Ceci n’est pas une peep.

trahison-des-confitures3

Ceci n’est pas une peep.

Or, perhaps, the Treachery of Marshmallows. (After Magritte’s Treachery of Images, in case you don’t recognize it.) ceci-nest-pas-une-peep

A few years ago I had a sudden inspiration to create this image, by posing a Peep on a piece of card stock, and writing with a brown Sharpie.  A few weeks ago (though it also feels like years), in a fit of stress-induced work avoidance, I decided to revive and revamp the design. I cleaned it up a bit to make it into an image I could put on a t-shirt in time for Peep season.

ceci-nest-pas-une-peep-teepublic

In case you need more surrealist t-shirts in your life, too, you can find it on TeePublic. (I ordered one for myself, and it came at least a week ago. But I haven’t washed it yet, and almost forgot about it. What with life taking on its own surreal quality.)

Puttin’ on the Pants

i-put-on-pants3-01Pants have been in the news again lately, but I’m sad to report that it’s more a lack of pants that is trending. With large percentages of the population staying home, pants have been down. Or at least the wearing and sales of pants.

I, for one, will not be party to this ongoing pantslessness. For a start, I still walk my dog every morning. So I get up and put on my pants. And, yes, I think I should get a ribbon for that.

Whether or not you yourself are currently wearing pants, we all deserve at least somewhat of a virtual pants party. Or in this case, a pants-themed musical extravaganza from the crooners of yore.

Put on your on your Blue Velvet Pants, and dial back your radios a few decades to enjoy these stylish pants standards by the Rat Pack and other mid-century songsters.

    • Puttin’ on the pants
You won’t see the well to do
Up and down Park Avenue
They’re staying home
Hardly getting out of bed
  • I left my pants in San Francisco
  • Under the Britches of Paris
  • La vie en pantalons
    • Strangers in the Pants
Strangers in the pants,
Exchanging glances
looking for romance,
What were the chances
    • Moonpants

Well, it’s a marvelous night for some moonpants
With the lycra surrounding your thighs
A fantabulous night to make no plans
‘Neath the cover of quarantine skies

  • I’ve got you under my pants
  • I Almost Lost My Pants
  • Ain’t That A Kick In The Pants
  • Smoke gets in your pants

This has been a Pants Radio production, and the product of a slightly unravelling psyche. For more pants music classics, check out: Saving all my pants for you, 80s pants party, and the magic of Santa’s pants.

—-
This post is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend, who should have been celebrating a birthday today. Among the many ways she enriched my life, she taught me to appreciate the humor in the word pants. She’s been gone over 10 years, but I still miss her. Rest in pants, sweet friend.

Totally Accurate March 2020 calendar

I know I’m not alone in feeling like this has been a long, looooong month.

TheInAndWithiner-March
“Experts say we may be as little as two days away from finally leaving the March Age. The next epoch is provisionally being called “April,” and is also expected to last 5-10 million years.” (From @OutAndAbouter)

Supposedly March has 31 days, but I’m pretty sure that can’t be right. So I decided to make a more accurate version of the March calendar than the one that’s hanging on my wall.

accruate-march-2020-calendar-01

You know what they say about March: in like a lion, out like a scene from Silence of the Lambs.

Historically, April has been one day shorter than March. All bets are off as to whether that will be the case this year.

adjusting to the new normal

It’s strange to realize that it was less than 2 weeks ago that the fallout from the Covid-19 really hit my state. I’d been watching it like storm clouds in the distance, but the storm was already here before we saw it.

