28 June 2020

It's Supposed to be Sandy

I had to go to the chiropractor this week. It turns out that I have to take a break from painting. I painted the big wall in our bedroom and then couldn't move my left arm by the time we went to bed.  That seems bad.

And to add insult to injury, the wall turned out not great.  Of course, there is a story.

I wanted to paint an accent wall even though the magazines, etc. said it's not a thing anymore.  I didn't want to paint that wall the same mocha color because I figured it would be too much mocha and a little too dark for that room. A few weeks ago  I chose two paint cards, left them out in the room so I would see them in different light, and had kind of decided on a sandy color.  But I was working my way up to actually buying paint.

My niece stopped by two weekends ago to pick something up and Kevin suggested that I ask her.  She has bohemian taste (bright colors, shabby chic, clutter) which is the way opposite of me. So, I found it interesting that Kevin suggested to ask her.  But whatever, I did.  She looked at the paint cards, at the walls, and pointed to something a little darker than I would have chosen AND to paint a different wall the darker color. Hmmm.

So that conversation was helpful yet, gave me more to think about.

Then I had a dream that the niece came into the house unannounced, which would never happen.  She said to combine the mocha color and the cream color and use that.  In the dream I was all "WHY didn't I THINK of that!?!?!"  Then I woke up and was still thinking "Why didn't I think of that!?!?"  Sometimes I love dreams.

I asked Kevin what he thought and he was "Meh, try it and see" (again, he's available for motivational speaking) So I thought about it a few more days then just went with it.  Yes, I realize that painting is not supposed to be an impulsive act.  

                                                             Before. Sad flat white paint

Okay, there's a reason that they shake paint to mix it.  Even though I stirred, stirred, stirred, it was still blotchy in spots.  And it really, really, really shows if it doesn't cover on that wall.  I wasn't super into painting that day but I wanted it done more than I wanted to do a good job. I probably should have chosen my battles better but here we are. (possible title to my autobiography)

Because I wasn't in the mood to be painting, per se, the edges are sloppy.  Also, I knew I was going to paint the adjoining walls soon so I just kind of went with it.  And THIS is why I was banned from painting in the old house.  I will finish it, I just need a break. And my shoulder to fully function, I'm so picky about these things.

                                    During. Don't ask about the dressers in the way. It's a thing                                                                                    (and the reason for the chiropractor. Probably)

As it turns out, the damn color defies the camera.  It's almost a skin tone. The camera makes it look yellowy. I have turned lights on and off, I have used Instagram and Snapchat and the camera, I have placed my hand on the wall and an iced mocha for a color comparison. The camera insists that it's yellow and not skin tone.

Not showing is the splotchyness

Days later and I am still meh about it.  I am still going to paint the other three walls (and doors now too. Thanks, SPA, for the reminder) the cream color and I hope that will mellow it out a little.  However, I have not crossed repainting the wall off the list yet.  
When I paint, it is an ask forgiveness, not permission situation with Kevin.  Me painting pings his anxiety so it's easier for all involved.  (until he calls and I'm on the ladder but whatever)   The night I painted, Kevin walked through the room, went into the bathroom, showered, and didn't notice until he came back out.  I heard "Oh"..."..."You...painted..."  Which made me laugh because that's how I felt about the situation. 

Now I have to buy two gallons of the cream color and paint the rest of the room, which should go quicker because one wall has two windows.  I told Kevin that I needed help with the other big wall and I was met with blinking so I wonder how long that is going to take.  

25 June 2020

The Other One Was Purple

What day is it? Thursday.  Okay.  We made it one week.

Guess who took my father-in-law's phone back today?  *this girl*


Kevin phoned this morning with a question and I had to hang up on him because his mother was phoning.  It was early enough in the morning, for them, that it had alarm bells ringing in our heads.

"Um, honey. Were you sleeping?" (gah, I shouldn't hate that question as much as I do)

"Are you going to town today?"

I'm already rubbing my forehead in frustration and it's been one minute into the conversation.

"I am. Later today. Why?"

"Well, um, we were wondering if you would mind taking Dad's phone back and getting one like he used to have."

*deep breath* *count to three* *Modulate my tone*

"Sure, no problem. I will come get it later today when I know I'm heading into town."

"Okay. Well, we just don't want to be any trouble..."

Oh, oh, that ship has sailed, sunk, been resurfaced, and sailed again.

"Nope, not a problem.  I'll come over in a little while"

I disconnect and phone Kevin back.  "He wants to get another phone."


"Fine.  Whatever it costs, just fix it" he finally musters.

Fast forward a few hours and I walk over there.  My m-i-l is unpacking groceries in the kitchen.  "Where is Dad? I'm going to exchange his phone."

"Oh" she turns around and looks at his empty recliner "He's...."   "...."  Wanders to her chair.

Sweet, tiny, 8 lb. 6 oz baby jesus.  Their house is tiny. There are like TWO OPTIONS of where he might be.

"Oh, he's outside!!!" she remembers.  Because of course he is.  

