2020-12-31

bye 2020. next!

hello. i have two blog entries to share with you (not including this one). 
  • one of them is written by a guest blogger: samson. 
  • the other is one i started awhile back right after zum left. yes, he left. it was very sad. it’s still sad but we’re coping. we’re better than coping. we’re doing okay. yep, okay. that’s all you’ll get out of me (for now). 
so, instead of waiting to locate a fully functioning time machine and go back and finish that blog piece and then submit it just after zum left (which was in october), i think i’ll write a new, updated blog entry now. (this one.) then, at some point—soon i hope—i’ll go back and finish that one “games people play” and submit it then. meantime, after i finish writing this one i’ll then post samson’s blog entry. it’s a piece he wrote for school that i have his permission to share with y’all. i hope you’ll enjoy it. 

meantime, here are some brief updates from yours truly in skypalace.

october

zum left. tears. fears. adjusting. (more on that in “games people play”—still to come.)

halloween in quarantine.

night sky from skypalace on all hallows eve

to make the holiday something special in lieu of trick-or-treating, we created a treasure/candy hunt for samson and it was fun. phil and i provided clues to find other clues and then all the clues put together formed a map of where the treasure was—which i guess you could call one big clue. 

samson created a costume. he worked on imagining it for a month ahead of time but then it only lasted on his body about 10 minutes before it came off to find and seek his goodies.

ninja gunner

quick question: where’s the strangest place you’ve ever found a nerf bullet in your house? (my answer: garbage disposal. your turn.)

putting the clues together (after finding them)

looking for the final treasure based on the map constructed of clues…
it’s somewhere near his hamster cage. that much he knows. 
spoiler alert: he finds it!

samson with his treasure hunt prize: a tank poster 
(the candy is on the floor, of course)

trick-or-treat, smell my feet!
treasure hunts are fun. happy halloween!


november

fires. fires bad. high winds. power outages. scary. especially with one of us needing supplemental oxygen. i won’t say which one. doesn’t matter. one of us. that’s all. anyway… we survived one major power outage and figured out the hard way that you need to test your equipment BEFORE your power goes out. don’t just assume you know how to hook up oxygen tanks and gas generators on the fly—in the dark. it’s not a good idea. and it was truly our bad. but (to paraphrase hamilton) if we didn’t know—now we know. 

sorry, no photos of the power outage. it was dark. you picture it. 

also right around november we became obsessed with hamilton. saw it. listened to it. saw it and listened to it again. and then listened on a loop. maybe we’re the last ones to the hamilton party but we went around quoting it most of november. we still do but we’re not AS obsessed as we were (especially me, mea culpa). 
 
* * * * *

samson is getting bigger. he’s doing that growing-up thing. consequently, some changes. for one, he got a new desk. 

papa & samson putting new desk together

and he got a new double bed.

taking the old bed apart

new desk, new bed—bigger boy

* * * * *

and we had thanksgiving. made a fabulous feast—with lots of help from the boys.

samson went for mama’s homemade garlic mashed potatoes 
and her mushroom gravy first. well, who wouldn’t?

completing the meal: homemade green bean casserole, homemade 
cranberry sauce, veggie nuggets, some real turkey & rolls—dig in!

* * * * *

after thanksgiving rolled into our tummies, we made time for our annual holiday photo shoot for the cards. 


the boys let me direct the french-themed silly-fest of wine and mustaches and berets. we had fun doing it and i’ve created an album with most of the (best) photos/outtakes for your perusal if you care. check them out here

december

prepping for holidays. busy. busy. cold seeping in. time to light the fire. 

actual fire

now for a quick wellness update: about this time i started feeling a bit worse. it seems like it’s my heart, with pangs, pain, and tightening. doesn’t happen always, but more than before. need to monitor it to decide if that’s the new normal or if it’s something else. consequently, i have a heart monitor on now (24/7 except for showers) that will be with me for 30 days. they receive real-time data and we decide if there’s a problem or not. the apple watch i was given for my birthday also helps me log data. it can take ECG and O2 readings. truthfully, as long as i go slow, i am doing fine. i increased my prednisone a little and it has helped. right now, i’m all about collecting input. i’ve turned into a hunter-gatherer… of data.

