Corona Diaries 2020

The Corona Diaries Week 20 - Mom Is Tired Of Camp Camp

Weirdly, time seems to be flying lately. For months it was     S     L     O     W     and now the weeks seem to hum along. Not sure if we are just getting used to it, or if the anticipation for school starting and other fall activities is making time move along again. It's not like "normal" - let's be real about that. But I kind of like it better.

One thing that helps is the volunteering with Open Progress which I mentioned before. I have moved up to Pro level and they asked if I was interested in becoming a volunteer leader to help with training and moderating in the slack support group. I said yes immediately. November is coming fast and it is so important to turn state houses blue, to elect democratic AGs and of course flip the senate and the White House. YOU CAN HELP TOO! Click here to learn more about it and to sign up. There is a lot of work to do and we can do it together!.

After two weeks of Art Camp and Science Camp, my camp fuel tank was empty so we had "Summer" last week. Harper got to watch a bit more tv and play a lot more minecraft. We had bike rides and bike play dates and even tennis a couple times.

IMG_3786

The garden is still growing, I have zucchinis that are started but not ready yet, and cherry tomatoes that are started but not ready yet. The beans are getting tired. And for some stupid reason I had bought/planted bell peppers. But I had remembered doing it years ago and there being ONE pepper that grew. Same thing this time. I think also the bugs LOVE the bell pepper plant which doesn't help. So, one pepper grew and I was waiting for it to turn red because I don't like the green flavor.

And it finally did turn red. And Mr. Grasshopper seems to be enjoying it so that's great. Happy I can feed the world. Ugh.

IMG_3787

Luckily Debra had a gorgeous tomato to share with me which I devoured.
IMG_3787

While there is still much growling and hissing from Willoughby, the cats are getting along better and better. Sleeping near each other on the bed, being in the same room without fighting. It's nice. I know one day I'll catch them snuggling and that will be a banner day.

IMG_3790
IMG_3790

The most exciting day was when Kurt and I were both reading on the big bed and the cats were both there and then this happened:

We thought FOR SURE Willoughby would attack. But no! Progress.

IMG_3790

Careful, there, Willoughby.
IMG_3790

There was some bike riding around the neighborhood. Harper wanted to see the back alleys of Rancho Park. She found them very bumpy.

IMG_3800
IMG_3800

And we played Tennis! It was so nice to get out and do something sporty. Harper had a week of tennis camp last summer and I was looking forward to having her do more this summer, but this will have to do.
IMG_3800
IMG_3800
IMG_3800

She did remember some stuff:

Tennis Tangent:

I was lucky to learn how to play tennis when I was about Harper's age. We lived on Oahu and Punahou had summer camps and I had tennis for probably a week(?). Back in the days when the racquets were made of wood and the kid's racquets had a short handle. I remember vividly being told we were going to learn how to volley. The instructor asked if anyone knew how and one kid raised their hand. The rest of us got behind him. Then we moved to Maui and we could sometimes play at the club. Jen and I would hit balls around. In the summer time when we had to go visit my dad and stepmom and older sisters, Jen and I would go the tennis courts at the Waikoloa clubhouse. I think my Dad and Stepmom were living in the condos there while their house was being built (this part is fuzzy). But I remember so clearly playing with Jen and she liked to play for real, not just rally around.  She loved yelling "Advantage Jen!"

I feel like we played a lot. We watched a lot of tennis too. Someone had a tennis racquet called Miss Chris after Chrissy Everet. (click for bigger)

MissChris

All that to say I'm so grateful to have played so much as a kid (Thanks Mom!) because that muscle memory is STRONG. I might not be fleet of foot or have very good grip strength at my age, but my body knows where to go and I can build those two things again. It feels good and I want to play more - which we will as I've booked two more hours at the courts, one this week and one next. And I got lucky booking the court with one open side and one end has the cement wall that you can play alone against. This is helpful when Kurt and Harper are playing on the other side and I can play against the wall. Tennis makes me happy.

Speaking of Happy: Harper saved and earned money to buy a doll - this one to be exact - and she is sooooooo happy. She did promptly undo the detailed hairdo...as you do when you are eight. Now she's saving up for another one. I'll take pics of the doll this week. She's been playing with it non stop. I love that.

IMG_3846

We had a bike play date with friends from school.
IMG_3846

More backyard blow up pool time.
IMG_3846
IMG_3846
IMG_3846

Then a park play date with masks and bikes and kites. I had to tell the three girls to not sit SO close to each other a couple of times. I apologized to the other moms there, but they were fine with it.
IMG_3846
IMG_3846

And Harper cleaned out her shoes. She still has plenty and then asked for more. Uh. No. If we were actually going back to school, then probably when the other shoes were fully destroyed, but now? Not so much.
IMG_3846

Had some gourmet lunch one day.

IMG_3807
IMG_3807
IMG_3807

I baked a bundt poundcake. OMG
IMG_3807

There was a Saturday Night Gin and Tonic or two. Refreshing.
IMG_3807

And that about sums up the week. xoxo


The Corona Diaries Week 19 - Science Camp

Yesterday was busy though I can't quite remember with what. But now it's Monday and I'm doing this. But I'm not happy. It's not easy to be cheerful this morning. Not at all. The hardest part for me while I'm unemployed and unable to do IRL things in a pandemic is having to be self supporting. Giving yourself Atta-girls only goes so far after a while.

Seriously this all just sucks. (Says Captain Obvious.)

Anyway.

Last week was Science Camp and I set up fun things for Harper (and other family members) to do. Not everything got done and I tried to borrow a telescope but no one we know had one, so no moon or planet stuff. And our binoculars are not great.

IMG_3782

I roped Grace and Gammo into making Naked Eggs. We started with a zoom call and we put eggs in cups and covered them with white vinegar. They stayed that way overnight. (With a spoon on top to make sure they stayed covered.)

