“What’s It Like?”

I am having top-notch nursing care

I can’t believe how many people have asked me that this week. What’s it like to have Covid? MISERABLE. No matter how much you want to be “in” with the “in crowd” – pass up the opportunity to get sick.

Not the usual counter-top picture I share with you, but neither of us is much into food or cooking this week.

My husband and I have the same symptoms. It’s like having a horrible, horrible head cold or, imagine this, a viral infection in the sinuses. We are both congested. He’s coughing every few minutes and I’m blowing my nose non-stop. We’re both trying desperately to keep it out of our chests, because once the congestion is in your chest you KNOW how disgustingly uncomfortable that gets. I have had a painful scratchy sore throat for days. One of my personal issues is that if I take too many Tylenol or Advil I tend to get an ulcer. Yeah, this is probably NOT one of the more pleasant weeks in my life.

thank goodness the grape tomatoes are healthier than i am

Fever, yep that’s present too. We are living on Tylenol and Sudafed during the day, and Nyquil and Afrin nose-spray at night. We are drinking oceans of liquids. Sleeping a lot. For me yesterday that meant most of the day. Not sure I was awake for even 10 hours. Brain fog. What’s brain fog? That’s when you can’t focus at all on any one thought. It’s too much effort to think, you can’t remember why you wanted to think, and it hurts too much to think. I have no idea what day it is.

I have the butterfly weed but no butterflies 😦

I am so very grateful that we have our house, our garden, the deck, my sister & her husband, and that the contractors are NOT here this week working on the renovation. With the things we HAVE to help us survive, and the things we do NOT have to deal with, this week is less horrible than it could be. I tried to imagine the 2 of us feeling like this in a small apartment with no real space to separate and no way to go outside. I’m sorry that we had to cancel weekend plans, and maybe even next weekend plans, but we are very fortunate to have the support system we do. My sister and brother-in-law have run errands for us, replenishing the depleted medicine stock. I wonder if they’ll do a grocery run for us too? 🙂

the pink echinacea makes me happy

On the positive side we do seem to be getting a little better. My husband has a prescription for some meds that are supposed to help him not relapse as he recovers. Of course the list of potential side-effects sound almost worse than the current symptoms. I felt strong enough last night that before I went to bed (in the recliner, because he’s in our bed and I’m living in the recliner in our sun room) I Windex’d every surface and handle and knob I could reach. And I only slept 10.5 hours last night! Definitely on the road to recovery. I hope. Please.

I LOVE these very tall daisies. I thought I’d lost them – choked out by other plants. But I have this group and a small group on the other side of the house. They grow to 2-3′ tall

A Monday Living Up To Its Reputation

Momma checking out the buffet table

Some mornings you wake up and you just KNOW that it won’t be your favorite day of the week. I had to change sleeping locations twice during the night because my husband was incredibly restless. Even though *I* relocated to another room he followed me there a few hours later. That sent me back up to our bed.

Wait for me, Momma! I don’t LIKE that woman in the car!!!! She LOOKED at me!!

I already knew I’d not be doing my morning walk because the forecast was for rain in the hour when I’d be walking. Indeed, when I woke up it WAS gray. But not raining. It didn’t rain for another few hours, which meant I COULD have walked. And I NEEDED to walk because the bathroom scale – that treacherous, cruel, soul-crushing instrument of torture – read 2.5 pounds heavier than yesterday morning. Gray skies. weight gain, broken sleep. Not great. Came up from swapping loads of laundry about and my husband was awake. He looked wretched. He confirmed he felt wretched. I asked for symptoms. Uh oh. Yep. He tested positive for Covid. Sigh. At least I’m still showing negative on the tests and NOT feeling sick. But we’re both quarantined now for 5 days. 😦

Off for fine dining elsewhere this morning

Keeping the Hibiscus Growing

Apparently it’s going to take daily applications of Repel-All and hot chili powder to get my hibiscus and other plants to flower. I’ve had to add the zinnia to the daily treatments because I came out yesterday morning to discover the zinnia had served as a midnight snack – leaves & buds gone, just the stems left. I hate the smell of the Repel-All but hey – if this is what it takes to have flowers, stink-city it is!

