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.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

This week was not to be outdone by last week...

So April 5 was about 42 days ago, right?

Cause since then, let's see.... well, let's just go with the stress is kicking in and everyone is dealing differently. This sense of losing control is just not good for the brain or the body.

But wait.. then... THEN... the pets decide to get in on it.

Tandoori is fine.  Tandoori is always fine.  It's the evil inside him, nothing will ever take him down until one day he just doesn't wake up.  He's 13 and going strong.  Never been sick a day in his life. Evil cat.

No, it's Mokka who decided this would be a good week to eat chocolate. Again. Stupid dog.  But she was originally a street dog and who knows what she ate then, right? Garbage didn't kill her, what's a little chocolate.  The last times Becca took her to the vet and this time she let it ride, and while Mokka probably had a bit of an upset tummy, today she is rightfully embarrassed at her own stupidity. Will she avoid chocolate in the future? Probably not.  But there's a good chance she won't get too sick from it. Anyway, this time it worked out. 

Then today, it's Shawarma.  Send some good thoughts his way, he's spending a couple days at the emergency vet with a bladder issue. Katherine picked up on his unusual behavior and didn't hesitate to bring him in. The vet did some initial tests and then, due to limited staff and hours as a result of COVID 19, sent them to the emergency vet where he will be monitored round-the-clock for the next 36-48 hours with a catheter and IV to flush him.


We do what we can day to day, which is very little. And that is so hard in it's own way.

with ties
with elastic

I was working on masks. I have 2 for me for work and started on more since I have so much fabric but turns out you need other stuff too, like thread, of which I am basically out. I had enough elastic to make 4 masks, but to make ties, or sew anything together, I need thread... Wait, I do have black thread, so if I cut out masks from some dark purple material instead of the orange, I can use the black.  Well... that problem solved.  Know what I'm doing this weekend.

And so, completely unrelated, it looks pretty certain that Ian won't be home in May.  While it's what I expected and told myself I'm OK with, I admit that right at this moment, I'm really sad.

Deep breathes everyone.  We're smack in the middle right now.  I don't know how long the middle will last, but we're there.  It will get better.  Do something kind for yourself. You deserve it.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

We've made it to April 5

Is that a milestone of some sort? No.  It's just April 5. It's been 2 1/2 weeks since my last post and, as per the usual in 2020, the past 2 1/2 weeks have felt like 2 1/2 years.  I feel like my little jaunt through DC to get some air and exercise after work was eons ago.  Simply eons.

Time is moving in a weird fashion, we all feel it.  Days blend together, sleep is disturbed, we're all baking and cooking up a storm in the kitchen and pulling out sewing machines that need to be dusted off. We spend a lot of time talking to family and friends on-line and even more time contemplating what our society will look like when we come out of this on the other side. What will change, what will revert back to the "norm." Will we recover. Will we be kinder. Will we recognize the import and value of every worker. Will we never shake another hand again. Will we all just melt into puddles when we give our loved ones big fat hugs.

I'm doing what I can to fill my time, starting with going to work every day.  Yup, still happening.  It's a whole thing, but suffice to say that even as the goalposts keep moving as far as daily work, I'm grateful I do go in because I get to interact with my coworkers and it gives my days a shape which I know so many are lacking.

At home I'm cooking everything I can from scratch.  Bread, olive bread, banana bread, banana bread pudding, corn bread, chili, orange tofu, vegetable curry, vegan bolognese...

My sewing machine is slowly churning out face masks for my ride in to work on the Metro. It would have helped if I'd planned and had everything I needed beyond material. I've finished 6 and now waiting for boot laces and thread to finish the next 10. No, they aren't all for me, I'll bring in the ones I've finished for my co-workers if they want them.

So here's an update for the rest of the family.

Jonathon is still at school in his dorm, still on spring break for another week. It'll be interesting to see how many kids actually return to campus as spring break is a month long and all resuming classes will be online. There's a store still open on campus for foodstuffs and the walkable TESCO is still open, but the latest news is that the health unit on campus is closing tomorrow. So that's... awesome.

Nicholas is still at Camp LeJeune and his deployment is still either postponed or canceled. I get the distinct feeling that Marines feel they are invincible, and yes, that includes mine. It is, bluntly, infuriating. I wish he could come home for a bit, but aside from the big NO in that, he's limited to being within a certain distance from base. He'll turn 20 on the 20th, so send him a virtual hug and maybe a box of Krispy Kremes.

Rebecca has started her final quarter of university with her classes all online and heading towards her non-graduation graduation. She is still working at Home Depot. HD is considered an essential business, and it definitely keeps her busy. Savannah is under a pretty strict home-stay rule so she drives around with what's basically a "permission slip" to be out and about.

Katherine got sick around 12 March, went to the ER on 16 March, stayed there most of the day in isolation being tested for everything and then was tossed in the MRI to check her lungs. Yeah, she was sick - coughing and a sense of breathing underwater. They said she had RSV and sent her on her way home with some prescriptions. I don't think she was fully aware of the variety of tests that had been run, she was sick and alone at the hospital after all (sometimes it sucks not having a car AND being told to stay away from people, especially sick people - but man, when you're kid says she's not sure she's well enough to drive herself but it's the only option....ugh). We learned on 25 March through an email that yes, she had been tested for COVID19 with a brain-scraping nasal swab and she was Positive, with guidance on self-care.  While we're aaaaaalmost to a rapid test now, 3 weeks ago (heck, this past week) test results took 5-10 days. I just wish she'd been told very clearly what and when she'd hear.  Again, she was really sick and alone and they may have said something she missed - it's possible, but frustrating all those days of not knowing. Thankfully she is getting better, and that's all that matters now. Looking back, it's been nearly a month since she fell ill and I'm so thankful that the ER treated her for RSV because it gave her a much better chance to beat this coronavirus without a hospital stay.  Honestly, it's amazing how close she is in MD and yet how far away she feels.

Ian is still in Baghdad and plainly, exhausted. He has expectations he'll be home for R&R in May.  I think I'm more realistic with him missing his R&R and coming home permanently at the end of his tour or thereabouts.  I'd say it's "only 12 1/2 weeks" or "only 3 months" but if you'll refer to this post and the prior post, 3 months will last roughly 4.28 years and that's a long time both in just TIME but also for lots of things to go wrong.  That sounds fatalistic, doesn't it.  I don't mean it that way, but come on... look at 2020 so far and tell me that's not just accepting it for what it is.  I've thought the past few years were dumpster fires but 2020 has just made it personal on so many levels.

That's where we are. Dealing as best we can with what we're dealt. I'd say we're safe, but we aren't all safe.  I'd say we're healthy, but we aren't all healthy.  I'd say we're happy, but that seems to change by the hour.

What we do have is roofs and food and even as we're distant, we have each other. I'll just cling to that.