She calls out for him and he shuffles across the yard.  Taking the phone out of his pocket, he hands it up to me.  "I can't get the calendar to work.  I called your sister and got stuck in that screen again."  (sister-in-law but whatever at this point. But he has two sons and no daughters)  

I flipped open the phone and it's on the main screen.  Hit the CALL LOG and it says he called my sister-in-law this morning.  "But your phone says that you called her."  

"I DIDN'T. I couldn't get out of the calendar!"  Okay, dude, calm down.

My mother-in-law pipes in "I called her."  I started to ask her from which phone and realized the upcoming error in judgement just in time.  

"Okay. Well, it will be a little bit because I'm going to work first."

Off I go to the store, again.  This time there was a bit of a wait but standing outside in the sun is nice.  The ten-year-old rep started by asking "How long have you had it?"  Now, I had already prepared to just buy a new #$#%% phone if they wouldn't exchange it.  I told him "One week, probably nearly to the minute."  
"Oh, it's less than fourteen days so you're good." He did everything then said "Now, let me make sure that we have one in stock."  *Record scratch*   

I literally and actually thought "I will burn this store down if you don't have that phone."  Outside of my brain, I said "Great! Let's assume you do!" with a pleasant smile.

Everything went smoothly again and ten minutes later, off I go. Fast forward through the work stuff, etc.  I got home and set everything up.  This is admittedly a nicer phone for a flip phone.  I will acknowledge that.  The calendar was in it's rightful place so it should be fine.  I had it set up in no time at all and just had to wait for it's initial full charge.

Again, I waited for Kevin to come home so he could deliver it.  He came home, set his stuff down, and headed next door with the phone.

Like, two minutes pass MAX and my phone rings.  I will admit to very VIVID IMAGERY going through my brain at seeing my phone being called from next door.  Deep breath, answer the phone and it's Kevin.

"What color was the old phone?"

"What?  Why?" Why is this a thing, I'm thinking

"What color was the other phone? Not the one you just got rid of but the original one."


What color was it again?"

"Black"  I don't have the energy to ask why this is a thing.

"Okay, sorry but hold on. Mother, I'm putting her on speaker.  (sound of speaker turned on)  What color was the old phone?"

There is sputtering in the background, muttering.

"It was BLACK.  But I will go check."

"No, that's all I need." he says and starts to hang up.

"Wait, I'm looking at it.  I was a little wrong. It's dark blue.  Like carbon fiber blue."

"Mom, wait. No Mom, Surely was mistaken but you were still wrong."  I hear as he disconnects.

Because I'm a nerd, I texted him this:

I didn't get a response and was a little relieved.  He eventually came back home but in his Kevin-like way, he has completely forgotten about the phone now.  I chose to just move on with my life.

So, I started dinner and my phone rings.  Sonofabiscuitdog.  It's Kevin's mom.

"Hi honey. Were you sleeping?"  I'm telling you: EVERY SINGLE TIME she says it.  

"We were wondering how much it cost to switch the phone?"

This is where  I say that I didn't even pay attention, did not care, have zero idea. I just wanted the problem fixed at this point.  Instead, I said: "I'm making dinner now but I'll look at the final amount after dinner."  

I looked after dinner and they charged me again for the phone. They added it to my account.  Now I'll have to phone them (pun intended) tomorrow to fix that part. He said an exchange was fine so it should only be a restocking fee and taxes.  Heaven help us all if it's not.  

Yes, I know I said that I would pay anything. That was hyperbole, now that I know it might be a thing.

It's almost 9:00 pm PST as I post this and the phone hasn't rang again.


Social Media Tune Up

If I never hear the words "Facebook is broken" again, it will be too soon.  In fact, that sentence may be featured somewhere during my mother-in-law's memorial. 

The other day she phoned Kevin to let ME know that her facebook is broken.  Cue the script: "What is broken?"  Because sometimes it's just that she's not seeing what she wants to see.  Sometimes it's because she has disconnected the wifi (she did NOT, just ask her).  Sometimes it's this new issue:

She completely logged out of facebook and completely denies it.  The social media fairies did it during the night.  She did.not.do.it.  Yet, here we are.

Also, in a new twist, a new facebook profile for her showed up a month or so ago.  I looked into it and eventually reported it as fake, via her account and mine.  Facebook said "Nope, it's not fake." and I moved on with my life. With the logging out of facebook comes confirmation that she has done it before and probably somehow created that other account.

But I digress.  Back to the Facebook is Broken.  After a few questions to ascertain what in the name of Where's Waldo she was talking about, I realized that I hadn't tuned up her facebook in a while.  I told her "I'll work on it at home" then poutingly sat down at the computer to see what's happening.

Like before, she had liked a bunch of random pages.  I made a list this time:
The Indian Consumer
Simply Recipes
Crazy World
America's Funniest Home Videos
Tried and True Recipes

Then I went through her friends list again to make sure she hadn't friended someone sketchy.  To my relief, she had not. 

She complained that she couldn't see a specific young cousin's posts.  She is the daughter of the sister who passed away a year ago.  They barely know each other but it's important to her so whatever.

