Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Saturday, June 27, 2020
Medical Probes and Dashed Plans

It's been a very quiet week except for Friday, and that was just a long day. We had to do the usual shopping on Wednesday, and James had physical therapy then as well. Thursday we both had to pick up prescriptions at Kaiser and I had a blood test so they would renew one of my prescriptions, plus we went to Costco for trash bags, popcorn, and mandarin orange cups. The highlight of the day was going to JoAnn, which is having a moving sale (their new Kennesaw store opens mid-July). James scored eight tiny bottles of Testor's enamel. I got mostly "to do" and "remember" stickers for my journal, a few autumn-themed iron-on patches, and three more rolls of Scotch tape, since there is no such thing as too much Scotch tape. 😃

Tonight we went to Fried Tomato Buffet for the first time in months. We found out they were open when James stopped by Hobbytown on Thursday to get some paint. They have changed it so you are served like at a cafeteria instead of picking your own food. I made the server laugh. "What would you like?" "Barbecue ribs. I want the ribs. Lots of ribs." She piled about seven in my plate. "What else?" "Nothing. I came for the ribs." 😉 (I did get some black olives, too!) I was pleased with their solution to the problems. All staff were wearing masks and gloves. Instead of going around the bar, you stand on one side, behind plastic barriers, and tell the lady on the other side what you wish on your plate. You walk down the bar and pick things, and she hands the plate to you at the end of the bar. There's a separate line for the salad bar. The server puts your drink on the table and then steps backward.

(We didn't take the power chair, and a good thing: as we got closer and closer to the restaurant—we went when dinner started, at four o'clock, because we knew the tables would be limited—the sky got darker and darker, and then it started to mist, and as we turned on to Greer's Chapel Road the wind picked up and snapped something on a light pole next to us. The bang made us jump! By the time we arrived at Fried Tomato, the wind was whipping the rain into a frenzy, but, oddly, it wasn't raining all that hard; we hardly got damp. Usually when it starts to storm like this the rain comes down in sheets, what I call "Georgia Monsoon Season.")

Friday was our "adventure." Unfortunately it was a truncated adventure. Originally, since we had to go to Kaiser's Southwood office for James' urology exam, and that was practically halfway to his mother's house, we had planned to finally deliver his mother's and his sister's Christmas gifts, Candy's birthday gift, and the Mother's Day gift, all excursions that had been put off due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and treat them to lunch. Candy has also had some health problems lately not associated with COVID (an infection in her foot) and been back and forth to doctors, had her foot in a cast, etc., and we wanted to see her. We planned to get things done at the doctor, then drive down to Warner Robins, go out for lunch, and come home after rush hour was over. But we got a message from Candy on Tuesday asking us not to come; she wasn't feeling well again and didn't want to spread any creeping crud.

So we went off to Southwood via the freeway. I swear that since the shutdown people are driving even crazier than before. You have your heart in your mouth half the trip.

The appointment took a little longer than expected. Dr. Starr wanted to go over James' recent CT scan with him. He showed us the kidney stone (very small, seemingly attached to the kidney wall), the little gallstones, and the lipoma. He does not believe either of the stones is causing the chronic UTI, but, if it does turn out the kidney stone is responsible, it would need to come out. He also checked to see if James was properly emptying his bladder, and did some other exams. James also had an x-ray; the doctor wanted to get a shot of the kidney stone so he could monitor it to see if it was getting larger. Unfortunately it didn't show up on the x-ray.

When we finally got done with all this, we headed back, stopping at Krystal for lunch. Traffic on I-285 was just as bad as on the way back. What fun.

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» Saturday, June 20, 2020
And More Medical Chat...And Friends! And Books!

James had a CAT scan scheduled at the Glenlake Kaiser office on Wednesday morning, to try and diagnose what is causing his chronic UT infections. Another dreary visit for him to the doctor. Hoping to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, I suggested I go with him. If they wouldn't let me go in (they said they wouldn't), I could wait outside on the bench outside the entrance in the shade and read; they told him the CAT scan would only take about ten minutes, and then he had to pick up a prescription which was already ordered. I had a double protein at Tin Drum, so then we could drive by, pick up lunch, maybe even stop at the Barnes & Noble not a half mile from the restaurant before driving home. James likes going to that store because they have the best magazine selection.

Alas, not to be. At ten o'clock James realized his appointment was for 10:20, not 11:20 as he thought, and he had at least a half hour drive to get there. He threw his clothes on and grabbed his wallet while I backed out the truck and loaded the power chair, and then while he drove to Kaiser—Tucker hadn't been walked yet, so I couldn't go—I tried to get ahold of someone at Kaiser to tell them he would be late. I was so nerved up I accidentally hung up on the first person I talked to, but got a much more sympathetic second person, but they couldn't say whether radiology could still fit him in.

They managed it, and he got in for the scan about a half hour later, he went to the lab, he picked up the prescription, and he went past Tin Drum and picked up our lunches, so everything got done, but I was bitterly disappointed. I had planned on us having a nice chat on the way there, enjoying each other's company, and instead I got stuck home when I really wanted to see something other than four walls or another damn supermarket.

(The scan showed some interesting items: James has a few small kidney stones [not blocking anything], a few small gallstones [ditto], and a benign lipoma in the muscles of his right hip, which explains why he can't sleep on his right side without pain. But nothing to explain the chronic UTIs.)

While he was out, I called up Kaiser again about the emergency room bill from last July that Wellstar keeps sending us. We are only supposed to pay our deductible whether we go to a provider emergency room or an out-of-plan one, but Wellstar insists we still owe them over $1200! I'd already called about this in January and again in March, and they assured me they'd take care of it, and we did not owe anyone anything. This time I spoke to a nice lady named Betty who assured me she'd get the problem sorted [later: she did] and that she would also correct the overcharge we got from the company that makes James' orthopedic shoes.

Thursday I got my chance to pay a call on Kaiser; yes, we had to pick up yet another prescription. They wouldn't let me go in, so I indeed got stuck outside, in the heat, on the bench (this one not in the shade). James' urologist consulted another specialist, who said it was okay for him to take Ciproflaxen for a short time; that using it just for a week should not damage his heart, so he got that to take home. It was also time to go to the supermarket again.

James has been wanting chicken and dumplings for a while now, but no one serves them any longer—"Folks" has closed and the only fast food chicken place that made them closed; we discovered just recently they still serve them at Vittles down the street. So while we were at Barnes & Noble after our pharmacy trip, he called them to get an order to pick up. We won't do that again. There was little chicken in the meal and what there was was dry and stringy. It was mostly dumpling. The sauce made me sick all evening.

Friday we had a much better meal—we went out to lunch at O'Charley's with Alice, Ken, Mel, Phyllis, and Juanita. We hadn't seen Juanita to actually talk to her since March! She was just getting over poison ivy she'd contracted cleaning the yard. Discussed all sorts of things including whether DragonCon will be held or not, and if they will roll over memberships [later: yes, they have decided they will, and we are going to do it, whether it's held or not—we can't risk it], television, books we are reading (Alice is getting into reading about Chinese culture after seeing the film of and then reading Crazy Rich Asians), and of course all our doctors' appointments!

