Friday, April 16, 2021

N: No Events, Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go, Naps, Netflix, News


#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter N

No Events, Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go, Naps, Netflix, News

Those first three statements basically summed up the year. In order to slow the spread of Covid, major events had to be cancelled the world over, many for the first time since World War II, some for the first time ever. Near me, we saw the Garlic Festival in Gilroy and the Northern California Renaissance Faire each get cancelled for the first time ever. I've only ever been to either of these once. Flea markets in nearby Moss Landing and San Juan Bautista were also called off. As I have said before, the stage company in my county put on one show, California Suite, in February 2020, and had just cast its next show, Beauty and the Beast, Jr., to be performed in the spring. And the high school was going to be performing Grease in March. I got to see California Suite and was hoping to see the other plays as well. And then it happened. 

And we couldn't go anywhere but the store, the post office and other essential businesses. I was still going to the center for work on the Monday after the pandemic declaration. It wasn't until a day later that we closed down. Two long months of no work and no activities. It really felt like nothing to do. As I have said, I envisioned myself doing more writing or artwork, but only doing a little. Reading was what I did the most. And going online nearly all day long until  just before I decided to go to bed.

As I said yesterday, I still get DVDs from Netflix. Even with more time to watch them, I didn't always do so right away. This was true before Covid, and some habits just don't change. I often become too tired or worry about getting sleepy while watching the movie, and that still held true. And one of the first DVDs I got after lockdown began came from a far-off facility (in Santa Ana, California; most of my DVDs come from the facility in San Jose), meaning it took extra long to arrive. This one I did watch immediately after going the mail as I was bored and needed something to pass the time. It was a two-disc series, and the second one did not arrive until the following Saturday, but I didn't get around to watching that part until the following Monday.  I'm not always in a hurry to watch DVDs I get, but I'm glad to have the option to pass the time.

Ever since my cousin put my mom on her Netflix account, we've been able to watch original series and movies this way. Though Mom does most of the watching this way. No binge watching for me. A habit I just couldn't get into. But I did get to see the Halloween specials "Hubie Halloween" with Adam Sandler, and "A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting." (Side note: I read the book that that last one is based on first, and I did not like how they changed some of the characters).

Whether or not to watch the news was always a decision I had to make each night, and there were times when I did not bother. When Mom had CNN on, I sometimes felt no need to turn on NBC Nightly News or the local 6PM newscast. Endless reports on the virus and on the politics--virtually nothing new that I hadn't already heard. If I did turn on the 6 o'clock news it was just to have something on. And sometimes, I just plain forget to turn the news on at 6, eventually turning it on before Jeopardy! at 7PM. I'm usually in bed before 10PM, so watching the 11PM news is rare, unless there is a time when I can't sleep then. And what am I going to find out then that I didn't already hear at 6? And here are some reasons not to watch the news.

I have been trying not to nap during the day so as to not mess up my sleep patterns at night. But often I will get sleepy during the day while reading or watching a DVD. I have to make sure I have enough energy to watch a movie so as to avoid this happening. One reason I'm not always in a hurry to watch one as soon as it arrives. I may just have to follow this advice.


End of today's post.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

M: Masks, Mail, Money Handling, Mixed-Up Days, "More to Come", Murder Hornets

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter M


Masks, Mail, Money Handling, Mixed-Up Days, "More to Come", Murder Hornets

Masks--need I say more? We all got used to having to wear them in public and were quick to remove them once we got into our cars after going to the store. They made people look like surgeons in regular clothes. Some people took selfies in masks for their Facebook profile pictures, but I'm not tempted to do such a thing. And there were humorous photos like these:

 And as Halloween neared:

And these were another thing that was hard to locate in stores at first, forcing some (including me) to make their own out of cloth, once the mandate was set in place. 

Breathing was hard for some in masks, especially in the summer time. And recently doubling them made me feel even more out of breath, like I was about to have a panic attack. Which I nearly did all year long. More on panicking to come.

