31 August 2020

Stop and Listen

Sweet Baby was here for a visit yesterday.  His dad was helping next door with a project and his mom had the new puppy with her so it was a really good visit all around.  A much needed respite in these End Times.

He's nearly five (GASP) and pretty independent.  His parents are of the free-range mindset so I wasn't surprised when he wandered over to our house, twice, by himself.  

*It really occurs to me with this post that I can't continue calling him Sweet Baby.  I will call him Five because he is number five in naming succession. (As in John Anthony Smith the Fifth.)  That was his original prenatal nickname anyway*

The first time I heard him coming because there is nothing quiet about an almost five-year-old boy.  I called out "Is that Five!?!"  

"It's me!  I'm here!  Where are you Auntie Surely?"

I was painting the tool shed and I put everything down to go spend time with him. I knew the paint would be ruined when I returned but I was ready to be done anyway.  And, you don't say no to an almost five-year-old when they want to see you. 

We walked next door to see the puppy, he got his bike to ride, and we all had a small visit.  Then he headed off to see his other (great) grandpa with his mom and grandma.

Almost two hours later, I am now working in the garden.  Kevin was next door and I hear footsteps in the gravel.  "Auntie Surely! Where. Are. You!?!" I called out to him and he came around the house to find me in the garden.  

Tens of questions later and after crawling on the rocks, he sits down on the lawn.  He calls Lucy over to him and she came.  She is not a fan of children so this is unusual. (not a mean bone in her body, just not interested in the ear and tail pulling stage)  

"Come down and sit with me" Five says.

"Let me finish this one thing" I reply as I'm wrestling a five-gallon bucket of mulch.  

"Come down and sit with me" he repeats, a slight tone of impatience/want.  Not whining because he knows that doesn't work but a genuine want of me to stop what I was doing and sit with him.

Something in my head clicked and said "You don't pass this up. He won't be Almost Five for long."

I made my way down and sat with him in the grass.  I expected that he would spring back up and want to play because Almost Five.  He didn't.  He indeed wanted to talk and pet Lucy, who tolerated it.

I'm a little amazed at this point because he's old enough to have a conversation with but young enough that they're usually fleeting.  But he's in so I'm in.

At one point, he just plainly asked "Where is your dad?"  

He's never met my dad as he passed in 2009, almost seven years prior to his birth. I never talk about him.  It's been almost two years since he went swimming at my parents house. There really was no connection at all.  It also wasn't in context with anything we were talking about.  We had been talking about bugs.  "Callerpallers" to be exact.  

I stalled because that's always a tough one to answer to children.  The kids (his parents) have a direct approach with these things so I followed their lead.  "He's not here, he died"

This was followed with "How did he die" and "Why?"  I explained that he got very sick and sometimes that happens, especially when you are old.  He took that on face value, paused, "Oh." and thought about it.  Then we talked about other things until he was ready to go.

So, here's the thing.  The anniversary of my dad's death was Wednesday. It passed with barely a notice from me and none from my family.  Kevin and I have made jokes about my dad "hanging around" the house in the past and now  I'm wondering if he made a visit yesterday.  

Five seems to be an old soul who would notice these things.

My point is Listen.  Stop and Listen when they ask you to.  These moments are fleeting.

I'm sad this is blurry but happy that I can use it here because it's blurry

28 August 2020

Cooking For Dummies - Lasagna Edition

 If you've read here for a while or know me in real life, you know that I am not a cooker.  Like, super not a cooker.  It's never been a skill I've enjoyed so I've never cultivated it.  I'm 100% better than when I was young, of course, and we eat pretty healthy for two people who eat like six-year-olds.

One of my "goals" this year of The End Times was to try to learn new meals.  I've met that with mild success. I can make enchiladas, mexican casserole, and chicken parmesana without - to quote Kevin - "screwing it up".  Before you get impressed, let me tell you the recipes are the Cooking for Dummies versions. I am winning no contests.

Along with that goal, I subscribed to a few emails to help achieve it.  One of the most recent emails contained a slow cooker lasagna recipe.  Hmmm, I thought.  We like lasagna.  Slow cooker works for August-so-not-using-the-oven-cooking.  So I bought the ingredients in the next grocery order.

Three weeks later and today is the day. Apparently.

The thing with the slow cooker is that it requires Time Management.  As discussed previously, I don't have that.  Also, it requires stopping what I'm doing mid-day to think about dinner and I'm not down for that.