early in the month phil went out and got us a tree. what used to be a family affair is now a solo endeavor, sadly. but, he did a great job. she’s pretty naked. but, she’s a tree. 


she looks good in her fancy dress, too.


next to her, i am the fashion icon of skypalace, let there be no mistake about that. here are a couple of my recent ensembles. eat your heart out, POSE !



 
i was going for the christmas cactus look. 
i’m pretty sure i pulled it off. what do you think?

and 🎡 she’s a mean one, mizzus grinch… 🎢

truthfully, i’m amazed at how much enjoyment 
this grinch sweater brings me.

ugly sweaters? yeah, they’re okay. but just the tip of the fashion-felony iceberg. check this out.

tigger the holiday cat. meow!


i challenge you to a holiday-outfit-off. send me your best holiday vogues and it will be ON.

* * * * *

during the holidays, we like to spoil ourselves at breakfast time. for example, we made homemade latkes for hannukah.


a plate of fresh latkes made by tigger no less

another random holiday brekkie:

dutch baby, a.k.a. german pancake

these are delicious! and SO easy to make. let me know if you want the recipe. 

samson’s job is to set the table. in the morning he puts out our drinks but has decided that my morning brew of beet juice smells and/or is toxic and he comically will not just pour it without some dramatic flair. 

pouring mama’s morning beet juice—but only with protective gear. 
and you thought i was the comedian in the family!

my well-fed, happy, beauteous boys

it’s beginning to look a lot like, well, this time of year:

the hall tree—under the watchful eyes of 
random lego warriors—all hatted-up

entryway gnome greetings

chrissy, mama’s christmas cactus 
(surprisingly, one of the few plants i can grow)


when samson’s not playing video games, he’s developing more creative diversions. such as taping random items to papa. fun fact: samson changes the moniker for his parents from time to time. more frequently renamed is the male parental figure. currently he is known as: dadpole. kinda cute. we like it.

just a few items that dadpole is sporting here: sponge, banana, talking pen, 
clementine, hand sanitizer, chip clips, post-it notes. oh yes, and a target!

my son loves tape. i’m sure he got that from me. i used to tape my older brother’s puzzles down so the pieces wouldn’t come out. i thought i was helping. i’m not sure he agreed. who knew it would lead to a lifelong obsession for fixing things that aren’t actually broken. 

* * * * *

on christmas eve we opened one gift. it was a family gift. and then we played it:



it was hard to believe that samson had never played phil’s favorite childhood game: monopoly. we had a great time. samson got boardwalk AND park place. mama landed in jail, tried to roll doubles to break out but failed in three tries and had to fork over $50 to get out, then rolled a nine followed by an eleven and landed right back in jail, all the while NOT passing go and NOT collecting $200. it was hilarious. and a bit sad. but mostly hilarious.

christmas morning brought light and cheer and a slow, relaxed, enjoyable day.









later in the morning we had a sweet surprise from some socially distanced elves…

shendl & grant were gracious enough to bring over phil’s gift…

…a disc golf practice basket! rattle them chains!

* * * * * 
in the afternoon hours we did a family zoom call and samson performed three christmas carols on the piano. i posted videos here for you to see.

samson started putting together his lego set. and a few hours later…


…that 1,023-piece set was complete. 
i present to you: the razor crest (from the mandalorian).

