Not the Typical Work Day

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A winding mountain road partially shaded by tall pine trees.

Today I was invited to tour a local camp for our students. The road forked a few times and there was no phone signal. I got a little lost coming back down from the mountain so I stopped to snap a photo of the lovely scenery up in the mountains before asking a local for directions back to town. It was a pleasant break from the typical work day.

Life with COVID

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It’s the third year of the pandemic. I have been testing for COVID at least weekly for the last 3 years now. Last week, I took 2 rapid tests and one NAAT. The rapid tests have negative results while the more accurate NAAT gave a positive result. This the first time I have received a positive test result.

Tomorrow I will take another test to determine if I am able to return to work. I suppose I should prep some lunches for the week in case it turns out to be a negative test result. Hopefully I have enough food to prep… I should…

At least a third of the personnel at work are out today including myself. Half of the student families have received notices of COVID exposure. I work at a place that still requires 😷 😷 but I know we have been more lax as time passes.

I am feeling thankful to have this unexpected positive test result for COVID. I have no symptoms and I have really enjoyed the opportunity the last few days to catch up with things at home where things are much more safe and peaceful than at work.

The most difficult thing about having COVID for me has been staying home as I would love to get some groceries and go run errands. My library books are super overdue and I do enjoy take out but am staying home due to quarantine. However, I am caught up on laundry now and my place is looking better and better each day. I also feel more rested not having to rush off to work since I am working from home. Life is treating me so well! Who would have thought that I am feeling so grateful to have COVID!

Please forgive the double post today. I have quite a few posts I have been planning but hadn’t sat down to do so there is some catching up to do.

Everyone’s bodies react to the various strands of COVID differently. Please continue to be cautious.

Social Distance

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A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I sat in a small donut shop sipping on coffee with a friend. We chitchatted of mundane daily life as we occasionally did on the weekend.

An old man with long white hair walked in from one of the glass doors. Rather than join the line of people selecting donuts, the man came, took a step towards the table we sat at and said, “Excuse me. Where is the line?”

My friend and I were confused and too surprised to respond for a moment as it was very noticeable to us that the line was at the counter. I proclaimed, “There are markings on the floor.”

During this pause in our conversation, the old man explained, “I can’t see.” It was then that I realized that the old man was blind and because lines these days are “socially distanced” with everyone 6 feet apart, the man could not tell where the line began nor ended. I stood up from my table and walked over to the next empty marker on the floor. “It’s over here- A couple steps in front of you.”

The man moved towards the sound of voice onto the marked place on the floor. He reached his hand in forward feeling around for a rope or a sign but felt none. “You’re good. There are only a few people before you,” I informed him. Then I returned the table where my friend still sat.

Neither my friend nor I had realized the old man was blind. He could not see any of the social distance markers on the floor that now line the floors of every business since pandemic.

Our current cues for social distancing are not universally designed. Our world is not universally designed nor inclusive. Pandemic has proven this time and again through its impact on our social structures, whether it be through access or lack thereof to medical care, access to work, to an education during shelter-in-place and quarantine… The list could go on…

A few weeks after this incident in the donut shop, I flew from Northern California to LAX to visit family. At the airport, I boarded an Uber.

Riding an Uber/ Lfyt is very different from riding the public transportation system. On public transport, no one ever looks at each other. Riders usually sit on public transportation mired in their own internal thoughts, scrolling on cell phones, or dozing in and out. On a Lfyt/ Uber, I find it much more intimate. I always more often than not, hear some detail(s) about the driver’s life in the enclosed one-one-one setting of their personal vehicle. This particular occasion was no different.

On this occasion, this driver shared that he had moved from Silicon Valley, from where I had flown. During shelter-in-place early in the pandemic, he had zero clients. I suppose this was a result of living in an area populated chiefly by software engineers, data scientists, other techies privileged enough to work from home. He suddenly could not pay his rent to support his family. He took a risk and moved to Los Ángeles and suddenly was making at least $4,000 per month. He misses Northern California but must follow the money because he has a wife and daughter in the US and another daughter in Georgia 🇬🇪 he hoped could also one day immigrate to the US.

I have heard of former soviet citizens sometimes missing the economic stability of being part of a larger system like the USSR and was curious. I asked him how he felt about Russia 🇷🇺 invading Ukraine 🇺🇦 since his native country was also once part of the former USSR. He expressed sadness about the war, the loss of youths and life, and he recalled other wars that devastated the region due to what he called “super aggressive” leaders like Putin.

It’s interesting how conversations with strangers are often so memorable, especially now when I continue to refrain from much socializing for the duration of this pandemic. Pandemics and wars have been around since man… Perhaps since before man, if we look at the kingdoms of our fellow terrestrial dwellers… I suppose “social distancing” also has been around too, but then, so too have been brief moments of connection between strangers wishing/ hoping for peace or looking for the next place in line.

