Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Perplexing Piece Of Prose

The website Unclear Text has a text editor with the options of excluding either the 100, 1000, or 10,000 most common words. Tonight I played around with the 1,000 word option, which was surprisingly difficult. Eventually I came up with a story of Mr. Magoo and his unusual day:
Morning, Mr. Magoo's alarm blared, signaling arising. Shower, shave, breakfast.

Commute taxicab. Elevator executive suite. Seated behind desk, prep CPU. Develop paperwork, schedule meetings. Noontime, consume lunch. Afternoon, extensive telephone communication. Close workday, pack briefcase, decamp. Reverse commute.

Evening chow. Stroll throughout neighborhood. Slumber prep. Entree berth.
Five years ago today: Enough. Already!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Time To Count

Back in March I started training to be a 2020 Census Enumerator. After I attended two days of in-person sessions, the Census Bureau suspended their operations due to COVID. Since that time I've received several communications gauging my interest in returning to the job when things started up again. Since I was being trained to visit group quarters (as opposed to individual houses) it felt safer, and I told them I would be on board. Last week I received a phone call from the woman who will be my supervisor with specific directions.

The first step happened on Friday, when I dug my Census bag out from the back of the closet, brushed off the dust, then drove to an office complex halfway across town to pick up supplies. When I arrived I found out that my parking pass wasn't waiting for me at the guard shack, but ten minutes later I had the official piece of paper and I was on my way. It was easy to find the correct visitor's parking lot and the building that held the auditorium I had been instructed to go to.

Inside the auditorium, the room was filled with folding tables spaced six feet apart. Someone greeted me and assigned me to a table. I could tell by its aroma that it had just been sterilized. My supervisor was trotting back and forth between multiple tables, but she stopped by long enough to greet me and hand me a packet of papers, including some forms to fill out and the Bureau's "best practices" for doing interviews in a socially-distant way.

As I was going through the paperwork, someone stopped by and gave me a bag holding several cloth face masks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. When I was finished with the paperwork I stopped by the IT table to receive my official phone. I had to choose a passcode and a password to access the training and payroll apps. Right before I left I got a large box containing forms and office supplies that I'll need to do the job.

All of the training that I was doing in person has been moved online. Today I started going through it. Much was a repeat, but it was nice to have a refresher. Some time in the middle of next week I will be assigned some actual work. I'm looking forward to it.

Five years ago today: Life Is Like A Train Ride

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Scrap Spice Shelf

Back when I was unpacking things in our new condo I tried to be mindful about where I put things in the kitchen, but sometimes I had to work with what I had. For example, the cabinet to the left of the stove was the right size for the turntables that held my spices. However, there was a lot of wasted space, and the second shelf was a little too high for me to see the jars on the interior of the turntable.

Not very efficient

I started looking around for a solution. The big-box housewares store had a variety of spice shelves, but even the least expensive one was more than I wanted to spend. One day Hubby Tony and I were walking through the the neighborhood and I saw some short 2x4 and 1x2 boards that someone had put out  out for the trash. They looked like they might be the right size for the cabinet, so I picked up the boards and carried them with me for the rest of the walk.

Back at home it only took a little measuring and sawing to come up with a perfect three-tier solution.

Holds more, and things are easier to find
The first bank of jars are resting on the cabinet bottom. Just behind them are pieces of 2x4s covering the rest of the bottom, which hold a second row of bottles. The third tier is two pieces of 1x2s stacked on top of each other, holding even more spices.

For the second shelf I found an unused plastic basket to hold the overflow jars, then stashed the "Costco-sized" containers behind it. Finally, I purchased additional brackets to hold a third shelf and picked up two medium-sized baskets at the dollar store to hold seldom-used items.

The total cost for the project was less than five dollars.

Five years ago today: Hurting Head

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Office Comes To The Cat

Did you know that this was Take Your Pet To Work Week? Or that the observance is bookended by Take Your Cat To Work Day on Monday and Take Your Dog To Work Day on Friday?

Jackson the Cat is not keen on being in the car, and if he went to someone's workplace he would hide inside his carrier, but since Hubby Tony and I started working from home in mid-March Jackson has been a constant presence. He especially seems to enjoy listening in on Zoom meetings from the bed in my office, but he's also been known to pick out a spot on the floor close to Tony where he can keep an eye on the entire front part of the condo.
Can't a guy get some quiet time after a hard day at the office?

Sunday, June 21, 2020


Since today was Father's Day I let Hubby Tony plan the activities. We slept in, then ate breakfast and read the entire newspaper before starting any type of chores. After the dishes were cleaned up Tony said he wanted to take a walk before the weather got too hot, but instead of traipsing through the immediate neighborhood again he wanted something different. We talked about some locations, then decided to drive 15 minutes to the east, to a neighborhood of cute brick bungalows with a greenway trail in the middle of it.

We were halfway to our destination when I had an inspiration to kill two birds with one stone. Grandsons Dee and Ell are turning one year old this week. (How did the time fly by so fast?!?). Tony and I decided that we would not fly out to California for the big celebration, so we needed to purchase and get birthday presents mailed out. I asked Tony to check on the hours of a small bookstore that was an additional five minutes to the east, also located in a nice walkable area. After he Googled and found out the information we changed our plans.

