Traveling in the time of covid vaccines

My aunt passed away in New York the other day and I am unable to attend her wake and funeral, and ironically it’s because of her! She is a second mother to me and my cousins are brothers and sisters to me, so it really hurts not to go.

But I got my second vaccine shot yesterday and the nurse suggested I don’t travel in case of side effects. My aunt insisted, she called it nagging, that I get the shots. I said I was not old enough yet, but she insisted and I managed to go. She kept checking up on me – “Did you go yet?” “Which shot did you get?” When is your follow-up shot?” She was so instant.

She just couldn’t deal with being cooped up in the house for a year, so she was so looking forward to normalcy.

So when I mentioned at the vaccine site that I was trying to get a flight to NY, the nurse suggested I don’t. She said, “There may be side effects with the second shot and I don’t think you want to be up in the air or away from home if this should happen.”

I normally would ignore this, but a few years back I had kidney problems, which ended up being kidney failure, only I didn’t know a the time. And the night before I was to leave New York and head home, I really got sick. The next morning, I don’t know how I made it to the airport and onto that plane. I remember waking up and not knowing how I was going to get out of bed, I still don’t remember getting to the airport, but I remember feeling like death on the plane, wishing we were home already. So that thought creeped into my head when the nurse mentioned the issue and I decided I don’t want a repeat, even though they would only be side effects.

I ended up in the hospital for eight days with kidney failure, but that was a few years back and I’m perfect now – that’s another story.

But back to that trip. When I got to the airport, I ran into a friend Jerry, who was on my flight. So we sat together at the terminal waiting for the plane and as he was talking, it was going right through me. Everything bothered me – voices, the light, etc. There were two or three nuns sitting nearby who were talking and their voices were driving me crazy, too. I always remember that – and they were nuns – how loud could they be chatting?

A couple of years later, I told Jerry about it. I don’t think he knew I was sick at the time. I said, “Jerry, remember that time we were at the airport together?” And I went on to tell him how everything he did and said went right through me.

He laughed and said, “Well, I thought you were in trouble. You looked so bad and you smelled awful! I could barely be around you.” He went on, “I thought you had gone to NY for a week or two to do drugs or something! That’s how bad you looked and smelled!”

I said, “That’s funny, because why would I leave Miami, the drug capital, to go to NY to do drugs?”

Then when I read up on it, I saw that if you have kidney failure or problems, your urine and other toxins excrete from your pores. So I really must have smelled awful at the time! I was too out of it to notice others on the plane, but they must have been shunning me. Which reminds me of another story.

Years ago, when you could actually move around the plane, I was sitting next to a guy who smelled so awful, I couldn’t stay next to him. I got up and moved my seat back some rows. I left my carry-on bag under the seat but I just picked myself up and moved. He kept looking back, wondering where I had gotten off to, but I just couldn’t stay near him. I was young and nervy then and had the gumption to move, I don’t think I would do that now, or even be allowed to do that now.

But anyway, I won’t be going to NY for the funeral. I am sure my aunt would understand. I did send a big thing of flowers and I sent sympathy cards to everyone separately, rather than just one for the family and I’ve been in touch with my cousins and uncle via phone, text and email. It is going to be a tough thing when I visit in the summer, though.

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Maine Cabin Masters

The Maine Cabin Masters

There is a tv show I’ve been watching a lot lately – Maine Cabin Masters. I’ve been binge watching it. I really like it.

It’s a group of old friends and some family members, who renovate old cabins for clients, which they call “camps,” in Maine. The cabins are on lakes or rivers. The main three are Chase, the boss; his sister Ashley and her husband Ryan. There are also Dixie, Jedi, and Lance, who was a great character on the show, who left in later seasons.

The scenery alone is worth viewing, so much of it seems to take place in the fall and the turning leaves are amazing. The show is fun because they all have a great rapport since they know each other all their lives and also, the renovation work is great, they take old worn out cabins and turn them into spectacular places. And three words really are the main/Maine reason to love it – “Maine,” “cabin,” and “lake.” Three perfect things.

