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

Pandemic Pondering #76

Living in Lockdown and the accidental rise of Orange. Yesterday, Pandemic Pondering #75 was about serendipitous gifts. It was not my best blog as it had two threads which I failed to entwine as well as I might have done. One of the serendipitous gifts, of yesterday was a retro, wind-up alarm clock.

In a gorgeous wake- up orange. It feels lovely to have a ticking clock in the house again. Something I hadn’t realised I’d missed until it was back.
As an Artist I’ve always loved orange , but in general non-arty life I am a little more cautious. I only have one piece of orange clothing. A bold, linen shirt from a market in Hong Kong. It doesn’t get a lot of wear as it feels a little shouty in the habitual grey weather of Cornwall but when the sun is out so is the shirt.

Early on in the pandemic lockdown I felt the urge to wear it. This was in April , not a month that usually sees this shirt out and about. Pre pandemic along with the shirt there were little pops of orange in our lives. This beautiful mug and the handbag hanging on the Newel post are by my elbow as I write.

Here is a snippet of orange in my art.

The arrival of the orange alarm clock made me consider my new fascination with the colour.During Lockdown the percentage of orange images in my archive has gone up 75% since the same time period last year. Fortunately I have two excellent colour theory books to read during the day before I finish this blog and maybe I can share some of my freshly harvested wisdom.

I wonder if subliminally orange is and has always been a secret pleasure. I have a favourite piece of Poole Pottery that I inherited from my parents. It has a prominent position in the same room as the newly acquired alarm clock.

With my newly attuned orange eye it completely fits the brief of a secret pleasure.

Edith Anderson Feisner in her book Colour, says” Orange is present in nature, in the setting sun, autumn leaves, fruit and flowers. It stands out well and creates a sense of warmth” From the same source Orange is a positive colour , it suggests warmth, fruitfulness, brightness,cheerfulness and spice. The only negatives are brashness and danger.
What came first the Orange or the colour?

Kassia St Clair,in her book The Secret Lives of Colour, is emphatic.Definitely the fruit,the fruit probably first cultivated in China but then quickly spread around the world attracting the name nãrang, nãranj,nãranga,nãranja,oranje and orange.

As a colour descriptive it only emerged in 1502 replacing the more cumbersome yellow-red. Kandinsky, a fellow synesthete, describes orange as a red brought closer to humanity by yellow.

A fellow blogger has told me that in Cornish the word Orange does not exist and it is still known as rudh- velyn , red-yellow. Thanks to Sandra , who writes a blog that I like to wallow in.

None of this is particularly helpful in explaining why I’m attracted to orange in the middle of a pandemic. The internet is not helpful, it seems far more interested in the increased worldwide consumption of Orange juice. Perhaps I should be drinking it rather than looking at it.Time to share my little obsession.

A flat-lay in the garden. Flat lays are beloved by Instagram, I’m not very experienced in doing these and they can seem contrived and dull, lacking in creative individuality but done well they can be spectacular.

Here is a little rust heart from the Love Tree. Pandemic Pondering #73

A Marigold from the garden.

The Orange Box Pandemic Pondering #38 and #23

The peony in a vase on the fireplace.

Our collection of early penguins.

A honey spoon on the coffee table. Pandemic Pondering #18

Oranges at Tate Modern. Pre Pandemic but only just. Contemporary art that we could eat.

Orange, I’m still not sure why.

Pandemic Pondering#75

It is a complete coincidence that #75 is occuring on the day that Lockdown restrictions are being eased in Britain.

I have pondered when exactly I would stop writing Pandemic Ponderings. If things were uncertain in Pandemic Pondering #1, there is no greater clarity as I reach #75. The uncertainties are different but not less. At #1 I wondered what would become of this country, led, as we are, by not particularly competent politicians. By #75 I no longer have to wonder because we are all pretty much in the dark. I do have to think very hard for myself about how and when I will ease my own lockdown and introduce myself back into a different world, because our government has not given me the confidence to think that they are capable of giving the best advice.

In consequence, pondering will continue until it feels right to stop. I am the best judge of this.

#75 is a significant number and, by serendipity, today really rose to the challenge of making a day memorable.

Memorable Moment #1

A friend shared this simple piece of text explaining one reason why we all need to be cautious about rushing out of Lockdown, for other people’s sake.

Thanks Tessa for the following message.

A quick lesson about autoimmune diseases. It is a disease where instead of your white blood cells protecting your body from invaders, they turn around and attack your cells, tissues and organs. Chronic fatigue is a symptom. It is not a cold or the flu, you will never get better, and even a nap will not help. Just eating a salad and hitting the gym won’t slim your face or get the pounds off. Sleeping 10 hours doesn’t leave you well rested, ever. The last minute changes in plans because that “just got ran over” feeling never makes appointments, it just walks in whenever you aren’t ready. Painful joints, muscles and bones, dry skin, breaking hair, hair loss, mood swings, and depression are just the tip of the iceberg. You are also prone to having multiple autoimmune diseases, they typically come in pairs of two. You easily catch viral and bacterial infections. Currently Covid 19 is the worry. You have days where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t smile for anyone.
I urge you to think twice before passing judgment and thinking our nation is overreacting to the extra measures being taken to curb the spread of this virus. YOU might be able to recover from it no problem however, carry it to SOMEONE WITH AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE and that individual won’t be as lucky. A list , maybe not exhaustive, of Auto immune diseases.All of them exhausting!
Severe Asthma, Addison’s disease, Endometriosis, M.E, Rheumatoid Arthritis, POTS, sarcoidosis, MCAD, Sjogren’s, Scleroderma, Hashimoto Disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Sarcoidosis, Hepatitis, Raynauld’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Mould Illness, Celiac, CROHN’S, Ulcerative Colitis, Pemphigus, SPS, MS, PBC, Psoriatic Arthritis, CIDP, MMN, GPA , CRPS

Memorable Moment #2

A neighbour, Gil, popped a recipe through the door for a low carb no dairy supper. If we avoid the New Potatoes. Thanks Gil.

Memorable Moment #3

These beautiful earrings arrived from a friend, currently caring for her parents in Canada. They represent our shared love of Daffodils with the beautiful Citrine beads.

Thanks Kathy

Memorable Moment #4

There is something wonderful about seeing people for the first time after lockdown. My bookclub has been having a regular, monthly, WhatsApp chat about books. For the first time today 5 of us used the video mode, it was lovely to see such happy familiar faces. Thanks Bookworms.

Memorable Moment #5

A friend gave us this orange retro alarm clock today. It is living in the actual old mortuary @theoldmortuary. I think the time has come to write an orange blog.

Thanks Jeannie

Memorable Moment#6

Three generations standing in the flisvos of the retreating tide.

Thanks Sam and VV and the beauty of the Greek language.