My best friend likes to ask me "What's for dinner?"  which is one of my least favorite questions. They are also the cook in their family and they also don't enjoy that question so it's in solidarity. Also, Kevin asks it when he phones to tell me he's on his way home.  For both of these people, the answer is usually unsurprisingly"I don't know."  Unless it's Tuesday, then it's Tacos. Duh.

Anyway, off topic.

I had to work today in my actual office so I pre-planned to try to make the lasagna recipe today. (whew, that was passive voice all.over.the.place.)

NOTHING STRESSES ME OUT MORE than learning how to cook something new.  NOTHING.  Parent hospitalizations, burying Lucy's kills, Current Political Situation. Nothing.  I hate it.  Gah. I employed my Calm the Eff Down tactics and made myself just do it.

I brought up the recipe on my phone. I don't know why I didn't use my laptop.  I just didn't.  It would have been easier but here we are.

I put all the ingredients on the counter.  I got out the slow cooker.  Yes, I have one, calm down. It was a wedding gift, but I have one.

Took a deep breath and began to assemble ingredients.  I spun out a little from Go, because I needed a mixing bowl and didn't have one.  

Sorry, another side story: I had the PERFECT mixing bowl when I was married to Satan.  I used it for everything.  Popcorn, mixing, everything.  And my impulsive/angry dumb ass Left It Behind.  I have never found another one like it.  So: no large mixing bowl.  Again: I don't cook and I super don't bake.

Wait, I googled it. It was like this, sorta:

(I should probably buy it now...)

I made do with just a little bit of a mess.  I hate messes so that added to the angst of this experiment.

And then: I realized that I didn't have enough mozzarella cheese.  I would swear that I bought some but nope.  Luckily....prepare to laugh...I had extra Mexican cheese.  So, the final layer had Mexican -style shredded cheese.  I am nothing but multicultural.  What could possibly go wrong?  Cheese is cheese. More cheese the merrier.  Okay, I'll stop now.

All in all, it is an easy recipe.  It's just not easy when I'm all up in my head trying to learn something new.  It's now slow cooking on the counter and I am prepared to go buy burgers at the tavern if it's a miserable failure.  

Oh, and I'm cutting it close for it being ready at "dinner time" because (see above) I can't manage my time well. AND Kevin just phoned to let me know that he might be home early; which NEVER HAPPENS EVER.

I will say that the oven-ready/no boil lasagna noodles are just disconcerting.  It's like little plastic sheets.  I had to suspend my disbelief that they were real and just go with it.

Now, we wait.  We'll see how the "easy" slow cooker lasagna hybrid turns out.  I have no predictions.

*singing the Jeopardy song*

The house smells good so I've got that going for me.  I looked under the lid because we are at hour three out of 3.5-4.5 hours.  It looks...soupy.  I'm wondering if more noodles were needed but I FOLLOWED THE DAMN DIRECTIONS.  

The directions also said that it would be ready in that time frame but the comments said it would be ready earlier so we're playing the cooked/overcooked lottery.  This is a familiar game to me.

*More jeopardy song*

Kevin came home and asked the dreaded what's for dinner question.  "I made lasagna" I answered but he was already distracted with the racecar and only replied a non-committal "Oh."

Finally it was dinner time. Kevin helped set the table, which is unusual and actually matches with the way things are going today.  I set the pot on the table and sighed.  "Let's see how this turned out."

Kevin looks at the pot skeptically.  "Wait. Did you MAKE this?"  "No" he continues, answering his own question before continuing "Yes? Did you...did you... make this?" he says incredulously.  "You little badass" he says when I confirm that I did indeed make this.  (he has an odd complimentary style, you get used to it)

Lifting the lid, it does still appear soupy.  But it smells good.  I begin to cut into it and it seems...okay.  I dished up Kevin and myself and sat down.  Unusually, Kev is waiting for me to take the first bite.  "You promised burgers if it's not good."  I'm not sure if he's rooting for success or failure at this point.

I took a bite and surprisingly, it was GOOD.  Kevin took a bite and...

"OMG" he exclaims  "This is really EFFING GOOD.  You didn't f&%k it up! It's really good!"

He takes another bite and confirms his first opinion.  "It's like my NEW FAVORITE THING. OMG."

Despite the Mexican style shredded cheese substitution and the confirmed fact that more noodles are needed than suggested in the recipe, this was a big success.  WHEW.  