IMG_3686

Then Harper and Grace and Gammo chatted on zoom while I made lunch for Harper. She made bracelets for them both out of rubber bands.IMG_3686
IMG_3686

IMG_3713
Next day we got together to view the results and they are wild. We actually had a fun scientific discussion about how this worked and what would the egg taste like and could you just cook it and it would the vinegar flavor have permeated the membrane?

So while we chatted, Grace cooked up her egg and it was just a boiled egg that tasted a lot like vinegar. Her dog was happy with it.

IMG_3686
IMG_3686

IMG_3686

Another thing we did was observe what happens to apple juice when you leave it on the counter for a week. (I made this one up all on my own...haha.)

Results: It's pretty gross. I'm going to take a piece and put it under the microscope today. (More on that later)

IMG_3714
IMG_3714
IMG_3714
IMG_3714
IMG_3714
IMG_3714

We made geodes with eggshells and food coloring and borax. This was also an overnight deal.

Results: Fantastic! And super easy, we could do it again.

IMG_3727
IMG_3727
IMG_3727
IMG_3727

Gammo had sent a microscope to Harper at the beginning of summer. We got it out and looked at stuff in it one day.

First start with hair follicle.

IMG_3720
IMG_3720

Tiny flower and details.
IMG_3720
IMG_3720

Seaweed!
IMG_3720

We also made "Elephant Toothpaste". We did two versions - one with 3% hydrogen peroxide and one with 12%. Round 1 = 3%.

61722769222__FF26CC9F-753A-455B-881A-FBCC1998BC1D


61722769222__FF26CC9F-753A-455B-881A-FBCC1998BC1D

Harper got slimed a bit so she had to put pajamas on. As you do in SCIENCE.

Round 2 = 12% solution. (The only kind I could get was "cream" style at the beauty supply store, not sure if that slowed it down.)


61722769222__FF26CC9F-753A-455B-881A-FBCC1998BC1D

And our last major science experiments were also egg related - Walking On Eggs and Squeezing Eggs.

IMG_3752

It kinda worked!

Then we did squeezing eggs, which actually surprised me as we were all really squeezing hard!

Cooking was pretty basic around here this past week. Too busy to go too nuts. Made some nice pasta.


IMG_3708

Took Harper for drive-up ice cream - she got the mermaid cup and I got the crown.
IMG_3708
IMG_3708

Sunday night dinner was pretty basic. But delicious. (Homemade broccoli/cheddar soup)


IMG_3708

I had some minor vertigo and minor sinus annoyances (not covid related). Went to the ENT doc and was temped by all those drawers while waiting to be seen. Kurt thinks I'm insane, but man, when you have to wait for ever, it's fun to see what's in all the drawers. PS Vertigo solved with some physical therapy to realign the crystals in my inner ear.

IMG_3734

We try to exercise more. Kurt used to go to volleyball twice a week but that's long gone.

We come up with things you can do at home without needing too much equipment. Harper likes to join in. She did Twister on her own.
IMG_3734

Joined Kurt stretching outside one morning.
IMG_3734

Became an audience of two while I was stretching and doing planks. I really don't need an audience for that.
IMG_3734

We went to a park play date on Saturday with some friends from school - all with social distance and masks. Luckily there was plenty of room for picnics and a nice visit from one of my fave dogs.
IMG_3734

The girls all wore their masks and had an adventure in the huge empty lot next to the park. They found a fort already built and had a good time decorating and adding to it.
IMG_3734
IMG_3734

Their new album just dropped.
IMG_3734

Cats provide much levity and joy. And science! As Harper figured out a new system of measurement to measure Biscuit.

IMG_3683

Willoughby enjoyed Harper's lunch alfresco.
IMG_3683

Biscuit enjoys my mouse cable. Maybe it's mouse flavored.
IMG_3683

But he's sleeper too.
IMG_3683

This fine feline has been around our yard lately. Veeeeeeery skittish. Also very cute.
IMG_3683

We got packages from afar with drawings from Harper's old school friend Edie. They were in school together in England and Edie's mom and I became good friends. We've zoomed a couple of times. I just love this graphic image. Edie has very dark hair!

IMG_3730

Harper drew a picture for my step mom's birthday coming up this week.
IMG_3730

And um. Yeah.
IMG_3730

I enjoyed some plumeria in the neighborhood.
IMG_3730

Rearranging our plants on the patio with help from a hand me down plant stand from friends a few blocks away.
IMG_3730

Still trying to grow some decent tomatoes. Have not had any luck with the romas I planted. They were all dry.
IMG_3730

So yeah. Another week. It's hard. Like I said before, it's hard and we have it easy.

 


The Corona Diaries Week 17 - Camping Camp (We Are Amateurs)

It was a weird week of not being sure what day it was, which, in covid times is not unusual, but even more so last week. It was a week where I felt even more removed from the world than before. There was no rhythm to it. There had been rhythm before, again, even in these wacky times. So I'm glad this week is over. I'm really looking forward to having some semblance of structure. This comign week is Art Camp and I'm finalizing plans and materials this week. There will be magazine collages and reusing of brown paper bags and tissue paper and - yes, here it comes - mod podge. Can't wait.

As you know, last week was Camping Camp. I was excited to try. It ended up being what Grace likes to call "the burnt pancake" version.

Here's what I've learned: I am a rank amateur camper. Oh I'm game, but not very experienced. I have some basic skills, I have a clue, but it's in no way second nature.

I learned that if we want to be regular campers, we need to have some gear. Nothing fancy at all, but things like a box of kitchen stuff dedicated to camping. It lives by itself in the storage area and we just grab it when it's time to camp. No pillaging our own kitchen wondering what we might need.

We need better sleeping gear. We took air mattresses and blankets which would have worked out great if it hadn't been so damn COLD overnight! Wow, it was so much colder than expected and we didn't bring enough blankets. Blankets for on top of us and to also layer between us and the air mattress as the air mattress keeps the cold in really well.

I need to learn how to plan food/meals better. TOTALLY overdid the food. I was packing for ten people for five days, apparently. And bacon and eggs. Next time how about just cereal and milk? Maybe ease into it?

