Happy Friday.

I’ve made it through the first “work from home” week without killing anyone or losing my mind. (Though if I lost my mind, would I be able to tell?)

Things I’ve learned: Getting out for a walk in the morning has helped my stress level, as long as I avoid the unfunny neighbor. I’m going to add yoga to the rotation; depending on my conference call schedule there are some days when a morning walk won’t happen. It’s already very hot here, and the HOA has warned about a new, very large bear sighting, so I prefer to wait until the sun is up before I walk.

I really miss my two big computer monitors at the office. I’m wondering whether, if this goes on for an extended time, we’ll be able to go in and take them home.

I had been beating myself up a bit for being a bit of a hoarder earlier this year, buying craft supplies and whatever just because it “was a good deal.” I am no longer beating myself up about that. It may be the thing that keeps me sane.

I’m glad I trusted my inner neurotic and bought one of the last giant packs of toilet paper available on Amazon. After I ordered, I thought I was crazy, and surely this bizarre paper products shortage would sort itself out in a few days. So far, it has not. Otherwise, Publix has rallied and the stores are pretty well stocked.

I have a lengthy and thoroughly uninteresting work project I’ve been putting off that I must deal with today. I also have some very ripe bananas on the kitchen counter, and I think I have all the ingredients for banana bread. A loaf for now, and one for the freezer – that’s the plan for this afternoon.

And I hope Chewy is able to sort out their delivery issues; I’m running low on Sophie’s prescription food. Poor Sophie; she’s not d0ing very well. It’s like she’s become an old dog; though she’ll be turning 11 next month that’s not really old for a small dog. She’s sleeping a LOT, snoring deeply, and has definitely lost a lot of her vision.

Yesterday she lost her footing going down the stairs, and I felt the leash tighten in my hand so I was able to “fly” her the rest of the way in her padded harness and help her land on her feet at the bottom. Thank God she’s a small dog and I can do this with one hand. I try to handle it calmly so it doesn’t upset her further, but it’s a new weird development in a time of great weirdness.

Time to begin another day in the Upside Down.

Day Three, Under Surveillance.

So, this morning I woke at 5, though since I’m working from home I could sleep later. Just because I can doesn’t mean my insomniac brain will let me. So I got up, walked the dogs in the dark while watching for bears, drank coffee, and before 7 a.m. I fired up the big work laptop that now occupies my desk. I checked/responded to the 30 emails that had piled up overnight (most were crap I could just delete without response, fortunately). After about an hour of this, I realized the sun was up and one of the advantages of working from home was that I could go out and walk before it got too hot. Yes, it’s very hot here already.

So I filled my water bottle, put on sunscreen and sunglasses, and headed out. My neighbor and her sister(?) were in their usual spot, smoking – I wasn’t paying attention because I was listening to a podcast and looking forward to some exercise.

I became aware of motion in the courtyard: My neighbor was on her feet, dancing around, miming making a call: “calling my boss.” I tossed, “Really not funny, but go right the hell ahead and call!” over my shoulder and kept going, while they cackled, laughing at my back. Later, she “apologized” – “I hope you realize I was only joking!” Of course I do, you stupid bitch, you might be aware of where I work, but you don’t know what I do, or that I control my own hours and can take a fucking walk if I want to take a fucking walk. I didn’t say this – I’m still trying to be somewhat diplomatic – but just said I had been up and working since 7.

She got “mad” on my behalf “but that’s not your normal work hours!” (How the fuck would she know? How long has she been watching?) and I said I was a professional and controlled my own schedule, and could work early or late as it suited me. She seemed apologetic or at least trying to fake it as much as she could, so, I thought that was settled.

Now, one would THINK that after two days in a row of being told that I don’t appreciate her keeping tabs on my activities or her “humor”, she’d just shut the fuck up and just say hello when she sees me, BUT NOOO!

This afternoon I went to the supermarket, which is still out of paper products but did have produce, because I needed a few things. I came home and The Deplorable and the Other One were just sitting outside the front door again. This time she called, in a sugary tone, like awful adults use when addressing a child: “Did you get all your work done today?” I just stopped and stared at her. I took a deep breath counted to ten, and said, “No, there’s more for tomorrow, that’s why they call it a JOB.” and turned my back and went up the stairs.