Saturday was pure relaxation: while I tidied up some things and vacuumed, mostly what I did was read the copy of The Annotated Black Beauty that I got out of a box of books John and Oreta were giving away on New Year's Eve. (Boy, if I'd known then what I know now, I'd sure have more disinfecting supplies in the house!) The graphic drawings of how a "bearing rein" (a device to hold the horse's head up in place while he's in harness) harms and torments a horse really brought it home how brutally some horses were treated in the 19th century.

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» Saturday, June 13, 2020
Sweet and Sour

An uneventful weekend, for which I'm heartily grateful. The big event of the four days was James' appointment at the Shepherd Center to get evaluated for a new power chair. We are supposed to be able to order a new one every five or six years, and it is six years in November. We are hoping they will let us have a new one, as one of the two motors is leaking oil and will need to be replaced, and it is best to replace both motors at the same time. The wheels also have dry rot or the rubber is chipped. Plus it's all banged up from the car accident where it was thrown across Olive Springs Road. Anyway, we'll see. Apparently Kaiser is now using different rules to approve them and has been turning requests for them down. If not we will have to just have this one fixed up. We tried to emphasize that without it James cannot go to work or really go anywhere—even the Glenlake Kaiser office!—that doesn't already have carts, like a supermarket or Walmart or Costco, and the technician must see how little James can move, because she tried to get him to walk in the hallway for six minutes, and he could barely manage two.

On Friday I got a shock. My old bank branch closed and I needed to re-establish my safe deposit box at the new bank built next door. Well, while James was at physical therapy, I went over to the bank to do that because the sign said "NOW OPEN." What it failed to say was "Open by appointment only." Whoever heard of an appointment to go to the bank? There weren't two people inside the building and they still wouldn't see me. Plus the bank employee asked for my name and telephone number to call me back, and never did. If I didn't have that stupid Access3 loan, I'd pull all my money out of the bank and set up a credit union account instead.

In better news, I found the wonderful farm which makes the sweet onion relish I love was now shipping their products without a charge. I ordered more of the sweet onion plus a spicy version for James, and the new bottles arrived on Friday.

Plus I have finally washed the winter things to put them away. Just about one month behind.

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» Saturday, June 06, 2020
Happiness is Friends
Another week, another visit to Urgent Care on Tuesday with James having signs of an urinary tract infection. Of course they wouldn't let me into Urgent Care, but I requested to go in to use the bathroom—I was feeling poorly myself—and after that I just tried to blend into the woodwork. Another guy was doing the same thing; we both just sat there and minded our own business. James was only there an hour and a half because he'd talked to the doctor beforehand and they were waiting for him. We picked up his antibiotic and went home.

Nothing much else going on for the week except that we watched a "Murdoch Mysteries" Christmas story, the first of them, A Merry Murdoch Christmas, which hit all the Christmas tropes: orphans, stolen gifts, some Christmas grinches (one of which was Inspector Brackenreid). It also involved what Quantum Leap called "a kiss with history" in featuring a young Mary Pickford (she did come from Toronto, but she was known as Gladys Smith back then), and also involved the European Christmas demon, Krampus. I had no idea Krampus was a tradition in Yorkshire, where Brackenreid is from. Oh, and we finally watched The Rise of Skywalker. Don't know what all the fuss was about: Star Wars was always intended as a flashback to the movie serials of the 1930s. Fans seem to expect it to be complicated and with depth. It's just supposed to be fun. Wish the script had allowed the viewer to pause for breath, and wish we'd seen more of Rose Tico instead of them making up a new female character, but I did love the final scene on Tatooine.

The best thing about this week was having Hair Day! We didn't have any lunch this time, people just brought snacks, in case everyone just wanted to come and go, but no one wanted to go. We sat around talking about books until almost two in the afternoon. John and Oreta had brought two big boxes of books they were getting rid of, and gave me two old series books. I also picked up a Mrs. Pollifax book and picked up about three books I thought James would be interested in.

It was so nice to have intelligent conversation in person after so many weeks.

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» Saturday, May 30, 2020
The Beautiful and the Sordid
Wednesday an official milestone was reached: 100,000 people in the United States had died of COVID-19.

And Wednesday we had another trip to Kaiser: James had to pick up the latest prescription for his UTI (now he has a fungal infection) and decided just to reorder a big batch of prescriptions as well. From there we went to Publix. We were actually thinking of going to Barnes & Noble, but instead we came home and I was glad of it, because (guess what) the heat was once again doing a number on my lower GI. We wanted to watch the SpaceX launch anyway: this is their first mission carrying human beings, two astronauts who are traveling to the International Space Station. And the launch is from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, where we went to the moon. Mission Control was alive once again. Alas, afternoon Florida weather struck: there was a chance of lightning and a tornado warning. Evidently they did not want a replay of the Apollo 12, where the whole spacecraft was hit by lightning. Twice. They have another launch window on Saturday.

Thursday we had to go back to Kaiser, because while he got all his refills they never gave him the new prescription! Sigh. From there we did a turn around Lidl, then I ran into Kroger for no-salt mushrooms and low-sodium Pringles. We had to hurry home, because James had his first physical therapy appointment for his back that afternoon. While he was out, I decided to tool out to the Office Max on Thornton Road because I thought it was high time I made sure I had a refill for my Sheaffer pen that I use in my journal, and that store was the closest one that had any (there were supposedly three in stock). Well, when I got there, there were none on the rack. Between a very nice salesperson and the manager, they found me the last, lone one, but the package was broken open. They gave it to me for fifty cents.

On the way home I stopped at a Big Lots and found more big rolls of Bounty, plus the oversize bottle of Suave shampoo I was looking for. And Home Depot had triple-taps; I got both a polarized one and two non-polarized ones. After shifting around a few things when I got home, we should have enough spares now.

And Friday we had lunch out with friends! Gathered with Alice, Ken, and Aubrey at O'Charley's, where we got seated in a corner near the bar. The waitress brought your stuff and put it on a tray behind you, and you picked it up yourself, for minimal contact. It worked out well, and my steak, baked potato, and green salad was dandy.

And then we did go to Barnes & Noble, which was both refreshing and disappointing. They have rearranged the entire store, with all the fiction now downstairs. I like the new layout, but I think if possible they may have fewer books in the store! So tired of all the dumb toys and stuffed animals and junk. I don't mind book-related toys so much, like Harry Potter wands and stuffed owls, and the like, because at least they have a connection with books, and learning toys, but building toys and dolls and stuffed animals are just annoying. Since I complained so mightily to them on Facebook, I decided I had to buy something: I found Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America, about the vice-presidents who succeeded to the presidency due to death (assassination or otherwise).

