hours later you were released. “I only came to ask you a question!” was my reply after hours of tests. The first time I was there 10 hours – six hours one day and then back another four hours the next! All tests.

This new guy was an angel. So low key, so humble. The first time I met him, we talked. Like humans. He didn’t throw me on a gurney and charge me for exhortation tests. Such a decent and nice human being. And to hear he passed away – I still can’t believe it.

After my GP mentioned that the doctor passed away. He said in a low voice, with his eyes down, “You know from what . . . ” And I said, “Heart disease?” Thinking that the heart doctor ironically had heart disease. But he said, “No.” And he continued to look down in sadness. And I said, “Covid?” And he shook his head “yes.”

I’m still in shock. I am sorry I didn’t know at the time. When I googled it, I see it was in all the papers and on all the tv news, but I never seem to follow local news these days, my tv is always on national news it seems.

One headline at the time said, “Beloved Miami cardiologist dies from coronavirus complications.” He was beloved.

This was the second doctor of mine that died! Many years ago, my family GP died in an accident. He and his family were in a car accident in New England, I think. I believe he was with his whole family and if I remember right only he and one of the children died in the accident, the wife and the other kids survived. That was a hug shock at the time. I mentioned this to my GP yesterday and he remembered that, too.

Popeye’s, Fauci and me

So yesterday I drove all over the place, dropping off Christmas presents. It was so great to see my family, it’s been so long; so many of them still separated from each other, but I got to see most of them.

My last stop was at my parents, where I brought Popeye’s chicken and we had lunch together. I’m a cartoonist, I had to get Popeye’s. What else?

Speaking of cartooning, I did a couple of caricatures yesterday, one is of me and one is this Dr. Fauci cartoon which was published today. I was watching Dr. Fauci get vaccinated on tv and this came to mind.

As for me. I am trying to join a cartooning organization and they asked for “a short biographical sketch or resume”. I read it wrong and thought they wanted a sketch to use on their website or something, so I did this sketch. I put the sunglasses on because I couldn’t get my eyes right.

Christmas this year

So I may spend Christmas alone this year – first time ever – just like Thanksgiving – first time I ever was alone for Thanksgiving was this year, too.

I’m going to deliver gifts today to friends and family, just so I am not pressured on Christmas day, then I can play it by ear that day and go or not go anywhere and not be pressured because there are gifts to be delivered.

I was finishing wrapping up presents this morning and I turned around and saw this. Isn’t this cute? This little guy wants to escape. It’s a metaphor for the year, I think. Don’t we all want to escape this year? One of my friends who say this photo said he is trying to get out because he wants to stay with me. But not to worry, he is going to a good home – to a one month old boy, in fact! He’s probably bigger than the boy at this point.

Anyway, it’s not that I don’t have a place or two or three to go, but in the interest of safety, I think it’s best not to mix and mingle, especially due to the fact that I have family members who think it’s nothing to go out and party in bars and clubs all the time. Why they are still open can only be explained by our inept government.

I noticed that all of 2020 I did not have hospitalization as part of my coverage! I renew my health insurance myself every year and apparently last year that slipped by – the year of covid!

It’s a confusing process every November and December because it always changes. Things are dropped or moved around and you have to look through dozens of plans to make sure everything is on there that you want and while I was looking for something here, the hospitalization there just slipped away without me noticing. I only noticed when I compared plans for 2021.

So that’s another reason I choose to stay home this holiday season. Why tempt fate when 2021 is only a few days away and I’ll be fully covered, health insurance-wise.

To tell you the truth, I was telling someone that I welcome the change. Just to get out of the rut. It’s the same thing every year – go here for Christmas Eve, go to midnight mass, go here for breakfast the next day, then go here for lunch/dinner, then do this to open gifts and so on – it’s all sort of scripted.

So to have a change this year feels refreshing. To be honest, I don’t even know what day of the week it is anymore. If someone didn’t tell me it was Christmas, I would probably sleep right through it. Maybe next year we can change things up for the holidays – maybe France for Christmas day; maybe Thanksgiving in the mountains. Who knows?

Appreciating a strange year

I’m trying to appreciate everything before life gets back to normal. Does that sound strange?

Now that there is a vaccine, hopefully things will get back to normal fast. But it makes me think of this past year. We’re sort of in a rut now, but at the beginning, I really appreciated the whole concept of the world stopping. I wrote about it often.

