Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Around the House #4

Not all of my favorite things are in my house. Some of them are outside. 

When we bought our house 21 years ago, there were no trees in the yard. Apparently, the previous owners didn't like to rake? Or didn't like shade? Who knows. So I went a bit crazy and planted a half-dozen, thinking that some of them I'd bought were "smaller" trees. 

I was wrong.

They've turned into big trees, all. But my favorite is this Mimosa that I actually brought from our old house. It was nothing more than a twig when I dug it up and now it reaches over our two-story. It's in full bloom right now and it smells like a perfume factory--almost overbearingly so. But it attracts hummingbirds and there are violets growing in the cleft where the trunk divides. Which is why it's one of my favorite things!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Cats on a Shelf

We have a fence around our back yard, partly because of the neighbors, and partly because we have a pool. But we weren't thinking when we put it up-- my garden is on the other side. Which meant I had to walk all of the way around to get to the garden. Yup, poor planning on our part. Anyway, my husband put in a gate last summer and built a little shelf on it. I didn't even notice, which shows how observent I am. But the cats did. We have a bit of a cat problem in our neighborhood-- namely a Momma Cat that is very prolific. (I really should dig up some money and take her for a little trip) 

Needless to say, this a daily occurance. The particular cats just change from time to time. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Gnarly! Like, Fer Sure!

Raybeard wrote a post about the removal of Gone with the Wind from HBO Max. I’m not going to repeat what he wrote. Here’s the link if you would like to read it. I’m not even going to comment on the movie because honestly, I’ve never watched it. Nor have I read the book. I have no interest in them. But it did get me to thinking.
For context: I hit my teens in the late 70s. I grew up in an all-white area in the USA mid-west Bible Belt. I was a typical kid. I drank a little, I smoked occasionally, I had a great group of friends. We “cruised” on Friday and Saturday nights, bowled, played arcade games, and went to the movie theater. Although I considered myself to be the "hippy" of the group, interested in the women's movement and civil rights, I'm not sure my awareness of the wider world came until college. (I'm pretty sure it wasn't until college that I added gay rights to that list, simply because I didn't know.) 
Fast forward to 2020. About two and a half months ago we fired up the VHS player and started rewatching some old Dr. Who we had. And then we dug through our collection and continued watching these old movies that we thought were brilliant back in the 80s and 90s. Alien and The Thing and Jurassic Park. And two weeks ago, we dug out some teen movies from the 80s. Valley Girl, Sweet Sixteen, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There were parts I still thought were funny, but oh, my, have they not aged well.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes

Would I recommend them to a young person today? Not unless they asked specifically for an example of something problematic. But I think they’re important for that very reason. The things I didn’t notice when I was 20 that jump out at me now show me that I’ve grown, that I’ve paid attention and become a better person. And some movies, like Gone with the Wind, show a snapshot of our history. We need to have that, something tangible that we can judge ourselves on. It’s one thing for me to tell my kids and the young people I work with “this is how it was when I was your age” but it’s another for them to see it, to hopefully learn something about my generation from it. If nothing else, it’s a place to start a discussion.
One thing that surprised me as we’ve been doing our nostalgia viewing—WKRP in Cincinnati actually held up pretty well. There are a few episodes that weren’t so great, but it’s amazing how many issues that were featured on that show are relevant once again. If anyone doesn’t believe the current administration hasn’t pushed us back decades, I think the proof is in the viewing!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

While The World Burns...

I went for a walk yesterday because I realized I hadn't taken so much as a step ouside our yard in a week--haven't even wanted to. If I didn't occasionally need to go to the store or the bank, I could happily never leave the property. I hope this fades, especially when  the time comes for me to go back to work. Except, there's this little voice that keeps whispering "if you go back to work". Which, unless some rich relative I don't know about dies and leaves me money, isn't possible. This leave-of-absence really is meant to be a temporary thing. Last week I went into the grocery store where I've worked for 22 years and was surprised by how much I missed it. And for about ten minutes I considered going back part time. But... I have no filter. The boss would have to fire me within the first week. So, I guess I'll stay home a tad longer and watch my roses bloom. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Life in a Bubble

Image may contain: possible text that says 'hate when people ask me what did yesterday. don't know, I breathed a lot. Probably got mad at something... Sighed heavily. The list goes on.'

This feels pretty spot-on. I started my "leave of absence" full of energy. For the first three weeks, I caught up on some cleaning that really needed doing. And there was plenty of writing and editing work to keep me occupied. Plus, there was the Working Stiffs release that I was devoting time to.


It got cold again. And Facebook is full of scared, confused people. But it's my lifeline to people I care about, so I can't not get on it. And the world started to feel heavy. And I've found out I really need my days to be scheduled. I'm almost amazed that a part of me misses work. I miss my friends. I halfway entertained going back--at least a few hours a day. But I know if I do I'll end up right back where I was at the end of March. Chest pains and anxiety. Physically, I'm so much better now. Mentally, I'm struggling. And I know this will pass. 


Or so I keep telling myself.                             

