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.

So, Being a Major Coronavirus Hotspot Wasn’t Enough, Florida?

Apparently we might be having a hurricane.

I live inside the western edge of the cone, so we might just get the outer bands/lots of rain, but it’s too soon to feel safe. We all have Post Irma Stress Disorder, when it was supposed to skim the west coast.

The latest projection it’s going to show up at 2AM on Sunday, because of course it is. And my job includes me being on a storm team, so Monday should be delightful.

If I have no power, I have no idea what’ll happen. We’re all still okay, Gidget got her hair done today so she’ll look way better than me if I lose power. I’m getting excited about how my gray is growing in.

Tomorrow is August – I’ve been working from home since mid-March. Florida still fucked it all up royally, and now DeDumbshit is opening the schools, putting my family in direct danger, and I’m in a constant state of rage because it didn’t have to be this awful, and it’s only going to get worse.

Tomorrow will be all rage cleaning, all the time. Charging chargers. Finding flashlights. Freezing blue ice thingies. Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. I think we’re okay here, but who the fuck knows?

Nearly August.

I’m sorry about my failure to keep up with this blog; every day is just so boring, redundant, and depressing. Florida is in deep trouble, thanks to the Fucking Republican governor and Fucking Republican legislature. If anyone ever, ever, “Oh, but it’s both sides” at me again EVER, I may choke the living shit out of that person. And that’s all I have to say about that.

So, it’s almost August. I will be working from home at least until after Labor Day, and at the rate Florida is imploding, I’m wondering when we’ll ever see normal.

I set some August Goals for myself, and then got depressed AF because the goals are all chores and drudgery. Yes, I really do need to clean out the closets and clean the baseboards, but when that is ALL you have for weekend plans, it’s incredibly depressing.

Disney World has reopened, and the people whose opinions I trust are very happy with the way they are handling social distancing, cleaning, and enforcing masks. I would feel more comfortable there than I sometimes do in Publix, especially when a Maskhole performance artist shows up.

I was in Publix a few days ago when a couple entered – in their 50s, he’s in a HeManGunzEagleFlag t-shirt – no masks, and they’re walking slowly through the store, sashaying, really, eyes sliding side to side, waiting for someone to say something. Nobody did, so their performative freedumb shit was wasted. We generally have a very high level of mask compliance in the few places I go, so performative mask defiance stands out as the childish crap it is.

I also play this private game on Facebook, where when someone in one of the boards I follow gets all outraged/whiny/claims they can’t wear a mask for medical reasons/shares “true stories” about the danger of masks, etc., I click through to their main profile, and yep: Flag, Eagle, Jesus, GOP. Every. Fucking. Time. These people are plague rats at this point.

So that’s a very sweary way of saying I would not be afraid to visit Disney World, because Disney knows how to do is crowd control and sanitation, and they don’t hesitate to eject miscreants. Even before this, their cleaning game was above and beyond, and they’ve stepped it up from there.

They’ve also instituted a “park reservation” system to restrict access to a limited number of guests each day, and changed a lot of other experiences to make them socially distanced.

I definitely would not make a special trip from out of state to visit Disney right now, especially if it’s your first visit or a once in a blue moon trip, because things are different and limited, but all the reports back from my trusted sources say they felt perfectly safe with the distancing and masks and hand sanitizer, and had a good time. I still won’t visit until it’s not this blazingly hot, but Disney also extended all the annual passes very generously and my family all got what added up to an extra five months.

And hell, for those of us who already live in a disastrously failed state led by Gov. Delusional, Disney would be the safest place we go all week.

So, in other utterly mundane news, I am finally wearing my new glasses, which took over two weeks to come in, and my breezy young Doctor of Optometry with her magenta-streaked hair was correct: I am wearing my new glasses as I write this, no computer glasses needed. My sunglasses are equally perfect. As they should be, because they cost an arm and a leg – not the frame, my prescription.

I went with the same frame for both my regular glasses and my sunglasses, classic ladies Ray-Ban frames. I did this because Facebook shared an old picture of a trip to the beach, and I realized that the Ray-Ban prescription sunglasses I was STILL using were SIX years old, and had survived the ocean, swimming pools, theme parks, etc. I’ve had three more expensive frames turn to crap on me in the last six years, while these remained like new (except the prescription did need updating). As the optician who fitted me said, they’re the Timex of frames.

My old glasses were total crap and aren’t even fit to keep as an emergency backup pair, as they are on the brink of falling apart, so now that I have a new, GOOD prescription, I’m going to try buying glasses online, just because. I’ve ordered some try-on frames from Warby Parker. I should get my five free try-on frames on Monday. I’ll share that experience, because I’m definitely intrigued. I’m blind as a bat, and emergency backup glasses are a basic survival thing. I don’t have any old glasses that I could wear to identify my granddaughter, let alone drive or work, so let’s see what Warby Parker can do. They say they can do progressives; I’ll give them a shot.

That was quite a lengthy, sweary babble, and I didn’t even tell you about Gidget’s agoraphobia. I’ll have to tell that this weekend.