Category Archives: Personal

So, I have some news…

Those of you who follow me on social media will already know about this but on April 20th I received a Total Knee Replacement for ShitKnee. I kept this quiet until after the surgery because, well, I was nervous and I didn’t want to make anyone else nervous. I’m giving that way.

But it was all surprisingly … well, easy isn’t the right word, especially seeing as I threw up in recovery, then twice in my room from the opioids in the anesthesia. Let’s call it routine. Ramón got me to the hospital at 6 AM, we were shown to a pre-op room where I got gowned and bonneted up and they got my IV started. I was pleasantly surprised when my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the internist who would be monitoring my recovery, and the charge nurse all stopped in to say hello and answer any questions I had.

I then handed my glasses over to Ramón and they wheeled me off to the OR (which was way more brightly lit than any OR on a medical TV show) and I sat up while they gave me an epidural block. The procedure now is to give a spinal block and a couple of locals in the knee in addition to the general anesthesia, all of which help greatly with pain mitigation. I laid back down, blinked, and the next thing I knew I was in a hallway and my mouth felt like the Sahara.

A nurse came along and gave me a cup of ice chips, which I slowly sucked on until my stomach decided that it was not having with that and promptly regurgitated a gush of fluid that felt way more voluminous than a handful of ice chips would have produced. One nurse said, “Oops, there she goes,” so they took me back to the pre-op room and got me cleaned up, bless them. A little while after that I was transferred to my own room.

And holy crap but hospitals have improved since my last knee surgery 38 years ago. I had a private room with a bit of a view, a nice big bathroom that was easy to hobble into, and a pair of awesome nurses named Gail and Abe who took splendid care of me. My thigh muscle felt a bit crampy from the tourniquet used during the surgery and the muscles along the back of my knee were burning from being manually straightened on the operating table, but the pain meds kept everything down to a dull roar.

Unfortunately I threw up two more times, but this time they had emesis bags nearby and I was able to hurl into those (Gail said that she was impressed I was able to hold it in until she could get me a bag. After I stopped throwing up I explained that I didn’t like making unnecessary work for people). After they gave me Zofran in my IV and my stomach calmed down I got a nice chicken sandwich for dinner and all the water, ginger ale, and jello I fancied, along with a PT session and an OT session. The PT walked in during my second hurling and he told me later that he felt so sorry for me because I looked like I was throwing up my toenails.

The next day was spent having a bagel for breakfast, walking the length of a hallway and back to my room, and learning how to use the ice machine I would be taking home with me. This is a genius little dingus that is essentially a modified cooler with a pump in the lid that pumps ice water (or in my case water that has been chilled by the addition of frozen water bottles) through a hose to a bubbled pad that you can velcro around your knee or other joints. This kind of cold compression therapy reduces blood flow, nerve activity, swelling, and inflammation in the joint, and helps a lot with pain. I had the pad wrapped around my surgical dressing and ACE bandage while I was in my hospital bed, and the nurses would disconnect me when I needed to pee.

By that afternoon my early morning bloodwork had come back all clear, I’d dressed myself and gotten ready to go, and my surgeon blessed my departure. Ramón drove me home and poured me into the guest room bed, where I was supposed to spend two weeks recovering. That being said, I was well ahead on the curve due to my pre-hab exercises (the hospital therapist was surprised that I could lift my leg without assistance and shocked that I’d walked the length of the hallway the day after surgery). When I couldn’t get comfortable Saturday night I decided to very carefully climb the stairs to our bedroom, where I’ve been sleeping every since. I now set up a routine where I sleep up there and spend the day downstairs so I’m only going up and down stairs once a day. I use the guest room for resting, napping, doing my home PT exercises, and reading when Ramón wants to watch anime.

As for the last ten days, I’ve spent them relaxing and letting my knee heal but getting in enough activity to encourage said healing and stop the joint from developing any adhesions or other issues. My surgical dressing is now off and the incision looks extremely good and should heal beautifully as long as I keep it clean and tend to it. I still have a fair amount of bruising around the knee and down the leg, but that’s to be expected, what with the ends of two bones being carefully cut off and replaced with titanium bits.