I’m seriously at a loss here. How do I MAKE IT STOP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD??? I may be working from home for weeks, and I’m already ready to kill this bitch.

Living in Captivity.

I’m working from home for now. We’ll see how this works out. I might be better off going to the office, if few people are there I’ll be suitably socially distanced there, and it would be easier. Logging in remotely is slow af, and some systems just freeze up randomly when asked to do anything. And I miss my two giant monitors at the office. My job involves a lot of GIS maps and reading drawings and spreadsheets, working between documents, and it’s really hard to work on a single laptop screen.

I’m deeply regretting putting off my eye exam, but right now close, face-to-face contact with an eye doctor is probably unwise for both parties. Even the vet’s office sent an email saying they were postponing routine appointments for a couple of weeks, but will be there for any truly sick or injured animals. So I’m muddling through with inadequate everything, trying to get something done.

And working from home might lead to a confrontation with my downstairs neighbor, she of the “I’m a Deplorable,” t-shirt from 2016. She sits on her front porch a lot. I really don’t get this, as all of these condos have very nice screened lanais in back, and ours all face the golf course so it’d be a much more pleasant view, but yeah, she sits in her front porch area and smokes. She has company staying with her, I haven’t been introduced but I’m assuming it’s her sister, because she resembles her and also sits on the front porch and smokes.

I was up early as always yesterday, was on my work laptop at 7 am, was at the office for a mandatory meeting on this work at home plan at 8, and got back home and set up in my home office by 11-ish. I walked the dogs for about 15 minutes at lunchtime, and worked from then until after 4, when I took the dogs out again around 4:30.

My neighbor called to me from her chair, “I’m going to call your employer and tell them all you do is walk the dogs!” I guess she was trying to be funny? I’m tired, stressed, struggling to get work done, and this didn’t strike me as amusing. I tried to be pleasant – I’m not sure what I said, something like, “Oh, my work day started at 7 am!” and led the dogs away.

As we were coming back a few minutes later, (Sophie has slowed down a lot and doesn’t enjoy walks as much lately) she repeated it: “I really am going to call your employer!” Har har. So funny. What the fuck is wrong with people?

Then she actually offered me the use of a computer monitor she’s not using, and before I could protest, jumped up and ran went inside to get it. I’m still trying to be polite and she’s “being neighborly” so I said thanks, I’ll see if I can use it with my work laptop – knowing I can’t. I don’t have I’ll leave it on her porch with a note this morning. I’m hoping I can avoid further contact, because seriously, one more crack about how she’s going to call my employer and I might fucking snap.

And that was just day one! This is awesome.

Looks like I’ll be working from home for now, maybe?

I think? It’s Monday morning and I have no idea what’s going on.

My employer, which is not the same company as the place where I go to work, emailed around 8:30 last night to say that the place where I work is “reviewing” its contingent workforce to determine who needs to report to a physical location, who can work from home, and who should just… wait around to see if they’ll get paid again. It is 6:30 a.m., I’m on my second large mug of coffee, and in a bit I’ll fire up the big honkin’ work laptop (I call it the flat screen TV, because that’s what it feels like when I’m carrying it), and see if there’s a message there about my status. I can work from home to a degree; and actually could get a lot of organizing done in peace if I’m allowed to do so.

I don’t have face to face contact with customers in my role, but if local governments are going to be thinly staffed as well, the odds of my getting anything done are pretty low – my job involves a lot of chats with engineering and public works people. And I have no idea what anyone else in my group is doing, I haven’t been contacted. We have contingency plans for hurricanes, but not this.

I needed some time off, but not like this. Yikes.

So, What’s New?

I’m still here, writing blog posts in my head nearly every day. Yes, I know that’s not how it works.

So, what’s new with me? I’m waiting to find out whether I’ll be going to the office, working from home, or just not getting paid at all. I’m a contractor, and my contracting company sent us an email saying, “Don’t go to work sick,” and “Let us know if you are unable to work,” and nothing at all about giving us any sick days. I’m MUCH luckier than a lot of people; I earn a decent salary and have enough money in the bank to get by for a while, though this means any thought of a vacation later this year is out the window.

