Covid in the Time of Thanksgiving

As of tomorrow, Nov. 17, the state of Oregon, my home will be locking down again, but in a gentler way this time.  Covid is on the rise and steps are being taken as are all around the world.  (I do find it interesting this surge is occurring just about two weeks after Halloween- hmm).  Goodbye swimming pool and library for a bit (sigh).

Nothing much surprises me anymore.  Coming from a biology, ecology background I always thought it would be the microbes that would bring the human race down to its knees – but not in my lifetime. Then, never did I think I would witness our democracy chewed up like a dog toy in the mouth of a deranged pit bull- but here we are.

This reminds me of an incident I witnessed as a small child. My father was patching a hole in a wall of our house.  It was a substantial hole, at least 6 inches wide.  Now how that hole came to be will always be a mystery to me.  Was it from a fist? Unlikely.  It was probably an electrical fix that needed access through the wall.

Whatever the cause, it left a profound effect on my young mind. Until that time I believed my home to be an invincible fortress, impenetrable through any crisis. Then instantly I realized that it was merely a shell surrounding our family subject to damage beyond our control.  Oh, how that fact played out in the future.

I have found through the years that the only real security we have is in our hearts, minds, creativity, and spiritual life.  The rest is subject to holes (and sadly, sometimes even some items in that list). Politics will always be a mess.  This Covid thing will pass but then it will be something else.  This holiday season will be dampened but there is still room for gratitude and love.  Here is my shortlist…

The Art of Flying During a Pandemic

I did not have important business to attend to, a family emergency, or anything pressing that required me to get on an airplane and travel during this Covid 19 pandemic.  That fact was, I was going nutty fruitcakes having been so restricted for so long.  I NEEDED TO GETAWAY. I guess this would come under the mental health category.   After venting to my sister outlaw (former sister inlaw), Jean, a couple of months back she said “why don’t you come up to Juneau for a visit?”  A trip to Alaska and a lot of hiking in the wilds sounded like just the ticket.  Before I knew it I had gone online, cashed in some frequent flyer miles, and then was to be on my way August 5th for a 6- day trip.

I have to say that before I departed I consulted my inner “riskometer.” I knew I would be forced to be closer than was recommended to strangers, but I also knew that Alaska Airlines had HEPA filtration and offered every other seating.  All passengers and crew were required to wear masks.  That combined with the N-95 masks and face shield I just purchased to wear would make my risk of acquiring the virus very low.  Juneau, Alaska also had a very low infection rate.

The fashionable N-95

Approaching Juneau

When I left I was self-contained with my PPE, hand sanitizer, and enough food so I would not need to purchase anything to eat.   The Portland, Oregon airport had maybe 20% of its normal traffic.  I felt secure there.  The first leg of the trip to Seattle I had an entire row to myself.  Now Seatac airport, a major airline, hub was a different story.  It seemed to be more like at 80% capacity.  The gate of my departing flight was fairly crowded with its share of sloppy maskers.  I waited outside of the gate area in a sparsely occupied alcove area and then waited to board last.  As advertised the middle seat was empty.  I did not accept the offered drinks from the flight attendant and avoided using the lavatory during the 2-hour flight to Juneau.  On arriving I got a Covid test required from the State of Alaska.  Then Jean and I were off for some adventures.

On the Perserverance Trail
The MendenhallGlacier
A wet day on the Treadwell Trail
Spawning slamon

Every day we were out hiking rain or shine and there seemed to be way more than the former.  It didn’t matter.  It was so nice to be out in nature and such a beauty- not that the Willamette Valley in Oregon isn’t beautiful.  This was a different beauty- a total change of scenery. We saw a beaver, 4 black bears, including a mama and baby, a beaver, porcupine, spawning salmon, bald eagles, ravens, and a plethora of wildflowers

 Three days later my covid test came back negative which made socializing less stressful. There was no going out to eat nor shopping which was fine with me.  Being outside was what I needed in cooler weather than what the Oregon summer was serving up.

I’ve been back home for over two weeks and no Covid.  For me, this trip was worth the calculated risk I took. I’m in a better frame of mind and feel refreshed. This pandemic is going to be around for a while – probably at least another year or so. In my late 60s, I don’t want to lose two years of my life to this pandemic, but I don’t want to lose my life either. So it continues to be a dance with risk, being safe but not paralyzed with fear.  I can hardly wait to look at this time and talk about it in the past tense- while being healthy.