Blogmas 2021- Christmas Roses

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The sound of briefly falling rain 🌧 is beginning to resound in the otherwise quiet darkness of night. Here I lay before you a small handful of my memories from the past week: photos from my visit home. I intended to post only a single December rose 🌹 for Dear Michel but got a little carried away.

I hope that everyone is enjoying winter safely, that those whom are celebrating have a very happy Christmas and that every one of you are able to cherish peace, happiness and love this New Year!

Image 1 ID: It’s a geographers dream hundreds of millions of years of sedimentary and igneous deposits with sandstone and so many other minerals at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. I have hikes here many a time and recently had the opportunity to go with my mother to meet up with old friends here for a hike.
Image 2 description: My father has just watered his garden so there are droplets of water on the leaves and petals of some of his roses, including this particular bright red-orange-colored rose.
Image description 2: A single rosy red bud in my dad’s front yard.
Image 3 ID: Droplets of water twinkling on a December rose bud in imperial red
Image 4 ID: a single red winter rose bud and it’s leaves, sienna trim around window of a house in background.
Image 5 ID: Column/ tower of white sandstone with red-ish cliffs overhanging perched on top. One can just imagine how these desert cliffs looked under the ocean hundreds of millions of years ago.
Image 6 ID: A hill of loose dirt where a cliff has probably crumbled over the years. Piles of blocks of red-ish sedimentary boulders lay scattered over the hill. A white foothill heavily eroded by water flowing down is in the foreground of the desert landscape.
Image 7 ID: The majestic eroded bluffs layered over millions of years overlook a desert but must once have been underwater, as one can see trails down the columns where water has run. Two boulder-sized fallen blocks lay in the foreground with a few thin lines of an old desert bush of what variety I am not sure, perhaps creosote that’s seen better days.
Image 8 ID: An overhead view of a circle of four feet in hiking boots in hues of brown and gray and pant legs; one with torn blue jeans, one in salmon pink hiking pants, blue jeans and dark green- almost khaki-colored hiking pants.
Image 9 ID: Dry brown desert bushes in foreground amongst red-ish boulders on a sloping brown hill. A geological landscape of cliffs of various types of rocks layered in the background.
Image 10 ID: 3 ping pong tables in a large room with senior ping pong players playing on each side. My dad insisted I go with him to the local Community Senior Center to watch the seniors’ table tennis techniques. These pro players (the seniors) were more than eager to show me their moves and teach me a few. 😅 Feeling pressured to learn now.

You may or may have not noticed my attempts to make this website more accessible to those who may have visual impairments. Tips are welcome. Hope it helps.

I am also open to constructive feedback on the geology and plant names. I am no expert and welcome any assistance.

There are so many memorable experiences -the fragrance and tastes of feasts, wines, teas, and fresh-baked goods, the sounds of the piano being played, stories being told or read aloud… Walks and hikes… Quite hygge and better than any gifts. Last year, this time, we were under shelter-in-place/ lockdown. How different having only a few more people gathered feels, especially when they’re people you’re close to.

A friend just reported a friend of his passing away this morning from COVID. Please stay safe, Everyone! 😷 😷 😷 🎄🕎🌈🌧🙏🏽

Sometimes

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Blogmas 2021

On my final work day before winter break, we participated in several activities and ate a meal provided by a generous parent of one of our students together. I don’t understand how that’s allowed during pandemic since we have to take off our 😷 😷 .

During one activity, we were paired with a coworker to have a conversation to practice learning about students’ personal priorities through conversation. My partner found this activity excruciating. She said she was exhausted, something I have heard her say often. She went on to describe her life as a single mother, how she had no time to herself and struggled to make ends meet. I agreed that it can be a lot of pressure to pay the bills. “Life is hard” she said. Then, I asked what she was doing for the holidays. She broke down in tears as she described some family drama. I don’t think she was looking forward to the holidays.

Sometimes, even most of the time, the holidays aren’t like the Hallmark and Lifetime movies portray them to be. There’s a disparity between reality and the movie-like expectations which can be so depressing for many people.

I had purchased a gift card for a gas station for a white elephant gift exchange later that day. In an impulse, I wrote the words “From Santa” on the card along with a Starbucks card I had and put them in my co-worker’s box. I do not want her know who they are from though she might recognize my handwriting. I do not want to embarrass her but I wanted to make her season easier. When I left work, her box was empty. I do not know how she reacted but hope it brightened her day.

I have been seeing a sign posted in chalk at Starbucks and other places around that reads,

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Perhaps you too have seen it and may live by it because sometimes life isn’t easy.

Please have a watch of the video below and share as a small way to help as I did. This video is beautifully done and the message is important.

A different Night Before Christmas

O Christmas Tree

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Blogmas 2021

Screenshots of photos of various unique Christmas trees I found amusing. What are your thoughts on these?

