Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Road Trip!!

The world continues to turn while I stand still. It can be suffocating as this virus which is up against an anti-scientist leadership, is winning.

Hubby and I took our first road trip in over a month last week. We check the weather for thunderstorms and we saw sunny, and of course, hot weather ahead.  We brought food/snacks and hand sanitizer and masks.  The Governor had lifted the 100-mile limitation of driving from home.  I had not been to the historic Ellicott City in Maryland since their last two devasting floods. It is a small town of over 70,000 and sits just outside Baltimore. It was a mill town in Central Maryland and built along the Patapsco River.

"The town was founded in 1772 by three brothers, who took advantage of the location’s proximity to the Patapsco River to create a thriving milling industry. It later became a hub for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, with a train station (which stands to this day) built at the bottom of Main Street in 1831."

The now-abandoned flour mill.

The museum was closed due to the virus as were some of the shops.  Unfortunately, the devastating flood has forced many of the tourist shops to either close or semi-close as they work on remodeling. The river came down Mainstreet and you can go to this link for a complete documentary of the tragedy.

"In 2019, Ellicott City was still reeling from the disastrous downpour of May 27, 2018, when a severe rainstorm walloped the town, leading to flash floods that ravaged roads and buildings and killed one person. It was the second torrential, 1,000-year storm to pummel the town in as many years. On July 30, 2016, heavy rain soaked Ellicott City in a span of just a few hours, causing flash floods that inundated Main Street, wiped out storefronts and vehicles, and killed two people."

Even today the danger is still there, although they are continually working on re-directing the river.

There were people on the streets, but only a few tourists.  Most were working or getting lunch.  Main street is an uphill downhill walk!

While there were places to eat lunch, we opted to eat our own food.  It did not help the retailers, but we are over 60 and must be very careful.

If you look closely at the photo of the shop window above, you can see the reflection of hubby and I playing at tourist.

We managed to fritter away the entire day by including a 3-mile walk along the river and got home just before dinner time.  A good break before we hunker down in the week ahead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

It Worked!!

I was so busy, I only had time for few photos and one follow-up on our Blue Crab feast for Father's Day. I was determined that this would be a relaxed and calm visit. 

Hubby is very social and has not had the opportunity to expound on his garden, his oysters, etc. for months and since it was Father's Day I let him do his thing. I am surprised that their ears did not fall off! 

I laid out the food on a large farm table in the basement where it would be safe and cool and bug-free. 

I used paper products and only drinks from bottles and cans. We had homemade coleslaw, a partially homemade potato salad with spring potatoes from our garden, and a fresh green salad with our own lettuce, baby carrots, and edible-podded peas with store-bought cucumbers. I also made garlic bread to go with the steamed blue crabs.

We caught eight from the dock, but hubby gets distracted these days and forgot to reset the traps so we had to buy a dozen from the local crabber. 

I thought the food was good, and for the most part healthy, and with ice cream for dessert, we did not feel weighed down by the summer heat. 

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I had fans going both for the mosquitoes that love my daughter-in-law and the virus issues as we are all talkers. We sat about 4 to 5 feet apart and with the heavily moving air pushed to the yard, I think we were reasonably safe. (Of course, we will all know for sure in 7 to 10 days.) 

Psychologically it was a very good break for me to get together with someone other than hubby to talk over stuff. All of these people traveled through Ireland with us several years ago, and so I told them Scotland is next on the list before we die!! This COVID has certainly made me appreciate the company more. As an introvert, I am still glad when everyone is gone and everything is cleaned up...but I did really enjoy the visit!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day Already

Happy Father's Day to those of you have have children, stepchildren or socially adopted children. For those of you who have lost a child, thanks for being a person brave enough to bring a child into the world and caring for that child. Today my son and his wife and her parents are on their way down to our house! Yes with Covid19 this is a bit of a gamble. I have sterilized the rooms they will use. i have made three salads to go with the crabs. They are coming for a blue crab feast. Photos to follow.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

It is a Dangerous World Even in Quarantine

Four weeks and a lot can happen when you hunker down.  As we drove through the more populated town to the north of us on our way to visit family, I noticed two huge areas of major construction alongside the road into the town.  Big areas of development, in the middle of a recession!  As we exited the small town on the other side I saw that our old dental building was totally gone with just a bare lot left behind!  I wonder if these kinds of changes are always there and we don't notice because we see them happening incrementally?

As I wrote we avoid seeing family.  BUT they invited us up to their big yard for an outdoor picnic of KFC and assorted sides including brownies for dessert, and when you say loved ones and fast food, who can say no?  

