2020 vision revision

As of November 6th, there is a new mandate in Massachusetts requiring that masks be worn whenever people are out in public, even outdoors and when social distancing is possible. Previously, the state didn’t require masks for outdoor spaces where it was possible to keep 6 feet or more of distance. Up until the new requirement, whereas I wore a mask for any shopping or outdoor group events, I wasn’t wearing a mask while walking the dog. (I live in a pretty uncrowded area.)

In any case, with the new requirement, I’ve started wearing a mask while walking the dog. I have collected a few different styles of cloth masks, of varying degrees of comfort. The one I wore this morning is one that I like, style-wise, but I couldn’t get the nose-wire adjusted well enough. My glasses kept fogging up in the frosty morning air. After a number of unsuccessful adjustments as I headed down my street, I decided to just take off my glasses, and deal with a bit of blur. I put my glasses in my coat pocket, and we continued on our way. With my perfect 2020 hindsight, I realize now that this was a Bad Idea.

I didn’t really have too much trouble seeing. (It’s not like I need to read any road signs while walking the dog). However, further along in our walk, I saw another person and dog in the distance. I couldn’t make out who it was, so I decided to put my glasses back on. This was when I discovered that my glasses were not in my pocket.

Much to my dog’s disappointment, I turned us around to head back, so that we could retrace our steps, all the while hoping that I hadn’t dropped them in the busy street we’d crossed. I looked carefully on the ground as we walked, hoping to find them somewhere, uncrushed.

There were two major challenges to this endeavor. 1) Much of the ground looked like this:

And 2) I was not wearing my glasses, so I couldn’t see the ground very clearly.

I rushed us back home to get an old pair of glasses so that I could better stand a chance of seeing my glasses. And then we walked again, retracing our steps once more. And then all the way home again. And I saw a lot, I mean A LOT, of leaves.

What I did not see was my glasses.

On the bright side, my glasses were over a year old, and it was time to replace them. And I have some old glasses that are close enough to my current prescription. However I still didn’t like losing them. And I knew it was going to bug me endlessly. I was almost at the point of hoping to find them crushed somewhere, just to have the resolution of it.

When the time came for the dog’s afternoon walk, I bundled up again, put on an older pair of glasses, and a mask that doesn’t tend to causes fogginess. And we went back once again, retracing the path of the morning walk again. And on our way back home, I carefully stepped along the side of the road, pushing through the leaves with my feet. (And shuddering at the crunch any time I stepped on an acorn.) But then amazingly, miraculously, I saw an unexpected vision: my glasses peeking out from the leaves. They were remarkably unmarked from their ordeal.

ensnared by the sparkle

I woke up really early this morning, and my plan was to walk the dog early and then do some work before other humans were up. I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until about 6:30, and then by the time I’d had my tea and was bundled up to head out into the frosty air to walk the dog, it was already 7:30. Still pretty early. I figured I could be home and settle down to work shortly after 8:00.

The sun was still low in the sky when the dog and I headed out, and everything was covered with either frost, or beaded water drops. There was some serious sparkling going on.

It turns out that I had also just gotten a new phone yesterday, and set it up last night. The camera is pretty amazing.

I kept stopping to take pictures, so that quick walk became not-so-quick. And then when we got home, I went back outside to take more pictures. Because the sparkle kept going. And my new phone kept capturing it.

So, a couple of hours and a few hundred photos later, I hadn’t actually sat down to work. But while I’m sill behind in my work, my mood was much improved by focusing on the beauty. (Literally and figuratively.)

I shared a few photos on my Instagram, but these are some different ones. If you want to see more of this morning’s sparkle, you can visit there. :) Also, I note that this is far from the first time I’ve been ensnared by a sparkly morning.

Finding beauty in damage

While I still appreciate the beauty of a perfectly shaped leaf in the flush of its early autumnal glow, my eye is also drawn to the more mature beauties of late fall. The mottling of age, the delicate lace patterns of holes, the map-like lines traced by the beginnings of decay.

Finally dealing with the beeping oven (more or less)

I’m feeling completely wiped out tonight, for no real reason. (Beyond the constant anxiety about the many alarming things going on in the world.) So I don’t feel much like being creative tonight. Instead, I’ll offer a rambling slice of boring adulting.

Because this is 2020, our oven stopped working. The stove top still functions, but the oven part will no longer turn on. To add insult to injury, it periodically emits loud, annoying beeps to alert us to the fact that it doesn’t work.

Our previously trusty oven, alerting us to the fact that it doesn’t work.

Because I dread dealing with things like this, and because dealing with it wasn’t actually urgent, I put off calling a repair person. After all, we have a variety of ways of cooking food. Not just the stove top, but also a microwave, a fairly large toaster oven, an air fryer, a rice cooker and a bread machine. (Also a solar oven, which is perhaps a post for another day. In any case, the solar oven only works while the sun is out, so it’s not exactly a substitute.) Anyhow, we have lots of ways of cooking food, so I was even coming around to the idea that we might not have a functional oven for Thanksgiving. We are a small family, unlikely to have guests this year, plus we are vegetarian and so don’t have the whole turkey issue to contend with. So I was already figuring on using our various other cooking methods to make the various traditional items. Our toaster oven is even big enough to bake one standard-sized pie.

