Thursday, December 30, 2021

The End of Pandemic Year 2

Nearly two years in, and we find ourselves in the worst of the pandemic. No one is unaware of this news, so I will just move on to my obligatory reflective last post of the year. It's a blogger tradition!

This picture was taken before the plague struck the house. Oh no, not Covid, something better: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Covid was out there taking up the spotlight, but old HFMD was like, "Hey guys, guess what? I'm still around too! Don't forget about meeeeeeee!" Everyone is now better, but not without fever and throwing up all over everything. Happy holidays!

Meanwhile, "The Crows Have Eyes III: The Crowening"

The girls and I made cookies which were... maximalist. Besides cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, this was the only holiday baking I did. Usually I can pawn this stuff off on my coworkers, but for the second year in a row we haven't had our cookie exchange. 

I finally got plastic down to kill the grass where the new garden will go - this is a continued expansion in preparation of opening the flower farm in just a few months! It looks foreshortened in the picture, but the area is 18' by 25' and should give me at least 75 linear feet of growing space.

Another great winter sunset

Mary and Jason went to the Natural History Museum and saw the dinosaur bones.

The last two photos are from my parents' neighborhood in Williamsburg, Virginia. Again the weather continues to be oddly warm, and it hit 70 degrees several days. The camellias in the south are always beautiful; I haven't been able to keep one alive here in our colder microclimate. 

At the beginning of the year I wrote out "Things I Started in 2020 That I Want To Continue." Here's the update:

  1. Walking: My walking time was drastically lowered once I started taking Cora to daycare in the mornings starting in April. I did spend a lot of time on trails this summer, however, training for the half marathon I ran in September. 
  2. Audiobooks: I listened to 26 audiobooks this year, which contributed to my highest reading total ever. I'll have a reading post coming up soon.
  3. Minimizing ongoing projects: Does starting a flower farm count as minimizing projects? Even so, I consider this goal a success. I didn't start any large crafting projects, and refrained from buying patterns, yarn, or craft supplies for projects I wasn't ready to start and finish right away. 
  4. Separation between work and home chores: I mostly kept to this. I still do laundry mostly on the weekend, and kept cleaning the kitchen to the morning and after work. I do mostly vacuum during the work day though, since my kids overdramatically freak out if I vacuum with them in the house. 
  5. Reduce/eliminate social media scrolling and choose inputs intentionally: While I still have a way to go with this, I am getting better. I deleted my art Instagram account, leaving just my personal account where I only follow people I know in real life. I also unfollowed all my Facebook groups and moved the app to a hidden part of my phone (I still need to keep it to give away and sell items, and to manage my flower account.) I subscribed to blogs and mailing lists of artists I like.
Setting goals and reading about others' goals is one of my favorite parts of the new year, so that post is upcoming. There is so much potential, and it's fun to dream. The year rarely works out how we imagined, but there's no reason not to enjoy the feeling of a fresh new year!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Danger Section

Hey guess what, it's still December! Hard to tell because it was nearly 70 degrees today, but that's the world we live in. Today I had my work holiday party, which was the first time since the pandemic started that I've been around so many people at one time. It was a little unnerving, but the location was open to the outdoors and it was so, so NORMAL to see people. Do you watch TV shows or movies where people just walk around with no masks on, packed close to each other, and it's just... fine? It's hard to imagine that world, but I hope we can go back there some day.

Last week on a walk I discovered a curious sight. Do you see it? The pan of bread, casually hanging out on top of this stone column? Now, I do frequently encounter abandoned food on this particular route: a stray mandarin on the sidewalk, or an intact egg in the grass. This pan implies intent, however, and I can't figure it out. Perhaps someone is trying to feed the local wildlife, and if so, it's remarkable that bread was still there. Our neighborhood is full of skunks, foxes, racoons, groundhogs, squirrels, and the occasional bald eagle. This sort of thing shouldn't last an hour. Mystery.

