Ordinary Life during Covid

So lately I’ve been struggling a bit with the cumulative effect of the last 2 years.

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Since I have never been one who is easily bored (Thanks Dad*), being grounded by my Doc, in lock down, in almost complete isolation for the better part of 700 days, just did not bother me that much….or at least that’s what I thought.

I am easily entertained by life, so I may have missed some of the slower-building warning signs.

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In the last 2 years, I’ve crocheted 5 baby blankets, adorned 15 hubcaps, dried a few hundred flowers, handmade 50 or 60 Holiday Cards, made 25 inspirational collages, read a few books, corresponded with many long-lost friends, exercised, worked on endless editing for a book 20 years in the writing, culled, downsized, and cleaned my household. That last one sounds so productive, but it was nothing compared to sorting, downsizing and organizing a life long collection of beads, buttons, fabric, yarn, and antique Cobalt Glass.

 

Oh, and I worked…actually, quite a bit more than I have in a few years. Clearly others were aware of the emotional and psychological effects of Covid sooner than me!

No, I was plenty busy and distracted!

What I have not done is my taxes. Too hard to figure out expenses and deductions for a huge home office and Group Therapy room that has sat unused, and pouting, because I abandoned it when I fell in love with Zoom…the only way I work these days.

When I have found the burst of manic energy it would take me to sit down and actually catch up on my deal with the government (by the way, I don’t owe them. They owe ME!) suddenly I am overwhelmed with a compelling urge to engage with Hulu or Netflix. I guess I should be grateful it’s my only addiction…well, unless you count those life-long collections I mentioned above.

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I have binge-watched more than 30 whole series in just under 2 years, burying myself in the characters and their drama in the way one can only when watching 4 or 5 hours in a row.  (picture blushing emoticon here…)

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I have kept up my short daily walks though. You would think after living here for almost 50 years there would not be anything new to see, photograph or write about, but as I said, I’m trained to keep that small child, wide-eyed wonder alive and well.

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Here’s a sample of the things that have stirred my curiosity or delighted that little kid still in me.

First, I love “Urban Tide Pools”!!

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Next, the big and little things I see on my walks…the heart rock I spotted on Valentine’s Day!

And lastly, the things I almost missed…

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Primroses in the dead of winter…

All these things have helped me through the worst days of how we all have to live now. 

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AND, I have been very successful at avoided filing my you-know-what’s!

Though I know it has to be temporary, I’m counting that as a win also.

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Motivator More Powerful Than Fear

Came across this today from one of my favorite Photo Artists!
Beautifully written!

Nes Felicio Photography

Fear is a powerful motivator.

When one is afraid of something, no amount of logic can overcome it.

We’ve all had that experience, being gripped by fear. It takes over our mind, it directs our actions. Nothing else matters.

It’s just how we are wired — everything goes through the “emotional” brain before it gets to the “logical” brain.

Useful for survival when our great ancestors were in the forest or safari, facing a lion or a snake. The decision was simple – run or fight. No time to analyze relative probabilities of the outcome of several options. All our being is focused on the next split second of self-preservation.

We’re a long way from living in caves, but our brain is still wired the same. So when someone expresses a view that I sense is out of some fear, I know it’s pointless to use facts, statistics or any…

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Boredom is a Sin

At least, that’s what my Dad used to tell us.

He was quick to clarify, Not a religious sin, but one against Mother nature.

He wouldn’t punish us for this, of course, but he sure frightened Mary Lou, from down the block the first time she witnessed this exchange.

“Daddy, I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” (sentence whined in dramatic, 7 year old voice…)

Calmly responding, Dad would simply say, “That’s it. Go get the Ruler.”

Mary Lou had a much different experience of her father sending her for the ruler, or a small tree branch, or the Ping Pong Paddle.

We knew this routine, and I suppose, could have proceeded on our own, but Dad worked so much, on a day off, we’d do anything for a verbal exchange with him. Besides the whole experience seemed better if Daddy had sent us on the challenge.

We’d get the Ruler, and our task then was to find a flat surface of some kind, so we could measure out one square foot of visual space to explore…at length…until we found something of interest, sometimes even something amazing. 

These measured “windows” kept us not-bored for many Sunday afternoons, or summertime hours.

There is way more to this story but I’m thinking of it today because of how much gratitude I feel for my father’s creative way of teaching us about important life lessons. This one for me, has expanded over the years to cover all manner of scenes and circumstances. It is like my Mindful Practice now…finding a “window” of music, or taste, or rest, or movement, etc.