And then I realized that one of our favorite Christmas traditions is to make gingerbread houses. And we are not kit-buying people. We like to each design our own structure. This involves quite a lot of baking. Not too feasible with a toaster oven that can only handle a 10-inch square pan.

So I finally called a repair person, and he came this morning and looked. And again, because it’s 2020, the part required to repair the oven is currently unavailable. It’s not clear when it will be available. And getting a whole new stove and oven would be not only quite expensive, but possibly also very slow. (Because there have been lots of supply chain issues relating to appliances.)

So, I decided we needed yet another small cooking appliance. We got ourselves a counter-top convection oven. It looks a little like a toaster oven on steroids, and it takes up a lot of counter space, but it should work for baking gingerbread houses. (Admittedly, that will still be a very slow process, but we’ll deal with it.)

Our new convection oven, looking impossibly clean.

p.s. from November 13th: I apologize for backdating this post–I finished it last night and hit “publish” right before taking a phone call, and was too tired to notice that it didn’t actually post.

A few fallen leaves

The thing about deciding to post every day is that it means that every day, you are faced with the reality of posting something. Even when you are tired. In keeping with my grand tradition, I am sharing some photos. And seeing as it’s fall, the photos are of leaves.

I do love the fall, and seeing the spectacular show put on by the foliage. Even after they’ve fallen, a lot of leaves still catch my eye.

Holding onto the hopefulness

A button with the text "Liberty and Justice for All," with the word ALL shown in the stripes of the transgender flag.
Liberty & Justice for All.

Saturday was a day full of joy for me. I felt such a wave of relief at the announcement of the Biden/Harris victory that my stress just evaporated (at least for a day). I was deeply moved by the speeches of both Kamala Harris and Joe Biden Saturday night. While I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of Kamala Harris, I will be the first to admit that Joe Biden was not my first choice candidate for president. I won’t go into the reasons why right now, because I want to focus on the good, and the potential for good. One thing that really stood out to me in Joe Biden’s speech was this bit:

“I am proud of the coalition we put together, the broadest and most diverse in history. Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  Progressives, moderates and conservatives. Young and old. Urban, suburban and rural. Gay, straight, transgender. White. Latino. Asian. Native American.”

He specifically acknowledged both gay and transgender people. This positive message of inclusion of affirmation of the LGBTQ+ community is not only in stark contrast to the attitudes of the current administration, it is also a historic moment in and of itself: “Biden’s explicit reference to transgender people marked the first time in U.S. history a president-elect referenced them in a victory speech.” (Source)

This brings me so much hope for my transgender friends and loved ones (and for total strangers) living in this country. You are seen and valued by the person just elected to the highest office of this land. And while there is still so much more work to do for full LGBTQ+ inclusion, acceptance and equality under the law, this is a step in the right direction.

Shifting perspective: 4 photos

Getting up in the leaves. I love taking photos of light coming through leaves.
We have some Japanese maples in our yard that tend to turn a vibrant bright red in the fall.
This year an early snow may have led to most of the leaves turning brown, with only a few patches of bright red.
It amuses me that these are the same trees as in the bright leafy photos above, just from a different perspective. (The top 2 photos above were taken in the cluster of red in the lower left of this photo.)

Sending out thanks

I’m still feeling the joy of yesterday’s declaration of the Biden-Harris win. I love seeing the term “joyscrolling,” as people read about the excitement over this historic moment. I am feeling deeply thankful. I am sending out my thanks to the universe, but also to the people who worked tirelessly to combat voter suppression, and to make sure that more voices are heard in our democracy. And to many others who made this election and its results happen.

I’m also working on more directly thanking the group of people I connected with on my postcard and letter writing projects. I’m historically Very Bad at sending mail, especially thank you notes. (But also things like letters, emails, and even birth announcements¹. I usually send one Christmas card each year to one uncle, but rarely manage more than that.) So relatives of mine who have noticed my Postal Deficiency Disorder may be surprised to know that I personally mailed out over 600 pieces of mail to voters, and organized several thousand more. And they might be even more shocked that I am planning to send out handwritten thank you notes (or at least postcards) to the 50+ people who helped me with this project. I have finished writing 46 of them, and have only 9 to go.

So, I don’t have a lot of time to write tonight, because I need to write tonight. (Though now I’m realizing that I did just spend a fair amount of time writing this post explaining why I didn’t have time to write a post.)

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¹ Let it be known that I only ever sent off one (yes, count them: one) birth announcement when Theo was born. And it was somewhat by mistake, because I had meant to wait to send that one until the rest (or at least some others) were finished. However, John saw the stamped and addressed envelope ready to go and helpfully mailed it. And then who knows what happened to interrupt the writing and sending of the rest of the pile. Here it is, over 12 years later, and I probably still have relatives who don’t know I have a second child.

Doing a happy dance

This morning the news broke that the presidential election was called for Biden. While votes are still being tallied, it looks like the Biden/Harris campaign has surpassed the needed 270 electoral votes. (Thank you, Pennsylvania!) The rest of my day has been a whirl of emotions. I’ve cried some tears of joy and relief, talked and texted with friends and family, and spent a good hour and a half dancing around my house. (Bonus: this was a pretty solid cardio workout.)

I know there’s still a lot of work to be done. The pandemic is still raging, and this country is more divided than ever. But for today and tonight, I’m going to drink in the joy and relief. (I also drank in a bit of sparkling wine that I had in the fridge.)