Day 77 of Isolation – Decluttering!

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that we had 14 rolls of undeveloped film just hanging out in the desk drawer. Feeling inspired, I took the 14 rolls of film to get developed in January 2020. The drugstore initially said it would be about a week. Several weeks later and only 9 rolls had been processed and returned. After a couple more weeks, the other rolls were processed and returned.

When we picked them up at the drugstore, I quickly went through them and realized MOST of the pictures were worthless. $322.36 later to realize maybe one roll of film worth of pictures were kind of usable. I put the pictures back in the envelopes and said I would deal with it later.

Later arrived.

I’m decluttering 14 envelopes, 10 cds and 541 pictures (due to duplicate printing.) Some of the date stamps are from 1999, 2000, and 2001. Just a few years hanging out in the drawer!

565 items gone!

Day 76 of Isolation – end of the school year

Today was my (Barb’s) last unofficial day of work. I had my last virtual class meeting with my science students, my AVID students, and our last staff meeting. I also “attended” our last virtual staff happy hours in the early evening.

Tomorrow is my day to get grades turned in (done!) and close out our virtual/digital classrooms (done!) John’s grades were due today but has a staff meeting tomorrow morning. He is almost done!

We have had 11 weeks of virtual/distance/remote learning. My students missed more than a quarter of the year. Everything assigned to my students was optional “enrichment” activities for both our districts. We were also directed not to teach any new concepts and to limit their academic activity to no more than 2 hours per week per subject with a maximum of 12 hours expected per week for middle and high school students. Elementary students were limited to 2 hours per day with a 10 hour maximum per week. (This might have been a state directive.) While I understand this, it sure did make it difficult for educators.

Parents had to learn how to manage working at home or working outside the home with limited childcare as well as “homeschooling” their students with the uncertainty of the pandemic on the livelihood on their family.

Many teachers went overboard on assignments at the beginning and turned off the overstressed parents. Some parents just gave up and let their child do what ever they wanted to do academically, others “enforced” 2 hours per day of “academic activity”, and then some expected their child to do everything listed for the week from every teacher.

I worry about August when we will be requiring a minimum of 5 hours of work a week from students, either in class, at home, or a mix of both.

I will miss the virtual meetings with my students. They have shared so many small personal details of their lives, more so at the beginning of all this. Some have shared insightful realizations about how they learn and what they enjoy doing now that they have time to pursue these other interests. Surprisingly, they are wanting to limit screen time (phone and computer) and prefer playing video games on the television screen. Maybe it has something to do with the closeness of the screen to their face.

Goodbye 2019-2020 school year. May we NEVER have to have a school year like you again!

Day 75 of Isolation – new lights

“We” (it was definitely not a joint effort!) finally got around to installing these extremely bright LED lights in the garage. The box says 300% brighter – I’m going for about 1,000,000 times brighter!

They really are beyond bright!

John spent most of the day working on it, between going back to Home Depot to get the actual electrical fixture and wiring stuff, assembling the wiring stuff and installing onto the rafter.

I am very grateful – no more darkness in this corner of the garage! Our electrician friend also ordered LED bulbs to go in the other fixtures in the garage. They should arrive tomorrow!

It looks like we need to declutter again now that we can see in this area!

Day 73 and 74 of Isolation

We continued to work an the yard. It seems like progress is slow. Here are a few pictures showing we have made some progress. This post shows the before picture of the front curb/gutter.

I’m not sure what this gardening tool is called, but John has spent more time with it in the last couple of days than with me!

And I’m not crazy about this “new” version of WordPress editor!

Day 71 and 72 of Isolation – More Yard Work

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings were devoted to yard work. John has hit a snag in prepping the back for planting grass. The large tree outside the fence has MANY roots just below the surface that need to be removed. Some are quite large in diameter. This is slowing down the progress in planting the yard.

Barb worked on trimming the ice plant in the front as well as trimming a couple of plants in the back.

Here’s my before picture. When it’s done, I’ll post the after. I can finally see the curb and gutter again for most of this! Hopefully I can get the entire thing done by the end of the week. We are due to hit 100 F for a couple of days, also slowing down progress.

Since we live on a corner, this continues for about twice the distance on the side street.

Day 70 of Isolation – Classroom Cleanup

School is almost out! Just one more week of “enrichment” lessons!

I went this morning to prep my room for summer. We were given a 4 hour window. I completed everything in 1 hour! I signed in at the office at 8:55 am and signed out at 9:58 am. I assume the 3 minutes was walking to and from my classroom.

I normally do everything the last day of school while my homeroom students are watching a movie while the 8th graders are having their promotion ceremony. Here’s most of what I accomplished in an hour.

  • Took down all my bulletin boards and stuff on the walls and put stuff into cabinet
  • Threw away graded papers that didn’t get handed back to students
  • Put all the recyclable bottles into the large trash bag for recycling. Moved them next door to the teacher who handles that for the department.
  • Defrosted my mini frig freezer (with a little help from my hair dryer!)
  • Put away all the pencil boxes and letter trays
  • Moved the butcher paper roll to the closet
  • Moved the printer paper and graph paper to the closet
  • Put the desk top stuff in the drawers.
  • Moved my teacher editions into the cupboard.
  • Brought home to recycle all the extra copies of assignments.
  • Brought home the stack of one-sided paper for use at home.
  • Put the DVD player into the closet.
  • Unplugged the TV and frig. Totally forgot to unplug my document reader and projector – oops!
  • Brought home my sweatshirt and coffee mug for cleaning.
  • Gathered up a few resources for reference for next year planning.

I’m sure I forgot something on this list! I am so glad I started decluttering the stuff in my classroom a few years ago. It gave me more space in my closet and cupboards so when I have to prep for the end of the year, it goes quickly and smoothly.

Grades were submitted this afternoon. It sure is easy when every student gets Credit/No Credit as a grade. Only 10 No Credit students! Not a single one of them did any of the “enrichment” activities to earn extra credit for their failing class grade.

I’ve also become very minimalistic in my class decor. Have you?

Day 69 of Isolation – Work Computer Cleanup

Today at my department meeting, we were reminded we have to go in tomorrow to clean up our room for the summer and turn in our keys. Hopefully that won’t take me more than an hour or so. I’ve decluttered plenty of stuff and have become very minimalist in my classroom decorations over the last couple of years.

John has to go to his school for end of the year cleanup next Thursday. He hopes it doesn’t take him long. Knowing my husband, he has way more stuff out than I do and it will take way longer than he thinks!

We were also reminded to make sure our “My Documents” items are moved to our Google Drive because the district is changing how our documents are stored and accessed. Anything on the district server is at risk of deletion.

So I spent the entire day (ok, I did have a Google Meets with my students and department, talked to Kiddo #2 for about 1.5 hours, fixed dinner, text with Sister-in-law) making sure everything was moved to my Google Drive.

On my school laptop, I have the virtual “My documents” which stores on the server, “Documents” which store on the computer hard drive, and Google Drive for my documents. They told us several years ago this would happen eventually – I guess eventually arrived! Most of my stuff is in Google Drive, but I am find some things that need to be moved/removed. How many years of sub plans should I keep? I really don’t think I need every sub plan I’ve written since 1997! These were the kinds of things still in “My Documents”.

Since I was moving files, I figured I would remove everything from the laptop hard drive and the virtual drive to my Google drive – finally put it all in one place. I cleaned out my recycle bin before I started just to see how much was “moved/removed” from the laptop folders.

How many items in my recycle bin when I finished?

16,163 files (25.6 GB) decluttered

How much is now in my Google Drive?

41.7 GB Unfortunately you can’t easily see how many files your drive has.

Guess I need to do some Google Drive cleaning next.

Days 67 and 68 of Isolation

Is this 10 week experiment of remote/distance learning just about finished?

I’ve seen some people posting on Facebook about their virtual classrooms. I “played” with Bitmoji and created a virtual classroom using Google Slides.

It took about 5 hours to make. I had to watch a couple YouTube tutorials, search for the stuff I wanted in the room, crop the images, find what I wanted to have the images link to, and make my Bitmoji. The Bitmoji wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be BUT I had to download the app and then install the extension onto my computer. My work computer wouldn’t allow me to add the extension, so then I had to transfer to my personal computer.

Here is what it looks like so far. I don’t have a link yet for the filing cabinet. The hope is to put the documents the students will need in a google drive folder that the students can access.

Now where do I put this virtual classroom? Do I start using Google Classroom? Do I make a Google Site for it? Do I embed it on the Haiku/PowerSchool module the district has us use? Suggestions from fellow teachers would be appreciated!

Day 66 of Isolation

Today was a “relaxing” day around here.  John transplanted/propagated several trimmings of a Rose of Sharon.

Rose of Sharon are easy to grow and propagate elsewhere in our yard.  You just trim a branch and plant the trimming!  We’ve never had an issue with growth.