* * * * *

the days after christmas are always some of my favorites. phil’s home and off work, samson’s home and off school. we have leftovers in the fridge. we are in hang mode and each can focus on their own projects or their to-do or to-chill lists. we do things as a family and we each find time to do our own thing. the weather is not too hot, not too cold. it’s lovely. i personally can’t complain. we are a lucky family.

of course, we are also surrounded by the dregs of the bones of 2020. it left so much misery in its wake. it felt like its own entity, something to be feared. another quote from hamilton comes to mind:

i will send a fully-armed battalion to remind you of my love…
—king george 

i hope fervently that 2021 doesn’t capitulate to 2020 and actually send that fully-armed battalion. here’s hoping we dig out of this together. here’s hoping that the returning of the light brings even more clarity—and even more good news. i wanna be in the year where it happens. the year where it happens… ♬ 🎢









guest blog post #1: samson

samson wrote the below for a composition exercise for school in november. he's ten years old and in fifth grade. i've pasted the photos and drawings and text as they appeared in his paper. he created the drawings and chose the photos. 

the exercise was to describe what his life was like now versus what it was before the pandemic--as well as a few other guidelines. i hope you enjoy it.


Q u a r a n t i n e   L i f e


Today I woke up and practiced piano. On a normal day, before coronavirus, I would get up and practice piano. Then I ate breakfast. Usually, I would eat breakfast and then go to school. Today I just went outside and played pickleball in my driveway. My mom says I have to get exercise, but I used to get exercise in the morning at school. I really want to go back to school. Then I would get to see my friends. At least now I don’t have to drive anywhere to go to school. But, doing school work from home is a lot more boring without my friends. I want a pet I can play with, but hamsters aren’t very sociable. I really wish I had someone to play with right now, like a dog or a sibling. My Uncle Zum was here for a few months, and he played with me quite a bit when he could, but he had to leave to take care of his mother. I wish he stayed longer because we could do a physical activity in the morning and then again in the afternoon after lunch. 


Before Coronavirus


Fifth grade would be hard enough without doing school work from home. I wish I could go to school with the rest of the 5th graders. I hope my school is doing okay right now, because someone tested positive for coronavirus there a few weeks ago. Not many people would know who tested positive except for the people in the person who tested positive’s class. The staff at our school won’t say who tested positive for privacy reasons.


After Coronavirus


I don’t like living like this because I cannot see any of my friends. The summer was boring because I couldn’t play with anyone, and summer vacation is always fun because you and your friends are out of school. Sometimes I went to my friend August’s pool and socially distanced by dividing the pool in half with a string. 

Some good things have happened because of the pandemic. I have gotten to spend more time with my family and I have gotten more play time. We have also come up with a new system for who gets to decide what we do as a family in the evening, including games and movies. The system is really simple. One night it’s my mom’s decision, then my dad’s, then mine. It goes in alphabetical order by name. I think we should keep doing that after the pandemic. 

On Saturday me and my dad go to his friend’s private tennis court and play there for an hour or two. Most of the time August and his dad come, and sometimes my dad’s friend comes out and plays, too. Usually my dad plays with the other adults on Wednesday nights well, because August and I don’t want to do it twice a week, and it’s a weekday. I think this tennis system is cool and I think we should keep doing it after the pandemic, too.

One thing I have improved is my texting/typing skills. I have been texting a lot of my friends. We also call through FaceTime and play video games, too. I have also improved my piano skills. I have recently raised my required practice time from 30 to 45 minutes. The reason I did this is because my mom said if I practiced 45 minutes I wouldn’t have to practice on Sunday. Usually I still would’ve said, “No, I’ll stay with 30,” but we have also recently made a new rule of how I can get extra video game time. For every extra minute of piano practice I do, I get one more minute of video game time. So when it’s Sunday, any practice I do is automatically extra because it’s not required on Sunday. During the pandemic my parents put a time limit on my iPad. The program automatically stops the game when it’s time. It also gives me a warning when I have five minutes left. When I do extra piano, my mom goes into the settings and adds the time.

When the pandemic ends I think it will take people a while to get back into their normal system. I think people should continue wearing masks for about a month after we get a vaccine because it takes two weeks for symptoms to show, so someone could have it without knowing that they have it. Then they would think it would be safe and go out and infect other people and start another pandemic. People have gotten more cautious with this whole global pandemic thing. I hope it stays that way, because being a little too careful isn’t bad. I think people will be more cautious in general once this whole thing blows over. I also hope people will be more careful about what wild animals they eat. The world will definitely be changed after this. That may or may not be good.


