Today’s a milestone that never could have happened before this year. It’s been two weeks since my second COVID vaccine, so my immunity has officially kicked in. I am free to move about the country now! I even gave myself a bouquet of wildflowers to celebrate.
Look, I know this doesn’t mean I’m immune, nor that I can’t transmit the virus if I somehow became infected (no idea how that could happen, since I haven’t been going anywhere). But it does mean I don’t need to have that fear hanging over my head if I need to go to the grocery store or want to do something fun. And I WILL wear a mask when going to crowded places, because I’d prefer to avoid getting even a mild case, seeing all the long-term effects those around me are experiencing.
I look forward to being able to hang out with vaccinated friends and have a chat, with coffee or wine. I can sit on the porch with Mandi again! I will feel okay traveling and seeing my relatives who are vaccinated. To be honest, I simply feel lighter and freer than I have in over a year. And by gosh, I’m going to go HUG SOMEONE. How rash!
There’s still plenty to do right here at the ranch, though. I’m still reading all those books on bias, knitting away at my current project while waiting for the yarn for my supporter gifts to arrive, and hanging out with the animals. It’s a full life, right here on the ranch. That’s especially true at my favorite time of the year, when every day brings new flowers (also, the swallows have returned!).
I hope you and your circle are starting to become more fully vaccinated. I know we all want to see friends and family sooner rather than later!
I had so much confidence that I’d have few side effects from my second COVID vaccine. But, while it’s not as bad as last time, just a couple hour after I woke up I got the bone tiredness that’s common. So, Sara will ride my horse today and I will read knit, and nap.
I ordered these Western linens (on sale, too!) to see if they’d make me like my brown walls better. They do look good with the headboard Lee made, and the valance looks pretty good, though we plan to stretch it out a bit. We also have valances for the windows, but need something to hang them on.
It’s a windy, gray day, anyway, so I’ll be okay inside. The clouds were really pretty, in a gloomy way, this morning, a nice start to the last day of Standard time.
I’ll get back to my knitting and resting at the Hermits’ Rest. I hope someone listens to the podcasts! Enjoy my lisping. You will also get to enjoy music from my son, Declan Murtagh, on the podcast. It’s just what I wanted!
I’m in Austin this week, and my cul-de-sac neighbors held one of their happy hours to say belated happy birthday to me. We met in a driveway on a windy evening and had a nice time chatting and catching up.
One of our main conversation topics was how far along we are with our COVID-19 vaccinations. Since we are all “getting up there,” some are fully vaccinated, and others are getting close. Only a couple of us haven’t started, but they are slightly younger people who have been pretty isolated.
By the end of the visit, as we were saying goodbye, we realized that by the next book club we might be able to hug each other. I must sheepishly admit that I got all extra full of anticipatory glee at the thought of being able to hug Angela, who’s a nurse, in two weeks.
Oh my gosh. Hugs will be possible soon. And we might even be able to meet indoors in April or May!
And maybe we can have Sunday dinners with our friends again. It’s like a dream. A simple dream. To reconnect. Just talking to friends this evening felt so luxurious.
What simple luxury are YOU looking forward to in the coming months, if vaccinations go as planned? Please share!
All weekend I just didn’t feel like writing. It was a reasonable weekend, and I enjoyed being outdoors in the sunshine, but I felt bummed. Looking around, I saw a lot of bummed people. I realized that, oh my gosh, this week is the anniversary of when we all started to take the COVID precautions. And it was the week of the last “fun” out-of-state vacation Lee and I have had.
It’s the last time I saw my stepmother, my cousins, my stepsister, etc. And the ocean. I’m not alone, of course; people are just tired of being restricted, and all we hear is that things will still be bad. At least some of my friends and family are fully vaccinated, which lets them breathe a little easier.
But, some of my less resilient friends are struggling, and struggling HARD. I’m really worried about a few of my friends whose ability to cope with isolation and the other effects of the pandemic is growing weaker by the day. The worst part’s that I can’t think of anything really helpful to say or do to make things any easier.
I’m coping by finding the good in what I do have, getting outside a lot, and interacting with people online, as well as being patient (since there really isn’t any other option). But, telling folks to just hang in there and things will improve seems patently UNhelpful to me. When you are struggling, that sounds like a meaningless platitude.
I happen to know that struggling friends in Texas are feeling worse now that the governor has opened up businesses and entertainment spots all over the state. Many people will have the opportunity to go back to work, but many are young and not eligible for vaccinations yet. And they KNOW they will be dealing with customers/patrons who interpret our fine governor’s declaration as meaning “go back to normal and forget those masks, the hand washing, the large gatherings of strangers, and the other precautions!”