To quote one of my friends: We Can Do Hard Things. Even if hard things are defined as making lasagna.

(if you're interested, this is the recipe: Slow Cooker Lasagna)

27 August 2020

First Day of School

Okay, so.  Start Up is when my work begins the "term year".  Think of it as when teachers go back to school a month before the actual first day of school.  Start Up is usually the second week of August.  Time is irrelevant now but that was two weeks ago.  Technically, I am two weeks into the new school year.

The zippy twist is there is no "school" until January 4th, 2021.  There is no direct service with families until then.  However, MY requirements remain the same. Mostly.  (for those of you who forgot/don't know: I ensure that birth-to-five year old kiddos have current well-child and dental exams, current immunizations, and lead screening. And other stuff.)

If we remember way back at the beginning of the End Times that I had to work no less than fifteen minutes and no more than two hours.  At Home.  I know, it's a very unreasonable demand.  

Now because Start Up, I can work as much as my caseload requires/allows.  It has the potential to be more than two hours but not sustainably so.  On the regular, my caseload is just under 400 kids and working with five advocates from different parts of the program.

This year, however, my caseload is about half of that. At first I was all Thank you sweet tiny 8lb 6 oz baby jesus.  Then I realized: then what am I going to be doing with all the "free" time?  

The answer is something and nothing.  I can only work as my caseload allows so I have to manage my time accordingly.  The fun part of that is the A.D.D. is not so much down with time management.  In my brain: it's an all or nothing proposal.    For example: I have a file full of documents to process.  My brain is yelling at me that they're just SITTING THERE.  However, I'm tapped out of time for today.  Still, my brain is all "Helllooo...file. Sitting there. Needing stuff. Do it. DO IT."

What I didn't see coming is now I'm required to have Office Hours.  I have to be in my (empty) office for up to two hours weekly; to be available to advocates and staff.  The ones who are ALSO working from home. Sooo...yeah.  This is well-planned.

Today was the first day.  There was a manager and a teacher there, neither of whom needed me.  I spent the morning catching up with the manager and decorating my empty office.  I'm sure that as we progress, people will be around but that was just a waste of time.  Other than I finally have stuff on the walls of my office, (it only took one year).   

I had mentioned the transition back to peopling being a rough one.  Today was better.  I actually looked forward to having a schedule, getting ready, and interacting with people. I wore actual grown-up clothes. This morning had the actual feel of Back to School.  

 Now I'm home and the feeling has worn off. I'm ready to be back in my cozy cocoon again. I'm barefoot and in shorts and a t-shirt again. But I'm not exhausted like I was the last time.  I have work to do tomorrow and one day a week that I don't have to worry about time management.

Welcome to the New School Year.  Nothing is as it should be.

24 August 2020

Next Time I'm Writing the Check

 About this time yesterday, we were officially done painting the exterior of our house.  It was estimated that it would take about one weekend, if we worked straight through.  Anyone who knows us knows that is simply not gonna happen.  And it didn't.

It took two weekends, not working straight through, and time over the work week.  It's a small house so we estimate that the prep time may have taken longer than the actual paint time.  Like HVAC when building a house, prep time isn't visible or immediately gratifying however.

So, let's begin at the beginning, shall we?

We were supposed to paint the house last summer and we didn't.  There was just too much going on in the family, work, racecar, and as we remembered this weekend: wildfire smoke.  And just who we are as people has to be noted.  

Then we got a bid from neighbors for just painting the house, we would do the prep work.  $1800.  So after a milli-second of consideration, we agreed we would do it ourselves.  There are just other ways we would rather spend that kind of money.

I powerwashed the entire house over two days, which is so satisfying and gratifying.  It really is one my favorite chores.  This is where I discovered that we could probably get away with painting just the gutters and trim for at least another year.  Kevin said that wasn't an option though.

There is a spec house that we both really like the paint palette...paint scheme...paint job?  I took a crappy photo over a year ago so we could replicate it:

It was different enough to make it worth painting but not a huge overall change.  Kevin and I must have gone around one hundred times about painting gutters, the door, which color went where.  I even sent him photos:

One would think that this helped, it did not. I don't know why.  It could be his dyslexia, it could be anxiety. I just know murder was on the table.  It did not pass my notice that the intended trim color was a lovely shade of cappuccino, keeping with our coffee paint scheme.  Oh, and off  topic a bit: everyone called the trim color a different color.  My father-in-law-in-law (not a typo) thought it looks purplish.  My s-i-l called it olive.  Kevin just kept calling it brown.  