Who Knows?



2020-10-19

when the ants go marching in

my childhood, as i recall it, was fragmented into pieces. bits and bobs, fits and starts, heres and theres. mostly due to divorce, god love it. there's no blame here. divorce happens. many fine people have them and are products of them. that's not the point. the point is this: my childhood had pieces. and some part of that childhood was spent in the baptist church. this will surprise some of you. it still surprises me.

i went to a sweet little country baptist church up in farm country michigan for a small stretch. from time to time i was invited to play the piano, as well as debut my singing stylings for the teeny tiny congregation, which on a good sunday would swell to maybe twenty people. during the holidays, perhaps thirty. it was a lovely little church that forever holds a place in my heart. and it was very white. on the outside as well as the in.

i'm not casting aspersions, just sayin' that for all my singing and playing, for all OUR singing and playing, this little church did not have, nor could it ever have, that rocked "in the bosom of abraham" feel of a call-and-response southern baptist gospel choir singing—nay preaching—to the heavens. and call-and-response is exactly the style of song that louis armstrong drew on for the tune "when the saints go marching in." this melody has been on my mind lo' these last few weeks as the heat of the summer brought us a plague of not locusts, but ants.

♪ 🎢

let me back up just a hot second here...

when we moved into this house a few years ago, it was december. no ants. when you don't have ants, you don't notice you don't have ants. you're not walking around all the time saying to yourself: look how many ants we don't have! but by the time summer hits, you've had an attitude readjustment. soon you find yourself being mightily aware of the little workers, roaming to and fro, whithersoever they go and for whatever reason. i don't ask. don't get me wrong, i'm curious. but, i don't ask.

when we finally experienced ants, we e-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-c-e-d ants. great good gobs of ants. it was awful. at the time, it seemed like ants were your home's way of telling you: "i need a deep cleaning!"

and yet, those run-ins with ants, bad as they were, were nothing compared to the summer of 2020. and why the heebie-jeebies not? it's not like there was anything else a tad bit adverse happening around the same time. (that was sarcasm, ICYMI.) (and that was an acronym used in texting. and in case you missed it: you're old.)

🐜  🐜

back to louis armstrong...

call-and-response is rooted in many musical traditions besides christian: african, cuban/latin, folk, classical, popular, even military music. it's when the preacher, or the lead singer, sings the first lyric, or stanza, and the congregation, or the choir, responds. they either repeat what the lead has just said or they add some twist to it--or follow with a new phrase entirely.

there are countless variations. but the point is that someone has your back. someone validates you. you get confirmation that another soul is hallelujahing right by your side. it's one more way of letting someone know that you understand them, you get them, you hear and commiserate with them. you're a witness to their sorrow or to their joy. it can be a wonderful feeling—especially if you're dealing with something, shall we say, unpleasant. and doggone it, you'll find it indispensable in keeping your wits about you while battling an unstoppable, unbeatable, endless battalion of ever-invading ants.

🎡 

when our little ant issue began this time, it was merely a problem. it's quaint in hindsight. oh, look, the ants are in the sink. oh gee, now they're in the recycling bin, well let's just put that outside for now. uh-oh, they're in the pantry. hey, how'd they get into that plastic bag? wha...?

the ants seemed to evolve. they could get into things that we had sealed up and ridiculously assumed were ant-proofed according to last year's ant model. last year's ants could not crack a ziploc bag. this year's ants were throwing parties in them. they had mad hacker skills.


hacker ant hard at work


our new ant problem needed more than one little tentative girl praying with her piano to a listening-politely congregation of ten or so. our new ant problem called for a more prodigious kind of prayer. we needed a choir, and we needed it pronto. and so it was in those early days of the pesky pandemic that we were there for each other. i say pandemic because it was global to our home. there was not one room in the house that was immune. it was all-skypeeps-on-deck. we got in there and took up arms against our foes, and by opposing, did (try to) end them. and what we did, we did t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r. one of us would spot 'em and the call would go out:

oh when the ants...
go marching in...

