It has been a very long time since blogging, or even pulling pictures from the phones. Some of that is that we’ve basically just been staying home, where nothing is really newsworthy. Another part of that is getting settled into San Ramon, including everything from unpacking to getting the yard tilled and planted.
A Season of Shifts
How are you?
It’s been a minute!
We’re still here, in the Year of Our Lord Twenty-Twenty-two. We’ve missed sharing a few details, these last few months:
A Stanford specialist for T, a quasi diagnosis from said specialist, a new editor for T, and an abrupt departure to a new house. (Workwise, things have remained fairly constant for D, for which he’s no doubt thankful, but there’s always the possibility for changes there, too.) We’re still standing, though, with much to be grateful for, and no more than the usual aches, aggravations, and inconveniences. How about you?
On hearing that we were moving house, one of our Scottish friends said, “AGAIN!?” Since in the fourteen years since we’ve known her, she’s been safely ensconced in the selfsame house whilst we’ve been in … four now, since our return from the UK…we can appreciate her incredulity. We keep thinking that we’re going to settle in and just be, get to figuring out where we actually want to settle and buy something, and then it all seems like too much effort, and then the economy has another hiccough, and says “nope” once again. Aided by our rent rising by two hundred dollars last year, and finding that the house next door sold and was being entirely gutted and remodeled hastened our exodus. You’ll never believe how much your concentration shatters until you have a jackhammer going next door. Finding a larger place at four hundred dollars less a month immediately available made the inconvenience of a rapid uprooting and packing a little easier to bear.
We’ve moved into a neighborhood with neighbors that bring over pumpkin bread and wave on the street, which is heartening, and D’s beloved voice coach is three blocks away. Our Presbyterian choir is the same distance away timewise, but via a more direct highway, so we’re tentatively rejoining them for their holiday choral pieces, T fully and miserably masked, which remains a trial, but a trial she can live with in favor of leaving the house periodically. D continues to work with metal, wood, and experiment with other mediums, most recently clay, while T continues her slow progress with German, Dutch, Spanish, embroidery, and ukulele (when her hands cooperate), and pretending she knows how to decoupage. Mostly staying home continues to give us delusions of artistry.
The new house is 1960’s weird, and the unpacking is taking longer than usual, as our episode of Keep, Donate, Toss continues. There is a lot of discussion and bittersweet realizations about the things that have changed in our lives… For example, prior to now we could dream (READ: pretend) that someday we’d be the rustic hiking sort, and really use tent we bought at the early years of our marriage. We imagined family trips, weekends away, … a lot of things that never came to fruition, and, in the Pandemysterious Present, with T’s wonky immune system remaining compromised, will not come to fruition (although outdoor gear is still a great way to hang out for us now). We should probably get rid of the tent, but it’s hard letting go of the We Who Weren’t, and never will be. Not every decision is agonizing, but as the donate pile in the corner of the front room ebbs and flows, we know it’s time to be realistic. We move more than most people (NINETEEN moves in our married lives. NINE.TEEN). We aren’t able to interact with either people or food the same way we used to, so all the entertaining and meals are probably not going to happen in the same way. Additionally, we likely won’t retire in this house. We need to move more lightly through this world so it’s easier to get where we’re going…wherever that is.
Which – ugh – means a bit more winnowing.
Meanwhile, as the autumn deepens, the season of changes has hit T.’s work as well. She discovered that she is unexpectedly losing her editor, Katherine, while still under contract with the eponymous Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books). It’s a little unnerving changing horses midstream (or swapping barrels going over Niagra, or whatever folksy aphorism you might supply) but fortunately, she’s already met her new editor, and holds out hope that all will be well come December. Her next book comes out in January, and she’s currently working with the new editor on a cover concept for the 2024 novel under contract. Hopefully after that more contracts with this company will materialize, but we’ll see…
The Autoimmune Thing has not improved, and for varied and boring reasons, T endured the nearly six months wait time to see a doctor at Stanford University Medical Center. We could launch into a rant about the length of time it takes to see a specialist, kvetch about the general cruddiness of insurance companies and out-of-plan doctors, but we would grow old before we finished being ragey, and who has the time? Suffice it to say it has been, thus far … a total bust.
