Friday, September 10, 2021

Coleus and Covid


Here are a few of the coleus plants on the back patio. I don't know why I don't grow these more often. They're easy as pie and really beautiful. We have three pots of them and I'm really happy with how they've turned out. Apparently they're related to nettles!

I have a little more time this morning, so maybe I can write an actual blog post. I suppose I could sit down the night before I post and write something more thoughtful, but for me this is part of my morning routine -- as much about the process as the result. I would miss writing in the morning if I didn't do it. It's a quiet activity to start my day, gives me something to do while I enjoy my coffee, and it helps me gear up my brain.

Some of you might be wondering how we're doing in school with Covid. The answer is, we're not really sure! Last year the school sent out alerts when anyone tested positive, and close contacts of infected people were required to self-isolate for ten days or so to make sure they didn't pass it on. Thus, we had some sense of the infection rate. This year, all of that's gone by the wayside. If someone tests positive they're not even required to tell the school, and there is no isolation of close contacts. I think we've basically decided that vaccines have to do the job. (Which appears to be consistent with the UK's national policy for schools.)

Just yesterday I had a kid come to my desk and return some books, and as he handed them to me, he said he'd been absent because he had Covid. I don't think the risk from touching books is very high, but I sanitized anyway, the minute he walked away! It was more for psychological than physical reasons.

I feel sort of fatalistic about it all. I'm taking sensible precautions, I'm washing my hands and for now (as long as the school requests it) I'm masking. (The masking may go away, though, as it has in UK state schools, and even at our school I often see groups of unmasked kids sitting and talking together.) I also take regular lateral flow tests. Overall, I have confidence in the vaccine. I realize there's a chance I could catch Covid anyway -- and I have vaccinated co-workers who came down with it -- but I guess that's just our new reality, unless and until the vaccines get better.

It's a brave new world.

Out and about in London, people are still supposed to use masks on the tube -- but I'd say at least half don't, or don't wear them correctly. Masks are no longer required in shops or public spaces, and although you still see them, many, many people have stopped wearing them. Sometimes I put one on to go in a shop and find I'm the only one who's masked.

Another co-worker told me yesterday that a concert we'd planned to attend last year -- which of course was cancelled -- has been rescheduled for later this month. So, soon I'll be at a rock concert! I have mixed feelings about that, but I'm going to take the plunge. (The band is Elbow, and the concert is on the 22nd.)

I guess what it comes down to is -- and I've said this before -- we just have to live our lives, and life involves some risk. The trick is to minimize the risk while returning to some semblance of normalcy. I think we're finding that balance, but time will tell.

Well, I didn't intend to make this whole post about Covid, but it's still on all our minds, right?


I found this walking home from work yesterday. It's just a bit of cardboard printed with what looks like a mid-century abstract painting. I Googled it but nothing came up, so I'm not sure what it is -- but I kind of like it.

54 comments:

  1. My thoughts exactly.
    The politics don't want us to know what is really going on and want us to go back to "normal" and not worry our pretty little heads about anything......
    Keep up the soap and water. Good against plenty of other things as well.
    Viruses survive longer on shiny surfaces. I would have thought it to be the other way round, but a lab researcher friend advised me otherwise!

    I think Coleus are beautiful with their variety of colourings. Never tried them much as I am not too good with things you can't eat!!

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    1. I think soap and water is the ultimate answer (in addition to vaccines). Just plain old-fashioned infection control.

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  2. I like that piece of cardboard too. Needs to be put somewhere and considered!

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  3. I spoke on the phone to a friend in London and I was surprised to learn things have not quite opened up as we here at least thought.

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    1. What was your friend saying? They seem pretty darn open to me!

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  4. Over half a million people die each year in Great Britain. The increase because of COVID has been quite marginal. Many of those people would have died from natural causes anyway.

    Speaking personally, I have always sanitised after coming into contact with people who use English incorrectly and think that that is okay. Fortunately, no sanitiser was required after reading this typically well-written blogpost. A gold star for Steve.

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    1. YP, I agree with your first paragraph.

      What incenses me is that no one appears to take account of the WIDER fallout of the almost exclusive attention Covid is given. Namely, that some people who need tests/treatments for OTHER health issues are not seen to early enough to limit damage. Waiting lists growing. Where do people's prolonged miseries and worse than necessary outcomes figure?

