We have a jumper! (This post jumps around)

I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in a bit and these days I’m waking up between 6:15 and 6:30. I lay in bed sometimes until almost 7, but I’m always dressed, with pants and everything, and at my desk with a hot cup of coffee by 8:30.

I’ve enjoyed sharing an office with my birds— three budgies and a Goffin’s cockatoo—all of whom must be enjoying the electronic swing I listen to at my desk and the bird playground I have assembled for them.

Yes, that’s the teenager’s kitten who refused to get out of the cockatoo’s cage.

Now, when Nala the cockatoo destroys toys I save the salvageable pieces and put them in these spare dishes and she plays with them and throws them at the cats.

I think I have some new toys coming for the parakeets, and I also need to order them more ladders and perches because they have suddenly destroyed everything in their cage.

Work passed easily, I feel like I was quite organized and productive. And I’m off tomorrow. I took an unplanned paid time off to take care of some health issues. So it will be part trip to the pharmacy, part virtual doctor visit and part mental health day.

There’s a contact we have at work at a local company that is the point person for a rather large food drive that benefits our agency. Because of the state lockdown, they can’t host this food drive so the employees contributed cash instead, but she didn’t want to mail it and our offices are closed.

So the teenager and I took a road trip. It’s strange when a 25-mile round trip to the next town and back feels like a major outing. I donned my mask, put on my gloves and we exchanged an envelope of cash in the parking lot.

That might be the closest I will ever come to feeling like a drug dealer. Nope, scratch that. I’ve driven around with a trunk full of Girl Scout cookies.

My teenager and I have the best conversations while in the car. We talked a lot about financial responsibility and budgeting and how important it will be for her to determine her own style of fiscal management. She admires my discipline, chicanery and creativity with making my money work for me.

I taught her about different ways to trick yourself into putting money into savings. The first of course is to set up automatic transfers. Another is to have a portion of your paycheck direct deposited into savings.

The easiest is to always, as soon as you take a new job, decide on a number of how much goes into retirement if your job offers a retirement plan. That way before you even see how much your take home pay is, the money goes into your future.

And if your job doesn’t have retirement options, go to your bank and contribute to an IRA. Every year. Because money saved when you are young goes far.

That motivated me to go ahead and take the plunge and use that last $1,000 of my stimulus check that I had put into savings and use it to prepay for 400 gallons of fuel oil for next winter’s heat at $2.199.

That was painful. But at least it’s over. Next I need to contact the dentist about the $859 bill they sent me for my crown. My insurance company didn’t cover anything but $17. I’m annoyed because the dentist thought they’d pay 50%, the tooth still isn’t right AND the bill they sent didn’t include the credit for the $394 I already paid.

But paying for the fuel oil was enough adulting for today.

The teenager made an amazing steak dinner.

And Nala loves onion rings.

The teenager discovered, because I sent her an Instagram post, that The Attic thrift store has an online sale and bid on a red dress. That she won.

I love the ingenuity our local small businesses are showing. I hope it continues after the lockdown ends.

Go follow AtticClothes

Last but certainly not least, I tried this Cascara tea which is supposedly full of antioxidants and it tasted really good.

My new floor

So, after the kittens spilled charcoal lighter all over the floor in the mud room last week, the teenager became adamant she was going to lay a real floor in that area.

It’s had only a subfloor since my husband and I bought the house more than 17-years-ago.

Last week, I took her to the independent hardware store to get the supplies (and I also got copies of my house keys, drain clog stuff, a plunger and wasp killer— and when your backroom absorbs an entire bottle of flammable liquid because you have no floor out there, those items all count as necessities).

She worked on it three hours today and actually laid it twice. And now some of our friends keep pointing out that she didn’t stagger the interlocking laminate.

Well, the room didn’t have a floor for 17 years and it has one now.

I’m proud.

She did it all by herself.

The Uplifting Side of Pandemic Days

There is just something about life in these pandemic times that I find uplifting.

Maybe the sense of nowhere to go or a certain carefreeness that reminds me of being on summer vacation as a teen.

Our grocery trips focus on the present more than ever. I normally only grocery shop once every two weeks but find that now I’m going once a week, buying less and rotating stores.

Today I went to a local small independent grocer, Park Avenue Market, where they are known for their amazing sandwiches and in store meats.