These plants are from a set of plants his grandparents had in their yard.  Grandpa died in 1965 so they’ve “survived” at least 55 years!  Trimmings from their yard went to John’s parents yard then to our yard.  We should get a set ready for Kiddo #1’s yard.  4th generation of them!


This area used to be where we planted tomatoes.  We are filling in the space with Rose of Sharon to help cool the kitchen.  The shrubs should provide a nice barrier from the afternoon sun.

Day 65555555555555 of Isolation

Or at least it feels like it today.

This afternoon we did a socially distancing visit with another couple.  They put out their RV awning and we pretended we were camping in their driveway.  We maintained our distance, wore masks, and didn’t eat or drink anything.   We even took our own chairs!

While the visit was nice, it did have an overarching feeling of abnormal and some anxiety for me.

How long are we going to need to socially distance and wear masks?

What are the long term psychological risks of socializing like this?

What about all the Zoom burnout?  How is this going to affect society?

Will someone call the police on us because we aren’t home or the friend has visitors?

So many questions, so few answers.

Day 64 of Isolation

We took Kiddo #2 back to her apartment last night.  It is really quiet here!  Even though she is 31 years old, having her around increases the noise level in our house considerably!  We also don’t have to worry about waking her up OR interrupting her TV watching or book reading.  And I still miss having her around!  We realized yesterday that of the 9 weeks of quarantine, she has spent 4 weeks with us – 2 recovering from surgery and 2 for her “vacation”.

Of course the shoes she ordered from Rothy’s showed up today.  [sidebar: Rothy’s is giving 50% off if you are a teacher or medical worker.  Kiddo #2 got her 50% off pair, loved them so much she ordered another pair!]

At some point next week we will take her the shoes.  She also put in a request for lentils, pinto beans, q-tips, bleach, and the Yeti she left behind.  Thankfully, we have plenty extra of these items!  Maybe she knew that and that’s why she put in the request.  She (and her sister) also know if she asks for something, either I or John will make sure she gets it.  Maybe our Kiddos are spoiled???  Thankfully they ask for these kind of things!

Speaking of things the Kiddo’s want:  sanitizing wipes arrived!  [Recall that Kiddo #1 was jealous I received some for Mother’s day.  Kiddo #2 ordered her some.]  Costco had plenty to ship to our house but they weren’t available to ship to Kiddo #1’s house.  What’s up with that??  I made a trip to the post office and mailed her 4 packages of wipes and a rash guard shirt for Grandkiddo from her Sissy (Kiddo #2).

Today was a work around the house day.  You know the stuff – inside: laundry, vacuum, changing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, etc;  outside: getting rid of the last of the weeds!  John is hoping to get the grass seed spread this weekend in the back yard!!  I’ll need to do a yard update post if that happens!  Sure hope I can find the “before” pictures!

Day 63 of Isolation

We are getting close to the end of the school year!!  Just 2 more weeks!  Then a summer vacation of planning for the “mandatory for students distant learning” that may or may not happen in some form.


We were both reminded that the 3 days after Memorial Day are still school days.

Normal school year:

  • John would give finals.
  • Barb would have 20 minute periods after a REALLY long period 1 for 2 days of promotion practice and promotion ceremony day.  These days are usually minimum days – students on campus from 9-1 including a lunch period.

Neither of these are happening so what to do – find something for the students to “complete” even though nothing is required of them.  I guess we will have “special” Google Meet for the students.

Day 62 of Isolation – Vacation?

I really need to use the schedule feature for posts!

At this point of the school year, we would be crossing items off our to do list so we can escape for 9 weeks the moment school gets out.  Not this year.

There is no to do list since California is still on Stay at Home orders.  We are assuming we shouldn’t/can’t leave home.  Glacier National Park sent us an email that the park is closed until June 30.  Our camping reservations were for the middle of June.  Thankfully, they are giving a full refund.

Figuring out cancellations was tricky – would you click “Cancel” on this to cancel the reservation below?  I went to “Modify” thinking “Cancel” meant cancel this screen.  Go figure!


Our trip to Monterey is in limbo.  We are fairly confident that the Monterey Bay Aquarium will be closed when we planned to visit around the 4th of July.  The campground is also closed at this time since the state is on Stay at Home orders.

We were scheduled to go to Hawaii the last week of July.  Hawaii extended their 14 day mandatory quarantine to June 30.  What are the odds they will lift that on June 30th?  Do we take a chance?  We are leaning towards cancelling.  John’s mom is using her travel points for us to go – both Kiddos were going to join us!  We even purchased 1st class tickets for us and Mom (our first time!) as a special splurge.  We should get at least a travel credit if we cancel the flights.

Anyone know about getting refunds instead of credits from airlines?


Day 61 of Isolation – Student Loans & College

All of our Parent Plus Loans are paid in full!!

Because of the pandemic, all federally backed student loans (and Parent Plus Loans) have been modified to a ZERO percent interest rate for 6 months.  Since we are not spending as much as usual, we had enough left over in April to make a final payment on the last student/parent loan for Kiddo #2.  We received the official Paid In Full notice today!!  Talk about excited!  Our kids college experiences are finally paid for!

How will this pandemic affect the next group of college students?  What about this generation of people?  Will college going rates change because of this?

The California State University System announced today that Fall 2020 classes will be online with a few exceptions.  It looks like certain “lab” based classes will occasionally meet.   8 of the campuses also moved their deadline for deposits from May 1st to June 1st.  It looks like the University of California system will be adopting something similar.

As a parent, would I want my kiddo to move away?  Is it worth the money to go “away” to just have your courses online?  With the global financial uncertainty of the pandemic, is it worth the debt?  More people are saving and paying things off because of the uncertainty – more than in the last 40 years!

If this pandemic had happened in 2007, Kiddo #2 probably wouldn’t have gone to college on the east coast.  Heck, Kiddo #1 probably wouldn’t have gone 150 miles away.  There would have been serious discussions about staying close to home with the possibility of transferring.  We have a UC school about 10 miles away.  It was considered their “safety” school just in case something happened and they couldn’t go away.

How many students will be attending closer to home?  There is going to be a massive federal debt because of the pandemic.  What are the long term ramifications of this on their career prospects?

Day 59 & 60 of Isolation – John’s Data

John’s spread sheet tracks the number of infections and deaths worldwide – so far he follows 21 countries.  His metric is when a country hit 30,000 cases.

He also tracks the data for 30 states in the US – added when they hit 8000 cases.  He uses the Johns Hopkins website as his source.

As you can tell, we look at this pandemic is very different ways – he is big picture while I am more locally focused.

As you can tell, the US is a primary contributor to the world count of cases.  We haven’t reached the flat part of the curve yet.  Italy seems to have flattened.  Russia looks like it is having dramatic increases in cases, confirmed by news reports.

Capture 1Capture

Day 57 of Isolation – Barb’s Data

We’ve been tracking the Coronavirus data for quite a while.  Once we realized that most news sites just update the same page over and over, it was difficult to see trends.  The news organizations try to put it into the simplest form (understandably) but being science nerds, we want to play with the data ourselves.

My spread sheet has 3 components:

  1. Our community data since 3/27 when the first positive case was identified.
    1. Looking at this data, our curve has not hit its peak.  Why would our county rescind the mask order? data
  2.  Our community data showing the daily increases in confirmed cases and the 14 day average – the standard for “reopening states” was that the 14 day average needs to decrease.
    1. Does this look like it is decreasing to you?data 1
  3.  This 3rd page was started because I was unable to find data showing increases by state on a week to week basis.  It was sparked because I did a screenshot of the US map showing county infections on CNN.  When I looked a week later, they had changed the scale for the various colors!  How can you make a comparison when you keep changing the scale???  Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate that and did not include the scale on the first one (4/20/2020).  Second one was screenshot on 5/8/2020.  If you look at Colorado, some of the counties decreased in their color intensity.  WHY?  Because CNN changed the scale!  How can I really see a spread and increase if you make it look “mild”.  Also the scale doesn’t make it obvious you are looking at cases per 100,000 of population.
    1. COVID county map 4_20_2020COVID all counties 5_9_2020
  4. I only started my 3rd page on 4/28/2020  You’ll notice I added Los Angeles County to the sheet.  Did you know Los Angeles County has more people than 41 other states?
    1. Interesting when you look at this data based on 2

Day 56 of Isolation – CoronaVirus Test

Our county is offering free CoronaVirus diagnostic tests to any resident.  All you have to do is call – yep, you have to actually call them – and make an appointment.  It will only tell you if you have the virus currently in your nose/throat – depending on which test is administered.  They make sure you know this many times!

When we called to make the appointment, they first ask if you have symptoms.  If you have any, you get moved to the front of the line, usually tested the same day.  We called last Friday and got our appointment for Tuesday.

