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Vacay – Part I

Vacay has been nice. I enjoyed the company of my son and his friends. They are smart, well-mannered guys. We sat around with a beer and discussed adult stuff. I enjoyed their opinions and stories. I think they enjoyed listening to my stories and thoughts as well.

We did a couple of low key hikes ending with a picnic. The boys took one day to hike something more strenuous while I hung around the cabin reading and relaxing.

They all left a day or so before me. I spent most of one day home alone. Initially I thought I would go walk around my favorite lake, but instead I have puttered around the cabin.

I am feeling a trifle blue, but at first I didn’t know why. As I thought about it, I think my minor funk is more about this never-ending pandemic. Before I left, two work colleagues reached out because they lost their jobs. I have tried to ignore the real world, but I see the surge of COVID cases in Florida and sigh.

How long will I have to abstain from activities, restaurants and the like? I think it will be 2 years. Taz agrees. I don’t want to be one of the first getting a vaccine. I want someone else to be the guinea pig.

Two years of limited socializing. Two years of probably not expanding my social circle with new girlfriends. I am doubtful I will be able to do any group lessons for any activity.

So that is why I have a funk today. It’s OK. My dad is popping in to celebrate my birthday.

Not my hike, but we saw similar beauty…

Close Call

Last week I had some work anxiety. I am 100% overhead for the company – the best I can do is save the company money.  I don’t make money for them.

Every week people are leaving – furloughed, laid off.  What difference does it make? They are gone. I have seen it in every department except a handful. In a meeting last week, my boss made an offhand remark about leadership looking within her department to make cuts.  She stood her ground and headed it off. Let’s be honest – she saved me specifically because her department is quite small. Everybody else in my department has clear functions.  Well, there is one guy but he has been with the company for many years and just shifted into her department.  No, it was me. My role is newly created and has always been a bit fuzzy.

My boss also mentioned some feedback about me they received from an out-of-state market leader (ML). Yeah, this was a banner meeting.  This ML had been on a call with me, my admin and his admin. I met him in person and liked him at the time, but now I know he was on his best behavior. On our call, I found him to be a bit petulant and whiny because he needed to get some shit done and we can’t do it for him.  He and his admin need to do it. We reported back to our boss in our standing meeting which resulted in her whispering in the CEO’s ear. This prompted the CEO to call him.  Yes, it was that concerning that it needed to be addressed.

ML played it off that everything was perfectly fine. Liar. That’s OK, we knew he throws people under the bus because of previous drama he caused. However, to jab me (I think), he mentioned to the CEO that I told him specifically to remove a Foosball table from the office. First of all, I cannot tell him to do anything.  Not my position.  I did tell him that said table did not meet social distancing standards, but his fucking ping pong table did. Apparently I dared to interfere with their “culture”. Jerk.

After our group meeting (me, Boss & admin), I popped back into my boss’ office because both the “saved my department” and the asshole Foosball story had me a bit unsettled. I asked her if my Foosball thing had caused her political grief and offered an immediate apology.  She laughed and said no. I explained that I worked in companies with huge office game cultures including Foosball, and I love it.  Seriously, I think it’s fun. For Christ’s sake, I had been playing Connect4 with another department the week before.

She went to describe me as Speed Racer. One who starts running down the road before anyone else. She said she is the same way. What she meant is that I am self-initiating, I don’t wait to be told to do something. She loves that about me.  Whew!

But then she laughingly questioned if I thought the Senior Leadership was “stupid” – her exact words. That gave me pause. I immediately replied honestly, “No, they are some of the smartest people I have worked with”. She said some of my ideas and questions are for companies far larger than ours. This conversation ended up being great because we cleared the air. I explained that:

  1. I mention things only to be a resource and to make sure they have thought about some things in my area of expertise. This actually helped a lot last week when I had mentioned several things nobody thought of during the office re-opening planning.
  2. Did she want me to stop anything? No, she loves my initiative.
  3. I asked her to always, always give me direct feedback. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. Seriously. I didn’t tell her that on rare occasions it might sting a little, because I need to hear these things.  I did tell her that I value the directness.  I simply don’t do subtle – it goes right over my head.

