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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Exactly two months ago, the night of February 17, I was so excited. The next morning, I would board my plane to Boston and begin my mini-adventure in Salem.  I was packed and ready. barely able to fall asleep. I remember it well. At that point, COVID-19 was the furthest thing from my mind. Little did I know

Fast forward to now. It’s only been two months since my trip, but it seems like years ago. Travel isn’t even on the radar at the moment. There have been some really rough days, I’ll admit. Emotions have run the gamut: Fear, inspiration, hope, anger (this past week, especially), frustration, all ramped up due to the situation.

I’m trying not to let my OCD and anxiety run away with those negative emotions, going round and round in my brain for hours without stopping. It’s times like these when I seriously rethink my therapist’s offer of medication. I’m not going to lie, Wednesday was really difficult, watching people completely disregard safety regulations, getting out of cars and clumping together, with such ugliness, waving Confederate flags and white power signs that had nothing to do with what they were supposedly protesting. Just for the record, I believe in the right to peaceful protest; I do NOT believe that we have the right to put other people in danger by potentially exposing them to a deadly disease (including children, OMG!!! There were several children there!), clogging up streets and honking horns for EIGHT HOURS around a Level 1 trauma hospital where there are tons of sick people, children, and a maternity ward. WTF??? Seriously, what is wrong with people? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. That’s all I’m going to say on that matter, so trolls, step off. Don’t even try to defend that mess,

That being said, there are many positive things about this social isolation episode that I am focusing on. Such as:

  • Family time. Youngest Child is a brilliant musician and he’s been teaching (forcing) me to learn piano chords. I can already read music, I sing and play the flute/piccolo/tin whistle, but my piano experience has been limited to very simple tunes. Now, I’m learning some really cool stuff. He’s also helping me with learning ukulele. I always wanted to play and, of course, he knows how. We’ve been watching a lot of movies as a family, eating dinner together every night, and playing games. Yes, we get tired of each other and need some alone time, but for the most part, I love spending more time with Marty and Youngest Child. (Oldest lives on his own now, two hours away, and Middle is in his apartment at school since he has better internet and still has an active lease.)
  • Sleeping in. We’re working, Marty teaches, too, but no more 6:00 am wake-up times for us. School starts when we want it to. We’re honestly working a lot of hours, more than we normally do, but we have sleep. Yay!
  • I’m writing regularly. I finished the yet-unnamed sequel to Traveler, began another book, and plan to begin editing (and naming) the sequel this week. I’m also writing a lot more blog posts, in case you haven’t noticed.
  • Languages. I’ve dusted off my Italian and French and am going full-force on Duolingo. It’s awesome. Future plans…
  • I’m starting my Shakespeare garden indoors with seeds. See my Shakespeare Garden post for more on that. It’s so cool, watching everything sprout!
  • Zoom meetings. Two months ago, I couldn’t have told you what Zoom was. Now I use it every day. It helps me to stay connected to my theatre family and my church family. I truly don’t know what I’d do without it. I even get to have my therapy appointment online, which is very much needed.

Now, with things looking a bit better with this stupid virus running its course, there’s a little light shining at the end of the tunnel, if people don’t screw it up and start a giant second wave. We (myself included) need to focus more on the positive, not to ignore the problems, but to keep things from getting very dark.

In the comments, share a positive with me, some bright spot in this dark time, no matter where in the world you are. I want to celebrate with you!

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“There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you; and here’s some
for me: we may call it herb of grace a’ Sundays. You may wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.” ~William Shakespeare

Ophelia, in Hamlet, Act IV scene v Lines 180-185

In the middle of this quarantine, I’ve started my Shakespeare garden. This idea was not an original one, I take no credit for that. I got the idea from the Shakespeare garden in Stratford, Ontario. Stratford holds a Shakespeare/theatre festival every year, normally beginning in late April and ending in October.

Marty and I went to Stratford last summer for the first time in many years to see Othello. In front of the theatre was a beautiful garden with all sorts of plants from Shakespeare’s works. I took a ton of pictures and the wheels started turning.

We have a lot of junk grass in our yard. We purposely use no chemicals, so the lawn is a mixture of grass, clover, and other green things. We don’t mind. We’re not the fussy type and we definitely don’t want to add to the poison in the groundwater. I would like it to look pretty, however, and at be somewhat useful, as opposed to boring grassy stuff. Hence, the Shakespeare garden.

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Many of the plants I’m putting in can be used in cooking or tea, some for other things. There will be thyme, rosemary, columbines, and marjoram when the garden centers open back up and I can buy established plants. Yesterday, I planted seeds for mugwort (more tea!), yarrow, rue (herb of grace), wolfsbane (I’ll finally keep those pesky werewolves away), foxglove, black seed poppies, wild angelica, and even mandrake. I can’t lie, the mandrake has a huge Harry Potter appeal for me and it comes with a full sheet of instructions, so they will definitely be getting names if they germinate. There’s even a Hawthorn bush/tree arriving in a couple of weeks so the fae folk have somewhere to live. Violets naturally grow in our yard and I already have daisies. I also plan to put little signs around the garden, explaining what they are and where they can be found in Shakespeare’s works.

I could never have started a project of this size without being in quarantine. Honestly, this would still be a seed in my mind (see what I did there?) if we hadn’t been compelled to stay at home. Will it all work out? I hope so. I hope it will be beautiful, I hope I can have friends over for drinks in my Shakespeare garden. I hope the bees and butterflies will be happy with all of their new blooms. I have hope.

