Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Rolling With the Punches




I guess that is what we are all doing these days.  There are so many changes to our way of life.  Basic, simple things have changed.  You can't even go out for a haircut.  Luckily, I had my hair cut just a couple of weeks before so many businesses were closed down.  I can go awhile without a haircut and although I may not like it, I can do it.

For many, and my husband Tom is one, it is difficult to go without a visit to his barber.  Unfortunately he was already past due for a haircut when the shops closed.  This meant that a week into it he was really wanting a haircut.  He's asked me to cut his hair in the past and I never wanted to do it.  I do not want to be responsible for messing up anyone else's hair.  But this time the situation was different.  As far as we know, it could be a long time before these types of businesses open back up.

I suppose this is one of those punches we have to roll with - right?  Tom told me not to worry about it, that if I messed it up too badly we could just shave his head.  Besides, that's a style too isn't it?  Sure.  He sat in the kitchen and I wrapped a towel around him.  That part was easy.  He gave me his electric razor with some kind of a guard on it and promised me it would cut all the hair the same length with that guard.  All I had to do was drive the razor all over his head just like when we used to have a dog and cut his hair.  But wait, I didn't cut the dog's hair.  Tom did that.  Oh boy.  I was a little nervous but I turned the razor on and made that first cut.  Nothing bad happened.  His ears were even still there.  Alright, I can do this.  In fact, it was kind of fun.  I wanted to cut stripes in his hair but he didn't like that idea.  I got it cut, and then I even trimmed around the edges and over his ears without the guard on the blade.  It didn't look half bad.  It didn't look like his barber did it, but he was happy and more comfortable.  So there is one punch in all these new punches that I learned to roll with.

We are all facing new challenges these days and I'm learning that we are capable of doing much more than we thought we could do.  Many of our challenges are much more serious than a simple haircut of course.  This new lifestyle has a learning curve for us all.  Some things are frightening, or sad, or depressing.  I believe we are all stronger than we thought and we can deal with the new challenges.  It helps to share our feelings with others, rather than holding them in until we feel like exploding.  Yea, exploding is no good.  What new challenges do you find yourself facing these days?  Do you have feelings you need to share?  I think there are a lot of us in blogland that care and are willing to listen.  I know I am.     


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Our World is Changing

I'm willing to guess that I am not the only one that feels like I am living in a bad sci-fi movie or maybe a Stephen King novel.  No, this is NOT the time to reread The Stand. 

I've tried to not write about it but I find that I seem to have a need to express my feelings in these very strange days in which we are living.  The speed of the growth of this thing is almost unreal.  A little over a week ago there were around 100,000 cases worldwide. There are today more than 500,000 worldwide.  If you are interested in tracking it you can do so here:  Covid-19 Global Cases  No, I'm not trying to scare anyone but I genuinely find it interesting to see this map and learn a little of the scientific side of this.

I live in the suburbs of Kansas City and we have seen the number of cases triple in less than a week.  We were under voluntary "stay at home" recommendations.  Well, that is history now.  As of the first of this week we are under "orders" to stay home and isolate except for going to the grocery store, pharmacy, or medical office.  There is even a phone number people can use to report persons not following this order and there can be a fine or even jail time for breaking it.  The police are not going around looking for isolation breakers but have the rules there to prevent large groups of people from gathering.  Not that there would be anywhere to go as all the theaters, restaurants, bars, etc. etc. are closed. 

We have seen many creative ways of dealing with this isolation in the community.  Some people are putting teddy bears in their windows and others are driving around with their children so the kids can count the teddy bears.  Apparently it is okay to drive around in your car within your town.  Things like this are fun distractions for the kids and actually, I kind of love teddy bears too.




I have plenty of jobs and hobbies to keep me busy so I do okay staying home.  We do need certain basics in groceries but we did not want to go out and empty the store shelves like some have done.  That is not fair to others that are shopping.  We figured it was safer to go out in the early days of all this, so we set up a plan to go to the store once a week starting three weeks ago.  Each trip we bought more than we normally would buy but we did not overdo it.  This morning was our last trip out for awhile.  We worked out a pretty good system for our shopping.  The stores open an hour early for people over 60 and those with health problems.  We tried that last week and the size of the crowd was ridiculous.  So today we went early but one hour after the early opening.  It worked out well as there were not many people in the store.  When we got home we followed the guidelines about handling our groceries.  We brought them all in and put the bags on our kitchen table and then washed our hands.  We then unbagged everything and wiped down what grocery items we could with sanitiser wipes.  This may sound silly but this is what authorities have  recommended we do.  I then put the groceries away and cleaned the table and all the surfaces in the kitchen.  I am also cleaning door knobs, light switches and such every day.  With a careful trip out once a week for the past three weeks, I feel like we are now stocked up enough to do fine for over a month if necessary.  I may take a solitary walk around the neighborhood or we might even take a drive in the country if we feel the need to go out.  Other than that, we are now in to stay and will avoid all public places. 
    
