I was up about an hour later than usual last night, and I let myself sleep in, so I got up sometime around 10:30am. My standard morning routine these days is:
Get out of bed, leaving bed unmade
Go into the bathroom
Take morning meds and set out midday meds
Brush my hair, if it looks ridiculous
Sit on the porcelain throne for a while and:
Check my personal email
Play Words with Friends
Play The Arcana
Take a shower if necessary (I shower every other day, unless I have gone outside or worked out, and in those cases I may end up showering twice in one day)
Get dressed, brush hair, and put on makeup
Treat my gross toe (that is all the detail you’re getting about that)
Collect midday meds and carry them and my phone out of the bathroom
Make bed now that it has cooled down (this is an anti-bed bug precaution, not that I have ever had bed bugs)
Put midday meds in my beautiful English rose pill box (thanks Mom!!)
This is all basically the same whether it’s a workday or not. Today’s Saturday, so instead of yogurt and a boiled egg made by Sean, breakfast was sunny-side-up eggs and toast made by me. I tidied the kitchen a bit while I cooked, emptying most of the contents of the sink into the dishwasher, and then I cleaned my dining table cover of cookie crumbs, and then I sat at the table with breakfast and my laptop and goofed off all morning and into the early afternoon.
In between shitposting/having Deep Thoughts on Twitter, I finished loading the dishwasher and started it running, then started two loads of laundry. I wanted to get my jeans washed since I wore them out yesterday (even though I didn’t get out of the car, lol). I also wanted to wash Sean’s jeans since I’m not sure they were cleaned after our last grocery run (which I believe is the last time he wore them). The virus would totally be dead by now, but still. And I wanted to do whites even though it wasn’t that big a load, just to do it. (I seemed to be in Chore Mode.)
Around 2 o’clock I fixed myself a lunch of leftovers: the rest of the casserole I made last week, some mashed potatoes, and some mixed veggies.
My therapist has been out on medical leave, but she’s coming back, virtually, in May. She emailed last night to let everyone know (all patients BCCed) and to ask if we wanted appointments. I definitely do, so I replied right away.
Sean woke up around 4 and I started cooking dinner around 5:30, but we ended up not having time to eat before going to pick up our grocery order from Kroger. During the drive I felt extremely anxious. I had put on long pants, a long sleeved shirt, a mask, a scarf, and gloves, but I still felt really vulnerable. The knowledge of what COVID-19 could do to me has been sinking in more and more.
When we got there Sean went into the store to see if they had any toilet paper. I wish he hadn’t. They didn’t have any, anyway.
The store associate brought our stuff out on a cart, handed us the eggs, and put the rest in the trunk. We drove home and put the stuff away; I kept my outside outfit on while touching the bags but then once everything was mostly sorted I washed up and switched to night clothes. I finished putting things away (including breaking up meat and bread and putting it in the freezer) and then scoured the kitchen with 409 and took a shower. The whole day I had been feeling paranoid about my hair not being clean.
We finally ate our meal, which was grilled chicken breasts topped with some leftover sweet and sour sauce, steamed white rice, and microwave edamame. It was actually pretty good, though the chicken was a little tough from sitting for so long. While eating we watched a few episodes of NCIS. The grocery store had ice cream sandwiches this time, which made me very happy, and I had one for dessert.
I have been playing Words with Friends with Mom for a while now, and it’s really fun. I check in throughout the day and right before bed. So I did that and went to sleep a bit before midnight.
I’ve gotten super behind on these. So here’s Sunday, April 12 through Friday, April 17, 2020. This post includes a detailed description of the decontamination procedure I use when I get takeout, if you’re at all interested in that.
It was cold when I got up in the morning; when I checked my weather app it said the temperature was 40°. I decided to take a walk, expecting that there wouldn’t be too many people out. And there weren’t, at first, but as the day warmed up plenty of maskless people who didn’t seem to feel like properly distancing appeared on the neighborhood walking trail. (I passed one couple who were jogging abreast of each other, taking up the whole damn walkway, and they didn’t even bother going single file to pass me. I stepped as far off the path as I could and turned away so I wouldn’t breathe their air through my balaclava; one of them said “Good morning! Thank you!” and I wanted to throw something at them, lol.)
