COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 57 – 68

Things are about the same.  I spent some time in Bradenton last weekend and walked the full extent of their Riverwalk.  That really is a pretty place – and it certainly has a better view than the path that I normally walk.  I also fell off of a stool and unintentionally forced my knee to bend in a way that it hasn’t for over two years.  Not abnormally, mind you… in fact, the fact that I could not bend it that way was abnormal.  Anyway it popped a little but I managed to walk four miles after that so I am sure it’s not injured.  If I did anything, I probably pulled a ligament a little and stretched a muscle that likely needed to be stretched out anyway, so it probably wasn’t all bad.

I can still walk.  That’s a good thing.  Further, I can still balance well enough to walk on the beach – went there to watch the sunset as well, then got some ice cream afterward at the Shake Pit (which is ridiculously good, if you’ve never had it… I really like hot fudge sundaes with extra fudge and the chocolate/vanilla swirl ice cream instead of plan vanilla).

My three-year-old niece broke her leg a few days ago.  She’s handling it like a champ and should be recovered in about three weeks.  I sent her massive amounts of new toys (apparently a lot of other people did too) and that was the defining moment that caused my mother to break quarantine.  My father, who has asthma, is still sheltering at their house out of caution (but it is killing him).

I feel like the last couple of weeks have flown by and have been pretty uneventful.  HWMNBN has yet to see a penny from unemployment (his status for the claim is still Pending, Submitted) but if you have been following the news about Florida’s unemployment system at all, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that.  He did find a job at a retirement community, though it is part time, and is looking for full time work.  I don’t have much else to report on that front.

Apparently I can expect to go back to the office near the first of July, at the earliest, but even then it will be one week in the office, two weeks at home, on a rotating basis, indefinitely.  This is fine with me.  My whole life I have wanted to work from home, in a quiet, controlled, quarantined environment, and it looks like I’m going to get that.  That’s worth celebrating.

Memorial Day is this weekend.  I got to log off of work a little after noon, since I hit 40 hours then and I don’t feel right about working overtime on non-urgent things I could easily complete on regular time on Monday.  I don’t have any radical, exciting plans except to deep clean my house and make peanut butter bread (the Reddit recipe), but I am looking forward to just staying in.  I figure the beaches and everything else that’s actually open will be ridiculously crowded and I am not interested in mingling with any of that.  I wouldn’t be even if COVID wasn’t a thing.  I can wait for a non-holiday weekend to do my mingling.

OH!!  So I did manage to catch an online reading of a play hosted by the Red Rose Chain theatre in Ipswich online the other day called “Fallen in Love: The Secret Heart of Anne Boleyn.”  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was so impressed – both by the actors ability to pull that off through Zoom while quarantined in their own respective homes, and just the idea of watching something live when I’m not physically in the audience, but it was incredible.

I spend a lot of time here talking about how much I like the new world that is much more amiable to introversion, but you know what I do miss?  Auditioning.  And being onstage.  I realized that the other day – now that my knee is (mostly) better and I can certainly move again, I want to get back OUT there.  Ironically, now that the time has come and I’m ready to do that again, I can’t.  Or, at least, it’s a lot harder to do when you consider how many people I’d be exposed to… (though probably less so onstage than actually in the audience, and certainly fewer when just in front of a camera).

Maybe it’s nearly time to give it a try… see what happens…

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 47-56

I’ve spent the last week with HWMNBN (or, well, he’s spent the last week with me), trying to get him situated.  We filed for unemployment for him (status is still pending… that could last a while) and applied for some things.  It was important to me that he not be on his own for the first week, so that he didn’t constantly have to look outside his window and see the place he used to work.  I don’t know if that helped, or if it prolonged the inevitable, because I did have to take him back yesterday.

Sometimes I wonder if he’d have been better off if I’d just left him in Louisville.  Possibly for the short term…at least he wouldn’t have had to have struggled for the first 2.5 years in a job hunt that he always seemed destined to lose.  But in the long term? I mean, this happened in Louisville too.  He’d have been in the same boat there as he now is here… there’s that.  I just wouldn’t feel so… responsible.

Even though I am not responsible.  I have to learn to stop taking all of this on myself. It’s going to kill me when it’s all said and done.  I have to keep telling myself I’ve done all that I can do.  And I have.  And then some.  More than many ever would.  That has to be enough… even when I don’t feel like it’s enough.  I cannot save the world.  I cannot, really, save him either.

