I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Explorations and ruminations


Shaggy parasol mushroom

During our hike last Thursday, we four women saw dozens of different kinds of mushrooms and spent quite a bit of time taking pictures of the most interesting ones. This one was as big as a dinner plate, and some of us recognized it as a Shaggy Parasol, a purportedly edible mushroom that looks a lot like others that are poisonous. "Young shaggy parasols look identical to the poisonous Chlorophyllum molybdites (the mushroom that causes the most poisonings in North America yearly)." The link I've provided gives you all the information you would ever need to know about this mushroom.

I have been able to get enough exercise each day to feel pretty good during this extended lockdown period. In my part of the country, we are stable in regards to the coronavirus, while much of the rest of the US is spiking to the highest infections since the pandemic began back in February and March. And here we are at the beginning of the cold weather. I found this scary statistic online:

The US has marked a harrowing milestone: It recorded its highest one-day number of Covid-19 infections Friday at more than 83,000 — more than 6,000 higher than the country's previous record set in July.

Other countries are also having spikes in infections, but we never got our numbers down in the first place, so we are in trouble as we go forward into the holidays. I cannot imagine getting on a plane these days and traveling to a family gathering. It would be scarier than any skydive I ever made during my decades-long career. Some states are asking people not to gather in person for Thanksgiving, but that is not likely to happen, unfortunately. Some Americans feel it would be restricting their freedom, while others (me included) consider it our duty to protect each other from harm.

We will get through this, I'm sure, but we won't be the same once we get back to "normal." There is no normal anymore, and anyone who thinks we can return to the lives we had before this pandemic are in for a rude surprise. Even if a vaccine was developed within the next few months, it would not mean we could start gathering in large numbers safely any time soon. The virus will be with us for a long time to come, and it will continue to kill the old and infirm among us. I wonder if I will live long enough to attend a movie theater or a concert again. It's doubtful. Maybe they will become a relic of the past. 

I'm sorry to be so negative, but the news is dragging my optimism down a bit. There really is no safe haven in the world today, so I have no other option than to look within. There are many positive techniques for finding peace and serenity within oneself, and that is where I need to concentrate my efforts. I am fortunate to be able to attend Zoom yoga classes, where I am guided into 90 minutes of stretching and attempting new postures, concluding with several moments of savasana (relaxation). Three times a week I gather my yoga props and mat and enter a safe and loving environment, with others I cannot see. Afterwards, I always feel more centered and more able to gain a positive perspective. It doesn't help anybody, especially me, to allow myself to fall into despair.

Between regular exercise, including long walks and a weekly gathering (five or fewer) to go on a hike, and the yoga classes, I am able to keep myself fairly centered, but I do have my moments when I need to look beyond my own situation for inspiration. That is where books come in, for me. My sister Norma Jean and I share book recommendations, and I am currently reading one that I'm enjoying very much. It's a bestseller, and I decided to indulge myself and load it onto my Kindle. It's called 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand.

Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.

That's a teaser from Amazon. I am not devouring the book in one sitting, because I really am enjoying taking my time and thinking about the relationship and how it might be to love someone but live the majority of one's life with someone else. And the best part of all is that I have discovered another prolific author whose work I enjoy! That has opened up a whole new literary world for me. I am always looking for a new author whose books are right up my alley, and I think I've found one. Thanks for that, sis!

We had a cold snap come in overnight, and I just looked at the temperature and see that we are right at freezing, which means I'll be scraping my car's windshield this morning before heading to the coffee shop. Normally I'd just make coffee at home on a day like this, but my friend John called yesterday to tell me he's actually going to drive there, the first time since his operation on October 8th. He had a major shoulder surgery rebuild, and his left arm is in a sling but he's gotten the go-ahead from his doctor to start his regular activities (that he can do with one hand, that is). He managed to drive himself to the local store to shop for groceries, which pretty much amazes me, but he's determined to get back to normal as soon as possible. So I'll go there, too. It will be great to see part of our lives beginning to resume. A little, at least, since we can't hang out in the coffee shop yet; I'll climb into the cab of his big truck and quaff a coffee with my friend. 

