Time For Some Changes

When this blog began almost two years ago, it was partly an answer to calls from friends who wanted to know about my adventures. It was partly a distraction from a major life change. It was partly an outlet for sharing words and pictures that matter to me.

In the beginning it was mostly about my travels both far from home and in my own backyard. The blog has evolved some. I still tell those stories but occasionally share about other things happening in my world – food, books, Scout, and the random things that turn my head.

Daffodil 2020It’s time for things to shift again, at least for a while. As I type, I’m staring at my hands which are dry and sometimes bloody from the near compulsive hand washing that has become socially acceptable. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day for adventure but there’s nowhere to be. It’s too windy to go outside so when I get up from this desk, it will be to go to another room to perhaps read a book or organize something or maybe just take a nap.

I’m not complaining because I’m safe at home. I’m not a victim of this pandemic but a lucky human who is healthy, who has a safe place to live, and plenty to eat. There are a ton of things to do in this house and one day life will go back to normal.

Meanwhile, plans are on hold or perhaps just cancelled. Book talks and concerts have been postponed. My list of museums, restaurants and junk shops to visit keeps getting longer. I’m looking at small businesses in my community – a riding stable that does guided trail rides, an antique store, and a host of others that I worry for because times are always tough for a small business without having all their customers quarantined. How much can I afford to support these businesses when this is all over?

Plans for my epic summer vacation are now on hold to the degree that I gathered up all the brochures and maps and stuffed them in a drawer. It’s almost too much to hope that I’ll be able to go.

Obviously, I have no new adventures to tell you about right now.

Part of me wants to just live in this quiet world I wake up in every day. And it is quiet. It’s made up mostly of books, music and birdsong. I’m currently working from home so that keeps me busy. Scout entertains me too but there are days I don’t even turn on the tv except to hear the governor give his daily briefing. While others are going stir crazy, trapped in prisons of their own making, I’m perfectly fine. Disappointed about lost adventures, but fine because I know there are better days ahead.

So I’m going to shift things again, just a bit, and hopefully for not too long. When this is all over, I want all of us to be prepared to do something important. For those who can, I want us to go out into the world, boldly and without apology, to do all the things we cannot do today and to support the small businesses that need us more than ever.

Shop. Eat in a restaurant. Stroll through a museum. Fly. Stay in a hotel. Take that guided trail ride. Sit in a crowd of like minded people and listen to beautiful music. There’s so much to see and do. We need to go out and be part of it.

So I’m going to start talking about the places I want to go when this over and then I can tell you more about them after I visit. Someday.

There’s also probably going to be more stuff about what I’m reading, maybe some about music, and a little about what’s going on here in my very small corner of the world. Perhaps by looking more closely at my everyday life I can start to appreciate it more.

Life will return to normal someday and we need to be prepared for that inevitability. We also need to embrace the world we wake up in now because there’s no point in wishing our lives away by waiting for tomorrow.

It’s sort of a tight rope to walk.

Who’s with me? Comment and tell me how you’re coping and what you’re looking forward to doing when this is all over.

A Smashed Peep (and some other stuff)

I ran away for a long lunch Thursday. Basking in the sunshine and walking the bike path at a favorite park felt like the epitome of freedom. Everything is COVID closed but you can still walk and drive around the lake.

This car turned my head.

And I went back for a closer look at these Peep bunnies, clearly run over by something. That’s not something you see every day and I liked the pink against the asphalt!

It was gorgeous out so I was sad to go home and resume working. But opening the window in the room where I work to let Scout enjoy the fresh air made the afternoon pass quickly. This picture was taken before the window was open but you get the idea.

He was a happy boy and I was thrilled for the fresh breeze and chatter of birds nearby.

My world has become very small and familiar. While this isn’t ideal, it is sort of fun to look more closely at your surroundings and seek out the details you might not ordinarily appreciate or even notice as close as your own home. Take a look around. You never know what you might find.

Perspective In Photography and Life

Lake Alma better

The sun finally found its way to my corner of the world yesterday. Since there’s more rain in the forecast, I jumped at the opportunity to go for a walk at a local state park. It was early and cold. A handful of cars drove through and I encountered just a few like minded people looking for a stretch of the legs and some fresh air. We very politely smiled as we veered away from one another.

It was a gorgeous day and the only noise came from an abundance of birds and a lone dog barking in the distance. With each step and each breath of fresh air I could feel my shoulders relaxing and breathing become calmer. I hold my breath a lot, especially when stressed, so it was refreshing to feel pure morning air fill my lungs.

The above picture was taken from one angle at the park. The picture isn’t great but notice how blue the sky is?

This next one was made just a quarter mile away and facing a different direction. The light is harsh and the colors not nearly so nice.

Lake alma bad 3-20

It was the same park and same day – just a different perspective. This is your friendly Monday morning reminder that your perspective can make or ruin your picture as well as your day.