Anyway, I had a good walk, and once I was off that main path I didn’t see too many other people. Afterwards I showered and ordered Shane’s for lunch. Mom had sent me some medical face masks, so I put one on for my trip to pick up the food, and I also stopped into CVS briefly to get some allergy medicine for Sean. At least in there, proper safety precautions were happening. Most of the other customers and all the employees had masks on, and the prescriptions area had marks on the floor so people would wait the right distance away. At Shane’s, I had them drop my food in through the passenger window again, and yet again I shifted it to a plate immediately when I got home, threw out all the packaging, and scoured the countertops and my hands.
While I ate lunch I got some writing done on a story I hadn’t messed with in awhile, and then I watched a few episodes of Kim’s Convenience, and then I decided to sign up for Disney+ and watch Frozen 2. I didn’t watch it completely uninterrupted; Sean and I submitted our tax return about half an hour in, and then I stopped again to order dinner, and again to shuffle all the food into different containers when it arrived. By the time we finished the movie (which I enjoyed quite a bit!), it was time for bed.
All in all, it was a nice day. I continue to be unhappy with other people’s lack of caution about the pandemic, but at least I am able to be cautious myself.
First of all, while I woke up a little after 7, I decided to go back to bed and didn’t get up again until after noon. I had a fun adventure dream that I don’t really remember and I felt happy and rested when I got up.
Sean had packed me a lunch as though I were working today. I had considered getting Shane’s, but since he’d already done that work I just ate what he’d made: a tuna fish sandwich and some Cheetos. I also ate part of the breakfast, the Greek yogurt, and added blueberries like I did yesterday. While eating I sat at the kotatsu on my writing laptop and played music on the TV. I didn’t write much for most of the day, just sort of goofed off and had conversations and read things, but I did end up writing a short one-shot about Salacious B. Crumb being in one-sided love with C-3PO. (I am a very serious author. In my defense, a friend gave me the prompt. But I am the one who actually wrote it.)
Dinner was crab Alfredo and peas. I cleaned up the kitchen while cooking, since I’d left Sean a mess yesterday. Sean and I watched two episodes of NCIS, and then I went back to goofing off on Twitter for a few hours.
Having the day off was just what I needed. I felt unhurried and unstressed and just enjoyed myself all day. I did go outside once, to check the mailbox, and it was in the 50s and everything was very green. Beautiful day.
I am going to try to take a walk at some point this weekend. I’m also going to get some Shane’s. :)
For breakfast I had Greek yogurt and a boiled egg. We’ve been out of bananas for a while. I remembered that I had gotten some frozen blueberries, so I put some of those in the yogurt, and it was really good.
I ate my Hillshire Farms Bistro Board early, at around 10am. I didn’t really have time for a lunch break due to a bunch of meetings, so I sort of turned in my chair and got on my photo-editing computer and goofed off for about half an hour when I had a free moment. I wrapped up everything I could since I was taking the next day off, and I logged off at 5.
Knowing that I was done working for the week was a relief. I felt very free. Sean was sleeping in the bedroom, so I took the opportunity to bake cookies. (Normally I try not to make a bunch of noise in the main living area if he’s asleep on the couch.) I made a regular batch of Nestle Tollhouse, using the dining table as my staging area. While I did clean up the table afterwards, I did not really clean up the kitchen, so Sean took care of that for me later.
After baking the cookies, I started on dinner, which was pork roast, scalloped potatoes from a box, and mixed veggies. I was able to cook the roast and the potatoes at the same time, and it worked out perfectly. We ate and watched NCIS until bedtime. It was a pretty decent day.
I decided I didn’t want to eat yogurt for breakfast, so I made myself eggs and toast instead. The pan was a little too hot, but I didn’t overcook the yolks, so yay. Lunch was a sandwich and chips, and I had apple slices and chocolate chips for a mid-afternoon snack. For dinner I had thawed some ground beef, but instead of making meatloaves I decided to make a casserole. I found a recipe on AllRecipes for a casserole using minute rice, cream of chicken soup, chicken noodle soup, and an onion, so I made that, and it was delicious! We had mixed veggies on the side.
I didn’t go on a walk or anything, and work was too busy for me to even take a real lunch break, but I did have a movie date with Lee after dinner! She streamed TRON: Legacy for us, which I hadn’t seen before, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack since the movie came out (I love Daft Punk) and I was glad to actually see the movie that incredible music was written for. The story was good and the characters were fun and I loved Quorra! I also didn’t know Bruce Boxleitner was in the film, so that was a pleasant surprise. (I love him.)