So on Tuesday, we took a drive to the testing parking lot.  When we finally figured out how to access the parking lot, John rolled down his window to talk to the first person we encounter.  She was kinda rude about telling him to roll up his window.  They tell you to place your government ID on the dash.  They check it and find your “medical file” and place it under the wiper blades.

We then proceeded to the next stop – that person rechecks your ID and makes sure the medical file/paper matches.

Third stop is for the actual test.  The nurse rechecks everything and then has you roll down your window for the test.  We got the throat (oropharyngeal) test.  It was kinda uncomfortable!  Imagine gargling and having someone jab your tonsils at the same time.  Yep, that’s what they do!

There have been minimal studies done comparing the accuracy of the throat test versus the nasal test.  Both can yield false positive and false negative results.  Preliminary studies are very limited.  It seems like the throat test yields more false negative results than the nasal test as more time passes after infection.  More studies definitely need to be completed.

We got the robo-phone call this morning saying we are CoronaVirus negative.  Knowing the testing limitation possibility, we are assuming it is accurate but what if it isn’t?

  • We don’t think we’ve had COVID but the weird dizzy/fatigue issue could have been a mild infection weeks ago.  No way to know unless we have the antibody blood test.
  • We don’t think we are asymptomatic spreaders of the virus if we cough, but what about sneezing?

How much longer are we going to have to maintain Stay-at-Home?  We are both “older” with other conditions that increase our risk of complications.

How much longer are we going to have to wear masks?  Our county still has a mandatory order.

Any one else have the screening test without symptoms?

Days 53, 54, 55 of Isolation

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday nursing Kiddo #2 back to health.  She is starting to feel back to normal.

Thursday was a long work day for both of us.  These darn reports we have to complete are driving us crazy!  We both have to document weekly what each student is doing.  When you have 150+ students, this takes FOREVER!!  I think it is worse because the work is “optional” for the students, so they are very sporadic at completing assignments, and they will turn stuff in weeks after it was assigned.  You never know what they will complete and turn in to the wrong assignment link!  I’m also frustrated with the emails – they don’t use their school email account and don’t bother putting their name on the email.  Parents are just as bad “my son is telling me he did the work.”  Great!  Who is your son?

I received 2 deliveries today from both Kiddos.  Kiddo #1 is jealous of the gift Kiddo #2 got me.  Guess which one she really wants!!


Day 51 & 52 of Isolation – Getting Kiddo Home

Yesterday and today were spent worrying about kiddo #2 and wondering when she gets to come home.

She had emergency surgery yesterday morning (Sunday).  The doctor called about 10 am to say everything went well and she should be able to go home in a few hours.  His recommendation was to call back about noon and check her status with the nurses.

We called at 12:30 and found out she was still in recovery.  Nurse said she was having a rough time with the after effects of anesthesia.  Her recommendation was to call back in a couple of hours.  When I called Kiddo #2 about 3, she talked about 30 seconds and then had to hang up.  Her stomach was unhappy!!  That continued until about 11pm.  She sent a text and said she was finally able to keep a sip water down!  She was feeling sort of human again!

This morning she called about 7:30 and said the surgery team had put in discharge orders but to give it a few hours before we left home.  We left about 10:15 to trek into Los Angeles.

When we arrived, the valet parking attendant said to pull forward to the pharmacy line.  The hospital doesn’t normally have a drive-through pharmacy – it was a pop up canopy with someone who takes your information and then goes in and gets you the prescription so you don’t have to!  Since we were picking up a discharging patient, we didn’t have to pay the $16 valet fee.  By the time Kiddo was wheeled out, the pharmacy tech was at our car with her meds!  Win-Win

Now getting her car from the parking structure wasn’t as straightforward.  When we got to the structure, her ID didn’t activate the gate – the drugs prevented her from remembering that she can only access that one during the weekend!  So John jumps out and hikes up to the 3rd floor.  Only to find he left her car key in my car!  This “quick” diversion ended up taking us 30 minutes!

A quick trip to her apartment to drop off her car, pick up a few things and then ride home.  The highways in California SUCK!  Road construction is always happening.  Every bump had her moaning.  About an hour later we make it home.  She is currently drugged and sleeping.  Hopefully she feels better tomorrow!

Day 50 of Isolation – Medical Drama

Today started just like every other Saturday.  A little bit of yard work in the morning with plans to have a relaxing afternoon – that is until Kiddo #2 calls about 1 pm.   Kiddo #2 is currently working nights so a call during the middle of the day is ODD!

She is crying and telling me she was awakened by severe right epigastric pain and thinks she should go to the emergency room.  “Will you stay on the phone while I drive there?”  Of course!!

No matter how old the kiddos are, they are still your babies.  We live about an hour away (assuming there is no traffic!) but it might as well be 3000.  With Stay at Home orders in place, we could go get her and take her to the emergency room.  Unreasonable since she lives 3/4 of a mile from the hospital where she works.  Visitors are not allowed to stay with patients and they even have eliminated you from waiting in the emergency room waiting area unless you are the patient or the patient is a minor, then only 1 parent/guardian may stay.

She made it to the emergency room with mommy on speaker phone the entire time she was getting dressed, driving there, and checking in.  She said there were no patients waiting!  They took her immediately to the back.  She called about an hour later and they had already taken labs (and she looked at the results online with her work phone) and that looks normal.  They said they were going to take her for a scan, thinking it might be her gall bladder.

Sure enough – it’s her gall bladder with gall stones and fluid around the gall bladder.  Recommendation is gall bladder removal surgery.  After talking it over, she is going to have the surgery tomorrow.  If she waits and has it as an “elective” surgery, it could be up to 6 months before they get to her with the backlog of elective surgeries.

On a positive

  • we will go pick her up tomorrow afternoon and she will be with us while she recovers.
  • she will get a rapid Coronavirus test and will find out if she is an asymptomatic virus spewer

Why do our kiddos have medical emergencies at the most inopportune times?

Day 49 of Isolation

I finally woke up about 10:30 this morning.  We decided to do a grocery shopping trip – ol’ mother Hubbard cupboards were looking a little sparse.

Our local market is still out of toilet paper, paper towels, and anything resembling Lysol with a sanitizing/disinfecting property.  All of the cleaners were limited, including dish soap and dishwasher soap.  There was no toilet bowl cleaner.  They did have 1 bottle of Lysol shower disinfectant, so I picked it up.  If we get desperate, I’ll use shower cleaner where ever we need it!

Most food items were starting to look closer to normal.  The meat section was looking a little sparse – there were no chicken breasts but plenty of thighs.  Plenty of steak but limited ground round.  The soup aisle was looking pretty sparse – a very limited amount of canned soup and ramen packages.  There was no yeast, minimal flour, and no granulated sugar – thankfully we needed powdered sugar this trip!

The produce section looked normal as did the frozen section.  There were plenty of ice cream choices.  We did pick up a few frozen premade meals – just in case we don’t want a sandwich.  There were plenty of bread choices as well – it looked normal to me.

There was also plenty of hair dye.  A few weeks ago this was a hot item!

The dairy section looked normal except for the butter section.  Butter/margarine choices were limited.  We usually buy 3 different types:  for spreading – Smart Balance light with Flaxseed oil;  for general cooking – Smart Balance original;  and when you must use it, real butter.  They only had the original Smart Balance in a supersized container.  No butter or the Light Smart Balance.  Eggs were normal.

So after an exciting trip to spend $425, we are basically set for the month.  We should only need a trip in about 2 weeks to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables.  It shouldn’t cost nearly the amount we spent today.

How are your markets looking?  Any weird shortages in your area?


Day 48 of Isolation – Paying Bills

I got paid today!!  John gets paid tomorrow.  By the time his check hits the checking account, mine is basically gone – I try to leave about $100 in the account just in case something happens during the night and we don’t get his check.

Our budget seems to be doing ok – we aren’t eating out at all or spending any money on auto gas.  Our savings account sure did seem happy to get a little extra!

Wishing we had a stack of $100 bills like this!!


April was a costly food month all the same, $1400 for the 2 of us and kiddo #2 for 10 days.  We had a big trip to Costco, a big shopping trip to Stater Bros, and several trips to Walmart in March that I used the Walmart card for that needed to be paid with April’s budget – oops – that explains the extra money in March.  We are now getting low on stuff and will need to make another big trip this weekend.

I sure hope people follow the mandatory mask order.  Our county extended the mandatory mask order to June 19th.  I’m assuming this date was picked because that is when the no school, no gatherings order is currently set to expire.

Hopefully everyone is doing ok financially.  Can you believe over 30 million people have filed for unemployment?!?!

Day 47 of Isolation


We received our stimulus check deposit!!   Gotta love the cartoon – I feel like all of them!!

