Coming and Going

Map of the USA made of river stones.

Walks in the park are the new going out. In truth, as long as my wife and I have been together, it’s been a staple for us. We’ve always hiked together. At first, in TX with her faithful rottie. Then with the littles, now much larger, and new puppies. But a walk in the trees is certainly nothing new in our house. Having it as the only real outlet or expression of “doing something” might be. And that’s not awful.

We had a small gathering. It was the usual suspects from our bubble with one additional friend from a far away place. We at RIBS! and chatted on the patio. It was nice to be around people and eat food prepared with care.

I’m taking more time to watch the world breathe. A long drive alone in the Jeep did wonders. I visited houses I once knew and graves. I passed over the new blacktop on old roads. My mind had a chance to unwind just a bit. From the road, I could see the breath of the world moving in and out. I could feel that this rhythm we’re in now isn’t new.

Taking A Minute

A shelf with many things and books on it.

It wasn’t all that long ago that taking time off usually meant going somewhere. That’s no longer the case. The word “Staycation” isn’t being used like it was. Now, a vacation where one doesn’t leave home is the norm. I don’t think it will be that way forever. I’m personally hoping for the rebirth of The Great American Road Trip. Barring that, I feel like more and more people are using parks and, when they are able, are making better use of the space they have for recreation.

It would seem that the most critical part for those who are struggling through The New Normal with desk jobs that appear to be largely unaffected by these changes is taking time away from the computer. Turning it off. Really turning it off. Leaving the work phone on the desk charger and walking away. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s required. Being at home is not the same as being “off.”

I’ll be “off” starting tomorrow. There are things to do in the garage. Some wrenching on a vehicle. Some setting up of storage. And I will get to the water. Somehow. I want to take some more pictures. I wouldn’t object to a little fishing as well. I won’t push it too hard. Some reading is also on the agenda.

These are difficult times. But they should also be contemplative. We each need to look inside for strength. In times of chaos, there is room for change.

Back to School

Reflection of a window in a guitar.

Kids are getting ready to start school this week and nothing feels right about it. There aren’t new packages of school supplies waiting to be stuffed into backpacks and placed in their assigned cubbies somewhere. No getting just the right shirt to wear on that first day in a new class in a new school in a new town.

Instead, we check Google Classroom logins to make sure they work. We double check email addresses. We print a schedule and make a PDF of it so we’ll know which order to select the various classroom containers for the next “period” of the day. We consider how to work lunch when it is a 30 minute break in the kitchen.

The logistics of it all are upside-down and backwards.

Stress on a lot of families is about to go through the roof as multiple children log on for school. I feel fortunate – so ver fortunate! – that our family is able to support this without undue financial stress or worse. While it’s more than inconvenient, I am respectful of our position. And I am trying to think of ways to support those who cannot do what we can.

Part of me wonders if school will be in person for spring of 2022 at the current rate of things. And if it’s not, will my son attend a school in which he has never set foot? What a story for him to tell.

Fried

Radio power wires (black and red). One with an incomplete powerpole.

One of the things to be very wary of with radio is how much current one is drawing at a given moment. It determines how much battery is drained in the field and in the shack, well, it can sometimes make for weird smells and smoke. That’s not what happened here. Here, it was just a failure in a powerpole. Something simple. A connector in a system that wasn’t quite right.

It’s in the air right now. Everything feels like one component or another in a long chain is falling over. This is in every person’s life and in the country writ large.

I feel it. I wonder if I can fix all of the little connectors.

Lather, rinse…

A water bottle, nearly empty, on a bookshelf.

A thought that demands remembering from these plague-ridden times is this: every day and every week bleeds together. There are no longer any landmarks for the passage of time. Each Monday could be a Thursday. Saturday is interchangeable with any other Saturday or Sunday. We have no idea if we’re making progress as there are no trees or mountains. Only endless prairie grasses in every direction.

And then my son’s birthday came. We were reminded that the world still spins. The days on the calendar pass. The endless ticking and tocking of the clock is still very much in play.

We saw some family briefly. The ones we’re bubbling with. Dogs played together. Food prepared and eaten. Jokes told and laughs had.

But know this: it feels endless. Featureless. Until we count these seemingly tiny details. And that is part of navigating the new normal.