A very exclusive pandemic bingo square

Anyone else have a driver license photo with a mask around your neck now? Mine came up for renewal back in July but the DOL offices were closed then. I could have renewed online but wanted to get the corrective lenses restriction removed since I've worried ever since I got LASIK that I'd get pulled over and in trouble for not wearing glasses. Since I was going in anyway, I applied for the enhanced driver license, too. They weren't doing vision tests because they don't want multiple people shoving their face into the thing daily, so now I have the EDL, but also still have the corrective lenses restriction. That'll remain until they resume testing or until I care enough to make an appointment at the eye clinic for a test with them.


New year, old me

I decided a while back that I'd try inline skating again this spring, and once Christmas was over, I ordered all new gear for it. It was a little surprising to learn there are only a couple of choices if you want skates that go over your shoes, and only one brand that gets even remotely decent reviews, the Doop by Powerslide. And I'm not even sure they're going to keep making them as the stock everywhere seems to be disappearing. But I got my pair, along with my first helmet ever and a full set of pads. I grew up on rollerskates and wasn't afraid of inline ones at all in my 20s, and only wore knee pads and wrist pads. Now that I'm older? I want it all.

The reason I wanted skates that go over shoes is that I'm always thinking about what might happen. If I need to walk back to the car, for example. I'd rather just step out when the need arises than always have to carry shoes.

Trying the skates on the first time I found that I couldn't close them with the giant tongue, and my whole foot came out of the shoe rather than my foot and shoe coming out of the skate. So I wanted a thinner shoe that stays on tight, and the Converse All-Star is an obvious choice. I had a ton of pairs over the years and was surprised I couldn't find any laying around. I thought for sure the pair I bought when we went to Portland and I realized halfway there that all I had was sandals and I needed something more would still be around, but it wasn't where I keep my shoes. Maybe they're around somewhere but a new pair's on the way.

It'll be a while before I try them because I won't let them get wet and it's been raining a lot lately. Monday was a heavy pour day and I didn't feel like walking in it, and I consistently do PT Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, so I didn't want to do that either. My wild idea? Find some of the '90s Susan Powter aerobics videos I did back in the '90s. But they're all around 50 minutes each and without having done them in ages, that seemed like a terrible idea. I settled on a 12-minute Sweatin' to the Oldies video from Richard Simmons, and I was glad it was a video. Remember how awful it was back in the day to get a move wrong and go the opposite direction of the rest of the class? By yourself at home there is no rest of the class.

It was quite a workout even in that short of a time, and I've been surprised the rest of the week to find my right knee was not happy about it. Obviously that makes me worry about my skating future, too. My walk yesterday was lovely, though.

That's my spot

Lately every time I get up Steve takes my spot and that's fine! Completely understandable behavior for a cat, the spot's warm, I totally get it. But for the past week or so he won't move when I get back and whines so much when I pick him up. A while ago he didn't take my spot and I thanked him for not taking it and then felt dumb for expressing gratitude to a cat, but then he didn't take my spot the next time I got up. So maybe it worked? Crap, I should have thanked him again.

When two became seven

Usually we have two Christmas trees. Garrett's in charge of the traditional one upstairs and I set up the rainbow one in the lounge. He wasn't feeling up to it last year though, so it was only the lounge one. The pendulum was bound to swing the other way this year.

The stage was set when he brought up the main tree this year and found that the built-in lights were half burnt out, and while shopping for its replacement, discovered sets of three trees in varying heights. He ordered a flocked set (made to look like it has snow on it if you're not familiar with the term) and assembled them, then discovered the flocking material is highly toxic to cats. So those are now on the deck, visible from the living room through the French doors.


The angle is drastic because Garrett and I both got new beds and his old one is in the living room for now. No hurry to dispose of it during the pandemic since nobody's coming over anyway and the cats love it. A view from outside:


Inside, where the regular tree normally goes, are the three replacements.


It's cool to have three trees because there's lots of room for ornaments. Of course there's also more room for cats to go under and be a pain.

Downstairs, the lounge tree once again his its protective cage so we don't have to worry about cats with it.


Every year I buy an ornament. A friend who has a store was selling these so I grabbed one.


And the legendary Gasoleen made an avocado ornament with the proceeds going to charity, so of course I had to have one.


If you aren't familiar with the famous meme from Vine:

Now that you know it, you can melt your brain with this:


Triple Double

I meant to talk about the coaster situation in the end table post but forgot. There are lots of coasters in this house but I wanted new ones specifically for my new end table. Part of turning over a new leaf with that whole end table situation, keeping everything nice and stylish, clean too.

Inspiration came from the new Grand Avenue Park Bridge.


Product shot from Etsy

I absolutely love the look of these and always have three:
- water
- flavored fizzy water with shrub
- can of flavored fizzy water for refill

The extra stays on the lower section of the end table.

Puddles form in them, though, so I ordered some of these coasters to set in them. The nice thing about Etsy is you can ask for customizations. Everyone chooses their colors on them but I also asked to keep the diameter to a certain size so they would fit inside.


Another problem solved, but not until the wheels come off

One of my major ongoing frustrations was my end table downstairs, next to my spot on the loveseat where I spend a whole lot of time. The issue was that Sam was always jumping up onto it from the other side, not even to sit on it or anything, just as a way to get to the loveseat. Pretty inefficient when he could just go over to the foot rest, which I always have up.

The reason it bugged me so much was that there's always drinks and remote controls on the end table, and sometimes there are lottery tickets. What I really wanted was a custom end table with walls on 2-3 sides to stop Sam from jumping up. Plus maybe a second, higher surface to replace the TV tray where my laptop goes when not in use. But custom furniture is expensive so I wasn't in a big hurry. To tide me over, I made a wall on three sides out of a cardboard box that I stapled on.

