2020 March 29 Sunday through April 04

welcome to Tom and Ella journal!

Coming to you from Liberty Hill. That’s right, the Texas hill country.

This is our first weekly recap

March 29 through April 04

Sunday, our home was … well, it was right down chilly at fifty seven degrees in the living room, and a might cooler in the bedroom on account of the window being open all night.

We both enjoy sleeping when there is a chill in the air. Oh not frost on nose and toes kinda chill, somewhere just North of seeing your breath is fine for sleeping. It is the getting out from under those covers that takes a real force of will ~ or full bladder.

Sunday morning’s sky was a right pretty sky. It is the kind of sky poets would pen poems about. Lyricist could write ballads about a sky such as this. Artists would weep and drop their brushes just to see it. Birds stop their singing and sit transfixed at the sight. The cat sees it and thinks, “I’ve seen better.”

And then came the actual rising of the sun. I couldn’t quite imagine the pounding of drums from “Also sprach (sprock) Zara-thu-stra*” playing as Sol appeared over the horizon.

Nor was I tempted to throw bones in the air and grunt, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

None the less, it was nice to see the sun rise. Heck, at my age, it’s nice to see any sunrise. Thank you, Lord, for another day of living.

Our worship service sunday was self-led from a bulletin that came via email. We had some rousing prelude piano music by Jim Turner. And then tuned into Pastor John Saint’s sermon.

Unfortunately our cell service is … ah … how to say this … iffy … yeah, that’s it … Iffy.

This caused the live feed to freeze. All in all, This week’s technology was better than last Sunday’s.

As our worship committee continues to do this, I’m sure it will continue to improve. You may also wish to read my sermon for today, by going to http://www.armchairsermons.com that’s Arm chair sermons all one word dot com.

Without the normal items for our worship table, at home, this morning, we had the candle (symbolizing Christ’s presence), a rock (the Lord is the rock of my salvation), keys (he who holds the keys to the kingdom).

For lunch we had roast beef, with roasted potatoes, carrots, and celery, all topped with a nice beef gravy. Everything cooked in the Instapot in less than a half hour. Including prep time. And it was right tasty, if I do say so myself. I wish instapot sponsored us, as much as I mention them.

I received an email that my groceries were ready for pick up at Wal-Mart. That’s right, the groceries I ordered last Thursday, could now be picked up. I can’t imagine how much this mandatory isolation has affected not just the big chain stores, but also all the mom and pop stores as well.

When we arrived, we pulled into one of nine or ten spots in the staging area. I couldn’t help but think of cows lined up in milking stanchions. I suppressed the urge to moo.

Soon more people arrived. All spots became full and still more people came, waiting for their turn.

I thought the folks, wheeling load upon load of blue plastic crates full of groceries and sundries, appeared to be moving along at a good pace. The person next to me was complaining about how long it was taking.

There were a coupled of items that had gone out of stock since I ordered them on Thursday.

I was glad that the folding clothes dryer racks were still available. We have no washer/dryer on our fifth-wheel RV. Laundry day has always meant packing dirty clothes into the truck and shuffling off to the laundromat. That really isn’t an option in the currency environment.

Along with the drying racks, I had also ordered a washing wand. In years past, when we we’re still tent campers, I had done our dirty laundry in a bucket using a new stool plunger as an agitator. This wand is an upgrade from the plunger

Soon we were done at Wal-Mart, and were moving on down the road toward Dollar General.

We needed to take a short detour around an accident. I prayer everyone is alright.

We arrived st Dollar General, dressed in my Sunday best. It is a charcoal impregnated dust mask. It’s not the best defense, but it is what I had on hand.

At Dollar General I found honey and an off brand of the cereal we couldn’t get at Wal-Mart. I also purchased some paint brushes. I’ll tell you about those brushes some other time.

We weren’t done shopping for the day. We stopped at Parker’s Corner Grocery in Liberty Hill for eggs that neither Dollar General nor Wal-Mart had on hand. I also found a small bag of corn meal that I haven’t been able to find for a couple of weeks. Now, if I could just find bread flour or even all purpose flour.