Image 1 description: Caption reads, “When you don’t have enough time in your life to put up a Christmas tree… Here’s my Christmas tree. “ A washing machine with a pile of clothes in the shape of a Christmas tree 🎄 trimmed with white Christmas lights and topped by a golden star.
Image 2 description: newyorkermag label, Steinberg signed cartoon of a smiling Christmas tree with two house plants 🪴 🪴 talking amongst themselves on a table nearby as they look over at the Christmas tree on their right. Quote reads, “Remember not to make last year’s mistake of getting too friendly.”
Image 3 description: a Christmas tree- shaped pile of books with a bright red paper bow on top. Social media caption reads “This book tree is mainly my to read pile. Just in case anyone is wondering if I need more.”
Image 4 description: Library with ladder on wheels and stack of books in corner stacked in shape of a tall Christmas tree 🎄 trimmed with white Christmas lights and topped by twinkling star.

Blogmas 2021: a Christmas Homecoming Vlogmas

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Play song There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays above and video I made below:

Video description: time lapse of the view out a window of an airplane taking off from an airport flying over a city, over clouds and mountains and then landing at another airport, a Christmas light display with cutouts of all of the characters from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas on fake snow under a sign that reads “Christmas Town” with a clock with swiftly spinning arms and a character with a spinning head, followed by a photo of a classic car with a license plate that reads “MEAN ONE” in the darkness with green Christmas lights and cabin light spotlighting the driver: The Grinch in Santa suit, followed by 1). a photo of a Christmas light display with blue lights over a lawn and two penguin ornaments in a sailboat structure, a dolphin with Santa hat and a baby shark in Santa hat in the blue “water” lights on the left of the “boat”, a lit mermaid structure and another dolphin in santa hat on the right. 2). Fake snow on the ground with two houses in the background. A display with stuffed bears riding a ski lift, a fake Christmas light lit cat and dog under a sign that reads “Ski lift”, 3). Rabbit, panda and most noticeably elephant Christmas light 3-D sculptures behind the lit word “WISH” and some lawn ornaments in the shape of boxes of gifts with bows, 4). A house lit by Christmas lights that hang like icicles and 4 lit lawn ornaments shaped like deer on the lawn- 3 with antlers, heads held high, one with head bowed as if drinking the “water” (blue lights on the lawn).

The video above was made from time lapses and photos I shot on Saturday of my flight across the state from NorCal to SoCal followed by some photos of a few Christmas light displays from a neighborhood. The flight tickets were purchased by my best friend to come see her. We haven’t seen each other since before pandemic. The Christmas light displays are photos of a place called Wakefield Wonderland that the cousin closest ( not in distance, but someone I have kept in touch with since birth to me- I have many cousins, some whom I have never meant or rarely see) and one of best friends from high school (the two are now married) took me to see. The two go there to see the lights annually but this was the first time I visited Wakefield Wonderland.

My visit is a whirlwind of loved ones so far. I will need to start limiting who is picking me up ( I did not rent a car) or visiting because it doesn’t feel safe to see so many during pandemic. I am feeling so loved that so many people want to spend time with me during my visit home! I have made a posting schedule of pre-written posts because of this whirlwind as well.

So much attention is making me think: How long does it take to join a group or grow one’s roots in a place? How has the pandemic affected people in finding and / or being with their people? How has it affected the types of people or the personalities we gravitate towards or away from?

What are your thoughts on this? How are your holidays going?

All I Want for Christmas

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2021 Edition

Blogmas 2021

Play to this tune:

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth Instrumental

All I want for Christmas

Is a book-deal-maybe seven.

Six hours of sleep, maybe eight

Would simply be a blessin’.

A date?

With Trevor Noah would be great!

A chef to make me dinner daily

Would be even better.

If you could pay my rent,

I would be content.

Feed the hungry,

End all war so we could have world peace,

Plenty of myofascial therapy

Reform for education, society, and the police.

Churros, macrons, air plants that never die-

These are some of my favorite things.

I don’t know why-

Bullet journal stencils and a labradoodle would be rad too,

But roller skates would do.

All I want for Christmas,

Is to see my loved ones smile.

I don’t want that pink dragon

‘Cause reptiles aren’t my style,

A private garden with a concrete staircase embedded with Spanish tile,

A trip to Peru would be fun.

A Christmas tree made up of books

And I am done!

I won’t lie

If you would so kindly gift me Merry Maids gift certificates,

My home and office would be less of a pigsty.

An ombre yoga swing!

Piano and voice lessons from the right teacher so I could sing!

A cure for cancer, for this pandemic to end,

And a daily deep pressure massage would be a godsend.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas

Just a custom fashion line,

Binoculars, a telescope, a cube-shaped pillow

And Dutch apple pie.

A kalimba or ukulele might be divine,

I want climate change and mass shootings to stop,

But if I got an all-expenses paid aerial yoga retreat in Europe,

I wouldn’t cry,

Not a single teardrop!

In truth,

I don’t want a lot for Christmas.

I would like a stable income for all,

Including my dear friend Ruth,

Healthcare and housing for the homeless,

To understand any language is a skill with which I wish I could be blessed,

I don’t want a lot for Christmas!

Not a lot at all,

Just being with my friends and family would be a ball!

This poem was inspired by Muriopsis’ Looking at the Christmas List.