Pandemic Ponderings #68

Some days are harder than others to distil down into a blog , on those days I often dig out a topic or theme and ponder on. But today deserves its moment in the sun.its just a struggle to find the right words.

We, like many others have been deprived of seeing our families . Today and tomorrow we have arranged to meet a small part of our small family, respecting government guidelines.

Obviously meeting loved ones has been looked forward to and anticipated with pleasure .

Lockdown is known to mess with most people’s heads . There are the obvious things like worry, insomnia, depression, grief . The serious proper head messes. I’ve had some of those but a few times I’ve had a curious little head mess that puzzles rather than worries me, and although you might think it is sad it doesn’t sadden me. It occurs in the Limnal spaces of my thoughts or when I’m waking or dropping off to sleep.

Sometimes imagining meeting with my actual living family after so many days of lockdown and self isolation gets complicated.

In these moments there are other people at these family gatherings. People like my parents or father-in- law who have been dead a very long while or Hannah’s parents who have crossed into the other realm more recently. I don’t put them in my thoughts they just appear and seeing them,after a gap of more than 30 years in some cases, feels as natural and normal as seeing the living people after only 3 months. The closest thing I can use to describe the sensation is Magical Realism.

https://bookriot.com/2018/02/08/what-is-magical-realism/

My entirely normal family is not going to be a powerful tool against political regimes any time soon, but my head, albeit briefly, sees nothing incongruous about me meeting my granddaughter in the presence of many dead relations. It seems to be entirely normal and quite unworrisome.

I’m really not sure where these thoughts are coming from.

Today , far away from Limnal spaces none of the deceased put in an appearance. The beach at Harlyn bay just held the live family members that I’ve missed so greatly. There was plenty of room for the others, they just didn’t put in an appearance.

Minds and thoughts are complex at the best of times, how much other strange and intriguing stuff will this curious period of our lives give us to ponder over.

Pandemic Ponderings # 67

Sunday musings on a sun lounger. Not everything goes to plan. This is true in real life, just as it is in pandemic life. I’ve always been accepting of the wonderful John Lennon lyric.

‘ Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’

I’m surprised by the accepting way the whole world has taken to changing its plans, very little protest and a lot of understanding.

Things happen @theoldmortuary, under normal circumstances,that I had never even considered needed plans. A trip to the supermarket, coffee with friends, weekends with our family. These things happened, sometimes spontaneously with very little thought. Now doing anything takes great thought and the mundane has become something to dress up for and revel in, when three months ago it would have been a chore.

This weekend would not have been mundane.We should be exhausted and bursting with ideas and inspiration. This would have been a weekend in London soaking up the buzz and vibrancy of our favourite city.

Friday would have seen us at The Chelsea Flower Show, but like everything it has been cancelled.

The rest of the weekend would have been spent with friends and family in various parts of the city. Our hair would be cut, our minds would be restocked with happiness and great ideas, some shopping might have occured and, by now, we would be on the A303 chattering about everything and, in particular, how much our garden would be tweaked. Chelsea and Hampton Court are the two flower shows that inspire us.

I’m not actually dwelling on the might- have-been because there is a future out there for most of us , we just have to wait a bit to experience it. Today I should have been spending four hours on the road but actually I’ve spent four hours in the garden enjoying some of the stuff we’ve learnt in the past, at Chelsea, and the washing is dry.

So a Sunday, not as planned, but a Sunday full to the brim of unplanned loveliness.

Pandemic Pondering #66

Lockdown Saturdays have become so much more exciting since Hutong started selling take out coffee in a pub .

I think we are better humans after a properly made Flat White. If this is the case , today we will be even more improved because we had two . One either end of the walk. Definitely more caffeine than I’ve had in three months.Giddy with excitement I’ve settled to writing a blog on one of the more mundane subjects of Lockdown.Soap bars, I think caffeine induced excitement might drag this blog into something vaguely interesting.I’m inspired to write this today because the first of our lockdown soaps has lathered it’s last.Bar soap is not something we ever really had @theoldmotuary. Hannah has traditional dry skin and I have non traditional. Either way the harshness of soap in a bar was something to avoid. Pump soaps disappeared off the shelves early on in Lockdown and bars it had to be. We have really enjoyed them and the extra time that there is in Lockdown allows for plenty of hand moisturising.The stand out bar soap in our house comes from Niagara in Canada. Not somewhere anyone outside of Niagara can nip to right now but it lasts and lasts doesn’t dry out skin and smells amazing. We bought a few bars two years ago and had forgotten we had them. More than two months on and there is still loads left.Soap Opera on-the-lake
15 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, Canada
+1 905-468-7627https://g.co/kgs/3jwBYVNext favourite and the one that needed to be replaced today is Waitrose own.This little bar has lasted the whole of lockdown only needing replacement today.Least popular is this blue bar from Pears. Proof of any was needed that the enemy of good is better.

