These days I feel as if I am finally in that empty nest phase of my life. Most days/nights I’m either home alone, or it’s just hubby and I watching Soprano’s re-runs.

The problem is, my nest isn’t empty. Both of my girls still live with us. They are just rarely home.

Our oldest works what seems like a full-time job, but is actually part-time, which keeps her out of the house for several hours almost 7 days a week. When she’s not at home, she is usually with her boyfriend, and when she is at home, she’s in her room gaming with friends for hours and hours.

Our youngest is balancing school (which thank goodness is done for the summer), a job, and a boyfriend who lives an hour away. On the days when the boyfriend is riding motocross or working, and she is free, she will fill her day hanging out with friends.

To add another wrinkle to this situation, my youngest is in desperate need of a car. She has the funds to purchase one, but is extremely picky as to which vehicle she wants. This is not the situation where a cheap shit-kicker factors in. So, she uses my car. Like, all the time.

I find if I need to go to the store, or take photos for work, I have to go early in the morning, because between my daughter’s job, and the boyfriend who lives an hour away, I rarely have a car anymore. Most weekends if hubby is working, I find I am stranded at my house doing laundry, dishes, and trying to find a new show to binge watch. (Mare of Easttown, Shrill, Exposure, The Big Shot with Bethenny are all good).

And speaking of TV shows, my oldest daughter and I watch a lot of shows together as a rule. Problem is, she is rarely home for us to sit and watch said shows together. I am currently behind on episodes of Top Chef and This Is Us, and when I threaten to just watch them without her, she gets pouty.

So I wait for her.

For years my husband used to tell me how nuts I was going to go once the girls were out of the house, mainly because we are pretty close. But you know what? I don’t mind it so much. They are happy. I love the guys they have in their lives, so my attitude is good for them. Go out and do what makes life good.

I just wish I had a car, and knew who was still in the running on Top Chef.

This past week Virginia was in the bulls-eye of what was to be a major ice storm. I can tell you I don’t mind snow, but ice? That means one thing. Power loss.

I don’t like losing power. It’s not just because the lights are off, and I can’t use my stove. It’s because my home is heated by electricity, and we have no fireplace or wood stove (much to my chagrin), so when we lose power, it gets freakin’ cold in my house.

About 10 years back, we had a major snowstorm…I’m talking a foot or more of snow…and for my region of VA, it made life come to a complete standstill. And, we lost power. FOR 3 DAYS. I learned how to boil water for tea on my grill, I cooked soup on my grill. We ate a lot of ham sandwiches. And it dropped to 45° INSIDE my house. The entire family slept together on our pull-out sofa to keep warm, and on Super Bowl Sunday, at halftime, our power came back on.

The next spring we purchased a grill with a side burner. Just in case.

So, when the Weather Channel was calling for an inch or more of ice, I began to dread being stuck in my icebox of a house. As the storm hit, and freezing rain continued to fall, I kept my fingers crossed. Noon had come and gone, and we still had power. I made some soup for lunch. Then dinner came and we still had power, and I turned to my husband and said, “I think we dodged a bullet.”

He agreed. The storm was way less impactful than predicted, and I was one warm, happy clam about it. I’m glad it’s almost March.

For the last few days, I’ve been dealing with a whole lot of stuff. For the past few weeks to be exact, but the last couple of days have been a fucking doozy.

My family has been dealing with a bout of Covid. First my oldest daughter got it, and despite isolating herself in her room, my husband wound up catching it. Now my youngest daughter just tested positive. So far, mommy dearest is the only one to have not contracted it.

Yet.

But the worst news is of my older (and only) brother. He had texted us that he and his wife had Covid a few days before Christmas. This past Sunday, we got the news that he was in the hospital with trouble breathing. Things looked better the next day, which I was glad for, but yesterday we were told his condition had deteriorated, and that things were looking very bleak.

I’m upset. My brother has so much to live for; a soul-mate for a wife, two beautiful children and 4 amazing grandchildren, who are far, far too young to have their pop-pop taken away from them. It all seems so unfair and helpless.

