Saturday, August 29, 2020

On to September

Jonathon came home from the UK on 10 June and started teleworking on 15 June, he's been keeping himself busy while social distancing and earning the monies, while Ian enjoyed his decompressing homeleave time. A couple weeks ago Ian started working again, and goes into the office a couple times a week with me.  We scooter in on those days with our brand new electric commuter scooters.  It takes roughly 25 minutes from door to desk. The pandemic continues though, and while we're getting out more on our scooters it's a good thing we enjoy spending time at home. With the hot and muggy summer days it's not hard at all to sit in the A/C and watch a lot of TV and movies.

On that note...
We've watched: The Third Man,  Midsommar, My Inconvenient Truth, Chinatown, Apocalypse Now, Alien, 13th, Jaws, Apocalypse Now, RoboCop, Shutter Island, Inception, Bonnie and Clyde, The Hospital, Dog Day Afternoon, the doc The Jinx, a doc on Galaxy Quest. Some of those were rewatches.

TV shows have been a little less diverse.  I convinced him to try "Castle Rock," a series that works in season 1 until the very last episode, but we'll still try out season 2 at some point. "Ramy" was OK, Ian enjoyed it more than I did. "Picard" was really good.  A totally different feel to other Star Trek series, but definitely the right creative move.  

There's been a lot of 90-Day Fiancee, coupled with 90-Day: The Other Way and 90-Day: Happily Ever After?  I definitely need a break from all that "reality" TV. We do recommend "Travel Man" with Richard Ayoade, "Upload," "Modern Love," and the new "Unsolved Mysteries." And of course, QI. At the times we need background, you can't go wrong with Dr. Who.

All in all, a lot of quiet downtime at home, amidst the continued bread baking and dinner making. In May, my last grandparent passed away and I've spent a bit of time on building what I can of our family lines. Some old photographs and documents have surfaced from my grandmother's items and I'm slowly creating a history - a superficial history, granted - for my kids. 

Animal Crossing and The Witcher books and walks to Starbucks take up the rest of my quiet time.

Katherine came down for a few days, Jonathon stayed with her for a few days, then Becca was here for about a month with Mokka.  Nicholas is still in Norway and we look forward to seeing him soon.

Take care of yourselves. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Not even 6 months in to the year.

It's been a week. Like opposite sound waves that cancel each other out, it's been a week of great highs and extreme lows. When you sit in the middle you're not sure what to listen for or what direction to turn.

What a week.  But what else should I expect from 2020.


My last grandparent died yesterday.  My favorite grandparent, my Babcia, who never had an unkind word to say to anyone, who loved her family above all else, who had nothing but smiles and food for everyone who knew her. She was steadfast and reliable and lived a life of challenge and loss and laughter and history.  She was easy to love and she will be so, so missed.


We've spent a lot of time watching the news. There are a lot of thoughts in my head, but they are mine and they have no place speaking over the words that those marching and protesting voice and what they live daily. Words are what I have and they are insufficient and have no purpose but to make me feel better. And this trauma is not about me.


Ian came home Wednesday night.  He's home, he's home for good. It's a wonderful thing.  It was a long 11 months, 11 months we hadn't planned on being apart, with about 7 weeks together in those 11 months, which sounds great, and was great, but still.... 11 months. But now he's home, and home is good. The sun is shining, the weather is gorgeous, we have some great food and each other and a cat.


The launch yesterday was a shining spectacle of ingenuity.  Kudos. We watched liftoff and then again today for the docking and hatch opening and it really is an accomplishment to be proud of. We've been watching "For All Mankind."


And the brightest moment yesterday, 5/30/20, was Rebecca's graduation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Summa cum laude with a BFA in Production Design... she has worked fiercely for her degree, cultivated relationships, earned recognition, and pushed through uncertainty and every challenge thrown at her. We all see what's ahead - more uncertainty, more challenge, more work. Her industry is exploring how it can reopen with new safety guidelines and she will process through it together with the rest, and we'll be there to assist as we can. We can't restart Amazon or Netflix or any part of the entertainment industry but we can help her with other things as needed. 


Several horrible things.


Several great things, and we need them, all of them. These huge things. And the small things, the tiny things, the minuscule things. The birds at the bird feeder, the puffy clouds, the hand holding, the Starbucks, the comfy couch, the clean water, the lack of rockets, the ability to stay safe at home. 

We are lucky and we are privileged, and we will not speak above the voices that need to be heard. We will use our votes and our funds to do what we can to amplify the voices that do matter.

Yesterday - 5/30/20: In the Foreign Service we don't say Goodbye

We say... See you soon.  Happy onward. Or Until we meet again. We are blessed by the people who cross our paths, enter our lives, become part of our family, some who make a huge impression on us by their goodness and kindness, who make us laugh and have wonderful stories to tell, and who we truly truly love.