As a treat for our retreat, I got a small pack of ice cream. Once home, we wiped all of our grocery items off with some disinfectant wipes, before putting them away. I left my face mask on the dashboard of the truck. That seemed like a good place in the sun, which should kill any viruses.

Monday

Another wonderful night of sleep. No alarm to wake us. No need to get out of bed, or at least no reason to stay out of bed, once we were up. No place We had to go. No place We should go.

So, much later than normal, I got out of bed, started coffee, used the bathroom, weighed myself, and then came back to the bed, not to lay down, but to sit with my phone, and update information for the blogs.

The sky became lighter after raining for a few hours. It never, however, became less overcast. Still gray as our old cat Kramer.

We have found eggs at our local market here in Liberty Hill. However, I’m stretching them a little. What? You didn’t know you can s-t-r-e-c-h an egg? One way to stretch an egg is to squeeze the chicken while she’s laying it. But, since that isn’t easy, requires incredible timing, and makes the hen distrust you ever after.

No the method I’m using is to mix up some powdered egg, then add a real egg before scrambling. It improves the flavor of the powdered egg greatly.

I had purchased some fresh fruit yesterday. I only wish I had gotten more nectarines.

Of course we played many rounds of Fast Track. I believe that a day without Fast Track is a day without sunshine. Oh, wait ~ this was a day without sunshine.

Doing laundry in a plastic tub of water and a toilet plunger is a bit more labor intensive than going to the laundromat. But it is still better than beating them on a rock. However, as long as Ella keeps putting quarters in my pocket, I’ll keep at it.

Now listen, I know my family and friends. Y’all have been thinking some inappropriate response to the joke about the quarters ~ don’t send ’em to me. Ya hear?

It was too wet to put the clothes outside to dry, what with all the rain and all. So we put a large trash bag on the floor to catch the drips. Then opened one of the new dryer racks above it. After rinsing and ringing the clothes by hand, they were loaded onto the rack. Then a fan was positioned to blow on them. DIY y’all!

We needed to leave home and go to the doctors office. Don’t get excited and worried. We were just dropping a urine sample for testing. Tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning Ella has a Telemed conference with her urologist. So, for current lab work, it needed a sample. Ella went in armed with face mask and sanitizing wipe.

Also tomorrow morning, from six to seven, Wal-Mart will be open for old people only. There were a passel of things that were out of stock yesterday. I’m going to go in and see if they were restocked overnight.

And then, around ten we both have a teleconference with our heart doctor. We will take our own weight, use our own, blood pressure cuff, and temperature if needed…

Tuesday
It was an interesting thing to be out on the road so early this morning. I got on the road at about 5:30.There were some places of patchy fog along the way.I saw a few other drivers and I wondered why they’re out during this time of isolation.

You may wonder why I was out in this time of isolation, it because Walmart has set aside hours for people 50 and above, to come and do their shopping first thing in the morning. Ostensibly because that’s the time that they’ll be the most germ-free I guess, or maybe it’s because they know that only old people will be up at this time of day to go shopping.

With the so many businesses closed and so many others are working from home, people can shop when they feel like it.

The further I got to Leander, the more vehicles I saw heading back toward Liberty Hill. Which really makes me wonder, what are these people going to Liberty Hill this morning?

Gas was a dollar and fifty cents at Wal-Mart. But I have a full tank.

Even though I picked up over a hundred dollars worth on Sunday, there were things we did not get. I added another hundred dollars today. That will have to last us.

There will be no more money into the account for another three weeks. We will conserve like we’ve seldom done before. Contributions welcome. Grin.

In years past, I’ve counted on part time seasonal work during the summer. That may not be an option this year.

With experts predicting that we have not reached the peak of this current situation. That peak may be six weeks away. If it diminishes at, or near, the same rate as it spread, it’ll be fall before I feel safe. And that is if cold weather doesn’t bring on round two.

