Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Cafe Brazil

Cafe Brazil is maybe my favorite coffee place. Oh, sure, Starbucks and Dunkin’ are on the list too, but they are chains and this is a local place. Well, still a chain, but only like 8 stores, not nationwide. My aunt, who is a flight attendant, swears by McDonald’s coffee, so, you know, something for everybody.

But today I celebrate Cafe Brazil. Finally open again 24/7. I have been waiting for a place I can hang out and use wifi to reopen. Usually I use the tables at Half Price Books but they have put the chairs upside down on them which is clearly meant to discourage people from congregating. I think the coffee shop might even be shut down.

So clearly I am going to have to pay to occupy space somewhere. I could go to Denny’s or IHOP but they generally don’t have wifi or a place to plug in my computer and work. Cafe Brazil it is.

The walls are painted bright lime green and cerulean blue. There is a border painted near the ceiling of palm leaves, flowers, parrots and pre-columbian heads. The walls are usually covered with art that is for sale. This particular shop had only about 5 pieces on display at the moment. With huge windows on 3 sides, there is a lot less wall space than many locations but often there is more art. Maybe I should bring some down, see if it can be sold here.

Mostly today I had coffee and wrote 3 letters. I have one more to write before bed tonight but that can be any time. I also had nachos. I really like the nachos here. The appetizer size is a meal for one so that was tasty. I even ate a few of the jalapenos.

I remember the first time I had jalapenos. I was about 8 years old. We had come to Dallas from my native Boston to visit my dad’s family for Christmas. My mother’s brother, who was in the air force, was stationed I believe at Lackland AFB so since we were in the state, we drove down to see that part of the family too. My uncle took us across the border to Mexico. My mom, my aunt, my cousin and I went shopping, and the men went to a little cantina and were enjoying cerveza and nachos. My uncle thought he would play a joke on my and gave me a nacho. It was a crispy corn tortilla wedge with cheese and a single pickled jalapeno in the center. I think he believed I would freak out, but my first solid foods were pickles and corned beef, so you can guess I like things with strong flavor. I loved the nachos. Dad was oddly pleased and let me eat as many as I wanted. It was literally a decade before I went to Chi-chi’s restaurant in Boston and had nachos, and had that whole episode flood back into my memory.

Well, my boss has called and I need to take care of something. But today was a good day. I got poetry written and letters written and talked to my daughter, and oh yeah, Cafe Brazil is open again. Life is good.


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“Plague Trip”

Took a little road trip with the roommates today. It’s interesting to get out in the world after being at home so much.

First stop was Fiesta for a money order. While L went in to take care of that, F and I went to McDonald’s. McDonald’s was a bit of a clusterfuck, though there was worse to come. In spite of the fact that the app says you can get 40 nuggets for $10, the lady insisted you could only get 20 for $7.50. F became very frustrated but settled for the 20. I got a sweet tea and a McChicken. The lady at the payment window didn’t have half the order so we had to verify it again. The chicken was dry and had obviously been cooked a while ago. Then we went back and picked up L.

I got to look at the scenery while we drove along. Usually I am driving myself so I don’t get to look around much. I was struck by how many big trees there were. We passed a golf course surrounded by a stream. A man and a big buff-colored retriever were walking along in the water. There was a group of black kids in black clothes, except one in a purple hoodie that seemed so bright in contrast. But on the roads there were almost no vehicles. The lack of traffic is what really feels apocalyptic. Gas prices were down to $1.34, though they are 20 cents higher closer to home.

Next stop was CVS for F’s meds. One of them is a controlled substance that is not kept in stock. I understand that because I go through this with my psych meds from time to time. F’s script had been submitted on Tuesday. Today is Friday. He called CVS to be sure it was ready, and the local CVS said they didn’t have it in stock, it was at another CVS 2 towns over. When we got there, they told us they didn’t have the prescription. Apparently when it’s a controlled substance they can’t electronically transfer it, the doctor has to submit a new script. So the choices were, order the drug which will take over the weekend to arrive, IF the manufacturer ships it, which is an ongoing problem not related to Covid-19; or have the order cancelled and get the doctor to send new orders. F opted for waiting over the weekend, though he did say that if the drug wasn’t there on Monday, he would have to contact the doctor. He wished the lady a “happy plague” when we drove away.

Then we went to pick up some items L had loaned a friend. I stayed in the car. The friend did come up to F and hug and kiss him, so I hope she was not infected. While we were waiting for L, we saw an old lady with really unfortunate hair. I told F, if my hair ever gets that kind of thin, I am going to shave my head and go with wigs. I have thought of doing that anyway, but the cost of wigs is off-putting. I actually have sympathy for the woman. We talk about male pattern baldness but nobody talks about women’s hair thinning as we age.

Next stop was Eatzi’s. I love Eatzi’s but I can’t really afford them. I had to pee so I went in with L to use the restroom. L bought me a coffee, so that was a treat. She also bought good bread, pizza and cookies. We ate the Mexican wedding cookies while we waited for the pizza. Yup, desert before dinner. The cookies went really well with my coffee. The pizza was freshly made and hot. The crust was thin though I think it could have used a little garlic or butter to be perfect, and I really liked the cheese.