I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, I ordered my seeds from https://www.alchemy-works.com/seed_index.html where they carry a lot of hard-to-find seeds. The customer service was superb, but have patience during this time of pandemic.

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It’s a cold, snowy day here in Michigan. Schools are closed because the roads are treacherously icy, so I had the luxury of sleeping in, although I do have fifty author projects from 7th graders on Google Docs to grade. There are fifty more projects waiting for me back at school, but that’s for another day. I’m feeling nostalgic right now.

On days like this, I say a prayer for those who work outside. I didn’t always get “snow days” off, but I’ll take them. I remember what it was like to work outside: in the cold, the snow, ice storms, pouring rain, tornado warnings, scorching hot heat waves. I did that for several years in my twenties and early thirties. I loved working with the farm animals, especially the horses, and people who take care of animals don’t get snow days, or heat days, or any other weather days. Animals need to be fed, watered, their stalls cleaned out every day, no exceptions, and I took pride in being “tough enough” to do it, although there were some pretty miserable days. Those days taught me a lot about work ethic and about myself. I had some pretty awesome mentors who were incredibly patient with me.

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Doing winter chores, whether at the farm or the carriage barn, was always an adventure. I remember my bangs freezing in a solid block from the breath vapor rising out of the woolen scarf wound around my face when the temperature was -5°. I was terrified that they would just break off with a snap. That was also the winter I got a giant lump on my forehead from slipping on the icy platform and hitting my head on the frozen metal water pump we were trying to turn on, fingers and toes uncooperative and numb. Eyes and noses would run in a constant stream from the cold. If any of the cows were being milked at the time, we would fight over who got to do it because that meant putting your hands on something warm for a little while, although it sometimes meant getting hit in the head with a frozen manure tail. On those brutal days, it would take more than an hour for the shivering to stop once we got inside, even with several cups of coffee.

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There were the spring and summer mornings when the tornado sirens would begin to go off, angry black clouds swirling around in the sky, the animals getting panicky. I was still terrified of tornadoes then, and I tried, unsuccessfully, to not let it show. Afternoons when it poured rain, the mud/manure mixture squelched up into our boots, through our stockings, weighing down the hems of the skirts and petticoats or the overalls we wore with sludge. The stains would never quite come out. One spring, the cellar of the farmhouse flooded and I sank almost to my knees in the dirt floor. My work laundry was always done separately from everything else and often had to be rinsed out first.

There were god-awful summer days when the actual temperature would be over 100°, our long sleeves and random pieces of hay glued to us, sweat trickling down every crevice, and people would complain that we weren’t offering carriage rides. My face, forearms, and hands would be a deep tan, but the rest of me was a pasty white.

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Spring lambs

All of these things were great adventures, and I could go on and on for days about all of it. Working in those conditions could be rough, but we bonded with each other over it all and made for some fabulous memories. I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for the world, and it makes me appreciate days like this much more.

I miss it, working outside, but I’ve developed Renaud’s Syndrome and I can’t work in the cold for long anymore. My heart goes out to those who are working outside on days like this: mail carriers, construction workers, first responders, and the ones who work with outdoor animals to make sure they’re as comfortable as they can be in this weather. They all have their own war stories to tell, I’m sure.

Thanks for reading mine.

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“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Image result for free snow pictures

 

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“It was November, the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.”

~L.M. Montgomery

Anne Of Green Gables

I don’t care what anyone says, I love the spirituality of November.

 

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If you haven’t heard, it’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I am all about sharks; I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid when I read Shark Lady, a book about the life of Dr. Eugenie Clark. (She was amazing, by the way, and wrote two books of her own, Lady With a Spear and The Lady and the Sharks.)

sharklady

After reading Shark Lady, I discovered everything I could about sharks, wanting to become an ichthyologist. I’d come home from the library with piles of books about sharks, an obsession not shared by anyone else in my family, then and now. My favorites are still the great white shark and the mako, both huge and aggressive. I also love the whale shark, the biggest fish in the ocean. It has no teeth, only baleen to filter for tiny prey, and is so docile that it doesn’t seem to mind when divers want to swim along beside it.

Eventually, I gave up on being an ichthyologist but not on my fascination with this top predator. I still want to swim with them someday. Not only are they super-cool, but they’re really important to the ecosystem. Unfortunately, they’re also endangered due to fishing, both of them and their food sources, and global warming. That’s where Shark Week comes in.

Sure, Shark Week is ultra-hyped, but it also educates us about these amazing creatures. Jaws, while a wonderful book and movie, is truly a work of fiction and gave people the wrong impression about sharks, something that the author, Peter Benchley, regrets tremendously. He has since devoted a lot of time, money, and energy to educating people about what sharks are really like. (For example, they don’t form vendettas against small town sheriffs. They don’t have vendettas, at least I don’t think so. You know who I would have a vendetta against if I were a shark? Fishermen. But I digress,) Shark Week does involve a lot of the entertainment aspect, but it highlights an animal that deserves our respect.

See how cute they are?

underwater photography of black fishImage result for great white shark images freeAdmittedly, they’re not terribly snuggly, but there’s something ancient and elegant about them. They deserve our respect, so educate yourself.

Do yourself a favor a watch Shark Week on Discovery through this weekend. Oh, and read Shark Lady. It’s a life-changer.

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