On the way home from Wal-Mart, I was treated to this beautiful sky, heralding the rising of the Sun. A sloppy paintbrush of darkness slashed through the sky above the horizon, is all the protects the pale blue ocean above from the fire beneath.

I returned home in time to catch the bright blazing white ball of light, as the sun was just clearing the trees.

I had hurried home, obeying all speed limitations, so that I would be here to face-time with our (both Ella and my) heart doctor. I made it back in time to be here for Ella’s telemed call from her urologist.

Some short time later we were contacted by the heart doctor’s nurse. She was working from home. She checked our lists of meditations. We then gave her our weight, blood pressure and pulse rate. We are able to check those from home.

Once she was done, we waited for the doctor. It was necessary for us to download an app for this contact. Eventually the doctor’s face appeared. I saw his lips moving but heard nothing. He then just called on the phone. Basically, he just asked how we were and if there was anything we needed.

Less than two tenths of a mile completes the circle of our daily walk to pick up mail at the mail box. However, along with my shopping and other very short walks, I had covered over two miles.

In the evening photo I took, The sun appeared elongated as it passed behind a decaying condensation trail of a long vanished jet. I wonder who, in this time of social separation, is willing to pack themselves into that tin can in the sky?

Wednesday

One of the first things I do every morning is turn the night lights off and the water heater on. We don’t need hot water when we’re sleeping or gone for hours at a time. Not that we are gone for hours at a time now. However, if/when those times occur, I will turn of the water heater.

Eggs, bacon, toast, and America fries. It was a nice breakfast Sorry that there aren’t Audio pictures or aromas.

The sky was amazing with rows of clouds like rays of sunlight aimed at a vanishing point beyond the horizon.

How wonderful are your works oh Lord. Your hands which formed the universe, are the same hands which lift me when I’m down. I praise you, Lord.

Yes, it was forty nine degrees wednesday morning. I was still tempted to open the door early to the morning air. And most of the day it was open. It wasn’t until the sun got around to the west side of the RV, that we closed the door and started the air conditioner.

I know. I know. It only reached seventy five degrees. But that sun through the windows was brutal.

Well I got up on the roof of the topper and started smearing this tar-based substance around on the roof. Hopefully, that means that it won’t leak anymore.

Unfortunately I couldn’t seem to get that done without ending up with this tar stuff clear up and over my elbows.

And wouldn’t you know that I didn’t change into the pants that it already has stains on it. No I had one of my best pair of blue jeans.

And I knew I could be careful and not crawl where I had already put tar down.

I was right I didn’t, however I did back up and put my knee right smack-dab on the lid of the can which of course had tar on it.

Even after repeated scrubbing with gasoline my hand was still splotchy with tar. It looked like the black spots on a white cowhide.

I took a couple of trips to Winkleys hardware for paint thinner.

For social distancing, they had an extra large table blocking the entrance. You told them what you needed

Then they went inside and fetched it for you. Is this going to continue to be the new way to do business,?

Once home, Ella and I working together, got most of the tar off of me. Then I had to get it off of things I’d touched.

Wait. Back up a minute. Did I just say, “A couple of trips?” Yep. I drove the eight or so miles to Winkleys and then discovered I didn’t have my billfold or my phone.

If I’d had my phone, I would have been okay, ’cause I usually have a couple of bills I the phone case. But, no, I had go back and forth like a yoyo.

While I was on the roof off the trucktopper, and then running around town, etc., Ella was doing laundry. She posted this:

Today has been a busy day for us. Tom tared the roof of the topper. Hopefully that well stop the leaks.

While he worked on the topper, I washed clothes. We bought two clothes racks, and a plunger with which to wash, a few days ago. The clothes are now hanging on the porch.

This is last day with no rain in the forecast for the next week. We’re down to about three more loads of clothes. We’ll try to wash that in the next few days, but we’ll have to dry that inside. Some of the laundry may just have to wait until it’s safe to go to the laundromat.

Now it’s time to rest. I think we may be getting old.

Tough times help us adjust our ways to fill our needs. I will appreciated the washers at the laundry more after doing it all by hand for a few weeks.