Despite being one of my favourite brands, this one dries out our skin and is really disappointing fragrance wise. I wish I had picked up the traditional version, which I know is ok for our skin.So…Soap and Caffeine not normally a traditional pairing but if you have enough of one you can Witter on about the other.The great thing about writing blogs is the need to research my own image archive. While checking the name and any photos of the soap shop in Niagara-on-the-lake I found one of my favourite pictures which was also taken in the town.kingstgallery.comThis tiny Private entrance enchants me.The Gallery has some lovely quotes . This one says it all.King Street GalleryNiagara-on-the-lake

Pandemic Pondering #64

As dusk falls Smeatons Tower, on Plymouth Hoe, is lit up in shades of blue as a sign of respect for the regular Thursday night clap for carers.

I have to admit to a huge conflict with the whole thing. For political and personal reasons. I’m inclined towards the views of the anonymous author of the article in this link.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/21/nhs-doctor-enough-people-clapping

A whole career in the NHS, when I was repeatedly expected to work in less than optimal conditions,has always made me want to be in a properly funded work place with good working conditions.

All the clapping in the world cannot make this a reality.

However I am not so hard hearted or embittered not to be moved by the regular Thursday night clap. It affects me in a way I find hard to explain.

The silence surrounding the blue- illuminated Smeatons Tower, two hours after the clap, was a completely different sensation. Something entirely secular, thought provoking and calming. A sort of visual two minutes silence.

Time to reflect.

Pandemic Pondering#50

Another significant number in Lockdown and a significant day. The 75th anniversary of VE day.

In lockdown this anniversary will be something that we have more time to reflect upon than usual.

There will be no street parties, civil events, sombre church services or riotous family gatherings around our own familial heroes.

Flags and bunting are popping up in our local town, but not in the amount that would have happened had life been normal.

Britain does not wear its national flag on its sleeve or in its gardens or even up its flagpoles quite as much as many other countries. Days like today are the exception. Although our own riverside town has quite a flamboyant exception to this statement.

The Union Inn, on the Cornish side of ‘ The Great Divide’ , the River Tamar, boundary between Cornwall and the rest of the world, is an almost daily fix of the Union Jack.

As I write this I can look out on our local church at a flag that would have fluttered on actual VE day

In the past my daily commute took me up Regent Street, a street that was never shy about getting its flags out.

Pandemic Pondering #50. A significant number and for world history the anniversary of a truly significant day.

Worthy of two blogs I think. This is the Early Edition.

Pandemic Pondering #46

Even in the midst of this pandemic there is some great thoughts and conversations happening around how we will remember this period of our lives.

A smart phone has made diarists of us all. My phone is set deliberately to store all the pictures my family and friends send me. I delete some but most are kept as a personal archive.

This blog contains my pictures and ponderings shared to those who care to read it. Facebook and Instagram are more public. Instagram is the quickest, I think, to give a flavour of the times. I just scrolled through my Instagram grid to check out how 45 days of restricted living and Lockdown looked in picture form from @theoldmortuary.

This grid marks the end of normal life. The bottom 6 pictures are from the days running up to the official lockdown. The next row up shows a poster for a cancelled art exhibition and the offer of local help plus the all important hand washing picture.

The cancelled art exhibition poster also marked the beginning of Pandemic Ponderings.

The top row are images from early Ponderings. In private I was pondering on the madness of thinking I would find something to write about, every day, when life was so restricted.

This second grid shows a life of settling into Lockdown. The bottom row shows memories of foreign travel. A wet footprint on some decking in Hong Kong, it was so hot that image lasted less than 5 seconds as it dried off. The picture represents my first meeting with our adored granddaughter in 2018,We thought it was awful that she was thousands of miles away and our meeting with her was so brief. Then her mum and dad decided to move home. Just 50 miles between us and still we rely on phone calls to chart her progress.

The Pangolin pictures in the middle were an homage to the poor creatures caught in the middle of the controversial ‘Wet’ markets where this pandemic is said to have originated.

An image of coffee shows our early pangs of missing out on coffee shops and the bottle of Cuban rum marks the beginning of our cooking obsession.

This last grid shows us settled into Pandemic lockdown life. No longer worried about the subject matter of Ponderings I just natter on about any thing. There are two images that mark slight freedoms. The roots on the second row up were photographed when it was made clear that we could drive a small distance to take exercise and the cogs on the top row were photographed on our first trip to a proper independent coffee shop this Saturday. Yesterday, the very first picture on the grid above, there was of course, Cake.

Pandemic Pondering #42

I’m not normally a lover of alliterative phrases linked to days of the week or names of the month, although I do quite like cleverer, less trite, alliteration. Today though #ThrowbackThursday, works for me, as the glasses featured are very retro.

Today the weather in Cornwall is strange. It’s been windy and stormy overnight and the heavy rain of the early morning, interspersed with bright glorious sunshine, was at one point replaced by icy hail. I realise that this scenario is just local to us and it set me thinking.

It is said about Covid- 19, Coronovirus that we are all in the same boat in the storm.

But we are not all in the same boat , we are not even all in the same storm.

We all share a storm in common, but we also all have our own storms and boats that determine how we cope with the shared storm.