We’re Going to Need More Pipes

unstressed wc

We finished growing framing for the time being. Not sure if I mentioned this already but this project will happen twice – first for 3 rooms and then for 2 rooms. Anyway, John has finished growing closets, and some walls, and a doorway. Now we need to grow some pipes. Maybe this weekend I can get back out to my garden so I can grow plants, not house. 🙂

lots of framing got done

The plumbers, Ken & Chris, were here bright and early this morning. I knew they were coming but I didn’t have a time. I decided I had time to do my morning walk, shower & dress before they’d get here. Wrong. 🙂 I got out of my shower and saw the trucks parked out front. Whoops. I made it to the front door at 7:59am and personally I think that should keep me out of the dog house.

it begins with a hole in the floor of the new bathroom

Since we are adding a bathroom, we need to add pipes. As usual I had no idea what this means in terms of destruction/construction. I learned that they would be cutting open my NEW breakfast room wall (see 2018 for new wall photos). Ken was not sure about the wall – what they’d find, what it would imply. I said to him “never fear!!! I BLOGGED all of 2018’s renovation. I’m sure I have some picture of the inside of the walls from that angle.” And indeed I did. 🙂 Yay me! The upside of being able to produce exactly what they wanted to see is that they have no objection to me wandering about today, taking pictures at various stages. I didn’t think John really enjoyed me coming around. I tended to wait for him to take breaks.

Next we cut open my beautiful wall to see the hole in the new bathroom

I’m still amazed at how fast this seems to be going at the moment. My recollection of the kitchen renovation is that someone would come and “do something” for a day or 2 and then everyone would vanish for over a week. Someone else would come and “do something” and everyone would vanish. If Ken’s schedule is correct for this week, I’ll have had workers here for 9 days straight: demolition, framing, plumbing.

Now to find the stack in the basement!

I still can’t envision how this will come together – what pieces happen when. When does the new flooring get put down? In stages as a room is done, or will they do the whole floor in one process? When they tell me that we will have the new bathroom working before we demo the old bathroom, what constitutes a “working bathroom”? In truth I’m a lot less stressed about it now that things are happening and I can talk with them than I was before the demolition. I’m also less stressed, I think, than I was with the kitchen. One, I’ve lived through a major renovation now. Two, I think we did a better job creating living spaces for us during the process. Three, honestly – I’m just too old and tired to spend my energy stressing about the renovation as a whole.

As with plants, the pipe grows from the bottom up

No, my Super Power IS obsessing/stressing, but my specialty is on parts of the whole, not the whole renovation. *laughing* I’ll focus on specific areas for my stress. Speaking of stress, the cats are holding up remarkably well. I didn’t think WC would mind too much given her deafness and overall preference for the 1st floor anyway. But BC seems to be doing alright as well. She has her set times to join me in “my office” in the morning and afternoon. Now that I’m doing my exercises on the living room floor she joins me there to coach. We both miss sleeping together, but we fit in lots of cuddling during the workday and before bedtime.

Pipes grow even faster than framing – right up that wall in a day!

My current worry is about my roof. John pointed out last week during the rain that the roof was leaking – water on the floor beneath the eaves. That roof is only 10 years old. I’m not happy. Don said he’d take a look at it but Don comes in and out sporadically. He’s very reassuring when he’s here but part of me wants to tie him up to a post and make him explain EVERYTHING to me in detail. And then have him fix it too. 🙂 It’s supposed to rain tonight/tomorrow morning so maybe I’ll be able to find the spot in the attic.

Meanwhile back on the 2nd floor, the hole gets bigger and gets a companion

I’m also finding the construction noises a bit wearing. I’m not sure why. You’d think that hearing productive noises would be enjoyable. Yet I find myself cringing when the hammering or drilling gets above a certain level. Unexpected BANGs also make me cringe. There seems to be much more dust involved in this renovation. It could be that there is, or there isn’t but I spent less time in 2018 moving in and about the construction. I feel like I’m always breathing dust. I also learned today that I don’t care for the smell of the glue the plumbers use to seal the pipes. It’s like rubber cement smell on mega steroids.

Look! There’s my breakfast room!

I want to see some of the items that I’ve ordered actually get here. The teak cabinet and the track lighting for the new bathroom are not here yet. The cabinet is due anywhere from now til mid-July, and the lights aren’t expected until mid-July.

Pipes!