Sadly, the bookstore ended up being closed, with a sign on the door indicating it was still order online/pick up in parking lot. (This isn't the first time recently that Google's been wrong. I need to remember to check the business website for the most up to date information.) We still got our walk in, and along the way I saw this rock "garden":

Next to the heart there was a bucket that contained clean white rocks, and a sign that said:

I thought about taking a rock, but since I don't know the next time I'll be in the area I decided to leave them for other people. I thought it was a great creative idea, though.

Five years ago today: Celebrations All Around At Our House!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Recycling Road Trip

After we were sure that our house had sold late last year Hubby Tony and I had a long list of things to purge before we could move. I posted items on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and monitored the pickups. Hubby Tony organized the garage and basement, making stacks of things for me to get rid of and gathering the old paint and chemicals to recycle.

One Saturday afternoon he made a trip to one of the two county household hazardous waste facilities. When he got there during the posted open hours the gate was locked. Back at home, he sent an email and learned that due to a mix up-the associate had gone to the wrong location. The center apologized, and offered to set up a specific appointment time, but in the bustle of moving Tony never got around to it.

I opened the paint and let it dry out, then tossed the cans in the trash. The chemicals came to the condo with us and got placed on a shelf in the storage area, and the whole recycling project got put on the back burner. Then COVID hit, and the hazardous waste facilities were shut down along with everything else.

They opened up again last week. I told Tony that since I currently have a pretty flexible schedule I would take care of getting rid of the waste and clear up a nice big spot on the storage area shelf. When I looked on the website I saw there were a lot of open reservations, so I chose one for today. Last night Tony helped me identify the things to get rid of, piled them into a plastic milk carton, and put them in my car.

Since the quarantine started in mid-March, I have done so little out of the house that I was really looking forward to my 'adventure'. Even the closer of the two facilities was a 30 mile round trip, so I also found a couple of other errands to do along the way. One of them included buying produce, and the temperature was warm enough that I brought a cooler-the first time I've had to do that this year.

After driving through the bank, stopping at both a grocery and warehouse store I started towards the recycling center. By doing that last I could take advantage of a scenic drive along a greenway. As I got closer to my destination the area got more industrial,  and I found the recycling center next to a large wastewater treatment plant.

The drop off process was easy. There were five cars ahead of me, and when it was my turn I put on my mask and rolled down my windows. The associate asked me for my name, and verified I had a reservation. I stayed in my car while he opened the car's lift gate, removed the chemicals, then closed the lift gate. The associate thanked me for coming in and told me I could leave.

For an even bigger change of pace I came home the more direct way, which was still an interesting drive.  All too soon I was home and pulling into the garage. Today's road trip was over.

Five years ago today: "I Live In A World Of Wonders‏"

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Eat Your Vegetables!

I learned from Holidays Calendar that today was National Eat Your Vegetables Day. Hubby Tony and I eat a lot of produce; who knew there was an opportunity to celebrate our achievement?

Actually, even before I found out about the observance I was working on tonight's dinner plans. I started by looking in the refrigerator, where I found a half head of red cabbage that needed to be used up. A quick Google search gave me the recipe for Curried Cashew and Red Cabbage Stir-Fry.

Website photo by Todd Porter & Diane Cu
However, I often change a recipe's ingredients around, and this one was no exception. I added extra garlic and a couple of stalks of chopped celery, sliced the carrots thin instead of shredding them, and used minced fresh parsley instead of cilantro. A dinner time I served the dish over brown rice. It tasted wonderful, even though the cabbage bled some color onto the other ingredients.

Five years ago today: Little Seed Of Squash

Monday, June 15, 2020

Describes Me To A T

Son Brian recently took a few days off work, and he asked if I would be interested in a daily Zoom meeting with him and Grandson Jay (to replace the ones Jay had with his preschool class before it ended for the year). Of course I jumped at the chance.

Each meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes. We would talk about our days, Jay would show me his latest bock/craft/drawing project, and would I read him a story or two. One day I had a matching activity, and a couple of days I carried my laptop into Hubby Tony's office so Jay could say hello to Grandpa.

Before our first meeting I went to the dollar store and bought a pack of crayons. I had hoped to also get an adult coloring book, but there were none available so I came home and printed some pages off the internet. One of them had this quote by Alain Schweitzer:

Just Color
I really enjoy listening to music, and if you've been reading here any time at all you know I'm a fanatic cat mom.

Five years ago today: Hoopla And Hoop Blah

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Counting Customers

Remember how the other day I wrote about how one of the local grocery stores seemed to be lessening their social distancing policies? Dkzody mentioned in a comment how scary that was.

I am happy to inform her, and everyone else, that when Hubby Tony and I went back to the same grocery store tonight I saw an associate with a tablet at the entrance door accounting for customers when they walked in. (And his counterpart was at the exit door tabulating customers as they walked out.)

