Tuesday, March 31, 2020

chickenpox and dairy free

Rolled out of bed on Sunday feeling tired, achy, a bit chillish /feverish... maybe?  I don't have THE virus, I'm 99% sure.  I finally got 'round to getting my second hit of Shingrix vaccine Saturday afternoon.

Anyone reading had that particular vaccine for Shingles?  Recommended for us over-50 people, but known to have annoying side effects that, as I relived them, are quite similar to COVID-19 without the cough.  It's given in two doses, 2 to 6 months apart.  I got my first hit in early November, and set a reminder for myself four months later. Who knew we'd be in the middle of a global pandemic?

So I waited a bit for the pharmacy frenzy to die down, then headed there on Saturday to get it over with.  I vaguely remember my first hit back in November and then just spending the next day mostly on the couch.  So I planned to do it when I didn't have to work the day after and then thankfully spent a good portion of Sunday on the couch.  The cat seemed to enjoy our time together.  I was happy to rally enough to get out for a nice walk in the immune system-strengthening fresh air and sunshine.  Lots of people outside doing similar.

Monday morning, I awoke as my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed self.  I'm glad to be finished battling Shingrix anyway.  Back to the standard battles of the day.

The hospital remains eerily quiet with no visitors and no one allowed in group areas.  Like the donation to supply free coffee to health care workers, another donation came in yesterday:  cans and cans of this stuff...

I have yet to try it, but it looks good. I'm thinking it packs a caffeinated punch.  Anyone had it?

My manager at the hospital is a nice young guy.  He was asking some of us older types if we remembered ever having to go through something similar to this COVID-19 response.

We all thought a bit, but nope.  One guy said the closest he could think of was 9-11 with the shutting down of airports and everyone glued to the news for days.

Boss says, "Yeah, I remember that.  I was in middle school!"

PSSSSHHHHH!!  Middle school!

Today, we're at home in the new old house and joined by a plumber.  The house has some issues, and this is the first of our major projects to turn the house into a well-oiled architectural machine.  Sometimes it seems like we're not in the situation the world is in.

I'm thankful for running water.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

what's new?

Our state went into "lockdown" last week, but honestly, I don't notice anything different from before the lockdown.  Restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, etc. were already closed.  Businesses deemed essential remain open, and that list is pretty long - and includes liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries.  Traffic flow has not noticeably changed, although still nicely lighter than a few weeks ago.

Personally, life doesn't feel all that much different since I'm still working my same schedule at the hospital.  My tuting schedule has actually increased a little since the handful of students I have now are preparing for SATs.  They are taking advantage of the fact that school activities are cancelled and getting in some extra prep, even though SATs are also cancelled...

It's good to make the most of the situation.  I'm almost envious of Meego, who is continuing his college semester online.  But then, I'm sure there is online learning any old person can tap into.  Now would be a good time to check that out for those who have extra time on their hands. And while it's good to keep informed on COVID-19, it's also healthy to take a break from the news.

On that note, I'll report in other news - we bought a house last week.  It's strange to think that a major decision/purchase feels like background noise.

Since moving to Fort Collins, we'd been renting a house.  Once our house in Colorado Springs sold, we started looking at homes for sale while figuring out our "musts" and "wants".  Long story short, we ended up buying the house we've been renting.  The landlord planned to sell after our lease was up, and he knew we were looking to buy something, so we did the thing.  We all attended the closing, spaced safely around a large conference table using our own pens, and gave each other air handshakes afterward.  

Next week, we've got some essential plumbers scheduled to come do an essential job on the new old house.  

Stay healthy, my friends.  Keep disinfecting, keep busy 😙

Linking up with Mama Kat for the prompt:
2. Write about how you keep busy during a “quarantine.” Is your daily schedule affected much at all?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

babies and free coffee

I walked into the hospital yesterday for work and was immediately asked, "Have you checked for fever, or do you need your temperature taken?" by a nurse stationed just inside the entrance.

"", my poised response, "I'm good, thanks"

Well, this was new.  I checked my company email and found that, as of Saturday, we are all to check our temperatures up to 2 hours before our shift.  No go is 100 F or higher.  There will also be nurses stationed at all employee entrances 24/7 if we get the urge to have our temps taken at any time.

This was news to my coworkers who didn't work the weekend as well since the email went out Friday evening and nobody reads company emails when away.  On a side  note, whenever I went past one of these stations, I never saw a temperature being taken, and the  nurses there looked similar to lifeguards at the pool - ready to spring into action, but rather bored in the meantime.