I was always used to reaching into my wallet for my forms of payment. But once the pandemic hit, I began putting my Safeway card and whatever method of payment I chose for the store or for fast food, including cash when stores were able to accept it and when I could give the exact amount (when there was a coin shortage). And it did feel weird asking people to put my change in a plastic bag when I getting money legally. And going into the bank to deposit money. I always try to prepare my money-handling bag before going into the store or going to the drive-thru at a restaurant. I hadn't seen very many "exact change only" signs lately and was surprised to see one the other day. This meant digging out extra coins (I had already placed two dollar bills in my plastic bag), which I thankfully had. I also got into the habit of sanitizing my cards and cash after leaving the stores. 
I never got more excited about getting the mail until now. I still get Netflix DVDs (don't judge, please!) and like everyone else, was eager to receive my stimulus checks last year. And then there were the books I ordered from Amazon and through the library's Zip Books program, and clothes from Lane Bryant. And I got a free book from participating in the Birth Year Reading Challenge (which is not occurring this year). Most of the Zip Books came in the mail, though at least two came by UPS. I've never gotten anything via Fed Ex and am not an Amazon Prime user, though I did see plenty of those trucks roaming around town. I still pay bills by mail and I chose to file my unemployment claims through mail as well, so as to keep the mail service working. And there were plenty of people at the post office each time my mom and I went to mail our bills, some mailing or receiving packages. 

The days, weeks and months seemed to blur together once the shelter-in-place orders began. There were times I asked, "Is it really (month) already?" I had to remember when it was Thursday, since our garbage gets picked up on Fridays. And what night it was, so I would know when the shows I watch are on. Yet, even I still got mixed up as far as days. Forgetting it was Memorial Day and seeing the 
pharmacy at Safeway closed was one such mixup. Every day was feeling like an extra Sunday, not just the legal holidays. It didn't help that the 4th of July was on a Saturday. I didn't aways forget what day it was, though it was often confusing.

Didn't it seem like there was always more stuff to come? As if the coronavirus wasn't enough, murders took place, causing subsequent protests, and forcing outdated produced logos that seemed racist to be changed. And suddenly there was something called murder hornets. Hearing that freaked me out a little at first, as the year was already seeing apocalyptic because of Covid. Now an insect was invading the earth, making the current state of the world seem even more dystopian. Yet, this is what seemed to happen:

I never saw any murder hornets, did any of you?

There certainly was "more to come," starting with the protests (more on this to come). And in my neck of the woods, there were the fires and the heatwaves (see previous posts on these). And what more can there be now?


Concluding for today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

L: Loner, Lockdown, Library, Lane Bryant, Laundry, Long Days, Lysol

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter L


Loner, Lockdown, Library, Lane Bryant, Laundry, Long Days, Lysol

Even though I want to be out sometimes and I missed seeing others at the center when we were closed, I must admit I am more of a loner. Many times when I need to do something, I do it even if it's by myself. I was pretty much a loner growing up and can still be that way. One of the others at the center went with me to see a play in the fall of 2019, but she was unable to do so again in February 2020. Even so, I wasn't about to back out of seeing the play. I was glad not to have missed it, as it was the last play the stage company was able to put on to date.

One might think being a loner would make lockdown easier to take. In some ways it did, but the days were longer with nothing to do all day. Days seemed especially long in the spring and summer when it stays light until about 8PM. This is true in any year, but in 2020, the long days seemed even longer than usual. The longer the days, the more I had to time to pass. 

Hearing the term "lockdown" seemed a little scary, as it means to stay where you are. In this case, going to only essential places, like grocery stores. This made going to the store anxiety-producing, especially after learning how empty stores were. I panicked, thinking, I would not be able to find stuff I needed. Most of the time I did, however.

At the beginning of the year, I had been in and out of the library regularly, not know what lay ahead. Friday the 13th of March, 2020 as the very last time I set foot in our public library.  I had borrowed several books earlier that week and went in on that day to return them all, without checking out any other books. The timing was good on that, because the library was shutdown beginning the following Monday around 2PM. It remained closed but began the the curbside pickup in June. I was excited for that to happen and have been taking advantage of it ever since. But before that happened, I had to settle on books I had at home and e-books, as well as ordering books from the library's Zip books program. I had to hold on to them until the curbside pickup began. I accumulated about six books this way. When I go to pick up or return books, I can see the inside and wonder when I'll ever be able to go inside again. I also miss the free movies the library was having on Saturday afternoons. The last one was in March of 2020, on the Saturday before the pandemic declaration. They showed Frozen 2 that day.

One of the last places I shopped at in person before the virus was declared a pandemic was Lane Bryant, going to their semi-annual intimates sale in January. The sale was nearly over by then, and I then  hoped to take advantage of the next such sale in June. Another plan that got derailed by shutdown. But since I had the option of shopping online, I did just that. More than once over the year. One of the things I got online was the shirt seen above. This is the only other site besides Amazon from which I have been shopping. The message on the shirt felt true this past year. In March this year, I got to visit the store in person for the first time in nearly a year. 

