• Meowth is officially my favorite Pokemon.
  • The kids are teaching themselves contact juggling.
  • Got DC2 some face masks from Old Navy online, made out of scrap fabric.  They’re very nice quality.  Initially they looked huge, but after being washed on hot, they are perfect for my not-petite 7 year old’s face.  We ended up with 3 white and 2 blue checked, so not quite the variety they promised, but I figure we will need at least 7 and these are way less expensive than the fancy ones I’ve been buying on Etsy (which, admittedly were University/Ravenclaw/Batman fabrics).
  • DC1’s piano and violin have both improved tremendously since starting stay-at-home.
  • DC2’s piano has not really seen much improvement.  Possibly because DC2 is not actually interested in doing what the piano teacher suggests and eventually the teacher just gives up and goes along with DC2 who mostly wants to play right-handed while singing and ignoring silly things like flats and sharps.
  • DH has been continuing with Yoga with Adriene, but the plank and downward dog and similar things do bad things for my right shoulder-blade area and I’m ready to move to something else.  Currently it’s just been walking around the house and backyard while watching a youtube video, but I may find something more interesting. It’s hard not stopping in the kitchen when I watch one of the Try Guys Eat the Menu videos.
  • One of my friends is on a WeChat thing where they get a bunch of people in our area together to do a grocery store delivery from The City (apparently if 50 families order, they do the personal shopping and deliver to our town).  She dropped off a bunch of sweet soy curd wrappers and seaweed salad and fake crab (to our front porch, where she picked up a bag of children’s books DC2 had outgrown).  Then we took leftover rice and leftover red bean paste that we already had and had a make-your-own soybean wrapper sushi thing for lunch the next day.  Everyone was super happy.
  • Dh got me briefly hooked on the reddit main page.  So I tried to remove its cookies from my iphone, but it still popped up as a suggestion.  So I deleted ALL of my cookies.  And boy howdy has my productivity temporarily shot up.  I’m sure I will eventually regress, but this is a nice way to start summer, only being able to check work stuff and my comics strips on my phone in the morning.
  • The kids’ school basically got out a week early.  DC1’s because final exams were cancelled.  We’re not sure why the elementary school decided to stop a week early, but they did.
  • Two of DC2’s friends got outdoor above-ground pools.  One of them said they thought the government should provide them for everyone because of the virus, and I gotta say, that’s not a terrible idea.  (Not so helpful to people in apartments, but…)  So long as they take them back when our HOA pool is open and safe again.
  • One of DC2’s friends is going to Florida this summer.  One of them is going to be doing the school’s summer camp if they open, but we don’t know if they will or not.  Two of the fancy expensive summer day camps plan to open in July, but DC2 has kind of outgrown them so we hadn’t been planning on doing them anyway, and … it just doesn’t seem safe.  I figure the longer we wait to get the disease, the more they’ll know about how to treat it.  The problem is that we’re almost certainly going to get it in September when the students come back no matter what and our local hospitals will be slammed which itself will be dangerous.
  • After DH got his second paycheck of the year our check register said we had more money than we had ever had in checking (other than right before buying a car when we’ve transferred money over) and I was like, WOW, we really haven’t been spending anything since we can’t leave the house, I should totally buy more stuff online.  Then I realized that I usually pay the credit card bills before he gets his second paycheck, not after.  So… it’s easy to have increasing amounts of money in checking if you keep your steady income the same and then just don’t pay your bills.
  • I’ve hit loneliness.  I want to talk to someone about nothing important.  (DH has already heard everything.)  If I were at work I’d be talking the ear off of someone in the office.  If I were at a store I’d probably strike up a conversation about the merchandise.  I have work zoom calls and texts, but they’re not the same because they’re efficient and business-focused.
  • The imaging place where I did my mammogram was definitely not social distancing.  There were far too many people in the waiting room to allow for 6 ft distance.  And neither of the receptionists was wearing her mask correctly– one had it dangling from an ear while the other wasn’t covering her nose.  Hopefully I will be ok.

We hired a handyman

In the Before-Times, we had some rotting wood.  One of the side doors to the garage was rotting.  Our shed had seen better days.  Some of the boards in our deck needed replacing.

And also, we do not particularly enjoy painting.  We have all (minus DC2) put in time painting this deck of ours over the years and it’s just not our favorite way to spend a weekend.

One of my colleagues had mentioned that he had a handy-man he liked who would do ANYTHING, no matter how small the job.  Mostly he was always pushing doing unlicensed plumbing at less than cost.  (Looking him up online, there’s a DUI, so perhaps he was previously licensed.)  But he always did a reasonably good job (better than my colleague could do anyway) and was pretty cheap.

And so when DH complained about wood rot, I kept saying, look, there’s no need for you to do this yourself if you don’t want to.  We are rich.  Let us hire this guy my colleague recommended.

So we started with the door and he did a great job and it wasn’t too expensive.  Half up front to buy parts, half after to pay for labor.  Then he and his crew basically refaced our entire shed– they just built a shed-like structure around the original walls.  Both of these things look great to my untrained eye, and DH was also pleased.  Those two items cost $2434.50 according to my records.

