Be Concise

The Boss figured out that we need regular “office hours” every day, rather than compulsory check-ins multiple times throughout the day. He also set a class schedule for our young humans, so they know when lessons become available and when they’re due.

I’m grateful.

Too bad we can’t figure out a platform, or how to get me access to my locked Google account (which was locked 6 years ago and I’ve been using another school account). Another day, another vexation.

Last week I started getting blinding headaches, the kind in which water seems to be streaming down in the corners of my eyes and slowly moves forward until my vision blurs completely. Something similar happened a few years ago and I was told it was a migraine.

Why now? I have work to do! Continue reading

Shutting EVERYTHING Down

Last week, the county library system announced that all eleven branches were keeping their regular hours. Monday it and every other library, bar, restaurant, gym, and the like were closed. Although I knew my library card-carrying students can check out e-books and other electronic materials, I still felt sorry for anyone finishing up a book in a series.

Today while I was getting ready to purchase an Easter dress* online, there was a sudden hiccough and the entire website was unavailable. I reloaded and it routed me to a message from the CEO: the website and all brick-and-mortar stores are closed until  at least April 5.  So it’s time to take needle and thread to an old dress.**

I went for a drive to pick up potting soil for the seed germination I’m starting Saturday. Odd shops here and there were open; an auto glass repair shop,  a fabric store, and a candle-and-soap emporium, among others.  An electronics store had a very busy parking lot; techies have to tech.

The home improvement store manager assured me that they’ll be open tomorrow at 6 am, as usual.  However, I’m not sure I believe her!


* Made in the US, so I was certain it would be available.

**I have enough experience with sewing to be afraid of using scissors for anything except cutting thread. Mistakes are permanent!

Working From Home, Day 4

Yesterday was not productive, so a new plan was needed. Usually I prioritize the onerous tasks – like grading essays – but today I identified what takes up the most space.

La Casa de Tontería, aka The House of Nonsense, is too small to have this much visual clutter.   When the livingroom furniture is clear again, my mind will be, too!

My co-workers also struggle with the work-at-home routine. As a particular married lady wrote yesterday, “I’m going to report my co-worker to HR* for sexual harassment.  😂🤣” 


*Human Resource Department.

Keep Going

My goodness! The only social medium I use regularly has blown up over the last three days.* Two news sites I read also went from being information-based to semi-hysterical.

But the teachers are still teaching, albeit at a distance. Today workers and bosses at The Young Human Factory gathered to pack meals and figure out deliveries. It was great to see coworkers, but also to see the parents of former students who were volunteering.

Creative writers are no different. I’ve been encouraged by those who are staying the course through the storm.  I particularly liked The Write Practice’s offering of a 14-Day Coronavirus Quarantine Writing Challenge.

The environmental stress weighs heavily on everyone, presenting unique challenges. One of my home-bound acquaintances wrote plaintively, “My coworkers keep putting their naked asses on my papers.”  I can’t imagine the horror. (Note: I HOPE he meant cats, not his children.)

The veteran writer, David Farland, canceled workshops but continues sending his newsletter. He suggested that fiction writers focus on the problems of the characters in their stories:

As you consider those, your subconscious mind will become more and more grounded in your tale, and you’ll find it easier to write with each coming day. As you think about upcoming scenes to write in the evening, they’ll populate your imagination while you sleep, and you’ll often awake ready to write.

I think it’s good advice and I’m going to follow it tomorrow. Today I’m still doing quality-control via the Internet and correcting essays.


*People sometimes tell me to abandon FB, but it’s the best place to keep in touch across four continents, five languages (only two of which I speak), and several time zones.  This weekend, my newlywed American cousin made a suggestion for helping avoid the coronavirus, which our octogenarian Mexican cousin translated to Spanish and reposted – and it was picked up by other Spanish-speakers.

Working in the “Home Office”

This weekend I was apprehensive and, frankly, disgruntled by the mandatory closure of The Young Human Factory. Emails were trickling in from worried parents; piles of paperwork, books, and folders covered all horizontal surfaces in the livingroom; and my social engagements were canceled.*

But today I was anxiety-free as the wheels fell off.

First, I forgot to reprogram the furnace from its routine 14 Celsius/58 Fahrenheit setting. I slept an extra hour and felt refreshed… until I sat up bad flipped back the quilt and woolen blankets. I dashed to turn up the thermostat, then read in bed for an hour.

Then I tried using the scan function of my new-ish printer. It did not go well.  Luckily, the public library is keeping normal hours! The “library lady” gave me good advice. (And  checked out gardening books.)

Better luck tomorrow.


*The MET cancelled Der Fliegender Hollander, which meant no simulcast in a nearby theater. It would have been my first “real” opera, as operettas don’t count. However, I already had a disappointment when Bryn Terfel broke his ankle and was replaced by Evgeny Nikitin, a baritone with whom I’m unfamiliar.

The Accidental Stockpiler

One of my brothers joked about people stockpiling toilet paper because of coronavirus. It’s absurd because TP is produced in the US and Canada, not overseas. It’s even less understandable than buying up all the dust masks in the land.

I laughed, then I thought about it: how much toilet paper do I have?  Chain pharmacies offer me limited-time discounts and use-as-cash coupons. Whenever they do,  I buy staples like laundry soap, bleach, toothpaste….

Also, when the regional Kmart went out of business this fall and I had to use my “points,” I bought a package…. or was it two?

Well, I checked. I have three unopened 12-roll packs in the linen closet!

Good grief.

I am rich… in masks.

Because of the Coronavirus epidemic in China, masks are selling out everywhere. I heard that news and supposed that surgical masks were in demand.

This weekend BabyBro visited for his Christmas present: a ticket to a musical in  nearby theatre. Before he arrived, he asked if I happened to have any dust-filtering masks he could have. He needs them for spring gardening due to high pollen.

“Sure! How many do you need?”

“Two. I can’t find them anywhere.” Continue reading

Cranky Birdies

Except during the snowstorm, the birdfeeder has been a hub of frantic activity. Sparrows, juncos, cardinals, and (my favorite) chickadees have flitted in and out.

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As the last round of snow melts, the birds are landing on the clearing deck.

However, certain birds will not tolerate others feeding at their suet block. Nuthatches jab at neighboring diners; downy woodpeckers intimidate far larger birds. And, in a dramatic moment I wished I’d captured on film, a redheaded woodpecker managed to catch the leg of a sparrow and fling it aside.

I’m glad pterodactyls are extinct.

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Redheaded murder-bird is focused on food, so sparrow is safe… for now.


A personal note: February has been rough in and around La Casa de Tontería. My parents both hadsurgeries last week, but I didn’t make the trek because I have the Creeping Crud. I called in sick one day when I had a fever, but otherwise have slogged onward. I owe some readers a January progress report. Expect it when I post it!