the annual

Because whatever other blog-writing I let fall, I will not skip the annual light-in-darkness Chanukah poem. This one is bleaker than usual. My life is OK, if a little lonely and circumscribed by pandemic, etc, but I have an online acquaintance, quite young (30s?) whose husband is dying of cancer. This is for her.

This year’s Chanukah candles
may be next year’s Yahrzeit.
Either way,
the candles of memory
are not enough
to hold back the encroaching dark.

Let other years have their festivities.
This year’s candles are a clew –
a thread of light to hold to
through a dark maze
whose end is past my sight.

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jeans are supposed to be easy to wear….

And what brings me back here after so long? A clothing rant, of course. (Just in case I ever again need to wear non-lounging clothes.)

Here’s what I want: jeans that fit my body and are loose and comfortable. Because after a year and a half of not wearing real pants, I have no patience for skinny jeans! (Yes, my nether limbs are clothed – I’ve worn dresses with or without tights depending on the season, shorts, fleece tights, knit pants, flannel pj pants with elastic waists and so on.) Someday I will need to go back into public for more than just a short foray, and for that I would like some jeans. This is also complicated by the fact that I’ve gained ten pandemic pounds and don’t really know what size I need. It’s probably something like a 10 petite – I don’t need plus sizes at least (I’m not fat-shaming, I’m empathizing – I know that adds a whole nother level of complexity when finding clothes that fit).

We are in a weird period right now; the kids are wearing loose, high-waisted jeans, while clothing lines that cater to women of a certain age are still stuck in skinny jeans most – even their looser fits have names like “skinny boyfriend” or “slim straight”. So why don’t I go to Forever 21 or American Eagle and get jeans marketed to 21 year olds? That would be simple, right? Nope. It’s the belly, not just the one I always have but the added size to it that comes with middle-aged weight gain. And the fact that I’m short-waisted to begin with, so that the high-waisted “mom jeans” kids are wearing aren’t likely to work on me. What I really want is a medium-to-lowish rise jean with a loose fit or barrel cut leg.

The retail places are not cooperating. We have the Gap, who seems to have style that would work but to be out of my size, Anthropologie, whose descriptions of their styles as high or medium waisted bears no actual correlation to the length of their rise, and then the places that cater to middle-aged women and have nothing but skinny (or skinny-ish) jeans – J. Jill, the Loft, L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer. It’s just frustrating to see the styles change back to something I like better and still not be able to get what I want. I think my best choices are probably either to get a cut I like and size up til the waist fits even if everything else is huge, or else maybe just buy men’s jeans. Sigh.

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new theme

Changing things around a bit, just to see if it helps my WP editing issues.
(Spoiler: Nope.)

ETA, 9/24/2021: it’s only taken me a year or more to figure this out – a little Googling found the answer here. All I needed to do … was to go to my profile and uncheck “Disable the visual editor while writing.

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working from home for a year

I got a big monitor and separate keyboard and mouse well before the pandemic, when it because clear I would be working from home a lot for early and late meetings. Since the pandemic we’ve managed to put together desks that fit my (lack of) height at both houses (I say we – really my husband the woodworker created shorter legs for one existing desktop and one top that was originally a table leaf), and added a monitor, keyboard and mouse for the other place when I started spending more workdays there. Working on a laptop is not really ergonomic for more than short periods!

The bigger change is that I have even fewer boundaries. I am not unequivocally recommending this for everyone, because it goes against the prevailing advice and doesn’t work for all, but it works for me. Working in non-business hours is nonnegotiable in my job, so I compensate or it. For instance, last night I had a 9PM meeting and today I went to the grocery store during a break between meetings to get a prescription refill and because we were out of fruit. My standard workday is 7-4:30, but I regularly am at my desk by 6:30 and often have meetings til 5. I also check work email on my phone before I even get out of bed, a holdover from when I supported several European teams and people might try to reach me early. The flip side of that is that if it’s a beautiful day and I have time between meetings, I might grab a kayak and go; I have a knitting group (from work) that meets Mondays at lunchtime, and I have carved an hour out of Friday mornings for voice lessons, that I try very hard not to schedule over (it’s only happened once or twice in the past year, and we have rescheduled those lessons).

OTOH I don’t take meetings during my sleep hours (10-6) except on very special occasions, and I do little work on weekends – usually only when I have a small, concrete task that urgently needs to be done. And I do check work emails on my phone on weekends, once or twice a day.

This all works for me because I have never been one of those people who does very rigid separation between work and home, needs commute time to destress, never ever goofs of during work hours, and keeps a separate personality or work vs home or friends. So I am not recommending my methods for all, but they work for me.

Anyone happen to read this and know about WordPress? For a while now, I have had to use the Classic Editor – with the new one, I type in a block and then the content all vanishes after I click anywhere outside the block. Very annoying!