I also learned that I would really rather have one of these:

Trailer

(or this one or this one or hell, why any one of these?)

Our tent was spacious, but I could only just stand up in it, so that was annoying for Kurt to not be able to. But I did like the front porch aspect of it, made it handy for storing your stuff in a separate space and also a place to leave your dirty shoes before going into the sleep spot.

Prep also involved doing the Helga braids.

IMG_3387

Car was PACKED.
IMG_3387

Bathroom break and a snack. (I guess we didn't bring enough??)
IMG_3387

CAMPSITE! Tent is up.
IMG_3387


IMG_3387

That's Grace's car and tent behind Kurt. Then beyond that to the left were other campers at their site.
IMG_3387

Setting up camp is thirsty work.
IMG_3387
IMG_3398

Grace brought a smaller tent for her giant air mattress.
IMG_3398

Harper giving it a go.
IMG_3398

CLASSIC FAMILY FAVORITE! Grace and Harper's Great Grandmother always had these on hand.
IMG_3398

Setting up camp in a pandemic is thirsty work.
IMG_3398
IMG_3398
IMG_3398

Climbing a hill.
IMG_3398

At the top

IMG_3422
IMG_3422

View from the shower, which we never used except to wash hands as the toilet room didn't have a sink. But the toilet room was actually very modern and clean and nice. Proper flush toilet! LOL
IMG_3422
Harper got to work on making a sculpture.
IMG_3422

IMG_3422

It finally cooled off a little bit.
IMG_3422

IMG_3571

A bit of frisbee.
IMG_3571

And Grace made / brought spectacular chicken dinner for us (and the wasps).

(Another lesson, bring a dam fly strip or wasp trap to hang from a tree.)
IMG_3422

But this is what Harper really came for.
IMG_3422

Many marshmallows were consumed.
IMG_3438

After Harper went to bed we pulled out the Jiffy Pop - good old nostalgia!
IMG_3438

And it caught on fire.
IMG_3438

Jiffy Fail.
IMG_3438

As mentioned, the evening got COLD. But there were amazing stars and planets to look at. (Duh, dumbass, BRING BINOCULARS!)

At one point, maybe 2am? I had to go to the bathroom (which I never do at home!) and by then the just-past-full moon was up. It was amazing to walk all the way to the bathroom with no flashlight. (It was about a 1-2 minute walk.) The coyotes were talking all night, not very close, but you could hear them plainly. But Kurt and I definitely didn't sleep much due to the cold.

Lots of rabbits around the path to the toilet in the morning.
IMG_3438

We took a walk up another hill before it got too hot.

IMG_3452
IMG_3452

Got to the top, lovely view. Harper complained the last little way up. "I'm not going all the way up!" "Harper, just come on." "Fine."
IMG_3452

Then she got up , looked around for 2 seconds and left.
IMG_3452

More rabbits.
IMG_3452

The sculpture was redesigned.
IMG_3452

We made breakfast and decent camp coffee. Then discussed going home early as it had been a very uncomfortable night and there was not easy way to make it better. No handy Target 5 miles away from which to grab more blankets. Harper was extremely disappointed and who could blame her. But we still had time to play.

IMG_3464

and finalize the sculpture.
IMG_3464

And eat a hot dog for lunch using the handy hot dog holder in the folding chairs.
IMG_3464

Harper's final sculpture was a mini campfire. (foot for scale.)
IMG_3464

Welp. Drive home was tasty.
IMG_3464

Back home we unpacked and washed everything. We were filthy from all that dry dusty dirt. Harper wanted to watch TV the minute we came home and was about to jump on the couch and I said, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Go get in the shower first!" Which she did.

The rest of the week involved Harper learning a few new things. Broomball for one.

IMG_3478
IMG_3478
IMG_3478
IMG_3478

61593241178__AFD1B4FF-F560-4252-BCB5-DF811D9D0194

Creating more art. (This was one of the very first projects I saw online at the start of the lock down. Finally pulled it out for something to do.)
IMG_3478
IMG_3478

Tried the Jiffy Pop again - reasonably more successful, but still not quite right. And no, I can't explain about the expression and body pose.

61604190620__F5E55183-028A-43AD-9734-E86E23DBD5C9

IMG_3478

Harper also learned about seriously skinned knees. She fell off her bike for the first time. Luckily, we've watched enough Tour De France to know how to properly bandage that up.
IMG_3478
IMG_3478

Cats.

IMG_3507
IMG_3507

IMG_3507

Sweet potatoes are flowering in my garden.

IMG_3502

And I hope justice will happen for Breonna.

IMG_3474

Lastly this week, I made the number 3 sidewalk obstacle course.

So - will we try camping again? Yes, I think so. It's just going to involve different planning and finding a better/cooler/less dusty place. But I'm game!

 

 

 


The Corona Diaries Week 16 - Online Camp

For me it was a "meh" week. June gloom definitely ended and the days are sunny and warm almost from the get go. Now it will be four months of mostly just hot and sunny. I realize people come here from far and wide to enjoy this (in the before times) but I'm super over it. And thank the stars we got AC four years ago. That helps A LOT. And the splash pool for Harper. School is set to start in about six weeks. It will be interesting to see what will be decided by LAUSD and what parents will want to do.

Harper had an online camp this week - Minecraft Co-op through Planet Bravo. The whole camp was a lot of kids, but then they broke into smaller groups for the actual minecraft play/work time. She had a good time, but it was a challenge to share an office with her as she got into it! There was much talking and "working" with the other campers. Some nuggets:

"It's cray cray!"

"If you want to be spit in the face by a llama, then hit 1!"

And at some point she told someone she had to skedaddle. "Skedaddle" is not even in our rotation of regular words around the house.

IMG_3338
IMG_3338
IMG_3338

They had the kids take breaks and do physical stuff around the house like "build a superhero from stuff in your house" or "build a fort." And parents took pics and forwarded it to share with the camp.
IMG_3338

By the end of one day she had really gotten into it as evidenced by her workspace.

