67 on Quarantine Day#48

April 30, 2020

Jim turned 67 today!


The cake was our all time favorite — good ol’ Martha’s Killer Chocolate Cake. Highlight of the evening was talking to Peter and having him sing happy birthday with me on Facetime. Excellent dinner, too. Maybe I’ll share details another time on that, but suffice to say the potato leek gruyere cream au gratin dish was beyond beyond.

Love my guy.

Dueling Pandemic Projects

April 29, 2020

We’re heading for a clash.

Yolo County extended its stay-at-home orders until the end of May. That’s a whole nuther month, folks. While frustrating, it gives me time to really fine tune the groove. I’m not complaining. More importantly, I’m supportive. Governor Newsom expects the entire state will be observing public-health-motivated guidelines for quite a while yet. He released, yesterday, what sounded like a well-thought out phased plan for balancing public health and economic concerns and getting the state to a safe and sane place.. as facts & science warrant.

So, that’s what the smart people are doing. Science, facts, public health priorities.

Then, there’s the other. This side is tired of this shit. This side wants its freedoms. This side says only scaredy cats wear masks and hole up indoors. This side says the other side is a buncha fascists. The powers that be on this side don’t wanna pay unemployment or incur any costs/liabilities associated with people not working, or people working and then getting sick.  This side is planning to stop publishing stats on the number of people dying. This side is going to start focusing only on the economy, now that they’ve taken care of the virus [pat selves on back]. This side is done with public health whiners (especially since their voters aren’t the ones dying). This side is ready to take its victory lap and proclaim mission accomplished. 

So…. as of two days from now, the federal guidelines will be all but lifted. The high population blue states will continue their sensible guidelines (though the freedom-loving residents in those blue states will flout them, screwing the rest of us), while the less dense (population-ly-speaking) states will move on with their lives, also screwing the rest of us.

Or not. I guess we’ll see.


Well…   this is not the duel I started out writing about. The “Pandemic Duels” of the title refer to life in our household today … me with my projects, Jim with his.

Mine were of the domestic variety. Classically domestic. Housewife-ily classic. First up, bread baking. Quarantine has brought a third loaf of homemade bread to our kitchen. This one — as one would hope — is the best so far.

Whole wheat (half ww, half white, actually) and millet:


Tastes as good as it looks.

Following bread baking, I decided to clean the oven. I can’t take a lot of credit, since it’s a self-cleaning oven, but I did have the idea, I did stress for the 3 1/2 hours it took to do the job at some ungodly high temp, and I did wipe down the whole inside when it was all done and cooled off.  Lots of ashy remains. It’s pretty impressive. A bit scary, too, given that high heat.

Will ya look at that!


Every 14 years, whether it needs it or not.

I also baked a cake, made dinner, sat through two meetings and yadda yadda, none of it counts, because..

Jim’s project takes the prize!

While I swung in the hammock yesterday, Jim took a measurement: how high must a table be such that a person swinging in adjacent hammock can reach out to her side and move a wine glass from table top to mouth and back with nary a strained muscle.  He built the table to that spec, and crafted a good looking one, besides.


Jim wins this round. But the quarantine orders continue.. so there’s time for a comeback.

Nice to Be Six Again

April 28, 2020

I spent all my blog time tonight editing last night’s post about the hammock stand. I decided to add detail to the construction process, since one day this blog will be bound into a book and Peter will have it on a shelf, and since he’ll also inherit that hammock stand, he may as well know how much work went into it. (Haha.)

Check out the added text and photos, here: https://lifeofwry.com/2020/04/27/life-of-wry/


So, tonight’s blog is a shorty.  It’s my nearly daily snack during quarantine… the ol’ celery with peanut butter. Oh so fresh, crispy, salty and oily.  Snack perfection.


Life of Wry

April 27, 2020

You may not know this, but when I selected the name for my blog, back in 2008, it was based on that sitcom from the 50s called “The Life of Riley.”  Says Wikipedia,

The Life of Riley is an American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a 1950s television series, and a 1958 comic book.

I have no real idea why I did this … exactly. I had this image in my mind of a guy in a hammock, which somehow I’d associated with the show. When I started my blog, I was just about retired and thought I’d spend a lot of time in a hammock. As in, “ah… this is the life.” (The life of Riley.)

