Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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After all that tooth-gnashing, we got a call from hospice this morning that a bed became available; they were able to prioritize us because they knew our situation was getting a little crazy.

We are waiting for the transport now.

It is crazy to think that these are the last moments Mom will be at her home.

She believes she's going "to the hospital" because she knows she doesn't feel well.  She said "It's time. I want to go to the hospital." 

Through the dementia and through the drug haze, I believe deep down she knows what's happening.

I know she'll be OK.  I'm worried about my dad. He's scared to live alone. The house is about to get very, very quiet, and very very empty.  

He's also replaying the day he brought his mom to a (kinda shitty) nursing home in Virginia so his mom could be closer to his sister. His mom said "You mean, I'm never going to see my little house again?"  And that damn near killed my dad in 1991 when that happened.  

And even though Mom is kinda excited to go (again, as she understands what is happening), Dad is wracked with guilt.

Fuck.

1,000 thank yous to everyone's comments on my last post. I love you all very much and am so happy and lucky to have this community.  You are the best.


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I really hope you can get some rest.
I love you. I really appreciate you.
We just got home now from getting her situated in her new place; it is gorgeous. It abuts a farm, and horses come say hello. You can pet the horse face, and it is gooood. Also, they have a front-row view of the sunset; it's jaw-droppingly beautiful. And today was so beautiful out, so we got to enjoy Mom's private veranda, the view, the air, and she's gonna have a smoke. (Yup, for real.) And from here on out, she doesn't have to eat a diabetic diet, so it's real sugar and full-fat and smokes and morphine and hookers ^H^H^H^H^H and hot damn it's pretty freakin' sweet and a huge relief.
Can I come?
That is incredible news. So sorry for the stress you've been under, and for your dad's fear. My heart is with you.
This sounds like, in many ways, a tremendous relief. I'm thankful for that.

Thinking of you guys, and of course, your Dad.
It really, really, really, really is. It's also only five minutes away from my folks' house up here, and it's off of Fairview Rd which is a neat coincidence because our old house in East Hanover was also on Fairview.

Thank you, m'dear, for the good thoughts, kind words, generous offers of lawn mowing, and just for being so wonderful. We're making a quick day-trip down to DE tomorrow because there's an important gathering at Matt's folks' place, but we're gonna come right back up here tomorrow night just so Dad doesn't have to sleep in an empty house quiiiiite yet.

xoxoxo
Any thing, any time. Of course.

Also, your response to Lindsay's comment also makes my evening.
I hope the beauty and freedom of your mom's setting helps to relieve some of your dad's guilt. I'm so glad you were able to get her admitted there.
This location has really, really made an amazing difference to Dad. It's such a comfort. I mean, if you have to be in this rotten situation, this is the most beautiful place I can think of to deal with it.

Also Anne, I have a zillion OPW drafts saved, but one of them from a while back thanks you specifically; I learned from your advice and experience and it was so helpful. I had never heard of palliative care until you mentioned it, and it helped give me language I needed to talk to the doctors and staff. So really, thank you.
Oh, sweetie. I’m glad it was helpful.
Thinking about you.
Thank you so, so much, my friend.
My aunt died in a hospice, some time before the plague began. Superb care, both paid and volunteer. Of the options I'm aware of, it's the one I would choose for myself i na similar situation.
Working in hospice is definitely a calling, and I am so, so grateful it exists. The volunteers are really, really special. (I normally hate that word, but I mean it here.)

I'm very happy your aunt received such compassionate care. When a loved one gets that kind of care, it truly comforts everyone, not just the patient. It's priceless.

It's funny...after caring for Mom so intensely for the last month, I find myself wanting to help when I'm visiting Mom here at the facility. I don't know how to sit back and leave things to the staff. At the same time, it's kinda beautiful watching the staff provide such loving, but such professional care. The way they move Mom around so gently but confidently... just... wow. These are the moves we just couldn't do at home, and here it's a graceful, well-rehearsed dance.

The relief we all feel is beyond words. Plus she seems to like it here, thank heavens.
Loving care is such a great thing to hear. I am glad your Mom is enjoying herself. I hope she enjoys as many moments as she can and that you and your Dad get to share a lot of them with her.
(also your brother and his family ofc, but I am thinking about you)
I am, on balance and all things considered in the circumstances and at standard temperature and pressure, greatly relieved for all parties.
 

In which our heroine is still up at 5:51am (good morning, Jenn!) reading (and now posting) an artcle from Wired about what it thinks I am doing right this second: Revenge Bedtime Procrastination.

Here's the article if you'd like to read about it. 

(For the record, I agree with maybe 75-80% of the article... or, rather, 75-80% applies to me.  But the 25%, not so much.)


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Yep! Yep yep yep! Hallo! That’s me and my mom and Vince! I’ve had to work so hard to convince myself that sleep is something good that I do for myself.
That article is paywalled for me, so I googled the phrase and found a LOT A LOT. I think this would resonate for Shelle too.

Medical News Today describes this as a "relatively new phenomenon," but I call bullshit. Or, I'd ask what they mean by "new." My mom used to stay up all night reading when we were little.

You might find this interesting: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16964783
Good article - thanks for sharing!

>"lack of self-regulation—associated with personality traits such as being impulsive or easily distracted"
For me? That's the 80/20 right there.

Interestingly, I think that I do the 'revenge procrastination' more in the _mornings_ these days. I don't know how/when it happened, but I wake up at a reasonable hour (say 8 or 9) and find myself not leaving my apartment until *cough* 11 *cough*. If I focus, I can get ready and out the door in like 15 minutes. 30 with a relaxed shower.

But "I'm just going to check IG real quick..."
 

Ahoy!

As usual, only time for a listo. I stink.

[] Delaware has opened up vaccines for people age 50, which means Matt is eligible, and I will be eligible in 3 weeks.  The second we heard DE was booking appointments for 50 year olds, Matt jumped online and scored an appointment waaaaaay down in Laurel, Delaware, which is a 2-hour drive from here... and worth every second.  Shot #1 is in Matt's (now sore) arm.

[] I turn 50 in 3-4 weeks, so hopefully my first shot won't be too far away.

[] On 3/31/21, Hot Breakfast! will be celebrating one year of Coffee Break Concerts.... we started this ridiculousness on 3/30/20.  These one-year anniversaries are very strange. Like, "Congratulations? I guess?"  Like, obviously I wish we didn't have this event to celebrate. But since this happened, I'm very grateful to have this event to celebrate.

[] We're headed back to NJ today (Sunday) so my dad can get his 2nd shot.  We wanted to be up there just in case he has a few days of side-effects and needs to chill, we can take care of Mom.

[] Driving in LSD (lower slower Delaware) on Thursday, I saw teeeeeeeny red tips on the tree branches, which tells me that SPRING IS HERE!!  Yippeeee!! I can't wait to feel the sunlight on my face.  It's supposed to be 63 degrees all week.

[] We were supposed to have our kitchen re-done last year, but Covid put a big stop to that... but now we've restarted the process.  Our friend is doing the work (don't worry, it's his full-time job, and it's not a favor or anything), and we'll be meeting with the cabinet lady after we get back to DE next week.  She'll take measurements and do the layout, and then it'll be up to our pal to do all the work.

[] Lume deodorant the greatest stuff in the world. It is WITCHCRAFT. You can put it on any body part, and it is impossible to stink... even during these COVID times can that sometimes feature a... more... relaxed(?) shower schedule... (*whistles quietly, looks around*)

[] Jon Batiste was interviewed by Terry Gross, and it was GLORIOUS. If you have 42 minutes and need your soul jumpstarted, I highly recommend it.  It's even better if you can listen to it without doing other things, but I know that's a huge ask.  But here's the link.  

OK, I need to get on the road. 

Love you all... hope you're all safe and seeing some of the spring's new light.

xoxo!


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If you say Lume is good, I'll try it. I was thinking about it.
Me too!
me three! i've been seeing their ads for a year now and thinking, "really???"
Jenn A 3/22
Yeaaaah for vaccines! Hoping you can get yours...they’re hard to get ahold of in PA.

Happy COVIDaversary for Coffee Breaks!

Perhaps the least talked about side effect of the plague...armpits across the world got just a little bit stinkier. 😁

Yasssss to Spring buds...saw some on the rhododendron today and mighta squealed a lil bit...like a lot a bit.

Safe travels💕
Shannie 3/21
 

((waves hi!))

I'm here, been lurking, though not as much as I would have liked.  I am all caught up on everyone's entries, but I admit I didn't read every comment. I'll peruse them as I can.

All is good... well, as good as can be expected as we're coming up on a year of a pandemic. 

