Thursday, December 31, 2020

Thursday Thoughts - we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne

1. Nine and a half  months of a global pandemic is not stopping me from pulling a Top Nine on Instagram. We’ve got Philly delivering for Biden - it says Philadelphia, PA. In the Democracy business since 1776, RBG dying, my I'm coming out of quarantine things I want to remember post, comparison of the Dad from Teen Wolf and MFD, my 43rd birthday (wearing a RBG shirt because we are birthday twins) visiting Aunt Carrie & Uncle Jim in FL, a recent winter sunset here, the front photo of Mae in the pink princess bed (a click through series), Bruce & Gus asleep at the lake, and MFD's birthday

2. So...big New Year's Eve plans? Just kidding. I actually do have big NYE plans. Like Christmas Eve, this is typically one of my favorite days of the year. I'm going to go about my business making sure I enjoy today even though there's no hustle to get read for New Year's Day and all that jazz. I hope you enjoy it too. I ordered dinner from a small local restaurant. I already painted my nails this morning. I'm going to take a long walk on the beach. We are going to pick a show to watch and probably play rummy 500. It's going to be a good day.

3. I like to end the year with donations outside of my standard monthly donations (Planned Parenthood ever since I could afford to donate anything to anyone and Philly Bail Fund) to feel like I’m leaving the year on a good note. I did that last night. It was hard to choose where to donate this year since so many people are in need and the government is full of fucking assholes who don't give a shit about the people and left them to flail through a global pandemic. SHAME. Since I put money from sponsored posts to charitable donations, I upped my acceptance of sponsored posts through the fall to be able to give more than normal and spread donations. Thanks to all who read or clicked on links in those posts! And extra thanks to organizations out there who expanded services to be able to provide additional support in a pandemic. This year I kept it mostly local to Philly and gave to Covenant House , Broad Street Ministry , Mighty WritersPFLAGThe Amistad Law Project , Juntos, and Women’s Way. If you have anything to spare and can give to anyone doing additional COVID relief work or rent relief/feeding people, please consider doing so. 

4. I’ve been threatening to get crocs house shoes  (I have their flip flops, I mean like ugly crocs crocs) because I have killed my feet wearing super cute Sanuk house shoes with jack shit for support both in the house and around the corner for dog walks multiple times a day. My beach boots are not super supportive either. My one heel feels freaking fractured right now I swear. It’s touch and go. I am headed to a small local shoe store that has a lot of comfortable (ugly?) shoes today. We’ll see. 

5. I’ve been making big ass salads this week and I feel extremely virtuous. I also made copycat CFA nuggets in the air fryer last night that Gail shared from Damn Delicious with minor modifications. They were good. I put a food highlight on Instagram for me to refer back to (I don't think other people use highlights, do they?) so I will hopefully do more food-ing.

6. Walks this week.

7. I’ve read two books this week, the first two in the Shana Merchant series by Tess Wegert. I think it’s finally time to write a good list of my preferred female detective series books. Did you check out the Favorite Reads linkup? If you're looking for a book I know you'll find one there. 

8. Big fans of this soda here. 

9. Reminder as we pass through the calendar end of a difficult year and head into one that will also be hard at least for a while in many ways for many people 

10. E-cards: All of us talking to this year on the phone. Bye, now. Bye.

Happy last day of 2020. It's been a ride. Onward, together, yes?

What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to when I'm starting this - this week is Auld Lang Syne - this version is from The Choral Scholars of University College Dublin

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

525,600 Minutes - How do you measure a year?

This is not my typical reflection on the year post. 

There’s no way in hell I could or would do that this year. I'm not feeling reflective.

As we crawl toward the calendar end of 2020, the only things that matter to me are we both remained healthy, we had food on the table, we lost income but kept our jobs and both houses, MFD's sobriety is intact, and we are lucky as fuck compared to who and what others have lost and what others have been through this year. I'm writing this from a place of immense privilege, like I write everything. I know where I sit. Friends and family who had Covid are still with us, those who have lost jobs and income are still hanging on. This has not been the hardest year of my life by far. I've had more personally devastating years. This year the aggregate pain of the world is an enduring pressure squeezing all the air out of the room and you can't be human and not feel that. 

Our collective personal lives have been drowned in the tsunami of a global pandemic, political theater, and social unrest. It's hard to feel anything matters beyond the very big national and global shit swirling around us, the reality of people dying around us, the disbelief of others that that dying is even happening, and individuals and small businesses suffering financially while billionaires get more billionaire-y when we have the economic ability to remove that suffering. It's a lot to process. It takes up a lot of space in my brain and my heart. 

