SFJ 11/22/2020

And, the year is almost over. I’ve been in quarantine since March 13. I am practically desperate for human contact, but am too scared to go anywhere based on the statistics being published. My opinion is that if we do not clamp down hard, we will be in this situation for a long, long time. Thankfully, I can afford to stay remote. Thankfully I have solitary hobbies and a puppy who requires attention.

Don’t let this innocent face fool you. He looks pretty adorable here when he brings one or two toys to the bed. However, I caught Taxi halfway dug out under the fence. Much longer and he would be gone. My next door neighbor has suggested that we put down gravel on the edges of the property. Frankly, if I don’t do this, I’ve got to come up with another plan to keep Taxi safe.

Freezer Fill: tuna fish salad and nothing but tuna fish salad. When I ordered groceries this week, I only planned for Thanksgiving and didn’t plan for all those other meals in between. Freezer stock and salads will have to do until Thursday. I won’t starve.

Watching: The Crown. Latest season. it took me a while to leave nonfiction and to return to scripted shows. This mashup works just fine for my purpose. I firmly believe that Helena Bonham Carter is the greatest and most subtle character actor alive. The nuances of emotion she shows in just the muscles beside her mouth is phenomenal. (After watching some of The Behavior Panel talk)g about guilt and deception, the act of depicting emotion is intriguing.) I did start to watch The Queen’s Gambit and it was somewhat intriguing…dunno…I’ll try another episode.

Next week: picking up my new dental appliance that’s supposed to save my gums (and maybe whiten??) I meet with my designer to get some exact measurements for the pantry. Then there is Zoom Thanksgiving. I split the time between five different groups because it was such a popular idea. I’ll also be working on one of two art projects—my new paint by number of a Hollywood sunrise from last month or a collage on cards that I’ve been tossing around in my head. I’m off all next week and I might just venture out to a store—likely a book store to see about scoring one of the Obama books. I haven’t been in a retail store since March so I don’t know exactly what to expect.

SFJ 11/15/2020 Sanity must wait a bit longer

I guess it’s just too much to expect that 45 would concede defeat and let the governing of the country take precedence. His four-year old child’s pride won’t allow him to lose anything, particularly a presidential race. Friends and colleagues keep telling me that it will all be fine, but I am extremely concerned about the transition of power and how, not our allies, but our enemies will see us. How many days left? The saving grace is that Biden knows his way around the Situation Room as do many of his advisors.

The art classes that I like so much have resumed on Zoom. The one this weekend was collage, just about my favorite thing and a way to play with stuff that I’ve been hoarding. That there is a reason to cut and glue and sort through piles of random images is MY JAM!! Since I always try to do too much in one frame, the challenge is to capture the thought on a poker-sized playing card. Challenge accepted. Blank cards should be here Monday or Tuesday.

Not knowing that this was what the class was about, I had ordered my next paint-by-numbers kit. It is an image taken of my Hollywood beach on 10/10/2020 at sunrise. This is my favorite thing to do to spend a bit of time. I can’t sit still very long, but it’s great stuff for short stints. And I got confirmation from a friend who shoots plants and flowers that she would be honored to have her pictures be painted. Sweet. I’ll be keeping myself occupied for the next several months so I don’t go nuts.

Freezer Fill: Moroccan Chicken with Couscous; and Spinach Ricotta Frittata; Garlic Scallops. I used to get my recipes from Allrecipes.com. Since discovering the search engine in Pinterest, that has been my go to.

Pearl Couscous with mushrooms flavored with turmeric
Frittata with Ricotta and spinach

SFJ 11/8/2020 We return to sanity in America

America has chosen unity over division, hope over hatred, competence over cunning, faith over fear, dignity over disgrace, compassion over cruelty, calm over chaos and truth over falsehood. There is work to do, surely, but at least there are leaders who support the cause. It will not be easy and it will not be quick.

It’s been a treat to have my new little companion with me. Usually he is sitting at my knees. Lots of times, though, when he is a little stirred up, he lands on my shoulder like a Puppy Parrot.