someone would appear and rejoin...

oh when the ants...
go...
mar...
ching...
in...

then those of us who answered the call would work together to vanquish whichever part of the kitchen was under assault that day...

oh the hordes!
i don't wan' be in the number...
when the ants...
go...
mar...
ching...
in!


if i was there first, fill_space (phil) and funkyunkymunky (zum) were often next to appear around the corner to offer succor. then DaYummyBurger (samson) would bring up the rear. everyone would grab a food item or piece of a cupboard and attempt to rescue some part of the kitchen, pantry, bathroom...bedroom. no area of the home was safe. the ants, they gave us no quarter.

the ants were so bad some nights that both phil and i woke up bitten several times, shooing away these invisible-in-the-dark predators. it wasn't as if there was a line of them coming toward us, either. no, it wasn't that easy to predict. they were stealthy. coming out of the shadow. biting ninja ants. biting all parts of me. my eyeball for hootin' owl loud! and one or two who tried to walk into my mouth. my mouth! kamikaze biting ninja ants. 


kamikaze ninja ant


not to be confused with
kamikaze ninja boy...
samson (circa march 2017)
pre-ant invasion, a.k.a. happier days


it got so bad we had to take not only our recycling bin outside, but the trash, too. we had a little bowl with a bag inside that we would keep the trash in during meal prep. we'd take the bag out when we were done. that's where the trash lived now. it just sat out there and thought about what it did. bad trash! 

we stopped using our dishwasher when the marauders wouldn't leave it alone, at which point we began hand washing everything. apparently hand washing is still a thing in some places of the world. like ours. in 2020. 

despite our efforts, however, they kept coming. they were relentless. we would strike the ants down and they'd seem to grow right back. like hydra. cut one down, two grow back in its place. except in this case it was more like three—or fourteen. 


hydra-ant
(with a nod to marvel's hydra image)

funkyunkymunky would be at the kitchen counter trying to encourage the new parade of terrorists/tourists to march outside instead of in...

oh when the hydra-ants...
go marching in...

and one of us would run in and trumpet out...

oh when the hydra-ants...
go...
march...
ching...
in...

and the battle would begin again...

oh the hordes!
i don't wan' be in the number...
when the hydra-ants...
go...
mar...
ching...
in!

the war raged on.

🐜  πŸœ  πŸœ

sometimes, we'd just be sitting. doing nothing. every-so-often attempting to mind our own business. not even
for that momentpondering the six-legged legion. and suddenly, whether there was an ant there or not, we felt itcrawling on us. we'd swear it had been there. but when we lookednothing. ghost ants. 

<insert mental picture of a ghost ant...
from your own brain>

we battled many ants together: hacker ants, ninja ants, terrorist ants, hydra-ants, even ghost ants. we were there for each other. day in, day out. night in, night out. and then, eventually, the varmints wore us down. we had other stuff to do. if nothing we did mattered, why should we try?

at long last we got to the place where someone would call out?

oh when the ants...

and no footsteps were heard...

go marching in...

no one would answer. no one appeared. no one rejoined with the familiar...

oh when the ants...
go...
mar...
ching...

no choir. no response. no, it's just you, stuck there on the "ching" with the @#%&#! ants. stuck there, and good blessed luck to ya, too.

we got to the place in our personal pandemic that seemed to mirror so eerily the one outside our doors. our big beautiful choir became, through exhaustion and winnowing of resources—human and emotional—just one small child, sitting alone with her piano, hoping against hope that someone comes along to help her. no one comes. 

🐜  πŸœ  πŸœ  πŸœ

and so it went, until one of us broke. i'm not naming names. (it was me.) 

the little girl, she lost her choir and then, eventually, i'm sorry to say, her piano... but she didn't lose her voice. and when you threaten to stop fixin' food because you will no longer fight a swarming bounty of blights on your home/palace—then you get some attention. 

i'm relieved to relate that a resolution was eventually discovered and rendered. we were able to engage on more advantageous battlefronts and beat back the micro-beasties to a now dwindling number. (all hail boric acid.) 