One of Kevin's guys is a contractor.  He said to go to Sherwin Williams for paint.  This is where I tell you that Kevin will often get names wrong, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. One never knows which.  He kept calling it Sherwim Phillips, which made me laugh every single time.

(SIDE NOTE:  The habit of purposefully saying names wrong spins out my sister-in-law. She hates it SO MUCH.  There was a restaurant called Johnny Carinos and Kevin called it Jonny Gringo.  Woo boy did she hate that. So then it could never be Johnny Carinos ever again. Anyway...)

So, we decided a color theme. We had most of the prep work done.  Then Kevin had to work on a Saturday because of course.  He suggested that I just go get samples of the above paint card and we'd go from there.  He gave me the can of original paint we had to match, because he thinks of these kinds of things.

I went in the morning, hoping to beat the rush and was rewarded with a young guy who was willing to babysit me.  He agreed that the colors would match, he didn't upsell me on paint or tools or services, and gave me exactly what it would cost.

Oh, and I had already looked for coupons and sales and how much estimated paint we would need so for once I was prepared.

Next thing I know, I am bringing home five gallons of coastal green (I think) and two gallons each of the accent colors.  More paint than we needed but I am a big fan of not having to back into town in the middle of a big project. And paint keeps so we're set when it's time to touch up everything.

I took a photo of the receipt and texted it to Kevin.  Three...two...one...and my phone rings.  "I, uh, thought we were only getting samples today?" with a tinge of fear in his voice.  I laughed because silly boy should really know better than that.  I am one of few who impulsively buys large amounts of custom paint. You're welcome.

"We know what we want, I found it and I bought it.  If I don't, it will be next summer before we paint the house."   "Okay..." replies Captain Skeptical.  

We started with basic colors and trim package, fifteen years ago:
We thought it was cute and charming fifteen years ago.  Now we're all *yawn, boring*

There are 16 shutters on this house.  Nothing will test your patience and perseverance like painting shutters. There may have been tears, definitely cursing and tantruming.  I did those while Kevin was at work so I could just zone out and get it done.  It took three days.  THREE.  And there was still needed touch-up when we hung them. 

Note that Kevin will hate this photo because things are in disarray and unfinished. That is my point.

AND THEN, we have park benches at the end of the house where we park. Kevin mentioned that the darker green might look good on them so I gave them a quick coat.  It did NOT.  So, like, NOT.  This found me on the following Monday at the hardware store buying more paint.  I will save those photos for the end as not to spoil the Big Reveal.

Oh, and hooray for impulsiveness.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

While Kevin was at work during the week, I worked on the trim.  It required the little ladder so it was mostly okay.  Anything requiring the big ladder was automatically designated as Kevin's.  For those of you keeping track: shutters and most of the trim.  All said and done, about three work-days worth of painting, not chronological.  For me.

Then I started to roll paint the body of the house as far as I could reach; I am five foot, three inches tall.  Dude, it was not even to the halfway part.  I could only reach about one-third of the house.  So much for a good deed.  Kevin was pleased still though because that was one-third that he didn't have to do.  (I took photos but you really can't tell, sadly)

It was mentioned a few times in conversation that my sister-in-law painted their whole house a few summers ago.  Alone.  (because Kevin's brother is a .... piece of work, shall we say)   Their house is over 1,600 square feet and elevated.  Ours is 1,200 at most and not elevated.  She is tougher than I am, for sure. Over the weekend, I told Kevin "You can BET that if it were me, I would mention that on the DAILY.  Remember when I painted the ENTIRE HOUSE by myself?"   

Anyway, Kevin was super appreciative of all the work I did.  Even if I did have to push back (twice) on the whole "While you're home during the day" mindset.  Home doesn't equal free time right now, buddy.

To be fair to Kevin also, his part was super sketch.  He had to use an industrial ladder to reach the peak of three gables and NO THANK YOU. I will take shutters over being fifteen-to-twenty feet in the air for $1,000 Alex.

We work pretty well together too.  It's like the shop remodel was the rehearsal.  I'm glad that it ended up that way, even accidentally.  Not that we'll ever have to do this whole thing again.  Next time I am so writing the big check.  

And now for the big reveal:

Coastal Plain is the body color, Tactile is the trim color and Retreat is the shutter color.

And finally: the bench mistake

Pro Tip: Oil based latex high endurance paint does not easily come off of your skin.  I'm just saying.