The week has been full. Let’s see about a recap. Monday I took delivery of a chair I had ordered to replace my dilapidated recliner. Looks big. Is big. Too big. Tuesday was Election Day, a full day of developing those training courses, and the weekly Zoom call that is my social salvation. Wednesday is a vacation day because I knew that I would be no good at work regardless of election result. No result. Thursday was more work on those training courses and a call from my boss about a work colleague who doesn’t like that I am unavailable much of the time (get over it; everything is NOT your priority). Realizing that the big chair is too big, I called for a return and replace for the giant chair. Friday I was just about frantic about election results. Things were just going too many directions (regardless of the fact that the party said early that this was how it was going to go). Yo and I did very little collaboration for the training courses and adjourned early. Saturday I settled in for more charthrobs by Mr. Karnacki. When, close to noon, the decision was broadcast, my mood changed and the non-social celebrations began. Sometime that same day the Trump camp had a press conference in a parking lot between a sex store and a crematorium that was the making of my day. All day was spent texting friends and congratulating each other on coming out on the right side. Weight lifted. Emotions high. Saturday night, tropical storm Eta showed up (oops). Squalls intermittently. Sunday more squalls. I packed some water into the freezer but didn’t do much else. The patio is deep in water with no place to pump it out. The windows and doors are doing their jobs of keeping the weather outside. Except for the laundry room that is now taking on a bit of water. It’s lower than the rest of the house, so I’m not worried…yet.

I spent Election Day playing with the 270towin.com website. All the various combinations. Then the chart maps of votes cast and expectations through Friday. Now, I’m all about the President’s cabinet.

Freezer Fill: Mushroom and Pearl Couscous Risotto (which was going to be a chicken dish but the Instacart shopper didn’t drop the chicken thighs), and Pigs in a Blanket (for comfort food).

As I retire for the night, there are between two and three inches of rainwater in the patio space. I don’t see any reason to pump water tonight, but it will be something I’ll need to do first thing in the morning. (Revised: decided not to wait and glad I didn’t. Was able to get several inches pumped out before bed. I know there will be more in the morning.)

Such a sense of relief to be released from the fear of a dictator taking over our country. That’s why there was dancing in the streets and celebrations around the world.

SFH 11/1/2020

I am DONE with this rain. It was cute for a while for Taxi to go out and play and come into get dried off. After two straight weeks of rain, some hard rain, water is now standing in the yard and I can’t get to the alley to take out the garbage. Mosquitos are breeding. It’s enough.

I am terribly proud of my company. We just announced third quarter positive earnings in the middle of a pandemic. Because we had already started working on quality of air and preservation of food, the science we had already been investing in fell right into place with a huge global need. Turns out I work for an essential company.

Freezer Fill: Didn’t cook anything, but I did make some tuna salad using Nancy’s chutney instead of relish. Tasty with some manchego cheese and an apple.

Too anxious about Tuesday. Taking off Wednesday.

SFJ 10/25/2020

This vacation week started of full of activity and ended Sunday with me bored with myself and ready to get back into work routine.

Dentist on Monday to get teeth cleaned. This was a replacement visit for the one that had been scheduled for the beginning of the quarantine. Not having been as devoted to dental care as I have been, I was a little apprehensive. Yeah. Getting old has its stuff. For teeth, evidently it means bone loss in the jaw. I still have all my own teeth (pretty proud of that) and and want to maintain that as long as possible. My hygienist made some suggestions. First, I should consider changing from a manual toothbrush to electric. Sigh. Must we power everything? No, says Goran, my current guy whom I trust like I trusted Cindy in Dallas. But, there are things that electric ones do that manual just can’t. I protested while in the chair. In addition, I should consider some more active medication for my “sub-gums” (my words Goran would never go there). I got fitted for some dental trays that will deliver medication below the gums and be an additional daily routine. Sigh. When I got home, I considered what I was doing in this one (expensive and daily) aspect and promptly ordered a sonic toothbrush (Sonicare). Now I am a great brushed. I generally spend three or four minutes brushing which is about double the recommendation. This new machine does a two-minute routine and shuts off. I can turn it back on for more. The weird part for me is the feeling of the buzzing on my jaw. I’ve been using it for about five days now and I’m not yet used to that. I will say that my teeth do feel cleaner and seem to be cleaner even after a long night’s sleep. Not completely sold, but am not as much of a skeptic as I was.

Meanwhile, the rain continues. I keep a dry towel by the back door to give Taxi a good rubdown before he comes back inside because I can’t step 8n the grass without getting ankle deep in rainwater. So much rain that I have pumped out the patio now three times this week.

