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September 2020

The Corona Diaries Week 28 - No Rest

Last week started off well. ("Well" is relative in covid times...) and then it went downhill fast in the dark.

RBG's death and all the reaction about it finally hit me on Tuesday or Weds and then there were some truly awful people that I texted in one of the texting programs. Usually the MAGA types don't bother me at all, it's water off a duck's back as I close out those conversations. But sometimes you get sick, horrible people lashing out. Luckily the group I text with is incredibly supportive and a kind community so I could commiserate with them and get lots of love and support back. But it just added to how already low I felt.

My week was also low because I realized I was letting Harper down by not helping her enough with school. I was a failing teacher's aide. I assumed she was in the groove of the school day and the assignments (there is no "homework" per se) and the uploading to their school website and etc etc. But she had missed a few things. I also caught her playing computer games while in class, which I of course told her was bad and shut it down immediately. I feel so bad for her, for all of them, because this is not normal and it's hard and frustrating. So I came up with a daily routine around school and assignments and how to start and finish the school day properly. I'm also going to talk with her about how to occupy herself in a productive way  - drawing or squeezing puddy during class. Something like that, any ideas are welcome!

I started writing this yesterday (Sunday) and didn't finish it until now (Monday morning). Yesterday Harper grumped around in the afternoon, she had already watched a lot of tv and I told her to turn it off. She had already used up her 2 hours per week of ipad/roblox game time the day before and we also had a bike playdate the day before. So there wasn't much to do. She kept asking for me to do stuff (I was cleaning the house and Kurt was working) (and she had finished her house cleaning assignments) and moaned and complained. I finally said, "Harper, I am frustrated too, I wish we could just go to any park, I wish we could go to the movies, I wish we could do everything we used to do, but we can't!" She stomped into her room and walked down the hall to my room shouting over my shoulder:


A truer sentiment was never uttered.

Interestingly, while I was making dinner hours later, she was helping me set the table and she cut cucumbers. At one point she said, "You're doing a good job, Mama." I thanked her and smiled. Kurt told me later that she said the same thing to him when she went out to his office to tell him dinner was almost ready. Then at dinner she said to both of us, "How annoyed are you by the coronavirus?" and we said A LOT. Then she asked "how annoyed will you be if trump wins?" And we said, A LOT LOT LOT.

Important lesson learned: make sure to share how I'm feeling more often. I had been expressing similar thoughts before (about the election and pandemic frustrations) but now I'll be sure to share appropriately about these things more often.

Election day is also our anniversary this year (19 years!) We are considering a mid week getaway the week after to hopefully celebrate on both counts. (Fingers crossed it's a two-fer celebration.) I've been back and forth about spending the money (it's not crazy expensive) but after yesterday's conversations with Harper and the dark week I had, I'm booking it. We will need a break. Going to find a place with a heated pool and strong internet so Harper can do school while we are there.

Third Grade Milestone (a passive one): Picture Day in times of Covid. Masks, socially distanced line and outside photo studio set up. And Harper put on LIP GLOSS for the occasion. omg.


Here she is in a less formal pose at home.


Other milestones: Mr. Biscuit learned to climb a tree last week. We weren't sure if he could get down again, but gravity helped a lot.



Mr. B also found new hiding places


And has found his long legs are becoming an issue in his little hidey-hole.


I had regrown a sweet potato about four months ago and planted it in the garden. Had a little harvest last week!


Kurt had bought a bunch of small sweet potatoes at TJ's earlier in the week so I used the store bought ones to make sweet potato pie. Harper helped.


It was tasty but I used garam masala instead of nutmeg and while it tastes great, I should have put in less of it. Also I don't have an after picture because it looks remarkably just like the above "before" pic!

Whipped cream is a must.


Speaking of garden - Harper has seeds growing for science class and man those things grow fast. This was Monday:


And this was yesterday - a week later:


The lantana out front of our house is lovely.


And at our favorite LA dog's house (Arnie) they have an apple tree growing and lovely apples! I want to plant one...


Early morning office view:


While Biscuit is a big goof, he is sincerely one of the sweetest most patient cats.


Thankfully last week, there was plenty of art. Sea themed:


This is a picture Harper drew from a game she and Kurt play called Horizon Zero Dawn (which we call Verizon). Harper has gotten good at it and the main character is a strong young woman, so that's nice.