But this made me think about her timeline and I reviewed it again.  She has friended all the younger cousins,  most of which she doesn't know other than by name or association. (second and third cousins to us. We don't even know them) I hid all of them so then she could see the people who really mattered to her.  You know, like her actual kids and grandchildren.  

Worst of all, for me, is she had fourteen notifications and nine messages.  I don't touch those even though it is so frustrating.  We've explained eleventy-hundred times that when she ignores those, it means she's ignoring people who have possibly said something to her.  But she persists in not grasping that and I persist in ignoring those notifications.

Then finally, scrolling through all the faux news posts that cousins share and hiding topics so she can enjoy her facebook and not feel attacked by her own family. 

Even after all of that, her timeline was still cluttered.  Now though, it is by her elderly best friend.  She's like the person who is new to facebook so she's liking everything and commenting on everything and sharing twenty things an hour and playing all the games.  It's exhausting.  I had to temporarily hide her from MY timeline because it was All Her, All The Time. I told Kevin the next time I see her I'm going to slap that phone out of her hands and shout "NO!" with a wag of my finger.

But yeah, the facebook is broken.  I have added an event to my calendar (I mean actual calendar this time) to tune her facebook once a month.  Maybe then we'll avoid the facebook being broken.  Probably not but let me cling to the delusion for a little while.  She'll still manage to disconnect the wifi or log out of social media.  

24 June 2020

Do Not Use The Calendar

Tech support for the elderly is going to be my next bloggity, I think. Or career.

Over the last four days...maybe five, it's all a blur...I have purchased and "fixed" a new cell phone multiple times, reconnected wifi, and fixed a smart phone and a tablet. As addressed in the opening line: none of these devices are mine.    

It started with my new favorite chestnut: "My phone doesn't work" the other day.  This time it was my father-in-law.  So we started with the required "What doesn't work?" process.  It won't ring and he can't hear it.  Last time this happened was because he did this wacky thing called "turning it down".  

Oh, and this is via Kevin because "we don't want to bother Surely."


As you may remember, my f-i-l has a crappy little flip phone.  He is beyond uninterested in having a smart phone and I am beyond uninterested in teaching another human how to use one.  So, I looked up his phone on my cell provider app and sure enough, it was Just Paid Off.  I don't know what's worse: that it is paid in full or that "we" already need a new one.  

I told Kevin that I would go over when I was done working and look at it.  "No" he says, "Just get him a new one."  This sentence tells me that this has been happening a while and Kevin is 100% over this topic. The line starts here, Kev.

Instead, I searched on the app for flip phones and couldn't find one.  This meant going into town to buy one.  SUPER.  (quick tip: search "basic phones")  Luckily for me, I had to go to the grocery store anyway and this gave me motivation to actually go.

In the meanwhile, Kevin's dad phones me. From his phone...the one that doesn't work.  He tells me what Kevin has already explained.  Then he ante's up with "And I'm paying for it.  I'm paying for it or I just won't have a phone,"  Because that is a perfectly reasonable thing to declare.  "Well, first off: that's ridiculous." I say "And I've already talked to Kevin and I'm working on it. Hold tight."

We pay for their phone service and phones, that is why he made that declaration.  They are not signers on the account so by design sorta, they have to go through us for these kinds of things. I told him I was working on it instead of "I'm going right now" to avoid any further nonsense.  It's easier to just go and do it than to argue.  So, off to the store I went.

The process was surprisingly painless.  No contact sales, only three options, (because: flip phones), and automated everything.  I will share something I learned from Kevin: when looking at the options, I asked the salesperson "Which one would you buy your grandpa?"  This question immediately eliminated one of the phones and highlighted another because of it's simplicity.

Once I got home, I put the phone together (no touch sales, remember), charged it, transferred contacts, chose a ringtone and the font size. It didn't take too long, all said and done.  However, I waited until Kevin came home to deliver it next door.   As challenging as my m-i-l can be, f-i-l doubles it.  He wavers between over-confidence and literally "I'm too stupid to figure this out."  So Kevin took point.  He gave it to his dad, gave him a cursory tour of it and we went home.

This is where I say that a flip phone is a flip phone is a flip phone.  How could this POSSIBLY be difficult?  Oh silly Surely.  You naive girl.

First though: since his stroke, f-i-l says "calendar" when he means "contacts". This is important.

We had been home not even ten minutes when he phoned.  He needed help.  Kevin stopped mowing the yard and we walked over.  "I don't know where my calendar is" he says.

Kevin is confused "Why do you need your calendar?"
Me, Stage whisper: "Kev, he means contacts"
Kevin, Not Stage whisper: "He said calendar"
Emphatic stage whisper: "I KNOW. He MEANS contacts"
"Dad, do you mean your contacts?"  Sigh. Thanks for making it weird, Kev.

Kevin shows him three times where the contacts are. To be fair to the f-i-l, contacts are not featured on the main screen like before, but in the settings menu.  Because no one uses the contact menu anymore.  But that is not the issue right now.

