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Cottage Living

Social Distancing. Week 11

Monday, May 25. Day 71

Totally dropped the ball on the blog this week. But that’s a win for everyone. No mundane posts about how my vegetables are growing or what the weather has been like.

Just lots of pretty pictures. Mostly of the kittens.

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The two brothers. No names yet. 

These guys have truly kept us entertained this week.

 

Tuesday, May 26. Day 72

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Prissy Princess and her two brothers

 

Wednesday, May 27. Day 73

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He loves them as much as I do

 

Thursday, May 28. Day 74

While we’re doing an entire week of pictures, here’s my daughter in Vegas with her social-distancing hair. I’m kind of loving it.

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Friday, May 29. Day 75

Oh come on! How can you not love a bowl of kitty?

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Saturday, May 30. Day 76

And unexpectedly, the honeybees have taken over my hummingbird feeders.

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My googling has informed me that while they love this, it’s a less-concentrated form of sugar and dilutes their honey stores. 

I’ll try to relocate the feeders to a sunnier spot so the bees won’t be as attracted. I don’t mind feeding them, but nectar makes their honey more appropriate for their winter food.

 

Sunday, May 31. Day 77

Today, I had the delightful opportunity to help a friend celebrate his 65th birthday, outside, social distancing observed. I ran by the store on the way to his house.

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Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

It’s been a rough week. The pandemic, sure, but the horrifying death of George Floyd, and the militarization of the police forces in our cities as our citizens protest this injustice is brutally painful. Blogging about tomatoes and peppers, and how we’re managing the isolation didn’t hold the same appeal this week.

So, let’s do better.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Social Distancing. Week 10.

Monday, May 18. Day 64

First day of no caffeine for a week. Mild headache, a little lethargic on our daily 3 miles. My honey, however, was a hot mess – headache, achy, took naps throughout the day, really didn’t feel like himself until late afternoon. 

We had another showing today – 3 cars and 8 people. They were househunting for a long-distance relative who’s soon to relocate to TN. 

Grilled steak and salad for dinner, and a wonderful RfRx session.

 

Tuesday, May 19. Day 65

Took our morning walk and were back at home before 9am. Decaf coffee again, and we both had a much better day.

Leftovers to clean out the fridge today. Roast beef with gravy, fat pork sausage, and a couple of BBQ chicken thighs. 

And here’s a little update from a few weeks ago:

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Remember this little family? 

 

Wednesday, May 20. Day 66

I’m institutionalized.

I’ve made the decision to go to Georgia to check on my parents, and I’m an Anxious Amanda (trying to give Nervous Nellie a break).

My brothers live in my hometown, along with my parents, but they are both single, and just to be blatantly sexist about it, they don’t see what I see when it comes to our parents’ wellbeing. 

But I haven’t left my house in 10 weeks, and I sure haven’t driven my car on a road trip in that time. I’m being irrationally neurotic – do I have air in the tires? wiper fluid? gas? oil? My car registration expired in April, because I didn’t take it to emissions because they have to get into your car for that procedure. If I get stopped, I’ll have to explain that, and take whatever citation they give. 

Then there’s the visit itself. They’ve distanced, I’ve distanced, but we’ll still wear masks and visit on the porch and not share food or utensils. I’ll stay in the downstairs, that has its own entrance, and strip the sheets and clean the bathroom before I leave, in addition to asking my mom not to go downstairs for about 3 days afterward.

 

Thursday, May 21. Day 67

It hasn’t been too bad. Once I got on the road, and got the heebiejeebies out, I was fine. Turned on a podcast, put on my shades, and 4 hours later, I’m there. 

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Porch Picnic

They are managing, but not flourishing. Who of us is at this point? Dad’s memory is a real challenge, but between the two of them they get through the days. We do grocery delivery once per week, and have their medications delivered.

Georgia is one of the handful of southern states which doesn’t have a phased reopening plan. Their church is still not meeting, for which I’m grateful, but most stores and restaurants are open.

They’ve moved a couple of folding chairs to the driveway, so that when my brothers stop by, they can safely have a few minutes’ visit.

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Sights in the time of corona

Mother’s 4-year-old iphone is deteriorating and she can’t access data, which is a hardship because it’s the only internet they have (for Facetiming and Zoom calls with the family, as well as streaming her church services). We’ve ordered her a new one, and I’ll zip back down when it arrives to get it set up for her.

 

Friday, May 22. Day 68

I mentioned my brothers live in our hometown. My older brother was out of town, but has recently had his kitchen rehabbed, so Mother and I took a trip over to see it. It’s gorgeous, but then this happened:

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Prissy prissy Princess. Not me, the kitty.