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. —Thomas Carlyle

I think of John as someone who is determined to regain as much strength and mobility as possible, even at eighty, so that he can continue to do what he loves for as long as possible. And he's got friends who help him. He wants to be able to dance again, ride his tractor again, and be ready for plowing once we get to springtime.

And yes, springtime will come again. Hopefully we will all be there to enjoy it, and that it will be a new year, with this awful year of 2020 behind us, never to return. Who would have guessed at the beginning of this year that it would end up with the entire world suffering through this pandemic? That we would be unable to gather with our friends and family for so long?

But we will get through it all, and I again pause to count my many blessings. You, my dear friends, are part of my blessings, and I have so much gratitude for your continued presence in my life. I have managed to muddle my way through another Sunday post, and I can feel myself anxious to get up and start a new day. Hopefully you will take a few moments to count your own blessings, too. Until we meet again next week, I hope you will be well and all good things will come your way. 


Linda Reeder said...

Pain got me out of bed this morning early enough that I just now see the sun lighting up the eastern sky through the trees. I am doing my best to not "fall into disrepair". Forces are working against me, though. I might have to borrow that phrase.

Nest Saturday is Halloween and my family cider bee. It would have been so much fun to have this family celebration on Halloween this year, but we're not going. Tom and I have decided we must continue to follow the Covid safety guidelines about gatherings. Now both of my adult kids have made the same decision. Hopefully our little pod will still be safe to be around. We will all be sad to miss this family gathering with such a long history.

So, soon I'll get going, get my hot, restorative shower, collect the newspaper from the box out at the street, eat my cereal, and catch up on news, do all of my PT faithfully and go for a limited walk. I will be pleased with myself for once more being able to check off exercise and walking on my daily planner. Then I'll have to find something else to keep me moving a bit this afternoon, maybe some light yard work. Sometimes I think my life has very little purpose these day, but then I just get busy.

Stay well. We'll all work at being at peace.

ApacheDug said...

I like the name “Shaggy Parasol”—really, as big as a dinner plate? It really is interesting, as were those more colorful mushrooms on your other blog. It’s wild (for me, at least) to see such a variety in one location. You really do live in a remarkable part of the country, DJan... and glad to read you’re not in one of the states spiking. My state (Pa) is, and I thought of that a lot this past Friday, when I met 3 of my siblings (and their spouses) for dinner at a popular Italian restaurant.

We were seated outside, but I was still alarmed at how many people were crowded together. (I only agreed to go because my younger sister & her husband were in town for a job-related seminar, and it’s been many years since we last saw each other.)

I know people are ready to put it behind them, and it sure doesn’t help when Trump is at his packed rallies spouting gibberish about it being a tired subject, but it seems to me we’re just going backward. It will be very interesting to see where we are a year from now... Anyway, sorry for my too long ramble here but thanks for this week’s thoughts and your book sounds good, and now you have me wanting to look for that movie with Alan Alda & Ellen Burstyn, haven’t seen it in ages. Okay DJan, see you same time, next week ;)

Margaret said...

I wouldn't trust myself to distinguish between a safe and poisonous mushroom, so I'll buy them at the store. :) I think our numbers are going up, although not as severely as other states. I am in despair about how this is affecting our lives, livelihoods and relationships with others. I won't be able to look at some people I know the same way...ever. I'm contemplating flying to New York to visit my daughter, SIL and grandson. I would have to quarantine before seeing them, which I've done once before. (but in the summer, not the winter) Everything seems so hard and scary these days. I am tired.

Far Side of Fifty said...

