Archive for the 'rambling' Category

Counting months

Timex watch next to a tiny flowering plant on a pebble planting bed.

While in this holding pattern, the world keeps shifting. I drove to the post office (the first time in 2 months) so that I could drop off my vote. Voting by mail is new, but positive — less stress, and no gauntlet of people to pass.

In 2 months,

  • A grade school was torn down, explaining the ever present, mysterious truck sounds and construction noise.
  • Several storefronts have shuttered.
  • The post office is again a hub of activity.
  • People are (mostly) wearing masks to shop.
  • The USA is in a cycle of protest (my heart is with the protestors, and here’s a link to student coverage of the protests).

The natural world offers daily surprises in the yard. An amaryllis we forgot last winter is blooming, our roses are more beautiful than ever, and poison ivy (boo) has come up from underneath the reclining chair in the yard. I go out for evening walks, to avoid groups of people and the sun. It’s lovely to wave at people in their yards as I admire the sunset.

So how about you? How are you marking the last days of spring sliding into summer?

Like an Agatha Christie movie set

Photo of pink and white azalea shrubs under a white dogwood.
Spring is sprung

One neighborhood I take my walks in is filled with azaleas, blooming dogwoods, and green grass in front of Tudor row homes, or 1930s modern twins.

I chat with neighbors (they from their safety of their front stoops, and me on the broken sidewalk), comparing where their gardens are compared to last year. We’ve all agreed that it is too cold to put in tomato or pepper plants. Mostly, one gardener has said he’s waiting on the plants, but it’s too cold to plant them so he isn’t worried about the delay. Since I lack gardening knowledge, I agree because it’s easier.

On the other side of the street, wisteria blooms on an arbor, and the tulips bob on their stems, looking like colorful lollipops. I’ve seen white throated sparrows, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, and cowbirds. Squirrels race along fence posts. And everywhere, I have this uneasy feeling I just missed Hercule Point and Captain Hastings walking up a path and into one of the houses.

I’ve spent a little time wondering why I have so many Agatha Christie references on this blog. Perhaps it’s because I first read the books in my late teens? My favorite Agathas are any of the Tommy and Tuppence stories and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Any favorites on your shelf? I’m dipping my toe into eBooks, and considering what’s available and comforting.

Don’t Stand so Close to Me

Never thought that Police song was going to be relevant this way. I have no idea how people who work in supermarkets can handle the people (mostly dudes, many of whom are in their 70s and all of whom should know better) who race up to other people so they can be “close” to someone else. If I were a specialist in human behavior, I would speculate on why.

Shopping in the grocery store feels like I’m in a real-live version of Doom or Gauntlet, only the goal is to finish without anyone standing right next to me.

So welcome to shopping in one corner of the USA: Staff do their best, limiting how many customers are in stores. You need a mask to enter shops. Everywhere there are signs reminding you that masks are the law, and if you think you might be sick, stay home. There are one or two people who pick things up and then abruptly put things back while you wait patiently for what you want in the aisle. Other people are kind and explain before they need to dart in front of you, so you can appropriately distance. And then there was the one guy who shouted at me about the fact that his potatoes weren’t in a bag, so he had no idea how many would be in a pound (there was a scale behind him). I suspect he’s only ever seen a supermarket, instead of a small grocery with organic food. Lines in checkout are marked with tape to let you know how far away 6 feet really is.

From this isolation, I watch statistics rise (New York, New Jersey and closer to home) and worry about friends and family around the globe. Let’s make a pact to stay as healthy as possible, ok?

So what is life like in your corner of the world? Anyone else weirded out that their allergy symptoms disappear while wearing a cloth mask?

Lots of rain equals

…lots of time for the cats. And also: opportunity for the crickets to escape the basement and become lots of toys for the cats. Altogether now: ick!

IMG_E5163

I am glad that we’ve had more than 2 days without rain. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to take walks without an umbrella or raincoat.

In book news, I’ve found a wonderful book on trees called Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo, with positively luminous closeup photographs by Robert Llewellyn of bark, leaves, fruit, acorns. Everything that’s inaccessible while you walk thru a city park with protective barriers around the trunks.

In other news, Inktober is in full swing, so I’m tweeting different pics. Not sure if I’m keeping Flickr in the sidebar, due to changes of service, so I haven’t been putting any images there. Let me know in the comments if I should, while I ponder other photo sharing services that will work with Ravelry, etc.

Changes

We’ve been humming David Bowie around here (a favorite) because of changes. We’ve finished some good home updating, although not the longed for new bathroom (someday). It’s all external maintenance, but a useful change. Meanwhile…

sketch of sunset over beach houses

Sketch of sunset behind beach houses, moon reflected in waves.

An unwelcome visitor (Florence) stopped near neighbors to the south, so I watched and hoped for the storm to dissipate before it made landfall. We’re both grateful not to be out on the Outer Banks on vacation.  But there were lots of friends and family inland from the projected path.

And… with the rains from Florence (and all summer), the house logically needs more maintenance prior to the longed for modernization indoors.

So, change, uncertainty… feeling uprooted… it feel odd to cheerfully chirp about updates to an older home. But it still needs to be done, if we’re not going to let buildings rot into the ground.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from southern North Carolina, pre-Florence.