He had a litter of kittens in his garage, and because I’m losing my 2 grown cats back to their rightful owner (my grandson), it was perfect timing to adopt this pile o kittens:

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The grey point is female, b/w both male

After driving back home, they’ll ensconced in my bathroom for a few days of adjustment. No names yet – we’re watching their little personalities develop first.

 

Saturday, May 23. Day 69

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Goofy pic of the best part of staying home. Steak and Truly don’t hurt.

Sunday, May 24. Day 70

Here it is Sunday again. Memorial Day weekend. Spring is about to transition to summer. We’ll continue our hunkerdown strategy for a while yet.

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First zucchini of the season, just left of center.

 

Totally forgot about the No Caffeine week. I dropped the effort in my visit to my parents, but my honey continued, and his blood pressure has stayed a little lower than usual. He thinks he’ll continue it for a while.

Hang in there a little longer, fellow distancers.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Social Distancing. Week 9.

Monday, May 11. Day 57

3 showings today. Can’t get anything done, but it’s a good problem to have.

People seem to love the house (how can you not?), but still no offers. Living in an 80-year-old house is not everyone’s dream. That’s far more made up for by the glorious 8 acres with barns and pond and peace and quiet.

Trulia

 

Tuesday, May 12. Day 58

Corona hearings in Congress, listening in live to the Supreme Court arguments. All politics, all day.

I’m trying not to go off on rants here too much, so I’m going to just let this go. But it was cool as hell to listen in on SCOTUS oral arguments today.

 

Wednesday, May 13. Day 59

I’m the Executive Director of an international non-profit, Recovering from Religion. Our mission is simple and straightforward: To provide hope, healing, and support to those struggling with doubt and non-belief.

In the midst of the pandemic, we have implemented a new program we are calling RfRx: A Prescription for Coping. We have a guest presenter each week, and earlier sessions are available to watch on our Youtube channel.

If you are social distancing with religious family, and feel like you need a little help and support, please visit our website, call or chat with a trained agent, check out our Resource tab, and please join us on Monday evenings at 7pm central.

 

Thursday, May 14. Day 60

Tech people. I need you.

I need an app that lets me take over my mother’s iPhone. She’s 82, and tries very hard to manage her phone. She likes to play crosswords, she reads her church email to her, she can text, Facetime, and talk on the phone. She’s trying to learn to order her groceries, but that’s been a challenge. We just do that over the phone. She gives me her list, I Instacart, they get delivered.

She gets stuck. That’s her word for when she can’t figure out what to do. Sometimes an ad has popped up on her crossword and she can’t x out of it. Sometimes she gets into the wrong gmail tab. They’re all simple things to fix, but with her isolating in Georgia, and me here in Tennessee, it becomes a huge ordeal.

First, when she has a problem, I have to get her to put me on speaker so she can look at her screen while I talk her through the problem. They still have an old-school landline but it’s corrupted and sometimes it works and sometimes not.

Then we have to talk through getting to the problem screen.

Press the Home button.

The what?

The Home button – the button at the bottom that controls everything.

Oh, I remember that.

Now let’s find the app. Swipe left.

What?

Swipe left. We’re looking for the crossword app.

I don’t see it.

Ok, mom, describe the screen you’re looking at.

It’s the one with all the little symbols.

Can you find the one with the crossword symbol?

Of course, why didn’t you say that?

….

….

And on and on and on.

I’m making light, but it really is her line to all of the rest of the family, and if I had the phone in my hand it would be sooooooo easy to get her out of whatever she’s gotten into.

 

Friday, May 15. Day 61

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Peonies! 

 

Saturday, May 16. Day 62

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Facetiming my girls in Nevada and Oregon. This I’m sure hasn’t been the longest I’ve gone without a visit, but I can’t hardly wait to make a trip out to see them!

 

Sunday, May 17. Day 63

Beautiful powerful rainstorm came through today. Sitting on the porch swing, watching it roll in, covering up with a blanket with the wind blows the rain toward me, hanging baskets swinging, chickens racing to get in the coop, grass and plants soaking up the drops, made this the highlight of the day.

 

We’ve been doing nutrition experimentation while we’ve been sequestered, because it’s been so easy to control our environment. So far we’ve done an Egg week, a Carnivore week, and our usual go-to, Keto. Next week we’re going to try a little caffeine-free experiment. We’re switching to decaf, but keeping our morning bulletproof coffee in place. We only usually drink one cup a day, sometimes 2, and we don’t drink soda with caffeine, so it may not be a huge difference.

Thanks for reading!

Social Distancing. Week 8.