clouds
Clouds over a parking lot a little over 2 weeks ago, when I was still casually running errands.
Yesterday, our governor announced that Massachusetts schools would not resume until at least early May, an extension of several weeks from the first statewide pronouncement. Many people (including me) are expecting that school likely won’t be back in session (at least physically) for the rest of the school year. Our school district, like many others, is working out a new system of remote learning. Both kids have been having assignments, and occasional virtual meetings with their teachers.
The kids and I started having our music lessons remotely this week. Both kids and I take violin lessons, both kids take piano lessons, and Phoebe started learning the guitar in the fall. I’m glad that our teachers are able to keep up their work.
These days I have even more (remote) meetings than ever, as I’m involved with multiple research and teaching projects. Plus I’ve started some volunteer work with a project to encourage green energy in my community. I’m busy with various commitments to each of the projects between meetings. I’ve been getting a bit more work done this week than last, but I continue to be distracted by the news. (I know I’m not alone.) Sometimes it feels odd to be pushing forward with projects when so much is uncertain about the coming months, but at the same time, it’s good to feel like work goes on.
I spend time talking with friends and family members every day, by phone, zoom or FaceTime. I’m having trouble finding time to check in with all the people I care about. (I owe responses to several texts, emails and at least one voice mail.)
I’m still walking the dog every day, and I’m grateful for the motivation to get up and get dressed early every morning. Plus I get to see the neighborhood. The dog is a bit uncertain about having the whole family home all day every day. His previous routine of napping on the couch for 5 hours after the walk is often disrupted by others using the couch. He’s a dog who shows his love through enthusiastic greetings, but he also likes to have his space. He’s definitely not a snuggler.
doggo-lair
The dog in one of his alternate lairs when his favorite spot on the couch is occupied.
I drove for the first time yesterday in almost two weeks, to pick up a share of produce I got through at CSA. (Someone I know arranged for  a farm to deliver shares to her home in a neighboring town. We were able to get fresh produce and avoid being in a store, or within 6 feet of any other people.) I asked the kids if they wanted to come with me, even though they’d stay in the car. They both joined me, and it felt like a fun excursion. It’s so odd to think that my previous life involved me driving almost every day.
carrots
Carrots from the CSA farm share. Purple on the outside,  and surprisingly yellow/orange on the inside.
I have so many ideas for posts as well as creative projects I want to do, but the hours seem to evaporate most days. So instead of getting creative here, I’m just documenting. Because I know that this new normal is likely to change again.
And speaking of normal, my temperature has managed to stay basically normal the last couple of days. The low-grade fever went on so long that I was having doubts that the thermometer was working.
sunny-day
View from an afternoon walk.

sobering times

There’s no doubt about it, these days are stressful. People the world over are dealing with new stresses, big stresses, and unprecedented stresses. But they are also still dealing with old stresses, minor stresses, and daily ongoing stresses. The emergence of a big global crisis didn’t make the other problems go away. Indeed, in many ways it has magnified them.

waterglass3

I have been very, very careful the last couple of weeks to take care of my health. Whether or not I have the dreaded covid-19 or just some other unusual virus, this is not a good time to be sick*. So I have been working my hardest to do everything I can think of to keep myself from getting sicker. I’ve made an effort to eat fresh produce and other healthy foods, and limit my sugar intake. I’ve made sure to do a moderate amount of physical activity every day, without pushing myself too hard. I’ve kept myself well-hydrated, mixing up and chugging an electrolyte drink at least a couple of times a day. I have limited my caffeine intake. I have made sure to be well-rested. And I have not allowed myself to have any alcohol.

waterglass1

I’m not a regular drinker. I am an occasional social drinker. (Some years or months have more such occasions than others.) I am such a lightweight, I never have more than one drink. But every once in a while, such as after a particularly stressful week, I have allowed myself to unwind at home with a beer or a glass of wine.

In these stressful past couple of weeks, watching the news unfold in increasingly alarming ways, I have thought it would be nice to just sit back with a bit of wine to decompress. But I have resisted. And in that resistance, I have felt for those who are also choosing not to drink for their own personal reasons.

waterglass2

I know that there are many people out there who are in recovery, and for whom this must be an exceedingly difficult time. If this applies to you, I see you. I wish you continued courage and strength. I raise my water glass to you!

For everyone out there, please take special care of your physical health, but also your mental health. Be kind to yourself.

—-
*By the way, my low-grade fever, fatigue and chills are almost completely gone now, and I’m coughing only occasionally. I felt more like myself today.**
**Also, even though this is apparently a serious post, I still apparently can’t resist the urge to use a pun. This is part of feeling like myself. My self likes puns.

chilling at home

My life has been a blur the last few days. Busy and surreal. Plus my head has been a little foggy.

white-crocus-snow

I came down with a low-grade fever Thursday night, and a mild cough, and the almost-but-not-quite-fever has continued to linger. I can’t know whether my symptoms are a mild version of the dreaded coronavirus or something else, because I don’t meet the criteria for testing in this area. (My symptoms aren’t severe, I didn’t recently travel internationally, and I don’t know of a direct contact with someone with the virus. Never mind the fact that in the week preceding the start of my symptoms, I’d ridden public transportation in Boston, where lots of cases have been emerging following the Biogen conference, and that I’d attended two large events with over a hundred people each.)