The only person that can save HWMNBN, is HWMNBN.  That’s it.  I can help.  I can prolong what is, perhaps, the inevitable.  But I cannot be the only thing that keeps it at bay.

That is, after all, why we are living separately – so that I could stop being that wall.

It’s Mothers Day… I sent my mom and gift and then followed up with a card that I’d apparently had in my house for a really long time and had forgotten to send (or probably just found another one I liked better).  At any rate the gift arrived on time (because I ordered it 2 weeks ahead).  The card did not – but I also dropped it in the box on Wednesday afternoon.  So she’ll have that to look forward to.

I don’t usually go back up to Kentucky on Mothers Day, but that’s usually because I have plans to go up there at a later time – when I can stay longer.  There are no such plans this time, because I have no idea when I will be able to go back up there.  That makes this one harder.  I did talk to her (and to my dad) for a very long time.  It was nice.

They’re doing well… still social distancing.  I think their church is going to try to open soon, but I don’t think they will go in person for a while.  I don’t begrudge them going (even if I don’t) when it’s safe, but I don’t want them to take the chance that someone they know has it but doesn’t show symptoms and then one of them catches it that way.  That would be awful.

P.S. – This stupid disease is also why the ringer on my phone stays on at all times.

Florida has started opening back up.  I am not partaking yet.  I want to see what the case counts look like 2-4 weeks from now.  We did go to the beach one late afternoon down in Bradenton and we ate at Tibby’s on Friday (but it was empty).  But I am staying the hell away from everyone… like if there’s a human there, I walk the other way.

(This isn’t really that unusual… I do that even when there is no COVID.)

Good Stuff:

  • My mom LOVED her gift.  It was a wind chime that had a birds nest on top with a mother bird feeding her baby birds.  What’s funny is that I ordered it for her about a day before she called to tell me there was a nest of robins near their house that they were watching.  I smiled about that, because it was appropriate.
  • They started furloughing people at my office last Friday.  I was not furloughed.  I consider that a win.  For now.  I’m still not cracking into that stimulus money until either this pandemic has passed us, or until I absolutely have to for a personal emergency.
  • My sister and brother-in-law brought my nieces over to see my parents (from six feet away and with masks).  That was the first time they’d seen them in almost two months.  You couldn’t see anyone’s expressions, but you could seem my parents glowing in the photos.  I am glad that got to happen at least.
  • Aaaaand… finally… HWMNBN and I turned my apartment into a photo studio while he was here and got some shots in.  I got back in heels for the first time in two years (paid for it a little later, but not too bad), and we got a few good shots.  I’m posting them below.

© IMJZ Photo

© IMJZ Photo

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 41 – 46

I am not an idiot.  I watch the news.  I ordered my face masks, and one has been delivered.  I know that this shit is real.  But I have been fortunate, in that personally, other than working from home and not being able to move around as freely as I have been in the past, but it has affected me, personally, very little.

Until this week.

This week HWMNBN was laid off due to the virus.  And you know what’s ridiculous?  I’m not even surprised.  His industry has been hit very hard by the whole thing, and honestly I’ve been surprised that he’s been able to hold out this long.  Most others in his industry lost their jobs – or began not being able to find freelance opportunities – months ago.  In a way he’s been lucky… and it’s shitty to call all this lucky.  I do not know what he will do – he has a place of his own, a lease he can’t break, and even if he could… well… my apartment isn’t big enough for two people and (as awful as it is to say this, I know), I kind of am enjoying having a space of my own again.  He’ll file for unemployment and then… I don’t know… I guess no one knows anything.

I still have my job, and we are as busy as ever.  That’s a good thing.

They tested one of my cousins for the virus yesterday.  Thankfully that test came back negative.  But it was another reminder that I’ve been fortunate (and continue to be fortunate) when other families – some I’ve known since I was a small child – have not been.

I’m sorry.  I know I’ve been trying to put a positive spin on all of this… and I’ll keep trying to do that.  I guess everyone gets an off day once in a while.

Florida’s governor has decided to try Phase I of reopening.  I am personally going to continue to self-isolate for a while longer.  I want to see what happens as things get back to normal… I am not convinced that this is done, and I think, if anything, reopening this soon may make it worse.  In fact, I am more likely, now, to start doing grocery delivery, whereas I haven’t resorted to that yet.

