An on the fritz type of day

Vine cactus or ocotillo in bloom in my front yard

Have you ever had a day where things aren’t working? Well, today is one of those days. It began when I was in the shower and my husband walked in to tell me that the microwave blew up.

Not exactly blew up, but it has arcing sparks from the metal plate inside. We decided not to use it anymore. I found a folder labeled “Microwave Oven” that the previous owners left us. It had receipts, the model and serial numbers and a phone number to call. How handy was that? And lucky us the microwave is less than a year old and under factory warranty.

I went into the casita and called the number for the microwave manufacturer. I spent an hour on the phone mostly on hold. When I finally got transferred to the right person, his phone began to mute out. I caught about every three words. He said it was his headset, so he put me on speaker. But he continued to mute. I said, “Please stay on the line. I’ve got too much time invested in this.” He put me on hold while he fixed his phone. The end result is that they will send someone out to replace and install a new microwave. The bad news is the backorder wait of six weeks, which must be COVID related, right?

While I was on hold, I noticed it was strangely dark in the casita. I flipped on and off all the light switches. Only two of the eight ceiling lights turned on. I found out where the fuse boxes are since the microwave muting man told me to turn off the microwave breaker. The prior owners labeled all the fuses neatly — which is a nice change from the house we lived in for almost 30 years. I not only turned off the microwave breaker but I flipped the casita ones as well. Lights still don’t work.

Maybe I should call it a day and go back to bed before something else stops working. Instead I decided to go for a walk to our development’s gate and test out the fobs to open it. For some reason they quit working. Our name was removed from the directory and the keypad code doesn’t work either. I reported this yesterday and hoped that they got us “unerased.”

A view walking to the gate to test out the fobs. We’re going to hike up that mountain when my son visits.

Have you ever had a day when everything goes on the fritz? These are really small problems but it’s weird when they happen at once. My daughter would call these white people or first world problems.

Looking back: Day 21 of Sheltering In Place

What weird things did we do a year ago when the year of lockdowns began? I’m calling it COVID quirks. I remember worrying about catching the virus from surfaces.Today, we learn that’s a rare occurrence. I wore latex gloves when I left the house. I wiped down purchases from Amazon or the grocery store with alcohol or sanitizer. The playground, drinking fountains and bathrooms at our park were all circled with yellow crime tape. The tennis courts had massive padlocks on them.

And my big goal in life was to buy toilet paper! I found some weird brands on Amazon from Asia that took a month to arrive. Beyond thin and unusable, I finally tossed the rolls out when Charmin and Cottonelle were stocked. The meat counter was bare at the store along with pasta, rice and canned foods.

Last April, I had no idea we’d sell our house and pull up our roots in California. That was the furthest thing in my mind. I was busy writing for trade magazines and my daughter was still employed in her dream job doing social media for a swim company. She was working remotely from our home in the guest room. My husband took over our master bedroom and turned it into his office. I’d wake up to his voice on the phone at 6 a.m. and skedaddle out of bed to my son’s empty room that I soon took over as my safe space and office.

Here’s what I wrote a year ago tomorrow:

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One of my favorite streets on my morning walk.

21 Days. Isn’t that something? My daughter came home a few days before we got the order. I’m so glad she made it here. She’s been a joy to have around along with her fur baby Waffles. We have plenty of room to have my husband, me and my daughter all working from home — together — yet apart.

Here’s a few thoughts I have about these strange days:

ONE
I go from super calm and productive to anxiety ridden from day to day.

TWO
I’m losing track of the days and the time. Twice I have woken up thinking it’s 6 a.m. and started the coffee only to look at the clock in the kitchen that reads 11:40 p.m.

THREE
My routine of daily three pages of writing, my three mile walk and Bible readings to start my day are more important than ever. All three help me stay grounded.

FOUR
I’m reading lots of good books. Sitting in my back yard in the sun reading is one of my favorite things to do.

FIVE
10,000 people have died in our country. My heart goes out to all the people suffering and losing loved ones.

SIX
We are now told to wear masks when we leave the house. I’m using a make-shift one from my quilting supplies. It’s hard to breathe during my morning walks, though, and my glasses fog up.

SEVEN
My writing jobs are completed and turned in and now I’m in uncharted territory without every minute of my day focused on meeting deadlines.

EIGHT
My daughter and I cleaned and organized the food cupboards and the laundry room. It feels good to have clean spaces.

NINE
I’m reaching out to family via phone and email. It’s important to stay in touch with your loved ones.

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My new morning walk look.

What are your thoughts and memories about COVID Quirks during the start of the pandemic?

