Friday, January 1, 2021

What a year 2020 has been for for world! My year in review.

2020 is DEAD and gone. There is no disagreement on this topic - Dead, gone, bye bye, flushed and crushed. Somehow our big plans for the year were realized; finishing mom's apartment renovation, selling her townhouse, and moving her in. Thankfully both my husband and I continued to work because we're both involved with businesses that sell items online.

In spite of Covid-19 mom managed to move. We had strict rules for anyone coming into mom's home and luckily everyone stayed safe. In order to find room in our split level house, two years ago we launched a garage build project which we finally completed in the Summer. We moved my online vintage shop out of the basement into the new upstairs area over the garage. It ended up being a super smart thing to do. The lower level garage area has proved to be a great spot to stash mom's excess and also use for contactless item pick up for my online selling.

Because my mother lived 2 hours away, selling her items online was more difficult. We finally decided it would be easier to just load up most of what remained and try to sell it here. After months of driving back and forth packing boxes and bringing back fragile items in the car (mainly by my husband) mom listed her place and sold it in 6 days. We hired movers who loaded all day and arrived to our house at 8 pm, unloading a stuffed van until midnight. The moving day started later than anticipated when the movers called to say they ran out of gas on the way! We chalked it up to 2020, the year when nothing goes as planned! The movers were awesome once they arrived and we sold more than enough of mom's excess furniture here to pay for the move.

This Fall I helped my in-laws research their Medicare part D drug plan. For a government program, it's fairly straightforward but there are glitches which made it horribly infuriating. It took me days to figure it out and I've worked with technology for my entire adult life. I can see now how a senior gets stuck with the same plan year after year potentially costing them big bucks if they do not have the capacity to research all the plans available to them. It shouldn't be this hard!

My health changes day to day. We had planned to move mom in the Spring but unfortunately things were originally delayed because I began having vertigo attacks (which finally resolved after taking an antihistamine daily). Also getting to Roanoke and packing boxes was a challenge because my wrists hurt so badly. In the middle of all my health ups and downs the coronavirus hit. My left wrist was so bad from osteoarthritis that it was unusable. I finally got three cortisone shots in that wrist and held off on the other as the pain getting the shots was unbelievable. I had gotten cortisone in one foot a few years ago and it was magical! The shots in my wrist were not as successful but tamped down the worst pain. I do have to limit what I do or it gets back in bad shape again. I've been keeping a food and medicine log for a year now trying to trace what causes my inflammation. Basically I've found no definitive food triggers (I typically eat very little dairy and sugar) but I began taking a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil every day and there "might" be something to it. I've tried a host of other things without benefit (even hemp oil). I also take D and Zinc from time to time which doesn't seem to have any bearing on pain.

We lost our dear chicken Bluebell in 2020. She would fly up on top of the coop and yell at the passing hawks to dare come around (HA). It's often hard to figure that out why a chicken is ill and usually the time is near once they start going downhill. One of our remaining four chickens, Buttercup, is 12 years old, which is a near record for a chicken. Mom likes to spoil her when feeding scraps. Our three cats remained well this year thankfully. Very excited for Mom to see her first Spring here which will blow her away! Trying to train her to leave the plant stems and seeds as she comes from years of townhouse living where every leaf is raked and dead twig removed. Life here is certainly different but she's very happy. She's even packing up boxes for my Etsy and Ebay Shop sales!

I can't think of a better moment to take my annual trip to Richmond to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens as offer a FREE WEEK every January! I really enjoyed my trip last year. You need to make an appointment this year! Nature walks seem to be highly popular events because of the safety factor. Hopefully the pandemic will have a few positive outcomes, people will gain an appreciation of protecting our planet and the wild spaces we have left. I have been videotaping more wildlife this year and finally have more than 1,000 followers on my youtube channel so I get a little kick back when you watch :)

Cheers to you and a hopeful 2021. The world is going to explode when we can all get back together.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

USPS Holiday Mail Delays and some good news about the USPS

Last minute gift, SANTA BEAR, ForsythiaHill
Holiday shipping crunch time is ON! If you have yet to place that online order, don't delay. I've been shipping packages for my online vintage shop everyday now for weeks and delays are very random but becoming longer. Some customer purchases are not showing on tracking as being scanned. Typically, delivery is taking 5 - 8 days.