In the Foreign Service there are no Farewells to those we love. In my life, there are no Farewells to those I love.

So to Babcia, our Babcia...

Until we meet again. I love you.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Happy Anniversary to my one and only


It was a beautiful day 24 years ago that I had the honor of marrying the guy...

who then traveled the world with me...

raised 4 awesome kids with me...

who makes me laugh...

and think...

and just love spending time with him...

This is the first time in 24 years we haven't spent our anniversary together, and hopefully it will be the last time we're apart.  When we were going to Baghdad together, I didn't even think about it.  When we ended up not going together, he scheduled his final R&R to coincide with our anniversary and Becca's graduation.  Then, well, the rest is history.  Today is the day and he's not here, and what choice do we have but to be OK with it all?  We video chatted.  I told him I loved him. And I miss him. But like all the things this past year, I do what I need to do, he does what he needs to do. Have there been moments of emotional frailty? On my side, I'll admit yes. Thank goodness for my kids, my job, my home - all sources of comfort and normalcy.

We make plans for when we do reunite again. Next week? June? I don't know.  

But it will happen and I'll be ready and waiting.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Time is flying at the same time it's not

Each week I make a pot of something that then feeds me a good chunk of the rest of the week, especially for work lunches. Usually it's something like chili, Panda Express orange chicken (but with tofu), or like last week's butter tofu (Indian butter chicken but instead of chicken... well tofu).  This week it's a vegan pad thai that is oh so good.

It's interesting to see what's sold out at the store each week.  This time it was sesame oil, but thankfully weeks ago I'd bought a bottle for a different recipe. Flour is still markedly absent from the shelves, I'm starting to wonder what's up with that because it's been at least 6 weeks and how is the distribution cycle not adjusting? My parents did curbside drop-off a 5lb bag they successfully nabbed at Aldi a couple weeks ago, so it's just curiousity on my part. Where is the flour?

I finished the blanket I was working on.  It's a continuous mitred square (fiber spider tutorial on YouTube)  that started with some skeins I was gifted at Christmas. It's a lap blanket and pretty heavy, good for winter time.

Of course finishing one project means I picked up another project - a cross-stitch I've been carrying around for at least a decade. Cross-stitches are hard for me so it'll take some time to complete.  My eyesight is changing and this Aida cloth has really small Xs, it's clearly only a daytime project.

I also have a project to make a vest for Jonathon.  I admit that I've put this particular project off because it's a) a piece of clothing in a b) new stitch.  It's scary and will take a lot of concentration so TV will only have to show something mindless, like The Office.

I'm still making masks for my co-workers. I've switched to a more duckbill pattern rather than pleated.  The nice thing with the pleated is that they'll fit any face shape or size.  The patterned ones fit my face but I have no idea how well they fit others.  I do like that they don't need bias tape at all.  A single ~45in shoelace threaded through the sides makes the whole thing snug.  I have not gone down the nose-clip rabbit hole, but I do ponder how easy it might be to retrofit the masks I've made. Afterall, the morning glass-fogging can be quite annoying.

Wish us luck that the upcoming travel our family needs will come to pass.  Ian made Jonathon a flight reservation to come home in 2 weeks.  His flight was canceled this morning.  Ian is supposed to come home in 10 days. No confirmation on that flight. Nicholas is supposed to deploy for training this coming week. Fingers crossed.

So guess I'll go get some coffee, do laundry, and clean the kitchen. Again.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Rainy Rainy April

So much rain, it's making everything grow and green up and stay cool.  Somewhere I saw that this was the coolest April in a while, so although I have a couple little chairs on my balcony with a little storage table and a place to have flowers, until this week it hasn't been warm enough to think about populating the plant shelves, much less consider sitting out for a morning coffee.  Last week there was a freeze warning, so no, there are not enough blankets or hot coffee for me to sit out in 40F on a weekend morning. This after a winter where NoVA had a single snow flurry.  Oh 2020, you're such a jokester... watch May hit the oven setting. These masks are going to get really uncomfortable. Insult to injury.

So anyway, when it is dry and warm I try to get outside for a bit to stretch my legs and get the lungs working in the fresh air more than what an open balcony door can offer.  Yesterday was one of those days, so as work ended around 2pm I made my way over to the green spaces near the office. When did I do this before?  Must have been last year sometime, right?  Oh no, it was March 19. While I do walk back and forth most week days to get about 30 minutes activity and fresh air, it's nice to wander aimlessly and yes, I took off my mask for a bit to breathe in the fresh cut grass and the scent of ponds and fountains - oh that smell. Crisp and clean and bright and, dare I say, hopeful. You know that whole feeling. It creeps in and says that life is good and we can be grateful for the little things like blue sky and a shaded path. Fuzzy little ducklings. Girls who are struggling but so strong. A son in a different country living his own life. A son who turned 20 last week and turns into a turtle. And a husband who is so very tired, but still safe.

