President Biden. Vice-President Harris.

Today was so beautiful and so healing. Like a lot of people I was apprehensive about the Inauguration ceremony today, after the terrorist attack on the Capitol just two weeks ago, but God, it was just what we all needed.

Lady Gaga’s version of the National Anthem had something it rarely has – JOY!! It has majesty sometimes, it gets butchered many times, but it’s mostly a difficult song. She beyond nailed it.

And holy shit, when she turned and gestured at the Capitol behind her, that was POWERFUL and so positive – she was perfect.

And her gown was perfection: So Gaga, but not entirely crazy. I felt for the young Marine escorting her down the steps, and imagined he was thinking: “OMG, I CANNOT let Lady Gaga trip on that huge fucking dress; I’ll never live it down.” But when she started to sing I felt it: JOY!! She sang a very awkward and difficult song with such brio, and her powerful voice and visible JOY set the tone for the entire day. Positive, strong: America is BACK.

And I’d never known we had a Young Poet Laureate until today. Amanda Gorman is incredible. I’ve listened to it three times, and am just stunned. “If only we are brave enough to be it.” Amen, child.

And now we have Vice President Kamala Harris. Daughter of immigrants, Black and Asian, and also just freaking brilliant and highly qualified to BE President. I was Warren during the primaries, but I was sick when Kamala dropped out, because she was my other favorite.

President Biden was actually around my FOURTH choice, but when he got the nomination I happily voted for him, because by then I’d realized he’s the calming, soothing, but wise and firm, grandfather this country needs now.

He’s also extremely experienced, he knows the GOP assholes he’ll have to deal with and knows how to get shit done with them, so I was totally on board.

And then ALL the shit hit the fan on the 6th, and I have to say he is the PERFECT President for this horrible time. His speech today was perfection. He emphasized moving forward, fixing all the shit that’s broken, but didn’t shy away from all the things his awful predecessor did. And yet he did it with such positivity, confidence in the goodness and strength of this country, and we WILL get on course and move forward again in the right direction. I saw his speech compared to FDR, and I agree.

But I realized in the last few weeks how as a nation a lot of us have PTSD. I still can’t quite believe the nightmare is over. After a few weeks of not having to give a fuck what any Trump says or does, I’m sure I’ll recover, but yeah, right now this almost doesn’t seem real.

OMG. It’s just….

So, I’m still healthy. I’m losing my mind, but that’s a separate story.

My daughter had a confirmed COVID exposure on the job and was sent home to isolate. She didn’t develop symptoms and got tested and was cleared to go back to work as of yesterday. We are all still healthy.

I’ll spare you the rant about how fucking stupid our Governor Florida Man is. He’s dangerously fucking stupid.

I’m still shaken and outraged about January 6th. I’m scared for the Inauguration next week. We have a lot of crazies among us, but they’re organized in a way they never were before. They’ve gone from swapping batty conspiracy theories in chat rooms to actually organizing insurrection, and this is fucking terrifying. Add that it appears that some Republican members of Congress were in on it, and holy shit.

I’ve known we have a dangerously crazy white supremacist underground for a long time. I’ve lived in FL for a long time, in a fairly upscale zip code (I am one of the poors) and I’ve always known that the “toothless redneck right wing nutjob” was inaccurate. There’s plenty of racist right wing wannabe Nazi types in golf club neighborhoods. I live among them now.

I’ve lost friends – more accurately, I backed away from friends when their crazy went from an occasional questionable take on a topic to stuff too crazy to overlook. A long time friend, a woman I’d known for decades, went full racist and Trumper in 2016. I didn’t realize it until we got together for one of our occasional “wine and cheese and talk about family and bitch about our jobs” sessions in my living room, and she veered off into ranting about her black neighbors. She used every racist trope, “Their trash is full of fried chicken and watermelon…” and by then my jaw was openly sagging. She saw my face and said, “I don’t care, I’ll say it, I’M A RACIST, OKAY?”

