Friday, March 12, 2021

A Few Random Things

This is kind of a miscellaneous post since none of these things alone are enough for their own post.  Of course, like all of my random things posts, there will be cat (and other) pictures sprinkled throughout. 

Howard

I’m trying to reply to all of the comments now.  I’ve posted about it before, and the opinions seemed fairly mixed.  I replied to comments when I first started blogging, way back in 2012, but just stopped somewhere along the way.  I’ve decided to try it again for now.  I can always stop if no one seems to read them, or if I don’t really have anything to say.  I haven’t responded to some of the comments on my photography post because they were really long when I started to, and I’ve decided to just write a post instead.  I’m hoping to have that finished soon.

Mortimer

My best piece of random news is that my dad got his first dose of vaccine last week.  My parents live in South Carolina, so my dad got vaccinated shortly after they opened up appointments for people 65 and over.  They’ve lowered the age limit now, so my mom has an appointment scheduled for next week. 

We’ve had almost a week of wonderfully nice, warm weather, even getting up to 70 degrees.  The daffodils are starting to bloom  I’ve been wishing the tree hadn’t destroyed the hammocks when it fell!  Today is the last of the good weather.  It gets rainy and colder, even going down to highs in the 50s for all of the 10 day forecast.  I hope that will be the last of the colder weather, but I’m not counting on it.  March tends to lose its ever loving mind every year and torments us with another bout of cold weather.

The company, Corel, that owns WordPerfect has absolutely terrible customer service.  We’ve been trying to contact them for over two weeks about an issue with the program. They take a few days to respond to every email, and it feels like they’ve been deliberately dragging it out.  Nick sent them all of the information they might need in the first email, but they’ve been emailing and asking for the same information he already sent, one thing at a time.  Email on Monday asking how many systems it’s installed on, email a few days later asking for a screen shot of the error, etc. 

Their latest response is that we have a pirated copy of the program and need to buy a new one.  We most certainly do not!  We bought it brand new, from Best Buy.  It’s old, but it’s not pirated or stolen.  When we first started having problems with it, I was mostly prepared to buy the new version of it since ours is old.  It seemed worth checking to see if we could get a little more life out of ours first, though.  I really, really like WordPerfect, a lot more than Word, so I wasn’t opposed to replacing the program.  Now that they’ve been so obnoxious, I’m less inclined to buy their product.  Bad customer service is bad enough, but I really don’t like being accused of stealing, which I feel is what they did when they said our program is pirated.  I use Word every day on my work computer and if the Corel people want to be jerks, I can certainly use Word on my personal computer. 

 

Caroline

I’m making mask adapters again.  One of my coworkers asked for one for his wife.  She works in retail, and had one of the ones I made early on, but it disappeared at work.  I made a few for her, and some extras for her to take to work as well.  I was really happy that someone asked for them.  I’ve been telling people to let me know whenever they need them, and I’m glad someone finally did.  My sister has handed out all of the ones I sent to her a few weeks ago, so I’m working on another batch to mail to her. 

I found a new chiropractor that I’m extremely happy with.  I hadn’t been since before the pandemic.  The chiropractor I had been going to has been open, but I won’t be going back there, ever, because of their COVID behavior.  I kept putting off finding a new one, but persistent headaches are a good motivator.  I Googled “chiropractors in my town” and then looked for Facebook pages to see what their practice was like.  I had never realized how helpful a business’s Facebook page could be!  I eliminated two from my list immediately, and found what looked like a solid first choice and a decent second choice.  I called the first choice to ask about their mask policy and ended up making an appointment for the next day.  They are awesome!!!  The practice reminds me a lot of the one I absolutely loved when I lived in SC.  I’ve been going weekly and feel so much better. 

Dogs make people smile.  Especially friendly, happy three-legged dogs.  Since almost everything is curbside or drive-thru now, I’ve been taking Duke with me almost every time I go anywhere.  He loves going for rides, and I think he misses seeing other people and going places.  He’s always so happy when I get his leash out.  And people are always happy to see him.  Everyone just seems much happier when I have Duke with me. 