So much has happened and we have to take precautions.  It won't last forever but I think there will be some permanent changes as a result of all this.  How are you doing with all these changes in our world? 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Internet Sure Comes in Handy

I have always appreciated the many things we are able to take care of using the internet.  It saves money in reducing the amount of gas usage for the car, stamps for letters and most of all it saves the time it used to take to complete certain types of business that you can now do online.

Since many of us have suddenly found ourselves in the situation of staying home at least part, if not most of our time, we can really make use of the many advantages of the internet.

I had several things I needed to get done today and I was able to get all of them taken care of on my computer.

  1. Pay Bills - I admit this is not my favorite thing to do but it must be done. It is much faster and easier to handle this online through my online bank account.  
  2. Personal Property Declaration - For those of you not in the states, we have to fill this out each year for tax purposes.  Basically it states what vehicles you own.  Oh yes, Uncle Sam has to get his cut of our money for everything!  And yes, this was supposed to be done by March 1st but the deadline has been extended.  I was able to do this online.
  3. 2020 Census - Every four years in the U.S. the census is taken to update the number of people in the country.  In past years it was done on a form you had to fill out and mail in or sometimes a person would even come to your door.  This year we received a letter in the mail and was able to use a number given to us online to fill out the form for our household.  Quick and easy, I didn't have to leave the house.
  4. Birthday shopping - My youngest son has a birthday this month. Many stores are closed now and I didn't want to go out anyway.  I was able to order his gift online and it will be here just in time for his special day.
It was nice to be able to get all these jobs taken care of here at my computer in a fairly short amount of time.  There are many other things that most of us take care of online these days as well.  This online ability is proving so much more important now with all the restrictions due to the coronavirus.  Both my sons and my daughter-in-law are able to work from home.  Many children around the world are now or soon will be attending school at home on computers.  

In my mind there is something equally important the internet provides for us.  That is the ability to have contact with one another no matter where we live or if we leave our homes or not.  I value that contact, especially now!

And because this is a boring post with no pictures I'll add a photo of my cats when they were kittens.  Hopefully it will give a smile or two.


Zeus and Sophie


Please take care everyone! 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

What a Strange Week It's Been

It seems like things have sure been changing fast this past week.  It started out reasonably normal. Last Tuesday was "Super Tuesday" for us and we voted in the primary election.  The number of Democratic candidates have finally gone down to a more reasonable number.

We continued into the week with our usual activities.  Tom and I go to the gym twice a week where we take what I call an "Old Person's" exercise class.  Actually, here it is called a Silver Sneakers class for people over 65 and for us there is no charge since our health insurance pays for it.  Of course there was some talk in class of the coronavirus but not that much.  In fact, there were over fifty people attending the class which was about average.  Apparently no one was too worried about the virus despite the fact that we were all in the high risk age group.

Tuesday afternoon we even managed to get the new cell phones we had been shopping for over the past several weeks.  We were beginning to get concerned about getting them since the shipments from overseas had almost stopped completely due to the virus.  Tom just kept called around and finally found them.  Of course now we have to learn how to operate all the new changes in them from our old phones.  Yea, you know how that goes!

Life around here saw a sudden change when in the middle of the week the mayor of Kansas City declared a state of emergency for the city and canceled all public events that involved a large number of people.  Kansas City hosts the Big 12 Basketball Tournament each year and it had just barely begun.  It attracts thousands of people from all over the country and is a big income source for the city besides being a popular and fun activity.  Other popular games and other activites were also canceled.  Comic Con was to be here next weekend but not now.  There's also no St. Patrick's Day Parade next week and they even canceled the Easter Bunny appearances!  The Easter Bunny!  I do know this is all necessary as a safety precaution.  People need to stay home until this virus is under control.  I guess it just hit home with me how serious this is when they canceled everything in a city that NEVER cancels sporting events.