There is one thing that bothers me though, and that’s the budget. Clients give them a long list of things to do which usually consists of fixing the whole foundation, replacing the roof, replacing the outside siding, replace the flooring, sometimes redo the inside stairs, add a new outside deck, add new windows, renovate and redo the kitchen and every single thing inside, including bringing electricity and running water into the place and oh yes, add a dock down on the lake and add steps down to it, also many times, trees, huge, tall trees, have to be cleared from part of the property – and do it all for $30,000!

The crew is about eight people and the supplies have to cost way more than $30,000. The roof alone is more than that. How much would the Property Brothers charge for this? $150,000 or more? I can’t figure out how they work for months, literally a couple of months on this one job and all split the $30,000 after paying for supplies.

Now I am guessing the producers of the show pay it all, but still it’s all unrealistic. Even if they are paying for most of the salaries and supplies, etc., why not give a realistic estimate and at the end of the show have a little blurb in the credits that says the production company paid for the job. Sort of like Judge Judy, where the people who lose the cases have their loss paid for by the production company.

Other than this one little thing, I love the show. It’s comforting to watch. The hour goes by quite quickly.

We can’t wait to gogh!

My cousin had me in tears the other day. Why? Because she booked us tickets for the Immerse Van Gogh experience in New York for July! I was going to get some tickets for Miami when it’s here in April, but this is better. I had written about it in November, when they were planning the event for Indianapolis. I really had considered going there to see it.

I was in tears because I can’t believe that things are starting to get back to normal. When she texted me that she got the tickets and told me the date and time, I was filled with happiness, something I really hadn’t felt in a long time, the pandemic was starting to weight on me. But it’s real. It’s happening. I’m going to immerse myself into my favorite artist with some of my favorite people.


I’ve missed them so much. My cousins are like brothers and sisters to me. I spend so much time with them during the year, but the last time I saw them in person was November 2019. We talk and chat all the time, but of course it’s not the same.

What was even better is that I didn’t realize that there were more than two of us on the text when she said she got the tix, so when others chimed in and said they were excited, too. I really lost it.

I’ll take you along through this blog, of course, but if you want to attend in a city near you, check out the info and dates here.

Counting the days until summer

summerhouse
I see Carl and Kyle and that looks like Amanda next to Kyle and Paige next to her.

I came across this photo, which I originally posted in July 2019.

Every year when I’m in The Hamptons I look for the filming of Summer House, a tv show I watch. When I watch the show they seem to always be at bars and restaurants we go to so I’m always checking around for them. I left The Hamptons one day in the summer, in July 2019, and headed back to the city, and there they are at a restaurant some of my cousins were at the night I left.

My cousin Matt took this picture at the restaurant. He texted it and said, “Is this the thing you’re always talking about?” And it was.

I watched the recent episode last night. This year they are quarantined in the house in the Hamptons and they can’t leave. Usually they are out and about and they have big parties and hang out at the bars and beach, etc. and they go back and forth to the city each week and then hit the summer house on the weekends.


I made my plans again for this summer. I had missed last summer due to the pandemic – first time in years, and hopefully I’ll be there this summer. I’m not sure why I like the show so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that I am there when they are there and I am at places they are going to, so it sort of brings the summer back to me. They usually show the episodes six months or so later, so summer is long over by the time it’s on tv, and it is a little nostalgic for the past summer.

I used to like the Fall best, and I guess I still do, but these days I really love summers. I’m not sure why, all of a sudden, but it could be due to New York. New York has a certain vibe in the summer. While it seems like everyone is gone – up to the mountains or out to the Hamptons and Montauk it’s really not like that and the city comes alive. I like tagging my Instagram pics as #summerinthecity, it has a nice ring to it.

