Sunday, March 29, 2020

Two Hours and Seventeen Minutes...

That is the amount of time I have been on the phone with Instacart, the third party vendor whose employees fill and deliver orders for supermarkets including Publix and Aldi in my area. I have once again failed to change a password and cannot access my account, despite four attempts. My email regarding this received a cheery but completely ineffectual, "Thank you for your email."

This is characteristic of my previous experience with this company over a year ago. Their workers are threatening a strike unless safety concerns and pay demands are met which is slated to begin tomorrow. While I sympathize with workers, most of whom are putting themselves at risk, the issues I have are with customer service people who sit in front of screens, never see the customer and do not seem to give a flip about resolving an issue effectively. Without this resolution, I will not be able to order grocery delivery online, a real problem for me at this time.

The county in which I reside is under a "safer at home" order as of last Friday, so non-essential workers are now home-bound except for grocery, medical or pharmacy needs. Public transport is still operating but is risky and to be used only as essential.

I may ask a friend or two in a pinch but this isn't something most people want to do long term, so I'm wondering how to deal with this...

I hope you are all well. Cheers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Safety First...

This video is made by a physician in Michigan concerning keeping groceries and take out food free of Coronavirus once they are in your home.

And Now...

Sometimes I wish I was my cat or at the very least, a dog.  Both live entirely in the moment, and my cat is both affectionate and easily amused. He sees me as a provider of all things kibble, whether treats or cuisine, play time, soft places and toys. A favorite pastime of his involves stretching his body over any part of my person, especially in a face-to-face orientation. Last night, we fell asleep with him on my chest. Today, he decided to splay himself across my legs, face forward with his tail fully extended toward my knees.

I always wonder when he chooses a position what it means to him. Comfort? Dominance? Relaxation? Claiming me as his own? Can anyone truly know what our animal companions think or feel?

Perhaps because he is so chilled generally, I often see Lukas as content with his home and the one he has so thoroughly trained to look after his every desire. The boy certainly knows a soft touch when he meets one, and he has carefully schooled me in every nuance of meow, trill or chirp common to talkative felines. He also never fails to tell me off in the unfortunate event I am late, with food, scritching or his newly fascinating You Tube videos.

 Made by a gentleman in Serbia who shares his cats and their antics with the world, these videos focus on a younger female black cat and her ginger, elderly Munchkin familiar, both of whom spend a lot of time in their garden. Because all ambient noises captured are real, I often find Lukas fixated on my laptop screen as if boring holes with his eyes or moving his head back and forth as though watching a tennis ball fly between opponents..

 He has never stepped foot beyond our front door since his arrival and has shown little interest in the postage-stamp -sized screened patio off the back. The areas which capture  the attention of Mr. Couch Potato include my love seat, the corner club chair, his sherpa mat and carrier and our bed. On rare occasions, he can be found with his head stuck between slats in the blinds or atop the bathroom counter if I happen to be in there. Of course, his overarching concern is his cuisine and whether he gets one treat or two.

Should I be forced due to age and circumstance to die on behalf of the economy in this wonderfully led country, I hope one of my remaining friends will love him enough to take him in.

Until Next Time...

Saturday, March 21, 2020

It was such a nice day until...

I lost it. Before that though, a lovely Spring day, calls to a friend and then a call made to me, just to check in. I had planned a day of chores and some cooking so that I would have meals sorted for the next few days.  A check of the mail revealed a letter from a pal in California with whom it is always a pleasure to catch up. A package arrived from Amazon one day early.

Amid the surreal backdrop of  COVID 19, my anxiety, and the weird hypervigilance I noticed building in the last week,and which is also a feature of the aftermath of trauma, I was slicing tofu into a dish when I sneezed. Just once.

Suddenly, my brain was in overdrive. Am I sick? Do I feel like something is wrong? Different? Am I getting a cold?  Is this something worse?

I had to stop, take a breath and calm myself. My cat, who has become a champion sleeper, roused himself and made it into the kitchen just as the first of many tears leaked silently down my face. He licked my hand as the tears flowed and I wondered where the resilient woman I've been for quite some time had, at least temporarily, retreated...

While I know this is stress related, somehow that does not make it any easier. From where I sit, it has never been easy as a disabled woman. Now approaching sixty-one, I know that something of the magnitude of this virus could potentially take me out and coming to terms with that nugget of truth is difficult to say the least. Add to that the jumpiness and uncertainty of the economy and the potential impact to personal finances for a retired as in can-no-longer-work individual, and you have me.

I also feel for those who are sick and others who carry this virus as yet without knowing it.May we all see the future, whatever it may be...

Friday, March 20, 2020

Braving the Stores...