Duke
So what about you?  Have you been enjoying warm weather?  Do you have a favorite word processing program?  Have you found it helpful to look at a business’s Facebook page?  

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Photography Practice

 Early on in the pandemic, I thought I would get a lot accomplished.  It seemed reasonable with so many things being canceled, and being at home so much.  That was definitely not the case.  I didn’t accomplish much of anything in 2020.  

I bought myself a real camera toward the end of 2019.  One of my coworkers has an art degree, and does some professional photography.  He was going to give me lessons.  Like so many other things, that got put on hold.  

I did some practice with the camera around this time last year, but never got around to posting any of the pictures.  We went to a park so I could play around with the camera.  It was so cold that day!  It was the first time I used the camera by myself.   The park we went to used to be a golf course, and it’s really pretty.  

I know these aren’t the best shots, but I think they’re the best ones I took that day.

The park has a trail that loops around the perimeter.  I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures of streets and trails.  I like how it kind of looks like they don’t end.  This is one of my favorite pictures from that day. 


There isn’t much foliage this time of year.


There’s a pond with a bench.


And here’s the pond from a distance.  I think I probably should have centered the pond in the shot.


This is where the park backs up to a neighborhood.  The trees are the border.  


And this is the tree border from a distance.  This is my other favorite picture from that day.  I’m not sure how “good” of a picture it really is, but I like the pops of green.  Of course there’s the green from the evergreen trees, and I tend to like trees against sky pictures.   But there are also some patches of green grass in the field.  Almost everything is brown and dormant, but those little patches of green are there.  It’s like they’re defying winter.  Winter is my least favorite season, so I like the look of anything springlike coming in.


Do you enjoy taking certain kinds of pictures?  Have you found a way to improve your photography skills? 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Masks

I know this post is really, really late in the grand scheme of wearing masks, but it seems like wearing masks will be going on for quite a while, so maybe better late than never.  And I’ve seen a few other people post about their masks, so I decided to as well.

Obviously, we’re wearing masks.  North Carolina has a mask mandate in place, though it’s not rigorously enforced everywhere.  We’ve been making a point of supporting businesses that do enforce it, and not supporting the ones that don’t.  It’s something we both feel very strongly about.  

That being said, it took some getting used to remembering to always bring a mask, and some trial and error to figure out the best way to organize them.  It seems like it’s always a little hectic trying to leave the house, and we’ve learned to keep things we need to take with us near the door.  We hang our keys near the door, so we decided hanging masks near the door would work.

We put up this hook for them.  



It’s very sturdy, so whenever things are back to normal we plan to use the hook for things like bags of library books that need to be returned and other things that need to be taken somewhere else.

We have a lot of masks.  It took some trial and error to find the ones that are most comfortable.  And Nick hasn’t been able to work from home, so that’s a mask every day, two now that the CDC has started recommending double masking, plus additional masks for any time I have to go into the office, or any time we have to take pets to the vet or go anywhere else.  Since they can’t go in the dryer, I wanted to make sure we had plenty of extras for the times when we get behind on laundry.  So we have a lot of masks.

We’ve also been following the guidance to wash them after every use.  I feel like the guidance to treat them like underwear; don’t touch them/take them off in public, wash them after every use, etc. is pretty simple to understand and follow.  

We have this bag hanging near the door to collect the dirty masks.  It’s just a reusable bag that I used to take to Aldi. 


It’s washable, and I periodically wash it along with the masks.  I know we could just put the used masks in the laundry hamper with everything else, but there’s a lot of potential for the mask to be taken off and left somewhere else in the house on the way to the hamper.  Since there have been cases of animals getting COVID, we don’t want to risk Duke or the cats getting sick from a contaminated mask, so the bag near the door works well for us.  We come in, put the mask in the bag, and immediately wash our hands.  

All of the masks that we’ve bought say to hand wash or wash on the gentle cycle, so they all go in the washer on the hand wash cycle.  Early on, I put them in with other things that were washed on the hand wash cycle, but the masks tend to get caught up in sleeves and pant legs.  A few accidentally went through the dryer that way, and I felt like I had to throw them away after that.  I wasn’t sure if they’d still be  effective, so I threw them away.  After that, I started counting the masks and making sure I had hung up the right number of masks before I put anything in the dryer.  That kept me from ruining any more masks, but it was a pain, so now I just wash the masks by themselves. 