Everyone is out on the streets – at sidewalk tables, in the parks – everywhere. It’s alive. The farmer’s market at Union Square has a special feel to it, although I love the pumpkins and eventually Christmas trees and stuff in the fall and winter. But summer is special. We spend July 4th in the Hamptons and there is always someone at the house, so it’s easy to go back and forth at any time from the city, there is always someone driving back and forth at any given time.

I do a lot of walking in New York, on this particular day, on July 1, 2019, I walked 11.1 miles! Those “flights climbed” are probably up and down the subway steps, which isn’t part of this total walking tabulation, so add whatever miles I rode on the subway to the 11.1 miles and you can see I rally got around. I remember this one day because I was flabbergasted at at all the miles I covered in one day.

I’m really looking forward to this summer. It’s hard to believe it is only a few months away. I’m dying to get vaccinated, which will be the first step to some sort of normalcy.

I’m making travel plans

I started making travel plans for the year. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a plane. Heck, it’s been so long since I left my city, I hardly left the zip code, this past year!

I made plans for NY for this upcoming summer. I usually spend part of June and July there, I miss my cousins and aunt and uncle. We do a lot together in the summer, actually we do a lot all during the year. We’ve been on the phone and face time a lot this year, compensating for lost time.

We spend time in the city, The Hamptons and Montauk.

Some of us were planning on spending time in Italy during the upcoming summer, but I think it might be best to wait before heading out of the country. Baby steps.

I also am in the process of making my Thanksgiving plans. Yes, already. I’d like to visit Boston and then take the train down to New York after a few days. Love that train trip, I wrote about it here one time.

Molly and me on our way to The Hamptons.

I am still up in the air about October and ComicCon. I’m not sure if it’s on this year, although I assume by October it will be ok to attend and I do love going apple and pumpkin picking in the Hudson Valley in October, so maybe I’ll plan that trip next.

Crossing my fingers that nothing has to be cancelled. But my premonitions are telling me that things will go well this year.

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?

I didn’t want to ‘Say Cheese!’

I was talking about film and developing recently. It reminded me of a couple of stories regarding film and cameras.

I had a friend, Vincent, who would take pictures throughout the year and he would put a couple of the prints in the Christmas card he would send you. You would open the card and out would pop a photo of you and friends from July 4th or a birthday party or whatever, from earlier in the year.

When I was in high school I worked at a department store. At one point I worked in the camera department where we sent photos out to be developed. We had a couple of friends, ladies maybe in their 20s, who used to have racy pictures developed every week. It was a regular thing.

People who worked in all different departments of the store used to come by asking if any of their photos were in, returned by the developer. So many people would see the photos, it’s a wonder the ladies never complained about the envelope that the photos came in, it was surely bent and wrinkled and not in the pristine shape the pictures came in. But then again, they probably knew and got a kick out of the whole store seeing their x-rated life.

I remember reading when I was a kid, that there were just a few pictures of Jesee James and Abraham Lincoln and I used to think that was so cool, even though I know why there were only just a few photos. So I decided for most of the 1980s, that I would not be in any photos so when I died, there would only be a few shots of me, like Lincoln.

I don’t think I said anything, I would just slip out of the frame. To this day, I think this is the first time I am telling anyone. It wasn’t a secret, it was just something I did without mentioning it. In many cases, I would offer to take the picture, you know, “Oh Joe! Get in the picture, I’ll take it!”

And so all these years later, I don’t have many, if any images of me from the 1980s, the favorite decade!

Recently one of my cousins put a picture on Facebook, I think from 1989. It was an image of about 25 family members lined up in the backyard. We were all in town for a wedding. And I was missing in the picture! We were all wondering where I was. I couldn’t think of a reason why I wasn’t there either. And then I realized, I probably took the photo after slipping out of the frame. One of my lamebrained ideas. I don’t think I told anyone why, even recently on Facebook, what I did as a joke was Photoshop a current picture of myself into the photo.

I do regret not being in many pictures now. Seeing them would have brought back so many wonderful memories that I forgot about.

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.