Of course, it will probably need to be paid back at tax time next year.  That’s what happened last time we got stimulus checks.  They “give” you money (your tax dollars), and then when you do your taxes a year from now, you need to indicate this amount as having been “refunded” in advance.  Last time, we owed the stimulus amount and about the same amount we paid the previous year.  Not much help when you spend the stimulus check for essentials.

This time we are putting it into savings and hoping we don’t need to use it.  We’ve been pretty diligent on saving for summer this year – maybe saving more than we will use if we can’t leave home.  In case you didn’t realize, when teachers are off for the summer, they don’t get paid.  Many take on summer jobs to make ends meet.  How many are going to be able to do that this year?  This is such a unique time with so many uncertainties.

We hope everyone is doing ok with all this.  Stay safe!




Days 45 & 46 of Isolation

I really need to use the schedule feature!  I start the post and then forget to go back and hit publish!

Days are really starting to blur together for me.  In the old days, different mornings had different activities, even if it was stopping to get breakfast on the way to work.  It made each day slightly different.  Now, every morning seems the same.  At the beginning of all this, it had an ending date 3 weeks away, sameness was ok.  Then it shifted to 6 weeks, sameness is ok.  Now, will this ever end?

The current morning routine feels just like a typical Saturday.  If we have work obligations, the meetings aren’t early in the morning so there is no need to set alarms or rush (now that I don’t sleep beyond noon!)

Some might think that since we get 9 weeks off every summer, we would be used to this.  We aren’t!  Our usual summer time off doesn’t have this sameness.  We are going from place to place and doing different things in different places.  If it is a driving day, you get up and prep the RV for travel.  If it is a relax day, you relax.  If it is an outing day, you do the outing.  Every day isn’t planned out in detail but you have different routines depending on the day and usually know before that morning what is generally happening.

I need to figure out a way to shake things up.  Any suggestions on how you have modified your mornings to make each day a little different during this uniquely different time?



Day 44 of Isolation – Violating Orders

Today was a day of “violation”.  Our friends, “K” and “N”, called and asked us to join them at the indoor shooting range (air conditioned!)  When we arrived, the range was only putting people into every third stall so John and “K” shared a lane and “N” and I stayed outside to talk (we weren’t allowed to hang out inside.)  Usually we are able to get 2 lanes next to each other and the 4 of us go between the 2 lanes depending on which gun you want to shoot.

The range has been open to law enforcement all along and recently opened to the general public – like the golf courses and beaches!

I’m not sure why the guys could share a lane and be closer than 6 feet but walls between lanes aren’t enough of a barrier to use more lanes.

So we had multiple social distancing violations as well as the stay at home order violation.  Since this is the first time we’ve violated the orders in 6 weeks, I’m only feeling a little guilty.  We did wear our masks though so no violation there!


Day 41 and 42 of Isolation – teachers gotta work

Thursday and Friday’s have become major work days.  Between meetings with colleagues, students, grading, generating distant learning “optional” review lessons, and tallying which students submitted work or looked at your webpage for admin, and doing the write up admin wants, there is little time for anything else on these days.  The other days of the week are a little more relaxed with few meetings, etc.

I wish there was a way to encourage student learning when everything they do is optional.  I really wish the district hadn’t put that out there.  Of course, some teachers told their students about the optional status – what were they thinking?? Wouldn’t it be better for more of the students to stay engages intellectually?

John’s district is still having them do their official weekly PLC (professional learning community) meetings virtually and submit the meeting minutes.  Thankfully, my district said all of these type of meetings are cancelled and my union negotiated a weekly limit on meetings – I have never been so happy!  I’m on the District Science Committee as a curriculum writer and was having major anxiety that they were going to have us work on making distant learning modules for every one.  My school site has an awesome 7th grade science team.  We share all the time BUT making a few of us modify everything we’ve worked on over the years for distant learning would be unreasonable.  Again, thankfully, my district realized this is a unique situation that would need more time and thought to implement.

I’m assuming we are not going back on August 6th with normalcy.  I was pondering the 6 feet social distancing rule and the seating arrangement in my room.  That would allow me to have 9 students in the room at a time.  How would I sanitize desks during passing period?  What about lab equipment?  Goggles?  Pencil sharpener?   How do you do group work?  It would also prevent me from: wandering the aisles while they work; greeting them at the door; having “private” conversations with individual students; and working individually with them.  How will the district handle this??  WHO KNOWS!  Another reason I am so glad I’m not an administrator!

Have any teachers out there heard their district plans yet for reopening school?

And now a meme:  Only thing missing are face masks!!  Dated picture but …


Week 6 Isolation Watching


food snack popcorn movie theater
Photo by Pixabay on

  • Frozen
  • Ghostbusters – 2016 version
  • Gone in 60 Seconds – Nicholas Cage version
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Almost Famous
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet



  • Current episodes of:
    • Survivor – last week’s episode as well
    • Bless this Mess – last week’s episode as well

      Our TV!
    • Killing Eve
  • Naked and Afraid
  • Band of Brothers
  • Last Man Standing
  • Forged in Fire: Cutting Deeper; Samurai Showdown – History Channel
  • Outlander
  • 1999 NFL Super Bowl


Day 39 & 40 of Isolation

On Tuesday, we briefly heard rodent noises around noon.  Nothing since then.

My AVID students were so cute on Tuesday for our meeting – David played his harmonica (Silent Night no less!) and they wanted to play Kahoot.  When we finished the first game, they wanted more – I found one “All About Animal Poop”.  It took them a few questions before someone asked if all the questions are about poop.  Of course it was David!

partial screenshot of the Kahoot we played.

On Wednesday, I attended a virtual DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) “meeting”.  Since the by-laws don’t allow for actual meetings where voting takes place, our April meeting was cancelled and we got together today for a “social” hour.

New officer positions will be voted on whenever we can get together.  It was suggested today we just meet in a random parking lot.  Our quorum is 12 members.  If all of the board shows up, they only need a few of us non-officer members to show up and give our thumbs up for the election.  It could work IF enough non-officers show up.

You know things are getting TV desperate – John is currently watching the 1999 Super Bowl!

We got a few more weeds pulled over the last 2 days and contemplated removing the fencing for the dog run.  We’ve lived here 30 years and have NEVER used the pen.  It is on the far side of the house in a nice shaded area.  I think I want to put some seating over there so when it is warm, there is a nice cool place to hang out, especially if this isolating madness continues.  It helped that it is supposed to be 100 F. this weekend.

So that is our update.  How are you doing?

Day 38 of Isolation – flowers!

I walked out the front door this afternoon for the first time in a couple of days and was struck by the beauty of these blossoms!  These bulbs were at my Grandmother’s place.  When she died in 1993, I “inherited” her dwarf lemon tree and these bulbs.  The lemon tree was transplanted from a pot to our patio flowerbed.  The bulbs were planted here.  We really should thin them out but we haven’t done anything with them in 26 years (no fertilizer or thinning). I think it can wait.  You can also barely see the ornamental garlic in the next planter going down the steps to the street.



While pulling weeds this morning in the back, we also found some wild violets growing the the back corner.  We know it is a weed but we are going to keep it!  Something different in that corner instead of grass.


Day 37 of Isolation – unwanted visitor

Just another night in Isolation until I heard a weird noise about 1 am this morning.  I turned off the TV to listen and try to figure it out.

At first I thought it was John and his CPAP making the noise. As I walked into our bedroom, I realized the noise was coming from the attic.  The dog was sitting there staring at the ceiling when I turned on the light.

Being the “helpless” female that I am, I woke John up so he could hear the noise too. I know he couldn’t do anything about it at that time, but I didn’t want to be “alone” if it chewed its way through the ceiling.

It would stop for a few minutes every time John used the broom handle on the ceiling. After about an hour, there was no more noise. We either scared it to death, it left, or it fell asleep. I’m hoping for death!

Our unwanted visitor came back about 6:30 in the same location.  Guess we didn’t scare it to death.  And now I’m tired and cranky!

John went to Home Depot this morning at 7 am to purchase supplies – traps, poison, sticky pads so we can Declutter the UNWANTED Visitor.  All 3 were placed in the attic.  Now we wait.  He said it was obvious something was having fun up there!  No droppings or babies visible thankfully.

Picture from Wikipedia (Brown Rat)



Days 35 & 36 of Isolation

Friday was another work day for both of us – virtual meetings continue.

Here is my virtual meeting rant:  Why do we need to keep having all these virtual meetings when email would work just fine?  And why are we encouraged to use and learn all the intricacies of Google Meet to only have admin now say we need to learn and use Zoom?  I found Zoom more complicated and annoying to use.  I’m going to continue to use Google Meet with my students.  If someone schedules a virtual meeting, I’ll use whatever they want.   Most people aren’t even showing their faces and have muted their microphone.  They aren’t really participating in the meeting in a meeting manner.

