Ramblings

The state of Louisiana is under a stay at home order. In our state, we are permitted to get food, medicine, etc, as well as exercise outside as long as appropriate social distancing is observed. On Sunday afternoon, I  chose places within walking distance in Abita Springs, where I live. If I had to choose a place to be, I could do worse. There were only a few folks out, mostly using the bike trail that runs throughout the parish.

I dusted off my Canon camera, and I set off for a photo walk around town. These are special times we are living in, so my phone camera just wouldn’t do. No, I needed the Canon 35mm, which I haven’t used in over a year.

I didn’t have a predetermined course. I just rambled a bit downtown.  Some places were closed. I didn’t bother with pictures of the two town museums or the brewery since they weren’t open to the public. The churches are closed, too, so I skipped pictures of St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Nice buildings though.

I focused my camera’s lens on pretty houses and a few businesses that have remained open. I thought a few houses were places I would prefer to be sheltering in rather than my house. There’s nothing wrong with my house, but a grander home would please me more.

 

hotel-3The Abita Springs Hotel would be a grand place to be sequestered. Maid service, fresh linens, and maybe a nice meal or two provided with the stay. I could get used to that sort of quarantine. The hotel is open during the stay at home mandate but it looked empty. Want to stay here? Maybe when this virus scare has passed? Here’s the link to our local hotel – Abita Springs Hotel. 

blue-houseI also liked the house next door to the hotel. It’s a private residence but surely the owners would be glad to exchange houses for a few weeks for a change of scenery.  It’s inviting, isn’t it?

womens-center I wouldn’t mind taking up residence in the Women’s Center. The sign says its a place for healing and transformation. That sounds like a fine place to stay for a quarantine.

abita-brew-pubThe Abita Brew Pub is not open for seating inside, but the pub is taking orders for take-out. They have great burgers, and of course, a large selection of Abita beer. In Louisiana, the law is allowing customers to order alcohol to go from restaurants. I was tempted to stop and get a burger, but I had leftover pizza and Abita beer in the fridge at home.

abita-farmers-marketLater this week, I plan on stopping by the Abita Farmer’s Market. I don’t need a regular grocery store stop this week since my pantry is well-stocked. I have already eaten all the good stuff though, like chips and ice cream. Maybe now is the time to add fresh fruit and vegetables to my diet.

backroads-mercantile

Afterwards I got in my Mazda and took a drive out of town towards the town of Waldheim, driving east towards Mississippi. I stopped at this store, but it was closed. I need to stop when it’s open. Looks interesting, doesn’t it?

I’m glad I found my Canon camera and rambled around town and a bit farther on Sunday afternoon. I might be limited to where I can go during this statewide shelter in place order, but I can still find interesting places to view.

 

Palm Sunday Meditation

Staying home sucks. I live alone so it super sucks. Truthfully, I am restless. I am yielding to temptation too often to get out more than I need even as Louisiana’s governor urges us to stay home as much as possible.

I am finding it’s hard to change my behavior. I want to leave my home, going wherever I want, whenever I want. I want to live my life on my terms.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people welcomed him loudly with praise. They expected Jesus to be a real king. They thought he was coming to unseat the Romans who controlled Israel in that time. No one expected him to end the week by dying on a cross.

Their thoughts about Jesus had to change. He wasn’t going to rule as a literal king. Change was in the air, but not the change they expected

The religious leaders were on high alert as Jesus entered the city. They didn’t want change. They had power, which they shared with the Romans. Jesus represented a real threat to their way of doing things. They would plot and succeed in getting Jesus killed a week later to preserve their way of doing things so as not to change. They didn’t realize that in killing Jesus, they fulfilled the prophecies of his death and resurrection.

In the coming days, I can choose to embrace change. The coronavirus is here, and I can’t change that. I can find ways to live my best life though as I adapt and live life with the changes happening around me.

So, yes, it sucks. I am going to exercise more, be outside more, work in my yard, read and write more. As needed, I will help my mother with her needs in this time of sheltering in place. Generally, I’ll do my best to adapt to the change forced upon me.