IMG_3353

She also got plenty of outside fun time which included the brief adoption of "Chocolate" the lizard. She opted for gloves after it peed on her. (Or discharged a defensive liquid of some kind.) He was released after a few hours.

IMG_3359
IMG_3359
IMG_3359

Harper also found another chrysalis near the front door. She was super excited to show me.
IMG_3359

There was more bike riding. I'm trying to keep her going every other day or so. We rode by Roger's old house and she said she wants to live there some day.

IMG_3325

We got new running shoes. I was in desperate need and Harper only had junky old sneaks. Harper chose her traditional blue, I went with hot pink.

61514570274__FF9BC513-6DB6-45D5-9688-8BC78F37857B

61514570274__FF9BC513-6DB6-45D5-9688-8BC78F37857B
61514570274__FF9BC513-6DB6-45D5-9688-8BC78F37857B

IMG_3344

It was nice to go for our little runs with proper new shoes. Alas, Harper's desire to run the fun run is waning. We've taken a break on it and we'll see if we can pick it back up when we get back from camping camp.

We had a bit more prep for camping camp. A cheap and cheerful fold up chair was acquired for Harper. And we borrowed a big cooler and camp stove and other small misc items from a kind neighbor. And Harper packed her suitcase on Friday.

IMG_3374
IMG_3374
IMG_3374

I'm pleased that we could borrow so many things from friends, that saves tons of $$. We bought a tent, Harper's chair above and I bought a camp coffee pot which I tested yesterday and it was pretty good coffee. Oh and giant marshmallow skewers, cuz you know, smores. (Frankly, Kurt and I could pass on smores all day, but the 8 year old. Well.)

Random outfit:

IMG_3367

The cats were busy in their regular ways. Nothing fancy or special.

Mr. Biscuit had a few moments with his blue chicken. This was the toy Harper and I picked out for him when we adopted him. SHhhh, don't tell him it's a dog toy!

IMG_3327

Willoughby didn't get in front of the camera much this week.

Kurt entertained himself with a puzzle, one we had made way back in April. We put puzzles on moveable whiteboards as we don't have space to leave it one spot. But this leads to curious cats wreaking havoc.

61551956189__F3A9BF48-50DE-4D0D-B6FE-F79607C2B5E9

Closeonpuzzle

We also started watching a new (new to us) show called "Dark" which I needed a break from after two nights because it is, in fact, dark. So I suggested and we watched something light and frothy. That Paul Newman was fantastic in just about everything.

61544131721__F5454003-1E21-4709-98A9-09428B98EE2A

July 3 was the release of #Hamilfilm -- AKA Hamilton on Disney+. We, along with jillions of others, watched it on Friday. It was so nice to see it after all these years of listening to the soundtrack. Harper got bored by the middle of act 2, and I think Kurt did too as afterward he told me some history facts about the fiance of the Goerge Eaker  - you know, the guy who shot Philip Hamilton - and how the fiance went on to marry Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat. Well. I really enjoyed the show...

Wacky moment - when I was scrolling through Disney plus for something else this week, I came across this insane blast from the 90's past. My first big VFX producing gig. God I was terrible and had a lot to learn.

IMG_3376

For the 4th, we joined three friends for a socially distant backyard hangout. Then came home to listen to fireworks all night. Harper went to bed late and had posted this on her door.

IMG_3381

The cats were not too bothered by all the fireworks, thankfully.

Camping camp will be a good break from the house and our routine here. Being distracted by Harper's online camp made the week less productive for me, so I'm aiming to get back to working more diligently on my projects when we get home. Part of that will be to come up with Harper's next camps. Arts and Science will be one. Crafts another. We have a zillion brown paper bags to work with. Let's see what I can find.

Halfway through the year and it all just gets weirder and weirder.

 


The Corona Diaries Week 15 - Back To Basics

June Gloom is still with us and I'm glad and I hope it lasts well into July. I don't look forward to hot summer days especially when there is nowhere to go. I haven't checked in a while, but I'm pretty sure the beach is still off limits as the virus case numbers are still going up in SoCal. I will have to get creative with our backyard summer fun and possibly even front yard summer fun. Also I'm sure we'll sneak over to our friend's pool again at some point.

Bike Camp went well and was a good focus. As was our running training for the 1 mile Harry Potter run we will do at the end of July. Last week we considered tennis camp, but then Kurt was busy working so we mostly did random stuff. Rode bikes a bit and kept the running going, but it felt scattered. This coming week is minecraft online camp, then next week is camping camp. (haha) After that I want to make sure each week has some kind of theme that we can actually do. Science Camp, Arts and Crafts Camp, etc. Even if the theme is only an hour a day, it's helpful to have something to plan and accomplish.

I'm also working hard to have Harper simply figure stuff out on her own to do (which seems contradictory, haha). It's become a habit to help keep her occupied for some part of the day. But aside from the running and biking (which I strive to do with her every day) there is a lot of time to fill and frankly, she can fill it herself - you know, like we all used to do for our whole childhoods! And with all kinds of cardboard, tape and sharp objects around, she does just that. (As always, you can click the images for larger versions.)

IMG_3278
IMG_3278
IMG_3278

It's amazing what she gets up to. One day I was deeeeeeep cleaning the kitchen and she asked me to help her set up the hot wheels track, but I said, nope, sorry, gotta keep cleaning. So she ended up doing her own thing with cool building blocks and all her cars. This was the end of the activity after about an hour and a half.

IMG_3297

Um.
IMG_3297

One night she made this, uh, Golem?
IMG_3297

Of course hot days require some splash time.

IMG_3286

And MadLibs. Ever MadLibs.

61463651661__ADADC352-2878-442E-A3AF-BB501EE7F66E

In preparation for Camping Camp, we opened up the tent box and gave it a go! Inside that bigger box from last week was a much smaller box, thankfully. Harper and I put most of it up - that's how easy it was. Then Kurt helped with the rain thingy. It has a little screened porch!

IMG_3276
IMG_3276

Willoughby inspected our work.


