Friday, June 26, 2020

parting shots

I went for my monthly allergy injections today.   I get one hit per arm - one for grasses, trees, and weeds; the other for various molds.  As far as the stinging insects allergy goes, the strategy is "don't look or smell like a flower".  So far, so good.

I mentioned to the shot-giver that my weed arm puffed up pretty good last time.  She advised me to take an antihistamine after I get my shots, and I'm thinking,
"I thought I was getting these shots so that I don't need antihistamines?"

Oh well, I'd previously decided that this will be my final batch of allergy antigens - they mix up a year's worth at a time, and this is year three.  Are they working?  A little?  Maybe?  Feels like time to move on.

Speaking of moving on - that bicycling challenge from Wednesday?  I did my part and was tallied at cyclist number 518:

From what I can tell, there is a camera/ sensor that records movement through the bike lanes - both north and southbound lanes.

Anyways, the previous record of seventeen hundred something was not broken.  The final count for Wednesday was 1,502.  Not a bad showing considering there's a major construction detour just south of the counter, there was no Bike To Work day (which I understand is a big to-do around here.  Lots of food, freebies, and festivities.  Participants probably take in more calories than they expend by riding to work or wherever), and the nearby university is online-only for summer classes.

On the work front, the hospital is final-ly bringing back the moms and babies unit next week and will then be functioning in all departments.  For us lowly culinarians, reduced schedules are likely here to stay until end of summer at the earliest.  It can be chaotic at times, but I'm actually enjoying the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none life for now.

And a final finally, Magnum goes back and forth pondering if he's already had the dreaded COVID-19.  Remember back in late January, we sold our previous house?  I mentioned here in the blog that I had to drag Magnum's sorry butt to the notary public to sign closing papers because he was battling a case of the crud.

I didn't catch it and we'd both gotten flu shots in October, so we figured his just didn't take.  Now, looking back, he remembers tasteless food at a product launch dinner he attended for work ("what a lousy cut of prime rib!")  and developed the worst chills ever.  These days, there is mounting evidence that the virus was in the U.S. by late last year.

Did he or didn't he?  To me, it appeared to be a typical case of Man Flu.

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: final

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

mission not impossible

I could hear the pressure washer before I saw it. Turning the corner, there he was, getting rid of some recent graffiti.  Someone had painted "LOVE" in huge purple letters that took up an intersection entering our neighborhood.  Coincidentally, this is the intersection of the recent SWAT team drug bust event.  Co-coincidentally, this is the intersection where I used to see people nearby, strangely sitting in cars with the engines running.

Anyway, the LOVE is gone.

And I'll update that I have not seen any idling vehicles parked in the suspicious spot in several weeks.  Honestly, although I joked about a drug drop at the time, I don't think the idling vehicles are related in light of the recent arrests at the nearby house, as the house is on the other side of the intersection.  Seems to me that, if you're buying/ selling illicit drugs, doing so in an open and strange location and having to cross a street wouldn't be the right way to go about it.  I have no first hand experience here, but I think the passing of goods and payment can be done pretty discretely.  It's not like it requires a dolly or something, right?

In other news we're still working reduced hours since the Covid restrictions.  When I started the hospital job, it was three 6-hour shifts a week.  It reduced to two 4-hour shifts for a few weeks.  It's now holding at two 8-hour shifts in recent weeks, and I'm hoping that holds steady until the next uptick.  In the meantime, I'm still going a bit stir crazy on days off.

This week, I at least have Maisey.  Maisey is Wolfgang's cat, and Wolfgang is away having some mountain biking fun with a couple of friends.  So I have Maisey duty. 

She's a rescue cat, and like all of our pets other than Napolion, no one really knows her origin story.  I think all cats have their quirks, but Maisey's a bit of a strange cat in that she's not big on the grooming. Wolfgang has to sometimes either comb out the hair knots or cut them off when there's no hope.  Other cats I've known  have been meticulous with the grooming, but it seems that Maisey was absent that day at cat school.

She has improved somewhat, like the universe sent her a clue.  Despite the ratty hair, she's just too cute.  And she's providing me with some purpose this week.

Today WOULD have been Bike to Work Day in our highly bicycle friendly town.  Cancelled because of you-know-what. 

There is a bike count sign that records bicycle traffic along a particular route in town, and a local bike club has issued a challenge to break the current daily record of 1,737 riders.

