Spent the weekend working on artwork for The 66 Kid, and also searching for my hidden stashes of photographs. The packrats got into a dresser drawer in the garage and when I went to look inside it was filled with cholla and debris the little bastards had tucked into their "condo" nest. Really disgusting and at first glance it appeared they had eaten all of the photos! I'm not kidding. I found a couple photos on the surface that had actual teeth bites taken out of them. Had to get a facemask to ward off the hantavirus, which actually killed a couple friends of mine. One was cleaning out a barn at Pagosa Springs and breathed in rat droppings and was dead in no time. In the other incident a friend of mine's mother passed away in El Paso. She and her husband went to take care of her estate and stayed in her house. Like a good son-in-law, her husband tried to clean up some of her mess and he came down with hantavirus and nearly died. Crazy stuff. Here's the online skinny on the air-borne illness:
Early symptoms include fatigue, fever and muscle aches, especially in the large muscle groups—thighs, hips, back, and sometimes shoulders. These symptoms are universal.
There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. About half of all HPS patients experience these symptoms.
Four to 10 days after the initial phase of illness, the late symptoms of HPS appear. These include coughing and shortness of breath, with the sensation of, as one survivor put it, a "...tight band around my chest and a pillow over my face" as the lungs fill with fluid.
Is the Disease Fatal?
Yes. HPS can be fatal. It has a mortality rate of 38%.
End of disease info. So, needless to say, I was wary AND worried that I had lost some of my most prized possessions. Virtually all of the cloth in the drawers (old T-shirts, etc.) were chewed up and destroyed, but in the debris were some gems that somehow survived, like this old photo of myself and my grandfather taken in about 1949 on the family farm:
BBB and Grandpa Bell on The Bell Family Farm, 1949
I believe this is the first photo to show me with stylin' with a hat. It certainly won't be the last. In the old days, Iowa license plates had the number of the county as the first numbers, and this is a Winnebago County license number (the 99 counties were listed alphabetically). When we lived in Swea City, Kossuth County was 55. It was fun to see the different numbers on the highway and try and guess where they were from. Not sure why Iowa got rid of this because it was quite logical and fun too.
Well, it's been 24-hours and I haven't had any symptoms, but I do have another drawer to clean at lunch today and I will photograph just how gross it is.
"The light from the oncoming train focuses the mind."
—Bruce Springsteen explaining his late life drive to release more work