I’m thinking, “Yeah, yeah, you sure are, because you are renting on a fucking golf course in a very nice neighborhood with excellent schools, and I’m willing to bet that your black neighbors are more educated and have better jobs and have a lot more class than you’ve ever had, and THAT’S why you can’t stand them.” (BTW, if you are thinking she was a Floridian or some Southerner raised to be racist – she was born and raised in New York.) I was honestly surprised that she grew up middle class in NY, because she drove a pickup and had tattoos and just seemed like a redneck girl who made good. Hell, I trained her for the job she has now, making more money than I do.

I wish I could say that I responded with something pithy and cutting or clever, but I was truly dumbstruck. I’d known her for around 20 years and never heard anything like that from her before. She realized she’d gone too far and pulled herself together,we made small talk for another ten minutes, (me being awkwardly polite, hinting that the evening was over) and she made her excuses and left. We’ve never spoken since.

That’s the thing about being an older white lady in this area – people just start talking like they expect me to understand/agree, and when I don’t respond with, “Oh, I know!” conversations get awkward and then end.

The place where I work has told everybody in state capitals and the DC area in particular to work from home next week, in anticipation of violence.

I’m not sure where I am on praying. I was raised Catholic, but “fell away” by the time I was 14 (I was skeptical by the time I was 8.) I tried going back to Christianity a few times over the years but it just won’t stick. I’m not an atheist, I’m probably best described as a lazy sort of Unitarian/Buddhist/Whatever. But I hope God will accept my prayers for the entire Biden Administration, from Joe and Kamala and their families to the White House staff, including the porters and gardeners and everybody in between, and especially the Secret Service. I fear that we are in for a hell of a ride.

ON THE PLUS SIDE:

The NYT reported that President Biden plans to hit the ground running with Executive Orders reversing a lot of the incredibly stupid/racist/vile Trump moves. The US will be rejoining the Paris Accord, undoing the racist Muslim ban, and work to reunite the children the Trump Admin kidnapped with their parents. The vaccine program will be organized and functional. Unemployment and financial support will get real. It’ll be months before life is anything like normal, but we will have grownups and doctors and economists and scientists in charge again. Even semi-normal is going to feel weird. We moved so far from normal government in just four years, it’s going to take a bit to wrestle it back.

Welp, Today Was Something.

I tried to work today, while my phone was blowing up with the horror show at the Capitol.

Let me be clear about my feelings: Republicans built this. We who have the ability to pay attention saw this coming many years ago, like back in 2000 and before. When Trump “won” (I still think some sort of forensic examination of the course of events will show it was manipulated) we were freaked out.

Today was why. The last four years were awful, but the rule of law held. We had a free and fair and by every possible measure valid election. The results weren’t close, Biden won in a legitimate landslide, both the popular vote and the archaic Electoral College, which was targeted four years ago. That didn’t work this time, so the fascists are enraged.

Don’t anybody EVER come at me with “both sides,” or any defense of the Republican party of today. This ain’t Eisenhower’s party, it’s not even NIXON’s party, for fuck’s sake. He was a fucking crook, but he at least respected the country and resigned when caught. These people don’t give a shit. It’s a fascist regime of thugs and morons, none of them give a shit about America.

Sorry that’s not a cheery and certainly not click-worthy blog post, but Jesus Christ, I’m just so disgusted that it has come to this, two weeks before sanity will return.

So, really, 2021?

I can’t even write about the current national shitstorm, except to say that I’ve never seen this country divided like this – maybe when I was a child in the 60s, but we didn’t have Fox News and right wing radio and all the other fringe “networks” spreading the crazy. I am not staying up to watch the Georgia Senate race results, I will not even peek at Twitter tonight; I need to sleep. I’ll just say that we who were freaked the fuck out in November of 2016 were FUCKING RIGHT ALL ALONG. Don’t anybody ever “both sides” at me again. BOTH SIDES DON’T.