At the end of the day, Kevin mused that the shop and tool shed was next.  *record scratch*  Through all of this, it had NOT OCCURRED to me that the outbuildings would also need painted.  Sigh.  Luckily, the exterior of the shop has recently been done so it's "only" four shutters, trim, and drains.  The little shed will take no time at all.  But still. Way to kill the mood, Kev.

And finally, we cannot decide what color to paint the doors. The trim is tan, the dark green would look odd, I think, and certainly not the light green.  I'm leaning toward black because we know I love black.  Right now both doors have screen/storm doors and are white.  The contractor suggested leaving them white due to maintenance and the contrast in color.  Right now: no decision is our decision.

What's next? you might be wondering.  Well, with this project, the garden has been neglected.  Kevin is bringing me topsoil and bark tonight.  He'll bring another load of rocks when I'm ready because I have *ideas*.

20 August 2020

In My Bubble

 One of my friends on the social media is a progressive liberal and I watch their posts with interest.  They help me to determine when to be worried about something, when there's something to actually be done, and when something is simply hyperbole.

They are taking the pandemic/quarantine issue really seriously and I've used them for guidance when making decisions.  Wearing masks before it was mandated, self quarantining if they do go on an adventure, etc.  Something they said gave me context with trying to wrap my mind around this situation.

My friend calls this the Germ Bubble.  They allow X amount of people into their germ bubble.  While i would have maybe named it something a little less graphic, I like it.  In my brain it's a visual representation of my interactions.  Kind of like a Venn Diagram, but not.

I see Kevin, his parents, my bff, and only go to the grocery or hardware store.  Oh, and the coffee stand, because: essential.  So, let's say I see On the Regular: four people. If we mix in my workplace: Add two. At the Max: I see ten people if we estimate store interactions.  

Of course, we've gone to the burger place where everything is outdoors.  We've gone to the park.  To me those don't necessarily count as interactions because outside, masked up when appropriate, and social distancing.  It's been WEEKS since I've hugged Nephew and Sweet Baby so that was just a one-off situation.  

So: ten people.  Max.  On average.  (math is hard so feel free to correct my estimations. Seriously)

We have made an effort to keep my bubble small.  Kevin, because he goes to work, has a remarkably larger bubble.  However, his work is predominately outside and working independently.  While he interacts with more people, it's not like he snuggles them.  And like the statement during the AIDS crisis, this rings true: their exposure is your exposure.

We still have not gone into a restaurant.  We've gone twice to one that has outside seating in the marina and to the drive-in.  But I am not comfortable going INTO one yet.  I never would have thought I'd become that cautious but here we are.

It's been almost six months of this.  It feels normal to me now.  It feels odd/scary to me when I see others not quarantining/social distancing.  Or, let me clarify: not doing it as much as I would.  Although there are a few who are apparently pretending that this is all done now.  Which brings me to the family.

Kevin's parents have decided that they can't "live in fear" anymore and want to venture out to the store, etc. (like this hadn't already happened, I suspect)   Kevin was incredibly blunt and told them that if they do, they know the consequence. And that the consequence is if they do get it, they are dying alone in the hospital.  DUDE.  

AND STILL they want to go out.  Sheesh.  Yet, I haven't seen them go anywhere so I wonder if it's ask for forgiveness versus permission.  Or they changed their minds after all.  Who knows.

In my family, the cousins had a campout and invited us.  Sigh.  I guess it was outside so that's good.  But still.  This would be allowing a significant amount of people into the bubble, albeit while being outside

One of the niece's birthdays was this weekend and of course the family wanted to gather.  I was again put into a position of boundaries and decisions with my family.  I'm so frustrated with that whole situation.  It's a group of people who should absolutely KNOW BETTER.  

"Luckily" we had a contractor coming to inspect our house/gutters and he was only available that day.  Also, we're trying to paint the house exterior before the weather changes and/or we lose interest.  We weren't able to go, but it just kicked the whole conversation down the road temporarily.

Anyway, my point being is the visual of a germ bubble helps me keep perspective, yet increases the risk of making me a germaphobe.  Also, that it's easy to lapse into judgement while watching how others are handling this very odd situation.  Finally, that it is really making me look at personal interactions and their worth to me.

Work of course, is a non-starter.  I have little choice there and am incredibly lucky. Kevin is a constant but upon reflection, I've seen his habits change as well.  Seeing my BFF is a compromise but the toll on the mental health aspect is worth the risk.  (and their germ bubble is small) I don't really miss restaurants or shopping.  

