Chapter 73: COVID Chronicles

June 9, 2020

By Karen

Day 90

Harry and Meghan & Roc In a Box

Officially three months — 90 days in lock-down. I enjoy all the comforts of home and cats, but am beginning to understand how prisoners must feel. Nothing to look forward to, nowhere to go. Just make do with what you’ve got and take life one day at a time.

Many states, including Virginia, are steadily reopening even as cases spike and hospital beds max out. Virginia has surpassed 51,000 cases. I have no plans to rejoin the world until we get definitive word that the coast is (relatively) clear.

Meanwhile, the long, hot summer is here. Temps in the 80s and 90s, with afternoon thunderstorms to keep it steamy. Here’s Max and Roc last night hanging out…

…waiting for their Chewy.com delivery. When it came, Roc wasted no time checking out his new digs and fresh paper…

Why do Prince Harry and Meghan Markle keep popping up on my radar? Aren’t we done with them?

In March, when they seceded from royal life by posting it on social media before they personally told Harry’s family, I was surprised at the positive reaction: “Good for them! Screw the royals!”

I was initially sad for Harry, but then he and Meghan became our problem by moving to Los Angeles.

Not before trying to snooker the Queen into letting them have it all their way. They’d do her the favor of dropping in for “some” duties when they weren’t hawking their “Sussex Royal brand” for a buck. The Queen said, “Hell, no.”

So now they say they want to earn an honest living, but still use their ex-royal status as leverage. I’m sorry, but that’s cheating if commoners are in line for the same work.

Of course, every story has two sides. We heard rumors that the family was beastly, even racist, toward Meghan. And also that Meghan’s a diva whose demands made staff quit.

What I always saw was an ambitious actress I’d never heard of whose family (except her mom) clamored like trailer trash for 15 minutes of fame as soon as she latched onto Harry.

Meghan gave up “all” her cable TV fame for instant international recognition with a royal wedding. Then she spent nine months with her hand on her tummy whenever a camera was present lest we forget for a second she was Harry’s baby-mama.

Then all went quiet (supposedly to give Archie a “normal” life). Until the Big Split.

It’s reported that William and Harry, always close, grew distant over Meghan. She even managed to piss off unflappable Kate.

I always knew Meghan wouldn’t stay in Kate’s shadow. Her wish was to eclipse Kate, never to play second banana.

When obliterating Kate with her own brilliance failed, Meghan yanked Harry away from his family, schoolmates and old army buddies. Now they’re both looking for work where Meghan feels most comfortable and Harry is a curiosity.

But I don’t think this phase will last, either. When time goes on and Meghan discovers being a nonfunctioning duchess opens fewer and fewer doors, she’ll dump Harry and use Archie to bargain a fine royal settlement for herself. The royals will welcome Harry and his broken heart back into the fold.

I love Harry and hate to see him go through this, but these are his choices.

This has always been my favorite Meghan photo because Kate wouldn’t be caught dead tying her coat like that…

New York Times


Chapter 67: COVID Chronicles

June 3, 2020

By Karen

Day 84

Trump’s End One Day Closer & Women’s Ugly Pants

The tree guys next door didn’t leave until nearly 7 p.m. One large tree between our houses is gone. Now I have a clear view into their kitchen and my car’s rear end gets sun all day. I think at least one other tree came down on the other side, and maybe one in back. Their backyard’s still such a shithole, it’s hard to tell.

I was surprised by the cats’ sang-froid during the tree massacre. Max stayed downstairs, and the chainsaws didn’t cut into Roc and Tony’s nap time. It’s disturbing that they’ve become that used to the sound of deforestation.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t do transcription because of the noise, and I wanted to scream and punch somebody every time the house shook as a trunk hit the ground.

Today’s in the mid-90s. Our cold, rainy spring is over — and I completely missed it. I’m glad I opened the windows while I could. It may be a long time before the kitties get a good breeze on their whiskers again.

Richmonders are still protesting, but more peacefully. I was glad tens of thousands of protesters across the country, particularly in D.C., defied curfews last night. Trump’s “total domination” threats — on top of killing 107,000 people with COVID — may have FINALLY gone too far.

