Pandemic Pondering #247

Pondering ruminating.

Underneath the Millennium Bridge, London

It’s been a dull day so I thought I would #lightupnovember2020 with some light photos from Novembers past while nattering on about ruminating. I’ve pondered a bit about what comes after Pandemic Pondering. I’ve already accepted that my extended Advent will not occur this year as I’m already committed to pondering . Christmas 2020 dusted off the decorations and TV adverts early without warning me. I have already missed that particular boat.

Looking beyond Christmas and into 2021 the news on many potential vaccines suggests that a post pandemic life may be a little closer, the end to Ponderings needs to be considered. Recently I stumbled on Random Ruminations as the eventual successor to Pandemic Ponderings.

Initial research has taken me down an unusual path involving a cows four stomachs and the fascinating information that cows belch silently. If there is technique for learning this?

©Oxford Languages

To me the deep thinking and the chewing of the cud are interchangable. How can we possibly know if cows are,or are not, thinking deeply whilst they chew the cud. Are they the even the same word in many other languages?

The SouthBank, London

Beyond this early research I don’t believe I need to worry overmuch about rumination. Pondering looks set to carry on for a little while yet. Perhaps I should start collecting photographs of ruminants though!

Illuminate Festival, Plymouth.

Pandemic Pondering #246

Just as I come up with a great # for Instagram, #lightupnovember2020. It, November that is, decided to light itself up.

Sunshine, infinity pools and islands in Firestone Bay. Basking on a sunshine flooded seat and a three hour dog walk just to enjoy the weather are not normal behaviours in the third week of November.

Added to that a, somewhat tenuous pair of naturally occuring hearts washed up in the detritus of this weeks unusually high tides.

Three hours jiggling about in my pocket, unlocked, gave my phone ideas of independence. It called random people, my apologies if you were one of them, and took many photographs. The photographs were mostly black but some of them may turn out to be useful.

In contrast my afternoon was spent in a Zoom meeting with creative types which gave me a funny thought inspired by my morning in the sun.

In Victorian times it was not unusual to dress up a recently deceased person , often children, and call a professional photographer for one last family photo. The propping and support to make this look even vaguely normal might just have a use in our Pandemic times, allowing participants to take a little nap during a zoom meeting.

Obviously I am not thinking about the meeting that I was involved with. That was as scintillating and fizzy as these things get.

However when I arrived yesterday at the car park, overlooking Plymouth Sound, I parked next to a man who was fast asleep in his car.I doubt very much that he had anticipated sitting in a car that was delightfully hot from bright sunlight. Dressed in a shirt and tie with jeans, he was slumped at an awkward angle which made me suspicious and slightly concerned. When I got close I could see his laptop open on his lap with an active , corporate looking Zoom meeting going on while he dozed. I left him to it. What he needed at that moment was the kind of props the Victorians had used. Something to make a dead, or asleep person, very much look like they are part of the action.

I did not take a crafty photo to illustrate this blog, that would just have been wrong, where as photographing dead children was entirely normal. Changing times… Different Pandemics.

Pandemic Pondering #220

There is a significance to the number of this blog. Come inside and I will explain.

In 100 blogs time I will have been pondering the pandemic for roughly a year. I say roughly because some days there was more than one blog and sometimes a subject took a few days to complete so the same number was used until I was done.

At the time of Pandemic Pondering #1, I had no idea of what was ahead of me, or indeed the rest of the world. #1 was ahead of the government imposed Lockdown in Britain because I was displaying symptoms of a virus and decided to self isolate. I had been unwell for much of March but believed it just to be a regular virus gifted by a toddler. As we have learned more about Covid 19 I do wonder if @theoldmortuary had actually grabbed ourselves an early version.

At the time I was practicing daily blogging, ready for a course with The Gentle Author.

Here I am just over 2/3 of the way through a year still waiting to attend the course and the Pandemic still giving me plenty to ponder about.

Some days write themselves and others need a little more effort to extrude. Dog walks are a great source of blogging material, beyond that the subjects or topics usually just reveal themselves during normal daily life, sometimes we seek things out because they might make a good blog. Meanwhile normal daily life goes on @theoldmortuary, 90% of it too humdrum for blogging.