But we beat on, boats against the current in our individual lives. Things have not stopped happening to and for us in the good or bad sense. Since 2011 I've kept this blog as a marker for myself, a journal of my life. In recent weeks I've found I have forgotten major things that happened in my life this year. Like our house in Philly being in the path of a tornado slipped my mind. I am also frequently surprised to find my mother-in-law is no longer alive. I see a photo of MFD and I in a fucking commercial that was on TV all over the place in an hour and a half radius when he was running for office and I feel like I walked in on Bobby Ewing who I thought was dead in the shower on Dallas. Did all of that happen? 

It did. It all happened. 

These are big life events in my life, and they've gotten lost this year. Writing is a big part of processing for me, and since creativity, focus, and writing took a pandemic hit, here we are. This is a list to remind me of what happened in my life in a year that is blurred at the edges and raw in so many places. There are some things on here from before the pandemic (March 16 is my Pandemic Date, what's yours?) that I forgot about completely. This list is also not complete. It's hard for me too look too closely at things after March. So if you're reading this, this is the skim. 

-My mother-in-law died in April after a terrible battle with cancer. The 10 person funeral we had is like a beyond bizarre dream sequence from Twin Peaks. No typical large funeral or lunch. No internment. It still does not feel real. 

-We lost other friends and family members and did not attend their funerals. As an example, we lost Aunt Clara on MFD's side, and she was just the literal best. It hurt not to be able to attend services for her like I know it hurt people to not be able to be there for MFD and his siblings and honor his mom. The loss of people outside of Covid and the inability to gather in the typical ways that become touchstones to that person's physical parting is one of the things that will stick with me the most. It's like people have just disappeared and it feels awful. 

-I did not once this after shit fell apart in March fall back into a bad old habit I have always fallen back into: smoking. Stress smoking, comfort smoking, social smoking...none of it, not once. 

-I lived at the shore from May through...well, I'm still here. 

-I went to the beach pretty much every day. I probably missed 10 days since May

-I have never collected so many amazing treasures from the sea

-Living mostly in an efficiency apartment showed me how much I keep that I do not use or need

-I worked from home from March 16 on

-I ate outside at a restaurant once since March 17 and inside zero times. I’ve never gotten so much takeout in my life

-MFD got on the ticket in a write in and ran for office, and got a lot of support and press. My house was a campaign office from the summer on. My neighbor let her sister use her house to stalk us and film us and put our private everyday living business on the internet and now is unsure why we are not feeling neighborly toward her. There were racist incidents PLURAL on my street with Black and brown campaign folks including a major incident at my polling station on Election Day. People continue to disgust and disappoint me. 

-MFD was shut down work-wise for a time by order of the governor and threw all of his energy into getting food to people in our community and his larger recovery community who were struggling. 

-He also started classes to add Certified Recovery Specialist to his skill set. 

-Our house in Philly was in the path of a tornado in early August. No one was hurt but the roof had to be replaced and most of my beloved tree removed. The skylight, window panes, and fence still need addressing. 

-Philly house, mostly before the pandemic hit: MFD redid the entry floor in Philly with floorpops. Vincent painted the spare room in the basement in BEHR Cherubic in preparation for my mother-in-law moving in which obviously never happened, MFD painted the dining room (gray, I can't find the color right now) and I painted some of its furniture, we replaced the dining room table with one on clearance from Pier 1, main level floors got refinished for a fucking steal from a local neighborhood team, and the kitchen cabinets got painted. Some of this stuff  like the entry and floor refinishing we’ve been talking about doing for 10 years.

-Shore house: In February the small full bathroom in the upstairs of the shore house got a new sink and the big full bathroom got a new vanity/sink and shower pan (the old one was cracked and miraculously held through summer 2018) and we finally bought a new sectional couch for our shore apartment (in February, it would not make it there for quite a number of months due to the pandemic). We took the next steps in the year round plan at the shore: had baseboards installed in the bathrooms and started window replacement, which was supposed to start in the spring but we did not push the button on that because of income loss. Since you go under if you get too far behind on scheduled maintenance and you don’t have contractors available at the ready, we ended up putting the deposit down in the fall but the fucking windows are still not in yet. We also got rid of one of two remaining mattresses from when we bought the shore house (full bed), moved some beds around, and added a king. Also got rid of an old dresser and replaced it with one my Dad & Carol were getting rid of. I also got rid of Comcast cable.

