hoping, expecting, waiting

I sometimes say that I can tell that I’m an optimist because I’m so often disappointed.

Back in mid March, our governor announced that all schools in Massachusetts would be closed for three weeks. Our district had already announced a closure for two weeks, and the additional week seemed prudent. Massachusetts was just starting to see a steep rise in Covid cases. A couple of weeks later, the governor announced that the statewide school closures were being extended to May 4th. Again, this seemed wise.

IMG_0080

As the weeks went by, statewide cases and deaths continued to rise alarmingly. It was clear that Massachusetts was being hit hard, climbing up to number 3 for confirmed cases in the US, and third also in terms of cases by population density. It seemed unlikely that schools would be reopening in May. With many states already having announced school closures for the rest of the year, I didn’t really expect that our schools would reopen. My head knew that things looked bad. The writing was on the wall, and my head could read it just fine.

And yet it turned out that there was, apparently, still a teeny, tiny barely perceptible fiber of hope embedded in my heart, as it were. Some part of me thought that maybe, just maybe, the kids could return to school by June for the last few weeks. Maybe they could have a brief reunion with friends and teachers. Maybe my eighth grade daughter could have at least some modified fragment of the send off from middle school before leaving for high school.

I really only realized that this hope had been there when it was announced, two weeks ago, that schools would not be reopening this school year.

I expected it. I really did. I just hoped for something different.

IMG_8536

It got me thinking, as I’ve done before, about the distinction between hope and expect. In Portuguese, the same verb, esperar, can mean either to hope or to expect. The two concepts share a root, grounded in thoughts of the future. And yet one branches out to mean what our head believes will happen, and the other what our heart wants to happen.

Interestingly, esperar also means to wait. And now the days pass into weeks into months, and we must wait to know what to expect. We wait for testing to become more widely available. We wait for a vaccine to be discovered.  We wait, expectantly, hopefully, for signs that we have turned the corner.

Espero. I hope. Espero. I expect. Espero. I wait.

IMG_0519

I’m including photos of early spring leaf buds from my recent walks. I find buds to be so hopeful, with their potential bundled up and gradually unfurling. 

grieving the big, small and in between

IMG_0228

My family has been fortunate so far in these stressful times. We have a comfortable home and abundant amenities, and live in a place where we can enjoy being outside. We are able to both stay home and keep working at our jobs, and the kids have access to at least some version of schooling. We are healthy and safe. I am grateful every day for our good fortune.

But there has still been loss, of things big and small.

Today was to have been a day for celebrating the life of my aunt, one of my late father’s siblings, who passed away in early March. My family in the midwest had barely scheduled the memorial when it was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. My aunt was in her 90s, and her life was full and long. But I still grieve her loss, and the loss of the connection with my father’s family.

IMG_0217

Life being complicated, today would also have been an important chorus concert for my daughter, one that she had auditioned for in early February. Of course, I could not have attended both the concert and the memorial for my aunt. I barely had time to agonize over this before the complications compounded, and effectively made my own decisions easier.

These are only two of the disrupted plans in my life and household. March and April had plenty more. Many I let go with a shrug. A few I was happy to relinquish. A few others, though, have taken a lot more processing. (And maybe a bit of packing them up to process later.)

I chose these photos to go with this post because I’m not sure I want to post photos of my aunt at this time. But looking back at the handful of photos I have of her from decades past, I noted that she was wearing yellow in two of them taken over 10 years apart. So the daffodils are for her. The daffodils have also been cheering me, and encouraging me with their resilience in the temperamental New England spring weather. The bounced back remarkably well after a snow storm.

May showers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday was the first day of May. Somehow April both flew by and felt interminable. As usual, I struggle to find time to do all the things I’ve committed to doing, and haven’t carved out much time for the creative projects I’ve wanted to do. The days go by in a blur of meetings and cooking and work projects and reading the news and talking with family and friends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I still take photos many days, in particular when I’m out walking the dog. This afternoon after most of a day of rain, (and a bunch of meetings) the sun came out. I went outside to see if there was a rainbow. There was only a very faint rainbow above, but the yard was full of color and light. The late afternoon sun lit up the flowers and new leaves, and water drops sparkled everywhere.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took a few photos with my phone, but then decided to go inside to get my real camera. (It can be hard to get the iPhone to focus on a tiny drop of water or leaf.)

Somehow this feels like a good way to start the month. A bit of sharp focus in a blur of days.

 

 

wfh: Peep chaos edition

IMG_9930

I’ve been wanting to make a Peep diorama for years. I remember making a diorama (of the Peepless variety) for a 6th grade school project, and I really enjoyed the process. (Wish I photos of that–it was of a scene from a Nancy Drew book.) Anyhow, I may possibly not have made another diorama since then.

A few weeks ago, I decided this was the year. And I had the idea I wanted to go with. I may have told a few people that my biggest fear* was that someone would beat me to the punch with the idea. (*Not actually my biggest fear.) And I’ve been working on it here and there for about the 3 full weeks. (I ordered the Peeps on Amazon, since I wasn’t sure we’d be able to go out to get them.)

IMG_9494
It was really quite therapeutic to work on the little details. I made these bunny slippers one morning while everyone else was still sleeping.
IMG_9506
I made the portraits on the wall by photographing the “family” in front of a landscape painting.
IMG_9366
An early stage of the diorama. This box appeared to be an excellent size for a Peep desk.
IMG_9936
The coffee cup was one of the final details. I just made it this afternoon. You can sort of make out the cookies (made from felt) and the colored pencils (made from toothpicks.)
IMG_9939
The curtains are made from some old torn pajama pants. Rather fitting, I guess.
IMG_9940
I was also quite pleased with the armchair, which I made from cardboard, foam, and fabric from some long-departed corduroy pants.
IMG_9931
I couldn’t  quite capture the whole scene from one angle.
peep-layout-rectangle-01
Yes, I did walk around the house taking photos of peeps in different locations for the zoom meeting.
IMG_9937
I was rather inordinately pleased with my grocery bag, amazon box and laundry basket.

One of the things that also pleases me about this project is that is was almost entirely made from materials we had around the house. The only new items were the Peeps. There are a few items that were small toys, but most of the things I made from materials from our recycling and scrap fabric.

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.