This shouldn’t have been a shock. Americans, with our bias towards worshiping the intellect, tend to imbue doctors with godlike qualities. Add to that a big-named research hospital, and just gaining entrance to the hallowed corridors makes some feel as if they ought to genuflect. All that know-how! All those smarts! All that expectation built up in patients that there will be The Answer. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case for us.
The rheumatologist did due diligence with blood work, but test after test after test (SO. MUCH. LABWORK.) couldn’t bring him the definitive answer which he was after. There was no satisfying “Aha!” and no big reveal which pointed to dramatically to…anything. He repeatedly admitted that the blood work showed “something,” but not “enough.” The “not enough” became problematic. Every visit, the doctor asked a series of questions, the same questions, and T repeatedly answered them… and round and round that went. Since it’s impossible to “perform” illness on cue, this began to feel… awkward. We did the best we could in documenting the problem, sending photographs of rashes, blotches, and writing essays to describe pain and sleeplessness, rating joint disability on numerical scales. Eventually, the doctor did what he called a “push test,” told T. to stop eating red meat and do some yoga, and that she likely had fibromyalgia… and that he couldn’t help with that, as there was no real cure.
D, who attended the visits, was incensed. T was…bemused, especially since she’s been a vegetarian since she cut teeth. This has been an expensive, frustrating exercise, but it has taught us something… We’re just not sure what yet. While working on being grateful for the experience, we’re mostly focusing on the discovery of all the things we now know this autoimmune thingy is …not.
It’s like Formula 409, right? Nobody remembers the 408 things that didn’t work. Something will break with this, and that will indeed be something to celebrate. Meanwhile, T’s focusing as hard as she can on gratitude. She is deeply grateful for all the friends who keep in touch, we are both grateful for the fantastic rain, and the opportunities outdoors in the cold, for the days when work is interesting, and T, for days her body feels good enough to take a walk. (As not necessarily one of nature’s natural bluebirds of happiness, T’s just trying not to turn into a permanent grump. It’s relatively simple to become self-pityingly Grinch-y with chronic illness.) Thank you, friends, who have asked when we were next going to “say something” on our blogs. We’re still here. We’ll be here…
Meanwhile, while we miss the garden from the last house with its multiple fruit trees and big songbird population, but D. is looking forward to the next few months of rebuilding a yard which has just had the lawns removed. The landlord indicated that he was in the process of putting in a bit of green and some xeriscape, which D. enthusiastically embraced. Already we’ve heard an owl at night, seen a striking little kestrel casually perched on the back fence, and met the neighborhood crows and a pair of nesting mockingbirds, not to mention the ten thousand dun-colored sparrows, black phoebe and hummingbirds fighting cutthroat battles for feeder space. T. continues to quietly hope that all the birds we’re inviting to the yard will tip the balance on the earwig population (eeeugh).
Hope springs eternal.
The “Burn It All Down” Rant
First off – before we get going – Happy Summer! ’tis the season for salads, as the world continues to be tucked-in-the-devil’s-armpit temperatures. This is a really great savory salad addition. Enjoy!
Now for the rant – no, not that one. This is a new one:
We don’t often talk about accommodation in our family. Our sister JC uses a wheelchair, and when she got her first chair, T’s father ripped up all the carpet in the downstairs of the house, and tiled it. The pantry is no longer a narrow closet under the stairs but a wide space next to the fridge, with sliding barn doors. Things are at varied heights, and our sister’s closet in her bedroom has been rebuilt lower. None of this is an out-of-the-box solution T’s parents bought at The Disabled Store (if there’s any such thing, it’s ridiculously, prohibitively, SUPER expensive – like her wheelchairs). They just figured out some things, and made them work. It’s an evolving process.
We have learned, living with our sister, that casual ableism – subtle discrimination in favor of able-bodied people – is A Thing, an insidious thing, that exists. At her private, Christian elementary school she was carried around like a piece of furniture – or, more realistically, like a fondly disregarded cat or a rag doll, even though she was a child too old to be carried – and honestly, how safe was it for the school to allow other children to carry her? When she was older, she had to go up long inclines to even get to the wheelchair ramp. Our church was recently updated and modernized – and still lacks some basic ADA accommodation, including a ramp to the platform. Wheelchair users aren’t expected to actually, you know, be among the people giving the sermons or prayers, apparently. The family noted this, and basically accepted it in silence… because, what could we do? We’d asked a few questions to a few people, and gotten chagrined or blank-faced non-answers. Disabled people weren’t in the plans, and the plans would go forward as they were… because casual ableism Is A Thing. (NB: Some people feel we should have made more noise earlier. Probably. It’s hard to overcome conditioning when you’re in the minority, though.)