Instead of something well-written, here's a trusty listo:

  • We played our 100th Coffee Break Concert on Wednesday, Feb 24th. A milestone!
  • Also, Matt and I marked 10 years together a week or two ago.
  • We got an estimate to get our ugly kitchen redone, and I'm excited about that.
  • I'm still not teaching, but I'm selling some courseware which is nice.  Would like to be selling more, but baby steps.
  • I have a bunch of dental work that needs to be done. I just got a form letter that says my dentist no longer participates in my dental insurance. She couldn't have made that choice 6 weeks ago when I chose my dental plan for 2021?
  • I have had pre-menpausal osteoporosis (osteopenia) since 2010 or so. My doctor told me to get another bone density scan to see how it's progressing, since it had been a while since I got one.  Insurance denied it. Why on earth would insurance deny a bone density scan? Isn't the only reason for a bone density scan is to check to see how far your osteoporosis is progressing?
  • Going to see the parents tomorrow.  Mom's mental state is getting worse due to a total lack of stimulation. The home health care workers we hired to come in 3x/week  are fine, but they aren't interesting to my mom, so they basically just do light housekeeping and that's it. They aren't able to engage with my mom... she just doesn't care.  This pandemic couldn't have happened at a worse time dementia-wise. Right before Covid hit, she was interested in hanging out at the senior center a few days per week just to make some friends, play some bingo, and use a few brain cells. So much for that.  By the time the senior center reopens, I worry she'll be too far gone. 
  • My dad got his first covid shot (didn't even feel it); his second one is in 3 weeks. Mom has not gotten hers yet.  My brother's whole family has gotten fully vaccinated, and I am absolutely delighted they're immunized; but there is a 10% "huh?" in my brain wondering why his 17 year old daughter already received her two shots yet my 78 year old mother with many comorbidities hasn't gotten her first yet.  I try not to think about this too much. We'll all get them in due time; vaccinating 350 million people ain't easy. 
  • I have a crush on Dr. Fauci. 
  • SNL has been killin' it in 2021.  I like that they're not afraid to just be surreal.  They do always have to have to the one character who has to explain the joke a bit, but it's a small price to pay.
  • Our Saturday night ritual is watching SNL on nbc/hulu, and then watching "Big Questions with The Dead Milkmen" on YouTube.  ("Big Questions" started pre-pandemic when the guys were in the studio recording their latest album. They decided they needed more content for their YouTube channel, so at each week's recording session, one of the guys would come up with a question, and each guy would answer it... and they'd follow it up with Recommendations, where they recommended something they think people would dig (a movie, book, food, cat toy, going for a walk, etc.).  It's absolutely delightful.  Once lockdown started, it became (like all things) a Zoom call.  It's really great. Some of their recommendations have been really wonderful during lockdown.

That's the random news. 

I hope everyone is doing well... I miss you all, and I really hope to get back on the OPW wagon.... which is what I said last time... but... yeah.

xoxo


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Waves hi back while coffee kicks in...
Rog and I both got approved for vaccines in the same letter that said they are shutting down appointments temporarily due to lack of vaccines. I'm glad we both got approved, but it does suck when an out-of-work friend who happens to have a medical license got both hers a month ago. I'm glad for her, but.... BLEGH. Let's get this going already so we can move past this glaringly uneven distribution. The whole thing stinks.

(I also am crushing on Fauci.)

Oh, and congrats on 10 years, you guys. <3
That's a heck of a listo. DENSE, even.

Happy 100th CBC! Happy Mattiversary! Happy kitchen estimate! You should have a not-ugly space in which to eat popcorn dipped in Fluff.

Boo for dental insurance badness. I might be switching dentists soon; the one I'm seeing for a consult soon doesn't accept most insurance, including mine, so... I'll go see 'em, but I don't see having to pay up front and then wait for my insurance to reimburse me as a long-term good idea. Maybe if they completely blow my mind with their competence.

I'm sorry about your mom's state of mind. Dementia is tough and sometimes the declines can happen quickly. This past year has stolen so much from so many.

Fauci and Psaki. My heart beats wild.
That hole's supposed to be there, right? Okay, it could be more appropriately folded.
 

Hello, all!  I've missed you! 💗

I finally got caught up reading all of everyone's posts I've missed for the past good while (though I did not read all of the comments yet). I'm sorry I haven't been around; I just have pandemic-brain or something and am having a hard time getting motivated do do much of anything. 

I haven't posted here at all... so it's not like I've been writing stuff and keeping it private. Just haven't really had anything to report. 


What I Did On My OPW Vacation, in Eight Parts by Jill Knapp, Age 49 


1) Family Update

Things are pretty good right now, considering, y'know, the world and stuff. My folks are doing well-- Dad is a brand-new guy since getting his heart fixed up in July, and Mom's dementia doesn't seem to be getting worse, thankfully. A home health aide comes to their house 3x/week for 4 hours, and her job is to keep an eye on Mom so Dad can get a little mental break; and he'll also schedule his doctor appointments for those windows so Mom won't be alone while he's out. I'm very grateful their health has been stable, and that my folks take the virus seriously. 

2) Hot Breakfast! (our band)

Matt and I are still doing our 2x-weekly afternoon Coffee Break Concerts -- we just played our 89th one on Friday. We played a NYE show from 8-10pm which was fun. We still hate that we feel forced into using FB for these performances, but we know we have to meet people where they are. The good news is that we were able to set all the shows to Public, so anti-FBers can still attend even without an account. 

We tried broadcasting on Zoom and YouTube and they just don't work well given our current gear limitations, so I'm investing in a bunch of gear upgrades (thank you, Delaware Dept of Small Business/CARES Act!). These equipment upgrades are primarily to benefit my main company to help me stream my classes and provide a better learning experience online for my students, but this new equipment is absolutely perfect also for Hot Breakfast, too.  The money just hit my account two days ago, so let the Small Business Upgrades begin! 

I have been so, soso grateful for our afternoon concerts and the truly lovely community that has sprung up around them. The in-jokes, the little rituals ("Yo!"), the recurring dumb gags, the title card artwork-- they all fill my heart so much. All of my job-related work has pretty much vanished, so if we didn't have these Coffee Break Concerts happening every Wednesday and Friday, I would generally have no reason to get out of bed. 

3) Foooooood

Since March, we have pretty much only cooked at home, with only 5 exceptions: 

(1) Over the summer we did one outdoor dinner with another couple at a verrrrrry long picnic table-- despite all safety protocols it just was not worth the stress.  (2) We did one outdoor brunch with Matt's folks at a place with outdoor seating. It was... fine.  (3) We had pizza at my folks' house in NJ twice. (4) We ordered our very first take-out meal on Christmas Eve (we got Chinese). It was tasty.  As much as I want to support our local restaurants, I don't think this is something we'll do again soon. We haven't even done Door Dash or anything like that. We're very lucky that Matt loves to cook and he's really good at it, so we just don't really have a good enough reason to spend the money. (Also, since I only worked 4 days (four!) in 2020, spending money for someone else to cook seems extravagant.) 

4) Sleep?

Since the pandemic started, our night-owl ways have only solidified. We wake up around 12:30/1PM each day, but we don't go to sleep until Jenn Abrevaya ​​​​​​ is already in her first meeting. 😀 (Seriously though, we usually hit the hay around 4-5am.)  I am happiest and most functional like this, believe it or not.

5) Birds!

I installed a few bird feeders in our front yard two clear lucite bird feeders and attached them to our bedroom window because we're almost always in the bedroom. I do not have sufficient vocabulary to express the pure joy this has brought us. I love learning about the different birds, which species get along and will share a perch and which ones won't, their calls, their colors, their nests, who feeds on the ground, who feeds at the feeders, etc. So far we've seen a lot of sparrows, we have a mated pair of titmice, a mated cardinal pair, a bunch of mourning doves, a pileated woodpecker, a Coopers Hawk (he killed and ate a mourning dove in front of everyone last week-- it was awful), a blue jay or two (the males and females look so similar that I can't tell if it's just one bird or two birds visiting separately). I'm probably forgetting some. Oh-- we had a bunch of crows, too, but they haven't been around in a while.  But maaaaan, do I love my birdies. :)


6) Books

I've never been much of a book reader, which I never liked about myself... especially because I have such book-loving friends. I devour magazines and newspapers (The New Yorker, the NY Times, Wired, The Smithsonian), but books just seem to stack up without getting read, which only reminds/taunts me with how much I suck.

So I decided to use one of my tablets as an eReader, and it's been great. With a Kindle account plus a Dropbox folder with Project Guttenberg books easily accessible, I've been reading more. Plus I can read all of these Kindle/Guttenberg books on my phone.  When I'm caught on Hour 7 of a doomscrolling marathon, I convince myself to just read one page of a book, and 99% of the time that one page will get me excited enough to bust out the tablet and read a lot more on a more eye-friendly device. Because they're all connected, I never lose my place even when I switch devices. That's handy

Since Spring 2020 I've read:

--"Liberty" which is Liberty DeVitto's autobiography (he was Billy Joel's drummer during Billy's most successful years)

-- "Everything's Bigger in Texas," A biography (with some autobiography) of Kinky Friedman-- it is hilarious. 

-- "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung," a collection of writings/essays/music reviews by Lester Bangs,

-- "Where I'm Calling From," a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver (WOW),

-- A fabulously fun read called "VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave" which is an oral history of the early days of MTV as told by the original VJs (it is FANTASTIC).

And now I'm working through a few other books:

-- "Harpo Speaks!" by Harpo Marx-- it is an absolute treat! What a gifted writer, especially for a guy who didn't get past 2nd grade. This book is his autobiography, and his description of growing up in the early 20th century in New York is soooooo immersive and tangible; I loved the history lesson. I'm only about 20% of the way through it, but I look forward to reading it all the time. 

-- "What Unites Us" by Dan Rather. Dan Rather is a total gem on Twitter, and when he throws shade it is THE BEST. Holy crap, he's a treasure. This book is a balm for this divided country, and he was careful to write it so no matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, you will feel invited and welcome to read it. Obviously Dan leans somewhat left socially, but the righties won't throw the book out, I don't think. I sprung for the extra few bucks for the audio version as well, because sometimes when my eyes are tired and my soul is weary, having Dan Rather read to me in his 89-year-old steady voice is so, so comforting. 

-- "So You Want To Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo, because it's important and I want to do better. I'm still on the first chapter. 

-- "Disloyal" by Michael Cohen. Haven't started it yet, and I may not ever because I just don't wanna get involved in a story about someone I find so abhorrent and exhausting (Trump). But I do find Michael Cohen fascinating and would like to hear more about his change of alligiance. 

-- "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, because I never had to read it in high school, and it's about time. Haven't started it yet. 

