I had two relatively easy painting jobs lined up and had a couple of dry, non-windy days to work on them. Although, as I was finishing up awhile ago, it started misting, which soon turned to drizzle. So the second day was almost dry all day. This time of year, that’s all we can hope for.
Garage side door
When I painted the side door to the garage a couple of weeks ago, I did the outside and it turned out great. I could see every detail while I was painting, and I was adding another coat of the same color. I also painted the inside of the door that same day––or tried to. The door has a window, and with the sunlight coming in, it blinded me to really seeing what I was doing. I painted it, anyway, but it definitely was not my best work. And I was covering up a different color. So for more than one reason, it needed a second coat.
I decided to do it after dark. No light coming through the window then. But when I thought it through, I decided not such a good idea. I would need to leave the door open part way for a few hours for the paint to dry, and I did not want to do that after dark. So I decided to cover the window and then paint the door.
I had just gone to the dump the day before and had no old newspaper or flattened cardboard to use. So I used a smallish piece of cardboard that I use to cover the driveway drain empty point when I am sweeping out the drain, and I borrowed a few paper bags from my bag of bags. Then I got my trusty blue masking tape and went to work.
It took awhile but I got every bit of the window covered. I used a ton of tape—especially on the backsides. Everything was still up long after I was through painting. Even though it looked like a crazy quilt of sorts, it worked; it kept the sunlight out. It would win no awards for beauty, or anything else, but it was fun to figure out a way to get the window covered to totally block the light.
When I got started on the painting, it was wonderful to see what I was doing. I was really pleased with how it turned out, and it still looked great the next morning. Since it was totally dry, I took out my crazy quilt window covering and put the curtain back up.
Brass Yard Critters
I have two cranes and a duck, which I bought the summer of 2008. They were not cheap, even though they were on sale. I loved them––especially their blue/green patina. Within a few years, it started flaking off. I was very disappointed.
I spray-painted them with a brass color in 2015 that I didn’t like as well but got used to. Again, they looked good for a few years before the flaking started again.
Now, it was time for another coat. I got out my can of spray paint left over from 2015. It was not going to be enough, but I got them ready anyway.
I flaked off all the patina that was loose. Then I brought them in the house and gave them a bath. What a hoot to see each of them in the soapy water. When I was drying the tallest crane, the phone rang. When I came back, it was such a funny sight to see the towel draped over the crane, I just had to take a photo.
This morning when I was doing my early Friday morning grocery run at Fred Meyer, I checked the spray paints and got the closest to what I had. Not exact but should work.
After sanitizing the groceries and washing the produce, I got ready to paint. I pulled my car out of the garage, spread an old sheet, and the few pieces of newspaper with ads that I got at Freddies. Then I pulled out some paper bags to put under the duck. I got out my large cardboard that a six-foot table came in. I use it to block the spray from getting all over everything whenever I spray paint. Today, I simply moved it from critter to critter when it was their turn.
It didn’t take long, thank goodness. The fumes were bad, even though I had the garage door partially open. When I finished, I opened it all the way and got a fan going to disperse the fumes. Within a couple of hours, the critters were dry. I put them aside and brought in the car. They look a lot better than they did, and I think the color will work. After a couple of days, I’ll put them back in the yard.
These two painting projects turned out to be more fun than I thought. I seem to be painting, staining, lacquering everything in sight. That must be what happens when your normal life stops and you’re home most days. Hmm! What should I paint next? . . .
Last Monday wasn’t normal from the get-go. Instead of taking the time for breakfast, I just had a small container of yogurt. Then when I headed out of the house to my car to deliver three dining room chairs to be reupholstered, I didn’t make it to my car for a half hour. This was when the first of two strange things caught my attention.
There was a giant tree limb down in the driveway that Carole, my renter downstairs, uses. It was mostly dead. She always backs in and the limb was between her car and the mailbox. It was about 18-20 feet long with lots of branching. I’ve never seen such a large limb come down from one of my trees. The trees where it came from were worked on earlier this year. I wonder if that had anything to do with it. I’m glad it didn’t hit Carole’s car; it would’ve caused damage.
As it turned out, Carole had gone out to the garage she uses about 10 p.m. the night before to get something. And she heard the crash when the huge limb came down. She went out in the storm to see what had just happened and was very grateful it had not hit her car. And she was grateful to see that someone had cleared it away when she headed for work the next morning.
I cleared it away. I got my Christmas tree cutting saw from the garage and sawed off about six branches before I could move it. Where it broke off from the tree, it was about five inches thick. With many of the smaller branches cut off, I could handle it. I carried a couple of loads of branches to my debris pile and then drug the remaining big limb to the same place. I’m glad it wasn’t any larger.
Then I headed for my car and into town. After dropping off the chairs, I went to the eye clinic. I had been there last Friday for my every other year eye appointment. Good news! I don’t need new glasses. Bad news! Both eyes are almost ready for cataract surgery, which I’ll schedule for next year.
After the appointment, I went home with my cool, stylish wrap arounds under my regular glasses, since I had had my eyes dilated. When I pulled into the garage and stopped, my glasses fell into my lap with one handle still on my ear. They had just come apart after seeing the eye doctor. How ironic is that!
So I collected both parts, put them in my pocket, and went in the house. I called the eye clinic and told them that my glasses had just broken. They asked if they were really broken or had just come apart. I checked and they had just come apart. So they said to bring them in Monday.
I also discovered that no screws were missing cause no screws were used. However, I saw two tiny prongs and poked them in. The glasses appeared to be fixed; I wore them all weekend with no problems.
On Monday morning, after the stop at the upholsterer, I stopped by the eye clinic and the gal said I had done a good job of putting them back together. She tightened everything and fitted them to me better because they had been sliding down my nose the past few months. Now, I won’t be constantly adjusting them.
Here’s the second strange thing: After my two appointments, I pulled into the garage and the low tire pressure message appeared. It hadn’t appeared before. One tire looked a little soft, and the other three looked fine. I figured that later I would go to Les Schwab. Right then I was hungry and wanted more breakfast. I fixed it, ate, and then became quite sleepy. I hadn’t slept much the night before. So I lay down for a nap and actually slept for a couple of hours.
It had been quite stormy with terrific winds most of the night. So after I got up from my nap, I swept all the tree debris off the deck and balcony and the driveway. Then I picked up downed branches in the front. None were very big, but there were lots of them.
