June Recap

06/01 (Sat) – Put out the new welcome mat we got from Walmart. The dog related one we got years ago, also from Walmart, was discolored and faded, so it was time.

We also decluttered and organized the garage, mostly the tool side since the storage bin side was still in good shape.

Tried Taco Bell’s limited time Big Cheez-It Tostada.

Was it good? Yes! Is it worth $4? I don’t think so. I did enjoy it, though. They took my favorite item off their menu so a trip to TB is rare these days.

06/06 (Thu) – Finally got window treatments installed on all the upstairs windows. It hasn’t been a priority, and I was feeling decision paralysis because I wasn’t sure if I wanted them to all match or not. Plus with the new windows installed they cannot be mounted on the inside of the frame, which I prefer, so I just wasn’t excited about anything. Finally just went with a blackout cellular shade in the workout room / Joe’s bedroom (yes, we sleep separately, and no, it has not ruined our marriage *), light-filtering cellular shades in the office, and room darkening vinyl pull-down shades in the main bedroom (because there’s already curtains installed as well). All of them were obtained from Lowes and are not the highest quality but they look nice so I don’t care.

* When I was sick in 2019 we started sleeping in separate rooms because I would toss and turn all night long and Joe needed his sleep since he was the only one working. Then when I got better we decided it made more sense for us both to get quality sleep by not sharing a bed. He snores and I’m a fairly light sleeper in general.

06/07 (Fri) – Discovered our cherry tomato plant, which we bought less than a month prior, had tomatoes growing on it. Then the next day they were gone, eaten by something.

06/08 (Sat) – We went to K’s house to hang out with her and her friend, J. We’ve met a few times but this was the first time we really could talk extensively. I really like her, and it was a fun day.

06/10 (Mon) – Next door neighbor got a puppy – a black lab & Saint Bernard mix named Hank. We’ve never really spoken to the neighbor until later in the month when she was out with her boyfriend and the puppy. Since then we’ve gotten to play with the puppy a couple of times. He’s super cute and is gonna be a big dog.

06/16 (Sun) – Learned that they’re opening a Bibibop (Asian fast food place) close to home. There are two about equidistant apart from us but still a half hour drive. The new one will be less than 10 minutes away. I’m happy because our preferred location shares a parking lot with the emergency vet we took Wookie to right before she passed so I can’t bear to go back there now… and for whatever reason didn’t want to go to the other location, so I haven’t had my fix in months.

06/22 (Sat) – Put out the memorial garden stone my mom sent us for Wookie. It’s by the front door where its less apt to get stepped on by any of the landscapers.

Went to see Joe’s daughter’s new condo and had lunch with her and her SO at Pepe’s near their new home. We haven’t eaten at a Pepe’s in years and it’s not nearly as good as I remember so I doubt we’ll go back.

06/27 (Thu) – Watched the presidential debate. Boy was that a mistake. How have we come to this? Our choices are between an evil piece of shit or a guy with dementia. We’re screwed unless both these guys drop dead before November. One can hope!

Went to Old Time Pottery to look for some inexpensive garden décor and found these items for 25% off.

Spent less than $20 and that includes a large pinwheel I plan to place in the front by our tree. The one I got from Dollar Tree a few years back looks frayed already even though I didn’t use it until a month or two ago. It’s fabric, though, and the OTP one is plastic, so it should last longer.

May Recap

May wasn’t a good month since it began with us losing Wookie.

We kept busy by visiting a lot of forest preserves since spring migration was happening and we didn’t want to sit around at home moping. We even went on a guided bird walk one morning which was nice. It was the most socialization with strangers we’ve had in a long time. And I did see, and photograph, some new to me birds which was nice.

The month included lots of visits to the arboretum too. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten as much value out of our membership as we have since signing back up (after a few years reprieve) in September. We even went there immediately after saying goodbye to Wookie since we couldn’t bear the thought of coming home to an empty house. So it’s become our peaceful retreat. I wish it was a bit closer to home, though.

We also worked on making our patio area look nice. With everything going on with Wookie the zinnias I had started growing inside in April didn’t take when I haphazardly planted them outside, so we bought some dwarf zinnias and other flowers at a gardening club sale, and additional zinnas, misc flowers, and tomato plants from a local farm. We also got some cute fencing and new solar lights from Walmart, so the patio is really coming along.

It’s too bad the new landscapers our association hired suck. They’ve been in the area twice and have overlooked trimming our bush and a neighbor’s bushes both times even though they’ve done everyone else’s in the vicinity. I can tell they have far fewer workers than the last company so I think they took on a larger project than they can reasonably handle. One week they cut 1/4th of our backyard and didn’t do the rest until the following week. They can’t seem to focus on making one entire area look good before moving onto the next, so there are areas that are only halfway landscaped. It’s really aggravating!