Hmm, I would not blame anyone for hesitating to return to a job that literally puts their lives in danger for little above our currently disgusting minimum wage. Do I have any helpful suggestions? NOPE.
Well, at least the people for whom freedom to risk their lives and the lives of others is the most important thing in the world should be happier. Maybe they’ll all go run some traffic lights and shoot each other with their unconcealed weapons in joy. Freedom trumps safety. Freedom trumps the Golden Rule.
Uh, as you can see, I’m pissed off as well as bummed. But, it’s my blog, where I can express an opinion, right?
If you are struggling right now, please accept as much love and support as I can muster, and know I’m here to listen and to try not to stay unhelpful things in response. And, please reach out to your therapist, psychiatrist, or other professional if things are really going badly.
Ice is zero, because that’s how cold it is in Celsius. COVID is +1, because I got my first Moderna vaccination today. I’m really relieved to get the process started, because it means I might be able to go back to my nice office in Cameron without being so paranoid about potential exposure from Hearts, Homes and Hands staff who work with so many clients (and we are glad they do). Anyway, that’s why I got to get the shot before turning 65 or 64 or whatever age it is.
The County Health Department has the luxury of two closed hospitals to use in cases like this (thanks to all the rural hospitals closing down…moving on…). That meant there were lots of rooms for counseling and giving the shots. Everyone was SO nice. You could just see how happy they are to be doing this for our citizens.
The nurse who counseled me was especially nice, and we spent a lot of time praising the County Judge, who has been quite the stoic through this whole pandemic. Half the county says he’s the Devil and half says he’s a Saint. Whichever, the job certainly has been more than he thought it would be when he ran for office!
The only part about the whole thing was that, because it’s truly cold and most of the people getting their vaccines are elderly, they had everyone wait inside rather than sitting in their cars and being called in. I truly understand why they did it, but GEEZ I felt claustrophobic waiting in a hallway filled with fragile people, where there was no way to get 6 feet away from anyone. I did double mask, though, and I’m sure most of those folks were like me and never leave their houses except for things like vaccinations!
Now I just have to wait a month to get the other shot, then two more weeks and I’ll feel a bit better interacting with folks (with mask).
One thing I realized when I was driving to Rockdale for the vaccination is that up here in Walker’s Creek/Silver City (or wherever I live), we got much more ice than only a few miles south of us did. Some of Rockdale’s trees looked perfectly normal. On the other hand, there are lots of trees down here (and my friends in northwest Austin really, really had lots of damage).
On the other hand, ice sure is pretty.
I’m glad the temperature is a balmy 32 F (0 C) today, since I need to load up on hay for Apache for the upcoming Polar Vortex. Sara and Ralph got blankets on all the horses, but Fiona is so fuzzy, she’s fine. Everyone has shelter and seemed just fine this morning, once I broke the ice in the water troughs, which I will have to do again this evening, I’m sure.
Enjoy some more photos of our icy time. By Sunday we should be getting snow or worse. It may get down to the OTHER 0 degrees! This is NOT normal Texas weather!
Hey, so we’re all living through this pandemic, right? We all listen to our preferred news outlets, discuss it with family and friends, have our own experiences, and then decide how we are going to cope.
I know a lot of people, in Cameron and Austin, but also around the world. They sure differ in how they decide to live their pandemic lives. Here in Cameron, I know people who haven’t changed their lives at all, except having to deal with store closures. I also know people whose underlying issues and financial means make them most comfortable not leaving their house at all.
Most people are somewhere in between. My children have to work. Many people are in that position, so they do what they can, wearing masks and washing hands a lot. Some people go grocery shopping and such, but limit their trips. Others figure out what shops or services are not crowded or taking precautions and use them.
Nearly all of us have our mask collections, since we can’t go places without them, but some are more careful with their technique than others.
Why are you telling us this?
The point is that, as with so many other things, there’s no one right way to deal with the COVID outbreak. People choose to make decisions based on information that matters to them and act accordingly. There are a LOT of factors involved, like personal philosophy, your risk factors, and your comfort level.
Because of all this, I’ve made the choice to not judge people on their choices, even when I disagree or am not comfortable with them. I don’t know their reasons much of the time, and when I do know them, I figure it’s their business.*
What’s the issue?
I was a little surprised that when I shared my recent hair update, most of the comments were from people who seemed uncomfortable with going to salons. I felt a bit judged, I have to say. Of course every single commenter had higher risk factors that me (age, illness, immune system stuff, etc.). If I was in that group, I might have made a different decision, myself.
