Life Lately | December 2020


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Thinking:
Wow, I haven’t written one of these up since August! It has crossed my mind a couple of times to sit down and write one but I never made the space to do so. So, here I am, sitting down in the last month of this very insane year of 2020!

If you’d asked me in January or February this year what December would look like I would not have said, “Sparingly going places, thrilled to go to the grocery store as an outing, wearing masks like nobody’s business, and pondering a very different Christmas season than is typical.” And here we are. We’re on the home stretch but what is that home stretch going to look like? Three more months? Six more months? A lot of folks seems to be getting excited for a mid-spring abandonment of masks and social distancing but truth be told, I think for the vast majority of us it will be late summer or early fall. I hope I’m wrong and it is earlier than that but I did that little quizlet in the New York Times, Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line and as I already knew, I was near the bottom. That said, I’m very curious how this is going to shuffle out in reality. Are people going to get notes from doctors saying it is ok to get one or everyone is going to line up and then get turned away when they are visibly 25 and healthy?

On other topics…about a week after the election I turned election and politics news off in my brain. I had to. I mean, I still have a finger on it but not two hands, two feet, and half my body pressed into it. It has been great to release some of the tension and I know things are still a disaster but I’m biding my time for January and we can focus on fixing the mess. I still wish I had representatives that actually took things seriously but Cornyn and Cruz will forever be asshats in that arena.

And after much deliberation, we decided to send Forest to face-to-face school in January. A few things pushed us over: the handful of online kids in his class was going to shrink as others went back, his teacher is doing face-to-face and online and the quality has diminished already which would get even worse if she had less online kids, and the district finally mandated masks for even elementary age kids and removed the stupid face shield allowance. The education issue isn’t necessarily the teacher’s fault, it’s a culmination of the policies of the district and the Texas Education Agency. And Forest has learned quite a bit this semester at home but he needs to be in a class with peers or we need to be doing some kind of better home schooling curriculum and we aren’t set up for the latter. We’ve done our best this semester adding in extra work for him to do by having him write words and doing hand writing exercises and I’ve gone through several extra workbooks with him as well. I’ll continue the workbook thing with him a few days a week and into the summer because it is good to keep that up but yes, time for school. None of this was without careful thought but we did take into consideration that there have been extremely few cases in elementary schools and most have been with personnel. The mask mandate made us feel better because otherwise most of the kids were running around without masks, as I saw in the couple of times we’ve had to go up to either of the schools he’s been going to this year (he’s enrolled in one but his online teacher is at another).

Gardening:
Well, the cold weather has me hitting the wall out there. We had our first freeze earlier this week so much of the garden is now brown and in need of trimming back and some work done.

We’ve decided to upgrade the edible garden beds next spring through summer and into fall as beds become empty. The boards forming the beds are now 6-7 years old and are falling apart. We settled on concrete beds to replace them and will start building those as they become empty. For this reason, I think I’m going to skip tomatoes this years because they always take up multiple beds and I’d rather get the new beds built and skimp on one crop to get things going. Maybe we can get a tomato or two from the nursery later in the spring and put it in a bed we aren’t going to fix right away, but I’m eager to get the edible garden in a better situation than it currently is. With that we’ll bring in more soil to replenish the beds but also because Chris is going to make them slightly taller than they currently are.

Greens make up the main show out there at the moment, especially with the freeze. I had a surprise pumpkin vine take over and we have two pumpkins on it but the vine itself is mostly toast. The leaves are burned from the cold but the vine itself looks like it might still be alive so I’m going to leave the pumpkins on until the vine turns brown. We’ll see how long that takes.

Something else we will be doing this upcoming season is growing a bed or a section of the perimeter beds with flowers, primarily zinnias. Forest had fun growing them this year in his little garden bed section and I took a deep dive into some of the interesting varieties out there and bought several packets. The deer are too present in our yard to grow them in the flower garden so into the edible garden they will go. And honestly, most years we have space in many of the beds in the summer for this situation, to grow flowers, and we never take advantage of it. Next year I am!

Reading:
I’m on a pause with reading this last week but hope to ramp back up again soon.