More importantly, I’ve had two outpatient PT sessions so far at the therapy place connected to my surgeon’s offices and they’ve been extremely pleased with my progress so far. My surgeon was a little concerned about me straightening out the knee and keeping it straight, but I have this hard foam cushion with a U cut out of it that I insert my heel into when I’m lying down and let gravity pull my knee straight. Yes, it’s unpleasant as it sounds, but it works.

I was even kind of naughty this morning. Technically I’m not supposed to drive for at least two weeks and preferably six weeks, but that’s mainly to make sure that 1) you’re not driving with opioid painkillers in your system (I haven’t had any since 4/24) and 2) you can bend your knee adequately and put enough pressure on the brake and gas pedal to operate the car. Well, Ramón was still asleep and we were out of wet cat food for the J Crew, so I went out to the car to see if I could get in and work the pedals without pain. When I found out that I could, I drove to the pet food store and brought back a week’s worth of food. Ramón just grinned and shook his head when I told him about it later on. Mind you, that one little trip wiped me out for the day so I’m not going to be doing the food shopping any time soon, but it’s nice to know that if I do have to drive, I can.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last two weeks. I have to say, I am so happy I got this done. I can already feel the difference in the knee, and once it’s fully rehabilitated I’m going to be more mobile than I’ve been for 38 years. After that, look out.

Hoo, boy…

This is going to be one Christmas that I will be very glad to have over and done with.

A little over a week ago Ramón started complaining of increasing mouth pain, to the point where I was searching his gums with a flashlight and improvised tongue depressor to see if he had a canker sore. I didn’t see anything, but ran out anyway to get maximum strength Orajel because surely that would work.

It didn’t. And the pain got worse, to the point last Tuesday night where it was throbbing and he couldn’t sleep. I did the only thing I could do and promised that I would get up at Oh Dark Thirty, call the dentist, and see if I could get him an emergency appointment.

Which I did, only to find out that one dentist was on vacation and the other was home with his sick wife. But since the staff was there they said I could bring Ramón in and get him X-rayed by the hygienist, which would at least give them an idea if something was wrong.

So I woke Ramón up, poured him into the car, took him to the dentist, and waited outside while he went in for the X-rays. Around a half hour later he came out with the news that he had an abscess under his right rear molar (the films had been sent electronically to the dentist who wasn’t on vacation, and blessings be on that man for being willing to check X-rays while he was taking care of his wife) and needed a root canal by a specialist because his roots were “weird.” He also had a scrip for amoxicillin which was called in to our local Walgreens.

All this was happening on December 22, mind you. Three days before Christmas. Whee…

Luckily the dentist’s office gave us the number of a specialist, and I called as soon as we got home and scored a root canal appointment for the morning of December 27. But that meant that Ramón would have to get through five days on nothing but antibiotics and OTC painkillers because nobody is handing out opioid pain meds these days. (Not to mention that getting him to take a single ibuprofen has always been a challenge because he doesn’t like painkillers of any kind, even the OTC ones, but I digress.)

At this point I knew Christmas dinner at my editor’s house was a no-go. There was no way he’d be able to sit for long enough or eat anything that required chewing, and he’d be too miserable to enjoy it anyway. So I ran out and got a slew of sugar-free puddings, jellos, and yogurts, put the Christmas Eve dinner I had planned on hold, and we hunkered down to wait out the weekend.

Except that I had heard nothing from Walgreens about the phoned-in ABX scrip. When I headed over there to check on the status, I learned that their pharmacy was closed because there was no one available to work it. The clerk at the front register said that a pharmacist from another store would be there by 2:30 PM, but I couldn’t risk it. I called the dental office again and asked them to call in the scrip to the Walmart where Ramón gets his meds, explaining the situation. The office manager quickly agreed and we had the antibiotics by 3:30 PM.

