Pandemic Pondering #135

August 1st 2020.

For a month Pandemic Ponderings will be slightly controlled by the prompt list that my art group, Drawn to the Valley is using to inspire a response from members on Instagram and Facebook during August.

As you know from PP#133, I am slightly churlish about prompts but am choosing to see this as a creative challenge not only for art but my creative writing/social history Ponderings.

#1 Gardens

About two and a bit years ago garden design @theoldmortuary took on a new angle when we had to make it safe for an anticipated grandchild.

At the time that little family were living in Hong Kong so we had time on our side for alterations to the structure of the garden.

Then with great excitement they returned to Cornwall to live and our garden plans were properly tested and found to be pretty exciting for someone under two.

Then the Pandemic hit and she couldn’t visit. Then the Pandemic hit in a different way and they have had to return to Hong Kong.

Here she is inspecting the garden for herself, from above.

Then she required a meeting with the Head Gardener to discuss changes and improvements required for when she is able to visit again.

By embracing prompts I have been able to explain in a gentle way why we’ve been a little sad for a few months.

In the future the little person will know that she was loved and we were sad to see her go in 2020.

I’m looking at prompts in a new way let’s hope I am not a recidivist and return to my grumpy prompt hating ways.

For completeness sake here is the picture I’m going to pop into Instagram for the Garden prompt.

Dead heading into a turquoise bucket.

Pandemic Pondering #123

100 WordPress readers for the blog. I know it’s nothing compared to hugely popular blogs, but 100 people who are happy to read along on the pondering journey of someone insignificant, who just enjoys writing and connecting, is thrilling!
I was pondering the longevity of Pandemic Ponderings when I remembered one of my favourite books, ‘The Long Weekend’ by Robert Graves. It is a social history of the interwar years.

I wonder if we are entering a Pandemic ‘Long Weekend’ in Britain. Restrictions of the draconian type are being lifted and bits of life are returning to some form of normal. @theoldmortuary lives a more resticted life than the government suggests whilst still connecting with family and friends. We are mindful of the Second Wave of the pandemic which could start anytime between August or October depending on who you talk to.
So I will ponder on through the Pandemic ‘long weekend’ and into the second wave taking at least 100 of you with me.

On with the Sunday blog.
Two quotes landed in my social media feed today. They are properly robust pieces of secular writing with not a hint of whimsy, new agedness or religion.

I love them both. They need no explanation, but I would say they represent quite accurately my attitude to life.

Time to catch up on 3 regular topics in the blog.

The first dahlia of Pandemic Pondering #120 is the only Dahlia still. This morning he was looking gorgeous but as you can see from the photo, protecting him from slugs and bugs comes at a cost. He cannot live out in the green areas of the garden but has to live on the decking area where domestic life happens. Here he is this morning amongst the drying washing.

This evening he is still wide awake at sunset.

Our fitness regime, at home with Joe Wicks on YouTube continues, and has often had a mention blogwise but after more than 18 weeks of exercising at home we are addicted to having a velvet cushion for our aching knees. Surely all gyms could provide such comfort.

And finally we did our regular walk around Sutton harbour and the Barbican in Plymouth. Our regular haunt of Jacka Bakery was enhanced today by having some of our lovely family in it.

Sunday pondering, a little bit deep, a little bit superficial. Thanks for being 1 in 100 xxx

Pandemic Pondering #96

Pods , Bubbles and Raindrops and a metaphor.

Rain did not stop play this weekend, but it did rain in Cornwall, this weekend. Our schedule had enough flexibility built into it to avoid a drenching. Thank goodness. We formed a government approved Bubble with my daughter and then socially distanced with some other familial bubbles.

If I know anything significant about bubbles it is that they pop in the rain. I would have felt safer if the government had used the word ‘pod’

Podding with someone feels robust and resilient. There is a protective element to the word.

Bubbling with someone seems frivolous and fanciful, flimsy.

A sensible mother would protect her child in a pod, we were only offered a bubble. People go into space in a pod not a bubble.