Yesterday afternoon, our Governor announced fresh orders from the Ohio Department of Health that are meant to keep people at home. Some states are calling it “shelter in place” while our state is calling it “stay at home.”

No one really wants to do this. In fact, it seems a little surreal.

College students sunning themselves on the beach can’t understand what the big deal is about because we all know that youth is invincible and they’re sure they won’t get sick and die. That’s their perspective.

Their grandparents likely have been staying home for a while and hoping they haven’t already been exposed to the virus or anything else that would make them susceptible to illness at this time. That’s their perspective.

Some middle aged strangers I overheard commiserating at the grocery store are upset that the government would dare take away their freedom to eat in a restaurant just because a few hundred people are sick. That’s their perspective.

Now here is mine.

This is a new virus that our bodies are not prepared to combat. It travels quietly and quickly. And while it’s most dangerous to people with other conditions and to people of a certain age, it will not discriminate if it finds its way to you. It does not care if you are talented and famous, rich or poor, a good person or not.

We all are at risk of either getting sick or carrying germs to people we care about.

I will be the first person to tell you that I’m tired and want my life to go back to normal. I want to sit in a theater and watch a movie, listen to live music in a crowded place, and hop in a car to visit a museum or bookstore. I want a haircut.

But it isn’t worth the risk.¬†

Sometimes¬† I wonder if the naysayers were given a card with the name of someone they care about and told that if they don’t take this seriously, their person could die or at least be very sick and carry with them lifelong damage to their bodies. Would that matter to the kids on the beach or the complainers in the store?

It’s not forever, friends. It’s for a while. Just keep telling yourself that and we’ll get through this.

And speaking of getting through, when you do venture out to a store or to your bank or to pick up your lunch, try to be a little extra nice to those people who have no choice but to be out there working. We rely on healthcare workers, the farmers and factory workers who make sure we’re all fed, the truckers moving stuff around, as well as the cashiers and stock people who are pushing merchandise through their stores. These are all people who cannot join the work from home brigade because their jobs don’t allow it.

At the very least, show them a little extra patience and remember that some heroes don’t wear capes. They wear scrubs, work boots, and name tags. If you see a trucker somewhere, ask if they’re hungry and offer to get them food. Those big rigs don’t fit through a drive-thru lane and most fast foods places don’t take walk-ups. We need them to be fed and well to keep things moving.

Wherever you are, stay safe and well, my friends. It’s just for a while.

 

 

The Jerrie Mock Story

On this day in 1964 an Ohio woman set out to make history. Her name was Jerrie Mock and her goal was to be the first woman to fly solo around the world.

You likely think this record was set by Amelia Earhart but you would be wrong. It was an Ohioan, a housewife who wanted to do something important who set this record.

She departed Columbus in a single engine Cessna 180 that she christened the “Spirit of Columbus.” It took 29 days to cover the nearly than 23,000 miles, besting a California woman who was simultaneously attempting the same feat.

I had heard Jerrie’s story before but recently read a book about her. In fact, it’s the only book about her in print today. The only other book I know of is something Jerrie wrote about the journey that has been out of print for decades.

This particular book is a biography for young readers and it’s well done but it’s a biography for young readers, for crying out loud.

There have been shelves of books written about male aviators. The only female aviator to get much attention at all is Amelia Earhart and most of what is written is centered on her disappearance and the conspiracy theories surrounding what happens.

Even Bessie Coleman who I told you about earlier this year has just a few volumes despite her trailblazing life and career.

Some documentaries about the women’s air races of the twenties and work done about the WASPs of World War II have shown a fresh light on womens’ contributions to aviation but it seems like we can do better.

Jerrie Mock sounds like a real character and like my kind of gal. She struggled mentally to keep her schedule because she wanted to sightsee in the exotic places where she stopped!

I would be the same way, likely deciding halfway through to sacrifice the record for cultural enrichment and photo ops.

She set several records during her aviation career and received countless honors but her accomplishments have very much been lost to time. Instead of being a household name like Amelia Earhart or Charles Lindbergh, she’s a novelty. A trivia question.

And that’s a darn shame.

If you’re interested, her plane is on display in the National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. If you can’t make it there, I hope you’ll at least read the book and tell her story to others as a way to honor this woman.

Adjusting Expectations

Today’s theme is adjusting expectations.

Since the first of the year, I have been living very quietly and enjoying this time of a No Spend Challenge which has allowed for more self care, planning, reading and lots of other activities at home. I’ve been saving money for this year’s adventures too.

Lunchtime walks, upcoming events and the promise of travel have given me something to look forward to. Plans include one of my favorite old(er) movies on the big screen, a weekend trip away, an author talk, and a concert.

And then this little global pandemic hit, containing me to home at least for a while longer. While the last couple of months have been centered on voluntary self seclusion, I’m not thrilled about the involuntary kind.