-Mice. I fucking dealt with mice. A lot of mice. I became obsessed with their deaths

-I’m not doing world events but man losing RBG fucking hurt. A personal hero and birthday twin. So many times this year kicked us when we were down. This was one of those times for me.

-In addition to property manager and admin for the shore rental, I became a Covid counselor. I never imagined people would want to get so deep and emotionally bond with me as I was returning their money to them over and over and over. I rebooked one week this summer five times. I am almost unable to start for 2021. I have contracts unwritten all over the place.

-An impromptu trip up and back to North Jersey in January just to see Laura and have lunch, a weekend trip to Boston to visit Kim and Steve and Libby, a long weekend trip to Florida to visit Aunt Carrie and Uncle Jim in their happy place and saw my college roommate for the first time in many years while I was down there. I also spent time at Lori's lake house while tornadoville was happening in Philly. 

-We saw Aunt Mary Pat at the Ferko Clubhouse for a fundraiser. Harriett's Bookshop opened at the beginning of February and we were there for it.

-My dogs got a pink princess bed and I took 230984834 photos of them in it, I started Year of the Dip and let it mostly die on the vine after March 16, I was working 12 hour days and most weekends through most of January and February and it was killing me

-The love of reading, writing, cooking, dulled. Focus dulled. Creativity dulled. Exhaustion. Brain fried. Inability to concentrate. Forgetful. I’ve never spontaneously cried so many times in my life about things not personally related to me

-I started watching TV and movies again

-I talked out loud to the camera a lot purposefully and put it on Instagram. Lunch time check ins. 

-I lost friends because I did not choose whiteness over everything else 

-Due to shore house cancellations/WFH for all/covid protocol agreements, I spent more time with my niece and nephew this year than I ever have and it was really great. Truly one of the brightest spots, and time with them and my brother and Aubrey and parents are the only times I felt remotely normal all year. Thanks to the shore house which allows people to stay separate from us and the great outdoors I also got to see people in person throughout the year: Kim and Steve and Libby, Laura and Chris and MBD and the boys, Melissa and Jim and Zach and Zo, Debbie, Michelle and Amelia, Amanda and Frank and Eva who I saw the most and also made me feel like things were going to be okay. Outdoor gatherings forever. 

-Labor Day old school driveway party if we can consider under 10 a party. For the purposes of this year, we can and will. 

-Excellent text chains with my people

-So many fucking walks. So so so so many. Not many sunrises. Lots of sunsets. More soda than I've drank in years. More Snickers ice cream bars than I've ever eaten in my life. 

There is no putting a shine on this turd of a year and I'm not looking to paper the walls with silver lining. I think a lot about what the enduring effects of this year will be on my mindset. Were there unexpected side effects that turned out to be good or in my favor? Yes. Am I glad 2020 is over? Yes. But things are not going to magically change at the stroke of midnight. 

I'm prepared for that.

2021 is still going to be hard. 

Gratitude is not hard. I didn't accomplish much or set the world on fire and I cannot stress enough how little I care about that. I’m just thankful I held on through this year when my mental state took a huge hit, that I still have a job, that my husband picked up my slack and also helped guide me through when I’m usually the guider. I’m grateful for everyone and everything that kept me afloat. 

Hope is not hard. I am hoping for a better year for all of us. I’m hoping we remain healthy and careful until it’s time for vaccinations for regular people. I’m hoping we drop the fucking conspiracy theories across the board because they are fucking maddening and so tiring in an already exhausting world. I'm hoping our government starts governing for the people and that we hold their feet to the fire to do so. I'm hoping we do the hard work in confronting white supremacy in ourselves and in all spaces we find ourselves in to make this world livable for marginalized people. I'm hoping each of us individually finds it within ourselves to make sure that if things are good for us, we don't stop there but make sure they are also good for our neighbors (unless they stalk you, then fuck those people). I'm hoping we give each other grace as we navigate our way out of this pandemic and grapple with all the changes that have occurred in such a short time and all the inequities that have truly been laid bare for all to see - if we ignore them now it will be at our own peril. I'm hoping we take the good things we painstakingly extracted from this insane year and usher them forward, creating space for them. I'm hoping we leave old ways that were hurting us as people and as a society in the past. 

For 2021 I don’t have a word of the year or an agenda or goals beyond survival, health, rest, work/life boundaries, and hydration...but I do have a commitment to do my part to make the world I want to live in come to fruition. And hope. I have hope.

I’m hoping. I’m hoping. I hope you will too. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Show Us Your Books: 15 Favorite Reads of 2020

Welcome to favorite reads of 2020! This linkup is a favorite every year. I definitely pick up about five books I missed throughout the year or that didn’t sound good to me the first time someone mentioned them lol. So make sure you read through everyone’s lists! 

