Archive for the 'RL happenings' Category

An Interesting Sunday Morning

the first gardenia

FINALLY! One of the gardenias has a flower! Smells wonderful!

Today was the day to do my drive-thru covid19 testing. In hindsight, I decided that I had picked an inconvenient time – 10:00 am. That seemed like a great idea on Wednesday night but on Saturday night I realized that 10:00 am is right in the middle of my gardening time. Ugh. I had flowers that needed planting, and seeds to be sown, and some weeds to pull. Mistake on my part. The weather was perfect – cool (highs only in the 70s), NOT humid (oy, yesterday – drip drip drip) and sunny.

willow with pink leaves

My willow was swaying in the gentle breeze. I LOVE the pink leaves, that turn white and then green. My neighbor wanted to pull it out because he thought it was dying – “the leaves are white”

Ah well, you have to make the best of the situation, right? I was up, dressed and had the cats fed by 8:30. That would give me an hour to do some of the ‘lighter’ work before I had to leave at 9:30 to go for the test.

morning front lawn

Morning light

I’d just walked out of the house and was on the front porch when I heard THIS NOISE. LOUD. BAD. It was some kind of motor noise, I thought. It sounded like when you have the car running and you try to start it again. That horrible grinding noise. It may have lasted as long as 3-4 seconds, then a bang! I saw smoke drifting across the street from behind one of the houses. Then I saw all my neighbors coming out of their houses and into the street as we all gestured at each other (no one had a mask on). I asked one of the later arrivals (by about 60 seconds ‘later’) if they had power. None of us had power. Ahah. The transformer blew.

fire dept to the rescue

Fire Dept to the rescue. Transformer is behind the yellow house (with the blue car)

I’ve lived in my house for 36 years now. You may have noticed in my photos that this is an old neighborhood – you can see power lines and phone lines above ground, cutting across property lines. I’m well aware that we are on a power grid that has separate transformers about town. Everyone who was coming out in the street was on that transformer (the houses beginning 2 down from us are on a different transformer). The transformer is in the backyard of the house that is across the street, and one off of the corner. We got the word that the power company had been informed, and they expected it to be repaired by 1:15pm that day. Ouch. Long time.

discussing the situation

Discussing the situation

The noise and the cat’s reaction had woken my husband. I came in to find him done with his shower. I warned him that our (female) neighbor across the street would be coming over to use our gas stove to make coffee. It does have an electric started but guess what? Matches work equally well. My husband said that he might as well get our generator going. We have a wonderful generator, which runs on propane tanks. That means we don’t have to worry about keeping a battery charged or gasoline getting old. Since we use our propane grill all year, we always have propane handy.

front porch in June

The roses are very happy this year, as is the clematis. I should have hung some mandevilla from the railing but I was lazy

We are old pros at this now – we have had to turn on that generator a few times since we bought it in 2012 (BEFORE Superstorm Sandy I might point out). Our neighbor laughed at how many extension cords I brought up but she was impressed how quickly we plugged in the coffee pot, the refrigerator, the fans in the windows, computers and lights in the basement. Yes, if they warn me that we might have a tornado and I should store water, I do that. While we’d been making coffee and setting up the generator, the fire department and the police had arrived. It was a happening!

m washington geraniums and hibiscus

I could not pass up this hibiscus. Ditto the Martha Washington geraniums

All of that basically took up the hour I had before heading over to take my covid19 test. That was a complete non-event, I must say. I drove up, he checked my name and information against his list, he went over the directions, sent out the swab and vial. I swiped around one nostril twice, then held it in that nostril for 15 seconds, then repeated in the other nostril, per the instructions. Then I broke the swab in half (it has a very long handle), put the swabby part into the vial, handed it back and drove off. I’ll hear by email in 2-5 days. So my brother-in-law (the cause of this activity) will hear before us. My sister was the car behind me, and my husband goes tomorrow. I’ll let you know how things turn out. Given that my brother-in-law’s fever was gone completely in under 2 days, we all expect to get the all-clear. After all, there ARE other things besides covid19 that cause a fever.

borage radishes ground cover

I circled the very cramped borage. Too many radishes in the next pot. That ground cover appears to be incredibly hardy – I hope it likes its new home.