For a while, I have been looking at my walls and feeling that they were only half filled. there have been packages of paintings under the bed and leaning against the wall in my office. Sitting on the daybed. Hiding behind a cedar chest. It was time to get that remedied. I hired a handyman who came with his wife and hanged and rehanged 15 items. Where I had thought that I had plaster walls, I soon found out that I have plaster and drywall and CEMENT walls. No wonder stuff didn’t stay hanged when I put them up. Now that I know, I might just be able to hang more little stuff. You know what that means? It means that I have seen the light and found some more walls for more art! These folks also finished the work of putting together my new sideboard that is more storage that I don’t even know what it will hold.

I’d like this to be my Zoom background for a RoomRater rating.
Finally, the primitives are all together.

At long last, I contacted and met with an interior designer to talk about a place for loads of books and a laundry/pantry. Although the pantry will give me relief from a bunch of bending and stooping, I’m really looking forward to a wall of built-in bookcases. Right now, there is practically no order to my books as they are stacked according to space available and not author or subject. Curious to see what she designs. I’ve asked for a few places for paintings and the TV and height for the art books. So far, she seems to want to stage these shelves herself (she saw the carved wooden bar mermaid). HA! That is my charge alone! Other than that, I’ve only asked that all the cubbies not be the same size. Can’t wait.

And lastly, to finish the week, I completed my portrait of my Taxi #taxitheman. Because I worked on in little bit by little bit, I didn’t get bored and I could fill small pockets of time while listening to podcasts.

Freezer Fill: Nicoise Salad for which I over-cooked the beans but aced the fingerling potatoes, Bang Bang Shrimp, Pork Loin and Green Beans

Watching: The Victorian Farm on Netflix, a documentary in about four episodes showing life on a Shropshire farm at the beginning of the mechanical revolution. Some of the things used are incredibly primitive but others show inventiveness in plowing and threshing.

Postscript: I keep thinking that it is about time for me to re-emerge into the world and start doing things…and then Florida shows a spike in the virus cases and my fear spikes too and I burrow further in.

SFJ 10/18/2020

Creativity: This is one of the most calming and most rewarding projects I’ve taken on. Not done yet, but the progress is finally obvious. #taxitheman

One of the things that I am working on is not needing to have the last word. At work, I have got it sussed for email threads. On conference calls, I’ve got work to do. When it comes to texting, I am not sure when is the right end point. “Thank you.” “You’re welcome (emoji of some sort)”. “(Another set of emojis)”. “Love you, too”. WHERE DIES IT ALL END? And while we’re at it, what is the etiquette to “liking” every post you read? I completely understand hitting Like when I post a well-written book review or say something clever on Facebook. Seriously, though, that doesn’t happen all that often but I can count on seeing a Like from some folks that just let me know they’ve read it. There is no way they actually do like each and every single post. So, what’s up?

September 2020 Reads: I realized that I didn’t post my reading list for September. Possibly it’s not as interesting to anyone else than me. I do like to see what kinds and how many things I read each month. Book club versus personal choice (and some times when that is actually both, less rare than it was decade ago).

Watching: My Octopus Teacher. Just a moment to step away from things. Under water. Everything slowed down. Focus on a single animal for over a year of dives into the Indian Ocean every single day.

Freezer Fill: Honey Soy Salmon with Brussels Sprouts; Taco Casserole

For the next week, I’m off work. A week of trying not to think about work. Frankly that shouldn’t be too hard. If it wasn’t for writing this blog I wouldn’t have thought about it today. will be a week of creativity. Oh, I’ll be painting Taxi’s portrait for sure. I will also talk to another person about the bookcase wall and the renovated laundry room. I had an epiphany the other day when I realized that I didn’t need a handyman or a carpenter alone. What I need is an interior designer who can draw up that art/book wall and who can determine what is needed for the makeover room. That other gal who came over was only able to talk about her own shelf system for the laundry room. I didn’t even ask about the book wall. Another thing that’s supposed to happen is to get the sideboard (which arrived as a box of boards) finally assembled and a bunch of pictures hung. I have had piles of pictures and primitives to hang since I moved in because I don’t know how to use the hangers for plaster instead of drywall. (FINALLY!) I want to get that sideboard done in preparation for the new Big Chair that is due here in a couple of weeks. The recliner has just about lived it’s best life.

