Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Taking It One Day at a Time

Sleep was not disturbed by the sound of sirens and helicopters Monday night, so I assumed looters did not return to this area to hit the pharmacy and market. Just to be sure, on my way to the Pain Cave, I detoured through the strip mall’s parking lot to double check.
Everything was as it was with only the cellphone store boarded up from the previous night’s vandalism.
I can’t say the same for last night, as I did hear sirens around 9:30 p.m. Having no plans to go outside today, I won’t be able to check further vandalism until tomorrow.
We did end up with a citywide curfew, beginning at 6:00 Monday night.
So ironic in that first we had to quarantine, safer at home THEN just when things were opening up we get a curfew.
What’s next?
I shudder to think but, I did notice — when I made that market run on Monday, that folks were preparing for whatever was next — stocking up on water and the toilet paper/paper towels shelves were once again cleared out.
Back tracking to speaking of things opening up, I received an email from the optometrist that he’s open and it’s time for my annual eye exam, also a text message from the braid hairdresser (Locktician) that she can schedule me for the 14th.
Where I go and what I do henceforth is going to be very different from where I went and what I did pre-pandemic. Dawn calls it “Risk Assessment”. 
I won’t be scheduling any manicure/pedicure appointments anytime soon, and though my eyes are important, I can’t imagine my prescription has changed that much in a year, so I’ll hold off on that for as long as I can.
The Locktician is a much tougher call.
I’ve been growing and sporting sisterlocks since September of 1998 but, during the lockdown, I began thinking maybe I should just let the new growth have its way — not lock it in when the shop reopens, just let the braids grow out so I can dispense with having to risk salon appointments.
Though still not sure what I want to do, I accepted the appointment thinking I’ll show up, see if I feel safe in the salon, i.e., clients of the two/three other Lockticians are spaced out, no clients’ children in the salon and, if I arrive and see it’s not spaced out, too many people in at one time, I’ll just tell my Locktician I don’t feel safe, pay her for the appointment, leave and let the braids grow out.
I’ve not yet heard from the dentists, but no question I’ll take my chances, accept his appointment when his office does call, because I really need a cleaning.
I also have to figure out what I want to do about getting the jeep serviced.
Right about the time I should take it in for its next service is right about the time the second wave of Covid-19 is expected to hit, per Fauci’s calculations. So maybe I should take it in sooner … like now. However, with all that’s going on with crowds of protestors, crowds of looters, there may not be a second wave as the first wave may never end, so don’t worry about it — take the car in whenever.
The office is also reopening.
A notice was posted to our doors yesterday indicating the BBQ area will open immediately, the pool will open later this month as will the Community Room. Face coverings required when out on the property, and the Community Room is being set up to maintain social distancing.
I’ll never see the new setup, as I’ll not be visiting the Community Room. I’m happy with the status quo. See no reason to go back to socializing with other residents.
Risk Assessment and taking it one day at a time will be the order of the day going forward, and trying not to watch too much of the news coverage as it continues to bring up unpleasant experiences and the people involved. People who thought they were normal, nice, with not a racist bone in their body, and had no clue (though some did and were quite open about it) that their behavior towards a person of color was the very definition of racist.
Yes, CVM, I’m talking about you, coming across as Mother Theresa on facebook — I know you in real life. You too Bonnie, Henrietta, Joyce, Jane and the dental hygienist that didn’t want to work on me, to name a few. Plus, the security guard who followed me around everywhere I went at Best Buy last year.
As for you Bob and Durand. You two made no bones about how you felt about Black people. Wore your invisible white hoods like a badge of honor but, oddly enough, I appreciated that you were open about it, honest, didn’t pretend to be anything other than what you are.
Your openness gave me a leg up in that, though you had that little group (Danny, Chris, Jack, the girls in your office, et al) that followed your orders to make work life so difficult for me that I’d leave, since I never gave you a reason to fire me. The mistake you made was you thought everyone thought like you two did, and that you two had so much power that everyone would go along for fear of being turned on.
You were right, many were afraid, stayed out of it, but that didn’t mean they didn’t secretly hate what you were doing and supported me. You’d be surprised at how many let me know to be careful because you were planning this, that, the other. You’d be surprised to know how many were too afraid of becoming a target themselves if they befriended me, but met with me off premise for dinner, a movie. Even some in your own management team that didn’t go for what you were doing would tell the janitor to warn me, "Tell Shirley they’re planning this ... tell Shirley they said that".
You'd wonder why I didn't react the way you thought I would react. It's because I knew what you were planning and, calling on my spiritual strength, didn't react. Sometimes played dumb and stupid, as though I didn't understand what you were trying to do. Which, I'm told, frustrated you Durand and you Bob to utter, "Something's wrong with her". LOL.
I’m not a confrontational person by nature, though I’m beginning to loosen up and become more confrontational with age but, back in the day, dealing with racism and abuse of authority had to be tolerated. Keep your head down, grin and bear it at work. Out in the world, make adjustments to get away from it where possible. Stay out of certain neighborhoods and like the time, instead of confronting the new dental hygienist, I just changed my long-time dental office, and I was made to feel so uncomfortable by that security guard, so traumatized by his actions that I'm afraid to shop instore at Best Buy.
I don’t like to think about the bad experiences and the people that made the experiences bad, but these protests are bringing them up, so I’m going to have to step away from the news. Let sleeping dogs lie.
However, what I’m seeing has given me the courage to confront future incidents. I will speak up. Shame the perpetrator myself … "Are you seriously following me because I'm Black … Am I not allowed to shop in peace?" and/or report them, ask to speak with a supervisor.
As for No. 45, posing with a bible backwards, upside down — that’s what the antichrist does. Flips everything upside down, backwards. It’s his job. No. 45 is just doing his job, fulfilling the prophesy of the antichrist coming into power, causing division, chaos.
Your guess is as good as mine as to how it all is to end but, supposedly, the world is to be washed clean and new.
I don’t see it happening.
Like I said with Covid-19, that I don’t see it going away, we just have to learn how to survive in it. Same with racism. Though more are now waking up, there's always going to be hard core racists and those that don't know their behaviors are showing they are. We just have to learn how to survive in it.
So now that I’ve released my thoughts into the blogsphere, I’m off to see what I can come up with to join in on Debra’s Virtual Pride Parade.
This pride parade reminds me of a funny incident with Trainer.
In one of our sessions he asked, “You’re daughter’s a BLT?”
“A what ... BLT ... bacon lettuce and tomato?” was my response
“I saw she (Twin 2) commented on the Instagram photo I’d posted of you, followed her and saw a picture of her with her wife”.
“Oh”, I replied cracking up. “You mean LGB”.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Virtual Slaps