I came home and spent 3 hours working in the garden. I planted some more cosmos seeds, planted some ground cover my sister gave me from her yard, planted some peppermint that had been overflowing where I’d had it originally, and moved some borage plants as well, to give some space to the plants remaining in the pot.

hibiscus and dahlias

Another hibiscus that demanded I bring it home with me, plus dahlias, dianthus and some succulents

I’ve been very careful in my weeding. I realized that in the past I’d been pulling up my echinacea plants, I think I pruned out some gooseberry plants, and who knows what else I’ve weeded out that I might have wanted. The problem for me is that the plants I like all look like weeds. Speaking of which, I think it’s the butterfly plant from last year that is spreading like, well, like a weed. That might explain the name. I can’t remember what the flowers look like (did it even flower last year?). It might be the false starwort but although I’ve gone back and looked at last year’s post on the plants NUMEROUS times, I cannot remember which plant is which. 🙂 I’ve left some areas unweeded because I’m not sure if those leaves are weeds or flowers. 🙂 Only time will tell, right?

succulents

I don’t know where I will be able to fit all these succulents come winter. Can you see that 2 of them are flowering? The one on the ground – the flower is all the way to the edge of the picture.

dahlias and zinniaz

I do like zinnias and dahlias. And Martha Washington. You can see my “natural deer repellent” – the peppermint plant in the left pot.

Social Distancing With My Cats

Social Distancing With My Cats

My sister got me a prezzie the other day. 🙂 The true names of GC, WC and BC are on the shirt, but I’ve cropped them out to protect them from the paparazzi. We will be distancing more than ever. My brother-in-law was running a fever all day yesterday. Now there are MANY things that can cause one to run a fever. But until we know why, we are being much more vigilant and distance. We’ve all signed up for testing over the weekend. Time to get back out in the garden.
GC social distancing
WC social distancing
BC social distancing

Ahuva Gets Political

george floyd panoramic

I try to keep my blog lightweight and relaxed. There are times, however, when I feel that I must make a statement. If you are here for the garden and cats and food and travel adventures and SecondLife, I apologize. Today I feel the need to make it clear where I stand.
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I live in a small NJ town. It’s a very liberal community, maybe more liberal at times than I’d prefer. I was born here, raised here, still live here. That is very uncommon these days. But here I am. Today I am very proud to be counted among the people of this town, and I honor my fellow residents and our police department, who walked right along with the people.
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The video below shows the start of the people pouring onto the high school property after the procession through town. Please notice that nearly every single person is wearing a mask because we are, after all, still in a pandemic. Yet we all came out, because sometimes you have to do what is right, even if right is not necessarily safe.

I was, I am, Naive

Spur of the moment berry pie

Spur of the moment berry pie – yes, I cheated on the lattice because I didn’t have much crust available and I was lazy

Silly me. I thought we were actually moving forward. I thought that living here, I was free from the fear of being burned in ovens, free from the fear of being killed for expressing my religious beliefs. I thought that we were finally moving past the racial hatred. We’d elected a black president – didn’t that show that the majority of us were finally not letting skin color determine what people could or couldn’t do? I thought that all of the anthems of the 60s had grown into our psyches, that we wanted peaceful coexistence. Well, I was wrong, wasn’t I? I am in agony watching my country self-destruct, crash and burn. What’s covid19 compared to what we can do on our own? I escape where and when I can. Because human beings need to find hope, need to find life, need to find the positive no matter how dark the sky. So I cook and bake and garden.

snowing cherry blossoms

Snowing Cherry Blossoms in April

Ahhh, my garden. I relieve my stress in my garden. The weather wasn’t being very kind. We had such a mild winter, and an easy April, that I was lulled into believing I could plant seeds and get things in the ground before May 15, the “official” last frost date. Son-of-a-gun if we weren’t having frost warnings on May 13th or whenever it was. Seriously???? I had to cover my tropicals, tarp the plants in pots, tarp whatever I could cover. Even so, the cover blew off one of my mandevillas. It is only just now beginning to recover. I’ve been spraying the roses and clematis with Neem oil, because the roses have black spot and they are interwoven with the clematis. I’ve been spraying the walk and the pots with that disgusting “repel all” to keep the deer and squirrels away. OMG, that stuff is vile. It had better repel those dratted squirrels because it certainly repels ME. Ugh. I was so proud of my radishes and then discovered the dratted squirrels digging in that pot. I don’t know how I’ll know when my radishes are ready for eating. I have lovely green leaves above, but when do they indicate lovely red radishes below??? I need to do more reading.

our local 'gang' of 4

The local Gang of 4 and I exchanging stares

I’ve been cooking and baking. You know how I love the 90-minute French bread recipe? I think I found one I love even more. The 40-minute hamburger roll recipe. I found this just about 2 weeks ago. The first time I made hot dog rolls. SO GOOD!!!! Yesterday I just casually whipped up a batch of hamburger rolls. We ended up having sandwiches for dinner instead of salad. You absolutely MUST try this recipe – fantastically easy and wonderfully delicious!!!