In other news, my ability to concentrate on tv shows, movies, and books has been awful the past few months. We’ve hardly watched anything new and have been sticking to re-watching shows like Mom and The Big Bang Theory. I had to lower my book reading challenge on Goodreads from 52 to 24 since I was falling way behind. I’ve only read 14 books this year, most of which were read prior to April. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve started and given up on since then. Nothing can hold my attention.

It’s ironic that I have more free time than ever but am not utilizing it, at least on the entertainment front. I have been working on decluttering the house, donating unused items, and performing a digital decluttering of my computer (and digital storage spaces like Dropbox and Google Drive). The latter was spurred by me needing to make sure I had every single photo and video of Wookie backed up in several places, which required me to find them all and merge them first. I’m still not entirely done (I still need to compare what’s on my phone to what I have backed up to make sure I didn’t miss anything), but things are much more organized now.

One thing I’ve remained consistent with is exercise. I walk 30-60 minutes daily, some of that on the treadmill and the rest either at a park, forest preserve, or around the neighborhood in the evenings. I think it’s helped keep me from having a complete breakdown. Between losing Wookie and dwelling on how disappointed I am in the lack of closeness with most of my family members (and trust me, I’ve tried, but I can’t make people give a crap about me so I’ve stopped making the effort), I’ve been feeling really down.

Saying Goodbye To Wookie

Wookie 9/21/16 – 5/7/24

There won’t be an April recap post because nothing worth talking about happened that month except Wookie’s health declining.

By the beginning of May she had stopped eating. Her regular vet gave us anti-nausea meds and an appetite stimulant which we tried all weekend without any improvements. On Sunday evening, May 5th, she started having diarrhea which looked like blood, so we rushed her to the ER vet. Not her specialist one, but a different place which lets people stay with their pets in a private room because there was no way in hell I was leaving her alone.

After multiple tests it was determined that she was in kidney failure. They put her on IV fluids and I stayed with her overnight but her numbers didn’t improve. Despite everything they tried she still wouldn’t eat either. Plus she started trembling and was very lethargic. I had multiple conversations with our vet that Monday morning and it was determined her kidneys had just had enough. I knew her kidneys could go from slowly declining to outright failure, but it was still hard to come to terms with.

It was heartbreaking, to say the least, but we made the decision to give her pain meds, bring her home for one last night with us, and say goodbye to her in the morning at her regular vet. (I am having a hard time writing out the word that starts with E, but you get the drift).

Joe and I are devastated. We’ve lost pets before (fish, hamsters, rats), but nothing compares to this. She was our baby, part of our little family, and now she’s just gone. The house feels so lifeless and empty without her here. I feel very lost right now and have been trying to keep myself busy so I don’t wallow in sadness. I cannot believe it’s been three weeks since she passed. On one hand it feels so much longer and on the other it’s like she was just here yesterday. It’s hard to cope knowing I can never kiss her forehead again or cuddle her against her will (she loved being near us but was not a cuddler). It’s just surreal.

New Windows & Our Shitty Management Company

On April 22nd our windows saga finally ended when our village performed their final inspection and everything passed.

But we have to back up to December 2022 when we realized one of our master bedroom windows was broken. We knew that meant in 2023 we’d be replacing all our windows and patio door since they were 30 years old.

In the spring of 2023 we received a few window quotes and ended up going with the guy our next door neighbor used when they replaced all their windows and patio door. His price was half that of every other company. If our neighbor hadn’t recommended him I would have been leery, and it was a little more frustrating communicating back and forth since he wasn’t with a big company with a fancy contract, but in the end he and his two guys did good work and everything was installed mid September 2023. The windows have warranties, so all was good. Or so I thought.

The problem came when the village inspected the windows and failed one of the front bedrooms because the egress on that window wasn’t large enough for emergency evacuation, partly because a) code had changed since the original windows were installed and b) the new vinyl windows have larger frames that eat into the space. Our only option was to replace the window with a casement type (instead of double-hung), but since it was at the front of the house we opted to replace both windows (even though the other room had a second window that stopped it from failing inspection) as it didn’t make sense to have mismatched window types so visible.

Since he felt partially (more like wholly, since he handled the permit) responsible, the installer removed the old windows and installed the new ones for cost (ie paid for the new windows but not for labor). We were able to sell the two double-hung windows (and quickly) to recoup some of the extra unforeseen cost. Even with all that, everything was still way cheaper in the end, but it was definitely a long drawn out process that caused a lot of stress. I’m just glad it’s over now, and while I’m not loving the casements (I don’t like dealing with the crank to open and close them), we didn’t have much of a choice.

