Sheltering in Place – Day 44

Today I started the final chapter of the latest Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Casting Call For a Corpse. This novel has taken a really long time, probably close to 18-months. It’s not any more complicated than the others, but I’ve been a little busy, what with one thing and another. Let’s face it, just trying to decontaminate groceries from the possible contamination of COVID19 takes me awhile. I keep forgetting what I did and when I did it. That means I have to start all over again. But back to my books.  I can’t say I crank them out, anyway. It usually takes 10 to 12 months to finish one to my liking. Then I turn it over to my content editor and friend, Baird Nuckolls, and then the line editor, Paula.Grundy. That’s another month or two in the hopper. When writing, I often hang myself up on research and details. Take today. The protagonist and her husband are flying to Paris to celebrate their 6-month wedding anniversary. Sounds romantic and glamorous, right? Truth be told, it didn’t take long to check out nonstop flights, how long it takes to get from San Francisco to Paris, the time difference, and stuff like that. But I needed to know what time they had to leave Calfornia in order to get to Paris to make their 8 o’clock dinner reservation the following evening. I just couldn’t get it. It’s an 11-hour flight with a 9-hour time change. My math skills, which are challenged to begin with, couldn’t get what time they arrived in Paris. After about 20-minutes, I gave up and dashed into hubby’s office for a little help. Well, by counting his fingers and my toes we worked it out. They leave San Francisco at 8:50 pm (that’s a real flight…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 43

Today was Ellie, my cat’s,10th  birthday. I looked on the internet to see what else happened 10 years ago on April 28th. Absolutely nothing else of significance. Apparently, the highlight of April 28, 2010, was Ellie’s birth. I’ve always suspected this. No wonder she thinks of herself as a queen (note the crown). I know her date of birth because her mother, a seal-point Siamese, was in the animal shelter where she gave birth to a litter of kittens. Ellie was one. Yes, for all her regalness, Ellie is a rescue cat. But she has requested we keep it on the down-low. She doesn’t want word of this to get around the neighborhood. She has her reputation, doncha know. I thought it would be nice to show a typical day in the life of the monarch, she who graces us with her presence: First, there is breakfast. I think it should be noted that after a long night of sleeping, a hungry cat can be the most insistent alarm clock in the world. And breakfast seems to be sacrosanct to most cats. Breakfast is from 9 to 9:15 am. There is no deviation. After breakfast, we have nap time. True, she just woke up, but there is a certain amount of stress in moving from the bed to her cereal bowl. Besides, her philosophy is nap time should take up the bulk of the day. This is different than sleeping, which she does at night. In the daytime, she naps. All-day long. It’s written in her contract. She has many separate nap times and they are delineated by food and snacks.  After breaking her fast, the rest of the morning is devoted to her mid-morning nap. Then a light snack from 12 noon to 12:15. For the record, there are…

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Sheltering in Place, Day 42

The governor of California has extended the shelter-in-place mandate until the end of May! Good grief! I have committed myself to nattering on about my thoughts and feelings until the shelter-in-place days are over. But what am I going to drivel on about? Because, let’s face it, drivel I do. Let me marshal my options on possible subjects: 1 -Hubby. The man I married is an endless source of material. Love him though I do, he is responsible for much amusement around the house. And aggravation.  Usually, he’s endearing and thoughtful. He has been known to clean up the kitchen, load the dishwasher, and do a load of laundry, all before I get up in the morning. But just when I think he is the most thoughtful man in the world he goes and does something thoughtless, like leaving one of the stove burners on after he’s cooked something for himself. No matter how many times I tell him to turn the burners off BEFORE he lifts the pot from the stove, he keeps forgetting. We even have little signs – “The fire marshall is watching YOU.” Someday I just might pull the stove out and put in one that turns itself off when there’s no more weight on the burner. That stove is right around the corner, should the house not burn down beforehand. 2 – Ellie, my cat. My darling, adorable, tubby Ellie is a spoiled brat, indulged beyond belief. I not only acknowledge the fact but stand firm that it is totally my doing. I say with no small amount of pride that I can take any ordinary alley cat and turn it into a neurotic French Poodle in less than three months. I like to think of it as a gift. 3 – My hair, my…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 41

