life

The Strangest Year

I hesitate to label it that, out of superstitious fear that something even stranger will come along to top it, but 2020 is going to be a hard act to follow. Every year for the past 25 years we have left Boston behind in July and gone to the small town in NH where my in-laws have their lake cottage. The traditions of the holiday are inviolable: the tiny parade, penny candy, the lazy afternoon, fireworks, ice cream. The very iron-clad modesty of the event is part of its charm.

This year none of that was happening, so we decided that it made more sense to just stay home and not mope about what we weren’t doing. A good-humored effort was made to honor tradition in the form of a toy parade in the morning, burgers and hot dogs for dinner, and a Youtube-facilitated firework display, although our neighbors did their best to supply the real thing.

There is much on which to reflect this year. Aside from, or intertwined with, the pandemic-induced restrictions on our normal lives are a skein of additional concerns on the boil this summer–racial and economic and political and environmental. Individuals and systems are alike under enormous strain, and exhortations to action intermingle with concern for well-being. All of our compromises and contradictions are under a hard light; Picasso might have done well with this year as a subject.

garden, life, writing

A Little Better than Yesterday

This morning the husband was fretting over the slowness of the decline in our state’s COVID-19 numbers. “It’s 2020,” I said. “All I ask for today is that it be a little better than yesterday.”

It has been a good week personally, which feels a little weird, given the larger context. My personal projects are all ticking over with more enthusiasm than usual, probably because I took most of the week off work. I may have to deal with the strong implication that I simply cannot be productive in dribs and drabs of interrupted time here and there throughout my day. If I am doing a NaNo-style 0th draft then sure, I can put out words that way, secure in the knowing that it doesn’t matter if they are barely coherent. If I am revising? Doing research? Five minutes here, fifteen there doesn’t work. Having had the time over the past week, I have figured out yet another structural problem in the fairy book, which I have started working out the fix for. I have also started thinking more seriously about the next project after this one. (Which, believe me, is going to be way more thoroughly planned.)

Other things continue. I had a birthday. Have been trying to get outside, even though the heat has been wretched most of the week. The pea plants are flowering, and the other containers are muddling along all right to my amateur eye (that’s chard down in the corner).

I finished reading Upstream and turned down corners on a quarter of the pages. Dyed my hair again; I like the blue and want to keep it for a while. Went to some online events for career-related topics. Watched TV with my teenager. Pleasant, ordinary life stuff.

How to keep this, or enough of this to get by on, next week, when the world demands more, is the question. Can things get a little better, somehow.

LEGO, life, Uncategorized

LEGO and Other Distractions

This month’s reflection question in Unravel Your Year was about the challenges you have overcome so far this year. Well Susannah, I’ve now spent 2 1/2 straight months in a 1200 sq ft apartment with four other people, and I haven’t lost my mind or even my temper (much). I can’t say I’ve gotten much accomplished in that time, but I have loads of company in this, and I’m going to take whatever I can get: we’re alive, not sick (allergy season aside), and getting along fairly well. We are extremely fortunate in many ways.

The weather this week has been unseasonably hot, and while my nascent container garden seems to be enjoying it, the rest of us not so much. I took the opportunity to open my ludicrous self-indulgence for the month, which came in the form of a 2,200-piece LEGO set, the Destiny’s Bounty from the LEGO Ninjago movie. I am indifferent to the property, but I do like ships, and LEGO, and it gave me and the teen something to do with our afternoons for an entire week. She appointed herself assistant and sorted all of the pieces as we opened each of the 15 bags and worked our way through hundreds of detailed instructions.

2020-05-31 06.18.26

It is honestly an amazing set. There’s a couple of fragile points to be aware of if you intend it for active play; most notably the mobile bits at the rear tend to come off, but they are easy to reattach. It is also, as you can see, large when assembled, and I’m not entirely sure where it’s going to live going forward.

There are three removable sections, one at midship, and yes, that’s a little LEGO bathroom facility for the ninjas below, along with mementos from vanquished enemies. The anchors raise and lower on an ingenious little pulley system.

That bit of decking is a bit tricky to remove, being right between the masts, and there’s a lack of good grip points, but again it’s simple to put things back where they should go if something does come off. The stern has three layers:

There’s the wheel uppermost, and an adorable LEGO sextant and map. Under that is a training area, and under that a bedroom. It all terribly cute, and I consider it money well spent, although my 12yo son will almost certainly end up taking ownership of it in the future.

Other than that, I have spent most of the week playing with sourdough starter, having gotten some dried from a kind acquaintance. It has been revived and was used to make its first loaf yesterday.

Tomorrow it’s June; another month that lasted twelve years falls behind us.

garden, knitting, life, reading

Are We Still Counting Days?

There’s an asterisk in my journal next to the day they started opening things back up in Massachusetts. I don’t feel confident about this process at all, and nothing in our household is going to change for the time being. Caseloads have been shrinking locally, but there are so many variables at work, I doubt that anyone has solid ground to predict farther than a couple of days out. For the time being, I continue to count.

Continue reading “Are We Still Counting Days?”