I want to start playing with the shower tiles. 🙂 That’s a “reward” for me – getting to layout the tiles and create wall patterns that I think are aesthetically pleasing. I gather the tiles won’t be needed for a few more weeks. They’re at the tile store waiting for me but I don’t have a good place to store them here until I need them. No fair!!!! I want to CREATE!!!

unstressed bc

Indoor Cultivation

Yep, I am definitely growing closets upstairs!!! 🙂

June 16 – Notice the emerging buds – closets grow bottom up AND top down!!! Plenty of light.

While it looked at first to be a single closet, I can see now that it is actually TWO closets. One for the room, if the room reappears, and one for the hallway. How exciting!!! And growing closets from scratch appears to be a MUCH faster process than trying to grow plants from seeds.

June 17 – the 2 closets are clearly visible. Like many weeds, they’ve pushed out something I liked – the window.

Morning Deer

NOT a lawn ornament

We have a lot of deer in our neighborhood. There are those that love ’em, those that loathe ’em, and those of us who are conflicted. The truth is that I DO feel pleasure as I walk about town and see the deer. I feel the same way about all the “wild” animals I might see: opossum, raccoon, hawks, the very occasional fox. There is something very joyful about nature despite “civilization”.

On the other hand, as a gardener, I would really prefer NOT to have to deal with the deer. There has been so much edifice development in this area that the pockets of greenery are becoming more and more scarce. The deerhave become incredibly bold, strolling down the streets even in the middle of the day. Several times we’ve pulled up to our house in our cars, whether daytime or night, and there are deer on the lawn, and the deer don’t move. They have become totally blase about cars and people. They look at us as if to say “Hey there, how are YOU today?”

Hmmm. Let’s see what’s on the menu today

I don’t know any good solutions. Hunting? Poison? Co-existence? Barbed wire enclosures? What I DO know is that I want to have a garden and I want my plants to have flowers. I do NOT enjoy plants that consist of bitten stems and branches. There’s not much color in a bitten stem, nor does it attract pollinators, butterflies, or hummingbirds.

Yesterday’s breakfast

This morning when I walked out after waking, I was looking at my rudbeckia in the front garden. I heard my neighbor calling to me from across the street. “There’s a deer in your garden!” she called. “It’s been there for hours!” I edged cautiously down the sidewalk and indeed – there was deer sitting in a nice shady spot in the lawn. Of course I took pictures. 🙂 You can see it was unconcerned with me playing paparazzi.

How’s the Starwort this morning?

I went inside to take care of the cats. I could see the deer from the dining room window. It didn’t flinch as I opened the window to let in air. As I moved about inside I noticed that the deer had gotten up and was moving around the house. I grabbed my camera and went out to observe.

Oh garcon!!! A little fresh water please!

The good news is that it seemed to ignore most of my plants. It did take a bite of the False Starwort, but only one bite. The evergreen hedge got a few nibbles, but everything else was ignored. Thank goodness, since it (or a friend) had already done a number on the hibiscus plants in the pots. The deer meandered across my lawn, across my neighbor’s lawn, and then headed back behind that house.

Loving me some evergreens

It was a lovely interlude in my morning but it was a reminder as well. I got the “repel all” spray from the porch and doused the False Starwort and the hibiscus. 🙂 Co-existence but do NOT eat my flowers!!!!

The mandevilla does NOT look fresh today

I wish I could blame the deer for the dying mandevilla – all I can think is too much water, even though that pot is open on the bottom. 😦

Breakfast buffet

The Vanishing Room

When I woke up this morning, the room was gone.

Not a mystery – we know where it went. 🙂 The attic. The basement. The garage. The local Buy Nothing Group. The garbage.

May 11

We started with a room that served a double purpose – my son’s bedroom and my office. It was very full.

June 13 – we’ve done what we could

Then we began to move things out. We needed help with the bed. James took care of that, and the desk and the shelving in my husband’s office. By the way – that room has vanished as well. 🙂

June 14 – it began to get a noisy and messy up there

James and the demolition crew arrived. It still looked like a room.

Now it looked like a very distressed room. I went up at lunchtime to see how it was doing.

There was still evidence that it was/had been a room. But between lunch and dinner, it disappeared. 🙂

June 15 EOD

I have high hopes, however, that something will grow. After all – look how well the willow bush is doing! This evening there seem to be signs of new wood. That looks like a very little room. Ah – maybe I’m growing a closet????