Good Stuff That Happened:

My Build-A-Bear Baby Yoda (ok, ok “The Child”) arrived today.  The Star Wars collection that graces my living room now has its own Baby Yoda shelf.  The action figures I preordered should ship later this month.

Today begins Children’s Week in WoW.  It’s a special in-game holiday for me, because it also marks 12 years since I first was introduced to the game.  Happy WoW-versary to me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to write.  Or maybe just an in-game achievement to go for.

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COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 37-40

I’d say I have an above average memory — one that can span all the way back to near infancy, in some places.  I mean I don’t actively remember every second of every day, though if I think back hard enough to what I call the “major” landmarks, I can start building out what I remember around them and connect them with days prior to and days after that “landmark” event.  It’s why I say I don’t “actively” remember things – I think the data is still there, it’s just buried in all the other shit my brain has to sift through on a daily basis.

Anyway, point being, I’ve been basically isolated from other humans, places other than my home (except the grocery store and the path that I walk every day), for over a month now.  I only see HWMNBN (rarely) and my cats.  If I talk to anyone it’s via phone, text, or instant messenger.  That’s it.  And this isn’t a complaint.  It’s been quiet, I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done that I probably ordinarily would not have made time for.  In some ways, I’m living my best life right now.

What I’m getting at here, though, is that because it is so unusually quiet, and because there is not anything that ties me to the “here” (and, in fact, it is really easy to lose track of what day or time it is), I’m finding it easier to really immerse myself into the books I’ve been planning (and writing) for a really long time.  See, although I’m going to change the names of places, people, etc., I’m pulling all of what’s in there right out of my own memory.   They are prequels, really, to what I’ve written here over the years — what came before… what was FIRST.

It’s all there – it always has been – plotted out on paper, outlined, archives in place to jog my memory… but now, with the world so much quieter and so much slower, I can actually make some progress.  I can… well.. vanish… back into those times.  I can live in them again (and I’m being really careful to revisit only the good stuff right now – even I know better than to dredge through the bad shit when there’s nothing out there to wake myself back up again).  A world without COVID, without bills, where I was mercilessly naive (and that makes me laugh now) and trying to navigate a world I didn’t understand, but was fascinated with.  I get to turn all this over again and look at it and I realized, as I was walking today and thinking about what I was writing, I’m really watching myself transform into what I am now.  It’s fascinating.

To, I have to dig deep, in some ways, because I’m talking about pulling up shit that happened to me over twenty years ago now.  In so much detail that whoever reads these things will SEE these people.  Will HEAR their voices.  Will SMELL and FEEL what I did.  I’m resurrecting ghosts, in a way (even if not all of them are dead), and to do anything less doesn’t feel like I am doing those people, or those places, or those times (or myself) the justice that they deserve.  At any rate, when I get to the place I need to be, it’s like there are voices from the past echoing off my walls.  Conversations that I now remember verbatim that I could not easily access before.  And instead of freaking out over whether that stuff is still there and what I’ll do if it isn’t, I’m trusting that it will be there when I need it… and so far, they have been.

It will still be months (years, even) before this is finished.  Though if I keep writing like this, maybe not so long.  It is, after all, hard to convince myself to leave, sometimes, and come back into this other reality.

Good Stuff:

  • Really more of the same — though I am finding that this has been a really creative time for me.  I had worried that I was losing my touch.  Turns out, I just needed some quiet.
  • My knee is really recovering!!  I’m not running yet (and may not for quite a while), but can now consistently walk at my brisk speed-walking pace for 2.5 miles.  Daily.  I’m working back up to three, which was where I was at prior to the injury.  I can’t credit COVID for all of this, because this has been 2+ years coming (with many physical therapy sessions, multiple cortisone injections, plus an expensive, out of pocket, experimental procedure that apparently worked (PRP Injection)), but my need to get out of the house every day has made me want to prolong the time I spend out there rebuilding this thing… and I may very well come out of this a totally recovered woman.

COVID-19 Chronicles Days 30 – 36

Well, I finally did it.  Four baking sessions later, and I finally found the perfect sourdough loaf… it’s got the flavor I was looking for, but it’s also soft.  Like, soft enough that you can use it for sandwiches.  And it doesn’t crumble.