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At about six thirty, when we took our walk, the sun was very bright in the western sky. We stopped in the shade of this little to take a photograph.

At sundown, I took a photograph of the sun setting on the horizon. It divided the sky. Left side clear. Right side clouds. It appeared that the clouds were rolled to one side.

It made me think, “And the clouds will be rolled away as a scroll.” (Revelation 6:14 & Isaiah 34:4) both speak of the clouds rolled like a scroll.

We talked to some of our kids today. John called and talked to his mom. Jenny called and spoke to both of us. It is nice to have people checking up on us.

Thursday

The photograph I took that morning prompted me to write, gray on gray and rain after rain is our weather forecast for the whole of the next seven days. Sunrise is a fade to gray and sunset is a fade to black.

This we day 20 of being self isolated.

The Weatherbug forecast for Thursday showed 61° in the morning, a high of 69° and cloudy.
Cloudy hardly described the sky. There was more water in the firmament above than in the firmament below and all day long it leaked. Sometimes misting and sometimes pouring, but once it began, there was no hesitation.

The photo I took showed the goat pen full of yellow that the sun was unable to find.

Speaking of goats, where do you suppose them to be? That’s right, in a sheltering shed. Now, ask where the neighborhood boys might be. Oh you have already guessed, playing in the rain.

Breakfast of French toast and fresh fruit. Prepared powdered egg with a splash of milk and copious amounts of cinnamon and nutmeg, made for a fine morning meal.

My rememberance for throw back Thursday was The flood of 1993 27 years ago Des Moines Iowa became the largest city ever to be without water, as the Des Moines River flooded downtown, suburbs, and the water treatment plant as well.

Folks all along the Mississippi River and the Missouri River (Iowa’s east and west boarders) were also being flooded. It almost looked as the whole state was under water. I found a national news broadcast with them President Clinton, as he visited the state, saying that he had never seen anything like it. Tom Brokaw said it was reminiscent of hurricane Andrew. The year before. Hurricane Andrew was a powerful and destructive Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that struck the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana in August 1992.

Ella and I fared well through through the flooding then because of our resourcefulness, preparedness, and the grace of God. We will do well during this time of testing also.

Lunch was a rehydrated Broccoli Cheese Soup. Cooked in the Instapot and doctored up with some real cheddar cheese and a little thickening. Served with toast.

Today was a day for simple meals. Supper consisted of corn meal mush. Ella ate hers with milk and sugar. I ate mine with butter and salt. How do you eat your mush? If there had been any leftover, it would have eaten it fried for breakfast. Tomorrow, I may need to actually prepare a real meal

Friday

.

Yesterday, just before the rain, I put the awning out.

The hope was that we could leave the door open, without rain coming in. It worked~mostly.

Today I was looking at the awning and thinking. “It just doesn’t look right.” Finally I realized why the awning looked wrong. I hadn’t installed the rafters / braces. These rafters keep the awning fabric stretched and tight. That means less likely to tear.

How many different ways of saying gray can there be? “Without interest or character; dull and nondescript.” (Thank you, Google.”

Synonyms for gray/grey

  • Dove
  • ash
  • ashen
  • battleship
  • cinereal
  • clouded
  • dingy
  • drab
  • dusky
  • dusty
  • granite
  • heather
  • iron
  • lead
  • leaden
  • livid
  • mousy
  • neutral
  • oyster
  • pearly
  • peppery
  • powder
  • sere
  • shaded
  • silvered
  • silvery
  • slate
  • smoky
  • somber
  • stone

(Thank you thesaurus.com)I had to look up the meaning of cinereal.
“Cinereal is an old English word that comes from the Latin ‘cinis,’ which means and relates to ashes, specifically the dead cold heavy black ashes left after a fire.

There are hills hidden by the cinereal foggy mist that permeates the air this morning.

I was up hours before Ella, I went to the living room and closed the door to the upper level, so as to not disturb her. Sometime later, I heard her in the bathroom. I asked if she was staying up or going back to bed. “Bed,” was her groggy reply.

