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.)

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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.

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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.)

work in progress

The last few weeks have been packed with activity. (Personal. Professional. Political.) I’ve been pulled in lots of directions with a variety of projects, and a few things haven’t quite gotten finished.

When my mother visited for Thanksgiving, one of our planned activities was to make gingerbread houses. We are not ones to buy a kit with a pre-baked house. We make the dough from scratch, and each design our house. (Or structure, which is not necessarily a house. Last year I made my town’s Town Hall building. This year my mother made a Japanese gate.) In any case, the way we do things, it’s a multi-day process.

gingerbread1-ingredientsHere we put together the ingredients for the dough. My photo library tells me this was November 30th. I then mixed each batch up to let it chill overnight. (Possibly a few overnights.)

gingerbread2-modelWe all designed prototypes for our structures using cardboard. I used a stack of leftover political mailers.

gingerbread3-cutThe cardboard/cardstock cutouts then served as the stencil for cutting out the baked dough.

gingerbread4-hardeningThe cut pieces then needed to dry out some more before assembly. They smelled amazing, but the particular gluten-free blend of flours I used was a bit fragile and persnickety.

gingerbread5-part-builtMy house took a while to assemble, as there were some breakages that needed repairing.

gingerbread6-undecoratedAlso, the thickness of the baked pieces meant that my walls and roof didn’t quite fit together as intended. I improvise by making a tower to cover for a gap between the walls. I was quite pleased with the new shape. All that was left was to decorate and embellish (and cover my messy seams), and my gingerbread house would be ready to display.

The trouble is, this project isn’t exactly the only one that I’ve been working on. The big “distraction” was a conference deadline, and three of the research groups I am involved with were planning to submit. The deadline for a 4-page paper was December 21st. (The deadline was then somewhat extended such that an abstract, title and author info could be submitted on the 21st, but the full paper could be edited until January 3rd before being sent out to reviewers.)

The loosening of the deadline left a bit more breathing room for things like holiday shopping and political protests. But in spite of getting our tree up and decorated right ¬†after Thanksgiving, I haven’t managed to put up many other decorations. We are the one house on our little street without festive lights and/or other outdoor decorations. I find it amusing that my little gingerbread house is leading a parallel existence.

gingerbread7-with-candy-pile

Tonight I hope to do some decorating. Of the gingerbread house, not the real house. (The bulk of our Christmas decorations are staying in bins this year.) Phoebe still had plans for landscaping her gingerbread house that she didn’t have time for, so I am using that as an excuse to make up a batch of the appropriate icing so we can get to work. (But I’m also ¬†prepping for Christmas dinner, need to excavate our dining room table, and need to wrap a big pile of gifts…So we’ll see.)

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

buds1

buds2

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rhododendron-bud-snow

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.)

Faux leaves, real shadows

I do love leaves, and shadows. So naturally I love shadows *of* leaves. Even if they aren’t real leaves.

These metal leaves are a decoration I recently got at a thrift store. (My daughter and I have discovered a mutual enthusiasm for going to thrift stores. Possibly too much enthusiasm.) Anyhow, the leaves cast some fun shadows in the low afternoon light. I enjoyed seeing how they changed (sharp above, doubled below) with the changing light.

It seems I’m still inclined to post daily. I think I need to settle on an approximate frequency for posting. For those of you who post regularly, what’s your strategy? Do you have goals for quantity or frequency of posts, or do you just post when moved to do so?

changing shadows, unchanged leaf

unicorn

A little over a week ago, a single leaf caught my eye out on the deck. It was caught between the boards, and casting a long dramatic shadow in the morning light.

Yesterday, a similar-looking leaf caught my eye casting a shadow, this time in the afternoon light. Looking at the two photos, I’ve decided that it was actually the same leaf. It’s moved a bit, and flipped around, but it appears to have all the same markings. It seems to have blown out of the spot where it was trapped, only to get caught again.

leaf-shadow2-afternoon

It seems I’m not quite ready to leave November behind. Both the leaves, and the daily posting. I’m hoping to settle into some sort of moderate frequency for posting, perhaps something like once or twice a week. Somehow, though, if I’m not all in, I tend to be all out. Here’s hoping I can break that trend.

if a blogger falls in the forest

forest
Trees that fell in the forest, many years ago. It is not clear whether they made a sound. Now they make for a pretty scene.

Amazingly, after last year’s November goals shortfall, I was able to get back up again and post daily this month. This is my 30th daily post in November, and so successfully wraps up my NaBloPoMo goals. Somehow, it wasn’t even particularly hard this time. Was it as easy as falling off a log? It was certainly less painful than falling off a log.

I’ve enjoyed regrouping (grouping again) and reflecting (flecting again?) and putting together photos and thoughts. I might even be able to keep on keeping on.