Having finally found THE ONE, I sent the recipe to my mom for both the starter and the bread so that she could go to town.

When I was a kid, my family would go to this little restaurant in town (the only one for a while) and have dinner together… usually with my grandmother in tow, too, after her weekly hair appointment.  The food was good, home-cooked food… you could get a cheeseburger if you wanted one, and I probably got one quite a bit at first, but I think I remember that my go-to was the grilled cheese and french fries.  Anyway, the woman who owned it baked pies and sold slices in the store.  Big, heaping, meringue-covered pies along with fruit pies… my favorite was her peanut butter meringue.  I had a slice every single week until I went to college.

The restaurant closed several years ago, and she retired.  No one took it over, so the recipes were, I thought, lost forever.  But, never being satisfied with the word “no” I decided to try to hack it back in the mid-2000’s… and after a few flops and failures, I finally figured it out.  I don’t make it often… it’s really more or less for special occasions or when I need some comfort food… but I figured COVID and the social isolation I’ve been doing for a really long time now is as good a reason to make one as any (and I happened to have a spare pie crust).

That was exactly the comfort food I needed.

Anyway, enough about food.  In other news:

My county back home saw its first COVID death.  I didn’t know the man, but my father taught with him back toward the beginning of his career.  The man was in a nursing home, and I hear that several other patients there (and some of the staff) have also contracted it, though the other person there that I know seems to be getting over it now.

My parents still do not leave their house for any reason except to get pre-ordered groceries, which they now just let them load into the car.  They don’t even roll down the windows to say that substitutions are okay.  Given dad’s asthma, that’s really the best move, I think, even though I know it is hard for them to be away from the grandkids.

My family is still healthy.  I have a slight, dry cough and had a small fever, but I don’t think it’s COVID… probably more to do with allergies or a sinus infection since it’s accompanied by sneezing and seems to be fine if I take Benadryl.  I haven’t asked to be tested, but, then, I haven’t been around anyone or done anything and I am certainly not sick enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.

The curfew in Hillsborough County got rescinded, and the mask addendum did not pass.  I bought some masks but they aren’t here yet (with my luck they’ll probably get delivered after this whole thing is over), so I try to move quickly through grocery stores if/when I have to be there.  For the record, I don’t understand why people have now decided that wearing a masks makes you invincible in places like the grocery store.  Like, when this thing first got started, people were moving through those lanes like I’d not seen… well.. ever.  Then the masks came out and now, people who wear them meander through the aisles like it’s really a life and death decision about whether they want the original flavored fruit snacks or the tropical ones.  Or they stand there texting.  Or reading Facebook.  Or whatever they do.  I really want to scream, “DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOUR MASK IS NOT A FUCKING SHIELD??!!” as I walk through the grocery, but I don’t.

Stuff I’m Celebrating:

  • Pie.  And homemade sandwich bread.
  • The first of the pre-ordered Baby Yoda (okay, okay, The Child) arrived. He is fabulous.
  • I was one of the lucky ones, when the Build a Bear ones got released, and managed to get one of the Baby Yoda toys before they sold out.  I mean, it is probably going to be months before I actually see him in person, but I am congratulating myself on my ability to move on that quickly.  So yes… I “secured the asset.”
  • Also, my fiance is a professional photographer with commercial experience.  That means photos of the food I make are usually well staged and of professional quality (as long as he’s here when I am making them)… even if taken on an iPhone.  That also means that my portfolio updates don’t have to have a massive pause button even though the rest of the rest of the world has basically stopped moving… we’ll be turning my apartment into a photo studio soon.

 

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 27-29

Yeah those loaves were NOT what I had in mind… I had to throw them both away.  There wasn’t enough starter to try again, so I’m replenishing it.  I’ve got a different recipe, its ratings are pretty good, and I’ll try again.  Note to self: whatever they say, I still need to add yeast IN ADDITION TO the yeast that’s growing in the starter.  (And no, the starter isn’t dead… it still bubbles when I feed it.)  Moving on…

Yesterday, Hillsborough County instituted a curfew (we’re still grounded, so it’s a curfew on top of being grounded).  They said that it was because too many people were still gathering together in private places.  In a way, I get it.  And it doesn’t affect me much because, well, I don’t have anywhere to BE after 9:00 anyway.  I’m in bed by 10 usually, since I log into work so damn early, but it’s the principle of the thing.  Like when my first grade teacher couldn’t figure out who was screaming in the bathroom and so she took the whole class out in the hall and paddled everyone (this was back in the days when corporal punishment was legal).  I was lucky enough to be sick that day, or I’d have gotten it too.  I WAS THE QUIET KID… though you wouldn’t guess that about me now, more than likely.

