Categories
Good Life

Something

For me, one of the hardest things to get used to during this pandemic is the uncertainty.

I’m one of those people who wants the news, even if it’s bad. I sometimes search out the spoilers before deciding whether to watch a show or movie. I feel a kinship with Harry, from the movie When Harry Met Sally, as I flip to the last page of a book and read the ending first.

“Not knowing” bothers me. I’ve thought about why this is, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because “knowing” is a component of decision-making, which is a component of action, and action is the best way (for me) to manage my feelings. From an emotional perspective, doing something is a coping mechanism; it keeps me from being overwhelmed or getting stuck in sentiment. From a practical perspective, doing something allows me to (hopefully) make a difference, even if only in a small way, even if only for a moment.

There’s been a lot of uncertainty, a lot of not knowing, in this pandemic. It is better in some ways now; we’ve learned more about the illness and are more capable of protecting ourselves. Some of the jobs that were lost or on hold are returning. Some of the challenges have become easier. We’ve made progress, but we aren’t completely out of the woods yet. The uncertainty still exists.

Which is why I was excited to volunteer at a local COVID-19 vaccination site yesterday. I have no medical training, so I directed traffic. In terms of “big picture” impact, it was not the most important task. Judging by the hundreds of cars making their way through the vaccination line, however, it was a needed and helpful chore.

As each car passed, I felt a little hiccup of delight. Each car represented one more number on the pandemic scorecard. Instead of it being a negative number, however, it was a positive step forward…and I was doing something to contribute. It was just a little something, only a minor something, but it was a thing I could do to help us all get to where we want and need to go.

Based on the smiles of people in the cars, and by the overall happy mood of the other volunteers at the site, my feelings weren’t unique. We each had our own specific reasons for being there, our own emotions and experiences that had brought us to that place at that time, but we had all chosen to be part of this hopeful process. We were driving away the uncertainty, together.

Here’s to the power of doing something.

Categories
Family Fun Nature

Whirly-twirly

There’s a tree nearby that is dropping its seeds right now. These seeds are designed to spin as they fall to the ground, like little helicopter wings. In fact, they are commonly known as “helicopter seeds.”

When my sons were youngsters, they loved playing with these types of seeds, which we called “whirly-twirlies.” We’d laugh as we threw several in the air at once and waited to see which one landed first.

Now that my sons are grown, we no longer play the whirly-twirly game. Still, I do sometimes pick one up off the ground, toss it up and watch as it whirls and twirls gracefully to a resting spot in the grass.

Here’s to simple fun and happy memories.

Categories
Pets

Meow

According to the National Day Today calendar, today is Respect Your Cat Day. It’s a day for recognizing and celebrating our feline companions.

I’m a fan of cats in general, but my experience tells me that most of them already believe that every day is Respect Your Cat Day. I’m not sure that officially designating a day for this type of action is necessary.

Still, here we are. So, today’s cuppa honors my cats.

They make life better through their warm cuddles and loud purrs, their soft fur and curious nature. They can be demanding and insistent but also sweet and affectionate. At times, they seem wise beyond their years; at other times, they do incredibly dumb things. In either case, they are supremely confident, unconcerned with the opinions of those around them. Yet, they seek us out when they want to know that they are loved.

Indeed, they are.

Categories
Good Nature

Planting

Where I live, there’s a month – six weeks, if we’re lucky – when most of the days have perfectly blue skies, and soft breezes that sweetly dance over blooming flowers and trees, and temperatures that hover between comfortable and just warm enough. That’s our Spring.

During that time, it’s easy to forget that Summer is Coming. And so, as my husband and I blissfully enjoy the temporary glory of the perfect weather, we plant.

This year, our backyard garden contains tomatoes, and cucumbers, and squash. There’s also the oregano from last year that survived the winter, and more basil to replace what didn’t. We’ve added kale, and mint, and strawberries, and we are excitedly watching a couple of leftover brussel sprout plants that we thought were goners but are now thriving, seemingly invigorated by our recent snowpocalypse.