I woke up this morning and thought, what can I do? So, I got dressed, laced up my sneakers and did something I haven’t done in far too long….I took a walk. I’ve always got some lame excuse for not walking. My back hurts, it’s too cold, I’m too tired (aka too lazy). But my brother, who is literally fighting for his life, can’t do something as simple as leave the house and take a walk. So I took one for him.

I tried to listen to an audio book, but found I couldn’t concentrate. So I switched to music. The very first song that came on was “Hang On” by the Little River Band. And these lyrics struck me:

Hang on, help is on its way
I’ll be there as fast as I can
“Hang on”, a tiny voice did say
From somewhere deep inside the inner man

It made me believe that God is there for him, telling him to hang on, help is coming. My brother can hear that tiny voice from deep inside the inner man, and I’m praying that this was a sign to me that maybe, just maybe, my brother is going to be okay.

The walk felt good. It was cold. Freezing cold, but I didn’t care. I think I’ll take another walk for my brother tomorrow. And the next day, and the next. No more lazy excuses. My poor dear brother has no choice, but I do. And I’m going to get out in honor of him.

This Thanksgiving I did all the cooking, which is no big deal. Now that my family has moved out of state, I always do the cooking. But you know what??? Everything was really, really good. And I didn’t really follow a single recipe.

Sure, I looked up how to dry brine the turkey, and looked up how long to cook it, but other than that, my stuffing, creamed spinach, gravy, green beans and potatoes were all made sans recipe books, and it was all killer.

My mom was an awesome cook. She had trouble with chicken, though…it was usually very dry. But her meatloaf, pot roast, soups and spaghetti sauce were all top notch. Following suit, both of my sisters are really good cooks. Me? It took me quite a while, but I think I’m finally there.

I remember a million years ago, when I was living in Blythesville, Arkansas – the girlfriend of a dude in the Air Force. He had invited a co-worker and his wife over for dinner, and I had no idea of how to make gravy. I was absolutely clueless having no cookbooks and the fact that the internet was years into the future. Luckily the wife knew how to do it. Her gravy was way too thick…more like a custard than a gravy, but it tasted great. That was one of my first lessons that I tucked into the old memory rolodex.

As years went by, I’d practice by making the same dishes over and over again. I tried for years to find a good mac & cheese recipe. I never did. I just learned through countless episodes of Top Chef, The Barefoot Contessa, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, and Chopped how to make a roux, and a bechamel, and after that, I just made up my own recipe. It’s really, really good. I don’t measure, I just taste, and know the right consistency after years of trial and error.

Same thing with chicken soup. I don’t follow a recipe anymore, and I make killer soup. I actually make a variety of good soups. Ditto for creamed spinach, chili, and meatballs. The next thing I want to master is marinara sauce – but hell, the jarred stuff is so much easier.

All I can say is, after 56 years on this planet, I have a decent repertoire of decent dishes. And it’s about time!

I think I’ll give my cookbook collection to my oldest daughter. I don’t use them at all anymore, and boy, is she going to need them.

A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter wrote a letter to a friend of hers who just went into the military. She showed me the letter; three sheets of loose leaf paper written in pencil.

Sigh.

I remember growing up you always had a box of stationery handy for when you wrote letters. It was a big deal to go to the Hallmark store and select a set of stationery that reflected your personal style, whether it be butterflies, flowers, hearts, or in my case, some sort of cartoon theme.

Of course, we wrote a lot more letters back then. The last time I remember seeing someone use stationery was on the show “Friends.” There was an episode where Ross was getting an award, and was impatiently waiting for everyone to get ready to head out to the ceremony.

When he yelled at Rachel, she emerges from her room in her pajamas with her address book (another relic from the past) and a box of stationery, saying that she’s not going and is going to “catch up on her correspondence.” Later on, Ross almost drinks the fat. It’s an awesome episode.

Anyhoo, my daughter writing that letter brought back fond memories of all those boxes and boxes of stationery that I wrote letters on. Letters to boys I liked, girlfriends who moved away, and countless letters to Leif Garrett.

Let’s not go into that now.

When trump won the 2016 election, I was devastated. After Charlottesville in 2017, I was pissed. I knew that I’d be fighting against this racist asshole for the next 4 years.