I was always the sort of child that dreamed about keeping a daily diary. I never achieved it because I had always bored myself within a week. The same thing happened at various times in my life both with diaries and scrapbooks. I started blogging nearly three years ago because I wanted to regain my story telling skills; a career in the NHS prizes factual writing over whimsy. I also like to take photographs, sometimes they are quite random but most can be made useful in some way. In truth, blogging actually started when someone made a cutting and thoughtless remark to me about both writing and photography. Seething, I began blogging and the title could easily have been ‘ F**k You’

It has become a daily habit or ritual, blogging forces me to find something interesting in every day. Some days it has enabled me to concentrate on the positive when sadness and dismay were the actual truth of our lived experience. I am constantly learning and I should probably delete much of the last three years blogs on the grounds of badly written nonsense. Ponderings seem protected and will be excused any future cull because in my mind their mission statement to continue through the experience of this Pandemic makes them many pieces of a whole project.

I strongly suspect I will still be at this pondering malarkey in another 100 days, when @theoldmortuary hits 1 year of pondering. Thankyou for reading. Please close the doors on your way out.

Pandemic Pondering #201

We’ve had a shockingly wet weekend, tasks that would normally be difficult have been made difficult and uncomfortable. Just before the rain set in I snapped this picture. It seemed like a metaphor for the current Pandemic, although I think the dark alley might have a bit of a way to go yet. I’m not sure what the ladder represents, maybe a vaccine, as yet undeveloped. currently however as much use as a ladder laying on its side.

We went to a cafe in Burford , we met our Covid Friends there. The cafe is situated within a church building. It is a warm welcoming cafe with a soft buttery/ creamy interior and the smell.of good coffee and smiling people within it. There was a striking image of a hug just as you walk in.

The Prodigal Son by Charlie Mackesy

1 Church Ln, Burford OX18 4RY

The painting represents the return of the prodigal son, but just like the alleyway it takes on a different meaning in our current situation when hugs of this intensity are denied us in almost all circumstances. This weekend however hugs with either of us would have been damp affairs. A planned weekend of business away from home but in the pouring rain has depleted our small supply of clothes packed into overnight rucksacks. The saying ” There is no such thing as the wrong weather, you just need the right clothes” exactly sums up this weekend. Luckily beyond rain we were also showered with the company of friends and family who were very lucky not to have to hug us but who made onerous tasks easier and more joyful with their presence.

Pandemic Pondering #159

The Art Group word, or words in this case, is Tuesday Treats. Hmmmm, not so sure that these are Tuesday specific treats and one of them is distinctly guilty of oversharing but here we go . These treats are mostly blog inspired. This is a bit of a classic meandering ponder.

The first one was a travel treat.

Teignmouth was completely unknown to us. What a gorgeous treat it was, amazing architecture, red sands and only a little tarnished with the usual seaside tat that Britain specialises in. We are going to go back with more time to explore so no more on the town but here we go with the oversharing.

The public loos were of a good standard . We were camping on a simple camp site with no facilities. Our van has toilet facilities but we observe strict rules which is why occasionally we visit a public loo. We popped in to perform the morning rituals not permitted in the van. Teignmouth Public Loos have a quite surprising soundtrack.

How staggeringly appropriate to hear at such a high volume Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple.

Smoke on the water,

Fire in the Sky

Smoke on the water.

I suppose the lyrics resonated at some level with the action to be performed.

The volume certainly resonated through the Municipal porcelain setting up a micro reverberation. Quite Unusual.

Thank you Teignmouth, unforgettable!

No more oversharing but another warning. Pandemic Pondering # 201 shared the spoken word One Hit Wonder Desiderata. A regular blog reader shared Baz Luhrmans spoken word song Sunscreen in response. Written by Mary Smith it also became a One Hit Wonder. Like Teignmouth it was unknown to me until Saturday , it is quite a treat. Some of you may wish never to hear it again, call it the Desiderata effect.