We still got home very early; I watched three episodes of Longmire and then, to lure James away from the computer, found Strategic Air Command on Amazon Prime. It worked, too!

Saturday morning I hurried downstairs to finally vacuum the library and then get the main area done, because we would spend late morning and most of the afternoon watching the SpaceX launch. It went flawlessly, even though there was a better chance of rain today and they went almost down to the wire on a weather scrub. But the clouds cleared and the Falcon rocket rose like a dream and lifted the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. It's so nice to see space coverage again! And I loved seeing the excitement of the younger people, including the two astronauts on the NASA coverage and drawings sent in by boys and girls inspired by exploration.

Alan Siler had also arranged to have a virtual WHOlanta on Facebook. I got to the correct group late, and then was always a little behind, so I only saw a bit of the Doctor Who music discussion and a little more of Sophie Aldred, but did see all of Colin Baker. It was a great idea, but I was too distracted by the SpaceX mission to give it my proper attention.

It was almost an antidote for what was going on downtown. People are protesting, and rightly, too, over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in south Georgia. The George Floyd death is particular nasty—the police officer had him pinned to the ground by putting a knee on his neck for eight minutes, effectively smothering the poor man while three other officers did nothing to stop him. The video of this is absolutely hideous and painful to watch. Arbery was shot earlier this year because two self-appointed neighborhood vigilantes thought this guy jogging through their neighborhood "might be" a burglar who had struck back in December and chased him down. He turned around and tried to fight them off—of course he did! what would you do if you were jogging and two crazy men suddenly started attacking you?—and they shot him (but haven't been arrested for it until now). But of course in a group of perfectly justified protestors there are always people who spoil it for everyone else: suddenly there are figures running amok setting fire to buildings and police cars, and then looting stores. Most of the stores wrecked and looted were owned by people of color, so who was actually harmed? An African-American police officer was deliberately hit and seriously injured as well, by someone on an ATV. Plus an AT&T store was looted. Because nothing says respect for the death of an innocent man like busting windows and stealing cell phones! Atlanta's mayor was furious and told them to go home and quit disrespecting George Floyd's death.

I am having 1968 flashbacks. I was twelve in 1968. Via the news I saw Dr. Martin Luther King shot. I saw Bobby Kennedy shot. I saw riots at both the Democratic and Republican conventions. I saw police turn fire hoses and tear gas and German Shepherds on Vietnam protesters and Civil Rights marchers. I saw Watts burn. And I thought people would know better and be better when I was an adult. And we're still doing this effing racist shit. As if the color of your skin has anything to do with what kind of person you are! Madness! Revolting! Sickening! This isn't 1820, or even 1920! It's the 21st century and why are we still falling for this fake crap about "superior racial groups"?

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» Monday, May 25, 2020
From Victory to Defeat
I got a wild hare to make barbecue ribs for Memorial Day. James had to work, but we had a rack of ribs from an old Publix BOGO in the freezer and plenty of barbecue sauce. So I went online and hunted up a recipe.

In general I was pleased. The ribs themselves were very meaty and were juicy, but they were also very stale. I could taste that "plastic" taste that gets into stale food these days. Also, I have to remind myself that ribs cooked on low (275℉) are not pork chops; even thought they are at proper temperature (160℉), they are not "done" enough to be falling-off-the-bone tender.

On the other hand, cooking them in the bottom oven was brilliant. It did smashingly; the ribs just needed another hour to be tender off the bone. Finishing them off at 400℉ in the top oven also worked (but ten minutes was too long; five would have been enough). My basting sauce, a combination of Smack Yo Mama Big Kahuna and Sweet Georgia Brown, and my final sauce, maple barbecue with smoky bacon maple syrup, was great, too.

Next time, fresh ribs and longer oven time.

We also had fresh sweet corn to go with the ribs, and they were almost better!

And then today I went downstairs to do laundry and found one of my precious jars of Panorama Orchards (from Ellijay, GA) blackberry spread on the floor of the laundry room. It must have come unbalanced after I had to deal with a leaking cup of applesauce and fallen during the night. So I had to sweep up the glass, take up the broken jar (the mass of preserves which at least remained intact, it being so thick), sweep the floor, then vacuum the floor, then wipe up what little bit of sticky was there, all before I could start the clothes.


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» Saturday, May 23, 2020
This Week In Heat
Well, crap, summer has struck. On Monday all I did was go to Lidl, then I stopped at both Office Max and Lowes looking for USB plugs (you know, the kind of electrical plug you plug a USB cord in to charge something—flummoxed last week when I was also looking for them because no one seemed to understand what I wanted!) and the guy at Lowes didn't understand either. Thank goodness I found some at Office Max! Anyway, it was hot and disgusting-smelling and then the summer inevitable happened, and I was sick for the rest of the afternoon from the heat. Ended up crawling in the spare room and sleeping for over two hours. We had such a nice spring and now it's in the 80s. Having to wear a face mask exacerbates the effect. I had no problems with it while it was chilly or in the 60s. Now that it's 70s and 80s I don't feel as if I'm getting any air with it clapped on my face like an Alien and sweat collects in the mask.

We had a busy four days off, mostly grocery shopping. Wednesday it was BOGOs at Publix, then we drove out to Trader Joe's and stocked up on James' bedtime tea, their yummy orange chicken [Later: good thing we bought it, too...], chicken sausage, fruit bars for James (Lidl has some that he says are acceptable, but he prefers TJ's), and of course one dark-chocolate covered Biscoff bar as a treat. And I finally found vegetable broth!  Thursday's grocery odyssey it was Kroger, where we were able to get the low-salt items Publix didn't have. Then we took a giant step and ate our first meal in a restaurant since March 21: went to Ken's Grill. Everyone wore masks, tables were cleaned again before we sat down, waitress placed food at the edge of the table—we scrunched over as far as we could on the table so not to breathe on her. Met Jesse Medina coming in to get some takeout, so it was nice to talk to someone else in the group! And...pork chops! I love their pork chops!

For dessert we went to Hobby Lobby and then had Baskin-Robbins cones for the first time in what seemed like forever.

Back to Kaiser on Friday for James to have another test, then he asked me what I wanted for lunch. Well, I had an extra protein at Tin Drum; the Akers Mill location is still closed, so we went to the closest one, on Roswell Road. It was horrible in there: they have redone the place in an industrial decorating pattern with the tall ceiling and the pipes and vents above, and with the cashier next to the chefs cooking, you can barely hear anything, and try bellowing through the stupid mask!

On the way home we stopped at Micro Center. I walked out with nothing because they don't sell Blu-Ray cases any longer. Damn.

Saturday I trimmed the bushes out front while it was still shady and that was about it.

What else? My checkup got cancelled. Again. [Later: There's a reason for that, chaps...]

But I found out Barnes & Noble was re-opening tomorrow. Cool!

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» Saturday, May 16, 2020
Tilting at Medical Windmills
On Sunday morning, James was showing signs that his UTI from April (see April 21 entry) had returned, and come back worse than ever. He drank as much as he could, and was doing quite well until Sunday evening, when he started running a fever. James shot off a note to his urologist after he finished with work.