It’s a special Wednesday

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This is Waffles snuggling my daughter.

Today is Wednesday. I’ve been waiting patiently for today to arrive for several weeks. My daughter is coming to visit. She is driving from the Bay Area and should be here within the hour. This is the first time anyone from our family will see our new home. We moved in December.

When we announced to our kids that we were selling our home, they were furious. They were so angry with us that we’d consider selling the only home they ever knew. All the memories of their lifetimes were wrapped up in our 1930’s old Spanish home. Birthday parties, sleepovers, hanging out with friends between swim practices. Christmas, Easter egg hunts, spaghetti feeds for the team. Playdates at the neighborhood park. They were born in the hospital a few blocks away.

old spanish style house
Our home of 28 years.

So today, I get to see my daughter. It took several months for our kids to get over their sadness. They were never coming to Arizona to see us, they told us. But now we get the first visit.

It’s been a tough year for a lot of us. The shut down for two weeks to flatten the curve turned into a long year with people suffering from lost jobs, lost wages, isolation, depression and anxiety. My daughter lost her job due to COVID around 10 or 11 months ago. We told her she’d be fine with the enhanced unemployment. But the state of California couldn’t get that right. She was one of approximately 1.13 million people who are in unemployment limbo.

She got a few checks and then they stopped. They owe her thousands of dollars from summer through today. Nobody answers the phone. She calls and calls. When she was lucky to get through after weeks of calling, the person on the other end of the line said they couldn’t see anything wrong with her file. Finally, after writing to her Assemblywoman and Congressmen, she got through a second time. She was told she was going to receive all her back unemployment. She was thrilled. A week later she was told she’s back on hold and they were investigating her account for fraud. She was crushed. And she continues on in limbo.

Here’s an excerpt of an article that explains the ongoing problems with California unemployment:

With an added emphasis on fraud, the EDD spent the remainder of December locating unemployment benefit cases that were ‘potentially fraudulent’, eventually find around 3.5 million cases that fit that description by late December. Two million of the cases were immediately disqualified, such as those sent to inmates and some registered to deceased people, leaving 1.4 million to be suspended in January while the EDD takes a closer look at them.

The suspension of the accounts led over a million unemployed Californians to learn of the situation in the last week. Many found out from communication with the EDD, being told that “Your claim is suspended because it may be tied to fraudulent activity.” Others received notices in the mail reading “You have been receiving unemployment benefits, but we have temporarily suspended your claim because it may be tied to fraudulent activity. You will receive further instruction from EDD on how to verify your identity beginning Jan. 6, 2021.”

While initially silent, the furor of unemployment beneficiaries, who rely on the money to tide them over during the pandemic while they find another job or wait until their business reopens, led the EDD to make a statement during the weekend, days before the full number of beneficiaries in limbo was known.

“As part of ongoing efforts to fight fraud, EDD has suspended payment on claims considered high risk and is informing those affected that their identity will need to be verified starting this week before payments can resume,” tweeted the EDD. “More details on the EDD website in the days ahead.”

What a nightmare! It’s hard enough to lose your job. But then California can’t do what it’s promised to do to help. It’s been hard for her to stay positive. She’s been locked down in a tiny apartment for months on end and is suffering from depression. The Bay Area has some of the strictest restrictions of the state. Good news is on the way with vaccines. We’ve all had shots. Now that businesses are beginning to open she has found a job and starts next week. She decided to make the trip to see us before her life gets back to normal. I’m so thankful I get to see her!

selfie in front of the Public Market sign downtown Seattle
This was two years ago in Seattle on a mother-daughter trip.

My favorite views from last week…

View of Arizona back yard mountains and cactus.
View from my backyard.
colorful blue sky with rainbow sundog
I looked up from reading a book called “The Edge” and saw this. The Edge is a book written by one of my childhood best friend’s little brother. He used to follow me around when I was in junior high and he was around four or five. His nom do plume is Clark Douglas. The book is great with quirky original characters.
Pretty long haired cat sitting at the table
My beauty Olive was fascinated and sat at the kitchen counter as I prepared dinner Friday night.
I saw mule deer severals days in a row last week. Once five walked by.
Cat on top shelf in a closet
The top shelf is at least 8 feet high. Yet there she is.

I’m so old I’m growing barnacles!

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The ocean type of barnacles

I wrote this post March 2014. I began my blog a few months earlier. I was wondering after the strange year called 2020, what was I up to in March when I began blogging?

I went to a skin doctor to have some nasty looking moles on my face checked. I had them removed years ago, but they are back — looking meaner and uglier than ever.

The doctor told me that they are not moles.

“They sure look like moles,” I said.