After the movie was over it was bedtime. I went to bed feeling very cheerful. I need to do more group watches of TV and movies I think!
It wasn’t a great day. I didn’t go on a walk…I’ve been avoiding it ever since my walk at the river where there were five billion people around me. I also only took two pictures, and they were both of my dinner.
At lunch, I wrote:
I just want this to be over.
This morning I let myself sleep in for 20 minutes. When my timer went off I didn’t get up and I didn’t reset it. Fortunately I was awake enough to finally force myself to get out of bed. It helped that I had to pee.
Today has been the worst in terms of focusing on stuff. I feel like my brain doesn’t work. I’m taking Friday off, but I don’t know how much that will help.
Hillshire Snacking Bistro Board
Around mid-afternoon I started to spiral into depression, but I was able to talk myself back out.
Okay so I missed some daily updates there. Let’s catch up.
Saturday, April 4, 2020 (Day 22)
This was a pretty good day. I slept in a bit, then banished Sean from the living room so I could have the TV. I sat at the dining table with a breakfast of a banana and some cottage cheese (in one of my newest cherry blossom pattern rice bowls) and poked around on my writing laptop for a bit, but I felt like was just goofing off. After whining about feeling directionless and unproductive on Twitter a little, I moved to the couch, made the last of the popcorn, and put on Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Wow, that was a good choice. Absolutely gorgeous film. I cried a lot.
After that, I heated up leftovers for lunch (mini meatloaves, Julienne potatoes, mixed veggies) and worked on some writing. I made some progress on several small stories and officially posted two of them. It felt great to actually accomplish something.
When dinnertime rolled around I asked Sean if he wanted to get Shane’s, but he was uninterested. He suggested Thai and I was uninterested. We compromised on Mexican, and we placed an order online and went and picked it up. All safety protocols were followed: we put everything in different containers when we got home and washed our hands and the countertops.
I had beef fajitas. They were delicious. And I have leftovers.
Sunday, April 5, 2020 (Day 23)
I let myself sleep in a lot. I actually woke up for the first time around 5 in the morning, but I just went and gave Sean a hug and then went back to bed. When I got up again a little before 11, I went out for a walk.
I was thinking I wouldn’t go down to the river trail, because it was sure to be crowded, but then the apartment complex turned out to be crowded too, so I said what the hell and hiked down to the river. I saw a ton of pretty flowers, and the river was rushing in a way that felt vibrant and free, and the air temperature was great. Unfortunately, there were about fifty billion people down there. It wasn’t too hard to avoid them to begin with, but once I got near the parking lot at the other end, it was almost like a festival. I ducked off onto a side path for a bit, then gave up and just turned around. I did not come within six feet of anyone, but I did worry about walking behind people who might be breathing out particulate that I was then walking through. I was wearing my balaclava, which I disinfected rigorously when I got home, but I think I will just stop going to the damn river, for real this time.
When I got home I hopped in the shower and scoured myself. Then I spent some time with Sean (there’s that code again, tee hee). He wasn’t feeling real well due to allergies, so he decided to take a long hot shower of his own and try to clear his sinuses. I ordered Shane’s for lunch for myself, since Sean would usually still be asleep at that time, and got curbside pickup. When the server brought it out I rolled down my passenger window so they could set it in the seat without having to get too close. It worked out pretty well. Of course, I shifted it all to a plate when I got home, disinfected the gallon of tea, etc.
I sat at the coffee table/kotatsu and ate my Shane’s and worked on some more writing. Sean stayed up, using the blow dryer to try and dry out his sinuses, and eventually he came and lay down behind me on the couch. After awhile I couldn’t concentrate on writing anymore, so I closed all that down. I was extremely grumpy by this point, so we ordered Jimmy John’s for dinner and had it delivered. (The delivery person sent me a picture by text message of the order sitting by our door and said “Hope that felt like amazon” which cheered me up some, haha.) The food made me feel better, fortunately. Sean was very snuggly around bedtime and I didn’t want to get up from where he was lying in my lap, so I put off going to bed by about 45 minutes, whoops. Fortunately I still slept pretty well.