As time progressed, my stomach began to growl like a hungry lion. So, in fear, I prepared some oatmeal.

Nobody wants a lion in their tummy. Though they may want a tiger in their tank. Does anyone else besides me remember ESSO gasoline and their slogan, “Put a tiger in your tank”? I remember seeing it in Germany. “Pack einen tiger in den tank.”
.”

Moments before ten o’clock, my bride appeared and was ready for breakfast. The oatmeal was easily reheated in the microwave.

This is day 22 of us being self isolated. These days we seldom dip a toe into the news-stream. We are already doing all of which we are able be remain safe. Hearing all the bad news of the day its not not going to change that.

I do not accept ANYTHING I read on social media as fact. I wish family and friends would stop sending misinformation and links to potentially harmful websites.

Hearing that one million now are infected needs to be balanced with the news that six billion nine hundred and ninety nine million are not not infected. (Numbers are not to be taken as exact, they are estimates)

I did hear an assumed expert saying that we are still closer to the beginning off this pandemic than we are to even the middle. I suspect, and fear, he may be right. But right or wrong, there’s still not a dang blame thing that Ella and I can do, beyond what we are doing, praying and taking all precautions that we can.

The Chicken tortilla soup I made for lunch looked prettier before I stirred the cheese into it. I used V8 juice to extend. It had corn, black beans, red and green peppers, spices, and, of course, noodle sized bits of a couple flour tortillas.

Saturday

More lead gray skies and more rain. Forty one degrees this morning was a little surprising. I knew it was going to be cool over night. So, I had started the space heater before going to bed.

I told y’all, on Thursday, that I have extended the awning. If you are unfamiliar with RV awnings, you may not know that they are famous for capturing and holding rain water. This is not a good thing. Water is heavy (about 8.35 pounds per gallon). When the awning bows toward the middle the weight is enough to tear the fabric loose or even cause the metal struts to bend and collapse. No bueno! Search Google for images of rain damaged RV awnings and see for yourself.

There are ways to prevent this. The easiest by far is to roll the awning closed. This method is as fool proof as you can get. However, I WANT the awning out as protection from the rain – and to collect the rain.

I have done two things to avoid water accumulating on the awning. First simply leave one side of the awning lower, which allows water to run off. The second thing I’ve done is to install rafters / supports which keep the awning from bowing and collecting water.

Speaking of collecting water, I have placed a plastic tub at the lower end of the awning to capture the rain water. My hope is to hold enough to use for doing more laundry. (See the post on April first for more about how we are doing laundry without machines) I did not capture the first day of rain. My thought was that the first rain would clear dust and debris off of the awning.

I collected 35 gallons in about a hour in a plastic storage tub. That is (35 gallons ×8.35 pounds =292.25 pounds) that is approximately my weight. Now imagine if I was sitting on an awning. It pretty well demonstrates how a little rain can destroy a poorly cared for canopy.

And I wish you could see how clear and clean the water is. Oh wait, you can. Go to our website tomandellajournal.com. remember it is all one word and there is no s. tomandellajournal.com.

Rain water is soft water, meaning it contains none of the minerals found in ground water (wells, rivers, and lakes) that it’s pumped through your pipes.. When I was young we always had a rain barrel. That water was used for laundry in the old fashion wringer washer.

For communion tomorrow, here at home, I made some unleavened bread, a little oil, salt, honey, water, and flour. No measuring, just eyeballed it. Or as my mother would say, “By guess and by golly.” I formed the dough into ping pong size balls, then gently pushed them flat with my hand. Each were marked with a cross, then baked at 425° until golden brown.

We received a care package from John and Dawn, back in Iowa. Ella had mentioned to him that we were doing well. That the only thing I hadn’t found was flour. He mailed ten pounds of flour, a package of girl Scout cookies, two containers of dehydrated hash-browns and four rolls of toilet paper. Thank you.

And, of course, we had to schedule a game or two of Fast Track into our busy schedule. We also managed to take our walk up to the mailbox and back.

God bless and g’day.

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