In any case, we have been taking the social distancing seriously. We kept both kids home on Friday, and were relieved when the district closed schools for the upcoming two weeks. (And further relieved when the governor closed all Massachusetts public schools for 3 weeks.)

purple-crocus-snow

Because I primarily work from home, my own daytime schedule hasn’t dramatically changed with the new guidelines. Except that there are more people around. But that’s only part of why I’ve had trouble focusing on work. (I know I’m not alone.) I can’t look away from what’s going on in other parts of the world, and I can’t stop thinking about what we are likely to be faced with in this country in the coming weeks and months. It feels like I am watching a slow motion train wreck that’s about to happen, knowing that I can’t stop it.

But I know that at least my family and I are doing our small part to keep others safe. We are staying away from people. I have only left the house to walk the dog, or to go into the woods behind our house with the kids, and we have steered clear of other people. I walked the dog early yesterday, because it’s easier to avoid the neighbors and their dogs. And we got to enjoy this last bit of winter snow before it melted.

hyacinth-snow

John has ventured out a little further. First, to deliver some medications to his mother’s assisted living before they locked down the building to outside visitors, and for some shopping. (One trip was to try to get me Tylenol, since it turns out we don’t have any, aside from a small expired bottle of chewable children’s Tylenol. But sadly, CVS didn’t have any either.) Other than the Tylenol, we’ve been in pretty good shape for supplies.

I had considered driving the kids somewhere to hike on a nearby trail, but I realized I shouldn’t drive until my fever is cleared. Even though it mostly hovers under 100 degrees, I’ve noticed that my judgement and reactions are a bit impaired when the temperature goes up. My temperature is trending back downward, and yesterday and today I’ve even been back down to normal from time-to-time. (And then back up again, but not usually as high.) The cough is improving, so that’s good. Mostly I just feel some chills tonight.

vines-snow

So far, we are mostly enjoying being at home together. The kids have had some school assignments, and done some independent projects. John and I have still had our various work commitments and remote meetings. But we’ve been enjoying having more time in the evenings due to the suddenly changed schedules. John’s not going to his mom’s every night, and we’re not driving the kids to various activities.

I’m hoping to be able to do some art or craft projects in the coming three weeks. And we have tons of puzzles and games I’d love to do, not to mention lots of books I want to read. But somehow, I’m mostly neither doing a lot of the fun things, nor getting the work done that I’ve committed to doing. I’m trying to go easy on myself, though, because even though I feel pretty good most of the time, I am definitely under the weather much of the time, too.

And there’s the whole experience of getting through this uncharted territory. I’ve spend way too much time reading on FB, and reading news articles. But I’ve also been focusing on spending quality time with the kids every day, making sure we are all eating some healthy food, and checking in with friends and family. (I still have many more friends and family members to check in on.)

shrubbery-snow

I didn’t think I was going to write all that, but there it is. Those were a *lot* of words. Now I should be either going to bed or looking at some data for a meeting I have in the morning. (Probably going to go to bed.)

(These are some photos I took yesterday morning, when we had a quick reminder that it’s still technically winter.)

 

bursts of cheer in a bleak landscape

yellow-crocus-bud

Things are looking pretty bleak these days. Just about all anyone can think about (including me) is the global coronavirus pandemic and the changes to our lives. I don’t really have a lot to say about that just now (or at least not that I have the energy for tonight). But I have realized that I want to make sure to include activities in my daily life that bring me joy.

purple-crocus

On that note, I decided to start blogging regularly again. Back when I was dealing with the social isolation of being a new parent in 2006, I started to blog. It helped me to connect with people outside my immediate circle. In the following several years, I got to know a lot of new people, many of whom I still consider dear friends.

yellow-crocus-in-sunPlus I had a lot of *fun* blogging. Some people who only know me in meatspace may not realize what a goofball I really am. This is how I like to react to stress: bad puns and general silliness. Also by sharing photos.

purple-yellow-crocus

Am I stressed now? You betcha. Who isn’t? At least my household is in pretty good shape for the next few weeks of social distancing. But unfortunately I’ve been a little sick for the last few days. (Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow. Or maybe not.)

white-crocus

In any case, I’ve been enjoying these bright little crocuses that we planted last fall. They are springing up in my yard. Cheerful little heralds of brighter days to come. (Some day.)