Ted and I were running some errands (an excuse to get out of home quarantine) and I was driving on I-64 when a white car put itself right on my tail. I mentioned (sarcastically) to Ted that “I wish she’d get a little closer to me.” When we reached our exit, I moved into the exit lane–and so did the white car, still on my tail. I signaled for a right turn onto the cross street, slowed to look for traffic before merging, noticed the light had just changed and I’d have to wait for a break in the traffic, and came to a stop–and so did the white car, when she hit my car.

We both pulled into a parking lot around the corner. We had no injuries and both cars were still drivable, so that’s good. The 20-something driver, however, went into hysterical crying and said this was her first accident. She asked me what the upcoming process would be like. I told her and spent some time calming her down before I thought she’d be safe to re-enter traffic. Her car has the right front corner bashed in, so I assume she made a last-ditch effort to swerve to the left to avoid hitting me, but she had been following me too closely to avoid the accident.

All will be well–in time. Although auto insurance companies are giving refunds to customers because of reduced driving and accident rates during the lockdown, I couldn’t get an appointment for an estimate at the body shop until July 8, ten days after I called. Then I’ll find out how bad my damage is. A previous rear-end collision on my car cost more than $8,000 to repair. There was more damage that time, but the spike in cost was due to the fact that my electronic hardtop convertible top drops into the trunk where there are 32 sensors to guide the action. My parking assist sensor and rear-view camera were both damaged this time and the bumper, trunk cover, tailpipe, and driver’s side rear panel are all visibly out of alignment. I don’t know if any of the convertible top sensors are damaged now, because the hot weather hasn’t tempted me to put the top down since the accident and I don’t want to experiment, in case it goes partially down, then won’t come back up.

Update coming after July 8. Adventures happen, even in COVID times.

I am not a gardener. All the credit for flower care in our yard goes to Ted. The only thing I like about gardening is looking at the flowers.

For the 10 years we’ve had this plant, I thought it was a rhododendron. Thanks to Katie for educating me and pointing out the differences between rhododendrons and hydrangeas. Our hydrangea plant is especially pretty this year.

Yes, twice in one day, we saw double rainbows. This one appeared a half hour before sunset, so it’s not as bright and the double bow is fainter than the earlier rainbow we saw.

Two double rainbows in 90 minutes–it’s almost like being in Hawai’i!

In preparation for the installation of our future hot tub, Ted and I are scheduling contractors and making a final decision about the placement of the hot tub. One of the questions we have is, “How far from the swimming pool does the hot tub have to be to meet the local building code?” I’ve learned that’s a complicated question, and I think I might have stumped the county building department staff.

I called the county government office and spoke with Christina. She told me I need to speak with the Planning and Zoning Department and transferred me to Karen. Karen told me that our property is zoned R1E, so I need to talk with someone in the Building and Codes Department. That person told me it’s not really a building code question; it’s a safety code question. She directed me to Patty, a Plan Reviewer, in the Safety Codes Department. Patty said she’s working from home, and the person to speak with is Todd, who works in the Code Enforcement Department. Todd didn’t answer his phone, so I left a message for him.

It’s been two business days and Todd hasn’t called me back, but I think the question might have become moot. After planting flags at each end of the patio to indicate the hot tub size, we decided to put it at the other end of the patio. In that area, the hot tub will be 11-12 feet from the swimming pool–surely a safe distance from the pool to keep people from climbing on the hot tub to jump over the pool fence so they can get hurt in the process or drown in the pool and and file a claim against our liability insurance.

Update: Now picture the hot tub here instead of there. The tree is saved from becoming mulch, but the bush on the left needs to be moved.

Thanks to COVID, I’ve now participated in my first drive-by birthday parade. My friend, Cindy, celebrated her 60th birthday with a parade arranged by her husband. My friend, Liz thought it would be a good idea for us to go together in my convertible–top down, of course. Riding together also gave us an opportunity to see each other in person for the first time since January 30.

The parade went around the block twice, honking horns, blowing noisemakers, etc. to celebrate Cindy’s coming of age. Liz is a very creative person and has what I call a “treasure chest” (i.e., closet) full of creative and playful goodies. She scrounged in the treasure chest and found pinwheels that spun as the car moved, plastic hand clappers that we could shake and rattle, a crown with sparkling cutout stars and streamers for Cindy to wear, and posterboard for a birthday sign. I brought a letter about two of my favorite memories of Cindy. I’m not creative like Liz, but I hunted up clipart and added speech balloons to tell the stories, and I put birthday stickers all over the envelope. Woo-eee!

Here’s the dashcam view of Cindy as Liz and I approached her.
Cindy baked and bagged chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles and gave each attendee a bag of cookies. That’s her husband behind her. He took a picture of the occupants of each car. If you look closely, you can see the crown Liz brought sparkling on Cindy’s head and streaming down her back.
Some of Cindy’s family members went all-out with costumes. The lady in blue is Cindy’s sister. You can tell them apart by their hair. Cindy’s crown is easier to see in this picture.
This is the sign Liz made for Cindy. In the bottom corner, she signed it “Diane & Liz.”