Monday, May 4. Day 50

When we closed out the week last week, we had just had a massive storm blow through middle Tennessee. I posted a couple of photos of limbs down and patio furniture strewn about. Today was clean-up day, so my honey and I got to work. I’ve taken about an hour’s project of chainsawing and wood-gathering and condensed it into this little clip:

 

 

Tuesday, May 5. Day 51

Another day of gardening and yardwork. 8 acres is a lot to maintain, even when 6.5 of it is pasture! I’ve mentioned I’m getting the house ready to sell, so it gives me a reason to justify my gardening habit.

Last month, after the late April frost, these little pansies were clearanced at Kroger – they’d been bitten by the frost (I guess they leave their outside plants out in the weather?). When I bought them they were pretty sad-looking and at less than $1 per pot, looked like they were destined for the compost pile.

 

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Sweet little pansy faces

But they’ve all made beautiful progress – I didn’t even know the colors (still don’t on the last holdout), but they’ve become the brightest splash of color in the front garden!

 

Wednesday, May 6. Day 52

The highlight of my week is forever the weekly family meeting. As I zoomed and watched them in their environment, daughter Glenda in her art studio, painting as we chatted, Aden the Grand playing video games with his brothers, Amy at work in her office, Sam screen-sharing some research he had done, Eliott and I in the same room on different devices, and Ben not able to join because of his important public-defending, my heart aches to see them all in person.

 

Thursday, May 7. Day 53

The house went on the market at 10am, and we had a showing at 1pm! It ended up being only a realtor, but it still felt good to have a little action on the house. And we have another scheduled for tomorrow.
I have loved this house – I often say if I could scoop up all 8 acres and take them to Oregon with me, I would. I hope the next owner will find all the joy and peace we have had here.

 

Friday, May 8. Day 54

What the hell, Tennessee.

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I grew up in Georgia, and the saying there was Don’t Plant Til After Tax Day. In Tennessee, I’ve modified that to the 20th of April. Here’s what the ol reliable Farmer’s Almanac, said:

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So I got to spend the early evening doing this:

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Looks like a Scout Jamboree.

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And here’s the thing: mid-30s is not just tonight – it’s for Saturday evening as well.

Here’s why I think I’m more than frustrated about it. In the midst of the StayHome effort, I’ve put so much into the yard and garden this year. It’s been delightful, and is a true pleasure, but it’s taken on more meaning this year. Any other year if we’d had a weird, late-season, crazy frost, it would just be a pain, and an ominous reminder of climate change. But this year it feels…more personal, I guess. Like, I can’t see my kids or friends, or do normal things, and I have to risk my pretty flowery and food things too? I know it’s an overreaction. Just the nature of what we’re going through.

Edit, post-Friday: Yes, it did indeed frost. Nashville recorded 33, but it’s always cooler out in the country, and there were frost on all the sheets just after sunrise this morning. Left everything on the ground to cover again Saturday night.

 

Saturday, May 9. Day 55

A clear, warm, sunny day. Hard to believe 2 nights of freezing temps bookended today. More mowing, planting, mulching, and generally soaking up the sun and spring. We relocated the hammock to the furthest part of the back yard – a delicious little spot to  grab a moment to nap.

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Sunday, May 10. Day 56

Mother’s Day.

Chatted with my mother, talked about what we would do if we were together. Brunch, shopping, sitting on the porch. *sigh*

Peonies, the Mother’s Day bloom, is just a couple of days behind, I’m sure because of the cool spring. We had a couple of showings today, so we’ll see where that goes.

Another week comes to an end. Still no plan. Governors, mayors, city councils, businesses, and families are having to make decisions about what their plans are in the absence of any federal action. We’ve chosen to continue to isolate, unless something changes with the house.

 

Social Distancing. Week 7.

Monday, April 27. Day 43

One of the things I have been surprised about (although I shouldn’t have been) is how weather-dependent my days have become. Looking at the weather forecast is the first thing I do each morning, and I structure my entire week’s activity around the forecast. Rain means inside work, cleaning the house, catching up on email, etc. Sunny days are for walks, working in the yard and garden, watching the chickens, and simply being outside. Before Covid, I was aware of the weather, and might have watched the forecast to know when to mow, but not nearly to the extent I am now.

Tuesday, April 28. Day 44

Tennessee “opened up” yesterday. What a mistake.

I understand and embrace that there is nuance that we are missing with a full-on, blanket Stay Home order. In my non-medical opinion, there is tremendous value to being outdoors, including vitamin D levels, and many folks stuck inside are missing that. More effort should be put into trying to schedule time outside in communities. Open parks and green spaces, but schedule a system where not everyone is out at one time.

Many stores have no-contact pickup dialed in: TSC, Kroger. Our experience with ordering from Walmart resulted in canceling our simple order of birdseed when we discovered their pickup required GOING IN TO THE STORE TO FIND THE PICKUP DESK. Not exactly curbside.