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The other annual light-in-darkness poem

With affectionate thanks to the Fae group on Ravelry.

This year, the night is roiling,
Black layered over deeper dark
Until my path ahead became impossible to see.
My candle guttered,
Too small to light the way.

Then I turned around,
And stopped wide-eyed
– shocked to see –
Hundreds of tiny flickering candles
Outlining the path behind me,
Each carefully held by someone
Walking along the same way.

With an eye on the lights behind me
I moved forward – we

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the annual light poem

Not so light this year, since Oolong wormed her way through this one.

Sleep, little one, in the year’s dark turning,
Safe now from illness and pain,
Gleam of your eyes in our candles burning,
Raises the memory again.

Oolong, Oola-Boola, Oobaloo,
Slow to trust, then old before your time
Soft fur, trilled purr, set-in-your-ways worldview,
Clumsiest, most beautiful feline.

You’re not forgot, though we will still take joy
In every light we kindle in this dark –
Traditions, comforts, laughter all alloyed
With cat-eye gleams ensconced in every spark.

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apparently it’s been so long since I updated that WordPress hates me now

This is approximately my 6th attempt to write this. Saving now, to make sure I don’t waste more time.

Yay, it worked!

Onto what I actually meant to say. It kills me that I don’t have a written record of living through this historic time, but I just haven’t managed to summon up my blogging mojo. I’m not bored enough, is the problem. Work is both busy and challenging and if I have any creativity leftover there’s knitting and puzzles and the mini-dollhouse kit I’m desultorily working on.

I’m also disappointed to find that apparently I never wrote my annual Chanukah poem last year! I promise to improve on that, at least. (This entry was originally intended to be links to all my past Chanukah poems, then I got caught up in WP issues.)

We spent last weekend helping the in-laws move into an independent-living place. It was a bit frustrating, both because they are distressingly foggy on the concept of social distancing despite good intent (e.g wearing a mask but shaking the movers’ hands! *cringe*) and because they couldn’t seem to focus on getting things actually packed. We’d gone there for a couple of previous weekends in the past months, but the amount done between our visits was less than we hoped. Some of it is age and various physical issues, some of it, I think, was just that they love their house. It was their own decision to leave, they know it’s the right move for them and they’re looking forward to many aspects of it, but that still doesn’t make it easy to leave a home you love, that you’ve spent decades getting just right. Frustrating for everyone (I’m sure they felt we kept hurrying them along) but they seemed to have settled in happily now.

In other news, after my sourdough starter (made from just flour and water, not a starter I got from anyone) spent almost two weeks just sitting around, with a few bubbles but not really increasing in size, it spent the time we wre away in the fridge and seems to have liked that treatment. So now it’s alive! I made my first loaf Saturday. Not much of a sourdough tang, but it rose! I think it just needs to age into more flavor.

So now I have joined the ranks of the quarantine-sourdough bakers. But honestly, as long as we can keep healthy, I think the pandemic has been easier on us than most. We have so little social life that the biggest difference has mostly been working from home. Since I have no need at all to be at work, in late October I came down to the lake and I plan to stay here til at least the end of the year (I might just go back for a week in January, refill prescriptions and such, and head back down here). Ted has to check in to his office and the fab occasionally, so he’s been alternating biweekly, but I think he will be able to stay here for most of the rest of the year now. It’s just so much nicer to work down here! Even though I don’t get to go on the water now, due to both colder weather and the beginning of this year’s Concept 2 Holiday Challenge, so it’s all erging, all the time. I think this is my 17th or 18th one!

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I have started reading my emergency book

No, it’s not an emergency. Years ago I was in a small airport in Japan when my Kindle committed suicide – it jumped out of my hands, flipped over a couple times in midair, and landed face down on a hard floor, shattering the screen. That was well after I’d come to trust the Kindle as my only reading on travel, and I had no books with me (would have thought I’d have had an iPad, but I don’ know if I had any books loaded on it). This small airport had no reading material in English to be purchased. Luckily it was only a short flight to Seoul, where I was able to buy books – 1632, by Eric Flint, and something else I now forget, possibly a Discworld book I’d read before. I read the Discworld book, a comfort read, and never did get to 1632 on that flight.

But I carried it with me as backup on my travels for a while thereafter, though I never did need it again. I do really prefer reading on Kindle, and of paper books, mass market paperbacks are my least favorite form – you have to hold them open with both hands, print is small, pages are dingy. So I haven’t read it, and five months into the quarantine seemed as good a time as any to start. I’m bemused to find there are now over 30 in the series, but this first one, at least, seems good.

