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» Saturday, May 30, 2020The 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"?
» Monday, May 25, 2020From 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.
» Saturday, May 23, 2020This 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!
» Saturday, May 16, 2020Tilting 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.
» Saturday, May 09, 2020The 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, Saturday...it 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.
» Saturday, May 02, 2020The 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?