For the first weeks of shutdown, I had more than enough time to do laundry. We still use our clothesline to dry our laundry, and I'm glad we have one, since we don't have a dryer. The laundry dries  faster in the warm weather, and the first days of April last year were such warm days. I liked getting the laundry done in one day. Especially on the long summer days. 

Yet another item that was hard to find in stores initially in 2020 was Lysol spray.  I hated seeing commercials for the stuff. Even now it still seems hard to find, unlike most of the other items that were equally scarce at the begging of the pandemic. It was hard to find any spray disinfectants at first, but a least now the generic ones at Dollar Tree (seen above) are easier to find now. We have currently have some of these at home. And some from the newly opened Dollar General. These work just fine.


Ending for today. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

K: Killing Time, Karen, Kids at Home, Kamala Harris

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter K

Killing Time, Karen, Kids at Home, Kamala Harris

Every day last year was an endless cycle of trying to find ways to kill time. We all had too much of it while as we were forced to be holed up in our houses. Every morning, I'd wake up wondering what I would be doing that day. Waiting until 10AM or later to take a shower, Internet surfing almost  all day long and deciding when to watch a Netflix DVD when it came, or just watching the news when I really didn't want to. Playing Facebook games. Watching videos on YouTube, many more than once. And trying to write, but not getting a lot done, except one piece. There were also times when I tried to find something to put on the blog, but came up blank. I avoided Tik Toks, and could not bake bread since I do not have a working oven. Walking is just not my thing, and was hesitant about doing it during the pandemic. I could have pulled out DVDs to watch, but just didn't do it much. Reading was my best way to kill time, the one I did the most.

One thing I was glad not have to deal with was kids. My cousin next door has a 17-year-old son, but my mom and I mainly saw him at night, after his "school hours" were over for the day. He and others at the county's schools were each assigned a Chromebook for their schoolwork. It was weird not seeing kids walking to and from school. Especially when I live behind one of our town's elementary schools and not far from our two middle schools (one of them was the site where my vaccine was administered).  I was used to seeing kids walking home from those schools as well as the high school, staring into their phones like zombies. It's now been a whole year of not seeing such things, and seeing empty school yards while driving around town. One of the things that made my hometown seem like ghost town this past year. And seeing these signs, without having to worry.

Now elementary and middle school kids in our neighborhood are starting to go back into the classrooms starting today, with the high schoolers set to do so next week. I go to work at 10AM and leave at 12PM, so I most likely won't see kids walking around then, but on my days off, I now have to prepared for the "zombies on their phones." And now I have to worry about those signs again.

Growing up, I kind of hated my name because so few others at school shared it. It was hard growing up among kids with more common names, like Jennifer, Lisa, Michelle or Karen. They would always find their names on pencils, keychains, cups and such, but I almost never saw mine on these things. But this past year, I was glad not to have had that last one. And at the same time, wondered how girls named Karen have been feeling about their name being used to mean as a pejorative term for a woman seeming to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal. "Karen" was depicted as a wig and costume for Halloween, as seen below (I was glad not to be see anyone dressed like this):

The origin of this term is seen in this video:

This brought to mind the 1989 film, Heathers. I had to wonder how real-life girls named Heather (another name I heard more than my own) felt about this, or if the movie led to a decrease in the use of the name. I have also often wondered how Jason has remained such a popular boy name after its use as the name of the killer in the Friday the 13th films. Does this current meme seal the fate of the name Karen, or has it already declined in use? I used to see the name in my parents' yearbooks all the time, and as I said, I heard it a lot as child myself. The video says it is low-ranked in current name popularity lists.

But there was a name that I did enjoy hearing this past year. Kamala Harris may not have had a popular name either, but she did make history becoming the first female Vice President of the United States, as well as the first of woman color to hold that office. This history-making event came 100 years after women were given the right to vote. She is a former senator from my home state of California. Earlier this year, I read her memoir The Truths We Holdwhich I enjoyed. I loved seeing this cartoon, one of the ways The Simpsons is thought to have predicted the future:


End of today's post.

Monday, April 12, 2021

J: Jeopardy, Justice, Jury, Johnson & Johnson, Joe Biden


#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter J

Jeopardy, Justice, Jury, Johnson & Johnson, Joe Biden

I was ever glad to see Joe Biden win the presidential election in 2020. I found and shared the cartoon below on Facebook in January, getting negative replies from those who did not like the outcome of the election. Their candidate lost, they needed to get over. Yet some still haven't done so. It was time to see the Orange Menace (one of several nicknames given to Trump last year) gone. And also to see Kamala Harris in office as well (more on her tomorrow). Yay to #46!

