OUR COUNTRY IS SO F**KED! Excuse my language, but I had to get it out. For the past week or two, I’ve been avoiding Facebook because the news and commentary I see there gets me so stressed and fuels the constant low-grade anxiety I’m feeling most of the time now. However, I do like to maintain some level of information literacy, so I read updates on email from NYT and CNN and listen to NPR news programs from time to time. There is another news source I trust, Heather Cox Richardson, who is a history professor at Boston College and writes daily Letters from an American. I don’t read them every day, for the reasons I just mentioned. I did read her letter today, which prompted my topic sentence here. Our country is being run by a would-be dictator who is being backed by the megalomaniac Senate Majority Leader. Both are obsessed with their own power and self-interest. Today’s letter from Richardson focused on a number of frightening issues, among them the actions of Trump’s newly appointed head of the USPS, who is restructuring the postal service in such a way as to slow the mail and consolidate his own power over it. Trump is opposed to mail-in voting and wants to privatize the postal service. The changes made by his appointed crony endangers the former and moves things closer to the latter. The details are appalling and reinforce my conviction that our dictator in chief and his wealthy associates and supporters will do anything to further their own wealth and power. And the most heart-breaking aspect of it all, and the fuel that is feeding my unconquerable anxiety is that millions of ordinary Americans still support them. I fear that their unfettered power and corruption could result in the unthinkable re-election of Trump. And even if he is not re-elected, he can continue to perpetrate irreversible damage to our country. Oh, and did I mention the pandemic?
This week on Wednesday, armed with our cameras, the Mid-Week Marauders visited Shady Lakes . The Enchanted Lens Camera Club, of which I am a member, sponsors these outings on Wednesdays every week or every other week. During Covid times, the outings had been suspended, but now we’re visiting outdoor locations in or near Albuquerque with proper precautions.
Shady Lakes was such a surprise to me and such a treat! Primarily a trout and bass fishing retreat, it is nestled in Albuquerque’s North Valley and consists of several stocked lakes, a water lily pond, and picnic areas. All of this is back a narrow road in a woods that is more reminiscent of back home in Indiana than of Albuquerque’s high desert. I just love these wonderful discoveries about my new home town.
Click on image to view full size.
Germophobes are vindicated.
Inside my head can be a scary place.
I’m sick of the “peeing section in the pool” metaphor.
Essential and dispensable should not be synonymous.
My belief that everything takes longer than you think it will and is harder remains unchanged.
We’re all finding out what we care most about.
Most common planning phrase, “When this is over….”
Most common communication complaint, “I’m sick of zoom.”
Pretty sure Ritz crackers have medicinal properties.
This week I had a wonderful Sunday afternoon. In an effort to combine photographic and exercise goals, I drove down to Central Avenue to wander and to photograph the art and architecture of Route 66. This historic highway is an important part of Albuquerque’s history and there are many relics of the motels, restaurants, and businesses of its heyday. Some are repurposed, some are derelict. This stretch of the old highway goes through Albuquerque’s downtown and Nob Hill districts and there is also much public art from the present era on the buildings.
It was a beautiful day, mild temperatures and those unsurpassed New Mexico blue skies with just enough clouds to make it potographically perfect. And a photographer’s dream: few people or vehicles. In fact the traffic on the drive down and back and on Central Avenue was eerily sparse. This, of course, is the two-edged sword of the Covid-19 restrictions. The businesses were closed. The ART busses weren’t running. It was a rare opportunity for uncluttered photographs, but sad and ominous.
As an added bonus, I listened to classic country music on the drive – windows down, excellent stereo in the new Prius. I do love the older country music, although some of it is a little culturally dated, like Willie Nelson singing Good Hearted Woman, followed by Johnny Cash and June Carter’s rendition of It Ain’t Me Babe. Now if it the “me” in the latter song were June instead of Johnny, that one would have been fixed.