I have clearly failed miserably to document my life during the pandemic, almost as miserably as my country has failed to contain said pandemic. (Wish I felt confident that we will have a change in leadership in November, but after what happened in 2016 I can’t be that sure.) Anyway, we are still healthy and still working from home. We go food shopping every couple of weeks, though we do make occasional stops in farmers’ markets or other stores when needed, and Ted has to go into the fab once every couple of weeks – an Intel fab is probably one of the safest places to be, what with the bunny suits, masks, and forced air ventilation. Meanwhile, Intel has said that any employee who doesn’t actually have to be in the office to work, can work from home til at least June 2021. We’re alternating, spending about 2 weeks in Hillsboro and 2 at the lake, which is being one of the joys of this time. Such a much better place to be quarantined than in a city condo!

In other personal news, two weeks ago the gynecologist took out my birth control implant, so now I’m without any birth control for the first time in my adult life, We have no idea if I’ve hit menopause because I haven’t had a period since 2012 when I had my first implant put in, but she said that at 53, there’s less than a 1% chance I could get pregnant and even less that I’d stay that way – similar odds to being on the Pill. (And yet, I keep thinking of Little Sister in the book Laddie, who was born when her mother was in her fifties!) I’ve also switched dentists – I liked the one i was with but they have been canceling appointments a lot due to (non-corona-related) health issues on the dentist’s part, and now the hygienist I like is taking some unknown amount of time off. So I switched to the one that’s in a mobile office right next to work, and had a cleaning and exam there. It was very weird to be so close to another person I’m not married to, for the first time since March! And face shields are not well designed for the angle a dental hygienist works at – she was wearing a mask under it, though. Unfortunately I get to go through that again Monday, because I need three fillings! (Two are old ones being replaced.)

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Pandemic quarantine, Day 65

I thought it would be a good idea to chronicle this period, so I’d know what happened when. Clearly I have not done so well with that. Here are some numbers, though:

  • Days since I last wore a bra: 65
  • Days since I last wore pants or skirt without an elastic waist: 65 (also, I’ve been counting (opaque) tights as pants!)
  • Shopping trips: it’s complicated. I stocked up before the stay-home order, but since I started working from home, there have been 3 times where I ordered online and picked up groceries – but on two of those I had to dart inside (masked) for an item or two they didn’t sell online, so I give up on online grocery ordering One trip to New Seasons (local upscale chain like Whole Foods), one trip to Collective Market (products like a farmer’s market), one trip to the butcher. Three stops to small local grocery near the lake house for a needed item or two that let me postpone major shopping. Still not a lot for over two months.
  • Days on which I’ve worn jewelry, other than a watch: 3 or 4.
  • Businesses I’ve visited other than for groceries: the post office. That’s it.
  • Last time I ate in a restaurant: March 10 (I have gone in one a couple of times to pick up pizza. I wore a mask.)
  • Times we’ve ordered food delivered: about 5
  • Knitting projects: 5 done, 3 in work
  • When I plan to go back into the office: not for a long long time. My company is encouraging managers to support working from home, if it makes sense for our jobs, til the end of 2020
  • Masks owned: two, but I’ve ordered 3 more

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Social Isolation, Day 28

I think we are going to break down and go to the lake house tomorrow. We’re timing it with Ted’s work, going when we can stay for over a week instead of a quick weekend trip. Somehow that seems less irresponsible.

Arguments against going:

  • Against the spirit of “stay in place”. Useful to go but not absolutely essential. A total of about 5 hours driving (in a reliable vehicle with a huge tank). Very low risk of breaking down on the road and needing rescue – but of course not a non-zero risk.
  • This will necessitate one extra gas fill-up.

Arguments in favor of going:

  • Mental and physical health. Lots more opportunity to be outside without being around other people. Can go on the water (would probably use only my kayak or my rec shell, both very hard to tip, as opposed to my tippier racing shell) or garden or do yardwork.
  • Have emailed elderly neighbor there to ask if she needs us to bring any groceries – she’s healthy but in her 80s, her husband has health issues.
  • Can pick up stuff we’ve left there (everything from my engagement ring (I wear it instead of a wedding band) to my better headphones for work to pantry items (paper towels!) we could snag from there instead of buying.
  • Can grab the masks Ted has there for woodworking – probably N95, though he’s not sure.
  • Can do yardwork, and early spring is when it’s badly needed
  • Checking on the house – we haven’t been there for almost a month.

Arguments not in favor, but not NOT in favor:

  • Not planning to go anywhere but the house or grounds around us – but if we do need to go grocery shopping or even somehow suddenly need a hospital we can go to the city < half an hour away and not put a strain on a rural area.
  • This is not a vacation area, like the Oregon or NYC-adjacent beach towns that got overloaded by city folks fleeing the virus. It’s a town people live in – that in fact we ourselves plan to go live in, in just a few years.

So yeah, hard to decide but I think we’re going.

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