You would think this would be quite enough disasters for one holiday, but you would be wrong. This was the point where my left hip flexor, which had been bothering me for a week or so, decided to flare up like a bitch and cause a full-fledged sciatica attack. So while Ramón was peering blearily at his work monitor in between lie-downs where he could hold an ice pack on his jaw and wait for the ibuprofen and ABX to kick in, I was hobbling around the house on my cane cursing my stupid legs, the stupid chair which had caused this problem, and the fact that we had a two-story house where the master bedroom was on the second floor. I spent Wednesday through Friday night sleeping in the guest room because there was simply no way I could make it upstairs, and let me tell you that I have been spoiled rotten by our Purple mattress.

Christmas finally arrived, but frankly I don’t remember a lot about it apart from the exchange of gifts, after which both of us staggered off to our separate beds and tried to get some sleep in between ibu doses. By Sunday, however, the antibiotics were finally starting to do their job on Ramón’s abscess, and me not climbing stairs multiple times a day and staying off the Torture Chair had caused my thigh to calm down.

By the time Monday morning rolled around, both of us were feeling at least semi-human again and after two hours at the specialist Ramón came out with a freshly root canal-ed and packed molar and instructions to return in two weeks to complete the procedure. I called our dentist to make an appointment for the crown that would be needed on that molar (all I can say is, thank God Ramón opted for an HSA and has been tossing some money into it every two weeks because that’s going to cover most of our out-of-pocket costs for all of this), then had the brilliant idea to break out the shiatsu massage pillow that I’d received for Christmas and try it on my thigh.

As I remarked later on Twitter, it felt like angels with warm hands massaging my thigh, and I still don’t care how dirty that sounds. Thanks to that wondrous little pillow I was able to walk fairly well without the cane by Tuesday, which meant I could make our delayed Christmas Eve dinner (it was that or we had to put the turkey breast in the freezer), including the miniature mince pies that Ramón had been craving. Granted, a lot of prep work was done sitting down, but I’m still impressed with myself that I put together a full holiday meal without requiring a handful of ibuprofen or a bottle of tequila.

And now it is Wednesday, I made word quota today, we have a buttload of turkey and fixings in the fridge, and I’ll be making Paul Hollywood’s Leftovers Chelsea Buns on Friday. Of all the Christmases we’ve had together, this genuinely isn’t the worst (that honor is held by Christmas 2010 when our plane to Heathrow got diverted to Paris due to a major snowstorm in the UK and we had Quite the Adventure™ getting back to England).

But I’m definitely hoping that 2022 is an improvement. Because damn, we need one.

Well, this blows

I’m trying to get the house in some kind of order before my sister gets here at the end of the month. Since it needs a LOT of in-depth cleaning and ShitKnee prevents me from doing a lot of that before I’m forced to sit down, I’ve got an every-other-day schedule where I focus on a room and get it clean (writing during rest breaks), then take the next day off and dedicate it purely to writing (and yes, Ramón is helping — he cleaned the library over the weekend — but he also has a day job calling on his time whereas my boss is a bitch but also lets me have time off to clean).

Yesterday, I cleaned our downstairs bathroom. This included moving everything on surfaces out of the room, vacuuming and washing the walls, vacuuming every flat surface in the room (remember, we have five cats so there is hair EVERYWHERE), vacuuming the extractor fan cover and light fixture, dusting all the picture frames and washing the glass, washing the window and mirror, vacuuming the floor, washing all flat surfaces, scrubbing the sink/sink cabinet/toilet/shower enclosure, and washing the floor. With breaks, it took about five hours. I figured I’d be a little tired today, but it was a day off so that was fine.

Today, I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck. Just getting my muscles to function at all makes me want to cry. I can’t even get my fingers to work right — I dropped the cap from my pop bottle, then had a hell of time getting it screwed back on the bottle. All I want to do is crawl back into bed, but I’ve got word quota to meet. This getting older thing is absolute bullshit, people.

As for the bathroom, there was litter on the floor this morning (because of course there was). I swept it up and dumped it back in the litter box. The rest of it looks pretty nice, though, so I’ve got that going for me.