Here are my Zoom issues:  First, I click the link you give me.  Now I need to download the program to use it.  Then when that is finally done, I need wait for you to let me in.  Second, when I try to use a virtual background, all anyone sees is a weird pixelated image of me.  Third, WHAT THE HECK?  Let us use just one – first we are told not to use Zoom and then we are told to use it.  MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!

After all the virtual meetings using two different platforms, Saturday was a napping, reading, visiting John’s mom day.

Days 33 & 34 of Isolation

Yesterday was a lazy, tv watching, napping day.  Today we have been “working” and having Google Meets/Zoom with our students and colleagues.  I’m about to have a virtual union meeting today and a virtual Happy Hour.  Thursday sure is a busy day!

John has to have “office hours” every day for one hour.  So far this week, he had 3 students “attend” on Monday, 0 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 1 student today.  Now that the students know that not doing the work will not lower their grade, we’ve seen a decrease in participation.

I had 8 students “attend” my class this morning.  I’m only obligated to one day a week.  The only question one student had for me: “Do you think Carole Baskin killed her husband?”  Seriously, they then spent the next 10 minutes discussing Tiger King!  Thankfully, I had watched it and knew something about it.  Not a single question about academics!  The 8 students wanted to let me know they miss me and that they like having the meetings so they can talk to someone other than their family.  I’ll take it!

Jena, these are my notes/list from my meeting. Definitely not Bullet Journal worthy!  And if they look like they were taken on the back of scratch paper, they were!  When I do what needs to get done, I’ll throw them away.


Day 32 of Isolation – Food Anxiety

For some reason, I have increased anxiety about food.  I’m not sure if it is related to hearing of continued shortages in stores, the closure of a meat processing plant in the news, or that we are running out of things we would normally have.  I’m WAY more worried about wasting food than ever.

We’ve also been making a little more than usual since Kiddo #2 went back to her place so we are having leftovers – they are sure making yummy lunches!

I don’t believe it has to do with weight loss and tracking my food intake.

Anyone else experiencing this??

Day 31 of Isolation

I’m really getting tired of hearing about when we are going to “open” the economy.  I understand that this is going to have global repercussions for years.  I would really prefer to listen to global health experts and prevent more deaths than to “open” things and cause another spike in deaths.  The disregard for science boggles my mind!

And now things happening at the house:

  • Today was a day of tracking which students did the optional work I provided.  I also had to contact every parent of student who, at last progress report, had an F and provide them with information how their child can raise their grade to get credit for the class.  Of the 11 students, only 1 has done anything in the last 4 weeks and that was attend the Google Meet for his class.  That’s not going to raise his grade from 37% to 60% for credit.
  • After taking my car to get a flat tire fixed, John went to wind the clock at his Mom’s house today.  She seems to be doing better at isolating than she was earlier.

Day 30 of Isolation

Easter Sunday is just not the same this year.  I’m missing our usual gathering.

We had a zoom meeting with Kiddo #1 to watch the grandKiddo hunt for Easter eggs.  It was nice seeing them and the other grandparents as well.  Once grandKiddo found all the eggs, she kept looking for more!  It was so cute!  [We might be biased though.]

Our Easter Sunday breakfast was homemade Belgium waffles with “goop”.  Goop is what John’s family has always called it.  It is an egg white, sugar and berries whipped up and plopped onto sponge cake as a dessert.  We are the rebel branch of the family and also put it on waffles!  Kiddo #2 nicknamed them “affle waffles” and it stuck.  Whenever she wants waffles with “goop”, she still at 31 asks for affle waffles.  We aren’t sure what she was saying way back but these are definitely not awful!




Day 29 of Isolation

Our first day of sunshine and no rain in about a week.  John worked in the yard, finishing the drip system along the patio and putting down mulch in that planter.

I lounged on the patio and read a book – getting sunburned on one side of my face!  It was a very relaxing day for both of us!

We had Thai Chicken pizza for dinner.   John does a great job making this one!  I really should have taken a pic!

Week 4 Isolation Movie/Show Watching


  • Dave
  • Hunger Games #3b (Mockingjay, part 2)

    food snack popcorn movie theater
    Photo by Pixabay on
  • Aladdin – 2019 version
  • Gangster Squad
  • 127 Hours


  • Tiger King on Netflix – finished!
  • The Ranch on Netflix – finished!
  • Homeland on Showtime – all caught up!
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO
  • Tonight Show at Home with Jimmy Fallon
  • The OC – rewatching an old favorite
  • Recent episodes of:
    • The Walking Dead
    • The Talking Dead
    • The Rookie

      abandoned antique close up design
      Photo by Rene Asmussen on
    • American Housewife – 3 episodes
    • Survivor
    • Seal Team
  • Nailed It on Netflix – we can only do one episode at a time
  • Naked and Afraid
  • Last Man Standing
  • CNN10

Day 28 of Isolation

I can’t believe it has been 4 weeks of Isolation!  It is my understanding that we have at least 4 more to go, if not more.  Los Angeles City extended their Stay-at-Home order to May 15th today and California Governor said he doesn’t know when it will be lifted for the state.  Some are predicting 6-8 more weeks of Stay at Home.

We both had a work-filled day.  We held “office hours” for the students, worked on next week’s “optional” lessons, documented student “participation”, and had virtual meetings to attend.

I have to document which students are participating – even if all they do is look at my web page, that counts as participation even if they don’t do the assignment.

My school district has decided that all grades for this semester will be based on the progress report we sent out late February.  If they received an F, the work they did before shutdown can only help their grade.  We are also only giving Credit/No Credit marks.  No actual grades.  The UC (University of California) and CSU (California State University) systems have agreed to accept Credit marks for this semester for the next 4 years.  Once parents know this, I have a feeling the amount of “participation” will drop even lower than it currently is.  The district is sending out notification to parents and students today.  John hasn’t heard about grades yet from his district.

And other stuff today:

  • Trying to catch up on blog reading.
  • Finished another 1000 piece puzzle we started night before last.


Days 25, 26 & 27 of Isolation

MASKS!  Kiddo #1 asked for a dozen masks.  That has been the focus of any “free” time these days.  They are finally finished and got shipped today.  It was a stressful outing for me.  The county ordered cloth face masks when out of the house.  I was shocked to see people without coverings.  Granted out of the 9 people I saw (yep, I counted them!), 4 were not wearing masks.  ALMOST HALF!!  No wonder the rate keeps increasing!

Kiddo #2 is finished with her vacation and has to go back to work for Saturday graveyard shift.  She is having a bit of anxiety returning to the hospital amid this madness.  I’m confident she will do fine – you would think she would be happy to leave after spending almost 2 weeks here with us.

It has been raining and “cold” here this week.  We’ve spent a fair amount of time just watching TV and relaxing together.

Hope everyone is doing well.


Day 23 of Isolation

Sunday April 5, 2020

More masks were worked on today.  I like feeling like I have a project that MUST get finished is giving me a purpose.

It was nice yesterday to have Kiddo #2 ironing the ties while I was sewing.

John woke up this morning dizzy and tired.  Maybe it is related to our sleep patterns.  I sure hope this doesn’t mean COVID-19 has hit our house.  His last outing was to the store 3 days ago.  At this moment, John and Kiddo #2 are both napping.  This unique stressor is messing with our sleep patterns.  We were up until 2 am last night watching “Tiger King“.  Only one more episode to go!

Both of us need to get some lesson plans finished to post tonight.  Last week I assigned a photo journal.  Every picture had to be described by its relationship to a micro-ecosystem in their yard.  Of my 140 students, 7 completed it.  Every one of them took pictures of the sun and water!  There were worms, ladybugs, bees, goats, cows, spiders, dogs, cats, lizards, flowers, trees, and grass.  Those that completed this did a great job!

Day 22 of Isolation

Batch 1 of masks are finished.  Here’s what they look like finished.


John’s Mom (age 89) stopped by to drop off birthday card for Kiddo #2.  She didn’t get out of her car, rolled down the passenger window and practically threw the card out at us!  We ended up sitting on the front steps about 12 feet from her car and had a nice visit for about 45 minutes.  When she called, she made it obvious she was wanting to get out of her house and even took a very different route to our place to be out and about longer. She is about 9 miles away if you take the shortest route.  Based on her description, I bet she traveled 20 miles to get to our place!

We worry about her.  She invited neighbors over, claiming they sat on the patio and maintained at least 6 feet between them at all times.  Our county today issued orders that any gathering can only be with those people you live with except at essential outings (Dr, grocery, etc).  I assume the order is because of Holy Week.

How do we “force” her to stay home?


Day 21 of Isolation

Masks!  Almost done making a dozen masks.  Just need to finish the ties.  Kiddo #1 put in an order for 12 as well – she is so kind – she wants to give a pair to her in-laws!