Today Hubby and I went to Lucky’s at midday on a Sunday. Nutso, right? We were driving up to San Francisco to have a sidewalk visit with hubby’s 95-year-old mother and her granddaughter, our niece. How did we wind up at Lucky’s? Niece asked up to bring up some milk. That’s what it started with. We were going to get the milk at the nearby mom and pop store. Then we got a call back from niece asking if we could pick up a “few other things.” Unfortunately, we said yes. No good deed goes unpunished. I wanted to go to our local organic grocery store, but occasionally I listen to hubby. Big mistake. He thought Lucky’s would have everything niece wanted.  Lucky’s was packed. Social distancing at its worst. And even though there was a small sign saying no one could come into the store without wearing a mask, such was not the case. And it certainly wasn’t enforced. Unlike us, a lot of people were in the store, no masks, no gloves, and acting as if nothing was going on in the world. Whatsoever. Recent visitors from Mars, perhaps? Then I had a banana incident, but possibly I was the banana. I was standing my safe 6-foot distance from a man who was examining bunches of bananas as if his life depended on it. Or maybe his salary. I suspected right away he was a shopper. I’ve never seen any man who cared that much about what a banana looked like on the outside. Anyway, while keeping a patient, safe distance from him,  a woman dashed by, clipped me on the shoulder, and headed straight for the bananas. My reaction to what she did surprised even me. “Hey! Lady!” I yelled. “I’m doing my 6-foot distancing here, waiting…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 40

In a few days’ time, it will be my cat, Ellie’s, birthday. On April 28th she will be 10 years old.  I never thought I would see her live that long, what with her asthma and all. I thought I would be lucky to have her reach her 6th birthday. But there you are. You never know. Life.   A few days after that, it will be my birthday. I am only acknowledging 45 years old, you understand. Along with the idea to keep on moving as I stand under nothing stronger than a 3-watt bulb, my real age is my secret and mine alone. The same with my weight. I don’t even think the FBI has this information and if they do, I hope they are gentlemanly enough to keep it to themselves. Even if they’re ladies. Besides, age is a mental thing, anyway, right? And I am absolutely mental. Anyone will tell you. And I am as young as I feel. Unless I am trying to use senior day to get into a movie for 6 bucks a throw. Then the number is very real. I will proudly show my driver’s license to anybody behind the ticket counter on that day. Of course, the kid looking at it is probably 18 years old at most. They feel the pyramids and I have much in common. Only the pyramids look a lot better. In any event, Happy Birthday to Ellie and me.  

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Sheltering in Place – Day 39

Today I had a Zoom meeting with other board members of Mystery Writers of America or MWA. I’d had my first Zoom meeting several months ago, pre-COVID19, but, that doesn’t count. Anything PC19 doesn’t have the sincerity or desperation about it that AC19 (after Covid19) has. Yes, nowadays it’s just you, me, and our chitty-chatty computers. In case you don’t know what Zoom is, it’s a video chat something or other. I hope I’m not being too technical here. There’s also Skype. But I think that one fell out of favor. In any event, it’s last year’s model. I haven’t met anyone who Skypes anymore.. Old hat, doncha know.  But don’t ask me, ask TechCrunch who compares these apps the way we compare Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Trix. Basically, these apps aren’t just the wave of the future, they’re the waves that smack us in the face while we’re buried up to our necks in the sands of time. And if you think that’s a bad analogy, stay tuned. The best video chat apps to turn social distancing into distant socializing I have even used Marco Polo on my iPhone upon occasion for a one-on-one chit-chat with hubby’s Auntie Marcia. She likes that one and as I love her, I do it. For hoards of people, tho, there’s Crowdcast and Livestorm. Livestorm even lets you have an event widget, whatever that is. Apparently, all you need is a computer with a camera and mic and you, too, can run Yankee Stadium. Okay, I know is this me, but what happened to the phone? or a postcard? or a letter? Or have I been swept away by the sands of time into a bog of partially decaying plant matter upon which my chitty-chatty computer rests?  I warned you my…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 38