That was when I finally checked my tires again about 3:30 p.m. Surprise, surprise, one was totally flat. And it was one of the ones that looked fine before. I called AAA. They said they could be there in an hour. So I went out and emptied my trunk to make it easier to get to the spare.
When the tow truck driver arrived, I told him the story and he said that it sounded like a slow leak. He suggested that he fill the flat tire with air and if it held, he would follow me to Les Schwab. That made sense to me, so that’s what we did. The guys at Les Schwab discovered that it was a fairly large piece of metal that had punctured the tire. And it had done enough damage that I needed a new tire. So now, I have a new tire.
Who knew when the day started that I would have to deal with a huge downed limb in the morning and a flat tire in the afternoon! Neither were on my daily to-do list. . . . You just never know what the day’s going to bring!
Sir Groucho is back to normal—thank goodness! Confirmed by lab tests today.
The Florence Festival of Books dates for 2021 are September 17–18.
It is fall. It is October. There are only a few days left before the rains begin. Listen. You can hear blowers cleaning off roofs and cleaning out roof drains. You can hear chain saws and other kinds of saws as well as drills too. You can hear the clank of metal ladders being moved around houses up the hill and down the road. All this frenzied activity is to get as much done as possible before the rains begin.
I live in a wooded area with a number of tall trees in my yard. After the wind storms of the first three weeks of September, every inch of my yard in the front and on the east side were covered with tree debris especially around the redwood as well as the driveway. I got the driveway cleaned up, but the rest had to wait. There were a couple of wet weeks, which really helped the firefighters throughout the state.
Once the weather improved, I spent most of a week cleaning up the yard. I had three large tarp loads of branches that I had picked up. I drug each load over to my upper debris area. Too heavy to lift. Then I raked about 25 piles in the front and the same amount on the east slope. I was able to load about three piles at a time into a carrier that I carried to the debris areas.
The yard work took place last week. This week, I concentrated on using my paintbrush. On Sunday, I stepped out of the front door and stained the porch and steps leading up to the house. They get a lot of wear and need to be done every few years. With the front door blocked off by wet stain, I wisely left a sliding glass door off the dining room unlocked, so I could get back in. Once long ago, I didn’t. Lesson learned. I roped off the steps and put up a “wet paint” sign.
I got out my “classic burgundy” this is the color of doors to the garage and basement, the gates and fencing on both sides of the house, and the mailbox post. They all needed a new coat. And I wanted to stain the posts and railings that were put in on the east slope and down below two years ago. They were still raw wood. I have asked Todd, my yard man, to clean and then re-stain the fences and gates. I just don’t think I’ll have the time.
On Monday. I taped around the window in the garage door on both sides. The front side was already red, so it covered beautifully. But the back side will need a second coat because it had been tan. Since the brightness from the window partially blinded me to seeing what I was painting on the inside, I will do the second coat in the evening soon. I also handwashed the curtain. It dried overnight and I was able to put it back up the next morning. The whole door looked so much better.
After lunch I scrubbed the mailbox, which really needed it. Then I had to trim away some of the salal before painting the post. It too looks better.
While I was working on the mailbox, Todd came by. He took his blower and climbed up on the roof to blow it off and clean out the drains. This would be the first time to blow off my new roof, but, boy of boy, the wind was incredible for hours Labor Day night and into the next day. That was the same east wind that propelled those destructive fires. No fires here, just lots of tree debris everywhere including the roof and drains. Todd spent a lot of time up there. Later he blew off all the gravel areas. It looks much better.
Meanwhile I moved around to the eastside to paint the upper railing. It is a fairly steep slope. I did fine on the railings and on three sides of the posts. Doing the backsides of the posts I was no longer on the steps and had to really work to keep my balance. Twice I had to dodge stuff flying my way from the blower on the roof. Finally, Todd saw me and apologized. I also had to remove debris from where I had just painted.
On Tuesday, I had errands in town in the morning. So didn’t get started until after lunch. I grabbed my “classic burgundy” and paintbrush and headed for the lower, longer railing. It is not quite as steep, but I still had to be careful doing the backsides of the posts. Then I gave the upper railing a second coat. The second coat made such a difference. I love it. The longer railing will need a second coat also. Hope the weather holds.
Dang! Wednesday had drippy, close-in fog. Yuck! Couldn’t stain railings, so I worked on the front door. It’s sheltered from the drippy weather. But first, I had to go into town to get more “classic burgundy” and more clear gloss lacquer. I had ordered them days earlier.
It had been five years, since I last worked on the front door. So I did a fair amount of sanding, which meant, I had a lot of grit to clean off. Then I had to touch up with walnut rubbing stain. After that, I took a break for lunch before applying the lacquer. It is sooooo hard to keep it from running down corners and to keep whole sections from sagging. It’s best to do the door flat.
Back in 2009, I had a replacement front door for a week, while I put the actual front door on a table in the garage under great light. Then I took a rotary sander and got all but the inner sections sanded down to bare wood. I had never used a rotary sander before and learned (the hard way) to never pause with it still running. If you look closely, the door no longer looks like it came from a factory. There are dips and such that give it an artisan quality. At least, that’s what I call it.
I then cleaned it really well and re-stained it. Then I got up early one morning and applied a coat of lacquer before breakfast. Let it wait two hours. Then applied a second coat and waited two hours and then applied a third. When the door is flat, the lacquer doesn’t run. It is sooooo much easier. And the door was gorgeous! In a few years, I’ll try the replacement plan again.
I had to leave the front door open part way for the door to dry without sticking, and I have a cat that I do not let out. So I put everything I could easily find to prop it open and not allow Groucho to get out. It looked crazy, it looked jury-rigged, but it worked.
Thursday was another drippy, close-in foggy day. I was able to paint the door to the basement because it is under the upper deck and protected. I had cleaned it thoroughly a few days before. It looks so much better. The gravel gets rained on and splatters all over it, making it look terrible. So this morning while at Freddies grocery shopping, I bought a large enough welcome mat to put in front, so the rain won’t spatter it. At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it works.