IMG_3276
IMG_3276

The cats had another relaxing week.

61482620416__97C23B11-FE9D-41FB-89D7-7238C344A8AA
61482620416__97C23B11-FE9D-41FB-89D7-7238C344A8AA

I lightened my hair a bit by myself. Did okay! Nothing dramatic at all, but a touch more light around the face...got the materials and color from my stylist and paid her for it all. Didn't do facetime coaching this time, just winged it.

IMG_3318
IMG_3318
IMG_3318
IMG_3318

And speaking of back to basics, the food with week was pretty easy. I had a lovely lunch of Sticky Pickle, cheese and cracker one day. But OOH I miss the GOOOOOOOOD Cheddar that you could just buy at Waitrose. Have I mentioned I miss England? Ever?

IMG_3267

Harper and I had a VERY FANCY lunch one day.
IMG_3267

A friend has a peach tree which is raining peaches down upon him, so Harper and I went over and picked a bunch. Then I made a peach upside down cake. Why not?

Peaches in place:
IMG_3267

Caramel on top - NOT NEARLY ENOUGH! (I made a note in the recipe to TRIPLE IT.)
IMG_3267

Batter on top.
IMG_3267

Et Voila! It was pretty yummy but needed more caramel...!
IMG_3267

Back to more basics on the deep clean the kitchen day. Mmmmm.
IMG_3267

But don't worry we aren't really junk food junkies - many an evening's dinner looks like this.
IMG_3267

The bike riding is coming along. Harper and I went out on the streets! She did well.

No we are our own peleton. Harper attacked on the bike path and we had to hustle to keep up or she would have taken the stage win! Kurt had to unpack his suitcase of courage.

We busted out Kurt's new vacuum for the two area rugs inside the house that really needed attention. Boy-howdy did they need attention! It also works on wood floors.

IMG_3301

And Harper learned another new life skill.

We have fallen down hard on the drums and ukulele. I know I'd be more inspired if I had actual lessons. But noodling around on a borrowed Uke is good for now. When I remember to do it...

IMG_3323

This coming week will be busier and more organized thanks to minecraft camp.

Basics can be good though. Comforting. I plan on reorganizing our deck and putting up outdoor lights and making it a really fun comfy place to live this summer. With the covid-19 numbers only going up, STILL, we are just staying home. Pretty basic.

Oh. And I wrote a very rough draft of a novel. Huh. I accomplished something in lock down after all. Now to revise...


The Corona Diaries Week 14 - Life Skills Learned in Lock-Down

 

A note about last week's post - what the heck happened with the formatting? I have no idea. (EDIT: I fixed it!) My only thought is the youtube video did something wonky. This week I will put the video I have in an addendum to this post.

This was the first week of summer. Normally Harper would be off to some kind of day camp. But instead we are making our own day camps. This past week was Bike Camp! Harper has not wanted to ride her bike at all. She has training wheels and can do it, but grumbles and complains about it. So we decided it was time for her to just do it. Kurt was Bike Camp Counselor and on day one, he took the training wheels off, we went to a park with a low hill and lots of grass, gave her a few pushes and she was off.

Easy-peasey-lemon-squeezy. What was all the previous fuss about?

To be fair, she did have a few moments of frustration, sitting and pouting, but then she would get up and try again. We are really proud of her.

IMG_3184

IMG_3185

CLICK HERE for the video.

We went back every day for her to practice, which involved Kurt and I sitting in the shade and just watching her work it out. On day three of camp we made a picnic and Harper rode around and around, up and down.
61411277389__1E3B9F9B-3C9E-4CE6-A0BF-B017802F85AD

Picnic complete with cucumber sandwiches and cheddar with Branston Pickle. Have I mentioned I miss England? A LOT? I miss it. (More about sticky pickle later in the post...)

IMG_3221

This is her final day success picture. And she got a certificate of completion.

IMG_3233
IMG_3233

Kurt and I signed it and presented it to her and she seemed very pleased and took it to her room. I hope she feels like she accomplished something big!

Next week is probably tennis camp, but we'll see how that plays out.

Cats. In the mornings I open one of the windows in my office and Biscuit likes to hang out there. And he makes his face like this and it's super sweet. Then he has to see what I'm eating for breakfast.

61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459
61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459

He's just generally darn cute.

61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459
61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459

Most of the time Willoughby and he get along fine. I thought more yelling/spitting/fighting would happen here, but luckily nothing did.
61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459
61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459

We had a social distance visitor - Tom - and he and Willoughby got some bonding time.
61436147241__25FA6192-F246-4A69-89A7-70E0F079A459

Tom also MADE MY WHOLE YEAR by bringing me this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

61438756950__DDFCF3C3-8CB5-4036-A419-EB0B7A613A78

I seriously just about cried. Not so much about the sticky pickle, but that Tom heard my silly longing fro Stokes Sticky Pickle and took it upon himself to find some, buy it and deliver it. I was seen and heard and a lovely gift was delivered. He also delivered a fantastic candle that I've already been burning two days and premixed cocktails! He's a gem, that Tom. And we are so grateful to know him.

There was another surprise that showed up on the same day (Saturday):
61438717891__AF42D977-4C51-473A-BD7B-72B2BA001836

From Kerry - just out of the blue! Again, I'm really touched to have wonderful, thoughtful friends.

And a third friend gifted us three ripe avocados. Some of them went into this yumfest.

IMG_3235

I also tried poaching an egg for the first time ever. Not bad! It needed to cook just a minute longer, but otherwise, I would do it again.
IMG_3235
IMG_3235

Speaking of egg yolks - I went to the Japanese food store to buy fishcake and Melona bars (essential). I had to grab these on the way out because why not. Mostly they just taste salty.
IMG_3235

Garden harvest this week. Tomatoes are a bit on the dry side. Not sure why other than I really need to replace all the soil in my plant bed.
IMG_3235

Harper did a drawing for a friend's daughter who turned 13 this month.

"Is her hair curly?"

No Harper, it's not.