Governor Ralph Northam refused to send Virginia National Guard troops to D.C. to help Trump swing his dick around.

Commentator Rachel Maddow thinks Trump summoned National Guard to D.C. from all over the country because D.C. is a district with no governor. By law, he can only send active troops into a state if its governor requests them. His threat Monday to override “weak” governors is pure bullshit.

It’s one thing for Trump to strut around pretending he’s supreme leader of some banana republic, but entirely something else for him to line American streets with armed troops under orders to shoot and gas civilians “as needed.”

Our 2nd Amendment reads:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It would be fitting to see Trump’s love of the 2nd Amendment backfire on him spectacularly. His supporters are supposed to bear arms to “secure a FREE State,” not to help a dictator impose martial law and revoke all their other freedoms.

If the MAGA morons ever manage to connect the dots, they could turn out in force — shooting AT Trump, not FOR Trump.

Yesterday, good old conservative Iowa may have fired a shot across Trump’s bow. Their nine-term misogynist, racist, Trump-enabling congressional representative, Steve King, LOST his primary election. They may still give another Republican his seat in November, but at least King is done. One GOP toady down.

To end on a fashion note, here’s a dumb photo from Monday of Trump with some henchmen and his latest bimbo spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany…

Are her cropped pants the epitome of fugly or what? Cropped pants are as heinous as capris. Neither style flatters ANY woman. OK, one. Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, wearing cropped skinny pants and flats. But Audrey would look gorgeous in a grocery bag…

Next to men in suits and sensible shoes, Kayleigh in cutesy cutoffs with her ankles hanging out and heels not made for streetwear reveal her as another inept blonde ditz aspiring to be Ivanka’s Mini-Me.

Try to imagine Hillary or Angela Merkel in such a feckless getup. You can’t. They wouldn’t be caught dead.


Chapter 32: COVID Chronicles

April 29, 2020

By Karen

Day 49

“Quarantine Brain is a Real Thing”

This was said during a commercial break by actress Lauren Ash, who plays assistant store manager Dina on Superstore, one of the crazy sitcoms I love. Are you feeling it yet?

Today marks seven weeks in lockdown. SEVEN. WEEKS. Virginia’s current plan is to keep it going until June 10, so that’s six more weeks. Thirteen weeks total, a full quarter of 2020. I’ll miss spring completely.

Today is sunny and breezy, so we’ve got all the windows open, pollen be damned. After dashing around to enjoy it this morning, the cats are now enjoying their siestas all over the house. We recycled their Chewy.com box today because a new shipment is expected any day now. Tony (who’s doing the nudist thing today) had to tell his pissed-off stuffed croissant, “Be patient, you’ll have a new home soon”…

Last night I thought my pierced ears might be growing shut because I haven’t worn earrings in so long. Quarantine brain? I have the first gold studs I bought in 1975 when two co-workers egged me into getting holes at a Piercing Pagoda kiosk at the mall during our lunch break. They went in fine, and last night I slept in them, just for good measure…

I’ll never forget the sound of that piercing gun scrunching through my lobes. It was the first time I almost fainted. The second time was recently when I hunted for toilet paper wearing a hot mask.

Does anybody wear rings now? I don’t. I think they’re virus catchers. I’m kind of surprised nobody’s ever brought it up. You wash your hands, but what about under your rings or in the nooks and crannies of the settings? Could virus still lurk there?

Quarantine brain again.

Last night I was watching Monday night’s DVR catches, and I was thrilled to see Lawrence O’Donnell address Trump’s mental meltdown head-on. He described Trump’s state of mind as “King George III-level madness.” Then he described our two-day respite from Trump’s televised lying sessions after facing universal outrage and mockery over his disinfectant suggestions as “a full weekend where no one had to watch Donald Trump saying crazy and dangerous and indescribably stupid things.”

We should be hearing Trump’s verbal diarrhea described EXACTLY that way by EVERY talking head on EVERY news show. (Well, wishful thinking that Fox and OANN would ever go there.)

This week I finally watched the rest of Homeland. I loved the early years when Brody was alive and Carrie couldn’t resist him, even if he might be a traitor. But as the show dragged on, as they do (I’m thinking Outlander), with short seasons a year or more apart, it was hard to stay enthusiastic while the real world was unraveling.