My parents are beginning to worry about the food supply. They have plenty, both my brothers and I have farms, we have lots of resources available, but it still causes them to stress. To them and to others, I offer this as the insufferable know-it-all I can be: most of the country could embark upon an eating strategy, and survive and even improve their health by adopting intermittent fasting.

When we force our human bodies to burn fat instead of sugar, which means eliminating the sugar (carbohydrates of all forms) in our diets, we can live off of our own fat stores for long periods of time. Even a lean adult human has enough fat to survive for days, and those who carry more can survive longer, “eating” ones own body fat.

And the hunger/psychological piece of the equation? When insulin is stable, we don’t have the wild fluctuations that lead to craving and what is perceived as hunger. We don’t think of it this way, but why would we be hungry when we have so much excess “food” hanging around on our body? Switching to a fasting lifestyle involves both retraining your body to burn fat, and simultaneously eliminating the urge to eat caused by massive insulin spikes.

Jason Fung

Intermittent Fasting

 

 

Wednesday, April 29. Day 45

This was a sweet, unexpected view on our walk this evening:

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We walk the farm most evenings. This event occurs every year, and we look and wait for the babies. Tonight as we crested the bank, we saw this lovely couple and their little gozzes. If you’re a reader, you’ll remember the big nasty snapper I posted recently – unfortunately, this is that pond. We’ll keep an eye on this family and post updates.

 

Thursday, April 30. Day 46

Oh April, you’ve been such a tease! Warm, cold, cool, hot – you’ve had it all. A frost on the 12th and a freeze on the 15th. And you go out today with a brrrrr. Buh bye. Maybe May will be a little less fickle.

 

Friday, May 1. Day 47

What a joyful day! Observing precautions and safe distances, my 2 sweet girlfriends, one with her precious little daughters, came to the farm for the annual Releasing of the Butterflies! This young mother ordered caterpillars for the girls to watch as they cocooned and then emerged.

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Sweet little girls. Photo by Susan Steen
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The Release. Photo by Susan Steen
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And a visit to all the farm animals. Photo by Susan Steen

 

Saturday, May 2. Day 48

Today was Mulch Day.

We’re still trying to get the farm ready to put on the market. I’m ready to relocate to the Pacific Northwest, to be nearer to my 4 adult children. If I could scoop up this sweet little 8-acre paradise and move it to the west coast, I would. Since I can’t, I’m looking forward to someone else enjoying this beautiful place as much as I have.

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Sunday, May 3. Day 49

And we end the week with a bang! Thunderstorms have been rolling through middle Tennessee all evening.

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I took this picture at 4:24, just as my honey was pulling dinner off the grill. It began to cloud up, but we thought we could get through dinner, which we did. As we were clearing the table, the wind picked up.

I took this picture at 5:12.

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And this is the back deck:

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And the front yard:

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These two cedars are the oldest trees on the property. 

Power is out all over town, and big trees down everywhere. Grateful the damage wasn’t worse. We’ll start the cleanup tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

 

Social Distancing. Week 6

Monday, April 20. Day 36

4/20, and here I am in Tennessee. I think it’ll be a while before Tennessee passes even medicinal cannabis. I ran on a decriminalization platform when I ran for state senate in 2016 and 2018. There is a lot of grass (see what I did there?) roots support for it, but we have a Republican supermajority in our legislature, so I’m not optimistic.

My children all live in 420-friendly states, so I have to be a little jealous. I can partake when I visit, but since I’m grounded, I’m going to just have to manage.

So happy 420 to everyone who can celebrate, and commiseration with those who can’t.

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Best part of my week 

 

Tuesday, April 21. Day 37

Sometimes we catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife with whom we share our space. Today was this big fella crossing the driveway. There are quite a few living in the pond, which you can see when they poke their snouts just above the surface. I’ve never been able to keep ducks, and I think the blame lies squarely on the ridged shells of the snappers.

 

Also, following up from last week’s blog, we both received negative results from our coronavirus test, which are the results we expected. We dreaded hearing otherwise, but the sensation remains that we’re being stalked by this thing, and with the lack of a national or state plan, it feels like it’s just a matter of time, even with our distancing efforts. Ugh.

 

Wednesday, April 22. Day 38

Today’s pretty weather brought more planting and mulching. We’ve added a row of mandevillas to a new stretch of fencing I’d added, and now we wait for the beautiful pink blossoms to bring the hummingbirds to the yard. I’ve had about 4 separate sightings, and the pattern here is that their visits pick up as the weather warms.