Then I took the brush I used on the front door out of its plastic bag where I had it sealed to keep it from drying out. Because it was too wet to go outside, I did an indoor painting job that I’d been meaning to do for months. I spread lots of newspapers and then sanded lightly, cleaned, and then gave a second coat to the wooden trim in the kitchen/dining room counter and both bathrooms. Because it was three different places, it took some time. I had to move furniture and put up barriers to keep Groucho off the countertops in the bedroom and kitchen.
Back in June, I hired a friend who is good with wood, to refurbish all this wood trim. After 38 years of wear, it looked awful. He sanded and re-stained and put a coat of lacquer on all of it. Then he said that I could put on a second coat whenever I wanted. The only problem was that he used semi-gloss, and I used gloss. I didn’t even realize it until I was half through with the kitchen and wondered why it was so much shinier. Duh! Actually, I like it better in all three areas.
The drippiness had stopped, but it was too wet and too late to do any staining. So I went outside and weeded and pruned until dark. I also want to get those chores done down below before the rains hit. Basically, I cleaned up the beds and prepared the perennials for winter. And I’m about half done.
So I’m thoroughly caught up in the annual ritual of frenzied fall fixups, and I’m loving getting things done, of crossing things off my list.
I’ve been thinking about two subjects this week. First, an update on Groucho, and second, the Florence Festival of Books, scheduled this year for September 18-19, but cancelled due to Covid-19.
When I went to pick up Groucho last Friday, September 25, Dr. Barstow said that if he continued to have trouble urinating to take him to the Emergency Animal Hospital in Springfield that is open 24/7. She had just removed the catheter. She also injected him with a long-lasting antibiotic, when she realized what a wild cat he becomes when you try to put anything in his mouth. With assistance, they had tried to give him the Amoxicillin that I was to give every 12 hours for two weeks, and he wouldn’t let them! (I don’t think they ever believed me when I said that Groucho and I don’t do his medicine by mouth. I took a month getting over an infected puncture wound that he gave me once.)
After I got him home, he tried over and over and over to urinate and couldn’t. I got the directions to the animal hospital, but it was raining and I don’t do well going long distances with the glare of headlights and rain. So I was very relieved when at 11 p.m., he finally urinated and pooped.
The next few days were like riding a roller-coaster. Some days he seemed to be doing okay and others he had trouble. Tuesday and Wednesday he urinated totally normal. Then today the pee balls started getting smaller. Last Sunday was the start of a new problem. His new antibiotic caused his poop to become very soft. He has stepped in it and tracked it around; then he got it on his fur and spread it wherever he sat. Lots and lots of clean up. The vet gave me some probiotic to make his poop firmer, and it seems to be working. Next Friday, I’m to take in a urine sample. So we’ll see!
Groucho has lived a long life, and I realize that this may be the beginning of the end. If it clears up and is no longer a problem, I’ll be thrilled. If not, then I’ll not put him through endless painful cycles. I’m trying to get myself in the frame of mind to let him go, if we (the vet and I) feel that it is for the best. This is not easy!
Florence Festival of Books
For the past nine years, the Florence Festival of Books took place on the last weekend in September, which would have been last weekend. Although, this year the FEC asked us if we would have it the weekend before because of a big convention coming to town. So we were bumped. As it turned out Covid-19 bumped everything. I got to thinking about and missing the FFOB.
I blame Dick Smith, one of Florence’s most respected citizens, for turning me into an author and for starting the Florence Festival of Books.
Dick asked me to put his research on the historic coastal bridges into a book. After a couple of years of asking, I finally said yes. It was just before I retired from working for 21 years at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines. When I finally figured out how to organize his research, I discovered that I would need to do even more. As it turned out, the resulting book, Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, took a year of working all day every day. Then that book led to another and then another. Without Dick’s prodding, I would never have written the first one.
Because I had a book to sell, I started going to book fairs with Connie Bradley, who had also written a book. One day, Connie and I were talking about all the things that we would change if we were putting on a book fair and Dick Smith was right there listening. Without Connie or I knowing it, Dick went to the Florence Events Center and talked to Kevin Rhodes, the director. They thought the book fair was a great idea and put it on the calendar for the end of September. Then the next day, Dick called me and said he and Kevin thought Connie and I would be great co-chairs for the new book fair. I called Connie, and after we got over the shock, we put Dick and Kevin on the committee.
We didn’t know what we were doing, but Tara, the gal who was the outreach person at the events center then did. She and Kevin were at every meeting of the committee the first two years and helped us get it figured out. Mostly Tara was the one who knew how to deal with applications and publicity and advertising. As to funding, Connie and I got on the phone and within an hour, we had sponsors willing to pony up $600. (Now we have a much larger budget and received $7,000 from our sponsors in 2019. Who knew!)
We figured maybe 20 authors would show up the first year. So Kevin planned for one section of the flat floor for the book fair. Soon there were 40 and before long 60. We ended up with all five sections of the flat floor. It was a success from the get-go.
The committee decided to add additional activities. About the third year, we tried having the participating writers who paid extra for the privilege read from their books in a special area. We had them on a schedule that was announced over a loudspeaker and posted on the wall. The reader’s area was right next to the participants tables and it was just too noisy and very few attendees sat down to listen So the next year, we moved the reading area to the stage and had a terrific set-up with no noise interference, but very few attendees showed up to hear the authors read from their books. By then the reading schedule had been in the newspaper, in the program handed to each attendee as they arrived, posted on the wall, and announced over a PA system. After three years and few folks listening to each writer, we gave up.
We started having keynote speakers on Friday evening starting in 2014. We had Jane Kirkpatrick, Phillip Margolin, John Daniel, Amy Stewart, and Bob Welch––all fabulous. This year we had Melody Carlson scheduled. She is one of America’s most prolific romance writers with more than 200 books to her credit who just happens to live in Oregon. And she is willing to wait until 2021 to be our Keynoter.
We also started having panel discussions on Friday afternoons about the fifth year. Not only was the panel on the main stage, but so was the audience. We’d set up about 50 chairs. The panels covered various aspects of writing or publishing. All have had good crowds–sometimes standing room only.
During my nine years working with the FFOB, I learned how to put together 30-second spots for the radio. The first year, I worked with Callista Cates at KCST for more than an hour to get two recorded. The past couple of years, it took us 12 minutes. And I’ve been with one or two others to talk about it on the radio—sometimes live and sometimes recorded. I also went to Eugene, Coos Bay, and Newport in various years to do TV segments. And I wrote many press releases and several articles about the event for a variety of newspapers. I also delivered fliers up and down the coast and throughout Eugene and mailed packets to other parts of Oregon.