The photos below represent only the few blocks that I walked. I plan to do this again on another section of the road.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a post. Time flies in spite of spending most of it home alone! I’ve found that I’m very good at finding ways to while away time. Some of them are more productive than others, but I’m learning that when I feel like I’ve done nothing, I’ve, of course, been doing something. So, reading the news on my phone or catching up with people on email or Facebook isn’t necessarily wasting time. It’s just that the floor is still dusty, or the dishes are still in the dishwasher, or Hitchens’ Arguably is till unread. But who cares? If these things are important, they’ll be taken care of eventually.
I’ve worked several jigsaw puzzles in the past few weeks. I can really get into the zone for hours at a time on these. Again, could be considered a trivial use of time, but they’re good for the brain and help prevent dwelling on the angst of current events.
Another, perhaps more productive, way I’ve found to become fully absorbed is sewing. I really love the creative aspects of sewing, and you actually have something to show for your efforts. I’ve made protective face masks for family and friends and cloth napkins for Rachel and family, since they use them for every meal and three meals a day for six people generates a lot of washing.
- The other morning I woke up and looked around thinking, I’m surrounded by rectangles. Thank goodness for my oval vanity mirror. But really, in human construction the rectangle seems to be by far the most common shape. Not so in nature. Maybe that’s why architecture like the Guggenheim Museum is so appealing.
- I’ve been having lots of strange and complex dreams. For a while I thought it was from the pain medication I was taking for my knee replacement, but I haven’t taken any for several weeks and am still having weird dreams. I think it’s just because I’m awake off and on all night because of pain and stiffness in my leg caused by lying in one position for too long. My surgery was six months ago and my mobility is good, but I’m not out of the discomfort woods yet. They say it can take a year, so I’ll wait another six months before I start worrying about that.
- They say that the stay at home and other distancing measures are “flattening the curve” of the Corona virus spread. This makes it sound like the measures aren’t resulting in fewer cases, just spreading them over a longer time period. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t mean that there would be fewer sick and dying people. I need to do some research. Maybe I’m not understanding the math, or the concept.
I’m glowing with accomplishment because I just completed doing my exercise video for the third time this week. It’s more challenging to motivate myself for this than for exercise class, but I do enjoy doing it once I’ve started. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes on a different topic: “In writing, the only hard part is to begin.” Substitute exercise for writing, and there you have it.
I finished four of Anne’s sewing projects and arranged and paid for a package pickup, then the mailman didn’t show up for two days. I don’t know whether to be concerned about the health of my mail carrier or pissed off that he skipped me for two days (at least). Rachel took the package to give to her carrier. Hope it makes it. Mundane life in the time of the plague.
I still have one sewing project – placemats and napkins – for Anne, and I’m going to make face masks for Rachel and her colleagues to use when distributing Chromebooks to their students. School has been canceled for the rest of the term, and they’re working on a distance learning plan. Since Rachel’s job is in educational technology, she has been working very hard and long during this “downtime”.
Today is Colin’s sixth birthday. In lieu of a party, he has requested a hike and a picnic for his birthday. He isn’t lacking for presents. He opened several from me and various others yesterday and has a pile from his parents to open today. I made birthday cupcakes for him and am including a photo to illustrate my pitiful cake decorating skills. However, I ate one yesterday for quality control purposes and can tell you that they taste great.
Well, on to the next great thing. Maybe I’ll take a shower. No image for that. You’re welcome.
Day by day, bit by bit, I’m working to accomplish my goals for time management, exercise, and project completion. As an aside, what is this compulsion we have for accomplishing something, anything, rather than just letting our days flow? It feels almost inherent. Since I posted three days ago, I have accomplished a few things. Two days ago I took a nice long walk from my house to Montgomery Park. As illustrated to the left, spring is budding and blooming there, and really all around me.