♩♫

resting on the couch the other evening in between pre-dinner tasks of chopping and simmering, i was gazing at our healthy accumulation of dust on the floorboards when i was suddenly startled by the dark contours of a creature moving along it. the elongated shadow thrown across the dark wood by the setting sun made its legs look large and its body huge—and ominous. i suddenly realized it was only an ant... but it was just as monstrous as any imaginary wild fang-tooth claw-bearing creature would've been in that instant. 

i started to sing our song...

oh when the ant...

but i didn't really expect an answer...

goes marching in...

...crickets.

well, at least it's not locusts.

πŸ¦— πŸ¦— πŸ¦—

NOTE: artwork graciously created and donated by DaYummyBurger.


2020-09-16

¿school?

i think the spanish language has it right on the notion of punctuation. to say right up front, this is a question, helps the reader understand how to read what’s coming. sometimes you get to the end of a sentence and realize you’ve read it all wrong. it wasn’t a statement. it was a question. in fact, the upside down and backward question mark is even cooler because it says: this a question to me whether or not this is even a question.

and now you know how i feel about what to call “school” this year. ¿school? what exactly do you mean by this word “school”? because school means one thing. and what’s happening right now is like nineteen other things, yet none of them, all at once. 

welcome to pandemic parenting 2020. it’s the new hip dystopian reality that makes you drink more and wonder why you can’t drink more. 

lemme ‘splain.

samson’s school is beginning online classes—for everyone. cool. 

samson on day one of 5th grade


for the next few weeks all the kids will meet virtually at 9am four days a week and see their fellow travelers on the education train. so far so good. community. continuity. 

because it’s a montessori school, they have three grades in their upper elementary class: 4th, 5th, and 6th. samson is in 5th grade so he’ll meet with his fellow grade 5ers every day as well, but at a different time each day. the times are staggered to be fair to all the grades. okay, makes sense. it’s a little disjointed, but we can deal with that. again, so far, okay. 

one day a week is “home school day.” this is the day the teachers have school meetings, deal with administrative stuff, catch up with students who need extra attention, what have you. friday used to be home school day, but they’re changing it this semester to wednesday. why? okay, i’m glad you asked. now stay with me. 

they’re changing the home school day to wednesday because, beginning september 28, they’re planning—and i do mean “planning”—on going to the hybrid model. ¿hybrid? yes. in this model there will be two “cohorts.” i don’t like that word either. it is neither a co, nor a hort, but that’s another rant entirely. back to cohorts. two of them. beginning on the 28th. 

the plan is that the first cohort will be half the class coming in on mondays and tuesdays to the classroom, spaced at a safe distance from each other and the teachers. on wednesday somebody will clean the heck out of the classroom (disinfect, etc.). and finally on thursdays and fridays the second cohort will go in to the classroom. 

did you follow all that?

and now you’re asking yourself: but what about samson? what’s he going to do? is he in a cohort? what the heck? also, what do the monday/tuesday cohorts do on the other two days? same question for thursday/friday peeps. 

i’m glad you’re paying attention because yes, there is still another group of children unaccounted for: the stay-at-homers. that subgroup of children whose parents are extra cautious—for reasons all their own, which we won’t get into for other and sundry reasons—and so will not be sending their children to commingle with cohorts or any other sort of horts.

and the stay-at-homers don’t have just ONE option. nay nay. they have TWO. 

  1. door number one for children whose lives remain solely ONLINE is to be virtually on their own. no more meetings with other children. community, gone. the parents would be their sole teachers, although they will be allowed to check in with their primary teacher once a week so the teacher can check on their progress. if later everything goes back to the way it was (everyone in the classroom), or the school ends up doing EVERYTHING online for EVERYONE, the students will retain their teacher and all will be well. 