For several years, I sent the acceptance letter with everything a participant would need to know after they had filled in an application and paid their fee. So I was the main contact for eight years. By the ninth year, I wanted to cut back. So the acceptance letter was sent out by the FEC.
I enjoyed talking to the participants at the meet-and-greet Friday evening prior to the Keynote Address. Then again as they arrived and set up Saturday morning. As co-founder and co-chair for all but one of the years and secretary for all nine, I would go around and try to briefly chat with all participants. The last several years, we had 70+ authors and 8 to 10 publishers participating.
I ‘ve also been a participant each year. I participated with my first book the first year (2011), then added books as they were published, until this past year I had five.
I miss the camaraderie of the committee meetings from April through September. And I miss the actual festival in three ways: It‘s so rewarding to see all our hard work turn into one of the most popular book festivals in the state. Secondly, I enjoy participating and meeting with the attendees. And thirdly, I miss networking with the other authors. It’s always such a treat to be surrounded by other writers. I love the Florence Festival of Books and really missed it this year.
I’m looking forward to next year. Some of our long-time members are no longer on the committee, and we have two new members, so we may do some things a little differently. And who knows how Covid-19 may change things. As expected, we plan on having it on one of the last weekends of September in 2021 at the FEC. As soon as I have exact dates, I’ll post on my blog and FB page as well as see that it’s on the FFOB website.
That sorta sums it up! Mark your calendars for next year!
Note: To buy cards or books, check menu bar above.
I know he’s an old cat—somewhere between 18 and 20. I know to expect problems with his health. But he’s just been doing so well. In June at his annual checkup, he passed with flying colors. But after a checkup yesterday, his teeth need serious cleaning, his ears have some kind of discharge, and most serious, he’s having trouble urinating. All at once, he’s falling apart.
I called the vet because of his urinating problem. I started noticing it last week. But it might have been going on longer. He has been using a very loud meow for the past year––not all the time, just when he wants my attention . . . or so I thought.
It is very loud. The first time, I thought he was being attacked, but, no, he was sitting under the chair ready for me to start swinging his favorite toy on a string for him to bat at. He loves this game; we play it every night. Then he wanted to play it during the day. Before long, he started his loud meowing for other things—water in the bathroom sink when it had run through and was empty, he would sit at my computer desk wanting me to sit there so he could be in my lap, and so on.
When he started meowing loudly at his litter box last week, I thought he was unhappy with the litter. It was due for change, so I changed it. But he continued the loud, insistent meows. I noticed that they were before and after he urinated. And there were a couple of times when he tried to urinate, but nothing happened. He was always successful on a second try. When I realized this could be a problem, I called the vet and we went in yesterday.
That’s when his vet, Dr. Barstow, found the problems with his teeth, ears, and urine. Apparently, there is blood in his urine. They took a sample and it is undergoing analysis. The thought is that there might be crystals in it, which may mean that he has cystitis. We should know by tomorrow, Friday. I have bladder control dry food that I give him after I’ve put a dollop of hairball stuff on top. He eats the hairball stuff and a little bit of the dry food, but not much of it. I supplement with moist food in the morning and in the evening, shredded, cooked chicken and dry treats for dental control (which apparently are not working). Dr. Barstow says I should only give him the dry food (which he doesn’t like.)
She gave him a shot to control inflammation and another shot for pain. And I was given some pink stuff with an eye dropper—Amoxicillin, an antibiotic that is Pepto-Bismol pink––that I am to give him every 12 hours for two weeks. Oh joy! Generally speaking, we don’t do pills or anything around the mouth because this sweet, lovable cat has given me a puncture wound before. So this will be great fun!!!
Yesterday after we got home, he peed immediately and then sat in one spot on the rug in the bedroom and didn’t move for hours. I think that was the result of the shots he was given. Later in the evening, he acted more normally and even played a little. He peed again too. Never knew I’d be so thrilled to see him pee.
Last night, I had him on my lap petting him, and he was totally unaware that I was about to give him some medication orally. Because it was such a surprise, I succeeded in getting all of it in his mouth. This morning, I put him on my lap and was petting him, and he wanted down immediately. I persevered and got most of the medication in his mouth. Some got on his bib. I tried washing it off later, but that pink must have a potent dye for he now has a pink spot on his white bib. And we’ve only just begun!
Today, instead of his loud, insistent meows, he makes tiny sounds. I’d rather have the loud meows. However, his movements are normal. He’s not just sitting in one spot.
He also urinated once during the night, which was good. But this morning he tried and couldn’t. Then about 1 p.m. the same thing and again at 2 p.m. That’s when I called Dr. Barstow. She had said that if he couldn’t after trying two or three times to call, and they would want to see him right away.
So I took him in and waited in the car. After awhile, as assistant came out and told me they would use a catheter and keep him overnight. So I headed home. The house felt really lonely with no Groucho around.
Later, the vet called. They had sedated him and inserted a catheter, and his very full bladder was able to empty. The urine was clear and looked much better than it did yesterday. They gave him a shot of penicillin instead of the amoxicillin to take care of tonight and tomorrow morning. Tests showed that there had been a lot of bacteria, so an antibiotic had been needed. Hope that takes care of the problem. The vet will call tomorrow as to where we go next with his treatment. Maybe by then, she’ll know if there are any crystals in his urine.
I’ll keep you posted. Think positive thoughts about Sir Groucho and keep him in your prayers.
Note: About 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning, I received a call from the vet. No crystals in his urine. Apparently it was a bacterial infection. I get to pick him up today at 4 p.m. Whew!!!
Note: To buy books or cards, check menu bar above.
As I sat here writing this a couple of days ago, the radio coverage was of Hurricane Sally and wildfires continuing to burn in many parts of Oregon, California, Washington, and more parts of the west. And the wildfire season isn’t nearly over. On the coast of Oregon is the ever-present danger of a major earthquake and resulting tsunami as well. We are told over and over that it is not “if” it will happen but “when.” I keep saying, “Someday I’m going to get prepared.” So this post is one more “someday has arrived” item. Last week when I tried to put my go-bag together in the middle of the night when the temps went from mid-50s to 74 and the wind from nothing to about 45 to 50 mph between 11 p.m. and midnight, I got spooked. So now, I think I’m finally ready to get serious and do something about it.