We almost expect organizations to fail JC, because they do it so often. When she went to beauty school, they put off her enrollment for a solid month because they were
working on getting her a special cart at her height, a special chair for her clients, and specialized seating in her classroom basically panicking, honestly. She did get to go to Disneyland, and she got to go first on all the rides, which was A Really Good Experience, but even though they had time and means to prepare, she had to buy her own specialized equipment. Her beauty school sent people to wash her client’s hair for her… because they couldn’t figure out how to make the world work for a disabled stylist, regardless of what they promised when she enrolled.
Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2018 gave T more understanding and compassion about casual ableism than she’d previously had. When some days your hands don’t work to open jars in the kitchen, or carry heavy platters or a cast iron skillet… you have to make adjustments. When you can’t sit comfortably in every chair… you sit in your cushy chairs at home. You wear your mask everywhere, even though you hate it and would like to burn it with the heat of a thousand suns. You re-learn your life in a way that makes you hate yourself less for your shortcomings, you make allowances for the people who make assumptions, and who don’t understand… but you resent it with the heat of those same thousand suns, and those suns go nuclear over your baby sister.
So, when JC texted us six months ago, excited about attending her first concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater, we wished her eardrums luck, and didn’t think much of it… until she posted on Instagram that the venue was awful. “What happened?” asked. First, no one knew where the disabled parking lot was, and when they finally found it, they wouldn’t let her friends park there, even though they had a placard and a clear need. The parking lot was unpaved and difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. When they finally got in, finally found someone who knew where the ADA accommodating seats were, they discovered they had to go down a flight of eight stairs.
The woman on staff asked, “Can’t you walk down eight stairs?” and rolled her eyes when JC said she could not. And told her friends to “be quiet” when they protested this.
We aren’t the nice people in the family; that’s reserved for …somebody else, maybe T’s parents. What we’d like to do is focus the light of those thousand suns at the Shoreline with a giant magnifying glass… but we’re just offering advice as asked, and quietly seething and ranting on our blogs instead.
Some people just don’t get a break. They miss most of their senior year in high school because of surgery. They miss out on doing “normal” things with friends because they have to have friends whose cars are big enough for a wheelchair or who don’t mind breaking it down and putting it back together to get it in and out of a vehicle. They end up back on a kidney transplant list less than ten years after the first time. They’re in their twenties before they’re comfortable and confident enough to go to their first concert. It’s not fair, and while howling that into the stratosphere and a quarter won’t even get you a cup of coffee, we just had to say it out loud. With EVERYTHING ELSE horribly wrong in this country and this state and this world this week, this is icing-on-the-top of a bitter casual-ableism muffin of Not Fair, and we are going to do something about it.
Yeah, yeah, something without the sun and a magnifying glass. Probably.
x-posted@fiction, instead of lies
The World Has Stalled
Life has been basically the same for several years now. Yesterday I pulled pictures off of the phones & had to decide if I wanted those year-old pictures of flowers, etc.
And then this holiday, where I basically stopped work at Thanksgiving & haven’t really resumed yet: before the year-end, corporate budgets either run out or don’t have time for services; beginning of the year, they may not have finalized budgets for the new year. So, I did a bunch of singing, some working on chimes, and that’s about it, really. Ordinary things: walks, going to eyeglasses appointments. Oh – and learning how to program in Unity, which doesn’t really feel like programming.
We keep saying we’re going to take off for Scotland & The Netherlands, or maybe Spain. We keep saying that, but then I guess it’s about risk & Covid & planes. It’s not about cost, really. I mean, if we go for a month, this is at most what we’re looking at:
|Food:||(cheaper than in the US)|
It’s not a huge expense (and is inflated), but … I think that we just don’t feel safe, and are unwilling to risk. I think we need to get over that, though, because this is the new normal: hide, mask, test.
