Now and Then

One month ago the tree in our side yard looked like this. A few leaves had fallen but there were still some leaves that were fading their green. This morning when I got up a little after 7:00 for our weekly run to the grocery I found…

And the tree in our side yard looks like this…

Between “then & now” seems like such a short time but so much has changed, at least outside of our home. Inside we continue to hunker down in place, not seeing other people and only going out for essential reasons.

I know I have the right to go out and do as I please – I have a right to be maskless, but I also know I can make choices. Because I have a choice I have control over so much more of what happens in my life than relying just on fate. Making choices involves thinking about the options, reading and listening to experts so I know what the potential consequences are of each option, and thinking about the consequences for the people I love most and for society at large. I also know that situations change and I can reconsider my choices as I receive new information.

I haven’t been listening to much of the political commentary on TV because of political and Covid fatigue but I did happen to click on Rachael Maddow the other night to hear this segment on Rachael’s lockdown because of coming in contact with someone who was positive and her experience of caring for her infected wife who she is living apart from because of their exposure; and her experience of their fear that Susan was going to die. I love Jim and my children more than I can communicate. Thank you, Rachael, for putting my choices in those terms. Please listen to her honest and difficult description of her life right now and her plea to all of us.

The Lens-Artist Challenge for this week is “Now and Then.” It inspired me to spend a few minutes outside taking some photographs this morning, but also has me thinking about how life has changed between then and now. It also gives me hope that now won’t be forever – now will move into something different. I no longer think about Mondays or Thursdays or Sundays. Most important, wedged between all the yesterdays and next-days, are my todays. Today I am going to live my life with contentment and satisfaction. I will focus on picking up my yesterday socks from my reading room floor, make the bed, have another cup of coffee and a small dish of apple crisp, dry the clothes in the washing machine, work on sewn Christmas presents for friends and family, and make some stir fry for supper.

How will you choose to spend your today?

Love the Morning Light

The Lens-Artist Photo Challenge this past week has been focused on “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” from Anne. I’ve been slow to get my post together because of a busy week that include cataract surgery on my first eye. But I found time to go through my files for some of my favorite photos taken in the morning light while on photo shoots down dirt roads.

Some of my photos were taken in June – meaning that the time inprint on the photos of 5:45 am was accurate. The sun comes up early in Michigan at that time of year. The sun’s allure is pretty strong to get me up at 5:30 to catch those first rays of gold.

I had great fun watching some swans on a small inland lake doing their equivalent of our morning shower. Look for the feathers floating on the water as they preen.

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet, Mommy. I heard that a lot when the kids were young and didn’t possess a good concept of time and distance. Now I am saying it… are we there yet, are we near the end of the pandemic? I’m growing weary of not being able to do some of my favorite things especially now that colder weather in Michigan is making outdoor activities difficult for me. The cold makes my arthritis and fibromyalgia worse. I miss eating breakfast out and meeting friends for ice cream (outdoors). It is becoming more difficult to be with friends and family for outdoor picnics with restaurant take-outs. And I’m especially weary of constantly thinking about safety when I leave the house.

The pandemic is real and I understood that smart people should be afraid of the corona virus, not immobilizing fear but fear that is respectful of something that is very dangerous – potentially deadly. I have to be smart and vigilant to keep me and the people I love safe, and even keep the people I don’t know safe because it is the right thing to do. I remembered what Mr. Stott, my high school civic teacher taught us, “my rights end where your rights begin.” I understood what he was saying and it has been a guiding principle throughout my life.

I have learned how to be cautious and safe by wearing a mask in public, keeping social distance, avoiding public gatherings, avoiding close contact with others when indoors and keep it short, washing hands often, and being careful of objects that can carry the virus. I have found this exhausting and constantly being on guard or isolated is leading to pandemic fatigue. I need something more to get me through this pandemic that may be with us for another year, and according to some experts it won’t be the last pandemic.

A week ago I went into the hospital for a scan of my lower spine. In my discharge envelop was a card with information about managing pain without opioids put out by Michigan-OPEN.org. I learned all the tricks of managing pain without opioids as I was getting control of fibromyalgia, having knees replaced, and dealing with occasional back pain caused by post-menopausal bone loss. And I still use techniques I learned as I prepared for childbirth. I’ve got a whole bag full of tricks for dealing with physical pain but not as many for dealing with the emotional pain and frustration of pandemic fatigue.

