Retirement Community Sales Pitch

Really?  The retirement community that sent me the snail mail is a few miles away from me, and is still taking in SARS-COV-2 positive people, per our state governor’s mandate, but they sent me a letter to tell me that it’s perfectly safe to move my mom there, and they have replaced half their administrative staff.   Um, okay.

These people are insane.  Mom is better off staying where she is, and having us smuggle in groceries to her garage, then waving hi/bye from afar as we pull out of her driveway.

We drove through that retirement community before COVID.  It’s not good for anyone who has limited mobility, and they will not deliver meals to anyone who isn’t already in the nursing home or dementia ward.

Way to go to promote your “community,” idiots.

R U Kidding Me?

Evidently, the NRA has raised its “Lifetime” membership fee to $1500.  It was only $600 a couple of years ago.  I am a lifetime member, but I joined way back when as one.  Although I own plenty of weapons, not one of them is a technically a firearm.  Crossbows, halberds, katanas, wakizashis, tantos, CO2 pistols, BB guns, etc. are not firearms.  I have all of those.  Heck, even a cricket bat, a santoku, or a 12″ cast iron skillet, which I also have, could do some serious damage, without firing projectiles.  They’re mostly good for close combat.  I simply support 2A, as laid out in our Bill of Rights.

There aren’t a lot of benefits to being an NRA member, in terms of discounts for merchandise from various companies.  I’m not a hunter.  I just do not want my right to bear arms taken away, and handed over to the criminals who pay no attention to laws, anyway.

On another note, our pool is perfectly clear, and good for swimming, or floating around.  My state still has draconian stay-at-home orders, but this makes it somewhat tolerable.

Pool Company Screw Ups

They’re going to get paid when I get the bill, of course, but the two person crew messed up on two things.  First, they forgot to install the ladder at the deep end, so I called customer service, and they sent the crew back to do that.  I took some blame for that, for not specifically showing them where the ladder was stashed over the winter, although it was in plain sight, not hidden.  What I did not realize yesterday, but found out this morning, is that they left the drainage valve on the pump assembly open.  Half the water was gone.  I’m not a “Karen” by nature, so instead of calling to complain, I closed the valve, and ran a garden hose down to the pool, then opened the spigot.  It’s going to take hours to replace the water that was lost.

I’m not too worried about some of the concentrated liquid bleach being lost with the drainage.  The water was pretty clear to begin with, so it’s mostly a matter of vacuuming up the debris and settled small particle sediment, and adding some calcium hypochlorite to make up for the lost bleach.  Still, I can’t do that until the water level is back up to where I can run the circulation pump, which probably won’t be until mid-afternoon.

It’s one of those “just deal with it” scenarios.  Still, it’s a bit of a *facepalm*.  They didn’t notice the valve was still in the open position, and neither did I.

Pool Opening

Yes!  I might have been their first appointment of the day.  The two person crew showed up around 8:15 am, and were gone within half an hour.  I didn’t recognize the young guy, but the middle aged woman has been here before, a couple of years ago.  She only comes up to my nose, and is built like a tank, but holy hell, does she have muscles below that blubber.  She moved a really heavy hanging lounge chair out of the way like it was a sack of potatoes.

I had the DE powder and 3″ chlorine tablets, but not the super-concentrated liquid bleach, which they knew ahead of time, so they brought some.  I greeted them, to show them where things were in the pool house, and once the cover was off, got in there myself with the net to skim off the worst of the floating arborvitae debris that had gotten under the cover, and was floating around.  Then I went around the edge of the pool to sweep away more of the same debris that had gotten trapped under the cover, but not in the water.

Some contractors hate it when you watch over their shoulders.  It would creep me out, too.  Still, I think they appreciated my pitching in, without getting in their way.  With any luck, we might be able to swim in it tomorrow evening, but if not, it will be by Wednesday.

