The Isolation Age: Masked Ingenuity

There had to be a way to remove that drawer. I WOULD NOT GIVE UP.

My brother the scientist mailed me two high quality masks, one for me and one for Angelic Daughter, back in March. Two regular surgical style masks, and two sealed in plastic coverings, that supposedly block pathogens on the inhale, as well as the exhale. Their labels say they expired in 2015, but hey, under the circumstances, who cares?

At first I was afraid of the mask police. I didn’t want to wear those very recognizable blue/green surgical masks, because I was afraid of being berated in public by someone who thought I should have donated the mask to medical workers. I felt guilty. Why should I have a mask to wear when doctors and nurses are DYING because they don’t have them?

But these weren’t the N95 masks that are supposed to protect medical workers in addition to patients. They were just ordinary medical masks, and after a few weeks I noticed everyone was wearing them and no one was giving anyone crap about them.

I started with the regular surgical mask, with an added t-shirt made mask on top, tied with bows (adorable!) tightly around my head, sealing the underlying surgical mask closer to my face.

Those masks are supposed to be disposed of after one  use, but I hung mine up after each wearing, to air out and (I hoped) rid itself of any nasties it picked up while I was out grocery shopping. But that flimsy thing had reached its limit, so I was going to break into that allegedy anti-viral mask.

I had tossed the envelope into the big bottom file drawer of the desk with the hutch that I splurged on, knowing the moment I saw it online that the green of it would match the willow green of my Bulgarian built kitchen cabinets. I just crammed it in the back, behind the files, and left it there, for a rainy day, when the mask police might back off and the ordinary mask wore out.

And then that envelope slipped behind the back of the drawer, and I couldn’t reach it.


OK, there HAS to be a way to remove these drawers. I WILL NOT GIVE  UP. Rubbery thingees on the side of the rails that the drawers run in and out on – ok, that must be something. Press down. YES! That seems to get one side past the rail stop thingee that keeps the drawer from falling out of the desk.

But WTF? It didn’t work on the other side.

I jury-rigged a number of tools that I thought would help me drag that envelope back up out of the void behind the drawer, most involving coat hangers and duct tape, but none of them worked.


OK, think, Annie. There HAS to be a way to remove that drawer. Back to rubbery bendy things in the rails that support the drawers.

AHA! One goes up, but the other goes DOWN! Oh, you diabolical bastards! You WILL NOT DEFEAT ME! I figgered it out! Press down on one side, up on the other, and VOILA! The drawer lock stop thingee is defeated – the drawer pulls out far enough for me to see behind it and reach my tiny child-sized hands back in there to grab the envelope and retrieve those high quality masks. HA! DID IT! MOMMY WINS AGAIN!

I wanted those masks because I had to go to the garden center to get the plants my scientist brother, my sister-in-law, Angelic Daughter and I traditionally plant on my parent’s graves on Memorial Day Weekend, and the fuchsia basket for Mike’s grave. And I was damned if I was going to go to a garden center on the Friday before Memorial Day when there was a good chance of encountering someone without a mask, or wearing a mask that didn’t cover their noses.

I got the geraniums and the sweet alyssum and some kind of blue impatiens that aren’t the right kind of bluey-purpley flower we usually get, but it was crowded and Angelic Daughter was waiting patiently in the car, so I had to get out of there.  We headed out to plant on Friday afternoon, on behalf of ourselves and my brothers and me on my parent’s grave. Angelic Daughter carefully placed the flag for Dad,


and on the way  home, we hung a fuchsia like this by Mike’s grave:



I didn’t cry this time, like I usually do. That came today, and I’ll inflict my writing about it on you tomorrow. Until then, I remain,

Your never-give-up, no-retreat-baby-no-surrender (hey I’ll add that to my bouncy playlist stat, how could I forget that one?), looking forward to mask free shopping someday,


Image by DoomSlayer from Pixabay

Let Me Entertain You

I like the blogs I like because they give me something: good writing, a laugh, or a glimpse of an engaging personality.  I like some of them because they make me “feel the feels,” as some in the writing community seem fond of saying.

I’m getting that “what have I done for you lately” feeling about this blog again. Unless I’m sure the writing is good enough, and the feeling of the feels will be carthartic enough, I’m going to pause the whinging about loneliness and isolation. No one wants to hear that crap from a woman who is safely sheltered with a roof over her head, a job, a full fridge and the company of an Angelic Daughter. Instead I’m determined to try to give you something, at least one of those things I listed, with every post.