-- "Animal Farm" and "1984" by George Orwell. See above. It's time to fill in some knowledge gaps. Haven't started these yet either. 

-- Matt bought Obama's new book "A Promised Land," and once he's done with it, I'll likely read it. 


7) Frozen shoulder

At the end of the summer, I royally screwed up my left shoulder after a few nights of sleeping weird. The pain was absolutely awful, and I had verrrrry limited use of it.  I was starting to think it was time to finally see a doctor, but the covid numbers started rapidly increasing in the fall so I didn't wind up going.  Thankfully the pain is almost all gone, but I still can't use my left arm for much of anything-- it just doesn't go where it should.  Some friends of mine suggest it may be Frozen Shoulder which is a thing that is some peri-menopausal women get. I don't know, but I hate not being able to put my left hand on my hip or in a pocket, or to lift it at all. If it is actually Frozen Shoulder, it usually works itself out in 9-12 months. So I'll watch and wait for another month ot two, and once I've got my two vaccines in me, I'll be ready to maybe go to PT or whatever. 

8) That's it for now!

This is already WAY too long, and I promise to update in more reasonably-timed and sized chunks. 

Love youse. :)

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I just dreamed that you were going to color and cut my hair...
That's so funny, and wonderfully random! (And in a strange coincidence, in the last 4 days I cut my dad's hair, and I had a zoom call with my BFF Patty and talked her through coloring her husband's hair.)

If you ever need hair coloring advice, I'm happy to share what scattershot info I know... but your hair is awesome and it looks like you have the situation perfectly handled. :-)
The funniest thing was you asking me what I wanted and me drawing a complete blank. Like, I just couldn't think of anything. You sighed, like maybe I should've given it some thought beforehand, but continued being unfailingly polite and upbeat.

So then I cast about for inspiration and started leafing through some magazines on the table, but none of them were fashion mags, just a bunch of interior design and landscaping. I couldn't even find any PEOPLE in the photos, much less glamour head shots. I woke up laughing.
Hahaha! I love it! :-)
"Harpo Speaks" is much better than any of Groucho's books, which...I would not have expected.
That's good to know! I'm not even sure why I bought Harpo's books-- I admit I'm woefully under-exposed to much if any Marx Brothers. I'm not sure how the book even got onto my radar, but I am super-delighted so far.

Are you a Marx Brothers fan? If so, any movie (or thing) I should start with?
Nice bird spotting! We have no hawk. ✊
From what my pal Mike says (he's a bird guy) that hawks tend to be really hard to find until they're right on top of you. I don't think I ever saw a hawk until he was having breakfast on my lawn, and I haven't seen him since.

(Though we have noticed my other birds are making themselves more scarce since that hawk attack... so maybe the hawk is actually around and the birds know they're basically a buffet when they're eating at my house.)
Yo.
Eeee! ((happy bounce)) I freakin' looooooove that your "yo" has become a thing. Thank you so, so much for 'Yo'-ing! Whenever I notice other folks saying it, part of me is like "Hey! That's Michele's!" and then the other part of me is like "Oooh looky! A trend!"
Re: bird feeders. This is 21 minutes of nerdy joy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFZFjoX2cGg

Mark Rober reminds me of Adam Savage.
YES! This video was required viewing a few months ago at Chez ElderKnapp and Chez ElderCasarino! And then we all had to watch his various Amazon Package Thief Glitter Bomb/Fart Spray machines. He's delightful. :-)
Amusingly, I too just showed this to my folks when I was visiting them over the holidays. We also watched many of his other videos.

In case you haven't seen it already (not mentioned in previous comments) and/or you need some heartwarming/uplifting content, I highly recommend this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHiWygziyso
Re: your folks - glad to hear that they are getting the help they need and doing as well as can be expected. I hope things are easier for you and Matt re: parent care.

Re: Michael Cohen. I read his book, but I don't remember it very well. I tried to listen to the audio book, but the narrator is not Cohen himself, and one of the real treats of Michael Cohen is his TOTALLY NEW YAWK accent. So, what I would advise you to do is to listen to episodes of his podcast. It's called Mea Culpa, it has a catchy theme song, and I have to say, he's really charming. He's self-centered and often full of shit, but you can tell that he loves his family and he hates Trump. Also, he's not a professional pundit or interviewer, and that's kind of fun. Start with the first episode, where he interviews Rosie O'Donnell ... I won't spoil it, but it's not what you'd expect, in a good way. Also his interviews with Omarosa, the Mooch, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff are interesting, but the Penn Jillette interview is fantastic, and the interview with Ben Stiller where Cohen totally fanboy geeks out on "Dodgeball" is kind of adorable.
Added Cohen's podcast to my collection. Curious to find out what it's about.
 

Hi, all!

Holy shit, could this possibly be a positive post from me?! SWEET JESUS.

Things are... oddly stable. It feels weird.  My parents are pretty good, all things considered.  Dad's new heart valve + pacemaker combo is working great and he feels so much better, so that's freakin' amazing!  Mom got her knee injection (thank you Lindsay!) so that's been one less thing for her to worry/complain about (though all things considered she really doesn't complain very much).  Mom's dementia will never improve (especially during Covid-times when dementia resources like the senior center and adult daycare programs are still closed), but it thankfully doesn't really seem to be getting noticeably worse. My dad takes very kind care of my mom, and sees this as a part of life and his duty.  We are lucky that now he's healthy enough where he's managing OK now.

I hired home health aides to be at the house on weekdays to give my dad a break from keeping an eye on Mom, so he can go for a motorcycle ride or go putter in the garage for a few hours without worrying about Mom setting the house on fire or not taking her meds.  The aides also make Mom lunch, get dinner figured out, keep her company, and they also do housework, go to the store, etc.   My dad really appreciates the mental health break each day.

Sadly, Mom doesn't understand that she needs to be babysat. Mom thinks the aides are housecleaners (because they'll  do some light housekeeping while they're there)... and she doesn't understand why they need housecleaners 5x a week when their former housecleaner would come every other week.  Mom also doesn't understand why these "housecleaners" are playing cards with her and just chatting-- she feels like she's getting ripped off because if they're there to clean the house, they should be cleaning the house.  (We have explained they are there to give Dad a break and to do whatever needs doing-- whether that's light housekeeping, changing the bedsheets, taking the folks to doctor appointments, going to the store, cleaning Mom's commode, scheduling doctor appointments, yadda yadda, but Mom doesn't remember that.  When we re-explain it to her, she totally gets it and appreciates it in the moment... but then she forgets that we had that conversation, and then she gets annoyed that 'the housekeepers' aren't doing anything, and why are these people here.)  Mom also feels like she has to be a good hostess to the aides, and at first she liked the company, but now she's just kind of annoyed having guests over all the time who aren't really her friends. 

Mom managed to convince my dad to reduce them to 3x/week (which I am not really happy about), but I also understand that my parents are adults and they can make their own decisions. My mom may be dementia'd, but she also is quite in charge of her emotions, wants, needs, opinions, and longer-term memories and routines... so if Dad is OK only getting a break 3x/week, then have at it. 

I think I mentioned that Matt's cousin Evan passed away on the day my Dad got discharged from the hospital (Saturday, July 25th), so we left NJ that day and returned immediately to Delaware to do the urgent family stuff on Matt's side, and we haven't been back to NJ since.  Now that Evan's memorial service and funeral has been done, and his house has been mostly cleaned out, there's not really much left to do there, either, except to mourn on our own.

So now Matt and I are back in Delaware, without any crises to manage. It feels very weird.  I've been in some kind of panic panic panic panic emergency aaaaaaaaaagh mode since January, and now things are stable and I don't really know what to do with myself.  

I've been sleeping a lot, but part of that is me catching up on months of no sleep, and the other part of it is exhaustion from needing an iron infusion. 

Because I was caring for my folks for so long, I had to postpone my own healthcare for months, so I've been trying to get my own stuff scheduled now. I need a tooth pulled plus I need a ton of other dental work done; I need a mammogram, I need a bone density scan, and I reeeeeeeeaally need an iron infusion.  I'm working on 'em all.  It'll be nice to have that stuff behind me. 

Matt and I continue to quarantine by choice, because there's still a back-of-mind sense that something could go wrong with my folks at any moment, and since they are in a high risk group, we need to be confident that we could run up there without infecting them.   (Also, we're introverts and it's nice to have this excuse.) 

We continue to do our Coffee Break Concerts (now only 2x per week, down from 3x/week) on Wednesdays and Fridays from 3:00 - 3:15 EDT on our FB page (fb.com/HotBreakfastRocks). It's been fun learning a bunch of songs for these, and I'm so grateful we've been able to keep these shows going with only maybe 3 missed dates because of parental doctor appointments.  The shows are usually playful and silly, and we always give it our all. Sometimes we don't get every note right (and we flog ourselves for days afterward), but what we lack in perfection we try to make up for with heart and good vibes. We still can't believe people tune into these, but I love love love love the little community that has grown in the chat window of our concerts. People who don't know each other in real life seem to have really nice connections in there, which is delightful.  This Wednesday will be our 50th show! Wheeeee!

Happy Anniversary!

On July 30th, Matt and I celebrated our 10-year Bandiversary as Hot Breakfast. We had played a few shows prior, but sans the name. 

Also under the anniversary heading, two weeks ago Matt and I were hired to be the private backyard entertainment for a surprise anniversary party for a sweet couple downstate. I cannot describe how surreal and amazing a feeling it is when people want to hear our music... and not our cover songs, but our songs. Plus, these people aren't friends of ours-- they discovered us organically and have followed us since 2011. And they know the words to our songs! How is that possible?! It is the best feeling in the world. We felt very very lucky.  It was also really nice to play for other people, in person, safely, etc. 