Monday, April 6, 2020 (Day 24)
I slept in a bit but got started at 8 as usual. Had an egg and cottage cheese for breakfast while working. On my lunch break I ate a turkey sandwich and some cheesy popcorn and got on my writing laptop and worked on stories. I finished out my workday eating apple slices, cheese, and a Slim Jim. (And the rest of my Jimmy John’s sandwich from last night.)
After work I got on my writing computer in bed and worked on stories some more. Around 6:30 I finally started cooking dinner. I had thawed some chicken so I cut it up and stir-fried it with two bags of stir-fry starter. It turned out to be just enough food. Sean and I ate and watched NCIS and had ice cream. Around 9:30 I tried getting back in bed with my laptop to write some more, but I was tired and irritable, so nothing productive happened.
That’s it for those three days. It’s getting harder and harder to…I don’t know, live? I feel trapped and helpless and worried, and also angry, and I can’t focus on things. I’m just…tired.
Yet again I did not want to get out of bed this morning, but somehow I managed it. Since I took a shower last night after my walk I didn’t take another one…my hair is a little ridiculous but eh.
Work went pretty well. I had lots of video conferences as usual; my team has a daily standup meeting, plus I am doing a lot of training. But they were all fine. During one meeting I shared the work I’ve been doing to compile/add to some research for the new tool we’re building, and everyone seemed to be pretty impressed with it, so yay.
Yet again I didn’t really have time for a break, so I stayed sitting at my desks and just turned to the other computer (my personal one) to goof off a bit between my 11-noon and 1-2pm meetings. I actually started eating my lunch at 11, so my coworkers got to see me take a bite of turkey sandwich ^^;;
After work we had a “virtual happy hour,” which was just the larger team chatting casually. There are two managers and one senior manager on my new team, and then people under each manager. Day to day we work with our own manager/team, but we also work together on broader projects. It was nice to just kind of hang out. I already knew everyone in the other branch just from sitting near them; I really haven’t had a hard time fitting in with my team. I think maybe sometimes I am a bit too serious about how pleased I am with our company’s response to coronavirus, but honestly, it is super impressive that we are prioritizing people over profit, unlike certain other companies.
Anyway, it was a fun half-hour chat and I got to see some of my coworkers’ cute kids.
After that was over, I decided to clean up the patio and lounge around outside while cooking dinner. This was some impressive multitasking, but I managed it. First I cleaned the kitchen, then I started the roast, then I peeled and started the potatoes, and then I cleaned the patio (sweeping billowing clouds of pollen off the furniture and concrete slab and washing the tabletops with Formula 409), and then I settled in with my laptop, running back in here and there to turn things down. Once dinner was actually ready, I just stayed out there until Sean was out of the shower, enjoying the perfect temperature and the beautiful green trees around me. (And the sound of my neighbor and her kids through the open deck door right above me ;D)
Breakfast today was a banana, cottage cheese, and a boiled egg. Lunch was a turkey sandwich and Cheetos. Afternoon snack was apple slices, a cheddar cheese stick, and a small Slim Jim. Dinner was a teriyaki pork roast, mashed potatoes, and peas. Yum!
I did not want to get up this morning. When my alarm went off at 6:30, I set a timer for 20 minutes and went back to sleep, and when that went off, I did it again. I only ended up dragging myself out of bed because I really had to pee.
Work was good. I ate
Greek yogurt, and
a boiled egg
as I worked and attended meetings, finishing that breakfast around 11. I meant to take my lunch break from 11:30 to 12:30, but I got super involved editing an Excel spreadsheet (sometimes I just really enjoy doing that sort of thing) and ended up working on it until after noon. Since I had a meeting at 1 and another one at 2, I didn’t take a break until 3, when I finally stepped away from the computer to relax in bed with my writing laptop.
I’ve been doing that all week, and it’s very cozy to be all snuggled up in bed with my new giant pillow. It’s especially nice today, as the temperature dropped precipitously overnight. It was 40° out when I got up this morning. It eventually got up to 68°, but the apartment was chilly the whole day.
I didn’t end up writing anything, but I did a tiny bit of editing on the story I’ve been working on, so that was good.
After work I took an hour-long walk. This time, I wore a balaclava.
I bought the balaclava way back in November of 2018. I was thinking it would be good to have for walking/jogging in the cold. However, I threw it in my pile of workout clothes and never actually used it.