I treated the teenager to her first taste of olive loaf from the deli, slab bacon and their own feta spinach sausage patties. I also bought some stew beef and a small steak.

I discovered, in the middle of the store, with my order and my blind friend’s order, that I did not have my wallet. I found myself staring straight at a local cop and wondering where my wallet at fallen out of the back pocket of my jeans.

I told the teen to keep shopping and went home to look for it— it had fallen out of my pocket when I used the toilet before beginning our journey.

After the market, I took Nan her items and took the teen home before heading to Weis. There I got bananas, muffins, some discounted chicken and frozen vegetables. Half off fresh bakery products that weren’t so fresh any more. Milk, eggs, half and half and two six packs— one of Yuengling and one of a raspberry ale with a name I don’t recall.

We got some other items between the two trips: broccoli and cheese whipped into something akin to mashed potatoes, bread, mini shoo fly pies, A-Treat soda and lord knows what else.

Because suddenly life is shorter and the carbohydrates and sweets provide a taste of celebration.

I ate a vat of spaghetti squash when I arrived home and helped my daughter design a marching band show for her music assignment. Her dream has long been to play Cake’s Short Skirt Long Jacket in band. So she was ecstatic when the web sure her teacher posted had the music.

It was hard to unify songs since we didn’t have enough Cake songs to do a Cake theme. She found a lot of Green Day and thought maybe she should do all Green Day. But I couldn’t let her dream die.

She found the theme from Die Another Day— which I believe is Madonna performing in the James Bond film. I didn’t think mixing a movie theme and alternative would work. And her band director has done a Bond show.

Finally I researched early 2000s alternative rock in a Google search and we decided on Nickelback. Green Day’s Basket Case for the Opener, followed by the Cake song, closed by some Nickelback song that I’ve forgotten already.

So the theme would be alternative rock from the era in which these musicians were born.

And here’s Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, rocking out to Green Day.

Nala rocking to Green Day

Boxing

When the teenager was a wee thing, she idolized Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So much so that as a seven year old she named her kitten Oz after Seth Green’s werewolf character.

Shortly thereafter— I can’t remember if it were a birthday or a Christmas present—but we got her a real Everlast punching bag and boxing gloves.

So she could train for her superhero career.

Today, my boss asked me to work late. And I had a library board meeting at 7. At 4:45 pm, since I had no lunch, I clocked out on my 30-minute meal break and went to the garage with the teenager.

Slamming on that punching bag released a lot of tension from my shoulders.

And the teen has another unorthodox gym class to add to her log for her phys-ed teacher.

I logged back into work at 5:15 and worked until 6:30. I’m beat. But I’m glad I took the time to box a bit.

Pandemic Ponderings Wednesday edition

I’m spending time with my cockatoo, having already completed the Wednesday evening trash collection.

Nala and I

The teenager is carting garbage from the basement and organizing the tool bench in preparation for a trip to the hardware store. She hopes to lay a new floor in the mud room— the same mud room where the kittens shattered a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid.

I suggested the teenager use the basement experience for her gym log. I’m encouraging her to find unorthodox ways to fulfill her gym requirements.

We opened a mini-container of Oreo cookies today and I can’t even remember the last time I had an Oreo. It was delicious.

I have cat food and cat litter on auto-ship from Petco. With the four cats, we go through a lot of kibble, three cans of cat food a day and about 60 pounds of cat litter every three weeks.

Petco had my litter listed as “on back order” and I was almost out. To be on the safe side, I ordered 60 pounds of cat litter from Target.com. I ordered them at the same time.

All of the Petco order came today— but the lid of one of the cat litter containers smashed and led to 10 pounds of cat litter leaking out of the corners of the cardboard box.

Only two of the three Target bottles of litter came today, so I suspect we’ll see the FedEx driver again tomorrow.

Finally, my stimulus payment arrived today. I immediately transferred $1000 into savings. I plan on using $200 for groceries and the hardware store. The remaining $500 is going onto my American Express to pay off most of my medical bills.

I’ll have to reconfigure the budget I’ve been working with. March turned out to be a very expensive month.

I’m also not looking forward to the next round of utility bills— electric, water and sewer are going to spike.

I thought maybe something insightful would emerge as I typed this, but no.

Easter Sunday Pandemic Stream of Consciousness

I started today with the debate of whether to blog about Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, or my thoughts on what makes a good day or a good weekend, something the teenager seemed insistent upon us having.