I ventured out on Tuesday. It took longer to get through the line at the till than it did to find my groceries at Aldi. Publix wasn't quite as crowded but shelves were bare of cleaning supplies, sanitizer and toilet paper. 

My adventures in ordering toilet paper from Amazon have been equally fraught as I placed an order then realized the seller had horrible reviews and I would not get it for a month. I've had to speak with Amazon directly this morning. They contacted the seller on my behalf and I'm to wait 48 hours and call Amazon again should no response come from the seller. I have two small packs, so six rolls and I was looking for one more.

The roofers and air conditioning people have been and gone, hopefully for good. The air is functioning and all is quiet but for the muted sounds of my nearest neighbor's television.

While the AC contractors were here, one of them mentioned that there was a bit of rust around my panel box in the apartment, so evidently, the leak from the roof may have been wider than originally suspected. The conduit and wiring on the roof for the compressors was also in bad condition due to age and time and has been replaced. Not to have done so would have left a potential fire hazard. Done and dusted, as the saying goes.

Cheers and be well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Condo Schmondo...

Yesterday, as I was leaving my flat for the only time this week, the president of our condominium board appeared at my door to tell me that our roofing material was to be removed and replaced in order to fix a leak that has been going on for years.

 The largest portion of the roof is flat and was coated in a specialized vinyl material that was supposed to last twenty-five years. Loans were taken out for the cost and have since been paid but the unit above mine has had persistent leakage into the bedroom closet and a mold problem developed.

This replacement was promised last year. Yesterday, I was told that as part of this process, my air conditioning compressor would need to be removed from our rooftop along with that of my neighbor upstairs in order to strip the old vinyl away and replace it.

That means no air conditioning until tomorrow after 1 PM. It also meant no notice given to either of us and no ability to plan ahead in case either of us wanted to be gone or had to be away. This morning, as things were getting underway, the condo president and the AC guy and another person knocked on the door, President lady said my AC was still on upstairs. It was off in my place but evidently something else was live. I said, "Just a minute," at which point one of the two men opened my screen door and attempted to enter my apartment without permission and it took me pointing this out before he stopped.

 I was able to put Lukas in the bedroom and then grant access to my electrical panel which is just inside the entrance to my apartment. I had people inches from me inside and outside and president lady saying she was unaware of a pet, which isn't really the most relevant issue.

Things began outside and are rather noisy and then my doorbell rang again. I did not answer and mercifully, whoever it was has retreated, leaving only the sounds of machines, hammers and bursts of rapid-fire Spanish in their wake.

I am going back to bed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Did You Know???

Florida's Sandhill Cranes, which were pictured in my latest posts, are endangered due to loss of wetlands, marshes and over development. It is illegal to kill them here but cases of road kill are increasing. They are known for their distinctive calls and pairing rituals and remain monogamous. Both males and females share incubation responsibilities once eggs are laid and the young can forage for food within 24 hours of hatching and leave their parents at ten months. Sandhill Cranes can live up to twenty years and are among the oldest species of bird still surviving today.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Loo Rolls, Everyone??

It rained during the night, and despite some sun today. our sidewalks and grass remain damp. It is eighty-four degrees here. The good news is that our humidity is under sixty percent, so the "smothered-in-a-wet-blanket" feeling hasn't quite arrived and it is still cool in the evenings.

Spring has come and most everything is a gorgeous shade of green. Our trees have been pruned and the carpet of dead leaves on our walkways will be temporarily blown away in the morning, an unfortunately noisy and annoying process.

I'm reasonably well stocked with canned food, water and toilet paper. I have six large rolls and should I run low before getting out, there are many methods to cleaning that I can employ, according to information obtained on the history of toilet paper.

Though the once filmy pages of Sears and Roebuck have not existed for a long time, this was once a favored source of cleaning. Cheap and readily available, the catalog could be left on a nail on the outhouse door or placed inside a bathroom. Ancient cultures used a variety of things to accomplish this task: dried corn cobs, sponges, stones, sand, sticks or plain water, to name but a few.

 Current times have seen the emergence of so-called toilet rags which are re-usable after washing and available from several sources online. While not considered by many to be as sanitary as the hallowed and flushable loo roll, toilet rags nonetheless offer a viable alternative to the over consumption of paper, water and trees.

Those of you tempted to run screeching from your screens in horror need to remember that the cloth diaper or nappy, worn by generations of babies and toddlers, were and are washable and re-usable. They function on the same principle as toilet rags and sanitation and washing are easier today than at any other time in our history. Though I've yet to try this product, it provides an option in an uncertain time and those are always good to have.

Cheers and stay well.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

.Keeping it real...