It took me most of the afternoon yesterday to power wash the patio surrounding the pool.  Roughly half of it was black with dirt, grime, and mildew, and even the areas that didn’t look so bad turned a different color when I went over them.  Had to refill the gas tank twice to get it all done, but I had to do it before the pool company people arrived this morning.  If I had left the power washing until after the cover was off, who knows how much of that grime would have ended up in the pool?  I still need to power wash the foam floats, but that can be done on the lawn.  The inflatables need to be hand washed with a sponge, and either dilute household bleach, or plain old soapy water.

Guess what?  None of us were wearing face masks.  The nature of the job entailed “social distancing,” anyway, except for when the two of them were driving around in their employer’s truck from job to job.  I doubt they mask up in there, either.  At this point, state government “rules” for being out in public, or around strangers, for conducting ordinary business, are ridiculous.

Voting During COVID Restrictions

There was a big push in my state to get people to use mail-in ballots.  No excuse, such as being out of state on a business trip, needed.  Screw that.  We voted in person.  Yes, we had to put on those ridiculous face masks upon entering the polling station.  Ours is in the basement of the building that serves as both the police station and the township hall.

Not much of a line, but that probably had more to do with the time of day we showed up than the push for mail-in ballots.  Blue electrical tape was laid out in 6′ intervals.  As usual, there were a few people electioneering outside the polling station, but inside, only two people were working the joint.  The elderly woman dutifully wore her face mask, but the 40-something guy sitting next to her wore his like a beard, over his chin, leaving his nose and mouth uncovered.  That didn’t bother me one little bit.  The condensation and CO2 build up inside them pretty quickly.

Normally, we have full sized booths with curtains and touch screens.  This time, we had to fill out paper ballots, as if we were voting absentee, and then feed them into scanners to be read.  Took ~30 seconds, but the scanner finally did come back saying “Thank you for voting.”

I’d like to see both my state rep and U.S. rep replaced, but I suspect both will survive the primary.  We’ll see what happens.  What could get interesting is seeing how long it’ll take the vote to be counted.  Polls close at 8 pm.  Ordinarily, we’d know by midnight what the results are.  With all these paper ballots, depending on how many actually got mailed in, and were received today (deadline for mail-in ballots, too), I suspect we won’t know the results until next week.

I was pleased to see the woman in line ahead of me bring her (teenage?) son in with her.  The kid wasn’t old enough to vote, but his mother showed him how it’s done, so that when he’s old enough to register to vote, he’ll know how it works.  Different routine this time around, but the process in general is the same.

FWIW, other than one new resident who not only showed up at the wrong polling location, but also didn’t know we have closed primaries in which Independents are not allowed to vote, everybody on line was registered as the same party I am.  That one woman was turned away.  She probably moved here from a state that has open primaries.  Nobody else was turned away, although someone in line three people behind me was asked for ID, which is unusual.  I was once asked to show ID to vote, although I was also told I could refuse to do so, if I wanted.  What’s the big deal about whipping out a driver’s license?  Very few people live within walking distance of a polling station where I live, and only people who have a death wish ride bicycles or rollerblade along the state and county highways that have 50+ mph speed limits with one narrow lane in either direction, and no shoulder.  Even the local roads have 35-45 mph speed limits.

Garter Snakes

We’ve noticed a lot more garter snakes than usual this Spring.  It’s not just us.  Others who use Nextdoor have mentioned it, too.  “Snakes!  Do you know what this is?” accompanied with a photo from their cell phone, is the usual posting about it.  This is probably a good thing.  Yes, they’re garter snakes, and are harmless to humans, household pets, and most livestock, although they can freak out a horse.  What it does tell me, though, is the mouse population outside is higher than usual, to support such a snake population.  Garter snakes eat frogs and insects, too, which, again is a good thing.  I’d rather not have to spend my mornings fishing frogs out of our pool.  They belong in the pond as a food source for the blue herons.

Well, better mice outside than inside.  We got a mouse inside last Fall, but one of our cats killed it, and pranced around with it in her mouth, showing off her prowess.