Sunday night and into Monday we became even more worried: his urine output had halved despite the fact he was drinking more water, and he gained five pounds overnight. At noon we drove to Kaiser so he could take a urine test as the urologist had ordered. He worked the rest of the day, but was feeling worse every hour. At dinner time, we decided we had to fish or cut bait. So we had dinner, waffled a bit, then about 9:30 we took our nightly showers, got into fresh clothes, put Tucker and Snowy to bed, and drove to Urgent Care. Of course I packed snacks and things to do, and a good thing I separated the snacks into "his" and "hers" bags, because they took him back and left me to cool my heels in the car from eleven p.m. through 4:30 a.m. (I did expect this, but it was still annoying.) I tried to sleep, but Butch's seats are damn uncomfortable even with a back support and extra cushion; I still had the car blanket and that kept me warm, as it got down into the 40s, but Fred the traveling pillow has long been relegated to the spare room. Instead I used a crescent-shaped travel pillow, which would have worked if I wasn't so distracted: twice I had to pee, several times cars drove up with people dropped off at Urgent Care, I kept losing things in the front seat (like my glasses and my phone), James and I were texting each other, and at three a.m. a mockingbird started singing in the parking lot. Eventually I just pulled out my tablet and started to read.

James spent a miserable five and a half hours being prodded, stabbed, scanned, and other diagnostic miseries. They took blood and urine, scanned his bladder (they said he is emptying properly, so we worried about his kidneys seemingly needlessly), and also revealed he has a hernia. I wasn't in the treatment room with him to turn out the lights between pokes and prods, so he had to lie the whole time with the Nazi-interrogation-fluorescent lights in his eyes. In a way, even in Butch's non-ergonomic seat, I had a more comfortable place to perch. I was even almost warm enough, especially when I doubled up the blanket.

So, it turns out the UTI du jour is e.coli, and he's also anemic. They gave him two bags of antibiotic intravenously. When he emerged we were both so tired it needed all four of our eyes to get us home, but thankfully, since we'd showered before we left, we could just get undressed and go straight to bed. We slept till eleven and then James tried to work, but he was still feverish and after two hours could not read the teeny-tiny type on his computer screen. Then he gave up.

Of course the doctor put him on an antibiotic, but even that caused a problem. James made it clear to both the Urgent Care doctor and the nurse who was assigned to him that he could not take Ciproflaxin because of its interaction with hydrochloroquine. And guess what we came home with a prescription for! So we had to call them back and get something else that would not affect him. They finally decided on amoxicillin clavulanate, which, of course, we had to go pick up. What fun.

His fever didn't break until Wednesday, although it went off and on up and down to 99 point whatever for a few days. But between the fever and the anemia he's been feeling rotten and his temper has ebbed and flowed. All we did on Thursday was go to Publix and that wiped him out, and he was really upset about it. You see, even after two heart attacks he's still not used to being sick for any extended period of time. James' way of "being sick" used to be him coming home early from work or fading in the middle of an afternoon with "I'm cold" (even in 90 degree weather), going to bed early, calling in sick the next day and spending the morning in bed to drag downstairs about noon to eat soup and stare dully at the television. At night he'd feel better, go to bed, and go back to work the next day, all well.

It didn't help that his arthritis has been acting up and his back has been very painful. He finally had me put on the cream the rheumatologist prescribed, and that did help, thank goodness!

He did feel a little better on Friday, when we hosted a "socially distanced" picnic in the garage. I went out there in the morning, measured the garage, and marked safe distances out in chalk with a tape measure after backing the vehicles out. Aubrey had to work, and Juanita had something come up, and Mel and Phyllis had a medical appointment, but Alice and Ken were able to come and that was nice, to be able to chat in person! Of course I made sure the downstairs bath was nice and tidy, and stuck a sign on the toilet that said "Sanitized for your protection by the Sheldon Cooper Cleaning Co., Ltd" as a joke.

We ended up going to Dragon for our weekly eat-out meal out again; since they've been closed over a month I want to give them as much business as I can. I tried the barbecue ribs and they were excellent and meaty, but they have to be saved for a treat—much too rich.

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» Saturday, May 09, 2020
The Tweaks of Life

Well, Wednesday we had a definite pause. We had gone to Lidl and then to Publix, and James seemed a little "off." He seemed very drowsy. Well, when we came home, I checked out his meds and was horrified. I had sorted the day pills into the evening slots and vice versa. He probably hadn't noticed since Sunday! So he'd taken an Ambien this morning. Needless to say, the rest of the day was shot.

Thursday we were all much more awake, and did the trip to Patak's we had put off yesterday because the line was so long and we had perishables in the car. They were out of pastrami, to James' dismay, but we got Italian sausage, stew beef, breakfast sausage, and some mortadella. To our absolute surprise, three EMTs walked in, not one of them wearing masks! You would think health workers would know better! Before we came home, we bought gasoline at Costco before the price goes back up.

Friday it rained most of the day and nowhere to go anyway. We made the best of it: James got Mexico Lindo food for lunch, I got chicken chow mein and pork fried rice from Dragon 168, and we had an afternoon matinee: Apollo 13 and Twister (I guess I was in a Bill Paxton mood). Plus I finished reviewing the books I read in April.

Ah, Saturday, started when I took Tucker for a walk. We'd crossed the street and were walking past Timber Creek's property, and I was slightly woolgathering, musing on what to do that day. Perhaps I'd do "bothers"—go into a room, find something that bothers me, and fix it. And then I noticed the big plant Tucker was cozying up to and then peeing on had "leaflets three." (Not sure of today, but kids in New England in my day were brought up the rhyme on "leaflets three, let it be.") I kept him at a distance for the rest of the walk, then once home tied him on the front porch, stuck my head in the front door and yelled up the stairs to James, "Google what poison ivy looks like, willya?" So he did.

Unfortunately I couldn't positively identify the photos that were on the computer screen as the same plant Tucker had given the close encounter to, but I couldn't swear it wasn't poison ivy, either, so, guess what: pulled on a pair of rubber gloves, dumped the dog in the bathtub, and gave him another bath, his second since Monday. Gah. Of course I had to wash his bedding and the towels, too. He wasn't happy, and neither was I.

Good thing I had nothing planned at all. I only ended up doing one "bother" after all.

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» Saturday, May 02, 2020
The Outside World

We actually did something amazing on this long, long weekend still in effect: we went places that weren't supermarkets, buying clubs, or a doctor's office. And we did it safely, too.

As usual, on Wednesday we went to Publix (there I am, going the wrong way up an aisle again) and Lidl, early enough that we found everything we needed. But we also stopped at Walmart; while James did get sugarless candy for himself, mainly we went there to get him more sleep shorts. We thought about ordering them, but wanted to look at what was available and what material they were made from. I don't know names of material from Adam; I just know I hate jersey. And even when I looked up men's sleep shorts on Walmart's site, I kept getting directed to items that were fleece. Fleece shorts? Seriously?