John spent a large part of the day working on repairing the sprinkler system.

No work related obligations today.  Lesson planning can wait a day.


After 3 weeks, things are finally settling into a new normal routine.  It is weird not going out for anything or seeing other people.

Week 3 Isolation Movies


  1. Why Him
  2. No Strings Attached
  3. Blood Father
  4. Aftermath
  5. Outbreak
  6. Hunger Games #1, #2, #3a


Non-Movie watching:

  • The Ranch on netflix
  • Tiger King on netflix
  • Jimmy Fallon At Home
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO
  • recent TV episodes of:
    • The Walking Dead
    • The Talking Dead
    • Bless This Mess
    • Survivor
  • Last Man Standing
  • finished Kominsky Method on netflix
  • Grey’s Anatomy – we hadn’t watched in years.  Kiddo watched recent episode and we asked too many questions to get caught up!


Kiddo Watching that we mocked (ok, she is on vacation but…):

  • Keeping up with the Kardashians

Day 20 of Isolation

Today we both had multiple Google Meets meetings.  I’m feeling slightly more comfortable hosting a meet with the students.  Some educators have mentioned that their darling students are sending the links to friends and then the friends are “having fun” during the meeting.  You can remove them but then they can just rejoin.

Anyone having this issue with uninvited visitors to their Google Meet meetings or is it just a middle school student thing?  We aren’t allowed to use Zoom with the students, which is having even more issues in general.

On other news, went outside and found this beautiful flower had blossomed!


Day 19 of Isolation

Well, it happened.  We aren’t going back to work for the rest of this school year.  All California schools are shut until June 19th.  Why that random date?  I think because by then all schools will be officially out.

So now we have a new challenge – holding office hours virtually!  We also can’t teach any new content.  This will make office hours interesting!  I’ll keep you updated with some of the things my darling middle school students talk about during office hours.

I was able to figure out why I couldn’t hear anything when I was on a Google Meet.  I have the extension “Disable HTML5 Autoplay” installed on Chrome.  After spending about an hour searching online for a solution, one person of many in a thread mentioned their autoplay blocker prevented them from hearing others.  Disabled mine and VOILA! I can hear!  It is so much easier than using the phone for audio and computer for video.  John and I tested it with him continually saying “can you hear me now?”  Just be sure to refresh for the change to take effect!

Another thing happening in California (our county) is the recommendation that everyone wear cloth masks IF they must leave home for essentials.  So today was figuring out which sheet and pillowcase I was going to cut up to make them.  I also am using a water repellent boat cover that we happened to have in the garage as part of the design.

Here is the pattern I’m using.  Kaiser Permanente has on online pattern and video tutorial for making masks.  Thank you Kaiser!

It was an eventful day!

Almost done cutting out the mask supplies. 



Day 18 of Isolation

6 years ago today I fell, fracturing my knee cap and tearing my meniscus.  Immobilized leg for 3 months, then the meniscus surgery with additional immobile time.  Another 6 months of physical therapy to be not quite back to normal.  Since that fated day, I gained 35 pounds!  Guess my activity levels dropped more than I thought.  In the last 17 weeks, I’ve lost 28 of those pounds!

Because we are watching more closely what we are eating, today I made homemade unsweetened applesauce to have with the BBQ pork loin and asparagus for dinner.  It was so easy!  Cut up, boil, and blend in food processor.  Start to finish was 20 minutes and then a few hours in the frig.  Didn’t even peel them.  Don’t want to lose those nutrients.

What foods have you experimented with during your self-isolation?


Day 17 of Isolation

We ordered mulch and steer manure online and went to Home Depot to pick it up.  They even load it into the car.  Today was planter mulching day!  Grass seed and steer manure soon and then our yard will smell absolutely fabulous!

John also repaired the bench on the front porch.  Some of my honey-do list is getting done!!  Happy wife here!!

What projects have you worked on?


Day 16 of Isolation

We had a very relaxing day after our Mai Tai party last night.  We might have had too many!

It has been so great having the Kiddo around!

Kiddo made a great lentil soup I have to rave about.  It was a Moroccan Lentil soup with lentils, garbanzo beans, diced tomato, cauliflower, celery, onion, and spices.

I only had dried garbanzo beans – they were so easy to make in the Instant Pot.  One cup of beans and 6 cups of water for 50 minutes.  Turned out wonderfully!

Day 15 of Isolation

Kiddo #2 is officially on vacation and coming home for the week.  She hasn’t been to the hospital in 9 days (not sure how that happened for her) so she feels confident she will not infect us.  She was supposed to leave this morning for spring break in Hawaii.  To celebrate, John made a batch of Mai Tai.  This picture isn’t ours – we didn’t have the fruit slices.


And we also:

  • We debated where we can install the horseshoes game.  While weeding earlier in the week, we found a horseshoe.  Not sure how long it has been there since we have never played horseshoes at home (that’s a camping activity.)  We’ve lived here 30 years.  John’s hypothesis is that the previous owners had a horse in the yard and the shoe came off.  Barb’s hypothesis is that they played horseshoes on that side of the yard.  Who is correct? Barb, of course!  Why? Because I’m always right hahaha
  • Enjoyed the afternoon and evening talking with Kiddo and drinking Mai Tais.

Week 2 of Isolation Movies


  1. Our Brand is Crisis

    food snack popcorn movie theater
    Photo by Pixabay on
  2. Secretariat
  3. The Martian
  4. Romancing the Stone
  5. The Jewel of the Nile
  6. Transformers: Age of Extinction
  7. The Holiday
  8. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  9. Gladiator
  10. Man From Snowy River

Non-Movie Watching:

  1. Jeff Dunham comedy shows
  2. abandoned antique close up design
    Photo by Rene Asmussen on

    newest episode of “The Rookie

  3. newest episode of “Bless this Mess
  4. newest episode of “Survivor
  5. newest episode of “The Walking Dead
  6. started watching “The Kominsky Method” on Netflix
  7. CNN10 news
  8. Jimmy Fallon at Home
  9. miscellaneous YouTube dark hole!


Day 14 of Isolation

I can’t believe it has been 2 weeks!  On one hand it seems SO MUCH LONGER!  On the other hand, it has gone by relatively smoothly. 

We are trying to find ways to keep ourselves entertained without leaving our property.  Our 9000 square foot piece of land (.2 acres; 836 square meters) doesn’t give many places to hide with a house on it!  I think our biggest challenge is finding some time alone.

How are you finding time alone with this “Safer at Home” order?


Today we:

  • made extra YUMMY pancakes with some of the sourdough starter – didn’t think to take a picture until they were all gone!
  • worked on Sudoku puzzles
  • GUITAR HERO!  Amazed our guitar still works!  I think it’s been over 10 years since it was last used.
  • naps and a very restful day

Day 13 of Isolation

Is it just me or is this never going to end?  I have a weird feeling that we aren’t going on vacation this summer.  Looking at the number of cases this morning seems to confirm things are getting worse, not better.

My principal sent an email this morning (midway through our spring break that’s already ruined by the pandemic) that we must check our work email HOURLY starting Monday.  Like I have nothing else to do (oh wait, I guess I don’t) but still!

They also want us to “interact” with the students starting next week.  Granted, we can’t assign anything that results in a grade and we can’t force them to “interact”.  They want all of us to set up a Zoom or Google Meet time so students have access to us.  Not sure how comfortable I am with this.  They can already message through the district platform and email us.  Is it so they can see us?  Be reassured by us?

Today on the homefront:

  • a few more weeds pulled out of the side yard
  • facetime with the kiddos
  • patio is ready for spring, I even had lunch outside today!
  • Declutter a shelf in the back bedroom so we can put our Wii stuff there.

My LadyBug friends while out with the weeds!  My social life is devolving!

IMG_0461     IMG_0463

Day 12 of Isolation

This seems like our new normal.

Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Franklin D. Roosevelt

I am fearful that EVERYTHING coming into our home is infected.  And we aren’t going out often or ordering stuff.

  • John went to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables this morning at the grocery store.
  • Kiddo #2 ordered something from Amazon before the “Safer at Home” order here in California. [She will frequently use our address for deliveries since she has issues getting stuff delivered at her apartment.]  Everyone else must have been ordering the same gluten free soup.  It finally arrived today in a cardboard box. 

I was nagging John to be sure he sanitized everything including the box and bags along with all the door handles and other stuff he might have touched after he brought the stuff in.  

Please don’t misinterpret – I am a supporter of self-isolation and the statewide isolation order.  From a public health perspective, this and hand washing are the best ways to decrease the spread.  Our county currently has a 10% death rate.  This is nothing to mess with.

Anyone else having anxiety about infected stuff coming into the house?  I know we have all conquered our fears of clutter entering!