Then we called them back later after it stopped raining (in the After-Times) and they replaced boards in the deck and repainted it.  That has cost $1125.75– last time we had professional painters come out to just paint it was $600, and when we did a back of the envelope including the cost of the boards, we were expecting another $600 in parts and labor for that, so this seems pretty reasonable.  DH communicated outside with him masked up but the handyman (and high school daughter and other crew person) without masks. : /  I still think this was less risky than a trip to Home Depot would have been, though maybe a bit more risky than if we’d been able to do curbside with the wood, but some of those boards were pretty long so we’d probably have had to rent a truck.  And it’s good to spread money around locally?

The wood replacing is better than DH’s attempts (though probably equally good compared with the board we replaced with DH’s dad many years back.)  The deck paint job isn’t as even as we’d like, but they also didn’t stain our walls like we do.  DH may repaint a couple of the boards where half the board seems to have more coats than the other half.  (We could call them back to fix it, but it seems unnecessary.  Plus it keeps raining.)

It is definitely nice being able to outsource jobs that you don’t want to do.

Do you have a handy-person you like to use?  What kinds of things do you outsource?

Link love

This is a little late because a lot of bad stuff has happened this week (I almost miss the days of focusing on just the pandemic… btw, we’ve passed the 100K mark in deaths :( ) and I wanted to have links to things we can do, though I’m still at a loss for some of them.  Americans– we need to get on our phones and write letters and get back to activism, even though it’s hard.  If you have the spoons, we need whatever help you can provide.  (This is partly a pep-talk for me.  But anybody who can help with time or money or both, We Need You.)


Violence against black Americans is back in the news again.  (I don’t want to say it’s happening again because I’m fairly sure it has *been* happening, it’s just that our news cycle has decided to notice again.)  Earlier this week, a woman named Amy Cooper from NYC called the police on a birdwatcher who had asked her to comply with the leashing dog policy.  She lied and said he was threatening her.    Then we found out more about George Floyd’s death when a police officer crushed his windpipe for ~9 minutes, even after he had passed out after pleading for his life.  While the officers were fired, none were charged with murder until after protests erupted across the country (so far only the one who did the actual kneeling in the video was arrested).  Protests in Minneapolis  were peaceful until the police came out and attacked protesters with tear gas and other riot gear.  (Contrast that to the non-reaction armed white dudes were getting in Michigan for taking over the State capitol.)  A black Latino CNN reporter was arrested even though he complied with all rules (as seen on film) while his white colleague was ignored.

Trump then tweeted that the protesters should be shot.  Here’s a script for calling your members of congress (MOC) about that from Celeste P.  Earlier that week, Twitter had put a link in one of Trump’s false tweets about voting for more information and Trump had retaliated with an executive order attacking twitter.


Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to help get protesters (the kind that actually get arrested because they’re protesting injustice, not the white dudes with guns and no masks) get bailed out.  (Also may help other people get bail money.)  Donate to the North Star Health Collective Fund which is providing street medics during the protests.

White people:  Have a plan for what you are going to do if you see a minority person being harassed by the police.   You could save a life.

Trump to cut ties with World Health Organization.  In the middle of a pandemic.  That he’s badly bungled.  Because he’s the banal kind of evil.  The legality of him doing that is unclear.  Celeste P says to call your MOC (that’s senators and house) and remind them that we are in a pandemic and we need global cooperation.

This nurse is tired.  This pharmacist also.  Trump is evil and the people who harass the people who are trying to save our lives the same.

People are dying from covid in meat packing plants because Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to keep them open.  Meat prices in supermarkets are high, but my colleague who has a ranch in another state says that cattle prices are lower than he’s ever seen.  Now would be a good time to go a little more vegetarian than usual if you’re a meat eater.


Why We Plan (or Not)

OMDG needs children’s book recommendations!


Ask the readers: What should we do for our 20th wedding anniversary mid-June?

So… DH took John Green’s advice and started planning 20 months ahead for our 20th wedding anniversary, only to have Covid come and destroy our plans to go to Portland (with MIL taking care of the children).

Now we’re at home.

What should we do?

I suggested leaving the kids at home and just like driving to a corn field to make out, but it turns out we don’t live in the Midwest anymore and it’s hot and we’re no longer teenagers.  (Disclaimer:  We did not have children when we were teenagers, though we did have siblings.)

There’s not really any beautiful nature to drive to within a 3 hour radius.  We haven’t been ordering take-out mainly because none of the places we would want to order take out from are open for business.  *crying*

I’m feeling a bit more bummed than I ought.  We usually just do a fun or fancy meal out for our anniversary, though some years we have had adventures.  We’d been planning something special which we never do and now we can’t.  And we can’t just go to the city to eat something fun or order something fancy in our town like we would do most years.  I am at a total loss.

A friend recommended renting a movie, but I don’t even know what’s out there.  Also I only like uplifting happy movies that don’t have TSTL characters… and I have a hard time with movies that are longer than 90 minutes (though I did recently rewatch most of Howl’s Moving Castle with the kids, which is 2 hours).

Do you have any suggestions?  What would you do for an important anniversary or birthday or other celebration?