"Well, it's going to be curly in my picture."

You do you, Harp.

IMG_3178

Hello.
IMG_3178

Sweet unsolicited love notes from the girl.
IMG_3178

The week went well, though it did slow down a bit toward the end....but we'll start fresh tomorrow.

IMG_3250
IMG_3250
In preparation for our camping trip I bought this CRUCIAL item.
IMG_3250

And our tent arrived. I bought a six person tent because I like to have space. It's a bit big...Can't wait to practice putting it up in the yard this week!

IMG_3262

And today is Father's Day. Kurt got the present he's been wanting since he took over the heavy lifting on cleaning days since we went on lock down. (Our housekeeper had her own vacuum and we've paid her to stay home since March.)
IMG_3262
IMG_3262
IMG_3262

Then we took a drive to Ojai to visit a friend who just moved there. It was a lovely day of garden adventures and delicious cheesecake and good food.

It was also a big day because Harper learned MAD LIBS! I haven't played in decades and it still makes you laugh and laugh. No one laughed harder then Harper.
IMG_3262
IMG_3262

It's been a lovely day and a bright week. Grateful for good, kind, generous, thoughtful friends.

Grateful that Kurt is such a wonderful father. Harper is a lucky lucky girl.


The Corona Diaries Week 13 - Still In The First Wave

Did you ever go body surfing as a kid and get caught up in the wash of a big wave? It pushed you down and spun you around and just when you came up for a breath, you were pushed down again? Waves are like that. You think, "oh another wave must have broken over me while I was under." But then you come up to realize wave number two is not here. You are still thrashing about in the first wave.

Yeah. It's still the first wave of the pandemic, no matter how much everyone wants it to be the only wave or the second wave. I guess if you are hoping it is the second wave, that means we are closer to being done with this whole thing. Not even close. Still in the first wave. It sucks. No two ways around it. Ashley sums it up nicely here:

Screen Shot 2020-06-14 at 12.32.52 PM

I am not ready to head on out there and relax. As of this week, California infection rates are still climbing. New cases are increasing. Orange County said: Okay cool, no more masks for us. Whatevs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We are still staying home, we are wearing masks if/when we go out, which is rare, we make sure to social distance and wash hands and sanitize well. When I drive around to do an errand, I see people out, no masks, enjoying their time in restaurants. Okay fine. Everyone gets to do what they like, but Covid-19 is not gone. It's not going to be gone for a long time. Until there is a vaccine or at least a solid treatment, I'm not going to change much of my / our behavior. And it's hard. I want to go out. I want to do all the fun things. But it's not time yet. Patience is my keyword.

So.

Last week was Harper's last week of school, last week of 2nd grade. She's a 3rd grader now! Amazing.

We didn't do a lot, kept things pretty low key as you do in a pandemic. Her big surprise was this funny little drum kit. She said she wanted to learn how to play drums this summer so we got her a kid's size version. Now to find some online lessons. I borrowed an ukulele and I'm going to do some learning/practicing myself.

IMG_3156

She liked it! And she was pleased. Goes in and bangs around from time to time. It's only been three days, but I hope she keeps it up for a while. She also said she wants to learn to play guitar but we said she had to do drums first for a while. Fingers crossed.

Earlier in the week we went to a friends house for a social distance swim. After her school work was done on Tuesday, we headed out in the 90 degree heat to splash around in a proper pool. It was perfect for Harper, she got lots of jumping in and diving for toys. Our very kind friend said we could come any time.

61341979626__7B130AEE-603A-42C1-B0FA-38A1E167A489

I always ask her to draw a picture or write a letter before she plays minecraft or similar. I enjoy the toebeans on this one:

IMG_3148

Thursday we went to pick up all her school things that were in the classroom. They had timed sessions for each grade at a table at the school gate. It was nice to say hi/bye to her teacher. I cried, but with a mask and sunglasses, no one could see. I just got really teary about the end of the year and that it's been such a weird f*cking year. There are a lot of feelings bubbling around.

Once we got home, Harper went through the whole pile and told us all about everything. I had to excuse myself after about half an hour as she was only about 1/4 way through it...! But it was fun to see her so excited about the old work.
IMG_3148
IMG_3148

I found some old pics from the late 90's.

IMG_3133

I also spent a few minutes trying to wrap my head around the upcoming summer. Drums, ukulele, bike riding, virtual 1 mile Harry Potter run, a camping trip, a visit to a friend in Ojai to have a long walk. 
IMG_3133

It's been filled in more. And will continue to be filled in more. I forgot about virtual minecraft camp...

IMG_3175

Cooking got back to some basics, though there was a little baking as our neighbor dropped off two baskets of gorgeous strawberries and I happened to have some whipped cream left. So I made strawberry shortcake. It was yummy. We also had some trout one night with fresh herbs. (not pictured)

IMG_3067
IMG_3067

Then I watched an episode of Queer Eye and Antoni made braised short ribs and I wanted it, so I made it. I forget how RICH it is. But oh so yummy.
IMG_3067
IMG_3067
IMG_3067

(Harper opts for PJs a lot these days.)

Another night we had sushi that I made. I had run out of the nori and sushi rice a while back so had some delivered. The sushi roller is not ideal, but hey, it worked well enough and bingo - sushi!

IMG_3067

It can be messy...
IMG_3067

And then there were the cats. Mr. Biscuit seems to be getting larger. More stretched out anyway.

IMG_3138
IMG_3138

Can't pass up a good box.

IMG_3173

He made off with the dinosaur token from the monopoly game this morning. Luckily he didn't swallow it.
IMG_3173

He and Willoughby are getting along better...but oh Willoughby.
IMG_3785

Willoughby and I had an adventure. Well. Willoughby had an adventure and I bore the brunt of it.