We ended our chat very positively. We laughed because our admin had nothing bad to say about me except for one incredibly minor thing. Plus the admin had collaborated and elaborated on my version of the call with the ML.

Our work atmosphere is a bit tense these days. I see friction among the senior leaders as they try to guide the company through this crisis.  It isn’t easy. They fully understand each decision they are making could adversely affect employees and their families. This has caused some strong debates both behind closed and open doors.  They also understand they must keep money coming in the door faster than it goes out. I am so grateful that I do not have make those type of decisions.

Overall, life at work is fine. I am keeping busy and have no complaints. I only hope to surf this horrific tsunami of a pandemic with my job intact. I have absolutely no desire to join the 30+ million unemployed.

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Photo by MusicFox Fx on Unsplash

Food Pics – Round 3

I am having fun with this!  Maybe there is an inner food blogger in me.  Anyway, this week is a recipe I pulled together myself.  I had an idea and went with it.

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Eggplant Stack

I had a lovely eggplant and was doing a week of plant-based meals.  I wanted something rich and Italian, so I thought about Eggplant Parmesan.  Here are my steps:

  • First I salted the eggplant and let it sweat off its water. All the experts say this is the best way to keep the eggplant from turning into mush. I don’t have much experience with eggplant, so I went with their advice.  Which was wise on my part.
  • Then I dredged the eggplant in multiple steps:  flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  I let them rest a little.
  • I baked my eggplant for maybe 20 minutes (I honestly don’t remember).
  • I layered everything:  tomato sauce, then baked eggplant, cheese (ricotta and mozzarella), eggplant.  I used a toothpick to hold it all together.
  • More tomato sauce on top and then I baked it.  I forget how long I baked it.  Maybe 30 minutes.  Good grief, I will never be a food blogger because I can’t even remember how I put this together.  I didn’t save the recipe that gave me some guidance on the eggplant.  I winged it for the most part.

Anyway, it was delicious!  I had some Texas Toast to go along with it.  I made 4-6 stacks with that little eggplant and it was better each night.  Yum.

Victory Garden

I was inspired by Cindi’s posts about homesteading and a Victory garden.  I have a small balcony, and it gets great morning sunlight for 5-6 hours a day.  I have been researching what I could grow both in my apartment and on my little balcony.  Florida summers are brutal for vegetables, but there are some things I can do.

I want to start slow and easy.  If we weren’t in a pandemic, I would be checking some Dollar Stores and Goodwill looking for cheap containers.  Gardening is never at the top of my list, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money until I figure out if I am willing to stick with it.

I would like to grow:  tomatoes (of course), both zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce, spinach.  I would love to eventually add cantaloupes, pineapple and strawberries.  I think I will start easy with lettuce and tomatoes for the summer.  Florida is a winter vegetable area, so if I am successful and motivated, I will add some more in August.  I am thinking about some vertical options to maximize my space.

Seeds might be a challenge.  Burpee is out of everything I want.  I might have to venture to Lowes or Home Depot.  My admin was telling me I can get tomatoes with fruit for $10.  Ugh, going to the store?  Really?  Stay tuned and I will let you know how I proceed.

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Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

Food Pics – Round 2

It’s Saturday, so I am back with another Food Pic post.  This week features hits and a fail.  One hit was making pickled onions.

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Pickled Onions

They are incredibly easy and add some crunch and zip to a meal.  Once again, my girl, Beth, over at Budget Bytes had a simple recipe that took me a few minutes to throw together.  I cooked my onions a little because I like them a little softened.

Then I had my fail.