It was a challenge figuring out how to dry so many masks at once.  We can’t hang them anywhere within reach of the cats because Caroline and Mortimer will chew the straps.  And a mask with no straps is pretty much useless.  The best method I’ve come up with is using a straight plastic clip hanger like this, so I can put several masks on one hanger.  Then I put the hanger on one of the hooks we have over our bedroom and closet doors.  




The cats can’t reach them, and they get plenty of air to dry.  

I decided early on to get masks in cute/cheerful prints/patterns.  There definitely hasn’t been much joy and happiness during the pandemic, so I decided to put a little bit of happiness wherever I could, and cute masks make me a little bit happier than plain ones. 
 
I’m a Friends fanatic, so of course I have a Friends mask.



Nick is a huge Star Trek fan, so he has a Star Trek mask.



If you’ve visited much, you know I love to cook, so I  have a mask with a cooking print.  



Nick loves sloths, so he has a sloth mask.


It should come as no surprise to anyone that most of my masks have butterflies.


Unfortunately, Nick’s job doesn’t share my view that cute masks bring a little bit of happiness, and they have a policy of solid color masks only.  They adopted that policy fairly early on, so Nick only has a few masks with prints.  We have a lot of solid colored masks, since Nick has to wear masks a lot more often than I do.  I’ve bought masks in pretty much every possible shade of blue since that’s Nick’s favorite color.  I refuse to give up on trying to squeeze a little bit of beauty and happiness into wearing masks.

My job, while being very strict about enforcing the mask mandate, has said we can wear any kind of mask we want as long as it’s not offensive.  So I still get to wear my happy masks whenever I go into the office.  Most of my coworkers have opted for solid colored masks anyway, but I don’t think it surprises anyone when the person with the pink office shows up in a mask with butterflies or rainbow hearts.  

So what about you?  Did you have a hard time getting used to remembering to bring a mask?  Do you prefer patterned or solid color masks?  


Saturday, February 20, 2021

2021 So Far

 I can’t believe we’re already so far into 2021.  I think even in normal times, without a pandemic, January shouldn’t really count when it comes to goals, resolutions, etc.  It just seems like the weather is always truly awful, and a lot of it is filled with trying to re-set back to normal after the holidays.  

I took this picture on January 2nd, when we were out for a walk.  It seems fairly representative of 2021; bright spots of hope against a lot of gray. 


My best/brightest news for 2021 so far is that Nick and my sister have both received both doses of the vaccine.  My sister works in healthcare, and got her second dose two weeks ago.  Nick works in the emergency services, and got his second dose last week.  They both ended up with Moderna.  There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to which vaccine people are getting.  My sister’s boss got his vaccine a few days before her, and got Pfizer.  A friend of ours got hers at the same hospital Nick did, a week after he did, and got Pfizer.  

I don’t know about other states, but NC keeps changing the groups and priorities.  I think most of the changes have been for the better, so I’m hopeful that it will keep getting better.  Initially, they weren’t going to prioritize people in the emergency services, and said they’d get the vaccine based on age/medical conditions.  That meant most of them would have been in the last group.  How many 75 year old firefighters and police officers do you know?  I was very happy when they changed that, and put them in a higher priority group.  Last time I checked, teachers will be our next group.  My job might fall under the second part of Group Three, but no one seems to know for sure.  We’re still mostly working from home for the foreseeable future.  

South Carolina has started vaccinating people 65 and older.  My dad is over 65, but my mom won’t be 65 until July.  My dad is on a waiting list, but has no idea when he’ll get it.  

In non-COVID related news, we’ve had several days of high winds with wind advisories.  We lost a tree to one of them.  Nick has to go in to work really early every other Thursday, so it was still dark when he left, so he didn’t see the tree down.  It was how I started my day because I saw it as soon as I let Duke out.  And Duke barked at it, a lot, so once he saw it there was no missing it.  