Okay, writing — today I’m working on the outline of The Crimson and the Black so that I can start plowing through that at speed, and I’d really like to get Shifter Woods: Growl done and out by the end of the month (it’s halfway done). Also, if you’d like to read my new alternate history mystery A Most Mysterious Murder (aka Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll team up to fight crime!), it’s available on all platforms as well as print.

Sunday Thoughts

On March 13, 2020, I was sitting in a Starbucks off of 121 in the Colony with two friends from my writing group. We met there on Mondays and Fridays to write for a couple of hours (and to get out of the house for a bit).

But that Friday was different. The place was almost empty, as it was becoming clear that the COVID pandemic had reached the US, and cases were popping up in Texas. When I went to the counter to get my drink, the barista confessed that she was terrified of getting it–she couldn’t take time off if she got sick.

When the three of us finished our writing session, we decided that it would be the last time we met at the ‘Bucks until things had improved. At the time I genuinely thought it would maybe be a couple of months at most. I mean, we lived in the United States–the country that came down like a hammer on swine flu and SARS. The CDC had a plan for a pandemic, right? They would be able to get everyone to work together and starve COVID of new victims, no problem.

It’s now one year later, and I haven’t seen either of my friends in person since that day (our writing group started Zoom meetings a few weeks afterwards). In the last year, the universe outside our house has dwindled to five stores, our doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and the vet. We started wearing masks immediately because I had access to a good fitted Fu mask pattern and a shitload of fabric in my quilting stash (wound up making masks for a lot of people until commercial mask production got off the ground). We started washing/sterilizing anything that came in the house from a store, and changed clothes/showered after we got home (I was already a regular handwasher).

We managed to avoid COVID, mainly due to the above actions combined with the facts that we don’t have kids and we both worked from home. Unfortunately, our friends and family weren’t so lucky. Four family members caught it, and we just found out that Ramón’s best friend and his wife caught it in January of this year. Nobody we know in our immediate circle died from it, however, which is a huge blessing.

Finally the vaccines started to become available. As soon as I found out that our county would be offering COVID vaccinations for people in tier 1b (which included us–it’s the first time being fat and having two endocrine disorders worked in my favor), I signed us up. Ramón had his first Moderna vax shot on 3/4/21 while I got my first Pfizer shot on 3/11/21. By mid-April we should both be fully protected. We keep talking about what we want to do after that. Ramón wants to start doing a biweekly date night where we try places we’ve never been to before. First stop will be our favorite Tex Mex restaurant, but after that I’m eyeing some of the Koreatown spots in Carrollton, followed by various Asian restaurants here in Plano.

Me, I want to travel. New Orleans, Cancun, Chicago this summer, maybe even a cruise this winter if it’s safe enough. I want to go on a road trip so badly I can taste it. I daydream about driving to Las Vegas again and enjoying the amazing scenery in New Mexico.

But what I want to do more than anything is just be around people. Sit and people watch, go shopping in a mall, eat in a restaurant–just be around other human beings and settle that primate genetic demand that wants to know where the hell my troop is. I think it may be why I’m having such a hard time writing this year––I’m burned out with being in the house all the time and I need something, anything different. I’m honestly not that much of an extrovert to begin with, but I do enjoy being around people and picking up on the energy of a crowd. I miss that badly, more than I’ve wanted to admit.

By 4/18, both Ramón and I will be fully vaccinated. We’ll still take all necessary precautions when we go out because we know what the vaccine does is make sure we won’t get seriously ill or require hospitalization if we catch COVID. The last thing I want to do right now is be asymptomatic with COVID and pass it on to some poor schmo who isn’t vaccinated. But by God, we will be doing something that week to celebrate. He’s suggested we rent a convertible and go on a day-long ride somewhere. I like that.

So, about that weather in Texas…

First off, we’re okay. I’m a veteran of blizzards so we did a humongous food stock-up for all house residents, we never lost power (we’re three blocks away from a police station and a corner ER so I’m assuming we’re on an essential grid), I shut off the sprinkler system and winterized all the outside taps so they came through without a hitch, and none of the inside pipes burst (although we did have a near miss with the hot water tap upstairs, of all things––luckily Ramón caught it and we left it on stream until the ice clog dissolved. Since that tap is NOT on an outside wall I’m a little confused about what was going on there, but whatever).

