Dispatch from FloriDUH

Holy shit. HOLEE SHIT! I am actually cautiously optimistic. The lines for early voting are like I haven’t seen since 2008, when Obama blew out all the averages.

I’m not talking about the people in line, because social distancing distorts the number of people in line, I’m talking about the number of cars lined up and down the street at the small library that hosts early voting. It was at least 5x the typical pace, and because I live nearby, I passed it more than once today. The pace didn’t slow, even in huge thunderstorms. The street was jammed. This is Day One.

I didn’t have to mess with that. I had requested a mail ballot way back in August, because who knew what we’d be dealing with now? But as early voting got closer, I realized dropping it off in person would be both easy and a way to see what was going on. I loved it.

I got to skip the line, and felt like (here comes a Disney connection) I had a FastPass! I got to get into the shorter line! I walked past the line that left the library, turned the corner, and went up the side street, and went to a shorter line that had only about 10 people in it. I slid my properly prepared mail ballot into the box and got my sticker, and was back at home at my desk in about 17 minutes.

I also signed up to track my ballot, so I can follow along to see when it’s counted.

So, unless something goes unexpectedly wrong, I think I’ll be an absentee/mail/ballot dropper henceforth. It’s a voting FastPass, and I still got the nice people at the box to hand me a sticker.

Apologies for the focus. It’s not your eyes, I was in too much of a hurry.

Sunday Night Blues.

My Sunday night depression that another shitty work week will begin tomorrow is at least slightly mitigated by the fact that I WILL VOTE TOMORROW!!!

Early voting in FL begins tomorrow, and I live within walking distance from an early voting site+ballot dropbox. I’ll be using the dropbox, because I have an early call, and I’m anticipating more than 2008 enthusiasm here. I’m curious about what the lines will look like between 7 and 7:30 a.m., when I’ll stroll that way to drop my ballot in the box. I’ll report tomorrow.

I am protective of my physical and mental health. It only took one near-fatal ruptured brain aneurysm to make me back away from ranting about politics. This doesn’t mean I’m not actively involved or don’t care passionately. I just don’t have the energy to write a coherent blog post that other people haven’t already done better. So don’t think that because I don’t write about it here means I’m at all neutral in this. Believe me, I think the entire Republican party needs to be voted into absolute fucking oblivion this year.

We need MASSIVE turnout, and so far it looks like it’s happening, but honestly I won’t relax until noon on January 20, 2021. These bastards could do so much evil between now and then.

Anyway.

I walked this morning because it was actually cool and pleasant at 8 a.m. I was tickled to see how the neighbors are waging Yard Sign Wars – a Trump sign is countered across the street by TWO Biden-Harris signs. It did make me think how few signs say Trump-Pence. It’s always Trump. If Pence is mentioned he’s in a much smaller font.

(I’m also tickled because this is a heavily R area, or at least it was. Not so much now.)

So I will get up and out a few minutes before 7, and hit my very local polling place as it opens, and drop my mail-in ballot in the dropbox, and see what it looks like on the ground here in FloriDUH.

For the First Time in Forever….

My mental health demanded that I take a day off from my stressful and frustrating job to play hooky at the Magic Kingdom. This was my first time back since COVID changed the world. Delaney and her mom joined me a bit later in the day.

You have to make a park reservation now, in addition to having a ticket or pass. It’s Disney’s way of managing crowds, and it makes sense, BUT we made our park reservation when we were having a break in the heat and humidity, and foolishly imagined we might actually be past the brutal weather.

We were wrong. It was very, very hot. It was still wonderful.

Cinderella’s Castle – the new color scheme is a source of great controversy.
No Halloween events this year, but the decor and treats were top notch.

You went to a theme park during a pandemic??? Are you nuts??

Honestly, I felt safer at Disney than I did at Target. Everyone gets a temp check at the entrance, masks and social distancing are mandatory. 99+% of the guests wore their masks and wore them properly, and the very few who tried to defy the rules were swiftly dealt with by Cast Members. They have CMs who just walk around with paddle signs reminding guests of the mask requirement, and they don’t hesitate to enforce the rule: you comply or Security will throw your ass out.

We witnessed this in one of the shops on Main Street when some Instabimbo types removed their masks for selfies. A CM was on them in seconds, and she was not at all Fairy Godmother about it. Mickey ain’t playing.

There were also touch-free hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere, at the entrance and exit of every ride, shop, and quick-serve food establishment, and we availed ourselves of all of them.

