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August 2020

July 2020

Right In My Own Backyard

The other day, we woke up to some Big Drama in the garden . . . 

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(Husband included for scale.)

SURPRISE!

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So it's a bit of a drag, for sure. But it could have been much worse.

I'm counting my lucky stars and feeling grateful that . . . 

1 -- It didn't hit the fence.

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2 -- It didn't hit "Tom's garden" or the patio furniture. (Although it came close.)

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3 -- It didn't take out or damage ANY OTHER trees or plants in the garden.

So . . . good news all around!
(And BONUS -- the tree guy is going to do a well-needed prune and trimming to the rest of the tree when he cleans up the limb next week.)

Drama. 
But not altogether bad drama.

==

Be sure to visit Carole today for other Three on Thursday posts.

 

 


You're Going To Be SO Jealous

As I stew in the quagmire that is Our Daily Situation now, I've been busying my hands with knitting silly little things. Fussy, knit-at-uncomfortable-gauge little things. Things that don't take much yarn, don't take much space, but DO take a lot of time!

Case in point: Here is the sum total of two weeks of knitting.

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Yep. It all fits (without even cramming) into a quart-sized plastic bag!

But that's nothing.

Now comes the FUN part . . . 

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Seaming.

Stuffing.

Assembling.

That's 2 heads, 2 bodies, 4 ears, 4 legs (with incredibly fussy shoes attached), 4 arms, and 2 tails.

Uh huh. I've knit bunny-body-parts for not-one-but-TWO of these. (Note: That link will take you to the designer's website page, NOT to Ravelry.

Let the Making begin!

(Bet y'all wish you were in my shoes . . . )

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Be sure to head over to Kat's for more Unraveling today.


A Steady, Continuous Stream of Something

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As I've been playing around with the word "flow" this year, I've discovered that it is a word with many definitions. (I've also discovered that it comes up in regular conversation ALL the time. I've never had a word so easy to find "in the world" as this one.) Anyway, of all the definitions I've found, this one is my favorite:

Flow. (n.) a steady, continuous stream of something

As you can see . . . flow . . . means the opposite of being stuck. But lately? I've been feeling pretty . . . stuck.
Not steady.
Not continuous.
Definitely not a stream of anything.

But that's how it is sometimes, isn't it?

"Between the banks of pain and pleasure the river of life flows. It is only when the mind refuses to flow with life, and gets stuck at the banks, that it becomes a problem."
            -- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

So. My dilemma: How to get unstuck (at the banks)?
And start that steady, continuous stream of something . . . again?

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For me, I headed back to my "basics" -- the five elements I discovered several years ago (when my word was balance). I stripped my days down to the 5 basic elements I need in my life every day:

  1. Reflection (this usually comes through journaling)
  2. Meditation and yoga
  3. Moving my body (working up a sweat)
  4. Breathing fresh air
  5. Creating . . . something (anything, really)

Sometimes, when I get busy -- or when my brain gets busy -- I leave one or more of these elements out of my day. (It's usually reflection, which I think is telling.) And when I get overwhelmed with bleak thoughts or the relentless stream (a flow . . . ) of disturbing news, I tend to forget about these five things altogether and approach them in a very haphazard way. 

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Earlier this month, I realized this was happening again (that haphazard thing). So a couple of weeks ago I made myself a little checklist in my day planner with my 5 basic elements, and I started tracking them and giving myself checkmarks at the end of each day. (I'll do almost anything for a checkmark.) I really concentrated on those 5 elements. Every day.

Every.
Damn.
Day.

And with a more steady focus on my 5 things . . . coupled with a pretty extensive "unplugging" (of blogging, of the news, of Instagram, etc.), I'm starting to feel a shift in myself.

I wouldn't quite call it a steady, continuous stream of something quite yet.
But . . . maybe closer.

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Did you choose a word for this year? If you did, what have you discovered this month? Be sure to visit Honoré today to read what others have shared about their word.

 


Monday Again

And that means it's time to . . . 

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(And after my break, I feel all the more ready to get things revving again this week.)

As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend. And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.

So. Let's get to it!

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"No mud, no lotus."
            -- Thich Nhat Hanh

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(No lotus here. Just lake plants. Looking down. Right off our dock!)

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Back in the Before Times (like, y'know . . .  February) I was planning an outing with some friends to go see a major Frida Kahlo exhibit that was coming to Chicago this summer. We were so excited about it . . . planning for a lovely July day in Chicago (right about now, actually). But, of course, that was canceled and rescheduled.