May you all find a way to add some passing of time to your lives. Some awareness that the world outside is indeed moving, that you’re part of that movement.
Once Upon A Time When We Were Social…
What? Needing to turn in a minimum thousand-word essay and opening the blog program instead instead isn’t normal? But, isn’t that the BEST TIME to blog???
How are you?
It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?
We had no idea that we had not, in fact, come through the initial impact of the pandemic with no consequences. (We don’t say “survived the pandemic” – it’s not over.) We are, in fact, natural-born Hobbits, and as such, we live like those mythical creatures. Hobbits are happiest at home. We potter around the garden. We fix enormous and impractical meals. We read a great many, many, many books, and do a great many crafts which include glitter, paint, a lot of muttering under our breath, the occasional swear, or a lot of cutting oil. Staying home 24/7? Avoiding people? That’s playing our song.
While one of us is merely introvert adjacent, the other of us is a full-time introvert who requires at least twenty-one business days to recover from any social outing. Pandemic isolation was supposed to be the crowning achievement of an introvert’s life.
Standing on the edges of a crowd, watching people enjoying themselves is filling the social well. Sitting at a table alone in a cafe, watching people enjoying themselves is filling the social well. Lurking in library stacks, watching mothers try to read while their offspring play around their feet is filling the social well. A meal at a restaurant, a concert, air travel, random conversations with strangers – all of these things with their attendant displeasures and delights give something to us. Normal life – with its reflected light from the sunshine of other people’s lives – fills the social well, and the lack of said all but drains us of our contentment, and worse, our creativity.
(Yeah. That essay. The coding. And the novel that’s due. The technical writing that has to be updated, the PR materials that need to be written. And… And… And…)
It was mostly unnoticeable – and overlapped with T’s autoimmune illness peaking, but the isolation was something which caused both of our brains to atrophy. We realized that we were… too quiet. We usually talk to each other constantly – interrupt each other, exchange ideas with the frenetic energy of sparks on electric wires. Some days we barely exchanged ten sentences between getting up and “pass the salt” at dinner. When we realized that “the worst” was over, and then… it wasn’t, the disappointment was more resignation – we knew this wouldn’t be tidy, but hope is a thing with invasive roots. Now that we know that we need… something to help fix our brains and fill our social wells, we’re in the process of rethinking how we can return to the world in a way that’s safe – considering our weekly outdoor church attendance (more for social interaction than spiritual edification just now) and a socially distanced return to our chamber group, and more activities outdoors, as T’s new meds seem to have pulled her back from brain fog and acute disability. As always, we’re a work in progress… And you?
How are you?
We used to throw tea parties, tasting plate parties and Wine & Cheese (or grape juice and cultured soy milk) parties with the Wees when they were quite small, as a means of introducing them to new foods or just hanging out with the good dishes, and our family in a meaningful way. The last one we had, Elf was eight. Since he’s just turned thirteen this year (!!!!), it’s been a minute. While we aren’t sure whether Elf and Little Man, who are far too cool for our company, would like to come, we’ve been planning a little Taste & See party for a while now. We thought we’d pre-taste one of the offerings, though, just to be on the safe side (and have since decided against having this as part of our taste test). It’s a product we’ve seen everywhere, even a smoked mushroom varietal at our local farmer’s market – vegan jerky.
Having not grown up gnawing on pieces of dried meat at all times, we didn’t at first see the point of this being veganized. But! People who hike and want to pack a quick source of energy swear by these, so we tried four easily available from the supermarket: Pleather in Black Pepper, Louisville Vegan Jerky in Maple Bacon, Gardein in Original, and Noble Jerky in Sweet BBQ.
Our first mistake was buying something called Pleather. Just… no. Both Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Dictionary of Language defines Pleather as a plastic, faux leather substitute, not foodstuff. Our second mistake was getting black-pepper flavored anything: another no. We expected the Louisville to be better, but the maple was sickly sweet, and the bacon flavor was an overdose of liquid smoke. Of the four taste-tested, those two were utterly unspeakable, as in, We Spat Out And Would Not Share With Dogs. The Gardein we thought would be at least okay, because we’ve used Gardein products before, and it was… meh. It’s too moist and has an odd texture. The Noble Jerky is also sweet, but …we immediately wanted to upend the entire bag into a pot of white beans. It’s the exact taste of Boston Baked Beans somehow! Not something you’d want to eat in large amounts without the beans, but …workable. We’re going to cook with both the edible ones and see if they can be redeemed. (We’re not going to try for “elevated,” that’s just asking for the moon.)
