a package!

Like many other places during this pandemic, our stores have been out of yeast for weeks.

I usually keep a jar of bread machine yeast in the refrigerator. Besides using it in the machine, B sometimes uses it to make treats like Chelsea buns. As my jar was running low, every time I went to a store, I would check to see if I happened to catch a new shipment coming in, but either my timing was never right or there wasn’t any in the warehouses to send to the stores.

I decided to look online. I couldn’t find any jars or packets, but finally found a one-pound bag of Fleischmann’s instant yeast. I wasn’t used to the term “instant yeast” but apparently it is the same as rapid-rise or bread machine yeast. The yeast is sourced from Canada, so perhaps instant yeast is the term most often used there.

It took over a week to arrive, but now we should be supplied for a long time, given that this bag is equivalent to four of the jars I usually buy.

The pandemic has changed my perspective of time so much. I admit to thinking maybe this yeast will last until we have a vaccine available to the public so that the pandemic will be well and truly over.

Of course, this won’t be a miracle like the story of Elijah and the widow in 1Kings 17, where the flour and oil did not run out until the drought was over, but it does symbolize to me that same sense of perseverance, that call to not be afraid while we wait, watch, and work for better times.

One-Liner Wednesday: one day

“We’ll take it one day at a time.”
~~ what my dad would say during the months of my mom’s illness and what we are all doing in our current global challenges, although sometimes it is hour by hour instead of day by day

Please join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/03/18/one-liner-wednesday-a-challenge/