Five years ago today: First Place On The Right

Thursday, June 11, 2020

No Problem

Today Hubby Tony celebrated another trip around the sun, and per tradition got to request what he wanted for dinner. Part of his request was a dessert of cake and ice cream. This morning I baked a tiny three-layer chocolate cake and frosted it with chocolate icing, but the day got away from me before I could get to the store to buy the ice cream. All of a sudden Tony was finished with work and asked if I wanted to take a walk with him. I wondered aloud if it would be possible to combine it with the ice cream trip, given that the temperature was in the low 80s. In the end I figured out that an insulated lunchbox with an ice block could keep the ice cream cold, and our trip was on.

There was only one problem. The store we were headed to still enforced a COVID ban on reusable grocery bags. Since the quarantine started back in March they've had an associate stationed at the entrance door to make sure all the rules are followed. While we walked toward the store I came up with an elaborate story and solution in case the associate took offense at my lunchbox. As we reached the door Tony and I put out masks on and I prepared to stand my ground.

I needn't have bothered. For the first time in weeks the door associate was missing.

Five years ago today: "Distractions", Indeed!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Refreshing Change

Yesterday the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal came through our area. The predicted heavy rain veered away from us, but there was still gusty winds, and the humidity was high enough to make things feel miserable outside.

But after the storm a cool front came in overnight. When my alarm went off this morning I found out that Hubby Tony had turned off the air conditioner and opened up the windows, and I got to enjoy the outside sounds and the breeze coming in while I ate breakfast and read the newspaper.  During my trip to the grocery store I found out it was too cool for shorts, and that cut short my first attempt at a walk. I came home and switched to Capri pants, which made my after-lunchtime walk a joy.

Late in the day I looked at the weather app on my phone, which told me that things were supposed to heat up again tomorrow. However,  the forecast from one of our local stations was more acceptable to me, and I decided that this was the forecast I was going with:

Depending on the level of humidity that goes along with these temperatures, we have the possibility of a whole week without the air conditioner. That's unheard of at this time of year!

Five years ago today: Please Pass The Mustard

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Importance Of Correct Punctuation

What a difference a couple of commas, periods, and capital letters makes. Which do you prefer:
Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?

Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Compare And Contrast Churches

Hubby Tony and I decided to attend Mass this afternoon, but when he pulled up the website of the parish close to our new house (which uses an online reservation system to control the number of people who attend) he found out they had already reached their limit. We modified our plans to drive to the church near our old house, where we attended for more than 30 years.

All parishes were mandated by the Archdiocese to make modifications before they can reopen. They had to limit the number of attendees to maintain social distance, remove hymnals and missalettes, and limit the music to a musician and cantor. There can be no collection basket passed and no sign of peace. Communion traffic patterns must be one-way, and offer the opportunity to leave the building immediately afterwards.

Based on my sample of two churches, each following the regulations to the letter, there was still room for individuality. Our first experience involved open seating in a socially-distant manner, but at today's mass they added a zone system for singles, couples, and families. At Communion time today each of the two priests stood behind a large plexiglass safety screen, reaching under it to place a host onto each person's hand.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

No Controverting

I was talking with a holistic medical professional today who had some very interesting theories.

We began the conversation by talking about current medical events. He told me that he was waiting for a vaccine for COVID to come out-not because it would keep people from developing the disease, but only because it would make people feel safe and they'd get back into the real world. He went on to use the flu vaccine as an example, telling me that it is typically is only 40 to 60% effective and that he preferred to take his chances without one. As a matter of fact, he invited people who knew they were infected to stop by to see him so he could 'catch' the virus.

I made the mistake of saying I had heard about that shot's sometimes not great results, but that I was sure he didn't feel that way about all immunizations.  He stopped, looked me in the eye, and went into a dissertation about virus natural selection and mutation, how natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity, and how people's immunity can't keep up if they receive vaccines.

He stopped for a breath, then continued by telling me that years ago there used to be natural methods to treat polio and tuberculosis but the drug companies shut them down and those same companies have had a hand in requiring students and workers to be vaccinated no matter what their personal preference.

After he got everything off his chest I just looked at him and said "You may be right". I didn't believe anything he had said, but it wasn't worth trying to argue.

Five years ago today: Pepper On Purse

Monday, June 1, 2020

New Word, Old Idea

One of the members of a forum I belong to recently posted that she was deciding what to cook for tomorrow's supper (which would include enough to have plan-overs for the next night). I had never heard of the phrase, but according to A Way with Words, it means "an excess of food cooked so as to have leftovers for future meals".

Something I do all the time. I bet you do, too.

Most recipes make four servings, and there are only two of us in the house. Hubby Tony prepares dinner on Sunday. He always makes enough so I can reheat it on Monday, giving me a second night off. Then if I plan well I only have to start from scratch on Tuesday (with leftovers on Wednesday) and Thursday (repeats on Friday). Saturday night is "go out date night", then the week starts over.

Even if the leftover plan doesn't execute perfectly I can still leverage the plan-over system to my advantage by using my freezer. It always has a selection of cooked beans and containers of brown rice ready to go, and sometimes servings of soup or stew, too. I bake two dozen muffins and two pounds of tofu at a time, because I have one or both of them for lunch most days. Add in a couple of bags of frozen vegetables and plan-overs are a breeze!