I thought Homeland ended as well as it could, although the final scenes raised many questions I supposed we’ll never get answered (no spoilers!).

I’m just delighted Mandy Patinkin shaved off that damned beard after it was all a wrap.


Chapter 26: COVID Chronicles

April 23, 2020

By Karen

Day 43

Are the Cats Getting Sick — of Me?

Roc seems to be the only one who senses that things aren’t normal around here. I catch him staring at me looking worried, and he’s spending an inordinate amount of time hovering, to the point that he insists we occupy the same space. Like this morning, while I was trying to start the day by clearing coronavirus and Trump from my mind for a few minutes…

Maybe Roc heard through the grapevine about the two pet cats, three lions and five tigers who tested positive for coronavirus, all in New York. I think he wants to keep me under his paw so I don’t go out and bring any virus home.

And Roc commands I state with PERFECT CLARITY here that those cats all caught the virus FROM humans. They’re not passing it TO humans. They got mildly ill and all are expected to survive.

[As I was typing this, Roc just planted himself between me and keyboard to make sure I was following orders, even though it halted production. He can be such a bully.]

It’s a wet and gloomy day, so Max has spent all of it sacked out in the Man Cave. After I stopped by for a visit, he did saunter over to my office for a few minutes. He doesn’t look happy to see me…

And Tony just discovered a papier-mâché Christmas present on the balcony that my former boss prophetically gave me at least 30 years ago. The resemblance is uncanny, don’t you think? I didn’t catch the secret Tony whispered in his ear. I hope they’re not plotting a coup…

The masks my sister made for all of us were greatly appreciated because otherwise I’d have gone out in public with a dinner napkin across my face. But they’re really warm. I saw an ad in the paper about a local furniture and decorating business called u-fab interiors making masks, so I ordered two, and they arrived by mail yesterday, so it was a speedy three-day turnaround…

They look like you’re wearing a bra cup, but they do fit perfectly. U-fab says the cone accommodates an N95 mask, but it also doesn’t smush your nose. I washed them straight away by hand and they dried to like-new.

I have no immediate plans to go anywhere, but when I do, I’ll give one of these babies a test drive.


Chapter 9: COVID Chronicles

April 6, 2020

By Karen

Day 26

My sister sewed our whole family face masks! She dropped off two this morning, along with several pairs of latex gloves…

Keri says the mask is a CDC design and has a paper towel inside for extra filtering, so it can’t be washed. But she says it can be toasted in the oven. I couldn’t confirm that on the CDC site, but WebMD concurs:

“The fastest and most effective way to sterilize a used mask … was to put it in an oven on low heat — about 158 F — for 30 minutes. A typical kitchen oven works fine. … Masks cleaned this way keep about 97% of their ability to screen out small particles.”

Who knew? I’m keeping the napkin contraption I made as a spare, just in case my oven incinerates the new masks.

Now, to the important news of the day. Tony is 10 months old. I got him just before he turned 5 months, so he has officially spent half his life at Cats Working. To give you some idea of how much he’s grown, here he was back in November…

Here’s the little nipper, same spot, today…

Last night I was planning a marathon pasta-cooking session to have leftovers for dinner all week, but a long phone call ate into that time and all I managed was bulk breakfast…

You can put just about anything on oatmeal, but I prefer mine with a bit of salt and melted butter, so this was my not very glamorous breakfast this morning…

Over the weekend I watched a movie called BlacKkKlansman, which I initially ignored because I knew nothing about it and I’m not usually into Spike Lee movies. But I do love Adam Driver. Then I saw a blurb calling it the best “political” movie of the year, but didn’t know the plot or the KKK connection. It’s based on a true story.

Warning: If you don’t like cursing and racial slurs, steer clear.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised, and Adam Driver did not disappoint. That’s the third movie in a row totally out of my wheelhouse that I enjoyed. The other two were The Joker (not about Batman) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (a Manson-Tate fairy tale).

To close out today, here’s the latest from my nonsensical Norwegian lessons:

Katten prøvde å selge meg noe.

(The cat tried to sell me something.)


