Pandemic Pondering #366

A mini festival of positivity of the past year. I’m not about to load you all with the downsides of the pandemic as it has affected us @theoldmortuary but in common with many we’ve had some dodgy days in this last year . But it has been a year that has been fully lived and many positives have emerged from the negative spaces created by the sad days.

We are much better cooks , not only baking but also healthy vegetable loaded meals. If only I could stop there and mention healthy snacks but we’ve succumbed to pouch chocolate . A packet of Minstrels is not safe in this house.

Covid-safe extended walks on a limited number of routes has curiously provided us with some lovely new friends. We already had some superb ones. Nodding with recognition on a regular walk or queueing for coffee in a pandemic has encouraged us to talk to strangers. If you do that often enough, over a year, people cease to be strangers.

Finally the wonder that is cold water swimming. Originally started because we needed to boost Vitamin D levels and our immune systems. I’m not sure either of us truly believed we would keep on swimming throughout the winter. With the swimming came the little support network we built. A Whatsapp group called Bobbers and a whole informal group of swimmers who swim in Tranquility Bay. Sometimes we share the sea with a seal and sometimes with something bigger.

Pandemic Pondering #335

Illuminate 2019

The storms keeping us out of the sea have abated , but only just. Overnight the rain has been torrential. There is a plan, this Sunday morning, for us to have a swim . I’m fairly freshly out of the dream state , illustrated above.

On waking I have immediately landed into the Procrastinate Zone. The, nearly year long, series of lockdowns and life restrictions have given me the luxury of time  and in turn that has allowed procrastination to become a decision process. An alternative or extra option to add to any decision making moment.

This morning the cogs are turning slowly.

Shall I have a shower before I swim?

Can I actually bear to get out of bed and get into a hot shower?

No , there might be a moment of chill before the shower gets really hot.

Ok, I will just lay here. Procrastinate a bit and think about it in 5 minutes.

There is no logic to this thought, in an hour or so I’m going to be stepping into the sea for fifteen minutes of swimming in water that is about 8 degrees. It is unlikely to be as beautiful as the picture below, but this is the mental image that will get me out of bed and into the shower.

If thats not enough then at the weekend there is the added promise of good coffee.

None of these lovely images are actually persuading me to make that move into the shower. Writing about it , has of course given some legitimacy to procrastination. I could have just posted a different blog and got on with the shower but burbling on about procrastination has kept me in bed for an extra fifteen minutes and now there is no time for a shower.

Sometime soon I’m going to be back in a real world.

This cannot become a way of life!

Pandemic Pondering #303

Our first bunch of supermarket daffodils illustrate this blog today. They have just emerged from tight buds. Strange to think that daffodils were a favourite subject when pondering started. Now there are so many favourite subjects that I would not have imagined a year ago.

My maternal grandmother would often say ” Some of us quite enjoyed the war you know”

I cant say I’ve enjoyed the pandemic, could anyone? It has forced me to adapt my life and I enjoy many of those adaptations. The unexpected benefits of a pretty dire period of history.

Daffodils are also known as the Heralds of Spring. I think mid- January is pushing that title a bit, particularly in Cornwall where daffodils arrive early and long before the worst of the winter weather. Regardless of their reputation they are very welcome guests @theoldmortuary , particularly in this tricksy period of the pandemic. Maybe the next time I buy the first supermarket daffodils of the season, life will have taken on a more easily navigated road map and just possibly I will have stopped pondering Pandemically.

Pandemic Pondering #273

A new Christmas Star combined with blue white lights , vaguely reminds me of the accepted depiction of the Coronovirus.

As a creative person, fond of flights of fancy, it is somewhat disappointing that, the much anticipated, vaccine is a clear fluid, all very clinical and reassuring, I’m sure. The magnitude of the job, though, surely requires something that resembles a potion, served in an old chemistry lab beaker and smoking with the addition of liquid nitrogen.

The imagined potion would be green, Lime green through to chartreusse. I’m not overthinking this at all! Well actually I am overthinking this, I’m keeping my eyes out for baubles in this exact shade of green to hang in the Christmas tree alongside the Covid Star for this year. A visual immunisation.

In future years we will unpack the baubles and wonder why anyone would choose baubles in such an unseasonal colour. I wonder if I should do a bulk order of Reindeers to grant my tree some ‘ Herd’ immunity?

I blame these short days, the long nights allow time for folkloric Ponderings of a meandering and pointless sort.

Pandemic Pondering #260

My first day back at The Box after Lockdown 2, and my first day in a new- to-me gallery.

I could give you the official description of Port of Plymouth 1 but yesterday for an hour or so I had a unique experience. The gallery was almost empty and I had the chance to explore it unencumbered with any responsibility for the well being of visitors.

The portrait above is of an anonymous fisherman, he is the human face of the character of this gallery. The gallery yesterday represented to me the biography of the city. Port of Plymouth 1 tells the story, the basis almost, of every other gallery in the museum. The sort of thing that might be written on the back of a funeral service booklet to give an over view of  the deceaseds life. Of course Plymouth has not died and under current circumstances enjoys relatively good health.