Meanwhile, my daughter just called me to report that my son-in-law got rear-ended in a crash in an adjacent county, and he’s afraid his barely two year old car (purchased after he got slammed in another accident – again an innocent bystander*) is totaled. *Timeline corrected: his car was totaled four years ago, she passed her car to him and got her used RAV4, then about eighteen months ago he traded the older car on the car that just got totaled. (Update from my daughter: the trunk is in the backseat, he got pushed into the car in front of him, and yeah, his sweet little Toyota is totaled.) She’s on her way to pick him up. He did, THANK GOD, have his seat belt on, and ALL the airbags deployed. He’s shaken up, obviously, but ambulatory, so they’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Going to a Florida ER for anything other than a dangling limb feels…unwise right now.

And on that note, my New Year’s Day self wound care worked out fine. I’m still being careful with my middle finger on my left hand, because I don’t want to break it open and bleed into my keyboard, but it’s looking pretty good. I can still flip the bird.

How 2021 Is Going So Far:

My bandaging skills have improved a lot since this first attempt.

The good news: my new knives are very, very sharp. I was chopping an onion for my black eyed peas on New Year’s Day and the onion slipped just a bit, and, wow, did my finger ever bleed. I have spared you a photo of the bathroom trash can’s contents, which was half full of bloody paper towels. I was seriously worried I’d have to go to urgent care to get a stitch or two, but eventually the bleeding slowed and I was able to bandage it one-handed. Thank God I had surgical tape and gauze instead of just bandaids, because I really, really don’t want to go near an urgent care or emergency room right now. My finger would have to be falling off. But I’m good at wound care, so it’s doing fine.

The bad news: my knitting and blogging will be curtailed for the next few days.

I never did find the recipe for the fab black eyed peas and collards I made last year. The recipe I used was just meh. Not even worth saving for leftovers. So today I’m giving myself a do-over with black eyed pea masala and sauteed collards, because collards were BOGO at Publix and I have another bag to use. If this recipe is a success, I will note it in my bullet journal, because I have learned my lesson.

More when I can type with all my fingers again.

New Year, New Journal.

Yes, I’m totally eating black eyed peas and collards today, with cornbread and iced tea, because it’s over 80 degrees again here. I am taking no chances.

One of the few useful habits I’ve managed to maintain for years is my bullet journal. I wrote about it for a bit back on Ye Olde Blogge, two years ago, and what I said then still goes. I still enjoy seeing the pretty, artsy journals on Instagram and YouTube. I still do not have a pretty, artsy journal. I do have a journal I use every day, though again, I’ve utterly failed to turn it into a social media sensation. That would be because I haven’t tried at all to turn it into a social media sensation, because I suck at that stuff. (And because tracking the dogs’ heartworm meds and when I last changed the A/C filter isn’t exactly hot social media content.)

At the same time, I keep finding new things I’d like to keep track of in one place: book or recipe suggestions, for instance. So in this notebook I labeled two pages in the back of the book as “Recommendations” – so I can find those ideas again.

I learned the hard way that I really could use a Favorite Recipes collection. So 2021’s books will have a “Recipes” collection, where I will note the name and source of any new recipes I really liked. No need to put the entire recipe in there, I’ll just put the title and where to find it, like, Instant Pot Red Curry Lentils, Pinch of Yum. (That recipe is delicious, btw.)

I’m kicking myself right now because last year I found a really amazing recipe for black eyed peas and collard greens; I remember I really loved it and happily ate it for a week. Do I remember where I found it or what it was called? I do not. Apparently I didn’t even save it to Pinterest, which means it’s probably in one of my many cookbooks, but I swear to God I have no idea which one now. Half my cookbooks have a recipe for black eyed peas and I don’t recognize the “best” one. I will not have this problem in 2021. I hope.

I’m a very basic bullet journaler, but I do have a few favorite things that I use over and over again. I’ve tried a lot of different brands of notebooks over the years, but I keep coming back to this one: Leuchtturm 1917. A notebook lasts me roughly 3 or 4 months before I fill it. My OCD demands that I start a notebook at the beginning of a year/month as well, so I use roughly 3 or 4 notebooks a year.

