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.

Kinda Sad…

Naples Botanical Garden – Asian Garden

I’m kinda sad because we normally would be on the road today, probably getting close to our winter home in Florida. This is such a nice time to be there because most visitors haven’t arrived and the weather is delightful. I also miss my fell snow-bird friends although my neighbor, a year around resident, said no one is coming down yet. I sent an e-mail to our Canadian neighbors today because it is their thanksgivings. They won’t be going down until the travel ban is lifted and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

I also am eager to get back to the botanical garden to photograph the lush vegetation and exotic flowers. The benefit of not going this year is that we get to experience the brilliance of the northern fall transition from summer to winter. For some reason the trees are turning sooner this year than in the past 10 years. We are near peek here in southern Michigan.

Color view from my window

I’m hoping that the sunny days happen this week when I don’t have appointments so I can get out for some fall color drives down back roads at my dot on the map.

This post was kinda inspired by Becky’s “kind” squares.

Sometimes the Way Isn’t Clear

I decided to participate in Which Way Photo Challenge this week because I’ve been listening to people who have the experience to understand the mess our country is in (scientists and career public servants). I have been searching for those people who can give me hope that there is a way out of the climate crisis that is causing carnage around the world; the racial and ethnic inequality that has been the elephant in our history; the Covid-19 pandemic that about a third of the country, the third that is listening to our president, believes is no bid deal; and the upcoming election in a little less than a month that will determine the fate of our country and impact the world order. Is there a way out of this mess?

I listened to Joe Biden’s speech given at Gettysburg yesterday. For those of you in other parts of the world, Gettysburg is where a major battle in our Civil War took place, a war that was being fought to defeat the southern states that wanted to leave the union in order to maintain their slavery economy. The war being fought for the soul of our nation, and that was the message of Biden’s speech. I felt myself relaxing as I listened to him because he sounded very presidential, he talked about being the president for everyone – even those who don’t agree with his policies. He talked about wanting to hear everyone, and work with people on both sides of the isle in Congress. He talked about not having to think in either/or terms: We don’t have to destroy jobs to have clean energy – clean energy will create jobs under his policies. We don’t have to choose between law-and-order and racial justice – we can support our police forces while making the justice system and economy work for all people. It brings tears to my eyes to think of a time when people of color won’t have to teach their children how to be invisible so they don’t get shot or incarcerated. It brings tears of joy to my eyes to imagine Native reservations and Hispanic communities that are thriving economically so their people can be productive and live lives that are healthy and safe.

I am exhausted by the chaos created by this administration – the everyday defiance of common sense decency and integrity. It exhausts me to see our covid-infected president take off his mask before entering his residence where he could infect hundreds of career workers who serve him. I am livid that he tweeted that all Republicans should stop negotiations on another monetary aid bill that our families and small businesses need so desperately. I am exhausted by his lying and all the people who either believe him or don’t have the courage to call him out, who are afraid of him or think they can gain power and profit by allying themselves with him. This administration has exhausted me so much that I have a hard time keeping my faith that the other problems can be righted. Maybe that is their strategy.

But yesterday I did the most important thing that a citizen of a democracy can do – I voted. And this year, for the first time in my life (or at least in the past 30-40 years) I voted a straight ticket. Now all I have to do is hang on for the next month as we grope our way through the fog of pain, fear, despair, and anger along the road to a better way. We are a strong country and it is time for every person who cares about others as much as themselves to do what needs to be done. Make sure you vote for Joe Biden, even if you don’t agree with his policies. What you will be voting for is decency, honesty, and thoughtful/intelligent policies. And then pick a better candidate for the next election.