Coronavirus Lockdowns

My state has been under lockdown for damn close to two weeks already, by fiat from our gormless governor.  Unless our jobs are considered essential for life, we’re supposed to hole up in our homes until further notice, unless we have to venture out to get groceries, gas, pet supplies, or hardware to fix whatever we have to around our houses, such as water pipe leaks, or dead light switches.  Restaurants can do take-out, but none around here are chain restaurants, and most have decided to close, anyway.

Most of us are already going stir crazy.  There is a way to buy booze, but it’s far more limited than before.  Grocery stores are out of some items — I’m talking about whole chickens, and dish soap.  T.P. is hit-or-miss, not that we need bales of it, anyway.  A whole chicken could feed two people for five days (there is no such thing as a small chicken anymore, unless it’s a “Cornish hen”).

We are very fortunate to have our own 7 acre property that is very park-like, on which we can roam around, do yard work, keep occupied by fixing lawn equipment, and doing maintenance on small engine things like the portable generator, chainsaws, log splitter, sawmill, and power washer.  The park near our old house where we sometimes used to take our dog for a walk was smaller than what we now have, acreage-wise.  Still, it gets claustrophobic when every other day is cold and rainy.

Cooking and baking is one way to keep occupied, but how many loaves of bread, batches of cookies, stew, chili, etc. does one small household need?  Not all of it can be frozen.

That said, my best wishes to all of you.  Stay safe, and healthy, regardless of whether you’re in a lockdown area or not.

Another Horrific Accident

This happened two blocks down the road from me, at the intersection of a local road and a state highway.  These accidents keep happening, one or two per year, and they are not fender-benders.  They are “OMG, did anyone get killed?  Can I help somehow before the EMTs get here?” kind of vehicle crashes.  This time, the victim had to be pulled out the front of a building, and the vehicle.  Prayers up for the driver.

It’s a really bad intersection that crosses at a very acute angle, with buildings in the way that block your view until you nose out a little.  Locals know all about that intersection, but the thru traffic on the highway that doesn’t drive it daily has no clue about that curve before the intersection.  The speed is way too high through there — 25mph on the side street with stop signs, but what used to be 55mph on the highway through there, with a little paint now on the road saying “SLOW  40MPH” is a joke.  If you are going to get hit at that intersection, it’s going to be by someone going highway speed.

Grrr … Hotel Reservations

These are so easy to make online.  My family said the annual get-together is on for the same weekend as always.  So, I made the reservations.  We drive the ~2400 miles round trip, so it does require one night’s stay in either direction, and a few more nights when we get there.  For years, we’ve stayed in the same places on the way, once there, and on the way back, with one exception, for a place that had gotten a little shabby on the way there, so I found another place nearby that’s better for ~the same price.

So far, so good.  Then we got a text from my in-laws asking everyone to make the whole big shindig a day later than usual, so they could be there, too.  The hosts agreed, so I had to try to change reservations for two of three hotels/motels I’d booked.  Couldn’t really do that online, so I had to call the front desk clerk at each location, give them my name and reservation number, then ask if they could change my reservation for me.

In one case, it was “I’d like to change that reservation from that night to the next night, if I could.”  The 20-something woman who answered the phone pulled up my reservation, and changed it for me, no problem.  It was a non-refundable reservation, so they were going to get the $ either night, both of which were weekdays.  She was fantastic about it, and gave me no hassle.  It took her all of two minutes.  Same room rate I’d originally booked.

In the other case, I wanted to add one extra night to the three I’d already booked.  The 20-something sounding guy who answered the phone gave me a bit of a song and dance about how I’d have to go through Expedia to do that, but I was having none of it.  I didn’t use Expedia to book the room in the first place.  He told me it could cost me as much as another $40 over my previous nightly room rate if he booked the extra night for me himself.  So, I told him, “Well, if you can find us a room for that one extra night, great.  If we have to pack our bags after night #3 and move down the hall, or to the motel next door, we can do it, but it’d be preferable if we didn’t have to.”  Bingo-bango. He typed away on his reservation machine, and came back to tell me that we could stay in the same room for the fourth night, and the room rate would be the same as the one we got for the previous three nights.  Of course I thanked him for his assistance.

It pays to be polite.  Well, it saves money, anyway.  The guy could have been a hard-ass about jacking up our room rate for the one extra night, but if he had been, he knew we could have packed up and gone next door to another motel.  *shrug*

Yes, you can negotiate for hotel rates.  It’s kind of a pain in the ass, though.