I suggested to our association management company they warn future residents of this requirement. Granted, if an installer followed the guidelines set forth by our village, this wouldn’t happen, but I think it would be a nice courtesy of the association management company given they have to approve window installation requests anyway. Might as well help the homeowner out instead of being a constant source of aggravation like ours has been.

Now we have to work on window treatments since our old inside mount blinds don’t fit in the window frame anymore. Ugh! It’s always something, isn’t it?

Speaking of the shitty management company, every year they schedule a day for an outside company to come and inspect our fire alarms. We don’t get a choice in when this occurs and must be home from 8-4 for them to access all the alarms inside. They were scheduled to come on April 16th. By 1:30 pm they hadn’t been to the house yet and I was getting concerned, plus I had a vet appointment for Wookie at 3 pm (the latest appointment I could get for that day). I called the company to let them know it didn’t seem like they were coming out because a) they are usually out in the mornings and b) I hadn’t seen any activity in any of the surrounding buildings (who were also on the schedule for that day) and c) there was no truck in the neighborhood (I had walked Wookie around the block to confirm this).

I was assured they’d be out by 4 pm but I was skeptical (it takes awhile to do multiple buildings, plus I looked up the company and they are an hour’s drive from here so chances are they would be leaving the area by 3:30 pm to ensure they were back at their base office by 4:30 pm when they close). I asked the girl if she could please call the company and check if they were really still coming out and she said ok. She called me back five minutes later to say they were, and I asked her if she spoke to the company or her boss (our property manager). She said her boss. This annoyed me because I just had this feeling they weren’t coming, but what else could I do? Joe had to leave work early to take Wookie to her vet appointment while I stayed at home waiting for these people. Guess what? No one ever came to the house, so he missed hours of work he had to make up the rest of the week for nothing!

The next day I called to let them know no one had showed and the girl acted all surprised. Then about an hour later I got an email about the appointment being rescheduled. At this point I was furious. Someone lied. Either the girl I spoke with, her boss, or the company doing the inspections. I needed answers, and there just so happened to be an association meeting that night at our library, so we went. The property manager, and boss of the girl I spoke with, was there. When the topic of inspections came up, we wanted to know what happened. The manager explained he had touched base with the company that morning and they said they were still coming, but then at 1:30 pm he spoke to them again and they said they weren’t coming after all. As soon as he said the time I started shaking in anger.

I asked him when he assistant told me at 2 pm that they were still coming if he already knew at 1:30 they were not? The manager tried to say maybe she spoke to the company and I told him “no, she said she spoke to you specifically”. He didn’t say much to that, but what the hell? And why didn’t he tell her when he found out so they could field any phone calls or send an email to residents letting them know it would need to be rescheduled?

They expect us all to stay home all day on a weekday and have little regard to what hardship that might cause people. I don’t think they’d like it if they waited at home all day for nothing. If they had told me the truth at 1:30 Joe wouldn’t have had to miss work and make up time. It was his last week with his employer too (he got a new job), so the last thing he wanted to do was spend extra time there in the last few days.

I really cannot stand when people have no regard for other people’s time. And I really hate the property manager’s assistant. Not only is she a liar, she’s incompetent and I hope she gets fired and they hire someone with better communication skills (her emails are the worst).

Updated to add: our rescheduled date was May 13th and they did show up, but they wanted access to the attic which requires them to go into our master bedroom closet. I had bras drying in there, plus things I needed to move out of the way and it would have been nice to be warned about this new development (they never wanted attic access before). The guy tried to tell me maybe other companies skipped the attic but they always check. That’s bullshit because I’m the one here every year and it was the same company last year and they did NOT ask to go into the attic. I really hate both these companies for their piss poor communication.

March Recap

03/01 (Fri) – The kids came over for dinner. We got takeout from our favorite Mexican place and played a new version of UNO they gifted us (it was our belated Christmas gift exchange) – UNO No Mercy, which was brutal, but fun. I’m now the proud owner of the Funko Pop 5-pack of The Cure. Joe received a Nightmare Before Christmas vinyl LP and a Jack Skellington Funko Pop.

03/02 (Sat) – I finally got an eye exam, at LensCrafters, which I had been putting off until I was told by my allergist that my daily Flonase use could cause eye issues and to have my retinas examined. They try to upsell this digital retina imaging where you don’t have to get your eyes dilated so it’s quicker (but you have to pay out of pocket for), but after some quick googling I learned they see less of your retinas that way, so I opted for the old school method which insurance covers. Sure, it requires you to spend more time at the exam, and then wait a few hours for your eyes to return to normal, but it’s free. Also, my eyes are perfectly healthy, so that’s good.

03/03 (Sun) – Visited the baby owls and on the way back visited Armstrong Park to see what it’s looking like since they started restoring the creek bed. It’s awful now! All the trees that housed the northern flickers and attracted migrating birds are gone. I understand the need to repair the erosion but it’s really disappointing. It was one of our favorite places to visit, not to mention closest to home, and I don’t think it’s going to attract many birds now. Total bummer.