The theme parks are all closing for at least two weeks, and I think that’s when shit got real for a lot of people around here. Disney NEVER closes for more than a day or so, if a hurricane is absolutely bearing down on Central Florida; and even then they’ll just watch the situation and stay open if possible. The parks are all closing until the end of the month (at least for now) and this is truly unprecedented. I’m wondering what will be going on with the Star Wars Race Weekend, which is now a month away. A week ago I’d assumed it would be happening, now, who knows? That’s the speed of events these days. I’m going to keep training, in my lazy, half-assed way, because walking by myself is a fine form of social distancing.

Schools are closed for the rest of the month. Delaney’s dance competitions are canceled. Everyone is stressed and exhausted, all over the world.

The last three years have been incredibly hard and depressing already, as many of us were forced to confront the reality that a lot of our fellow citizens are actually shitty people. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by the hoarding of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, because no, “we” are not better than this. “We,” are also incredibly fucking stupid: there’s no liquid hand soap available, but plenty of bars of regular soap sit untouched, next to the empty shelves.

Changing the subject: Gidget. I’m working on socializing my shy little dog. She’s getting much better about not freaking out when a neighbor stops to chat, but if I take her out of the security of my immediate neighborhood she still has issues. Yesterday I took her for a walk without Sophie, just around the streets outside my condo community. Quiet, residential, lots to see and sniff, she was having a great time and we made it halfway around the block when: OMG!! A MAN!! DOING YARD WORK!! He was several houses away, but I saw her start to tense up when she saw him, so I decided to cross the street, to put a little distance between us as we passed him. We were on the other side of the street when he paused, smiled and said hello.

Gidget froze, turned, and started dragging me back the way we came, with all the force her little barely 8 lb. body could muster. This walk was DONE. Then, HORRORS! We had to walk past a FedEx truck, and the FedEx man said hi to her and said she was so cute! Well, we had NO choice, we had to flee!

Gidget believes social distancing should become permanent.

One of the “benefits” of this strange new world we all find ourselves in is that it may give me time to finally work on this blog, and on the other blog that, so far, exists only as notes in my journal.

Extreme Makeover, Rescue Edition

I was cleaning up a random stack of paper in my office when I came across the flyer I saw online that led me to the little dog formerly known as Gizmo.

Gidget was freshly groomed on Wednesday. This time, we went with a Yorkie puppy cut – a bit shorter than the last style. It really brought out her Yorkie side.

She’s still a shy little princess, though. I need to work on her socialization. She’s a happy and perfectly behaved little princess at home, but outside, she shivers and hides and is absolutely miserable if anyone notices her. She loves to go for walks as long as it’s just us and the squirrels, but any other human is a source of fear and suspicion. My downstairs neighbor talked to her yesterday, and she trembled violently, then dragged me toward our door.

One reason I opted for the shorter puppy cut ‘do this time was so we could get a couple more weeks between the trauma of the groomer.

My groomer is wonderful, I’ve known her for years, she used to groom Murphy. She was very understanding of Gidget’s fears, and let me know as soon as she was done so I could pick her up early.

Hiding in the back of her crate, waiting to be rescued.

I joke about it, that her first family must have lectured her constantly about “stranger danger,” because even the mailman is not to be trusted, but I need to get her out more. Maybe we’ll start going out for coffee, just the two of us. She may always be on the shy side, but I’d like to see her enjoy the world a bit more.

Meet the New Job, Worse than the Old Job.

For reasons I cannot begin to explain, I spent two days last week in FDOT Maintenance of Traffic training. It’s related to my new job; sort of. The instructor was very nice and when I explained what I did, showed me the small amount of stuff actually relevant to my job before the two days of intensive information even began. I still had to sit through the two days of stuff I will never need to know in my actual job, because…I don’t know why.

