Archives for category: inspiration

By now, you’ve probably found yours, right? Productive distractions that pass the time during pandemic “stay at home” orders, or worse yet, during actual quarantine. A productive distraction staves off boredom, and prevents looming chaos from overtaking everything. Mine has been my aquarium, generally, and books. My Traveling Partner has been focused on games and gaming, and tweaking the pc that drives that experience. For us, it’s been helpful that we each have our own “thing” to focus on, the result being we generally have something fun to talk about, any time.

Consideration matters so much right now, for those who are “sheltering in place” with or among other people. Tempers can fray so easily. Letting small shit stay small helps a lot. Mostly it’s all small shit. It’s the letting go that requires the verbs. lol

…My experience this morning “feels different”… I am typing on a different keyboard. My steady regular keyboard is badly in need of cleaning, and I disconnected it to do that. My Traveling Partner said “here, try this one“, and it remains in place, even this morning, loyal favorite forgotten over there, by the stack of things-yet-to-do. This one feels similar-but-different, softer, somehow. Tolerant of my heavy key-stroke, but quiet. Tactile, without being very “click-y”. The strike of each key is vaguely muffled. The “click” is more a “tap” than a click. The keys respond to my touch so fast that I feel as if I am typing “as fast as I think”. It’s nice. Also… the numbers on each key light up. (lol Why does that delight me so?) I enjoy the sensation of typing on the new keyboard. (How many millions of key strokes have I dropped on my old keyboard in the past 6 years of heavy use?) I decided yesterday to stick with this one, and programmed the keys to be illuminated in a lovely dark-ish lavender hue, which changes to a bright greenΒ  with each keystroke, quickly fading to teal as I continue to type. So fun. πŸ˜€

I am distracted by the novelty of typing on a new keyboard. It’s a pleasant distraction.

We meant to watch a movie together yesterday… we spent the day on our projects, and in between (and later on) watched tech videos of various sorts. It was a delightfully productive and fun day together. I mention it because, seriously, this “life in the time of pandemic” gets pretty fucking “real” sometimes, and it has made a lot of difference to my experience to find moments of joy and delight, and to savor those, rather than sit around staring into the maw of media talking heads regurgitating COVID-19 content. I’ve no idea whether we’ll watch that movie tonight… I know we’ll find something fun to share, whether or not it is a movie isn’t very relevant to the shared experience of joy and love. It’s just one way to get there.

What if I were alone, though, how would I “find moments of joy” then? Probably still in the pleasure of caring for my aquarium(s), and reading still more books, honestly. πŸ™‚ I don’t find myself all that complicated, generally, I suppose. Small things delight me (a new fish, a new keyboard, a favorite book), and I entertain myself pretty easily (books, writing, painting, gardening, aquarium keeping… it’s a long list). I fret for a moment, trying to imagine being truly bored right now, and what it would take to lift myself from that boredom. What would I do? I think I would still read books; I can’t really imagine what it would be like to be someone who “doesn’t read”. Lots of libraries are making audio books available for free, too… it is a great time to catch up on reading. lol Online learning? Plenty of that to be had, too. Online travel? There are some very interesting documentaries and streams of a variety of exotic locations. Museums have streamed walk-throughs of their collections, and those are available online, too. Not so interested in someone else’s words, thoughts, or perspective? Pen & ink, my friend – say what you’ve got to say. Self-publish on Amazon. Become the author of the narrative someone else will read. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee, taking a moment to appreciate the grocery delivery service that keeps me supplied, the farm workers who harvested the beans, the shipper who transported them, the roaster who roasted them, the distributor who supplied them to the grocery store… How can any one of us not recognize how interconnected we all are? We are all in this together (even though we are each having our own experience). Even our own individual experience is built upon more than the mere sum of our own individual decision-making; there is, too, the matrix of coincidences and circumstances that is the combined force of what happens, and what is chosen, out of reach of our own consideration, in every moment. It’s not all “about us”, regardless who we are. This is a great cup of coffee. In a very real sense, I did not “make it all by myself” – all I did was grind the beans, and pour water over them. A rather small contribution to the outcome, frankly. lol

I find myself appreciating how fortunate I am in these challenging times. I miss my friends, though. I miss brunch on Saturdays. I miss shopping together over a lunch break and laughing about something silly. I miss dinners out. I miss strolling a crowded farmer’s market. I miss “community”. Yep. Even me. I do miss the presence of other people. Part of feeling fortunate right now, is about simply not being alone in this. Again, I find myself feeling fortunate. I remind myself to write letters, emails, and send texts to friends. We really are all in this together, and distance is not always about miles. πŸ™‚