40 minute hamburger rolls

40 minute hamburger rolls – so easy and SO GOOD!!!!

I’ve also made wheat berry salad and cold sesame noodles, a berry pie, and a chocolate chip loaf cake. The loaf cake was a new recipe for me. I needed to make a quick, easy dessert for dinner, plus I needed to make it sugar-free. I’d made one several weeks ago but, as many people noted in the comments, my chips all sank to the bottom of the pan/cake. This new recipe is so rich and moist that the chips do NOT sink. Definitely a keeper/repeater recipe. I need to tinker a little bit more with the sweetness because I use Allulose instead of sugar, and add in a very generous tablespoon of Truvia as well. I thought there were almost too many chips (I used sugar-free chips) but when I said that my sister looked at me as if I was crazy :). One night my husband made an incredible Chinese food meal – home made wontons. So good!

homemade chicken wontons

homemade chicken wontons (not shown – the chicken fried rice and the beef and broccoli)

The garden is starting to bloom, and I did massive weeding this past weekend. Many of my perennials ARE returning and I added more this year as well. I’ll try to focus on the garden, and not share my darker thoughts with you. Working in the garden IS how I deal with stress, so trust me when I say that I’ve been super-vigilant – even dead-heading flowers and digging out the weeds from the cracks in the sidewalk. 🙂 Soon there should even be flowers to share.

cold sesame noodle

cold sesame noodle

40 minute hot dog rolls

40 minute hot dog rolls – look how well they came out even though this was the first time I tried this recipe

The Gang of 4 in action

The Gang of 4 in action

Personal Problems Amidst Our Global Problems

The pictures have nothing to do with the post. But you might find this post tl;dr or you might find it a bit distressing or unpleasant. So look at the cats. 🙂

BC playing nurse

BC playing nurse

Sigh. So it came back. I knew it would. I hoped it wouldn’t but since it came back a second time I was sure that we are now going to have this as a yearly occurrence. And sure enough – it came back. What is “it”? It’s this stupid area on my tongue, that I never even noticed the first time, because it’s on the underside of my tongue and really – who stares at their tongue all that much? My dentist noticed it and sent me to the oral surgeon. He said – yeah, we need to remove that. We could laser it off but then we won’t know what it is, so we are better off cutting it off. Just stop there a moment folks and picture someone saying to YOU: “We’re going to take a slice off your tongue.” I didn’t really handle it all that well. That first year they used only local anesthesia and I stupidly watched them part of the time and could hear them and I thought I might have a stroke right there in the chair. I was so traumatized emotionally that I couldn’t even process the fact that after the first day it wasn’t so painful and it healed fairly quickly. Somewhere along the line my nerves had snapped and I was completely traumatized. Ended up with an ulcer. Dropped something like 5 pounds in 3 days. I told them if we EVER had to do this again I needed to be unconscious and completely unaware. When the results came back they were the kind that the medical professionals say “oh that’s good” and the patient says “oh dear heavens what is going to happen to me?” All *I* can remember now is that it was “dysplasia“: “Before cancer cells form in tissues of the body, the cells go through abnormal changes called hyperplasia and dysplasia.” Everyone else was like “oh great it’s NOT cancer” and I was “oh dear heavens I could have cancer of the tongue”. No one in my family has or had cancer. A medical friend said to me “and that’s still true”. But it’s not his tongue.

GC and WC on the red couch

GC and WC on the red couch – a very typical late morning scene

I survived. I wasn’t happy. I refused to look at my tongue for a year. I skipped the 6 month go-back-and-see-the surgeon. I see my dentist 3x a year. I figured if it came back, she would know. It came back. I said you will knock me out so I have no idea what is happening. They said not a problem. But the closer it got to the procedure, the more I thought about it. If it was going to come back every year, well maybe it was time to put on my big girl pants, as the saying goes. How could I survive this? The physical recovery had not been that bad. It was the procedure and the initial terror of the procedure and possible results. If I could get through the procedure, it would be better to not use anesthesia. Especially if it were to be a yearly event, karma forbid. I came up with a plan. *smile* Oh, Komuso Tokugawa, your Downtempo Bluestronica was my salvation. I had downloaded 3 of his Downtempo Bluestronica riffs, each of them just under an hour. I knew that Bluestronica2 was loud enough, with few enough pauses that if I played it VERY LOUDLY through ear buds into my ears, I wouldn’t hear if the world ended around me. And that is what I did. I got to the office, told them I had my big girl pants on, that on their say-so I would start playing the music and would keep my eyes shut, and they could pull out the ear bud when they were ready for me to return. IT WORKED! I was ecstatic! The recovery seemed to be going well. So well in fact that I got overly confident and went out to a plant nursery with my sister on my 2nd full day of recovery. We stopped at a fast food joint for a treat and although all I’d had up to that point was water, I had a dish of what passes for ice cream at the golden arches. That was Saturday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon my entire mouth had erupted in viral sores. Had I been able to swallow pills I’d have killed myself to end the pain. I searched for every home remedy I could find to find some relief. I sent my husband out with a list of items to find – a medical scavenger hunt if you will. Ask Honour about that whole ordeal. On Tuesday I was texting with her and pleading to die. Finally on Wednesday the sores were healing a trifle, the OTC remedies were stopping the pain, and my husband no longer had to bar the door to keep me from heading to the river. And I thought “I can’t do this again.” Sure enough it was the same result – displaysia.