Final stop was Dallas Tamale and Tortilla Factory. F wanted pork tamales but this late in the day all they had left was beef and jalapeno. I probably won’t be eating any of them because jalapenos don’t like me. L bought the last ones, and the lady that came in after wasn’t able to get any. I bet she was kicking herself for not going in sooner, since she was already there when we pulled up.

Then we went home. We didn’t stop for mail, which is fine, I’ll just take a walk tomorrow to get it, unless it rains. And my belly is full of snacks, though I will want to eat again before going to bed. It’s been a good day.

Now to write some snail mail.


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Today Was a Good Day

It’s so easy to talk about the bad days, but today was actually a good day.

I woke up and managed to stay awake for the first time in, well, more than 2 weeks. I have been waking up about 9 am and doing a few things, then going out into the living room to plug in my phone. Now everyone sleeps late in this house, so even as late as noontime, the living room is dark and quiet. So it’s really easy to just stretch out on the sofa and nap for another hour or two.

But this morning I had calls to make, so I stayed up. And the calls were successful, woot woot!

First call was to Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). That’s the unemployment office to the rest of the world. Texas really has exactly one unemployment office which is in Austin (the capitol) so you really can’t go to unemployment. What they do have is the TWC, which is basically an employment office. Because they are not concerned about you getting money, they are concerned about you working. I am concerned about me getting money, job is a fine way to do that, but I have paid into the unemployment system and so has my most recent employer, so I don’t mind saying I feel rather entitled to the money. This is not charity; it is, in fact, insurance.

Anyway, in Texas you can only apply for unemployment once every 12 months. I had a deployment end last spring, and I applied for unemployment on June 3. I did work again in Sept – Dec, but when that deployment ended, I couldn’t apply for unemployment again. Now since it was within 12 months, I could continue collecting on the previous claim. But funding ran out and I was still within the 12 months, so I couldn’t apply again.

However, today is June 3, so guess what? Application time, baby. I tried to apply online but got a message that said “we can serve you better by phone”. My first call this morning was to TWC. They took my application by phone. They really couldn’t believe I earned as much as I did during that Sept – Dec run, but I was working 60 and 70 hour weeks, so with all that overtime, I was doing great. Hopefully that means I’ll get a decent check, but really anything is better than the nothing I’m getting now. So this is a good thing, it’s just a waiting game now.

The second call was to Citibank, my new bank. Now I do most of my banking online so I didn’t realize until later that they actually do not have a physical branch in Texas. I need to make an initial deposit to fully open the account, but what I have is a paper check. I had to be sure I could just deposit it into an ATM. They said to use any ATM that accepts deposits, so I’ll have to use one at an actual bank not at a corner store. So I’m trusting them for this. I also got the passcode for my new debit card today. That means I should get the card in the next day or two, which is also good. In the meantime, I need to change my banking information with unemployment, so the money goes to the new account. Also a good call, because it answered a question.

The third call was to my employer. Remember that I do seasonal work for the government. I get deployed, I get furloughed. I work when there’s work, but I don’t get paid when there’s no work. That’s why I get unemployment. I do look for other work in my down time because I need to do something, but this time no luck.

Anyway, I am required to keep up with trainings and other meetings while I’m not deployed. I got a notice that I had missed a training that was due for the end of May. I have a company phone, but I don’t have a company computer, so I didn’t know how to take the training. I spoke to a very helpful person who let me know that even though I got the notice, I was not in trouble. I wouldn’t be able to access the class without a company computer so I’m not expected to do it until I’m deployed again.

While I was talking to her, I asked about the coach / evaluator certification. What that is, is a person who signs off on certain requirements for being fully qualified for a position. I am a qualified ASPS, and I have opened a task book for the next higher position, which is housing lead. A task book is the list of necessary skills and requirements that someone needs to observe you doing. The observer is the coach / evaluator. Well, you can only evaluate a position for which you are qualified. So I would be able to sign off on people who are working on their ASPS qualification.

I asked about how to become a coach / evaluator and the helpful person sent me the link to the requirements. Pretty much, you need to be qualified for the role you want to evaluate, and you need to have the task book opened for the next level. Check and check. Now all I need is to let my cadre coordinator know I’m interested. I can do that tomorrow, after I verify who that is. Coordinators also get deployed and furloughed, which means the info can change while I’m out of the office with no notice.

That makes 3 calls, all productive, which is a good day in itself. I also went to group and hung out afterwards with some of the other clients. When I got home, my roommate had made roasted potatoes and barbecue ribs. Momo Kitty fell asleep on my feet, which is very affectionate for him. Charli is always on me for attention but Momo is pretty self contained. It’s now 11:00 and I’m thinking of bed.

Tomorrow is another busy day. I have group in the morning, then I’m going to visit a friend who is in the hospital. I hope to add in a visit to another friend who is in the area after that, just because it would be convenient. I mean, she’s my friend and I’d love to see her, but the timing would be convenient. I am short of gas money these days.

It looks like a good start to the week.