The worst thing that happened was spending five days nervous about the possibility of losing power and having a pipe burst, and the fact that our pool vacuum hoses became brittle due to the cold and had to be replaced. Considering how many people I know lost power, or have to replace burst pipes, or wound up with some kind of major residential problem, I will take temporary anxiety and buying new vacuum hoses any day.

Also, I must stress that the fact we came through without any real problems is because we never lost power. If we had, all of the trickling taps in the world wouldn’t have stopped the pipes from freezing due to the extremely cold temperatures. The ironic thing is, the picture in this post shows how much snow we got. Maybe six inches in total? But it wasn’t the snow that wrecked Texas so badly––it was the temperature. Houses down here are simply not set up to handle days of temps below freezing, much less temps that go down to single digits.

On the plus side, I have now ordered a combo tool that will let me unlock the water meter box and shut off the water, so if this ever happens again and we do lose power, we’ll fill up every available jug/tub/bucket/2 liter bottle we have with water, then shut off the sumbitch and drain the pipes. Especially since the Railroad Commission, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their groin hair, isn’t going to force power companies to winterize their equipment, which would have stopped much of this from happening.

Stores down here are still recovering, but we’re also still eating out of the stock-up I did on 2/10 so we’re good. Ramón picked up some extras on Monday, and I figure I’ll hit the store and the butcher’s tomorrow and do a proper stock-up for the weekend. The stress from the storm cut into my writing because it’s kind of hard to focus on a story when you’re waiting for the power to go out, but the nice weather this week has helped with that. I mean, I spent Tuesday writing on the patio––go figure.

O.M.G.

As you may know, dear reader, I’m deep in the weeds of what is now known as perimenopause, that hilarious period of a woman’s life where she essentially goes through a second round of puberty, only this time various systems shut down instead of turn on. The amount of hormonal hijinks, however, are the same, and the effects of being on a hormonal rollercoaster can include brain fog, tiredness, bloating, hot flashes, night sweats, and a whole other passel of fascinating experiences (and yes, I am being as sarcastic as I can at the moment).

Now, I started getting hot flashes a couple of years ago, and they got to the point where I was getting them three times an hour or so. Imagine walking from a cool house into an absolutely sweltering day, plus you’ve just eaten ghost pepper chili. That is a fairly close description of what a hot flash is like. They also made me nauseous as hell, and since I hate throwing up I did some research and found out that OTC progesterone cream would help.

Lo, it did, and for the last two years I haven’t been bothered with hot flashes. But 2020 had an extra little rotten cherry to put on the shitpile of this year, and it was the return of the hot flashes. The progesterone cream wasn’t stopping them anymore, so I did some more research and came up with black cohosh. It is a herb native to North America that behaves much like estrogen in some women’s bodies and can help reduce or eliminate hot flashes (DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor and am not dispensing medical advice, I’m simply relaying what I’ve learned and what works for me. Do your own research if you want to consider taking this, and speak with your physician before you start a new supplement).

Seeing as I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in about two weeks due to waking up at least twice a night feeling like I was on fire, I got up today and figured what the hell, I’d try the damned stuff and see if it worked.

But first, I had to take the Great Orange Lump in for his shots, then take him home, then go to the store and actually buy some black cohosh along with some other stuff (pro tip–you can usually find black cohosh in the vitamin aisle near the women’s vitamins and supplements), then stagger home, eat a belated breakfast, and take my new best friend (my life, you know you want it).

Then I went back to bed because, yeah, I needed it. Ramón pretty much patted me on the head as I staggered towards the bedroom and told me to have a nice nap, and 3/5ths of the J Crew joined me in bed.

People, I had the loveliest four-hour nap with NO HOT FLASHES. I even dreamed, and woke not wanting to kill people for the first time in two weeks. Once again, I refer you to the disclaimer above, but for me this stuff works.

Oh, hello, 5 AM…

One of the wonderful (and yes, I’m being sarcastic) things about being perimenopausal AND an insomniac under the best of situations is that I wake up multiple times during the night. Usually because I need to turn over, but sometimes I’m having a hot flash, or I have to pee, or whatever.