BC sleeping on my lap

BC sleeping on my lap

You know the story. It came back this year. The surgeon is sure it must be caused by my tongue rubbing on my teeth. We have tried 2 different mouth guards, and he has ground down the teeth. I don’t actually believe that but I don’t have any other idea. I knew I’d have to call the surgeon and get it removed. I knew I could get by with Komuso’s help. I knew I could not eat or drink anything after the procedure. I would have to gargle with salt water every hour and follow that with a chaser of Rx mouthwash gargle. If I could make it through the first 24 hours of pain, and total gross-out from feeling stitches in my mouth, maybe I could avoid the sores. This is the year of covid19. We sat in the parking lot until it was my turn to come in the side door, wearing my mask and gloves, carrying only my iPod, spare battery, and phone. They checked my temperature at the door. I had to sign 2 different forms avowing I did not have covid19 nor had I been in any contact with anyone who had it. I hadn’t put the pen down before they were disinfecting the counter top. They disinfected the chair and the counters in the room when I entered. Everyone had face shields and gloves and coverups. Yeah, really adds to the calming effort when you can’t really see faces or smiles. 😦 And for me – do you know how WEIRD it felt to remove my mask in front of these strangers???? Amazing at how fast we can be conditioned. I asked it there was any magic wand to prevent the sores this year. The surgeon said that they really get triggered by stress. Sigh. I knew that. I wanted the magic wand. This year the procedure was much shorter than in the past – I didn’t really even have time to disappear into the music. Apparently part of what I thought was “it” was actually scar tissue. We’re waiting to hear the biopsy results. I’m sure they will be the same as the previous years. I asked the doctor if we could laser it next year. We know what it is, we don’t need to biopsy. He said, yeah, that he was thinking the same thing. I was fairly brave. I did end up crying when they give me the needles for the local. Trust me – it hurts and the music hadn’t started yet.

I’m on Day 3 of recovery. So far no sores. The pain was there as expected on the first day, but I kept popping the pain pills, and kept an ice pack to my cheek, and sipped some iced water. That’s how I spent the first 8 hours home. Then I fell asleep and was out for 21 hours. I might wear my big girl pants but they only cover the outside – the inside still goes through the pre-surgery days of fear and anxiety, the actual trauma of the needles and stitches and pain. And of course – I headed into it worn down, as are we all, by life in a pandemic. I still can’t quite chew food, and I’m still more tired than I’d like. My head is still very fuzzy. Spoke to my retired doctor who said, as he has said for year: “You have crapped up ears.” Or some equally technical explanation. I described the odd kind of whooshing or maybe it’s clicking or maybe it’s some other sound I can’t quite identify that happens when I move my head. But not always. And how I’m hearing music in silence. It appears that besides all the other joys I’ve acquired as I’ve aged, I may also suffer from tinnitus. The ‘music’ in silence is not too bad and I’ve had that awhile. It’s that whoosh/drumbeat/whatever when I move my head. He thinks that may be aggravated by the recent procedure and that it might fade as everything else comes back to normal. I hope so. It adds to the general fuzziness from being off schedule and off diet.

I know that in the scheme of things, something like this falls under the self-indulgent category of “first world problems”. I’m fortunate that I have a great RL support team. And that I have my SL escape. You’ll find me there tonight. Calli will be playing big band and jive. I wonder if I’m well enough yet to have a cocktail?

BC blissfully sleeping on my lap

BC blissfully sleeping on my lap – doesn’t that face just soothe whatever ails you?

Can I Call a Plumber?