Melania Trump, Second Fiddle First Lady

January 25, 2017

By Adele

After Donald Trump’s demeanor toward his trophy wife Melania on inauguration day, I get why she’s staying in New York with Barron. Maybe her absence will make Trump’s cold black heart grow fonder.

This video has been circulating, comparing how the Obamas and Trumps arrived at the White House on their big days. It’s telling…

NOTE 2/1/17: Aha, the video above is broken. Trump’s stifling of the First Amendment has begun. Fortunately, his boorish and dismissive behavior toward Melania during those moments is an irrefutable matter of public record…

Melania seems to know 10 paces behind Trump is the safest place to be.

And now watch both men and their wives at the inauguration ceremony…

Melania at 46 still looks like a model. Two days after the inauguration, January 22, was the Trump’s 12th wedding anniversary. I couldn’t find a word about Trump noting the occasion; most reports filled the void by mentioning a 25-carat diamond ring he gave her on their 10th.

Melania’s gift to Trump was to fly back to New York.

Melania’s blue Ralph Lauren ensemble for the inauguration was chic, if a bit matchy-matchy. Didn’t anyone tell her there was serious walking involved and she needed sensible heels? Her dogs must have been barking that night. Trump did throw her the bone of holding her hand as they strutted along the parade route.

Everyone expected the billionaire’s wife’s inaugural ball gown to mesmerize and eclipse anything in recent memory, including Michelle Obama’s first one, with wads of dryer sheets stuck all over it.

President Donald Trump, left, arrives with first lady Melania Trump at the Liberty Ball, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Donald Trump, left, arrives with first lady Melania Trump at the Liberty Ball, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Apparently, Melania helped Hervé Pierre, formerly of Carolina Herrera, design the gown. The result was a dress that dragged on the ground, a flounce that made her look wider from the side, and a slit almost up to her hoo-ha. And what was with that red string around her waist? A secret shout-out to Putin?

But after seeing how Trump treated her all day, I can imagine how she instructed Pierre…

“I must not have anything too showy. Make it as plain and simple as possible. No beads, no sparkle. Donald will be very upset with me if I upstage him. He must be the center of attention at all times or it will go very bad for me, if you know what I mean.”

So Pierre did his best to gussy up a sackcloth. On the positive side, if Melania can fend off the Smithsonian and lose the belt, that gown will make a dandy bathing suit cover-up this summer.

BONUS: Here’s some backstory on their lavish wedding. Notice Melania’s scary eyes right after the ceremony.


I’m a Consignment Reject

June 17, 2013

By Karen

Weight Watchers® success has me trying to find new homes for a wardrobe in sizes 16-2X.

AmVets got the rattiest stuff for rags, but some cruise and business attire and last summer’s little-worn outfits deserved better. So I tried consignment.

It would have been easier to build my own boutique.

The elusive proprietors of Richmond’s sole plus-size shop were available only by appointment, only when the kids were in school. Clothes must be clean, in perfect condition, and seasonal — reasonable enough — but also pressed and on hangers.

I prepped my summer’s best while calling repeatedly, only to FINALLY reach someone and get, “This season’s all booked.” (WHEN??!! HOW??!!) “Try again in the fall.”

The next shop had the word “Finicky” in its name. They sell only to size 18, which disqualified most of my clothes. Big women, don’t clog their aisles.

They did accept 2 dresses, one still bearing its price tag. It sold and my cut was $12. They gave the other dress to charity. I got no tax-deduction receipt because I didn’t drive across town to reclaim and donate it myself. Some weeks later, I made the trek to collect the $12 or they’d have kept that, too.

For business people whose success depends solely on good will to keep the free inventory flowing in, I was stunned by what passes for service in this retail niche.

A new shop nearby opened that pays upfront for clothes which don’t have to be seasonal or on hangers.

That’s all GREAT, but there’s a catch…

You can’t really have worn them beyond trying them on in the store.

I brought in a basket of mint-condition items, including a pair of 4-month-old Charter Club jeans (size 14), and several dressy t-shirts, tank tops, and pullovers that are NEVER out of style.

All rejected.

A Liz Claiborne all-weather coat I wore maybe 4 times. No dice.