​​​​​

In other news: A quandary... a poll!

Our local, privately-owned massage & facial place called their loyal customers to tell us all that they've reopened, and they wanted to answer all of our questions around safety, and how we can be (reasonably) confident that we're not gonna get the Covid by getting a massage and/or a facial. I'm on the fence about this. 

I'm definitely not comfy getting a facial--  facials require constant face-to-face time and I wouldn't be masked (I assume). I wouldn't be comfortable in that situation.  But a massage? Hmmmm.

My muscles are aching from all the tension I've been holding for so long, and from sleeping on a bed from the Truman Administration at my folks' place for all that time, and OH MY GOD what I would give for a 90 minute massage. But I just don't know.

What do you all think?  Would you get a massage?  What if they said their therapists (whom I know and trust) get tested often (testing is abundant and free here), and they also get 2x/daily temperature checks, plus the spa's cleaning tactics (which have always been stellar in my view) have been re-evaluated, increased, and improved and yadda yadda, and their therapists always work with masks on, and I would also get a temperature check before entering and I'd also have a mask on while getting massaged...  I feel like the risk is pretty low.  But I also might be a dummy.

What do you think?

(A) I'd probably get a massage under those conditions.

(B) I'd have to go there and see what my Spidey Sense told me.

(C) NO FREAKIN' WAY. NO NO NO NO.

(D) Other___________


Anyway, it's nice to not have a crisis to report. 

Love you all very much.

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8/23 '20 10 Comments
Glad things are looking up!

It’s funny: playing cards with your mom is one of the best things the caregivers can do, because it makes her do some novel mental activity for fun, as opposed to just falling into a tv routine. It sucks that she can’t see the activity as productive, but of course she’s going to forget.

I’d have a really hard time going for a massage with COVID-19 stuff going on. It seems like there’s too much breathing involved. I was okay with getting my hair done, but I haven’t had my eyebrows done, and my nails are back to chompy stubs.
So nice to hear from you, and to have it be good news.

I totally get your mom's need not to have other people in the house alla time. I'm thrilled that the relief is there for your dad and the safety is there for your mom, and yeah, it sounds like they're working it out. SUCH good news about your dad's heart.

Massage-type thoughts:

"It depends." It always does, right? The protocols of the business or practice, the local infection rate, your personal risk budget... Up here in Vermontland, yes, I've gone to get some theraputic body work at the place I go to for physical therapy (and I've gone for PT as well; have another appt this coming Friday). They have great protocols (cleaning, masking, handwasing, etc.), a really big space, excellent ventilation and air filtration, and it's not crowded. For massage work, of course we both masked up. Interestingly, when I was face up, I wore my mask; for face down, there was the normal cover on the face rest plus a cloth pillowcase sack hanging down underneath, so that when I unmasked to place my face in the cradle, I was still "masked" by the cloth bag. Felt kind of like a horse being fed, but it worked.

As for whether or not the massage shop near you should be open for business at all... again, it depends, but it makes me raise an eyebrow. Not so much for *your* safety, but for their liability protection. A common post-covid syndrome, even after someone has supposedly "recovered," is excessive blood clotting. What if they have a client who either didn't know they contracted the virus, or even knows and tells them the truth. Massage on someone who may have unknown blood clots can be deadly! So I have to wonder what makes them feel safe enough to work on people.

Nevertheless, regarding your personal safety, depending on all of the variables, it could be very safe. And it could be very beneficial; a less stressed body will have a better functioning immune system, among all the other obvious benefits. But only you can know what's appropriate for your particular coordinates in the space-time continuum.
Anne Mollo 8/23 '20
The place is small, and they've made it clear that they'd only have one client in a treatment room on any given day... so it's definitely a "soft open" with a bazillion protocols in place.

I tend to agree with you-- a less janky body will fight things better, for sure. Here in north Wilmington the infection rate is low. I still always act as if everyone's infected (including myself). I'm trying to examine if my desire for a massage is me giving into "vigilance fatigue" because we've been sooooooo overly (almost comically) cautious up until now. But maybe I'm assuming other people have been as cautious as we have, which is a dangerous assumption.

It makes me happy to hear you've had some bodywork done, though. Good good!

Oh poo, I don't know.
Haven't sat in for a while because work schedules, but glad to know you're still doing the fun mini concerts. Working on repertoire without a concrete goal like a concert or actually being in the same room with others from my choir is a huge challenge.

Living with someone who has good knowledge of anatomy and massage, who has strong skilled hands, I haven't been in the position to wonder about paying for professional massage for years. I know it's going to be over a year before a tattoo is a possibility because, even though they're allowed to open with protocols including masks and sanitation and temperature checks, the good artists have even longer waiting lists now. Plus there's still a pandemic on.

On the other paw, I am very much looking forward to going to the dentist in September. It's my regularly scheduled cleaning but back in March I had an appointment to fill a small cavity cancelled.
Dawn Keenan 8/24 '20
We're in a similar boat dentist-wise. My cleaning + filling is also in September, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Also in a similar boat re: tattoos. I have pieces I'd love to get crackin' on, and no matter how much I trust my artist, I feel like now is not the time to be frivolous.

Jealous of your in-home massage therapist! :-)
So very happy to hear that things are chilling out a bit for you.

It does good things for my soul to know your Dad is getting rides in (more or less) when he wants them.

Still loving the shows. SO glad to see the community that's formed. I don't think I've seen less that 30 people at a show. Which, when you think about the fact that you've done nearly 50 of them... seems amazing and wonderful.

As to the massage place... I'm not sure. On the one hand, I _have_ eaten at a restaurant or two. Even inside. I wear my mask until I'm actively eating and then put it back on after. It seems like almost no one else does (aside from wait staff). Then I GTFO when I'm done. It's this experience that makes me think maybe it's not a good idea. If the general populace was sticking to the rules and only removing masks when necessary, I would feel more comfortable with the idea of laying there breathing the communal air for 90 minutes.

It's as if John Q. Public thinks: Oh, someone, somewhere said that now it's okay to eat/get a massage so the virus can't affect me anymore.

Possible solution: is there a masseuse that you know and trust who could come to the house? Then, you reduce risk and you could even disinfect before / after to be at least marginally more sure you're protected.

Matt Lichtenwalner 8/24 '20edited
Ooooh! I hadn't thought about an in-home visit! U R SMRT!

And thanks for the kind words about the concerts. Makes me happy when you pop in! You're an important part of that community. :)
> I hadn't thought about an in-home visit!
I cheated. Jeanine's brother was (is?) a masseuse and when he started out, home visits were all that he did.
Our household is currently saying YES to doctors, dentists, acupuncture and the like where they are clearly doing it right COVID-wise.

On the other hand, we got rid of my weekly in-person shopping trip by getting a lot better at online ordering, including curbside pickup from the wonderful local produce joint. It's weird, getting so much packaging and having to remind myself that it's the lesser of two evils for once.
Thomas Boutell 8/24 '20
Good to know! We have yet to do any kind of curbside pickup or take-out food... for no real reason. I remember in the beginning of the pandemic, online grocery ordering was terribly overburdened, so I figured I wouldn't tax the system with yet another order. I'm sure they've got the demand/capacity worked out by now, but the habit has been ingrained over here.
 

I last had a professional hair cut on January 3rd.  The last time I bleached my hair was on February 26th when I was up at my folks' place.

We snapped the following photo on March 27th, as a promo photo for our Coffee Break Concerts which launched on March 30th, 2020.

This next photo was snapped today, June 17th, after Coffee Break Concert #34. 

And here's a close-up comparison of my roots.  I have buzzed the sides and back several times with the #4 attachment on my clippers, and just two nights ago I finally broke down and purchased thinning shears because my faux-hawk was no longer staying up.  I'm wishing I had thought to snap the "after" photo before I had given the top part of my hair a little trim.

Seeing my natural hair color has been somewhat sobering. While I don't have much gray (surprisingly), my hair is pretty thin in the "yarmulke" part of my head. Having dark hair at the root makes my white scalp really show; where I feel like bleaching my hair makes it look less scalpy.

I do kinda like the way these dark roots look, though... but then I worry I'm treading dangerously close to Flavortown; I do not want to look like Guy Fieri.

Anyhoo, all is well here, considering.  I haven't worked at all this year, which is stressful... but it looks like training companies are starting to book more classes (99% of them are virtual at this point), which is good. Even if I'm not the one teaching them, I can still make a few bucks selling courseware for other people's classes, so that's good. 

Mentally I was struggling a bit right at the start of the lockdown, but these coffee break concerts really have been a saving grace. It's been good for me to have something to plan for, work towards, and look forward to... plus I get to be silly, and I get to "see" people I love in the chat window. 

We've scaled the concerts back to only Wednesdays and Fridays now that Delaware is into Phase 2 of reopening (back in the earlier phases we ran concerts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).  This was the first week where we only did two shows instead of our typical 3 shows, and it felt like it's the right move (I think).  It's good to have a long weekend so we can go visit my parents without having to schlep an entire sound system.

Physically, my health has been OK. I feel like I'm fighting a little ear infection or something-- when I swallow my left gland where my left ear drains into my throat is all ouchie, though it doesn't hurt as much today as it did earlier in the week-- so maybe I'm over it.

We've been taking the quarantine very seriously, because my dad needs heart surgery (routine, no biggie, just a valve replacement) soon, and when that happens we'll be staying up there while he recovers.  We've been up there to visit twice during the lockdown, but our first visit was after Matt and I got tested for Covid-19.  I know tests are kinda silly because we could have gotten infected 3 minutes after leaving the testing site, but yeah. 