I say “we” as though I’ve been actively part of the planting process. In truth, it’s been my husband’s work. My role is advisor, and admirer, and supporter. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am the Garden Cheerleader, helping on occasion with the weeding and watering but careful not to overdo so as not to antagonize my allergies. Still, it is a partnership, a combined effort and project, one in which we both proudly share.

We are fortunate to have a backyard for our garden. It’s possible to grow vegetables in other locations, however, if you set things up in the right way. That’s the premise behind an organization called The Million Gardens Movement, which is “…dedicated to mobilizing a million people to grow their own food and reap the benefits of gardening.”

The Million Gardens Movement offers kits (Little Green Gardens) to people in need, making it possible for them to grow a small but significant garden almost anywhere – a windowsill, for example. A $10.00 donation provides a kit to one family. Additionally, The Million Gardens Movement provides guidance and education about gardening, supporting people everywhere as they grow their own food.

If you’d like to know more, check out their website: https://milliongardensmovement.org

Here’s to the gorgeous glory days of Spring and the hopeful inspiration that comes from planting for the future.

Categories
Neato Science

Wow

Yesterday, I learned of two very cool, kind of mind-blowing events in the world of space travel and science.

The first is a newly-released photograph of a black hole. A photo was released in 2019; this is a follow-up image. What’s special about this newest photo, aside from the fact that an image of a supermassive black hole is pretty wow in and of itself, is that it reveals the activity of the magnetic fields surrounding the void.

Scientists who analyzed the image discovered that some of the magnetic fields are doing what’s expected, meaning they loop around the black hole, influenced by enormous gravitational pull. Other magnetic fields, however, are pointing away from the center. This is the surprising part.

These magnetic fields must be incredibly strong to be able to compete against and resist the black hole’s overwhelmingly strong draw. This knowledge is not only fascinating; it creates brand-new perspective about what’s going on out there, billions of miles away. Who knows what other discoveries could come from this new information?

The second piece of news I learned yesterday is that a small piece of fabric from one of the wings on the Wright brothers’ plane is on Mars right now, waiting to fly again. It’s attached to the underside of a solar panel on the space helicopter, Ingenuity, that traveled to Mars with the rover, Perseverance.

Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18 and is currently doing its Mars investigation work along with prepping for Ingenuity’s launch. The goal is for Ingenuity to fly in early April. If everything goes as planned, it will make a total of five short aerial trips on Mars. And on those trips, the first of their kind on another planet, it will carry a tiny piece of material from the first airplane flight here on Earth. The thought of it gives me goosebumps.

Here’s to scientific discoveries and historic parallels and all the moments of wow they provide.

Categories
Life

Earrings

For me, it’s little things that best define the daily differences between Before Pandemic and now. Earrings, for example.

Before Pandemic, I worked in a “business casual” environment. Each morning, as I dressed in my office-appropriate attire, earrings were part of my ensemble. On the few occasions when I forgot them, I felt incomplete.

Now, and for most of the past 12 months, I rarely wear earrings. It seems unnecessary.

It’s true that putting on a pair of earrings could add a touch of sparkle to my comfy pants and sweatshirt of the day. If I wear earrings, however, I might feel it necessary to also wear shoes and lipstick. I might then decide to use a hair dryer to blow-dry my hair and start worrying about my raggedy, unpolished nails.

You can see how this could easily get out of control.

I do still like my earring collection and sometimes wear a pair, but it’s a deliberate choice, done in specific circumstances. Last week, for example, on my Errand Day, I traded out my comfy pants and slippers for a pair of blue jeans and sneakers and then added my kitty cat earrings for a bit of fun. Before Pandemic, the kitty cat earrings were reserved for weekends; they weren’t professional enough for business casual. I was happy to give them a moment in the weekday spotlight.

Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, I’ll go back to wearing blouses and blazers, dress pants and skirts. If so, my earrings will once again be part of my daily wardrobe.

In the meantime, the days are getting longer, and the weather’s getting warmer. I’ll soon be switching from sweatshirts to t-shirts. Fortunately, my comfy pants can be worn all year long.