But that end table is very old and the top was showing its age, so I knew it was time to do something. The top especially was heavily damaged by water from years of not using a coaster. It's a cycle: it's not nice enough to bother using a coaster, it's getting worse because I don't, etc.

Since there's plenty of time these days for online shopping, I decided it was time to see what I could find that would work as-is or at least be easy to modify. I looked at page after page of end tables and I'm pretty sure it was actually on the last page of results on Wayfair where I found the one I ended up buying.

The little fence it has around the perimeter isn't tall, but it doesn't need to be. I'm pretty sure no cat would ever try to jump up, and Sam hasn't that I know of. I figured before I even ordered it that it'd never be an issue, and even if it was, it'd be far easier to attach something to the metal bars than it ever would directly to wood.

I had to take the wheels off, though. They're swivel wheels, so even with the two that are lockable locked, you can scoot the table back and forth way too easily. I didn't need to move it around on the wheels so I don't miss them.

The old end table has a storage compartment and it was still useful, so that's in my office next to the futon. I still keep my keys in it, and after several months I'm still always walking out of my office dressed for my walk and have to go back in because I'm still not used to keeping my keys in my office. It happens less and less, though.

The benefit of being available

Recently I got a message asking if I'd be interested in writing for Seattle NorthCountry, the branded county tourism and small business site. Absolutely! One of the former editors from LiEv runs it and thought of me when he found himself needing help getting holiday content on the blog. There was supposed to be a focus in December on restaurant experiences, but due to the pandemic they aren't doing that.

I had my pick of topics because the other writer he reached out to didn't show up to the Zoom call, and they were super easy because that editor had already made a list of a lot of places to include in the posts. I'm already good at a listicle, and when I have that much guidance I can really pump them out. I had a few weeks to turn them in one each week and the first three we agreed to were done before my first deadline.

Then he asked if I could do a couple more, which I made quick work of. The best part is the pay, almost seven times as much as I'm used to getting for a blog post.

There's no author page on that blog to link to, though, so here are the posts if you'd like to check them out.

Artisan Goods Shopping Guide

Shopping for Pets and the People Who Love Them

Upgrade Your Menu at Home

Experiences as Holiday Gifts

Themed Getaways

Enhancing your vision and license

While looking for my social security card this morning I found my old purple Caffe Ladro travel mug and decided to toss it since I rarely use the ones I have. But then I thought, I should look inside. And sure enough, there was something in there, wrapped in paper towels! It was my old work glasses. You see, I only had to have one terrible day back when I worked in the office and wore glasses but forgot them at home before I decided it'd be best to keep a pair there at all times. But now I don't wear glasses or work in the office.

It was a funny find, though, because I got my social security card out to take to the DOL to apply for an enhanced driver license and try to get the corrective lenses restriction taken off. The EDL will be here in a week or so and the restriction stands until they decide it's safe for people to stick their faces into the testers or I get a note from the eye doctor.

I had to take a new photo and I'm sure that turned out just great.


New default LJ icon origin, a lovely photo by Chris Robles. I can't tell if he deleted his LJ account or if I'm just not spotting it in the list. I see him every day on IG, twitter, and Facebook, though.


I love the photos people take of 575s they spot. It's not a common address because blocks aren't usually long enough!

This was definitely a strange Thanksgiving. Even though we were only seeing my in-laws, who are the only people we ever see indoors, we decided to lockdown as closely as possible to what our governor asked for, which was two weeks even though it was announced Monday the 16th, which was less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. I'd been to the grocery store on the 14th and had a distanced-and-masked outdoor walk with Lisa on the 15th but otherwise, no contact. We did grocery deliveries rather than have our usual Saturday shopping trip on the 21st, and my in-laws always order online for curbside pickup. So, pretty good isolation! I decided not to take any photos this year since (hopefully!) lots of people scaled back their plans. I don't think the amount of air travel done this week reflects that, though.

So yeah, watch for huge surges in a couple of weeks.

It was also an interesting Thanksgiving because we were working within Garrett's newly-discovered food allergies. There are lots, but the most impactful are soy, sesame, and tree nuts. Among those, which would you think is hardest to avoid? Surprisingly, it's soy. It's in just about every processed food. Would you think it'd be in lunch meat? It sure is. So there's a lot more organic going into the cart and a lot more planning since it's hard to read labels of everything on a shopping list in real time. It's such a relief to not having him randomly getting sick as often, though!

My podcast and zine are still going strong. I even signed up for Zoom Pro because Google Meet keeps freezing up on me and Nan while we record. Hopefully we'll have better results with it.

A big pandemic undertaking that took a while to get through was watching Smallville, which I just finished a few days ago. It's a great show, but there are ten full seasons! A lot to get through even if you like it. I wish I would have planned ahead of time to watch it in two five-season chunks but since I didn't, I plowed through, fearing if I gave up the momentum I'd have a very hard time returning to it. Now that it's done, I'm finally able to work on The Magicians season 4 plus Ash vs Evil Dead.

I'm happy to report that my adjustable bed frame helps a lot, though I've recently realized that my mattress makes me sore after a while no matter what, even with the pad. I don't regret the purchase, though, because I don't think it'd be wise to buy a mattress that's very soft because it probably wouldn't last very long. So one of my next purchases will be a thick, squishy pad to put on top of it. Thankfully the crappy futon from my office works well for that in the meantime, although it's one size smaller than the mattress.

Work's going well, and just about every time I have doubts about that, I end up getting great praise for the way things are going or find myself doing an exceptionally good job with something difficult.

Not a lot to report but these days, no news is good news.