We haven't eaten anything we haven't cooked ourselves since March 14th. No takeout food, no delivery, no door dash, nada.  It's actually been pretty fun cooking stuff, making creative use of the leftovers, making sure things don't go to waste, etc.

Matt's lost about 12 pounds (he's happy about that), and I'm down about 2-3 pounds, which I am not happy about.  I just don't have much of an appetite. Oh well.

It's getting to be iron infusion time, so hopefully I'll get that in the next month or two. I got my iron bloodwork done about 4 weeks ago but I wasn't quiiiiiiite dead enough, so I'll get another round of bloodwork in two weeks and by then my iron levels should have sufficiently crashed. Wheee!

Right before the lockdown I was scheduled to have a ton of dental work done, but then that all got canceled. I just got a note from my dentist office now saying that they're now accepting patients again for everything from cleanings and routine services to bigger mouf projects, so I guess I should get rescheduling that... but maybe I should wait until my dad's heart stuff is done.  Like I said, I've been soooo diligent in my covid-fighting, but if I go for Dental Derp, I don't have any way to be sure I'm being as neurotic as I should be... and I also won't have a way to keep an extra eye on the dentist staff, too (though I hope I should be able to trust them).


What else... 

We have so much music-work to do, in addition to our own music. We figured we'd be getting a break with The Rock Orchestra being on hiatus, but nope!

Matt's been hired by a modern-day vaudeville/performing arts group in Maryland to create a shit-ton music for their next big production, so he's been heads-down creating bespoke arrangements of Queen tunes and Meatloaf songs that can fit the size ensemble this group has.  But he's not just writing the parts out and calling it good; they want him to change the feel of some of these tunes to give it more of a steampunky feel, if that makes any sense. They're an interesting group.

I've been hired by two bands to help them out with their respective "covid collaborations" -- you know, those videos where bands record themselves playing their parts of a song at home, and then someone assembles the audio and video into a Zoom-like view so you can watch the individual band members singing/playing the song.  We did a few of these for The Rock Orchestra (here and here), but then two bands I've never heard of contacted me hoping I could handle some insane backing vocals and percussion-- I guess they wanted to go bigger than what their band can usually cover.  They're paying hansomely, which is very nice, because it's fuck-ton of work. 

One of the songs one band wants me to do is a tune by Boston-- so I'm covering all of those stacked vocals that go waaaaay up into the stratosphere. I can do it, but first I have to write all the parts out and then I'll record them.  The other song for the other band is an original, so I'm creating the arrangements from scratch and singing them, and playing a bunch of percussion, too.  It's fun, but it's a lot of work.


In other news, I'm officially 762876 years old because I bought a few bird feeders and I love watching the birds go nuts for them. We have pair of cardinals, two pairs of sparrows, two borbs (mourning doves), four crows... and now most mornings three squirrels have been taking up residence in the feeders and pissing off the birds. (I can't believe four crows are afraid of 3 squirrels... where the sparrows could not care less about the squirrels. Go figure.) 

Around 3:30am a family of five raccoons pops by and eats whatever's been kicked over the sides of the feeders to the ground, though tonight they decided to sit right in the feeder-- five racoons on a pie plate eating seeds and nuts. It was pretty damn adorable. 

OK, this is way too long.  I know there are more important things I should be talking about, but my brain is squishy.

love you all.

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6/18 '20 5 Comments
he chomps in the air with the greatest of ease,
he's the raccoon on the feeder trapeze...
Ooooh, I do not like looking at the yarmulke part of my head right now. The longer my hair gets the thinner that part of my head looks. Weirdly, when I buzzed it way down, it looked fuller. Hair is weird. If I'd known how brief my long flowing curly locks period would be I would have leaned into it more; every haircut I got in my 20s was a mistake.
Paul Lord 6/18 '20
love you too.
love you! i'm happy you guys have so many creative outlets (especially the self-created ones, because we get to benefit from your awesomeness). i hope you feel better soon!!!
Jenn A 6/21 '20
 

I sometimes make music with The Rock Orchestra.  It's a tribute band. They're good.

On Wednesdays at 7:30pm, they've been hosting watch-parties of professionally-shot, multi-camera videos of some of our live performances... Peter Gabriel... The Who... and tonight was when we performed Bruce Springsteen's first three albums

I was never a huge Springsteen fan, for no particular reason.  But playing that Born to Run album (as I overlook the occasional problematic misogynistic juvenile lyrics) with people I freakin' LOVE, with bravado and swagger, with a horn section, a friggin' old-skool Hammond Organ trucked in... just... wow. We killed it.  I had forgotten how much fun it was. (Here's a link to Rosalita. Here's a link to the song Born to Run with my badass glockenspiel.)

But this post isn't about that.  

The audience was packed-- it was a sold out show of 700+ people we didn't know. And they were happily buzzed and singing along. Some of the camera angles were shot from the back of the house, over the heads of the revelers standing shoulder to shoulder to strangers, having a blast, connected in that moment of live music.  And at one point there were 15 of us on stage once the horn section came on stage... and at times some of us were sharing mics and doing that jubilantly goofy standing-back-to-back "rock move" that sometimes organically happens when musicians are musicking. 

And then it hit me. 

We can't do that anymore.  That was another life. Another world. We may never get back to that until we have a vaccine... and today I read an article in Wired about how this Covid fucker is mutating into something potentially more sinister. Great.

I watched the livestream and cried.  I cried with happiness, remembering the joy we experienced on stage. 

And then I cried for how much I miss connecting with other people.  I cried seeing the audience, and hearing them sing along. I cry at the drop of a hat lately.

Maybe it's PMS. Maybe it's 8 weeks of not leaving my house except for three turbo-fast trips to the grocery store.  Maybe it's missing my parents (who are doing fine, by the way).  I dunno.  Last night was really bad-- I was inconsolably crying and feeling really fucking hopeless for a few hours.  I've never felt suicidal in my life, but last night was the first time I could sorta see how someone could maybe feel that way-- it seemed at least.... plausible?  Like, fuck it, why bother?  (Pleeeeeeease don't read anything into that. I mean it. Do not worry. I am not suicidal, like, at all. I'm totally OK, and was just feeling blue from these shit-ass circumstances.)  And honestly, taking a 1/2 xanax and talking to my dad via Duo helped a huge deal.  But I'm just saying I could finally see for the first time the darkness that brains have the potential to experience. Jesus.


ANYWAY, now that I've totally ruined the mood... let's forget all that and talk about happier stuff.

1) I have bird feeders outside my kitchen window and I love how we have a cast of regulars who visit every day.  We have a pair of sparrows, four mourning doves, a pair of cardinals (though the male visits more often), a fat squirrel, and we had our first crow the other day, but I haven't seen him back. (As an aside: My dream is to have a crow or raven decide to be my friend. I subscribe to waaaay too many raven/crow channels on YouTube.)

2) We are still doing our thrice-weekly 15-minute Hot Breakfast CoffeeBreak Concerts at 3pm EDT on our Facebook page.  Our production values have gone up a smidge... we have "hold music" as we wait for people to arrive, and Matt labors over the signs we put up as a placeholder before each show.  I love his silly design aesthetic.

Today was concert #17, which I kinda can't believe. We haven't repeated a song yet, which is kind of a fun challenge.  Today we did only covers... we did one somber tune to acknowledge the sadness in the air that seems to be weighing everyone down ("Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, of course)... and then we played "Squeezebox" by The Who because it's our friend Kevin's favorite song and he was having a rough go of it and we wanted to cheer him up.  Then we went full-on dork with Pac Man Fever, and we finished chipper with a Daydream Believer singalong.  Original songs are great and all, but sometimes you just wanna hear songs you recognize, y'know?

When we originally decided to do these concerts, we said we'd do them until May 15th, which was the arbitrary end-of-the-lockdown date the Governor of Delaware picked way back in March.  It doesn't look like things will reopen by then, or maybe a few things will soft-open, I dunno... so I'm not sure if we should bother still doing them after May 15th.  Lots of people write to us and thank us sincerely for doing them, saying it really helps to have things on their calendar a few days a week. The comraderie that has built up among the regular attendees in the chat windows is so, so glorious to see.  It's really fun seeing new friendships being formed among the viewers.  

In the beginning these livestreams were easy because we had our standard material that we've played a billion times and didn't really have to think about.  But now we are deeeeeeep in the super-deep-cuts of our original songs... stuff we've only played live once or twice, and/or learning new cover songs the night before the livestream.  We try to have some kind of theme, and we try to put little easter eggs around our performance space, though we're not sure if the camera can always pick 'em up.  These are definitely good for us to do.  I'm grateful to have deadlines since I have no other work.

(Though I did teach my first vocal coaching session via Zoom yesterday, which was cool... but it was a favor for a friend's kid who has an audition coming up.)


3) In other news: Every Saturday the PhilaDels have been having Zoom hangouts; sometimes we play Cards Against Humanity or Pictionary, and other times we just shoot the shit.  I've "seen" my PhilaDels more in the last 8 weeks than I have in the last 2-3 years combined. So I guess there is a silver lining in this.


4) In other, other news: Since the general rule is that you can't gather in groups of 10 or more... what's preventing anyone from having a small group of masked people over to our backyard on a nice weekend day, standing a reasonable distance apart, just to shoot the shit and eat a burger (carefully, being mindful of the mask and drool)?  Do we have to be THIS isolated?  