We live in the country, so mice are a fact of life — outside, anyway.  Mice don’t bother me.  Snakes don’t bother me, unless they’re timber rattlers, which is the only poisonous snake native to our part of the country.  They mostly hang out in the deep woods, anyway, and won’t strike without first giving a rattling warning.  If you hear that, you do a 180, and book outta there.  Poison ivy is a bigger threat to us in the woods than snakes are.  Still, I find it interesting that the garter snake population is way up this year.  Our dog does obey the “leave it” command.

Ryobi and Deck Box

The Ryobi is my power washer.  It has a Honda motor.  It has a choke, but no throttle, and it’s really touchy about running without a rich fuel mix.  Still, I finished power washing the upper patios, and only have the poolside one left to do.  I’d rather have it run rough on me than cut out when I take some pressure off the business end of it, to move it around to do another section.  It has to run rich.

The new deck box arrived today, assembly required.  I’m fine with assembling things.  This came with hardware that you’re supposed to screw or bolt into the pre-drilled holes.  That would have been easy, if they had been pre-drilled.  Two were, but the other 20+ weren’t.  The lid fits on fine to the rest of it, but I should have been able to fit it on with hinges, both fixed, and pneumatic.  It’s big enough to fit all my patio furniture cushions, as expected, but if I have to start measuring and marking holes to drill, it’s not as advertised.

Various Topics

First off, I have a niece who lives in Minneapolis.  Thankfully, she’s safe.  Still, the rioting, looting, and arson have to be unsettling.  The 3rd precinct cops abandoned their building, and let it get torched.  They let the rioting and looting go on for almost three days, with no response, while tear gassing the people who were actually peacefully protesting.  Then, they cut and ran.  What kind of message does that send?  The Mpls mayor is an even wimpier version of Justin Trudeau.  Where is the leadership in the Twin Cities?

Second, the Clown Coalition™, led by ringleader Gov. Cuomo is breaking up.  Good.  Even the Three Stooges subcommittee of Cuomo (Moe), Murphy (Curly), and Wolf (Larry), are starting to go their separate ways on lockdown rules.  Murphy can run again, so he’s starting to reopen the state, but still persecuting individual business owners.  Wolf can’t run again, and knows his political career is over unless Biden wins in November and taps him for a job, so he’s being a vindictive SOB, especially against counties that refuse to enforce his fiats.  Stuffing COVID-positive patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities was the dumbest move ever, with predictable consequences.

Third, these perpetually extending lockdowns are ridiculous at this point.  As are the face mask rules.  Even Fauci, the guy who hasn’t been a practicing MD for at least four decades, is on video as saying they’re “symbolic.”  Yeah — they’re symbolic of subjugation.  Other than that, they’re symbolic of virtue signalling, unless you are in a health care setting.

Other than that, I’ve made great inroads on property maintenance.  I don’t fell the dead trees with 2′ diameter trunks, saw them off into 8′ sections, haul off brush, work the log-splitter, sawmill, or chipper/shredder, but I have done an awfully good job of power washing our patios.  The only issue with that is that the Ryobi that has a Honda engine, does not have a throttle, and if you don’t get the choke set just right after starting it, the engine will cut if you let off the pressure on the handle at the business end, to move the engine to do another section, so it’s touchy.  You have to find its “happy place,” to keep working without having to restart it, which also gets tricky if the engine’s not being cold started.  It’s a good machine that generates loads of water pressure, but the engine is touchy.  The good news is that when I get done with a 300 sq. ft. section, the parts that had turned black or gray with grime or mildew are back to being their original light tan color.  The difference is so obvious.

I freed the pool house fridge from its packaging on Tuesday, plugged it in, and it immediately started humming, and cooling.  I’d like to switch the door to open the other direction at some point, given where it’s placed, but it doesn’t really matter, because nothing’s obstructing it.  Maybe I can do that in the Fall, when we shut down the pool, and I unplug it.  For now, it’s fine, and works like a charm.

Lockdown and face mask rules must end.  Some of us have enough trouble breathing in hot and humid weather without the damn things, and with them, the condensation and CO2 that builds up in them, within minutes, makes me breathe really hard.  I can only imagine how awful it must feel for asthmatics or people with COPD.