I was looking out the window the other day – basically the same old scene for the past eight months

I think we’ll look back on 2020 one day and realize that it was an interesting time. A time to stop and reflect. A time to reset our lives. The Earth seemed to be resetting itself.

We may start to see the water and air getting a little bit more polluted. We’ll see more traffic and people on the streets; and more noise out there as industry and travel picks up. It will be life as normal. And we may miss the quietness and the time off that we had during 2020.

There was a lot of sickness and death; and loss of jobs and other things. But there were other things, too. Things that we’ll remember and appreciate once we are out of this strange time. Things we did that we may not ever do again. Walks we took, things we noticed, time we spent alone.

I remember walking around the neighborhood and noticing things I had never noticed before. I remember how quiet the neighborhood was. So desolate.

I had planned to get an RV of some sort, remember the Boho van and head up to the Carolinas, but in the interest of safety, I stayed put.

My living room faces a hotel that was torn town across the way. I remember watching that being taken down slowly over a couple of weeks. Every time I look out at the vacant land now, I remember that time period.

The other side of my place faces a new townhouse going up across the street. They started last January and worked on it through the pandemic. There were times when the only movement in the neighborhood were the construction workers and I looked forward to hearing them.

I remember seeing more people than normal out on the water – rowing, kayaking, paddle boarding. They don’t do that too often, now, but it was a daily thing back in April and May. I remember seeing how clean the water had gotten; and the air.

I remember ordering food from the supermarkets because I was afraid to shop with other people around. I remember only eating at home and then slowly venturing out into the neighborhood. Things are different now. I am out and about – social distancing and wearing a mask, but it took time to get out there.

It’s one of those watershed things where we’ll remember what we did before 2020 and after 2020. It’s a marker in our lives.

A nice little article about me in today’s paper

The Miami Herald has a little article about me printed in today’s paper. My comics are here if anyone is looking for them. They didn’t supply a link in the printed article, but it first appeared in Thursday’s online edition, on the front page! and my comics stats went way through the roof because there was a link to them there.

People are congratulating me and I think they think my cartoons are being published daily in the Herald. I’ve been in the newspapers a lot over the years for various things (including my comics), so people are used to that, so I can only assume they think my comics are being published daily now. Many people just read headlines. I noticed on Twitter now if you go to retweet an article, it asks you if you read the article first. Love that.

Front page blurb


It’s one of the few times I’ve been in the paper where it’s something positive. I’ve always been part of controversial stories. When I wrote the news around here, for some reason I became part of the stories. Not too long ago, was about the wild peacocks in the neighborhood where they twisted my words and had me hating the peacocks (for the record, I love them). I was interviewed on the radio for about 20 minutes and somehow one or two lines made it into the papers. That story and my quotes made it all over the country. Why Chicago, New York and Milwaukee among many others care about our peacocks is behind me. Must have been a slow news day. Here is one little blurb in the NY Post, not too bad.

I did have a nice article recently in VoyageMIA about my comics and me. I guess I gained a lot of good press (and karma) recently due to taking on the daily comics rather than being in everyone’s business while doing the daily news.

After seeing this recent Herald article, I had one friend say, “Your dreams are coming true!” But truth be told, I prefer digital comics, for me anyway. I believe that just like movies and other entertainment – digital is the way to go. The main reason is the deadlines. With newspapers there is such a long time between when the comics are submitted and when they are printed.

Currently I am updating the comics till the last minute. Sometimes late at night I’m making a change on a comic that is scheduled to publish the next morning. I can’t do that with newspapers. The deadlines are way too long.

But even with the Herald article today, it was pared down to a shorter version in print (where digital, there is plenty of room) and even the cartoon itself is quite small, where it is large and featured on the online edition, and also, there are no links to the comics or social media sites – where the digital version had that. So digital seems the way to go, I think.

But what do I know. After the print edition appeared, I seem to be getting more subscribers online. Go figure.

What I wouldn’t mind is having the Herald print me once a week and pick and choose from what was published earlier in the week and just run one, two or three comics in the weekend section or something like that. And running them online, too, wouldn’t hurt!

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My premonition was right

I told you I get premonitions and things like that. Well, my recent premonition on Thanksgiving payed off. I avoided going to my family for Thanksgiving because I had a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be safe and lo and behold, my nephew’s father-in-law now has covid!

So now they are all quarantining. Unfortunately, his father-in-law never saw a mask he didn’t hate.