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Thursday, April 23. Day 39

I’ve blogged before about our Way of Eating™️ – our low carb, moderate protein, moderate fat lifestyle. I’ve written many posts about it, and if you’re interested, just choose Nutrition on the dropdown of categories. Occasionally, we’ll do an experimental day or week, since one of the factors we embrace about health and nutrition is that all of us have our own unique physiology, heritage, habits, preferences, enzymes, metabolism, etc, and the best we can do it take the current broad science, apply it, record and examine all the data we can, and come to a reasonable conclusion: our N=1.

In our effort to stay up-to-date on metabolic health and its impact on reaction to the coronavirus, we’ve been seeing that in some cases, elevated blood sugar, insulin, leptin, inflammation are all contributors to one’s reaction.

Dr. Paul Mason, Ivor Cummins (blog and podcast), Dr. Michael Eades.

Therefore, this week has been Egg Week. 5 days of only eggs, cheese, and fat. There are several variations on the theme, so Google away (Egg Fast) if you wish. We set some basic parameters: at least 6 eggs/day, an ounce of cheese and a tablespoon of fat for each egg consumed, lots of water. We also expanded our usual 4-hour eating window to about 6-8 hours.

There are a lot of ways to fix eggs, fat, and cheese!

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Eliott did all the cooking. I did all the cleaning. We both did all the eating. 
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Scrambled with cheese

Not pictured are the Everything Chaffles, egg salad, omelets, and even crepes. We did our 5 full days, enjoyed all of it, both lost a few pounds, and we felt that we had a mild appetite reset. Other results don’t differ much from when we eat our usual keto-style (we sleep well, no aches/pains, good energy, no meds).

We’ll do it again in a month or so.

 

Friday, April 24. Day 40

Today’s highlight:

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Indigo bunting!

iPhone quality shot, but here’s a closer look:

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They’re brilliant aqua. 
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And then there were two! 
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And then my girl Steen came with her big camera, and from the driveway, in the rain, managed to take this beautiful shot! 

Saturday, April 25. Day 41

 

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Finished the vodka last week. Now the tequila’s gone. 

EWeBHCNXsAMoXOS

Sunday, April 26. Day 42

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Blech

Ugh. 50 degrees, rainy and windy today. No yard work for me. But these kinds of days force me to catch up on inside work and emails, and to be grateful for the warm glorious springtime sun.

As the week ends, there’s a lot of noise about states/cities trying to “open up”. My parents live in Georgia, and I’m here in Tennessee, and both state governments have lifted some restrictions. I don’t see where either have based their decisions on the growing science we have on Corona. So we’ll stay put a while longer. We’re all a little bored, a little restless, and a lot concerned, but we’re also safe and warm and dry and fed.

Thanks for reading.

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First peony, but the bush is full of blooms. More to come

 

Social Distancing, Week 5

Monday, April 13. Day 29

Winter’s back. Couldn’t even get our full 3 miles in today, because I underdressed for it. Out go the sheets again over the tomato beds, not to be uncovered until Thursday. So I cooked most of the morning – a big pot of brunswick stew for a wintry day.

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Tuesday, April 14. Day 30

Another teasingly cold and sunny spring day. Plants will have to wear their little blankets another 2 nights. I’m glad to inside out of that biting wind – I can even watch my little chickies flap their wings and run around their pen from my kitchen window. It was a good day to clean the house and work inside.

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Yep. it’s time.
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Well, he’s beautiful to begin with, so

Wednesday, April 15. Day 31

Last of the cold days. Pretty and sunshiny, but one more chance of freeze tonight. When there’s no work to be done outside, may as well show you our lunch.

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Low carb bagels from Fox Hill Kitchens if you’re interested.

Thursday, April 16. Day 32

Spring’s back! The frost got some buds here on the farm – mostly the crepe myrtles and a few of the leaves on the pepper plants, but that’s the end of the frost danger.

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Swearing-in, social distancing style
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While the fam Zooms with pride

Friday, April 17. Day 33

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Scenes from a Friday
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*sigh*
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One friend made them, another delivered them. Such kindness.

Saturday, April 18. Day 34

Today was an adventure. Had barely gotten started on my morning coffee (which, if I’ve never mentioned, is ground and brewed and blended and delivered to me every single morning by my honey), when I saw information about C19 testing in Rutherford County, Tennessee, where I live.

Free, no need to have exhibited symptoms or exposure, no contact drive-thru testing. For only 3 hours, only today. Up we hopped, dressed and in the car, to line up at the local Health Department before 9am. Many LEO directing traffic, well-controlled pattern up and down city blocks culminating in drive-thrus on both sides of the building.

We chatted and made phone calls and listened to the news while we crept along, waiting for our turn. Just over 3 hours after we got in line, we got to the testing area.