I’ve tried cheaper notebooks, and with daily use the bookmark ribbons fell out, the elastic band broke, pages came unglued, or the paper quality was just annoying. After journaling for years, I keep coming back to the Leuchtturm. BUT – for someone who isn’t sure whether they’ll stick with it, heck, even Walmart has an inexpensive dot journal option.

If you really do want to get artsy and use watercolors and markers in your “bujo” this is probably not the right choice, you’ll want to go with a heavier paper. (“Bleed through” is one of the greatest tragedies to befall members of “the bullet journal community.”) In that case, some online (or YouTube) research might be in order. Many artsy bullet journalers review new notebooks on their channels, testing them with various types of pens and paint.

And if you want to have fun with it and can’t draw for crap (like me), there’s a lot of free resources out there, things you can just print and glue into your book, or print on sticker paper. There are free trackers for every possible purpose, from counting steps to saving money, to you name it. Just Google “bullet journal printables.” Warning: it is a rabbit hole of ideas.

But if you’re just thinking maybe you’d like to try to be more organized and maybe a bullet journal would help, my favorite little book on bullet journals remains Dot Journaling, a Practical Guide. There’s even a version that comes with a journal to get started. It’s sprinkled with commentary about journaling, looks at how journals were used through history, etc., and full of ideas for how to make it work for your individual needs.

Etsy is also a resource for decorating your journal with stickers and washi tape; I’m embarrassingly addicted to adding art to my notebooks in the form of printable stickers. They’re inexpensive, I download and print them myself and cut them out with small, sharp scissors. I have cuss words and Walt Disney quotes and classic art and vintage advertising; all sorts of little things I can add as appropriate. It became one of my 2020 shopping addictions, justified because “Hey, I can get all three of these collections of digital images for $6!”

Let’s just say that I now have tons of that stuff and have resolved to go cold turkey on buying any more digital downloads on Etsy for a while. We’ll see how that lasts.

It’s hard because they’re so cute and so inexpensive, like $2 or $3 for a dozen or so images, sometimes an entire collection, and it has become one of my guilty pleasures, but yeah, I need to appreciate and use what I have.

Which brings me to another plan for 2021: Use My Shit! I totally admit I online shopped for comfort and entertainment in 2020. When there’s nothing to look forward to but work and…more work, picking up a little somethin’ online really helped. But now, I have to admit I have plenty of little somethin’s and I need to freaking use it all. No online shopping (other than for household necessities/pet supplies) for the foreseeable future.

So that’s my plan to stay sane in 2021: journaling, decorating my notebook with stickers like I’m a tween, and daily yoga. All while drinking lots of tea.

Resolutions. Or as I prefer to call them, Plans.

Don’t worry, none of my plans involve anything that might tempt the Universe to unleash a new plague. I am tip-toeing into 2021, as we all should. Don’t touch anything, don’t make any big announcements, just sorta pretend nothing’s going on, yeah, I’m just going to write a list of totally random stuff I don’t really care about.

2020 truly was a bitch. Actually, the last four years were a bitch, but 2020 truly doubled down on the awful. I went into our brief, half-assed Florida-style “quarantine” like so many other people, full of great intentions to exercise, get a regular yoga practice, learn a new skill, blah blah… And like so many other people, I did fine for the first couple of months, until it became apparent that this was going to go on much longer and get much worse than we’d thought. Add the election stress on top, and all of my lofty goals of self care suddenly didn’t seem important at all.

I of course was still working from home all day, and other than not commuting 20 minutes each way to the office, my work life didn’t really change all that much since March. (Though I do appreciate my former co-workers more, none of them farted all day like my current office mates.) I still don’t like my job much, but I don’t see any better options on the horizon at the moment. And of course, I’m very grateful for the paycheck.

And as I am politically informed and active, summer through Election Day was insanely stressful. It’s still very stressful now, of course, but I do feel some confidence that we will be through the worst of these times soon.