Getting back to sleep is a crap shoot––sometimes I’m tired enough to konk back out when I get into bed. Those are the good nights. Other times (like this morning) I wind up desperately trying to get my brain to shut up while it merrily skips across multiple topics of sheer fucking delight (e.g. I have nothing to look forward to except a lot of cleaning in order to get all the Christmas decorations up, I have a book to get out at the end of the month which will require me to write 65K in three weeks, I don’t have a choice because I put it up for pre-order, why aren’t people pre-ordering it, I need to do the shopping and will THIS be the time I catch COVID, I haven’t been outside in over a week and will the car even start, I need to get two of the cats in to get their shots before the end of the year, etc.).

All this, by the way, is going on while in the background there is this monotonous drone of BLAH. Grey, thick, gunky seas of jellied BLAH. My get up and go has got up and gone, and it is a fucking struggle to find the motivation to brush my teeth, much less write a book. I don’t know if this is hormones, the time of year, an oncoming sinus infection, plain old depression, or some combination thereof, but it blows great big donkey dick. I don’t ask for much out of life, I truly don’t, but I do need some sense of optimism, something to work towards instead of something to endure for yet another day.

My Twitter profile contains the phrase, “SF/fantasy/PN romance author and fu*king ray of sunshine in a dystopian hellscape.” But the sunshine has gone dim, and I really wish these damn clouds would get out of the way for a bit.

Still Waiting

Everyone has coping mechanisms for stress, some of them healthier than others. I happen to have one of the more neurotic ones, where I clean. I think it’s because cleaning gives me control over my immediate environment when I don’t have control elsewhere. Well, it’s either that or day drinking.

As of Monday, I have:

  • Scrubbed the toilets.
  • Gotten rid of all our recycling (including at least ten empty kitty litter boxes, buckets, and bottles) by taking them to the recycling center.
  • Vacuumed and carpet cleaned the living room.
  • Washed at least six loads of laundry, folded it all, and took it upstairs and put it away.
  • Cleared out all of the stuff that’s been piling up on the dressers in the bedroom, including the remaining tools from last November when I put up the curtains and borked my knee. Assorted stuff has been put:
    • In our closet.
    • In the garage.
    • In the linen closet downstairs.
    • In the tool drawer in the kitchen.
  • Dusted the worst of the bedroom surfaces, pending a full vacuum and polish.
  • Washed the master bath mirror and counters.
  • Sorted through all the mail, tossed junk mail, put recyclables in recycling, and batched all the (already paid) bills to be brought upstairs and filed.

I think subconsciously I’m trying to clear off all the surface mess (of which there is a lot, mainly due to the borked knee) so that I can then go room by room and give each one a good, solid deep clean before Thanksgiving, after which I can start the Christmas decorating. Ramón is watching all of this very nervously because his mom used to angry clean, and so when he sees me bustling around he subconsciously assumes I’m pissed about something (doesn’t help that I have RBF).

And yes, I’m writing as well–in fact, I’m thisclose to finishing the holiday novella and getting that off this weekend, then going back to work on Cross Current. Sorry, but I needed something light and fluffy to work on and Cross Current is going to have a fair amount of angst in it so I had to switch focus for my own mental health.

I also have my last PT visit this afternoon, and I’m going to have them measure my knee at full bend and extension so that I have an idea of how much I’ve improved since I started. I have my exercises, I have some tools to help with that and a yoga pad, and if I can get into the habit of doing them first thing in the morning after I get up and get them knocked out for the day, that would be grand.

So, what are you doing to stay calm while we wait for the election results?

Wait, where did July go?

Man, this month flew by. I don’t know if it’s the quarantine messing with my time sense or what, but in some ways this year is going faster than usual, and in others it’s dragging.