“No, they are barnacles.” he said.

That floored me. “Barnacles?”

“Yes. Barnacles. The human kind.”

I texted my husband. He said, “That sounds nasty!”

“Thank you, honey. I love you, too!”

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Need I say more? They are nasty and the nice doctor took out a tank of liquid nitrogen and spray painted my face. I think I will not go out in public again for a long, long time. The nasty mole thingies have transformed overnight into large stumps sticking out of my face.

Ugh! They are supposed to fall off now. Anytime, please. I’m waiting. And while I’m waiting I’ll write draft 11 of my mid-grade novel.

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Human Barnacles are also known as Seborrheic Keratosis. They are a result of getting older. I just read on a website that they should fall off from freezing with liquid nitrogen in a few weeks. A few weeks???

The Good News: Seborrheic Keratosis is not cancerous or dangerous in any way. I am thankful for that. I almost forgot to mention that the doctor gave me a long lecture about being in the sun, wearing sunscreen with at least a 50 spf and wearing long sleeves and pants. And that swimming is not a good sport for my daughter because she is so fair-skinned!

Fall of 2020 and I was done with barnacles that were thriving on my face. I went to a fellow swim parent who works for a local dermatologist. He didn’t lecture me on my tan or swimming. He also didn’t use liquid nitrogen but scraped them off. Instead we chatted about our kids who were swim teammates.

Thoughts on the shot

I did it. I got my first Pfizer shot Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. I set my alarm for 4 a.m. and we left the house at 4:30 a.m. in the dark. What I liked best about the hour-long drive was the lack of traffic.

Our state lowered the age group to include me. But the downside was I could only find appointments open from midnight to 6 a.m. I’d rather get up early than stay up late, so that’s why we drove through the dark morning to the State Farm Stadium.

I was impressed with how organized they were. It was a drive-through vaccine station with several stops as we serpentined through the NFL stadium parking lot with hundreds or thousands of other cars. The many volunteers were probably on their feet all night long in the cold, cold weather. Many had torches pointing and directing us to our next stop. They were all friendly, welcoming and upbeat.

Everyone we spoke to had an iPad and entered in my appointment number, age, answers to health questions, etc. When we finally got to the tent with the nurse, she came over to my window, reached in and gave me the jab. I could barely feel it.

When we were eventually released, we returned home as the sun was rising. I crawled back under my covers and fell asleep for a couple hours. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the vaccine or just a bad night’s sleep and early wake up. Today, my arm hurts! It’s black and blue and I feel a little queasy. But I’m relieved to get shot number one. Number two is on Easter Sunday.

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Sunrise view from our back yard.

Was it really one year ago?

pretty kitty with flowers
Our cool as a cucumber cat helps keep me calm.

It was a little more than a year ago that COVID-19 was hitting our daily lives. We had no idea what was heading our way. Our kids got orders to shelter in place a few days before us. They live in the Bay Area and we were in Southern California. A year later, my husband got his first shot and I’m scouring through pages on my computer to find an appointment for me. Once we are vaccinated will our world open up? Will I want to be in crowds? Or has this isolated lifestyle become something I won’t want to shed?

This is what happened to me mid-March 2020:

I was doing okay, but yesterday when my kids called me and said they were under mandatory “shelter in place,” I started to panic. I’m wondering if the world will ever get back to normal? They were working remotely in my son’s house in the Bay Area.

The mandatory shelter in place started today. Yesterday they were told to prepare to be home for at least two weeks. My daughter is working remotely and decided to get out of the city and drove home last night. It’s so nice to have her home! I wonder how long she will be here?

Waffles the pug with flowers
Waffles the pug came home, too.

My dad agreed to let me grocery shop for him and I found everything he needed except for toilet paper, of course! While I was driving from his home, my daughter called and Waffles, her pug, ate something and was trying to throw up, but nothing was coming up. I told her to call a vet and I got really stressed out again! She called back in tears and said that the vets she called would NOT take new patients in their practice due to the Coronavirus! I was in the car and while she was talking to me and I noticed a big white pick up truck on my tail! Then he swerved in the lane next to me, and started yelling and screaming, giving me the finger. He threw a milkshake at me! It hit my windshield and the car was covered. I’m still shaking.

What in the h*ck is going on, folks? Is this really the time to become completely unhinged?

White truck throws milkshake at me
This is the guy in a white pick up truck with a Home Depot trailer who threw a milkshake at me.

Let’s take a moment to breathe some fresh air, calm down, take a walk and enjoy your families. And love up our dogs and cats, too!

What are some of your memories from one year ago? Did your area shut down or did it stay mostly open?