Last week I had to go into work, and I took the chance to visit the huge Friends of the Library bookstore close to the office. Although this place is amazing, I have fantasies of volunteering here so I can clean and organize it. There is so much empty shelf space and bins full of uncategorized books. Ahhhh! 

My favorite section is labeled "DANGER". I have struggled in past to name this genre, which includes anyone stranded in the ocean, missions to climb mountains, feats of endurance, and heaps of natural disasters. I love this stuff. Now if someone asks what my favorite types of books are, I will just reply, "Danger."

In my mission to appreciate winter instead of just being annoyed by it, I have been loving the sunsets and dried, seedy grasses. I ran this weekend for the first time since my half marathon, which was 2 months ago. I definitely needed the break. It was freeing to not time myself or care about my pace. I can safely say that despite my love of the concept of ultrarunning (another topic for the Danger section), I will never be an ultrarunner. Mostly because it takes up way too much time. Maybe someday I'll walk really far, and that will be enough.

One morning this week it was below freezing, and I couldn't bring myself to go outside. I know that in Scandinavia or Canada they would laugh at me, but I hate being cold. The problem is my face. My face gets too cold, tenses up, and I have a headache for the rest of the day. Is there a solution to this? Anyway, it worked out because I decided to spend the time painting instead. I have been struggling to fit painting into my days, so it was great to have this option. It seems a little weird to be doing something creative first thing in the morning, but that's a mental block I have to get over.

Excuse the blurry cell phone photo, but lately we have been plagued by crows. A murder, if you will. There are frequently hundreds of them across the street and in the yard, I suspect drawn by the sunflower seeds in the field. While fascinating to watch, they do tend to poop all over everything. Thanks for nothing, crows!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

It's Weird That December Is Technically Fall

Isn't it weird that December is still fall? It looks like winter, it feels like winter... let's just call it winter. I try to get out for a walk at least twice a week (Monday and Tuesday mornings, since I don't have to take Cora to school), and although there are a few scenic parts of my walk, it's mostly McMansions. I don't photograph them because who wants to look at those architectural follies? I dream for a beautiful walking route right outside my door, but that is for a future house. Until then, I will continue to fool you.

This post is just a jumble of random photos. They can't all be Pulitzer Prize winners, right? First, see Cora in the backyard doing something, probably thinking about what she is going to whine about next.

Next up are photos of the upstairs, where I have my office and library/quiet hiding room. Because I work from home now, I see an awful lot of these spaces. I'm always tweaking but I have gotten them to the point where I really like them, and don't mind staring at the walls 8 hours a day. It helps that I have wonderful light and greenery. The plant below is less than a year old and has grown several feet. Gotta love a pothos, they really are indestructible. 

I am 94 books into my 100 in 2021 goal, which means that I've started thinking about my 2022 reading goals. I won't do 100 again - it really takes quite a lot of time (surprise!) and there are podcasts I've been putting off in favor of audiobooks. I've also been skewing the odds in my favorite by choosing short books. Next year I am going to focus on reading books that I have been wanting to read for a while. This includes books that I own but haven't read; I counted them up and have 44, which actually isn't too bad.

OC is always in the window, waiting for his children to get home. We really lucked out when he showed up, because he's the perfect cat for kids. Eternally patient, loyal, and maybe a little bit dumb. If you look closely you can see me taking the photo in the window.

A couple of weeks ago I helped out on a local flower farm in exchange for dahlia tubers! I helped them dig up tubers and clean them for storage. With 10 people helping it went pretty quickly, and I even came home with fresh eucalyptus, a variety of dried seed heads, and a dozen fresh eggs.

Finally, because it can't all be aesthetic and cozy, here is the recycled fire station and fire truck (Pontypandy from Fireman Sam, for those in the know) currently occupying the kitchen floor. I will likely not be able to remove this until my children go to college, because they hoard everything, including actual trash.