My days are spent thinking of them, no matter what else I'm doing or not doing.

Masks are still on the machine, my assembly line is moving along slowly. I attempted a double-sided one but it just didn't sit right, so the rest will have an inner and an outer as normal. Currently I'm on the lookout for a good middle filter material so I don't have to chop up a sheet.

Bread baking continues each week. My parents did a drive-by and dropped off 5lb of all-purpose that hasn't been available in my grocery store for weeks. It was awesome. This week's loaf featured chia and flax seed baked in and I think I'm getting better at it, the whole bread thing.  But what I've also realized is the pot I use to bake in is just too big. I've ordered a small cast iron pot which will hopefully pop out a better shaped loaf.

I enjoy writing letters and sending cards so ordered some fun new paper products from Greymount. It's a small company that I was happy to support.

The two Starbucks near me are closed, but Bread and Water and Commonwealth Joe are still running.  I don't especially love the coffee from Bread and Water but their almond croissant is divine.  Commonwealth Joe makes better coffee and is a further walk, so perhaps my best option is to visit both on Saturday to work off that croissant. It's even better on lovely days that the ordering and waiting at B&W is all outdoors.


It's hard to fill a page these days, isn't it? Besides TV and crafting and home stuff and worrying about my family the stories are slowing to a trickle. That's my doing, I know, because watching SGN proves that there's so much more happening that I'm just not tapping into, and I know that I'll look back on these days and wonder why I didn't take advantage of the time and space available. That will part of the recovery from COVID-times too, not just the time warp but the frustrations from every angle - wanting to do too much, doing too little, not knowing what to do.

I've been lucky to get away without contemplating this for so many weeks thanks to having my job to go to. Filling a few hours at home here and there is far different than facing days on end with no rules or guidelines.

It's giving me a lot to ponder: what do I want to get out of this challenge? Or better phrased: do I want to get anything out of this challenge? After all, I didn't ask for it. None of us did. Yet here are. So I ask myself: what am I going to do with it?

I have no answers.

With that, I bid farewell to April. Bring on May. I won't ask "how bad can it possibly be?" because that is a road I don't think anyone wants to go down.

But if it brings my husband home safe and sound? Maybe? Yeah... bring on May. I'm waiting.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

More isolation-y isolation.

What are the people doing?

Sewing, baking, cooking, crocheting, cleaning, laundering, reading, writing, watching TV...

And I get to start doing more of it now that I'm on the schedule to work every other day.

This week has been about a first attempt at yeast doughnuts which I promptly burned in excessively hot oil. Am I going to eat them? Flour is hard to come by around this neighborhood, of course I'm going to eat them.

A loaf of homemade bread lasts me most of the week.  Last week's featured cheddar and garlic. This week's is flax and chia seed.

A new style of mask is on the machine. My husband reminded me that I've been carting around the material I'm using for 15 years, and while I'd love to make cute masks with Capitals or cat prints or something truly lovely, I have these materials with spiders and odd Escher-esque cubes and black and purple tiger stripes. I still can't fathom why I bought these particular materials when we were in West Africa, because, yes, there are clearly weird "WHY?" fabrics out there but also some gorgeous and amazing and wonderful fabrics I guess I just didn't buy. I blame my 15-year-younger self.

Reading is taking a break from the Witcher series and back to The Amber Spyglass.  I watched the first season of "His Dark Materials" which is nicely cast and produced. In other TV news, let's see.... "Unorthodox," the first 3 seasons of "The Good Place," the documentaries on Maurice Sendak and "Circus of Books," caught up on the Masked Singer and the Spring Baking Championship,.  I restarted "Jessica Jones" and lost interest once again half way through the first season. I tried "After Life" and it has potential but just not enough for now. And now I decided to plunge into "This is Us." Cause why not.  I've already finished the cry fest of "Call the Midwife."

In other news, I thought the cat died last night. When I went to bed he was coughing like he had a hair stuck in his throat. In the middle of the night I woke up and he was laying on his side next to me which he never does and I shook him and he didn't move. So yeah, thought he was dead. He wasn't, just dead asleep, and mildly irritated that I was shaking him in the dark of night and he finally woke up.

I guess it's a good thing about the April Showers.  It's been raining so much that it's not as hard to stay inside.

And so, today is a cleaning day. I've nested into my living room with material piles on one end, yarn in the middle, paper on the side. Dishes... around. Yeah. Time to pick up before going in to work tomorrow.