I'm trying to encourage Kevin to show him how to call from the (admittedly empty right now) Call Log instead of the contacts.  Kevin is resistant and I'm all "Whelp, you do you and we'll see how it works out."  

And then Kevin accidentally shows him the wrong way to call from the calendar.  I was all Rick Castle, standing out of sight from the parents:
Castle GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Now, again, f-i-l is certain he has it.  I am not certain but am confident that we would be back.  Fifteen minutes later and Kevin is back next door.  F-i-l had managed to get into the edit contact mode and wasn't able to get back out of it.  

To be fair, it isn't easy to do and it took me a minute.  But this is where I say that if we taught him to call from the Call Log and Not the Calendar, this might not be a thing.  I am a grown-up most of the time, and held my tongue.

I fixed it, showed Kevin how not to do that and sent him on his way to return the phone. Encouraging him as he went out the door to show him how to call from the call log instead.  Because I sometimes choose my battles, just in a cowardly way.

You would think we were done.  We weren't.  The next day, AFTER Kevin gets home from a 12-hour day (remember: I'm working from home now)  Kevin brings the phone over for me to fix the exact same issue.  I told him that I would just go get another phone tomorrow.  No, he'll figure it out, he says, on behalf of his dad. This is Friday now.

Sunday, the phone is back at our house.  Same issue.  After some tense negotiation, I decided to just go into town and trade it in.  I needed a break at this point anyway and the longer we wait, the less likely we'll be able to exchange it.  Into town I go, twenty minutes one way, and the store is closed.  PERFECT. Thanks, Pandemic.

I returned home, handed the phone to Kevin and said "I'll go tomorrow. I don't want to talk about it anymore."  He took that on face value and returned the phone to his dad.  He returned later and said "He wants to keep it. He likes it."  I admit to counting to at least ten before responding.  There may have been a hand gesture.
Oh!  I forgot. The other issue: he keeps picking it up when it rings and somehow hanging it up.  Again, it's a flip phone so it does require some flexibility.  The zippy twist is that he DOESN'T call whoever back.  He just shrugs and moves on with his life.  SIGH.  So, my point being is that he struggled with that part too.  But now he LIKES the phone.  Wants to KEEP it.

That was Sunday night.  I'm writing this on Tuesday morning.  GUESS WHO JUST WALKED BY MY WINDOW? (I swear to all the gods, this is true)

He had opened his calendar again and was editing his contacts again and couldn't get out of it. Again.  I got out of it for him, not even bothering to show him how.  Instead, I showed him how to call from the CALL LOG instead of the calendar. By now the call log is full of the numbers he uses on the regular.  He seems to understand this part.  I am emphatic to Not Use the Calendar.

This is where he says that a) he uses my m-i-l's phone to call the doctor's.  WUT.  He makes it sound like the smart phone is too much but he uses it to phone the doctor offices!?!?!  Okay, deep breath, we're not thinking about that right now.

And 2) "Can you do me a favor?" he asks when I'm finished. Sure, why not, I'm committed at this point. He needed all the dead (literally) people taken out of his contacts.  There were four.  Just removing them made his calendar easier to manipulate.  Oh, and I'm doing this while standing in the doorway, blocking the way because he keeps trying to come inside.  

 It's now Wednesday morning and *knock wood* it has been quiet.  I've done many wrong things in my life but this *waving my hands around me* should automatically earn me a ticket into heaven.  Where I'll probably still have to work on everyone's phones.

16 June 2020

Two Sides of a Hallway

I have been saying for two years that I am going to paint the hallway.  Two years of fussing about it, avoiding it, talking about it. Frowning at it. Finally last week, I just did it.

And yes, I've been talking about painting the bedroom but let's focus on the hallway right now.

The hallway had become my white whale.  I kept looking at it during the day (because I'm always home now) and thinking about it when I can't sleep.   It was the last part of the house that everyone sees to be painted.  Yadda Yadda Yadda.

Then, kind of impulsively, I just started. (I'm super fun to live with, by the way)  

Fifty nails in one wall.  FIFTY.  I have issues.   I took all the photographs down in sequential order and stacked them in the bathtub of the common folk bathroom.  There's a lot to unpack in that sentence, I realize.  Let me be more specific:

I took photos of how they were arranged.
Took them down vertical row by row
Stacked them in the bathtub (Because I can't deal with clutter and I know how clumsy I can be)
Common Folk Bathroom is what Kevin calls the guest bathroom

                        This was only half of the photos. I didn't think to take a photo sooner.

Just taking down all of the photographs was exhausting. Because: FIFTY of them.  Of course, they were dusty because there are few more frustrating tasks than dusting frames on walls.  You would think that would give me pause on replacing all fifty photos once done.  It did not.

Then I did the responsible thing and put plastic down on the floors and taped it so me or the puppy didn't trip or drag it around the house.  As I was banned from painting ever again for tens of years, I had to be extra diligent about this project if I wanted to retain my painting "privileges".  (another story for another day)

There was a discussion of painting over the nails versus removing them, by the way.  Painting them was overwhelmingly the decision.  I'm not even sure why it was a discussion.  So that was next.  It looked like the wall had chicken pox.   This is where I have that moment of panic that I've made a big mistake.  But I am committed now.