We have a large mantel over our fireplace with pictures in frames and small vases, etc. Willoughby likes to get up there and walk around which I discourage as I don't want her knocking stuff over or giving Biscuit ideas. The other night Kurt and I were on the couch, Kurt closer to the fireplace. Willoughby leaps up from the couch and as I'm clocking her jump up there, ready to stand up and take her down, she knocks a picture frame over, which scares the bejeesus out of her. Instead of jumping straight down to the floor, she launches herself like a rocket across the room to the far end of the couch where I'm sitting, and landed with all claws out on my legs/ankles. This all happened in about three seconds. Kurt was surprised when I revealed my wounds. There are a couple more scratches around the other side. OMG. I doused the wounds with alcohol then put antibiotic ointment on them and bandaged them up for the night. SHEESH. (Pics are from the next morning.)

Five minutes later I was laughing about it so hard. Cat. I hope she scared herself from going back up there.
IMG_3138
IMG_3138
IMG_3138

This very morning I harvested the chubby carrots I planted about three months ago. All I can say is: Hmmmm. I believe my problem is the soil is way too compact. They taste like carrots, but not a whole lot of flavor. Maybe the raccoons will want them.

IMG_3165
IMG_3165

My treat for the day was to find this GIANT gardenia bush growing on a block I've never walked down before. I kept the sidewalk in for scale. I acquired two of the blossoms. One for me and one for Harper as I have taught her the critical life skill of putting beautiful smelling flowers by your bed.


IMG_3164 2

I'll keep smelling the flowers through my mask.


The Corona Diaries Week 12 - What Is The Opposite of Anticipation?

The protests against police brutality continue, though with a bit less rioting and looting. People are focused and it's incredible and inspiring. Might change actually come? If I were a praying person, I would pray, but I'm not so I'll donate and learn and listen and write postcards and do text-banking. I'm usually an optimist so I say this with a smile: we better not fuck it up.

"Despair" and "hopelessness" come up as antonyms for "anticipation."

Feels about right.

Normally we have something planned. Something big-ish, a road trip, a visit from my mom, a visit to my mom, even just plain old day camp. But there is nothing. Just a big vague grey mass of who knows what. It's frustrating. It's not my style. I HATE IT.

There is one more week of school. One week for us to organize the time off from school. There is plenty to do - arts and crafts, social distance swimming in a friend's pool, one actual online camp I signed Harper up for - minecraft gaming camp. (I chose the short week before 4th of July in case she doesn't like it...) I want to rearrange the office that Harper and I share to be more efficient. (I bet you $100 that there won't be IRL* school in the fall.) I want our deck to be more livable during summer. Easier to eat and even have social distant people over. We bought misters one summer, need some of those. We might go camping. We are not campers. I know there are private camp grounds we could go to that are not terribly big to keep away from crowds. I'm going to extricate myself from Facebook products. I already let go of Whatsapp and will probably let go FB this month and then lastly instagram. I might just let that fall fallow. I'll go back to good old fashioned twitter.

We planted our victory garden in March and April. We've been benefiting from the pole beans at least twice a week.

61283436614__63C8E555-0E92-43E4-B1D6-FE4D49336D85

This fine creature spends a lot of time on the beans.
61283436614__63C8E555-0E92-43E4-B1D6-FE4D49336D85

I bought a little olive tree plant at Trader Joe's last summer (I think) and holy crap! Look! Little tiny olives are growing on it!
61283436614__63C8E555-0E92-43E4-B1D6-FE4D49336D85

Harper loves apples and she planted one of the seeds. I was sure nothing would happen but I was so wrong. Our little Apple (a link to a much funner spring in 2017) grew an apple!
61283436614__63C8E555-0E92-43E4-B1D6-FE4D49336D85

And the poenies, which I wish grew in our yard, but these come from Trader Joe's. They smell heavenly and look dreamy.
61283436614__63C8E555-0E92-43E4-B1D6-FE4D49336D85
61283436614__63C8E555-0E92-43E4-B1D6-FE4D49336D85

We have this running joke with friends about "Pandemic Panic Purchases." These are things that you might have bought in early pandemic panic mode (but not including toilet paper as that was too obvious). Or things you bought as the realness of how the virus will change our lives forever settled in, the things you bought with a long opposite-of-anticipation future ahead of you. In the early days, I bought 4 giant bags of potting soil. I've used 1/4 of one so far. A few weeks ago I got a coupon for a wine delivery service. It was a good deal! I ordered it a while back - there were delays - and it showed up just as I decided to stop drinking for a while. (I wasn't over doing, just didn't have a real reason to have two glasses of wine every night.) (Or wait, is that considered overdoing it? Hmmm...)

61289753261__E6AE9DF1-22A6-4403-85B9-1AB66AC0C24B

Luckily wine keeps.

The cats are ever busy. Willoughby has been way more affectionate and cute. Mr. Biscuit is just a Superior Biscuit.

IMG_3032
IMG_3032

This was a moment for the ages...no fighting, just hanging.
IMG_3032

And this moment captured from a distance. Also no fighting.
IMG_3032

I decided to try soda bread again - I had buttermilk on the verge of expiration and I wanted some lovely toast. I didn't overwork it and I didn't bake it too long. Alas, I erred on the side of not baking it long enough and it was underbaked inside and therefore inedible. I did manage some lovely bites of the crust, but most went in the trash. Baking is a challenge!

IMG_3018

Harper loves her post it notes. She also loves to tell me things I might not notice if I'm on the phone or busy working on the computer.

IMG_3041

Some days lunch looks like this
IMG_3018

Or sometimes its really different and looks like this. Cucumbers are a Harper staple.
IMG_3018

I got a wild hair and needed to make a gin and lime cake similar to one I had in England at Ickworth Manor in 2018. I wrote to the National Trust and they sent me the recipe! If I had only bothered to explore their website more I could have found it there myself.......!!! But here it is. It fell a bit in the oven. But it tastes good! I gave half to our friends down the street as I have no business baking a whole cake for the three of us, especially when two of us don't love lime flavored cakes.
IMG_3018
IMG_3018

Friday June 5th was National Donut Day. (As well as the birthday of an old friend - Happy Day!) We grabbed our masks and popped over to the local donut shop and luckily it was empty. We had our fill. (Harper likes blue, in case you weren't sure what her favorite color was.)