I honestly don't know how the sign works.  How does it discern bikes from cars from runners from walkers?

Oh well, I'll go be part of the count and let someone else worry about accuracy.

To summarize today's assignments:
  • Feed a cat
  • Empty a litter box
  • Attempt to remove ratty tufts of cat hair from a cat
  • Bicycle past a sign
  • Don't do drugs

What important things are you up to today?

Saturday, June 20, 2020

let's do 'em all!

I'm late to the Mama Kat link-up this week.  I'd like to say it's because I was busy living an ultra productive life the last couple of days, but that's so not the case.

WHATEVER, to get myself back on track(?), I thought I'd try to tackle all of the prompts this week.  Here goes:

1. Share a new recipe you would like to try.
Oh, geez.  That's a toughie.  Well, I did have a patient at the hospital comment that we have the "best" veggie burgers.  Granted, that seems a bit like saying we have the biggest pigmies, but I have yet to try one of our veggie burgers at the hospital.  Either way, I'm not going to try the recipe as I don't actually care enough to find it out what it is.  They just come in a box that way. 

2. Something someone said recently that made you think.
I was talking with Wolfgang this week and he showed me some digital artwork he's done from an online course he's doing.  Wolfgang works full time, but wanted to improve his art skills during this Covid downtime.

I mentioned that I haven't done much drawing or anything artsy in a long time, and he offered some tips on getting/staying motivated.  It made us wonder about how the really prolific artists kept at it year after year, painting after painting, book after book, etc.
They probably had their own mind games...

3. Write about a show you recently binge-watched.
Magnum and I recently finished watching all three seasons of "Arrested Development".  I liked it well enough.  Pretty goofy, and had some witty one-liners.  There was a reboot that resulted in seasons 4 and 5, so I guess we'll watch those.  Episodes are short, so I'm usually able to stay awake. 

4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: ride
For this I'll provide an update to review those moisture-wicking-uv-protecting shirts I got for my afternoon bicycle commute.  They're lovely.  Well, not particularly lovely in appearance, but they keep me relatively cool while protected from the sun's unfriendly rays.  Appearance wise?  Think pajama top.

Even on the model, it's rather pajama-ish, and my boobs are not those boobs.

5. Did you have a childhood security object? What’s its story?
My most memorable "security object" was a stuffed clown named... Bozo? Maybe?  Anyway, despite my not remembering the name, I carried that clown everywhere.  He was stuffed and soft, but had a face of rigid but thin plastic.  The face also had stuffing. 

One day when I was about three, my brother and I were playing in the back yard, and of course, Bozo was there too.  I was intently focused on some three-year-old's thing when I looked up to see Bozo on the ground beneath where my brother was swinging on the swingset and smacking Bozo in the face on every back and forth. 

I ran to Bozo's aid and discovered his face was cracked.  I asked my mom to please fix Bozo, fully expecting her to do so because moms can do anything and surely everyone loves Bozo.  Content with the prognosis, I went down for a nap only to awaken and never see Bozo again. 

In the (many) years since, I've come up with different theories on Bozo's demise:

  •  My brother was jealous of Bozo and the love I lavished on him, so decided to make him disappear.
  •  My mom felt it was time for me to give up Bozo and conspired with my brother to create a believable scenario for him to disappear

Naturally, there's the chance that

  • The whole thing was a timely accident that created a nifty opportunity for Bozo to disappear.

I eventually got over it.  Really, my pondering theories on what truly happened to Bozo over 50 years later is all healthy reflection, I'm sure *AHEM*

6. It’s been three months since Covid began shutting everything down. How are you doing?
Our governor recently loosened restrictions a little more, so things are cautiously looking up.  Personally, I'm a bit stir crazy, but can't complain.  I'm just not much of a homebody type, so it wears on me to not be able to go places.  On the bright side:

I have a couple of tutor students whose testing schedules are ever changing, but they're keeping at it.

Our hours are still reduced at work despite the hospital being almost fully staffed now.  That's been good in that I've been able to cross train in a "trial by fire" kind of way, and I'm grateful to be working a couple of days a week at least.  Rumor has it that moms and babies will be returning at the end of the month, so that will bring in even more busyness and, hopefully, more hours.