      I suppose as long as you don't turn on the light or the sun doesn't shine you can't see the cob webs.

      U

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    2. Mr. Pudding, I disagree with your first paragraph. The reason the increase in deaths due to Covid has been "marginal" is because of the extent of health measures to mitigate it. How much worse the death rate would have been if masking and distancing had not been implemented. And should we discount the people who would NOT have died from natural causes anyway? Otherwise healthy people, many of them with long and productive lives ahead of them ...

      And, Ursula, I agree with your second paragraph. That fallout has yet to be seen because it has been pushed ahead by months and years. We will get the report in due time and there will be people who are genuinely surprised by it. It won't be the epidemiologists or doctors, though, or, for that matter, anyone who can think.

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    3. YP: I agree that many of the people who got ill and died from Covid might have died anyway, as many of them were infirm to begin with. Not all, though -- and I wonder about the accuracy of comparing death statistics year to year. Thanks for the gold star, Mr. English Teacher.

      Ursula: I think many people ARE concerned about the ripple effect on other health services. There's been a lot of coverage about that in the press and it's part of the basis for Boris' suggested tax increase to fund health care.

      Jenny: The mitigation was certainly worthwhile. I don't question masking or distancing, particularly in our pre-vaccine pandemic world.

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  5. Steve, that cardboard positively cubistic (literally).

    Wouldn't rely too much on the lateral flow test. The Angel went to an OPEN Air festival three weeks ago. Lateral on entry, lateral on departure. Negative. Great. What else. Fast forward a day or two. Showing symptoms. PCR. Lovely. Positive. My son was gutted. Not on his behalf. On mine. Having brought home an unwanted souvenir, by necessity his mother being a few years older, more "vulnerable". Don't worry, I told him. Your mother is like a weed. Dandelion. Not easily eradicated. And what do you know. I didn't succumb. Maybe just asymptomatic. That just about fits the bill how I and anyone else who knows me would describe me. Asymptomatic. Brewing. But keeping the lid on. Though my doctor, over the phone, suspected low level pneumonia. Whatever.

    Washing hands should be a given - even before Covid. How long it'll take me to get the two meter rule swerving out of anyone's way to get over is anyone's guess. It now comes naturally to me. Mask I wear, in shops, by way of courtesy to other people. Remember I may be a Trojan Horse.

    Your Coleus, what an unfortunate name, is gorgeous indeed,
    U

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    1. Lateral flow tests are not highly accurate, but they're better than no testing at all and they're cheap. Hence, that's why we use them in education. I still swerve on sidewalks too!

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  6. I like that art, too. And the coleus. I always had some. Don’t have any here in Spain. Maybe I’ll give it a try. We are still required to mask indoors here and outdoors when a 2-meter safe distance can’t be guaranteed (as if that’s observed). But numbers are going down all over the country and I think M├ílaga (us) is now the only province at Level 2. Still, the USA is nightmare. So glad you got there when you did. It’s gotten so much worse.

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    1. Yeah, I did have lucky timing for my USA trip. It really seems, though, that most of the severe Covid infections there are in unvaccinated people. It's the crazy politicization of vaccines and Covid that has created this mess.

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  7. My problem with plants in pots is that no matter how many you have, you can't grow everything.

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    1. But pots are so convenient. It's great to be able to move the plants around on a whim!

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  8. Yes, we’re living with a weird mix of care and disregard for COVID here,
    .a.neighboring town has a mask mandate, the next does not. I’m hoping boosters will be available soon.

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    1. I think people just aren't sure what to do next. How open should we be? I struggle with that too.

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  9. I agree that we will need to learn to live with Covid, but the $64,000 question is how do we get to the point where that's a sensible course of action? I don't think we're there yet, not in any nation. There needs to be a certain level of vaccinated folks to put us on the same playing field as we currently are with regular flus, because the regular flu is neither as contagious nor as deadly as Covid overall.

    I guess you already know from my recent post how I feel about this and now I'm just ranting :)

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  10. P. S. I grew a light coleus this year (in a pot) and it has done beautifully. The bonus is that it's deer-resistant, although not deer-proof -- it did get nibbled when I first put it out. I just pruned off the nibbled part and it's been okay since then. I can't tell if yours are all in one pot or not, but if so they make a striking combination.

