Monday, April 13, 2020

Making the Most of Staying In

That sounds like I've been productive, which I haven't been at all. Rajan and I spent a whole morning improving our home-made masks, which we finally found viable. Here they are:

Rajan took an engineering approach and came up with a clever pocket where he can insert a new coffee filter every morning for additional protection. I stuck with the original plan but just modified it so that I could fasten it in two places and pull a bottom layer over my chin while keeping two thicknesses. Both are washable.

What else have we been doing?

Rajan has been going over his negatives and printing some with his enlarger. He's also been doing the grocery shopping. And he starts the day reading news.

I've been reading news (signing petitions), perusing social media, checking on friends and loved ones, and doing a lot of reading.

Both of us have been doing experimental cooking, cleaning up the back garden, taking walks (keeping a social distance), and doing a lot of talking. Somehow the time drifts by. I keep thinking I should feel guilty about not writing. When I told Rajan I'm actually enjoying just day to day living, he said, "It's called retirement." And he has a point: When I retired from full time teaching years ago, I still subbed for friends, I volunteer-taught an after- school art class once a week, went to conferences, took writing and art classes and workshops, wrote and sent out stuff, and got five books published as well as several poems and stories. I didn't really retire.

And I know I never really will: Pretty soon, my fingers will be itching, my plot points will clarify, and I'll be writing away with new energy. But for now I really am following that old 60s phrase, go with the flow. I'm going with the flow.

One of the benefits of walking is seeing all the neighborhoods in bloom: I particularly like dogwood. When we lived in Georgia 38 years ago, I was smitten with the abundance of dogwood trees, both pink and white. There is something about those blossoms and the way the branches layer . . ..

The pink one here is my neighbor's tree. It hasn't reached its full bloom yet.

The white one is a couple of streets away. I took this one a few days ago.

Other things are blooming, too: Daffodils, Irises, Tulips, Lilies, all the bulbs, in fact. (I haven't always had my phone.)

                               One of the places I like to walk is around the garden that surrounds Sutter's Fort, which is spread out between K & L Streets and 26th and 28th Streets. On the K Street side, there are two little ponds with fountains on either side of a low bridge, and walking trails that let you walk through the park to the other side. It is so restful to walk through there: The sound of falling water is one of the most peaceful sounds to hear.

         I do have to admit that yesterday, Easter Sunday, we were a little tired of cooking and tired of leftovers. So we decided to order an Easter meal curbside pickup at one of our favorite happy hour places, Piatti's on Fair Oaks Blvd. They had the perfect selection for us, which we went and picked up: Vegetarian Quiche, roasted potatoes, and a bottle of wine, all for a reasonable price. To that, I added a toss salad. (We are not big eaters, which makes for happy restaurant bills). We set the table with roses from our garden and a candle. I don't have pictures of the meal, but here is the table:

I know the purple pattern looks like a rug, but it's actually a tablecloth we've had for years.

And so, today we were back to normal. Or what my godmother used to call, "getting back to not normal." Soon it will probably be hard to be cavalier about staying home.

I am mindful that if I were younger and not retired, I would not have the luxury of being laid back about staying at home and would instead be chafing about rent/home payments, salary loss, unemployment, health coverage. So, while I am making the most of it at this point in my life, it's another reason I stay informed, sign petitions, call my reps and senators, etc., and I truly worry about all the healthcare workers and front line workers that are bearing the brunt of things.

But I hope, in light of all they are doing, everyone will stay home, stay safe, and stay well.


Elephant's Child said...

I am (mostly) happy going with the flow and enjoying time at home.
There are books to read, and the garden to play in. There is also cleaning/decluttering to do but for the moment I am too busy (or perhaps lazy).
Make the most of your time, and stay safe and well.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I think your masks are great. I'm working on making mine, but keep breaking needles, which is NOT good.

I was delighted to read how you are living with this forced lock down. I am not retired, but am having a lack of motivation at the moment. Like you, it won't be long until I am ready to create art again, but for now, so glad to read you are going with the flow. For me, I'm taking a short hiatus (at a bad time, though, since I recycle something every day from April 1 to Earth Day).

You are taking some wonderful walks. You live in a beautiful city. Yes, bulb plants are doing well in my area, too.

Enjoy your time away from your writing. Soon you will return with a vengeance. Happy belated Easter and stay safe, dear.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thanks for stopping by, E.C. Actually you nailed it: "going with the flow" for my part has been enjoying being kinda lazy and indulging my inner procrastinator. :-) Glad you are doing the same.