After my Cryin’ Songs, I promised you a more upbeat playlist. So here’s Ridiculouswoman’s Bungee Chair Bouncing Playlist intended to provide a boost of energy and even silliness when 2 p.m. rolls around and you just want to fall off your bouncy bungee cord desk chair and take a nap, but you still have two hours of work to do. If the link doesn’t work I think you can just search for it by name. The embed code doesn’t seem to be working or I’m just not a good enough coder to make it work, but whatever. You’ll find the playlist if you want it.

I also updated 27 Things with 27 observations about things that changed because of , well, because of all this, that I don’t expect to change back after. And I believe in an after – there was some very preliminary, but hopeful, news this week, and I’m choosing to stay on the “look for the silver lining” side of things.

Suggestions for additional songs for the playlist are welcome. I’d love to hear from you about the music that keeps you going.

Until then, I remain,

Your bungee-chair-bouncing, foxes-in-the-backyard-watching, gleefully-overhearing-Angelic-Daughter-reading (I knew if she got bored enough she’d finally realize that there is always a friend in a book!), and very, very grateful,


The Isolation Age: Jackpot Edition

There are days where things just go right.  Days of success and hope, little triumphs, unexpected discoveries, and gentle joy.

Saturday, charged the battery and assembled my new cordless electric mower (easy, just had to attach the handle), read the manual, and shaved the lawn. The battery made it all around my third of an acre, with power to spare. Good workout, too, pushing and pivoting the thing. Walked the machine back into the garage, and spent a good ten minutes deciding how I’d store the battery until next time. Then I retired to the deck to admire my work:


Somewhere deep in the night of Mother’s Day morning, I woke up with the cold certainty that I couldn’t remember where I put the mower key. It’s a safety device, and I can’t start the mower without it.  In all my fussing over the battery, I forgot what I did with the key.

Between preparing the computer for online church Sunday morning and ransacking the garage, I confirmed that the key was no place I thought I had put it, or anywhere I might rationally have put it.



After emptying my tool bag and rearranging my drill carrier bag and sorting through three plastic storage boxes of wrenches, screwdrivers and consolidated “random fastener crap,” I ended my tantrum and resolved to be an adult about it. I’d just call for a replacement.

Called the number in the manual early this morning. The recorded message asked for my patience due to the current situation and told me to call back in three business days. Then it hung up on me.


OK get a grip, Annie. I am stupid lucky enough to have a job, which requires clocking in and performing 8 hours of good honest work, which I am happy and grateful to do. But I knew I would never settle down until I found that key, and I was still SURE that it was in the garage somewhere.  So, during one of my two permitted 15 minute breaks, I backed the car out of the garage, took one more pass through my newly organized random fastener crap basket, and my plastic box of more wrenches than my child-sized hands will ever be strong enough to wield, to no avail.

Admitting defeat and humbly resolved to wait for three business days, I walked out to pull the car back into the garage. On the way, I glanced at the mower, sitting there, all cobalt blue and keyless.

And I saw a glimmer of yellow plastic on the floor underneath it.

I swear I rolled that mower back and forth twenty times on Sunday, but now, today, there it was, peeking out from under it – the KEY! FOUND IT!!

Gleeful and relieved, I put the key on my keychain and went back to the computer to participate in the morning video meetup.

Just as it was ending, a red fox trotted by the window, stopped, and looked right at me.  I turned the laptop to point the webcam at him to show my colleagues. He plunked himself down under the same tree the rabbits live (lived?) under, and took a long nap. When he emerged, he took some time for a good scratch, and with very little concern about my vocal “encouragement” to depart, trotted slowly off.



I finished work, logged off on time, and headed downstairs for my low impact YouTube cardio exercise session, with the cheerful and oddly motivating English guy.  The routine includes a few rounds of uppercuts and straight punches that allow my imagination to supply a full-on catharsis. I get sweaty and happy and invigorated, and I feel good.

On a quick pre-workout stop to replenish the under-sink cabinet in the basement bathroom with the cheap TP that is so flimsy it actually stays stocked on the grocery shelf above the “no limit” sign, I find … DISINFECTANT WIPES. A new, unopened cylinder of disinfectant wipes.

JACKPOT!!!!! I had forgotten about them – had no idea they were there! They are now hidden where Angelic Daughter, who loves nothing more than to be helpful, won’t find them and use them all up in a day (I hope.)

What a bizarre but amazing age we live in, when a roll of chemical-soaked cloths could bring such a feeling of elation.

And a red fox can look you in right in the face, settle in for a nap, and take his own sweet, nonchalant time scratching, before skipping slowly away.

Hoping you’ll find your own forgotten stash of something once mundane but now precious, I remain,

Your lawn-mowing, aerobicizing, imaginary-punch-throwing and merrily-doorknob disinfecting,