My only mild unhappy about the way Disney is handling this bizarre situation is that they are no longer offering Fast Passes for rides. A Fast Pass, for the uninitiated, is like a reservation for a ride; you pick a window of available time and get in a shorter queue. You do not have to get a Fast Pass to ride, but it certainly saves time and makes life easier.

I’m assuming that trying to manage the park reservation system plus the Fast Passes was deemed too much. For now it’s like the Olden Days when my kids were small and every ride was a 45 minute wait. We did ONE long wait, for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It was a long, hot, boring wait, but I felt all my tension just fall away when the ride began. My soul needed a roller coaster. I hadn’t realized how much I needed it.

My soul also needed at least one Halloween treat.

We opted for a special Halloween treat: Constance’s Wedding Cake. Constance is The Bride of The Haunted Mansion, and her wedding cake comes with a tiny chocolate axe. It’s both really pretty and seriously delicious.

The filling is a citrus-y sponge cake surrounded by a raspberry cream, and topped with a fondant-looking frosting that tasted far better than actual fondant. Truly excellent.

The weather cooperated all day, but I drove through an end-of-the-world level thunderstorm on my way home. I also lost a hubcap somewhere on the highway. I’m fairly certain that’s where it happened, because last weekend I’d gotten an oil change and tire rotation and other long overdue TLC for my poor vehicle, and I suspect the nice young men at Jiffy Lube didn’t put the hubcap back properly.

When I say I don’t go anywhere, I mean it. I work from home and venture to Publix a couple of times a week. Disney was the first time my car had been on an actual highway since March, and obviously the excitement was too much for it.

This was Delaney’s birthday weekend (she turns 9 on Monday) and it has been quite the extravaganza. In addition to Disney on Friday, her parents took her and her BFF for an overnight trip to the beach.

I need an overnight trip to the beach. Unfortunately, I can’t afford an overnight trip to anywhere for a long while. I walked into the kitchen last week to find a puddle of dishwasher detergent on the floor – it appears that the seal on the dishwasher door needs replacing. At least I hope that’s all it is.

For now I’ve opted to do dishes by hand, while I try to decide whether it’s worth repairing a dishwasher that is nearing the end of its lifespan anyway.

The dishwasher leak occurred after TWO vet visits for Sophie’s anal gland issue, which flared up suddenly two weeks ago, and now the antibiotic she was given has triggered firehose diarrhea, and the car lost a hubcap, and, and, and…

It could be worse, it could be raining.

Oh, wait, it IS raining. Nevermind.

Disney was delightful. I needed that day. I’ve already booked a play-hooky Friday at Epcot next month.

It’s been hard to blog.

I feel bad about letting this blog just wither, but honestly, it’s hard to know where to begin with all the truly godawful shit that is 2020. So, I’ll try to focus on the good things – there are a few.

We are (mostly) all still healthy. We had one case of COVID-19 in the NC branch of the family – my daughter-in-law’s younger sister had it. She’s recovering.

The Trumper Dimwit Governor of Florida reopened the bars last week, so, yeah, we’ll see where our new cases are in two weeks. We are still at around 3K+ new cases a day, so hey, great plan! Asshole.

I’m still getting a paycheck, so that’s good. The job sucks, but it pays the bills. The company remains cautious in its “return to the office” plan, which keeps moving from September to November and as of two weeks ago, I’ll be working from home until January. Yeah.

We are finally experiencing what passes for fall here in FL – tomorrow’s high will be a brisk 83 degrees! No, seriously, that’s going to feel AMAZING after months in the 90s, with heat index temps well into triple digits every day. I haven’t walked in a couple of weeks because the humidity was just more than even I could stand. Tomorrow morning, I walk again.

I’m still writing Postcards to Voters. I have about 30-40 stamps left, and then I think I’ll declare it a wrap for this election. I will have written 200 postcards and used 2 rolls of postage, spending about $110 of my own money, and early voting is starting in some states in a couple of weeks, so it seems like a good stopping point.

The animals are all doing well, NOW. We had to change vets last week. I think I’ve mentioned that my long-time (25+ years) veterinarians sold their practice to VCA as they are winding up their careers and preparing for retirement. Things have gone downhill there, but I was going to stick around until the wife in the husband-and-wife original practice decided she was ready to pack it in. I was going to stick around until last week.

Gidget suddenly stopped eating and drinking, didn’t want to climb the stairs, and was clearly hurting from something. I had no idea what had happened. She wasn’t any better the next morning, so I called the vet’s office. The receptionist heard my description of Gidget’s woes and put me on hold. She came back to tell me that they didn’t have any openings but they could prescribe a medication, or I could drop her off and a vet would look at her at some point during the day.