The hospital remains eerily quiet since the strict NO visitors rule.  The labor and delivery unit is totally closed off.  The staff go in and aren't allowed to emerge until the end of their shifts.  They do order food, but it comes to us as a batch order and someone meets the cart outside the door, clearly marked for no one to enter.

On the bright side, I was working front of house, learning to do the barista thing.  My mentor, Hui - pronounced "We" - is a fun woman about my age with a rather thick Chinese accent.  Guy came in for a single shot espresso, and as he reached for his payment, Hui quickly pointed out,

"Is free, someone pay".

She explained that all coffee products are free of charge for all medical staff.  Apparently someone donated a bunch of money to keep them all caffeinated during this COVID-19 chaos.

Classes for Meego are to start this week after last week's spring break, which was extended to last through today.  The university has moved all classes online for the remainder of the semester.  I texted him yesterday to confirm if his classes were starting on Wednesday as noted in an email we got.

"Supposed to, but I'm watching a lecture right now.  I think the professor didn't know that we're still on spring break".

I continue to look for silver linings.  I've begun bicycle commuting to work since the weather's nicer and most of the ice and snow is gone.  Motorized traffic is noticeably lighter, which is lovely.  I have two locks for my bicycle - one is quite secure, but heavy to lug around.  The other travels easier but is less secure than the big lug.

I chose to use the mediocre lock since the bicycle parking at the hospital seems a safe location, and there are cameras around.  And now, it also happens to be right outside the entrance where a temperature taking nurse sits at the ready 24/7.  A somewhat bored nurse, whose chair faces outside right where the bikes are parked, can see anyone messing with my Ariel.  Silver lining for me, anyway.

Today's task:  find our thermometer.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


I just came from where I ordered a pair of rain pants, and I'm wondering what life is like in an Amazon warehouse.  Are the workers congested together?  Or is there a lot of automation with humans well spaced apart?

We just had a very wet snow storm move through.  On Thursday, Magnum and I took the dogs out for a short walk - maybe 15 to 20 mins - just around our neighborhood.  My ski bunny parka did great at keeping me warm and dry, but I had to change my soggy pants and socks when we got back.  I'd been meaning to get some rain pants, mostly for bicycling, but this short dog walk served as a fresh reminder.

Back when was a wee baby, it only sold books, remember?  The thing people loved about it was the reviews.  No longer limited to official book critic reviews, we could read reviews from normal or abnormal people just like us.  That concept helped kick off other product lines, and now look at Amazon go.

It's hard to imagine a world without product reviews from everyday customers at the ready.  Most are to the point, some write near novels.  Other reviews seem to be written by grumpy people who hate everything.  Once in a while, I come across one that's nearly as fun to read as my blog friends' blogs 😊

I came across a review titled, "They're waterproof, and comfort-proof, and pocket-proof, and fit-proof..."  Needless to say, the reviewer was not very happy with the rain pants.  I appreciate this part:

They're loud and crinkly as hell. Not that I really care, since most rain pants are, but they're 
not really swishy-swooshy like regular rain pants. More chip-bag crinkly than anything else.

Yeah, I definitely prefer swishy-swooshy to chip-bag.  I ordered a different product.  We shall see.

In other networking-during-a-pandemic news, I joined a local running club this week.  Like most everything else, club activities and events are cancelled, but we have the online weekly leaderboards that tell me I'm currently in 63rd place out of 551 members.  It's strangely motivating even though I don't know who any of these people are.

Someone I follow on Instagram noted some silver linings of the current upheaval.  She ended the post with,

"This is a blessing in disguise"

I tried meditating on that idea most of the day yesterday, and also mentioned it to Magnum.  He says,
"It's a pretty good disguise".


Still, I've noticed some nice things.  Little things, but still nice:  traffic is a lot lighter, families are playing outside together,  people are offering to run errands for those at high risk... some of the memes are quite entertaining.

And a lot of us are appreciating things we used to take for granted.  Like grocery shopping - a love/hate relationship for me.

Got any silver linings to share?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

gas is cheap, but where you gonna go?

I walked into the hospital where I work part-time culinary yesterday.  I usually enter through the staff entrance, but decided to go through the front because it was shady there vs. having to walk with the sun in my eyes.

Just inside the front entrance is an information desk where a volunteer usually sits and directs visitors.  Not yesterday.  As soon as I entered, a guy wearing scrubs and a face mask jumped up to "greet" me.  I quickly flashed my employee badge, and we both went "whew!"