The more I reflect on it, though, the more I think we really need to almost go dormant at this time. It's one way to build up strength while dealing with the emotional impact of those almost empty streets and freeways, those X'd spaces in grocery stores, marking out 6 foot distances, people giving wide berth on walks. All of those are such haunting sights.

Take care and stay well.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Elizabeth, I enjoyed your comment. I think a hiatus is wise at this time, too. You can't force motivation, and I think there is good reason for lack of motivation. For one thing, I'm taking more time to contact loved ones and see how they are doing. (So far, none have the virus, for which I am very grateful. And my walks are slower, so that I can enjoy the beauty of people's yards and the of the parks that are such a feature of Sacramento.

Good luck with your masks. And as far as possible, enjoy your hiatus and period of restfulness. Take care and stay well.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's great that you are going with the flow and enjoying how you're spending your time. I'm doing some of that too. But I still work from home so that keeps me busy too.

Rosi said...

I am so retired, I can hardly believe it. And I have decided not to feel guilty about not writing. It seems to be a common problem. I'm glad you and Rajan are finding ways to enjoy your isolation and feeling comfortable with it. Good for you. Stay well.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Natalie! I'm glad you are able to spend a little laid back time despite still working from home. It's good that you work from home, though, and are able to stay safe. There are so many things one can do from home these days. And thanks goodness for the Internet which supports so many endeavors. Take care.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Rosi, always good to "see" you. I miss the writing group, but, yes, am enjoying the home time and the lack of goal-setting. I'm sure you are enjoying the extra reading time, as I am. Take care and stay safe and well. See you at a meeting or two on the other side.

Susan Kane said...

I enjoy your post and blogsite.

Staying home has forced me to go outside and garden. If I don't kill those plants, I hope they will brighten my garden of succulents. Living in a desert So. California, we all plant such.

Came over from Elephant's child. Loved your poem. I'll be back.

Vicki Lane said...

Sounds like you are makking the most of this down time. When I was under contract and writing to deadline, I remember suddenly realizing that I had pretty much missed April, glued to the laptop as i had been. And this is being such a beautiful Spring -- we 'retired' folk are fortunate.

Sandra said...

What a lovely post. Your roses are beautiful and your Easter luncheon sounds delicious. Thumbs up on the masks.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Thank you for stopping by, Susan. Nice to "meet" you. I'm glad you liked my poem. It was a lovely prompt at Elephant's Child. Look forward to your visiting again.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandra. It's always so nice to hear from you. Hope you also are continuing to make the most of this time. Peace and wellness.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Vicki, Yes, I would agree. This is a good time to be retired. It certainly lessens the stress and instead forces one to take note of and appreciate one's surroundings. Living in the country as you do, your posts always reflect that. But here in the city, it's easy to rush around oblivious. So I'm really saturating myself with gardens, my own and all over Midtown. Take good care.

Kenda Turner said...

I enjoyed reading this post, Elizabeth--from making masks to your Easter table and then a 'virtual tour' of your neighborhood. Thanks for sharing :-) And I think it is helpful to give ourselves some space in these times, go with the flow as you say. Being writers we know the ideas are simply percolating and incubating in the background, right? Like you, I've been calling friends and family, checking in, touching base. I've also been cleaning out my office. Now that's been a chore, but a necessary one--over 20 years with of files getting pitched! Take care...

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kendra. Glad you liked the neighborhood tour. I have another one coming up, since everything is bursting into bloom now. Good for you — cleaning out your office. I need to do that next. I have tons of files that can probably go to recycling. Meanwhile, I'm sure you have a lot of new haiku simmering on the back burner. Thanks for stopping by.

Elizabeth said...

I love the pictures of the trees starting to bloom.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Elizabeth. Even more things are in bloom now. I'll be posting new pictures, soon.

DMS said...

Hope things are still going well. I love dogwoods too. Just so beautiful.

I was also able to go with the flow. I had to work from home- which turned out to be more productive than going to work in person. I loved not having my commute and I saved a ton of money on gas and food. I must buy a lot of random things each day when I am normally out and about- so being home was a big money saver for me. I know it hasn't been for a lot of people. I also enjoy being home. My house is my favorite place to be- but I also know this isn't the same for everyone.

I am glad you have been enjoying your time and living more day to day. Makes me look forward to retirement. :) Stay safe!