SFJ 10/11/2020

The weeks don’t have a huge amount of variety, even with a new little boy around. Work is full 8-hour days creating an entire training program with detailed content. Evenings are for our Rebel Happy Hour, at least one book club, an art lecture or two. And TV, lots of TV. Added to this mix is my canvas painting project which is a great relaxer. For about an hour a sitting, I listen to a podcast and fill in colors to a canvas. I don’t feel any pressure to finish it with a deadline so the time spent is fully my choice. I’m already planning what photo I’ll use for the next one. What a great find. (I should really wait to see if the end result looks good before I ask for the next, but it’s so relaxing that I don’t want to not have it to look forward to.)

The little guy is emerging. The personality of @taxitheman will not be surpressed.

The rains have slowed. There is no longer any standing water in the yard. Even so, little feet come back into the house mud-covered. Even so, he still smells of fresh hay and apples, fresh hay and apples.

Freezer Fill: Teriaki Pork Loin with a Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans, Salmon with Couscous and Snow Peas

Listening: Sibling Rivalry, hosted by Bob the Drag Queen and Monet X Change who are not siblings but act like sisters as they interview other queens.

SFJ 10/4/2020

My heart is full and my cleaning rags are generally in the hamper. The rain has really not let up. Remember when I used to talk about the rain coming down like Romancing the Stone? Well, that’s not the kind of rain we’ve been having out here. The rain has been coming down pretty constantly for over a week now. Two week? Maybe more. My adorable pup adores his time outside. (Not so much on the leash but more on that another time.) He often just seems sits quietly on the little pad and just watches what’s going on. Those times, however, when he’s not sitting quietly, he is out on the yard poking into things. Exploring around the soggy ferns. Digging holes down into the soft dirt. I can no longer keep the dog towels off in the hall. There must be one right by the patio door at all times as long as it is damp out.

The paint by numbers kit I ordered arrived. (yes, of course of #taxitheman. Have you even talked to me lately?). Thrilling and bringing a bit of trepidation as the details are meant to be similar to what my friend Hope does on her own where my brush strokes are laid out by a computer. And, it is extremely relaxing to do. I spend a bunch of time with my podcasts and take my head out of the horrors of the current world. The trick for me seems to be that I need to work from left to right as I’m back to using my right hand. I work as long as I can with one color until I get bored and change it up. Thrilled with the results and mood so far.

It’s not nearly done, but the result to date is from a few hours spread through the weekend. My friend Patti sent me the Nasty Woman mug that I couldn’t bear to talk out of my site so it’s now my brush holder.

Freezer Fill: Aloha Chicken, Pepperoni Ravioli

Listening: Tom Brown’s Body, written and narrated by Skip Hollandsworth, the Texas Monthly reporter who Id want to emulate if I ever started writing journalism again.

Fuming: I cannot believe the temerity of 45 in his need for adulation by driving around the block while a COVID patient. (well, I can, but I hate it). It’s attempted murder and the Secret Service should wrangle him. The meds he is on can bring on psychosis. How could anyone at WRH allow this?

SFJ 9/27/2020

Instead of just talking about it, I have started to make some actual inquiries toward my laundry room makeover. I had The Closet a Factory out as their website seemed to have the most of what I needed of all the responders (Home Advisor). Turns out, they just do installation work, not the contracting work that the room requires. A very nice lady came out and measured the room and gave me an estimate for putting in shelving features. There’s more to it, though. I can source my own washer drier combo but there is some electrical rewording to be done. There is also some odd framing that doesn’t APPEAR to be holding up anything in particular that needs to be evaluated. My latest project request is even more detailed (got one single response so far).

Freezer Fill: Savory Bread Pudding with Ham, Spinach, and Gruyere (think quiche with the crust running through it—very good). Red Beans and Rice. (What was I actually thinking by cooking something that cooks all day when humidity is still so high out here?) Pizzaquillas, or pizza quesidillas, a wonderful discovery as I rarely have pizza dough but almost always have flour tortillas.

Watching: The Great British Bake -Off, the sweetest competition show ever. Ratched, the backstory of Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Do you think I’m going to close this down without pics of the boy? #taxitheman is becoming an interest star. He does save some of his best looks for me but I’m happy to share. I love this little guy and he is one of the very best things to happen to me in recent times. The mail this week brought the paint-by-numbers project of the first days of #taxitheman and I’m flattening it now. I’m not sure if I’ll get it stretched on wood before starting to paint or not. It means getting out in public and I am a good ways away from that still.

