Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Passing the days

On Saturday I texted the science teacher from my school who keeps bees and chickens, asking her if any eggs and honey were available. She answered with an emphatic "yes" and told me to meet her at the school, since she was headed out there to plant some stuff in our pollinator garden. I was able to score two containers of honey and two dozen of the prettiest eggs you ever saw:

Look at those colors, like Easter eggs. 

I made a loaf of banana nut bread and chocolate chip pumpkin bread with them. You can see the bananas and walnuts on the edge of the top picture. Marco hung out on my shoulder and helped. He also insisted on having some walnuts before I folded them into the batter:

Do you see his eyes closed in bliss as he munches them? :)

I also made fabulous omelets for dinner the other night. You just can't beat fresh eggs.

So, how are you doing? We seem to be settling down into the new normal for now. Since we're both finally almost over whatever illnesses we've had, we've started working on various projects around the house to keep our minds occupied. I did our taxes the other day which is always a relief. We cleaned the trim on our house, which had algae in some spots. Yesterday we undertook a big project in the front yard. We have a line of crepe myrtle trees beside the house, which had a border all around them of concrete "stones" and weed-smothering black netting put down when the trees were planted. The stones were sinking into the ground, the netting had a thick layer of dirt on top which was growing copious weeds, and overall it wasn't very nice to look at. We decided to remove the stones and stack them in the back yard for future use in flower beds I'm planning, and to remove the netting altogether. We had no idea what a labor intensive project that was going to be! The stones are connected in 3s and they're very heavy, and there's a LOT of them. It took us almost three hours to get them moved, and then getting up the black netting material was difficult because of all the heavy soil and weed roots that had settled on top. But three hours later, we were done and very proud of our efforts! Now we'll be able to mow in between the trees and it should look much neater. And I have lots of border stones for use elsewhere. As we were sitting on the front steps resting from our labors, a pair of bluebirds showed up and started hopping through the fresh soil we had uncovered, looking for bugs. We took that as a good omen.

Keeping busy seems to be the best way for me to cope with this pandemic. Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine is like a tonic after so many anxious hours watching the news or sitting in front of the computer reading the news. And the dogs think everything is just fine and dandy these days! They love our new routine of being home all the time, catering to their every whim. We've been going on plenty of walks around the neighborhood, and of course sitting on the back porch with them in the evenings. If only things weren't so scary out in the wider world, this would be like a treat. We've never had so much time off together to spend at home, and except for being afraid of the virus we're starting to enjoy spending so much time together. I do miss my friends, though. I've tried to text/call/message most of them from time to time just to check in but it's not like seeing them in person, hugging them, and being together. I was chatting with Marla the other day on Facebook manager and she sent me a couple of sweet pictures of little Carsen. I'll finish up this post with them, because they're cheerful. Take care everyone.

Standing up in her "big girl" bed that she's now sleeping in. 

Fingerpainting with her mommy to pass the time.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Just catching up

We're hanging in there here at Casa de Quarantine. How are you managing? Are you stir crazy yet?

I've gone up to my school to answer phones a couple of times. The principal emailed out a schedule for two people per day to answer phones, and said that if we were uncomfortable coming to the school to do it, we could download an app on our phones that would let us do it from home. I chose to go to the school; it's only a mile and a half away, there's only a handful of people up there at any one time (either the principal or the assistant principals, a custodian or two, and the two office staff and/or counselors scheduled for phone duty) and it feels good to leave the house for a few hours.

Gregg is going up to the pet store three days per week, two hours prior to opening, so that he can do water changes on the aquarium system, care for the fish, and make sure all the equipment is functioning properly. One of his tank maintenance jobs is still happening, at the mayor's office, and he goes there on Wednesday nights for two hours. That's it for us as far as work goes. We're adjusting to being at home a lot. I've made a big list of  household projects to complete while we're here, but we haven't started it yet. The main reason is that I've been sick. My bad allergy symptoms have lessened some, but I developed a cough to go along with it and it scares me. It's not a dry cough, at least (which is a symptom of the dreaded virus) but a wet, productive cough. And I still have no fever which is a good sign. I wish I'd start feeling better, though. This whole situation is depressing enough without being sick.