Of course after that the governor declared a state of disaster for the state and then the president for the country.  And that is when the bottom fell out around here.  We thought we should stock up on a few things (not hoard large quantities).  We went to Costco to shop and were shocked to see that in the middle of  week in the middle of the day there was not one roll of any brand of toliet paper!  And of course there were no disinfecting wipes, cleaners or hand sanitizers.  Now I understand people buying those items but why the rush on toliet paper???  From what I hear this seems to be a problem worldwide too.  This is not "that" kind of a virus.

Building a wall of protection maybe?

I will admit all of this is unnerving especially for those people that are at high risk which unfortunately includes those of us over 65.  I think our country is just now starting to deal with the situation and maybe they should have acted a couple of weeks earlier.  Our government has really screwed up in how they have handled getting the tests for this and now they are frantically trying to catch up while we know the number of people infected is much higher than what has been reported.  I think that is the main reason for encouraging people to stay home.  Maybe if more people stay home less will get sick and the hospitals and organizations that take care of things will have time to catch up.  To me the most frightening thing about this is all the unknowns.  We have never seen this particular virus before and we don't fully know what to expect from it.  But we do know it spreads incredibly fast and for some people can be deadly.  We have stocked up on groceries (not toliet paper!) and we plan to stay home except for a couple of doctor's appointments we have.  And for those appointments we plan on calling first to make sure they still want us to come in since so much has changed.  This is not a time for any of us to freak out but we should be sensible and be careful.

I appreciate all of my blog friends so much and I hope everyone stays safe and well!



Saturday, March 7, 2020

Not much happening here...


There's not been much to write about around here recently.  In fact, things have been so slow this week that even the cats are bored.

A bored Zeus

No excitment in Sophie's day either

Last week I did have a few appointments.  It was time for my annual eye examination so I got that checked off my "To Do" list.  I found out I have wrinkles in one eye.  I knew I was getting old but geez!  Sure, a lot of us have wrinkles around our eyes but in your eye?  This is called a "macular pucker" and they noticed it last year at my checkup and apparently this year it has gotten a bit worse.  There is nothing that can be done about it unless it gets much worse and then they do surgery.  I'm just going to hope it doesn't get that bad because I can do without surgery, thank you! 

I've been organizing family photos from the late 1800's and early 1900's.  I'm getting them ready to scan and I also want to write names and approximate dates on them.  Of course, there are a few of people that I don't know who they are and I'm really wishing my ancestors had written names on the back of their photos.  Hint for the future: please identify your family pictures whether they are printed or digital!  Someone in your future will thank you!   

Tom and I have been shopping for new cell phones.  We no longer keep a house phone so we need reliable cell phones.  We currently each have a Samsung Galaxy S4 and it has been the best phone I've ever owned.  It is seven years old which is truly ancient for a smart phone.  Our phones are still working but need to be replaced soon due to memory problems.  (I hope no one ever says that about me!)  They simply were not made to handle the software and apps of today.  One sales clerk got a big kick out of the age of our phones.  I thought we were doing good to use them as long as possible but I guess many people today trade them in every year.  We went to a couple of different stores and discovered the availability of many of the phones we were considering is now extremely limited due to the coronavirus.  There is a big shortage in electronics and parts for electronics.  Many phones, televisions and other electronics come from China and other countries affected by the virus.  Some of the factories have been closed because of it.  Hmm, we may be using these phones a while longer.   

Spring is at least getting closer for us and that is always a good thing.  Our temperatures may even get up to the 60s F this weekend and that would be wonderful!  We also spring forward this Saturday night so we lose an hour of sleep.  Thanks Daylight Savings Time.  Honestly, I'd just as soon keep the same time all year.  Oh well.  Have a great weekend everyone!



Saturday, February 29, 2020

February 29th - A Memory



This date has special meaning to me.  When I was a child we joked about it being “Leap Day” and said we would not want to be born on this date.  Who wants a birthday only once every four years?  But what if you died on this date?  I never thought about that.

Well, now I’ve thought about that a lot in the past 12 years because my older brother Jerry died on February 29, 2008.  He was 65 years old and died after a five year battle with Mantel Cell Lymphoma cancer.  He went through multiple chemotherapy treatments, an attempted stem cell transplant and many other uncomfortable treatments.  He was treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  He spent several weeks at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester after the stem cell transplant.  There was a requirement that he have someone stay there with him during that time.  Charlie, our brother, and I each stayed with him for half of his time there.  I took medical leave from my job and stayed for the first part and then Charlie came for the remainder of the time.

I don’t mean to write all this as something sad.  I just want to share my memory of someone that was very special in my life.