I’m not sure how much you can tell from the pictures, but we were incredibly lucky it fell the way it did.  Most importantly, Duke was safely inside when it fell.  It destroyed the hammocks, which I’m very sad about, but we think at least the stands are okay.  And if it had fallen any other direction it would have hit one of the following: our house, our fence and our neighbors’ (on the right hand side) fence, our fence and our neighbors’ (on the left hand side) fence, or our back fence.  Any of those would have been worse than the hammocks!  And at least it happened when it’s too cold to want to spend time in the hammocks anyway.  

Our neighbors have a fire pit, so we asked them if they wanted the wood, which they did.  They were also nice enough to loan us a chainsaw, and help move the wood.  So the cleanup was a lot easier than it could have been.  

We’ve also had some snow.  Definitely not as much as other places have had, but I’m still hoping we won’t get anymore.  


I got a very sweet surprise from one of my chemo buddies in the middle of January.  I checked the mail and there was a package addressed to me from a business I didn’t recognize.  I thought it was a maybe a case of something I ordered from Amazon coming from an independent seller, but I usually pay fairly close to attention to that, so I was a little surprised.  This was what I found when I opened the package.  


And this is what it looks like all assembled.


It was totally unexpected.  You’re told, over and over again, not to expect to hear back from your chemo buddy.  The program isn’t supposed to put any pressure on them, so they have no obligation to write to you, let alone send you a surprise package.  I think mine are just extra nice because I’ve heard from all three of my current buddies.  My senior buddy sent me a sweet Christmas card, and my teenage buddy sent me a sweet New Year’s card.  I’ll be honest, it totally makes my day whenever I hear from them.  

So how has 2021 started off for you?  Are you working from home?  How is the vaccine distribution going where you are?  




Monday, December 21, 2020

A Long Catch-Up Post

 I know it wasn’t a very realistic hope, but I was kind of hoping that things would be a little more normal by the time I posted again.  Nope.  Not even close.  It seemed like North Carolina started off fairly strong, compared to neighboring states, in taking COVID precautions.  But now, despite all of the pleas from the experts, we seem to be on a crash course to disaster.  I don’t know of anyone now who hasn’t had a close friend, family member, or co-worker have COVID.  But enough about COVID.

Duke

We painted and re-did the floor in our kitchen in October.  We postponed our annual Folly Beach trip to next year, but still took the week off of work. We both have a lot of paid time off accumulated, so we decided to take the week and do the kitchen project.  

And that’s probably the last house project we’ll do for quite a while!  It took much longer, and was much harder than we expected.  You know how people complain that romantic comedies paint an unrealistic picture of relationships?  Well, I think that’s nothing compared to the lies Lowe’s and Home Depot are selling in their commercials.  The couples in those always look so happy during their projects.  They have on nice clean clothes and are smiling at each other.   There’s none of the covered in sawdust and paint and seriously re-thinking being married to someone who wants to blast whiney 80s music, or doesn’t know the name of every single tool.  Anyway, that’s my take on who sets couples up for unrealistic expectations.  

Fortunately, both of us, and our marriage, survived the kitchen project.  Here’s a progress picture.  I haven’t taken a finished picture yet because I only think about it once I’ve started cooking, and I’m so messy, I don’t want to take a picture of that.  You can at least see the colors.  Almost everything was a very ugly beige before.  

Painting in progress.


I’m still crocheting mask adapters/extenders.  There was a lull in people asking for them for a while, but people have started asking for them again, so I’ve been making and mailing them.  If you need one, let me know in the comments.  

Mask Adapters


We had a health scare with Tara in October.  It turns out that she has bladder crystals and has to be on a special diet.  She had to have an ultrasound to look for crystals (which the vet suspected) or stones, and to rule out any kind of mass.  Due to COVID, the vet’s office isn’t allowing people into the office, so we had to wait in the parking lot when Tara had her ultrasound.  One of the vet techs came out as soon as it was finished and told us, unofficially, that there were no masses, but the vet would be out later to tell us that officially and talk to us.  I wanted to hug her!  Every other time we’ve had a pet have an ultrasound, the news has been devastating, so we were pretty nervous.  I thought it was so sweet of her to come out and tell us the good news right away.