Badge by Laura @ riddlefromthemiddle.com

One-Liner Wednesday: a time is coming

“A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’”
~~~ Abba Anthony, one of the Desert Fathers in the early centuries of Christianity
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/02/12/one-liner-wednesday-thanks-internet/

Change is…

Change is stressful.

Even when it is a sought-for or hoped-for change, like welcoming a new child or moving into a new home.

An unwelcome change, such as serious illness, accident, or death of a loved one, is even more stressful.

Over the last several years, we’ve gone through the illness and death of my mother-in-law and my mother, the welcome addition of adult children and our first grandchild to our home and the pain of them flying away, and the crowding out of pursuits that used to occupy us. All of this personal change overlays the ever-shifting sands of tumult in the US.

I can attest that change is stressful.

People keep telling me to breathe.

After the stress of the first Christmas season without my mom, I decided to give myself  breathing space in the form of a mini-sabbatical, still attending to my vital tasks while allowing myself time to go to the movies or read or write or whatever else I felt like doing that day.

Of course, participating in Just Jot It January fit right into that plan!

As I’ve been reflecting on these last few weeks, I am starting to formulate what changes I need to make going forward. Knowing that there will still be a fair amount of day-to-day uncertainty with our family life, I won’t attempt a strict schedule. I do plan, though, to be more deliberate with my writing practice. No, this does not mean that I will post every day for the rest of the year as I have been for Just Jot It January, although I do hope to continue posting without some of the major breaks I’ve had to take in the past.

In the area of writing, I do need to be more deliberate about editing and publication. I find the publication submission piece particularly daunting. There are hundreds of literary journals and magazines and small presses that specialize in poetry and it is difficult for me to figure out to whom I should send my work. Because submissions typically charge a reading fee, you want to invest in those publications that are most likely to be interested in your work. I tend to be overwhelmed by the choices and the specifics of differing submission procedures. I need to summon the energy to undertake these less fun not at all fun aspects of the writing process to get my work out to the public.

Oh, and I need to start doing some open mic and/or group readings. Reading in public, even with a small group, takes a lot of energy and courage for me, but it is very important for poets to do.

I also need to make a dent in reading the huge backlog of poetry journals, chapbooks, collections, and anthologies waiting for me. I will probably never catch up.

Years ago, I had a few dozen blogs that I read on a regular basis. I was a frequent commenter, as well. Even though I know this is what every good blogger should do, I don’t think I can go back to it, choosing instead to concentrate on poetry. I am committed to continuing Top of JC’s Mind, but I will spend the bulk of my blogging time writing posts and responding to comments. I will continue to read some blogs, but it will most likely continue in my current haphazard fashion. I know that means I will gain followers only slowly, but I’m not a big stats person. I do want to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to all my readers and followers! I am humbled that you choose to spend part of your time here.

I also used to spend a lot of time reading and responding to emails. I was on a lot of mailing lists – against fracking and for environmental advocacy, for progressive political principles, for increasing social justice, for some specific candidates/officeholders, for reform of the Catholic church, and so on. I have cut back on a number of them and have lately taken to deleting a lot without even opening them. I will keep a core of them, because these issues remain important to me, but I will try to be intentional about which I read and take action on.

Sadly, singing has faded into the background. I never thought this would happen, but the seeming demise of my long-time chorus has taken away my usual Monday night rehearsals and rehearsing at home during the week. I don’t have ABC here anymore for impromptu renditions of “Old McDonald” or Sesame Street songs. I should be doing vocal exercises and sight reading practice every day to keep my voice in good form, but I don’t have the heart for it. Maybe, someday, I’ll feel like singing again.

I may limit evening activities to poetry gatherings, choosing to be at home with family otherwise. I’m sure there will be the occasional evening event that will draw me away, but I want to spend most evenings at home. In part, this is to spend time with B who works long days. Even if we are just watching television or reading or doing puzzles, it is comforting to be together. Additionally, given my own introversion, it takes a lot of energy to be in groups of people. It’s difficult to summon that energy at the end of the day.

I am also trying to make some changes that impact my physical well-being. I am trying to eat more thoughtfully, exercise (a tiny bit) more, and sleep longer at night. Rather than trying to make drastic changes, I am doing little things that send me in the right direction. I think that is a more sustainable way for me to proceed.

The other area that I hope to make some changes is making time for friends. This is not totally under my control, as many friends have their own busy lives, but I think if I actually make a call or send a note, we have a better chance of getting together, whether in person or by videochat. I cherish all my friends and feel their support, even when we aren’t able to get together, but I need to turn some of our vague “let’s do lunch or breakfast” into actual times and dates.

That’s a lot of changes to make, and, therefore, a lot of stress.

At least, it will be stress that leads to positive change.

Fingers crossed.
*****
The prompt for Linda’s Just Jot It January today is “change.” Join us! You don’t need to use the prompt – I seldom do – because anything counts as a Jot. Find out more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/24/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-24th-2020/

Inspire

Every once in a while, I used to post about my Fitbit Flex. The last post I wrote reported that it seemed to have stopped being able to transmit data. It had and couldn’t be fixed.

I went a number of weeks without having anything to count my steps, until B got me a new Fitbit Inspire.

It is way more complicated than my Flex was. It has the time! And date! And can display steps and calories and other stats that I can’t remember what they are and it has a timer!

And I use very few of these features. I opted not to have an Inspire HR which also does heart rate, because it would be even more features that I would most likely not use.

Given that my skin tends to be sensitive to the rubbery-synthetic bands that come with Fitbits, I ordered some cloth bands from Go Fish on Etsy. Susan has lots of choices for customized bands/holders for all different models of Fitbit, as well as other fitness trackers, and some custom clothing. The bands she makes fasten with snaps, which are more comfortable than knots and more stable than Velcro.

My favorite feature is that she makes bands that you can wear on your wrist or on your ankle. I was interested in trying my Fitbit on my ankle, as I suspected that the number of steps that were registering with a wristband was lower than reality. My suspicion was confirmed; my daily step count suddenly went up 50+%. I assure you that I did not simultaneously take up fitness walking, although there is another factor that could be involved.

Because I used to wear my Fitbit on my dominant side, the programming may have made the device less sensitive. I hadn’t worn it on my other wrist because I always wear my (solar-powered, analogue) watch on that wrist. Of course, now my Fitbit has the time, but I still prefer my watch. Yes, I’m old-school.

I am wearing my Fitbit on my non-dominant ankle during the day and on my wrist at night. I quickly learned that wearing it on my ankle at night was a bad idea, because it tends to shift and flip over and such. The only other tracking I do with my Fitbit is sleep tracking, thus the wearing it at night. I don’t know how accurate the sleep tracking is, but…let’s just say the stats don’t look good.

I’ve also learned that it’s good to wear the ankle band over socks rather than under them. Because I don’t have the heart rate monitor, the back of the tracker doesn’t need to be in contact with my skin, so having my sock between it and my skin isn’t interfering with function in any way.
Fitbit Inspire on ankle
You can see the time and step count because I pushed the display button before taking the picture and because Susan makes bands with windows. She also makes them without windows. I have a sparkly gold band without a window to wear on my wrist or ankle when I am feeling dressy.

I haven’t felt dressy yet.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/17/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-17th-2020/

SoCS: work

He’s 68 percent completed with the task. Which is not great, but will have to do for now. I wonder if I should send someone to help, although it might be more complicated to give someone else the necessary background than to have him just keep working alone.

I’d help if I could, but I’m only 85 percent, 72 percent, 59 percent, and 42 percent done on the stuff I already have in front of me.

We need more hours in the day and more days in the week.

(The opening words – see the prompt below – were from Rachel Maddow’s work, Blowout, which I reviewed here. They were so specific that I wound up doing something that I don’t do on my blog; I wrote a fictional vignette. It does sound a bit like the worklife of some people I know, though.)
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January and/or Stream of Consciousness Saturday! This week’s SoCS prompt is complicated, so I am copying it directly from Linda’s site:
Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “the first 3 words of the first full sentence.” Okay, follow me here. This is what I want you to do: 1. Grab the closest book to you when you sit down to write your post. 2. Open it to a random page. 3. Locate the first complete sentence on that page. 4. Use the first three words of that sentence to start your post, then take it from there–write whatever comes to mind. That’s it! Have fun!
You can visit Linda’s prompt page here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/10/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2020-daily-prompt-jan-11th/

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

calendars

I have forced myself to undertake one of my least favorite change-of-year tasks – transferring dates onto the new calendar.

Yes, I still prefer paper calendars. I carry a small one for noting appointments when I am out and about and keep a monthly one near the phone in the dining room. (Yes, I also still prefer to use my landline; only people who may need to reach me at any time have my cell number.)

I need to fill in appointments that are scheduled in 2020 on both the pocketbook calendar and the large calendar. This is tedious, but not especially challenging. What is more poignant for me is filling in birthdays and anniversaries, some of which include the applicable number of years.

Generally, age doesn’t bother me. I’m proud that B and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary this year. Maybe, we will be blessed to reach a 65th anniversary, as my parents, known here as Nana and Paco, did.

Which leads to the poignancy of writing dates on the calendar…

As family members pass away, I make commemoration notes for birthdays and anniversaries on my calendar. This year is the first time that Nana’s birthday and Nana and Paco’s anniversary will be memorials rather than celebrations.

I think that Nana fought hard for a last chance to celebrate Paco’s birthday in March, their 65th anniversary in April, and her 87th birthday in May. She died a few days after her birthday. One of the last things that I helped her eat was a fruit tart that I got as a birthday treat for her from her favorite supermarket bakery.

Changing her dates from celebrations to memorials is just one more small expression of loss, added to so many others.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Learn more here:  https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/02/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-2nd-2020/