In fact, I’m downright irritated that my adventure season isn’t starting this week as planned and am already concerned that my summer trip won’t happen either.

That’s why it is time to adjust expectations.

Here in Ohio, the governor has closed schools and banned gatherings of a hundred or more. Limitations have been placed on restaurants too. Churches are cancelled or holding services online. Communities like mine are scrambling to provide lunches to low income kids, and many working parents have no clue what they’ll do with their kids for the next few weeks. Lines are long in stores and people are clearing shelves of everything from toilet paper and medicines to ramen noodles and pizza rolls.

The messaging surrounding this virus has been unclear. We’ve been told to wash our hands and to be smart about germs while we’re watching Italy and China shut down entire cities. No one knows what the future holds but, from what I’m seeing, there’s potential for a lot of bad to find it’s way to this country before it gets better.

From what I’ve seen of my Facebook friends, people seem to be continuing life as usual when it comes to recreation and fun. We’ve closed schools but parents continue to drag their kids to the store, to the movies, out to eat, and basically anywhere else they wish to go because they don’t want to be stuck at home.

When I started my January No Spend Month, I jotted down a list of things to that didn’t involve spending money and most of them were things I could do at home. For me, that list included household projects like organizing kitchen cabinets and weeding my clothes closet. I had a list of recipes to try and a list of fun things too! Taking my camera for a walk, puzzles, movies, books, playing the piano, and long bubble baths are just a few things on that list.

This is a great time to spring clean and to freshen up your house by rearranging things you already own. If you have kids, give them art supplies and ask them to make cards for residents of nursing homes and hospitals who aren’t getting any visitors right now. That should entertain them for a few minutes anyway!

And remember, you’re still able to go outside. I’m making a mental list of work that needs to be done in my yard and there’s a shed that needs cleaned out and torn down.

Yesterday, I experimented in the kitchen, making up my own potato soup recipe, tried making tomato jam, roasted broccoli, chopped up some salad veggies and made a few biscuits. I read, did some laundry, began researching cruelty free companies (this has been in the list for a while), strategized for the week, and watched a little tv.

Exciting? Hardly. But I was busy, productive and completely disconnected from the mass hysteria that has caused so many people to lose their minds. 

It was a good day.

So I am going to dig in and devote this time to getting some stuff done and getting back to basics. If nothing else, I’ll be well read and rested by the time this madness is over.

I have an inner old lady who survived the Great Depression who believes in the Depression era mantra – “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” She sits in the back of mind every day but I’m hoping that I don’t need her services more than I already use her.

Look at the bright side – we may find some wonderful new hobbies, authors, recipes, family traditions and habits! Meanwhile, stay calm, avoid people when you can, and wash your hands. This too shall pass.

And one more thing – our communities are filled with people who are older, who have mobility issues or who have weakened immune systems. If you’re healthy and able and going to be out anyway, offer to run some errands for them. They might really appreciate the helping hand!

Have a good day, friends. It’s all going to be ok.

 

 

Anyone Else?

Anyone else geek out when they see a vintage car on the street? I was visiting a museum on this Winchester, Virginia street when I spotted this car. There was an Australian with a giant camera photographing it as well and we agreed that it was a real gem even though the car needs some work.

I hope that I will always stop and admire vintage cars as they travel through a world that increasingly values the new over the old, the trendy over the classics, and the perfect over the quaintly flawed.

Remembering Vada

The lady pictured above is my neighbor – Vada – my grandmother’s lifelong friend and the kindest person I have ever known.

We will gather today to honor Vada and lay her to rest next to her husband and only child.

She was a grandmotherly lady known for her cooking and kindness. She was famous for her homemade noodles and kept a deep freeze stocked with delicious pies, always ready for the next church dinner or a death in the community.

Vada was one of the last of my grandparents’ generation – a simple country lady who kept a garden, preserved food, quilted, hung out her clothes on the line, and whose home didn’t change in decades.

She was of a generation that had survived so many wars, depressions and recessions that they knew better than to waste anything and were always prepared for trouble. A threat like COVID-19 wouldn’t be a concern to Vada at all because she was always stocked and ready.

Vada was a church lady who loved the Lord. She also loved her pets and was known for feeding strays. She couldn’t stand to see anyone or anything go hungry.

Christmas meant tins of her homemade candies filled to the brim with things like buckeyes, fudge and caramel corn. She loved my homemade sugar cookies so I always made sure she had a supply for Christmas.

She didn’t want her picture taken the day I made the above image. That was several years ago but I remember her saying with a smile and laugh “Oh, Brandi! I didn’t know you would be taking pictures! You don’t want my picture, do you?”

I assured her I did want her picture and snapped a few while she worked her magic in the kitchen.

This moment in time with the blurry hand and the sweet smile is how I want to remember our Vada. This is why we make pictures – so that even when our memories fade, they will never really go away.