There's not a whole lot to say, so here are a couple of pictures I took last week.

Fresh fruit salad for dessert the other night:

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Ginger sharing my lunch of tuna salad on Saltine crackers:

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Marco enjoying some outside time on the back porch:

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And finally, blooming in my yard:

Take care of yourselves, and we'll talk again soon.

Monday, March 23, 2020


Today is my birthday. As birthdays go, I've had better ones (understatement) but at least I'll never forget the year I turned 45.

I'm not feeling well. Two days ago I woke up with what felt like either bad allergies or the beginning of a cold. I've been sneezing nonstop, my nose is running, I'm getting headaches, my throat is sore first thing in the morning, and I've developed a ticklish cough in my throat. I hope it's allergies; the day before all this started I sat outside most of the day, and the pollen was really bad. I kept getting high pollen alerts on the weather app on my phone that day, so maybe that's the problem. I can't help but be paranoid about coronavirus. At least I'm not running a fever, so that's a positive sign.

Yes, I've had better birthdays. Today has been gray, chilly, and dull. I feel wiped out and tired although I haven't done much of anything. I just took a couple of Benadryl so I'll probably be headed to bed soon.

I hope you're all in hanging in there during this worldwide crisis. Stay safe, be well, and we'll talk soon, okay?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

And it's just day #1

Staying home and practicing social distancing is going to get old, fast. This is just the first day, and I can already see how it's going to be. My husband is STRESSED OUT. He woke up with nausea this morning, something he's still dealing with as one of the aftereffects of the flu, and that set the stage for a bad day. He's not good at sitting at home and not going to work. Normally he works 6 or (more often) 7 days a week, and to suddenly have that routine upended and nothing to do is making him antsy and short-tempered. He actually had one aquarium job to go to late this afternoon, the two tanks at the mayor's office, which is still open and not really a high-risk place for him to be. He goes there at 5pm and usually it takes about 2 hours. After that, he's got the rest of the week and nothing to fill the time. I can already see that I'm going to have to convince him to turn off the damn TV. It's been 24/7 news coverage of the coronavirus droning on and on in the background and I can't take much more of that! Checking the news once a day will be enough, I think.

We did finally go outside and take the dogs for a walk early this afternoon. That seemed to calm some of his irritability down a bit and made us both feel better. It's a gorgeous spring day outside, with trees and shrubs blooming, green leaves budding, birds singing, and a blue sky. Warm, too.  You'd never know there was a pandemic going on. Several of our neighbors were outside, too, mostly doing yardwork. One boy who's a student at my school was out riding his bike. That was nice to see. From what I understand, if the kids are diligent and log onto Google Classroom early in the morning and work steadily, they can be done with all their assignments in a couple of hours and have the rest of the day free. Oh, to be young and out of school in the springtime, with no real worries about health or paying the bills or holding on to jobs! I would have seen this as a great adventure and a good time when I was 12 or 13 years old! 

How's your week going so far?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Hello from the lockdown

Things have escalated rapidly in this whole coronavirus pandemic. Our school district, under the direction of our new progressive Superintendent, has been quietly preparing for emergency "e-learning" for a while now. Of course, they thought they were preparing for weather emergencies like hurricanes or snow days, not this. Every student has a district-issued laptop where teachers can post lesson plans and video lessons from home and students can log onto the Google Classroom app and do their work. They even did a few class periods online last semester as practice. Last week the Superintendent sent out directions for teachers to begin making virtual lesson plans "just in case" school closures were on the horizon. So when the governor announced on Sunday night that all South Carolina schools were canceled, our whole district was ready to go. It's been astonishingly easy for our students to make the transition and despite only being 2 days in, there were very, very few parent phone calls. The teachers are reporting a great first two days. Our administers, guidance counselors, office staff, cafeteria workers, and school nurses had to report to work yesterday and today while last minute kinks got worked out, but now we're done, too. No one has any idea when we might be able to go back. I actually got teary-eyed when I got the text a few minutes ago that we're not to report to work anymore until further notice. It drove home how real this all is.