I was thrilled to see the three grands and my son and his wife and my daughter and her husband once again after four weeks of no time together!

We did not hug but also did not wear masks as we sat mostly six feet apart in the lovely spring air and were careful about touching only our own utensils.  There were sanitizing wipes on the table as well.  We all brought our own drinks.

Faces blurred to protect the guilty.  Shoulder brace was removed for a short time.

My son-in-law was the first to arrive with a shoulder brace.  I soon learned he had recently had surgery for an old golf injury (bone shaving of some type) as well as a brand new major torn ligament surgery, both done together.  Four weeks in a sling for a very active dude and it is killing him.  It is also his right arm and he has learned to be very ambidextrous.  With the kids involved in learning and the wife on conference calls, he has been left to his own devices.  I can imagine using a computer keyboard with only a left hand is very annoying, to say nothing of lots of other stuff.

Then I saw that my 13-year-old granddaughter now has a full mouth of braces.  She seems accepting of that and I honestly thought her teeth were perfect before!

But the final surprise was seeing my very active par-core grandson in a foot boot.  When I asked what had happened he said he twisted his ankle and it hurt so much they went in for x-rays and found that he is one of the 4% who are born with an extra bone in their foot and injuries take longer to heal because the tendons/muscles get compressed???

I am guessing if this was a normal year where I might not see them for months, this would have all passed without me noticing and that I would learn about this all anecdotally and promptly forget.  

It does seem to me that tons of things happen when you are hiding out at home.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Stay in the Bubble and Keep it Small

Are you tired of reading about the Pandemic?  I am yet I still click on every new link that wants to teach me how to protect myself.  I really, really, really miss my kiddos.  We did drive up almost a month ago and visited both houses and stopped and talked and had snacks and wore masks (most of the time).

Now that I have read an article about "bubbling"...

I had to send that article to the kiddos as we have been asked up for a BBQ this Sunday.  I really, really, really want to go.  I sent them the article and they explained that right now they were probably in a small bubble (number of activities and meetups with others) but were soon going to expand that bubble to a more risky venue as the kids' activities opened up.  They are young, they are healthy and they know they are going to live forever.  I guess I need to see them before they are more greatly exposed and I die.

I think we will go.  It will be outside, in a large yard, and we are going to bring all our own food and eating utensils, etc.  (Except for any finger food?)  I really believe that you are unlikely to catch the virus from food.  Just do not touch your face at all during the entire meal!  You have to sit far apart as no one is wearing masks when they are eating.

The second wave of growth in the virus is coming and I really would like to visit my family before it arrives in our area!

We are home 90% of the time.  I hit the supermarket once a month with a mask and have an efficient list to shop.  All the rest I get online.  Other things are all delivered.  We do have to go to the P.O. every other day, but that is hardly a mass of people.  I am careful about touching anything and do not touch my face and then wash my hands about 10 times after I get home.

Let me know how social distancing is working out for you!

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Neighbors, Ya Can't Pick Them!

"The more we can be in a relationship with those who might seem strange to us, the more we can feel like we're neighbors and all members of the human family."Fred Rogers

My neighborhood has changed dramatically these last few years.  It is a small upper middle class (not to be skewed by the lottery winner third house down) neighborhood.  We are very rural with only seven <4 acre lots on our side of the street and 4 lots on the other and one empty lot at the cul de sac.  Actually, there are 3 empty lots and one that is expensive will never be buildable as it is not able to perk.  More about that later.

Anyway, out of the eight homes that were here when we built on our lot about 13 years ago,  four of those original neighbors have sold and moved away.   We are pretty good friends with our neighbors on the left side of us but they are gone 6-7 months of the year to Florida.  They have HUGE home and I anticipate they will want to live permanently in Florida as they age and time goes on unless the pandemic and politics down there change their mind.   My husband is a great social animal and we have become new friends with the new neighbors on our right side, even though we are in the middle of a pandemic.  He is good at making friends by dropping off plants and they have responded by dropping off banana bread and chocolate covered strawberries!  

I have not met the new neighbors who own the large lot at the far end of the road near the highway, but he has built a dock for his 100K  or even more expensive boat.  The reason I am quoting prices here is that he must have lots of money and must be really disappointed he cannot get a home built on the river.  He does come by that dock and take his boat out on the weekends.  The boat is full of grandkids and a few adults.  Anyway, this last weekend I got to listen to some popular style of music (loud and repetitive) while he entertained on his dock.  His dock is almost a mile from my yard and yet I could hear the "noise."  Why do people always assume you like their style of music?  