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A few quick questions: name, address, phone, email. Asked if we had insurance, but there was no follow-up. Asked if we had had symptoms or known exposure. Then the notorious swab up each nostril, unpleasant but not painful, and over in a second. Then instructions that we’d get a phone call in 3-5 days, whether positive or negative, and to continue to stay home if we could.

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A sweet kiss for staying healthy

Why get the test if we’ve had no symptoms, no contact, and have been distancing at home?

  1. I want to send a message to Tennessee and my social circle to get tested.
  2. I believe that with as poorly as this crisis has been managed at the federal level, now nationwide testing is our best hope.
  3. While we expect to test negative, if we test positive, we’ll be even more vigilant for symptoms, and we’ll implement the last few actions we can take – no outgoing mail, only grocery delivery (no more pickup), and not even a trip to take trash and recycling to the dump until our 14 days have passed.

 

Sunday, April 19. Day 35

We close out the week with this joyful moment:

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I had read on social media that others in my area had had the annual first sighting, but I didn’t see this sweet little fella until late today! And it’s a chilly, overcast day, so I really wasn’t expecting him. It’s a delightful sign of spring that I anticipate every year.

 

The end of another week. Still no plan.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Social Distancing. Week 4.

Monday, April 6. Day 22

In addition to keeping my honey and I isolated on the farm, and conversing with the 4 adult children and their partners in isolation, and tracking my grandson who lives in Utah, I’m also trying to ensure that my 83/82-y-o parents are complying with social distancing protocol alone in their home just south of Atlanta.

They’re doing a great job of tolerating the circumstances. Their church services are all cancelled, I have groceries delivered once a week, we text and chat every day. They have vast cable tv resources, but no internet, so to me that means they miss a lot (streaming their online church services), but they’ve never had it, so they don’t complain about it.

Last week I had a delivery made to them of some plants from their local nursery. It was a gorgeous pile of blossoms:

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She was so surprised and delighted. They have a big front porch and they sit out there for hours birdwatching at the numerous feeders. Her hanging baskets are always beautiful, always red and white, and last year I found tiny hummingbird feeders that can be added to each basket so the birds get really close.

She immediately set to planting, digging and designing, then getting my dad to help her hang them.

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She sent picture after picture of getting them arranged – 4 large baskets to hang on 4 hooks on the front porch.

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Then this morning, she called me in tears, hardly able to talk. You can imagine me holding my breath, waiting to hear what she was so upset about. Did one of them fall down? Is it one of my brothers? My dad? Is someone showing symptoms?

The squirrels had gotten into her baskets and dug around and flung plants everywhere. In the span of 5 seconds, I went from relieved, to anger at her reaction, to laughter, and back to neutral as we talked it through. By the end of the conversation, we decided I would have some kind of rodent repellent delivered, she can pick up all the plants and sweep up the dirt and reassemble the baskets. She was even able to laugh about it at the end.

The whole experience fractured me. Of course I know the psychology of it – her emotion was entirely displaced, she’s tried so hard to be optimistic and comply with the rules, and those baskets mean a lot to her in a non-weird spring season. But sadness overwhelmed me at the thought of their suffering at this time in their lives – the isolation, the loneliness, the separation from their very active senior adult group at their church.

It will be a story we can tell and laugh about in the future. But right now it is a total gut-punch, and tiny example of what is playing out in millions of households around the world. This is so unnatural, and is taking a toll on our social species, in far more dramatic and significant ways than this short tale reveals.

It was a lovely day on the farm, but my morning phone call stayed with me well after sunset.

Tuesday, April 7. Day 23

Nothing but planting from sunrise to sunset! I think this theme is a little repetitive on this blog, but it is spring on the farm, so.

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Starts with a big ol truck bed full of dirt
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Beautiful.
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Home grown tomatoes. Nothing better. 
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Sunshine and water is all we need now. 
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And suddenly, it’s gin o’clock. 

Wednesday, April 8. Day 24.

Today was a day.

We lost John Prine last night. I went to bed sad, thinking about listening to him in college, the impact his music and lyrics had on me.

I was out of sorts when I woke up, stressy and worried and restless. It was house-cleaning day, although 2 old people don’t mess up a house too much in a week. Before my honey and I got started cleaning, I put on some Prine, and the first chord hadn’t finished before I gave in to my tears. I cried about everything – fear of the virus, worry about the children and my parents, the loss of this beautiful man, the absolute frustration of what the Republicans have done to the country, the despair for the suffering that so many are experiencing in this health crisis.

I swept and mopped and scrubbed as JP’s voice soothed my raw nerves, like it used to do in my youth. In a couple of hours my house was clean, and my emotions were spent. My honey took my hand and led me outside without a word, where we headed out for our daily 3 miles on our little country lane.