Today was also Gregg's last regular day at the pet store for the foreseeable future. He plans to go up there every other day an hour or two before opening to maintain the aquarium systems and care for the animals, but that's it. No more contact with the public. Almost all of his side jobs maintaining aquariums are gone, too. At best, he's looking at earning only about 15% of his normal salary for the duration of this thing. I don't care....I'm glad we're both off work to ride this thing out at home, money be damned. Hopefully our small savings will carry us through until things go back to normal. Gregg can't afford to take chances with his reduced lung function and other risk factors.

I won't lie to you. I'm scared. I've never seen anything like this, and I just hope it's not too late to get it under control. Lots of people are disappointed for various reasons: vacations canceled, weddings and parties put on hold or scaled down, even some of my coworkers who are afraid their high school senior kids won't be able to take part in a graduation ceremony or senior prom. My birthday is next week; I don't expect to have any kind of celebration whatsoever. But as long as we can manage to not get sick, that's the best anybody can hope for right now.

I imagine I'll be blogging much more frequently now that I'm hunkered down at home for the next few weeks. How are you doing with all this? What do you do to cope? I made a run to the ABC store the other day and stocked up on gin, vodka, and whiskey. I imagine a drink or two is going to be sorely needed in the next few weeks!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

These are strange days.

Saturday morning, mid March 2020. Is it just me, or does everything feel off-kilter and bizarre today? I never thought words like "quarantine" and "pandemic" would apply to my life, and not only that, but become so regularly spoken as to start to seem commonplace! These are strange days we're living in, my friends.

When I went to my dental appointment Wednesday morning, I was sniffling a bit from my normal allergies. Sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes (especially in the morning) is totally normal for me. Normal or not, I was very conscious of the sideways looks I got from the other patients in the lounge area while I tired to surpress a couple of sneezes. I don't blame them, but I was glad to get called back to the exam room. (Turns out the tooth seems to be fine, and no need for a root canal--hallelujah!--the muscles in my jaw are basically still strained and inflamed from holding my mouth open for over two hours.) I noticed there was hand sanitizer everywhere: three or four bottles in the lounge, bottles on the exam room counters, and several at the main desk in the lobby. That seems to be the case everywhere right now.

Our school district seems to be preparing everyone, the teachers, parents and students, for taking instruction online from home. All students were issued laptops at the beginning of the year and those without internet access received services to remedy that. The technology department sent technicians out Friday afternoon with boxes of repaired and/or replaced laptops for students who needed them. A series of emails and letters have been going out explaining how everything will work "in the event" we have to close schools. I think it's a matter of "when" not "if" at this time. It seems likely that they're shooting for Monday or Tuesday to be the last day before going online. One big concern is feeding kids who get free breakfast and/or lunch, but arrangements have been made for our food services to report to work for a few hours each day and prepare plenty of food for students and their families who need to come and get it. Again, I don't think they're making all these provisions for nothing. The Superintendent must really think we're going to have to shut down for a while. Luckily, I should continue to get paid if that happens.

Gregg is not so lucky. Yesterday morning he went to one of the three nursing homes where he services aquariums, and got turned around at the door. All (all) visitors are banned for 30 days by order of South Carolina DHEC. Which is the right thing to do, of course, but those three nursing home jobs are over a quarter of his monthly salary.....and schools with aquariums are another small chunk of income, and he has two hospital aquariums which of course he also won't be allowed to service...…..all told, we're talking over half his salary. He's probably going to lose even more than that for a while, too. He's more at risk from this virus than the average person and we intend to be super careful. We're planning to self isolate at home as much as possible until this thing blows over. We have plenty of supplies, for us and the animals. As long as we don't get sick, being at home won't be any real hardship for us. Anyone else who can say the same should be doing it, too. Maybe if most of the population will be as diligent as possible, the spread of this virus can still be contained.