I didn’t work on Swan for the last three days because, well, Tuesday was my birthday, I spent most of Wednesday having a health televisit and working on a massive triple lemon layer cake as a belated birthday cake for Ramón and myself (and oh, it was lush — homemade lemon curd filling, lemon Genoise sponge, and lemon buttercream icing. My sponges rose! Since this is the first time I ever made a Genoise sponge, I lay all thanks at the feet of GBBO for teaching me the secrets of how to make one properly), and yesterday … hell, I don’t know what happened yesterday. I had to go out and hit multiple stores, and by the time I got back and disinfected everything I was tired and still had to make dinner.

But today, I have visited the vampires for my mid-year oil change, and as soon as Ramón finishes his lunch and heads back upstairs (he’s watching anime right now, which means I have my headphones on with Florence + the Machine) I’m opening the WIP and getting down to work. Knowing that I’m halfway through the book is a great feeling because everything’s pretty much downhill from here. Once that’s done, I return to King of Blades and get THAT puppy done, tra la.

Well, that could have gone better

So yesterday was my birthday, and while I wasn’t expecting fireworks and a marching band due to COVID, I did think we’d have a nice day with a nice cake and a nice dinner.

The day started out with Ramón presenting me with my present, a set of bread lames for cutting slits in bread loaves before baking so that they don’t rip. I was delighted and kissed him thoroughly, then got up and ran out to get the makings for a really great lemon cake with homemade lemon curd between the layers. Upon my return home I disinfected everything and showered as usual, at which point I saw a text message that a bouquet of flowers had been delivered and should be retrieved from the doorstep. I didn’t see any flowers on the way in, but I went out and double-checked the porch anyway. No flowers. Huh.

I then checked the text message a little closer and saw that the flowers had been delivered about five miles away to an address very similar to mine (same street number, slightly different street name). Since we get mail for these people at least three times a year, I wasn’t surprised but was somewhat miffed as I knew my sister was the one who sent the flowers. I replied with a text saying, “Yeah, you delivered them to the wrong address” in the hopes that the mistake would be rectified.

And then I got a second text message — from the people at this other address. Apparently my phone number was on the message tag and they pinged me to say, “Yeah, we have your flowers, wanna come pick them up?” Oooookay. So I got dressed in my second set of clothing and mask for the day and headed out … only to realize as I pulled up in front of their house that 1) I have no idea what the viral load in their house is, and 2) I cannot disinfect a bouquet. Shit. I pulled my phone back out and told them to keep the bouquet with my compliments, then went home, whereupon I put the SECOND set of clothes and mask into the wash and cleaned up again.

By this point my knee had started complaining about the humidity, the amount of movement I have been engaging in, and to be quite frank my PMS kicked in with a vengeance. As I strongly suspected I would throw cake pans through the kitchen window at this point, I said “Fuck it” to making the cake, with plans to make it the next day.

At which point my sister called to find out what I thought about the bouquet. I explained the contretemps and thanked her for her thoughtfulness (it had balloons and everything, wah!), and she agreed that I should have left the bouquet with the other people since there was no way to bring it in safely. We had a nice chat and made tentative plans to get together in March or April next year.

By now my PMS had gotten worse, plus I was feeling hot and really tired. I slogged through making chicken Alfredo, wondering at the monster chicken breasts I wound up getting from Kroger. With dinner finished, I realized I wasn’t hungry at all and went upstairs to take a nap. Woke up at 9:30 PM feeling moderately better, as well as moderately hungry.

The Alfredo was not a culinary triumph. The chicken breasts turned out to be stringy and unpleasant-tasting, and I stopped eating after half a bowl, throwing out the rest of it. I’ve clearly been spoiled, getting chicken and other meat from a local butcher, but this meal confirms that getting our meat from there was a good choice. Consoling myself with a PB&J, I watched a couple of episodes of GBBO until bedtime, tossed and turned until 3 AM, got up to watch some Jack Whitehouse comedy specials, then went back to bed.

So, yeah, not the greatest of birthdays. But to be honest it’s hardly the worst, either. A couple of minor annoyances, unpleasant chicken, and a hormone storm, no biggie. And I did get a nifty set of bread lames, a pretty birthday bouquet (at a distance), and a slew of best wishes from people on social media, so that made the day great.