Charlie, myself and Jerry, Easter 1954
Jerry was a writer and a newspaper editor but more than anything he was a lover of nature.  He settled in Minnesota because he loved the beautiful countryside, lakes and wildlife.  He camped out and canoed as much as he could and he even spent most of one year living in the wilderness with his tent and canoe.  He taught me so much about many things and always listened when I had a problem.  Jerry was a unique and real person in a world that was often very superficial. 

He had requested to be cremated and have his ashes spread in a quiet and hidden part of the Mississippi headwaters where he used to camp.  He was the first member of our family to be cremated and I initially had mixed feelings about it.  Per his request we only had immediate family members there when we spread his ashes.  It was a beautiful and private ceremony.  It could not have been more perfect and well suited to who he was as a person.

When I thought about his death falling on a date that comes just once every four years, I realized that date would have suited him perfectly.  He was not like any other person I’ve ever known.  He would have liked that date.  If it had not been leap year he would have died on March 1st and he would never have wanted that because it was our Mother’s birthday.  It is funny how things work out sometimes.   



Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cats in Windows

Sophie & Zeus
Our cats, Sophie and Zeus love to spend time looking out the windows and doors.  They each look out for different favorite things.  If they are in another part of the house and we call out "squirrels" they will each come running.  Of course they both love watching the birds and squirrels but Sophie in particular considers that her personal job.  Each morning, bright and early, she assumes her position at the back door.  She is usually perched on top of their cat tower watching out for birds and squirrels.  She takes her work seriously and will only leave a couple of times during the day until 5:00 PM when she considers herself off work and goes to another room for a nap.

Zeus
Zeus, on the other hand, prefers to watch trucks out the front window.  There is nothing he loves more than to watch the garbage truck come by each week.  He always watches intently as the men dump the garbage in the truck and drive away.  If Zeus is in a different room and we call out "Zeus, truck" he will come running to the front window.  Sophie could care less for things like trucks and will not come.

Zeus & Sophie watching the Santa Bus
There is one exception when Sophie does like to see a vehicle driving by the house.  In our small town they have a Santa Bus that drives all around each neighborhood on weekends in December.  The Santa Bus carries Santa and his Elves and stops to visit with children and give out small gifts.  Both Sophie and Zeus absolutely love the Santa Bus.  It arrives with a police escort and the sound of sleigh bells and when it stops, often in front of our house, a line of children quickly appear to see Santa.  Sophie and Zeus both love to watch this annual Christmas activity!  They even like it better than the Ice Cream Man and yes, when they hear his music they come running to the window.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Do You Remember Green Stamps?




I was sorting through some old boxes the other day and found a relic from the past - Green Stamps.  I had put away a couple of the booklets filled with green stamps, an old catalog and a couple of other trading stamps popular in the 1960s. 


When I was growing up I remember my Mother saving Green Stamps.  You received them at many different stores and gas stations based on how much money you spent.  If you saved these up and stuck them in a book you could redeem them for nice gift items.  My Grandmother used to send her stamps to me so I quickly got in the act of saving and spending them too.  I remember using them to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for my Mother.  One year I got her a beautiful mirrored, perfume vanity tray.  Another time I saved up and bought a ukulele for myself.  We had a catalog and could shop for anything we wanted to buy with our carefully saved up stamps.  When we had enough saved we went to the Green Stamp Store to make the purchase.

                                                                   

S & H Green Stamps were popular from the 1930s until the late 1980s.  The S & H stood for Sperry & Hutchinson.  You could buy a large variety of items with the stamps ranging from furniture to small appliances and many other household items.  Some things were as inexpensive as one or two books of stamps and others could cost twenty or thirty or more.  

Along with the old Green Stamps I found were a couple of other types of stamps we used to save back in the 1960s.  There were Blue Chip and Top Value Stamps.  I don't think these were as popular as the Green Stamps but several different types of stamps were used by different stores as a kind of rewards program.











I wondered if other countries had used this type of reward program in the stores.  After a little research I discovered there was a British sales program very similar to this using Green Shield Stamps.  Does anyone here remember these stamps or maybe some other similar program that may have been popular?     



Apparently the mention of the Green Shield Stamps even made its way into Pop Culture.  Genesis mentioned them in the song "Dancing with the Moonlight Knight" from their 1973 album Selling England by the Pound.  There is a line that says: "Knights of the Green Shield stamp and shout".  Jethro Tull also mentioned Green Shield stamps in the song "Broadford Bazaar".

I don't know about you, but things like these stamps really take me back.  Like many other things from the past, these are now just a part of our memory.