I’ve written ad nauseam at this point  about how different this year was for me in regards to reading - how I lost the ability to lose myself in a book for much of a year due to lack of focus, how what held my attention was so different than it would be in other years. I just want to crawl out of this year and into the next, with the full knowledge that very little will change at the turn of the year, like any other year. But I have hope that I will consistently sink into books again without having to have the exact right chemistry of mood, world temperature of the day, a consistent return of focus, and the right book to capture my attention. 

You can see my favorite reads of 2019 here. In the numbers compared to other years- I am at 112 books read (will probably add another). 163 around this time in 2019, 137 in 2018, 157 in 2017, 124 in 2016, and 104 in 2015. Even though it seems like it, I’m not far off of what I usually read some years. The feeling of it is hugely different most of the time and the number of books is arbitrary and not important to me. The ease of getting lost in a book is and I want it back. As a matter of housekeeping the next regular Show Us Your Books linkup is Tuesday, January 12, 2021. 

I'm surprised to reach the end of this year and find I had more than three favorite reads. That's the kind of year it was. Would all of these have made the list in other, regular years? Probably not. I did not include some excellent books that I read this year - books that I recognize as important (Hood Feminism or Untamed) or truly well done (Valentine, Blacktop Wasteland), but were unable to capture me completely. I had to truly sink into the book and forget about the world for it to appear on this list this year. I applied those parameters to books I read before March 16 too. In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2020:

Long Bright River by Liz Moore - A contemporary book set in Philly, a mystery with female leads, the opioid crisis which is an every day conversation in our house, and the author uses the title of the book in the first 40 pages? How could I not love this. I was sucked in and couldn't put it down. This is my favorite read of the year.       

Writers & Lovers by Lily King - This is a writer’s book and a reader’s book, a little raw, a little 70s (though not set there), a little throwbackish, a little meandering, and I loved it. 

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker - I'm not a romancey person, but I am an Alaska person, despite having never been there. I really enjoyed this book after the main character got over her Schitts Creek early Alexis self. 

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson - Everything you think you know or believe about the justice system and race and the death penalty, set it down outside of yourself and read this. It's not preachy or overly technical, it's just showing us the workings of the systemic machine and the human beings in it. My heart is in my throat when I even think about this book. 

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben - How do I love Harlan Coben, let me count the ways. One, I can absolutely always sink into one of his books, global pandemic be damned. Two, his characters make appearances in other books. Hester Crimstein here. Love love love.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett - The writing was excellent as was the story. Bennett is on my must read list. She wrote something on the bathroom wall? Move over, let me read it.  

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper - This was excellent. Fucked up and excellent.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand - I am not an Elin groupie but man I loved this book. I read it in 24 hours and the end had my throat working like crazy.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown - I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn't know much about it, it was one I bought early on in quarantine to reach the ships with $35 orders threshold for some food items I couldn't find in any stores from Target online. I really liked it. I was sucked in, the pace was great, and the story was good. 

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson - I loved this book. As an adult reading this YA novel, I liked thinking about how we set up mentorships that maybe don't always give mentees what they actually want or need. 

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight - This is all over the place for a reason. I know a lot of people are out there pooh poohing this like the expectation is that it is Shakespeare when it clearly is not, nor is it meant to be. What it is is quick and interesting. Quick and interesting are my gold standard this year. 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley - This is a good example of this year's favorite reads being what keep me reading through and despite. Lucy Foley's books are problematic in many ways but they are absolutely readable for me even as the world burns around me. 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi - Gyasi's Homegoing has sat in my stomach like a stone since I read it in 2017. Her writing is superb, and the complete difference in this book and that is a mark of that. Fans of Homegoing, do not expect another one of those. This is a good book in its own right, and the writing on addiction from a family member is spot on. 

The Searcher by Tana French - This took me a while to read, all of her books do, but I loved it. It's probably my second favorite of hers aside from the first book in the Dublin Murder series. 

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain - This is probably the novel that cements me as a Paula McLain fangirl. It is different than what I've read from her previously but I loved it straight out. It's a mystery/thriller, but the writing was wonderful, almost lyrical in spots, which is not always the case in mystery/thrillers as those of use who read a lot of them know. Free advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review - book publishes April 13, 2021

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Monday, December 28, 2020

TWTW - the one with the Christmas

Friday was The Christmas coming off a night of extremely fragmented sleep thanks to a Christmas Eve rain and wind storm. We had water coming in the front door, water on the second floor through siding somewhere, and flashing lost on the back of the house. I was happy to wake up to no more of it. I walked Bruce and Ben and went to the beach to wish the ocean Merry Christmas before coming back to make breakfast, did a Christmas Friday Five blog post, and sat around with Debbie watching A Christmas Story. 