It’s obviously meant to help you keep warm, so it was perhaps a poor choice for 70° weather, but it made me feel better to wear it while being outside. There were lots of neighbors out, and only three of them (a family) were wearing masks. For the most part, everyone did decent social distancing, though one woman and her dog walked kind of close to me twice. (I turned my face away.)
I didn’t get super uncomfortable in the balaclava. I was able to drink water by pulling the bottom hem out and sticking the straw of my Camelbak inside. At one point either a bug or some sort of plant detritus flew inside the mask and kept tickling my nose. And it did get warm; my ears actually got sweaty. But it wasn’t terrible, and I felt a lot less anxious about being outside. I know the balaclava wouldn’t protect me from someone coughing or sneezing in front of me, but maybe it would help with particles still left in the air from someone who coughed earlier. And at the very least, it made most people want to keep their distance.
There were lots of blooms to take pictures of today: azaleas, dogwood trees, redbud trees, and trees with pink flowers that I’m having trouble identifying.
Someday I’ll get back to uploading to my photo site, but for now the blog will do.
When I got back from my walk, I took a quick shower and then started on dinner. I forgot to take meat out to thaw yesterday, so I cooked frozen fish fillets and made Alfredo noodles and mixed veggies to go with. Tomorrow we’ll have one of the Kroger teriyaki pork roasts we love.
The walk cleared my head and made me feel really good. I’m so glad we live in such a beautiful area, and that I’m able to walk through the neighborhood while safely practicing social distancing. If I couldn’t be outside at all, getting through this pandemic would be a lot harder.
I’m starting this update a little earlier today, so hopefully it won’t take a lot of my time to finish this evening.
So far today I have eaten:
a boiled egg
a bowl of maple and brown sugar oatmeal
a turkey sandwich (on wheat bread, yay!)
The first three items were the breakfast Sean packed, and then I was still hungry and the apartment was cold so I made the oatmeal. Now I’m on my break, sitting in bed like I did yesterday, and I just finished eating the lunch Sean made.
Had another brain-melting morning of meetings, so I’m just kind of relaxing and recovering from that before jumping back in. I wanted to do some writing during this time, but eh. Maybe after work, or maybe tomorrow.
I have several works-in-progress that I need to get back to, including one with an actual deadline, but I’ve really been enjoying the story I started recently. I hope I can wrap it up pretty quickly and actually post it; it’s been awhile since I posted something.
The rest of the workday went well. We had a big meeting to discuss the whole coronavirus situation and what the company is doing, and I got a little teary-eyed. I love where I work, y’all.
It’s just below 60° out. The apartment is chilly. I’m gonna take a walk. I’ll try for an hour since I skipped the walk yesterday. (Unofficially I’ve been thinking it would be best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, so that’s where that came from.) I hope something new is blooming!
I was out for an hour, but I stopped a lot so it wasn’t like I was walking the whole time. I went down to the river, then out under the bridge to the community walking path, then back up the street and back into the other side of the apartment complex, and finally home. I saw pretty flowering trees and bushes, and I also saw some foxgloves in bloom, which I think I hadn’t seen before. They were right in front of a self-storage sign, but in a tasteful way ;D
Tonight’s dinner will be mini meatloaves, Julienne potatoes from a box, and peas. I made the potatoes first because they had to cook at 450° for 20 minutes, then put the meatloaves in at 350° for 45 minutes. Halfway through that I started the peas. I like timing the meal to all be done at the same time, but given the different oven temperatures and times, this was the best solution I could think of.
While cooking I did a little housekeeping on my social media accounts, and now I’m about ready to settle in and eat. I’m gonna sign off here and enjoy the rest of my evening.
I was already pretty much awake when my alarm went off, but that didn’t mean I wanted to get up, lol. I did anyway, since I needed to take a shower today. Shaved in the shower which took up most of my time; I went to boot up my work computer before I was done getting ready so all my programs would be loaded for my 8 am start.
Today was filled with meetings. Some of them were just for my edification and not anything I needed to contribute to. One was for me to explain a marketing process that I am intimately familiar with due to my previous role. All of them were fun; I really like my new team and I feel like we get along well.
At lunch I went into the bedroom and sat under the covers leaning back against the big pillow Mom sent me, which is now all fluffed up and very comfortable. I ended up writing a nice big update to that story I’ve been working on. It felt great to get some creative writing done! I also folded some laundry I had started that morning.