Watching as people in this country whinge about lack of toilet paper and social distancing, I despair of the persistence and hearty inventiveness that led previous generations to foment revolution, build a country and survive wars, Depressions or the dreaded Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

What exactly did great grandma do before the hallowed age of Charmin or wet wipes? She very likely did not have indoor plumbing, garbage pick up or bottles of poisonous chemicals with which to "sanitize" her home. She also had no neighborhood Walmart with security guards overseeing the latest delivery of toilet paper,  lacked antibiotics and very often had no grocery store about which to complain.

Given this scenario, how did most of us get here? Sexual mechanics aside, someone had to live through all of those and other events in order to produce current generations of adults now faced with a new and threatening viral pandemic. 

Our current lack of national and other leadership on this issue should lead people to write or call their legislators to demand free testing for adults of all ages and anyone faced with possible exposure or those vulnerable due to age or health status.

 We should all be following guidelines routinely given out during flu season for avoiding this and other infectious conditions. The common cold, which almost everyone comes to work or other venues with, can make it easier to acquire other viruses, so the admonishment not to come to work if you are ill, even with a cold, has suddenly become important. Also significant are the steps one can take individually:

Learn about and practice healthy eating [more fresh fruit and vegetables], get at least eight hours rest per night, avoid crowds and stay away from hospitals and clinics unless absolutely necessary during flu season. Ask your doctor what you can do at home if you become ill and at what point you should seek physician or emergency care if your symptoms worsen. Monitor your situation and take any advised medication as directed. Wash your hands throughout the day and wipe down taps, faucets, door knobs and toilets, especially if these are shared. It is particularly important to hand wash prior to and after preparing food, after using the bathroom and before eating. Vitamins, supplements and pre-or pro-biotics can be an important part of self care. Read up on them and discuss with your physician how many and which to take if that is something you wish to do. 

Social distancing has now become part of our national vocabulary and many venues are adapting schedules and hours accordingly. Some, along with work places, have gone virtual. Rather than complaining or chasing the next toilet paper delivery truck to your supermarket, think in terms of safety, for you and others.

If, like me, you are considered more at risk, get as much practical guidance as you can and adjust as necessary. I will happily chat by phone or online but think twice about face-to-face contact, especially since a friend who visited another friend in hospital and who works in a crowded place, came to visit me and was very shortly thereafter diagnosed with pneumonia. 

Those of you tempted to whine or complain should put on big person pants and attempt to keep some perspective here. We are all in this together.

Will we need to live differently? Yes, but that may not be such a bad thing, particularly if we survive to look back on this time. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

This Made Me Smile...

No snow here, just this very cute and happy graphic from Ivy, otherwise known as The Happy Whisk.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Grandma Pie...

Originating from the Italian immigrant home kitchens of Long Island, New York, the Grandma Pie is an aromatic mix of tomatoes, fresh garlic and basil, topped with cheese. Typically prepared in an olive oil rubbed square pan, this pizza was served at home or in restaurants to hungry waitstaff and cooks and dubbed Grandma pie because of its use by first-generation immigrants.

 Humble origins and simple ingredients belie a wonderful combination of flavors. For those enjoying the sweetness of good quality tomatoes, the ordinary crushed canned variety which in some instances leave a tinny aftertaste, will not do. 

The best whole or chunk tomatoes, rinsed and added to fresh cut basil and garlic with a touch of olive oil and decent, thin dough that crisps in your home oven, is what you are striving for. An alternative to chunk tomatoes is homemade sauce. 

You won't run short of lutein, lycopene, vitamin C or other nutrients and your taste buds will thank you.

I enjoyed every morsel.


A Chili Day...

Two organic fresh chopped tomatoes
Organic greens
Organic baby carrots
Chopped yellow squash
Organic butternut squash
Green beans
Chili seasoning
1 package of assorted chili beans and spices
1 well-used slow cooker
6 hours

With rice, this will be several meals this week and next, along with chopped salad and fruit. Though hardly glamorous, it should be good...

I was feeling so good after the LMT loosened my back that I cooked, did the laundry and sat outside until a nosy neighbor appeared. I'm not sure why but they have a habit of doing that, and just when I was really silently loving the sunshine and breeze...

Retreating indoors, I completed chores and spent time with the cat. He insists on being in whatever part of the apartment I occupy and it is usually littered with toys, so picking them up has become an invitation to play and a game we both enjoy. Of course, he is sleeping soundly as a result. I, on the other hand, glance at the time, noting that it is 3:15 AM. But, hey, at least I'm not plunging a toilet!


Photo by M. Crane
Apropos of nothing, just a gorgeous day...