MFD arrived around 11. We opened gifts - old people gifts like a bidet for MFD and a neck pillow for me - and watched more ACS. I put dinner in the oven around 2 (eye round), Debbie made the eggs, and we were eating by 4 like the seniors we are. 
But it meant I could make the sunset with Bruce. He misses going out with me alone as my sidekick dog. 
Christmas night was Christmas Vacation twice in a row, family zoom with MFD's fam, and Gremlins. Which I don't think I've ever watched all the way through and can I say the Gremlins are gross like messy gross and totally rude? I started a new book too. 

Saturday was pretty cold and pretty lax. I did some blogging in the morning, and bought wreaths for outside on clearance for next year. Then I cleared out Christmas. I took Bruce on a sunset walk. 
Throughout the day I read and we watched Murder on the Bayou, two indie movies: The Week End and The Festival, I, Tonya, and Vice. The sum of these few days is more TV than I've watched in months. 

Sunday Since we were up late watching Vice, I was slow to get going in the morning. I started a new book. Debbie left around 11:30. I went to get some groceries. MFD and I took the dogs shelling in the south end. I napped and walked to my corner store for rolls. More reading. I ate a salad which tasted amazing after all the cookies. It was a good and relaxing day. 

Not unlike other years, I am happiest when Christmas is over and decorations are stowed away. Even when they were minimal in the first place like they were this year.

Tomorrow is Show Us Your Books: Favorite Reads of 2020. See you here for that! 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

5 Ways to Avoid Getting the Winter Blues

This is a guest post by Maggie Hammond. Proud mama to two little people, and has one too many furry friends. Passionate about alternative medicine, the great outdoors and animal welfare.

Now that winter is fully upon us, it’s easy to get down about it. If you’re not a fan of snowy footpaths, ice on the roads, and darkness descending earlier than ever, then the winter blues may become your reality. Don’t let winter suck you in! Here are 5 ways to avoid getting down this time of year. 

1. Get Extra Vitamin D
When you’re not spending much time outside, the body isn’t getting its regular dose of vitamin D. Even when taking a daily multi-vitamin, it may be insufficient to make up for what’s being lost by spending extra time indoors where it’s warm. A vitamin D supplement might be helpful to fight off low feelings caused by limited exposure to the sun. 

2. Stay Out of the Darkness and Embrace the Light
While switching off the lights in unused rooms is generally a good idea, it can make a large home feel cold, dark, and empty in the winter. It’s bad enough that it gets dark so early now that there’s little natural light to enjoy for long. 

Don’t make your home feel isolated and lacking in sufficient light. Instead, embrace the light by purposely turning them on in the hallway, landings, and other general areas to make the place feel lived in. And if you don’t have enough lamps and other assorted light sources already, find some more here:

3. Go for Walks
It’s important to embrace nature and get outside for regular walks. Yes, we know it’s chilly! So, wrap up warm. Take a scarf and a pair of gloves too. The sights, scents, and nature are life-affirming. Enjoy being outdoors and soak it all in.

4. Listen or Watch Something Uplifting
To lift yourself out of the blues on days that they seem unshakeable, listen or watch something uplifting. Save that favorite movie or treasured audiobook for days when you require a pick-me-up. If you don’t have anything new to watch or listen to, then return to some old favorites that always bring a smile to your face or easy laughter.
Comedies, romantic comedies, or something similarly light-hearted can elevate the spirits rather than a crime drama or something else that’s too serious. 

5. Reconnect with Old Friends
When you have extra time available, it’s great to reconnect with an old friend with whom you’ve fallen out of touch. They’ll be pleased to hear from you and probably were already thinking about sending a message but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. 

Also, deepen the bonds with regular friends too. Get in touch and focus on things that are going on with them, rather than only being eager to share about your life. Spread the love and be open to what’s new; they will appreciate it. 

While the seasons can and do affect our moods and outlook on life, don’t let them control you. Rather than accepting that it’s a gloomy season and surrendering the high ground, make strides to actively improve your mood by sheer force of will. Not doing so means you risk getting dragged down by others who aren’t being proactive about it. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Friday Five 12.25.2020

Merry Christmas! I've got some time this morning. Debbie and I are here with Bruce and Ben waiting for MFD and the old dogs to arrive and for Mimi's bacon breakfast muffins to cook - a holiday staple in our house. I love when a friend's recipes/traditions integrate into my life like that. 