I played with the name a bit because, apparently, I was also feeling wry. However that might have spoken to me at that time.  I even chose a graphic of a person in a hammock as my blog’s logo.. which I never used.

I know..  huh? 

And now I have this blog name that just sort of ..  is what it is. But… what it has always meant to me is a guy in a hammock (I am that guy).

Which… brings me to hammocks. 

Jim finished our hammock stand today! He’s been working on it for months. It has been a serious effort involving numerous steps and processes, and bucket loads of patience and precision. Layers and layers of plywood, carefully cut and shaped, glued together, sanded, finished.. and many steps in between that I am unable to describe. The result is a sturdy, massive, beefy structure that weighs hundreds of pounds and is held together with massive, heavy bolts. It’s a work of art. Truly. I am so very impressed.

The story begins in December, when Jim gave me a hammock for Christmas. Here is my favorite before picture. This is Peter and me, Christmas morning, giving the hammock a try on a hard wood floor.


Months of construction ensued.


The entire project started with a set of plans, of course:


First real step was to draw carefully measured arcs onto 5/8″ plywood and then cut out the shapes… lots of them. Each member will comprise 5 or 6 such arc layers.




Which then had to be glued together. Many clamps were used in the glueing and setting process!



Then came sanding. So. Much. Sanding.


And look how beautiful they look!!



I love this detail. This is where the wheels will be mounted. So cleverly designed.



Each piece got three coats of polyurethane.

As I mentioned, there are steps I’ve left out, like the hole drilling, parts ordering, member numbering and other such logistical details necessary to make it all come together.

And, I just have to say, each of these processes was an era in itself. Taking, as I mentioned above, such patience.

Jim says if he’d known how much work was involved, he might not have undertaken the project. But I disagree. He lives for this stuff.

And…. here is today…

First we have an assembly of finished parts. You can see all the layers of plywood that got glued together (not a trivial process). All these are numbered so Jim knows how to put the pieces together. Each weighs a ton.


Here they start to come together, and you can see the size of the bolt that will be threaded through the sections..


Here is how they look when together and cinched up (there might be a better woodworking term for this)..



Here is the… O-ring (?) that the hammock will hang from:



And here’s the finished product with hammock attached! Note: it may be rolled to wherever you want it to be. It rolls beautifully and smoothly!


Happy me:


Satisfied (and relieved) Jim:


A more relaxed version of Jim…


And me.. where I plan to spend a lot of my summer…



The life of wry to be sure. Thank you, Jim. You amaze me.




Had to consult my wee Pandemic Journal to see what day we are on … I am truly losing count.

I did not set one foot outside the door today. Not a one.  That might be a first. You know.. I track a lot of things, but I’d really have to dig through my records to figure out whether this was the first non-outside day. But I think it was.


I think it’s quite possible that as we are confined, as we are left with so few outdoor activities, as we have slowed down so profoundly and are left with so much time to reflect… so are we especially appreciative of the beauty around us. And thus all these flower pictures!

My unoriginal theory.

Took a slow stroll through the Old North neighborhood yesterday and saw a few things I really liked…


That is an iPhone 6 shot. Of course.


I am in love with these:



And wow… is it a .. daisy?



Mr. Green wooden fence again.. such a lovely complement to the pink house.






What’d I do with all my indoor time today? Spent most of it figuring out how to set up and manage a campaign Facebook site. (Did I mention I’m working on Kelly’s campaign for a seat on the Los Rios Community College District Board of Trustees, area 4?) This included finally overcoming some Google Drive and Google Doc obstacles (not entirely) and opening an account on Hootsuite to organize social media postings over a variety of social media platforms.

Am I fancy or what?

I am weird.. I know that. I am scared shitless of anything tech, and then all king-of-the-mountain when I master just a tiny bit of it. It’s like I’m wailing inside don’t make me do this ...  and then, when I actually sit down and do it, it’s like, what’s the big?  It’s all about browbeating myself to the table, forcing myself to face that plate of peas… then realizing it’s not that bad once I take the first step (though I still hate peas so maybe this isn’t the best analogy).

Well, all these mixed metaphors aside, I love anything tech that I’ve actually overcome and mastered. I will never, ever, EVER forget the time I fixed a toaster. It’s still Top. Of. The. List of major tech accomplishments in my whole LIFE.

Wish I’d figure out why my first reaction to something foreign is to fear it. Inevitably it’s never as bad as I expect. Never.