Maybe we'll try again.  
Maybe we won't.
Who knows?

But we can still enjoy some Frida Kahlo . . . right from home.
(Yeah. Not the same at all. But the best we've got for now.)

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Is this happening for any of you?

Do you look in your closet . . . at all those clothes hanging in there . . . and just wonder WTF?

As in . . . WTF did I think I needed all THAT for????

I don't have an over-stuffed closet by any means. I've already figured out "my style" and culled my wardrobe to Things I Actually Wear. Which is, of course, an entirely bizarre concept at the moment. Because all I wear now is some combination of workout clothes, denim shorts, and t-shirts.

Every. Single. Day.

Now, maybe someday I'll GO somewhere again. And maybe someday (although I'm not altogether certain about this) I'll actually want to get . . . dressed up again. But, for the most part, I've decided I really LIKE wearing t-shirts every day. And who cares if I'm still in my workout clothes at dinnertime? I'm not worrying about it. At all.

(My earring game is still strong. So there is that.)

Anyway. I've not missed shopping for new clothes at all. And I'm kinda thinking . . . I may never need to go clothes shopping again! (Or at least . . . not for a really long time.)

Is this happening for anyone else? In case you're leaning in this direction, too . . . well, here's an article from The Guardian with 20 Ways to Stop Buying New Clothes Forever.

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Instagram logo

I know a lot of you aren't Instagram people. And I get that. (Personally, I'm not a Facebook person, but I really do enjoy following along with all kinds of people on Instagram.)

Anyway.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite Instagram accounts with you once in a while. This week? @DavidZinn

David Zinn is an Ann Arbor, Michigan based street artist. He creates absolutely delightful chalk art on (mostly) urban streets and buildings. His whimsical drawings are sure to bring a smile. Check it out!

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The election is less than 100 days away, my friends. Not long at all, really. (Although, as we know, a lot can happen in 100 days.)

Anyway.

It's always important to vote -- and this year? Super important! We also need to keep up with all the voting news -- because, well . . . you know why. During the next few weeks, I'll share some voting information links, and maybe you can share them with your friends, and they can share them with their friends. Because VOTING MATTERS.

I'll begin with Vote.Org. This site includes the nitty-gritty basics all voters need to git-r-dun. You can register to vote, of course, and you can also do other helpful vote-y things like check your registration, set up voting reminders for yourself, and identify your polling station. There are links to each individual state election center, too, so you can hop right to your own state for more information. 

Click here for Vote.Org's Election Protection Guide, which outlines the specific steps to take should you be denied the right to vote when you arrive at your polling station, including a hotline number to call and report your situation.

Click here for Vote.Org's Voting & COVID-19 Guide, which includes state-by-state information for voting during the pandemic.

Stay informed.
Make a plan.
VOTE.

==

And that's it for me this week.

I hope your week is off to a great start.
Keep smiling.
We'll get through this.
XO

 


Pausing for Some Poetry

We're getting packed up this morning, ready to head back home after the better parts of a couple of weeks up north. It's hectic: laundry, packing, clean-up. Y'know. 

But there's still some time for poetry!

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(My view across the road . . . as the sun was going down last night.)

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The Human Heart
Campbell McGrath

We construct it from tin and ambergris and clay,
   ochre, graph paper, a funnel
   of ghosts, whirlpool
in a downspout full of midsummer rain.

It is, for all its freedom and obstinance,
   an artifact of human agency
   in its maverick intricacy,
its chaos reflected in earthly circumstance,

its appetites mirrored by a hungry world
   like the lights of the casino
   in the coyote's eye. Old
as the odor of almonds in the hills around Solano,

filigreed and chancelled with flavor of blood oranges,
   fashioned from moonlight,
   yarn, nacre, cordite,
shaped and assembled valve by valve, flange by flange,

and finished with the carnal fire of interstellar dust.
   We build the human heart
   and lock it in its chest
and hope that what we have made can save us.

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.) 

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Today's poem was published in Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems, Campbell McGrath, Ecco, 2019.  Information about the poet can be found here


On Unraveling

Yesterday, I thought about putting together an Unraveled post.

And then I didn't.

After a significant amount of reflection, I realized . . . it's ME . . . who's come unraveled.

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(Drawing by Charlie Mackesy and picked up via his Instagram post. You can find more about him and see more about his work here. You can follow him on Instagram here.)

For weeks now, I've been out of sorts.
In a Mood.
A Funk.
Worn down.
Weary.
Drained.
Tired.
Sick. Of. This. Shit.

