Gardening, Life, Pets, Work

Sunshine, Sadness, and Social Distancing

June 17, 2020
For all of my self-professed craftiness, I stink at making masks.

2020 continues to be a gigantic mirror maze. When we’re finally comfortable enough to move forward a few steps we run right into a pane of glass.

New Jersey is slowly ‘opening back up’ because our transmission rate has fallen so much. Yay for everyone who’s going out. Me? I’m staying home as much as I can. I didn’t go to any BLM protests because I do not want to catch COVID. I’m cycling through all sorts of guilt about that.

TNP has us all working from home until after Labor Day. I cried a little bit at the news, because I crave normalcy and I miss everything about my job in Philly. And then I bought some more leggings for my new WFH life. I took next week off of work because I have too much PTO to roll over until next year, and who knows what next year looks like anyway? WM’s school wraps up next week, but seriously, how many students have REALLY been giving their all to remote schooling anyway?

storm damage
our fallen branch and wires, mom’s destroyed cabana, my lanterns from Michael’s finally being of use, and general tree damage

Two weeks ago today we had a derecho rip through in the area that resulted in our electric being out for 3 days (RIP, fridge food) and our Internet being completely out for four days and sporadically out for a week after that. The tree branch out front fell and completely sheared the Comcast cable from our house. And then, as we and our neighbors were surveying the fallen wires, some jerk driving more than 25 miles an hour up our street drove INTO the wire that was drooped across the street and snapped it in half.

Unfortunately for him, a giant fallen tree blocked the end of the street, so he had to make a u-turn and come back us all. I gave him a mighty NJ salute. We are two weeks past and there are still piles of branches and overturned tree trunks waiting to be dealt with.


My mom’s dog Chipper passed last week, after a triumphant 14.5 years on this earth. Our vet was kind enough to euthanize him at Mom’s so we wouldn’t have to stress him out by taking him into the office. You can read my first post about Chip here. He holds the record for the longest-lived of our dogs. The rest of them died at 13.

BTW, Ollie turned 13 on the 5th of June, and his cough came back. We have a vet appointment for him on Monday. WM’s going to take him because I have 100% faith that we’re going to get bad news and I … I just can’t. Ollie and Murphy are doing fine otherwise. We are spending our long evenings outside. I read and tend the garden. Ollie lies next to me. Murphy keeps running.

This morning was my followup mammogram/ultrasound from the big ol’ breast cancer scare in October. Everything looks the same as it did in October, which is great. I don’t have to think about my breasts for six months. Having a mammogram in a mask was not as bad as I thought it would be.

I’ve opened my ‘isolation bubble’ to Mom. We take maskless walks now, and basically sobbed all over each other when the vets were taking care of Chip, so I hope I don’t inadvertently kill her with COVID.

They look like they’ve been here forever!

WM built GORGEOUS built-in bookshelves for our upstairs living room. You can tell these were for me because they are painted instead of stained. He prefers wood that’s colored like wood. I prefer wood that’s painted. I love him and them.

There will be grass on the front half and shrubs on the back half. It’s too sloped to plant grass the whole way back.

And finally after five years here in the House on Literary Lane, we have taken steps to kill the backyard ivy and reclaim some more of the yard. We covered it up with black sheeting. In the fall (or spring) we’ll take it up, get rid of the dead stuff and plant grass.

Is it too soon to look forward to next spring?

I love the Internet

The One with the Unfriending

June 4, 2020
unfriended, in the Friends television show font
So no one told you life was gonna be this way?

We’ve known each other for a long time but we’re from an era where when you lost touch, you truly lost touch. Because of that I was initially delighted to get back in touch via social media. And for years it was fine. You were always a meme sharer, but they were harmless and funny.

I don’t know if it was Donald Trump’s cult of personality or that new church you started attending but hoo boy. You kept communicating primarily by meme but the memes turned dark. Fear of immigrants, fear of oppression toward Christians in the US, fear of guns being taken away. MAGA all day long. Sniffs of derision toward younger people, veiled cracks at minorities, and even those messed up reminiscences of when it was socially acceptable to beat kids. But like everyone else who posts that, you’re too chickenshit to say point-blank whether or not you hit your own kids because you know it’s wrong.

You preach that people need to learn to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, but you attempted to crowdfund for an expense that, if you were as pulled together as you expect everyone else to be, you should have had handled because you’re a goddamn adult. You complained bitterly yet vaguely about unfair treatment of you and of your family by OTHERS. And OTHERS were always, always wrong.

The memes and opinions kept coming all day long. And every third or fourth post would be about how we should all accept that everyone has their own opinion and should shut up and still be friends anyway NO MATTER WHAT.

I have friends with differing opinions. But honestly, if they texted/emailed/posted/called me/visited and spouted their opinions over and over every 3 hours and then at least once a day say that I should shut up and listen anyway, I don’t think we’d be friends any longer.