Without becoming over political this reflects the whole sorry state of Pandemic Precautions in England. Run by a government that chooses the flimsy alternative to the more robust one, every time.

We had a good weekend skitting about in our bubble avoiding rainshowers. Raindrops posed boastfully on flowers everywhere, calling attention to themselves and providing a visual metaphor for the virus that could at any moment pop our ‘ bubble’ of a slowly easing Lockdown.

Other flowers though had shrugged off the rain and were ready to get on with life as normal. A happy state that we humans are not quite at.

Hugo , being a dog flitted wilfully between bubbles and at other times posed in flower beds. Having completely misunderstood which restrictions have been relaxed.

Pandemic Pondering #95

Father’s Day

@theoldmortuary we don’t have any fathers. Definitely a cause of sadness but within our micro family we have two Father’s, my ex-husband and my son. Today was a socially distanced family gathering to celebrate at a distance those father’s both with us and those no longer with us.

Celebrate takes on a whole new way of being when the only alcohol is in the hand sanitizer and everyone has prepared their own picnic.

Our destination was the Eden Project as previous visits, since the relaxation of lockdown, have been very easy. It is never busy and has plenty of space for a family to social distance.

Our progress is always slow around Eden.

Today, patterns was my photographic project , beyond the family of course.

This first image is a pierced stained glass design and it’s projected image stitched together and then tiled.

The rest are just pierced metal and bright sunlight.

Finally we have the three people,all in the same log, that celebrated Father’s Day with their Dads today.

Pandemic Pondering #94

Northern hemisphere Summer Solstice 2020 and in Britain Stonehenge is all closed up and guarded by security.

Gathering in numbers is still illegal, although on our evening walk there were larger gatherings,than permitted, out and about but pretty nasty rain would have dispersed them. So the longest day will still pass without being marked in a communal way.

Trawling the archive seemed the right way to mark a solstice like no other.

For interest sake I researched the days either side of the solstice.

Without too much trouble it was easy to see some themes and maybe a little bit of Midsummer Madness.

1. People

Today @theoldmortuary spent time with our daughter and granddaughter.

In past years we’ve spent time with Brenda our mother-in-law. Who in this picture was captured by a sunbeam. We will also see her again today, who knows if she will bring the sunbeam again.

Breakfast in Southampton with Uncle Mohammed and Aunty Margaret who live in Canada but were passing through.

2. My fascination with street signs.

3. A fascination with stairs.

4. Flowers

5. Aberdeen , Hong Kong

6. Cups

7. Dogs , ending with a sunset on the longest day.

Pandemic Pondering #81

A pandemic 1st for @theoldmortuary. A Day Out.

Today we went to the Eden Project in Cornwall to have a socially distanced meet up with some of our family.

The Eden Project opened to the public recently for the first time since Lockdown.
https://www.edenproject.com

The Eden Project has got socially distanced tourism spot on. You have to book a slot, so it can’t be a spontaneous visit but beyond that the amount of control is so deftly handled, once you are in, it is easy to forget the restrictions of the pandemic, without ever flouting them.

On arrival there are ample public toilets, water stations and a take out coffee shop. The hosts who welcome you have the same welcoming charm as London 2012 Olympic Volunteers, and that was considered a Gold Standard of hosting. Hand sanitising gel is available as soon a you reach the welcome concourse and throughout the site.

Only the outside area is open during this pandemic opening. Visitors are guided to wander through areas that can be overlooked by anyone dazzled , quite rightly, by the magnificence of the Tropical and Mediterranean Biomes or the Science of The Core in more normal times. This is a fabulous chance to experience the outside with restricted visitor numbers. The peace is magical.

Instead of biomes we got intimate with bees.

And wandered down Cornish lanes.

Flower meadows and single specimens slowed us down. This was the most tranquil visit we have ever made to Eden

Fragrance is everywhere. Once we had meandered our way down to the Biomes more toilets were available and another take- away coffee stall, again social distancing was imposed with a gentle reminder.

A great time was had by all.

And for Miss VV, her first experience of being, very gently, escorted out of a venue as the last woman standing.