IMG_3045

She and Kurt created some art.
IMG_3045
IMG_3045
IMG_3045

One of the school art projects was the "recreate a masterpiece" thing. Harper and Kurt were all over it.
IMG_3045  IMG_3045

This coming week is the last week of school. So I asked Harper to draw up a thank you picture and we sent digital thank you cards/gifts to her two teachers. I promised them she would work on her spelling. Rainbows are nice.
IMG_3045

 

I can't wait to have wonderful things to look forward to again. I know it will come.

 

 

*IRL = "in real life"


The Corona Diaries Week 11 - Sh*t Show 2020

Wow. What an awful time we are living in. George Floyd was murdered by cops in Minneapolis and the reaction has been loud and intense. This follows on the heels of other black people being killed for no reason at all, other than the color of their skin. There are protests in cities all over. These have turned into riots and then looting. I believe there are people creating more violence than expected, people coming in simply stir up trouble or simply to break windows and steal stuff.

I have no issue with the rage that comes from the injustice.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a fantastic op ed in the LA Times. His words are excellent. Please read it.

There were hot spots all over LA this past week/weekend. Curfews were put in place. Today is Monday June 1 and I'm sure there will be more curfews today and until who knows when. There is a vacuum of leadership in our country which makes this whole situation even more scary.

Have I done enough to be an ally? No. I'm going to do better. This list is a help: 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice.

There was a small ray of hope and optimism over the weekend. Astronauts launched into space on Saturday from Florida in a SpaceX rocket. They docked with the International Space Station on Sunday. I watched all of it and felt joy and excitement about a new start to our lower earth orbit space program and how that will boost our return to the moon and then onto Mars. The excitement is tempered by the awful stuff, but not not snuffed out entirely. (Click images for larger versions.)

49953859331_a27b11da32_k
49953859331_a27b11da32_k
49953859331_a27b11da32_k

Yesterday (Sunday) is when I usually write up my blog post, but the morning was filled with watching historic space action and then we actually went to visit our friend Patrick IN REAL LIFE for some social distancing bloody marys, garden tours (his is a literal cornucopia of fresh veg) and snake art. We got home just at curfew at 6pm and hunkered down a bit. Watched the season finale of Killing Eve after Harper went to bed so as to escape a little longer. We have that luxury.

IMG_3011
IMG_3011

Patrick has a snake named Nick.

Harper made other art this week. She worked hard on a design for her cardboard play kitchen. And also did a fresh fruit/veg piece for art class for school. We are collecting cardboard for the kitchen.

IMG_2991
IMG_2991

The cats had a very busy week as usual. Biscuit enjoys my chair and ALWAYS need to check what's in my coffee cup. ALWAYS.

61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1

Biscuit loves his bags and boxes. After every grocery store run, he'll inspect the bags. Last Monday, we had left a bag for Biscuit to play with.  I finally went to pick it up to put it away and didn't realize there was a large cat inside, STILL! I was surprised.
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1

One afternoon he came to hang with me during my quiet time. This is rare so I enjoyed every minute of his company. (My designated quiet time is at 2pm most days, sitting on my bed looking out the big windows.)
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1

Kurt also had a moment with the cats on morning.
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1

Willoughby tried SO HARD to lay down on the inbox that had piles of crap all over it. Not sure what she was doing.
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1

Speaking of Willoughby and Calicoes - I was going through old pics and found these of my cat Peach. I was probably 10 or so when we got her. She had been a wild kitten who came around and we fed her and soon she was our cat. She lived a nice long time and cemented my love for calicoes.
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1
61240683248__E4C5EA40-1E91-46D3-834D-7E8AFC4891E1

There was food. I did a big swerve away from baked goods into meat. First, I did try to make shortbread but it wasn't great. I think my butter was not cold enough and I overworked the dough. Bummer. But I'll try again.

8D499BA4-DC0B-4365-B7DB-3AF5CAC26B85

I turned to this classic to make my favorite kalbi ribs.

IMG_2987 2

61223576127__7DCF2DF0-B7A1-454D-8C6B-6F31A81587C8

We all love the kalbi ribs. Harper especially. Then I made a big batch of Kalua Pig in the slow cooker. YUM. I stuck half in the freezer for later.

IMG_2986

I found a recipe for mason jar ice cream and decided to try it.

IMG_2968

Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 1.49.36 PM

After shaking and freezing:

IMG_2977
IMG_2977

In a pinch it is ice cream! But maybe I'll try half and half instead of heavy whipping cream.

Made some lovely fresh hummus.

IMG_2990

Was missing my Stokes Sticky Pickle terribly. Also missing England like crazy. Oh to be in England right now. So I had to do what I had to do and pick up some Branston pickle at Cost Plus World Market. Original being the only option. It's the best I can easily get here for under $10, but it doesn't taste as good as Stokes and the chunks are TOO BIG. British friends tell me you can get "small chunk" in England. But if I were in England I would get Stokes Sticky Pickle and the problem would be solved. Just being in England would solve so many problems. Oh England.
IMG_2990

There were flowers galore. Two bunches of Peonies that opened beautifully and smelled heavenly.

IMG_2958
IMG_2958

Harper finding her own in the garden and wearing it well.
IMG_2958

And then this...this...miracle.

MY GARDENIA PLANTS BLOOMED!

I've never been able to keep a gardenia bush growing, let alone blooming, but after we redid the front garden four years ago I planted two of them and it's been A G E S.

But oh! They are heaven. I picked one and Harper picked one I put them in a tiny bud vase and basically carried it around with me so the scent was always with me. Especially at night on my nightstand. It reminded me of when I went to visit Auntie Martha on the Big Island years ago, before Harper was born. I did an interview with her for research and spent a night. In her darling guest cottage she had a small vase with three or four gardenias next to my bed. Dreamy. 

IMG_2958

Things are going to get much worse before they get better. Much much worse. But if I can find a gardenia now and then, I won't lose hope.