This is our homemade Biden-Harris poster,
hanging in our yard above our Halloween 

On the other hand, I was sad to hear of the death of Alex Trebek, long-time host of the popular game show, Jeopardy! I have been watching Jeopardy! for many years now and just last August I read Trebek's memoir The Answer Is... I made sure to watch every last episode of his. His final week of episodes was originally going to air during Christmas week, but was pushed ahead to the first week of January 2021 in order to avoid preemption by holiday programming. One episode, that of January 6, did get preempted on some stations (depending on what time each station carries the show), due to coverage of the attack on the Capitol. The station on which I watch Jeopardy! airs the show at 7PM, and is the local NBC station. I was glad to hear that they would be showing the episode the following Saturday night at 9. It was odd watching the show then! But I was glad not to have missed this one.

As for the several guest-hosts of the show, I was not surprised to see Ken Jennings being one of them. A lot of people think he should be the permanent host. No real opinion on the other hosts, but I did not like Katie Couric.

I then sought out clips of the "Celebrity Jeopardy" skit on Saturday Night Live, with Will Ferrel as Trebek and Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, who also passed last year, eight days before Trebek. RIP, both. 

Another death that was sad to hear was that of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. More than a year earlier, I had seen the biopic On the Basis of Sex, about Ginsburg. She was the second woman, after Sandra Day O'Connor, and the first Jewish woman to serve on the US Supreme Court for 27 years, from 1993 through 2020. She endlessly fought for women's rights. RIP.

And the word "justice" was everywhere, following the murders of Breonna Taylor and that of George Floyd. Protests were everywhere. Many people did not follow social distancing protocols and did not wear masks. Again, what were people thinking? Risking their health to protest? (More on protests later). 

And speaking of judges and juries, jury duty is one thing I always dread. I seem to be called every three years, and having been called in 2017, I was dreading 2020, thinking it would be. Then Covid hit and I wondered if they would still be having jury duty. No summons then, but I did get one for March 2021, which was canceled. Of all the times I have been called, all but one have been called off. The one time I served was in 2008. 

Once the Covid vaccination age in California opened to 50 and older on April 1, I began searching a website for open appointments in my area. For the first few days, I tried Rite Aid and Safeway, but nothing was open. On the first Monday in April (a week ago today) I was able to score an appointment for the following afternoon at the local middle school that I once attended. I did not know until I was confirmed that it was going to be  Johnson & Johnson, the one-dose vaccine. Nearly everyone in my family has had the Pfizer once, and other the Moderna. My cousin who got the Pfizer, had hoped to get the J&J but was unable to do so. She would have rather had it "one and done." She and my mom are both still awaiting their second doses. More details on receiving the vaccine to come.


Ending for today. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

I: Introvert, Internet, Indoors, iPad


#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter I

Introvert,  Internet, Indoors, iPad

As an introvert, I'm already used to staying home most of the time. But introverts  are not necessarily thriving during quarantine, according to this link. Even I have the need to be out, though just prior to the pandemic, I was getting out less and less.

Not exactly proud of this being so, but it did prepare me somewhat for having to stay home. 

I still missed being at the center, and when we began reopening in June, I was glad. This was my way of being with others that I have known for some time now. 

Is this cartoon how you felt as an introvert or extrovert? I kept envisioning myself sitting down to write, but did not do as much as I had hoped. And again, there were times I did not want to be home. 

As an introvert, I tend to be online quite a lot, and being at home all day didn't change that. It may have increased it a little, but not as much as I could tell. I got to wondering how hard lockdown has been on extroverts. My aunt who passed in 2008, was an extrovert, and I cannot imagine how she would be handling the world today. She was well into the online thing and would have been into the latest thing in no time at all.  

Buying stuff online (more on this to come) has increased for me somewhat during this time. And I seem to watch more Youtube videos (also a post for later). And I'm always checking Facebook, my blog and Twitter, with Facebook most of the time. Indeed, Covid has led to an increased use of digital technology, what with kids having to do remote learning and some people having to work from home (neither of which I have to worry about). Despite being an introvert, I never liked the idea of working from home, and have never done such. And I still cannot imagine what would have happened if this virus had struck when I was still in school, in the pre-Internet era.

I have always been an indoor person, but have taken time to sit outside (more to come). So being at home has some advantages. and most of the time I have been in my room on the computer. As I said earlier, I began reading e-books once lockdown began, one of the things that lead to my increased use of the Internet during Covid. 

My mom, meanwhile, had not had a computer for sometime now and needed to do her state board taxes (for the antiques she sells in a nearby shop) online beginning this year. As a result, my cousin's son lent her his iPad which she has been using since. She did not get onto on Facebook until last summer, and many of her old friends were glad to see her there. 