Anyway, along the lines of luck – I FOUND TOILET PAPER.  AND PAPER TOWELS.  That is a big deal because I was not one of those crazy people that bought a fuck ton of it as this got started (stocking up on food instead, remember) and as the shelves have been pretty bare since those days, I had begun to worry about having some on hand when I ran out of the little bit that I did have.  To the point that I was limiting myself to two squares per toilet use… and not cleaning things with paper towels (using washable dishtowels instead).  The dishtowel trick isn’t new… it’s just more frequent… and it doesn’t work on cat vomit.  At any rate, I went home from the store feeling pretty good.

It’s the last trip I’ll be able to make for a while because apparently as of Thursday the county is going to start requiring everyone to wear masks in public places.  I don’t have a mask.  It is impossible to GET a mask.  I don’t sew that well and couldn’t effectively make one if I had the material, so I’m fucked.  I ordered some off of Etsy last night (with a Star Wars theme, because I have to make something decent out of this shitty situation), but they won’t be here for a week or more… so what I got today (and what I already had on hand) is going to have to last until they arrive.  Mom said she’d sew me one, but I don’t know when she will get to it.  This particular thing… I don’t think is fair… I mean I get WHY you would do that, but it’s not like masks are readily available to people, and for those of us who can’t sew and who are literally having to order them, you have to give us some TIME to get them.  Or provide them.  Two days is not enough warning.  Honestly, I think this is particularly a little extreme.

Knee has been acting up again.. probably from non-use.  I started stretching and doing leg lifts (with weights) again today, then of course walked through the grocery store.. unloaded my car up two flights of stairs (four times).  Moving helps.  I have to stop being so damn stagnant.  That is the one thing I miss about the apartment complex I used to live in, because there’s no real walking path here.  I mean there’s a sidewalk, and it’s usually pretty deserted, but there’s some weird swamp property or something that’s on either side of it with no trespassing signs on either side and someone sits out there (on both sides) all damn day (always with a different license plate) just watching it.  It’s beyond bizarre, and I’m a little paranoid about what the hell is going on there, so I don’t go near it on foot.

Noblegarden on WoW.  Working on the achievement.  Been trying to get “What A Long, Strange Trip it’s Been” since I got the game and I always just kind of tire out before I can get there.  Oddly, doing the Easter Egg Hunt is kind of relaxing.  I mean I figure I can get half of it now, do the rest another year… you may ask how I know I will keep doing this… well… because I haven’t stopped since 2008.  I don’t see that changing.

Back to WoW, I guess.  I’m out of words.

Stuff I’m celebrating:

  • Got a notification that the Baby Yoda I preordered back in February is now processing.  (I know he’s “The Child” but until they give him a name, he’s Baby Yoda.  Even after they give him a name, he’s probably still going to be Baby Yoda.  Disney kind of screwed themselves, imho, by not giving him an identifier up front.
  • Found more bread flour.  That’s almost as difficult to find as the paper towels and toilet paper.
  • Tomorrow is Wednesday and I get to run a training.  That will give me a break from the writing projects I’m working on and it also helps me to break up the day a little.
  • After a day of seemingly continuous vomiting (yesterday), Milo and Cleo are both feeling much, much better today.  We had a very active game of fetch several hours ago (yes, they both know to bring their toy back so I can throw it again).

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 26

Today was eventful and worth writing about on its own…

I woke up with the goal of completing three projects:
1. Bread baking.
2. Fixing my garden gnome (his hat had a big hole in it that I wanted to seal).
3. Taking my trash out to the dumpster (I pay for valet trash here but since the virus got started, they’ve been skimping on pickup a lot – even though I still pay for it – and I don’t like for it to just sit in there).

I started the bread with a new recipe this morning that actually said not to add any additional yeast – that the starter would take care of everything. So I took it at its word and put it together, let it sit in the pan to rise, but honestly it had a weird look to it and I didn’t have a good feeling about it from the beginning, but I’ll try anything once (and I didn’t want to waste all the flour I’d used).