Woke up this morning to find the looters had come to the neighborhood during the night.
The Archeologist posted photos of vandalized buildings at the strip mall nearest her home. She also posted a call for action:

Nice, but who the heck has sanitizer, thought I.
Thinking the shops surrounding the corner market might have been hit last night, I took a drive over and saw only the cellphone store had been broken into.

While sleeping last night, I was slightly roused by the sound of sirens and the faint sound of a helicopter but, thinking my imagination, I rolled over and didn’t let it waken me.
Feeling the looters will probably come back tonight, target the drugstore and market, I popped into the grocery store for just-in-case supplies — what I don’t need now, but might need by end of week.
It was a good thing I did, because the cashier told me — when I commented on the store being so crowded because it was fist of the month and people got their checks, that no, not about checks, it’s because "We’re the only store that’s open. All the others were looted last night".
This is bad, very very bad, with no end in sight.
The mayor and/or governor will probably impose a curfew.
Thoughts of people I’ve known in the past began coming to mind. People who were racist, but didn’t know they were racist. Like CVM — the woman I worked with at my last job that thought, because I’m Black, she was better than I and was offended by my not living and performing, in the job, down to the subservient role she had in her head. CVM announced to other coworkers (who sneak told me because they didn’t like what she was saying) how she was going to break me … "She doesn't know her place (meaning me). I’m going to put her in it".
I’m not sure what that "place" was to look like, and Lord knows she tried to break me, but I came into the job as a professional, with spiritual integrity, and I retired as a professional, with an even stronger level of spiritual integrity — unbroken by all of CMV’s pettiness, meanness, machinations.
Looking at her facebook page, I see CVM was not saying what I’d expected — that what happened to Mr. Floyd was Floyd’s own fault, that Black people should know their place. Instead, she was posting positive uplifting stories of goodness and words of being kind to each other.
WHAT! Kind to each other? You hypocrite you! What do you know about kindness!