That is one beauty of a mushroom! Good to hear that you are meeting with John, it sounds like he is getting along quite well!
I am not certain we will ever be back to "normal" again in my lifetime. If so...it seems like it is really far off...several years is my guess.
We have choices...to live and make the best of it or wallow is self pity...some days are hard. My elderly parents are really having a hard time especially my Mom who is very social...and I mean very social...before Covid it was nothing for her to leave the house four or five times A DAY to meet with friends...have lunch play cards etc..
My Dad has memory problems but he knew who I was yesterday when I stopped to check on them from afar. Far Guy waved at them from the car.
Times are hard for so many people we have to lift each other up when possible.
Hope you have a good week. :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Shaggy would be tempting if it didn't have an evil twin. Scary.
Glad you can meet with John and pleased he seems to be progressing nicely.
Thanks for the book recommendation. I enjoyed your recommendation of Guernsey so much I just went to my on line library and put 28 Summers on hold.
Stay safe and well. Watch out for those murder hornets as you hike through the woods.

John's Island said...

Last Wednesday, or so, I stopped by Eye to look at all the comments on last week’s post. I do that because, on the whole, you have a good group of followers who seem to be grounded in looking at the positive side of things. As usual I found several thoughtful comments and, one, left by Anonymous, that showed he/she had not progressed mentally beyond infancy. Checking this morning I see that you have deleted that comment and just want to say thanks for doing that.

Now, getting on to today’s post … Once again we are on the same page. You said … “Some states are asking people not to gather in person for Thanksgiving, but that is not likely to happen, unfortunately. Some Americans feel it would be restricting their freedom, while others (me included) consider it our duty to protect each other from harm.” As I read that I said, to myself, exactly. And it reminded me of a good friend who will not even discuss banning the sale of assault weapons because it would infringe on his Second Amendment “rights.” It is mind boggling to me that some humans haven’t learned that life itself is more important than rights. I think our schools could do a better job of teaching us that, yes, we have rights, but that there are responsibilities that go along with them.

Again, you are right on … “There are many positive techniques for finding peace and serenity within oneself, and that is where I need to concentrate my efforts.” I’m doing the same. I’m finding that the negativity that exists today has me worrying about the future. What I’m learning is that worrying is causing suffering that I don’t need. Why worry about the future? Things may or may not happen so why suffer about it now? Just trying to stay within the present moment helps me avoid that suffering.

My next stop today is the Kindle Store where I will check out 28 Summers. Thanks for the recommendation! Looking forward to hearing about John next week … Hope his recovery is coming along well. A good week ahead to you and SG. Thanks for another edition of Eye on the Edge.

Galen Pearl said...

I can feel your fatigue in your words today. Not so much physical fatigue, but mental, emotional, and spiritual fatigue, which many of us share. Two parallel years for me. 2019 started out great and then imploded in early spring on a personal level with a family situation. Got through that mostly by the end of the year and thought 2020 might be a year of rebuilding and looking toward a better future.

2020 started strong and imploded on a global level about exactly at the same time -- early spring. Wow. Just amazing what a year of "20/20 perfect vision" has revealed.

Glad you have so good practices, like your yoga, to support you and sustain you. We all need that now!!

Elephant's Child said...

How wonderful that John is going so well and you can catch up with him again.
And yes, I think all of us know where you are coming from.
When I hear people talking about their rights I very rarely hear them talking about responsibilities - which are flip sides of the equation for me.
I turn to nature (the garden, the birds, the sky) for solace. Often.
Stay well, stay safe and keep looking after your important self.

gigi-hawaii said...

Wow, John is 80? Incredible. Inspiring.

Betsy said...

Life is indeed difficult and troubled right now. It's been a tough year for our family. I haven't seen any of our children since the beginning of November last year. Then my brother died of Covid in May, we lost 2 aunts and an uncle over the summer of different forms of cancer and then, last month, Dennis' sister died of pancreatic cancer. How I detest that word, cancer. The loneliness is sometimes unreal and I'm one of the lucky ones. We have another older couple from our church who has no family and so they have become our "safe" people. In fact, last night we went to their house with pizza so Dennis could fix their kitchen faucet. Without that social interaction I would go nuts. And I know others are all alone with no spouse or friends. We will get through this with the Lords help and I also keep telling myself that if I do die from it, at least I know where I"m going!
We'll keep praying that the year ends on a much better note.