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Around the House 3

I'm used to being on my feet for most of the day. But now that I'm home, that isn't happening and I'm afraid I'll really be hurting when I go back to work. The husband and I have taken a few walks, but the weather has been cool and wet and it's been hit and miss. So I set up a corner with the treadmill that I always meant to use but rarely did (because I was on my feet all day). We don't have cable so I've hooked up an old DVD player to on old 13" television and pulled out the DVDs I haven't watched in years. It was Waterfalls last week, this week is going to be season 1 of Buffy. And ya know, it's been kind of fun!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Afternoon Excitement!

Before and after pictures. I was pulling out of my drive, heading out to Mom's to take her some stuff, and I saw smoke billowing on the next block over. At first I thought it was the store where I work, but it was a garage on the block between us. 

I had to keep driving or get parked in (by people that were definitely not social distancing!), so I kept going. The fire trucks were just leaving when I got back to town. It looks like the house is okay, maybe a little roof-singe, but since they weren't attached, they were lucky. Their new "plastic" fence didn't fare so well, though. Which just shows how hot it was. The family (and their two dogs) are all okay, although the dad had to go to the hospital for a burn on his ankle.

I guess that broke up the tedium for a few people.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Around the House 2

One of my favorite things-- my Unicorn Hex sign. I should have tried to take a picture that actually shows how large it is. (1 yard wide). 

My first job, the kind where taxes were actually deducted, was waitressing at a local restaurant. It started out as a Dutch Pantry, but by the time I worked there, it was just The Pantry. I worked there during my Junior and Senior years. And then I worked summers and holidays through college. 

When the owner remodeled, he took down all of the hex signs and I grabbed onto this one. I collected Unicorns back then and this was the ultimate prize. It's hung on a wall in every house I've lived in ever since.

(I wish I had a better picture, but back in the stone age, before digital, you never knew what you were going to get until it was too late!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

I Can Finally Call Myself an Author!

Started in 1981 as something to do during study hall, Headphones and the occupants of The House became companions that lived in my head, their stories growing and evolving over the years. In 2013 I decided to give them new life and prove to myself that I could finish something. The result was an online serial that ran from January 1, 2015, to January 1, 2016. To call it a vanity project is probably generous. But by the end of the year, I was getting 100 hits a day from readers around the world. For someone who grew up without the internet and social media, it was exciting. Early last year I decided to rewrite it into a publishable book. The problem was, it was too long for one book.  My solution? Make it into a trilogy! So I introduce, nearly 40 years in the making, Headphones!

Book one: 
In from the Cold introduces Headphones and a group of friends who are going about their lives while not truly living them.  

Book two:
Sunshine Smile is heat and healing–new love blossoms, a new enemy schemes.   

Book three:
Fall Out will break your heart, but only for a moment. 

Shared from my Author Blog. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Around the House

I Should Be Laughing adopted the idea of posting things from our environment that make us happy from Mistress Maddie and I've been seeing a version of it going around FaceBook, and I think it's an excellent idea! 

I love The Mighty Boosh. It's a silly British program on the outside, but it became so much more to me. I suppose I was just at a point in my life where I needed to make some changes and it made me look at things differently. And even better, I connected with people in other countries who shared my love. Artistic people, both of the drawing kind and the writing kind. A couple of years ago I bought some cards from those artists through Redbubble and found a beat-up shadow box at a garage sale-- and promptly shoved them into the "to do" pile. Now that I'm home (doing the self-isolating thing) I'm pulling out those old projects. A nice day and a can of white spray paint was all I needed. And yes, it makes me very happy.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Five Stages of Grief--or Is That Guilt?

Grief. Anxiety. These are what I’ve been dealing with the last few weeks. And now I can add guilt. And it completely caught me by surprise.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'I miss the days when we were terrified of Romaine Lettuce.'

            I’m a grocery worker. It’s a business that I enjoy for the most part. I like sales and I like the challenge of deciding what to sell, how to market it, and how to display it. But the last few years have been difficult for me because I’m blue in a red area. It didn’t use to be a problem. And really, this post isn’t about politics but I’m just going to say that I’m not as much of a people-person as I used to be. I do as much of the “behind-the-scenes” work as I can at the store, leaving the socializing to the other floor help.

            On my downtime, I like to cruise social media. I’m old enough that I didn’t grow up with the ability to easily reach out and connect with people from other countries. It’s an amazing thing and I learn so much. And several months ago, the chatter was about the virus hitting China. Common sense said it would spread and I planned ahead. I stocked up on groceries and refilled my prescription medicines at the end of February. I stowed away a little extra cash. My husband and I prepared, even when the people around us ignored it. And, as we all know, when it hit, it hit. Things at my little store went crazy. Our crew is small and we were overburdened, not taking breaks and cutting our lunches short. But it was our duty to take care of our community, and we did it.