What are you eating/ drawing/ watching/ wearing/ missing/ doing?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

a return to sunshine and walk chalk

Firstly, an update on the neighbors and the visit from the SWAT team:

I went to the police arrest info website and was able to discern that two arrests were made.  One was a 19-year-old male arrested on a warrant for DUI and DWAI.  The second was a 44-year-old male arrested for drug possession.

I'm assuming the two are father and son since they have the same first and last names, different middle names.  While unsettling to have this happen down the street, neither charge struck me as being particularly bring-in-multiple-vehicles-and-gear-along-with-a-SWAT-team worthy.  I figured either an overly aggressive response or there's more to the story.


I returned to the police info site this morning to get facts straight for the blog (yer welcome) and found a third arrest of a 43-year-old woman, with the same last name, about 20 minutes after dad and son.

Different address, but by stalking everyone on faceb@@k for about 5 mins, I'm pretty sure they're all related.  I'm guessing this is ex-wife of Mr. Drug Possession.

Omigosh the list of charges: multiple drug possessions... RACKETEERING... MONEY LAUNDERING!

Also, from my online stalking, I believe the woman I met while out walking Merlin is a daughter/ sister in the family.  She's younger than I'd initially thought, mainly because she seemed more mature than mid-20s to me.

So much for Thanksgiving plans?

Do you see news stories and then spy the people involved on social media?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

incident at canola vanilla?

I saw her, last minute, out of the corner of my eye.  If she'd been a mean pit bull, Merlin and I would've probably been toast.  But she was a sweetie pit bull.

Merlin and I were out for a stroll on a recent evening.  We came around a car parked on the street, and that's when the pooch came out to greet us.  To be honest, she didn't take much notice of me as she was mostly interested in Merlin's junk. 

"Oh, I'm sorry!", said the woman working in her front yard, "I should've had her on a leash!"

I assured her it was no problem and remarked on what a nice and pretty dog she had. Truly, the dog had a beautiful coat and healthy glow about her.  Super friendly and sweet too.  She was obedient to the woman's commands, so I understood how they'd be hanging out in the front yard with no leash. 

"Oh, thank you.  Yours too!", she nodded toward Merlin.  And then, "Come on, Canilla"

I was thinking, "Canilla".  Maybe the woman is a foodie and likes canilla rice?  Or couldn't decide between canola and vanilla?  Maybe I heard wrong, and the dog's name is Camilla? 

Either way, it was a brief but pleasant exchange.  I'd never seen this neighbor before, although I've walked by that house.  She was early 30's I'd say, pretty, with longish hair and burgundy highlights.  I think she was working on a flower garden.  Not a soccer mom/ Karen type, but not trashy either.  She wore a sleeveless top and had a floral tattoo on an upper arm as I do.

So what? 

Well!  This morning, I was out for a run.  We live near a high school, and as I was returning to the
'hood, I saw several police vehicles entering the high school parking lot.  Cop cars and SUVs.  Big pickups pulling large trailers. An armored SWAT vehicle.  I figured they were arriving for some training or demonstration as I've seen the HS parking lot used for such things.  Not much else going on there right now.

I did my little homestretch loop around the neighborhood and came upon all those coppers lining the street not far from our house.  One vehicle had blocked off the entrance to Canilla's street and the SWAT vehicle was in front of her house.  I saw two people sitting on the ground, a man and Canilla's mom.

I tried to mind my own business and keep running while gawking.  I crossed paths with another  neighbor out walking his dog and we exchanged wordless looks that clearly said, "WTF?!"

I know nothing of what was going down.  I checked our Nextdoor feed and saw that someone had asked about it, but no one knows any details.  Well, not on Nextdoor anyways. 

From what I saw, there didn't seem to be any resistance.  The dude and Camilla's mom were just sitting on the ground looking dejected. The police seemed relaxed, despite the heavy presence.  Magnum thinks it might've been a domestic incident involving firearms? 

I dunno.  Canilla's mom (since I never got her name) seemed fine from my first impression.  You know how you can meet someone and know right away if you "click" or not? 

I'd totally go to her house for Thanksgiving.

Friday, June 12, 2020

I miss yer face

I was at Costco earlier today and noticing the fashionable variety of facemasks.  Remember the early days of COVID mask wearing?  Lots of DIY masks from old shirts or generic household items, bandanas, etc.  A few people wore N-95 masks and made us wonder how they came about owning one.