I deliberately chose a man’s photograph because the gallery has a woman’s voice. Dawn French narrates two audio visual presentations within Port 1 and  while you are in the space you are never very far away from her voice. This is a brilliant piece of gender balance because inevitably Port 1 is for the most part a man’s world. Not because women played no part in the history of Plymouth but because history has traditionally sidelined women’s contribution. It is only really the 20 th Century exhibits that begin to truly reflect the importance of women to the city.

©The Box

As you enter Port of Plymouth 1 there is a massive 3D screen showing a film presentation of the developmental history of  Plymouth. The film is one of the exhibits narrated by Dawn French. Currently with Covid-19 restrictions only about twelve people can view it at any one time, with so few people it is hard to gauge the impact but later in my morning a whole school group of about 40 watched it together and the impact on them as a large group was remarkable, when the museum can open as normal this will be a memorable group activity.

@theoldmortuary we are in the process of moving home. It was a little bit strange to view our proposed new location as history evolved over it and  in the WW2 era bombs landed very close.

©The Box
©The Box

Ambient Lighting in Port of Plymouth 1 is subdued but the lighting of each exhibit is so beautifully done that even when it is full of people ( a future aspiration) it is really easy to concentrate and understand the significance of each exhibit.

One historic artifact was simple but poignant.

©The Box

The Falklands Conflict left a big mark on the recentish memory of Plymouth

©The Box

This is the point that pondering has to stop, just like the Dockyard Gate photo above, the visitors started to arrive. There is loads more to talk about but visitor safety and smiling took over my time.

Pandemic Pondering #232

There is always an urge to buy more art materials when you’ve made a sale or two at an exhibition. I’ve been on a purchasing embargo for over a year so I was excited to buy some Hydrus water colour inks and some Yupo paper. A month long Lockdown should give me plenty of time to experiment.

Yesterday’s painting was not at all creative. I needed to create a colour chart for the new paints on both the Yupo paper and my usual brand. Typo is not even really paper, It is made from plastic. Choosing a different paper is a lot like getting a new skateboard or snowboard. Watercolour relies on mastering skills and tricks in just the same way that boarding does. Unlike other paints it is not so forgiving and can end up like a mud puddle fairly quickly.

The most creative thing about my colour chart painting was the kitchen roll brush cleaner.

After that I allowed myself to try a couple of cling film experiments on the Yupo.

Yupo hugely increases the time that watercolour takes to dry. Intricate layers of texture will take days to create rather than a few hours. My only sketch of yesterday is drying ready for me to work on today.

All of which was a fine way to keep my mind off the election process in the U.S.

In other news, which luckily colour matched with the sketch above, the Cock of Outer Trematonia from Pandemic Pondering #276 lives on.

He was seen in Outer Trematonia with a slightly less bouffant style but still with a swagger. Not unlike the actions of a man across the Atlantic. None of us understand cockwaffle so who knows if he is cock-a-doodling the truth.

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 #194

Yesterday was a day for basking in afternoon sunshine. Autumn may have arrived but the sunshine had forgotten and we sat, like lizards on hot rocks, taking in the late September sun. The wind however was very much in Autumn mode and swirled and nipped at us whenever we turned a corner between buildings. In truth the basking was accidental , we were only on one of our regular dog walks but we had stopped for a coffee and some people watching. Neither were exciting enough to be pondered about but the sunshine was lovely. For reasons which I don’t fully understand the water which accompanied our coffee arrived iced and with a straw. Leave two women with a straw in strong sunshine and this is what you get!

Pandemic Pondering #185

A little bit of weekend meandering. I realise that 2020 is both a landmark year and one that many of us would like to see the back of. I’ve caught myself twice this week discussing how I would like to look back on this year and understand its significance on the  future. I don’t think I’m wishing my life away but I’m intrigued to know how life will be post pandemic ponderings. For now I’m sharing some random thoughts and images that have brightened our weekend.

A very late wildflower patch is maturing under our outdoor tomatoes, tomatoes that would not exist if we hadn’t been in a Lockdown for so long.

The glorious poppies of late spring and early summer, much loved and instagrammed by our neighbours during lockdown are long gone but one lonely little seed pod came indoors with me today and nestled in a sunbeam on a velvet cushion.

The next  pictures are related because they were taken at the same location. The first two are tiny figureheads that mark the gender of the Loos at our favourite pub/coffee shop. I’ve included them because during last week I’ve been working at The Box, a new museum and gallery in Plymouth during the soft opening sessions before it opens properly. Figureheads are a big feature of the entrance area, but any photographs of the actual museum are banned until the museum is properly open. These two are at the Lord High Admiral in Plymouth. A fine substitute until I can share the real things. The Lola picture was taken just after we had had our weekly coffee fix at The Hutong ‘pop-up’

Four pictures from the weekend that would not have existed if the Pandemic had not happened.