Another day of living in the time of pandemic. Another opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

There’s a certain “order” and “flow” to circumstances that sometimes requires a bit of waiting, of patience, of carefully and clearly resetting expectations, and occasionally, even that has to be revisited, reinvented, or repeated along the way. I sip my coffee and remind myself how effortlessly easy it truly is to wait for something – it is the impatience to reach the goal that is the hard part. lol Letting that go, and the waiting? Well, it’s just letting time pass while I do other things, right? πŸ™‚

Big things and small things, life has a lot of “wait for it” built into it. lol It’s neither a good thing, nor a bad thing – it’s just a thing to account for, to accept, to shrug off as one of life’s unavoidable, inevitable experiences. Rich or poor, we’ve all waited for something.

…Yesterday, I was waiting for a delivery of live fish to arrive on my doorstep. Today, I am waiting for a future moment in time. It’s a chill Saturday, well-suited to waiting on moments, contentedly, patiently, considerately, and even gently. The moment will arrive, and when it does, perhaps the waiting will have become “preparing”, “planning”, or some sort of desirable state of readiness, or another?

Aren’t we all waiting, right now? Waiting for the return of what we each understand as “normalcy”? Waiting for the moment we can meet up with our friends over coffee, or that moment we can host a big neighborhood barbecue (or attend one), or that moment when, through a crowd of strangers, we spot that person we know we love… so many moments are on hold right now. Vacations, journeys, endeavors, projects, group gatherings of all sorts… we’re all waiting. In the meantime, we’re all also living our lives. How’s that going for you, right now? πŸ™‚ I hope your wise choices are resulting in a measure of contentment and joy that makes it all quite bearable.

Oh, and yes, the fish did arrive. It was a peculiar afternoon of timely arrivals, actually. My Traveling Partner and I enjoyed an evening punctuated by timely arrivals, and moments of joy, and discussions of our future together – in a time beyond the pandemic. We enjoyed the evening we had in front of us, savored the depth of our conversation, the intimacy of our shared connection, and the commitment to a shared future. It was quite lovely. There is so much more to talk about and to share that pandemic-related content. lol

So… another cup of coffee, another new day. I don’t know what it holds, and I can’t see the future. Nevertheless, I’m waiting, patiently, and contentedly, for another moment, while I enjoy this one right here. πŸ™‚

This headache I woke with is no joke. Ouch. Too real. I woke later than usual; sleeping in is one of my favorite “day off” experiences, and I’d taken today off. I woke gently, bumbled around haplessly a bit, made some coffee… felt a bit “off” somehow, but didn’t clearly identify the headache as the cause for some minutes. I wasn’t quite awake enough, yet.

…I definitely “get it” now. :-\

I sip my coffee, and plan my day. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Feels good. I’m thinking I’ll spend the day tidying up the studio to be more work-ready (for painting – it’s plenty ready for working). Later, a delivery of livestock for my aquarium will arrive (lots more delivery options than there used to be; no one wants to shut their business down, no one wants people in the shops), and I’ll spend the afternoon getting them settled in, and enjoying them. πŸ˜€

I make a point of continuing to clearly distinguish between work hours (and days) and non-work hours (and days) – healthy boundary setting remains an important practice for long-term quality of life. I see how easily work could become a solution for boredom or confinement stress, but also recognize that succumbing to that short-cut would likely reset expectations long-term regarding my willingness to work through my leisure hours, or at the convenience of my employer without regard for my own needs. I think I won’t do that. πŸ˜‰ No, not even now. What I want and need from my own life, and leisure, for myself, remains of value to me.

Pulling my focus away from the morning news, to sit a few minutes and write, while sipping my morning coffee, seems to be a worthy endeavor; the headache seems to have lessened, and has begun to fade into the background. Looks like today is not the day to involve myself with the news. Less screen time, more aquarium time. Less “content” more housekeeping, perhaps. Be here, now. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Why add media chaos to this chill vibe? Meditation, instead of news headlines – that sounds lovely. A second coffee, and some bird-watching, as spring unfolds in the strip of forest beyond the deck, perhaps. Confinement in the time of pandemic feels less confining, and more like a leisurely day at home, if I stay focused on these small delights, and refrain from involving myself in the concerns of the media (which, truly, are already very well-covered, and rather unchanging, at present).