But now, I think we can safely say that a whole new fashion category has opened up.

And speaking for myself, back in the early days, it felt weird to wear a mask in the store or anywhere for that matter.  People were constantly messing with them so they didn't fall off the face or fog the glasses.

But now, it would feel strange to shop without one.

Where I live, I rarely see people wearing masks outside.  But I know that some places, more densely populated, masks are worn outside in public as well as inside.  Photos from recent protest gatherings show a majority of mask wearers.  They've become part of our daily attire.

I happen to have a variety to choose from.  My mother-in-law made masks for several family members, and for me, the purple patterned one on the top left.  I like it as it's comfortable and stays put with a pipe cleaner in the nose bridge.  I typically wear it to work at the hospital for the pattern that contrasts with my all-black work garb.  I mean, when receiving a hospital meal, who wants to have someone looking like the angel of death presenting it?

I got the black one from vida  It is also comfortable to wear for several hours and includes a carbon insert.  That's usually my go-to for the grocery store.

As shown in the lower left, I have several of these neck gaiter things in various colors and patterns.  They're quite handy and can be worn around the neck for those just-in-case-I-need-to-go-inside-a-building instances while out for a bike ride or walk.

Then there's the it'll-do-in-a-pinch bandana.

I appreciate the creativity and individual expression that have grown out of the public's compliance with mask wearing.  But I also miss seeing whole faces.  At work, it's particularly limiting to carry on a conversation and not see full expressions.  Then there's the muffled speech.  And since a good portion of my workday is spent in a commercial kitchen, throw in noise from the various fans and blowers, and there's a lot of repeating going on.  At times, my fun co-worker Hui might as well be speaking to me in her native Chinese.

As more businesses and activities open up, I think mask-wearing is going to remain for quite a while.  And even if mask requirements are loosened, I bet a lot of people will voluntarily continue to wear them.  But I look forward to a day where we look back and say, "I wonder where all those masks went"

In the meantime, assume I'm always smiling. 😃

So... what're you wearing?

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
6. Write about something you are looking forward to.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

almost wordless wednesday

My face when I go to the bike shop because a lever on my bicycle is not moving and so the thing it controls is not activating and the technician pushes on the lever and suddenly everything works just fine and he says maybe it just had a kink in the cable but I think he says that to make me feel less silly and then he returns to the important repair job I interrupted and I also realize that I'm wearing a t-shirt from a different bike shop.

Monday, June 8, 2020

give the cyborgs a go?

I'm currently waiting for some more contractors.  Those stairs we had installed a couple of weeks ago?  They're ready for carpet.  That's who I'm waiting for - carpet installers.

When we purchased this house from our then landlords, we bought it "as is" with all of us knowing of its shortcomings.  The stairs were a big thing, so it's nice to have the old ones out.  

In the meantime, work at the hospital has picked up.  Elective surgeries, lab work, and imaging are happening again, so the place isn't the big nearly empty building it had been.  Ironically, our (culinary) hours are still cut plus people are taking voluntary two-week furloughs to make up for lost productivity over the last two months.  

But it's all good, and there's been a lot of good teamwork and cross-training going on.  I'm grateful for the levels of management above me for avoiding long furloughs and full-blown layoffs.  Heck, we even got T-shirts recently.  

Another nice thing is that patients can have visitors again.  Just one at a time, but better than nothing.  The moms and babies unit is still closed, though.  Hopefully that will be up and running again soon. For now, maybe it's a good thing since we're lightly staffed in the kitchen and those moms can EAT.

Back in my child bearing days, I took full advantage of the short stay in the hospital.  I didn't realize it with Chaco, but with Wolfgang and Meego, I savored some big meals and took long hot showers because I knew that, once I left the hospital, those things wouldn't be happening any time soon.

So here we are.  COVID-19 and its restrictions appear to be letting up around here while BlackLivesMatter protests are in full swing.  In our city, protests have been well attended and relatively peaceful. 

I confess that I was not a fan of the slogan "Black Lives Matter" in the past.  But I get it now.

I also confess that I was against NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.  But I get that now too.

On the lightweight side of things, I'm happy that we're able to resume visiting fave coffee shops.  Magnum and I biked over to one yesterday and were greeted by this sign:

In more lightness, I dusted off my moleskine®️ sketchbook and started doodling with no subject in mind.  These two showed up

A push for humans to be replaced by robots?  Let's do the RoboCop thing already?