We walked and chatted, he gave me space to grieve and rant, and before long around the bend came a very familiar car.

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It’s hard to see, but that hatted bandit is my girl Steen. She took a moment to drive out to wave from the window, and at a safe social distance to see our faces. It was the sweetest moment, and one I needed.

I had also posted a little whiney rant on Facebook, and after our walk I saw comment after comment of love and support.

I am an optimistic person, sometimes almost unrealistically. I rarely have dark moments, and when I do, they pass quickly. Today was one of those rare occasions.

But with the love and support of my honey, my family, my friends, and my community, I had my moment, felt it, expressed it, and moved on. I know this won’t be the only day like this. I know there are others who are suffering so much more than we are. I know that everyone is affected by this crisis to varying degrees.

Thursday, April 9. Day 25

Ay, this spring weather. Spent the day bringing in my as-yet-unplanted plants, and covering what I’ve already put in the ground.

Friday, April 10. Day 26

This is the easiest day to write a happy thing of the entire distancing series up to now. Today, at 10am, my oldest son texted me one word: PASSED.

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Ben, partner Kirsten, Suzy and River

What he was referencing were the results from the February 2020 Washington State Bar Exam. Which he passed.

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He’d already been hired in the Public Defender’s office in Chelan County, in Wenatchee, WA, but he needed the pass to be official.

Having taken the Bar Exam myself (California), I know how hard and challenging this test is. I’m so very proud of him, and so excited for his career.

Meanwhile, on the farm…

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I’m growing linens, apparently

Expecting a low of 34 degrees tonight, so all those tender plants get a nice cozy blanket.

Saturday, April 11. Day 27

I know I’ve blogged about how we’re eating: low carb, no grains/no sugar, mostly one meal a day, with a later snack. But we’re also trying to be a little playful about it. Here’s the menu board for a few days this week:

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It’s a little silliness, but helps us keep our good humor about not going out to eat, which we love to do.

Sunday, April 12. Day 28

End of the fourth week. Still no plan, especially here in Tennessee.

On this rainy Sunday, it is as good a time for a rant as any.

We have a binary system in our presidential election, for all intents and purposes. You vote for one, the other, for a nonviable 3rd party candidate, or not at all. That’s it. Those are the choices.

We are at such a level of destruction and emergency in our country, it is my opinion that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. In other words, if you are not with us, you are against us.

So I don’t care what your motivation is to vote for Trump.

Don’t like abortion? I don’t care.

Hate liberals? I don’t care.

Bernie didn’t win? I don’t care.

You’re not in a swing state so you claim you can make your political point with no damage? I don’t care.

Your own important and special reason? I don’t care.

Who you vote for is your choice and your right. But it is not without consequences. When you vote for Trump, you have chosen to empower the damage and pain he causes. I take that personally – that hurts so many people. And while I respect your right to vote as your conscience leads you, it affects how I feel about you. If we were friends up to that point, your vote alters the friendship. It alters my respect for you. Our values are too far apart to sustain a friendship. Your voting action far exceeds a difference of opinion or political strategy, or whatever it is that you claim you are doing.

So on your social media when you boast about voting for Trump because derpderpderp, don’t expect my respect or friendship.

And as to it being my responsibility to convince you otherwise? You’re a Trumper, by definition and your own statement. I have learned a slow hard lesson that it is not worth the breath and frustration it takes to try to reason with a Trumper. Hard pass. I’ll be out doing what I’ve done for years: registering new voters, encouraging nonvoters, and trying to win what is left of the persuadable middle.

 

The last day of the 4th week. Let’s end with a photo of my lone little azalea.

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It was a week of highs and lows. Squaring my shoulders to move forward.

Thanks for reading.

Social Distancing. Week 3.

Monday, Mar 30. Day 15

A good day on the farm. Sunny and bright, a little cool. Chicks are growing by the minute, and loving their coop. They’ve learned the ramp, and can put themselves to bed at night (as opposed to me getting the top half of body on the ground into the coop, catching them and putting them “upstairs” under the warming light, one by one).

Baby donk is adorable. A little pastoral shot with mommy:

We have a 3-mile loop on our dead-end country lane, and Eliott and I have made it a habit of walking it daily. It’s rural and I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve met another person walking while we are. Nice for social distancing, one little piece of elevation, so rural there are no lines painted anywhere. It was wonderful to get out and walk it today – it lends itself to long, uninterrupted conversations, as well as a good hour of exercise.

Tuesday, Mar 31. Day 16

Cold and rainy again, but that’s Tennessee spring. It’s convenient when it falls on a day I have to work at my desk, and the end of the month means closing out the old budget and beginning the new.