Fortunately, it was for only several hours on a Saturday.  I am a bitch and would have called the police (even though they are overworked these days with protests and pandemics) and complained if it went on and on or if it happens more often.  I do not mind the occasional BBQ BUT!  Even my neighbor to the left of us in the big house was polite enough to call a few years ago to let us know she was holding her church service on her front lawn and we would have  "noise" for a few hours and hoped we would not mind.  She is a gem!  It was a one time only event and I did not mind.

To belabor this neighbor thing, I went down to my dock to take photos of our wonderful sunsets the other day and happened to look across the river to our neighbors on the other side of the river.  We only know them superficially because one of them is our Postmaster.  I took this photo.

They seem like such nice people...I will NEVER understand someone who likes 45 and claims he is a good leader.  If your grandfather likes to walk in on 15-year-old girls naked, makes fun of the "cripple" across the street, calls people names, and demands that you do not disagree with him EVER, he is not someone you like.  You may be required to be polite, but you are not going to vote for him for dogcatcher.

Ok, my last little note on neighbors.  As my readers may know, my son lives in a suburb near the city area of D.C.  You may (or may not) have read in the news about a 50-year-old white guy on a bike confronting three teenagers who were putting up protest flyers in support of the black lives matter movement in a park in that area.  Two were 17-year-old girls and one was a 16-year-old boy.  The biker assaulted the two girls tearing the flyers from their hands and then rammed his bicycle into the boy before riding away.  Since the boy was smart enough to film the assault on his cell phone, the man was identified and arrested.  ( I do not know if the teenagers were black or white, but that does not matter!)  The reason I am writing about this is I got a text message from my son today that this man lives a few doors down from my son's house and there was going to be a protest in the neighborhood as a result, so he wanted me to be aware and not be concerned! 

I had to add an addendum to this.  When my son stretched his and his new wife's money and bought his rather small house (smaller than 90% of the houses in his neighborhood) I was pleased because the area looked so stable and economically safe and middle class.  I do remember saying I was a little disappointed because it was certainly "white bread."  

You cannot pick your neighbors, but you hardly expect this!

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The Bank Lobby...no, not the one that is closed

I am exhausted today.  I am angry today.  I am bewildered, and it has nothing to do with what you are reading in the news!  I did not want what I got in the mail yesterday.  I do not need what I got in the mail yesterday. Please hang with me here.  

I received in the mail yesterday a Visa debit card that arrived in a plain white envelope from an address in Omaha called Metabank. (MetaBank, the retail banking division, operates 10 retail branches in four market areas: Central Iowa; Storm Lake, Iowa; Brookings, S.D..; and Sioux Falls, S.D.. MetaBank offers traditional banking services designed to serve the needs of individual, agricultural, and business depositors and borrowers.)  


Most people toss their credit card offers, but I decided to open the thin white envelope and found inside my "Economic Impact Credit" in the form of a VISA debit card.   Yes, this "small" bank is the one issuing the Federal payments as a VISA debit card.  Not one of my two large banks on the east coast, but some unknown!  The reason soon became clear.

Some of my friends have gotten their money as a direct deposit to their bank.  The IRS has my bank routing information to one of the largest banks on the east coast, but they did not use that.  Others have gotten their money as a check from the U.S. Treasury.  Instead, I have gotten this Visa debit card in an unobtrusive envelope with absolutely no advertising from the Treasury office that some of us will be getting our money this way.  I have read that some people have tossed this envelope thinking it was a solicitation for getting a credit card!  

The U.S. government has made no effort to make this clear to people.  I also learned that there are numerous fees attached to the use of the card.  They (Metabank) allow you to make only one withdrawal per day from an ATM before they charge you $2.00 per transaction.  Because my HUGE bank is "out-of-network" my bank is charging an additional $3.50 per withdrawal and will not allow me to withdraw a large enough amount to empty the card in one day!  This is money that people who cannot put food on the table could use.

Start adding this all up and you can see the bank lobby is making millions of dollars off of this VISA debit scam.  Not only in fees but in the money they are holding from people who threw away their card!

In addition, my card balance is not in even dollars but ends in 50 cents.  You cannot get 50 cents from an ATM.  I will have to spend it somewhere and overspend to get the 50 cents.  I cannot imagine how someone who has never had such a card or does not read small print will get confused and end up owing Metabank money before they can figure out how to cancel.  I will attempt to clear the balance tomorrow, and hopefully donate it all to a worthy cause(s)...although emotionally I would like to donate it to the Democratic party and buy a balloon with Trump in a diaper.

Greed is endless.