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Looks are deceiving

 

This is a quinoa salad with roasted cauliflower and ground beef.  Both the cauliflower and ground beef had been cooked with taco seasoning,  I added some tomato, avocado and romaine lettuce for a packed bowl.  The dressing is a combination of salsa and Greek Yogurt.  The cornbread was made in a cast iron skillet.  Looks great, right?  Tastes fabulous.  So why the fail?

I have discovered that quinoa and I do not agree.  My stomach hurts so much about an hour after eating quinoa. Apparently this is a common side effect.  I don’t even know where I got my quinoa recipe (probably Budget Bytes, but this is not a negative reflection on Beth).  I do know I soaked the quinoa and that is suppose to help.  Nope, it didn’t.  It played havoc with my digestive system in other ways, but I will spare you details. I ate this several times before it dawned on me that the quinoa was the culprit.  Sometimes I can be a little dense.  Note to self:  no more quinoa.

However, it wasn’t a complete fail because the cornbread was fabulous.  The cast iron puts a nice crust on the bottom that is divine.  I found a recipe that uses Greek yogurt and I let the batter sit for at least 10-15 minutes to give it a chance to rise a little.  I have to cut the batch in half to freeze some immediately or else I keep noshing on it.

Anybody else have a problem with quinoa?  Now who will take the rest of my quinoa?  My poor tummy….

 

 

I’m Drunk

I came home from a boring, no-stress day and had not one but two strong cosmos. Why? Because I can. I’m now buzzed with a belly full of leftover Coconut Chicken Curry looking for more carbs and sugar. Yum!

Except that I’m a bit too buzzed and lazy to actually cook something. I’m thinking brownies with a cream cheese topping. Damn, that’s ambitious. Is there a mug cake that gets me there? Back to Pinterest.

I am going to pay for this…..

Changes Every Day

Things continue to change around here as everyone is trying to adapt to our new alternate reality.

One development this week is that my trash valet service is suspended.  I live in an apartment complex that charges a small fee for a third-party service  to pick up garbage from your doorstep five nights a week.

I am not surprised this stopped.  It is not safe for those guys to be hauling off everyone’s trash.  People around here are slobs though, so I anticipate a mess.  Now my neighbors will have to dump their own trash.  They can’t even dump their recycling correctly, so this is going to be awful.  The property management is already WFH, so I doubt how much they will be keeping an eye on things.  Anyway, now I have to schlep my own trash.  No big deal, but timing will be key.  I need to figure out when trash is picked up so I can go immediately afterwards.

Walmart is keeping me healthy by not giving me any chocolate.  My Walmart pickup this week was chock full of healthy veggies and nary a chocolate.  It was also full of coffee, so no matter what I will be caffeinated to the max.

I managed to pick up the rest of my stuff at Publix. I have not been inside a grocery store for about 4-5 weeks.  What a shocker.  Empty shelves, everyone wearing a mask and gloves (except me).  People social distancing.  Cashiers insisting people step back.  Wow.  It was surreal.  I got all the staples I was missing, so now I am good for about 30-40 days at least.  If I plan it, I could probably go up to 2 months with only minor sacrifices.

I think about Taz all the time.  I am so worried for her.  She has a paper bag to carry her used N95 mask home from work.  That tells you a lot.  Please pray for her and all the healthcare workers.  I don’t pray much, but these days God is hearing a lot more from me because prayer equals hope and we all need some hope these days.

General observations:  Harvey Weinstein has COVID, as I am sure you all know.  I immediately thought of him when I heard it was at Rikers.  Now he is in a prison in upstate New York.  He is in poor health already and his money can’t help him now.  Rand Paul, what a selfish douche.  He is a frigging doctor, so he knew the risks.  He is so arrogant that he swam, went to the gym, used the dining area, had meetings all while waiting for his test results. What a selfish, self-centered jerk.

