Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Toilet Paper

My husband and I typically buy toilet paper at Costco. Their store brand is nice and we don't have to buy it all that often since there's just the two of us. But we haven't been able to do that lately.

We could have joined the people who jumped on the toilet paper hoarding early, but that would have meant going to the store at a time other than when we typically do. We decided not to change our habits and deal with it if we ran out of toilet paper. Luckily, we still had about a third of a Costco package, so we had no real need.

But as the weeks went by, our supply ran lower, and still Costco and Winco had empty shelves. We ended up buying some emergency rolls from a farmstand that was selling them at a dollar a roll. Fairly low quality, but it would certainly work if the need should arise.

And it was a good thing that we did that, because we did run out of toilet paper. Well, sort of. See, as backpackers, we have a habit of tearing up toilet paper rolls into smaller sections so that we can take less of it on a trip than a whole roll. Oh, and we tear the cardboard tubes out as well, because that's really just weight out there (not a lot of weight, but still ;). When the toilet paper that still had its tubes was out, we moved onto the emergency rolls that we'd purchased. But we could have dug out all the backpacking half and quarter rolls languishing in the car and apartment.

Winco started to have some toilet paper supplies during our visits in early May, though the selection was not huge. And by mid-May the selection was wider. But we still haven't managed to catch toilet paper at Costco, although we came close on one trip, spying a package in someone's cart. We usually do a stroll through Costco in a very specific order, but after Ambrose saw that toilet paper, we raced directly to the back to see if there were any left.

Alas, the only toilet paper packages to be seen were the gigantic industrial rolls, which I certainly do not wish to use in my home, thank you very much.

I don't think I've ever thought so much about toilet paper in my life. It's one of those things that was taken completely for granted. Not only that toilet paper would always be there, but that we would always need and use toilet paper. Even though there are places in the world where toilet paper isn't used or is used differently, the thought of change doesn't come up when the system trundles along without calling attention to its faults.

We might have to change our habits if we want to buy Costco toilet paper anytime soon. Show up at a different time, on a different day... That we don't is a way of trying to maintain a sense of normalcy. Like maybe when we can get that toilet paper on the same day, at the same time as we usually did, then things would feel normal again.

Even if the feeling's just a thin tissue of illusion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


For a while now, I've thought about having an author website on my own domain instead of essentially using Blogger as a substitute for one. Blogger is not very professional, in my opinion, for a serious writer. Then again, I'm not exactly a serious writer. I'm more of a snarky writer, but that's no reason not be professional.

My husband, for reasons of his own, recently decided that the domain we'd been talking about buying was getting bought. So now we have our own domain and I just need to figure out the fiddly details of transitioning from a Blogger blog to a homegrown blog. Or to plug this one in. Or something, I'm sure it will come to me.

I used to have a website, when we were first dating actually, but I let it lapse and by now I've dumped just about everything I learned about building and maintaining a website down the memory hole. I'm relearning how to do the things that I want to do, as well as the things that my husband would like me to do.

So far, so good, but I am concerned about how much time I'll need to devote to it. Not as much once it's up and running, but implementation takes more time. And requires a lot more decision making and brainpower!

This blog will probably get redirected first, and then I'll do additional work to make it look all professional and non-Blogger-ish. And maybe I'll port it completely into Word Press, which I've used in the past.

I'm excited to be working on something new, but also a bit trepidatious about not only working on a website for my personal work, but also helping to implement a new system at work. Though, I'm not a lead on that project, I'm anticipating the entire thing being quite a time suck. And it will also suck at my limited brainpower.

But I'll get recharged on backpacking trips and find the time and space.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Ugly Chicken

My husband and I were not the types to leave the house often before quarantine. We have our regular shopping trips, and, in the before times, we'd occasionally go out to eat. Well, I mean, I did leave the house for work every day and that's been a substantial change, but as far as going out, it wasn't a big thing for us.

We went to Costco on 4/30, which was the day that the Governor of Idaho confirmed that we would be starting phase 1 of re-opening post-COVID-19 on May 1. Although Costco had already put plans into place to require that shoppers wear masks as of 5/4, I figured that most people in Boise would be more lax. And, it seemed to me, that they were. There seemed to be a larger proportion of people in the store than 2 weeks prior, and a significant chunk were not wearing masks.

At Costco, and in most shopping places, it's all about trying to do your best. You can't control the actions of others around you, and you can't predict that the six feet of space you're trying to give the person in front of you is blocking off traffic behind you. That's actually been the worst part of Costco; we try to wait and give people space and we end up becoming a roadblock as others just go around us instead of waiting and giving space.

So we do our best. We get frustrated. We move on.

One thing that hasn't changed in these times is that my husband and I try to get a Costco roasted chicken to eat for dinner on shopping nights. One week, earlier in the pandemic, there were none. That was sad, but we survived.

So when we got to the area of Costco where the roast chickens are kept, I was at first alarmed to see a group of people around it. Then I saw they were all just standing there, chatting (mostly without masks, tsk tsk), while one solitary roast chicken sat in the case, untouched.

I rushed over to rescue the chicken from their indifference, and when I got close enough I could see why no one else had taken it.

It was, to be blunt, an ugly chicken.

The roasted skin had pulled off of the breast, revealing a rather torn expanse of breast, with little parts burned where the meat had gotten roasted a tad too much. And I almost left it right there, but I wanted normal. And normal meant a gosh-darned Costco chicken, so I took it.