Friday, June 5, 2020

out of the frying pan

The heat hit me as soon as I walked outside.  It was like opening an oven door to get the cookies, but alas, there were no cookies. 

I looked over and noticed smiley kids running through the sprinklers and relishing in the refreshment.  I actually recognized them as members of the hospital landscaping crew, but at that moment, they resembled kids playing in sprinklers... despite their beards.

Yeah,  it's been hot this week, and it wasn't that long ago I was complaining about the clouds and cold.  Happens every year.

I briefly considered a splash through the sprinklers myself, to prepare for the ride home from work.  But the bearded landscapers seemed to be enjoying their frolic, and I wasn't invited.

Fine.  I set out.  And as luck has it, my work get-up is all black. 

At first, I was thinking, "at least I'm wearing short sleeves", but as I pedaled along, I quickly felt I was in the "crispy outer crust" portion of the cook cycle.

As soon as I got home and showered, I hit up amazon and searched "UV protection moisture wicking shirt women".  I know it was grammatically incorrect since I was searching for shirts and not women, but amazon knows what I meant. 

I appreciate the ease of shopping on amazon, but geez, there were almost too many choices.  I was going to have to work for it.  Eventually, I found a couple of brands with agreeable pricing and ordered three such shirts for my afternoon commutes.

When I was in my teens and thought I knew everything but really knew nothing, I would lay out in the sun for an hour nearly every day during summer months for the all important tan.  My dad would get on my case about it, but I ignored his wisdom in true teen form.

A few years later, I worked with a woman who was in her 20's but had a face like old leather.  It was not a good look.  It was Leatherface, along with a little education on skin cancers, that got me to quit my slow-roasting habits.

Yesterday, I happily and comfortably wore a new UV protecting, moisture wicking shirt on my ride home in the sunshine and heat. 

I hope Dad saw me.

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
2. Write a blog post inspired by the word: sunshine

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

keeping watch

A friend of ours had just gotten a new mountain bike and was trying it out on some dirt trails near downtown. While he was practicing and trying to avoid crashing, he noticed a growing police presence in the area.  Soon, he figured he needed to get out of their way as it looked like something was going down.

Strangely, it seemed wherever he went, he saw more cops.  Eventually, one pulled him aside.

As I remember the story, the police were called about criminal activity in the area - the bad guy was on a bike.  They saw Jerome and figured he must be the bad guy because he was black.

At the time, we found the story amusing.  Jerome himself told it in a joking and animated way.  Jerome?  A criminal?  No freaking way!

This happened about 30 years ago and was so wrong then, but clearly, things have not changed.

It's outrageous to me that such racism is still so widespread in the U.S.

Last week, I cringed while watching the video of Amy Cooper freaking out and then making false accusations to the police about a black man asking her to leash her dog in Central Park NY.

She lost her job, she lost her dog, and claims her "whole life is being destroyed".  I have absolutely no sympathy for Amy Cooper.

Before that, video of Ahmaud Arbery shot dead while out for a run.  And, of course, George Floyd.  I can't unsee these videos, nor should I.  Yes, we're watching.  And we're recording.

I think back to Jerome.  No one had smart phones back then.  No such thing as video cameras in people's pockets and purses and backpacks. The police left Jerome alone after a few questions, but it could've easily gone much worse.

Last week, while working at the hospital (before the anti-racism protests erupted), we were talking about how it seemed there were more speed traps and police presence in town than usual.  Since I rarely drive, I hadn't noticed, but I saw similar grumblings on social media.

My coworker Em, the chef, told us that she's been stopped by cops six times for "driving while black".  No violations.  No tickets.  But pulled over six times.

I've been pulled over twice in my whole life (oops, forgot to put on the new registration sticker 😶)

Yesterday, I took Merlin to the vet for a check up and vaccinations.  Because of COVID-19 precautions, I met with the technicians in the parking lot, and they took Merlin inside while I waited outside.

We had walked to the vet's, so I hung out under some shady trees while strangely talking with the vet over the phone.

I was near an apartment complex and wondered if anyone would find it suspicious that a 50-something woman was seemingly just hanging around outside.

Nah, nothing suspicious there.

But if I was black...?