Wednesday night and yesterday morning, I dug out what I’d clipped from the newspaper over the years and then went online to read blog posts. My source is Dave Robinson who has written columns about disaster preparedness for more than one coastal newspaper and is the author of Disaster Prep for the Rest of Us.
I didn’t know what to put in a go-bag. When I put mine together last week, I got some things right, but I left out some necessary items. Robinson’s recommendation is not to buy a ready-made go-bag, but to personalize it to your needs. Here are the basic ingredients: food, water and something with which to purify water, medications, walking shoes, a few clothes and a poncho or jacket, and cell phone charger cord. (He recommends to keep a second one in the car.) For Sir Groucho, I had dishes for his water and food, canned food, dry food, medications, and leash and harness. Of course, I have a carrier for Sir Groucho to travel in.
Robinson recommends sticking to foods you are used to. Freeze-dried foods may have a shelf life of 25 years but may not be good for your digestive system during a time of stress. And he suggests some band-aids, pain medication, and flashlight and batteries. He also suggests a small water filter such as a LifeStraw or Survival Spring, both available for about $20. And Lightning Strike to help start a fire. These last two might be handy if you are stuck with your car between Florence and Eugene for several days.
He thinks of a go-bag as a get you home bag if away from home when disaster strikes, which means that you need to have it in your car. And he thinks of it as the bag to grab when you are home and need to leave your house due to wildfire or earthquake. So it should be in your car whenever you are in your car and under your bed when home to be handy when you need it day or night.
We’re always told to grab important papers, which I did (I forgot insurance policies and passport), and I had them in a separate bag. I don’t want those sitting in a go-bag in the car. So Robinson’s suggestion is to make copies of them and put in the go-bag. Or photograph them, upload to your computer, and put on a flash drive. Then put the flash drive in a go-bag. These documents may include insurance policies, deeds, passports, birth certificates, and titles to your vehicles.
There is a lot of stuff on my desktop that I would not want to lose. So I think I’ll put those on flash drives, also, and put in my go-bag. And I’d also take my laptop.
In the event of a major earthquake and resulting tsunami, those of us on the coast may be on our own for up to two weeks. And that may be true also, if we happen to be on the road between Florence and Eugene. (This might be a situation where freeze dried food would be the best, because it takes up less space.) So having a kit to survive those two weeks is important. This would be in addition to the go-bag.
I attended a disaster prep workshop taught by someone else a couple of years ago, and I remember her saying that the survival kit needs to be away from the house. If the house is damaged, you might not be able to get to your survival kit. It should be close by, but not in the garage or basement or anywhere else in the house. And it will require more than one large, sturdy container.
Food and water will be the major items. Robinson has a list of 19 food items that should be in the kit as well as a hand-operated can opener. And he recommends five gallons of water per person or more. To purify water if not bottled, have a small container of unscented regular household bleach. Experts recommend 8 drops of bleach per one gallon of water. So have an eye dropper also.
Here are more of his suggestions for the survival kit:
* Two flashlights for every person with several backup batteries.
* For insurance purposes, it’s good to have a record of what your house and possessions look like before a disaster—an inventory through photos or video. These could be put on a flash drive. This morning a gal recently evacuated was interviewed on the radio and mentioned to photograph what’s in drawers too. She is from California and this was her second evacuation in the past few years. (After a disaster, if there is damage, document that through photos or video also.)
* Have some common-sense items like scissors or a utility knife (something sharp to cut with), sanitizing wipes, heavy duty trash bags, matches in waterproof containers, and a whistle to signal for help. Robinson says over and over that you cannot have too many batteries, zip ties, and duct tape.
* Have some cash on hand in small bills because ATMs may not be working and banks may be damaged or closed. And in a widespread power outage, debit cards won’t be helpful.
I should be able to do this. With Dave Robinson’s expertise, I now know what to do. In this blog post, I’ve listed some of his recommendations that I hadn’t thought of. To get the full list of foods to put in your kit ( two blog posts July 2016) and more recommendations that he calls ‘timely tips” (two blog posts July 2013), check out www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com..
I often would say, “Someday I’ll get to this.” or “Someday I’ll do that.” Well, someday has arrived. That’s one of the main memories I’ll have of the time of Covid-19.
Being stuck at home. Being a Type A. Being someone who has been in the process of regaining my energy since total knee replacement surgery this past January 28. For all these reasons, I would’ve gone nuts if I didn’t have a list of what to do each day. I know, I know, everyone gives me a bad time about my lists, but that’s me. What makes me happy at the end of each day is crossing off what I’ve accomplished. So since my ‘someday’ had arrived, here’s my list of what I’ve accomplished starting with this week and looking back.
Monday, September 7, alerts on iPhone, radio, and TV about extreme fire danger:
–Put together a go bag—just in case I had to evacuate. It involved making a list of what to put together for me and Sir Groucho and then getting it ready. Just looking outside at the orange sky before it got dark and then feeling a hot wind come up at 11 p.m. that had gusts of 45 to 50 mph or more, I was spooked. I put my go bag together between 11 p.m. and midnight Monday. Because of our ever-present danger of major earthquake and tsunami, it was something that needed to be done.
This past weekend:
Scrubbed and re-stained decks and balcony. After my knee surgery, the doctors said to give it six months before my energy returned and that was exactly right. I started being able to make it through the day without naps or feeling tired some time in August. Didn’t know if I would have the endurance to do the decks, but as it turned out, I did.
I scrubbed every inch of the large deck and its railings and the steps to the lower deck and the railing alongside it on Saturday. It took nearly all day. Then on Sunday, I did the balcony and its railings. On Monday, I stained all the areas I had scrubbed except the steps and railing alongside. I still have to do those. Everything was wet from condensation that day until about 1 p.m. So that’s when I started applying stain. I finished at 4:18 p.m. I don’t like to paint or stain after 4 p.m. because of the nighttime condensation. I pushed myself. I’m not able to get down on my knees like I used to, so I bent over for all of the decking. The railings were easy, peasy in comparison.