Reader, let me tell you, that was one of the best roast chickens that I've ever gotten from Costco. It was extremely juicy and my husband used the large quantity of aspic in a curry on Sunday night. Sure, it was no looker, but we weren't buying it to look at now, were we? I almost - almost - feel bad about those people who ignored the ugly chicken, and thereby allowed us to enjoy it. But really, they made their own bed when they chose to ignore a food based on its appearance.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Case of the Missing Shorts

So last night my husband is bustling around looking for his workout shorts. He knows he washed them, because he wanted to run today. They weren't in the washer or the dryer, and they weren't in the clean laundry pile (where they should be, since I hadn't put laundry up yet). He was looking and looking, and I decided to join in. I started, sensibly, by checking his drawer, even though he insisted that they couldn't be there.

Ta da!

I handed them over and sat down on the couch. I could see him from there, but only intermittently since some shelving is between us. He thanked me for finding the shorts and said, "Now, I've just got to find my glasses!"

I glanced up, caught a glimpse of his face and doubled over laughing.

The laughter was actually painful, because I'd given my abs some hard work the last couple days. Painful, but I couldn't stop, because when I caught that glimpse of his face, I saw two dark circles around his eyes. AKA his glasses. On his face. Not propped on his forehead, not on a chain around his neck. Wearing them. I was going to tell him, as soon as I stopped laughing. . .

I felt a little bad for laughing so much, but he took it in good humor - once he figured out where they were!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Yesterday, I learned that tacks are a pain in the butt, and I wondered what possessed the makers of the magnetic screen door that I purchased to make them use tacks instead of nails.

See, I've been getting outside to go on runs regularly the last few weeks, and when the weather has been nice, I've seen people with those magnetic screen doors. And I thought, wouldn't that be a cool thing to have? Literally, in some cases, in that it would actually help us cool our living space.

And so, I brought the idea to my husband. Great idea, said he. Go for it.

When the item arrived in the mail, I was "at work" so I didn't take it out until dinner time. I started to mess with it, but then realized I really should eat dinner first. So I ate. Then I went back to the magnetic screen door and fiddled and measured and tacked it to the right length for my door. That wasn't too bad, but it was a bit of a pain to shove the tacks through the polyester borders and velcro.

No, where the true evil of tacks lie is with the placement and pushing. I broke about a dozen tacks as I learned what I needed to do in terms of pressure with the hammer and positioning both on the frame in terms of the tack and angle of attack in terms of the hammer. I was dripping sweat, still wearing my work clothes because I had to actually leave the house around 6:30. I was grumbling and a bit miffed that Ambrose hadn't volunteered to help me out. Though now I completely understand and will employ the same tactics in the future, should I ever be in his position with someone uninitiated to the joys of tacks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Nature Cure

Usually, my husband and I don't go out into the woods until May. Often, we don't head out until Memorial Day weekend. But in the last few years, we've headed out earlier, because we both get to the point that if we don't, we'll go a little nuts.

This year, that 'going a little nuts' thing is happening earlier in the spring due to the whole stay at home order and my working from home and Ambrose not being able to go to the gym. I like where I live, but I do miss having more than one room. Okay, technically, there's the bathroom; it has a door and I could shut myself in there, but it's not the same!

On Monday night, I learned that I would be required to take furlough days at work. I think the way they're doing it is pretty fair, requiring a set number of days from employees based on their salary, and not requiring any furlough days from employees making less than a set amount. On Tuesday morning, I was starting to freak out quite a bit, and Ambrose suggested that I take the afternoon off of work so we could drive out to the woods and see if we might camp out this weekend.

So I did.

We drove out to make sure that we could, that the road was in good enough repair for our Ford Focus to handle. And we drove out to get a dose of the nature cure that we both sorely needed.

About halfway to Twin Springs, I had a thought. There's a small hot spring on this road; not an official one, just a roadside park and soak kind of thing. I said we should go there and see if it's empty, and if it was, we should go and soak a bit. I hadn't brought a towel or a bathing suit, but my underwear would do and we had a small towel in the car.

We were able to drive all the way out to that hot spring, and no one was there. This hot spring is, to me, quite magical. It's practically a fairy grotto, with an overhanging ledge that drips water (hot and cold) into the pool, flowers and vines growing up the sides. And I adore hot springs. I was so overcome with emotion when I got in that I started crying. I was laughing, crying and grinning all at the same time.

Ambrose didn't get in the water with me, but he did sit near the pool. We chatted a bit, but I mostly just reveled in the heat of the water and the beauty of the scenery. I thought about something that Ambrose said to me when we had a bit of a fight. He asked why I couldn't just stop worrying so much, or something to that effect. To me, worrying is a part of who I am as a person. And that attitude tells me that the worry-monster has integrated into my psyche on a deep level.

We didn't stay too long at the hot spring. It wouldn't be fair to linger when only one group could responsibly use the area at a time. We didn't drive home yet though. We just went up the road a bit and found a spot to stop and relax next to the river. I spent some time alone, my body stretched out on the earth, feeling the breeze on my skin, mostly cool, but occasionally chilly. The warmth of the sun. The intense pine scent from the tree I was under. Rustling of wind blown branches. Water flowing along.

I asked myself what would happen if I stopped worrying so much. And the answer is that I can't know unless I try. So, I'm going to try. I'm going to try to let go of the worry habit. For all I know, it will help me lose weight. It will probably reduce the number of headaches that I get. And it could even have an effect on my digestive issues. All I have to do is learn to let go of something that I've been doing for as long as I can remember.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Ducks and More

My brain doesn't want to write a blog post. Instead, enjoy these pictures of my new co-workers in the era of work from home.