Halloween Catch Up x2

The week before Halloween we went to a drive through Halloween experience. It was genius on the part of someone, making use of empty shopping mall parking lots and hiring all kinds of out of work people. And it was a bit cheezy. But you know who loved it?

Harper.

She LOVED it.

She got all dressed up, even though we were never getting out of the car. And she talked about it non-stop. That made me happy.

On Halloween itself the after school program had a mini drive through at their main headquarters. It was much smaller but free and super sweet. I'm doing pictures of both here. Then back to the weekly catch ups.

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It was sponsored by a coupe of tv shows...

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Much candy was thrown in the car along the way.

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After the adventure (and a stop at In-N-Out) it was time for the great sorting!
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The much smaller but way sweeter/more charming drive through adventure started with a T-Rex. And MORE candy.

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The Corona Diaries Week 32 - Election Home Stretch

What exacerbates my anxiety? Dirty sinks.

We have asked our housekeeper to not come can clean as she used to. (But we still pay her.) So the housecleaning gets done piecemeal and at random times. Mostly the linens get their regular weekly wash on the weekends and the trash and cat boxes are emptied with great regularity. But cleaning the floors, cleaning the bathrooms and dusting all over and are much more random.

I have the fastest trigger on dirty sinks. We have two sinks in our main bathroom. Harper uses one and Kurt and I use the other, mainly. Harper is not great with rinsing out her sink and since I don't have to use hers, I generally ignore it. But this week my anxiety has been rising and looking at her sink just make me TENSE. And I don't need tense. So in the middle of an already busy day I spent 7 minutes cleaning the bathroom sinks. The picture doesn't do the messiness justice, but oh the heavenly feeling of clean sinks and counter tops. I was going to do the mirrors too, but I forgot. That's how tense I was. Tense.

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One thing we got off our plates was voting. I had mine done, signed and sealed before Kurt so I hopped on my bike and dropped it off. Kurt went later and did same.

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Then we both got our confirmations a few days later. Kurt's came a couple days after mine so he was concerned, called the hotline and was told to wait a little while longer. Then it came. Hooray! We voted!
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We had a big Halloween event which I will do a separate post for. Harper was so happy to have an adventure.

My other big event for the week was Going To Costco! I haven't been since before lockdown, but I hardly ever went before then. Maybe a couple times a year. Funny how when it was just Kurt and me, we went a lot more often and bought...what did we buy? Pasta? Olive oil? Cheese? Random sh*t we didn't need? Anyway, I did the super practical big shop:

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And was rewarded with no lines! Amazing. We have laundry detergent, toilet paper, q-tips, sponges and ziploc bags to last well into whatever the hell is going to happen after election day.
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Scenes from around the house this week:

School lunch time (I love that Harper reads while she eats):

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Zoom school with Cat.
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Monday was Spirit Day/Pajama Day for school. And for art they made centipedes! YIKES. When one grows up in a place chock-a-block full of them, it's not as cute as you think.
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Also in school they played MadLibs so then Harper dug out our MadLibs book and went to town with me and Kurt and with Grace on Facetime!

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Grace also sent a funny little halloween gift and a puzzle card. Harper had a good time putting it together!

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A friend was feeling blue, so Harper helped me with a card to make her feel better.

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There was a school project about camouflage and how stick bugs use it.
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She drew me a picture of the kind of shoes she wants. UM.......no.
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After her Halloween adventure she made this on Kurt's nightstand. A gift with RULES.

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Also there is a video game called Peace Island that is being slowly worked on. It's about cats and Harper asks about it from time to time. I look forward to playing it.
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Cats of course.

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Maybe when it's chilly in the winter they will get even closer?
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More tree climbing adventures.
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Willoughby stole a pizza crust off the table and chewed on it for a minute.
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As for me, I put on a brave face.

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Enjoy the neighborhood decorations.
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Revel in the beautiful flowers.
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And smile at the yarn bombers.
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It's days away. Then a whole new SOMETHING will come into fruition. What will it be?

 


The Corona Diaries Week 31 - Getting Out The Vote

Last week was a blur as I ramped up the amount of text-bank volunteering I'm doing. And that's how it will be until November 4 - the day I can...I can...well, I was going to say relax, but I doubt November 4th will be relaxing. But at least I won't be busy texting. It's going to be like the end of a movie job where suddenly it's over and there is literally nothing to do and you walk around in a haze.