It was basically like having a high pressure hose of information I never needed to know pumped into my brain at great speed, but the instructor really was great and I’m pretty confident I passed the test. As a side note, I’m also now qualified to stand in the hot sun and work as a flagger on a highway crew, which is of course every 61 year old who spent 30+ years in corporate America’s secret dream! Narrator: No, it’s totally not.

So after a shitty and frustrating week of work and two days of bonus weirdness, the weekend weather was glorious!! What’s a tired, frustrated, pissed off, depressed woman who just wants to be a stay at home dog mommy to do?

I went to Disney World. Specifically, to Animal Kingdom, because it’s one of my two favorite “I don’t need no stinkin’ rides” parks (the other great walking park is Epcot.)

So it was an utterly gorgeous day, and every living soul in Central Florida had the same idea. The park was PACKED. It was also a cheer competition weekend, so there were roaming packs of teenaged girls in matching tee shirts, followed by tired chaperones also in team shirts, everyfreakingwhere.

In case you were wondering, a pack of cheerleaders, when spotting a baby gorilla, emits a simultaneous “Oooh!!” sound that could shatter glass.

My plans of grabbing lunch at Flame Tree or Harambe Market were foiled by the crowds. Yes, both have mobile ordering, which I totally, totally recommend, it’s the best thing Disney has done in a long time, but after getting your food you still have to find a place to eat it. That was going to be a problem. I settled for a huge pretzel.

I only stayed a couple of hours; that’s the great thing about living nearby and being a passholder. The crowds got ever more crowded, and it was actually quite warm for February, so I had no problem with calling it a a day around 2:30 p.m. I’m home doing laundry and trying to get myself psyched for another insane work week.

I really, really REALLY want to be a stay at home dog mom.

Really.

Productive AF.

I woke up today planning to clean the house “a bit.” 6 hours of nearly non-stop labor later, I filled four bags of random trash and also a box and a bag of decent stuff for donation. I swept and mopped the floors, moved a couple of bookcases, and rounded up a herd of dust buffalo (much larger than bunnies) from behind the furniture. I changed the sheets and did all of the laundry. I online shopped for home improvement ideas, and I decided to replace my old, cheap end tables with new cheap (but highly rated) end tables. The ones I have now are battle scarred ::glares at cat:: and were also very cheap; they lasted 10 years but are quite shabby. Time for this small update.

About half way through this very satisfying rampage, I realized what I was doing. Have you heard of Swedish Death Cleaning?

I believe today I invented American Rage Cleaning. I listened to a few favorite podcasts while I worked: Maddow, of course, and my personal source for both rage and encouragement, The Professional Left podcast. I’ve been reading and then listening to these two since the Bush Administration. I took a timeout from political stuff after my brain thing, and when I caught up with them again, they had met and GOT MARRIED!

I was a bit put out about this, because I had a heavy duty crush on Driftglass throughout the Bush years, but Bluegal is a lovely intelligent woman, and also a knitter! (Not to mention that they both lived in Illinois, so my odds of meeting Driftglass were between slim and none anyway.)

Years ago I fangirled all over Bluegal on Ravelry: “OMG!! You’re THAT Bluegal!!!” And again I feel guilty because I totally owe them a long email about how much I appreciate them. I’ve written to them in my head for years, usually while listening to their podcast and cleaning or walking the dog(s), and never managed to sit my ass down to write for real.

This week’s underlying theme was “Chop wood, carry water.” And I realized that was what I was doing with my cleaning frenzy today, and with my plans for the future.

I am NOT ignoring current events. Even though I don’t really want to get into the weeds and write about it for my health’s sake, I am very much engaged. Bluegal turned me on to Postcards to Voters and I wrote my ass off in 2018. I’m gearing up to do it again. If you’re feeling helpless but can’t go march or door knock or phone bank for whatever reason, you totally can sit down and write a postcard or three in the evening. They DO make a difference, and I think this personal communication will be even more important in November.

Don’t despair. Do some American Rage Cleaning, write a few postcards, you’ll feel better.

My new job is exhausting and stressful.

I’m sleeping about six hours a night, my stomach is frequently upset, and I’m currently sporting a cold sore the size of Mars on my lower lip – my first in about 15 years. Yeah, stress. This is both an explanation/apology for my infrequent posts and what led to Ellie losing the title of Best Cat Ever this morning.