When you cook together, how do you figure out who does what?

Growing up, I was always sous chef.  One of my parents would direct me to clean or chop or get ingredients ready while they did the planning work.

When I first married DH and got him started on his cooking journey, I would have the same set-up– I would be the directing chef and would make him sous chef.  Except his chopping was so slow sometimes I would give up and do the chopping.  We would try to switch roles, but he was terrible at delegating… he would just do everything himself.  During his cooking class, he learned the concept of directing/planning, etc. but he just could not do it in practice.  So I’d stand around the kitchen waiting to be told what to do and that would never come.  I’d have to either be the managing chef or I’d have to actively take over whatever sous chef task he was doing.

These days we’ve settled into a pattern that isn’t sous chef/managing chef at all.  Basically, we both look at the recipe.  I get out the ingredients while he reads through the recipe itself for any surprises (like hour rest/refrigeration times).  Then we both check the recipe and see what needs to be done next and pick and choose what to wash or chop sort of in order, but sometimes I know I skip things I’m not crazy about to let him do it, unless he delays them too long and I end up chopping that onion myself.  There are some jobs that he always does– he’s 100% in charge of any deep fat frying, for example.  I ALWAYS burn myself with splattering grease when I try, and he’s got a protective coating of fur.  Similarly, anything requiring the top oven goes to him because I am too short to use it without burning my arm.  But generally we both chop, we both stir, we both mix.  Sometimes we pour things out of heavy pots together with one holding the pot and the other getting stuff out.  This method is pretty similar to the inefficient but equitable way we handle most things in our household– we’re both responsible so if something gets forgotten or messed up we’re both at fault.  It works for us.

Though, when I cook with my kids, I am the managing chef and they are sous chefs (already DC1 is a fast and uneven chopper!).  For DC1’s one meal a week, zie does everything on hir own following the recipe with some assists from parents as necessary.

Do you cook with someone else?  How do you separate out the responsibilities?

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Refund Bullets Or Credits

  • Our American Airlines flights have been refunded
  • DC1’s camp has been refunded
  • Our AirBNBs have been refunded
  • Our contribution to DH’s family’s summer trip has been sent back.
  • Our United flights have been credited for future travel
  • DC1’s SWA flight situation has been odd… Originally we had booked a r/t ticket just for DC1 (age 13) because SWA is the only airline that allows 13 year olds to fly solo.  But then the flight back got split into two flights with a connection, which meant DC1 couldn’t do it anymore.  So SWA cancelled that ticket and refunded half the money and turned the other half into a waiver with which it purchased a second one-way ticket for DC1.  This second one-way ticket was later and really close to the edge of the window for which the camp was willing to do pick-ups.  Then after Covid, they moved the flight so it was outside the window.  (Then the camp cancelled before we could get around to trying to cancel the SWA ticket.)  But… when we called up to cancel, which we should have been able to do because it was such a large schedule change between our initial ticket and the latest version of the ticket, we were told that the person on the phone literally could only give credit because the ticket itself had been purchased with a waiver, even though from our perspective it was the same flight, from the system’s perspective refunds were not allowed for waivers.  So the very apologetic person on the phone gave us information for how to escalate which apparently can only be done via snail mail.  So DH typed up a letter explaining the situation and it is sitting in our mailbox waiting to be picked up.  I told him that if he did that, he could move half the cost of the ticket to his own allowance.  Normally getting airline credit wouldn’t be a big deal because we would use it eventually, but the only airports that use SWA are an hour farther away than our closest big airport (and more than two hours away from our regional airport).  Since we can’t transfer the waiver to someone else, the ticket is pretty much useless unless very unlikely circumstances have DC1 take SWA for some other reason.  (Maybe camp the summer after this?)  Update:  They called us and credited it because of the time changes from our original purchase.
  • Our grocery store has not yet credited the $17+ that some terrible instacart shopper stole from us.  DH called after 10 days and was told that it’s actually 10 BUSINESS days, not just 10 days and they were still working on it.  They also said they were going to give us $40 in store credit (update: they have), which makes me feel warmer and fuzzier, and not just because I really miss their frozen beet pizza and large selection of organics and fancy cheeses.  (As DH pointed out, there are reasons we usually shop at this grocery store and not the other one in town.)  I wonder who does the personal shopping for their curbside…
  • DH has taken some of the travel refund money and bought himself a fancy new desktop with it (using family funds).  The idea is that I will eventually take his fancy old desktop but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
  • I have not yet gotten the refund for our DDA account over-purchase.  It sounds like some summer camps will be open starting in July, but we probably won’t be sending DC2 to them.  I am going to assume they will process this after I get the last paycheck for the year.
  • I finally put in the paperwork for a number of work reimbursements but haven’t gotten them yet.

Have you been getting Covid-related refunds (or credits)?

Link love

The fact that this isn’t even closet to the top news story is … I can’t even.

This is a cool home library.  (Also flip forward a few days to her basement post.  Did you know that you could buy bookcase hidden doors?  They sell them at home depot(!) (not an affiliate link).  I almost impulse bought one but then remembered that our house is an open floor plan and gets really hot in the summer when any door is closed.  So…)