Monday, October 26, 2020

Forgettable Weekend

 It seems like when bad or sad things happen, they happen in batches, and this weekend was no exception.  I'm not going to go into detail about anything, because it's either not my story to tell or not interesting enough.  

My main problem with the weekend is losing Layla.  It's the biggest mystery ever, and we still can't figure it out.  The last time I saw her was Saturday, and she and Bowie were playing with my headphones cord and then sleeping pretty hard.  About bedtime I realized I had not seen her for several hours, but that's not unusual for cats.

I did a search for her, rattled food, looked on the balcony, looked in her usual sleeping places, but no kitty.  Sometimes on cooler days, I'll leave just enough space for them to go out on to the balcony and watch for hummingbirds, but Saturday was cold enough that I couldn't leave it open even that much.  I worry now that I closed it and left Layla out there, but when I've done that before, Bowie will usually run and tell me.  Even if I did, I'm not sure she would have jumped that far, and there's nowhere to go but the ceiling other than down.  If she fell, she survived but is not there now.

It was so cold Saturday that I stayed inside all day long, only opening the door briefly for a computer charger than Ryan left at my door and some puzzles that my neighbor had returned.  Both times, I just reached out quickly and brought them in and didn't see Layla go out.  She's not one to run out past you and run away.  Sometimes if the door is left open, she will go out on the landing or even to the bottom of the stairs in a fake-brave way but then runs right back in.

So, there's the mystery.  We've searched every corner of the apartment.  Emily and Ryan stopped by this morning and looked also.  

I had posted a Missing Cat bulletin and her picture on the Snoqualmie Community FB page and also joined the Lost Animals of Snoqualmie and received many condolences and concern and interest but no real leads.

A really nice guy, Mike, came over and brought a humane trap and helped me set it up.  He was so concerned and left to go looking in the little ravine near our apartments.  I checked the trap - with a bowl of food in it - about 3 hours after we set it, and it was tripped but no Layla.  It has a really quick trigger, so she (or another animal) may have bumped up against it and closed it.  Mike said I could keep it as long as I wanted.  He once caught a cat after 3 weeks, so there's still hope.  We're just not sure how she might have gotten out.

Bowie is just the saddest.  He will sit and cry at the door for her.  I didn't even know he had a voice!  I've spent some extra time playing with him today.  Poor baby.  He's never been alone since we got him, and before that he was in a rescue place with other animals.  

Emily laminated some signs for me, and she and the girls put them around the neighborhood.  I hope I feel better tomorrow, but I'm completely emotionally and physically drained today.  

As I took my last walk around the neighborhood, I couldn't help noticing these pretty trees.

It's just about the end for them, it seems.  We've had two nights of the temp getting down into the 20s, but I think we'll have a few days of nice weather before the rain starts back.

I got pictures from the weekend that showed how much fun the girls were having on the bouncy house.  It's not just for summer!  Here it was 41 degrees.

The whole family got to witness the Pillsbury Dough Boy skipping down the Parkway.  Emily's reaction:  Why????  The girls':  That's weird.  That's REALLY weird.

I hope tomorrow is a better day, and we find Layla and life starts looking up a little bit.  I want to enjoy the girls, but I feel so vulnerable right now, like I could get sick if I weren't really careful, that we're going to wait a few days.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Second Debate

 Well!  Much more civilized although still full of much lying and name-calling and mean-spiritedness.  

I'm not a cheerleader for Biden, but I would like to have some decency and stability in the highest office in our land and not hate-filled tweets all day long.  How can a person do this job when there is that much TV watching and tweeting.  I would like a leader who inspires confidence and not one who is just a clown and says outrageous things or one who deliberately lies multiple times a day.  And especially one who tries to incite fear and anger among his followers.  

I think it's true that politicians promise much and deliver little and that neither candidate will be doing exactly what they say.  I feel sure that Biden would not spend his time trying to dig up dirt on anyone or bribing other countries.  I feel like he would try to get qualified people behind him and not just his cronies and those who contributed the most to his campaign, like Trump did.  I hope that Biden would be able to work across party lines.  It's proven that Trump will not even try and will seek to punish those who don't give him allegiance.  