So we masked and I carried my trusty squirt bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some folded-up paper towels, and I liberally sprayed and/or wiped the cart and the self-checkout machine. The fabric department was completely out of cloth; lots of mask-makers have gone through here. Bet you can't find bandanas at JoAnn right now, either.

That was enough for a Wednesday; on Thursday, another novelty: James had his hair cut! (His hasn't been cut since February. I've been trimming it, and was told I did a good job, and James has his beard trimmer, but he was still looking like a sheepdog.) His stylist was taking one appointment at the time, cleaning and wiping down between cuts, which were scheduled at one an hour. We also got to see friends leaving there (within social distance, of course) and waved at friends arriving (we all use the same stylist, and this day had been arranged). On the way home we made a call and—calloo! callay!—our favorite Chinese restaurant, Dragon 168, had reopened! They're a real hole-in-the-wall place anyway, and you don't really go in there to sit inside and eat, although you can, there are tables and chairs, but they have fashioned a plywood pass-through structure that fits into their door. You call in your order with your credit card number, and they give you a number—we were number one on Thursday! number two showed up as James was waiting—and then you get your order through the pass-through.

Before we went home to eat, we gassed up the Kia at Costco because it was $1.299!

Friday we had a real treat: talking to live friends in an outdoor setting! Alice had scoped out Heritage Park, which had a pavilion with picnic tables. She and Ken and Aubrey had showed up early to wipe down a picnic table (they were still covered in pine pollen from the park having been closed for six weeks) with disinfectant, and we sat in chairs at one long end of the picnic table, and they sat in chairs on the other end, six feet apart and sitting so that neither group was downwind from the other. We had a nice lunch and a nice chat, and I think it only broke up because all of us needed to use the restroom (the park facilities were still closed though the park was open, and the trash cans had not been maintained).

Saturday we decided to go out and see if we could see the tribute flyover the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels were doing for the healthcare workers. The flight plan was published on Facebook, and it looked like it was going right down highway 41 or I-75. We picked up lunch, then went to a couple of places before settling in at Akers Mill shopping center. (Alice and Ken went to the parking lot near the closed AMC theatre and they got some nice shots, but it was too crowded; in retrospect, the way the flight came in, we should have stayed in Barnes & Noble's parking lot, as we could have seen from the top of the whole hill.) The planes came in from a totally unexpected angle so we were just able to gape as they zoomed over.

On the other hand, everyone we saw at Akers Mill was pretty cool about social distancing. Cars parked in every other parking space and many people wore masks. We were sitting in the shade in front of a closed restaurant and no one was near us. We saw footage on the news later on about people crowding together on overpasses to see the planes and were glad we didn't go there, although the overpass over I-75 near the Monstrosity (Truist Park) would have been the best viewing spot of all.

Best of all we discovered Hobby Lobby was back open, so we put on our masks and went in, mostly to use the restroom, but just to look at something different. We stayed away from other people and when we got home quarantined our few small purchases in the library until next weekend.

We also finished watching both seasons of Star Trek: Discovery (yes, second season was a big improvement; my favorite characters are still Sylvia Tilly, who manages to put her foot in her mouth more than I do, and Jett Reno, the engineer with attitude) and Star Trek: Picard, plus all the behind-the-scenes "Ready Room" shows on both series. I'm about Star Trek'd out for a while! To my surprise, I found the most recent animated Lassie cartoon with the kids' programs. I managed to download all 26 English-language episodes from You Tube, as apparently the series was never shown here in the US, just in Canada, Europe, and parts of the Middle East, and figured they were just repeated here, but was gobsmacked to discover a 26-episode second season on CBS All Access instead, labeled as season one. This left me in a quandary: our free subscription would end on May fifth.

So I sat down Saturday after we got home from the flyover and binge-watched for five hours. (Later: and then I watched more between chores on Sunday and four final episodes on Monday and got through them all. I canceled on Tuesday as scheduled, since I couldn't see any reason for keeping it any longer. If I want to watch other Star Trek, it's on Netflix, and the other shows on CBS All Access I might be interested in (Perry Mason, I Love Lucy, Caroline in the City) are not intact. Oh, the episodes are uncut, but they don't show all the episodes in each season. If there are thirty episodes in a season, for instance, CBS All Access carries only fifteen or twenty of them. In addition, with Perry Mason they don't show any season six or nine episodes. What kind of a deal is that? Why say you "carry __________ series" and then not have every single episode of every single season?

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» Saturday, April 25, 2020
Shortage Musings

I've read a couple of articles now about how, since stay-at-home orders and allowing those to telework who could has been in force, the environment has improved in one month. Yes, we're using more plastic bags because most of the grocery stores won't bag your stuff if you use your own bags, and of course there's tremendous medical waste, but CO2 emissions are way down (the graphic showing the NYC/Boston corridor is amazing). In some places like Los Angeles and Bejing and London there is actually clear sky again. There are fish swimming in the Thames River, and coyotes wandering through San Francisco.

Being in the suburbs we have the usual complement of wildlife: some rabbits, chipmunks, the occasional possum and raccoons, the less occasional coyote or fox, and lots of squirrels. This morning Tucker and I took one of our longer walks—amazingly, at one point he was the one wanting to go farther!—and I noticed how many more squirrels I was seeing this year. And I think I know the reason: fewer people driving to work. During the spring the young squirrels are often seen as squished bodies at the side of the road, having misjudged their sprint on an early morning or late afternoon dash across the asphalt. This year I've seen almost no squirrel bodies, but lots of live squirrels.

One of the things I've learned during all these shortages is that you really can get by on less. Back when I was nervous about getting another big package of toilet paper—back when you weren't seeing any in the store, and a poor friend of mine in a major metro area was so worried about a dwindling supply that friends sent packages because this person is ill and housebound and the grocery delivery services never sent paper towels and toilet tissue—I was parceling out the squares carefully. I'm still keeping an eye on how much I use and admonish myself to use only what I need, not a leisurely swath of squares. I've also found that judicious use of the Swiffer wet sweeper cloths means I can mop the kitchen floor just as clean with two as with three, and that I can use fewer Lysol disinfecting wipes cleaning the bathroom and get it just as sanitary.

Plus I realized with amazement that we are still working with the same package of one half-dozen XL Brawny paper towels we bought at Publix back on March 13 merely due to more judicious use of them. I washed my hands a lot even before COVID-19 and would always manage to spatter water on the bathroom counters, and I would think nothing of taking one sheet of paper towel (we get the Pick-a-Size, so it's a small sheet), wiping the sink, then throwing it away. Now, unless the spatter on the counters is dirty (like the other day when I washed the covers of the two books I bought on e-Bay), I will just leave one or two of the small pick-a-size sheets on the bathroom sink counter and wipe up with them over and over until the square starts to disintegrate, which takes about five days to a week. So...using fewer rolls of paper towels—and of course the ultimate thing to do would be to replace these squares with microfiber cloths and just toss them in the washer once a week.