1. There were four beach trees in Ocean City this year. This is the 37th Street tree, which I went to see yesterday. I also tried to see the 55th Street tree but it was already gone. Three out of four isn't bad. I absolutely love that people do this. It was a huge bright spot for me this year. 

2. Christmas nails are sugarplum-ish? By the time 12/24 comes I am so damn sick of red and green. The sugarplum color is Essie without reservations and the metallic is OPI Made it to the Seventh Hill!

3. Due to the horrible overnight weather, MFD stayed in Philly to get to his 3:30 am Code Blue shift he does every Christmas Eve at the homeless shelter. He was going to go back and forth from the shore but the storm had us change those plans. We facetimed a few times including to listen to Fairytale of New York together, which we are usually screaming out in the car around 8 pm every Christmas Eve night. This is the first Christmas Eve we've spent apart in probably 18 years? We had water come in in Philly and at the shore and some flashing gone at the shore but otherwise weathered it fine. I'm sorry for all of those without power this Christmas morning. It's like the shit icing atop the urinal cake that is 2020. 

4. Last minute change of menu for Christmas Eve - snacks only. Debbie and I picked, drank wine, and watched The Moody Christmas (good) and A Christmas Story. And were up much of the night with the storm. Naps all around today.

5. Communed with a riled up ocean this morning. I will not be here for Christmas in its entirety again for quite a long time, certainly not on Christmas morning to be able to go down to the beach alone to converse with the universe. In a year of tremendous loss for so many in so many areas, I am so thankful I have everything I need and more both within myself and in my life to make it comfortable. 

Wishing you a happy and healthy Christmas. If you are scrolling through happy, bountiful photos today and you are not there emotionally, mentally, emotionally, financially, physically, any way...I’m holding space for you. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

How to Protect You and Your Home Against COVID-19 this Christmas

This is a guest post by Maggie Hammond. Proud mama to two little people, and has one too many furry friends. Passionate about alternative medicine, the great outdoors and animal welfare.

2020 has been one of the strangest years on record. Since the start of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the talking point of the nation and world, with infection rates currently standing at 76.4 million worldwide, and 1.69 million deaths.

As a homeowner, it’s your duty and responsibility to keep yourself and those who live with you safe and protected against the virus. And with the festive season now in full swing, keeping you and your loved ones out of harm's way is more important than ever. So, here are some strategies on how to protect you and your property against the coronavirus.

Wash Your Hands Regularly

Whether you’re tasked with cooking Christmas dinner or washing the dishes afterwards, you need to get into the routine of regularly washing your hands with soap and water. All kinds of germs and bacteria can accumulate on your hands, which is why washing your hands is a must for preventing infections and viruses like COVID-19. You can go one step further and sanitize your hands, especially if you have been outside and in public. 

Disinfect Surfaces

There are many frequently touched surfaces that you and your loved ones will touch on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s a kitchen cabinet, door handle, or toilet flush, you must get into the routine of disinfecting surfaces frequently throughout the day. This is a good habit to have outside of Covid, of course. There are disinfectant sprays you can buy from that will keep your home and surfaces free from COVID-19. Clean surfaces prevent the spread of germs and bacteria period, so they're never a bad thing. 

Shop Safe

Instead of braving the supermarkets to stock up on the essentials and treats for Christmas, why not shop online instead? Even if you are taking extra precautions when in the supermarket, the easiest way to avoid the risk of COVID-19 in general is curbside pickup or grocery delivery. The more we can stay out of the stores, the better.

Open Windows

If family members are coming to your house for Christmas dinner, you need to take extra precautions. As you will be spending time in an enclosed space with people outside your household, doing what you can to ventilate your space is key for preventing transmission of COVID-19. Should a member of your party have the virus without knowing, opening your windows, washing your hands, and keeping a reasonable distance will reduce the risk of getting the coronavirus. 

Lay Down Rules

While most family members will be aware of what action to take to stop the spread of COVID-19, and most will be staying at home, you may need to lay down some house rules before welcoming guests in if you have agreed upon a small gathering. Whether it’s taking shoes off at the front door or using a hand sanitizer before coming in, there are several things your loved ones can do to help slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Although we find ourselves in unprecedented times, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19. Following the advice above and putting it into practice will significantly reduce the danger of catching and spreading the coronavirus. 