Another self portrait.

A friend sent word she was have a tough week too so I told Harper about it and asked her to write a card with me. She drew this picture which just nailed it.

Science school work. Life Cycles.


I've been watching a lot of West Wing reruns during lunch or at odd moments and I quote CJ: "That's a full lid, everybody."



The Corona Diaries Week 27 - IMUA!

The Hawaiian word Imua means to move forward with strength, to move toward a goal. To be resolute in what you take on.

That is all I thought about shortly after hearing about Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death on Friday, Sept. 18. It was a punch to the gut to be sure, but I didn't spend my time grieving. I'll do that later. It's time to move forward, get out there, DO SOMETHING to make the change that we need.

I've been so busy and will only get busier as we are now within six weeks of the election. I want time to fly because I just want it over with. This kind of anticipation I do not like.

It is a sad weird time. (Thanks Captain Obvious Understatement!) I felt like I wanted to write a lot more but there's no time. I'm writing this Monday evening, 9/21 and am keeping it short.

Do all you can to make and be the change in the world and MOVE FORWARD WITH STRENGTH.

Let's look at some art to start.

Harper drew pictures of her teacher, a substitute teacher and herself last week. I just love them.


We played tennis again, trying to do it once a week, but occasionally get stymied by the court bookings.


All the plants on my desk make me very happy.


On one of our morning walks, Harper said she liked the bird of paradise plants. I found this one image that made think, yes, they are pretty. But off all the tropical plants, these are my least favorite because when you grow up on Maui, they are like weeds. Ubiquitous.


Harper suggested, out of the blue, to pick up trash on our morning outing. So we did! We haven't done this since last year. Is #trashtag still a thing? First we passed this spooky house.


We cleaned aaaaallllllll the way from the corner way back there! Got a couple of "Thank you!!"s from passers-by. That was nice.

Mr. B and Willoughby spend time together outside now. Though Mr. B is still a bit hesitant. We had water misters spraying down on the patio one hot afternoon and he stepped outside and noped it right back into the house.


I'd seen these missing cat posters all over our neighborhood for a week or so then this was up. HAPPY NEWS! It really made my day.

This and soon eggnog lattes = the most wonderful time of the year.


Harper gave me another fab hair do.


And she wanted a boba slushy one day, so we went.

SHE'S READING CALVIN AND HOBBES! She's also eating my candy corn. Little does she know I have a secret second bag hidden...


Sushi again. YUM.

Our car battery died and AAA came to give us a jump then said you have to drive it for an hour without the AC on to charge it. So I volunteered and headed down the coast to Manhattan Beach and back. Shout out to a couple of classics: The Kettle and RCL!




The Corona Diaries Week 26 - Darkness

Darkness covered everything. The sky, the news, my heart.

I had a tough week. I've been working on better physical fitness in a variety of ways this summer with very little to measurably show for it and it was frustrating as hell, culminating in me tripping, (while jogging which I'm adding back into my routine) and scraping up my knee and the palm of one hand. (I posted a picture at the bottom of my skinned knee - be warned if you don't like to see a bit of blood.)

It's hard not to feel punished for trying to do all the right things. Especially when it was on day 2 of getting Harper out and moving before school. I had been looking for a way to get her more physically active and one way is to get out before school and do a walk or a bike ride. Tuesday she had suggested jogging down to the bagel store to get bagels for her and Kurt. Cool! So she and I did and when we were almost to the bagel store, I tripped on the curb while crossing the street.

A lot of self loathing seems to just pop right out when something like that happens. And I let myself feel shitty for a few days. It happened on Tuesday and I finally came out of that gloom on Friday. Some of you know I'm a starry eyed optimist and I mostly am, though it's been extra challenging to be so in these last six months.

Oh yeah, it's been six months since our lock down.

So did I find a silver lining to me falling on my proverbial ass? Yes. I found I was hardly sore at all from falling. I braced with my left arm so those shoulder muscles were sore the next afternoon, but that was it. Maybe my extra efforts in physical fitness did pay off. Fine. But did the universe have to make me TRIP AND FALL to discover this?

There is a metaphor for "bringing me down to earth" somewhere in there, but I can't make it work. You tell me.