But the cats started climbing the parakeet cage, I made the “mistake” of reviewing some news coverage of Donald Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, and frankly, I’ve lost my train of thought more times than I can count.

So while I’m still lost in a sea of randomness, watching Mistofelees (my daughter’s formerly feral/stray kitten) decide how to get off the budgie cage without crossing Nala’s path, let me also say I used the hydrating hair mask from last month’s Ipsy Glam bag and my dry curly hair is remarkably not puffy today.

The first time I tried it, I didn’t see any results. This time was very different.

(For more on my Ipsy experiences, see here: Review of my Ipsy April 2020 Glam Bag)

It’s Easter Sunday, but the teenager opened her basket on Good Friday (I’m suddenly realizing how disrespectful that was of traditional Christian culture). Oops.

To see our silliness on that, I have YouTube videos:

Mom prepares the Easter Box

Teen opens her Easter box

I washed her new sheets and hung them on the line yesterday. I helped her make her bed and I hope she had a lovely night of sleep on them. She picked the most colorful ones first.

In the next order of randomness, I think I’m going to make a Buffalo chicken spaghetti squash casserole for Easter dinner.

Now, shall I even expound on my thoughts on the Coronavirus situation. Perhaps briefly.

  • I think the isolation vs. develop herd immunity arguments both have merit. It’s hard for anyone to know what is “right” in any major situation. What makes a good leader is the depth of response, the logic behind it and how organized the implementation is.
  • Those who have resources and power will always sacrifice those who have less to maintain their resources and power. It is true of most humanity. Even those will less. Look at the hoopla over toilet paper.
  • I think this change in how we live and work could have some broad implications. I would like to see, in my Pollyanna nirvana, a world where we all slow down, shop less, and spend more time with our loved ones. But in reality, I think we will see shifts in service delivery (perhaps huge changes in public education), reductions in consumer goods available/continued shortages, and more poverty.
  • Our civil liberties have changed since 9/11/2001 and they will continue to decrease. The notion of privacy is almost completely dead if not buried. I remember when science fiction warned us we would all be microchipped and have our physical money taken away. Now, the core of our lives are tracked, spied on and connected to a mini-supercomputer we carry with us everywhere we go. We call it a smart phone.
  • Technology companies are developing identifiers for each of us via our phones to track who may have been exposed to Covid-19 and alert those they with whom they came in contact. This technology will no doubt track us all in other ways in the future but I’m not against it. Because, see previous bullet, in today’s world there is no real privacy boundaries left.

So let’s enjoy this sunny Easter and celebrate life and spring.

With the pandemic looming, and people still struggling in the every day ways, you have to rejoice one moment at a time.

Pandemic Observations #14B

We went to the Grocery Outlet for a few household necessities — and the food is definitely getting more picked over. Fruit is getting harder to come by.

It felt strange to come home feeling like a quart of half and half was a major score and some chocolate milk classified as a treat. We bought mostly beverages which was fine because we needed toiletries.

The teenager enjoyed rooting through the reject cans of Coke products— we came home with some orange soda, diet ginger ale, diet root beer, vanilla orange Coke Zero and diet caffeine free coke (which the teen didn’t realize was caffeine free so now she’s excited she can drink soda late at night and not deal with the insomnia she inherited from her father). 25 cents a can.

We realized upon leaving the store that the Dunkin’ across the street was open (drive thru only) so to reward my teenager for getting up so early I bought her coffee and munchkins.

I then expounded on my mixed feelings about this whole situation— that franchise owners of Dominoes and Dunkin and large corporations are making a killing offering services on the backs of essential employees exploited and underpaid. I’m happy they aren’t having disrupted income but—and I spent 10 years in this category as a Target employee—they are being put at risk for people who want coffee and doughnuts.

Then to make it more of a dramatic monologue, my daughter asked why I avoid drive thrus so adamantly. I mentioned that I worked my way through college at the drive thru at McDonald’s. I was primarily a “runner” and I think that’s where I discovered panic attacks. It’s a stressful position, that really has no purpose. The employees are timed. All because people want speed and don’t want to get out of their cars.

But anyway. Sigh.

I’m drinking not only fully caffeinated coffee for the first time in weeks but cold brew. I may have a heart attack before the end of this entry.