A few days after my CT scan I read the card. On the back were instructions on how to use “positive daily reflection” as a way to manage pain and anxiety and I liked what I was reading. Every evening they suggest identifying those activities or things that brought joy to the day; write them down with brief comments about why they were important; fold the papers and put them in a jar to draw from when there are really difficult days. The joyful events are useful if remembered and contemplated so that we can recreate in our brains the positive feelings they elicited when first experienced. It basically is recording all those little happy places that we can return to when we aren’t so happy.

I don’t think I will find me a jar, instead I will record them in one of my many journal/notebooks stored in places around the house. And every few days I just might pick one to share and write about on my blog – and maybe you would like to join me in sharing your happy places. Maybe we can virtually invite people to do things with us to make up for those things we have loss because of the pandemic.

Not This Year’s Apples

10/13/2020 Pandemic Happy Place

A Trip to the Fruit Farm and Applesauce

We (including our daughter) had a big-time hankering for an apple cider doughnut from Flavor Fruit Farm, about 15 miles south of where we live. Really-big-hankering, like lets get in the car and go hankering. It was a beautiful drive down a winding country road with fall colors everywhere we looked. When Sharon and I went by last week-end the huge parking lot was completely full, to overflow. On this Tuesday the lot only had one car and a Dawn Foods semi delivering doughnut mix. As we were putting on our masks a man approached saying “We’re closed – on Monday and Tuesday.” No doughnut, no apples, no pictures of apples growing on trees. We were so disappointed we almost cried, we pouted, and went to another farm market on the way home. A market without doughnuts.

There we bought apples. I was immediately drawn to the tart Spy apple that makes the very best apple pie and Jonathan apples that are also somewhat tart and a very bright red. They are both old apples, the ones we picked a bushel of when we took the kids to apple orchards. Finding theses two apples, in crates sitting side-by-side took me straight to my happy place. On the way home we shared memories of going to the apple orchards 50 years ago and we laughed. We had that same feeling of comfort and joy knowing there were apples in the back of the car.

As soon as I got home I made four pints of apple sauce as a start of making a store for the winter. They were so beautiful when I pulled the pints from the boiling water bath. I was pure joy listening for the four pops telling me that all had sealed.

This post was prompted, in part, by this week’s Lens Artist Challenge: Communication. I am hoping that communicating my joy experiences will help me with my pandemic fatigue and that my communication will prompt you to communicate with us where you find your happy places.

Refractive Reflections of Its Kind

There were three or four of these mirrored sculptures on display in different places around the Naples Botanical Garden in Florida during the 2017-18 winter tourist season. There are different artists and sculptures each year and this was one of the most thought provoking, especially from a photographic perspective. The garden is subtropical so the backgrounds can be very busy; perfect for highlighting the impact of multi-faceted mirrors, but difficult when composing a photograph with the sculpture as the focal point. I used Lightroom to blur the background vegetation.

Response to Becky’s October Squares reflecting something kind or of its kind.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Symmetry

Symmetry

I’ve been going through old files looking for symmetry for this week’s photo challenge hosted by Patti. This is somewhat of a challenge because I tend to prefer asymmetry. Everything is a little off center and although balanced, there isn’t really symmetry. But I do have a healthy imagination so I began to see a “sense of symmetry” in most every photo I looked at – like the symmetry formed by centering this weight seen at low tide at a boat landing on Nova Scotia’s Digby Neck in Canada’s Maritime Provinces.

Or this sculpture of a fall leaf at the Hidden Lake Gardens (owned by Michigan State University) south of us here in Michigan, in the area known as the Irish Hills.

We took a ride through this wooded garden last Saturday but I forgot my camera – I know, how silly of me. The trees were just beginning to show color so this image from a couple of years ago is a great alternative to the symmetry of a real leaf.

My last example of symmetry is a photo from several years ago of morning glories blooming on my front porch railing. They are my favorite flower with their clear blue blossoms that look and feel like silk.

Yes, it is a bit of push to use this for symmetry but if you look hard you will see how the growth pattern is sort of a mirror image if you draw a line down the center of the middle growth.

The real reason I used this photo is that I have continued to plant morning glories in this space but haven’t had any blooms for the past two years. This year the plants grew so thick that they created a wall of green and every other day I had to cut off new vines that were threatening to take over my purple porch swing and grow across the entrance blocking delivery people from leaving my packages. But not a single blossom. I did some reading and realized that we had taken out three big shrubs that starved previous plants, and this year I wanted blooms so badly that I fertilized them. They thrive on neglect in poor soil. The perfect plant for me except in Covid years when I don’t have much to do but nurture the plants in my garden.

This has been so much fun that I just might keep looking through my photo files for other examples of almost symmetry. Thanks, Patti, for hosting this weeks challenge.