A great idea I heard was about supporting your local economy during these trying times. Everyone is afraid of the economic ramifications, and rightly so. Those who can afford it can still spend money at local businesses....on gift certificates to be used later on when we're over the hump. They could be purchased online or over the phone to avoid going out, and that would get some much needed cash flowing in your area. Another good idea would be to donate money to food banks to help your neighbors who are missing paychecks that are sorely needed. We need to do what we can to support our communities while (paradoxically) staying as far away from each other as possible! Crazy.

And one more thing: having a good supply of necessities on hand is smart, but hoarding them is a real asshole move. Lots of folks can't afford to buy in huge quantities, and when they're legitimately running out of things they can't get what they need because some jerk decided they wanted to have 500 roles of toilet paper on hand. Speaking of which, here's the TP aisle at my neighborhood Food Lion as of 5pm yesterday:

And on a less serious note, a related funny I saw this morning. It's still good to have a laugh now and then....

Hang in there, take care of yourselves, wash your hands, think about your neighbors and what they might need, and try not to panic. After all, this is the outcome we're hoping for:

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

And so the crud continues!

Hi! Are you having a good week? I hope someone is, because my last week and the start of this one have been less than stellar. It could be worse, of course, so I'm not really complaining....too much. :)

Gregg is still sick and I'm almost positive he's had the flu. He fit all the criteria on the checklist I found that compared flu symptoms to coronavirus. He's definitely better (no longer running fevers, at least) but he's feeling exhausted and totally wiped out, which is yet another hallmark of the flu. I had a flu shot last October so hopefully I won't be catching it from him, if that's what it is. So far I feel fine. Except.....

I had dental work done exactly a week ago. Two fillings, one of them deep, and the deep one was prepared for a crown. I have a temporary crown on it right now. Since then I've had a slight but persistent ache in my jaw that has required me to take Motrin round the clock. The first few days, we decided to wait and see if it went away, but a week on and it's still hurting. I have to go back to the dentist in the morning before work to let him have a look at things. I hope I don't need a root canal! That always seems to happen if I get a crown. The work I've had done on these two teeth so far is costing me a small fortune despite having good dental insurance. I've already spent $900 out of pocket and that will go up by at least another $500 if I have to have the root canal. WHY does dental work have to cost so damn much?!!!! It's outrageous, is what it is!

Now it's looking like Coronavirus is going to be a big deal. We're actually a little worried about it. We haven't gone crazy stocking up, but we're reasonably prepared to stay home for a while if we must. We still have a few things to get sorted--extra prescription medications, extra dog food, stuff like that--but otherwise I think we can manage to self quarantine if it comes to that. I hope it doesn't. For the time being we're keeping an eye on daily news reports, washing our hands really well, and making plans in case things go south. That's all we can do.

And for your dark-humor laugh of the day:

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Sunday, March 8, 2020


I'm not sure what to make of the Coronavirus outbreak. It seems to be much more virulent than the ordinary flu, in that the mortality rate is (so far) believed to be about 2.5% , and it seems to be more contagious as well. It's easy to see how quickly it's spreading. The biggest concern (in this house at least) is that mandatory quarantines might go into effect, and all the upheaval that will cause. Even if that worst-case scenario happened, we'd be fine. We have stores of food and supplies, and enough money in savings to get by if our paychecks were interrupted for a while. I sure hope things don't come to that, though! My husband is actually quite sick right now. I strongly suspect the ordinary flu. (I had a flu shot this year). He's been running fevers, throwing up, and aching all over, but hasn't done a whole lot of coughing, thank goodness. He only has one lung; and so we treat respiratory illnesses as serious business around here! Another reason we've been following Coronavirus so closely and have prepared in case we need to stay home for a while.