I asked what kind of medication, and she said it was for nausea. There was no evidence that Gidget was nauseous. She’s a healthy little dog, and she hasn’t seen the vet since she was adopted last November. (At that visit we saw a new doctor I’d never met and didn’t particularly like.)

So, let’s see: we have a dog in pain, a dog y’all saw only once for 5 minutes and haven’t seen in nearly a year, and sight unseen you’ll prescribe a medication? Or I can let her sit in a cage, scared and hurting, until someone “gets around to” looking at her?

I told the receptionist to get my animals’ records together; I’ll tell her where to send them. I called another office that comes highly recommended, they were able to see Gidget at 3.

The new vet seems great; of course with COVID protocols I didn’t actually get to meet her. She said she thinks Gidget hurt her back somehow, and prescribed a pain med. She did not try to upsell me on x-rays or $250 blood tests. We were home in less than an hour, and the entire experience cost $70.

Gidget feels much better, and we have a new doctor.

This week, I learned to shower without a shower curtain. On a related note, Target is dead to me.

So, the other day I was deep cleaning my old and slightly shabby shower, which really needs help but I just don’t want to spend the money until I’m sure I’ll have a job next year. I had a really nice shower curtain for the last several years, but I finally conceded that it was Time to replace it.

Y’all are thinking, “Okay Catherine, but how did you end up showering without any shower curtain at all for days?” It went like this:

I decided it was time to replace the old shower curtain/liner because they were nasty and bedraggled, and washing wasn’t cutting it anymore.

No big deal, I just went on Target.com and ordered a new shower curtain and liner, plus cat litter and other random things, and two day free delivery! Yay!

The box arrived, and looked like it had been through hell. There was a hole in the side, awkwardly taped over. I fought through the extra tape to find a shower curtain liner, but no shower curtain. So, go back online, they’re shipping a new shower curtain (I think). Not a big deal, at least I have the liner, that’s what keeps the water in, I’m golden.

So I went to put the new liner up on the old rod (just an inexpensive pressure rod from Target, but it had served nobly). It was not looking so good, or working smoothly anymore. I started to take the old hooks (which were also getting rusty) off it, and it fell. The tension rod had lost its tension, and who could blame it? A cheap $12 tension rod had served nobly for around 8 years. It would not stay up any longer. It Just Could Not.

Okay, so, now we have no rod, hooks OR curtain, but I’m still fine! At least the liner is good! I went online to Target and selected a new, more expensive tension rod and new hooks to pick up in the store, and the liner had arrived in the beat up box, though weirdly, its package had been opened. But at least I’d have a waterproof barrier between me and the rest of the bathroom when I showered, and really, isn’t that all we really need?

So I picked up the new rod and hooks after work, and came home confident that I could install both easily.

An HOUR of cursing like a sailor later, I surrendered. The new rod was in theory way superior to the old one; it was fairly expensive and longer. The old rod that had done its best for years had been barely long enough to maintain tension in the space, so I went with a longer style that would not struggle to reach.

It did not even try. It was an absolute piece of shit. It was a tension rod that had no tension at all. I fought with it for a long time, cursing like a sailor and finally, with a long volley of curses at Target, gave up.

Meanwhile, the hooks literally fell apart in my hands. One actually cracked in half, but several more lost the little ball on the end of the hook intended to hold the curtain on. So yeah, all of that was going back, and did, the following morning.

So screw Target. I got onto Amazon, still sweating and cursing, and ordered a new tension rod, new hooks, and just to be sure, because I’m not confident I’ll ever see the shower curtain I really wanted from Target, a cheap emergency backup floral curtain. I had some fairly specific color requirements in a shower curtain because I already have rose and sage and cream/white towels, and that turned out to be a rather uphill climb right now. Everything is gray.

Prime is sort of sub-Prime these days. The soonest they could get it to me was today.

So, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday morning, I had no shower rod or curtain. I learned to shower carefully without one. It involved using as little water as possible, and it’s good that I have very short hair because shampooing is splashy.

Today the new shower rod, hooks, and cheap backup curtain arrived.

It actually took me less than a minute to put the new tension rod in place, because it’s an actual goddamn tension rod with a spring and suction cups to hold it to the wall, unlike that ridiculous piece of shit from Target. The hooks went on smooth as buttah and certainly did not fall apart in my hands, and the cheap backup curtain, while cheap, is also just fine.

Tomorrow I can finally shower without being conscious of splattering water all over the bathroom. I’m planning a 20 minute shower. It has been days since I could indulge that way.

Writing Postcards and Eating Veggies.