To keep me somewhat sane, I make sure to either take a long walk every day or at the very least, a bike ride to the post office or library. Today I'm going to fill out my ballot and drop it at the Drop Box at our library. I want my vote on its way today.

If you are in a swing state - your vote matters so much and you are being bombarded by groups like mine. If you are in California and you think your vote doesn't matter as much, it matters A LOT. All the down ballot races are really important. Karen Bass (my rep in Congress!) and Adam Schiff and Katie Porter all need to go back to Washington and do the good work they are doing.

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Cats always make me feel better. Kurt took most of these pics this week:

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A few minutes later:
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Willoughby had a visitor

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Neighbors have some fun decorations.
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Harper wrote a Halloween card to Gammo Jane.
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And I taught the art class for third grade, we made toilet paper roll spiders and bats. The teacher told me the kids really had fun with it. YAY! But I'm taking a 3 week break before I go back to teach more.
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Harper made a snack lunch.
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Harper was up early on Saturday morning as well and sat with me for a minute while I was starting my Get Out The Vote Team Captain day.

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Another nice view on a walk.
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Keep up the good fight.


The Corona Diaries Week 30 - Spooky Times

I continue to remind myself to breathe deeply and to stretch my arms and legs and unclench my jaw. There are only a few more weeks to go before the election. I am now going to have to go back to the "this too shall pass" attitude from a few weeks ago. But not quite that simplistic, as that was before (I'm too lazy to actually look) RBG died and the debate and the virus hitting the white house hard. Now I have to stop myself from "what-if"ing myself into a frenzy or more ocular migraines. There are SO MANY possible scenarios that it truly makes my head explode.

So. I focus on the texting work I'm doing and it will soon be even more of a distraction as we get into super intense times before the election. We have ballot chase programs (Can we ask you to mail in your ballot tomorrow?) and Get Out The Vote programs as well as a few candidate persuasion programs. And I'm a Volunteer Team Captain for the next few weeks which will also keep me busy busy busy. This is so good otherwise I don't know what I'd be doing. I mean, I'd find things to do, there is plenty to do. But this volunteering is so specific and focused and there is a finish line.

One thing that does keep me busy - cleaning out sections of the house from time to time. Yesterday Harper and I cleaned out/organized the arts and crafts cabinet. Of course I forgot a "before" pic, but trust me it was a mess. Having it be done and tidy = so satisfying!

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Also satisfying? Some old school classic cooking = chicken spaghetti casserole. Half of it went into the freezer. It was good and soothing and oh so bland. If only I didn't live with two people who can't do spicy. I could have kicked this sucker up a few notches in excitement. But again, comforting.

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One of Harper's school lunches this week.
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Then she made her own one day and I laughed so hard. There are four food groups represented here: Fruit, Dairy, Salty Snacks and Candy. Perfect.
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Speaking of Halloween Spooky times, I got Harper a Halloween dress to wear all month. And she asked for braids one night after bath time so we did it.

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The braids were Sunday night. Monday morning was just a pony tail as we walked and picked up trash before school.

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After school was flu shot time. Harper was not happy and started crying in anticipation in the waiting room. Once it was done, she cried a bit more, then done. I got mine at the same time by the same nurse, same cool bandaid.
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Speaking of spooky, these rascals make me laugh every time I drive by this house.

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Harper saved up money to buy an LOL ball thing. She knows I hate them but it was her money....so, I can't argue too much.

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I hate them because they are just full of trash. It's all about the surprise and the unboxing/unwrapping. See:
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Lame! She got one last Christmas, a bigger one, but that's been it. And now she got this for herself. But no more from me.

School in the age of Covid-19

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After school fun with Dad. This is the first picture of Harper that I can see a real resemblance to me.
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I got a new hairdo one day.

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And of course there was art. Kurt and Harper worked on a diorama project - just for fun! It's not quite done yet.