Maybe after this is over we'll remember all the little conservation tricks we learned and buy less and toss fewer things into the trash and thus the landfills.

And hopefully supervisors will do their jobs and check the metrics on their teleworking workers and realize they can trust most of them to telework more and still get their jobs done. Face it, some people aren't "made" to telework; they need supervision or they goof off or they need constant guidance. Some find it hard to get into the discipline, but finally "get it" and do their work. And there are others for whom it just "works." I always thought I did more work while teleworking because there was no one walking by who just wanted to talk, no delays because the printer didn't work (about half the time) and no delays for the long distance walked to the printer, no delays because of environmental issues (like it was just so damn hot in the place you had to keep running to the bathroom to splash cold water on yourself). At home I just reached to my right to grab my printouts instead of walking 75 steps to the printer and 75 back. The bathroom at home was 10 steps away rather than more than 100 (and the refrigerator water dispenser was also 10 steps away, rather than 100+ for the bubbler). For James the rest room and the water fountain are even farther away, so when teleworking he's back at his desk in a trice and always available for a call.

So maybe when we can go out again, and quit wasting plastic bags and protective gear again, maybe we'll remember the lessons of using less and teleworking more. Maybe in the future coyotes will still be spied in San Francisco and more squirrels will chatter in our yards, and the skies will be blue over LA and London and Beijing because people learned by staying home they could get by with so much less.

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» Friday, April 24, 2020
Grocery Shopping in the Time of Coronavirus

Now that James has been cut down to thirty hours a week, our weekend now starts on Wednesday. As I so irritatedly indicated in the previous entry, James was required to go to a podiatrist appointment Wednesday, but it was a good thing, because it turned out he had two ingrown toenails that he couldn't feel at all due to diminished feeling in his feet because of diabetes. So I am now playing nurse again for a week, anointing one toe with generic betadyne (I didn't realize that was just an iodine solution) and bandaging it after he has his shower.

Thursday I couldn't stand not having any bread in the house anymore and went to Lidl. They don't allow you to buy "by the each" at the bakery right now so I had to buy four dinner rolls (they haven't had them for two weeks, so I'm happy about that) instead of two, so will have to eat them promptly. (Oh, twist my arm. Make me eat bread. I'm Italian. It's a main food group.) Also got a baguette because we were having the rest of the chicken cacciatore for dinner and what use is cacciatore without bread to "zoop" in the sauce? Picked up cheese rolls, shredded cheese, and ground turkey for James, grabbed another gallon of purified water for the C-PAP machine, and also bought another gallon of milk, onions, and potatoes.

On the way home I stopped at the City Farmer's Market in a fruitless search for wipes or alcohol. They didn't have any of the former, and they don't carry drugstore products; like Nam Dae Mun, it's simply a grocery store. It's also the only place I know in town where you can get unfrosted brown-sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts. (My opinion of icing/frosting ranks almost up with child molesters.) Couldn't find sesame oil, did find "stellini" pasta to go into chicken soup.

(During the afternoon I finished the taxes and paid them off with my credit card. It cost me an extra fee, but then I'll get points on my Amazon credit card for next month. Also paid the exterminator, TruGreen, the water bill, and this month's car insurance bill. And James finally got the unemployment payment his boss put in for. This meant we had grocery money for Thursday. And of course I played "The Tech Guy" for Snowy.)

Today we did one of my favorite things: getting in and out of grocery stores in a minimum amount of time. We did three stores in two hours and ten minutes, but to get out that quickly and that early, we had to forego breakfast for a single Belvita oats and chocolate chip breakfast bar. (Needless to say, we were starving when we got home.) We started at Costco, which was remarkably un-crowded for a Friday morning. Unlike our last visit, they just had pallets keeping the outgoing crowd and the incoming crowd apart, no Disneyland-like winding line to get inside. Alas, still no wipes or alcohol, but we were surprised to see pallets and pallets of two different kinds of toilet paper and big 12-packs of Bounty paper towels in the middle of the main aisle. We needed neither; we were there for "plastic cheese," what James calls single slice American cheese. And while we were there, we finally found mandarin orange cups, which James uses in his morning juice slushie. For the last two weeks he's had to make due with pineapple (which he loves) and mixed fruit (which he said was "okay"). We also picked up cranberry juice, cashews, another bag of Skinny Pop, the cheese of course, and Erik Larson's new book. (I may have to go back for the Native American book—a state-to-state and province-to-province guide of each of the tribes; I was quite taken with it.)

Then we turned back toward home and the stop at Publix. James went to the deli for more low-sodium ham and no-sodium-added turkey while I picked up yogurt, and I finally found, after a month, the Publix-brand 100-percent whole wheat bread which is the lowest sodium and carb bread there. I was afraid they had stopped making it! Also picked up eggs (they had none at Lidl), low-sodium Pringles, some herbal tea.

Finally we hit Nam Dae Mun for sugar-free cookies, the TVP James uses to stretch out his ground meat (it's called "soya" there), and sesame oil.

After that we could finally get home and get some lunch! I had a nice drippy leftover turkey sandwich, did some computer junk, and took Tucker out for his delayed long walk. We met one of the folks that live around the corner from the development entry, a house surrounded by a little bit of land that has been here for a while; they have a big gear wheel or some kind of tractor wheel on either side of their driveway, and about a half-dozen cars, including what looks like an old 1930s job. It was an older gentleman wearing a farmer's cap, long-sleeved shirt, and overalls, just like he came out of "Country" magazine, walking their dog, a black-and-tan "Chiweenie" (chihuahua/dachshund). The dogs got to sniff each other while we social distanced at the ends of both extendable leashes. He said she (the dog) sees us go by every day taking a walk and sits on the back of the sofa barking at us!

Also listened to a "Travel With Rick Steves" podcast and two episodes of "A Way With Words."

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» Tuesday, April 21, 2020
The Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...'s midafternoon, the sky has clouded over a bit, and there's a wonderful breeze. You wouldn't believe that it's in the 70s out there; it feels really good instead of being too hot in the sun. And, wait, now the sun is back out. It always does turn up again like a bad penny.

I am thinking...'s ten days since I did a blog entry. There's really nothing to write about. When we go out, we are either at the pharmacy picking up some meds, or we're at the grocery store. If I hated going to the grocery store before this, I despise it more now: you have to wear masks, go one way up aisles (and I am forever going the wrong way or what I need is at the other end of an aisle I can't go up), and not find what you need (Lysol, disinfecting cleaning or hand wipes, and alcohol. And American cheese! With all the kids out of school, the moms must be stuffing what James calls "plastic cheese" down them every day for lunch! It's a wonder they're not all constipated.)

And all those wonderful, optimistic messages from advertisers on TV, promising "it will be okay soon" and "we'll be back"? They depress the hell out of me.