First, won’t you join me in writing Postcards to Voters? It’s easy and fun, and a great way to get involved in saving our democracy from the comfort of your sofa. I’m finishing up my first 100, and just ordered more postcards. You can find them on Amazon or Etsy, order a roll of postcard stamps from USPS, and work on this project entirely socially distant, until it’s time to don a mask and take them to the mailbox.

I had an “experience” this week, and it make me take stock of how I’m treating my now 62-year-old body. I started this quarantine crap with great expectations: what a great time to get a regular yoga practice, walk often, finish my knitting projects – I’m going to be SO focused, so dedicated to doing all the things I know are good for me!

Yeah, that lasted until roughly the end of June, when the freaking endlessness of this awful situation began to wear me down. The weather didn’t help; it’s unbearably hot here, and insanely stormy. I’ve put on about six pounds alarmingly quickly over a matter of weeks, despite still walking semi-regularly.

So, my diet became more haphazard, my exercise became more infrequent, and finally by last Tuesday I’d hit the point where dinner was half a big bag of spicy hot popcorn washed down with two very fruit-intensive sour ales. Yeah, like I’m an irresponsible 20 year old with an iron stomach. I am not.

I woke in the middle of the night with my guts in flames – seriously the worst pain I can remember. My body was really pissed at me for the abuse I’d put it through with my truly heinous dietary choices, and let me know with a vengeance at 2 a.m. I made it through the night, and the following day vowed to do better, for real, because what I was doing was obviously harmful.

I Googled anti-inflammatory diets, and of course there’s a lot of stuff out there, but all roads seemed to lead me to Nutritionfacts.org, and tons of information about the benefits of a plant based diet.

Dr. Greger is the author of How Not to Die, and his website above is densely packed with research and information. I know perfectly well that I was much healthier and happier when I ate at least 90% plant based. I spent the day after my internal volcano erupted reading and watching videos on his website, and within a few hours I’d vowed to clean up my life.

Dr. Greger made me feel better about the choices I’d been making (when I was paying attention). I love hibiscus tea, and yes, studies have shown it helps lower blood pressure. I was drinking it regularly so that’s one thing I was doing right – of course, without the diet and exercise component, it’s not a magical answer.

I used to be able to find a big box of Luzianne hibiscus iced tea bags in the supermarket, and then was able to order the Luzianne brand in bulk from Amazon. I don’t see them on Amazon now, but Republic of Tea carries it, and Amazon has it through them.

Why did I drift away from the Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet? Because it does take more thought and more work, I’m not going to lie. The Standard American Diet is standard because everything is readily available. Most supermarkets have large sections of ready to cook meals in the meat case these days. The produce department does not. It takes more effort to eat this way.

But I kid you not, after being scared straight by the volcano in my guts at 2 a.m., I’m seeing the benefits of eating WFPB in just the past 3 days. I woke up this morning over a pound lighter, after 8 hours of sleep. I never sleep 8 hours, and lately I’ve been barely getting 7 hours on a good day – 5.5 to 6.5 is more typical. My daily headaches have stopped, too.

So, Grandma’s back on the WFPB-Wagon, and I’m having fun with it. I’ve been sadly neglecting This Old Blog, but now I think I’ve found a purpose and a focus. There’s a ton of young vegan vloggers on YouTube and Instagram, and they have loads of recipes I’m eager to try, as well as revisiting recipes I loved before I got “too busy” (read: lazy) to eat right.

Enough about my diet (for now)! How are the critters?

Sophie’s experiencing somewhat of a relapse, though not to the point of firehose diarrhea, and something’s going on with her skin – she’s suddenly dry and flaky and shedding like a beast. Seriously, just an unbelievable amount of hair is falling off this small dog, it’s disgusting.

I’m going to experiment just a tad with a different food, since neither dog is enthused about the prescription stuff they’ve been eating and it’s super expensive. I throw out way more than they eat.

Sophie doesn’t tolerate chicken well at all, and every-freaking-food on the market, except for some insanely exotic and expensive kinds she doesn’t like, contains some sort of chicken or chicken byproduct. I’ve bought a sample of Dr. Harvey’s Specialty Diet , just enough for the dogs to try it for a couple of days, to see if 1) they’ll eat it, and 2) if it has any effect, good or bad, on Sophie’s digestive woes.

I have no problem Dr. Mom-ing her like this, as thousands of dollars in veterinary testing has been wasted, as the results are “inflammation” and “colitis.” Like, no shit, I didn’t need to give hundreds of dollars to a lab in Texas to tell me that. At this point I’m ready to try anything, and this sounds promising. I do know they both eat with more enthusiasm when their food is fresh and warm, and this sounds fairly appetizing. I’ll try them on a small sample along with their more familiar and disliked food tonight.

