My sister sent me this link today about Holiday Dinner Planning. Of course it applies to ANY dinner planning these days. I’ve written before about the challenges I face trying to invite my long-time group of friends to dinner. And that is WITHOUT the person who can’t eat nightshades (which I only learned to my dismay at my Come See My New Kitchen party). My husband pointed out that they also forgot to mention the people who bring their own food without having mentioned it or cleared it with the hostess first. 🙂 I believe that I’ve also mentioned that showing up with unexpected entrees that you expect to be served at that meal is actually a bit rude. Aren’t you glad you aren’t invited to my house for dinner? SO many rules!!! But enjoy the song because, oh my goodness, it’s right on the nose! (Of course at THIS point in the pandemic, I’d be DELIGHTED to be throwing a party no matter WHAT food challenges I face.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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“.
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. 🙂