Thursday Thoughts - Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas but I think, I'll miss this one this year

1. The week has arrived. Tuesday I started listening to Christmas music. None of this months long Christmas jingle jangle up in here. If that's your bag, good for you, not for me. My favorites are Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly, Fairtytale of New York by The Pogues, Last Christmas by Wham!, Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah, 2000 Miles by The Pretenders, and River by Joni Mitchell. I am the emo doomsday Christmas song lover for the most part. 

2. I fucked my list a little this year, had the addresses printed for the most part unless I knew someone moved, and I don't know who got cards and who didn't. Merry merry to all. I have high hopes for a better year to come. 

3. Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days. I'm really missing my traditions today but will make the best of it. Debbie is joining us for a few days. I was supposed to do two curbside pickups but one (bakery) cancelled because the owner got Covid. I ended Up staying in Philly last night so cancelled the second myself. I’ll wing it like I’ve done the rest of the freaking year. We'll relax and I will definitely enjoy not having to go anywhere. We'll have a zoom with some friends we normally see today. Zooming with MFD's siblings tomorrow. We did present drops to Mom and Rich, Dad and Carol, and nieces and nephews earlier this week. MFD is still doing his Code Blue overnight at the homeless shelter like he does every Christmas Eve, which he was going to do back and forth from the shore but fucking of course there is a crazy wind and rain weather event tonight. Why wouldn’t there be? So he is working today and will be down tomorrow morning with the old dogs. With this the first year both of his parents are not here for Christmas, we’re just trying to get through it. Nothing looks the same on any front. 

4. A favorite color combo: green and purple. 

5. Monday the freaking roof finally got replaced in Philly after being tarped for months in the wake of the Tornado Incident of August 2020. We still have window panes and fence issues to address. Our kitchen cabinets are also done being painted. We need to find a new backsplash next. And someone who does small jobs, is reliable and not outrageously priced, and will install it. Who do you know? I want to do this asap because MFD has hated it since it was installed over eight years ago and I'm afraid he's going to just rip it off with no replacement plan. That's how we do things LOL. I don't have appropriate before photos since I wasn't here, so mine are of the kitchen in the middle of food prepping. 

6.  It's a Christmas miracle at the shore, a little delayed like everything else. The windows that were planned and budgeted for the spring but put off because of 2020 and finally purchased September 21 are being installed at the shore this week. And only a zillion more windows to go. We're doing them in increments. The exterior doors absolutely had to be replaced this year, and they are all long lead time like the windows but we're hoping two of three exterior doors and two of two storm doors are installed the first week of the year. Next year's big project is examining structural issues on a 120 year old house on a constantly shifting barrier island, which we start addressing in January.

7. Some covers that caught my eye at my local indie in Ocean City - Sun Rose Words & Music

8. Bruce would like to remind you that Show Us Your Books Favorite Reads of 2020 is Tuesday. Every time I type that somewhere I fuck up the year. I have typed 2019 and 2018 in different places. Jesus take the wheel. 

9. Reminder: you've done enough just getting through this year. I hope everyone can rest some this week outside of work if you're working or any time if you're not.

10. E-cards: 
 Merry Christmas Eve, everyone. If you are feeling some sort of way, know you are not alone.

What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to when I'm starting this - this week is Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses - the opening riff is awesome and I just love the whole thing and always have 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Airing of Grievances 2020

Happy Festivus, my friends! A Festivus for the rest of us!

Absolutely zero 2020/serious shit will appear in this Airing of Grievances. Just assume inequity, racism across all systems as well as interpersonal, misogyny, white fragility, patriarchy, Covid and all of the grief and pain and all types of loss that comes with it, the federal govt mishandling of Covid at every single turn, Covid deniers, science deniers, conspiracy theorists, climate crisis, all senate republicans, some senate democrats, trump and his entire grifter family, public and government corruption, said government asleep at the wheel on the opioid crisis, the constant dismissal of mental health and substance use disorder issues and the shaft they get, the criminalization of poverty, the school to for-profit prison pipeline, capitalism killing us, lying liars who lie, argumentative and hypocritical assholes, and straight up motherfuckers are implied, ALWAYS, until they are corrected and fall off. 