Link to the Lyrics

Link to Youtube

This portion of the Lyrics feeds nicely into my final treat. Another Saturday gift, a quote from Tim Rice’s biography from my fabulously wordy friend Dai, who wrote Pandemic Pondering #100.

Unlike Dai, who was a good sportsman and team person, as well as being a word nerd. I was not a good sportsperson, just a word nerd and never picked for sports teams. I always dreaded that ghastly experience when team captains were nominated and then allowed to choose from the gathered throng their teams, taking it in turn to pick the brightest and the best. I knew all too well that I would be left until the end, self- consciously checking the integrity of my plimsolls in a diligent way to prove how disinterested in the whole thing I was.

I’m sure Dai has shoe boxes full of team photos where his youthful face beams out. I however have the Primary School photo to share.

I have no idea why my face composed itself in such a toothless gurn, from memory these things took a little while to set up.

I’m with Tim Rice though on this, my life story from this measurable point has been about getting older. How lucky am I that life continues to take me on a journey of discoveries, not all of them welcome, but all of them leading me on to become that little bit older every day. Some of the children in this picture have already stopped their journey and I’ve forgotten the names of most of them but every one is a precious vessel of their own story.

Tuesday Treats, a sharing of Saturdays Surprises.

Pandemic Pondering #146

‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until the moment becomes a memory.’ Dr Seuss.

Time has been transformed, by the Pandemic, since March time has been like an ever changing elastic band , sometimes stretched unimaginably far and other times 24 hours passed in a supersonic flash. The Pandemic and the fall out have left a bruise on most of us.

Dr Seuss seems to have time and change all neatly worked out without the sense of worthiness of many much quoted writers. Dr Seuss was one of the pen names of Theodore Seuss Geisel a polymath who was an author, political cartoonist, illustrator,poet, animator, screenwriter and filmmaker. As Dr Seuss he wrote and illustrated 60 children’s books. I’m not sure why Dr Seuss works better for me as a writer of quotes at the moment. I wonder if it is that being born in 1904 and departing in 1991 he had lived through the worst of the 20th Century and so his quotes seem fresher and more pertinent to the current situation, or if he was the literary soundtrack to my younger self and I feel comfortable with him in this time of uncertainty.

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?

Dr Seuss

Time is the prompt word for the Art Group. I’m not sure how creative I can be with it. This last quote from Dr Seuss breaks my heart.

‘I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.’

Pandemic Pondering #106

Pondering was not the only thing I started on Day 1 of lockdown. A small clothing research project started.

With hindsight it had all the makings of the sort of research idea that should have been quietly binned early on.

All my non wardrobe clothes are kept in a chest of drawers in the spare bedroom. With no likelihood of guests I decided that as clothes were worn and washed I would store them on the bed. Then after lockdown I would know which ones never got worn and I could bag them up for a charity shop and I would have sorted them organically.

While I can allow pondering to go on I think this experiment failed from day one because it was a bad idea. Judging clothes usage from one of the most unusual period of my life has given me a clear idea of how to make a spare room look messy and very little else.

The piles of clean clothes stand on the bed like those towers of pebbles that are found on beaches and other pebbly places. Most of them have their tops removed where folded underwear was quickly removed to be worn.

Proper winter clothing remains, a wooly, dense reminder that late March was the last time I needed more than one set of clothing for socialising and existing in the outside world.

There are a couple of bright piles from early on when putting on a bright jumper or t shirt lifted my spirits artificially when the reality of a life in prolonged Lock down was difficult to process.

Because the weather was so good almost as soon as lockdown started I needed summer clothes to take my daily exercise dog walk.

I’ve improved my positional memory immensely, by knowing more or less when specific things were last worn and in which pile it can be found .

Handbags lay on the bed, unused, alongside gym clothes. When Joe Wicks YouTube exercise videos or dog walks are the pinnacle of fitness you can pretty much do it in anything. I wonder when a Handbag will feel essential ever again.

