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Bored? Me?

Since the pandemic set in, several publications have addressed the issue of boredom. I can understand that maybe if you’re stuck in a tiny New York City apartment with few options, yes, it could get boring.

I have not been bored for one minute since the lock-downs began. For one thing, we’re not really trapped inside: we have a big backyard with a nice pool, several nearby parks and trails, and opportunities for road trips to other outdoor activities. Errands such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions, masked, as early in the day as possible, also get me out of the house. We have Zoom church, video doctor appointments, so there is no lack of contact with the outside world.

The only times I have ever been bored in my adult life were if I ever got stuck in a situation without anything to read or to do. I keep a bag by the back door with reading and knitting in case I have to make an ER trip, having been stuck previously with a dead phone and nothing to do for four hours.

So, what’s keeping me occupied during the pandemic?

Let’s see, a household with a husband with Parkinsons, a 13-year-old granddaughter and a dog. The man and child are fairly self-sufficient, but there are doctor appointments, meds to manage and unpredictable interruptions*. The dog needs to be fed, walked, belly-rubbed and have tennis balls tossed. I do all the grocery shopping, most of the errands, most of the routine cleanup (we do have weekly pool service and a cleaning lady every two weeks), and most of the cooking. Lately the meals have been pretty simple–burgers, tacos, chicken, pasta, which is why I think the granddaughter has started cooking a tasty dinner one or two days a week. I take her to school for her theater elective at midday, come home for lunch and pick her up again; the rest of her schooling is on-line for now. I do monitor her schooling and intend to add some enrichment learning this week.

When the tasks and chores are done, this is how I use my “free” time:

  • Exercise. This time of year it’s swimming. In the cooler weather it’s walking and going to the gym (where I can swim in the winter), and I walk the dog unless it’s just too hot (with highs near 100F lately).
  • Puzzles and games: On the dining table is a seemingly impossible jigsaw puzzle that may outlast the pandemic. (We have completed three others.) Our local newspaper publishes a weekly puzzle book with mazes, jumbles and crossword puzzles.
  • Art: some painting, but mostly my favorite, postcards. I’ve been working on some computer-generated designs, using my own photography, as well as original art in collage, water color and other media. I’m almost ready for a fall postcard mail swap.

My latest postcard, “Fall is in the Air,” with Junior pasted into the autumnal image. (Collage, with stamp by Nat Uhing.)

  • Knitting and other needlework. I completed so much knitting over the summer I decided to try to finish a needlework project started about 10 years ago. It may take another 10 years but I’m making progress!

Lilacs bloomed around my birthday in Ohio. I miss them in Texas. This was originally going to cover a purse. See how dog-eared the instruction sheet is!

  • Most of all, my favorite default mode: reading. Daily periodicals (the local paper and the online New York Times); weekly (The New Yorker); and a delicious pile of books. I’ve even read some fiction, which is rare for me: a chick-lit piece about older women in Tuscany (almost like going to Italy); a novel about South Africa during apartheid and the Soweto rebellions; “Longitude,” about the search for how to determine longitude, thus saving ships and sailors; the Mary Trump book about her uncle (he’s even worse than I thought); and I continue to re-read “Waterlog,” which is maybe my favorite all-time book. I just started “The Soul of an Octopus,” which is a delight. I think science and nature and memoir are my favorite genres of reading. Prompted by last Sunday’s sermon, I printed out Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” about which whole dissertations could be (and probably have been) written. I’m also going to listen to Alec Guinness reading them (on YouTube).
  • Writing: I have a novel, or novella, or something, in my head that I need to get down. So far all I’ve written is the premise, but I have the opening chapter in my head and need to lay out an outline, then start a draft. I have never tackled a novel, but I’ve written several novels’ worth of words in my career so I’ll give it a try.
  • If all else fails, there’s always TV. We have full cable, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. It takes so long to scroll through the menus to decide what to watch that I often give up and read. Husband has been watching “Outlander” (which I would call “Outlandish”). We dip in and out of “The Good Place,” and enjoyed Ricky Gervais‘ “Extras” and “After Life.” (Gervais is an acquired taste, but love his humor.) Lots of movies. Most recent, “The Current War,” about Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla. Poor Tesla got lost in history.

Hope y’all are staying healthy and busy. This difficult and historic time will end. I tell my granddaughter that she is living history. When she’s old she can tell her grandchildren (if she’s lucky enough to have any) about the pandemic of ’20, as well as the other history that’s being made this year.

* At least three while writing this post.

Doing My Little Bit (Inspirations)

I usually post my art in jillybeanswiggins.wordpress.com, but since this is about dealing with the pandemic and how we respond to it, I’m sharing it here.

If you have followed my art blog, you know my passion is post cards. I’ve been doing mail art swaps for about six years and have found that the 4×6 (usually) space is the perfect format for me. (Hey, some people like murals–whatever works!)

I took the photos around dawn on April 16. I intended to play around in Photoshop and do something especially artsy with them, but when I opened them I decided they worked just as my Samsung Galaxy shot them, with the addition of a word or two. I have printed a bunch and keep changing the message, but here are samples of a few.

 

This is my favorite, with the O encircling the crescent moon.

I mailed Meditation cards to everyone in our church’s directory. These will be sent to random folks: friends, neighbors–I may even tackle our Christmas card list if I can get to the post office for more postcard stamps.

 

Best of everything

Break I did: Four days in a little blue beach cottage on Aransas Bay, doing as little as possible, and it rained. This would normally go on my jillybeans site, since it’s a post card, but it sums up the week.

Poem, "Idling in Neutral," and photo of rain through the kitchen window

Poem, “Idling in Neutral,” and photo of rain through the kitchen window

For a complete change of pace, we hosted a birthday party for the eight-year-old granddaughter the day after we got home. It was more fun than I expected, with all of her cousins and grandparents and a few friends and neighbors. Gary wrangled the kids in a treasure hunt and some other games.

They left the 8th off and spelled Chloe "Choe," so they squeezed in the fixes. It tasted good, anyway.

H.E.B. bakery left the “8th” off and spelled Chloe “Choe,” so they squeezed in the fixes. It tasted good, anyway.

Gary herding the kids on a perfect November Saturday

Gary herding the kids on a perfect November Saturday

Chloe stayed overnight. The last thing she said before she fell asleep: “Today was really fun. Thank you.”

Chloe shares a moment with friend Laci.

Chloe shares a moment with friend Laci.

Best birthday ever, especially for Grandma.

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