Which leaves my family. This pandemic has given me a reason to distance myself and overall I think that's a good thing.  Perhaps when this is all over, my distance will be the normal and not unusual.  

And when this is done, we can change the bubble's name from Germ to something else.  If it wasn't the End Times, I would have a clever alternative but my brain is full.  Open to suggestions!

17 August 2020

Don't Make Assumptions

Kevin is the manager at his work.  There are fifteen guys on his crew; plus drivers and other workers who aren't his direct responsibility YET because of their location within the site, he is responsible for.

He has some young men on this crew and this hasn't gone without challenges for him.  It is literally their first big boy job.  They have little experience with being required to be on time, on task, not on their phone.  Also, more difficult to teach sometimes: they need training on what's appropriate for the work environment and what's not.  For instance: what's considered banter and not sass, how grown-ass-men communicate versus a teenager, and problem-solving and personal responsibility when things go wrong.

Also, Kevin had to adjust his approach to communicate with these youngins.  If they called him "Sir", it rubbed him the wrong way and I not-too-gently told him to get over it.  We talked about how it's his job to give them the boundaries and initially help them to navigate them.  (being on time, on task, and such) Also, reminders that they're so young.  I usually say "Oh, he's still a baby." which prods him to remember they're YOUNG.  

One of them calls him Mr. Kevin.  He was a little WTH about that.  I just laughed and said "He was raised in childcare.  He's been trained to refer to adults like that and especially if you don't like being called sir." 

So, there's the backstory.

Carter is eighteen.  This is his first job, let alone his first big boy job.  Everything is new to him.  It's been a struggle as he discovers how to move about in this environment.  Kevin has come home with his hair on fire because Carter did or said something these past few months.  That being said, he is growing into the job.

Kevin phoned about an hour ago and said "Don't jump to conclusions but..."  

I assumed it was going to be about his brother and was pleasantly surprised it wasn't.  INSTEAD, he says:  "How serious is chlamydia?"

Ummm, what now?

Carter came to him to let him know he had to leave a little early for a doctor appointment.  He had received a phone call over the weekend that he had been exposed and needed STD testing. 

There are a lot of layers there. Let's unpack:

Kevin let him know that in the future he didn't need to know the REASON for the doctor appointment.

He then advised him to let his job partner know.  Carter thought he meant to let him know about the STD.  "No" Kevin says "That you're leaving early. No one needs to know about the other thing." (As Kevin is telling me this, I am laughing and yelling "YES!!! Let him know WHY!!!!")

Then Kevin phones me to see how big of a deal this was.  I explained that on a scale, it's not that that big of a deal.  My question was "WHY WASN'T HE SUITED UP?!?!?!"  Kevin laughed uncomfortably and said "I'm not asking him that."  AND, I added, that perhaps he should choose his partners a little more carefully.

It turns out that it did come up again as Kevin let him know that the disease wasn't a big deal like HIV, Herpes or Hepatitis.  He did ask him why he didn't suit up.  His response: "That is a good question."

Sigh.  CARTER.

Kevin advised him none too gently that he needs to every.single.time.  And that they weren't talking about this ever again.  

We're assuming that this is falling under "Other duties as required" on Kevin's job description.

07 August 2020

I Can't Hear It

 I haven't talked about the in-laws lately so that means all has been quiet, right?


In the middle of all the painting, Kevin's mom said that her tablet was broken.  Now, I had a realization while writing that: Everything is always broken.  Not glitchy, not having trouble. Broken.

That day's issue was that she couldn't hear it.  Kevin took point on this initially because that's something he can "fix".  He went over and he was there longer than I anticipated so I walked over to the house.  He was standing on the deck and he had that patient tone that warns people who are not his parents that things are not going well.

Kevin had checked it out and then I made sure it wasn't something weird.  It had sound.  It didn't have a great internet connection so videos were slow to play.  But it wasn't a video she was complaining about.  It wasn't a game, it wasn't the startup sounds.  She couldn't tell us WHAT she couldn't hear. Just that she couldn't hear it.  This is easy to diagnose and fix: "Something's wrong and I can't tell you what."

We gave it back to her (remember that we're doing tech support on their deck while they're inside) and suggested that she just leave it be for a while.  