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Harper drew a picture for a friend's 50th.
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Another friend had a dog go to canine heaven. A dog we knew and Harper played with often. She drew this for condolences. It's raining, Harper (on the left) is shown bowing her head down. Then there is a tiny plant with deep roots growing = new life. I love this so much.
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Our friend who lost her dog also had a birthday a few days later and Harper drew/wrote this for her. Sooooooo sweet!
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I volunteered to be art teacher and our first class on Monday was based on Calder's abstracts. Some of Calder's work:

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And Harper's inspired work. It was really fun to see all the things the kids came up with. Tomorrow we are making toilet paper roll bats and spiders!!
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Cats actually kind of played together outside one day.

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And we got our Biden/Harris yard sign finally. Lots of them popping up around our neighborhood.
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Spooky times ahead.

 


The Corona Diaries Week 29 - Wow. What...?...Wow! Wow.

Let's take a moment.

Deep breath in...let it out slowly.

Another deep breath in...let it out slowly.

Very nice. Listen to the sound of the waves, feel the cool ocean breeze on your sun-kissed face.

One more deep breath in...and let it out.

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Ready? Good.

Seriously WTF was last week all about? What kind of cosmic karmic beat-down just happened? Wow. Do you remember there was a presidential debate last week? That was like three years ago once the news came about the President (and many others in that circle) contracting Covid-19. That was finally the trigger that got us to turn on the news after months and months of not watching any of it. (Harper and I watched the debate, but I'll get to that in a minute.)

I got interrupted after that last paragraph. I don't even know what to say after that. So I won't anything other than it's crazy times. Wait. It's been crazy times. Now it's super crazy time.

Let's look at some cats.

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Last Monday was a day off from school so I took Harper to the beach. The day was gorgeous (click for bigger versions of the pics)

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We had a dual lunch one day, and dinner alfresco (with cats) another day.

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On the night of the debate, Harper and I were waiting for it to start and she played with my phone camera and filters.

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Then the debate started. She was assigned to watch 10-15 minutes of it and write three facts she learned. Here is what she wrote all on her own. No parental help at all.

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It was extra hot last week so friends who were out of town asked us to water their plants and fill their fountain. We are good neighbors.

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Harper got a gift box from Gammo. It's called Crate Expectations and the box has a theme. This one was Kiki's Delivery Service box with various fun items as part of the theme. Harper is excited to be reading the book. We'll watch the movie when she's done.
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We had a weekend get together with other girls and their parents.

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This is the view when I step to the right of my main monitor every school day. It's nice.

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But let's get to the art. Harper wanted to teach me to draw some of her favorite things and I said, "Why don't you go teach papa?" So she did. This was her template page that she drew for Kurt and his work is below.

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One day she drew her two dolls. Just on her own for fun. I LOVE it when she does that.
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She drew a thank you card for some jeans and masks she got from a friend. The picture in between the jeans is of their little dog who will do a dancing trick if you hold up a treat. Jeans on the left have unicorns on the knees.

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Unicorn jeans IRL.
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We found a fun front yard one morning.
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On my own walks I found these two items and they made me smile.

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Listen to WILLIE!
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And please tell at least three friends to vote. Send them to VOTE.ORG to make sure they are registered and what all their voting options are.
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What will next week bring?

 

 


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:

            IT SUCKS FOR EVERYBODY, HARPER!!

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.

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Here she is in a less formal pose at home.

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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.

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Mr. B also found new hiding places

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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And this was yesterday - a week later:

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The lantana out front of our house is lovely.

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

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Early morning office view:

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

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

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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.
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Another self portrait.
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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.
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Science school work. Life Cycles.
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I LOVE THIS FROG SO MUCH.
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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."

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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.

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

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All the plants on my desk make me very happy.

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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.


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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.

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

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

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Harper gave me another fab hair do.

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And she wanted a boba slushy one day, so we went.
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SHE'S READING CALVIN AND HOBBES! She's also eating my candy corn. Little does she know I have a secret second bag hidden...

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Sushi again. YUM.
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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!

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IMUA!


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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!
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I had a hot dog with apples. Water to drink.
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I made lunch one day for her and found a little more balance. I think.

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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.

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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)

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

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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.
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On our way back, Harper had to stop and rest. Which cracks me up as it's really not that far.
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School. (with cat in box)

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Other artwork this week included this waterwork.

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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.

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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:

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Based on Magritte's Sky Birds.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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P E A C E.

 

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

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