Not long after Ted and I moved to Missouri, we heard about Cuivre (pronounce that quiver) River State Park and its beach. After nearly five years in Washington, D.C. without a nearby lake for swimming, that sounded great. On a warm summer day, we packed up the kids (Jeff and Kathy) and headed for the park. Until we stepped into the water, it never occurred to us that the lake bottom would be anything but sand, like the glaciated lakes in Wisconsin. After being spoiled by growing up surrounded by sand-bottom lakes, walking on rocks and mud was not that much fun, so the Cuivre River beach was erased from our list of enjoyable destinations.

Today was the first time we’ve gone back to Cuivre River S.P. since that beach day–this time to hike. The weather was gorgeous–sunny, light breeze, mid-80s, and very low humidity (dew point of 54). We had a very nice hike and a chance to use our trekking poles, which we haven’t done since 2017. We enjoyed our hike so much, we will definitely go back again. There were probably around 50 people at the beach and swimming in the water, but we liked the hike better.

Today, Ted and I celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary. Last year, we celebrated with all of our children and grandchildren. This year, the celebration was more subdued.

We spent some time looking at our wedding album and enjoying the memories.

Our wedding cake was sour cream chocolate because neither of us likes white cake, the traditional wedding flavor.

Our first dance was awkward. We had never danced together before the wedding, and Ted didn’t know how to lead. We’re better dancers now.

According to one of the four local newspapers that reported our wedding, I was a “Hingham girl” whom Ted “claimed.”

We had a star-studded guest list according to the guest sign-ins.

We started our anniversary celebration by buying a hot tub yesterday afternoon. Picture it here in 2-3 months, after the manufacturer catches up on production. The tree needs to disappear.

This afternoon, we rolled last year’s anniversary gift–our e-bikes–out of the garage and took a 12-mile bike ride in the beautiful weather. We’ve ridden over 300 miles so far this spring. (Plus the 365 miles we rode last year.) After the ride, we needed a dip in the pool to cool down.

And, of course, we burned our anniversary candle. It’s an annual reminder of all the wonderful things we’ve shared since our wedding day.

Ted and I have decided “Backyard.”

Last winter, we started talking about installing a hot tub in the spring. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and we decided that was too many contractors at the house–ground prep, concrete, electric, tub delivery, installation, etc.–so we put it off. Today we ordered our hot tub.

Hot tubs are in high demand, like bicycles and toilet paper, so we have to wait for the manufacturer to build our tub. If all goes well, the installation should be complete by late August or early September–just in time for cooler weather. We’re looking forward to the features we selected: two captain’s chairs (with individualized controls) plus four other seats (room for guests), lots and lots of jets, several motors to enable selection of specific jets, controls to adjust the intensity of the jets, a hydraulic-assisted cover that folds itself over the outer edge of the tub, a waterfall feature (lower corner of the photo) that’s part of the cleaning system, and a rainbow selection of lights that we were told “make the water glow in the dark.”

Fall has always been my least favorite season, but with a hot tub, I might have to adjust my opinion.

In 1992, the United States Postal Service offered Americans the opportunity to vote for the Elvis picture they preferred to see on a new commemorative stamp: “young Elvis” at the age of 19-20, or “old Elvis” as a Las Vegas entertainer. The voters chose “young Elvis” and the stamp was issued January 1, 1993 at Graceland with Priscilla Presley on hand for the unveiling. According to the National Postal Museum, this is the most popular commemorative stamp ever issued.

Another commemorative Elvis stamp was issued in August 2019 as the “Forever Elvis Collection.”

Guess who bought a set. The sheet of stamps is double-sided and printed to look like a 45 rpm record jacket. The front of the sheet represents the album cover and you can see the top of the “record” sticking out above the stamps on the back side of the sheet .

The King lives. And so does the King impersonator. Awhile back, Kari re-texted me this photo of her when she dressed as Elvis for a private party at the skating rink. Maybe someday we’ll see this picture on a stamp.

The article that accompanied this picture reminded readers that lots of people rent their houses to vacationers. It was suggested to readers that, with the contagion threat of COVID-19, people who are hesitant to travel long distances or to stay at resorts might be willing to drive twenty minutes to swim for an hour in your pool. The CDC has stated that the threat of spreading COVID-19 is very low in a properly maintained swimming pool. The news article reminds homeowners that, between guest groups, it will be necessary to clean surfaces like deck chairs, railings, and ladders, as well as any pool toys provided by the owner. It’s also important to verify whether or not your homeowners’ insurance will cover liability for paying guests.

What do you think? Shall we put our pool on the rental market?

Maybe not.

I have always loved to read, and buying books is my guilty pleasure (a figure of speech because it doesn’t make me feel guilty). When I was a child, I saved my meager allowance money to buy books. I still have more than 30 of those childhood purchases–The Bobbsey Twins, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, and (my favorite) more–because of course, you never throw books away. (Except once. I had such an awful professor in one of my graduate literature classes that I wanted nothing to remind me of him, so I threw away the books I’d bought for his class. I mentioned that to one of the kids and the message was quickly relayed to the others: “Mom threw out books!”)