I am a bit worried about my son.  He is a bit of a hermit by nature, so loneliness might hit him unexpectedly.  I need to keep checking on him.  One roommate has returned home, but he still has another.  He has been hit with quite a few major changes with school going online, his fellowship evaporating, his internship fading.  He will be OK, but I know right now it probably feels pretty scary.  I sent him some fruit – LOL.  My answer to everything is to send a gift because there really isn’t anything else I can do.

I have a call this week with my company’s prepaid legal services so I can get my Will and Living Will/Health Directive started.  I am overdue about getting that done.  Nothing like a pandemic to get your affairs in order.

The neighbors below me, a lovely young couple, had a knockdown, blow-out fight tonight.  I thought I might have to call the cops.  Furniture was being moved around, yelling, doors slamming.  Wow.  Stress is getting to everyone.  It is calm now, but wow.  I think we will all see a lot more of that.

Time for bed.  I need to continue thinking about my schedule and habits.  Time to get back to some more structure.  This new normal is going to be awful as South Florida approaches our surge.  April and May are suppose to be a shit show for sunny SFLA.  I am planning on being home and inside for the most part.  I don’t need to be any part of any drama.

In the meantime, enjoy “Let It Be” by the Beatles.  The link goes not only to the song, but a great write up about it.  Here is a quick excerpt:

On the face of it, “Let It Be” is just a shatteringly gorgeous song, an extended contented sigh about getting through a shitty life period and finding the acceptance that certain things are out of your hands. McCartney’s vocal is plaintive and simple, and his central melody is an all-timer. McCartney knew, of course, that most of the people hearing the song wouldn’t know it was about his mother. They’d hear the name “Mother Mary” as a religious reference, and McCartney steered into that.

Best wishes for your continued health and safety, Dear Readers.  My prayers for you and yours.

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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Happily Mundane

I wrote this last weekend, but forgot to post it so it’s a little out of chronological order. Whatever….it’s my blog 🙂

I was very quiet this weekend.  The apartment is sparkling clean, my laundry is put away along with the groceries.  I read a little, watched a little TV, ran my 30 minute 5K training run on Saturday, took a walk on Sunday, got my final haircut and color done, did my Census questionnaire and a few other mundane tasks.  I didn’t meal prep.  I just didn’t feel like it. I didn’t listen to the news or radio.  I kept things very quiet — almost eerily quiet, but I enjoyed it.

I will have to make some bread because I can’t buy any for the life of me.  I refuse to go inside a store and Walmart doesn’t have my Ezkiel bread that I prefer.  It is always out when I order it.  Sigh.  I have some tortillas, Texas Toast and a few frozen biscuits, so it’s not like I will go into “bad carb” withdrawal.  I am just having a minor jonesing for some PB&J.

I want to keep on my 5K training because I am on Week 9 or 10, so I want to finish the dang thing to prove I can do this.  My plan is to run a 5K on the day of or the weekend around when the 5K was originally scheduled to celebrate this accomplishment.

I fret a little about running out of certain staples of food, but that is the overbuyer in me.  I simply need to relax.  I will not starve.  Groceries are available.  I guess it is something I feel I have some control over, so my overbuying tendency is popping out all over.  I have been spending more $$ than usual including a very large tip to my hairstylist since the salon will be closing soon due to the non-essential business closures.  I bought nice citrus for the family to brighten their day.  I need to step away from the online shopping carts – LOL.

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Spring is Here!  Photo by Freddy Marschall on Unsplash

 

The Ocean

Hello Dear Readers, I am on a COVID roll.  Govern yourself accordingly.  If you aren’t in the mood and want to escape again, try these bloopers from my favorite show, The Big Bang Theory.

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We cannot control the ocean.  I was thinking about the ocean during my day at the beach.  It is incredibly deep, massive, ever-changing and always in motion.  The winds, the moon, the sun may influence it, but the ocean remains itself.

Man can only adapt his behaviors and responses to the ocean.  We cannot control it.  We can sail on top of it, dive beneath it, build some seawalls, but we will never control it or contain it.