I don’t know how to order online. I have to admit it. I thought it would be simple, but it isn’t. And I’ve made a few faux pas, which is French for you blew it. Fortunately, I have a very understanding husband. He gets that while I have many virtues, ordering online is not one of them. I may have mentioned that several weeks ago I ordered wine from BevMo. It did not go well. The results of this order showed up today. They said it would come in 10 to14 days. It took 17. And then I somehow managed to duplicate the order, which was bad enough. But when I went into the website to straighten it out, I managed to double the duplicate order. That’s 4 times the amount of booze I meant to order. Bummer. But this was not my fault. Seriously. Well, not completely. Well, maybe a little bit. Okay, entirely. Rats. In complete sincerity, I’m not sure what happened. I went to BevMo’s website.to order 6 bottles of wine and one bottle of vodka.  In my defense, the website was not exactly user-friendly. Maybe a little too much Cinco de Maya and not enough what’s going on. But the end result was I wound up with 4 times the amount of wine and spirits than I intended to order. This can happen to anybody. Right? But hubby is a good egg. He became philosophical. He said we can save all these bottles for the future, should we live to be a hundred and thirty. Or maybe, he proffered, we could open up a bar. Enthusiasm enveloped him. We’ve got the name, he said. The 6-Feet Apart Tavern. And a bonus: If you buy two drinks, you get to pet a tubby black cat named Ellie.…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 37

Today I was out shopping and saw something horrific.  A woman was actually out in public looking slovenly and unkempt. Good grief, she hadn’t even brushed her hair. Even the mask on her face couldn’t hide her lack of regard for the social mores we have come to expect from people who step outside their homes. Then I looked again. I really need to steer clear of plate-glass windows. Okay, so during our recent confinement, I have taken to wearing sweats outside the house and housedresses inside. Once I stayed in my flannel nightgown all day.  Ellie, my cat, was very confused. She kept thinking it was time for bed and yet the sun was still shining. So I went back to bed. Now I have always considered myself a pleasant enough looking woman. Upon occasion,  gorgeous. This is not vanity talking. Gorgeous is a trick I picked up in my early days in show biz. Wearing something like tulle or satin, lots of glittering jewelry, liberally applied lipgloss, all done while staying within the vicinity of a 3-watt light bulb. Lastly, keep moving. A moving target and all that. I do not make this up. It is a proven fact that these little tricks diffuse the light, keeping the subject a little out of focus. Doris Day knew this trick. So did the cameraman on her later movies. It was rumored she was often shot through gauze. When she was pushing 40 – which seems pretty young to me these days – it appeared more like she was shot through a quilt. No matter. I loved Doris Day. She was a mighty talent. But where was I? Oh, yes. On being gorgeous. Of course, my mother, husband, and several seeing-eye dogs I’ve become acquainted with think I have my…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 36

I caught Hubby practicing the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” and asked him if I could record it. It’s from the 1940 movie Pinocchio. It seems appropriate these days, somehow. Let’s wish for brighter days when old friends can meet again for a cup of coffee. I hope you enjoy it.   And here’s the original trailer from the movie, Pinocchio, a story about a puppet who becomes a little boy, all through the power of wishing on a star.  

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Sheltering in Place – Day 35

Kitty litter. There are supposed to be 100 uses for it besides the obvious, which is poop patrol. But the obvious is what I use it for. I remember when I was a kid back in the Punic Wars, we didn’t use store-bought kitty litter, even tho it was invented in 1947. You either brought in dirt from your garden (and all its pests) or you used strips of newspaper. The Miami Herald was my mother’s favorite home-made kitty litter. It was torn into narrow strips, spread around in the box, and the cats never seemed to mind at all peeing on the latest headlines. My job was to rip up a week’s worth of strips every week to be stored in a bag for later use. I may be resorting to that method very soon. Why you may ask? Because the sellers of Ellie’s kitty litter are now asking $25 a bag. And that’s NOT for a 60-pound bag, as you would think. It’s for a 6-pound bag. That’s outrageous. As it is, I’ve been paying $14.99 a bag online since early March, due to COVID19. Fortunately, I have a couple of bags stored away. I use a particular brand (see right) because it has a low dust level, is ecologically sound, and lasts a long time. I can go 6 to 8 weeks without changing the litter. But not at 25 bucks a clip. So I am now resorting to other brands for my little darling, Ellie. I’m not sure she even cares. Ellie is from the school of thought that she is there solely to do her business. She feels she does not need designer litter and I need to get over myself. She has not told me this in so many words, but after a while,…

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