So, no winners there, really, but it made us happy to think about doing something as normal as trying weird food and making fun of it.
Small steps, friends. Small steps.
Is this thing on?
It has been an eternity since I’ve blogged anything. Life just seems to roll on, no real change, and here we are with me not having even bothered to pull any pictures from the phones. And did I use a real camera during this time? Nope. Life is kind of narrow right now.
Here’s what work looks like for me these days. Every client wants me to use their laptop, rather than giving me access through my own system. So, I’ve got a stack of laptops sitting here, which I shuffle around as needed. I’ve just purchased a keyboard/video/monitor switch, so once I go through the setup, I’ll at least have laptops with decent keyboard and monitor!
Do have a look at the latest batch of photos, on www.flickr.com/photos/wishiwerebaking . I’ve taken up a bit of metalworking, primarily making windchimes out of titanium, and there are a few chime photos up there. If you’re interested in something other than the most recent photos, www.flickr.com/photos/wishiwerebaking/collections organizes all of the albums into collections, so it’s possible to navigate. For example:
- Netherlands (10 albums)
- Castles (16 albums)
- England (2 albums)
- Italy (7 albums)
- Scotland (2 collections)
- Around and About (48 albums)
- Glasgow (47 albums)
- Traveling About
And on it goes from there, fairly organized. 39,153 photos.
I can’t tell you that I’ll be blogging more, especially now that email subscriptions are being disabled by FeedBurner. We’ll see how it goes.
Desperately Seeking Springtime
How are you, friends?
It’s been a minute…
So, 2021. So much has changed, but on a personal level, aside from losses of friends and acquaintances to aging and the robbery of this pandemic, change has largely been confined to the pictures on the calendar. The most surreal aspect of the last eleven months “Living La Vida Covid” has been the effect of days turning to amber, and we, like prehistoric insects, hang in suspended animation. What would we be doing, if we weren’t here? That question goes round and round. We certainly would resume plans for our trip to Europe, we’d certainly meet our friends in Victoria for that lovely Canadian getaway we were anticipating last March, we’d certainly go leaf-peeping, flower-appreciating, and to the beach, finding our way away from the crowds. As it stands, we’re really supposed to stay home, and barring that, only do “essential travel” within a hundred and twenty miles of our home address. It is been, for people who used to simply fill a picnic basket and get into the car for a good wander up the coat, a bit difficult. People talk about hitting a “Covid wall.” Yep, we’ve been close a couple of times…
T’s latest book in November was chosen to be a book club selection for Parnassus Books in Tennessee, a prominent independent bookstore which occasionally makes book presentations on Good Morning America, and PBS NewsHour. (After her book was discussed on NewsHour, T is much more fond of Tennessee now, despite never having been there.) Social distancing hasn’t stopped the juggernaut of publishing, however, so she signed a couple hundred book plates, affixed them to a couple hundred books, and turned right around to sign another contract. In December T was pleased to finally get an appointment with the ophthalmologist, and receive her contact lenses! She’d only been waiting since March…
Himself has continued to work for an expanding and contracting list of clients, who do fun things like requiring separate laptops (3 so far) so he can work on an HR approved machine for each company, and putting meetings on his calendar five minutes before they start, but unlike others, he’s still working, so despite the annoyance factor, we call it another win.T&D have continued a loose relationship with our chamber group, doing a tiny concert to be released on Valentine’s Day, but have mostly shifted to other hobbies which don’t require Zoom. D has continued to do more with metal work, and has machined himself a few metal working tools to use on his small lathe. With a new drill and sander, he is turning out beautifully anodized wind chimes, just for fun, and the garage is full of sawdust as he begins experimenting with wood. T, meanwhile, is missing the feel of physical books from the public library, but is grateful for used bookstore sales, the Little Free Library down the block, and reading for yet more awards so she can share yet more books.