And for you, my old boyfriend Jim. When I’d tell you of experiences I was having which I felt were racially motivated you’d say I was being dramatic, paranoid, because things like that don’t happen. You went a step further and said ALL your Black friends had the same problem — too sensitive, thin skinned, paranoid.
Now you’re posting about how your Black friends shared stories of misconduct, injustice and how you can understand their feeling of being always under attack, and in-danger simply because of the color of their skin.
So now you understand it’s not paranoia, or are you just mouthing off, saying what you think appropriate?

Sunday, May 31, 2020

This Ain’t My First Time at the Rodeo

Though appalled by behaviors I saw on the news last night ─ where the peaceful protest in Los Angeles morphed into rioting, I wasn’t all that surprised because this ain’t my first time seeing such a thing.
I was a young woman during the Watts Riot ─ dating a cop, of all things. The cop that later became my husband, fathered my Twins.
I remember the looting and burning of businesses. I also remember how there was a favorite Mexican restaurant I’d frequently ordered from. That restaurant was right in the epicenter of the unrest and the white woman whose restaurant it was, along with her mexican husband who did the cooking, were much respected and liked by the neighborhood. So liked and respected that groups of neighbors stood outside the restaurant to protect the business, stop those looting and burning from destroying that business.
I also remember how quite a few of those looters were hunted down after-the-fact and charged. Best I can recall, looters were found through house-to-house searching of homes in that area for stolen goods.
Was that search legal? I don’t know. It’s just what was done at that time, which makes me think that, after things settle, license plates, seen on news feeds, will be tracked to looters and surveillance cameras will be looked at to determine those looters who let their masks slip during the looting.
I was very happily divorced, my Twins were living on their own, and I was at work in the law firm when the verdict on the officers that beat Rodney King was announced ─ not guilty of excessive force.
All of a sudden, the office manager ran up to my desk, told me riots had sprung up all around us and told me to go home immediately, as I might not be able to get out later.
I was completely oblivious to the verdict and the smoldering anger on the streets, but took her seriously because she didn’t like me (no reason, just one of the many evil humans I had to tolerate in the working world) and the fact she looked concerned about me, a woman she didn’t like, carried a lot of weight. I took off and headed for the metro. Just in time because, inasmuch as the train travelled straight through the rioting areas (I could see looting and burning from my window seat), service was discontinued after the train I was on reached end of the line.
I was home/off work for a week, with pay ─ which was pretty sweet and, from my patio, I watched tanks rolling down the street. The National Guard set up their command post on the roof of the old J.C. Penny building at the mall, adjacent to where I was living. We were under curfew orders and there were armed (rifles) guardsmen stationed at intersections to enforce the curfew.
Now here we go again.
I’m in a safe place ─ no protests, no riots, no curfew but, when I saw where businesses were being destroyed in Los Angeles and the posh Melrose area, I became concerned for the guy who makes my glitter masks, as his business is near those epicenters.
Checking on him, I find he’s okay, his business is okay, but I feel for the businesses that are not, as they were already under water due to the pandemic, now this.
I’m no expert, but it’s been my experience that though peaceful protests will continue, the rioting runs it's course in two/three days.
However, if they don’t do something about having charged murder cop with only third degree and/or if he goes to trial and is acquitted, I’ll be worried about what is yet likely to come.
Again, I’m no expert about the justice system, but it seems to me that when you’re kneeing an individual on the neck, all lackadaisical like with your hand in your pocket, the individual is pleading “I can’t breathe” and you’re taunting him with “Well, get up. Get in the car” knowing full well he can’t get up because you’ve got you knee in his neck and your buddy cops are on his back and legs, that’s Malice Capital Murder, murder cop intended for Floyd to die.
So anyway, amidst all the chaos on the television screen, I gathered supplies and assembled a week’s worth of tamales.

I steamed them in the instant pot, as I didn't have a tamale steamer. The instant pot could only hold so many at a time, so it took some time to get 'em all steamed in batches, and the lid squished 'em down a bit, but they came out delicious. However, I'll be purchasing a tamale pot for next time so they can spread out and fluff up.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Today Was THAT Day

Today was a perfectly pleasant day of running errands ─ got Jeep’s tire pressure checked, stopped by bank’s ATM, stopped by Home Depot for cricket glue strips to lay by the patio window to keep crickets from coming in ─ when I open the patio window for air in the late evenings, and was headed to Sprouts, bopping and singing along to music on country/western station KFROG. THEN I saw this.