A simple black cocktail dress, admittedly 7 years old, worn maybe 3 times on cruises. I saw the identical dress in upscale Dillard’s department store just weeks ago.

Not good enough.

They took 3 items, and one still had its price tag. I earned $14.

Lessons learned about consignment:

  • It’s not about recycling gently-worn clothes. They want your brand-new clothes.
  • For a lot of prepping and hauling, you’ll make peanuts — if you’re lucky.
  • Your sense of taste and self-esteem will take a beating.

I felt like crap after my clothes’ third rejection. If I hadn’t lost weight, I’d be wearing that stuff TODAY. But it’s apparently not nice or stylish enough for bargain-hunters who go around wearing strangers’ castoffs.

Charities, on the other hand, never scoff at your donations. They’re grateful you give them the opportunity to make a buck off your clothes.

And you benefit from a possible tax deduction, not to mention the pleasure that comes from knowing your stuff can help the less fortunate.

So, Goodwill is my next stop.

Did you know that Goodwill (and undoubtedly others, but I learned this firsthand from Goodwill) want even your ratty clothes? If they can’t be sold in Goodwill stores, they’re sold by the pound in the aftermarket. Even threadbare towels and socks can raise money.

Postscript: Weirdly, while writing this last night, I was watching Style Network and discovered Resale Royalty. It’s about a St. Louis second-hand shop that carries nothing but high-end designers (Chanel, Versace, etc.).

I felt a lot better after seeing them reject or offer relative pittances to ladies who’d paid hundreds and thousands for the beautiful clothes and shoes they brought in.

A more apt name for consignment shop owners might be Fashion’s Bottom-Feeders.


I Discover I’m a 36H

May 29, 2013

By Karen

The other day while wandering through Dillard’s lingerie department, pulling up the straps on my new Soma bamboo 38DDD bra every 10 seconds and trying not to flinch at the underwires’ incessant poking, I noticed cup sizes like F, G, and H.

Just then, a lovely saleswoman named Margaret asked if she could help me.

Could she EVER!!

Margaret measured me and quickly fetched several styles and sizes for me to try on. One size she immediately eliminated was 38DDD.

Turns out I’m a 36H. Now, you’d think an H cup would be HUGE, but it looks smaller than that Soma job. And for the first time in years, the top half of the cup isn’t empty, and there’s no boob bulging out the top, bottom, or sides.

Here are some ways to tell you’re wearing the wrong bra…

  • The straps fall.
  • The “bridge” on an underwire between your breasts doesn’t lie against your chest. I’m guessing 99.9% of you reading right now in underwires have floating bridges.
  • You can hook the bra in front, then spin it around.
  • Your nipples are down by your elbows, or heading there.
  • It rides up when you lift your arms, or your boobs spill out the bottom.

My new Wacoal underwire completely corrals “the girls.” But I’m not happy that it’s so tight overall, I’ve developed a mild case of muffin back. However, my nipples are sitting at mid-upper arm, all my shirts suddenly feel several inches looser, and the bra doesn’t move when I reach for things on top shelves in the kitchen.

Raising the boobage above waist level takes years off, and now I can run without knocking myself unconscious.

But wearing a “nonstandard” bra has downsides (besides being nearly impossible to find)…

  • It’s frightfully expensive – in the $50-75 range. Bra makers say you’re supposed to replace them every 6 months because the elastic goes. At those prices, it’s not bloody likely.
  • The weight is now all on my shoulders, so I’m expecting deep grooves.
  • The higher cut to contain the underarm boobage chafes.

On the other hand, getting out of the damn thing at the end of the day has never felt so wonderful!

I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and skewer on their own underwires the Soma saleslady and all the others I’ve met over the years who cheerily stuffed me into ill-fitting bras and pretended dumpy was my perfect “look.” Shame on them all.


Bras: Torture That’s Perfectly Legal

March 21, 2013

By Karen

I was a 46DDD back in June 2012 when I started Weight Watchers®. I’ve since had to replace my bras twice with smaller sizes, and recently started round three.

FYI to 30-something A-C cuppers: In the 40Ds, there’s no such thing as “cheap” bras if you want to look like you’re wearing one. Or pretty bras. Or comfortable bras.