I don't know about the pandemic.  I know there is no quick fix, but it would help to have everyone on the same page and not warring with each other.  We all want it to be over with, but we are all going to have to make a bunch more sacrifices before it's over, I'm afraid.  

I'm sad every day about the children not being in school, not being able to hold them and hug them.  I feel sad about the ones who have lost their jobs and are struggling financially.  My heart breaks for the migrant children who are separated from their parents.  If I let myself get started, I can spend hours just being sad for the whole world!  I do too much of that.  

Emily told me to listen to the Happiness Lab podcast instead of Lonesome Dove tomorrow, that it will help my feelings a little bit.  I'm going to try it.  I'm a little tired of hearing about Lori Darlin' being kidnapped by Blue Duck and snakes in rivers and heat.  Just exhausted!

Ryan didn't need his "Will You Shut Up, Man" shirt as much tonight, but he's been getting a lot of compliments on it.  

I'm going out in the morning to drive somewhere.  Again, Emily's orders.  She says there is snow on the mountains and amazingly beautiful leaves, and it will make me feel better.  I'm going to see my babies this weekend somehow, some way.  We're all taking really good precautions from the outside, so we'll see.  

Just as I finished typing, I heard a crash in the apartment, a loud one sounding like it involved glass or metal and lots of it.  It's just the cats and me.  I was reluctant to even get up to check.  I saw Layla running out of Elise's bathroom so checked there first.  Not one thing out of place.  Next the kitchen and nothing there.  Not the plates on the hutch.  Not the plants in the living room or in Elise's room.  I was in my room so I knew that was okay.   How can something that loud not make a mess?  There's a small chance it could be from an apartment next door, but it sounded really close!

This is my view down the hall from my bedroom chair.  I know it was her, and she knows I know.  Just can't find proof.

She's trying to distract me by pointing out the holiday cactus blooms.


Time Off

 It seems like a good time to take a vacation again from technology - or some of it - the social kind.  

I'm immersing myself in the Wild West with Lonesome Dove.   I'm 49% finished now, and it says I've listened just short of 18 hours with more than 18 hours to go.  It's been a long time since I read the book and a long time since I saw the TV movie, but I do remember how much we all loved it.  Emily and I are constantly texting scenes and phrases back and forth.  I guess as soon as I finish the book, I'll go watch the movie.  I'd love to watch it with Emily, but it's 8 hours, and I'm not sure we have that much time together!

The good thing about audio books is getting to do other things while you listen, so I've done all my housework, taken down the garbage, got the mail, gone for a walk, and sorted paperwork (although that does need a little concentration).  I can also sew and listen, so I worked on one of the kits Barbara sent me, the tea book.

It's a little padded book with pockets for teabags to carry in your purse so you always have a handy teabag with you.

Pretty fabrics.

It folds up into a compact little package.  I guess you could carry credit cards or money or anything small if you don't drink tea.  I'm not a big tea drinker, although I try, so I might do that or gift it to someone who does drink tea.

Snaps are not my friend, and I struggle with them, but this one went on very nicely and looks pretty.  It was a good satisfying project, and I'm glad to have finished another one without losing it or hiding it.

Thanks, Barbara, for such a fun project.  I'm trying the needle case next, another little doable project.  

I do have the batting for the girls' quilts and am just waiting for the backing we chose to be in stock again.

I took all my books back to the library Monday and voted.

On the weekend, there were folks receiving ballots from cars and cheering and having a big celebration in front of the library.  I'm so happy to see photos of the long lines of voters who are overcoming all sorts of odds to vote this year.  So sad that voting in some places is trying to be interfered with, but that's what this last four years has gotten us.  I'm not sure what the aftermath of the election will be like, but it could be something the American people never thought would be possible in a free country.  But then we've seen a LOT of things we never thought we would see from the leader of our country.  Normally, they just do their jobs, good or bad, and not act like psychotic idiots.  In normal times. 

Right after I dropped off my ballot, a young couple dropped theirs in and the girls said, "Hey, I'm disappointed.  I thought we would have someone at least to celebrate with us."  I told them I would celebrate with them, so we had a tiny little woo-hoo, good job moment.  

On our video call that night, I told the girls I had voted, and Graysen said, "Who did you vote for?"  I said, "Trump."  There was stunned silence and then big eyes and a silent scream and then "Mom, she voted for Trump!"  First, Mom told her that you never ask people who they voted for, and then she reassured her that I did NOT vote for him.  Just doing my itty-bitty part for their future.