At that point, she pouted and said "Well, that's my life right now" referring to the tablet being the only thing in her life.  To my surprise, Kevin stopped what he was doing and cocked his head.  I literally thought "uh oh"  "Really?" he says "that's your life? That's such a nice thing to say to your son who is standing right here trying to help you."  She backpedaled but it was too late. Every once in a while I see where his brother gets the manipulation gene. 

Pouting continued so I walked away.  Kevin again suggested that she lock up the tablet because clearly someone was breaking into the house and messing with it.  Because it's Not Her.

About thirty minutes later we are painting.  I heard shuffling but assumed it was my father-in-law because he's doing that lurking thing.  (Did I tell you about that? He'll just suddenly appear, not say anything, just stand there.  Not terrifying AT ALL)

Kevin turns around from the ladder he is standing on and there is his mother.  She had walked out of the house, down the deck, out the gate, around the van, and into the shop. UNATTENDED.  "What.ARE.you.DOING?" he asks with a tinge of panic.

She's holding her tablet.  "It doesn't have sound. Whatever you did didn't fix it."  I watch as Kevin counts to eleventy hundred in his head before responding.  "I thought you were going to put it down. The internet is slow."  

(Sidebar: the internet has been slow here because we live rurally.  Also, this is an easy explanation for her to understand.  So we refer to it often, even if it doesn't apply)

She pouts and repeats that she just can't hear it.  I got down off the ladder and took the tablet.  I stepped outside so I would have a good signal and opened the facebook.  I can hear it.  I started a video and I could hear it.  I started Candy Crush and I could hear it.  "It has sound.  What is it that you can't hear?"

I am dumb. So dumb.  Why did I ask that?

"Maybe you can hear it but I can't hear it."  So I started Candy Crush again because it's the loudest game next to first person player games.  Gesturing at it as it plays, she says "Well, I can hear it NOW but when I go in the house I can't hear it anymore."


I glanced at Kevin who suddenly has to go do something that is not deal with his mother.  

"Okay" I say in my best early childhood education tone "Remember when we talked about the internet being slow?"  Yes.  "And we suggest that you just shut if off and leave it alone awhile?"  Yes...but "That doesn't fix it for LATER."

...Holy mother of dog...

"Okay" I tried again "This is my answer: put it away and we'll look at it later.  Maybe the internet will be better later tonight."  She straight up pouted at me, which then flipped that switch in me.  "AND maybe go rest a while, because you seem pretty tired."

I might as well have told a toddler that they needed a nap.  If she could throw herself onto the floor, I think she would have. Kevin, sensing impending doom, reappears.  "Let's go back in the house.  Remember we said to leave the tablet alone for a while so that's what we're going to do."

To my knowledge, the tablet has since magically fixed itself.  I asked Kevin later and he just said "It works now." Okay then.

Now fast forward a few days.  I was hanging out with my BFF at the park.  We were talking when they gestured at my phone.  I had it on silent and didn't notice it ringing.  They saw the display and said "Uh oh."  

Reluctantly I answered because we don't screen calls from the parents ever.  "Hi honey, were you sleeping?"


My bff starts to laugh because they can hear her.

"Well, I wanted to order something on the amazon but I forgot how."

I explained that I wasn't at home right now. "Oh, you're not?" and she laughs.  Then...nothing.  Okay, apparently I'm doing tech support via phone in the middle of a park now.  This is my life.

"You know what you want?"  Yes.

"Did you put it in the cart?" Yes.

"Do you see the cart drawing in the upper right hand corner?"  No.  I have to turn it on again.

Sigh.............We wait for her to get her tablet, turn it on, open Amazon....

"Okay, what do I look at?"  

"You see the drawing of the cart?" Yes.  "Does it have a number in it?" Yes, three.

"Tap on the cart. Did the screen change?"

Suddenly I hear like a timer or phone ringing or something in the background.  She says "Wait a minute" and I hear the phone clatter onto the table.  Then silence.  For like almost two minutes.  Until I finally said "Hello, did you come back?"  


My friend at this point was almost crying laughing.  They have heard the stories but this was a live performance.

"Okay, what does the screen say now?"  You have three items in your cart

"Do you see a yellow box that says Order now or Place your order?"  Yes.  

"Tap that. Did the screen change?"  Long pause...yes.

What does it say?"  Long pause, mumbling.  Oh, it says thank you for placing your order.

"Okay, you did it."   And we eventually hung up.

"OMG" I nearly shouted to my friend "You thought I was exaggerating!"  They laughed a little incredulously and said "No, you weren't."