I can sure see how people who can’t get their hair cut might wish they could! I don’t blame them. I wish I could travel as much as some of my friends have. And I know people weren’t thrilled when I did travel. Yep.
I completely respect those of you who haven’t cut your hair in a year. You are doing what works for you, having evaluated the risks. But, I also evaluated the risks. I chose a small salon that has made many modifications in the last year. They require masks at all times, don’t let clients near each other, and sanitize like crazy. I know the hairdresser. I took the risk based on my comfort level.
We are all under so much stress these days. Let’s consider giving others a break and assume they are making their decisions based on what works for them, even when it’s not what you’d do.
Anyway, now you know why I didn’t mention my previous two haircuts! And yes, if I was under one of the endless quarantines I’ve been in, from being exposed to someone who’s been exposed to someone, I’d have canceled.
Note that I love you all and want you safe and healthy. If you think I’m talking about you, know that I understand where you’re coming from, which is from concern for my well being. I appreciate all you readers, wherever you land on the precautions continuum.
* I realize that people choosing to take few precautions do endanger others. I’ve seen the results in my community. I still can’t MAKE people who disagree with public health policy make different choices.
I’m having a pity party about this damned pandemic. The germy people are everywhere and no matter how we try, there’s some random exposed person lurking around. I simply can’t hide in the house 24/7. It’s frustrating and scary.
I complained on Facebook, and probably offended some super spreaders, but wow I see a lot of party photos and long trips being shared. But, everyone has to weigh pros and cons. I did, when I went to Utah.
The Good Stuff
Still, my heart is warmed by how people around me are doing what they can for others. I can’t share details, but our Hearts Homes and Hands team is making a real difference in someone’s life, and we’re seeing first hand how community support keeps people in need going. That’s holiday spirit.
And my friends at MTOL have gotten together to help a woman and her dog. They will be safe now. No matter what our personal differences are, our board will stick together and work to help animals (and their people) in need. This kindness, creativity, and generosity is what gives me hope.
So, though I know our business puts us at high risk and I get annoyed that people who could easily stay safe choose not to, I’ll do what I can and keep trying to be helpful. I will trust others to make decisions that are right for them and evaluate their own risks.
Since work has started up and since groups I’m in have started meeting, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people I know. I’m seeing similar things in Facebook groups, chats, etc. It’s summed up by something my friend, Barbara, wrote this morning, which I quoted in the title of this post.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been in this week that either started or ended with someone looking into the camera, bewildered, and sharing that their parents are very sick, or that they lost a friend, or that they’ve been exposed and are worried. People tell of losing multiple loved ones or friends in a short time (I’m one of them). A neighbor at socially distanced book group got visibly shaken telling us that she won’t be able to see her frail and elderly mother this year, because she’d reluctantly canceled her flight to Texas.
At one point, the same neighbor looked at us all, and plaintively asked, “When can we hug?” Whew, we miss hugs.
At the end of the Friends of LLL Board meeting on Tuesday, we had some time left over, and people were talking about the challenges we all had been dealing with, a friend who lost her husband recently, etc. At one point, we all seemed to have our heads in our hands, or blank stares, as we just silently sat there. It felt like a virtual hug was really needed.
A work meeting yesterday was similar. It was hard to get started with the latest project’s progress after we’d been sharing about lockdowns in England, a mutual Swedish friend who got sick…all that. But, work is a thing I am lucky enough to have, because it lets me think about other things beside germs, the degrading environment, and the government.
Yes, we are weary. We know we have to keep up what we’ve been doing, and that it’s important. But people, at least in my circles, are feeling helpless to do anything for themselves or others. The separation we’re experiencing is important, but as it drags toward a year, it’s hard to keep our spirits and resolve up, isn’t it?
What Can We Do?
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are decorating the heck out of their houses. I’ve seen a lot of holiday extravaganzas out there! Anita and I have even made a winter wonderland out of our year-round tree and our mantel. Other people are crafting like crazy (my current knitting project is now too long to be even a maxi-skirt on me).
Mostly, though, let’s talk. Let’s listen to each other’s stories and hold those who are having a hard time in our hearts. We’re all having challenges, to one extent or another, right now. If we all send comfort out, we’ll all get some. I feel like by honoring the stories of my friends and colleagues, I’m sending good energy out. I’m appreciating theirs, too. I’d really like to see my husband and my animals.