I smile and finish off this first cup of coffee, eager to get on with the day, eager to see new fish swimming in the aquarium, and familiar squirrels on the deck. Eager to begin again – right here at home.

Sipping coffee on a Friday. Not thinking thoughts so much as relaxing and watching fish swim. I’ve somehow managed to start a second aquarium, on the work surface next to my desk, in my studio. lol I’m not unhappy with this, just sort of surprised that it a) happened and b) happened so fast.

…It started with my own “eagerness to please”, and my Traveling Partner’s purely observational comments about the peaceful community aquarium in the living room. I got the impression he wanted some specific change in type/color/size of fish in that tank, and I added a couple new residents with that in mind. It ended with the bullying that ensued; those new fish were not good neighbors/roommates for my peaceful community tank, and they were hassling the shrimp and the betta on the regular.

Tiny thug.

My partner and I started talking about “what to do about” those rude little bullies. Over a couple of days and several conversations, we settled on getting a small aquarium, and setting it up in my studio (where there is a place one could be set up fairly easily). The conversation had much of it’s basis, good-idea-wise, in the low cost; I had a spare heater, filter & pump, and light, left from upgrading the equipment on my peaceful community tank in the living room over the past couple weeks. Easy. Cheap. Why not? πŸ™‚

Getting a new tank started, and preparing the water for livestock.

Yes, well… as it turns out, the small tank was easily set up, and the water prepared and ready to go quite soon… but it was so bare! So… I got some plants…

…And some shrimp…

…And a piece of driftwood…

…And a couple snails…

The view this morning is rather more like an aquarium, and less like a tank full of water. It’s a process.

…You know… that light I’m using isn’t really ideal for a planted tank (that’s why I replaced it)… so… (after some careful online shopping) the new light is on the way…

…and, um, damn, that filter/pump is pretty noisy… and takes up a ton of space in the small tank… and the heater hanging there is not all that aesthetically pleasing… so, I also found myself shopping for suitably small external canister filter-heaters. lol Oh, my.

…Looks like I have two aquariums! Each quite different, with unique characteristics (and residents), and individual charm.

Having this particular project going, while restricted mostly to life on the social-distancing-stay-at-home plan, has kept me from being “under foot” while my partner also explores his hobbies, projects, and long-term interests, himself. We each need that “bit of space”, even while enjoying the additional closeness and opportunity to connect more often, more continuously, and more deeply. We still need our “me time”. We still have our own lives. πŸ™‚ It’s a challenging balance to strike, sometimes, but so far this feels pretty good. πŸ™‚

I glance at the time, and at the aquarium, and then into the cold dregs of my nearly empty coffee mug. It looks like time to begin again. πŸ˜€

Well, I must say, I’m already a bit “over” the continuous 24/7, all-channels, all-topics, doorbell-to-deck, coverage of COVID-19, pandemic or not. Seriously. There still remains so much else to also observe, discuss, and yes, enjoy. Having said that, I am staying home, working from home on work days, and doing only those things that can be done in that context. I’m fortunate to enjoy a comfortably merry, loving, and emotionally connected relationship (this partnership certainly reduces the potential loneliness of “social distancing”). I am reaching out to friends over text message (I gave up most social media some while ago, and kept only Instagram). Friends I haven’t heard from in a while are regularly surprising me with text messages, too. It’s fine. Limiting, but generally not a big deal.

I went to the grocery store, yesterday. The aisle that usually has paper products such as facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels looks like an old photo of soviet era shortages in iron curtain countries. The parking lot of the grocery store was nearly full, but the store was weirdly empty; people who do go out seem to be doing so alone. The streets are quiet. No “traffic”, even during “rush hour”, which no longer seems to exist (here). The trip to the store felt almost exciting – an “outing”! I got the staples I needed, stayed well back from the cashier as I paid, used hand sanitizer frequently, and did not converse with passers-by. Mostly fairly typical for me, except the additional distance, and the hand sanitizer.

I filled the gas tank of the car, while I was out, and chuckled to myself about “how long will this tank last?” knowing I am not going out much. Then I felt a bit of anxiety and a re-thinking on that; how long will gas stations be able to stay open, and resupplied? I took a breath, and exhaled with care. It’s not helpful to borrow panic from future such concerns, presently. I think about the panic-buying of toilet paper, and the impact on people who did not succumb to panic in that moment, who now struggle just to buy what they actually do need, while others sit on vast hoards of toilet paper that will likely last them into next year. I frown, to myself, aware that there is already identifiable profiteering going on, for products such as toilet paper, on eBay. We could do better, as a society, and as human beings.