Sunday, February 16, 2020

Another Birthday

We've had a nice weekend after a week of snow, ice and temperatures as low as
 4° F.  It has been above freezing all weekend and we even celebrated another family birthday.  My grandson, Gavin, had his 18th birthday yesterday!  That is a special birthday for most.  I can even remember looking forward to my 18th birthday.  We had a wonderful meal in a nice restaurant on the Plaza in downtown Kansas City.  Afterwards, we went back to my son's house for more family time and gift opening.  It is so hard for me to believe my youngest grandchild is now 18 years old!  It seems like he was just born a few weeks ago.  I don't know how anyone else feels but I think grandchildren grow up twice as fast as your own children.

My Grandson Gavin

Last week ended on a sweet note with Valentine's Day.  I hope everyone had a nice day.  We don't really celebrate the day by going out or anything like that but Tom did bring me some beautiful roses and chocolate covered strawberries - yum!  I gave him some pistachios (his favorite) and some of his favorite candy.

We have had a fairly relaxing day today.  I am getting ready to start another scanning project.  It is a goal of mine to scan all of my family's printed photos.  I have a huge quantity of  photos considering that we did not start taking digital photographs until around 2000.  Add to that the fact that our family has always taken a lot of photos going all the way back to the early 1900's and even a few from the late 1800's.  To complicate matters more, I also hope to write names and dates on pictures that are not identified.  Last year I scanned about ten years worth of photos from when my boys were young.  At some point I need to pick up from there but that is not what I'll be doing this time.  I want to get all the really old photos scanned.  Has anyone else taken on the project of scanning family photos?  If so, I could sure use any tips you may have!

Have a great week!




Monday, February 10, 2020

Escape Puzzle

Puzzle, Instructions and Sealed Envelope
I mentioned in my last post that I was starting a new jigsaw puzzle that was a little different.  It is called an Escape Puzzle but is similar to other puzzles called Mystery Puzzles.  There is a short story explaining that you have accidentally eaten poison mushrooms.  You find a witches kitchen which contains an antidote somewhere but you have to find it.

Instructions

The puzzle was more difficult than most for a couple of reasons.  The actual puzzle was not identical to the picture on the box.  It was close to the same but there were several changes.  In addition to that, the edge pieces were all basically the same shape making my usual practice of working the edges first not a good idea.  

In Progress
Once I had the puzzle together then I had to solve the other puzzle of finding the antidote.   

Completed Puzzle
The instruction sheet said there were eight mysteries hidden within the puzzle that had to be solved in order to find the solution.  It also listed a web page that would give clues to the eight areas of the puzzle.  The design of the puzzle was such that I could not be sure of what the eight areas were so I did check out the web page for those clues.  Here are two examples of the clues showing puzzles within the puzzle:

Numbers Puzzle
Symbols Puzzle










Most of the puzzles were number related involving figuring out sequences of various numbers, etc.  A couple of them involved working with symbols that were translated into numbers.  For example, copies of the symbols were hidden within the puzzle itself with an = sign and numbers.  At first it was a bit overwhelming, but once I caught on I was able to solve four of the eight puzzles.  Each of the eight puzzles answer was a number.  The next step was to find those numbers on edge pieces of the puzzle.  Okay, I had half of the eight puzzles solved but not the remaining four.  I finally gave up and opened the "secret envelope".  It was a bit of a let down because it only listed the eight numbers but did not tell how to get them.  It did confirm that the four I was able to solve were correct.  I next went around the edges of the puzzle and pulled out the eight corresponding number pieces.  I had trouble getting good pictures of the puzzle but if you click to enlarge the next picture you may be able to see some of the numbers on the edge pieces.

Numbers on Edge Pieces
Besides listing the eight numbers the solution also had a picture of the final solution.  The eight edge pieces I pulled fit together to form a tiny puzzle and the one center piece was a piece from the main puzzle showing a small plant - the antidote.  Unfortunately that piece did not even fit properly even though it was listed as the correct piece.

Final Solution
If you have stayed with me this long then you have done well.  I agree this was a little confusing and did not have enough directions.  Plus the fact that the final answer puzzle did not even fit properly.  I checked reviews on this puzzle online and found that most other people working this ran into the same problems.

Would I do another puzzle like this one?  No, not as it is now.  I did enjoy some of the basic concepts of this and the various puzzles involved but it needs to be cleaned up a lot and have some clear instructions.  I enjoy working a variety of puzzles whether jigsaw, number, symbol or whatever but I like basic instructions as to what I am supposed to do!

I hope everyone is having a good week and all the various weather problems out there this week are not causing too much trouble!