I mentioned to the child that I hope she is keeping a journal as this is an experience she may never have in her life again. If I were her English teacher I would ask for 100 words a day.

I also proposed that someday her children might be required to do their public school education virtually and she could tell tales of back in the day when she used to walk to school and sit in a classroom with other kids.

That thought gave her pause.

I originally planned to discuss meal planning now that food is becoming sparse but I can do that another day. Or later.

School’s out and laundry machines (just another Coronavirus day)

Hello, all.

I have so many organized wonderful ideas for blog posts but my energy and focus level say, here— have a cat picture. The whole pride!

And more fun footage of kittens in the other porch window.

Misty and Fog

The governor has canceled school for the rest of the school year as of today so for the next seven weeks the teenager will be completing her sophomore year at home.

Alice Cooper & The Muppets — School’s Out

For dinner I did something decadent— I made thick cut black pepper bacon and cooked cabbage in the bacon grease. I piled the bacon, cabbage and some extra sharp New York cheddar onto a bagel.

And the teenager spent some time today recreating her mother on the Sims. Here I am:

And thanks to a college friend getting a vibrage wringer washer for her birthday I actually spent some time today watching YouTube videos of men doing laundry on washing machines more than 50 years old. The teenager found that amusing. And so dreadfully boring of me. I subscribed to this appliance man’s channel. I love this 1952 Frigidaire with the antique box of Tide.

After all, this washing machine is older than my mother. Give it a watch. Go on.

Lorain Furniture and Appliance presents 1952 Frigidaire

Mental Exhaustion

I’m proud of my daughter. I’m proud of her teachers. I’m proud of her school district.

This was the first week of her traditional public high school functioning virtually. She started strong.

She struggled a bit with geometry.

She downloaded all the apps she needed and kept up with all the work.

But yesterday her dad’s internet proved unreliable then my provider had an outage throughout our entire neighborhood.

Today she got up at 8 a.m. We both started work then, and neither of us finished. I clocked out at 6:15, after problems with the work server all afternoon.

Over dinner, at 7 pm, my daughter mentioned that she was exhausted even though she wasn’t tired.

I explained that was mental exhaustion.

“Now I understand how you feel when you get home from work,” she said.

I mentioned that’s why I watch so much Gordon Ramsay. Mindless.

My HP elitebook arrived today. My daughter got it charged and working and on the internet.

She brought it to be and I downloaded the remote server file for work.

I worked on the new machine for about 3 hours but I kept having issues. It didn’t occur to me that the work server was having problems. So when I saw the message that I had windows updates I restarted.

When I came upstairs, it was still lingering on the screensaver.

I had a stressful week so I hope the computer isn’t broken.

It wasn’t supposed to arrive until sometime between April 7 and 10. So it was 4 days early.

This beauty and reaching the dark side

Tomorrow will mark two weeks since I started working from home due to the Coronavirus.

I have left the house six times in the last two weeks— three times for work: once to go to the office, once to go to Staples, and once to go to the post office. Once to take a walk and once to walk to CVS to get my prescription.

I reached my one year anniversary today in the small non-profit where I work in the development office. I was hired in a communications position, and four months later promoted to a more directly fund-raising/grant writing position. And for the first five months I was the only person in the department. And this field is new to me.

So the last year has been a whirlwind, stressful and exhausting before you even consider that my husband moved out nine months ago and I live with my teen daughter, two cats, two kittens, three parakeets and a cockatoo.

I’m relishing the stillness of the Covid-19 worth. I enjoy my home as the epicenter of my universe. I love seeing how the technology forces our creativity.

But today I did the unthinkable. Something I swore I would never ever do. Something entirely against my principles and completely disgusting to me.

I bought a laptop— and it wasn’t a Mac. My last laptop was a MacBoor Air 2013 that traveled the world with me. My first computer ever was a PowerBook 165 in 1994.

But now my boss has signaled that she anticipates us working from home through the end of April. And it’s not fair to continue to borrow my just-about-ex-husband’s laptop. And the child needs her MacBook Air to do her schoolwork now.

My mom offered to buy me a laptop for my birthday— so I ordered a refurbished HP Elitebook for $300. A refurbished MacBook would have been twice the cost. Honestly, for work, Microsoft Remote Server works better on the PC. And I know that if I leave this job I will never touch this PC again.

And that’s okay with my daughter, she already has plans for it.