Anyway, this is a chore I have done nearly every year since I’ve lived here because my decks are on the north side of the house, but I did not do it last year because of my bad knee. So I had two years of yuck to clean. I was really pleased that I was able to get it done and in short order. I’m also pleased that I finished before our extreme weather event. I would not have been able to work outside in the smoke.
A week ago:
Cleaned out basement. Pulling a few years accumulation out of the basement and laying it all out on the gravel area below the decks, was a good way to see what all I had. I swept what I could in the basement and put back what I wanted to keep in an organized way.
I got rid of more than I kept. Hauling it up the incline and steps to the front of the house was the most difficult part. Some of it went into bags to the dump, and some of it went to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. There are also two boxes still in the basement labeled “hazardous waste” for the round-up at the dump in October—mostly fungicides and other poisons for gardening that I no longer use.
Two weeks ago:
Cleaned and organized walk-in closet. When I converted my downstairs into an apartment and started renting it in 2009, it really limited my storage area. Everything wound up in my walk-in closet off my bedroom. Besides all my clothes and jackets on hangers, there is a wine storage unit, picnic basket, cooler, Christmas stuff, bedding for two twin beds (my king-size bed is actually two twins pushed together), hamper, vacuum, mop, feather duster, small ladder, birding scope, laundry baskets and soap, etc, cat litter, a box of 120 or so bubble envelopes for my book business, and a box of 100 smaller flat envelopes for the cards I now sell. And that’s just what’s on the floor under the clothes. On the shelf above are coffee filters, vases, a pantry of foods, boxes of shoes, paper towels, TP, purses, hats, and pillows.
It took a day to go through all the stuff. And then a few days to go through all the clothes and shoes because I had to try on everything. I got rid of a lot of stuff as well as clothes and shoes. And I feel like it’s Christmas because. I have so many “new” outfits to wear. These are clothes I’ve had for years but didn’t wear because I had never put that top with those pants or those shoes. Not only do I feel good about getting rid of so much and being more organized, but excited about my “new clothes.”
Office–I had previously cleaned out my office where every file and every photo was looked at and either tossed or shredded or organized in a proper place—not in a totebag sitting on the floor or piling up in the closet like they had been.
Garage–And I had gone through the garage. I threw out stuff that had been in cabinets that the last person to use was my late husband who died in February 2001—almost 20 years ago. Way past time to clean out and reorganize.
All this purging resulted in filling bags and boxes, loading the car, and getting rid of it:
–Many trips to the dump
–One trip to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore
–Two trips to dump
–Car filled with 8 boxes and 7 large bags to St. Vinny’s mostly clothes and shoes
–Car totally filled with mostly gardening stuff from basement to Restore
All this purging also resulted in less clutter, more organization:
–It’s so nice to walk into the office, the walk-in closet, the garage, and the basement and no longer have that overwhelming feeling of “where do I start to clean up this mess?” And, now, the decks look decent again.
I’ll turn my attention outside. The back area is in good shape, so I’ll tackle the front two areas. Now, it’s their turn.Their someday has arrived!
Once upon a time, I wrote the gardening column for Oregon Coast magazine. I did that for 12 years—six times a year. Now I seem to have forgotten more than I ever knew.
For about 27 years, I did a lot of gardening. But since my battle with cancer in 2014-15, I just don’t have the energy to work long hours in the yard like I used to. Since then, all I seem to get done is weed and water and prune, and even then, I never catch up.
I had some landscaping done last year in the back area and more work is being done this year by Todd who does the big stuff in the yard and has done so for the past 30 years. All of this has made it easier for me, and I’m better at keeping up. But there are still areas that need work.
Before this year is over, I have plans to redo areas on both sides in the front. I’ve had the trees pruned up and will have plants dug out that are not doing well and plant some new when the rains begin. That’s the best time to plant anything new.
I used to have success with veggies in my lower terraces and greenhouse, but the trees have grown so much that there is not enough sunlight there now.
I have memories of tasty, sweet tomatoes in the greenhouse and cucumbers that made killer bread-and-butter pickles that I would give as Christmas gifts
And outside in the terraces, I used to have more zucchini than we could eat and lots of sugar snap peas–– two of my favorite veggies.
As it got more difficult to grow veggies in the greenhouse, I started planting flowers there that the deer and rabbits would eat if planted outside.
But this year, I had a yen to plant veggies. I knew that outside just wouldn’t work So I decided to have flowers and veggies share the greenhouse. Sort of an experiment to see if I could get veggies to grow there again.
I started with zucchini transplants. I had 12 of them. They did fine from the get-go. I put tomato cages around them and soon they were producing big gorgeous green leaves and yellow blossoms. I was pleased.
But now, it’s September. They should be producing aucchini, but they are still producing big, gorgeous, yellow blossoms. I read that I should use a paintbrush to tickle the stamen in the center of each flower to help in fertilizing it when growing in a greenhouse. I do it every morning.
And now some of the leaves are showing spots of mildew. So I pluck the leaves and toss on the debris pile outside. I see tiny zucchini starting, but they turn yellow, shrivel, and fall off while less than an inch long. I put fertilizer in the water once a day when I water. Perhaps, I should back off the fertilizer and use less water. Maybe it’s the wrong kind of fertilizer. Need to research this. At this point, I’d say growing zucchini in the greenhouse is not working. Beautiful plants but no fruit.
What about the sugar snap peas? I started with three tomato-cage type pots each holding five or six plants ready to start putting out tasty pea pods. They did okay for a while, and I enjoyed them in my green salads. Soon the plants started looking like they were not getting enough water, but the soil was moist. Then they got aphids. I used soapy water to get rid of them, but they would appear somewhere else. About then, I realized that the plants were no longer putting out blooms and pods and were looking sad. Then individual plants started dying off. First one and then others. Now they’re all gone––so disappointing. Not sure what I was doing wrong.
On the other side of the greenhouse, I planted four six packs of different types of petunias. It’s one of my favorite flowers, and they thrived. They outdid themselves. Each variety is gorgeous. I would have a hard time picking a favorite.
Some varieties were tall and others bushy, and the colors were lovely. One variety has a variegated color pattern. On one plant could be pink and white as well as purple and white. And no two blossoms are the same.
There were no aphids, no mildew, just plants looking beautiful and happy!
So I guess in 2021, I’ll stick to flowers in the greenhouse––petunias for sure and maybe some sweetpeas and tuberous begonias and . . . Already getting excited!