  2. door number two for stay-at-homers provides students with much more support and assistance from a dedicated teacher, but it will NOT be their original teacher, because that original teacher will be teaching those two cohorts mentioned above. it may, or may not, provide some virtual community with other students. if later everything goes back to the way it was (everyone in the classroom), or the school ends up doing EVERYTHING online for EVERYONE, these students will NOT retain their original teacher. they are SOL (stuck outta luck).

is that confusing enough for you? 

we haven’t even gotten to the curriculum yet. or the fact that if the covid19 cases in the county rise to a certain threshold, they might not be doing this hybrid/cohort plan anyway and EVERYONE will be online, in which case all that work to arrange people and schedules and multiple curricula will have been for naught. goose egg. the big fat bupkis. but i’m sure the teachers will have enjoyed the exercise. (that was sarcasm, surely.) (shirley says, yes, it was.)

let me be clear about this: i think our teachers are fabulous. i think they’re way overworked and under compensated. i blame teachers zero. i feel for them and their families. they’re struggling under nearly impossible conditions. the fact that they’re continually reassessing and re-designing curricula is crazy. and i know that this is just one example of the issues that surround the world at large.  

we are lucky. we are able to home school our child. we have an option. (we chose home school option door #1.) 

we have internet connection and a computer for him to use. we have at least one stay-at-home parent to be here for his home school needs. we may not be very good at it, but we’re here—and we CAN be here. but good golly miss molly, those who can’t... are pluck outta luck.

the permutations of struggles with schooling are overwhelmingly complex. but no issue seems simpler to me than the question of whether to stay alive—or risk the opposite. but, how you do that, or try to do that, remains a question only you can answer.

and so, i say to you—or rather i pregunta you: ¿school?

my little home schooler… on a good day





2020-09-12

wending our way back to the future

we left off in july with our last entry. we had just passed through a jumble of soft-focus montage, blessedly without the usual upbeat, generic techno music accompanying it. you’re welcome.

before i go on, i need to point out something if it’s not already obvious: because of my chronic illness, i am in that high-risk group of humans who are incredibly vulnerable to covid19. my immune system would get a one-star review on yelp:

★☆☆☆☆ “doesn’t work to save its life.”
★☆☆☆☆ “you call that an immune system? i’ve seen zombies with more immunity.”
☆☆☆☆☆ “ads promised 24/7 customer service. i’m getting 11/4 at best. and good luck getting someone on the phone. i get better service from my cable company.”

you get the idea.

suffice it to say my skypeeps take extra caution living with me, for which i am eternally grateful. and because of that, and without a shred of conceit, i can proclaim with confidence that we have become experts at being IN. shut in. home lurkers. space squatters. sadly, of our very own space… not the “no one can hear you scream” in space. but i digress. we’re good at being here. although it’s not by choice, it is, as i have heard somewhere of late, what it is.

the movie the quiet place came quickly to mind when the covid19 horror hit us. a world terrorized by creatures who can only hear you. but boy howdy can they hear. people relegated to learning sign language and walking barefoot so they could move as quietly as possible. learning to cook without noise, children not allowed to laugh. ‘cause if that monster heard you, he and his posse would be there in a jiffy to eat you. all of you. and your little dog, too. a crazy, mixed-up dystopia.

our world now: not so very different. this disease can’t hear you, but it can cling to you and crawl up your shirt and get on your face and you’ll breathe it in and you won’t even know it. until it’s too late. somehow the invisibleness of this monstrosity is what makes it scarier. you can’t fight a thing you can’t see. and avoiding it is imperative.

so, we became INners. shut-inners. and we got good at it. all bragging aside: we totally nailed it.

ugh.

all that IN-ing. so much IN-ing. well, you know, everyone gets tired of too much of anything.

so, it was with great joy—and trepidation—that a sprinkling of luck conspired to bring some newfound VARIETY to our lives…
  • the first thing was that friends who live not so far from us have a tennis court they weren’t using and offered it to us. we, coincidentally, have three people who really like to play tennis. well, that was lucky!
  • the second was that a classmate and good buddy of samson’s has a swimming pool. his family is about as careful as we are with the quarantine protocol. ergo, socially distanced swimming playdates! (with one kid on each side of the pool, don’t worry!)
  • third, that same classmate also plays tennis, as does his dad. we were able to invite them to tennis—one of the few socially accepted, socially distanced sports.

here are some visual examples of our lovely luck…


<click on photos/videos to enlarge>
  • tennis anyone?