I have had a necklace stand on my dresser for many years. I don’t really wear those items anymore and really should put them on eBay or something, but they don’t take up much space so I don’t think of it often. So this morning at a QUARTER TO FIVE, when the necklace stand suddenly crashed over with lots of dramatic jangling and tinkling noises like a brick thrown through a window, it jolted me from my rare and precious sleep. I instantly knew what had happened, and I knew the only possible cause. I screamed profanities and chased her from the room, where she proceeded to make a huge racket tearing up a cardboard box. I gave up on sleep; my jangling nerves were flooded with adrenaline and there was no way I’d fall asleep again, so I got up to make coffee.

Ellie preceded me to the kitchen and nonchalantly demanded treats. I cursed her again, and sighed and gave in to her demands. Cats.

So I went to the pantry and discovered that I AM OUT OF COFFEE. I am never out of coffee. Every time Publix has my favorite brands on BOGO, I BOGO coffee. I always have a spare bag in the pantry, until today, when I don’t.

This feels like being out of oxygen – I NEED coffee in the morning. I’m not an all day coffee drinker, I don’t think my stomach could tolerate that, but I must have morning coffee.

I had to go with tea, which means I’m both under-rested and under-caffeinated. Today should be interesting, because my plan for the day is my semi-annual pilgrimage to IKEA.

The appliance and carpet work at the rental property is done, it was huge pain but all’s well now. I have a couple of thousand bucks left over for improvements here, and in addition to replacing the disgusting ancient carpet on the balconies,I have plans for my second bedroom/home office/rarely needed guest room. I need a larger desk, better lighting, and lots of storage.

Right now, the room is where pieces that didn’t fit anywhere else went: a bookcase that once lined a living room wall with its two brethren is on one wall, there’s an old, half broken file cabinet that can no longer support actual hanging files, my printer is on a wheeled storage cabinet I plan to repurpose, maybe for the kitchen, an old futon sofa – and we won’t even talk about that back bedroom closet. And for a room makeover on the cheap, it’s hard to beat IKEA.

So today’s IKEA trip will be a scouting trip. I have to get rid of/repurpose all the above-mentioned crap before I can put anything new in that room, but I’m bringing a notebook and a tape measure and I’m going to make a plan. I will not leave the store empty handed; I am also on a mission for bath mats and kitchen storage, small items like that. I am a huge fan of IKEA bath mats; the ones I have are like new, even after being used as a rug outside Ellie’s litterbox and getting washed in HOT water frequently, they’re like new.

I may have to stop in their cafe before I start my mission. This calls for more caffeine than is currently in my system.

Speaking of being caffeinated, I’m going to try something different, blog-wise, for February, and write in the morning now and then, while consuming the aforementioned coffee. I may not post every day, but I’m pretty sure that my odds will be better than when I come home from work.

I’m AWOL, so here’s a picture of Gidget

I bought new bed pillows, long overdue, and tossed the old ones onto the couch temporarily. Gidget claimed them immediately. I need new, Gidget approved throw pillows, because bed pillows and three animals on the couch means there’s no room for ME.

My new job is…challenging, like being thrown into the ocean during a major hurricane is…challenging. I’ll surface soon, or drown, or run away screaming. (I threatened that today, and was only half kidding.) I come home too tired to string together sentences.

So I have a plan for February: I will grab the wee MacBook when I wake up and write while I’m becoming fully caffeinated. I do have plans, and ideas, and things, and a purpose for this blog and maybe another, Disney-focused blog is sort of taking shape. Because I REALLY need a damn escape plan.

My poor Sophie really is losing her sight. We finally get her unfortunate intestinal condition under control (Oh fuck, I just said that out loud, didn’t I?) and now, cataracts. She stumbles on the stairs – I have to watch her as she’s going down – she wears a padded harness so when she misses a step it’s like “Whee! Peter Pan!” and I hold her up a bit so she doesn’t crash. She’s taking it in stride, but it makes me so sad. She’ll be 11 in April, and that seems a bit young for this.

Everybody’s fine; I’m just really, really tired.