And the other stuff happening here today:

  • John made another loaf of sourdough bread
  • Barb weeded the side planter.  It was nice to sit outside and have time “alone” with my thoughts.
  • Catching up on blog reading.



Day 11 of Isolation

Things are starting to settle into routines.  Laundry is getting done more frequently – doing yard work is clothing extensive!  We are having more dishes to wash since we are eating all 3 meals at home.  We have been experimenting with recipes.

I’m going to try to get up earlier rather than later.  My morning wake up time has been getting later and later.  Yesterday it was 11:30 and a kick in my behind that I need to get up earlier.  This morning was 10:00.  John has been “sleeping  in” too – this morning it was 6:00 when he woke up.  Way too early for me!

How is your new daily routine coming along?

Things going on today:

  • more yard work – does purchasing bark/mulch count as an essential?  We are debating a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s but not sure we want to risk it at this point.
  • no puzzle today – decided to read instead.
  • John baked gluten free sourdough bread!  It was so YUMMY!  We need to figure out something to do with the starter he has been maintaining.  I think waffles are on the menu for tomorrow morning!

Day 10 of Isolation

John went to the store this morning.  Our local grocery store did not have toilet paper – we aren’t out and he wasn’t going to buy it – he was just curious.

The health food store farther away in downtown had everything gluten free he wanted (baking mix to make homemade bread specifically).  They also had dry beans, quinoa, and hominy which the local grocery store didn’t have.  We are now set on those.

We made Mac and Cheese for lunch.  No baking!  Here’s the gist of what I did.

“French Onion Mac & Cheese”  Sorry no pic, it was just mac & cheese in a pot.

  1. Boil the noodles in just enough water so that when they are done there is hardly any water left.  I also added some beef Better than Bouillon to the water before cooking.
  2. While the noodles cooked, I caramelized 1/2 a large onion.
  3. I grated about 3 ounces of Gruyere cheese which we just happen to have in the frig and sparked this recipe.
  4. When noodles were done, I added a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the remaining water since we used gluten free noodles.  I would think with regular noodles you wouldn’t need to do this.
  5. Mix the noodles, onions, cheese together with a splash of half and half.
  6. EAT!  It was super YUMMY!!


Other happenings in our house:

  • Barb’s shoulders are sore today from working in the yard yesterday
  • finished another puzzle – I think it is time to move to reading for a while


Day 9 of Isolation Ruminations

I’ve updated our day numbers.  We started isolation 2 days before the first blog post.

I haven’t left the house/yard since returning from dinner Friday 3/13.

On this day, I left for work and was dreading Friday the 13th at a middle school.  We had already had RAIN (you know that wet stuff that occasionally falls from the sky in Southern California), FULL MOON, and DAYLIGHT SAVINGS!  What more could happen??

Friday after lunch, everything changed.  The county was shuttering all school at the end of the day until 4/6.  By Tuesday morning, the closure was extended to 4/30.  John found out his school was closing until 4/6 on the same day I found out 4/30.  It wasn’t until Thursday that John received confirmation that his school was closing until 5/1.

I’m not sure if this is a positive or not, but we are not expected to provide specific lessons to the students.  Because some students do not have internet access, we can’t assign anything we expect to have completed and turned in digitally.  Some students have started the “assignments” I posted but not a majority by any stretch of the imagination.  The district also feels this is a stressful enough event without adding parents trying to guide/teach as well.

So now we have to “entertain” ourselves for at least 6 weeks at home.  Today we:

  • did some yard work, we were out there for 2 hours!  It was a beautiful morning here.
  • contemplated what we will do for student semester grades IF we don’t return.
    • Barb thinks we won’t go back
    • John is optimistic we will.
    • Can we just give a grade based on what they earned just before shutdown?
    • Can the state just say “No Grades”?  They’ve already said no state testing.
    • AP tests will still be given during May.  Not sure how this will look and how valid the test scores will be.
  • completed another puzzle – we purchased this in Yellowstone National Park.  It is OBVIOUS someone purchased it before us and returned it with broken pieces.  Glad all the pieces were included.  Would have been really annoyed if it had missing pieces.


  • started another puzzle

Day 6 of Isolation

The state of California has its act together.

We filed our taxes Monday afternoon and this morning when I went online, the bank had already received our refund!!  Less than one week!  Not that we are going anywhere to spend it but we have it!

John also received his new Real ID license today.  He went last week on Friday to do the renewal.  One week to receive it!  Hope other aspect of state government are as efficient!

Meanwhile –

  • Our bathroom temporarily ran out of toilet paper.  Just a small panic until I realized there were 10 rolls in the other bathroom.
  • It was a beautiful morning here so we did a couple of hours of yard work.  The recent rains have spurred growth of grass and weeks.
  • I caught up on reading other blog posts
  • Naps
  • We played Wii Bowling again!

Week 1 of Isolation Movies

As we wrap up our first week of isolation/Safer at Home, here is a list of the movies watched this week.

  1. Contagion – and why not?
  2. Frozen II – and we don’t have kids here!
  3. Fast 5 – we still need to watch the most recent one
  4. Remember the Titans – one of our favorites!
  5. The King’s Speech
  6. The Rainmaker
  7. Hell or High Water – we’ve been on an underdog theme it seems
  8. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – personally I liked the first one better
  9. Seabiscuit
  10. CHiPs – Dax Shepard also has a pretty good podcast we enjoy on road trips
  11. Rango – although it is a cartoon, it is not a kid movie in my opinion
  12. Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken – interesting twist on Super Size Me.

No “TV” series at this point.  What have you been watching?  Any suggestions?

Day 5 of Isolation

Is anyone else finding that “normal” stuff is just taking you longer to complete.  For example, this morning my normal showering time is about 15 minutes.  This morning 35 minutes.  I actually left the hair conditioner in for the 3-5 minutes!  Most mornings, conditioner doesn’t happen.  I went down the YouTube rabbit hole when someone posted the Jimmy Fallon working from home 1st episode.  That leads to watching all of them for the week and many other things!

John started a sourdough starter and we watched movies.

Day 4 of Isolation

“Safer at Home”

Today our entire state is now ordered to stay at home except for essential outings (medical, food, essential employment.)   It has already been an interesting week following the news, but this is so surreal.  We watch movies/TV shows where things like this happen but NEVER expect it happen in real life.

So how did we occupy our minds and bodies?

We put together a 1000 piece puzzle!  We started it about noon; John quit about 8:30 and I quit at 10:30.   I woke up this morning to a finished puzzle!  Way to go hubby!


After standing at the bar most of the day, we definitely need to do something active tomorrow!



Day 3 of Isolation

I say this is Day 3 but it is really Day 5.  Somehow the weekend didn’t count when I made the Day 1 post.  Does the day number really matter?  Nope.  Especially knowing that I am looking at being off work for at least 47 days.

I weighed in this morning and I hit 25 pounds decluttered!  Guess the stress eating last week was what my body needed to get over the 23 pound plateau I’ve had for 3 weeks.  On the positive side, I didn’t gain anything for 3 weeks!  I still tracked my food intake but definitely went above what I should have been eating – not nearly as much as “old” me would have eaten.

Other things going on today:

  • more Sudoku for John
  • catching up on blog reading for Barb
  • we got out all of the old Wii stuff and set it up.  John is practicing driving at the moment before our big race later!  Update to follow
  • watched CNN10 for the week.  I didn’t realize it was still being recorded.
  • talked to the kiddos and mom.  Our phone calls sure last longer now that everyone is in isolation!

Day 2 of Isolation

Today is St. Patrick’s Day!  It’s weird not having 150+ middle school kids checking out your clothing to make sure you have green on.

So today I decluttered!  Guess I should have counted how many pictures I removed but totally forgot to do it – maybe a trip to the trash can is in order.

I went through an old box of photos, digitized the ones I wanted to keep, threw away many, and put a few into the small boxes for the kids.

No pics for this one – sorry!

Other things that happened at our house:

  • took the car to get looked at (see our Random Acts of Kindness post!)
  • went to work to pick up my scanner before the complete lockout at 2 pm.  The county has extended Barb’s out of school until April 30th.  All school buildings are off limits.  I needed the scanner to digitize some of the pictures.
  • watched “The Rainmaker” movie
  • John did some yard work as well as transplanting a bush
  • made Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potato dinner.  This has to be one of the easiest “holiday” meals to make!  We embraced our Irish roots with non-traditional Irish foods.  I seem to remember reading that Irish immigrants to the US started eating corned beef and cabbage because it was cheap.  Anyone know for sure?
  • John took a nap
  • FaceTime with the grandkiddo!  She is growing so much!
  • Talked with both Kiddos – kiddo #2 was venting that her noon conference was about potty training in midst of Coronavirus pandemic.  Guess they want the Pediatricians to remember parents will still have concerns about things other than Coronavirus.
  • Talked with both mothers.  They find it funny that we are both considered “elderly” when they first started talking about the age groups most vulnerable.  The media has lost the term elderly.  Guess too many people were offended being called elderly.