03/04 (Mon) – Spotted some mourning doves hanging out on the abandoned robin’s nest on my neighbor’s light outside their door and called the association to ask them to remove the nest. I debated asking the neighbor directly, but we’ve never spoken and I didn’t want to chance her refusing, so it was better this way as they sent out a pest control person the next day to remove it. Neighbor has a video doorbell or I would have done it myself, honestly. Neighbor rarely uses their front door but we use ours often to walk Wookie and it was not fun getting dive-bombed by the mother robin last year. Not sure if mourning doves are less aggressive, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

03/09 (Sat) – Joe filed our taxes (refund small, but better than having to pay) and we tried out a new to us Polish deli that’s been around for years. While we didn’t like everything we tried, we like enough (pierogis & stuffed cabbage) that we’ll definitely get food from them again.

03/16 (Sat) – So there we were, driving along the west side of the Morton Arboretum with the windows open, taking in the sights and listening for birds, when we heard what we thought was hooting in the distance. It was too faint for the Merlin app to identify, so we pulled over and decided to investigate on foot because it didn’t sound familiar like a great horned owl. Luckily the hooting continued and we were able to track it to a group of pine trees where this barred owl was perched.

Talk about exciting! Neither of us has ever seen one in the wild before. The funny thing is just minutes before we heard it, I was thinking about how we should look for a barred owl, but I didn’t say anything to Joe because I don’t know why that thought even popped into my head. It’s not as if anyone had mentioned seeing one there recently. So strange.

Also, I’m shocked at how well the photo came out considering just how overcast it was on this day, not to mention windy, and how high up the owl was.

03/19 (Tue) – Finished the black oil sunflower seed and started feeding safflower seeds to the birds. While it has lessened the pesky squirrels trying to climb the feeder, it’s just as messy as the other seed. The bag is only 8 lbs, so I’m sure we’ll be out of it quickly. We also bought a small bag of sunflower hearts, which I suspect the birds will tear through in a matter of a week, maybe two. Which is fine, because by the end of April I plan to remove the seed feeder and put up the hummingbird one. Moving forward, I will be using the suet feeder only in the late fall and winter months. I hate how messy the seeds make the patio. Luckily my favorite birds – chickadees and woodpeckers – are the ones who primarily use the suet feeder.

03/30 (Sat) – I had heard there was a common loon hanging out at West Branch forest preserve recently, but hadn’t had the opportunity to look for it until this day. I texted my birding friend who just so happened to be going there and she was kind enough to text me back when she saw it, so we decided to look for it despite the overcast weather.

Sure enough, it was there, but it was so far across the lake that the best photo I could get of it is not so great. I’ve never seen one before, though, so that was exciting.

On top of that, while walking around the lake to see if we could get a better vantage point (spoiler alert – we couldn’t), we saw two more water birds we’ve never seen before – buffleheads and horned grebes. The buffleheads were in a group of three, and there were 7-8 grebes, although the one I got the best photo of was off by itself not too far from the shoreline.

So that’s three more birds added to the life list. I’m at 78 and hoping to hit 100 this year.

03/31 (Sun) – We had a low-key Easter this year. We didn’t go anywhere or invite anyone over. Heck, I completely forgot to decorate until three days beforehand! We made the last of the ham from Christmas in the crockpot, and had mashed potatoes and green beans with it.

Wookie

Throughout the month we’ve been taking Wookie to her internal medicine specialist & local vet for her chronic kidney disease. She’s not doing well, unfortunately, although after starting her on subcutaneous fluids she did perk up. Her decline in energy was rather slow so we didn’t realize she was acting differently until she started feeling better. It’s been super stressful trying to figure out ways to help her and come to terms with the fact that she might not be around come this time next year if things keep progressing the way they have.

I think I was in denial when she was first diagnosed back in mid 2022, because even with knowing this would shorten her lifespan, I didn’t think about it too much because she was acting perfectly normal. Now that things have changed, it’s becoming too real and I’m already suffering from pre-emptive grief.

To make matters more stressful, she fights us when we try to give fluids at home (we’ve tried multiple times), so I’ve been taking her to our local vet daily (except Sundays since they are closed) to have them administered, and will continue to do so until her next follow-up appointment with her specialist in mid April.

I’ve joined a couple of Facebook groups about her condition but all the information is overwhelming. She’s on a special kidney friendly prescription food that she doesn’t like so I keep having to add stuff to it to encourage her to eat and I worry I’m harming her kidneys further in the process. Logically, I know that ultimately she needs to eat, even if her diet isn’t exactly the best possible thing for her condition, but I feel guilty anyway. I just hope the new medication the internal medicine specialist started her on helps.