Categories
Life

Better

Yesterday, I was reminded of something Dr. Maya Angelou once said.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

It seems like logical advice, the kind of thing that shouldn’t have to be said. Yet, it can sometimes be hard advice to follow – maybe not the “do the best you can” part, but certainly the “do better” part.

It’s tempting to think of the process of change as a straight line from A to B. In reality – at least, based on what I’ve seen – it is more like a preschooler’s messy scribble, full of ups and downs, criss-crossing lines and circles.

Changing – getting from A to B and, eventually, to G and K and beyond, forces us to acknowledge past mistakes (innocent as they may have been). We must face our failures. Speaking from personal experience, doing so can be painful, humiliating, exhausting.

Changing also requires us to accept the frightening proposition that we must think and act differently, even if what we must think and do instead may not be clear. For somebody like me, who likes to know where I’m going before I buckle my seatbelt, it can be difficult to let go of the familiar while simultaneously agreeing to take a new, potentially undefined (potentially imperfect) path.

To truly do what Dr. Angelou recommends requires a conscious choice and, sometimes, a great deal of trust. It may be more comfortable and less troublesome to just let things stay as they are, to focus only on the “do the best you can” part. It may be tempting to tell ourselves that change isn’t needed; that the way things work, or feel, or fit right now is okey-dokey.

Yet, if we don’t resolve to do better when we have the opportunity to do so, we’ll never know what is possible. We’ll know what is, but not what could be.

Which reminds me of the words of the poet Erin Hanson:

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

Categories
Holidays Nature

Green

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
by William Butler Yeats

I will arise now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Categories
Pets

Goat

Mollie, our older dog, is a picky eater. She likes her food served in a certain way, at a certain location, and there are some things she simply won’t eat regardless of how hungry she is.

Charlie, our younger dog, is the opposite. He’ll eat most anything, and he’s always ready to eat. Dog food, people food, cat food, scraps of paper, pieces of plastic, Kleenex, pillows, backyard grass, sticks, leaves…everything is fair game. He does prefer food, but he’ll eat whatever he finds.

Of course, I don’t want him to get sick, so I’m constantly watching, picking up tiny bits from the floor, moving things out of his reach, pulling things out of his mouth. Nevertheless, I’m sure he’s ingested some things he shouldn’t have. It’s impossible to completely Charlie-proof the world he lives in.

We thought we adopted a puppy all those months ago. Maybe we actually adopted a goat.

Categories
Life

Weird


Last night, at 2:00 a.m., it suddenly became 3:00 a.m.

That’s weird, but what’s even weirder is that the time jump didn’t happen for everybody. Only some people.

In case that’s not weird enough, in about seven months, it will happen again, except in reverse. At 2:00 a.m. one night, it will suddenly become 1:00 a.m. Again, however, only for some people.

So, for part of the year, for a portion of the population, there’s an hour floating around out there, waiting to be called into action. Then, when it’s no longer wanted, it’s sent away. It doesn’t actually disappear; we (some of us) simply choose to either acknowledge or deny its existence.

Because of this choice, we (some of us) spend a couple of days (sometimes longer) adapting to the implications of the change. Things get a little blurry as our bodies and minds get used to more sunlight, or less sunlight, when we go to bed and when we wake up. Some of us do weird things like forgetting stuff we usually know or getting unreasonably irritated at minor problems or falling asleep in the middle of the day. It can be challenging for adults; for young children, the experience can be especially intense.

Billions of years ago, before humans even existed, the thing we now call “time” was happening without us. The journey of the stars and planets through space, the progression of life and universal action, has never depended on us or even required our involvement. However, we invented a way to measure it, a mechanism for defining it. We gave it context and meaning.

I suppose that’s why we’ve (some of us) accepted the existence of an hour that doesn’t really count, like the free space in the middle of a Bingo card. It’s there; it contributes to the outcome. But, it’s arbitrary. It can be used in different ways, depending on what we choose to do with it.


Here’s to all of us who lost an hour of time last night. The weirdness is real.