5) Matt and I have only left the house thrice for quick shopping trips, like I mentioned... and when we do, we have ridiculously complex and hella overkill decontamination processes as we bring ourselves and our purchases into the house.  I am confident we are virus-free.  With that, we are thiiiiiiiinking about visiting my parents this weekend. They also have not left the house except for a few quick shopping trips. Mom is clearly getting worse, surely due to understimulation... but Dad actually seems to be doing a lot better now that the weather is warming up and he's healthy again, and now on a low-dose antidepressant which has made him a new guy.  They are more than comfy with us coming up... the room we sleep in up there hasn't been opened/entered since we were last in it in February.  I'm still a teeny bit nervous about going up-- god forbid I somehow am an asymptomatic transmitter... but I don't know how I could have contracted it since I'm so friggin' neurotic about washing, desanitizing, distancing, masking, even wearing goggles in the store, etc.  I have a few more days to decide if we're gonna go.  It'd be nice to see Mom for Mother's Day.  I don't know how many more Mothers Days she'll have where she understands what day it is.  The last time Matt and I left the house was April 28th, so we're 8 days isolated. I suppose I could wait an extra week and go up next weekend when we are more than 14 days clear, just to be super-safe.  Hmmmm.  Thoughts?


Anyway. That's enough outta me for now.

I love you all very much. 

Sorry I've been so quiet over here. I am reading what you're all writing. Thank you for writing.

xoxo-- good night!


PS: Hey, anyone hear from Robert Bryan anytime recently, by the way?


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I'm here, thankful to hear your voice in my head as I read your amazeballs writing.
Robert Bryan 5/7 '20
Yaaaaaay! Thanks for surfacing, my friend. Just wanted to know y'all are OK.
Sounds like those concerts might be doing good things for you guys as well as your audience. I would think about keeping those up. maybe change the schedule to be a little less intense if you like. Just a thought, of course you should do what's right for you. But rhythm is everything.

Everyone is working out their own quarantine buddy situation. I see how there are big trade-offs in your mind about visiting your parents. It does sound like you've been impressively isolated. We are taking advantage of the fact that we're allowed to go for walks, and so is the entire neighborhood, with increasingly poor mask participation, so I would hesitate to say that we are grandparent ready.

Take care.
For what it is worth, I know you will be out there again as soon as the stage is available. You will be one of the people reminding us about what it means to be together, and be encouraging us to return to whatever level of social normalcy is possible.

Also, for what it's worth - this isolation has given me the opportunity to examine my own mental health from a different perspective. For me, life does not change dramatically from one day to the next, and yet my mood(s) can swing wildly. It's helped me recognize what a chemical pea soup I have going on in my brain, and further, to recognize real versus imagined crises. Yes, I can cause my own downward spiral if I focus on anything negative for too long, but I can also simply experience something without even trying - and it can come and go in the space of a few hours.

And I don't have the stressors you do. I mean, you don't actually know what mine are right now, but I know they are very different from yours.

And your concerts do help. For me, they give me something to look forward to that is regular and predictable. I know you can't see me, but I imagine you can, so I make myself presentable before I sit down in front of the computer to tune in. It jump starts me to handle errands or interact with others. So for me, you're helping a lot.

I miss you. Take care of yourself and Matt, and let me know if you need anything I can provide.
SFM 5/7 '20
Wow, Thank you. This was extreeeeeemely helpful for me to read. Recognizing the difference between a "mood" and overall mental health. Thank you. It's OK to be in a poopy mood, and remembering that this is not the "forever setting." Thank you. It's so obvious, but reading it really helped. Thank you. Really.

And dooood, I'm so happy to hear the concerts help. I love the idea of you making yourself presentable before them. :) It means the world to be that you tune in to our bojangley-ness. :-D

Douldah.
This resonated strongly for me. I'm afraid to contact you too much because I'm afraid you'll think I'm stalking you. if you guys had to stop doing the HBCBCs, I would be blue, but I'd survive. I also imagine that prepping for these must be exhausting.
More later. I have some stuff on my desk that I have to deal with.
A couple of thoughts:

Does your mom still have respiratory issues?
Would she understand or be okay with you wearing a mask and/or remaining 6' away?
Could you say, "Mom, I have a cold, and I don't want you to catch it?" If so, would she be okay with that?

In reference to gathering in groups of 9 or less: Our downhill neighbors do this every time the weather is nice. It used to make me furious. Now I just figure if they get sick, I don't have to feel sad. They play corn hole (huh huh, huh huh, hey, Beavis) and wiffle ball, which is distanced, but they also hold their kids on their laps and sit around the same table. it seems like it's the same cast of characters routinely. I know that some people agree to co-quarantine or whatever they're calling it.

I don't know the answers, but I wholly empathize.
Thanks for the concerts! Mos def highlights of my weeks. I hope you and Matt can find it in yourselves to keep them up.
Thank you! This is really helpful feedback, and I love when you pop in and say "Yo!"

I think we'll commit to 3x/week through May 30th and then re-assess what life is starting to look like for people.

What are they saying in your neck of the woods? Any target dates of a soft reopening or anything? Here in DE, they allowed certain business to "soft-reopen" as long as they keep a teeeny number of customers in the building at one time, and everyone masks up. Stuff like hair salons and nail places... but nobody's sitting down in a restaurant yet.

Love y'allz.
As of Saturday (today's report won't be for another few hours), we've had 261 total cases, 244 recovered, 3 deaths, 14 active cases, of which 4 are in hospital, of which 2 are in ICU. Hospital capacity is at about 60%. Some two-thirds of the total cases in the province are related to one weekend's services in March at a funeral home three streets away from our house. This outbreak made a lot of the general public sit up and take it, or at least its stupid contagiousness, very seriously early on. Between that and the early move to ban healthcare workers from working in more than one long-term care home, we haven't seen nearly as much trouble here as some other provinces with their elderly populations.

The provincial government has implemented a 5-level scheme of alerts: https://www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/alert-system/ . Today (Monday) we've been moved from level 5 to level 4. Under level 5, it was very much a complete stay-at-home order unless you were an essential employee, you needed hospitalization, or you were out for essential groceries. Parks were closed, but you could go out for exercise. Self-isolation for 2 weeks if you travel into the province, and recently they put in some rules that make it very difficult to travel here without a good reason (and "I have a vacation home in NL" wasn't actually a good enough reason). Under level 4, the parks are open, but not for picnics or playgrounds or team sports. Some businesses, daycares, and non-emergency medical visits can resume. Restrictions will continue to ease as the levels go down, but I don't think any public health official can say with certainty what level 2 or 1 will really look like. And of course we may have to go back to 5 if there's another outbreak.

Also, they've gotten us into a "bubble" concept, where your immediate household is your "bubble" that you don't break. Two weeks ago, we were allowed to merge into "double bubbles" -- two households can get together, so long as they are mutually exclusive. We doubled up with a friend who lives on her own and doesn't have any local family. (On our island with a culture of extended Irish Catholic families that gather together frequently, other households are encountering some trouble when they try to figure out which adult sibling's kids get to see Nan and Pop. One feel-good story, though, was that the mayor of St. John's got to hold his new grandbaby for the first time last weekend.) At least one other province, New Brunswick, is working with this "bubble" idea.

Canada's been addressing loss of income a little more ... proactively than the States, but we aren't eligible because of our income situation. Also, we got our U.S. tax refund but we haven't seen our sweet, sweet stimulus checks. I hear that's a common or universal problem among eligible Americans living outside the States. [EDITED to add: the system finally responded to my query this morning, and we should be seeing our moneys this week. Yay!]
Michele Grant 5/11 '20edited
 

Last got a haircut on January 3rd. Yowza. 

Because I bleach the everloving crap out of my hair, sometimes the unavoidable small amount of sacrificial breakage serves as a cut... "a chemical cut," as we jokingly call it. This means that if I bleach my hair at home during long stretches, I can sometimes put off a haircut a bit. (I'm not saying this is optimal, but it has bought me time in the lean times and the busy times.)

But with the lockdown in place, and my hair rapidly approaching "meth-using love-child of Guy Fieri and 1985 Richard Marx" status, I decided to whip out Ye Olde Clippers and take matters into my own hands.  (I have done this before, but never after 3 months of growth.)

Holy moley, I am a new woman. I kept the top Fieri/Marxy, but the sides are clipped to a nice 1/2" and YAY.


Easter Zoom Calls / Parent Update

In other news: Today is Easter and we did a Zoom visit with Matt's family and then my family.  Guiding Matt's family through using Zoom was similar to this, but once everyone finally got on it was fun.  We yapped for about 45 mins before we said goodbye and then chatted with my family.  We had my parents in one window Zooming in fron their home in north Jersey, and my brother's family of five in their window, from their dining room about 25 minutes away from my folks, also in north Jersey. My mom didn't understand why we weren't all able to be physically together, and kept asking where we all were. She kept saying, "Well I know you're all so busy," as if she thought we couldn't get together because we just didn't feel like freeing up our schedules. At one point she also didn't recognize the grandkids... but that's kind of understandable-ish because she only sees them maybe twice a year, and the two girls (ages 16 and 23) look different every time we see them (hair color/length changes, typical weight fluctuations, new glasses, etc.).  Mom also kept asking where Matt and I were, because she had assumed we were having a big Easter dinner with Matt's family. I assured her we were in my kitchen alone. But again, her not recognizing my kitchen is also sort of understandable: Mom has been to my house maybe twice since I bought my house in '07... so how could she realistically recognize my kitchen?  I can't let myself stress about it.

What's ultimately important is that she and my dad are safe up in NJ at their home in the sticks, and they have neighbors and folks offering to go to the store for them (which my dad rejects because wants to get out of the house). As much as I bitch that they live on the moon, it has given them some insulation which is comforting. 

Their isolation, and now the lack of the home health-care companion I had coming a few days a week to keep Mom engaged and stuff, means Mom's just pretty much sleeping much of the day because she's bored and understimulated. I asked my dad if hecould suggest maybe they watch a movie together, and he said, "Well, our tastes don't line up."  I jokingly/not-jokingly said, "I suppose being flexible for 100 minutes and watching something maybe Mom might like... that's probably asking too much, I guess...?"  He just shrugged. 