The physical world exacerbated my interior world's gloom with smoky yellow skies all week. Either Tuesday or Wednesday was the day that was most oppressive. I couldn't ever tell what time it was, and while not nearly as dramatic as Northern California with its Blade Runner skies, it was enough to feel smothered. This is from Monday morning, when you could see the sun. It got worse before it got slightly better by Sunday when there was an actual bit of sunshine, but it's still bad.


I felt shitty this week, but at least we are not under evacuation warnings like friends closer to the fires burning east of Pasadena.

So what did I do to distract myself? Over the holiday weekend (Labor Day) the texting group I work with was closed. So I wrote postcards for Amy McGrath in Kentucky. During the week I worked a whole bunch of shifts as moderator with the group and that makes me feel good, feel useful, feel busy.


This message on my walk path bolsters my resolve to keep working hard for positive change.


School continued to build momentum, becoming a routine that Harper is getting used to (and me too). I made school lunches more fun by going old school with cafeteria trays.


Harper was so excited to make her own lunch the day they came. Animal crackers, cucumbers, green juice, cereal and smoked trout. Not sure if it's a well balanced meal, but hey, she ate it!

I had a hot dog with apples. Water to drink.

I made lunch one day for her and found a little more balance. I think.


I don't have a picture of it, but during the 1/2 hour for lunch they get, Harper likes to sit on the couch, coffee table pulled close to her, lunch tray at hand, knees up, book on lap. Reading and eating. Fantastic.

Harper and Kurt did some chemistry experiments from the kit Harper got the week before. Safety goggles and apron in place.



Harper also drew a picture in the thank you card to Kelly, sender of the chemistry kit. (Picture is of the box the kit came in)


The day before my fall, Harper and I went out for a bike ride.


We rode to school and visited Arnie, the best dog. He lives a block from school and we would always stop to pet him on our way in on regular school days. We miss Arnie. Then I made us ride around the school block three times for an extra bit of cycling.

On our way back, Harper had to stop and rest. Which cracks me up as it's really not that far.

School. (with cat in box)


Other artwork this week included this waterwork.


This image she drew of her playing Roblox via Zoom with her friend Violet last weekend. (Harper is allowed to play Roblox once a week with friends.) I like the wheels on the chair.


But my favorite was from her after school art class on Thursdays. They are learning about Magritte and doing paintings after his. Here is Harper's:


Based on Magritte's Sky Birds.

Magritte3997 Magrittebird

I put her painting in a spot where I can see it from my desk.

Last year she did a painting based on Picasso that blew our minds. And yes we had it framed.


I'm going to keep on encouraging (and signing her up for) art classes.

Harper found more money in her room and promptly bought a new toy. "I guess I still like dolls." She said.


Willoughby has been very affectionate lately. Not sure if she's forgiven us for Mr. Biscuit or if she's just softening me up to make it easier to murder me in my sleep.


More outside time for Mr. B and Willoughby. He discovered her in the tree but has not figured out how to climb it.


We went to the bike park on Saturday, just the three of us, just to get out of the house after being kept in by smoky apocalyptic skies for so long. No pics, but we had a nice time playing petanque (or bocce, whichever language you prefer). We were invited to a kid's birthday party for this coming weekend, but said no as it was going to be too many kids/parents. Even with the invite saying "masks and social distancing." Couldn't do it. Not going to tell Harper she missed it. Ugh. So tough, but after the last get together with some of the kids/parents and us being the only mask wearers, we just have to say no.

I also spent the weekend working very hard on sending texts out with the text group. We did a huge program on vote by mail education in Florida and Georgia. I also did a lot of hours working in the slack texting group, moderating and helping other volunteers. That felt good. Lots more of that this week as well.

I am healing myself with lots of houseplants. (The ones in the far background are fake, but make a lovely splash of green nonetheless.) I'm going to ask Kurt to get me another little plant (like the one in front here) today when he goes to TJs. They make me so happy and the peace Lily has TWO flowers on it now!


P E A C E.


Warning....slightly scraped and bloody kneed image below. Not as gruesome as you imagine.








The Corona Diaries Week 25 - It's About Patience

I hate being patient.

Yes, I am also an 8 year old kid this week. And jeez, what was I JUST saying last week? This too shall pass. Well. I was in no mood for that this past week. I tortured myself looking at fantasy real estate I can't afford and vacation rentals I can't go to. Ugh. Why did I torture myself so?