Sure, weirdest Thanksgiving ever. But it’s an adventure. I’m making turkey and sides, but not dressing. I’m incapable of making small quantities of dressing. But it’s just me and Anita. Poor Declan can’t come, because there was an exposure at Rollie’s workplace. We will miss them.
Lee is at the ranch with his brother. My sister is alone at her house, but also cooking. And Kathleen and Chris are alone at the farm in Yorktown. Whee! But by gosh, we’re keeping our germs to ourselves!
Hopefully after we eat we can visit neighbors in the cup-de-sac. That will be nice, even if it’s just us and Ruth next door. We have community!
And speaking of community, I’ve made a couple of calls to people I care about, as I said I’d do yesterday. And last night I went to a Zoom birthday party for my friend Mike’s mom. I laughed so hard at their Zoom confusion that my face hurt. But seeing the joy of the family getting together was worth it. Plus, I got to see the amazing cake her children got her.
I hope you have things to keep you busy this holiday (or regular day if you’re outside the US). I’ve got that knitting.
And I have three new books. I’m so excited about the book about alphabetical order! But I’m reading the Obama book first. Wow, he is a good writer.
That’s it from me today. I’m grateful to have a blog and readers. And of course for having a healthy and safe family, which is quite extended. Virtual hugs to all of you.
Please let me first apologize for making my discomfort with plane travel over the weekend appear like I think I am sick. I have no symptoms of COVID-19, and have been taking my temperature. Still just fine, as far as I can tell. I was just really uncomfortable being around so many people in the Dallas airport and sitting next to a woman who was coughing. Like I’ve said before, I’m a special snowflake who believes the pandemic is real and would prefer not to take chances. But, I’m not sick.
And by saying I’m tired, I mean I’m spending a lot of energy (and rightly so, I think ) supporting friends and family who are going through really hard times right now. It may be tiring, but it’s important work, and I don’t plan to stop.
Examples and Inspiration
For example, I know how to not get overly sucked in by others’ needs, but when your close friend’s husband passes away, you can’t help but send your energy out to them. My friend Vicki was the only person who came to my dad’s funeral to take care of ME, and she’s stuck with me since we were teenagers, despite our political and spiritual differences. That’s true friendship. I’m so sorry she lost her beloved husband so soon after finally reuniting with him. True friends need to be there for each other and truly listen, so I’ll so what I can in these WEIRD times.
Coincidentally, I just read this beautiful article in the New York Times, by someone famous, but who suffers just like us.
“[W]hen people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter — for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”
She recently experienced a miscarriage, a devastating life passage she shares with so many of us. She shared that just having someone actually express that they care about how she is getting along was helpful and healing. And her overall point, that checking on others during this time of isolation is VITAL, is something we all need to think about.
I know reaching out is not one of my best skills, but I’m prioritizing it. I’m very GOOD at responding, though, and boy do I send out those healing thoughts (which I’ll go along with the organized religion fans and assume do some good).
Another example: someone I know mentioned that none of their local friends had checked up on them during the pandemic until very recently. That hurt. It made me wonder who I should be checking up on (yes, I will call my stepmother). Who do you need to check on, just so they will know they aren’t alone?
As Meghan pointed out this morning, we need to really see each other right now, even if we’re covered up:
“We are adjusting to a new normal where faces are concealed by masks, but it’s forcing us to look into one another’s eyes — sometimes filled with warmth, other times with tears. For the first time, in a long time, as human beings, we are really seeing one another.”
I truly hope she is right. With so much loss and pain going around, we need each other to see us, accept us, and show we care.
A final example: a blog reader wrote me a long email yesterday, in response to one of my blog posts on Highly Sensitive People. He was worried that he was using his sensitivity as an excuse to indulge his other issues (fears of various things). Now, this man is also dealing with autism and other mental health issues, and I felt so bad to think he worried that his personality type was an excuse. I’m glad he reached out, because I think he expressed something many of us experience, which is that our thoughts or feelings aren’t good enough, or are a cover-up for something else. In reality, many people share the HSP trait, and some of them have other issues, too. It’s just who we are, and dealing with it becomes a lot easier if we accept our limitations and challenges, and work to be the best unique individual we can be. Who that man is, the way he is, is fine. No one should judge him without spending some time in his reality.
Of course, I told him this, in other words. It’s what we all should do, listen and be supportive. Everyone’s struggling with something!
Listen to the Universe
Wow, it sure seems like the Universe is conspiring to tell me something this week. Clearly, the effort it takes to be supportive of others, to listen to what people are concerned about, and to reach out is worth it, even if it can make you tired. We’re all we have!
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
In light and in shadow, always with ❤