It took about three hours-ish.  I mean, it's a tall wall and long.  This also isn't to imply that I worked the Entire Time, just that I looked at the clock when I started and kind of paid attention when I finished.  It took one and a half viewings of Bohemian Rhapsody to paint the living room so my measurement of time is unusual.

Oh, and this was a Let Kevin Know Afterward project.  His anxiety tends to ping if he knows I'm doing something like this.  So that added a zippy This HAS to get done energy to the project as well.

The paint I buy is low fume and dries super fast.  I started at the floor and worked up to the ceiling (don't apply logic, there is none) and by the time I was finished painting, I could rehang all fifty photographs.


Even with photos of the photos, it was like a puzzle putting it back together.  Even then, I rearranged because I liked different photos better than others.  This then created new space for New Photos!  Because I like challenges!

So. That was Day One.  Yep, there's more.  

The hallway has a funky...alcove? buffet? bookcase? right outside of my office.  It hold games, movies, music.  Stuff that we use but not regularly.  I had dithered about painting it the mocha color or leaving it white.  Kevin looked at it and agreed that it looked unfinished so we decided that it needed to be the mocha color also.  

The next morning finds me painting that section, which didn't take very long once I concentrated on it.  And had enough paint to finish, but whatever.  The challenge of this space was more of a decorative one.  The cupboard doesn't go to the ceiling so there is a dead space.  When we moved in, I tossed our wedding flower arrangement up there and moved on with my life.  Taking it down, I learned that it wasn't a good idea.  So much dust.    Now I not only have to decide what to do with those flowers, but what to put up there, if anything.  We'll put a pin in that.

Because, you see, there is the other side of the hallway.  I know, right, Two Sides of a Hallway.  I just painted the main wall that everyone can see. And then the alcove thingy.  I really couldn't say that I painted the hallway if I only painted one wall.  

I'd like to say that there were less nails in the other wall because it was smaller.  And there were: ONLY 35 nails.  Psh, piece of cake.  So, rinse and repeat the day before: take photos of the photos, take them down and store them in the tub, paint and put everything back.

This wall didn't go as smoothly because the wall was absolutely sucking up the cream paint.  Upon closer inspection, it looks like perhaps the upper part of the wall was still in primer.  Because it's a hallway with tall walls, it's not something anyone would notice.

Also, when you paint a mocha color, it is OBVIOUS what hasn't been painted.  When you go from flat white to a cream color in poorly lit hallway, it is Challenge Level 1000.  Yes, I know: I needed work lights.  They were all the way out in the shop and I didn't want to go out there.  Eventually I finished though, just ironically not as quickly as the larger wall.

Putting the photos back up on this wall was more challenging.  I will save The Why for a different post. (CLIFFHANGER!)  It's been a few days and I just hung the last three photos.  

It did create the what to put on top of the cupboard issue and I solved it today.  Books, of course.  My bookshelf has been stacked with Unread Books so I rearranged it.Then put about twenty books up there.  I started to think about stacking them vertically or horizontally or sorting them by color but made myself put them up there right now.  I'll worry about those details later.

Finally, in last stroke of HGTV touches, I replaced the outlet and switch covers in the hallway to match the new ones in the bathrooms.  We had the standard, white, plastic covers and replaced them with bronze, metal ones.  It's a little thing but it's surprising how it changes how everything looks.  So, of course, I bought more for the rest of the house.

Now the hallway is done and it feels happier.  I'm glad that I finally did it.  Kevin likes it and he's Captain Skeptical about these kinds of things so that's a win.  

Now, for real, it's time for the bedroom.  Just not yet.

12 June 2020

Gravity is A Thing

It is no secret that I tend to take on big projects when my brain gets too full.  This Spring has been a shining example of that.

I whined and whined about waiting for the weather to change so I could work in the garden.  Then the weather changed to warm and humid in the blink of an eye.  Suddenly the garden is growing, Growing, GROWING.  But this is a good problem to have. Mostly.

Tens of years ago, I rescued a pot of ivy from next door.  Kevin wanted to bury it because he considers it the devil.  No, I said, I will keep it trimmed. I said. It will be perfect. I said.  Fast forward: lovely but taking over the rock garden and not the hill that I had hoped for.

After a few tense negotiations and Lucy digging in it, I finally relented.  I started just trimming the ivy out of the rock garden, then I had to remove an area that Lucy had killed while hunting.  Then I realized just how ingrown the buttercups had become within the ivy.  Buttercups have been the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE for two years now.  BANE.  Turns out that one my favorite flowers as a child is an invasive plant.  Because: of course it is.  When buttercups take over IVY, things have gone sideways.


After working for more than an hour to try to trim the ivy into submission and remove the buttercups, I reluctantly decided that it all had to go.  I wish that I took better photographs but I was in the moment.