Alanna also blogs at onesweetearth.com

Pandemic Ponderings with a Pen

After months I’m getting used to the “new abnormal” ……

One thing I forgot on this list in P is for PROCRASTINATION. How can I have this much time and get so little done? Tomorrow is my current default goal.

Alanna also blogs about sustainability on One Sweet Earth

Artwork by the author.

In Defense of Doing Nothing

Take note…none of the great sages, prophets, and saviors ever became enlightened by being busy. They renounced their worldly possessions, headed out into the desert, sat under trees, and retreated to caves high up in the mountains. They fasted, prayed, and meditated- basically doing nothing for extended periods. In this solitary, inward experience they became one with themselves, nature, God, and ultimately fulfilled.

In contrast, our culture encourages productivity. The more we achieve, the more we are valued even to ourselves. We are always heading towards something -graduation, career, children, children leaving home, retirement, and acquiring more stuff. We were never encouraged to just BE and Be with our be-ness. Therefore a great deal of our society thinks happiness is always beyond the next bend. For example- “When I______________(fill in the blank), I will be happy.

Being a victim of this frame of mind, I started my sheltering in place journey with a “Super- think of all the things I can get DONE!- writing art, gardening, fitness, etc.”.  Then I started to go crazy with all these added expectations.

I concluded that productivity is overrated. You get something accomplished and then 3 more things go in the queue. The carrot remains out of reach. What I needed to do was slow down and find a nice cave to curl up in with no paper to write a to do list on. Savoring the moment is where it’s at. It’s likely we won’t get this type of “opportunity” again.

Now I have granted myself a time to go “fallow.” I haven’t gone off the rails, nor am I enlightened, but I have lowered my expectations.  Oddly, this takes a bit of mindfulness.  Old habits die hard, but overall, I am happier and enjoying the ride alot more…

and it is such a relief!

Small Acts of Rebellion

Not flossing before bed

Saying no to the news

Watching a movie first thing in the morning

Staring off into space

Going braless

Making bad art

Writing bad poetry

Using BAD two times in a row

Being happy

Refusing to give up

Find Balance

Alanna also blogs at One Sweet Earth

Doodle by the author

The Mundane That Keeps Me Sane…

A recent entry from my sometimes rather crazy journal/sketchbook.

Hanging Laundry

Bend, lift, snap, pin

repeat

the basket empties

the lines fill

the mind stills

banners of clothing

undulate with the breath

of a June morning.

images by the author

Also blogging at One Sweet Earth

$16 Coffee

Today I bought myself a 12 oz package of coffee from our local coffee roaster in town, Caravan coffee. They have hands down the most delicious coffee I have ever tasted but I rarely indulge as I need to stick on a budget. But today after my weekly Tuesday grocery trip bedecked in mask and gloves, instead of going home I turned my car around and headed toward the coffee roasters. I needed a psychological boost, if even a small one, during this craziness that Covid 19 has brought upon us.


I parked the car, headed into the tiny lobby, and selected my blend suggested by the barista. She asked me if I wanted the courtesy cup of coffee that goes with any coffee purchase and I accepted, of course. My purchase total was $16 for the 12 oz. package of coffee, roughly double what I usually spend in the grocery store, but today no matter. There was no inner gasp or eye blink. This was an “I am so worth this and you have been doing such a great job you go girl” moment.


Seated back in my car I sipped my organic, single-origin, recently roasted & fresh from the grinder cup of coffee. I paused, closed my eyes as the rich steaming, liquid infused my tongue with a complexity of flavors that did cartwheels in my head all the way home. If I were a dog I’d have been in a full tail wag..


There is 12 oz. more of this black magic now stored in my cupboard. It’s not a cure for the coronavirus but for $16 it’s a fabulous cure for the Covid blues. Sometimes you just need to reward yourself during tough times. Go do it. You’re worth it.

Also blogging at One Sweet Earth

The Art of Getting Out of Bed- COVID 19 Version

This is a rehash of a post from 2018 with some new modifications for the times…

monalisa-4893660_1920It shouldn’t be that difficult.  Most people open their eyes, pop out of bed, and voila!- on with their day.  For me, making the transition from Dreamtime to wakefulness is a sacred ritual.  This can sometimes take up to an hour. Even when I was working full-time I always allowed some time for this. Now with COVID 19 &  sheltering in place, there seem to be no people to be held accountable to, nor yoga or pool schedule to meet and no medical appointments.  Now I am left up to my own motivation.  It’s gotten to be more difficult not to be tempted to sleep in.

