Sunday, August 02, 2020


Looking through my photos from the pandemic months, you would think, absent the absent globetrotting, that life was marching along normally. True, I haven't taken any masked selfies yet (why not just hold up the mask in your hand to show it photographically? Are we really somehow enhancing our appearance with the mask? I'd say no.) so there are no telltale signs of a horrible disease roiling all of humanity's routines. I've continued to take pictures of what I always have. Plant life. Food. Selfies with hubby. And travel, yes, just more on a local scale. Plus ca change...

There are a few busts hidden in the pandemic photostream however. Here's one:

This is my four-screen setup I have now for work. Before, I spent very little time at my desk at home, but with Zoom classes with 38 students, my slow desktop computer with little monitor was not going to cut it. So the screens are 1) the class 2) the screen I'm sharing with the class 3) the next screen I will share with the class, (or different bits of the Zoom app), and 4) finally a screen where I can see the Zoom room the way that THEY see the Zoom room which is a bit different from what the host sometimes sees. It's exhausting I think more so than the classroom. And I seriously need an A/V tech but since that is out of the question, I muddle through as best I can.

Here is another bit of evidence. I haven't been photographed shirtless in a few years now (willingly) but I am down 20 pounds since March. It's funny, when you don't leave the house, there is never a gamut of lunchroom brownies, reception counter candy bowls and various edible student gifts to navigate. So I've just kept my calorie count low enough while stuck at home to lose steadily. Almost done now. And yes, I've been hungry for 4 months.

Oh look here we are travelling to our great nation's capital. The oddness of visiting Ottawa as phase 3 of reopening was occurring was spooky. Essentially a ghost town as Canada's borders continue to be shut and though we are being encouraged to spend travel money locally, it was clear not a merchant in town was making any money. Au contraire, I would say everyone who had opened was losing money by doing so. It was sad so we spent as much as we could. Grin.

But maybe it is such a ghost town because Canada is taking the pandemic so much more seriously than the US. This photo said it all as the two competing tourist lines for Niagara Falls shows. Which tourboat hosts the Canadians? We too took a boat on a river in a tourist locale. It looked like the boat in the foreground.

We were supposed to wear masks aboard but it was so dang empty, it wasn't really necessary. On the tour of the Ottawa River we took, there were 11 passengers and 5 staff members. See? Money bleeding. On the upside, I HATE crowds, so visiting our beautiful capital was probably more enjoyable for me than it would have been otherwise.

Another big change has been that I'm actually MORE social now than before. I've been playing werewolves with my camp friends twice a week and these evenings have become something to look forward to. Although the socializing is mostly virtual, it still satisfies the connection craving.

Like everyone else on the continent, I've been cooking up a storm. I draw the line at bread though. You can buy REALLY good bread cheaply. Everytime I've made bread, I've thought, oh great, I saved zero dollars and used up how much time to make this loaf? Not worth it. Deviled eggs though? Always worth it. And difficult to buy already made. (This is the token blogpost food photo, trust me there were a hundred others the last months to choose from.)

My friend posted this on FB so I must put it here for my memories. I've got to be 19 here, so pleased with our purchase of plastic yard flamingoes. Fun fact, I'm the only homo in the photo lol.

Finally, I'll leave you with this. This is basically how my brain sees the atmosphere. I know it is totally exaggerated but I will continue to do everything to avoid catching/spreading the virus. Fauci says he thinks we will have the vaccine for everyone the first or second quarter of 2021. That made me optimistic. Just another 9 months or so of this? Easy peasy. Let's hope science hits a home run on this one. Peace ya'll and thanks for stopping by. Mwah.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Overpiled maladically

Serge said to me last night, "Today is the first day of spring, isn't it?" Wut? Wait just one minute now, I am the announcer of seasons in this household. It was just another in a long line of examples of how much life has changed in the last couple of weeks. The first day of spring, by the way, turned out sunny and cold, much like today. We did not leave the house.

This morning's cases and body count

I have only left the house 3 times in 13 days. I have walked a block to the market or across the street to the drugstore for a total of maybe one hour outside the house.  The first time I did this on March 12th, there was a line to enter the market and panicky shoppers with overpiled shopping carts. Everyone had toilet paper. I wondered if coronavirus caused diarrhea as I paid for my onions at the express checkout.

My job vanished that day along with millions of others. Falling squarely in the double whammy category was the complete cancellation of all our short term lodging reservations for the next few months. If we can add to the whammies, my side gigs of travel agenting and dog sitting are also devoid of customers. In every scenario of the future that has played out in my head (a constant element of my mental real estate, maladically) none of them even remotely looked like what we are living through. It's wartime without the guns.

I don't want to touch anything anyone has ever touched, ever.

When this started, I had a positive attitude about it, yay, free time at home, but over the last two weeks, dread and anxiety have crept in, disrupting my sleep. Keeping the news on surely doesn't help so I am trying to cut down on that and do more creative things such as updating the blog. We need to go out every few days for perishables, otherwise, we are doing much as you are: cooking, cleaning, hobbying, social networking, and trying to stay upbeat in the face of the grim facts unfolding.

This morning I went to the market and hit the jackpot. Clorox wipes! Bleach! Lysol! When I got home, I saw on Ebay Canada that Clorox wipes were going for over $15 and I had just paid $4.60! When I told Serge, he immediately forbade me from selling the wipes on line.

Jackpot at the Maxi Supermarket this morning

A lot of people are talking about hope. What hope? There is no way out of this mess that does not involve serious carnage to humans and economies. Unless we get a vaccine. That is where the hope lies, but since that's over a year away, we may have to endure such changes to life until then, which is clearly unacceptable. Glad I am not a policymaker at the moment.