I’ve modified my plan just a little since my partner got home. I get teased by my kids for my dry-erase, color-coded life, but I’m ok with that. I know all of our minds work differently for how we manage ourselves, and this is what works for me. Back when I was a young mother, I used an old-school clipboard, with a precise schedule for the week’s activities, tasks to do, grocery list, calls to make, etc. Raising 4 children close in age made it necessary, for me, to empty my brain of all of that, so I could be fully engaged and focused on the moment.

So when I share with you the images of this method of management, you’ll understand me a little better.

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Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Seasonal. Projects for the yard. Calls to make. Things to do. As soon as it gets written, it goes into the queue of my life, and it moves up the priority until I get to it. More peasy than easy, but you get the drift.

 

Wednesday, April 1. Day 17

I’ve always celebrated April 1. I know it’s not the equinox, just a day on the calendar, but it’s always been my tradition that it’s a transition day. I think I began the habit before I was tuned in to using nature instead of the calendar, and I’ve just continued it.

My April tasks include filling and hanging the hummingbird feeders, setting out the hammock, putting the outdoor cushion and umbrellas out. It’s still too early to plant my tomatoes and flowers, but I can herald the coming of spring with some of these rituals.

Today was a little cool and still damp from yesterday’s rain, but I pushed forward. The grass is greening by the day, every tree is full of green buds, some with blossoms already, and there’s no doubt the earth is moving.

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This lilac smells as delightful as it looks

I suppose that is today’s thought. No matter what our attitude is, no matter how we approach this era in our world/nation/personal history, time will pass. This phenomena will run its course, whatever it is, and we will move on to a new phase. That’s what I mean when I put Take the Long View on my vision board. Someday this will be in the past, maybe even when you’re reading this blog. While there’s no right way to have done it, I hope I did the best I could with the circumstances.

 

Thursday, Apr 2. Day 18

Now beautiful again. I wonder how different it would have been to distance in another season. We kind of do a winter quasi-hibernation to begin with, which would seem to be a better time, but now at least we can get out and walk and get exercise, so sort of a trade-off. Tomato tomahto.

My honey is still adjusting to being home – walking around the farm, interacting with the animals, walking around the yard. We’ve begun a projects list, and like all of us, he enjoys adding to it and thinking about the sequence. He’s still tying up loose ends at work, so his head is in both worlds. He was working long, busy days before leaving DC, so the adjustment from that to this new pace has him marveling.

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My dear friend Darrel Ray lives on a bit of property, and he and I both remarked on a phone call that we’re being more methodical and slow about how we’re getting things done; we don’t want to get all of our projects complete too quickly. We both acknowledged how fortunate to be both on land that inherently ALWAYS has projects to do, and for it to be spring to get out and do them.

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New chick yard
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New mulch, beds are ready! 

 

Friday, April 3. Day 19

A beautiful spring day on the farm. Today was a day for mowing, tilling, and weeding. And a little chickie-watching.

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How do you not love all this?

Saturday, April 4. Day 20

If you’re bored with farming pics, this blog isn’t going to entertain you much. It was another really pretty day on the farm, so it was a day of mowing and tilling. However, it started off with a pretty exciting phone call.

I had ordered and paid for some tomatoes, peppers, petunias, geraniums, and jasmine from our local nursery. They’re still open for business, but we arranged a contact-free pickup, and they called to tell us our order was picked and ready. We drove the old farm truck over, called them when we got there, and they loaded our things right into the truck bed, and off we went back home.

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I was thrilled to get my plants, but it was distressing to see all the shoppers at the nursery, unmasked, ungloved, not distancing in the least. I just don’t think Tennesseans are taking this seriously at all. Between Trump’s message, and the soft stay-at-home gentle suggestion our governor made only days ago, they are not grasping the situation.

Sunday, April 5. Day 21

A beautiful sunny day to end the week.

I’ll mix up the farming pics with food pics. We’re eating low carb, as we have for years, and we’re doing daily fasting of about 20 hours a day. We have fatty coffee in the mornings, then have a big meal around 4, and another snack/small meal around 8. In nutrition circles, that’s known as OMAD (one meal a day). We keep a lot of meat in our freezer, so our grocery delivery has consisted mostly of fresh and frozen vegetables. Eliott and I both enjoy cooking, so we take turns.

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Meatloaf, cauli rice, green salad, and chaffles

We use our daily walks to talk through our plan, to ensure we understand what we’re facing, to share any news that we have read that the other might not have. We discuss our coping strategies, how to help the children, how we’re managing my parents (82 and 84, distancing together a couple of hundred miles away). It’s been a lovely week, and we recognize how incredibly fortunate we are to be isolating, in such a beautiful place, with the animals, together.

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Thanks for reading.

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