My mood changed and I found myself trying to telepathically transmit the thought ─ “So, how’s it going?” to the driver of that car.
If I were she, what with the pandemic, murder of Black people ─ though not a new thing but a thing getting a lot of attention because it’s become so openly egregious, and the subsequent rioting, I’d have been too embarrassed to sport that bumper sticker, would have scratched it off.
When the light changed, and I saw the car looked to also be turning into the lane leading to Sprouts, I told myself that, if she parked near me, I’d point to the sticker and ask her in person, “How’s that working out for you”.
Unfortunately, or lucky for me to save me from my now off-centered self, she turned away from Sprouts and towards Burger King.
I don’t even remember what I’d gone to Sprouts for, but I lucked up on gluten free hot dog buns and organic masa ─ which is the same as gluten free, nothing in it but yellow corn and a trace of lime, which purchases put me back on center, out of thinking about the ugliness going on and that MAGA crap.
Back at the complex, I ran into Next Door Neighbor coming up the stairs same time as I. She indicated she’d gotten onto Yelp, read the review and said, “It’s a good thing they didn’t hear from me!” 
She then went inside her unit, I opened my door, walked in and, before I could put the groceries down, my eyes went to the smoke detector still hanging from the ceiling since January 9 ─ in spite of management saying, “We’ll look into it” at the February 24th Community Meeting, well before the lockdown.

Funny how it is that I’ve become so accustomed to the hanging smoke detector that I stopped noticing it ... that is until today. Something inside rose up and said “Today is that day”.
Suddenly remembering what I’d said about companies paying attention to Yelp reviews, I didn’t even wait to put groceries away. I booted up the laptop and posted a review.
“I’ve been living here 8 years and, although overall it’s a nice place to live, there have been annoying issue that go unresolved. One, like the previous reviewer, is the call box not working … for years. Another, for me, is a defective smoke detector in my unit, reported so many times, with no permanent resolution, that I just gave up reporting, purchased batteries and learned how to replace batteries myself to stop the hours and hours and hours of incessant beeping, every few seconds, every few weeks. When whatever is wrong with the detector caused it to fall out of the ceiling on January 9, I didn’t figure anyone would pay attention if I reported it so I've been living with it. However, at the Community Meeting on February 24, I took a chance at being heard and reported, in that meeting, in front of resident witnesses, that it had fallen out of the ceiling. It was the same ole same ole “We’ll look into it”, and I’m still waiting. It’s been like this since January 9.
I attached that photo to the review and, the only rating options being a low Meh ─I’ve experienced better or a middle A-OK or top Yah! I’m a fan, gave the complex what I thought was fair … the middle rating.
Though I’ve had good results with Yelp reviews producing resolutions in the past ─ once at a car dealership where us customers waited for hours and hours and hours, after our cars were serviced and ready to pick up, before we were told our cars were ready and had been. They even lost one woman’s car. Told her she’d picked it up already. LOL.
I was contacted after that negative review and not charged for several future maintenance services.
Will be interesting to see if management pays attention and finally does something about my smoke detector.
I’m not holding my breath.
So anyway, with buns to freeze for the next hot dog day ─ 4th of July and, with chicken now in the slow cooker for filling, tomorrow will be masa day and tamales to the freezer so I won’t have to cook again for days.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Not Moving?

Now that word on the new interface changing from “default for all users” to “legacy interface will still be optionally available”, looks like I’m not moving after all.
Inasmuch as I’d already purchased space at WordPress, I’ll just freeze it, not go live, keep it on the back burner ... just in case.
Must have been an enormous hue and cry to cause the change from “default” to “optional”. I don’t know what others didn’t like about the new interface, but for me I didn’t find any bugs, it was just such a convoluted set up, definitely not user-friendly. And the having to go back/forth through a separate portal to read blogs was for the birds. The little bit of time I was stuck in it, before Plain Jane pointed to the way out, reminded me of the time, in my teens, I went into a hall of mirrors at the Pike.
The hall of mirrors was too much, overwhelmed me, I felt trapped, I didn’t know which way to turn. Same with that new interface, it was too much, my eyes were darting this way that way to locate what should have been obvious but was not, my fingers didn’t know what to do with themselves, it made my head hurt. When I got back to the legacy format it was like everything in me settled down and there was one huge WHEW.
Do they still have Halls of Mirrors? Do they even still have a Pike at the beach? I don’t know, but I never went back into the hall after that one time and, though I’ve always been interested in visiting a Maze, I know not to because I know myself. I’d freak out, get frantic, start screaming for help. LOL.
So anyway, back to our normally scheduled program ... there was a knock on the door yesterday. Oh Good! thought I, my gluten free masa is here.
It wasn’t.
It was a Meal Relief Kit from the California Food Bank.
A delivery person was dropping one off at every door.