June 16 EOD

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Atop the Kittatinny ridge

Doesn’t that title sound EXCITING???? IMPRESSIVE? Don’t my son and I sound healthy/virtuous/outdoorsy??? Well, we DID hike over 6+ miles on the Appalachian Trail when he came east for Passover in April. The amusing part was that we had not intended to hike the AT at all. We ended up there by accident. Okay, not accident – stubbornness by the elder side of the expedition. But as the REAL Park ranger said when we made it back to our car: “Now you can tell everyone you hiked the Appalachian Trail.” 🙂

I have a few books on hikes in NJ. I looked through the books and picked out several hikes that I thought we might be able to do in April, when the weather is not too hot and not too cold but could turn out to be either. My son made his choice from my subset. We had Passover seders on Friday and Saturday night, Sunday was for recovery. Monday we had tickets to go to NYC to see Daniel Craig in Macbeth. We HOPED we were going. A few days before Passover it was announced that the cast had Covid and performances were cancelled, re-opening Friday night. Saturday. Sunday. Sunday night it was posted that the Monday performances were cancelled.

The weather was more cooperative on Tuesday than Covid was on Sunday, so we set out for the Mohican Outdoor Center in Warren County (north western NJ). The book described a nice hike starting near there, approximately 4 miles easy/moderate hiking on the Coppermines and Kaiser Trails. We had all day to walk, so we were sure we’d be alright. I should have done all the internet searching BEFORE the hike that I am doing NOW to show you the trails and information. *grin* Because then we would have been on the correct trail.

Not doing my research first was not my only mistake. When we hike in AZ we are SO GOOD about having all the water we might need, and any other accessories (sun screen, clothing, protein bars, etc). I don’t know why the same reflexes did not kick in for me in NJ. Because I was relaxed about being in NJ? Because it was April and cool? Because the trail was “easy/moderate”? We did NOT read the book description first, we did NOT bring enough water, we did NOT wear the right weight clothing. You’d think it was the first time we’d ever gone hiking. We had 2 water bottles, not our usual 4. We did have hats. The book warned that the weather in the mountains could get cold quickly, so we were in jeans. But it was April and sunny and the jeans were just too hot and confining for hiking. I didn’t have any protein bars either. We stopped for breakfast on our way north, which is what kept us going when we ended up hiking for 4+ hours.

We found the Mohican Center with no trouble. There were a few cars pulled off on the side of the road near a little wooden bridge, but we kept going up the very bumpy lumpy road until we found the lodge. There was a young man sitting on a car bumper by the Park Ranger vehicles. He was on his cell phone. We parked near him and wandered over to the lodge, which was closed. We had our book and the page/map marked. We probably should have actually read the book, not merely looked at the picture, because it gave explicit directions (walk x # of feet to the bridge, look for this, etc.) for finding the trailhead and how to proceed. The sign board did not. You can see there was a warning about rattlesnakes. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen warnings in both NJ & AZ about snakes, but we’ve yet to see a single snake, rattled or otherwise. I’m not sure if I regret that absence or I am grateful or both. 🙂

We could see from the book that the actual trail was down the road from the lodge (we must have passed it on our way to park) but I, being the social, outgoing, neurotic person that I am, wanted to confirm it. 🙂 So I interrupted the young man, who I assumed (yet again a huge mistake) to be someone official, and showed him the book/map and asked him where we’d find the trailhead. In hindsight this was NOT a wise move. He looked at the map, made a few assumptions of his own, and then told us that the trailhead was down the road, turn LEFT at the bridge, not over the bridge, and up the hill onto the trail.

That agreed with where we thought we should be heading so we walked down the road. As we neared the bridge an elderly gentleman (yeah, right, so maybe he was around my age – he LOOKED older than I) got out of his car and greeted us. We explained what we were doing and he told us to turn right over the bridge. I did NOT have in MY hearing aids and really could not understand the gentleman all that well, so I assumed (bad move) that he could not hear US all that well either. 🙂 Can you play the ominous music now? We said no, up the hill, he said no, over the bridge. My son and I exchanged confused looks, thanked him, and turned LEFT, across the road, not right across the bridge, and headed up the trail.