The ivy was in a giant hard plastic pot and embedded into the embankment.  I thought for sure that the plastic would be brittle, maybe even already broken.  It was not.

Now, the part I really hated: I needed Kevin's help.  To his credit, he did not gloat.  He was a little too gleeful at the idea of removing the ivy in any way he saw fit.  So that had to be tamped down a little.  We finally freed the original pot of ivy and Kevin rolled it down over the embankment to do battle with the blackberry bushes.  And to be the bane of our ancestors, probably.

Now there was a giant space where the ivy used to was.  Hmmm.  

We had some wonky cinder blocks from a project.  I have been trying to figure out how to make steps so that I don't break my neck trying to get up and down the two levels.  So I made what I affectionately call Redneck Steps.  It fills the space and solves a problem.

Also the problem with the steps was that it was muddy around them. I knew that a few good rains and they would be washed away.  So I began stealing rocks from the other parts of the garden to fill in around them.  This is where having the pit boss of an excavation company for a husband comes in handy.

This is what is called 4-to-8 rock; meaning that it measures 4 to 8 inches in circumference.  Kevin had one of his guys load him up with rocks that I could handle. This is the first load and it was over 400 lbs. And buddy, some of those rocks were on the 8+ inches side.  

I got up early the next morning to unload the truck before Kevin's dad would notice what I was doing.  Wait, first: I had to buy a wheelbarrow two days before On My Anniversary, because we have "donated" two of them to next door.  Because it was brand new, I wanted to attempt to keep it nice.  AND it was 7:30 in the morning so I was trying to be quiet.  This is where I took an old towel and lined the brand new wheelbarrow with it before I unloaded rocks.

Yes, I do have issues. Thanks for noticing.

It took about an hour, maybe two of unloading rocks and walking them almost sixty feet to the place in the garden where they would be placed.  I made more trips than necessary because I was trying to be quiet and careful.  This was what I was thinking I would do:

The ivy is still there and the stupid buttercups.  I had trimmed it back but hadn't sprayed poison or raked them away yet.  Also, if some of it survives and grows to the RIGHT of the garden in a proper fashion, I wouldn't be mad.  That is a clay hill that is steep and impossible to grow anything BUT ivy and buttercups.

As I stood there, admiring my work, I thought about how I've always struggled with the garden just abruptly ending into the grass.  Because there is no barrier there, grass and weeds tend to wander freely into the topsoil/mulch.  Hmmm.

Also, I still had some rocks left.  I continued putting rocks along the ivy, up to the next block wall.  But now I didn't have enough to finish that section.  AND now it looked unfinished.

When Kevin came home, I mentioned that I needed another load of rocks.  "As much as? Less? More?"  I guessed, absolutely GUESSED and said "Same"  The next day, truckload number two arrived of nearly 500 lbs.  I think he was skeptical to start with but the request for a second load of rocks both surprised him and scared him a little bit.  

So, rinse and repeat unloading the rocks on the down low. These rocks were not as small this time. There may have been cursing.  I unloaded two loads at the bottom of the garden like in the above photos. Then I realized a few things:
Gravity is a thing 
I'm not young anymore
I am not tall

Reluctantly, I walked all the way around to the top of the garden and looked down.  It's sketchy steep from that standpoint. I've worked there occasionally and just kind of slide on my bum so that I don't fall and roll into the house below.  I have made the "joke" of needing rappelling equipment to work on that section of the garden. 

This is one of those How Do You Eat An Elephant situations. First, one bite at a time.  Second, you just have to start.  

I moved the truck up into the driveway, above where I needed to work.  Lucy thought we were going to get coffee so she sat in the truck the Entire Time.  Nothing adds stress like an impatient supervisor.

Starting against the fence, where it is kinda level, I stacked rocks by leaning over the fence.  Then I unloaded more rocks onto that pile, jumped the fence and started to work down the hill; placing rocks like a jigsaw puzzle.  

But Gravity is A Thing.  Some just slid away, some stayed.  I tried two more times, taking a little more risk with working on the hill.  Then I realized that this is all going to be for nothing if I end up dead at the bottom of the garden.

Back up to the truck I go.  I stood there and muttered like a crazy person. Finally, out of frustration and Hey Maybe This Will Work, I started tossing some of the lighter rocks down the hill.  This was met with mild, at best, success.  Some would land where I wanted, some would happily bounce all.the.way.to.the.bottom.  and some would land elsewhere.

It wasn't a win but it wasn't a loss either.

I'm getting frustrated because I wanted to do this by myself and it was looking like I was going to need Kevin to help.  But the truck needed unloaded either way.  So I started tossing rocks again.  



Gravity is a THING.

Remember I said that the second load had bigger rocks?  I had shoved those to the side with the intention of using them somewhere else.  What if, WHAT IF, I made a backstop of sorts that would hold the rocks that I was throwing?  

I took three of the bigger rocks (instead of 4-to-8 inches, there were more like 12 inches)  SLID them down the hill then scrambled down after them.  There is a plant right in the middle that was (was) a little more hearty, and it could take a hit if I missed.