Hope they are all well and learned their lessons about big family gatherings – not a good thing to do.

Shots

Here’s today’s published comic and you know, what? I’m disappointed in myself. I forgot one big thing when it comes to shots – the vaccine shot! A reader pointed that out to me.

I should have had the ladies lined up getting vaccine shots in one of the panels.

I did this cartoon awhile back, so the vaccine and pandemic were not a thing at the time, but it would have been right on point if I had added the shots. Maybe I’ll redo it and post it with the vaccine shots once the vaccines are out.

Update: It was bothering me so much so I added a fifth panel!

Menacing in the shadows

I don’t like to judge people when I first see them, but it’s human nature.

I go to this place in town for lunch often, maybe two or three times a week. You can’t eat inside, but you can eat out in the closed off street or you can take-out at the window. I’ve mostly go alone for take-out, but I’ve eaten there with friends sitting at tables, too.

From the first day I started going during the pandemic, months ago, I’ve seen these two guys there – every single time. No matter when I go, at lunchtime, there they are. Sort of near the take-out window, in the shadows, drinking beer. They usually have dark masks on or they are holding them and for some reason, they look at me and I look at them and no one says anything. I find them menacing.

I live in a small village, and everyone knows everyone else, but these two guys are strangers to me. But there they are, every single day at lunchtime, menacing in the corner, drinking beer.

Well, the other day as I parked my car nearby and got out, one of the guys was walking toward me on the sidewalk. I didn’t realize who it was until he said, “Hello.” When I looked up I realized he was one of the menacing ones.

But there he was, he was a harmless, skinny, gray haired guy in his 60s and didn’t look very menacing. I stopped him and said, “Tell me, what are you guys about? I see you every time I’m at the restaurant.”

He tells me he is a college professor and his friend is a computer IT guy or something like that. They are working from home these days (zooming as he called it) and they take a daily break to meet up for lunch/beer. He told me his name, so next time I go by, I’ll call out, “Hi so-and-so,” and I’m sure his friend will get a kick out it.

But it’s interesting how we judge people and how they are different in different locations and situations. They never said anything to me before, but I never said anything to them. We were just there. Seen but not heard.

Boredom is setting in

I’m having tea these days, rather than coffee. Green tea.

One issue I’m having is that I forget to put the teabag in the cup! I get the water boiling and add honey and lemon to the cup, but I then pour the water in and there is no tea! Not sure why that is, but I think I am starting to get stir crazy.

At the beginning of the pandemic I thought it wasn’t a problem being self quarantined. I felt that it was my usual schedule. But I guess it’s not. I miss my family and friends, I miss travel, I miss going places and doing things. I tend to go to the same restaurant if I want take out because I feel I can trust them for safety. I don’t get delivery. I have started going to the supermarket after a couple of months of getting Instacart deliveries.

But it’s time to get out and about again, only the covid numbers keep going up. I’m not sure why people can’t be safe. I see so many people without masks. I read that if everyone wore a mask when they are in public, the virus would be gone in a couple of months because it would have nowhere to go.

Let’s hope for change soon. Who would have thought 2020 would have been like this? One whole year – a strange year – 2020. Not 2019 or 2018 – unlucky 2020!

I love when people persevere

josh

My friend Josh

My friend Josh, a tv producer, is now the Key Lime Pie King around here. So from behind the camera to in front of it – he was featured on GMA yesterday. I remember one day he told me he wanted to get a cart to sell his pies around town. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but a week later he sent me a picture of his pink and green monster – he already had the cart and was selling pies from it around town.

Josh is a tv producer (you probably know so many of his shows) – who loves making and selling the best key lime pies! The grass is always greener, how many would rather be a tv producer (and cameraman), he filmed this whole thing himself since GMA was unable to send a crew out!

What I love about this story is the success of it. So many people are out of work due to the pandemic and this is the time to realize our dreams. It’s a time of change. And rather than sit around and mope, Josh started doing something he loves – baking!

Whenever I see one of these success stories on tv, I literally get up and touch the person on the tv. Seriously! If it’s a mom who started a million dollar business from her kitchen table, or a guy who saved the family farm or whatever, I am very interested in that. I thrive on that. I touch them so I can get a piece of them – a piece of their energy. I do that for people who also have come back from a bad illness or accident, too. And to know someone like Josh, who I would touch through the tv, is even better – especially since I can touch him in person!

josh-tom

Josh (right) and me selling pies last Sunday.