IMG_3340

Gorilla tape this time instead of merely duct tape

We are all practicing separation, reduced contact with others. There are still stores open – those deemed essential. Some workers have also been deemed essential. I’m willing to bet that plumbers would be considered essential. The question for me now is whether I need the plumber so much that the need will override what is now habit – avoiding anyone who is not already in my germ pool? It’s interesting that the longer the stay-at-home is in effect, the harder it might be to actually interact with strangers again. If I were my friend Honour, I’m sure I could read instructions, shut off the water, remove the leaking spigot outside, replace it and not need to have a hose attached to keep the drip. And I’d be able to pull up the tiles around and in the bathtub, regrout, replace the tiles and not have to worry about more damage to my kitchen ceiling. But, alas, I am not that competent and so I wonder – should I call the plumber?

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See how tight those nuts and bolts are????

SOME of my home repairs have been successful. I’ve been working for weeks now with the dining room table as my desk. I have papers everywhere and two computers set up. One is my work laptop, with huge attached monitor. The other is my personal computer. I sit in one chair for work and move to the NEXT chair for play. 🙂 It’s an interesting switch because one is a Mac and one is Windows. It can be confusing when I forget which machine I’m on. Anyway, when I switched to the play chair, I realized that it was incredibly loose. The back was not firmly attached. Ditto the chair next to that one. This IS something I can fix. I got out my trusty tool box (thank you, Randi!), flipped over the chairs and began tightening the nuts. I was intrigued by the fact that the chair has one kind of connection in the front of the seat and a differing one on the back. I decided it had to do with fact that the back has the joining piece and the hardware needed to be hidden but accessible. Am I right?

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The other theory of course is that we lost the original screws, nuts and washers. 🙂

Some of my other attempts at home maintenance have not been as successful as the dining room chairs. I did very well with protecting the plants last week. I bought MORE plants this week (you know very well that I am incapable of not buying lots and lots of herbs and flowers). I was SURE we were not going to have any more frost warnings. More fool me. Frost warnings last night and for tonight. I’d ripped the drop-cloth I’d used the first time so I needed to come up with something else. I did alright with the plants outside along the walk – used a heavy tarp and anchored it sufficiently. On the porch, where the more delicate plants were – that’s where the wind got the better of me. You can see that it blew off the covers. I wonder if it was really the wind. Could it have been an animal looking for food? Anyway, I think the plants are alright. I’ll do a better job anchoring that tonight.

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I find it hard to believe that the wind moved that blanket. I guess it was blowing from the front of the house

I’m dreading the other repair I need to do. I have to change the light in the range hood of the stove. At least I’ve already done that once before and learned how to do it properly. *grin* YAY for blogging!!! The big issue for that is getting the proper bulb. I’ll probably order it online because I’m not in such need that I have to go to the store. How our lives have changed. I never would have thought twice about driving to the store for one bulb.

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Success!

Like the plants with the frost warnings, there are items IN the house that need protection. As are so many other folks, my husband is working on a jigsaw puzzle. We set up a 4 foot folding table for the puzzle work. It was going quite well until the cats decided to help him. Cat help consists of walking on the puzzle, napping in the box, jumping from the table to the couch, and batting pieces onto the floor. He devised a way to protect the work in progress. He commandeered a sheet and covered the puzzle. I came down the next morning and found the sheet, and puzzle pieces, on the floor. Obviously the sheet needed more weight. Hence the addition of the afghan. Having noticed the desirability of the open puzzle box as a bed, my husband offered an incentive to leave the sheet and afghan in place. He placed the top and bottom of the box on top of the sheet. This offering has appeased the GC, who has taken to napping in the boxes. BC now ignores it all because things don’t move. WC never cared – she is curled up in her bed on the couch and that’s what she needs to be happy.

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GC in action. The moment she sees my camera she starts moving.

Should I call the plumber or turn the water on again from inside the house only when I need to use the hose?

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Life has no cares when you have good house staff.

The Cats are Happy

BC in fireplace bed

Living a life of ease

I love my cats. You know I do. They also make me crazy, but that is the nature of cats. I’ve seen so many memes about how dogs all over the world are so happy that their people are home all the time. I’ve also seen memes about how all the cats are complaining because their people are home ALL the time. My cats have always enjoyed when I worked from home. It always turned into extra cuddles for BC, earlier dinner time for WC, and sometimes extra breakfasts for GC (we think she may actually be a hobbit but we haven’t quite reached 7 meals a day). There has been one other great joy for the cats now that we are both home, all the time, every day.

wc on chair

WC pretending she is a little angel, never doing anything annoying

Last July WC came close to extinction. She decided somewhere in the spring that the carpeted stair landing would do very well for a litter box. We assumed this was some sort of aberration, that maybe she didn’t have the energy to walk down to the basement and use the boxes there. So one weekend my husband ripped out the carpet on the landing and all the stairs. I spent several days with several different chemical products attempting to remove stain and smell from the wood. I did a pretty decent job. We thought we’d solved the issue. As is so often the case, we were wrong.