I've had to file one missing package search. Luckily the USPS response was excellent and much improved from past years. My package was tracked down and I actually received a call from someone in the field that located my package and got it moving along. They were going to continue to monitor it, making sure it didn't get hung up. Sure enough, 2 days after my case filing, it was gratefully received by my customer. It was described to me that there are so many packages in the system right now, they are sitting in trucks unprocessed! 

Time to take out the crystal, ForsythiaHill
The virus compounded with people making the hard decision to not travel to visit family during the holiday season has added to the package pile up. Let's all be grateful that the mail system is functioning even if it's a little clogged.

Earlier this year another customer reported to me that their order was missing. I filed a missing package search and another super nice mail clerk somehow found my package. I had not put enough postage on it (the first time that I've ever made that mistake). The clerk told me she would send it on its way without an additional fee charge. I was horrified to think a customer was going to have to pay more to get their package!

Vintage Snowman Santa Candles, ForsythiaHill
We've had some issues in the past with our mail carrier going on vacation and our mail not being picked up by substitute carriers. Our longtime carrier retired last year. We had a great system, I would text her when I was putting out a package to give her a heads up. She was the best of the best. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that our new carriers seem to be really with it and always show up, sometimes late at night after 8 pm. When you have a small business and are shipping packages from your home, the last thing you want to do is drive down to the back of the post office at 9 pm at night to find a lone mail truck where you can offload your packages. I used to have to do this more frequently than was tolerable but always found the nicest mail carriers willing to help.

Unique Sunflower Throw, ForsythiaHill
Running my small business from home is made so much easier if I can avoid the crowded post office. I hate to end my positivity with a snarl but our main branch post office is insanely backed up this time of year and I would rather have a root canal than get in that line. Earlier this year I accidently dropped off a Fedex package at the USPS by mistake (long story). I went by the next morning and a nice clerk went rummaging around in the back and found my package. I was so relieved because it was a leg brace for a customer that was in pain and needed the it ASAP! 

For years the USPS has been given a bad rap but my experience this year is increasingly positive. Put a little sweet treat in your box for your carrier Christmas week. Their job has been harder than usual.



Sunday, November 15, 2020

Let's be safe for one another, wear a mask

 Let's be safe for one another. 

Little hikers not bothered by face masks

Yesterday I took my mother to Ivy Creek Natural area. She expected no one to be in the park and a mask to not be needed as it was getting late in the day. She was pleasantly surprised to see many hikers and families enjoying the untypical mid-November pleasant weather. The parking lot was overflowing and masks were being worn outdoors even with a fairly wide area surrounding each family group. The message that cases across our country are dangerously spiking has gotten through.

In general, safety among residents and businesses is taken seriously in the Charlottesville area. It's very much frowned upon to not respect one another and wear a mask and keep your distance. I intentionally shop at Trader Joes because they have taken the virus seriously since day one. I was not finding the same degree of mask wearing, and cleaning protocols in the larger stores. The way to keep stores open is to wear a mask and not cause an explosion of cases which leads to a lock down.

Weather so warm, bluebird explores his nest box
I was pretty amazed to see so many masks in an open park. I've heard some complaining as to how difficult it is to get a child to wear a mask. I saw no sign of this in the park and if the adults are doing something the children tend to want to do what they are doing. It's no wonder that the Thomas Jefferson Health District that includes Charlottesville and Albemarle county in Virginia has the lowest positivity rate in the state.

When I went to China in the 1980's some citizens were wearing masks. Pollution and close quarters have taught the Chinese the value of wearing a mask. It's no big deal for them, and it's becoming no big deal for us. Honestly I'm not sure I want to ever be in close proximity to strangers without wearing a mask. May be our cold and flu season won't be as severe because of the mask wearing.


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