As usual, California has received insufficient rain, and we regret the brevity of the chilly season, even as we are astounded over the bird bath freezing and the myriad freezing mornings. Cold makes cycling and walking something of a chore, and it’s too easy to get lazy during these times and take up baking like it’s an Olympic sport. As much as we dread another year of fires and horrible heat waves, we’re more than ready to battle allergies (already there, actually), gophers and weeds to get back into the garden. T’s favorite gift of the season remains the beginning of her seed and the seed companies have very helpfully sent along the usual enticing full-color catalogs. The annual Going Over Of The Expenses occurs right around tax time, and as the day approaches, T is very reluctant to look at how much she actually spent on plants and flowers this past eleven months, especially considering how many of them the gopher outright ate… no matter if one faithfully grows one’s own carrots, greens, onions and tomatoes, gardening is never going to be one of those things which is actually cost effective, sadly, but it does make us happy, even as we are screeching at the weird beetles and things that eat the lettuce. (Also note: we found what appear to be EARTHWORMS in the fountain. Since most worms DROWN in the lawn in the rain, we’re pretty sure they’re not earthworms, but how bizarre is that!? You learn something new every season, apparently.)
So, according to the Lunar Cycle, it’s the Year of the Ox… for whatever it’s worth. It’s never a bad time to celebrate stolid placidity, we suppose, especially not during a global pandemic when it takes stolid, placid stubbornness to carry on, so here’s to that – and here’s to you.
Still Life With Greedy Guests
How are you, friend?
Are you well?
Autumn is truly here – though it took the weather a minute to remember. It seems the whole “it gets cool, leaves fall, birds come and go,” seemed to be a problem, at first! But now that winter is taking crisp bites from autumn’s mellow apple sweetness, frost laces the neighbor’s roof each morning, and the long, slow sleep is coming upon the garden.
We harvested seventy pounds (!) of Fuji apples, and forty of Granny Smith, and harvested the carrots finally – even eating a few of them roasted for our mini-Thanksgiving. The beet we were counting on roasting – the others having succumbed to some nibbling wretch when they were still seedlings – is still only golf-ball sized despite all of our waiting. It seems the winter garden might fare better than the summer one ever did; the romaine is staging an unprecedented comeback, and the sage is sending up new shoots. The magnolia is blooming joyfully, despite no one being outside long enough to really enjoy the smothering sweetness, and the citrus trees – though struggling under some kind of fungal attack – are producing small grapefruit and tangerines like mad. Certain People have continued to hoard all of the persimmons, though no names will be mentioned in this missive. Ahem.
We have taken the minor risk of singing – fully masked and at three times the social distance – with a church in our area, filming for services well ahead of time for Advent and Christmastime. This has been a delight, even though singing in a mask, yes, even the beaky ones with the underwire boning in them to prevent you sucking wet fabric, is not easy! But, we’ve enjoyed it. Still, we’re mostly home, as you most likely are, so our most lovely and unexpected amusement has been the birds… Continues to be the birds… Always seems to be the birds. We’re turning into full-on bird nerds, just by virtue of being frequently near a window.
Earlier this summer, we were visited by a roving flock of some kind of budgie-sized parrots – we never got a good picture, or a good look. They squawked at us from the tree across the fence, raided the soft fruit, and were quickly gone. We enjoyed our regulars, of course, including the flock of four rock doves who’ve decided that they’re chickens (!), the trio of crows whose number has now grown to six regulars, and the myriad robins, phoebe, flycatchers and other tiny songbirds and warblers who are around, but we’ve also had a bright yellow oriole come for a week or so, which was also fun – and hard to photograph. But we were thrilled the other day to have an ear-full of cedar waxwings come by – and yes, “ear-full” or the slightly more obscure “museum” is the correct collective noun for this gregariously social bird. The “ear-full” comes from the fact that while they don’t have a song, cedar waxwings have several high pitched whistles that are… a lot noisy once they get going. They’re fruit-crazy, so us leaving the wormy apples on the trees along with keeping the fountain full of fresh water (while attempting to stay ahead of the little porkers scarfing down seeds like there’s no tomorrow) has meant we’ve had far more avian visitors – and the odd opossum – to the yard. Our greedy little neighbors are giving us an excuse to bundle up and stay outside for a bit.