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    1. I wonder what percentage of people get vaccinated for the flu in any given year? It seems unlikely we'll get a whole lot more people vaccinated for Covid, given the poisonous political atmosphere around the issue. I didn't know coleus were deer resistant! Mine are all in one pot. They do look good together.

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  11. Your coleus are beautiful. We have several in our yard and I love all the color, and how different they look from one another. Better still, they are rather hardy and so I can't kill them.
    We're headed back to masks and social distancing here, ay least for people who care about themselves and others. ::::sigh:::

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    1. It is disturbing how many people think considering the welfare of others constitutes some kind of tyrranical Communist plot!

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  12. Your Coleus plants are beautiful. I guess it's up to each of us as individuals to do what we can to stay safe from Covid. I think the masks are a good idea if you can wear one when you are near other folks. Hopefully, as more and more folks get vaccinated, we'll beat this thing. Enjoy the concert. Hugs, Edna B.

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    1. We do all have to make our own decisions about how to keep ourselves safe and keep others safe. I do struggle with the vaccine resisters, though.

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  13. I tossed a bunch of mixed coleus seeds in a long planter in mid-summer and now have a beautiful display. The variety, like yours, is so intriguing.

    A bit surprised to read your account of Covid dealings in London. Guess I will do even more walking than usual when I visit next month. Not sure I want to be cheek and jowl on the Tube with non-maskers.

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    1. I bought ours as young plants. I should try seeds sometime! Yeah, if you get on the tube, be prepared for at least a third of the people to be unmasked.

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  14. It's so strange how many people over here have simply decided that covid is over and done. They just had an FSU football game and the stands were packed and hardly anyone was wearing a mask.
    Our hospitals are filled. There are refrigerated trucks for morgue overflow.
    This does not seem to me to be the time to shrug and learn to live with it. Not here, in any case, where complete assholes refuse the vaccinations and rely on horse dewormer instead. Until they become so sick they end up in...the hospital, seeking the very thing they disdained by refusing the vaccine which is science, of course. People are unable to get "elective" surgeries which in some cases they desperately need. Meanwhile, who knows what even more deadly and contagious variations are brewing in the unvaccinated as they pass them along?
    I'll shut up now.

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    1. I wouldn't say I'm shrugging, exactly -- it's more like a realization that there's just not much more we can do. Learning to live with it is our only option. Here in the UK a higher percentage of people are vaccinated, but we have a surprising number (something like 30 percent, I think?) who still haven't gotten it. As I understand it, in the states, the vast majority (though not all) of Covid deaths are in unvaccinated people.

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  15. Love the coleus! Such lovely coloring!
    I always have a mask handy and just pop it on when I feel the need.
    Hope you stay safe, Steve!

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    1. Yeah, me too -- I carry one and wear it when appropriate!

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  16. Yeah - we are in a pretty bad place right now in NC with hospitals filled up & elective surgeries canceled. I'm masking up everywhere I go & when I meet with employees, and still pretty nervous about it. I know (or hope!) that since I'm vaccinated if I get sick it won't be life-threatening. But I hate to be sick & would rather avoid it thank you very much.

    Just the other day I saw some pictures of the coleus we had last year. It was so pretty! As I often say on your posts - I should get one of those for our yard. Ha!

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    1. Yeah, I would certainly hate to get it too, even though I'm vaccinated and probably wouldn't die. Most of my colleagues are vaccinated, which eases my mind, but of course the kids aren't.

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  17. The virus is raging here in Northern California. The numbers keep going up and up among the infected and then dead. Our local hospitals are sending patients out of town. There is a mask mandate at stores and schools and other public indoor settings. It's a bit early in the pandemic here to shrug and move on. I wish we lived someplace where things were safer, but I fear that holidays and winter will teach us all how infections spread.
    Thank you for posting the photo of the coleus. Now that's a plant I would like to have here.

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    1. I think in places where the infection rate is very high, it certainly makes sense to continue mask mandates. As I said to Ms. Moon above, I'm not shrugging -- I recognize the continued severity of the pandemic -- but I am trying to face the fact that once we've been vaccinated, we DO have to learn to live with it.

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  18. I think many people are starting to think like you. However, I'm afraid that we will still get wave after wave of covid. The people (unvaccinated) who should really be taking precautions are not.

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    1. Yeah, but they're also the ones who will bear the brunt of the infections. Nothing is 100 percent but unvaccinated adults are mostly the ones who are getting seriously ill, as I understand it.