What’s a girl to do? Go on Twitter, join up with a bunch of other folks who knew trump was bad for America, and begin resisting. While Twitter was my “no holes barred” resistance location, I made my Facebook page a platform for voicing my displeasure at our POS POTUS as well….just a little more diplomatically.

That’s where mom stepped in. Each Mother’s Day, I’d change my profile picture to one of my mom, and in 2017 I photoshopped her plain white T-shirt into one with a “Resist” logo on it. I figured, let me celebrate my mother, and get a dig in at the same time. Genius, right? But I didn’t take it down after Mother’s Day.

For the next 4 years my profile pic was nothing but my mom proudly displaying a variety of fuck trump T-shirts, all of which are shown above. If I saw an interesting anti-trump shirt cross my Facebook feed, I’d open up Photoshop and viola! New profile pic for me!

Sometimes being a graphic artist has it’s advantages.

My mom has been gone since 1994. While she wasn’t overly political (that was my dad’s gig) I know she would’ve despised what trump and the GOP have been doing over the past 4 years. My mom was more like Joe Biden, loving, supportive, caring, giving.

I’m proud to know that whatever the outcome of the 2020 election is, that I stand on the right side of history, just like I did in 2016. Years and years from now, when these 4 years of the trump administration are a laughing stock, and looked at as a dark, dark period in American history, there are those who will deny ever having voted for him. They will be embarrassed.

Not me. I know I stood on the side of truth, science, and decency. In closing, Fuck Donald Trump forever.

On Thursday, our entire family drove to our county voter’s registrar office, stood in a very short line, and cast our vote to rid the White House of that diseased maniac, Donald Trump.

4 votes. All blue. Right down the line.

It will matter to our state, Virginia, which typically winds up blue. It did in 2016, anyway. This is due mainly to Charlottesville, which is ultra liberal, Richmond, which also leans Blue, and the Nova (Northern Virginia) region, which is also quite liberal.

But my county, which is rural, is backwoods, gun totin’ Trump country. My house is one of the few front yards littered with Biden/Harris signs (I have 5 of them, along with signs for Cameron Webb (running for Congress) and Mark Warner (running for the Senate). So that’s 7 signs in all on a 1/3 acre plot.

Yeah, I’m passionate. I need to be. This country is beyond screwed up after 4 years of Trump. Is Biden the miracle cure-all? No. But my favorite thing about Biden is he’s beating Trump. Trump was afraid of a race against Biden from the start – otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered with Ukraine. You know, that shit that got him impeached?

16 more days.

In 16 more days I want the Democrats to get the head, get the tail, get the whole damn thing.

Yesterday I finished watching the incredibly short season of “Pen15” on Hulu. I have to admit, I was bummed.

So, I decided to poke around Netflix and see if I could find something new to watch. I’d heard a lot of chatter about new shows, and decided to see if I could find anything worthy of wasting a Thursday evening on.

And there it was….Cobra Kai. And I wondered, how the hell did this wind up on Netflix?

I remember hearing talk about it when it originally aired on a pay YouTube service, and was super bummed, because I really couldn’t afford another paid channel. So imagine my surprise, and absolute glee to see that I could watch it for free on Netflix!

I’ve always been a super huge fan of “The Karate Kid,” so much so that I banned the Will Smith offspring remake from airing in my presence. I remember the first time I saw it at the Cedar Lane Cinema in Teaneck, New Jersey. I was dragged there, not at all interested in seeing a karate movie, and by the time Daniel LaRusso delivered that crane kick to Johnny’s chin, I was a bonafide fan.

From the start, Cobra Kai had me. Peppered with flashbacks from the original movie, and filled with teen angst (having just finished season 2 of “Pen15”), it was checking all the boxes.

Especially watching an older Johnny Lawrence. William Zabka in the original was not my cup of tea, but in Cobra Kai? I was ashamed to admit to myself that as the episodes unfolded, I was finding him to be very attractive, indeed.