It's so weird. Maybe it's because gender dynamics have changed between our generations, and maybe my mom believes that it's her job and duty just to go along with whatever my dad wants... and instead of asking to watch a movie or the news together, it's better for her just to go sit in her room alone with her TV blaring, and for my dad to sit in the TV room with his TV blaring.  *shrug*


But when all you have is each other, and understimulation is only going to make her decline WAY faster, wouldn't you wanna watch a stupid movie or even friggin' Tiger King and just BS about it? Dementia or not, she can watch a movie. 

I also get that Dad is her sole care provider right now, and watching his wife decline decline decline and then ask the same questions 27 times in a row has got to be exhausting... so maybe he welcomes the time off and the peace. But since she's honestly out of her room maybe 2 hours a day total (that's to eat and grab a smoke), it seems like it shouldn't be too much of an ask. 

I know I'm making a lot of assumptions on his part, which isn't fair. So I should probably knock that off and change the subject. 

In slightly other news, for the last few years he's been getting REALLY wound up over little stupid things. Part of it is our Jersey snark of always having to have some snitty comeback to small stuff, but it started becoming his default behavior, and we've been really worried.  His anxiety has been through the roof, and made waaaaaaay worse since his various hospitalizations this year since my Mom's been so bad since October or so. We all kinda think his first two hospitalizations have been physical manifestations of his anxiety.  So the hospital doctors increased his xanax frequency from "as needed" to 3x daily (a low dose each time, but still). Sometimes it'd make him groggy, but it definitely did take his anxious edge off. But I didn't like the grog-- you could see it in his eyes.


His regular doctor (who is awesome) did a regular med-check at the end of March via a telemedicine visit and said he was concerned about my almost 80-year-old dad taking so much xanax, and would prefer he not build a tolerance, and would prefer dad use it as a rescue medication for legit panic attacks, and not as the way he copes with his wife.  Instead, he put him on Zoloft (sertraline). At first I was concerned... but after a week, HOLY MARY MOTHER OF GOD he's a new fucking guy. He's handling lockdown great, he's chipper, he feels good, he's got more energy, he's got more patience, he doesn't get overwhelmed, he doesn't get out of breath, and he doesn't feel 'medicated' like he was feeling with the daytime xanax... so it's a definite home run. It's like I have my old dad back from 25 years ago. Yaaaaaay! 


Fancy Easter Dinner

The food we have eaten today: Buttered toast made from some bread I made last week that is still delicious (ate that at 1:30pm), a few strips of bacon (ate that at 2:30), and then some home-made french fries at 8:30pm as a snack. Only the finest Easter meal. 

We have not ordered any takeout whatsoever during this lockdown. I know I should support my local businesses, but I just can't trust that these small businesses have kitchens designed for social distancing, and enough PPE to last long shifts. I'd rather just buy gift cards from them online and this way nobody has to be in danger on my account. (I am not judging anyone who orders takeout. Please don't @ me.)

With that, it's been fun getting back to our "home economics" roots and planning meals, going to the store once every 10 days or so, buying only what we planned, and making everything here, and then making good things from the leftovers.  We will probably have to go to the store this week since we are low on some staples, but if it needs to wait, we will not starve. We haven't dug into the soups in the pantry or anything.  (Now that I've written that, maybe I will stay home.)

Masks

Because of Burning Man prep over the years, I had a few boxes of N-95 masks. I donated the sealed boxes and the healthcare workers were VERY grateful. I had an opened box with only a few masks in it, so I kept that and sent my parents two masks, and kept two for me and Matt, and gave two to my mailman (along with some PVC gloves and a small thing of hand sanitizer I had) after I heard our post office didn't have PPE. 

But even with that, my dear BFF Patty is making gorgeous masks that follow one of the CDC designs, and even comes with replaceable filters and a moldable nose-piece and adjustable ear-loops. They're wonderful. So if anyone needs masks, she charges $10/mask (that comes with a bunch of filters and great instructions and are beautifully made in fun-printed fabrics) plus shipping. They are worth every dime. I've been buying them for friends and family when I hear they are mask-less. She has adult and child sizes.  So if you need masks, lemme know and I'd be happy to ship you some as a gift. 


In the last bit of thing:

Is there a way to back-date entries, kinda like how LJ used to do?  I get that this might be anti-OPW ethos, but I feel bad for dumping 73 years' worth of bloggy thoughts into one long entry, when maybe I could spread them out with a carefully-used backdate option.  (Or maybe I could just plan my writing better.)

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4/14 '20 11 Comments
Thank you for the link to your friend who makes masks. <3 We are maskless over here and I was looking at the awesome pattern Anne linked in her post, but honestly I am struggling with even just the basics of living right now, so mask-making has not happened for me yet.
Karen Kuhl 4/14 '20
I would just like to second the fact that Pat-man is a pretty fantastic human and has more style in her little finger than I do in my whole body. I realize that’s not really saying much, but she’s awesome and stylish, and her masks are too! :)
I cut my hair back when I was still in town. It had gone waaaaayyy too long without a cut before the pandemic started, so I’d figured “What the hell?! I’m not going to be seeing anyone anyway, I have a simple hair style, and why not?” Guess it turned out okay since no one on the Zoom calls stopped, pointed, and laughed. I suspect yours looks infinitely better though.

Glad to hear that things are... well... at least ‘stable-ish’ with your folks. And the Dad v. Meds scenario is awesome! Glad to hear he’s feeling more himself and has a bit more zest.

If it helps, I had a similar sort of Easter dinner. A whole hell of a lot more of it, but similar in it’s... traditional fare.

I don’t believe that there is a way to back date entries. Might be an interesting future addition?
Teaching my mom how to use Zoom was so insane that I recorded it. I hit the record button about two minutes into the call, thinking, “Ted and I can make comedy gold out of this.” I can’t bring myself to watch the recording, and I’m just going to delete it, because it feels cruel now.

Is it better if your mom thinks that you all having separate Easter dinners is by choice, rather than because there’s an invisible threat? I don’t know the answer, or if there is one.

Patty’s designs are gorgeous. Half the reason I’m obsessed with mask making is because I feel like it’s a problem I can solve. It’s an intersection of art, fashion, ingenuity, necessity, altruism, repurposing, and thrift, if you’re using up a fabric stash or old clothes that didn’t work out.

Your dad’s Zoloft process sounds so similar to what I went through when I first started taking it. I resisted it really hard, because I was afraid I’d turn into a compliant little zombie. The thought that comes to mind to describe how I felt is, “the giant pile of bricks is still there, but I can deal with it and it doesn’t own me.”
I have been in since March 17th due to an early possible exposure (false alarm) and was due for a clip then. I had a sleep study on the 24th and knowing they were going to put electrodes on my head, I broke out the clippers and gave myself a 0 guide clip. Not enough hair to look cool, too much hair to look mean. But Lord, did the sleep lab technician like me.

I needed to acquire the inner layer filter fabric for my friend's little mask production line. This required a trip to Norristown to pick up from Joann Fabrics, the closest store with the fabric in stock. Fortunately they were open for pickup.

No takeout orders here either. Although I've had to be in and out for various errands. Food and medicine. Being single means there's only one person around to do the dirty work. I masked up and went to Lowe's today to get some new blinds. Being that the old ones in my office were old enough to vote and broken due to my former cats... they were ripe for replacement.
Ray Conrad 4/14 '20
My pal who makes masks said that shop towels (those thicker paper towels) doubled up make damn good filters in a pinch. I only have a few of these filter-towels, but I also don't leave often enough to be worried about running out.

Is the filter-fabric you got at Jo-Ann designed to be a filter, or does it just coincidentally work as a filter?

How'd the sleep study go? (If you wrote about it, I'll find out in a second... I'm pretty far behind on reading OPW.)

Man, I miss hanging out with you. I really, really look forward to the day we can have lunch together again.
Seconded on shop towels.
The filter fabric (Pellon 911FF) is recommended. It's a non-woven fabric. Not sure I want to be wearing a mask come summertime. It's not the easiest stuff to breath through.

Sleep study went well, I advocated for surgery as a remedy, since it showed mild sleep apnea. But since all elective surgeries have been cancelled, (I guess this is elective, since it only MIGHT kill me) I have been prescribed a CPAP. But hey, since all of the companies that make CPAPs also make ventilators, guess what else isn't available right now?

Even in introvert wonderland, this introvert is getting a little rammy to be out and about.
Ray Conrad 4/16 '20
Sorry to hear about the CPAP. Here’s hoping that things wrap up sooner than expected and you get one faster than you thought possible. (And that the surgery options get back on the table shortly after that!)
Good to hear your dad is better. I just learned that my elder aunt is now in a similar place to your mom. I'm more concerned for my mother's feelings than my own; I haven't spent a ton of time with my aunt, but my mother is clearly grappling with the existential implications of her sister not being all there anymore.

As to OnePo, there's no backdating hack, alas. But there *is* the queue feature, for spewing forwards in time. You can post as many posts as you want into the queue, and they will come out one per day, on days when you don't post something else.
Thomas Boutell 4/17 '20
I meant to reply to this sooner, but all my time is taken up by Hot Breakfast Coffee Break Concerts. :-P I just sent you a text with my t-shirt size and shipping address, for context. :-D

Thank you for the update on your parents. I have been concerned about all of you and you are never far from my thoughts. I wrote on FB during my mother's decline mostly to share what happens during dementia. And the stories are completely hilarious, if you allow them to be. I am glad to read your father is coping better.

