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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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*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.

bursts of cheer in a bleak landscape

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

Darling buds of December

The buds of May are many moons away, but I have been appreciating the promise held in the buds I see on the trees and shrubs now. I am especially drawn to their little budding forms when they are encased in ice and/or dusted in snow. buds7

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Most of these were taken on various morning walks with the dog this month. (The combination of morning light and post-ice-storm sparkle can be totally mesmerizing. I’ve been caught in its particular snares before.)

3 disconnected photos

Today was a largely mellow day involving continued cleaning up from yesterday’s dinner. I spent some time putting together some ingredients for rather elaborate (and decidedly silly) blog post that is still only half-baked. Since I don’t want to stay up too much later, I foraged through my photo collections for a few morsels I’d been saving. I came across this set. Well, that’s not exactly true. I came across a similar set of photos: 1) the three little tomatoes in a blue bowl, 2) the 6 red potatoes in a colander and 3) 2 photos of cranberries in a little white bowl. One had 3 cranberries, which went nicely with the 3 tomatoes. But since I took the potato picture last December, I couldn’t go back and only put in 3 potatoes. (And I didn’t think to take any new photos of potatoes as I was prepping them yesterday.) The other photo of cranberries in the bowl had 7 cranberries. And it bothered me that it gave me a set of 3, 6 and 7. So then I realized that I still had half a bag of fresh cranberries in the fridge, and a little while bowl sitting empty on the table. So, yes, I staged the 3rd photo to have the bowl contain 9 cranberries so I could have the photos contain 3, 6 and 9 oval-shaped red produce objects. A much more satisfying number sequence.

 

rather fond of moss

As the leaves have mostly faded, I’ve found my eyes pulled to other splashes of color. I’m not sure whether the moss is particularly bright this time of year, or whether it’s bright by contrast with the largely gray and brown landscape. In any case, I’ve appreciated the many little mossy installations I’ve encountered on my morning walks.

This scene is on a neighbor’s retaining wall. It looks to me rather like a garden wall in miniature. Or perhaps a distant cliff overgrown and overhung with lush greenery.cliff-garden-moss

I couldn’t quite capture the striking colors of the rock in the photo below. The rock surface itself is almost completely covered in pale minty green lichen. And the floofs of bright green moss practically glow.

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I find the little fuzzy shapes to be just *cute*. A friend suggested that this one looks a bit like a duckling.

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Then there’s this lush pillow of moss, also on the neighbor’s retaining wall. I took the photo just to capture the comfy softness of it, but then when I looked at it, I saw a sleeping dragon. (In case you don’t see it, I’ve added some visual aids here.)

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Having taken a number of moss photos in the last few days, I was reminded that some of the very first photos I took with my new phone (in February of last year) were of some moss on my street.  I think this one looks rather like an aerial view of a scrubby landscape.first-moss

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Some leaves just haven’t gotten the memo that it’s time to let go.

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These are the same trees I posted about 3 years ago. That year, the leaves turned bright red, before being tossed down like a red carpet overnight in a rain storm. This year, the leaves have been continuing to cling. Most are pretty shrivelled, some have lost most of their color. But in the angled morning light, I liked the way their mottled coloration looked like watercolor.

umbrellas saved for a rainy day

It’s been a rainy day, today.  I didn’t think to grab an umbrella when I was out during the day, but I dug up a few from my photo library back at home.

When you have the opportunity to travel and visit exciting locations, you generally hope for clear skies and moderate temperatures. But sometimes (especially in some parts of the world) you get rain. If you are lucky, other visitors will come equipped with colorful umbrellas to add splashes of color to liven the scene.

These were taken near(ish) and far (some very far), mostly quite a few years ago.

First are visitors to Brú na Bóinne in Ireland, the site of ancient burial mounds in 2014. (I was in Ireland for a conference in Dublin.)

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Tourists with umbrellas visiting Brú na Bóinne.

The next photo was taken in Kyoto, when I visited in 2004. The specific locale may have been Nijō Castle. This was back when I only had a pretty so-so point-and-shoot digital camera. I was happy with a lot of photos at the time, but now when I look back at them, I’m sad I wasn’t able to take better quality photos. (This one turned out okay, but a lot of the ones I otherwise like are pretty blurry and/or grainy.) (I was in Japan for  a conference in Nara.)

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Tourists with umbrellas in Kyoto,

This next one was in London in 2015, on the Millennium Bridge. (I was in the UK for a conference in Glasgow. Magically, it didn’t rain at all for the nearly 2 weeks we were in Scotland. We visited London for 2 days, and it rained both of them.)

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Tourists with umbrellas in London.

This is another one from my trip to Ireland in 2014. I believe this was in the garden of Malahide Castle.

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Visitors with umbrellas at Malahide, Ireland.

Next we a visit to Plimoth Plantation (in Plymouth, Massachusetts) in 2014. (I was in Massachusetts because I live here. And visiting Plimoth Plantation for my daughter’s school project.)

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Visitors with umbrellas at Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts.

And finally, a couple of photos from Versailles, France in 2007. (I had a conference in Saarbrucken, Germany, and visited Paris afterward.)

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Tourists with umbrellas at Versailles

This is possibly my favorite of the umbrella photos, because it appears to tell a story.

 

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Woman pursued by group of umbrella-weilding tourists at Versailles.