GC under dining room table

Lately GC has decided to sit under the dining room table. I guess she needed a change of scenery.

It turned out not to be about too far and difficult to walk to the basement. WC walked up the stairs to the carpeted upstairs hall and began to use THAT as her litter box. No amount of spraying or other little barriers seemed to dissuade her. My husband got wise this time and hired someone else to pull up the carpet. The poor contractor nearly passed from the fumes. You need to know that besides the 3 current cats, we have had 3 other cats before them and a dog. The people from whom we bought the house also had at least one dog. The carpet came with the house. Years ago we had already pulled out all of the carpeting from the downstairs (oh my the stench) and put in new wood floors. “Ah hah!”, we thought. Surely NOW we have solved this problem. I’m sure you sense what happened next.

BC on couch

I’m a little angel too!!!

WC noted the lack of carpeting, noted that the litter boxes were still in the basement and noted that we were still completely lacking in understanding the true need. She began to urinate on our beautiful, comparatively new, wood floor. In the dining room. In the living room. I went a little crazy. We scheduled an appointment with the vet and in the meantime I debated locking her away. Trying to lock one cat away when you have 3 is awkward. When we ‘rescued’ BC we had to remove nearly everything from a small storage room and live with the removed items piled up all over until BC was clean and past her quarantine. (Sound familiar?) I couldn’t face emptying that storage area again. At this point I thought of bringing up a litter box to put in the bathroom on the 1st floor. Our dog was trained to use what we called ‘wee-wee pads’ (very classy, I know). We had them in that 1st floor bathroom. The dog was trained to use the pads. This saved us from having to walk her when we didn’t want to walk a dog. Every time she used the pads she got a treat (biscuit). Everyone – family and friends alike – were all trained to praise her and tell her how wonderful she was and give her a biscuit. Then we disposed of the dirty pad and put down a fresh one. We were all so effective at this that our male cat figured out that using the pads resulted in food, so HE started using them. Unfortunately male cats are not built to the same specifications as female dogs. That necessitated a new alignment of pads on the walls, not just on the floor. No, we did NOT give him treats. We didn’t really want to reward HIS behavior.

1st floor bathroom

My apologies. Never thought I’d post a picture of a toilet and litter boxes.

I put down a wee-wee pad in the corner of the bathroom and put a small litter box on top of it. WC used it immediately (or near enough to immediately). That was the issue – she wanted her commode on the 1st floor, thank you very much. Well, you know that if WC was using the commode on the 1st floor, everyone else wanted to do the same. Four wee-wee pads and 2 litter boxes later, we all use the bathroom on the 1st floor. My husband and I are less than thrilled about this. The dog had wee-wee pads. That was it. The cats also have LITTER. It sticks to their little messy paws, they kick it out of the box, sometimes on the pads, sometimes they are exuberant and it reaches the floor. Every day starts with cleaning the boxes, adding fresh litter, cleaning and readjusting the pads and sweeping the floor in the surrounding vicinity. It doesn’t last long. The first cat in kicks litter out. We spend the entire day cleaning the litter boxes in that room. They spend the entire day using the litter boxes in that room. When we worked in an office that was NOT in our home, we avoided hours and hours of litter box use. We had litter-free bathrooms in our office buildings. Ah, those were glorious days and we failed to appreciate them properly.

WC being petted on couch

One other joy of us being home – sitting with Dad on the couch while he reads his paper. GC and WC vie to see who can get there first and won’t let the other join. “He’s scritching ME!”

Back in those halcyon days we thought that after the kitchen renovation, we’d redo the bathroom as well. We can see that there is no point in pursuing THAT dream. There may be memes about cats complaining that their people are home all day, but OUR cats think it is fantastic. Clean litter box EVERY SINGLE TIME!!! Oh yeah, keep those folks working from home!! The cats are very, very happy.

GC and WC on couch

No people on the couch? We can share happily.

