Category Archives: Life

A Quiet but Not Uneventful Vacation

We were supposed to go to New Mexico the first week of May. Dean had a talk at the University of New Mexico and we were going to make a week of it — exploring Albuquerque, then heading to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge before visiting my childhood friend, Stephanie in Silver City (where Dan Bern also lives).

Well, New Mexico didn’t happen because they decided to make Dean’s talk virtual and he had reasons to stay in the DC area for that week. He still wanted to get away and we settled on going to Cape May, New Jersey instead. I booked a house at Cape May Point — away from the hustle and bustle of the actual town of Cape May and walking distance to the bird observatory.

We arrived at the cabin we rented Saturday evening, followed soon after by Andrew and Alex. We dined at a vegan/local seafood restaurant that night and I’d planned on having someone (not me) cook breakfast (I had the ingredients all ready to go). When I realized that the directions were missing (turns out they were not missing) I thought I’d cook breakfast anyway. Dean took off to check out the beach and I started prepping — the first thing was to zest the lemon. Unfortunately there was no zester in the house so I peeled the lemon and was in the process of mincing the peel (with a very sharp knife I’d brought from home) when I sliced through the first section of my pinky on my left hand. I swore loudly and Andrew, who’d just gotten up, rushed to me and asked, “Cut or burn?” I said, “Cut — and it’s bad” while I grabbed for a paper towel to catch the blood. Alex must have heard the commotion and came out to see what was going on. She calmly wrapped my finger in gauze that Andrew found in the bathroom and agreed with me that I’d need stitches. We had to wait until 8:30 to go to the local urgent care facility.

By the time we left for the urgent care facility, Dean had gotten back from his walk, but Andrew had already written a note.

At the urgent care place a nurse practitioner who resembled Tony Soprano more than Nurse Jackie sewed me up. I don’t think he did that good of a job, but what do I know?

We had a much better breakfast of delicious bagels than we would have if we’d cooked the pancakes I’d planed. After breakfast we did some shopping, then bid Andrew and Alex farewell back at the cabin.

Dean was really tired and took a nap before making dinner. He was also stuffed up and complained of a sore throat. Later that evening Alex called to say that she’d been exposed to Covid at school but tested negative that night.

The next day Andrew informed us that Alex tested positive for Covid. Dean slept longer than he’d slept in years so used one of the antigen tests I brought from home — it was negative. I thought I would wait until Thursday morning to test again.

On Tuesday Clare called to tell us she might not be able to move into the new rental she and Pete were scheduled to move to on May 28 because it was still a shambles. (Luckily this was all resolved on Saturday when the landlord actually saw the place). It was worrying that she might be temporally houseless.

So with the possibility of developing Covid and Clare’s news, we were understandably a little anxious. I was grumpy, fulling expecting that I would either get whatever Dean had or Covid or both! We both tested negative for Covid on Thursday morning. I still need to test again to be sure, but I have no symptoms — nor any symptoms of Dean’s nasty cold.

Maybe it was good that the weather was lousy — it made sticking around in the cabin less painful.

That said, we did to a few things…

Infant Dona’s Blood Levels

This tiny silverfish-eaten piece of paper has been around for 65 years. Mom saved everything. I am assuming it was from when I was born, or at least during my nearly month-long hospital stay after birth. According to Dr. Google the numbers seem normal, so maybe it was my last blood work but I have no idea what the levels were when I was born. I was very tiny and my mom’s doctor wasn’t sure I would survive, but who knows if these blood levels had anything to do with his dire words to my mom, “she’s not out of the woods yet”.

Yeah, this is going in the trash now that I have shared it with the Internet. You’re welcome!

Only One Giraffe

I have been thinking about drafts lately and that thinking brought me back to one of my earliest memories. We lived in an upstairs apartment near the highest point of a street on a (rare) hill in Elgin. I think my parents were having a party in this memory and I remember someone, possibly my mother, saying there was a draft in the living room. 3 or 4-year-old me heard “giraffe in the living room” and was disappointed that I could not see this giraffe my mother spoke of.

We’ve lived at our Bethesda house for more than 28 years. It’s an older home (built in 1947 or so) with mostly original windows on the main and second floors. For the first 13 or so years in this house we only had valences on the windows in the living and dining rooms. Each room has a large picture window plus up to 4 sash windows, so besides sort of living in a fishbowl at night, those rooms were also drafty and chilly in the winter.

Sometime in 2006 we installed honeycomb-style pull-down blinds on all the windows on the main and second floors of our house. It made a considerable difference in the temperatures of all the rooms in the house, especially the living room and dining room (and back room in our kitchen area that had two walls of windows). Winters were much more comfortable because of these shades.

A couple of years ago we bought new living room furniture. One piece was a beautiful leather “cloud” chair that sits next to the fireplace. It is exquisitely comfortable, has a light and plug nearby, yet I find myself drawn to the end of the sofa instead. I realized that the reason for that is because the chair is sitting in the coldest spot in the living room. The cold air from upstairs flows down the steps and into either the living room or the dining room. The cold air from the window behind the chair flows past the chair, into the kitchen. So even with the window shades, there is still that draft.

I searched online for a solution (I wanted pocket doors, but that was not practical) and found recommendations for curtains hung from expansion rods in the doorways (we have two into the living room). I bought some and installed them about a week ago. They are not haute couture by any means, but they do the job — very well!

The living room used to be several degrees cooler than the dining room (where the thermostat lives), but is now several degrees warmer.

When I realized that the curtains were working I proclaimed to no one in particular, “No more drafts in the living room!” Then I noticed the giraffe that Dean brought back from South Africa on one of his trips and amended my proclamation: “Only one giraffe in the living room.”