Hope everyone is taking time for mental health breaks in their day.

Random Acts of Kindness

This is an interesting time.  All of us are a little on edge.  Our school was supposed to be having a “Random Acts of Kindness” week.  Let’s all try to do this!

Let us know in the comments about a random act of kindness you gave or received this week.

We received a Random Act of Kindness on Tuesday.  Back Story:  Kiddo #2 had a nearly dead, car wouldn’t start, battery on Monday night when she was leaving work.  AAA came out and jumped her, then she drove towards us so we could trade cars about half way.  When you have a Prius, car not starting could be one of MANY things.

On Tuesday, John took the car to our mechanic.  He originally quoted us $50 to look over everything just to make sure it wasn’t something major causing the battery drain.  (Kiddo #2 didn’t think she left any lights on or doors open.)   The mechanic called a few hours later to say the car was ready.  We went to pick it up and the charge was $0.00!  He said they checked everything, plugged it into the computer to check for codes, and everything was fine.  He said with all that is going on, he didn’t want to be “that guy” who charges when everything is ok.


Day 1 of Isolation


Trying to prevent Cabin Fever!

  • completed and filed our taxes
  • Scanned a previous year of taxes to discard paper from the filing cabinet
  • shredded a pile papers
  • John cleaned the guns
  • deep cleaned the stove and oven
  • watched “King’s Speech” together
  • did 2 loads of laundry
  • completed an 8 part sudoku – John worked on his for a while
  • John took a nap
  • watched the news, “played on the internet”
  • tried a new dinner recipe (saute zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, and hominy with cumin)
  • talked to both kiddos
  • drove in to trade cars with Kiddo #2 – her battery died so we are going to get it replaced – we’re off and she isn’t.  We know it’s been about 5 years so it’s due.



Coronavirus “Spring Break”

Well, it happened.  My school was one of MANY in California that is on a 3 week public health hiatus.  John’s district hasn’t closed any schools yet, but he is currently on Spring Break.  My principal made it very clear that since the health department is closing us, we are expected to isolate/self-quarantine.

Thankfully, we are not expected to prepare lessons for the students.  I posted a few things they will need to do when we return – hopefully they will do it since it is the family life unit.  It’s usually the one chapter of the book they look at!

Hope every one is staying safe and healthy during this unusual situation we find ourselves in.

PL #2 – Hodge Rd Outdoor Shooting Area

We ventured to our second Public Land recently.  This one is the Hodge Road Outdoor Shooting Area near Barstow, California.  I’m not sure which agency has control over this area.  We originally thought BLM but now think it might be the county of San Bernardino.  BLM website says it doesn’t have any designated shooting sites.

We were VERY DISAPPOINTED!  We would NOT recommend this location.

We didn’t arrive until about 2pm.  It was a very spur of the moment outing – a discussion that there was an outdoor shooting area near Barstow at breakfast with friends, deciding we had nothing else to do, gathering all our stuff, and driving out.  Those who know us know this is very normal behavior for us!

It was windy and very crowded.  As we drove along the hillside to find a place to set up, we encountered a group who actually had all their weapons set up on one side of the dirt road and their targets on the other side.  As we approached, one of the men waved us through while a kid about 10 was holding a rifle.  When the kid turned towards us, he had it pointing directly at us!  Needless to say, this was a common sight – the mishandling of the weapons by kids – thankfully not all were on opposite sides of the road from their targets.

We finally found a place not too close to others but quickly found out why – a tire was burning/smoldering.  We used all of the water we had with us to douse it.

As we were setting up a table, someone near us yelled “Cease Fire”.  In my world that means stop shooting and even putting your weapon down.  Not here!  People on the other side of them kept on shooting.  How do you replace your targets if people near you keep shooting?  This was the deciding factor for us – we don’t belong here and need to leave!

We left and went to Cracker Barrel for a late lunch/early dinner!

Pictures:  The hillside had a TON OF WASTE!  We aren’t talking just a little, we are talking about so much that is was disgusting.  These pictures were taken farther in than most people travel.  It was even worse closer to the interstate.  Shell casings were EVERYWHERE!  Burned up cars, furniture, targets, lots of glass shards, and shot up propane bottles is a sampling of the stuff left behind.   Don’t people know the mantra “LEAVE NO TRACE”?




old work stuff needs to go

As a teacher, we hoard all kinds of teaching supplies.  Last weekend I went through a cabinet in the hallway that housed OLD teacher editions of textbooks (copyright 1993) and associated supplemental materials.  We are in the early stages of adopting a new textbook and these are at least 3 adoptions ago!  I couldn’t tell you the last time I looked at them.

The text bank book even mentions that IF you have a computer to contact them and they will send you a disk with the text questions.  I’m assuming it is a 3.5 floppy!

So here are the pictures of all the supplemental materials I got rid of.  The actual teacher editions I took back to school just in case anyone wants one. (doubtful, but you never know)

Why do we keep things like this??  Any other middle school science teachers have these still?

decluttering the medicine shelf

So after yesterday’s spice cabinet shelf decluttering, I was inspired to tackle the medicine shelf.

IMG_0341 cropped small

IMG_0342 small
after the decluttering


9 containers were removed or consolidated.  The large extra strength “Tylenol” was used to refill the smaller container here, in my purse, and in the car.

The fish oil was almost empty (4 left) in the opened container so it was consolidated with the new one.

The old prescriptions were for pain meds we barely used.  Discarded the meds (not down the drain!) by mixing them in a ziploc bag with leftover bacon grease from breakfast.  I sure wouldn’t want to sift through that!

And I thought we were done decluttering!  8 more items decluttered!

the darn spice cabinet

I’m not even sure why I opened the spice cabinet this morning.  It still hasn’t come back to me.  But when I opened the cabinet, there were 4 new bottles of spices lined up across the opening.  John went shopping!

But then I inspected them more closely.  All 4 bottles were for spices we already had plenty of!

First thought – “OMG How much did that cost?”

Next thought – “This cupboard is a disaster!”

Imagine the “heated” discussion we had about the purchase of spices!  After decluttering the cupboard, we have a lifetime supply of ground cumin, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, Old Bay, ground ginger, poultry seasoning, and whole allspice.  All are duplicates of full bottles.

So in all, I decluttered 6 bottles of consolidated spices and old stuff (Fruit Fresh anyone?  And how about an old Mrs. Dash?)

I was able to consolidate the Old Bay and garlic powder.  Both had a large container and a small container.  (Note:  Our Old Bay large container (6 oz) is nothing compared to that found in the cupboard of a Marylander!)


Sorry not before and after pics of the cupboard but here’s the bag of duplicates.  They are going into the pantry with the new understanding that John is not allowed to purchase spices without “prior approval” (or at least making a concerted effort to confirm a duplicate doesn’t exist.)


PL #1: Grand Canyon National Park

Public Land #1 – Grand Canyon National Park

Us and the Canyon!

We visited Grand Canyon National Park over New Years.  This is not our first visit to the park.  We usually stay in Flagstaff or Williams when we visit just about every year, sometimes more than once a year.

It was the first time we actually stayed the night in the park.  We were talking about where we wanted to go over New Years a few weeks before the holiday and John said he wanted to stay IF we could get a room with a canyon view.  Lucky us!  I went online and there was one room available in the Kachina Lodge!  Thankfully we have a flexible schedule during the holiday break.

We spent 2 nights in the Kachina Lodge.  This lodge does not have a lobby or restaurant and is only 2 stories with no elevator.  There is a sitting room with a view of the canyon.  You check in at the El Tovar Hotel.  The room was very comfortable and had a great view of the canyon.  Do you notice all the people???  It was amazingly quiet with few people walking along the icy walkway.  Maybe because it was New Years Eve??

View from our 2nd floor room.

We ate in both the Bright Angel Lodge and the El Tovar Hotel dining rooms for dinner.  We enjoyed the view and food at the Bright Angel Lodge better than the El Tovar Hotel.  Both lodges were about a 5-10 minute chilly icy slippery walk from our lodge, especially the trip back in the dark.

We brought oatmeal (just add hot water) and fruit for breakfast so we didn’t have to go out early in the cold on New Years Day.  There was a coffee maker in the room but no microwave.

Our dinner view at sunset from a window table. Weird lights are a reflection of the chandelier.

We woke up our last morning to new snow.  It wasn’t much but this Southern California girl thought it was beautiful!  Glistening snow!  On the drive out, we saw elk chillin’ under the trees.

Elk in Grand Canyon National Park

John cleaning off the snow!  It wasn’t much but enough for us!  We even cleared off the windows of the truck next to us.