Gigi said...

We are over the election nonsense and COVID - but are continuing to follow the guidelines as the virus in our state is surging. It does make me despair at times. But then you remind me to center myself and look for the good things - because they are there, if only we look. Have a wonderful week, DJan!

Red said...

We are muddling through covid. As you say we do not know what is ahead. The only one who thinks we are getting ahead of the virus is Trump and we all know how informed and accurate he is.

Anvilcloud said...

Ah. I see the boomer hater is hanging around. Yours is the second blog in which I have noticed him. We know it is a him, right? A pathetic one who has nothing to do but post anonymous comments.

Canada's COVID numbers are on the rise. Too bad since this is not that difficult to figure out. But it could be worse. I recently saw a reference that listed all states and provinces. Out worst province was in the mid-thirties, tso it could be worse.

I found another site of the hardest hit states. The top 12 were all red, and the first blue state was only very lightly blue. Then there was more red before the next blues.

Marie Smith said...

This virus is hitting our spirits hard too. Keeping active keeps us going. We can see our family regularly here since the virus continues to be under control for now. Other than physical activity and our grandkids, we are like hermits. For now that works. We are fortunate to live on this small island where pandemic precautions are working thus far.

Rita said...

Seeing John is worth scraping off your windshield and venturing out into the cold. I hope he is doing really well. He's 80--wow! We all wish him a smooth and total recovery.

I think the emotional impact of the isolated holidays will be especially hard on a lot of people in these coming months as the virus increases and the world changes some more. People can so often be guided by their hearts and not their heads. I expect a lot of people will take chances to gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I'm glad you have found some ways to adapt to this new world and keep active. I am amazed by the various mushrooms you have been coming across. Not having that mushroom knowledge, I would never trust eating one from the woods...but aren't they beautiful in their own way,

So glad you and your sweetie are doing okay. Let's hope 2021 will be a better year. :)

Mona McGinnis said...

DJan, the picture of the mushroom prompts me to give a shameless plug to Untamed Feast, owned by a friend's family who forage for wild food including mushrooms. Like Rita, I would never trust myself to distinguish the poisonous from the non-poisonous. I think you do so many positive things to live a well-balanced life in retirement. Nothing can beat those nature walks; such medicine for the soul. There's an old Nike quote - Walking isn't just good for the heart; it's good for the soul.

Rian said...

Hi Djan! I'm late posting a comment... but here it is. It won't be a long one as despite Covid, this week is busy. We have put off most doctor and dentist appointments trying to avoid being around people. But it is important (semi-important maybe) that we get those appointments in before the end of the year. So Oct, Nov, and Dec are being hit hard. Getting annuals probably isn't essential, but decided that maybe it was worth the risk.

Thanksgiving and Christmas will be Skype or Zoom for our family - as much as I would like it to be otherwise. But common sense tells us to follow the guidelines. It won't be forever (just seems like it).

"Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. —Thomas Carlyle" I like this quote.

William Kendall said...

We've had tighter restrictions placed in again, and it was needed.

It's gotten cold enough now that we've had our first snow of the season.

Glenda Beall said...

You are blessed to have a friend you can meet with safely and have coffee. My safe visit is with my sister and I have been with her this past week. How nice to go out and eat with her and her husband and today I met my niece at the restaurant with lots of outdoor seating spaced safely away from others. I needed this so much as I am mostly isolated at home. Thanks for your weekly posts which I look forward to each week. Stay safe and well.

Terra said...

That parasol mushroom looks so pretty and yet perhaps deadly. How fun to meet your friend for coffee, whenever I do something like that (which is rare) I feel very daring. One potentially good change from this long slog of isolation is that many millions of people have found they can successfully work from home. Less pollution from driving, no wasted commute time, more family time, etc. Be well.

Tabor said...

Sadly, I recently read that the protection from getting the virus may only last 4 or 5 months. That will also impact any vaccine they give us. We are in a new normal and you are correct that we much bend or we will brake/break.