Life During The Pause

signs of life

The very first signs of life in the garden

Life has gotten incredibly surreal, hasn’t it? I’ve wanted to come here and chat, but I’ve had writer’s block. There is so very much I want to say, but I have rules for myself about what I post. I have a lot of unpublished posts as well, the kind of thing where I was venting about something specific, and writing it out was sufficient venting. I have half-written posts that even I don’t know where I was intending to go. Then there are the zillions of posts I’ve written in my head. It seems odd that there is so much to say, so much happening, yet I can’t get the words out.

tulips and clover

Beautiful tulips from Washington state

I miss writing here. Writing tends to make me focus on things that give me pleasure. Reality is a mixed bag, after all. I took a look around the house – oh em gee all you can DO is look around the HOUSE now, right??? – to see what repairs needed doing that maybe I could do. I’m watching TV with my husband and we are having serious in-depth conversations about synthetic life forms (AI, androids, et al). I went out into the garden this weekend, into the sunshine, and took pictures of my plants, hoping that would spur me on. Yay for my garden because it really helps to keep me centered. The only other thing that can calm me down these days when I start freaking about viruses and politics and “end of the world as we know it” is to listen to NY Governor Andrew Cuomo give his daily press briefings. He’s so calm, articulate, smart, good-looking, reasonable. He calls this stay-at-home situation “The Pause”. I love that term. I live in NJ but I tune in for the NY update every day. If I can’t catch it live I watch the replay later. *smile* Governor Murphy is doing a good job, but he’s no Cuomo. My coworker, who plays for the distaff team, told me that even she has a crush on Gov Cuomo. She explained that we are part of the great Cuomosexual awakening. *grin* I LOVE that term, too. But Gov Cuomo only speaks for an hour or less so my garden is the more reliable tranquilizer. When it finally stops raining. It WILL stop raining, right?

container garden 2020

Herbs that wintered over

I found a picture I took a few weeks ago, when the first signs of flowers were starting to appear. That was so long ago. Or maybe it was last week? Because when we are all working from home, and not going out, well, every day blurs into the next into the one before and none of us seem to know what day it is. (Another reason to love Gov Cuomo – he starts his press conferences saying such things as Happy Tuesday!, and then I KNOW what day it is and can check to see what meetings I have scheduled.)

peony and iris

My yellow peony on the right, some of the iris in the back left, grasses in the upper right, and I believe that is my False Starwort returning there in the middle!

Two weekends ago it was warm and sunny and beautiful and we were all required to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. I spent several hours doing garden cleanup. I didn’t have the money last fall to hire the service that usually does my fall/winter cleanup. That means that there are lots and lots of dead leaves matted among last year’s stalks and fencing. I needed to cut down the grasses and the dead peony stalks and pull up the dead goldenrod stalks. Five yard bags of debris. And that was only the front garden and the rudbeckia garden. I still have the porch garden and along the driveway and along the side of the house to clean. Ugh.

return of the rudbeckia

Some of the rudbeckia laciniata hortensia. It makes me crazy. I planted so many plants last year. There is a huge bare spot where they should be. 😦 I have ordered 8 more

We had such a mild winter this year in central NJ. The only snow we had was in December and it was less than 2 inches and melted by the end of the day. That was it. I don’t think we even had 4 days in a row of sub-freezing temperatures. All of that means that much of my container garden wintered over and has come back green and healthy. Not only herbs, but I believe I have verbena coming back in one of the pots as well. Something that is not an herb is doing quite well. I know that canna lilies, which I absolutely adore, need to be dug up and the bulbs stored in a garage or basement or something. I never do that (by that time of the year I am totally sick of gardening). I indulge myself come spring and buy new ones. I am wondering if any of them will have wintered over and come back. The problem I foresee is that I have NO idea what a canna lily sprout looks like. What if it is coming back and I think it’s a weed and pull it? That rationale could get me to skip weeding my garden until what – end of June maybe? 🙂 That’s quite appealing.

marjoram and cilantro

the marjoram and cilantro a few weeks ago. Both are looking much greener and fuller.

I took the containers off the porch and put them out in the sun and the rain, lining the walk. There are some canna lilies in one of those pot as well. I’d save so much money if some of those came back. As it is, I’m going to save a lot on my herbs. I have healthy rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, cilantro, curly parsley, lemon balm, mint, sorrel, chives, oregano, and marjoram (note the use of the Oxford comma). The marjoram is not in the picture – it’s sitting on the front steps. There is basil in the picture but that is cheating – I bought them at the grocery store. 🙂 I LOVE the smell of basil – it cheers me right up!

a visiting possum

A visitor back in February. I actually think he may have been injured (seemed to maybe be dragging a hind leg?) but he was quite active. Never saw him again. Was quite surprised to see him once

Little Ironies

collaboration pieces

It is one of life’s ironies that we are often called upon to do exactly that which we personally find least appealing. I am a collaborator, not a competitor. I made that decision many, many years ago when I realized that I was a very poor competitor. If I was in anything that could be considered a contest, I HAD TO WIN. If I didn’t win, life was sour, the sky was dark, there was no joy in Mudville. Not only that, but I found that if I was in a contest but not really caring for some reason, it made me nuts to be playing with other people who HAD TO WIN. (Remind me to tell you the story of the time I attended a class in how to play Bridge.) I basically stopped playing games altogether, with the exception of computer solitaire. 🙂 I don’t care if I win that or not – I mostly use it to go into a zen state of reflection. It isn’t the winning – it’s the semi-automatic, mindless movement of cards, while I let my brain wander. As a matter of fact, if I find myself starting to really pay attention to what I’m doing, it’s a bit disconcerting. It feels like I’ve wandered through the looking glass because it LOOKS familiar but with a different light and perspective. 🙂