Taking those three rocks, I made a wall around that plant that would theoretically stop the smaller rocks from rolling and keep me from killing that plant.  This also caused a little curve to the pathway I was building so if this worked, it was going to be genius.

Back up the hill I climb, with a little more enthusiasm than before.  I started tossing and sliding rocks down the hill.  And it worked, the rocks would stop at the backstop I created.  Mostly.  Sure a few took a bounce and went wherever but enough of them stayed to make this worthwhile.

I had to crawl back down there twice: once to place another large rock to keep things from sliding and once to retrieve the wayward rocks from the garden, the grass, etc.  Otherwise, I kept throwing rocks down the pathway until all I had left was about ten really big rocks that I knew would end in disaster if I even tried.

Lucy and I put the truck away while she tried to convince me that we needed coffee and treats. She was not wrong but I had a mission to complete and there was no way I was going anywhere without a shower.  So she pouted then slept on the deck while I finished.

Working from below, I placed the rocks a little more logically, rescued a few more wayward ones, and tidied up if you will.  I have to admit, it went remarkably easy once I figured out how to do it.  It became a game: figuring out which rocks would land, which would bounce, which would just laugh as they bounced down the hill.

I still have some larger rock left over so I'm wondering what else I can do.  At the top of the hill and in the grass, you can see hydrangeas that were put there in another attempt to let something grow wild and take over the hill.  Again though: stupid buttercups.  AND then landscaper hadn't come yet at this point of the story.  But maybe a fairy garden of sorts up there.

I've already created this up there:

This is right where I was working at the top of the garden
                                      This is at the top of the garden, near where I was working.


08 June 2020

Set the Phasers to Two

I woke up owly and sad yesterday morning, which is super unusual for me.  I guess with the world being on fire, it was my turn to feel that way. Also I just can't get a grip on my thoughts.  

Context/Update: Everyone here is safe, we are far from Seattle.  I will say that the trouble in Seattle is not the Protesters but mainly the white-nationalists and anarchists.  The protests in this state have been mostly peaceful. The protests in the cities surrounding us have been peaceful.  That's about all the energy I have for that so in a zippy twist, let's talk about the pandemic response:

Back to yesterday: I had to decide if walllowing was the thing to do or if Get Over Yourself was the thing. My guess was it was going to be a combo-platter.

Kevin brought me coffee and went out to the shop while I got ready for the day.  It was raining so I decided that holding the couch down, reading magazines, and watching HGTV was the goal to accomplish today.  I settled in with a cozy blanket, HGTV, and a huge stack of magazines.

Then Kevin needed help with the racecar so I reluctantly put on shoes and a hoodie then went outside.

As if the gods themselves sensed my mood, there was Nephew.  I haven't seen him in months, which is super unusual for us.  He's like my son and I didn't realize how much I missed him.  "Are we doing this?" he says as he hugs me.  We're in Phase Two now, hugs are allowed again.  He's one of like three people (adults) that I will hug.  So this was big, is what I'm saying.

AND, Sweet Baby is here too.  He was walking with his grandma and she called him over to say hi.  He walked directly to me, monkey crawled up onto me and hugged for minutes.  All is right with the world.  

We watched while he rode his TWO wheeler, WITHOUT training wheels up and down the driveway.  I took a million videos,  Then we spent time down at the creek throwing rocks, playing with sticks and doing all things a four-year-old boy loves.  I loaded my phone with videos, still shots, and have photos banked for the instagram.  All good things.

Kevin was working on a fuel experiment (almost too nerdy for me, believe it or not) so it feels like he talked to every friend he has between Maryland and British Columbia.  For him though, that is his happy place: in the garage talking to his friends about all things racecar.

The landscaper was here so our yard is no longer looking like a jungle. Because of weather and the Stay Home Order, he hasn't been out here since October. Even though I've been working in the garden and yard, there are things I simply cannot do. Kevin works thirteenousand hours and can't manage those tasks and all his other responsibilities.  So, we hired a landscaper last year and he's the nicest man. He doesn't make me feel like Lady of the Manor having her gardens manicured.  The point being: that was one more return to normal.  I missed that more than having a haircut, I'm telling you.

Oh! Haircut!  Kevin went and had his hair cut.  Our friend opened her shop on Saturday, as early as was allowed and was booked the whole day.  She was skeptical that it was Kevin and I who cut his hair but eventually accepted it.  Kevin, who had previously said "I don't know that I'll pay for a haircut again" said emphatically, multiple times, "I FEEL SO GOOD."

AND, surprise of all surprises: the stylist looked at my hair and said "Oh! You don't need a haircut!"  I had just trimmed the ends a few days prior but I must have figured it out enough that I passed her inspection.  Kevin, always having my back, a little panicky said "Remember, she's growing it out so she hasn't needed it cut."  So, high five me.  And Kevin.

All these things made possible by the approval for Phase two, which means restaurants will be open with strict guidelines and stores that were deemed "non-essential" MIGHT be reopening.  Also, as mentioned, stylists will be opening. Small gathering are okay. It's a tiny step toward normality.