Speaking of illness, my sister in law's husband is in the end stages of alcoholism. It's a dire situation. He's been hospitalized since last Tuesday and they didn't expect him to live for the first day or two. His blood alcohol level when admitted would have killed any ordinary person......it was .442. Check out this chart:

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels represent the percent of your blood that is concentrated with alcohol. A BAC of .10 means that .1% of your bloodstream is composed of alcohol.

Explanation of BAC levels :

.020 - Light to moderate drinkers begin to feel some effects
.040 - Most people begin to feel relaxed
.060 - Judgment is somewhat impaired
.080 - Definite impairment of muscle coordination and driving skills. This is the legal intoxication level in most states.
.100 - Clear deterioration of reaction time and control. This is legally drunk in all states.
.120 - Vomiting usually occurs
.150 - Balance and movement are impaired. Here the equivalent of a 1/2 pint of whiskey is circulating in the blood stream.
.200 - Most people begin to experience blackouts
.300 - Many people lose consciousness
.400 - Most people lose consciousness and some die
.450 - Breathing stops. This is a fatal dose for most people.

He actually walked into the hospital on his own steam, and to a casual observer, wouldn't have appeared drunk, according to Gregg's sister. Now that they're slowing weaning him off alcohol he's having seizures, hallucinating, and has no control over his bodily functions. I didn't know this, but several years ago (prior to the last time Todd tried to stop drinking) he ended up hospitalized and in a coma for almost a month. They lived in Virginia at the time and never told us. Even if he manages to pull through this time, there may already be permanent brain damage, and no one really expects that he can stop drinking at this point. We've known for years that Todd was a serious alcoholic, but we never knew it was that bad. I feel so sorry for all of them, Todd and Karen and their kids. Their daughter is my lovely niece, Melissa, whose wedding we went to last summer. She's having a hard time right now as you can imagine. It's a sad situation.

Well, how's that for a nice cheery blogpost, following the ray of sunshine that was my last post?! Sorry! There hasn't been a whole lot of cheery news around here. Maybe tonight will be better: I'm headed to my friend Marian's house for our new Sunday night ritual: watching the newest episode of Outlander, drinking wine, and having a good long talk. I made guacamole to bring along.

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Outlander guacamole!
Stay well out there, folks.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A quick political rant

I'm so sick of politics in this country that it's almost making me physically ill.

Trump supporters/defenders/enablers are bad enough, but now we have the "progressive left" (which is how I've always identified) attacking each other and acting like spoiled, foolish children. I'm mainly referring to the "Bernie bros" so to speak. Sensible folks on the left just want Donald Trump gone and a return to some kind of civility, competence, and rule of law in this country. There are people all over my social media, mostly aged around 30 and under, people I always liked, respected, and considered friends, who are having meltdowns over Joe Biden taking the lead in the Democratic Primaries. They are incensed over what they perceive as Bernie's "unfair" treatment and keep saying that Biden is "just as bad" as Trump. (!!!) They're actually offended when others say it's better to "vote blue no matter who" because they're too "woke" for all that and if they can't have a perfect candidate they'd just as soon have Trump. (!!!) Two separate young women that I've always liked, respected, and had a high opinion of recently got into bitter arguments on Facebook with their other liberal friends about voting for Biden if he ends up the nominee. One of them shared the following post late last night after one such argument. (Language warning for those of you who might mind).