I am thankful...
...that we seem to have missed a bullet. James has been told since he was a little boy and suffered an insect sting that he is also allergic to penicillin. When he went into the Navy they performed a test, and gave him a red dog-tag that signified a penicillin allergy. So he's always had to have alternative antibiotic treatment. Well, a week or so ago he presented with symptoms of a mild UTI. We called the doctor and talked to the nurse practitioner, who was automatically going to prescribe ciproflaxin until he found out James was on the generic form of Plaquinel. Cipro and Plaq do not play together properly. So he prescribed two other antibiotics, only one of which the Kaiser pharmacist let us have because one of them also interacted with the Plaquinel. So James took the other antibiotic, and in the meantime the doctor had him take another urine test.

Unhappily all those happy little germs were still racketing around in there. The doctor then actually called us, on a Saturday of all things, and said that James needed all the germs gone ASAP, and he could either take the Cipro, which might mess with his heart, or try amoxicillin and risk the allergic reaction. (Jolly nice choice, eh, chaps?) So Saturday morning we went up to Kaiser's TownPark office (where Urgent Care is) to pick up the amoxicillin, and we were "loaded for bear." Instead of taking the truck, I drove, and we brought our tablets, and I even brought one of the phone charge cords. I did not want to have to deal with the truck if James had to go to Urgent Care with an allergic reaction. I remembered that when I used to have allergy shots, Dr. Friedman and then Dr. Sturam would have me stay in the office for twenty minutes in case I had an allergic reaction to the shot. So James got the scrip and took the first pill, and down we sat, and I timed us for a half hour. Of course Kaiser didn't want anyone in the building unless they were picking up scrips or seeing a doctor, so the nurse came up to ask us why we were hanging around, and we gave her this very bad explanation, but I guess we finally got the message across because she sat us down where she too could keep an eye on James.

We waited the half hour. Nothing happened. So we left.

We appreciate that, God!
In the kitchen...
...we had midday dinner, so there are leftovers to put up. I got up for senior shopping this morning—fat lot of good that did me; even after "restocking" they have no Lysol, no disinfecting cleaning or hand wipes, no alcohol (at least I found yogurt!)—and bagged some turkey thighs, so we had that with Rice-a-Roni on the side.

I am wearing...
...a cadet-blue "Owly" t-shirt (look up "Owly" and "Andy Runton" and you'll find this delightful little guy) and blue-silver-and-white buffalo check pajama pants. And white Hanes socks.

I am creating...
...does this blog entry count? I did a little shopping this morning, washed two loads of clothes, made dinner, shelved a dozen or more books in the library, cleaned off two books I received last Tuesday and had in "quarantine," and started a project.

I am going... finish the project this time, or get it to a more manageable state, at least. We have four boxes in the garage with old APAzines in them. Is everyone familiar with APAzines? One of my friends once referred to it as a very slow cocktail party. An APAzine was run by a coordinator. He or she set the date of the next zine, and arranged for collation of the zine, added covers, and kept up with who was contributing and who was not. APAzines usually ran 20 to 25 members. Some APAzines had themes: science fiction, or maybe more specifically Doctor Who or Star Trek, or sports (perhaps basketball or baseball specifically), book reviews, collecting of some sort, auto racing, stamps, etc. The two APAs we belonged to, "Myriad" and "500 Year Diary," were general interest APAs. You wrote about what interested you, others wrote what interested them, and then in every issue, you commented on the other zines in the issue and the other participants commented back to you. Every month, or bimonthly, or whatever the interval was, you went to Kinko's or Office Depot and copied off your zine, usually five more zines than how many members were in the zine, so that "spec copies" could be given to people interested in participating and getting on a waiting list. Then you delivered (if you lived close) or mailed the copies to the editor, who would collate all the zines together, and then send every member a copy of the APA, and it was read, and comments made, and a new zine printed next time.

Anyway, I think I'm the only one who still has my copies. They've sat in the garage for fourteen years, and they're taking up the space where the rollator should go. But I find that, although I don't have the time nor the inclination to re-read them, I find myself reluctant to throw them out. It's like throwing away pieces of my friends. But I did start today. I got all the "500 Year Diary" issues in one box, and then cleaned out one of the three boxes of "Myriad," keeping only the volume ("Myriad" used to run to three to four stapled 8 1/2x11 volumes) with our zine, "Flying Dreams," in it. (Ideally then I want to remove our zine from the volume and just keep that, but it involves staple pulling and will take a while.) I quit after the first box because the remaining volumes are so heavy I can only do so many at the time and still be able to lift the garbage bag into the trash can and then wheel the trash can out to the curb. I will only be able to do one box at the time. It's still sad to do.

I am wondering...
...if we can ever go back to a normal life again. Even if the COVID-19 mutates into a less infectious or less lethal form, or if they develop a vaccine, aren't we now always going to think "What if another one is waiting around the corner?" Can we ever go into crowds again—science fiction conventions, ARTC performances, Christmas markets, museums—without worrying even the tiniest bit? I'm hoping this at least makes people cleaner. A month ago I was discussing with the waitress at Tin Drum the utter absurdity of having to tell adults to wash their hands. Yet I used to work at CDC and would be aghast at the women who walked out of the bathroom without washing their hands!

I am reading...
...Tristan Gooley's The Nature Instinct.

I am hoping... go to a bookstore soon. I'm having withdrawal symptoms. And with doctors' appointments, bad weather, changed plans, and health hiccups, we never got up to McKay's in Chattanooga to trade in the books in four full Xerox-paper boxes that are turning into five Xerox-paper boxes. And it would be nice to go down to Warner Robins and see my sister-in-law, who's been laid up with a bum foot, and my mother-in-law. They still don't have their Christmas gifts.

I am looking forward to...
...more freedom when it's safe to do so. You know, it's been easier on we introverts during this quarantine than other people. We literally wish sometimes to stay home and be left alone to read, work on art projects and hobbies, have a quiet walk or go on a run, listen to podcasts, binge-watch television, blog...and, again, just read! We aren't suffering like the folks who like to go clubbing, or go to bars, or just hang out in noisy restaurants on weekends (why is why you'll never see us in Chili's). But we still like to venture out to do the quiet things we like: meet with friends, go to bookstores and museums, have lunch out together. And we miss it.

I am learning...
...well, read weather signs from Tristan Gooley. There is so much our instinctive selves have forgotten due to technology. I love technology, but sometimes it's as much as a trap as a help.

Around the house...
...James is teleworking. Tucker is on the deck being a wild puppy. Snowy is singing along to Leo Laporte "The Tech Guy." Occasionally the curtains billow as the breeze.

And I need to go fetch the clothes out of the dryer.

I am pondering...
...if I should order Madeleine L'Engle's new book. These are short stories her granddaughter found in her files after she died, ones that she considered good enough to publish (most of the others were not good, or only fragments). I miss getting a new Madeleine L'Engle, and the reviews say that although the stories aren't anything special, they do show her growth as an author.