Let’s just say, I’ve lately invested a small fortune in bras.

Catherine’s has wire-free Serenada® bras that were GREAT — but I hit the wall after 42DD.

I thought 40DD was next, but the store didn’t have them, and the clerk told me they don’t exist. She lied; they’re online.

By the tape measure, I’m a 36C, but reality doesn’t support that.

I’ve tried on a range of sizes in Playtex, Olga, Warner’s, Vanity Fair, Bali, Maidenform, you name it. And I discovered there’s ZERO consistency in bra sizing.

And what’s with padded, molded cups everywhere? Am I the only woman who isn’t perfectly round and perky? I can stuff my entire fist into the top of those molded cups with room to spare.

I ended up at Soma, mistakenly thinking they specialized in hard-to-find bra sizes, but they only went to DDD, and their bras are bamboo. You’re not supposed to machine-wash or mash the molded cups for risk of “damaging” them.

All other options exhausted, I got Soma 38DDD, and was advised not to pack them flat, which means buying them their own suitcase.

But the real kicker is that these relatively pricey bras ($30 on sale) have underwire that pokes, straps that won’t stay up (a sure sign of bad fit), enough room in the upper cup for my pedometer although boob bulges out my armpits, they take up my whole bra drawer, and I F**KING HATE THE DAMN THINGS.

I once saw an episode of Oprah where women in the audience learned they were all wearing the wrong size bra, and many ended up happily in G and H cups.

I feel screwed and helpless. I should probably be in a 36G, but there’s no way I’m buying an untried cup size online. Measurement tables are useless. Bra-makers are evidently acting out some sick male fantasy with cup shapes and sizes.

And a lot of women are probably paying through the nose for uncomfortable, ill-fitting bras.

So now I’m hoping that if I stick with WW a while longer, I’ll starve the girls back down to a D cup and have a fighting chance of ever finding a bra that fits.


Downsizing with Weight Watchers

September 24, 2012

By Karen

Part 6 – Getting Back Into “Normal” Clothes, Sort Of

So two weeks ago and 23 lbs. thinner, I walked into Macy’s feeling pretty cocky, wearing a pair of size 12 shorts I’d stashed away (pre-WW, I was wearing 18s).

I tried on a pair of size 14 slacks and couldn’t pull them up past mid-thigh. WTF??!! Got into some 16s, but almost fainted when I buttoned them.

A couple of XL tops fit OK but, on principle, I refuse to buy any more X sizes.

So I walked out of this HUGE sale empty-handed, feeling blimpy and demoralized.

But I think Macy’s sizes are all screwed up because 1) Lots of the stock is cheap quality, and 2) It’s made in Third-World countries where people aren’t super-sized like Americans.

Speaking of which, if about 66% of adults are overweight or obese, WHY do department stores cater mostly to the thin 34%? They don’t even carry much for regular women who would wear 10-14s. It seems like retail suicide, but it never changes.

Mainstream stores treat being large like such a shameful condition,  they often don’t even name the plus-size department. You have to hunt until you find a rack of X-sizes. If it has a name, it’s something like “Woman.” I think I’ve even seen a condescending “Missy” department somewhere.

WiseBread wrote more thoroughly on this.

But I digress…

Now it’s been 17 weeks and I’m down 24 lbs. I think I’m about halfway there. This weekend I bought 3 tops at Stein Mart that were Large and I was thrilled. My pile of discarded ridiculous-looking fat clothes is growing. A girlfriend tells me I look like I’m wearing my mother’s clothes — because they’re hanging on me. (For the record, my mother is tiny.)

I’m still unable to find any slacks because if they don’t have wide floppy legs and bag mightily in the ass and thighs, I can’t zip them. How the HELL do designers think we are shaped down there?

By WW measures, I’m only 12 lbs. overweight now, so I shouldn’t be having all these fit issues.

I’ve made my peace with WW so I no longer feel as screwed as at first — but preparing meals is still too labor-intensive.

On the other hand, the extra effort is worth it now that rejoining the 34% non-overweight minority is definitely on my radar.

And their clothes are so much cuter.


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