So, this was quite the diet and intestinal woes post, wasn’t it? I swear I’ll be back with more appetizing fare soon.

Hi! Still Alive!

Determined not to write a negative epic, though I have several stored up.

I got my hair cut again today, first time since early June. Great stylist did a perfectly balanced really short cut, so I’ll probably not see her until September, or maybe October. I’m liking the way the gray is growing in. My neighbor said it actually makes me look younger? I have doubts. But I’m getting more comfortable with it.

I chatted online with the co-worker who egged me on to let my gray fly, and she said, and I quote: “Oh, I got tired of mine and got highlights!”

I hooted, and told my stylist, and we howled. I might get tired of the gray, but I’m not tired yet. My coworker is about 15 years younger than me, so I get that. I’m now 62 (?!!) and ready to own my gray.

The Warby Parker glasses are great as a backup pair, and I swear tomorrow I’ll wear them all day to evaluate how they did with my challenging prescription, because they are damn cute. I’m voting by mail (but dropping it off in person) because seriously, the pic on my drivers license renewed by mail is barely me: shoulder length brown hair, no glasses, vs. short gray hair and glasses, would the poll workers even accept me as me at the same address? The picture is 10 years old and I barely recognize me.

Dogs are fine, Cat is fine, we are all still hanging in. Sophie is snoring like a grizzly behind my chair, so I think it’s time to set up the coffee and call it a day.

This Week in Rage Cleaning.

I am NOT going to talk about current events, because I wouldn’t know where to begin ::waves arms wildly at everything::

I will talk about my response to it, besides copious chardonnay and constant cursing.

I tore up my linen closet and gave a lot of stuff to charity.

Before
More Before.
The closet doors did close, believe it or not, at least until a towel got dislodged from the Jenga tower and fell, jamming the bifold door shut.
All of this was crammed into that small closet.
It boggled my mind, and I’m the one who created the mess.
AFTER
More After. It really is a very small closet.

I kept two summer weight quilts, two slightly heavier quilts for what we laughingly call “winter” here, four sets of sheets in colors that coordinate, tossed the truly decrepit towels, and bagged up three LARGE trash bags of excess bedding and towels for donation.

I finally gave up and donated my very lightweight IKEA duvet and cover, because it’s been cold enough to put it on the bed for about two weeks of the last two winters, and with limited storage space I had to face the reality that I don’t need it. The flowered quilts on the top shelf are plenty warm enough for a Florida winter night.

I have such a feeling of accomplishment from this small exercise, I’m excited to move on to do the master bedroom closet. I really need to feel like I have some control over something, even if it’s something this minor.

I have a strange urge to “style” my bookcases.

Bite Us, Maskholes.

This picture is accidentally perfect. My granddaughter danced in a socially distanced and masked competition, and forgot to remove her mask before dancing a solo. Groups were required to wear masks while dancing and not a single dancer was bothered by this. Nobody collapsed or required oxygen, nobody complained, they just did it, because they wanted to dance.

Soloists were not required to dance in masks because they are, um, alone on the stage. Solo.

Anyway, she forgot to take hers off before she went on (hey, it was 7 a.m. and she’d been up since before O Dark Thirty). Because masks are such a horrible, horrible thing, it’s such torture to wear one, she forgot she had it on.

The professional photographer captured this shot of her mid-leap, wearing her mask throughout a very, very physical dance. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the choreography; it was more impressive posing than flowy, but that’s just me. Think sorta like Ashtanga Yoga to music, but faster, and throw in a leap like that after a series of complicated twists and inversions, then do a few more twists and inversions – but the point is that the mask stayed in place and didn’t bother her a bit.

Just shut the fuck up and wear a mask in the supermarket, Karen. And not down around your chin. And cover your nose. No, really, cover your nose.

A Blind Dog and Her Llama.

Sophie was a huge squirrel fan and TV watcher and barking at golfers off the balcony years ago. She’s losing her vision to cataracts. She’s eleven and a half, which is young for that, but it’s happening.

She always adored playing fetch with her stuffed toys. It was a longstanding ritual. I’d come home from work and the first thing she did was bring me a toy to throw. I’m not sure when she stopped doing that, but gradually fetch just stopped being our ritual. She’d still pick up a toy and toss it around, but fetch was no longer a thing.

The day before yesterday I noticed Sophie exploring the basket where I stash the gazillion toys when I clean the floor. She found a toy and pulled it out of the basket. I hadn’t really been paying attention. This morning I realized that she’d pulled out her llama and took it to her favorite dog bed, so she could nap with it.