So I’m a collaborator. I realized with my latest project at work that I’m a certain kind of collaborator. I want to collaborate on MY terms. I’m a collaborator who does not actually like working with other people. *grin* I HATE group projects. I hated them in school, loathed them in graduate school, and had issues with them at work if my work depended on what someone else was doing. Yes, I’m a collaborator who doesn’t like to collaborate. *grin* What I like doing is teaching and helping and explaining and figuring out what I might design to help others do their work more productively. I burned out teaching, however, so I can’t do that full-time. I knew that the day I stood in front of my (paying) students and literally said “I KNOW how to use this system. I don’t need this class. You all can either pay attention and I’ll teach you or you can waste the time and go back to your jobs and explain that you don’t know how to run the system.” After that class I went to my manager and said that perhaps it was time to have someone else teach the clients. *grin* I’m a teacher who only wants to teach if I can wash my hands and walk away when the students get too annoying. (I won’t argue if you are starting to think I’m a bit of a princess.)

Someone asked for my “help” in running his project this year. It was about communication and collaboration and data storage. Okay, I can do that – I’m all about those things (on my terms, of course). Huh. It turned out that his idea of “help” meant running the project. Running a project means my work is dependent on what other people do. Even worse – it means that I am also, should the need arise, the one responsible for inspiring the others to do work. Now did I say ANYWHERE here that I am a LEADER??? NO, I did NOT. I am NOT a leader and I am not a visionary. I think I may have mentioned once that the best compliment I ever received was back in my SecondLife/OpenSim days when my mentor told another that I “made things happen”. Yes – that’s me. I’m an engineer. I make things happen. I solve puzzles. I am not inspiring, I am not a leader, I am not a visionary. And oh my word I absolutely hate waiting for you to get it done. Or when you ARGUE with me about what should be done. In the famed words of my father, the engineer: WHY do you ARGUE with me? Or as my pillow says “Never but never question the Engineer’s judgement.”

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The cat hair was an add-on feature. 🙂

So here I am, leading a project. There is actually a great deal more I’d like to say about that but I don’t talk directly about real things in this blog. 🙂 All I’ll say about it is that part of the project has to do with communication with dispersed team members and creating a feeling of unity. We are living in the time of covid19. We are all working remotely. We are all practicing social distancing (well except for the lunatics down in Florida on spring break who are determined to party in each other’s faces no matter what the law or warnings might be). We are all being isolated. This means that every single organization in the world is trying to figure out the most productive way to keep everyone working while maintaining distance. Oh hey! Look at what Ahuva is doing. I bet SHE has ideas. I have found myself pulled into some interesting meetings about communication.

I AM an extrovert. Heaven knows I like going out in the crowds, with people, partying, the thrill of the crush. I’ve written on how I love NYC at Christmas. I can get a thrill out of shopping at the mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Contact! But honestly – I really don’t like being deluged with emails and messages and texts that are all assuring me earnestly that they are thinking about me, and primarily about me, and my well-being, and I should KNOW that they are ‘only thinking of me’. I have gotten emails from every online company with which I have ever dealt, every charitable organization, every site that has my email. They are all fervently telling me how my health and the health of my loved ones is their utmost priority. Really. That’s all they care about. The well-being of everyone. My mailbox fills every day with these sincere thoughts. Imagine my chagrin, therefore, as I am asked to participate in the development and creation of such communications. Or as Pogo would say “we have met the enemy and he is us“.

Life Lessons From My Cats

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How to Pass the Time – Option 1

Ah, to be a cat. Or more specifically – one of MY cats. I’ll concede that not all cats have it as good as my cats have it. In this time of covid19, self-quarantining, social distance, what does an extrovert DO all day if there are no other people??? My cats are demonstrating the way to survive. Nay, not survive – THRIVE. Yes, they are thriving. They have no issue with social distance – WC is on the couch, BC is on the chair (MORE than 6 feet away) and GC is in the living room. What to do? Sleep. Do nothing. Periodically get up and eat. Use the litter box. Sleep. Do Nothing. They are the experts. So far the part I’ve learned the best is get up periodically and eat. 🙂

IMG_3260

How to Pass the Time – Option 2


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