  • 90 degree days were made for this
 





 



an OUT-ing we will go
one other outstanding event took place this summer: the boys embarked upon a camping trip. it was so good for everyone (especially the 10-year-old) to get away from the usual IN-ing of our lives.

four days, three nights, two tents, and only one trip to the car mechanic on the way found them in cuyamaca state park near a swimming hole and waterfall. they hiked and swam and cooked out and explored—generally trying to stay cool in the ninety-degree weather. they returned home tired, dirty, and happy. mission accomplished.








  

  












  

     






where's beth?
one of the suggestions i received after my last blog posting was that i should include more photographs of myself. my first reaction was: what? why would anyone want to see more photos of me?

my second reaction was to think that, although i hadn’t included many photos of myself, it was only because of the subject matter. (i don’t play pickleball, it wasn't MY birthday, i’m not a cute 10-year-old.)

then, even more excuses fumbled their way around my cortex as to why there weren’t more pix of me up there, including but not limited to the notion that since i take most of the photos, how can i be in them? but, well… i will admit that i don’t go out of my way to include myself in as many photos as i could… for a reason. and i bet you can guess why.

recently i read about a woman who said that she’s become more depressed at having to see herself every day in zoom calls for work. the notion that a lot of us don’t spend much time in front of mirrors, or taking selfies, is real. but when we are suddenly face-to-face with our aged image—the image of someone no longer dressing for the day and instead “letting oneself go”… well, it affects us psychologically. especially with the relentless barrage of young, beautiful faces ubiquitously strewn about.

i have the same insecurities. i could demur and say that it’s mostly from what the chronic illness and medication have done to me, but honestly, i am still possessed of some vanity. sue me.

like most of us, i keep a mental photograph in my head of what i think i still look like. and when that doesn’t match up with my morning appointment in front of the aptly named vanity mirror (or video call)… well, i struggle. not a lot. it’s not THAT bad. but the true anxiety manifests itself more fully when confronting a concrete representation signed, sealed, and delivered for posterity in a photograph.

in the last few months, i finally lost the remaining prednisone weight but still managed, amazingly enough, to gain those portentous pandemic pounds much prophesied in the press. these are real things that medication and age have done to me, but no matter what, this is my body and i need to love it first. acceptance is crucial. to teach my son self-acceptance, i must cast the first stone. er… no, wait, i think that’s the wrong metaphor. well, anyway… i am finding my peace with it a little more each day, and it does help TREMENDOUSLY that my partner is someone who sees this:


when the current version is probably more like this:

i did marry someone with partial face blindness (yes, that’s a real thing), and i think that was excellent planning ahead on my part.

i am wending my way—ever so slowly—back to acceptance of the future me. i let my son take more photos of me, and i will post more, too. i promise.

in honor of that promise… i present the following…

one blissful day very recently in skypalace, when my sublimely supportive spouse brought me my morning tea in bed, he also brought one other thing. you see, the night before i had found ALL the words in the previous day’s spelling bee and reached the coveted “queen bee” status. as a sweet surprise, he brought a crown for me to wear to breakfast that morning. ta-da!


it's good to be queen (bee) for a day



game page updates
if you have a moment, we invite you to peruse the many updates to our game page. DaYummyBurger, being the best of us at expressing himself visually, created the remaining three skypeeps avatars. plus, we’ve added the first drafts of our strengths, weaknesses, and abilities/superpowers. additionally, DaYummyBurger has written up a strategy for swarming in one of his favorite video games. check it out!


on the horizon
look for these entries in the coming days (in no particular order):
  • when the ants go marching in
  • ¿school?
  • games people play


thanks for stopping by.

stay safe out there, peoples!

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