There are two meanings for the word pickle. Cucumbers soaked in a brine usually, sometimes sweet but most often not. This would be the most common use of the word, to designate a favorite condiment often served on or near a hamburger. In my peak gardening days, I would often raise cucumbers but was too lazy to make pickles but served raw often in salads they were delicious. I almost always raised some and perhaps my affinity for them could be summed up in the following meme I stumbled on while wasting an inordinate amount of time on Facebook: “We are 90% water, so we are basically cucumbers with anxiety”.

Pickle can also mean a difficult or messy situation. A timely example would be “COVID has put us in quite a pickle”. I have more or less lost track as to which wave of COVID we are in, but I think we are staring down the barrel of the fourth or fifth one with the Omicron variant. Again, a meme I imagine that I gleaned from the Internet sums it up nicely: “What doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again”.

Some good news out in the past couple of days is that both the Pfizer and Moderna boosters convey good protection against Omicron, especially the Moderna vaccine. Not much in the way of boosted protection from the Johnson and Johnson single shot so if you received that best to get one or the other Pfizer or Moderna, ASAP. Though we here in the US may take a bit of solace from this much of the rest of the world has not received either of these vaccines but others primarily developed in Russia and China and are used widely in many parts of the world.

These other vaccines apparently provide little protection against Omicron. So, infections or reinfections in these folks will allow for longer and more intense illness allowing for time for other mutations to evolve. Again, remember the sage observation that what doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again. The very rapid spread of Omicron should remind us once again that we are one people in a one really very small world.

One emotion I am personally having to guard against these days is schadenfreude which for those of you a bit rusty on your German is deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others. This really very nasty emotion arises a lot these days with the seemingly endless parade of often evangelical pastors who are also anti-vaxers succumbing to COVID. This is coupled with the news that folks with COVID in very red areas that voted for Trump are six times more likely to die than vaccinated folks in blue states.

You would think that these anti-vaxxers would begin to realize what a pickle of their own making they are in, but this doesn’t seem to be happening certainly not at the required speed it needs to take place. My dabbling with schadenfreude is tempered though by some of my COVID/vaccine-denying relatives, primarily though not exclusively the Indiana branch of my biological family, who I grew up with loving very much. They may not all be anti-vaccine, but they are certainly pro-Trump. I am left scratching my head as to why some of my closest family members are vaccinated Bernie supporters and others are right-wing nuts. If we look at it honestly, we are really all in the same pickle and it behooves us to acknowledge that for the sake of our own survival.