So, yeah. That's going well.

06 August 2020

Re-Entry Challenge

I had to go to work last week to do some actual work.  Usually it's a stop in, drop off/pick up, and I'm gone.  This trip required actual human interaction and thought processing.

I fear for my actual return to adulting/humaning/working.  Not that it is going to happen before the New Year so I've got time to re-acclimate.  But, damn, dude.

My office seemed unfamiliar, I had to remember how to use the copier, how to do My Job.  It felt kind of like my first day of ever doing the job but weirder.  Like when you have that dream where everything is familiar but not quite as it should be.  I guess that's the WHOLE WORLD right now though.

There were only two people in the office that day: the office manager whom I work with on the regular and a case manager but that was more peopling than I am used to anymore.  I usually see...*looking around*...Kevin, and that's it.  Like I've mentioned before: that's a lot of peopling. 

Then there's the whole having to be somewhere on time, which is a challenge on a regular day.  It is said that I live in my own time zone because I operate in -ish.  Also, time has no relevancy right now.  I actually have to tell myself what day it is when I wake up each day.  Now add an expectation.  It's like going back to school after summer break.  

One of the habits I am going to have to break is muttering/talking to myself.  I spend A LOT of time alone now so I talk to Lucy and myself.  Kevin mentioned this the other day, with a tinge of concern and humor.  "I spend A LOT of time alone" I replied.   I guess if I ever do return, I have an office door that I can close then talk to myself all day long.

Masks are required right now and likely will be if we return in late Fall.  Because I have sensory issues, I am curious how this is going to go.  I mean, I wear a mask in stores but that's in minute increments and not hour increments. Maybe I'll like the incognito look.  Although a mask won't hide my eye-rolling.  

And really, all of this is moot until Winter.  Still, I found it interesting what an introvert I had become.  

Music to Paint By

The shop is finally completed.  What we tentatively had figured for a weekend project turned into a four weekend project.  To be fair, we did so much more than we planned, we both have alphabet brains to contend with, and we didn't work all.the.weekends.

That's not the point though.  The point is that Kevin has SiriusXM in his shop.  The channel we agreed on was Classic Rewind.  Our music tastes are different and usually it's not a problem but: four weekends. Music is like the One Thing that our age difference shows. (seven years between us, he's older)

So if you're not familiar with Classic Rewind: it's classic rock from the late 70's-80's, maybe early 90's.  A good portion of the music is basically my life soundtrack.

We used to play the What Band is This? game but again: age difference.  Also, Kevin predominately listens to Country so my breadth of knowledge is slightly more.  He can beat me in Country and some classic rock and I can beat him in all the other music.

Then we stumbled into another game.  I think I started it, I'm not sure now.  

38 Special was playing.  I don't listen to them anymore but they used to be one of my favorites.  I mentioned to Kevin that Satan had ruined this band for me forever.   Kevin's answer was REO Speedwagon. His former wife killed them for him.

Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac) played and Kevin told me about when they moved across state when he was fourteen and how it reminds him how sad he was at the time.  My answer was Patience (GNR) I can't listen to that song unless I'm in a really good place.

Greatest overall Rock band?  AC/DC for Kevin.  I am on the fence.  I mean, overall means you like most of their songs.  The Cars, U2, Def Leppard.  I can't choose.

U2 Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For has to be turned up to eleven.  It's the law.  For Kevin, it's Bad Company Rock and Roll Fantasy.

Kevin doesn't get Bruce Springsteen. I don't get Eric Clapton.  Neither of us are Led Zeppelin fans.  We disagree on the Rolling Stones and The Who.

Free Falling was playing in the car as I left Satan at the old apartment.  Take It On the Run was the song for Kevin's break-up.

Go For A Soda always makes Kevin laugh, it reminds him of his best friend in the whole world.
You Give Love a Bad Name reminds me of my former sister-in-law in a happy way.  

Wait, it's kind of a good story: We had left brunch after Sunday Church and I was driving.  We were the two Outliers in the family because the IDGAF was strong in us.  Sadly, it was a very traditional and strict family. (another story for another day)

I had a little truck with a loud system. It was summer and Bon Jovi was playing.  The song started and she turned it up to the heavens (pun intended) and sang, performed, air-banded to the entire song.  At the end, she turned it down, sighed, and announced "That was better than an orgasm." 

So, you see, the time spent listening to all that music was a bonding experience, a tour through the past, and a test of musical knowledge.