We have to change.  We have to create ways to cope with the ocean.  It is massive, mysterious, beautiful and wild.

COVID-19 will eventually be contained, but until then we have to adapt to it.  Modify our behaviors so we can get ahead of it.  If it was like the ocean, we would be SOL now wouldn’t we?  This is where Karma has blessed us.  The herd will survive.  Long live the herd.

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Photo by Jorge Tung on Unsplash

Ramblings of an Anxious Mind

This post is about COVID and my anxiety about it.  If this is a trigger for your own anxiety, please do not continue reading.  Click here for a funny animal video instead.

The anxiety has been weighing on me for weeks.  The past two weeks it has been picking up.  Last weekend I went to the beach.  A beautiful, quiet beach I had never visited.  I brought pen and paper so I could release the anxiety.  Since I cannot control the worldwide and local chaos around me, what can I control? I can control my activities, my rest, my exercise, my food and hopefully my mindset.

I am prepared.  I have toilet paper!  I bought a bunch weeks ago along with a large bottle of Tylenol, a thermometer, Gator-aid and chicken soup in case I get sick.  I have plenty of food and added a bit more using Walmart’s pickup service.  I even have some wipes, hand sanitizer and the ingredients for DIY hand sanitizer.

As I journaled, I realized that Karma sent me to my new home and new job to put me in a safe harbor to weather this storm.  I have good health insurance.  I just got my physical and routine blood work so I have a primary care doctor inside a large healthcare network. Hopefully that will count for something.  I am signed up with Teladoc if it comes to that.  There isn’t much more preparation I can do at this point for healthcare. I need to make a will and healthcare directive though.  I will tackle that next. Legal services are another benefit perk from my job.

The day before I went to the beautiful beach, it hit me.  Loved Ones.  We are all going to lose friends and loved ones.  It’s inevitable due to simple statistics.  Who will it be?  My 83-year-old father?  The Hunter’s father who is in poor health?  My daughter on the front lines of NYC hospitals?  The Hunter who smokes?  My Ex who has CPOD and smokes? My estranged brother who just turned 60? What friends will be lost?  I have a dear friend who has pulmonary issues.  Who at work will be stricken?  When will I get sick?  How sick will I be?

Let’s face it.  The odds of us getting this are great.  My goal is to either hopefully get a mild case or pray for a flattened curve so healthcare is available.  Can I avoid it until a vaccine or treatment are figured out?  That’s my goal.

And let me continue my panicky thought pattern because I need to release it all to keep it from fermenting inside me.  What about the economy?  My 401k looks horrific.  I actually peeked while I adjusted future investments.  Ugh.  I just have to ride the rollercoaster.  The big question is do I have enough time to regain the losses?

Besides retirement, what about jobs?  Oh dear Lord, we are going to have a nasty recession.  Restaurants — gone.  Attractions, movies, stores — gone.  Hotels, cruises, airlines, travel — gone.

When I say gone, I mean hammered so hard that massive layoffs and re-structuring are inevitable no matter what type of government bail-out is offered.  Student loans and the shittiness of those personal loans will rot and the financial markets will have to come to terms with the shit they have dished out to Americans just like they had to do with their shitty mortgages.

We are facing a massive reset.  Fascinating how young people are relatively unaffected by this virus.  Now information is surfacing that might not be the case, but for the most part they are more resilient than older people.  Older people who have been in power both in the economy and government.  Civilization will be re-structured with younger people stepping in to replace an entire generation in these leadership roles.

I do not think I am exaggerating.  I wanted to write this out so I can re-visit this post in a year and five years.  None of us have ever lived through something like this.  Hopefully we all make it to the other side.  Hopefully the world is a better place from the very hard lessons we will be learning.

We cannot bury our heads in the sand, only our toes as we try to regain balance with a day at the beach.  Preferably a deserted beach with plenty of social distancing….

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Not my toes…..  Photo by Claudia van Zyl on Unsplash

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