I’m still dealing with the ramifications of being scammed.
Since all my bank accounts––personal checking, business checking, and savings––were frozen, they reopened days later with new account numbers. Well, that means the six automatic deductions and three automatic deposits would need to be notified. Everything would automatically move to my new account—at least for awhile. But I needed to call and let each know what is happening.
I would be dealing with the big guys. Nothing is bigger than the Social Security Administration. But some of the companies I would be calling are not small—Lockheed Martin Corporation and Wells Fargo Bank. Those are the automatic deposits. Then there are the medical deductions. Mutual of Omaha is my Medicare supplemental insurance provider and SilverScript handles my Medicare Part D prescription insurance. Then the special insurances: Ameriprise—long term care, Aflac—cancer, Physician’s Mutual––dental, and Ameritas—vision.
I love calling up a business and talking to a real person, and within minutes, talking to the person who actually helps. One of the joys of living in a small town.
Well, forget all that when dealing with the big guys. First, is the voice mail that can go on and on before handing you off to a representative. That’s what you want. But first you’ll get to be “on hold” with music and a voice that interrupts with either a we’re sorry message, advertising, or suggesting you go online. None of this is news to anyone who has had to call a large company. But normally, you only have to deal with one company and you plan for it. You do it in the morning when you have the most patience and your stress level hasn’t been raised yet. And you have something to do or read when put on hold. I had that times nine!
So I started last Friday morning after I did my grocery shopping between 7 and 8 a.m. That’s my Friday morning ritual during the Coronavirus pandemic because there are few shoppers, lots of parking spaces, and no lines at checkout at that time. I got home and sanitized all my groceries except the produce which I washed. I was advised to do that last March, and I’ve done it ever since. So it was about 10 a.m. when I got started with my phone calls. I continued after lunch and then most of the day on Monday.
The first three––Mutual of Omaha, Physician’t Mutual, and Ameritas––went surprisingly fast. Voice mail, hold of 10 minutes or less, and a representative that could handle it all by him- or herself. I thought that maybe I’ll be done by lunch time. Ha!
SilverScript was next. First try, during the handoff to hold, the call was dropped. Second try, I made it to hold, but it was all gobblety-gook like chickens squabbling over their feed. Third try, the handoff to hold went well. But I had to wait 45 minutes before getting a representative. Fortunately, he was able to handle it all by himself.
Ameriprise went well with wait of about 10 minutes. The representative, however, was not able to handle the change. He would be sending me a form by mail to fill out. It arrived within a couple of days, and I filled it out. But I have to put a voided check with it from my new account—just like starting a new automatic deduction. The new checks are on order and haven’t arrived yet. So this one is pending.
Aflac is my favorite insurance company. When I or my late husband had cancer (twice for him and once for me), money came through within a few days upon answering only a few questions over the phone and sending only a couple of signed pieces of paperwork from the doctor. I think I was able to do it in one day. I anticipated the same quick response to this request, but, alas, it was not to be.
I started on Friday afternoon by being told that the wait time would be 1 hour and 5 minutes or have them call me when they were free or me tell them a good time to call me back on Monday. So I picked the third option and typed in 11 and was told that that was not an actual time. So I typed in 10 and received the same message. When I typed in “10 o’clock” and received the same message, I also was told that I only got three tries and was put on hold with music playing. So I hung up and went online. After finally setting up username and password, I got into a loop situation and quit in frustration. By then, it was 5 p.m. Time to quit.
Monday morning, I called Aflac early in hopes that the wait would be less than 1 hour and 5 minutes. I made it through voice mail and was told that the wait time would be 50 minutes. So I had my project in front of me and waited. By the time I got a representative 45 minutes later, I could say all the recorded messages by heart that were interspersed every minute or so with music. Fortunately, this representative could do it all by himself.
By now, I was ready for anything. Lockheed was next. It went well. Very short wait on hold and the representative had an answer for me immediately. He said he would send a form for me to fill out, and it would need a voided check from the new account. It has been five days and no form. I just knew there would be a glitch; the call had been too easy. So this one is pending.
With Social Security, I made it to hold relatively quickly. Then after about 15 minutes on hold, I got a busy signal, then a pause, more busy signal, pause. I hung up and went online. It took forever to go through the sign-up ritual. When I was done, I got a message that they were unable to help me now and to return later. But I didn’t leave, I went to section after section until I found the right section to change the damn direct deposit account number. When I was finally done, I couldn’t believe it.
With Wells Fargo, I would be dealing with the brokerage division. I didn’t have to wait very long on hold. The representative told me that In order to change the account number of the direct deposit that they send each month, I would need to fill out a form. So he sent a form to my email. I filled out what I could and then ran it off. I will need to take it to the bank and have the bank manager, no less, as well as an associate manager sign the form and witness me signing the form. And it will need the voided check from the new account. So this one is also pending.
After the better part of two days of phone calling and some online work, I have six done and three pending with forms to return. Hopefully, Lockheed will send their form and the new checks will arrive soon, so I can get these three taken care of.
Consider this a cautionary tale of how anybody can be scammed. It came in a one-two punch, starting last February with me trying to install Microsoft Word and ending last week when I lost a hunk of money. I spent a couple of days in shock, but now I’m angry and ashamed that I could be so duped. I intend to tell the tale and in so doing, prevent this from happening to anyone else.
It all began when I tried to install the latest version of Microsoft Word and got into a loop situation that became more and more frustrating. I looked online and found Microsoft Help. I clicked on it and found a very helpful techie who talked me through it to the point where we got into the loop situation. At that point, he asked if he could take over the curser. By then, I trusted him. He found that the reason I couldn’t install the program was because of some malicious virus and a Trojan horse. So he said that it would take some time, but he and his team could fix everything. There would be a cost. It would be about $350. I balked at that. Then he said that if I paid $500, I would have help from Microsoft Help for any problem and the one-time cost would last for my lifetime. As a writer, I needed to be able to use my Microsoft Word program, so I said okay to the lifetime plan.
Fixing the computer took a couple of hours. Then he called back and we were able to complete the Microsoft Word installation. I had just spent $100 on my upgraded Microsoft Word program and would need to upgrade every year. He told me that he could get me a better deal. I could have a Microsoft Word upgrade program that would kick in automatically every year. It would cost $500 and last a lifetime. I would never again have to pay for it, and it would be installed automatically. At that moment, it sounded like a good deal. So I went for it.