Somewhat madly I have put on, liked, but currently not essential, garments to go to the supermarket simply to save them from staying in the cupboard and facing the clothes equivalent of the last trip to the vets for a loved pet.

Not that charity shops are reliably open to receive my organically selected rejects.

Packing my bag for my first weekend away from Cornwall has made me realise this experiment had got to stop. There are about two bags of clothes left in the chest of drawers to go to charity shops if I stick rigidly to my own guidelines . I’m not sure it was worth the effort. They may just be clothes not required in a Pandemic.

Pandemic Pondering #90

#90 and exactly 3 months since I started Pandemical Pondering. #1 on the 17th of March was inspired by having to cancel an art exhibition I was organising with an art group . I was also showing symptoms of a virus so my lockdown and isolation was a week ahead of the official British Lockdown.
I didn’t really think 3 months ahead or imagine a daily pondering , pondering on for 3 months.I just checked the camera archive for the 17 th of March and I have nothing exciting to share. It must have been an unremarkable day.The unused public toilets near us gained a For Sale board and the shadows were longer.In those 3 months our lives have changed in unimaginable ways that have no direct relationship to Covid-19, but Covid-19 has shaped the way we have been able to respond.
The weather in lockdown has been very kind to us and the delicate blooms in our spring garden . A bit like wild Foxgloves our garden blooms are undamaged by wind or rain. So for PP#90 let’s hear it for Pinky Plants.PP#90 is also a day of celebration. Grocery shopping @theoldmortuary has been quite a formal planned outing during Lockdown. We’ve had a running list that could be flexible to cater for shortages. We’ve not been diligent shoppers if something hasn’t been available on the day we shopped then we’ve done without. For one item three months of doing without ended today . For the first time since lockdown we found grapefruit juice in a supermarket. Giddy Times ahead.Let’s see how the next three months shape up.

Pandemic Ponderings #87

On Saturdays I buy a real newspaper. The rest of the week I am utterly shameless and read anything and everything newsworthy on the internet. I’m inclined to follow my own natural political, ethical and moral bias on the whole but often read some strange and intriguing things that I don’t always agree with but that make me think a bit harder. Pre Lockdown I read several newspapers on-line content that are published elsewhere in the world. Melbourne’s The Age and Los Angeles Daily Breeze are favourites along with The London Evening Standard. I don’t for a minute consider myself to be well read by doing this I just like reading the local news that sparks interest in other places.

Lockdown has , for some reason stopped that habit , but the Saturday ritual of a print copy of The Guardian has endured. Often by midnight on a Saturday it has not been opened which makes it an even bigger pleasure on Sunday.

Ritual is everything. The paper as purchased has to be stripped down. Supplements taken out of their potato starch bag and annoying loose advertising pamphlets discarded. The starch bag goes into the dog poo disposal pot in the garden . The dog poo disposal pot is in fact a rhubarb forcing jar, which somehow copes with the output of two dogs who only poop in the garden when their owners have not provided a correctly timed walk. This may be too much detail but the poo is picked up with loo paper and popped in the jar alongside the once a week potato starch bag. This cocktail of excrement, tissue and biodegradable packaging is nirvana to a whole host of wee beasties who like to chomp on such stuff.

Saturday night the newspaper, if I have managed to keep my hands off it, is carried upstairs at bedtime ready to be read as soon as I wake up on Sunday. Or overnight if insomnia bites. I prefer a day old paper to Sunday Editions for some reason.

It then accompanies me back downstairs to be read with coffee. Bits of the newspaper hang around all week being read and reread. Most of it is recycled and the cookery section filed . It is rare for us not to use one of the recipes during the week.

The newspaper ritual is undoubtedly irritating for those who share my life or bed on a Saturday or Sunday. Flackering of the newspaper whilst reading it is inevitable . By way of apology I always make cups of tea.

The ritual Saturday paper is a barometer of a weekend. I like to be too busy on a Saturday to read it and to have enough down time on a Sunday to read most of it.

This weekend is shaping up well so far, it’s nearly midnight and not a word has been read from the print edition. Just one or two articles on-line whilst waiting around.

Happy Saturday/Sunday