Sure enough, though, an hour and a half later, it was the same size it was when I put it in the bowl. I separated it into loaves (like that would make a difference) and thought I’d see if it would do better that way… left it… started on the next project.

The trash part was easy. I had to double bag it because it had been sitting in the can for so long that it was leaking, but that wasn’t a problem. The weather was decent and it was a nice little walk (and probably the furthest that I’ve walked in flip flops since I hurt my knee back in 2018). I stopped by the Beetle to get the supplies I’d purchased at Lowes for the gnome and brought them up – checked on the bread… nothing.

I was feeling pretty defeated by this point, but I didn’t want to toss it all and start over (logistically, I couldn’t have anyway, since the starter needs to rebuild itself) so I made a separate mixture of dough with a little bit of yeast dissolved in warm water and flour, with the intent of adding that to the dough I already had to see if it would give it a boost (the same concept as adding a little bit of water and cornstarch to a broth or something to thicken it).

Then I went out on the patio to work on the gnome. This is where things got sticky. Literally. I bought a can of Great Stuff from Lowes (the stuff you use to seal up cracks and shit). I sprayed some in the gnome but apparently went overboard because it just kept… growing… out of its head. At first I tried blotting it with a paper towel (which is also stupid, given the general shortage of those), but ended up getting it all over my hands. Again… stupid… it is incredibly sticky… and it did NOT wipe off like I thought it would.

So while the gnome’s head was erupting like some sticky, yellow-ish volcano, I got up and decided I probably needed to wash my hands as soon as possible… except that it’d already started to dry… and my hands were sticky. Like so sticky that they got stuck to the doorknob.

Finally wrenched them off the doorknob and got to the bathroom (again, another sticky doorknob), tried to clean it off with soap and water (nope), Dawn (nope), elbow grease (nope), and by this time I’m really panicking because it is ALL. OVER. MY. HANDS. And I wear contacts that HAVE to be taken out at night, and I don’t want to do that with glue-like shit all over them.

At this point it’s all dry. Some of it will peel off, but most of it is just… like a second set of skin… so I pray that my iPhone will still recognize my fingerprint to unlock (it did) and I start frantically looking up stuff to take this off with. The internet suggests Goof Off… I don’t have any and don’t want to drive anywhere to get any because I didn’t want any of this shit to get on my Bug’s steering wheel. It then suggests… well… using a three-blade razor to gently shave your fingers.

Surprisingly… that worked… at least enough so that I think I’ll be able to take my contacts out later.  The gnome looks like it’s grown out some fancy Madonna-quality ponytail… but I can chop that off tomorrow. 

 

 

gnomeBut there was still the bread to tangle with – I dumped the new dough into a bowl with the old dough and let it sit for another hour. Finally, got some action… it rose enough to split it and put it back into the loaf pans.

At this point there’s no recipe for this bread anymore, I’ve added so much shit to it that wasn’t originally in the written version, so I had to really guess as to how long to let it rise in the loaf pans, then how long to bake it.

At any rate, about eight hours after I mixed the dough, I finally have two loaves cooling on the stove. I have no idea if they will do what I wanted them to do (I was going for a softer loaf that retained the sourdough flavor but that was pliable enough to make sandwiches with and was less crumbly)… but I’ll find out tomorrow when I slice into it.

 

 

 

 

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COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 17-25

I guess this is going to end up being a weekly thing instead of a daily thing. That’s fine. Seriously. Nothing exciting happens day-to-day that is worth recording except that I wear a different t-shirt every day (yes, I’m still getting dressed… but I wear my yoga pants during the day).

The Sourdough turned out pretty good for the first time out. The finished product was a little floury, a little crumbly… I am not sure whether it’s because I used too much flour, or used all-purpose instead of bread flour. Regardless, it made AMAZING toast… garlic or regular… butter both sides, bake it at 400 for 10 minutes, flip it, do the other side… (sprinkle garlic salt on each side in the last 3-4 minutes of cooking). HEAVEN.

The starter is built back up enough to try it again this weekend (that’s one of the things on my list to do tomorrow), and I’m nearly out of the loaves I made last weekend, so I’m going to try it with those two modifications.