A favorite quote for today...
...not a favorite, but I found this for my journal (it seems appropriate):
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
                                                                                                                . . . Anonymous

One of my favorite things...
...chocolate. Alas, I've had mine for the day.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Well, since every single one of both our doctors cancelled all our appointments, but apparently James' nurse visit with the podiatrist was too important to cancel without the dang nurse reading us the riot act, we have to drive all the way to Glenlake tomorrow and go in a building full of potentially sick people to get his toenails examined! But he arranged to pick up a prescription there, and I guess we can go by Tin Drum, since it's two weeks and time for my extra protein again.

A peek into my day...
Here's a pic of me from last week reading a bound version of the old "St. Nicholas" magazine.

If you'd like to participate, check out The Simple Woman's Daybook.



» Saturday, April 11, 2020
"My Quarantine Diary"
There are Facebook posts everywhere about how one should keep a quarantine diary, to remember this time—especially kids, as a memory for their future, and even an exercise for homeschooling. I daresay anyone would be bored reading mine, since I'm not doing anything much different than I did just being retired. The biggest difference is on James' non-work days, since we really can't do anything except duck into a grocery store, which I hated originally and hate even more now, because it involves masking and prep and dragging along the power chair, since I don't want James riding on the supermarket carts. It's gotten so bad that when we were flabbergasted that James' podiatry appointment on the 17th hadn't been cancelled, and the nurse was very disapproving when we said it could be cancelled, so we just caved, I shrugged and said, "Well, at least it will get us out of the house."

Sunday is as always my chore day. James is working, so I might as well, too. I charge the electrical things in the bathroom (water flosser, James' razor trimmer, the auto light over the toilet), clean the master and hall baths (including disinfecting the toilets and washing the floor), mop the kitchen floor, wash towels, sort all our medications for the week, and usually end up cooking midday dinner and unloading/loading the dishwasher to boot.

Monday and Tuesday is odds and ends. I usually make a grocery store run either day. This week it was on Tuesday and I ran into the nice lady at Kroger noted in a previous entry. Tuesday I also mailed a birthday gift to Emma. Everyone in the post office is behind hanging clear plastic walls. Sometimes I go to Lidl for bread and veg and chocolate.

This week was James' first week on reduced hours—they cut him down from forty hours to thirty last week, which means he only works Sunday through Tuesday. So Wednesday we went to Publix; our jaws nearly dropped when we saw they had toilet paper! Just bought BOGOs and yogurt and left. Wednesday is my laundry day anyway.

Thursday we did senior hours at Costco and lucked out: found ScotTissue! Yay! Were almost on the verge of running out of it; with my wonky digestive troubles I always want a few extra rolls of toilet tissue in the house. The Costco people had the entrance set up like Disney World using barriers of pallets; you had to wind through a sinuous line to get inside and they handed you a sanitizing wipe at the door. Bought enough stuff that we won't have to come back for a month. Alas, they had no American cheese.

After Costco we had to stop by Kaiser to pick up the Lyrica they didn't have next week. James had a very sobering call at the beginning of the week from his rheumatologist because the drug he is taking for his arthritis, hydroxychloroquine, is in short supply because it looks like it might be a treatment for some COVID-19 patients. The doctor is strongly suggesting to Kaiser that James must be kept on it because of his kidney and heart problems, but he asked if James would cut down his dosage to one pill a day to see if it was still controlling the pain and mobility. This way the medication could be saved for the lupus patients, who will die without their dosage, and hopefully production will pick up on the hydroxychloroquine and it won't be in short supply too long. If there continues to be a shortage, it's possible they will put James on a low daily dosage of steroids, which isn't the best option, but might work without too many side effects.

While James was there he did some labs. He has some minor signs he might have a urinary tract infection.

On the way home we came by a different Publix to get the Sweet'n'Low James had forgotten on Wednesday, and, finding Dragon 168 was closed "for the duration," went by the BBQ Place for lunch. They were twenty minutes from opening, so we sat in the truck outside while I phoned in our order—the weather was glorious on Thursday, breezy and cool.

Friday and Saturday we did something fun! I walked outside on Friday morning to take Tucker on his walk and it was so sunny and gorgeous and breezy that I turned tail and stuck my head in the front door and yelled up the stairs "Put on something warm! I'll back out the truck and you can come with us in the power chair! It's too nice out to stay stuck inside all day!" And that's what we did, both days: Tucker and I walked in front absorbing all that nice fresh air and James trundled behind, just enjoying the sun and the wind, and saying hi to joggers and bikers.

Friday was Good Friday, so I did my usual "Quiet Hours" between noon and three when Jesus was on the cross and the Bible states that "a great darkness came over the land." My mom always used to do this as much as she could, and would say a Rosary then. I listen to the accumulated Lent Talks that the BBC does every year. Every year there is a theme; this year's was "Identity." "Trans-Identity" and "Identity and Grief" made me cry, and "Identity and Aging" was food for thought, why we demonize aging so much. "Race," "Parenthood," and "Community" were the other three. I also listened to "Good Friday Meditation," where the reverend linked the loneliness of Christ on the cross to social distancing (this interspersed with lovely choir performances) and a five-part series called "The Passion of Plants," about British plants associated with Lent and Eastertide. One of them was the speedwell, which I wrote about seeing in Helen.

On Saturday I discovered that the Tin Drum closest to us was temporarily closed, and, in order to use my "extra protein" reward, drove all the way over to Perimeter Mall to get lunch for James and myself as a treat. James then went downstairs to work on a model for the model club challenge, and I got to vacuum the living area.

We also picked up the "freebie" month-long preview of CBS All Access to watch Picard. I am enjoying it, and like all the characters (I simply love Riker and Troi's daughter! I think she's my favorite kid character since Addie Mills!), but I find the whole a bit depressing. (I am not the only one; have run into multiple reviews of the series that say the same thing.) Star Trek used to be about exploration and wonder, and now it's the same old stuff as the drama films and thrillers: conspiracy theories, hidden agendas, X-Files "trust no one" philosophy, reflecting our modern society. Gene Roddenberry saw the future as better, new Star Trek just paints the future the same as the past: disappointing.

I am still reading the books The Journals of Beatrix Potter and The Moor, and also a bound volume of "St. Nicholas" (November 1929-May 1930) (because when things are really depressing there is nothing like reading an old "St. Nicholas" and traveling into the past). As an introvert, this whole social distancing thing isn't a burden on me as much as it would be on an extrovert who is used to going to work and socializing with co-workers, or someone who likes going clubbing or to big gatherings. But I do miss Friday lunch with Alice and everyone. And going to Barnes & Noble...and that we've had to put off our trip to McKay's in Chattanooga and going down to Warner Robins to see James' sister who has been sick and taking down hers and Mom's Christmas gifts.

And meanwhile life goes on. Prayers for all those who are sick, and so grateful to all the "essential workers," whether you are medical, in the trucking industry, or working at the grocery store. You guys don't get paid anywhere near enough. God bless! Stay well!

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