This year has been a thing for this world and I don’t need to list any additional world or personal trauma to drive that point home. Yesterday I was adding a new IG story highlight, the second one devoted entirely to my dogs, and came across a tree hitting my house in the beginning of August from a tornado. Like...I forgot about a tree falling on my fucking house while my husband and dogs were inside, necessitating many repairs and rocking my neighborhood, where we do not get fucking tornados. And when I saw the reminder of it I felt no adverse reaction. I had no reaction period. Like I was looking at an okay picture of a flower. This year has done a number on me and I'm ready for this long holiday break. 
That’s the kind of year it’s been. We are all the dog sitting in the room on fire sipping coffee and saying it’s fine. So gather 'round the aluminum pole and remember we’re keeping the annoyances on this list petty as fuck this year. 

-crumbs on the counter. Do you not see them. Or what.
-dog hair stuck in couch cushions
-policing bad language. Fuck off out of here 
-people congregating at entrance and egress points - doors, tops of steps, bottoms of steps, etc. - this bothers me so much that it still makes the list in a year where I have congregated with no one and also seen no one else congregating at these points
-mealy apples
-shower curtains left open
-when I am too lazy to get something that’s upstairs
-my phone randomly capitalizing words or changing words that are typed correctly into other words. Fuck you phone!
-the political signs that are still in my fucking basement and the election shit that's still in my house on all levels
-when the washing machine is unbalanced
-loud cars and people who rev engines in residential neighborhoods
-food waste
-when things fall down the side of the car seat 
-losing sunglasses
-having to repeat myself. I respond like Uncle Louis in Christmas Vacation. THE.BLESSS ING.
-uncomfortable shoes, which is pretty much all of them after 10 months of being barefoot
-having every size battery except the size I need at the moment 
-hair washing days
-weak coffee 
-the grody insides of recycle bins 

Now you go. 
Then Feats of Strength. Until you pin me, Festivus is not over. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Things that can stay, things that can go, and things I hope outlast the pandemic

On the day of the Winter Solstice, I write down a list of the things that I do not want to bring forward with me. Winter is a time to dig deep, reset. When my list is complete, I bury it. I also write a list of things I want to manifest. When it's done, I set it on fire to release it. 

Lighting things on fire is more liberating than burying but both serve a purpose, and both happened yesterday. I sat and reflected. I talked to myself out loud. 

I am not going to share everything on the list of things I don't want to bring with me because frankly the list was quite long and painful to write this year. 

Some things I am absolutely not interested in carrying forward after this fucking year:
-brain fog
-no creativity/production
-not drinking enough water
-the inability to find refuge in the pages of a book
-feeling like a shit employee
-lack of routine
-Shit I do not need (things I own but do not need and have not addressed)

Things that can come through in this next season of life: 
-A focus on rest, and not after I have taken myself to the brink, fried my brain, and simply cannot do any more. Planned rest. Rest for the sake of rest, not rest as reward. 
-Set work hours
-True time off
-To do lists
-Commitment to racial justice
-Rekindled joy found in cooking, reading, writing
-Shopping small
-Porch sitting and just being

And another little list I've been cultivating. 

Things I hope outlast the pandemic:
-Not shaking hands
-Staying apart in line
-Staying the fuck home when you're sick, yes even with a cold, or wearing a mask 24/7 if you leave your house with one
-Serious hand washing like everyone should have been doing all along
-Curbside pickup
-Giving people grace
-The death of the hustle culture
-The knowledge that missing things is not the end of the world
-Mail in and early voting
-Holes in the schedule
-Keeping with the hobbies we suddenly had time for that are actually fulfilling
-Lack of a commute most days

And you?
Cheers to more light every week going forward. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

TWTW - twas the one before Christmas

Friday I worked and ran some errands in the afternoon. MFD arrived around 5. We ordered food from Randazzo's and settled in to start The Morning Show. Gus has been laying on me like this since we brought him home in 2005. He doesn't do it to anyone else. 

Saturday we eased into the day, took a family lunch walk on the beach, MFD went fishing and I made Italian wedding soup. The Morning Show at night.

Sunday We slept in and got the dogs out just as the rain was starting at 9:30. I showered, wrapped some gifts terribly as I do, and picked up groceries. I made chicken and potatoes with garlic parmesan cream sauce that I heard of through Lindsay at Bourbon & Lipstick - next time will steam potatoes for about 5-10 minutes to soften them or throw them in the air fryer for same - and we finished season one of The Morning Show. MFD put Charlie Brown Christmas on and I have major issues with Charlie Brown The Whiner so I was happy when it ended. He played a virtual reality game which had me roaring laughing, then we watched the first episode of The Wilds. 

This was definitely a weekend before Christmas unlike most others I've had. 

Today is winter solstice, and I will definitely be making a list of shit that I want to leave behind as I always do. Some of which I'll share here tomorrow. Yule blessings to you. More light is coming from here on out.

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