It’s so much fun to look out the window from day to see and to see things getting greener and greener. Yesterday, after maybe overdoing the walk the day before, I didn’t exercise. The long walk made my new knee leg hurt all night. Guess I’ll make the lengths of the walks a little more gradual. Today for about an hour I did one of the exercise videos I screened the other day. I’m feeling pretty virtuous about that. When I’m done here, I think I’ll take a shortish walk. The weather is getting warmer as the days progress.
I’ve also been sewing. I completed one of Anne’s table runners and am working on a second one. I have enough left over fabric from the second on to make placemats and napkins. Sewing is a creative outlet for me, so I’m having fun with this.
I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday. They are good but not as good as Anne’s. They never are. She claims she uses the recipe on the bag of chips, and I do that, too. But they’re not the same! Oh well, that’s her signature dish, so I guess it’s just magic.
In an earlier post I mentioned the idea of creating a sort of block schedule to organize my days and increase worthwhile use of my time. Since I’m determinedly retired, I don’t want to use “productivity”, since that word reeks of corporate management.
There are a few discouraging things I realize about myself that relate to this attempt:
- I am terrible about creating an exercise routine at home. I loved my exercise class and was as consistent as I could be at attending, but I have ALWAYS been bad about doing it at home.
- I tend to be loosey-goosey about timeframes when I’m in charge of my day. I don’t want to say I’m lazy. I’m not lazy. Well, sometimes I’m lazy.
- I can tend to procrastinate the things I’m not so crazy about doing and rationalize by doing something else instead. Oops! Ran out of time for that.
- Due to all of the above, I’m afraid to do a block schedule, even though my better self wants to.
What to do, what to do. I guess I’ll just blather on about something else (see #3 above) until I make up my mind.
On the national scene, California, home of my daughter Rebecca, has issued a shelter in place order and shut down most non-vital businesses and services. Much of the rest of the country will probably soon follow suit. While this certainly makes sense in terms of containing the Covid-19 virus, the social and economic effects in the short and longterm are almost incomprehensible. The government is taking sweeping measures to help individuals and businesses and to stabilize the economy, but at what cost to our already monumental national debt? History will tell the story. Rebecca already works from home, so will probably be ok, at least for now.
Daughter Rachel and her family are all being treated for strep throat. Not great, but glad it’s nothing worse. I woke up last night worrying about the family’s restless teenagers, who are, of course, immortal and don’t want to be confined to home. The consequences of them exposing themselves to this essentially social disease might be minimal for them but deadly for the younger and older members of their family.
Yesterday I cleaned out the files in my drawer containing the most current and active stuff. Felt pretty good, but is just the tip of that iceberg. Also, I got the material sister Anne mailed to me for her sewing projects. I like sewing projects. Today I need to update all the online accounts that use my expiring credit card. Fun times.
|8 AM – 10 AM||Get up|
Morning routine – teeth, meds, etc, coffee
MWF – Exercise video, other days-recumbent bike
|10 AM – Noon||Household chores, blogging, reading|
|1 PM – 2 PM||Take a walk, work outside, hike|
|2 PM-5:30 PM||Work on projects, read, write to friends/family|
|5:30 PM-7:00 PM||Cocktail hour, begin dinner prep|
|7:00 – 10 PM||Dinner, TV, reading, unstructured time|
|10 PM||Go to bed|
There. I did it. I hereby remind myself that there will be no recriminations for straying from the schedule and that it will be amended as necessary. I consider this a social experiment. Furthermore, I exempt myself today, since I’m already off from the plan.
What with the whole country cancelling every type of gathering and the need to stay home, I no longer have the option of going to my 3 times weekly exercise class at the Senior Center. I’ve never been good at the self-discipline required for consistent exercise at home, but I know that it’s necessary if I am to stay healthy. So, maybe this will keep me on track. Resolution: do something active every day – exercise routine, or stationary bike, or walk. Here’s what i did.
- Ride recumbent bike for 20 minutes
- Screen exercise videos on Prime Video (It counts! I need one for tomorrow!)