We had such a good call last night.  I heard about the tooth fairy coming, getting back to school and the Halloween treats they were making for their neighbors and heard about their newest favorite treat - that I can't remember now, but I'll find out.  I saw everything they had in their little school bags.

I saw their land forms they made from salt dough for a school project. They were so beautiful with oceans and mountains and even a cave and a volcano!  It was a second-grade project, but Katherine made one too because her sister was making one. 

 We listened to an audio Halloween book, Room on the Broom, read with a British accent - or Scottish for the dog, I think.  This is my favorite version.  There is a little movie too. 

Then I had to go find whatever books I had in the house to read even more stories.

They loved one of their mom's old Golden Books, The Lively Little Rabbit.  

How about that price - 59 cents?

At one point, Emily was passing by as I was reading, "The mean old weasel came again and ate our great-grandmother on Daddy's side for breakfast."  She stopped and stared, and I said, "Well, it was already coming out before I realized it."  They're tough girls though and weren't traumatized.

We ended up with a Hatchimals puppet show, which consisted of them each showing me every Hatchimal they had and my exclaiming over it.  They wanted to do more, but I told them to plan a musical for the Hatchimals for today.  So far, I haven't been honored with that production.  Maybe tomorrow.

It's been a good few days, and the leaves were even more beautiful today.  I just forgot to take pictures.  We'll have our first frost this weekend and a chance (4%) of snow.  I'm sure the mountains will get some though, and that's always a neat thing to see the first snow.  

I'm trying to stay positive and not letting mean-spirited and misguided posts on  FB get my attention.  And not feeling like I have to read all the upsetting news articles.

I did see this article headline earlier before my ban on news, and it piqued my curiosity. I did a fact check and assume it's a legitimate interview.

Being a Christian, I have a hard time with this president's morals and ways of handling things, but all this is taken with a grain of salt  and totally overlooked by his followers.

This paragraph stood out to me.  Copy and paste doesn't work, so I'll just type it.  "It just floors me how church-going people who read the Bible and sing the hymns can show up at a [Trump] rally and just do that deep bellow like an angry mob supporting these horrible things that just come out of his heart and mind, "Mannes said.  "It just began to trouble me so much that I am a pastor in this big enterprise."

Good for this man standing up for his beliefs.  That "angry mob" scares me so much.  Just like people in a cult, worshipping their leader and believing whatever he tells them while listening to the hatred and the disrespect for anyone who doesn't agree with him.  The name-calling, the support of white supremacy groups and conspiracy groups, the lack of concern about the pandemic, none of which seem Godly in the least.  It scares me that people like this are responsible for the leadership of our country.  

Positive thinking.  I have to concentrate.  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Weekend

 I'm getting way too involved in reading and making decisions on my old emails - what to keep and what to toss.  Some of them are easy to toss, like the ones involving household things and finances or the ones that just break my heart - all Mike's worry about whether he would find work in his field for 5 more years.  If he could only have known how nicely it would work out.....  I do want to save some of the worrying ones, because they all fit together in the story of those years of our lives.  

I'm at the point now (2008 and 2009) of communicating with so many people, and life was getting to be more fun.  Emily's graduation and then Emily and Ryan's wedding.  There were so many fun and crazy emails regarding that.  We also were trying to handle our parents getting old and becoming sick and finally dying or living in a nursing home through those years.  Like I said, just a slice of life with sadness and worry but with a good bit of fun and silliness.  

It's addicting, that reading one email after the other, and I'm going to have to not get obsessed.  On one hand, it brings back so many good memories of Mike and then at the same time makes me miss him more.  

I did have a good distraction with the air fryer.  I had cleared off a section of my already too small countertop, so when it arrived, I didn't panic, but I was having concerns about it fitting in the space.

This was a little more reassuring.

It's about the same size as the mixer that was there before.  I hid the toaster in the pantry because we hardly ever use that and slid the mixer over toward the refrigerator.  Those things in the middle will probably be changed around, but I like to have the cutting boards and recipe notebook in that spot.

It was just a relief that it fit nicely with plenty of vent room behind it.