Tara has to be on a special diet, and we’re limiting her stress.  She’s a very timid cat, and is afraid of almost everything, so limiting her stress isn’t the easiest thing.  It has taken a lot of trial and error, but we seem to have figured out the food situation for her.  There are three different kinds she likes, for a few days at a time, so we have small bowls of all three brands of dry food out for her, and we alternate the brand of wet food every day or two.  Tara is also currently living in our bedroom, away from the other cats.  She seems to have no desire to leave!  Howard goes in and hangs out with her (and eats the special food he’s not exactly supposed to have) every day.  For now, it seems to be working.  We’re tossing around ideas for later on, but for the moment, she’s happy in the bedroom.

Doesn't she look happy?


We didn’t host Thanksgiving this year.  I was very disappointed about that, but I believe we made the right choice.  We did still get to drop off the meal for the hospice house, though.  I wasn’t sure if they would want us to, so I wanted until the week before to ask, since things seem to change so quickly.  The lady I always coordinate with was incredibly nice.  She said a few people had asked if I was bringing the meal, so that made me happy.  They aren’t allowing volunteers inside, but said that as long as we were okay dropping the food off at the door, while wearing masks, they would love to have the meal.  We were more than happy to do it that way.  We now have an uninterrupted streak since 2016, so I was thrilled not to miss a year.

Everything went smoothly with the drop off.  We’re normally able to use a cart they have, but couldn’t this year, so there were a lot of trips back and forth to the car, but nothing was spilled or forgotten.  We ended up talking to a very nice lady in the parking lot.  She was nice, but made me cry.  I’d like to go one year without crying! 

Two older couples that we’re friends with were also staying home for Thanksgiving, so I offered a drop-off/pickup of food for them since I was already cooking and it’s practically impossible to cook Thanksgiving dinner for only two.  One couple came and picked up desserts.  We talked for a few minutes through the glass door, which was strange, but also nice.  The other couple lives just down the street from us, so we dropped off desserts and sides, and they sent some different desserts and sides home with us.  It was a fairly warm day, so we sat out on their patio, six feet apart, in masks, and talked for a while.  Again, it was weird, but nice to see them. 

Like so many people, our Christmas plans look very different this year.  We’re not doing our usual trip to my sister’s.  We talked to her and to Nick’s mom and step-dad and all agreed to forego gifts this year, since we can’t be together, and plan for an insanely huge celebration next year.  Everyone was happy with that idea, so it’s nice that we’re all in agreement.  I imagine it would be very stressful if the people you normally celebrate with are taking a different approach from you.  

We haven’t even put up our Christmas tree this year.  Neither one of us felt especially motivated to on Thanksgiving weekend (when we normally put it up), and then we were sick (NOT COVID, we both had negative tests) for a while after that.  Then it just reached the point of not being worth it to drag everything out for such a short time.  It’s weird not having the tree up, but that’s 2020.  I did put up some wreaths on the doors, and we’ve been listening to Christmas music, so there’s some Christmas spirit here.  

The only Christmas shopping I’ve done has been for my chemo/senior buddies.  Their packages have all been shipped and delivered.   Caroline helped with the wrapping and packaging.  I decided on mostly small things that would fit in a stocking, so I hope they like everything.  We also did a family package for my buddy who’s married and has a young son and a dog (the dog toys were from Duke and the cats to her dog).  I asked Nick’s mom if the family package would be weird, and she said it wouldn’t.  Hopefully they’ll like it.  We included a DVD of Home Alone in it, which the kids next door LOVED, when they were the same age as her son, so we’re hoping his taste is similar.  


Caroline "helping"

I’m still working from home, as it seems a lot of you are.  I’ve worked from home longer than I worked in the office before we shut down.  And it has already been over a year since I started the new job!  I still love it, even if it’s a little weird working from home, so I’m so glad I made the switch last year.  

I think those are the highlights of what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted.  So what about you?  Any home projects?  Are you working from home?  What have you been up to for the past couple of months?  

I’m almost certain I won’t post again before Christmas, so I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, or a happy holiday.  I hope you’re all safe and well.