Presents from Irina

I think Irina broke into a bag of Christmas ornaments, because she keeps bringing me “presents” from it.  She’s very attracted to anything covered in gold.  She particularly likes those elastic cords that people often use to decorate homemade scented candles that are gold colored.  Mostly, I don’t throw them out because they look nicer than ordinary rubber bands for a variety of uses, including holding up bloom spikes on orchids, and holding up strings of Christmas lights indoors or outdoors that aren’t placed on conifers.

So far, she has fished out, and brought me six of them.  She drops them by my feet, and looks up at me for approval.  I guess it’s better than the dead birds a former neighbor’s cat named Jaguar used to leave on my front doorstep.  That was Jaguar’s way of saying “Thanks for the catnip, lady!”

The good news is that Irina shows no signs of wanting to eat those elastic string thingies.  She just plays with them for a while, then gives them to me.

Also, she did something this morning that made me chuckle.  You know about cats, and keyboards (or reading material, for that matter).  She walked all over my keyboard, closed a few browser tabs, opened a new blank one, and managed to hit the magic combination to turn on the back lighting on my keyboard not just when I wake up my computer, but whenever I start typing on its keyboard.  Hey, it beats having to turn on the overhead lighting in mid-afternoon when it’s a dreary dark day in winter — on my sun porch, which is on the south side of the house for a very good reason.  Good kitty!

Bulwer Lytton Contest

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write an intentionally bad sentence?  You have to abandon all the grammar, and sentence structure you were taught in grade school.

“I don’t really know what it was about her that attracted me besides her long blonde hair, or her fingernails, painted in lime green, and she had swagger, but it was more than that because she smelled like jasmine, mixed with sweat and foot odor.”

Nah.  That won’t win it.

Week Two with Irina

As is typical of Russian Blues, she follows me around, and parks it on my lap in the evening.  When my lap is not available, she’ll park it on the arm of the chair right next to me.  She doesn’t do that with my other half yet; maybe she never will.

The last time I had a lap cat was in the ’90s.  My other cats do not seem to be jealous.  The black one sleeps on the bed with us, and the dilute tortie longhair does too, sometimes.  Irina hasn’t done that, yet, and may never.  Three cats on a bed, wedged between two people depends more upon how the cats get along than the people, although Irina is a cover diver, instead of a top sleeper, so if she burrows in under all the blankets and quilt, the other two cats might not mind.

Irina Is Settling In

It took the girl a few days to emerge from the annex bedroom we gave her as her “safe space.”  For the past couple of days, she’s been running around the whole rest of the house, exploring, which is a good thing.  She’s settling in just fine.

Our other cats are giving her token growls, which don’t faze her.  Our dog doesn’t care one way or another; he was raised with cats.

We’ve got her first vet checkup appointment scheduled.

FWIW, my other half’s office manager got a chuckle out of us naming our new cat Irina; it turns out that it’s her daughter-in-law’s name.

Welcome to the menagerie, Irina!

Meet Our New Cat

Her name, as of now, is Baby.  That’s what she was called when she was brought to the shelter a few days ago, anyway.  She’s six, and looks a bit like a Russian Blue, so we wanted to give her a Russian name.  We toyed with the idea of Katia for a while, but then I remembered that a friend had a cat he called Irina.  Katherine vs. Irene, basically.

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Monthly Winter Energy Report from My Electric Company

This thing is such a joke.  In December, I supposedly used 5% more electricity than average for my neighbors.  In January, I allegedly used 18% less.  This is a complete joke.  When most of the lights in and around your house are LEDs, and none of them are kept on for much more than an hour at a time, your heating and stoves use something other than electricity, and most of the other houses in the neighborhood have 2000 sq. ft. more than yours,  this is ridiculous.  JCP&L and PSE&G were so much worse about getting outages repaired pronto.

If they want to see my summer electricity use, it’s still below average, because I keep the air conditioner at 78F during the day, and use fans at night, unless the humidity is higher than the temperature.

Ozzie is Deceased

I freaking loved that cat, and he returned the love.  He was the most affectionate cat I’ve ever owned in ~40 years.  We did everything we could for him at then end, but his combination of cancer, kidney disease, and everything else, carted him off to kitty heaven.

He will be buried on the north side of our stone spring house.