So, back to 2021. I did learn some lessons from 2020; I definitely learned that at my age, self-care is no longer optional. So I found some simple (and free) plans to get myself together. I really have no excuses for January, because I’ll still be working from home and can’t claim I can’t find the time. I will find the time.

First, I’m so damn sick of cooking, thinking about food, planning meals, I nearly re-upped with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) but couldn’t quite bring myself to spend the money. Then I got an email from a foodie site I follow, Pinch of Yum. Plant Powered January, you say? You will provide recipes and grocery lists and basically let me shut off my brain for a month and not have to plan anything? And it’s free?? Why, yes, thank you, I am IN.

The past few days I’ve made time for quick yoga, and of course, our girl Adriene has a new January restart. I’m in for this, too. I particularly love Adriene’s YouTube page, because it’s sorted out into length of the progam. Many are under 20 minutes, and some don’t even require changing out of your work clothes. (I do not wear “office” clothes at home, but I do get up and shower and groom myself. and put on jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t work in pajamas, but I rarely wear shoes.) I make a point of pausing to do a quick stretch in the middle of my work day, and I swear I’m feeling a bit more sane already.

And I’m starting a new bullet journal, because my OCD demands a new book at the start of a year. More about that later.

Other notes:

I’m afraid to say Sophie’s doing well, because like 2021, I’m scared to jinx it. So, just assume no news good.

Gidget remains practically perfect in every way.

Ellie is…a cat. As I’m writing this, Gidget is asleep behind me. Ellie just had to tease Gidget and make her jump. I asked her if she really, really would like to go back to the shelter and try again for a new family. She settled down.

So ready to kick 2020 to the curb.

I had a pleasant Christmas. We did a small family brunch at noon, with mimosas, croissants, and this breakfast casserole (so easy and I just ate the last leftover serving this morning). Cute gifts (not identical to the set I received, but close), and all in all, a pleasant end to this shitty year.

My daughter (she who finds all the cool stuff on Buzzfeed) gave me a gift subscription to Sips by. For the next 3 months, I’ll receive a monthly box of four new teas to try. This fits nicely with my personal resolution to drink more tea, less wine and Diet Coke, so it was a perfect surprise.

My four days off end today. As a contractor I don’t get paid time off or holiday pay, so those four days came out of my pocket. My employer did send me a fabulous Christmas present: I got a skinny envelope with a bit of cardstock in it, with an “online privacy cover” a sort of bandaid about the size of a corn plaster, emblazoned with the company logo, to stick over the camera on my laptop. No, I’m not kidding. I’d share a photo but, yeah, company logo and all.

As my daughter put it, “Not even the Jelly of the Month Club.”

I do have to wonder who thought of this and was like, “This is how we will show our employees our appreciation!’ I’ve had some shitty and demoralizing corporate “gifts” over the course of my career, but these people truly astonish me.

I’m so ready to get this year over with, I think I’ll take the tree and interior decorations down today, and make room for my yoga mat. My work week starts bright and early tomorrow, but I will make time for Sunrise yoga. It’s only 15 minutes and not very taxing, but I do feel better when I do it. Later I’ll plan my new bullet journal(s) . I keep a personal one and a separate notebook for work, because I can’t bring myself to let the work shit pollute my personal time.

I have plans for 2021. I’m almost afraid to say them out loud- is anyone else feeling like we dare not jinx it?

Quick Update on Sophie

We did a follow up blood test (another $90) and her doctor called me yesterday. Sophie’s protein levels are coming up and are nearly normal, so we will continue the steroid for another two weeks and test again. Then we are going to have to talk about a long term plan, because seriously, I can’t just keep doing $90 outside lab blood work every two weeks.

She’s obviously feeling better, and though her poop is still not solid it is at least staying longer in her intestines, so she’s absorbing more nutrients. However, she is definitely looking thinner, despite cleaning her plate twice a day and eating treats in between. But she’s comfortable and that’s good. Hopefully we can get her on a treatment plan that doesn’t lead to Mommy going broke, er, even more broke.