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  19. It seems like this has been going on forever, but we aren't even close to the end of it. I fear a variant more deadly and contagious than Delta. However, all I can do is wear a good mask, meet up outdoors and with vaccinated people, wash my hands and mostly stay out of restaurants. The virus is raging here and our hospitals are starting to buckle with the added weight of the unvaccinated covid patients. Those who seek care for other than covid are finding it difficult if not impossible.

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    1. I'm not sure it will ever "end." I think Covid will be with us forever, like the flu. As you said, all we can do is take common sense precautions. (We almost never eat out!)

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  20. I had to look up "lateral flow test" and I'm still not sure what it is except some kind of rapid test when you don't have symptoms. I don't think we have that here or maybe we do and I just don't know about it. When I was in California, I noticed that quite a lot of people were careful and wearing masks. More than here in AZ. But, given the politics of AZ vs. CA, that kind of makes sense in our highly charged political world. I'm going to the theatre Sunday evening to see Hamilton again. It will be interesting to see how that works out. I imagine it will be a lot like my recent flight...everyone in masks.

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    1. The British government makes free lateral flow tests available to people who work in education, so we can monitor our own health and make sure we're not asymptomatic "spreaders." They're a home test kit and they're not super-accurate, but they're theoretically better than nothing.

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  21. Take care of you and Dave- do all the things and stay far away from people , double mask if you need to. This is just practice- weeding out the population- "biological control" I think it is called. We are in the thick of it. Words will not impress covid nor will attitude or politicians or republicans. We are respecting covid here. We are still pretty much as we were last year at this time. Staying home, sanitizing, avoiding people, masking and vaccinated. False security in the face of covid and its variants.

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    1. We do a lot of those things -- we stay home kind of by nature, and I have always been a frequent hand-washer. I am not going to double-mask, though. I can barely stand to wear a single mask all day, every day.

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  22. I still wear a mask when I go indoors, either a shop or estate sale. my mother would grow coleus. you're supposed to pinch off the bloom to keep them growing. I guess they die after they bloom.

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    1. Ours haven't reached the blooming stage yet, but it probably won't be much longer. That's OK -- they're annuals so we'll just get more next year.

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  23. I’ve just come back from London on the train in Chester I politely dared to remind 6 young men and women that the welsh govt rules stipulate mask usage
    They just laughed and no one else said a word

    What’s your advice with coleus
    I never can keep them

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    1. Yeah, reminding people about mask rules never seems to work. I think many people forget that wearing a mask primarily helps others, not the wearer. Young people figure they'll risk it, but they're not thinking about the older people around them that they may be potentially endangering. (I have to remind myself about this, too.)

      I just stuck the coleus in a pot and they grew! Maybe make sure you have some good compost for drainage? I don't think they want heavy soil.

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    2. Also coleus like dappled bright light, not shade and not full sun except morning sun. According to the experts, anyway. I lucked out, the spot I chose fits all those criteria and that's before I read the advice :)

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  24. I could be wrong, but it was never my understanding that the Covid vaccine would totally protect a person from getting the virus (like an MMR or DTP vaccine is supposed to do). That's why when I contracted Covid, I wasn't shocked (though I was surprised since I've always been careful with masking, etc.). I'm just thankful the vaccine prevented mine from being a serious case, especially considering I have underlying health issues. I think the hope is that Covid will settle into something endemic, much like our seasonal flu. I think I even saw somewhere that Moderna was looking at combining a season flu shot with a Covid booster. That would work for me!

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    1. Yeah, when I got the vaccine, the nurses told me it wasn't 100 percent preventative and there was still a chance I'd contract Covid, but if so it would be less severe. I think you're right -- this will ultimately be something humanity lives with long-term, like the flu.

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  25. I grew some coleus last summer from seed and they did beautifully. Some of them were huge! They must have self-seeded and surprised me about a month ago scattered around the front border. Such beautiful color. I'm still being very careful as I spend part of each day with my 90-year-old mother. I only go into stores when I really need to, and then I wear a good mask. It sounds like you are finding a good balance you can live with. Stay safe.

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    1. Yeah, I totally understand why you'd be careful, spending time with someone more vulnerable. I think I'm hitting a balance that works for me, but time will tell!

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  26. I'm in Scotland and you do need to wear a mask anywhere indoors. In our area it seems to be complied with almost totally but we have had problems with tourists.

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