In common with many, we are cooking a lot more, remembering dreams more vividly and are craving coffee and curiously bright colours.

Which brings me to the point of this pondering. I got caught in the Hail storm this morning whilst walking the dogs, it’s not what I expected in late April, but I also didn’t expect a sharp bright shaft of sunlight to give me such pleasure this morning.

We’ve been using some 1960’s or 70’s glasses to brighten up our water drinking during the lock-down. They were a gift from our friend Steph who gave them to us as a keepsake from her parents house.

They go in the dishwasher just like any other glasses. When I got in from the hailstone walk, sunlight was pouring through the window and then onto these freshly clean glasses. The Abstract patterns that illustrate this blog were created on the work surface for about five minutes between showers and absolutely illustrate why a slightly quixotic decision was a good one.

We are not all in the same boat

Or even the exact same storm

Surprising things will happen

Sometimes fresh out of the dishwasher.

Pandemic Ponderings #34

Pandemic Ponderings started on 17 th March sometime before the Government Lockdown restrictions and a little before my own self isolation due to a common virus. That’s about 36 days of life being significantly different from anything any of us have experienced before. Have we @theoldmortuary developed a new set routine? The answer would have to be no although we do seem to run out of food/ provisions on Tuesdays. Our world has shrunk and the weekly trip to two supermarkets, one each, is an event in life rather than something squeezed into life. Communication is everything and we’ve not quite got that right. Yesterday was National Tea Drinking Day, unconsciously we took the cue and bought 500 teabags, both bagging a bargain. Stockpiling at its most shameful, the T bags join the six tins of sweetcorn.Gardening has become a routine but we are fast running out of places to store lawn cuttings, bush trimmings and weeds. It is weather related rather than supply and demand which governs shopping. Storage of garden waste is soon going to be the factor that controls us. The weather flip opposite of the gardening routine is interior DIY. It’s amazing how much we can achieve just by using stuff we already have in our shed.Curiously Mondays have become our laundry and house cleaning day. This is exactly the routine my grandparents had and it’s one that has crept up on us. In non pandemic times we washed whenever there was a load but with no life beyond home we are producing less washing. House cleaning is not so bad when you are not exhausted from working elsewhere, I can only think of two pre-pandemic routines that we’ve not modified. One is the bedtime walk for the dogs, we never meet anyone even in normal times and that’s not changed, people don’t whizz past us in their cars anymore . No cars means no pollution and what is noticibly more lovely about our evening walks, this spring, is the intensity of fragrance from people’s gardens and the hedgerows.The other unchanged routine is having flowers in the house. The weeks of daffodils have passed and currently we have tulips.One slightly odd juxtaposition is our fireplace. An interiors psychologist suggested keeping Christmas lights up until Spring as it helps to make darker evenings less dire. Weve stuck with that because a Pamdemic needs light shining on it. Fear not, that is not a Trumpian solution , we just love a bit of twinkle, any excuse. Now we have tulips and Christmas lights,if this goes on it could be sunflowers. In this shot the pandemic gets a mention too. It does not improve with twinkle.

Not to be outdone the garden has some new solar lights to brighten up the evening of whoever walks past the house. Something we do at Christmas time but it seems important to do it now too.Lola reminds me that there is one other routine that must be adhered to, dog hugs. This is the face of someone who wants me to stop pondering.

Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 5

Easter 2020 in Lockdown was an intriguing one. Throughout the world people were unable to gather.

Our Lockdown Easter for two involved chocolate and some lovely home cooking. Pandemic Ponderings #25 gave us the chance to gather together with friends and family, sharing stories and anecdotes using technology. It wasn’t as lonely as I anticipated and the food lasted longer than it ever has, but next year it would be good to get back to normal, I accept that means the weather will be shocking.

Pandemic Pondering #30

Book bags and Woodland walks, featuring dog bums

We don’t forward plan much these days. A firming up of rules on driving to exercise during Coronovirus Restrictions freed us up to venture just a little further afield. The journey also gave us the chance to drop bags of books on the doorsteps of ‘Shielding Bookworms’ , actually members of a local book club,who need to self isolate for 12 weeks. Describing them as I did I made them sound like a covert infestation requiring pesticide.

Cadsonbury Woods, a Riverside walk near Callington has been a favourite walk for 30 years. It has an additional uphill walk to an ancient Hill Fort. We rarely do that because we always have the dogs and the fields are often being grazed by sheep. Without the dogs we would normally sprint up hills of such challenging gradients like mountain goats. Not today.
https://www.tamarvalleyvibe.uk/?p=1639

There were a few cars in the car park but we mostly had the woods to ourselves. Most visitors must have been of the mountain goat variety.

The birdsong was beautiful and recent work, felling trees to protect the river bank from erosion, had really opened up the walk to bright daylight. We even found a Memorial Bench.

There’s a lot of dog bums in the following pictures, some faces, some nature in springtime but I completely forgot to take a picture of the most significant part of the outing.

A cup of tea from a flask and a shortbread biscuit, which we had to share, after a couple of hours of walking in the woods. Bliss in these unusual times.