I ended up working a little late. When I was finally done I put the laundry away, then debated going for a walk. Another package had arrived, but it was rainy and cold, so I decided not to walk over to get it. I drove over instead, and it turned out to be my new blank magnetic whiteboard for the fridge (I had decided I wanted more room to write notes) plus a bunch of markers in different colors. This was a nice surprise, as I had expected this non-urgent order to arrive on April 19.
I took some time to put the blank whiteboard up and to rewrite some notes on the whiteboard calendar in color instead of black marker. Then I started the rice cooker. While that was going I changed into night clothes and sat down at the dining table to work on yesterday’s update. When the rice cooker beeped, I stir-fried some more of that pre-seasoned turkey along with some veggies, then made a plate and sat back down at my little laptop to finish the update. Sean got out of the shower a little later, and he’s been sitting on the couch eating dinner while I’ve been in the dining room. (I drew a heart with “H+S” in it on the fridge which he liked a lot.)
Today was productive and good. I’m going to try not to stay up too late so I can keep this momentum tomorrow!
(As a side note, I love WordPress’ new 2020 theme, and how the blocks work and everything. It’s so easy to make a post look nice!)
I got up sometime after 8. I was about to just plunk down at a computer, but instead I decided to take a walk. I got dressed in workout clothes and grabbed some water and my camera and was out the door at 9.
I walked out of the apartment complex and down the street to see the cherry blossoms. Some of them were in full bloom and some of them were losing petals (just like the end of the school year in anime). It was really pretty.
When I got up to the big construction area north of our apartment complex, I walked in front of it and then alongside it to try and get a good view. It looks like dirt has been piled super high in some spots and cleared in others, so maybe something multi-level is going on? I know there will be something residential there, and one of Sean and my favorite restaurants, which closed for this new construction. Right now, though, the only thing built is a parking structure.
I decided to keep going down that side road, which was a great choice—I got to see beautiful flowering trees and pushes and a drainage feature that was actually quite picturesque. Eventually I passed through an area of new condo construction and came out at a large office building housing a handful of businesses; there was a giant fountain out front, and the cool breeze there was refreshing.
I’m not sure I’m more likely to get COVID-19 than anyone else—I’m not immunocompromised or over 65—but I really, really don’t want to get it, just like I really don’t want to get regular flu. I’ve had heart failure twice (2007 and 2016). I’m not interested in putting my heart through stress like that.
The American Heart Association currently says:
The virus could affect heart disease patients in several ways, said Orly Vardeny, associate professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and University of Minnesota.
The virus’s main target is the lungs. But that could affect the heart, especially a diseased heart, which has to work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout the body, said Vardeny, an adviser on the ACC bulletin. “In general, you can think of it as something that is taxing the system as a whole.”
That could exacerbate problems for someone with heart failure, where the heart is already having problems pumping efficiently.
So yeah…I’m taking this very seriously. Not going anywhere is super difficult for me, but it’s better than getting coronavirus (or helping spread it to others). I have been doing my best to strictly “shelter in place” since March 14, not leaving the apartment at all if I can help it.
The second time I had heart failure, I did daily update posts. While I’m not actually sick right now, being stuck in the apartment all the time is wearing on me, so I think daily updates might be helpful. I’ll have something to do (during the times when I’m not working or doing chores) and I’ll end up with a record of the experience. So here we go! I’m starting a bit late; following is a recap of what’s gone on so far, from March 13 until now.
I did sort of overwhelm myself by making that list in the previous post. However, I’m happy to report that I’ve actually done some of the items.
Sean is now doing the grocery shopping and packing my breakfasts and lunches every workday. This is such a huge load off my mind. Food stresses me out to no end, so to not have to worry about two meals or the shopping for the third one is huge.
I make dinner, and to make them healthier we have decided to stop getting bagged noodles and rice. This cuts down on a lot of salt. We instead have plain rice, potatoes from scratch, or no starch at all alongside our protein and steamed frozen veggies. Eventually I might get back into cooking real pasta, but this is working for now.
I did actually audit the wall art, and I now have a list of all the pieces and their dimensions. I’m still not sure where to hang everything, as I keep thinking I want to rearrange my office again, but I can’t quite figure out the best configuration.