First step- avoid reading or listening to the news.  I fail to see the point of starting the day feeling depressed.  It’s curated to produce nightmares. (Plus, there is a dearth of good news to be had even though I know it exists.) My phone is in silent mode or better yet turned off.

Place my 15-year-old dog, Bandit on the bed.  He makes me smile.  Then have to free the  “wild img_2131hamsters” that populate my head and if I don’t get rid of them my day seems chaotic.  Essential to that process is to brew a cup of tea, heat up my “hottie” for my tight back, and do a quick meditation.

I spend a few minutes in my planner thinking about my goals for the day or week. I have been finding that scheduling joy into my day can really help to keep the lonely demons away.  Anything from reading a good book, walking the dog, gardening, phoning a friend, or watching a movie IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.  Then onto my journal where I may write anything that’s been lurking in my mind, a poem. Finally, I add a funny daily doodle in my planner for fun.

Now I am ready to transition from human being to more of a human doing with a foundation of centeredness that I hope to carry with me throughout my day.

Next step- remove body from bed and get to living in this simplified yet complicated world.

Continue reading “The Art of Getting Out of Bed- COVID 19 Version”

Rebooting 2020

keyboard-393838_1920Let’s just start over, look back to the resolve we had at the New Year and reframe those goals and hopes into the context of Covid 19.  They may still apply- but if they don’t, convert them into something simpler, kinder, from lofty accomplishments to simply a better state of mind.  My word I set for the year 2020 was “acceptance”, still so applicable but now I am thinking about it in different contexts than I originally intended

At first, I thought that was lowering the bar, but maybe for our culture by slowing down and taking time to reflect we have somehow raised the bar to what’s really important?

  • Being happy with what you’ve got
  • Taking good care of yourself and family
  • Reaching out to others in need
  • Unwinding ourselves to the forces beyond our control

Continue reading “Rebooting 2020”

Finding Order by Planting Seeds

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.    John Muir

There is a verse in Ecclesiastes which says,” a time to plant a time to mourn.”

This would seem to be a good time for both.

img_3580I’m always amazed that every spring no matter what mess the human race has gotten itself into, the crocus pop up in their bright colors followed by daffodils, and fabulous tulips in my yard.

I planted cool crops such as peas, kale, onions & lettuce earlier than usual this spring.  It seemed more urgent to get things growing as we face this Covid 19 pandemic.  The growing of plants affirms order in an uncertain world.

The first garden I grew was when I was a college student in N. CaliforniaIMG_2158.  I grew up in suburbia and had never grown anything except an avocado tree from an avocado seed (which was actually pretty exciting).  Each student in my horticulture class was given a garden plot.  Our semester-long project was to grow a vegetable garden.  I remember being so nervous as I planted the seeds in my plot- were the seeds deep enough, too close together, watered too much, or not enough?  To my delight, everything came up and I feasted late in the spring and summer.  I discovered that seeds wanted to grow. I still peak every day to see what seedlings might have emerged from my garden plantings- such a delight when they do.

As a 6th-grade science teacher I purchased a grow light and had my students plant pea seeds in paper cups they filled with soil.  Every day they would come in and check their “pet peas” and such a hubbub when those pea sprouts poked their heads out of the soil!  Of course, they named them. Eventually, they proudly brought their pet peas home complete with a blossom on the plant.  This was cheap magic and full of learning opportunities.

If you (or your children) need a little magic in your life right now, go out and buy some seeds, soil and plant them in pots or even paper cups.  Flowers like zinnias and marigolds are very easy to grow- or if you are more ambitious, try a tomato. Water and place in a sunny location in your home and in 7 days or so watch the show begin. You will not be disappointed.IMG_2148

In Every Seed a Promise

A germ of possibility

Tucked into a tiny package

Waiting to unfurl its cotyledons

Up in the sunlight

From the depths of fertile ground

 

The sprout will grow vigorously

With the right conditions

Beneath the sun’s rays and the spring rains

With the breath of nature whispering

“grow, grow”

 

Tend it with care

Lest it be choked by weeds or eaten by pests

Then feast from your labors

and natures’ mystery

The wonder of a tiny bit of matter

That waited to reveal its purpose

img_2894

 

Pandemic Poetry

Bringing light in these uncertain times is a plethora of poetry being shared.  It’s amazing the power that poetry can have bringing our attention to the matters of humanity. The last of these is mine.

And the people stayed home.

And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.

Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently. And the people healed.

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

– Kitty O’Meara.

Continue reading “Pandemic Poetry”