It’s a mixed blessing that the autumn has been dry so far. We know that come late next summer, this will have been a terrible thing, as it highly increases fire danger, but right now, the cold, sunny weather allows us to be out and about a little bit. Despite positive vaccine news, we know logically that it’s still going to be a very long, very slow slog to get back into a world where we are free to come and go as we please, to hug friends and sing unmasked, and to treat a cold or ‘flu as nothing more than a mildly annoying inconvenience instead of a life-ending threat. For many who already struggle with chronic illness flaring up during the coldest months, the coming winter is a thing of dread. Here, we’re trying to think ahead to what will sustain us throughout the winter – things outside of our normal everyday. We don’t have a TV or media subscription, but are looking forward to watching a ton of old movies and weird stuff while we get back into handcrafts like knitting (maybe we can finally finish Book-Niece’s sweater, and since she’s now fifteen months old and no longer a newborn, it might even fit) and embroidery; we’re making more wind chimes and poking around the edges of doing lampworking (glasswork done with glass rods – with all of these handy mini-blowtorches, it was only a matter of time) and painting more.
More than finding new hobbies, though, we’re trying to be deliberate about how we think of and speak of and hope for the future. One of the prime, huge, glaring lessons of this pandemic has been learning what judgmental spirits we have collectively. We’re sure that you, too, have heard of the many people who have picked fights with strangers over how they choose to conduct themselves during this time. As a world, we are (hopefully?) learning that we must leave space for other people to make decisions that we don’t support.
It’s so hard to hear of people who are traveling and vacationing without commenting. Human beings seem to have a hard time disagreeing with the actions of others, and allowing them to be …just someone with whose actions we disagree. Some people feel it’s unacceptable not to let people know where we stand – after all, there’s a such thing as “right” and “wrong,” still. While that’s undeniably true, there is also no such thing as a no-risk activity during a global pandemic. No matter who we are, the shopping still has to get done, people still have to go to work, and even those staying home still have to venture out of the front door to pick up the mail. What I feel is manageable risk, vs. the risks that I consider foolhardy will be different from what you feel – and we all have had to learn to just “shut-up and wear beige”, as our friend Serena says. We’re only in control of ourselves, so many of us have learned through this time to simply step back out of the stream of conversation, and just do what we’re going to do, rather than letting other people’s conforming or nonconforming behavior define – or goad, or influence – our own. (Edited to add: This is not to say that we’re wafting around wholly non-judgmental, nor that we know what to say when people shrug and casually mention things like “herd immunity” and countenance the dying of hundreds of thousands more people, simply because they’re secure in their insurance coverage and don’t fear long-term disabilities and even less of a safety net than they’ve had in the past. That’s… harder to comprehend, but even there – everyone makes their own choices. Here’s hoping that the choices we make for ourselves are not ones which contribute to far-reaching negative results for others.) This difficult yet valuable understanding will hopefully go a long way toward shaping our post-pandemic selves, and maybe even shape how we talk to each other about politics.
(No? Too soon? Okay.)
We hope that as you’re spending days closer to home – or traveling as sensibly as you can – that you are finding a sense of proportion in reference to yourself and the world. It has helped us a lot to celebrate small joys and victories, to create small, achievable goals to meet, checking off of our lists the things we accomplish. Trying to find new traditions to explore and ways to be deliberate and conscious about sharing with others to encourage them helps as well.
It’s a weirdly ambiguous place to be in, creating history. We will remember these days in a number of ways – but I hope one of them is how we rallied, found joy in small things, encouraged one other, and survived. We can do this.
Be well. ♥
Nostalgia in a time of covid
We miss travel. No, that’s not right. We miss our friends. David is one of our David’s best friends & is in Glasgow. We last got to see David when we visited The Netherlands in 2018. We got to see both David and Laura & spend a few days with each.
We left Glasgow in June of 2012. We’ve been back a few times, but not since 2016. We desparately want to go back, to feel at home again in the filthy city, and see friends.
This is hardest simply because we cannot visit. It is not the travel. It’s the people.
Video conferencing just isn’t the same.