…So… Do better.

It’s a complicated time. I am grateful for, and appreciative of, those that are still on the job, still interacting with the public, still providing critical services. I am also, admittedly, harshly critical of those businesses not willing to maximize the safety net for their employees, preferring to maximize profit instead. It’s also an election year; the posturing, the spin, and the insider trading are galling in times like this. I’m grateful for honest news, where it exists, and so glad that comedy continues. Art. Science. Music. These things are still real, still going on. Creators still create. The world continues to turn.

…I think about spending time in the studio, myself…

I read, this morning, that ISPs and streaming service providers are beginning to make decisions to limit bandwidth. I cynically wonder how they will turn that to their profit when the pandemic wanes? I hit my vape. I sip my coffee. I type some words and plan the day ahead. Saturday on a (for me) long weekend. The vernal equinox, something I generally celebrate “out loud”, passed by sort of without notice this year. Fairly certain I never mentioned it, myself. I commit to enjoying the time I am sharing with my Traveling Partner, and doing what I can to make that time merry, and even productive. Bills get paid, and great care given to the budget; there are still a lot of unknowns, for all of us. It is what it is.

Today, my project is both a bit of work, and a bit of entertainment – a lot of bother; I’ll be setting the aquascaping of my aquarium right, after living with the chaotic, rather haphazard and sloppy outcome of moving the tank here, almost 3 years ago.

The day the tank arrived at the new place. This shot was taken before the water even had time to completely clear up.

The tl;dr is that the moving team that moved the tank was at the end of their work day when they finally arrived at my place with my tank. They had one more job yet to go to, and were feeling rushed… so… they rushed the work. The large river rocks that decorate my tank were not placed with care, nor were the paperweights that function as the ornaments. The plants were sort of just dropped in, without being correctly anchored at all, and where they were anchored, they were not where I wanted them. (I’d have to re-do all of it, myself, and I knew it at the time.) I settled for “good enough, now just go, please” and went on with things, expecting to have plenty of time for restoring order to that bit of chaos… once I finished getting moved in and settled.

Life happens, and change happens, and within a couple weeks of moving in, my Traveling Partner relocated for work. Then I began an almost weekly “commute” back and forth to see him each weekend (almost), which meant my only leisure time for big projects was on weekends that I did not travel (and often those were selected based on exhaustion, or illness), and in the evenings (when I could generally count on being “too tired”). The chaos got worse, and after a prolonged power outage, most of the fish died. The tank sat quietly, being little more than an aquatic garden of sorts. Over time, after the last fish finally died, I began to ignore it, and after awhile, even became rather embarrassed by it.

Yeah, it got this bad. Inadequate filtration. Lack of routine maintenance. Heater failed.

After my Traveling Partner moved back in with me last year, I started considering taking it down to reclaim the space for something else… Then, I spotted something unexpected. One solitary surviving resident.

Shy clown pleco spotted hiding behind a glass paperweight. One of my original fish, purchased in 2013.

Well, that certainly changed things for me. I got excited about my “universe in a box” all over again (and a bit peeved at myself for being such a poor care-provider). I cleaned the tank. I upgraded the filter, the heater, and the lighting. I began restocking. Today it is a vibrant little planted freshwater community, populated by shrimp, tetras, snails, a betta, and of course, my wee clown pleco, now almost 7 years old.

This morning, after so much work (over the past couple weeks), with much still left to do. πŸ™‚

It still needs some pruning, some tidying up, and I’ve certainly got the time at home this weekend to tackle the aquascaping more seriously. So. With some trepidation, I think I shall. Part of the plan, and the timing, and the “order of operations” is also to do with moving the tank to the other side of the fireplace to make better use of the space. (And, finally, there won’t be two light switches in every photo of the tank!) The needs are different for two people living here, than for one. πŸ™‚ So much work. So much fun. So much love. Plenty to challenge me, and stave off any potential for boredom.

My perspective on my circumstances changes when I understand how other lives may be affected by my choices. (Pictured: a much happier, still shy, clown pleco.)

This is my life in the time of pandemic. It’s not perfect. There are challenges. There are opportunities. There is “room to grow”. There is this strange moment in my lifetime that holds so much potential to become “that time when we all reconnected”, and I hope to take advantage of it. What about you? What will you do with your time at home? How will you deepen your relationships? Where are your opportunities to grow as a person? Will you make use of the time well and wisely… or… not?

It is another time to begin again. πŸ™‚ (However bad things may become, I know I can begin again.)