But I’m not going to say I was happy to be there, because I was not. From the very beginning, a large percent of our customers treated it like it was a party, nothing but a big joke with toilet paper as the punch line. But the Governor had shut schools and people were scrambling. And then he shut “non-essentials” so the scramble continued. This wasn’t like when a snowstorm is predicted with everyone grabbing extra milk and bread. Our shelves were as empty as I’ve ever seen them and the supply chain had been broken. We had to begin to limit quantities. And still, they acted like it was a joke or an inconvenience.
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

            I became angry and tense and sick to my stomach. I turned my back when I had to walk past a customer, holding my breath as if that would help. I had a bottle of sanitizer that I carried with me and I went around several times a day with soapy bleach water and washed handles and flat surfaces. I’m not germophobic—I routinely handle raw meat with no problem. But it began to feel like I had this ticking time bomb in my body. I didn’t know when it would go off or how powerful the explosion would be. It might be nothing more than a firecracker but there were equal chances that it would be a stack of dynamite. Every breath I took felt like I was inhaling poison.

And still there were customers who refused to take it seriously. Customers that came in every day and walked around, pushing a cart down all of the aisles, talking with everyone they knew, only to buy 3 or 4 items—because they were bored. My chest grew tighter and tighter until I started having chest pains. I was so tense my muscles hurt and spasmed. I couldn’t sleep. I was nauseous and sometimes on the verge of tears. In short--I was a hot mess!
It wasn’t just myself and my husband that I worried about. I began to really feel the chasm that existed between me and my parents. Although they live far enough away that I don’t spend a lot of time at their house, I’ve always been available when they needed me. And suddenly, it wasn’t safe. They are in their ‘80s and Mom has COPD. I couldn’t risk it. And that knowledge made my chest tighter.

My husband was worried about me and we discussed it for two days before deciding we would go into quarantine. I was nervous about asking, but my boss was very nice about it and my husband was able to take a leave-of-absence, and so on April 1, we withdrew. Retreat is more like it. I felt like there was a battle happening and I was losing. A man in the store said to me one day, “Thank you for your service.” How was I supposed to respond to that? My brother, he’s a soldier. He served overseas. “This isn’t the same,” my brain yelled as I awkwardly thanked the man.

So now I’m home. And I found out that a couple more from the store have taken leave for health reasons. But still, there’s this guilt--that I’ve left my coworkers to deal with what’s going on--and it’s a heavy burden. A little voice keeps whispering “selfish” except, why should I feel like that? I do no one any good if I get sick from stress any more than if I get sick from the virus. If I stay healthy, then I can go back later and take over and let them rest.


I worry about my friends and family that work in medical fields. They can’t bow-out like I did. I’m in this bubble now, one I’m sure many of you feel. I’ve become an introvert and I’m here with my husband and son, so it’s not as hard on me as I’m sure it is on others. I want to do something for those who are still in the “trenches”, realizing probably the smartest thing I can do is stay out of their way.

All I can say is “I’m sorry. I wish I could have been stronger,” as I work through my grief and guilt.

 No photo description available.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Illinois Is Closed

This is my produce cooler. It's looked like this all week. Basically, anything that comes in can go directly to my display case. For the most part, people have been understanding. I've been lucky and been able to get most of the basics, but in a limited supply. I don't know about next week, though. Potatoes, carrots, lettuce-- all things that my suppliers are iffy about. (Plus, getting meat, bread, milk, and eggs is nearly impossible.) We've never had sustained crowds like this in our little store. Sure, before a big snowstorm, or when we've had one-day meat sales. But that's been for a day, not 10 days running. What gets me is how many people act like it was a sudden thing. I stocked up a month ago because I knew it was coming, so, not so sudden, folks! 

The schools are closed and for the most part, people aren't bringing their kids into the stores. But... so are the restaurants. No more going for coffee for the old men. And they're bored already. The older folks are the ones who should stay home, but instead they come into the store every day, just to wander around, wanting to visit. I'm going to end up fired because it infuriates me. Not only are they exposing themselves unnecessarily, but they're exposing all of us. They act like it's a party, that it's fun. (It's not fun, John!) 

I'm tempted to make myself a T-shirt that says "stay back and don't talk to me!" (I'm pretty sure it still wouldn't get me fired.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Keyword: Waiting


My rhubarb has broken through, my spring flowers, also. And the maple tree is budding. Still, it's damp and cold and I keep reminding myself it's only mid March, after all. But I've got my chair out, ready for afternoon sunshine, so now I just have to be patient and WAIT. 

But... I'm also waiting to see when I'm going to get sick. Or if I'll get sick. Or if we'll all get sick at the same time. I work in a grocery store, my husband at Menard's, and my son at Kohl's. None of us are being told to stay home, and people in our area aren't going to (it's all a hoax, they'll say, even as they load up on roast and hamburger).

But it's this waiting that is stressing me, causing me to be easily distracted. I can't concentrate at all. My brain's fuzzy. And my throat is scratchy. I have spring allergies and I tend to get colds in the spring, if I get one at all. So now I'm waiting. Waiting to see if I start to run a fever, or get nasal drainage, or just a little stuffiness. 

Waiting to see if my mom gets sick. 

So I may have overdone it posting memes on FaceBook, but laughter is usually how I deal with things. Gotta laugh or I'm going to roll up into a ball and cry. Stay healthy, everyone. 

Image may contain: possible text that says 'It's like we all complained about what a bad year 2019 was and 2020 is like, "here... hold my corona."'

Monday, February 10, 2020

Could It Just Not

5? Really? 
I am just soooo completely ready for spring.