I have borrowed the iPad a few times to read some digital books, either taking it outside to read (as I have done with paper books) or sitting somewhere in the house other than by my computer. It's another thing I have browsed on Amazon (though not a lot recently). With that or something similar that I can use for reading e-books and listening to audiobooks from the digital libraries. Though like a lot of things lately, this has not been a high priority, and like lawn chairs and car covers, there are so many different ones to choose from, which make deciding all the more difficult. Even though it would be quite fun to have. And there's still my preference for physical books.


Concluding for today. See you again on Monday with the Letter J.

Friday, April 9, 2021

H: Home, Holidays, Heatwave, Hoarding, Hand Sanitizer, Harry and Meghan


#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter H

Home, Holidays, Heatwave, Hoarding, Hand Sanitizer, Harry and Meghan

People have said there is no place like home, but just how did this old expression apply to most people in 2020, being forced to stay home most of the time? There are those who have to be away from home, even me, though I am more of an introvert (more on that one tomorrow). I did get sick of being at home all the time, and taking a drive around town was worth it just to get away.

Holidays were a lot different this past year. Some people seemed excited by the fact that Cinco de Mayo was on a  Tuesday, and that 4th of July and Halloween were both on Saturdays. Many knew this before the virus hit, before the year even began. 

Holiday items turned up at stores months ahead of time. It was clear the pandemic would not be up before the year was over, and people were encouraged not to celebrate in large groups. Celebrations at bars and clubs were cancelled. Nevertheless, some people did not listen. And the corona cases just grew. Photos like this didn't seem to stop people from gathering.

As always, a bunch of topical Halloween costumes appeared this year. Since bar celebrations were cancelled and Halloween parties were discouraged, many of us did not get to see others in these costumes. But I have a feeling these would not have been popular in my neighborhood. 

Along with the Corona costumes seen in this post, other 2020-themed costumes included these hand sanitizer ones. It seems no costume ever escapes being made  "sexy." I am glad not to have seen anything like this.

I was uncertain about Halloween in 2020. Usually I go looking at costumes online and try to decide on one. Yet this year made dressing up seem uncertain. But then I thought I could redo one of those I still had from prior years. Since we had a small social-distance celebration at work I pulled out my tropical depression costume. I was one of only three at work in costume. On the night itself I redid this one. Very few kids came to get candy, but that has always been true in our area. And my family has not been doing anything big for Thanksgiving or Christmas in eyes, so having to stay home was not hard on us at all.  And I've pretty much given up on going out on New Year's Eve.

Hand sanitizer was one of the many items hard to locate in stores at the beginning of the pandemic. But for me, I had already gotten a three-pack of hand sanitizer from Dollar Tree. This was for my coughing tendencies  that seem to strike at the beginning of allergy season. I was this prepared for something I did not know would happen. I mainly used the sanitizer after being out in public. In order not to use it all at, I mainly washed my hands using soap and water. 


And hand sanitizer was just one of many items that people began hoarding at the start of the coronavirus. When there was some at the store, signs were posted on shelves limiting the number of items per customer, something that continued even after it became easier to find the stuff. After a while, my mom and I were able to find spraying sanitizer at Safeway. It's been easy to find for sometime now. I currently have several bottles of hand sanitizer at home, both the gel and the spray kinds. There were at least two times I grabbed more than one bottle at a time. I'm trying hard not to hoard stuff. And since I have enough hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol right now, I won't be needing to buy anymore for a while. Here's hoping the hoarding tendencies don't start again!

My carts never got as full as those seen above. And I was glad this never came to be true:

Heatwaves hit my in neck of the woods several times last year, beginning as early as the end of April. In May, the heatwave came again, along with Memorial Day, the first legal holiday during the lockdown. I'd nearly forgotten that it was Memorial Day at the store that day, as I attempted to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy and saw it was closed. Such holidays normally feel like an extra Sunday, but the lockdown felt like a year of Sundays! And the heatwaves struck along with the wildfires in California in late summer. Ash and haze from the fires made the skies look dreary in an already dismal year. And it was just more difficult having to stay at home when it was at or nearing 100-degree heat. This also made me dread the beginning of fall, since as the photo below says, fall in California is still 97 degrees out--or even more!

Two names I got sick of hearing in 2020: Harry and Meghan. Hearing about them was inescapable, as they stepped away from their royal duties. And now they're having a second child. Just how much of this did we need to hear? And that's all I'm going to say about this one...


This concludes today's post.