So this is either when we still thought we were on the correct trail or our joyful faces when we realized we were calling it quits and heading back to the car. 🙂

I will spare you the details of the next 4+ hours. Here is the Readers Digest version (do people even know what that phrase means anymore???). The old man was right (obviously). I should not have interrupted/trusted the young man, who assumed we wanted the AT, not the Coppermine. We hiked up the Kittatinny ridge, looking feverishly for the branch to the right as described by the map and the young man, who added that it would be hard to see if we were not looking. We kept trying to make what we were seeing match the sparse description on the map. We glimpsed what we thought was the Delaware River. It could have been. We were high enough and the trees were sufficiently bare that we might have been looking at the Delaware.

We had a lovely view of what we thought was the Paulinskill Valley. Or was it the Kittatinny Valley? And oh em gee. Unlike hiking in AZ mountains, we kept seeing the same darn tree and the same darn rock and the same view of the same valley, just a little further south. It was all the SAME. I have almost NO photos because every time I picked up the phone to take a shot it looked exactly like the last photo.

View to the valley. It was pleasant the first 10 times. 🙂

And the trail markings are NOT like AZ. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, however. The trails we do in AZ are aimed at not losing any inexperienced, novice hikers. There are signs at every branch, clearly marked forks. At least that’s true for where we’ve hiked. In NJ on our two mountain hikes (I haven’t told you about last September yet) we followed white triangles and yellow rectangles and blue squares, all of which could be ANYWHERE – on a tree, on the ground, on a rock. We kept asking ourselves whether we’d missed the branch to the right to get on the Kaiser trail. Oh yeah, we’d missed it alright. 🙂

an interesting branch. seriously – i was hard pressed to find anything photogenic.

We knew we missed our trail because enough time had passed that we should have seen the hydroelectric plant and found the turnoff to Kaiser Trail no matter HOW slowly we might have been proceeding. It was warmer than we expected. We were bored. We were running low on water. We were experiencing a major letdown. We broke out of the woods into a clearing with a fire tower. NOT on our map at all. There were school-age beings there, obviously hiking, some climbing up the fire tower, others lounging about. We asked them if they knew about the trail. They did not (big surprise not) but that their teacher was coming up the road (other direction from whence we came) and she would know. So we kept going. This part of the trail was wide enough for trucks/SUVs. It was also extremely muddy and rutted.

These rocks were the trail. This is on our way back home. Heading out I was extremely stressed at having to cross them. Perhaps you can see the drop to the left off the ridge. Going back the perspective was different enough that the drop was less obvious. And I knew I’d navigated it safely once already.

We did encounter the teacher, who had a map, and shared it with us. We learned we were at the Catfish Fire Tower. I think. Quite honestly I was so turned around, and I’m still having difficulty figuring out some of these online maps, that I doubt I’d actually place money on being at Catfish. But since it’s the only fire tower on the AT in Warren County, that’s probably where we were.

You can see our trail at the bottom – the star is the fire tower

As we stared at the map, and realized how we were nowhere we hoped to be, we realized we had only 2 choices. First was to turn around and hike back the way we’d come. The second was to find the Rattlesnake Swamp trail parallel to the way we’d come and go back that way (In hindsight we realized that the young man thought we were taking the Rattlesnake to the main trail). That looked longer and, to be quite honest, we were both really done with the AT and the Kittatinny mountains at that point. We had less than half our water and we were hot, tired and hungry. We turned around and hiked back.

Ah, if we only turned RIGHT over the bridge. This is what it looked like on the bridge. 🙂

It was boring. It was uphill the whole way. Do not ask me how it could have been uphill the whole way home when it had been uphill the whole way out. It was. Every time we paused and looked ahead, it was an incline. I promise you that at almost NO point were we ever aware of walking down, but every time we looked ahead it was UP. The first hour of this hike was good. I confess that the last 3+ hours are probably NOT going into our top 5 hikes. 🙂 Next time we turn RIGHT over the bridge.

The pleasant (yet taunting) sound of Yards Creek – had we turned RIGHT over the bridge. 🙂

Watching the Willow

April 1

Every spring I am fascinated to see what survived the winter and thrived over the winter. It seems that each winter – even if they feel the same to ME – brings about different results in the garden.

April 20

Back in April I noticed some teeny tiny little buds on the willow bush. They seemed to be lining an entire branch. I started watching them. They thrived, they grew. Although I was only tracking the one branch photographically, there were buds on many of the branches. Unlike most of my rudbeckia and my laurel, the willow seems to have had a GREAT winter.

June 15