But this next part is the most fun. As I mentioned wanting to do in the first of the three posts I made on May 19, I have gone on a ton of hikes this year, as well as back to Gibbs Gardens and even on vacation.
In late June I went to the new-to-me Long Creek Falls, which was quite an adventure. I had to drive deep into the mountains on forest service roads to get to the trailhead; the trail to the falls is a spur off the Appalachian Trail. My car was covered in gravel dust by the end, but the hike was fantastic and the falls were absolutely beautiful. There were some lovely flowers in bloom in the forest, and the trail crossed streams frequently, necessitating some jumping from rock to rock. Adventure!
In September I went to another new-to-me site, James H. Floyd State Park. It was one of the nicest state parks I’ve been to, really set up well for staying overnight and having fun. I want to go back and spend a weekend in a cabin someday. This visit, I took the Marble Mine Trail to the ruins of (you guessed it) an old marble mine, then hiked up and along and back down Taylor Ridge, which overlooks the park. The ridge hike was kind of intense. At one point on the descent I fell right on my ass! Fortunately my backpack broke my fall, so the only injury was a little scrape on my forearm. When I was done hiking I was utterly drenched in sweat, as if I had jumped into the pond. I felt triumphant. I was so excited about this hike that I actually edited and uploaded pictures soon after I got home.
In late October I headed home to Kentucky to go camping at Cave Run Lake with AJ, Krystal, Connor, Logan, a few of Connor’s friends, and three dogs. It was amazing. There was beautiful fall color everywhere in Daniel Boone National Forest. We made s’mores and played Cards Against Humanity and AJ made us a big camp breakfast with eggs and bacon and hash browns. We hiked around the campground and the lake a little. And we just had a really good time together. After we got back, we had a big party and cookout for Connor’s 20th birthday.
So far in November I have gone to two new-to-me places: Providence Canyon and Red Top Mountain State Park. Providence Canyon is absolutely incredible. It looks like the Grand Canyon on a smaller scale (but it’s still pretty big). The rock formations are amazing; the state parks website explains that they are “unusual geological formations created by erosion of the Coastal Plain after years of poor agricultural practices.” The result is that you get to see spires and ridges formed of layers of different types of rock. I had no idea such a place existed in Georgia. It was amazing to explore. I hiked the canyon floor first, then went up and hiked a complete circuit around it. It ended up being a pretty long hike, but it was totally worth it.
Red Top Mountain State Park, which I went to the following weekend, has lots of nice trails, and there’s also an adorable Trading Post that had served as the visitor’s center until a new building was recently constructed. I’m pretty sure I hadn’t been there since 2014. It was lovely to explore the park and to see the fall leaves. The Trading Post has one of the best selections of magnets I’ve seen; I got one that was made to resemble the “US Engineer Department” (now the US Army Corps of Engineers) benchmark that exists somewhere in the park.
The day after I went to Red Top Mountain, I went to Tallulah Gorge, because I remembered the views from going for the first time back in April of 2018, and I figured it ought to look amazing with fall color. I stopped at Tallulah Point Overlook first, then went to the state park proper and hiked all the overlooks around the gorge. On my previous visit, I did the North Rim Trail, took the stairs down into the gorge, crossed the suspension bridge, and took more stairs back up to the South Rim Trail. That hike is extremely strenuous, and I didn’t want to overdo it this time. So instead of going down the stairs, I went all the way around the gorge to get to the South Rim Trail. It was a Sunday, and apparently the kayakers and rafters all come on Sunday. To get back out of the one-way South Rim Trail, I had to literally climb over people’s boats as they waited along the trail for permission to descend to the river. So that was funny. All in all, I had a great time. L’Eau d’Or Falls was absolutely beautiful, and I saw a ton of fall color. It seemed a bit past peak, but it was still gorgeous. The hike was great too, and I got a better view of the dam than I did the last time.
Of course, aside from visiting state and national parks, I’ve also gone to Gibbs many times since May—in June, July, August, and November—and I’ve also taken a few nice long neighborhood walks. The fall color has lingered around here, so I’ve been getting as many pictures as I can of it.
I’ve done some fun things other than hiking too. In September I went to JapanFest 2019, and in mid-October I went to the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay with Heidi.
And then, of course, there’s that vacation I mentioned.