The blue book that says “Children’s Classics” is Little Women.

I re-read books–some of them more times than I can count. I still re-read my children’s classics every few years–Little House on the Prairie, Heidi, Little Women–and I still enjoy them. My inventory says I have somewhere around 1,700 books and I keep buying more. Over the past few months, I decided it’s time to cull the herd. Instead of choosing my favorites to read repeatedly, I vowed to choose books I rarely–if ever–select to re-read. If the premise was that all saved books were worth re-reading, I better do it for a change, right? Well, I might have enjoyed them at the time but years later, some of them have become less interesting. I’ve been donating those to Goodwill (because you never throw away books) and last week, James Michener’s The Source became the 164th book I put into the Goodwill box. It showed me how books have changed.

I didn’t have much extra money in college, so I bought thick paperbacks. They were inexpensive and took longer to read than thin books, so my money lasted longer. That spoiled my taste for quick reads and made it essential for my books to have a good plot and strong character development. The Source, like all of Michener’s books, has those qualities. Michener wrote The Source in 1965, it’s 1,088 pages long in paperback, and it only cost $1.65! Those were the days. That one took a long time to read, but I’m not going to do it again. It’s time for someone else to enjoy it.

I don’t like to get too political in this blog, but serious times call for serious thoughts.

As Ted and I were driving to our polling place to vote on Tuesday, SiriusXM observed Blackout Tuesday by halting programming for three minutes of silence. The silence was preceded by a brief statement from SiriusXM CEO, Jim Meyer, who said the programming pause included “one minute to reflect on the terrible history of racism, one minute in observance of this tragic moment in time and one minute to hope for and demand a better future.”

Following the three minutes of silence, three meaningful songs were played on Channel 6–the one we were listening to. The first song was A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke. It includes a repeating chorus with the words “It’s been a long, a long time coming / But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes, it will.” The second song was If I Can Dream by Elvis. The first verse asks “If I can dream of a better land / Where all my brothers walk hand in hand / Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true?” The third song was Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding. The lyrics to this song express a sense of hopelessness, especially in these words: “I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay / Wastin’ time / Looks like nothing’s gonna change / Everything still remains the same / I can’t do what ten people tell me to do / So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes.”

Ted and I were so moved by the silence and the music that we remained silent until the DJ came back on the air in “normal” mode. We later commented that the silence and those selected songs gave us a sense of hope, a belief in the possibility of future change, and a feeling that it’s time and it’s possible for all of us to calm down and work together for the good of all.

We contrasted SiriusXM’s message to the feelings created by the words of our President, who tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and urged mayors and governors to call for military assistance, to use “overwhelming force,” and to “dominate” in their efforts to bring order to their cities. He warned protesters in Washington, D.C. that they would face “vicious dogs and ominous weapons.” He was immediately contradicted by Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser who replied that there were no vicious dogs or ominous weapons, and was flagged by Twitter for “glorifying violence.”

Maya Angelou felt strongly about the power of words. She said “Words have the power to bring out the best, or the worst in you. To lift you up, or tear you down. With your words, you can either empower or disempower, both yourself and those with whom you share your words. And that is why it is so important to pay close attention to the words you use.”

No one in our country has a platform equal to that of our President. While our population deals with the many stresses caused by COVID-19, by the unconscionable murder of George Floyd by police officers who promised to “protect and serve,” and by the resulting protests in over 400 U.S. cities, it is, at the very least, distressing that our President chooses words to instill anger, divisiveness, and fear, rather than to call for calm, unity, and change.

Today, my gas gauge told me I have a range of 47 miles. It was time to fill the tank. With the COVID-19 lockdowns, I haven’t driven very much, and my last fill-up was on March 9. I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long without refilling my gas tank.

I hear a lot of weird English language errors and mutations when I watch and read news stories. The errors and mutations are so frequent, that I can’t keep track of them all, but a few recent bloopers were especially notable.

(1) There was a special news report on flying safely now that the COVID-19 lockdowns are loosening. To reassure passengers that airplane cabin air is recirculated, the reporter mentioned that “most airplanes that fly in the air now have HEPA* air filters.” Question: What would be the purpose of an airplane that doesn’t fly in the air?

*HEPA: High efficiency particulate air. These filters force air through a fine mesh to trap harmful particles such as pollen and pet dander. The workmen who refurbished our bathrooms in 2017 used a HEPA machine to filter out drywall dust while they were working.

(2) I don’t remember what the news report referred to, but Miss Ditz told us that it moves in an “anticlockwise” direction. Really? Is she too young to know we already have the word “counterclockwise” to describe this?

(3) Finally, with the riots following George Floyd’s death, the leader of our nation expressed his sympathies for “the people of Mindianapolis.” It’s somewhere in the Midwest–Indiana? Minnesota? Geography lessons needed?