Patio Furniture Assembly

I ordered a sectional sofa and coffee table set for the patio last winter, just to get the super-discount, even though I knew it would have to sit there in boxes until Spring, when I could assemble it, although I did take inventory of the parts when it arrived to make sure they were all there.  Today, I finally got around to assembling it.  Took me roughly three hours, but I did it by myself with nothing more than an Allen wrench, and took a couple of breaks to cool off from the blazing sun, and get rehydrated.  Despite having parts for which there were no instructions, it was pretty easy to figure out, and more than enough hardware was included to piece it all together.  Not bad, overall, for three corner pieces, two midsection pieces, plus the coffee table.  Half an hour apiece is longer than it usually takes me to assemble a piece of furniture from parts, but it’s acceptable.

Seems like pretty solid stuff.  The cushions, described as tan, have an odd pinkish color to them.  Hopefully, they will bleach in the sun, so that they don’t look just a little “off” against the bright red accent pillows that came with it.  Of course, if the red pillows bleach in the sun, then they’ll fade to pink.  Oh well.

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle the mini fridge that I bought for the pool house.  It’s down there, in its place, but still in its shipping box.  It seems best to cut the box off the fridge with a utility knife than tip it over, slide it out, and put it back upright.  That way I don’t have to wait a couple of days for the lubricant to settle back into place before plugging it in.  I can’t wait until the pool company gets here to open my pool.  I know how to do it, but it’s not a one person job, and I don’t have any of one of the three key chemicals to do it on my own.  Can’t go buy some, either, because of lockdown.

This whole lockdown thing has gone on way longer than necessary.  It’s progressed to our governor becoming a tyrant, and punishing any county that questions him about anything.  At least when our pool opens, I can sort of pretend to have a normal summer season.  We were supposed to be in MN over this weekend for the annual family reunion.  That got canceled.  My second cousin’s wedding got canceled.  Our bird watching shore mini vacation got canceled.  About the only thing we can “plan” at this point is a grocery run.  It sucks the wind right out of the sky.

Another Covert Mission

This is really getting to be a drag.  Mom calls, and snail mails me her shopping lists, because she refuses to learn how to use email, even though she has the equipment and wi-fi connection to do so.  I can’t keep fetching, then driving over an hour away to a different state to keep delivering the goods to her, every time she realizes she forgot to add something to the list, which would be every other day, if she had her wish.  I can’t keep running up a tab for her, which never costs less than $100/per shopping trip, with a promise to pay me back later.  She already owes me hundreds, and she’s got a helluva lot more money than I do.

I do not need the grief if I can only find one size of something she wants (a 2 lb. jar of Jif — and it HAS to be Jif — peanut butter isn’t good enough when she demands two 1 lb. jars).  If I can’t find her preferred brand of unsalted saltines (there’s an oxymoron for you), no other brand will do, even though they all taste the same unless they’re stale.  By the time we get done crossing off the vast majority of the items on one of her lists, we’ve gone to half a dozen stores.

I think she enjoys this.  She’s manipulative by nature, and my dad did everything for her but cook dinner while he was still alive.  This probably has more to do with keeping up with her neighbor, whose son lives five minutes away.  HE drops off shopping for his mother, and mom must demonstrate that she has a willing slave to do the same for her, even though I’m not technically allowed to.  She’s the one who laid off her home aide, who used to come in twice a week to do that.  I guess I’m a whole lot cheaper, since I don’t get an hourly wage, and so far, she isn’t paying me back for the cost of the goods, let alone the cost of gasoline and tolls.

At some point, I will require that she fork over greenbacks to cover the cost on the receipts I give her, or ask her to send me a check for the previous items, along with her next list.  Otherwise, she’ll have to have someone else do it, or rehire the woman she laid off.  She spends more in two weeks on groceries and drug store items for herself than the two of us do in a month.  I can’t keep fronting her that kind of money.  I’m not running a 1930s general store.