I buy masks for cleaning purposes, so bizarrely, I had a supply of masks before all of this started. I also bought toilet paper on sale in DECEMBER and am just running out of it now. I happened to pick up a 12-pack at the supermarket today. Totally weird how that worked out. I may ask for a mask from P. Lin ("Plin") eventually, just to be more stylish. I have also turned into that old guy who yells at teenagers about not wearing their masks properly, so there's that.

I was just thinking of you and Matt and wanted to reach out. Thank you for the concerts - they have really been helping me get through all of this, and I am certain I am not the only one. Much love to you both.
SFM 5/2 '20
 

I wrote this maybe 10 days ago.

I forget where I left off, but I was living full-time in NJ at my folks' place from 2/8 to 2/28*.  Most of that time I was away from Matt because he was working in Maryland, music directing a show.  It was a really hard three weeks.

(*which does not include the 5 then 6 days in January we were up there, too.)


One of those February weeks my dad was in the hospital, so with my Mom's routine disrupted she was extra spacey. Once Dad came home, things slowly returned to normal, but Dad was really struggling with the fact that for the first time he wasn't just *bing!* back to normal. He is not used to feeling weak and needing help.

Anyway, Dad had a bowel obstruction, and thankfully the surgical fix didn't require a bowel resection-- instead there was just a weird piece of string (made out of a strand of scar tissue) that strangulated his guts.

Didja ever cut a raw, boneless chicken breast and there's that weird white tendony-gristly thing that kinda goes through a 3rd of it?  It looked like that.  So the doc snipped it, and in one second my dad went from Guy In Agony Who Could Not Breathe And Wanted To Die to WHEW SWEET RELIEF.  They waited six days before they operated, hoping the obstruction would just kinda clear itself, but after Day 6 they realized they needed to get in there. Three teeny laparascopic incisions and a snip later, and he was fixed up. They watched him for 2 more days and then released him.  

(Side note to Jeremy Moskowitz  and Matt Lichtenwalner : Remember that time in either 2006 or 2009 (I can't remember) when we went for Indian food someplace on Kirkwood Highway and I had to go sit in the car in the middle of the meal, and when you came out I was inconsolably wailing and screaming bloody murder in the back of the car, and you guys took me to the hospital? That was a bowel obstruction. Dad had the same thing. We're built weird, I guess.)

Problem is that while Dad was in the hospital, they stuck a naso-gastric tube down into his gut and pumped his stomach for 6 solid days, to relieve the pressure building behind the obstruction in hopes it would clear itself. During this time he wasn't even allowed to have ice chips, let alone any food, broth, water,  nada.  After the surgery they continued to pump his stomach so he could heal up, so for a grand total of 8 days he didn't move, eat, or drink anything.  He was a withered shell of a guy.  We were afraid he'd never regain his strength or confidence after that.  Once they sent him home, it took him about two weeks of constant care by yours truly, but by February 28th he was back to about 87% strength, which was enough for him to tell me I could go home, so I could do a gig on the 29th.  (Gig was great. More on that later.)

Mom continues to be on Planet Mom. Her dementia is fascinating, honestly. If you talk to her, you would have no idea anything is wrong. She is funny, normal, on-task, quick-witted, well-spoken, patient, friendly, sweet, knows all of her stories and recipes, all that.  It's just that 5 minutes later she won't remember that you had that conversation.  So she'll go to a doctor and will sign in perfectly, will be friendly, will make eye contact, and will tell people things that sound totally reasonable... and 50% of the time she's right.  But while my dad was in the hospital I had to take her to a GI appointment, and she told her GI doctor that she was the one who was in the hospital for a week... and the GI doctor dutifully wrote it down in her chart, because it sounded totally convincing. I had to gently say, "Mom, you weren't in the hospital; Dad was."

"What now?"

"Dad was the one in the hospital, not you. He's still in there now with a bowel obstruction."

"What? Did I say I was in the hospital?

"Yep, just now."

"Was I in the hospital?"

"Nope. I mean, you visited Dad, but you weren't the one being treated."

"Oh. Hmm. ((chuckle)) Well, that's old age I guess."

The GI doc was puzzled listening to us have this exchange. On the way out I popped my head into his office and asked him to please make a note in her chart that she's got early-stage dementia, and to please make sure someone else is in the examination room with her, because otherwise we can't be sure if she'll be giving accurate information. And also, she won't remember any instructions you give her.

Fast forward three weeks later, where we had a follow-up appointment with the same GI doctor. He now sees in her chart the note he wrote-- "patient has early stage dementia."  I am in the examination room with her again.  As he prescribes her antibiotics for something, he looks at her and says loudly, "Now don't forget that you have to take these for 10 days. Don't forget, now!"

Right. Because those are the magic words that make dementia patients miraculously remember shit.  Fucking idiot.

(And no, that wasn't his way of making sure I was paying attention. Trust me on this one. He just doesn't get it.)

She's like a computer with a bad hard drive. If something was written to hard drive before 2017, she remembers it perfectly. Post 2017, it gets glitchy. Starting around Thanksgiving 2019, it's RAM only.  


Anyway. While I was up there, I did not think I would ever be able to come back to DE.  I had several private, epic, Oscar-worthy meltdowns... and in the twitchy aftermath of one of them, my brother picked up on the fact that I wasn't doing so well and he suggested that I go home to DE for one night, sleep in my own bed, attend a Sunday rehearsal that I didn't think I'd be able to attend, and then head back up to NJ afterwards, and he'd watch my folks for that time.  Those were a sweeeeeet 20 hours, I'm not gonna lie. It's amazing how much one can recharge in a short amount of time. Everyone at rehearsal was so, so, SO lovely and supportive, and genuinely asking not only how my folks were doing, but how I was doing. This was weird for me... I've never really been the one who needed a supportive hug; I'm the one who gives them. I didn't even know that many people even knew about my parental situation. I felt really loved and cared for, by people I didn't really think ever gave me much thought. 

While I was in NJ, I contacted 41 home health agencies to lend my folks a hand... and only TWO serve Warren County (the ass-end of cow-town NJ where they live). One agency had caregivers that live in Newark, which is about an hour away from my parents. Generally speaking, Newark folks don't understand country life, they don't understand deer and bears and how your nearest neighbor is a cow a few acres away. They also don't drive generally, so when we tried one caregiver we had to pay a $68 Uber ride each way for them. How would they be able to give my parents a hand if they can't even drive?  So they weren't a good fit.  But the other agency, Home Instead Senior Care, is based about 8 miles from my folks, and their caregivers live in the area. They understand the ways of the cows. After some shuffling and scheduling, we now officially have Wendy the caregiver spending 3 days a week with my mom for 4 hours at a clip. This basically frees up my Dad to turn his brain off so he can putter in the garage, go have lunch with the guys, snooze, pay bills, whatever. Wendy makes sure my mom is entertained, fed, takes her meds, helps with meal prep, can take her to get her nails/hair done, take her to doctor appointments, etc.  It's a huge relief.  Of course now with all of the COVID-19 lockdowns, I'm not sure how long this will last... but I'm comforted that at least for now there's an extra set of competent eyes making sure she (and Dad) aren't experiencing any symptoms. 


Now we're home. I'm writing this part on 3/15/20 now.

So anyway, I've been home since March, and I've mostly been hermiting. Like, pretty much staying in my PJs, leaving the house only when absolutely necessary. I've been doing a decent amount of voiceover work, and 

On Friday March 13th, Matt's Ramones band had (53rd & 3rd) a gig at Oddity Bar, which was comfortingly bleachy, and not very well-attended due in part to collective nerves, and the Delaware State of Emergency which didn't make ir clear if folks should stay home. We were all OK with the attendance, honestly. The 25-ish folks who did attend really wanted to be there, and we all amused ourselves coming up with silly, inventive ways to greet each other without shaking hands or elbow bumping. Everyone tipped the bar-staff very well, knowing they had it rough. Some of us even ate at the Chinese place next door and overtipped there, too. 

In other news, the stores have been busy but not nuts, and fairly well-stocked. They were out of bleach, hand sanitizer,  and rubbing alcohol, and low on bread, but nothing we couldn't work around. (Besides, we already had bleach and rubbing alcohol on hand Because Adult, and also Because Burning Man.)  We feel prepared for a week or two (or  of isolation if it comes to that.

I bleach-washed the bejeezus out of the kitchen floor and the entire master bathroom, so I feel like I've accomplished something. I'm hoping my burning lungs are from the bleach and not a symptom of COVID-19. 

Anyhoo, there's more to tell, but this is already hella long. 

As a reward for reading this long, blathery post, please enjoy this delightful thing by making with the clicky (fixed link!):

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3/16 '20 9 Comments
Everything is beautiful, isn’t it?
I can’t imagine your stress. I’m glad you’re back at your home.
Michele Grant 3/16 '20
Thanks, m'dear. Very glad to be back home... though the guilt is pretty overwhelming at times. Trying to just stay present and breathe, y'know? 💗

Love to you guys.
I can see Derren Brown, but was there a particular tweet you wanted to share?
Weird-- not sure why the link isn't working. When I edit the post it's fine, but once I post the post, it just takes you to Derren's profile and not the tweet.

Anyway, I think I was just able to fix it now.
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 3/16 '20edited
BRILLIANT!
RIGHT?!
Super glad Dad's back on track and that Mom's got additional help so he can get some peaceful Dad time. Also, that Wendy knows the ways of the cows, because yeah.

Most importantly, I'm glad you've got your life back. When this pandemic is over, I'm very much looking forward to catching up.

Love you and love to the folks.
Glad your back and rebuilding your spoon inventory. Offer still stands, if needed. Don't be a martyr.
Ray Conrad 3/16 '20