HWMNBN managed to find some flour in Bradenton last week, too, and brought that up for me on Saturday. I wasn’t out, exactly, but I was running low and, at the time, couldn’t find anything except the little bags, and I thought finding those were an accomplishment. Just glad they didn’t put a limit on how much of that I can have. At least not yet.

Milo had some kind of urinary event last weekend that ended with my taking him to the veterinary urgent care. I didn’t even know there was such a thing… I knew there were hospitals, and those cost a goddamn fortune, but I had no idea there were literal urgent care clinics for animals. Anyway, I couldn’t go in with him so I had to wait outside and take care of it all over the phone. It was bizarre, but I was told he behaved. They don’t think he had a UTI and he didn’t have a blockage… they think stress, probably from all the change. The only thing I can think of that’s changed is that I’m here all the time. I guess I stress him out? Huh…

Still playing WoW. I read someone actually finished all of the achievements in the game the other day – basically beating the entire game. I was mildly jealous, but also glad that I have… something… of a life. I mean it’s not much, but I do play other games. And I write. Sometimes, when there’s not the Plague, I run around… go places… have fun… speaking of which I am still kind of pissed that the 90s party got canceled, but am at the same time glad I didn’t splurge on stuff for it, since now it probably isn’t going to happen.

Wonder if the toy show that’s supposed to go on next month will still happen… if the shelter at home order is extended, probably not. I really don’t need anymore toys… I have some on preorder that I haven’t even technically paid for yet…

Oh well. Still healthy. Still isolated. Still haven’t run out of TV to binge watch or WoW achievements to get. I’m good.

Daily Developments:

  • Sourdough starters – if I keep feeding it, I may never be without bread again. There are other things to do with the starter that I found, too, that might be delicious… pancakes.. muffins…popovers… it seems the list is neverending.
  • My leg (the one that had the knee injury) is still slowly getting back to normal, but I’ve noticed that it’s starting to want to behave in ways it hasn’t before. I’ve been using this time to really stretch it (since I can’t go to the gym) and build the elasticity back in it. Getting there.
  • The Hilton Doubletree has released its Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, thanks to the Coronavirus. Disney released its Churro and Dole Whip recipe. I’m not saying that I want this to continue, but from a culinary perspective, this has been a very productive time.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • My sister posted photos of my youngest niece playing with a frog. Like, literally letting this giant frog climb all over her head, ride around in her pocket, and even one where she was kissing it. I didn’t see them until close to midnight and I was almost asleep — then I laughed so hard that I couldn’t go back to sleep right away. Her kids are the best.
  • Speaking of, my family is still healthy. All of them. Even my grandma, who is in the nursing home. That’s definitely something.
  • Finished reading “The Rise of Skywalker” yesterday. Couldn’t put it down — I haven’t obsessively watched that movie (only a time or two when it was out), so reading the book was actually much better. I had forgotten some parts, and it wasn’t just a rehashing of what I’d already basically memorized. Now that it’s over, I’ve ventured into Clone Wars.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 10 – 16

Apparently I am now terrible at making a plan and sticking to it… I meant to update this thing every day, but I’ve just dropped the damn ball. Probably really because there’s not that much happening when you’re self-isolating that would make a good blog entry… I wake up, I log in to work, I work for 8+ hours, I log off, I make something for dinner, play some Fallout or World of Warcraft (or both), then I take a shower and go to bed. That’s my day.

But, I guess it’s worth mentioning that about a week ago Hillsborough County was put under a stay-at-home order. Today, the entire state of Florida followed suit. So it’s like being grounded… I never got grounded as a kid, so this is a new experience for me. I think if I had been grounded as a kid I probably would have been allowed to go to school and church and, since I now don’t go to either, I guess going to the grocery store is a lot like going to church – it’s the one reprieve I get from staying at home. And that’s fine… I’m an introvert with anxiety. I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to have to worry about being sick… and since no one really enters or leaves this apartment except for me, it’s unlikely that I’ll get sick just by staying in here, three floors off the ground, working, playing games, binge watching Criminal Minds, making sourdough bread and patching up an old blanket that’s been in my life since I was a very small child. It could certainly be worse.