Blue No Matter Who people are already blaming us in advance for not voting for Biden in the general election. They need to sit down and understand something.
We (people like myself) were never Blue No Matter Who. We were never Blue to begin with. Blue has, for decades, been a source of disappointment, neglect, deceit, betrayal, and collusion with the people who actively persecute us. Yall never had us to begin with, yet you're acting entitled to our votes and support.
Fuck. You.
You need to understand this: This election season, you all have been inundated by our generosity as we put our discomfort aside for the off chance of salvaging your shitty Party. Your cup of our compromises runneth the fuck over. You are not entitled to a single goddamn vote, and we sure as fuck are not responsible for wrecking your mediocre ass dreams.
I think the fuck not.
There's people out here committing suicide over the student debt they're drowning in, debt that they acquired by putting faith in your bullshit promises of work-hard-get-paid. We're out here GoFundMeing chemo treatments, getting shot at by your friends in blue (hah, yall love that color don't you?), and drinking poison water because your billionaire buddies wanted to save a dollar. And what did yall do?
Actively and OPENLY sabotaged the only candidate who bothered to give a fuck.
I don't owe you shit.
You want Trump out? Wow. What ambition. Don't pull a muscle reaching for the fucking stars there. Thank you for really coming through when things finally got bad enough that they started to affect YOU.
Maybe if YOU learn how to compromise we can do that.
Erase crippling debt no matter who. End police brutality no matter who. Abolish ICE no matter who. Free Palestine no matter who. Stop people from dying of preventable fucking illnesses no matter who.
Fuck your Party loyalty. We want People loyalty. When you show up for that, then we can talk about what you can have from us.
I was one of the people that had earlier commented that we should concentrate on voting for whomever ends up running against Trump. I can't begin to tell you how offended I was by her responding to me and a few of her other friends with this venom. My feelings were badly hurt. I've considered deleting her on social media (and I've considered her a good friend in "real life" for years).

In an unrelated post, another young woman, a woman whose family I've been friends with for a long time now, said something to the effect of "What will my life look like under a Biden presidency?" after moaning that Biden wasn't liberal or progressive enough for her. When I responded that "The real question is---"What will your life look like after 4 more years of Trump" she got really testy with me and was on the verge of "ok, boomer"ing me with her response. (Not that I'm even a "Boomer" anyway, for what that's worth). Can someone explain to me what part of what I said warranted a shitty, sarcastic reply?  Am I taking this all too personally? Why can't people in this country treat each other with respect anymore? Things are pretty bad when you refuse to even get along with people who are supposed to be on your "side". 

That's really all I came here to say. I needed to vent, so thanks for reading if you've made it this far. And if you want to comment, please be kind--to me, and to each other. I've had all the sniping and nastiness I can stand for one day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The King's Highway

I never realized when I was a teenager driving around Myrtle Beach, SC and the Grand Strand that I was driving on the oldest highway in America. We always called Highway 17 "The King's Highway" without even thinking about it. Turns out, it came into existence when we were still subject to the king of England!

Check out this link, I think it's fascinating!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Book shopping for kids

Did I ever mention that my 6 year old buddy, Little P., has the same birthday as me? Well, he does! I saw him Friday afternoon and we were talking about Leap Day. I said, "P-----, after Leap Day on Saturday, this Sunday will be March 1st. Do you know what that means?" and without even a moment's hesitation he shouted, "It's almost our birthday!!!!!" Indeed!

On the 23rd of this month I will be forty-five and he will be seven years old. Isn't seven a nice age? (I'm not so sure I'd say the same about forty-five). I'm trying to decide on a book or books to buy him for a birthday present. He likes to read, and reads on a third or fourth grade level already, which should make it fun to pick. Here's what I'm considering, and I wonder if any of you would like to give me some input on this.

1. A nicely bound hardcover copy of a volume of children's poetry. Shel Silverstein's books were pure fun when I was his age. Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic are both superb. There are, of course, plenty of other volumes of poetry for children that would be good, too. 

2. A set of good chapter books like the Magic Treehouse series or the ones with nonfiction themes like biographies and historical events. 

3. Classic children's literature, like something shown here:

Then, of course, there's plenty of newer fiction for kids on his reading level that's supposed to be really good---modern favorites, if you will. Whatever I decide, I definitely want to get him a book or books for his birthday.

Thoughts? Suggestions?