It’s no longer a tool to counteract boredom. I have walked through my long life now, with this theme running at all times in the background.

I truly can’t remember the last time I felt bored. There is always something new to see, to discover, to learn, to experience, with all my senses. And there is always more than one way look at things…the same old everyday sights…and even the painful things.

I can’t tell you how much this has helped me through 693 days of mostly seclusion during the Pandemic.

We are having a HUGE wave of new Covid cases in my area, up 700% in the last month. Not boring, but frightening and quite depressing, so I sent myself to “get the Ruler” this morning before my daily walk.

Here’s what I spotted in about a 3 square foot area right outside my door that I never look at in the dead of winter it’s so scruffy. But today, I slowly zoomed in, and found beauty of the season.

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This strange “rock” has been in many places all around my property. I hadn’t thought about it in years!

On my way back home from today’s walk, way down my hill, I spotted a tiny window, a visual “square foot” framed by the trees.

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As I made my way, I watched that “square foot” transform right before my eyes.

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The closer I got to my driveway, the more the view opened up, showing me the miracle of the Olympic Mountains, looking close enough to visit. They are 158 miles away.

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And there was the Columbia Tower, 11 miles away.

From my perspective, it looked easily as tall as those gorgeous, finally snow-covered peaks.

Thanks Dad!

Procrastination

It won’t surprise any of the people closest to me to hear how much I STILL miss my best friend/sister from the 1970’s through the end of that century.

My confession today though, is just how much. I try not to think about her, or talk about her, but every now and then in our professional worlds, she and I still cross paths, and it all floods back. So many years ago now, but our friendship (our sisterhood) was so easy, so equal. I always felt as important to her as she was to me.

Though she and I had off and on problems, all friendships do, the wonderful thing we had for so long was daily contact…someone to check in with, or be checked on by. I have never found that again.

I know it was partly our age and that stage of life way back then. Our living proximity (including together for a while), and all our common problems acted like friendship-glue, especially ex-husbands, money, new loves, single mom-ing-an-only-child, etc.). These things simply insisted on, and required daily updates.

I couldn’t tell you now what happened, or why, or even my part in it, but the “sisterhood” ended…in my memory now, rather abruptly.

I’ve never come close to replacing that connection.

I have made a few gentle gestures towards her over the years, and her response has always been gracious and kind, but also brief and singular. And my biggest secret is just how often I imagine grand gestures, followed by a grand reunion, much more congruent for our early years as friends and sisters. I play out these scenes in my head a couple times a year….or any time I drive to my city’s downtown, because I pass within just a half block of her house.

This last couple of Pandemic Years, I am contemplating my life, my mortality.

And on top of that ongoing threat, I have had several non-Covid related deaths close to me. I know I am not alone in any of that. None of the “normal” life-losses simply screeched to a halt just because of this stupid virus. They just kept on happening.

But it’s created a whopper of an existential crisis for many, and a profound sense of panic. Better hurry up!!

There are so many things I just can’t put off, or wait around for, any longer. Things I must act on NOW, if I’m ever going to.

I have to decide about selling my house.

I have to get that Dream Camper.

I have to tell, really tell, my people how lucky I have been to have had you in my life.

And, I decided, finally, I absolutely have to reach out to my old best friend/sister.

So in the throes of that emotion, I drove down toward the street that passes her house. As I got close, I pulled over into a parking lot, and sat for 10 minutes, thinking, getting grounded, psyching myself up.

It was Grand Gesture time. Dramatic I know, but hey, contemplating your remaining days is dramatic. I rehearsed my speech, making sure I was loving and hopefully, unconditional.

And knowing it was an extreme long shot that she was even be home, I drove to her house…..

This is what I found.

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I have no idea what this means, where she is or if she’s even alive, but hard Lesson Learned….again.

Procrastination is a risky f-ing game!

September to November-M.I.A.

Where to start…hmm…I won’t drag you through the last few months…nothing profound really…just life as we knew it before March, 2020 is over.

You know. You were there experiencing your own version of it.

I’ll just start with today.

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We are well in to my least favorite time of year.

Fall in the Great Northwest is so sneaky…tricky for me to navigate. In the other three seasons, my daily choice is crystal clear…be outside or be inside.

But Autumn tells blatant lies, almost daily.

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This morning it’s beautiful weather, so I leave the house expecting to enjoy all of the season’s best features; its warm, intense colors, clear blue skies, and easily tolerable medium temperatures. But during the short walk from my front door to the road, Autumn cackles out loud, her temperature plummets, and suddenly it’s 45 miles an hour freezing winds, filled with piercing raindrops.