Although I know the place is running at full staff, the hallways are strangely quiet, save for the ubiquitous muzak.  The latest mandates:

  • No visitors except for patients under the age of 18, and then, only one visitor
  • For birthing mothers, one labor coach is allowed
  • Visitation for end-of-life patients is decided on a case by case basis
  • No volunteers.  Good since most of our volunteers are over the age of 60

Gift shop is closed and our cafe is closed for dine-in, and there is no self-serve anything.  Customers can order off the menu, or point to daily specials displayed from behind a  makeshift clear barrier and be served a la school lunch lady mode.  It's get in, get your food handed to you in disposable packaging, get out.

As for patients, I don't know how many are currently being treated for COVID-19 since it's none of my business.  For food delivery, we are just provided information regarding necessary levels of patient isolation if any.  The level protocols range from no precaution to as if it's for Hannibal Lecter.

At the end of last week, we had to answer a series of questions upon arrival to work each day.  First of all, did we have a fever of 99.5 F or higher?  Other questions had to do with symptoms like runny nose, cough, etc. or close contact with anyone else with such symptoms.  Answering "yes" could get you sent home.  This week, the questionnaires are no more.  

Like every place else, we're figuring things out as we go.  Being at a hospital leaves me privy to information sooner rather than later, but information changes almost hourly.  I'm grateful to be there and supporting the medical staff and patients. And while others' incomes have become scarily slashed and/or uncertain, I'm grateful to be putting in some extra time at the hospital and also with the tuting as my students are home from school with extra time on their hands.  Online is the place to be!

I've had a few students tell me they didn't know the definition of "unprecedented" as it comes up in a vocabulary exercise.  I explain the meaning with an example.  Boy howdy, got a good example now!

While this whole global pandemic is new territory, I'm glad we have the technical capability for many to work from home, and for some stuff and commerce to still get done.  Imagine if this would've happened when my generation was growing up?


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1.  It’s been another week. Share an update about how your city/state is reacting to the Coronavirus

Sunday, March 15, 2020


I called the Walmart pharmacy on Friday afternoon.

"Hi, I wanted to come in for a Shingrix booster?  Can I get that today?"

"Unghhh..... n-n-no"

"Oh, uhm. okay..."

"Now's not a good time.  Can you do it on my day off this weekend?  It's pretty crazy in here right  now and we close at 7:00"  (it was about 5pm)

"Ya think it'll be better on the weekend?"

"Yes 'cause I won't be here"

"Okay, well that's why I called.  Thanks."

Back in early November, I got my first hit of Shingrix vaccine - the vaccine for shingles.  I've never had chickenpox.  Shingrix is given in two hits, 2 to 6 months apart.  I set a reminder on my calendar for the 4-month mark, which fell right at the start of corona-chaos.  So, I'll wait.

On Thursday morning, I went to Costco for just a usual bi-weekly run.  Parking lot was packed, I walked in far enough to see the chaos inside and noped on outta there.  This left me salmon swimming upstream against the hoards of people entering the store, but eventually I got out.  I'll wait.

Later that evening, I talked with Chaco who'd had a similar Costco experience.  He actually got some shopping done, but they had no TP,  not surprisingly.  He felt, "well, at least there's toilet paper at work".  Subsequently, the boss shut down his office and told everyone to work from home. Heh.

At my hospital job, we need to fill out a questionnaire each morning - questions about having a fever or being in contact with anyone who might have COVID-19.  One "yes" sends you home for two weeks.  My manager was sent home because his young son has a cough. 

Magnum's mom and stepdad are self-quarantined after recently travelling on airplanes.  They're both in their 80's, so we're keeping tabs. 

So, just here checking in with my blog friends.  I hope you are all safe and healthy and well supplied!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

on the subject of toilet paper

We were at a fave coffee shop recently, and as I was using the Ladies', I was struck at how soft the toilet paper roll was.  Really, I almost wanted to use it as a pillow. 

I mention this only because of the contrast.  See, Magnum and I have been using sandpapery 1-ply tissue for the past several weeks/ months.  Why do we have sandpaper 1-ply TP?  I'll mention that it's at least 20 years old.

Back in late 1999/ early 2000, we bought and moved into a house in Utah.  We discovered a good sized box of toilet paper rolls.  It was 1-ply Scott tissue. Not sure, maybe it was Y2K prepper paper?

Whatever, we kept the box in a corner as our own disaster stash.  Since then, we've moved three times, and the box of TP has accompanied us - mainly because it's kinda weird to leave a box of TP behind for new homeowners, as we know from experience.

Finally, with this last move, I decided I'm done moving a box of 1-ply toilet paper, and so we dug into our vast stash.  We're still going through it and the deprivation has started to get to me. I swear, the rolls seem endless.  One would think that, since it's 1-ply, it would go fast.  Not so, it seems.

After the revelation in the coffee shop bathroom, I decided maybe it was time for a break.  On my last Costco run, I happily headed for the TP aisle.  *SIGH* 
coronavirus = toilet paper crisis.
There was none to be had. 