Nice, but though everyone here is limited-income, not everyone here is poor/needy. I drove the box over to Apache’s unit ─ drove instead of walking it over because the box was heavy and it was 100˚ outside. Apache wasn’t home, probably at the casino now that the doors have reopened, so I left it at his door with a note to pass on to residents who might be in need.
Before dropping it off, I did open to peruse the contents ─ grape jelly, 2 canned carrots, 2 canned tuna, pasta, lentils, 2 oatmeal packets, some kind of non-fat milk that doesn't or didn't require refrigeration ???? 

And a chicken/rice dinner.

Not a bad care package at all.
I’m not clear on whether this care package is an every week or every month thing during the pandemic OR if one has to sign up for it though the organization that sponsored the delivery.
Time will tell.
When I opened the door at the knock, Next Door Neighbor (NDN) simultaneously had received a knock, a box and opened her door ─ NDN is the socially conscious one, the outspoken one, had a career as a State Commissioner of Education and is now involved in local politics, always has so much to say ... even after getting herself impeached as President of the Volunteer Residents Activity Committee for treating others on the committee like servants.
She and I haven’t connected since long before the shutdown ─ she busy with her away from the complex activities, I with my keeping to myself, but she enjoys a little gossip just as much as I do, so I took the opportunity to ask, “Have you been reading the Yelp reviews?”
“What’s a Yelp?”, asks she.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Made the mistake of pushing the button that said “try” the new dashboard, which is going into effect June 1.

“Try” turned into I’m stuck with it now and I really don’t care for the new setup ─ a lot of unnecessary steps, setup is too confusing, not to mention the dashboard is not attractive.

As soon as I can figure out how to do so, I’ll be moving to Wordpress.

Hopefully, I can manage to do so without losing everything, but already I’m running into a problem with the domain name. It might end up bootsbraids.wordpress rather than bootsandbraids.wordpress.

Either way, I’m outta here in a few days. Hopefully, I’ll see you on the flip side.
And good luck to those of you who will be stuck with the new dashboard setup in June.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Happy belated quarantined Memorial Day.
In the good old days ─ good old days being ten/twelve weeks ago, us seniors would have gotten together and given ourselves a BBQ outside in the patio area by the pool.
There’s still a lock on the pool gate ─ rightly so, and we’re all in masks staying away from each other so instead, craving a Memorial Day themed meal (slaw, potato salad, turkey dog in a bun), I spent time in the kitchen.
The yeast having arrived before the gluten free masa (thanks again Anne Marie), I put tamales on the back burner and went back to my original plan of baking gluten-free hot dog buns. That project ended up being a waste of time, energy, flour, eggs.
The first recipe allowed the dough to be shaped as a bun before baking, but didn’t translate well substituting all-purpose flour with gluten free and baking powder with soda. Epic fail.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
The second recipe was specifically developed for gluten free flour and translated well with soda instead of powder, but called for a hot dog panwhich I didn't have. Substituting a cake pan for the hot dog pan turned out a bread cake. Taste wasn’t bad, but impossible to shape, after baking, into a useable bun.
If you don’t succeed a second time, go with what you know. I just wrapped those turkey dogs in a tortilla and called it a Memorial Day meal.

Before logging off last night, I checked Yelp to see if the complex received any further reviews, other than the two.
It did not.
However, instead of two reviews there was only one ─ the original negative review. The positive review from across the quad neighbor Quiet Old Guy, had been move off the main page and, in its place, were the words “1 other review that is not currently recommended”.
How interesting.
My inquiring mind had to know why, so I Googled “Why would Yelp flag a review as not recommended?” Google replied, “According to Yelp, their algorithm chooses to not recommend certain reviews because it's believed that the flagged review is fake ...”
I can’t imagine that positive review did not come from Quiet Old Guy. It read like something his strait-laced, deferential to those in authority self would say. However, I can’t say it’s beyond the realm of possibility that management would have been so stupid, so desperate, as to have posted their own positive review posing as him.
Either way, there are no further reviews and seems there won’t be. It was incredibly ostentatious to ask residents for reviews in the first place. Especially when folks have other things on their minds, like surviving this pandemic. Management will now have to live with the one negative review, and suspicions they faked a positive.