I handle differing opinions well, and I’m probably better behaved than I should be, mostly because of the voice that tells me not to upset people or disagree out loud or cause problems. I have many people in my life whom I disagree with on issues. But none of them are systematically obnoxious about it every single day. By nature, I’m very slow to “cancel.” So I unfollowed your posts instead.

I checked in on you the other day because I wanted to be sure you and your family were fine in this pandemic hot mess that we’re in. And your wall was covered in Covid conspiracy theory shit. How you won’t wear a mask because you’re not afraid and that God has you covered. The government is taking away your freedom by asking you to protect others. The vaccines are going to be bad and damage people. It’s Bill Gates’s fault. The government is trying to break churches by banning services during Covid.

I typed, “THIS government? Trying to destroy churches and businesses? THIS one. This government?! And because you are the most CHRISTIAN of CHRISTIANS you should have already known that the man Himself said, ‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ Matthew 18:20. I was raised Catholic and even *I* know Jesus said it because it’s in red. (Memester), you’d have crumbled during the times when Christians had to hide to worship.”

But I didn’t post at all. You’re just too far gone. Instead, I quietly unfriended.

And given the grievous state of the nation right now, a nation on fire because a White police officer in Minnesota knelt on a restrained Black man’s neck until he died WHILE ON CAMERA, I’m reallllly glad we’re done. I’m sure you’re righteously posting ALL DAY NOW from your sofa about All Lives and the Cop Flag and how you’re glad you moved out of our shithole liberal state and congratulating the president for exemplifying leadership by turning the White House lights out and hiding in a bunker.

All the while you’re hiding too. Not only from the truth, but from anybody who doesn’t think exactly like you. And I am fucking done with people who demand I listen to them while simultaneously refusing to listen to not only me but to anybody else.

By the way, that’s my opinion, so you should just deal with it.


Black Lives Matter

June 1, 2020

I can’t write anything about the state of racial affairs in the USA right now that hasn’t been written better by many other people. I’m not a paragon of enlightenment or a scholar on civil rights history. I’ve moved through life with some challenges here and there, but none of those challenges were because of my whiteness. Once I left my teenage years, I was never followed in stores by “undercover” security. People don’t pull their kids closer or hug their purses tighter when I walk by. Nobody asks me where I’m “really” from. I’m never afraid that a police officer is going to get rough with me if I’m pulled over. I cannot fathom the continuing struggles of those who face those very real, very threatening challenges every single day.

Here are a few things I do know:

I do not believe the death penalty is moral. Murder is murder, and we shouldn’t do it. So since I don’t believe that the death penalty is a moral punishment for first degree murder, I damn well also believe that people shouldn’t be killed for allegedly passing a fake $20 bill or maybe being a thief but not really just a jogger or allegedly selling loose cigarettes or playing with a toy gun or reaching for paperwork after being pulled over because you may have looked like a robber or sitting in your own apartment or any of these eighth-ass* reasons that Black men and women are being systemically murdered by police. Changes need to be made to how policing is done in America. I do not know how to do that.

I know that I am wrong about a brand new thing. For years I deluded myself in thinking that racism and being racist is a relic of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. And then I see that Officer Derek Chauvin, aka the man who knelt on George Floyd’s neck until after he died of having his neck knelt upon is “only” 44 years old. (Hate ages you.) How do you get to grow up in the 70s/80s/90s and be racist? Didn’t you watch Sesame Street or Good Times or The Jeffersons or The Cosby Show or In Living Color or Reading Rainbow or geez, even Bryant freaking Gumbel and see that Black and African-American people are … people?

I do know that the Internet is a gift as well as a big bloody curse. This lovely device that lets you shop and plan trips and shop and watch old movies and shop also contains search engines that allow you to research history. And to find people who don’t look like you or live where you live so that you can see that we are all people with our own uniquenesses. If your Insta feed or Twitter list is comprised of people who look and think like you (or all look and think like each other), how can you expect to grow as a person?

I am saddened and sickened by not only the continued oppression of Black and African-American people here in the US but the response from White people that Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter and “I’m all about peaceful protesting BUT.” Oh the buts. So many buts. I’m tired of buts.

One of my Facebook friend’s friends posted a Dr. King meme, as white people are wont to do when feeling uncomfortable about protests. It’s his picture and says “Looted Nothing. Burned Nothing. Attacked No One. Changed the World.” My comment was, “that last line should have said Was Murdered Anyway.” Because if you read up on history (see the Internet, gift and bloody curse, Russell 2020.06.01) you’d see that there was a TON of violence that happened.

What am I doing? I’m reading and donating. I’m checking in on my Black friends to make sure they’re okay. I’m eating a lot of Doritos and leaking some tears and still writing postcards to voters.

Anyway, I’m out of words. I’m literally just gesturing with my hands right now. I leave you with this comic by Kris Straub, original found here.

* not even half-ass or quarter-ass