Almost, but not quite, begging for peanut butter crackers.
Please notice the muddy footprints. This was taken mid morning after a pre-dawn rain. He did not want to come in. But, once he was dried off, he zoomed around the house. If I had more carpet, he could make better time, but the skidding around the corners takes some time off his record.

My art education continues. through the local museum, I’m get about twice-monthly lectures on Italian Renaissance. Through Coursera I’m taking a couple of art history courses (current on fashion as art).

SFJ 9/20/2020

I never want to invoke the ire of some Ether Monster by begging the attention, but, truly, what more could happen this year? (Oh, does that creep me out to even type it.) My mother died. My dog died. A lunatic has been doing lunatic things from the White House. So many storms have been formed that we have shifted to the Greek alphabet to name them. Locusts, Murder hornets. Glacier fields and tundra disappearing. Wildfires. Then an icon of human rights and feminism dies putting the possibility of even more sleazy actions in the minds of those who aren’t afraid to be even more sleazy.

For the first hour after Yo told me that Ginsburg had died, I cussed—a solid hour. Then I spent the next six hours trying to research whatever could be done to keep a vote from happening until after the election was counted. Other than precedent, there aren’t any constitutional rules. There’s a slight delay rule for mourning but that only gives about a day. Interestingly, there is also no constitutional limits to the number on the court and was started with only three members. The law passed in 1869 opened it up to nine. 1801, 1807, 1837 all saw changes in the quantity with no change since 1869. As an open concept, and as a means to hear more cases at this Supreme Court level, I am interested. I had thought that what I was feeling was despair. It was for a minute. Now, I am sad but prepared to do my part and support the legal paths available.

It is hard enough for me to show my plain face on the Internet without heavy editing and angle-shifting. No smiles? Not likely. So when I post this image of me it is an effort. I fashioned this dissent collar out of what my cousin correctly identified as being from our grandmother’s coffee table and added the FB frame of a dissent collar for this serious, stern look.

The saving grace of my current situation is my Taxi. #taxitheman. Being able to cuddle his little warm self is comforting. Having an adorable face to beg me to play makes me smile and then laugh. Finding the latest hole he’s dug in the back yard is a reminder that he is a terrier and this is expected behavior and a dirt-covered snout is just part of the game.

On top of all things, my friend Hope sent me this as a possibility for Taxi’s lineage. Every single description seems to be spot on (outside of the eye color)—besides the fact that the picture of the one on the left looks just like him.

Meet the Dutch Smoushond, a terrier-type ratting dog with an interesting background.

Polls have started to open across US for early voting. Voters, do not wear nor bring anything visible to the polls that could be open to interpretation as electioneering (Tshirts, hats, signs, etc.). Police INTERPRET laws at that moment which are tried in the courts only later. Do not let anything stop your path to a legal vote. Be careful. But, vote. Vote early, if possible, but vote. Statutes are different in each state. Find yours. https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/electioneering.aspx

I have to say—I keep thinking that this administration depresses me. But, I correct myself to say instead that it makes me sad. Sad doesn’t sound so permanent. Sad sounds get-over-able. #dissentandvote I simply refuse to let this get me down. I will whine and grumble. I will cry in frustration. I believe that the pendulum will swing hard to the other side. I just hope that it swings before too much damage is done.

We had a really excellent book club meeting on Saturday. The book was My Sister the Serial Killer. We met on Zoom, of course, and had 12 members attend, the most we have had. We are all talkers and we all have opinions and some are completely contrary to others. Sure made for a fun session. These Zoom meetings also mean that folks who are no longer in the area can attend the meetings. I like that. I miss the moved gals.

In the stars for next week: Work is just more training development. There is so much to do and we don’t want to forget anything. Also I am meeting with a closet company to talk about getting the pantry/laundry room done. This enhancement is important to me being able to stay 8n this house for many many years. Still haven’t found the carpenter or cabinet builder for the custom bookcase built-in. NEXT!

Freezer Fill: Enchilada Casserole, Pepperoni Pizza

Listening: Smartless, a new podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. They have thoughtful or hysterical guests. Melissa McCarthy, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Kamala Harris. This weekend, they have served to take my mind off the death of RBG, as I binged.