A few I’ve read the last couple of months:
+First and foremost a huge shoutout to Patrice for her new book Between Each Step: A Married Couple’s Thru-Hike on New Zealand’s Te Araroa. We’ve been cheering each other on about our books behind the scenes for years and earlier this year Patrice signed with a hybrid publisher and got her book into the world this November! I loved Patrice’s writing and she really took you to the emotions and feelings of what it is like being on a thru-hike, particular when you are part of a couple/duo. If you want a well-written adventure memoir about a trail we don’t hear too much about here in the US, get Patrice’s book! You can buy it on her website or of course that big rainforest retailer online!
+ My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell: This is a very dark book about inappropriate teacher/student relations and a coming to terms or lack thereof 20 years beyond the events. It is very well written and is fictional. It is set in Maine, which it seems every fiction book I’ve read set in Maine seems to be fairly dark. I do recommend, and last I saw on Goodreads, it was in the final running for best fiction or debut fiction this year.
+Rodham by Curtis Sittenfield: I started this in paperback but it dragged and switched to audio and it flowed much better. Downside is when I was reading the paperback I had Hillary’s voice in my head and then I had to listen to a narrator and it was hard to switch. The premise of the story is What If Hillary Didn’t Marry Bill? I’d say the first 2/3 are very good and it slacks off a bit at the end. But highly recommend if you enjoy alternative history and fan fiction of sorts.

I’ve read several other books but those are the best ones worth mentioning!

Making:
I haven’t been making much the last couple of months. I went back to the studio yesterday to clean up a bit and get some Christmas decorations and such out of the storerooms near my studio and looked at some of the pour paintings I did. I decided to gesso over a couple because I did not like the color combinations enough and will be re-doing those soon. The studio is now into the cold part of the years so you really have to bundle up to go over there. I’d like to get back to painting some flowers again soon.

Watching & Listening:
Since I haven’t done this in quite a few months there’s a lot to catch up with!
+The Crown: Binged over about a week. The seasons are picking up once again after a very dull Season 3. I still think Claire Foy could have pulled off a third season fairly easily. Do recommend!
+Grey’s Anatomy & This is Us is back—I expected Grey’s to be all COVID central but was hoping This is Us wasn’t because, ugh, don’t we get enough of that in reality? But it is working so far.
+Virgin River: I watched the first season early in the pandemic and loved it and was so glad to see Season 2 released about a week ago! I binged it quickly and loved it and it is a breath of fresh air because NO COVID TALK WHATSOEVER!
+Valeria: Earlier this year I watched Cable Girls on Nextflix, a Spanish show based on the late 1920s/early 1930s cable girls at a telephone company in Madrid. Well, apparently I’m now into Spanish tv shows because Valeria came up and I loved it! It’s a modern set show based on a group of women in their 20s living around Madrid and was originally (is) a book series. I enjoyed the show so much I wanted to read the books but they haven’t been translated into English from what I can tell. It’s very Bridget Jones-esque for young Millennials older GenZ if I had to compare it to anything.
+And another Spanish show, Velvet: This one is not bingeable as the episodes are super long, about 70 minutes each. I’m still on the first season and have been watching for the last month. This takes place in the late 1950s at a couture department store in Madrid where they make most everything in house and focuses on a love affair/triangle between the young owner who inherited the company and one of the seamstresses. There are side plots of course, too. This one is not dubbed like the other two I mention above so I have to read the screen but I will say I have been brushing up on my non-existent Spanish skills!
+Enola Holmes: I adored this movie on Netflix! Centered around Sherlock Holmes’ sister, there is of course mystery and intrigue along the way. LOVED IT and want an entire series for her!

Looking Forward:
+Christmas! Forest has taken to the adaptations we’ve made—no Christmas tree farm (Chris got a tree at Lowe’s instead) and no visiting Santa. We will write a letter to him instead.
+Spring Break! Chris booked and AirBnB *somewhere* (being vague on purpose) after we looked at a lot of state park availability for camping out in west Texas and realized everyone had already booked up, even though reservations had only been open for a week or so at that point. TPWD only allows reservations for up to six months in advance right now, which is ridiculous and frustrating. And because we have a dearth of state parks they fill up fast, especially now. So, we branched out and decided this would be a decent option and we could still stay away from everyone, despite traveling which we would have been doing anyway to camp. We still need to make some camping reservations for late winter and spring closer to home and also get some backpacking trips planned.

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