One other thing I’m reflecting on. We’re now watching The Crown. It’s very good so far. Tonight we watched episode 3 of season 1: a thick, smoky fog has descended upon London in late December 1952. The city is brought to a standstill, people are staying indoors, wearing masks when out, coughing their guts out, and dying by the thousands in hospitals overwhelmed with sick people and a lack of medical supplies & equipment. Churchill is in denial saying things like these things come and go, one day it will just vanish. The opposition wants him out because he is bungling the handling of a major public health crisis. Well.. that’s a convenient excuse; they actually think he’s too old and and unfit leader. He’s not the one to lead a modern, postwar England.

Isn’t that funny? It was a startling parallel.

In their case, it was a three-day crisis (12,000 people died). The sun did come out; Churchill, so far, comes through unscathed. We’ll see what happens next.



Wrench Man

April 25, 2020

I snapped a pic of Jim modeling his new wrench.


It’s his specially dedicated lathe wrench — designed for a particular bolt, I imagine, and will live right there beside said bolt. And he made the wrench himself from some scrap 1/4″ slab o’ metal. I actually didn’t know a person could do such a thing.

I think I’m also noticing that Jim fashioned a drawer beneath the lathe.  The wood (oak) comes from our kitchen cabinets (three remodels ago). You should see his workshop… it’s one customized son of a gun. (He thinks I don’t notice this.) (I do.) (Sometimes, when he’s out, I just walk around in there marveling at all the little touches.)


Meme Friday

April 24, 2020

It’s meme time again. Maybe I should do it every Friday. The memes, as usual, have been good this week.



The person who posted this one is a teacher trying to manage distance learning…


fuck sake





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panda emic


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And not specific to the coronavirus, but they still apply….




Yet More Creek

April 23, 2020

I know…

It’s about time for something else, but 1) my days are pretty much walk, flowers, eat, repeat and 2) the news I do consume (which is a lot) is so damn depressing, all I’d do is complain and the future me does not want to read it.

Yes, I want to get some of it down because it’s an historic time — both in each of our lives and in the biggest possible worldly way — and it deserves to be observed, experienced, processed…  I will. I do. It’s exhausting.

So… today, more scenes from the creek.. with a bonus at the end.

I’m a huge fan of this grass that is so dense and lush, but today the yellow flowers really made it pop..


Snoozing ducks, who are so unfazed by us walkers..


And here come the flowers…



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One of the last remaining poppies.. in a sea of yellow..




These were just stunning…



Oh my god, these are so pretty.. and with that bridge in the background.. gosh..


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My camera (phone) chooses its own focal point… I just go with whatever it decides.. I like this..




And here’s the bonus.. thanks, Vicki!!

Me working hard to get a shot.


(And now I know my hair’s grey! I honestly did not know that… )


Day #40 in the Old North

April 22, 2020

Quiet day. Got dozy in our window seat with warm air wafting through open windows. Yes I did.

It went over 80 degrees today.

And a nice late afternoon walk in the Old North…







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Day #39

April 21, 2020

More adventures in baking. Sorry.

Decided to try those flourless cocoa cookies again, because, as my note on the recipe suggested, this may be the best cookie I’ve ever made (and eaten). I LOVED these cookies.. but I had messed up the recipe because I didn’t have unsweetened cocoa and instead used hot chocolate mix (which has powdered milk in it).

So, I wanted to try the recipe again, this time with the proper ingredients. But ran into a problem right out of the gate. I cracked three eggs into the bowl and got FIVE yolks. What are the chances… TWO sets of twins in three eggs.


Dilemma: does this constitute three eggs? Or five eggs? The recipe called for three eggs.. what to do, what to do. I used them all, concluding that volume-wise, they came from three eggs.

The batter was S T I C K Y !


It was a chore forming into cookies.. but managed..


And.. they look okay, not like the last time I baked them, but okay..


There was one other potential issue…

They were to be baked for 10-13 minutes. I removed at 10, thinking they fit the description of “done.” When fully cooled, I tried one. Not done. So… I reheated the oven and put them back in (that never works!). Three extra minutes didn’t seem adequate, so continued for ANOTHER two minutes. Hail Mary’ing the whole way.

But….  they worked!


Crispish on the outside, chewy, deep (dark chocolaty), rich. One at a time is about all a person can handle. Even better.