First a pandemic and now THIS!

It’s just insulting.

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To make me even more irritable during this time of year, my allergies hit the hardest, blind-siding me with itchy eyes to asthma, literally out-of-the-blue!

I don’t have any reaction to all the lovely parts of Spring and Summer, gently blowing waves of grasses, tiny drifts of golden pollen on my windshield, or beautifully blossoming trees.

Nope. I get to be allergic to the dying, moldy leaves of Fall.

How glamorous.

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BUT…since I am obsessed with mastering my ability to shift my perspective at will, on this day, I easily concede that Autumn is also my favorite time to photograph.

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It takes some work though…

I was furious the other day when I finally had time to grab the camera and head out. I had spotted so many outstanding photo shots lately and wanted to go back to capture some of that vibrant color.

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Showing off her royal prerogative, when I wasn’t looking, that nasty, conniving Autumn had apparently had a Wind-Storm-Temper-Tantrum, stripping all the trees of their stunning October/November costumes. Grrrr.

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Then, later this morning, as I walked across the long spans of sodden grass to my neighbor’s house, these words came to me:

“Lovely, lacey, leaf-littered lawn”

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I’m NOT a poet so I had no idea what to do with those alliterated words.

But, it was magnificent, so out came the camera.

The birds even came out of their storm shelters to keep me company on my stroll.

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Today, I feel blessed to be in LOVE Autumn in the Northwest!

How’s that for a Perspective Shift?

Fun with Photography; soliciting reactions…3/31/21

OK, starting from the premise that all “Art” is in the eye of the beholder…

I had a great time snapping shots of our recent Worm Moon, the first (and least dramatic) of four Super Moons this year.

Worm Moon” is what the full moon of March is called. According to the Old Farmers Market, the title “Worm Moon” refers to the time of year when the ground thaws enough to allow earthworms to come out of the soil.

Although my Earth Steward/Angel friend Karuna might love the name Worm Moon (she has a thing for worms), luckily there are several other names to choose from for this particular spectacle including Eagle Moon, Sugar Moon, and my personal favorite, Crow Moon. (Karuna’s Blog…read anything in her Nature category!!! What a contribution she has made!!    https://livinglearningandlettinggo.com/)

Anyway, here are some photos, and a couple of multiple choice options on which I’d love your input, especially if you happen to be one of the amazing photographers I follow…like Marilyn, Cee, Jules, Nancy Merrill, Nes Felicio, Whippet Wisdom, V.J. Knutson, Debbie Smyth, Leya, Amy, Arati… (uh oh, I guess I follow way too many photographers to list them all…sorry.)

I do not see myself as in the same ballpark as any of these talented photo artists, but I sure learn from them….about beauty and cleverness and composition.

Moonrise Saturday, March 27, 2021

First, I went out to see the moon rising, armed with only my rapidly aging, but much loved phone, a Galaxy 8+.

I really like this phone’s camera, especially for close up shots. But with it’s just so-so telephoto capacity, it’s lousy for capturing celestial bodies.

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Moonset March 28, 2021

The next morning I got up in time to watch the beautiful moon setting, but this time, brought my little Canon Power Shot, with its great telephoto lens…amazing for a point and shoot camera.

Here are some Moonset shots, a couple I really like. Also, some opinion-questions I am really hoping someone wants to answer!

1.) The one on the right is what my camera captured. The one on the left is just slightly darkened with computer. Which is better?

2.) What I’d like an opinion about is with these next five photos is about position in the frame. (I kinda like the second one as it seems to demonstrate something geometrical or even spiritual…) 

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3.) The next four are all imperfect (not clear enough, something blocking part of the shot in each) but I like a couple. Do you like any of these?

4.) When I looked at this one on the computer, it startled me because somehow I had captured TWO, maybe THREE moons???

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But then, mystery solved and all made sense, several photos later…(Boy, does my lens need cleaning or what?!)

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5.) Here, I am experimenting with two versions of the same photo…do you prefer one?

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6.) This last one was a total accident, but it turns out, it’s my favorite. No idea why. Opinions??

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Thanks for traveling through photo-space with me. Please consider sharing any reactions or feedback in “comments”.

Oh, and, by the way, during this whole time prepping and writing this post, I never once thought about the world going to hell in a handbasket*…

Pandemic?? WHAT pandemic…??

PS Seems appropriate to include one of my favorite music videos. You may have seen it before…

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_hell_in_a_handbasket