It may be due to the storyline of his character in Cobra Kai. His character starts off rough, but he’s seeing his faults and attempting to improve himself, and trying to improve the lives of the kids in his dojo. In contrast, Daniel LaRusso seems to be a bit of a prick at the beginning. It’s almost a complete roll-reversal.

I love that they got the mother back – I always liked her character. I’m not too crazy at the introduction of John Creese back on…I’m waiting to see where that goes. And, I’m super curious to see if Elizabeth Shue ever makes an appearance.

Don’t tell me….I’m only a few episodes into season 2. Look, I know the show isn’t great. They seem to use all the same plot lines from the first two Karate Kid movies. But somehow, I don’t care. I know it’s bad, but it’s fucking awesome at the same time.

I can’t wait for work to be over so I can tune back in.

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I’ve officially been diagnosed with a Frozen Shoulder.

It took quite some time. I’ve been having  problems with my left shoulder since before Christmas. I had fallen really hard on my left side last winter, leaving me with sore ribs, and I had initially attributed my bum shoulder to that.

But as the months wore on, with no relief from my shoulder pain, I began to wonder if it really was the fall at all. Thanks to the double whammy of Covid and my doctor retiring, I wasn’t able to see anyone in the medical profession until late June.

A Facebook friend, complaining about her frozen shoulder, put me on the right track towards my diagnosis. I had all the symptoms, and fit the criteria for those who develop Frozen shoulder, so at least I had an inkling of what the problem was.

My symptoms? Well, for one, I can’t lift my left arm high enough to even put deodorant on. Turning it outward is damn near impossible. Reaching down, like to shave my legs? Ain’t happenin’.

It hurts to sleep on it, which sucks because I prefer sleeping on my left side. Watching TV on the couch can be rough because my left arm dangles, which hurts. And I have to be very careful of bodily reflexes…while playing ping pong I went to grab for a careening ball with my left hand and the pain reduced me to tears.

There are driving difficulties as well. I can’t grab anything from a drive-thru window, I can only close my car door by reaching over with my right hand, and putting on my seat belt when I’m in the passenger seat is very difficult (and painful.) Hitting the release button on the seat belt is something I usually need help with.

In order to try and live with this malady, which can take up to THREE YEARS TO GO AWAY, I got a steroid shot, and while it wasn’t fun, it was worth the pain. It took a good week or so for the throbbing in my shoulder to begin to subside. It still hurts, but it’s not as brutal as it was.

Now I have to wait for the thaw. In the meantime I’m going to try and find some therapeutic exercises to try and help with my mobility. I’m glad this happened to me during Covid, where I can work from home and not have too much expected from me physically.

I wonder what year it will be when I realize I have full use of my left arm. I just hope Biden is president when it happens.

Stay safe, and fuck trump.

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About two weeks ago we had a co-worker who woke up sick. If we had been working remotely I wouldn’t have been concerned, but 2 days earlier we had all been in the office for a meeting. I was sitting right next to this coworker.

We waited none to patiently for the test results to come back, weighing as a family what we needed to do if he tested positive, with mommy dearest being a potential carrier of the covid.

Thankfully, the test came back negative. But that wasn’t my covid close call.

Sunday morning I woke up feeling not quite right. Could it have been the vodka I drank the night before? Nah…this didn’t feel like that. I had chills and little appetite. I dug out my trusty thermometer from the medicine cabinet, and sure enough. I had a 99.8 fever.

As the morning wore on, I took my temperature 73 more times, and my fever ranged from 99.0 – 101.0. Usually what one would do is down a couple of Tylenol and spend the day in bed. But not with covid raging.

We had a walk in clinic who told me to come in, yes on a Sunday. They assessed me, and gave me the dreaded nasal swab, which while not horrific, was no walk in the park either. At least it was over quickly. They would have the test results by the next day, which was a relief.

All day Sunday the family discussed what to do. Should I tell my work? Should my daughter inform her employers? How would I quarantine and still work from home?

I woke up Monday with no chills and still a low fever. We waited all day, and finally got the good news just before 7:00 pm…Negative.

I’m now an official Virginia statistic. I have been tested. I’m glad I was able to get one. I’m glad I have insurance. I’m glad I have a job.

And I’m really glad I didn’t have Covid.