I think of the song, The Times They Are A Changin’ by Bob Dylan.

Come gather ’round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Maybe Palm Sunday represents a religious and outdated celebration to most of the world today.  For me I am going to let Palm Sunday be a celebration of change. I am choosing to this day as a reminder that changing my life and way of thinking is the best thing I can for myself.

The times they are a-changin’.

 

 

Breathe

The weather turned unexpectedly cool yesterday. March had been very warm in south Louisiana. Much of the month had days reaching the upper 80s, shattering records. It felt more like early summer than early spring. Then, yesterday, I woke to a morning in the 40s here on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. I opened up windows, and let the cool breezes blow in. I breathed in the fresh, spring air.

IMG_0266
These clumps of grass have small lavender blooms. Does anyone know what it’s called?

I spent a fair amount of time outdoors enjoying the mild day yesterday. I pulled up clumps of flowering grass that are threatening to overtake portions the flower beds. I don’t know the name of the plant as it was planted by the former owners of my house, but they produce precious little in way of flowers, but rather spread in large grassy clumps, crowding out my spring bulbs and rose bushes.

I wasn’t able to dislodge much of the roots. A shovel and a strong back will be needed to stop the spread. I’m hoping my yard guy is not afraid in this season of social distancing to tackle the aggressive grassy clumps. I texted him earlier this morning.

Sitting outside early this morning, drinking a cup of coffee, I breathed in the cool air once again. There was a sense of peace and calm, as traffic noise on the nearby highway has lessened considerably in the past few weeks. Some of my neighbors are home all day now, so the neighborhood is quiet.

I thought about the words from a Facebook Live message I heard last night. How am I going to use this time of an unexpected sabbatical of sorts? Do I want to fritter it away with anxious thoughts and actions? Can I dig deep and find peace? What about seeking the presence of God in the mundane tasks of the day? What good can come from this unprecedented time in our nation and world? Will I emerge with a stronger sense of purpose? That’s my hope.

I don’t want to spend my days endlessly scrolling on social media, or mindlessly filling up on snack foods or media binging on streaming shows. I want to emerge with something better. Because one day, the pandemic will pass.

I leave you with a song and lyrics. The worship song, Peace by Casey Corum ends with a chorus that enjoins us to breathe in positive attributes and breathe out negative ones.  You can find the song on YouTube.

Breathe in peace, breathe out strife,

Breathe out death, breathe in life,

Breathe in love, Breathe out hate,

Breathe out fear, breathe in faith.

Lead Us Not

One of the hallmarks of the age of the coronavirus is the absence of hair stylists. In Louisiana, hair salons are considered a non-essential business, Non-essential businesses are closed.

I visit my hair salon often for a cut and color. On my own, I can handle coloring my roots. What I can’t do is cut my own hair. I keep my hair short so I get my hair cut often. Things are going to get real around here soon.

Laurie with bad haircut
What’s up with the zigzag on my shirt? One of my mom’s sewing creations perhaps?

 

I remember when my mother used to trim our hair. Most of the time, we went to a local hair dresser for a cut, but occasionally my mom trimmed the bangs of her three girls. I hope I don’t yield to temptation to cut my own locks anytime soon.

I suspect that my mom cut my bangs for this picture for school photos. I was in the third grade. I think this was in 1972.

O Lord, I beseech thee, lead us not into temptation!

 

 

One Day at a Time

This morning I began my day as most days since the stay at home order for Louisiana started. I rise at 5:30, get the coffee brewing, take the dog out for a short walk, and then settle down at 6 am for a 30 minutes session with Facebook live streaming. The broadcast from my church features worship songs, a short devotional, and a group prayer time.

Then, I check the news online as well as skim Facebook for a short time. After that it’s time to take the dog out again, since she’s generally refuses to do her business outside without repeated coaxing on my part. When I get back inside, I drink the rest of my coffee and eat a bowl of oatmeal.

Everything I had been doing before this crisis has been cancelled, so I need a new routine. No more tutoring, ESL classes, nor food bank. There’s more time for reading, blogging, and cooking.