So. I've got taxes to prepare and homework reading to do (my class where I am a student has just switched to on-line format with Adobe Connect) and work to do on Serge's scarf. Peace out peeps!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020 Dudes

Greetings one and all. We made it! 2020 is here, the year I will be 55 AARP! I started this blog 15 years ago and though it has been largely untended these past years, I hope to appear a bit more often as there is no other venue like this to keep like my scrapbook. I can see myself perusing (and harshly criticizing) my writing when I'm good and old. Since I haven't been here a while, let's treat this like one of those long letters you might find in your Christmas card. (Serge hates them but I love them.)

Last March I started a year long contract for a course that I designed and delivered in 2017. (It has also been renewed for this March so staying put for a bit.) I already had a fair amount of travel planned in 2019 so it was tricky fitting everything in, but as you will see, all worked out fine. This was my YEAR OF NOT DRINKING!!! Well October to October so most of last year was dry for me. I did everything I would normally do in a year but with zero alcohol. I slept so well! It was a bit rocky when I again imbibed on the Europe trip with my family in October (my tolerance had changed drastically) but we have a no-alcohol in the house policy now so just the occasional drink or on vacations now. Our first big trip was the beginning of May, we went on a cruise to Greece out of Rome and frankly, I think it would have been more fun with drinking lol. But it was fun nonetheless.

Upon arrival in Rome, I wanted to see the Coliseum, something we had wanted to do last time we were in Rome in 2008 but didn't get to. There were hawkers offering guided cut-the-line tours of the Coliseum and the Forum for 35 Euros. Perfect! Serge was suspicious but it was great with knowledgable guides. I started playing around with facial hair on this trip....

Serge and I were up to our usual antics aboard cruises. We tried not to mock too openly. Frankly we hardly saw each other and ended up leaving notes for each other each time we went to the cabin. I enjoyed all the trivia games aboard and Serge enjoyed the bars with his late night cruise friends. If I was with him during the day, complete strangers (to me) would pass by and greet and hug Serge. Always the superstar that one.

Anyway, we had a great time visiting Malta, Mykonos, Athens, Naples and Messina. Sadly, we couldn't tender to the shore for our visit to Santorini because of wind. I don't have to rehash the whole trip here (fairly run of the mill cruise experience, made some new FB friends natch).

We had a nice summer weather-wise, not too hot and not too much rain. Here we are with our Granby friends in the village for the last year of the colored balls. As you can see, the toying around with facial hair became a mustache.

In July, I got to go to London where I got to cross off Stonehenge from my bucket list. While I was in Oxford, I went to a big museum and in the ceramics section, I found this plate. I had to go find someone to explain. The latin writing is backward and reads "Every man looks at me as though I have a head of dicks". The purpose of the plate is unclear according to the docent. It could be a joke or it could be porn, but there are very few of these plates remaining that were made in the 1500's.

By the time my birthday rolled around, I had rid myself of the stache. Serge and I went on a little road trip for the day driving around Lake Champlain. There I am with my no-alcohol Heineken on my birthday.

In August, we went to our 6th year of Campcamp. I took on a larger role coordinating transportation for the arrivals and departures of campers. It was a very good camp, mellow, without drama and full of love as usual. (Also - no drinking!)  Looking forward to this year!

Around this time my mom caught her biggest tuna ever! She had been hungering to land a "cow" of over 300 pounds for many years. I watched over the years as she hid disappointment as others reeled in their cows. Finally, she got one and boy did she overachieve - 346 pounds! What a feat.

In the fall, I went to France and Spain with family. I had finished my year of sobriety and frankly, I had difficulty sleeping the whole time. Part of that was getting used to alcohol again, another part jetlag. It was rather cold and rainy much of the time as well. My stepdad got sick on the trip so that was a drag for him for 5 days.

I fell in love with Neufchatel cheese and marveled how cheap the cheese and wine were in both France and Spain. Here in Segovia, you see the ancient roman aqueduct dominating the skyline in the town square.

We really enjoyed Madrid at the end eating and drinking our way around the city and meeting up with friends there. Here I am with my brother and you can really see my age! He is 9 years younger than I am but I think I look much older than him. Oh well, it's all downhill from here. Normale.

Then for two weeks at Christmastime, we did something we have never done before. Beach vacation! We went to Oaxaca state to Huatulco airport and rented a house on the beach and then explored the dozen beautiful beaches dotting the coastline. This beach was our favorite, perfect combination of deserted paradise with good food, drink, snorkeling and music. We came back here four times we liked it so much. Playa St Augustin.

Here is another beach we visited in Puerto Angel. Each one had its charms. But the vacation was not without its foibles. There were the four days of no hot water, four days without internet and (sigh) four days of me shitting water. But overall, it was great, we made most suppers at the house and we ate and drank on beaches every day while playing a variety of games and doing crosswords. Also the snorkeling was great with the best coral reefs on the west coast of Mexico.

After Mexico, we came home for three days and then went for our annual visit to California where we did the usual, visiting friends and family. We had a nice 3 kings celebration with my mom and went on a nice hike with my dad. When I saw grandma it was the first time she didn't know my name. She did say, "You're the kid of one of my kids." So at least there is that. She kept turning to me and repeating, "The answer is, don't get old!" I found it charming and yet it broke my heart a little. It was probably the last time she will recognize me. Damn Alzheimer's, though she is gonna be 96 so normale.

I probably should have made all these events of the last 10 months separate blog posts, and hopefully that will happen this year. Let's make it special. Happy 2020 peeps! Thanks for stopping by.