# 252–A totally UNEXPECTED year . . .

Between the writing and marketing, the past three years were busy with my book The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED. This book dealt with 26 places that were so unexpected that even if I knew about them, the first time I saw each one, it was a “What the hell!’ experience. And selling nearly a thousand copies of UNEXPECTED the first year was also unexpected.

My books on display at Backstreet Gallery when I was one of two featured artists for the month. Well, I am once again featured artist at Backstreet Gallery. No reception this year, but my books are once again in the window. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday each week.

But this year is a different story because of the pandemic. With no PowerPoint programs with related books sales and hardly any venues open that carry my books, sales are way down. I’m not putting thousands of miles on my car going up and down the coast and inland delivering books, and I’m not spending all day every Sunday all summer at the Yachats Farmers Market selling books. For all these reasons, my book business is having an unexpected lull.

My book business is only one way in which this year has been so totally unexpected for me and for everybody! Who knew in January how this year would play out!

With the museum closed, I’m not volunteering there every other Wednesday. With Backstreet Gallery only open four days a week, I’m spending less time on duty as clerk, attending only ZOOM meetings, and not helping set up and attend receptions because there aren’t any..  And the Florence Festival of Books held in late September usually takes a couple of days a week of my time all summer long with even more of my time in September. But like with most events with large gatherings of people, it is not happening this year. With all this unexpected extra time, it’s given me a time-out to catch up with my life.

It was April 3 when my ankle, in the shower, started spewing blood. It is still not healed.

Having total knee replacement surgery in late January before COVID-19 became a concern, was not unexpected, but how well it has healed and the lack of problems before, during, and after the hospital stay, all done here in Florence, has been unexpected and wonderful. I had heard a few horror stories. Now the other leg, which also has osteoarthritis, is starting down the same path and beginning to give me problems. It is not yet ready for surgery, I do see it in my future, though. And it will not be unexpected.

At the eight-week point in my knee recovery, I had one of the most unexpected experiences of my entire life when my blood started shooting out of my ankle across the shower in a steady stream for no apparent reason. Talk about scary! It was months before I took a shower without covering that ankle. It has not bled since, but it also has not healed. The scab is still there after four months. And it’s still a mystery. The area around it is tender and makes it difficult to wear shoes. I saw the doctor this morning, and we’re going to give it another couple months to heal before doing anything else.

During my extra free time, I’ve done a lot of reorganizing in the house, working in the yard, and having major projects done. And I’ve had a chance to be creative with my Haiku poems and cards that I sell at Backstreet Gallery and on my blog. Designing cards has been a totally new experience for me, and I’m enjoying it.

Cat litter made of soy. And the pee balls dissolve in water.

I normally don’t buy much online, but these last few months I have begun to do so, just like everyone else. One of the strangest purchases is the green cat litter made from soy that dissolves in water when it is shaken. Every time I see the litter in the cat box that is the color of lime sherbet, it is so unexpected. So far, so good, though! Sir Groucho seems to like it.

Another change in my life is my grocery shopping. I would never purposely head for the grocery store at 7 a.m., but there I am every Friday in a sparsely crowded supermarket with my pick of parking places and no lines at check-out. Everybody wears a mask, and it’s easy to social distance with so few people. The fact that I’m there at that hour is what is so unexpected. I think it’s the least crowded time.

I had to go in the bank one day because the drive-up window does not handle cashier’s checks. So I made an appointment and knocked at the door at the appointed time and was let in. How’s this for surreal: I walk into the bank with my mask on, go up to the teller, and request money. The only thing missing was the gun!

It just looks like an ordinary hose, but it has the personality of a monster constantly showing me how strong it is. It is a constant battle.

A couple weeks ago while working in the yard, I was thinning out dead fern fronds from a deer fern growing out of a railroad tie on one of my back terraces. I felt a prick which stung. Knowing that ferns don’t have thorns, I checked it out. It turned out to be a yellow jacket that stung me. I now know that behind that fern is the back entrance into a yellow jacket nest. From the other side of the old railroad tie, you can see their nest within the tie and the yellow jackets going in and out. A yellow jacket nest! First one in 35 years. That was totally unexpected!

I’ll end with two situations with unexpected twists. I bought a new hose because I was tired of all the leaks in the old one despite replacing a couple of washers. And I have to admit that this new hose, which does not leak, is very strong­­––stronger than me actually. I try to coil it and it is a battle that it usually wins unless I’m willing to fight every coil and take at least 15 minutes. It’s a 75-footer. The advertising says it doesn’t kink. The first time I pulled it behind me while watering, I looked back and saw 10 little loops (potential kinks), but when I pulled, the water only temporarily stopped, and each kink turned back into a loop. That’s a good thing! If I try to set the hose down when it is spraying for just a second to attend to something, it whips around so fast with so much force that I think it could knock me over as well as soak me. I have to turn it to just about off and then lie it down carefully. With this hose, I have to really work to be the one in charge.

My new “smart” printer is probably spying on me as I sit here at the computer.

Then there’s my new “smart” printer that I discovered is smarter than me during the hours of set up. I finally got it to work, but the process was like one step forward and two steps back. It plugs in for electricity, but the computer connection is wireless. I had to chuckle the first time I shut it down. If this printer is so smart, why does it have to remind me every time I shut it down: “NOTICE: When turned off, this printer will be unavailable for printing.”  Duh!

A hose stronger than me and a printer smarter than me! What is this world coming to? Actually, both fit right in with this totally strange, bizarre, and UNEXPECTED year in the age of Coronavirus.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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