He also helped me organize my desktop and helped with a couple of other questions I had. And I was inspired to clean up everything after working with him. So I spent a few hours a day for several days, deleting duplicate and unwanted photos and emails. Over the next month, he called a couple of times to see if I needed any help with anything. At this point I did not suspect anything amiss. This was Microsoft Help, and I trusted the Microsoft name.
Then a month later, he called and said I needed an upgraded firewall to protect against new, worse viruses and the cost this time was $750. I balked at this and should have hung up, but I didn’t. I had a certain amount of trust in this fellow, and he was very persuasive. Before I knew it, I paid for that too.
Then last week, August 11, I received a call saying that my lifetime Microsoft Help program was no longer going to be able to help me, but they could help me get my money back. This was not the person I had spoken with before. But getting my money back sounded like a good idea. He passed me on to their financial person.
(This is when I should have said, I don’t want my money back and hung up.)
Ah! He was very persuasive. He asked me to do a couple things on the computer and before I knew it, he had control of the curser. He said in order to return the money, I would need to have an online banking account. I did want my money back. With very few steps, I had an online banking account where all my accounts were there. Of course, he assured me that because only I knew the password, I was the only one who could access them. I’m sure they had a way. This was what they wanted, and the next part is the key to the whole scam. He said that I would be repaid in two parts and he had me type in the first amount, which was several hundred dollars. So I typed it in, and suddenly it changed with the addition of a zero to several thousand dollars, which I did not do. He was horrified and said I had made the mistake and now they would be sending me that larger amount instead of what I was supposed to get and I would have to pay back the difference. He showed me my account with the larger figure already in it. (So, yes, they could get to my accounts without my password or maybe they had that too.) His tone was loud and frantic–in panic mode..
He wanted me to go to the bank and make a wire transfer for the difference immediately. And he gave me the name and account numbers etc to be able to do it. I just wanted to get this taken care of. By now I had a headache and my stomach was churning and I could feel my blood pressure rising. I felt at any moment someone would be coming to my house to claim their money. I felt afraid and would do what they asked. (I’m sure that’s exactly how they wanted me to feel.)
As it turned out, I couldn’t get an appointment at the bank that day, but I could go in anytime the next day because that would be the first day the bank would be open. The wire transfer was to Thailand and they wanted me to say it was for a medical emergency. I didn’t think that would fly with the bank, since it would be coming from my business account. So I suggested a cashier’s check which they eventually went for. However, it was to go to their contact in Tucson, AZ. She was a lady named Dorothy Winkler. I can handle most anything, but this whole experience was turning me into a nervous wreck and kept me awake that night.
I went to the bank the next day and withdrew thousands 0f dollars in the form of a cashier’s check. Beforehand, I asked her the amount in the account, and it was, indeed, several thousand over what it had been. Then I went next door to the post office and sent it off. They wanted overnight, but this is Florence. The fastest way was by Priority Express, which would take two days.
I was so stressed by the whole thing, when I got home, I just went to bed and slept for a couple of hours. When I got up, I got on my computer and tried to access my accounts. I remembered my password, but any user ID I came up with didn’t work. (Don’t know if this was the scammers doing or not.) Then I looked for the apps that had been used to access my computer and trashed one and the other I put restrictions on it of new passwords and requesting permission. Then I couple days later finally was able to trash it.
I didn’t realize what had happened until two days later when I went to the bank to deposit a small check, get my correct user ID so I could access my accounts online, and to check on my account balances. Strangely enough one of my accounts was several thousand short. That’s when I knew what really happened. They simply moved MY money from one account to another and made me think I owed them money. So the check I sent was totally my money. I thought I would faint, but I didn’t. Outwardly, I looked fine, but inside, I was in a state of shock.
Bottom line: I’m out thousands of dollars and all my accounts are frozen as the bank investigates. The bank is trying to put a stop payment on the cashier’s check, but that’s a long shot.
After I got home from the bank and still in a state of shock, I received a call from the scammers saying that the check had not arrived yet and this was the second day. I did not let on and reassured them that it should arrive any time.
Now for a strange twist. Their contact that the check was sent to, called me a few minutes later. She said she had just received a check from me, and why did I send it. I explained briefly and told her to tear it up. She said she was 92 and that she had no intention of cashing it and would shred it. I totally believed her. I so believed her that I told her to not answer the door because someone would be after that check and that she might call the police. Later, after thinking it over, I concluded she was probably part of the scam. Like the others, she was persuasive.
Going forward: I’m going to take my desktop to Jolene at Florence Technical Solutions and make sure that all ways to access my computer are gone and to check for any viruses or malware. And I’ll stop my credit card and get a new one with a new number, since that was how I paid back in February and April. (A little late, I know, but better late than never.) And at some point, I’ll be able to reopen my accounts with new numbers, hopefully, at the same bank.
I never thought this would happen to me. I was too smart for that. Obviously, that is not true. When I think through how this all unfolded, there were so many times I should have hung up. And just when I might have figured it out, they were rushing me and making me think the mistake was mine and instilling a certain amount of fear. At that point, all I wanted to do, was to get it over with and do whatever I had to do? Or at the bank, I could have checked all balances before requesting the cashier’s check, instead of just checking the one balance.
For me, this was not a calamity. I can handle it. I’ll consider it a very expensive lesson and not be so trusting in the future. I’m not happy about it, I’m furious. But for someone else, it might have been a calamity. For that reason, I’ve decided to make it public in hopes that it may save someone else from this type of scam.
I was a fool, and I don’t like being made a fool! I’ve talked to the sheriff’s office and will be filling out a report. And I’ll do anything else to make it harder for these folks to pull off this type of scam again. It’s not nice to cross a Scorpio!
Note: The scammers security company is called Secure TechDesk, which when you go to their website online seems like a legit business.
Note: My bank, Banner Bank, reopened all my accounts after their investigation. My computer was checked by Jolene, and is now back home and totally safe for me to use. She also said that these types of scams are common. I’ve blocked my main credit card and will receive a new one soon. And I received the sheriff’s report form in the mail yesterday and it’s now filled out and ready to send.