I’m happy it’s Christmas, and we’re trying to make it as normal as possible within the bounds of good sense. I’m doing a breakfast casserole and little things for a brunch tomorrow to open our few presents, then I’ll send my daughter and her family back to their place to do their own Christmas dinner. Our risk for brunch is very low, we’ve all been isolating and it has been weeks since their last even potential exposure, so we are doing the small, sensible family only stuff. Even then we won’t be in each other’s faces.

A major cold front is coming through and we are going to drop from the high of 80-ish today to 30-ish tomorrow morning, because Florida, this is how we winter.

Meanwhile, my son texted us to say it’s snowing in Asheville. Delaney will be deeply annoyed that we aren’t there for it.

Funny from Twitter: If you buy one of those chocolate Advent calendars on sale after Christmas, you can use it to count down to the Inauguration!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like F*ck This….

We are now back to “peak of summer” levels of daily COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Reported new cases hit over 13k two days in a row, and Governor Florida Man is getting sued for hiding reports on how bad it really is. I didn’t do Thanksgiving with my nearby family (not a big deal as I’m not a huge turkey fan), and now I’m thinking maybe Christmas should be a drive-by brunch with opening gifts on the balcony and finger foods, and then send them on their way. They can do their own big holiday dinner. I’ll take a nice long walk and binge on something on Netflix, or maybe the new season of The Mandelorian. Nothing says Christmas like a Space Western.

My daughter’s school has had a number of COVID cases among both staff and students, and we’re waiting for the mid-January spike when all these idiots planning big Christmas get togethers get back to school and infect each other. And we know these idiots are going to do this, we’ve heard them planning. I stopped in at Publix this evening and saw people pushing groaning grocery carts, obviously preparing for a huge event.

I hope they’re stocked up on dog worm medicine. (I still can’t wrap my brain around that one.)

So, what am I doing to stay sane lately? Besides wine, I mean?

I am late to the Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. In fact, I’m late to Rhys Bowen’s books entirely, and I’m really, really enjoying devouring her work. I’m halfway through the Her Royal Spyness books and OMG, they’re just a blast! They’re not “serious” books, but very well written, and that’s hard to find.

I had never read any of Rhys Bowen’s work and for years was put off by the cover art, if you can believe it. It made me think of those gawdawful “cozy mysteries” that make me feel brain cells dying if I try to read them.

I was so very wrong. I’ve read two of her more serious stand alone novels, The Tuscan Child and In Farleigh Field, and 2020 has been basically the year of Rhys Bowen. I’m a huge fan now.

Sophie is doing better, but – there’s always a but. I can see she’s losing weight, though she’s also more perky and her appetite is great. We have a 9 a.m. blood test on Monday, to see if her protein level has come up and her platelets have come down. Basically, I’m in maintenance mode with her; if we can keep her feeling good with these basic meds and the special diet, yay! I can’t afford to do the specialists and stuff just to put a specific label on it. It’s a protein-losing enteropathy, there is no cure, you just treat symptoms, and there are a variety of causes, including basic human-like IBS. She’ll probably have to stay on a steroid and a special diet, and it may shorten her life expectancy, but who can say?

Murphy was diagnosed with lymphangiectasia at 9 years old. I remember reading the pathologist’s report and crying for hours, because his prognosis was “poor.” He battled it for the next six years, and finally lost his fight at 15.5, which is a respectable Yorkie lifespan.

I can see that while Sophie’s condition is similar, it’s not the same: her blood protein is very low, her platelets are high, while Murphy’s blood never got too out of whack through the course of his disease. So while there’s a sort of “You’ve got to be kidding me!” aspect to having two small dogs with similar intestinal conditions, one after the other, it’s not the same.

Sophie’s seems more serious, because it’s having an impact on her blood in a major way. Murphy’s never did.

And as I’m writing this, she’s dancing at my side, begging me to get OFF the COMPUTER NOW, MOM! A girl needs her bedtime treats and some couch time! I must obey.

More this weekend, I swear.