Well, I bet those preppers we bought that house from in Utah are now wishing they hadn't left their stash behind. 


Thursday, March 5, 2020

working for the law

"Are you the sheriff!?  Ahahahaha!"

*snore* They thought they were so witty.

My first real job - a job that provided real paychecks with stubs and FICA and Social Security line items - I took when I was 16.  Well, I think I was actually 15 when I started, but don't say anything because it might've been a violation of child labor laws.

Either way, I was a hostess/busgirl at a popular restaurant establishment that was housed inside a popular hotel establishment in my hometown.  My job was to seat customers, tell 'em the specials, get 'em water, clean up after 'em, make sure all the waitresses had a fair share of tables, blah, blah, blah. I also received payments and made change back in the day when "I can make change" looked good on an application.

The hotel catered mostly to tourists rather than business travelers as it was the first real stop in Colorado just north of the New Mexico border along the interstate.  Plus, my hometown was rather podunk, so who would be there on business?

Other than that, most of our guests at the time were in town for their gender reassignment surgeries, and that's another part of the town's history.

Because of that prime location, the hotel and restaurant were typically very busy and often filled to capacity.  Weary travelers would stop, looking to book a room, and be all shocked to find we had no vacancies.

"B-b-b-but... it's just a little podunk town!"

And at the time, the management played the game by decking the place out in full western regalia.  As if to say, "Welcome to Colorado!  Home of cowboys and cowgirls and nuthin' else!"

As such, a portion of the restaurant, aptly called "the corral", was enclosed in a fricken' horse fence.  All us front of house people wore cowboy shirts and denim skirts.  We wore bandanas around our  necks and had name tags that looked like sheriff badges.

I can't tell you how many times some annoying tourist asked me if I was the sheriff.  There was one who got a little creative and instead asked, "Are you the law?", so I always found him a little more endearing than the others... which isn't saying much.

Here is my class picture taken from my cowgirl busgirl era.  I remember it because I had to register for school after my shift ended and didn't have time to change my shirt, so my class photo for my Junior year looks like I just came in from the barn.

At least I remembered to remove the bandana and sheriff badge and fluff my Farrah hair.

We were actually located outside the city limits, so when we did have to invoke the law, it was indeed the sheriff we called.  A couple times I remember had to do with drunk guys getting in bar fights and a weird couple getting naked in the pool and brandishing a hand gun.

Omigosh, it really was the wild west.

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
5. Tell us about one of your very first jobs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

by their right name

Years ago, when I was in college and working in retail, our management asked us to refer to customers by their first names if possible - usually if they paid by check or credit card where we could see their names.  Most of us felt that was kinda weird and didn't follow those instructions, not all the time anyway.  Maybe if we actually knew the person outside of work we'd use their first name.  Maybe.

We felt that, while some people might like it, others would find it strange and/or an obvious attempt to pretend we're all chums when we're actually strangers conducting a short and simple business transaction.  Plus, there are some people who have their legal names printed on checks and credit cards, but it's not the names they use day-to-day.  Magnum is one of those.  It helps him screen telemarketers.

I don't care much one way or the other when strangers refer to me by name while doing their jobs.  Maybe it's because I figure their boss told them to do that like mine did.

I'm thinking about this because I'm having to fill out a short "competency test" for my hospital job.  It's multiple-choice and pretty easy to answer many questions by process of elimination.  One such question:

Do you ever call the patient by their name?  When would you do this?  Why would you do this?

and one of the answer choices:

d.  you should refer to patients as "Buddy" or "Chief"

Ha, I'm pretty sure that one's not the correct choice. Also, it doesn't answer the question of, "why would you do this?"

Uhmmm, maternity ward...

"Good morning, Buddy!  Congrats on your new baby, Chief Mom!"

Another instance in college, a (female) friend of mine went to see one of our (male) professors during office hours for clarification on an assignment.  He referred to her as "Honey".

OMG, right?

Never mind that we were rare females in a male-dominated major, but I'm pretty sure professors wouldn't easily get away with that now.

Do you like to be addressed by your first name by strangers providing some small service, like retail?  What about things like, "Honey", "Buddy", "Sweetie", "Chief"?

In other news, I indulged some more in #inktober52 with the prompt "spider".  In my version of the story, the spider and little miss Muffet were good friends.

We also visited downtown over the weekend.  There we were halted by yet another train.  Weirder still to have a long *ss train haul through the middle of a downtown area, but there it was.

What we've learned about the local train situation:  none of the locals likes their interruptions, and the train people don't give a hoot (see what I did there?)