The big conversation in this area is the contact tracing.  For example: you would have to sign in at a restaurant with name, age, and contact info during Phase Two.  There is a little controversy about sharing personal information.  I have to admit - and I'm not a conspiracy theorist at all - that it does give me pause.  But overall, I understand the need for it.  I just don't think I need to go to a restaurant That Badly.

The contact tracing made me think about who I've actually seen and been in close proximity with (two separate things, we now know) over the past ninety-plus days.  I see Kevin, of course.  I see his parents but at a distance and infrequently. I see the office manager at work maybe once a week and we keep a far distance the whole time. I have seen my BFF at the park. I only go into grocery store because their health practices are So Good.  But it's a five minute trip usually with mask and sanitization. 

My point is that I see maybe five people.  Kevin's exposure is more with being at work but they keep good social distancing and sanitizing practices plus he showers when he comes home.   But the theory goes that everyone he is in contact with, I am now in contact with.

It just made me think in a finite way about exposure, something I wouldn't have thought about before other than avoiding someone I knew was sick so I didn't bring it home.

Meanwhile, we have friends in the Southwest, Midwest, and East that all have varying degrees of pandemic response.  In the Midwest, I would summarize it as "Meh, if it happens, it happens. Don't tell us what to do."  The East has been from complete lockdown to modified lockdown.  The Southwest...well, it's kind of like the Wild Wild West there.  There may be policies in place but the enforcement of said policies are a whole different topic.

The Canadian border is still closed so we haven't seen our friends in about ten months.  Just the creepy factor of not being able to cross the border is enough to scramble my brain.  It is scheduled to open at the end of the month and we still have to wait to see what, if any, travel restrictions there may be.

All the summer festivals have been cancelled, including one that is an annual family event.  I am so relieved because we've been trying to get out of it for years.  It's an over fifty-year tradition but for us, it's time to let that tradition go.  This will hopefully give us an easy segue to that.  This is like the One Thing I've thought "Oh, thank the gods that was cancelled."

We missed  Kevin's birthday, mother's day, our anniversary, the Little's fourteenth birthday and a handful of other events.  We have two memorial services pending (non-Covid related) and a postponed wedding

Like Kevin has said "At some point we have to start going back. Someone is going to have to do a thing and just hope it works out."  

Apparently this weekend was the time that we had to do a thing: Return to normal as we know it right now.  Because Normal is going to look different, not only in a few days, weeks, months but hopefully in the future as a whole.

04 June 2020

Rage Sighing

I've been quiet this week, because as I mentioned earlier The World is On Fire.  Like Swistle mentioned the other day, posting seems frivolous and unimportant.

Last night found me awake at 1:30 playing a game on my phone.  Then I slept hard until my alarm went off, followed shortly by Kevin needing me to do some marketing for the racecar.  So I was at the computer before I even showered or properly caffeinated, trying to sound professional.

I'm just now getting my coffee, but I'm showered.  I'm wearing long sleeves but also shorts.  Welcome to summer in the PNW.  I'm thinking about work but not committed yet. Obviously.  My point being is nothing is normal right now.  Like, extra not normal.

I've stayed away from social media.  I did not post a black image but paused my social media for two days.  I just don't have the energy for ignorance right now.  My rebel heart will bounce back eventually and be visible.  Right now, I'm doing stuff in the background, just not visibly.  It's important to know your limits.

Today though, man, after seeing multiple All Lives posts though, I'm feeling a little stabby.  It's just so disappointing when I see people that I love post stuff that isn't just what I disagree with but willfully ignorant. It's hard enough to love people sometimes.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a coworker whose children are mixed race.  She shared how they are struggling right now, especially in a predominately white area.  That not only broke my heart but also gave me a twinge of guilt.  I have black friends, I have mixed race family, I have Latina coworkers. I worked for the YWCA for years.  I am equipped for this and I have no right to be quiet.

So I tend to approach things with humor.  There was a question on a game show the other night: "Where is it inappropriate to tell a joke?"  I glanced at Kevin and he just raised an eyebrow at me.  He knows my answer.  Within reason, "nowhere" is my answer.  Some of my hardest, joyous laughs have been at funerals, in hospital rooms, and other "inappropriate" places.

I was telling Kevin the other night about a post that I saw on social media about yelling at a breast cancer survivor that "all cancers matter".  It made me laugh but also created a perspective that breaks down why saying A.L.M is wrong.  

Being the research nerd that I am, I consulted the university of google images and collected some images.  Then without comment, posted them on the facebook.  I know that some people (family) will hate it and that's okay.  If anyone posts negative, they will get one warning then comments will be deleted.  I did this on that horrible day in 2016 and will do it again.  

(if you look at my page on the fb, it says "Bleeding heart liberal snowflake social justice warrior. Also: racecar, puppies, coffee & sarcasm"  So no one should be surprised)

Because right now isn't the time to be quiet.  It is the time to do what's right for you though so you're Not Quiet might be something completely different.  That is Okay.  We all have our ways.  It just took me a minute.