I gave it a test run yesterday afternoon, and it did work out okay.  I can see there is a learning curve.  It would probably have been better if I had read the instructions more thoroughly, but it was okay.

I was a little disappointed that I didn't get the kind with the removable basket, so when you have meat or foods with juices, you can lift out the basket and leave the juices.  

I don't think it will be a real problem though.  I've ordered some silicone-tipped tongs, and it's no big deal to lift out pieces one by one.

With things like zucchini or Brussels sprouts, I would probably like having a rack like this (which is optional on mine), although the amount of oil used in veggies is just a spritz of olive oil.

As it is, the food goes on this removable crisper, and any drippings fall down below.  It wasn't a problem yesterday.

It comes out easily for washing.

I question my common sense in taking this appliance on its maiden voyage with a food that I never cook.  I can't remember the last time I fried shrimp - decades ago, if then.  But I had a big bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer that we usually boil,  and it was handy.  And sounded better than zucchini slices!

It was way more work than I like to spend on cooking:  Thawing, removing the shells, dipping in flour, dipping in egg, dipping in Panko crumbs. 

 But once I placed them in the basket, chose the temperature and time, I was done cooking.  

It was just a matter of pausing the cooking and shaking the basket halfway through the 10-minute cooking cycle.  I changed it to 9 minutes on the second batch.

And they turned out very nice.

Tender and done on the inside and crispy on the outside.

So I guess I'll keep it.

Emily saw the pictures and immediately decided they had to have one and wanted to borrow mine for wings yesterday.

After further consideration, they decided to get rid of their old Instant Pot and get the new version that has an air fryer with it, because they do use the Instant Pot a lot, and this would save room on their countertop.  For big-time cooks!

It's a silly thing, a new appliance, but I think right now I need a distraction, something to keep me from staying too much inside my head and worrying.  I hope I will put it to good use.  

Edit:  I had one zucchini, and I popped it in with some olive oil spray, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan.  It's not pretty, but Elise and I kind of fought over it!  Yum.

So next time, half the time without the parmesan and then add it with maybe an extra minute for crispness.  I still like it better than putting it in the oven and checking every few minutes for overcooking.

Debby has sent me this recipe:  Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirls, and after my pumpkin bread fail of last week, I'm going to try these along with some pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins for the apartment office.  

That should get this pumpkin spice cooking need out of my system for a year.  I'll do some banana bread and maybe zucchini break if I have anyone I need to give them to.

I'm getting my oven thermostat checked tomorrow if that's possible to find out why my breads are not getting completely done in the middle.  

At the end of a rainy and dreary day, I had a little sunshine in the form of a visit from all the Win-Bins.  They showed up at the bottom of my stairs with homemade soup and cornbread.  Next to their happy presence and all the smiles and giggles from the girls, that was the best thing that happened all day.

She actually found fresh okra in Safeway in a bag underneath the "exotic foods" section of the produce department.  That's my next thing to try in the new toy.

I wish I had taken some pictures of the girls jumping up and down and smiling and making me so happy with their little masks on.  I gave them the mermaid and cats I had sewn, and they were thrilled with them.  Emily sent me pictures later.  You just never know what's going to please kids.

They're just growing up while my head is turned.  It's funny seeing Katherine wearing Graysen's hand-me-downs.  That little plaid skirt was always one of my favorites.

These two are having no trouble with the cooler weather.  They're hinting very strongly for a fire, I think.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

St. George's Island Fishing

 Since I have all this spare time during the day that I don't seem to be able to spend on productive things, I've decided to go back and purge my email files.  They're a mess.  Something like 10,000 emails.

It takes a long time because I have to read parts or all of every email to see if I want to keep it, but if it has a picture in it I want to keep, I download it to my picture file so it doesn't take up valuable space in gmail.  

So many good conversations, so much fun.  So many memories.  I'm presently in 2011 and skipping around to delete the largest files first.

Mike was such a good photographer, patient and precise, and had a good eye for composition.  I would sometimes tease him about how he overdid the special effects, once he learned he could do it.  

These are some photos from a fishing trip to St. George's that he took with our friend Keith Johnson in 2015.  Whatever he did to these, it just takes my breath away.

We had so many good times there.  So many.  

Coming back to add some more I found.

Mama loved having him take pictures of her and Miss Molly and Murray.