Big excitement last week was that Kurt and I got a new mattress for our bed. The old one was lumpy and needed the heave ho. So we got a mattress in a box from Amazon Basics. We've slept on it for three nights now and it's fine. Not wildly different, but much more even!


Harper didn't realize she was mimicking Mr. Biscuit behind her.

We left it in the living room to air out and fluff up. The cats were ON IT instantly.

Then it came time to switch the old mattress out - which we did. And the cats WERE OBSESSED with the box spring underneath. They would not MOVE.


I was waiting for the all clear.

Even after we put down the dust ruffle, the cats were right back on it.

Cats are so weird. They finally moved and we got the bed back together and made.

Last weekend Harper got some park bike play time and a nice visit with our friend's very very very wonderful dog.


She came prepared with snacks to give the other girls in a bag that she added handles to. Nice girl.


Harper is a very very very lucky person. She got two, count them TWO gift boxes this week! One from my friend Kelly who is the Co-Founder of Yellow Scope Science Kits for Girls. I totally dig the kid size safety goggles!



We have yet to do the experiment in that one yet. Harper also has an amazing grandma - Gammo - who sent a new subscription book box. It also came with an experiment - making a battery out of lemons to light up a little LED light.



Apparently the lemons we had on hand had run out of juice...No light.

Harper made a new mocktail creation this week: Rainbow Palooza!


On Friday afternoon, Kurt and Harper rode bikes over to a friend's house who has a tree with a ton of oranges. They picked so many oranges that it made about a quart of juice! And all of it has been drunk already. But apparently the tree is overloaded so they can go back and get more.


I did a thing last week. Twice I put on my roller skates and skated back and forth on our little front patio for five minute at a time. I thought I might do this a few times and get my wheels under me and then advance out to the bike path. But you know what? I found I was really not comfortable. Even four years ago when I took lessons every Saturday for a few months, outside the rink, I was not comfortable. The roller skating muscle memory from small kid time just never kicked back in (like it did with tennis). So I tried again and then decided, yup, I'm okay with not roller skating.


Mr. Biscuit got more outdoor time. He's still cautious and not relaxed out there yet, maybe because we added the Willoughby factor into his outdoor excursions.


There are birds up there...

He's just a big galoot.

Grace recently turned me on to one of my now favorite memes:

Rangoon mother

Then I caught this scene in the dining room and it made me laugh, thinking of the above.


The rangoon, mother.

Back to his favorite spot.

And when all the bedding was washed and dried and waiting for us to switch out mattresses, well, someone had to lie in it.IMG_4223

We ordered in sushi again last week, this time with one extra roll which turned out to be about three pieces too many. Crazy, I know. Sushi is SO GOOD.


And this last weekend (Labor Day weekend) has been a major heat wave on the West Coast. So of course Harper put on her long sleeved/long panted PJs and made hot tea. ???


But the next day she made this bathing suit/wet suit combo...

...and splashed about in the pool (after removing 2/3 of the combo)

Hot day, cool water, frozen treat.

We rigged up curtains to block the full west afternoon sun in preparation for an outdoor visit from a friend. I'm not sure if it really helped at all, but shade was much better than full sun. Ooof it was hot. Thank the gods we got AC four years ago.

School is going along, ramping up to full speed. This was one sweet afternoon as Harper did her grammar/language school work. I look forward to more times spent like this. It gives me the warm/fuzzies.





These Pandemic Times

I sent this as a comment on a friend's blog post and wanted to copy it here. It seemed to fit. 
We've had a crash course in surviving a pandemic, then to be sent back to "real life" from the before times must be so stressful. I had a zoom call with an old friend from high school. We've seen each other in recent years once or twice. But we had such a lovely relaxed zoom call that later I half panicked about not wearing a mask when I spoke to her. It happened a few times! Which tells me 3 things:
1) zoom is super normal now, so normal that a one on one call can feel "real"
2) mask wearing is a good habit I have now
3) it was such a nice engaging conversation I had with my friend that I felt like we were together. Thanks Courtney!
Pandemic life is weird.
As an addendum to that above comment, as I was writing this I thought about my blogger friends. I know I've been focused on documenting Covid Life every week, but what more have they been writing about. Is there more to blog about? Uh no. Because:
Yes, my GenX brain did just spit out lyrics from the Thompson Twins. Things are completely different from top to bottom and normal will not be what it once was.