This year, when Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told her that I wanted her to go to St. Augustine with me. To my surprise and delight, she said yes. So we spent a few months working out the details, and then at the end of July we actually did it.
Mom drove down to Atlanta on July 22, and then we left together the evening of July 23, stopping in Savannah for the night. We stayed at Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn, which was beautiful and cozy. The next day, we looked around Forsyth Park, walked River Street, and had lunch at The Lady & Sons before heading on to St. Augustine. The drive was rainy most of the way, and we were very glad to arrive. We got settled in at the homey and welcoming Ocean Sands Beach Inn, had dinner at a lovely oceanfront restaurant down the street called The Reef, and then went to Publix to grab some groceries for the week’s breakfasts.
We packed a lot into our first full day in St. Augustine: trolley tour in the morning, lunch at Burger Buckets, strolling St. George Street, exploring Ripley’s Believe It or Not, having dinner at a mom and pop Italian restaurant called Casa Benedetto’s, and then heading to our hotel’s private beach at dusk for a view of the ocean.
Our second day, we went to the Colonial Experience and watched a few demonstrations. Then we had an incredible lunch at The Floridian; we shared a cheese board and we each had a sandwich and everything was absolutely divine. After that we took the trolley to the other side of town for tours of the Old Jail and the Oldest Store Museum. They were both really fun. That evening, we had a huge dinner at Aunt Kate’s Restaurant at the River, then spent some time on the dock out back watching passing boats and birds and enjoying the sunset.
On the third day, we went to the Pirate and Treasure Museum, which is always a good time. Then we took the trolley to Whetstone Chocolate Factory, but we didn’t get there in time for a tour, so we just bought some chocolates to enjoy. We did a little more walking in historic St. Augustine and I got a nice ice cream cookie sandwich before we caught a shuttle bus to St. Augustine Beach. I had never been there before and was interested to see how it was different from the hotel’s beach. The whole area was basically a beach resort, filled with hotels and restaurants and surf shops. We had lunch at the Beachcomber restaurant on A Street, and then Mom had a rest while I walked down to look at the ocean. It was a very hot and sunny day, and I ended up not spending much time there. We also were a little nervous about catching the shuttle back to town! But we made it just fine. For dinner we got cleaned up and went to the Raintree, which I love and had been to before. We shared lobster bisque, Beef Wellington, and crème brûlée, and it was all absolutely amazing.
By the next day, we were both slowing down. We decided to keep getting trolley passes so we wouldn’t have to do too much walking. The first thing we did this day was take a narrated boat tour of the river. It was kind of rainy, so we were happy to be below deck, but we still got great views of the skyline and the Castillo and the lighthouse. We also saw some cool birds. After that we had a late lunch at Harry’s. We had meant to go there the day before, but we had to leave shortly after being seated so we wouldn’t miss the beach bus, so we were happy to come back and actually eat! After that, we were both pretty tired, so we went back to the hotel and relaxed, goofing around on our computers and watching TV. For dinner, we ordered pizza and lay in bed and watched a movie.
For the fifth day, we planned ahead and scheduled a Whetstone tour. It was just as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be; we got to see some cool equipment and taste some incredibly delicious samples and hear some really interesting history. We had fish and chips at the Prince of Wales for lunch, sitting outside and enjoying the cool breeze and the ambiance of historic downtown. Then we did a little browsing for souvenirs along St. George Street, finishing with some Dole Whip (a must). We spent the afternoon at the Fountain of Youth, where I got an inordinate number of pictures of peacocks. And then we did what I’d been hoping to do the whole trip, but which had never worked out until that day for various reasons: we went to Cap’s on the Water, sat right along the front of the deck with an excellent view of the river, and leisurely ordered appetizers while watching the sunset. It’s one of my favorite St. Augustine experiences, and I’m so glad I got to share it with Mom!
That was our last day. The next day, we packed up and headed back to Atlanta, bidding St. Augustine a fond farewell. I had always gone to St. Augustine by myself before, so bringing someone with me was new and fun. I really enjoyed sharing my favorite things with Mom and also discovering new things with her. Hopefully she and I will be taking another vacation together next April.
So while I haven’t fixed my entire life just yet, I have made some good changes and had some great experiences in the latter half of this year. There is more going on with me than just these things, too. But this is a pretty nice update, I’d say.