 

 

 

Places That Aren’t

Street-signs-in-Ellicott-CityIt’s an odd thing when you look through your photos from 8 years back, and realize that several of the places you photographed (because of beautiful light, or a wonderful moment) don’t exist anymore. But the decimation that hits areas after floods or tornados reshuffles memory.

Was something really there, or was it a pleasant memory that you misplaced … and it really wasn’t on the street you remembered?  Photos I have of Ellicott City, MD are dimmed by this odd out-of-body sense that what I photographed has become a faint memory for everyone.

Places I have loved have been changed by construction: McMansions built where a Century Farm was, or the removal of several city blocks to make way for a thruway. I have been turned around in my home town because 275 year old landmarks have been removed for “progress”.

Losing people, the historical narrative of your family, friends or beloved pets is worse, at least from my limited experience.  Even though the loss of place seems small potatoes in today’s news cycle, the places that aren’t still tug at my heartstrings and haunt my dreams.

 

 

Journal ponderings

Years ago, I kept journals, mostly working thru the processes of: getting through school, adjusting to a messy adulthood (my 20s were intense), and moving sideways into a career. Now, I have a mix of (1) sketch notebooks, (2) basic notebooks (for writing notes during meetings), and (3) notebooks where I jot down notes for short stories. I’m starting to think again about combining category 1 and 3.

My notebooks are motly for my eyes. They are not as amazing and beautiful as these notebooks by artist José Naranja. Check out these links:

…..and get inspired.

Musical Interludes

piano-bench

“Piano Bench”, by Cory Holt. Benches by the Bay, Sturgeon Bay

I’m in between concert performances with the chorus, although there will be runouts to sing some of the same pieces. There were 2 lovely formal concerts, but I think we left every emotion and bit of energy onstage.

We managed to not weep along with the audience during Ryan Murphy’s “A Lullaby” (link to video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it is here). I managed not to tear up while singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (thinking about a family member who loved Kate Smith). We didn’t clash while singing the a capella “My Spirit Sang All Day” by Gerald Finzi (in practice it felt like we sometimes verbally collided or tripped over triplets).

Now, I need brain bleach to get the songs out of my head. Between listening to Big Band music, Ola Gjeilo’s beautiful work, and a Fountains of Wayne album (link is to an NPR tiny desk concert), I’m slowly getting out of performance mode and back to normal. I’ll take the tuxes to the cleaners and relax into a sort of post-performance melancholy. While we’re talking about music to kick away the blues, check out Jenny and the Mexicats in this NPR tiny desk concert.

Anyone else in a community chorus? Any ideas how to deal with the let-down blah feeling afterwards?

 

A Brief Dip into Interior Decoration

Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MDWhile it’s still too cold to go out and laze in the sunshine (brisk walks yes, but not sitting to sketch yet), I’m doing a bit of fantasy interior decoration. Current ideas: get taller bookshelves to take the place of the smaller shelving units crowding the floor space. I think (maybe) we could sneak the roll-top desk into the living room if there were fewer bits of furniture.

Unclutter, neaten, straighten. Go one step forward, and then regroup with the vacuum cleaner. Get out the graph paper, and work out where to move what we have.

So far, I’ve only begun vacuuming and laundry. Probably that’s as far as I will get today (beyond the graph paper). Once the gale is done, I will get outside again. In the meantime, sieze the day and grab a broom.

And when it gets too dark to see the dust, I suggest browsing the Ikea site, or daydreaming about scenes like this:

Book and Bed in Tokyo

https://inhabitat.com/book-and-bed-offers-a-novel-lodging-experience-for-readers-in-tokyo/

Beautiful University Libraries

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/stunning-university-libraries-slideshow

 

Planning for early 2018

It’s a cold, wintry day here on the east coast. I’m trying to work up enthusiasm for today’s walk. While I delay on my errands, I’m drinking hot tea and making plans for February (and January too). It’s sort of a tale of more and less:

  1. The Great Backyard Bird Count is over President’s Day weekend. Maybe I could do some short road trips to look for raptors? If you’re interested in participating, it’s a worldwide effort. More details here: http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
  2. More exercise (thanks to gingerbread cookies, this is needed more than ever). I’m considering hiking trails nearby, as well as places with indoor pools. There might be a chance of spotting wildlife, due to the reduced green cover. If you want to explore winter wildlife, check out these ideas and bundle up.
  3. More art and creativity. Visits to museums; making space/time for more drawing/painting/printing; working on some short story ideas.
  4. More volunteering. Seriously thinking about ways to make the world a better place. It’s a nice chaser to the stress of last year.
  5. Reduce the stash of yarn. I sent some finished knits off as Christmas gifts in 2017 and I’m getting charity hats ready to send away (one needs blocking, one needs finishing). I’m matching well-marinated yarn to knit projects, and trying to figure out what yarn is unlikely to ever be knit into something by me ever (on the pile to donate). Sometime next week, I’ll probably post some of my photos of projects, with details about patterns.
  6. Less clutter. This is a tedious, ongoing project that involves going into the unheated attic to find things that are missing or things I want to remove from the house. Today I may recycle/sort a whole mess of paper in my toasty office while listening to my music collection over the wind’s roar.

What are you making space for in 2018? Any cool ideas you want to add to your life? Or are there things you need to let go?

Wishing you all the best this shiny new year. If you’re further north, in the Boston area, hope you have electricity and heat.

 


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