And I am glad I spent the first few months in this apartment diligently unpacking and putting things away and really making this place home-like (to me). I’ve got my Star Wars toy collection all over my living room, my big oak bookshelves bursting with books in the bedroom, enough toilet paper to last about three months if I’m careful, and a much larger kitchen than I’ve had since we left Louisville for Florida. And in that kitchen I am now making sourdough bread – partially because it’s a nice thing to do (and I like cooking) but also because bread can be tricky to find right now and I thought that if I made my own, that’s one more loaf at the store that would be available for someone who maybe can’t make their own bread.

This whole thing is seriously making me wonder if I really should just get it over with and buy a house in the country, get a milk cow and some chickens, plant a garden and just live off the land. I mean I doubt I’d do half of that… the garden is more realistic for me, because I actually know how to raise one of those. Cows and chickens… not a clue… but it’s an interesting thought.

Daily Developments:

  • This is Day 4 of the Sourdough Starter. It should be ready to bake with tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll have time and energy to do that after work.
  • I managed to sew up one of the big holes in the blanket that used to be on my parents’ bed when I was a kid. This thing is older than dirt and I could probably just get a new one and be done with it, but this one has sentimental value to me and it’s so freaking soft after all those years of use. So I’ll keep sewing it up until there’s nothing more to sew.
  • Florida declared its own shelter in place order today. It lasts until April 30. I think restaurants are still delivering, but several of my favorite ones have closed to give their workers a chance to stay healthy.

Things I’m Happy About

  • I’m back to giving webinars for the first time in nearly six years. It feels good to be back in that field again and I’m always excited when I do it.
  • I unlocked flying in Legion. Finally. One more day and I should be able to unlock the “Now I Am The Master” cooking achievement too.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 7-9

Been a little busy here the last few days. Work is going well… I get to start training people again via webinar… something I haven’t gotten to do since I left Tampa back in 2014. I’ve been trying to get back into it ever since and, despite many twists and turns and a series of moves that took me away from Tampa and then brought me right back and sent me down a rabbit hole career-wise (for a bit), it looks like I’m heading back into the direction I wanted to go. I give my first webinar tomorrow… and while I am (understandably nervous), I am also pretty at ease… I know the materials pretty well, and I’m good at improv for the stuff I don’t know.

But enough about that. The virus continues to spread. Most of the Florida beaches are closed… I know that some of the spring breakers have gone home (but not all of them… some of them decided to stay… I’m not sure what they’re really doing since they can’t DO anything around here except go grocery shopping now that the bars, clubs, and restaurants are closed). New Yorkers are also apparently flying into Florida to escape their stay-at-home orders and the governor finally mandated that anyone getting off of a plane that comes from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut has to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Because the governor doesn’t want to issue a stay-at-home mandate for the entire state, some local governments are taking it upon themselves to issue their own. Honestly I don’t see how that can be effective because it’s not like the virus is going to come up to certain county lines and say, “Oh… I’m banned here… I’ll go somewhere else.” And also, especially in counties that comprise big regions like Tampa Bay, it would be difficult to enforce when you have a community that depends on its ability to commute to other counties for work. Is someone living in Hillsborough county who works in a non-essential job in Manatee county (which is technically outside the “Bay” area) supposed to sacrifice their job to stay home, or are they supposed to illegally leave and risk a fine so that they can keep their job? I get the need for effort, I do, but there has to be some kind of consistency or it simply doesn’t make sense.

But… I digress… the county I live in has proposed instating a stay-at-home order AS WELL AS a curfew. It hasn’t passed yet, but I expect it to tomorrow, which means there is likely more WoW and Fallout time in my immediate future.

Daily Developments:

  • See above information about the curfew… will probably pass tomorrow.
  • Milo likes to play fetch during the day. I cannot always play with him, but he makes a point of throwing his little toy around on his own (then staring up at me pathetically) when I can’t participate.
  • I finished the book I was reading in two days. It’s not because I have a lot of spare time (though I kinda do), but because it was a page turner and I didn’t want to put it down.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • Oddly, this virus is the reason I’m getting to start doing webinars again, because our other trainers are too busy to handle them all. Believe me, I wish that there was another good reason for this, but I told you, I’m trying to see the positives in this.
  • Slept pretty decently the last couple of nights. This is a true achievement for me.
  • Only about 1-1.5 more days until I’ll have unlocked flying in Legion. This is something I wasn’t going to do because honestly it takes forever to do now, and I didn’t have a whole lot of time but that, obviously, has changed.