It's not the "staying at home" part. Because I'm okay with that, really. I mean, I'm an introvert anyway, so it's been easy for me to adapt to just . . . not going anywhere.

I've unraveled . . . because of the ALL of it.

The lack of a coordinated response to the pandemic.
The politics of Every. Stinking. Thing.
The lack of kindness and compassion and empathy.
The ugliness of people.
The misplaced trust and the telling of lies.
The stupid-ness. (Really, it's the stupid-ness.)

(I think the secret police thing, though? I think that was the last straw for me.)

I unraveled.

I lost hope.

So. I've been taking some time to sort through a whole lot of feelings. Trying to work my way out of a good, old funk. Trying to find my flow (be like water, my friend). Trying to get back to what grounds me (I'm rooted, but I flow).

But, oh my. What a struggle it is.

I've been pulling a lot of weeds and escaping to the lake and balancing my chakras and working out and meditating and doing yoga every damn day and reading poetry and knitting silly little things and journaling. And I think I might be finding my way back. Or . . . beginning to. I'm sleeping better (which helps a lot). I'm ignoring (most of) the news. And I'm starting to think about blogging again.

I'm still having a hard time finding hope. (But I'm feeling like I can begin searching again.)

So. That's where I am.

Unraveled.

But ready to re-wind.

 


Just Another Manic Monday

Well, maybe not so manic.
But it's Monday all the same! Time to . . . 

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As usual, on Mondays I share a bit of this and a little of that and things I discovered over the weekend. (And I always start things off with my quote-for-the-week.)

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“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
        – Viktor E. Frankl

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Like many of you, I'm determined to learn more about racism and understand/accept my role in perpetuating it. I've got three goals here: Learning, Doing Better, and Doing Something. I'm reading a lot right now, and trying to expand my "channels" in any way I can -- given the limits imposed by the pandemic. One thing that I've found really helpful is finding and following Black leaders, academics, teachers, and activists on Instagram. There is so much I can learn from them. (Let me know if you'd like some recommendations, and I'll share my ever-growing list.)

Shortly after the more recent protests began, I started following Rachel Cargle on Instagram. In an article last month, the New York Times explains that her "honest and empathic approach to changing white people and supporting black people is shifting perspectives on an increasingly large scale" (you can read that article here), and I find that to be absolutely true. 

Rachel Cargle is offering a 30-day online course called #DoTheWork designed to "be an eye-opener and a call to action for those who seek to be allies to Black women." You can start the course at any time; it is self-directed and offered at no cost (although you may choose to support Rachel Cargle's work through her Patreon account, which can be accessed through the course link). I've just started the course myself. Maybe you'd be interested in joining me?

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This week, Corona Lisa brings us tips about using a public bathroom during the pandemic . . . because sometimes we just can't wait. Here are some dos and don'ts for those times when you need simply MUST use a public bathroom (from the NY Times):

  • A bigger bathroom with more stalls is better -- because it is likely to have better air circulation than a small room.
  • If the stalls are occupied, wait at least 60 seconds after one opens up before you step in.
  • Don't use the toilet seat covers (they're not sanitary anyway . . . having been in the stall through multiple flushes by the time you get in there) -- and sit yourself down on the seat (don't hover); you're less likely to leave "dribbles" behind.
  • If there's a lid, close it when you flush. If it's an automatic flusher, stand back!
  • There is no real preference when it comes to paper towels or hand dryers -- just avoid any reusable hand towels.
  • And when you're done, GET OUT FAST!

If you'd like to read the whole article, click here.

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And here's a handy chart to help you assess your risk when contemplating your activity choices:

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This week, let's visit the Louvre in Paris!

If you click here, you'll arrive at the Louvre's Online Tours page -- and once there, you'll find plenty of options for checking out the offerings at the museum. You just choose a tour, and off you go! There will be an exhibit map, and from there, you just click on a room to begin your adventure. You can click on any of the "information" icons to get detailed information and a closer look at the work, and you can click on the arrows to "wander" from exhibit area to exhibit area.

The Online Tours page (linked above) also includes a list of further online resources (to the right, under the thumbnail photo of the Louvre pyramid).

Yeah. It's not exactly like being there. But you don't have to contend with lines and crowds either!

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I don't know about you, but some days (these days), I find it hard to just get moving and DO something . . . anything . . .  let alone something fun or joy-filled or (good heavens) productive. A few weeks, Gretchen Rubin published this "bingo" card of 42 simple challenges designed to get you moving and help you find some energy.