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.

Pandemic Pondering #51

A complex image with a lot going on.

Pondering now and yearning for the ‘New Normal’

This reflects our minds at the moment @theoldmortuary. It’s Saturday, a day before the Government presents the new roadmap of British Life in Lockdown.

That’s one roadmap to consider then, there is our personal new roadmap to think about and the roadmaps of those we hold dear. That’s a lot of roadmaps to keep twirling. We keep busy and we work hard physically but sometimes in this pandemic those two things are not enough to keep us asleep at night.

What we all need are our friends and family, close enough to hug, squeeze, weep on and snuggle into. We are all denied that. We are touchers, I hadn’t realised quite how much we touch our friends and family. I miss you all physically, emotionally and desperately.

Ironically during Lockdown we have gained some new friends and many of our neighbours have certainly raised in status to aquaintances. The epic week working on the Cornish Hedge outside the oldmortuary gained many regular friends and quite a few offers of contracts to tidy up other people’s gardens. A new friend, S, has suggested we call our business “The Lady Gardeners”. Seriously our skill level is way below a name of that Calibre. We swap calories with S, containers of baked and cooked goods find their way from one house to the other whilst maintaining social distance. Those foods are then shared a third way with MLR who is isolating completely, she in turn provides our grandchild’s plush pig with crocheted super hero clothes.

We work on the theory that shared calories don’t count and obviously all super heroes wear crochet.

We’ve never met MLR or indeed M who is part of the food share and lives with S. But we have seen him on a balcony. This all goes to prove you create friends that you don’t touch or even get closer than 2 metres and even don’t really know.

Friendship is an organic thing.

Other 2 metre friends, A and K were first met last week in two different social distancing queues. By the power of Facebook we met them in a queue again today and then spent some moments sitting in the sun 3 metres apart enjoying a take out breakfast.

Then we took the dogs for a walk to a favourite ‘pop up’ social distancing coffee shop and met two of the owners who we’ve known as customers for three years and usually greet with a hug.

Then outside Lockdown, there is the infinite variety of our longstanding friends and family that exist ‘out there’ that we cannot see face to face or talk to without using technology.

Friends and family come in all shapes and sizes with varying longevity we are missing you all, we’ve added some strangers to the mix while we’ve been apart.

New Normal cannot get here fast enough. Someone find us the roadmap. We are desperate.

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 Ponderings #14

Yesterday was unusual because I didn’t feel particularly inspired to write and was in the lucky position of having written two blogs in one day earlier in the Pandemic so had the chance to stay numerically correct . It is 14 days since Pandemic Ponderings started. I’m not sure what made me not want to write . We needed supplies so I drove the car to a farm for eggs and then hit two supermarkets for provisions. We went for another massive walk. In the same direction as #13 but the opposite riverbank.

The need to bake became imperative and a rich black Guinness Cake sits in the kitchen this morning, some of it already eaten.

In London Cornish Pasties were being made by my daughter and her boyfriend.

Last night we attended a virtual Pub Disco, streamed on Facebook. Hosted by family member Lee Anthony

So there was a lot going on.

My mind was almost certainly taken up with thoughts that swirled around reregistration as a Radiographer. A decision made for me by the government.
It was a big decision to deregister when I left London two years ago. My long career in the NHS had accidentally gone full circle ending exactly where it started at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

An injury in New York, I fell over a flower bed, had thrown up a number of health ssues I was unaware of and some that I had chosen to ignore. The pragmatic approach and slightly early retirement seemed the right answer to these problems. Which it was, the Health issues have righted themselves with rest, medication, weight loss and exercise.

Reregistration is usually bloody hard and involves crossing the government’s palm with Silver and donating time freely to the NHS to prove worthiness and usefulness.

As if by magic in a Pandemic, reregistration becomes easy, which makes me wonder why such apparently useful people have always been made to take a difficult path if they change their own minds.

No time to be churlish.

Both myself and Pandemic Ponderings will be taking a path unimaginable to me 14 days ago. Let’s see where serendipity is taking us tomorrow.