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You can click on the graphic to embiggen (which is a Real Word), or you can click here to download your own copy of the "bingo" card (word of warning: to download it, you'll have to provide your email address and sign up for Gretchen's newsletter).

Although I won't be trying to complete ALL these challenges or even work toward a "bingo" here, I do think there are many good ideas on this chart. Some of them may even provide just the springboard I need . . . to get off my butt and moving again when I get stuck. Check it out. Maybe you'll find some inspiration, too.

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And that's it for me this Monday morning.
I hope your week is off to a good start!

 


Friday is for Poetry, Of Course

It's raining this morning. We haven't had rain in a very long time, and it's been So Dang Hot for So Dang Long that everything is parched and dry and desperate for water. Earlier this summer, it rained so much that I had mushrooms everywhere. Now? Let's just say . . . my garden is sighing in relief this morning!

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It's Friday, and I need to get on to the poetry part of things. This week, I've been devouring a book of poetry that I recently added to my personal poetry library/collection. The poet is Campbell McGrath, another one of my favorites. A lot of McGrath's poems are long. Prose poems. Long lyric poems. Incredible to read, but too long for a blog post, y'know? (If you've always balked at reading prose poems, Campbell McGrath might change your mind. He is the King of the epic prose poem.)

Luckily, he writes shorter poems, too. Here you go!

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Saying No
Campbell McGrath

No sir, absolutely not, sorry, but no,
Not sorry, actually -- just no.
Keep it simple, plain vanilla: nope,
Not happening. Big en, big oh.

No way, no how.
Negative, nuh-uh, ixnay, nyet.
No no, no no.
No-no-no-no-no-no-no.

Not likely, not likely. Maybe,
but I doubt it.
Possibly, conceivably, in theory.
Un-huh, mm-hmmm . . . .

Well yeah, sure, okay, why not,
oh definitely, yes,
wow, I mean anything,
anything at all, when can we begin?

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My best wishes to all of you . . . for a weekend filled with peace and solace, time to rest -- and things that bring you joy. (And maybe some poetry, too.) (And rain if you need it.)

==

Today's poem was published in Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems, Campbell McGrath, Ecco, 2019.  Information about the poet can be found here

 


Who'd Have Thought???

So, last night Tom and I were having a drink on the patio (as we do) . . . 

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and I asked a hypothetical question, just for discussion:

Let's say . . . it's January 1, 2020. And a prediction-genie appears to give us a view of our lives in 2020 by telling us things that WOULD happen - for sure - in the year ahead. What would surprise you most, given our lives on January 1?

(Now, to clarify. I wasn't asking about things we would "miss" in 2020. Like . . . eating in a restaurant or going to the movies. And I'm also not talking about the Big Things. Like . . . I probably would have believed there would be a global pandemic. I would certainly have believed that our current president would botch a crisis. And I would think that a racial justice movement was way, way past due. I'm talking about more personal things we wouldn't have believed possible on January 1.)

Here's what we came up with:

  • Genie says, "You will willingly give up your gym membership!  Neither of us would ever, EVER (not in a million years) have believed we would stop using our gym. But here we are, ready to cancel our gym membership . . . whenever our gym opens again.
  • Genie says, "You will cancel all your travel plans." And indefinitely, too. . . 
  • Genie says, "You will stop paying in cash!" Tom always, always carries enough cash in his wallet to cover most any incidental expense. (Me? Not so much.) He's pretty stunned to still have the same cash in his wallet in July . . . that he had in his wallet in March.
  • Genie says, "You will wear face masks and carry hand sanitizer and keep watch over your toilet paper inventory." Really, Genie? Seriously?????
  • Genie says (to me), "You will stop wearing make up. Completely." Ha! It's not like I wore a lot of makeup in the first place, but I did usually put on some mascara every day. Now? I'm not even sure where it is anymore. . . 
  • Genie says (to Tom), "You will decide to grow your hair long enough for a ponytail." Oh, we would have laughed a long time at that one . . . 
  • Genie says (to Kym), "You will become an indentured servant to Tom Nook." WHO????

Really. Who'd have thought ANY of this would happen!

How about YOU? What's in your life now (or . . . not in your life) . . .  that you would never have believed if a prediction-genie visited you on January 1?

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And, yeah. I know there are way more than three things in that list, but these days? Who cares. Be sure to stop in at Carole's for more Three on Thursday posts.