I confess that through the years since I returned from Honduras, my cooking skills have atrophied. When I lived there, I cooked occasionally for our kids’ project as well as doing most of my own cooking at home. There were few places in Honduras that had high hygiene practices in Honduras, and I seldom had a dining partner for the few nicer restaurants in town that earned my confidence.

I am doing basic cooking here now in the age of Covid-19. I have prepared, among other things, jambalaya, grilled chicken, saffron rice and steamed veggies. Thus far, I haven’t fixed a gumbo, but my mother has prepared gumbo twice in recent weeks; a seafood and okra gumbo and a chicken and sausage gumbo. I ate some of the seafood gumbo at her house.

I have mixed feelings about visiting with my mother. She is almost 87 years old. She lives alone. She doesn’t drive. I have picked up groceries for her last week, and we visited most of the day. However, I found it really tough to keep social distancing in the house. I totally failed at it actually. I suppose I will head to her house later this week, despite my misgivings.

I am debating whether to keep the foster dog at my house. Today is day eight for Daisy. She’s not responding well to my attempts to housebreak her. Most days she has at least one accident in the house. I don’t think accident is the right word, since it all seems quite natural for her to do her business on my wood floors. We’ll see how the day progresses today. I’ll make a decision soon if she can stay or not. I didn’t want this to be a forever dog, anyway. She’s too big to stay with me forever, since I don’t have a fenced yard. I can’t imagine walking her as often as she needs walking each day.

This afternoon I will take the dog out again a few times to encourage bathroom breaks. I will read a bit more on my Kindle. Right now I am reading The Great Influenza: The Story of the Greatest Pandemic in History.  The choice was quite incidental, as I had already started the book before the present pandemic became the big news story. One thing I should do is do some gardening. Spring came early to Louisiana, and the weather is now almost summer like. That means the glower beds need constant attention.

How has your life changed with the coronavirus changes? How has your life routine changed? What are you cooking in the kitchen?

 

How To Spend The Time

Since my state, Louisiana, is under orders for the citizenry to stay home except for essential tasks, I have to consider how to spend my time. I am not spending the time listening to presidential news conferences that seem mostly useless. I am not engaging or prompting social media arguments, which no one has ever won. I am not eating out in restaurants anymore, but we can order delivery or take out. I have done my part to support the restaurants that are trying to survive by ordering a few lunch orders to go.

Probably many of us, although I can only speak for myself, have spent the first weeks of this imposed sheltering at home, attending video chats and Zoom meetings. I have accepted every Zoom invitation I have received. Soon, I will need to find an online Zoom support meeting for Zoom codependency.

And I walk. A lot. I have a foster dog who has not entirely decided that my dining room is not her toilet. We walk whenever I think she has an eye for the far side of the dining room table. Thus far, I haven’t seen a reduction in using the floor, as she seems bent on finding relief in the house once a day. That’s not terribly bad, but zero is the goal here. Since Daisy is recovering from a hip injury, our walks are slow with lots of time to sniff and investigate the ground.

House
Creole cottage next door

Although it’s technically trespassing, our walks tend to be in the extensive grounds of an empty Creole cottage next door to me. The house has been on the market for over a year, with only occasional visits from realtors, visitors or a lawn care crew. It’s perfect because there are no cars, no driveway, and lots of shady space. Since Daisy likes to chase cars, walking on the streets is not the best place for a dog with a hip injury.

I am reading, too. I just finished A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. Why have I not read this book before? It’s a small, well-crafted novel set in 1940s Louisiana. This was the last book I checked out of the local library before it closed for the duration.

Now l will have to read on my Kindle. Last night, I downloaded The Great Influenza: The Story of the Greatest Pandemic in History by John Barry. I actually had read a free sample a few months ago, before the craziness began. Now that the times have changed, I think I’ll indulge in a little light pandemic reading.

One thing I want to cultivate more is gratefulness. It’s too easy to wallow in self-absorption since I live alone. I want to be grateful for my life, the lives of my family and friends, and the small miracles that I see each day. Soon, we may be in the thick of knowing family, friends and acquaintances who are sick. I had some concern this week, as my niece was showing signs of the virus. Since she has a genetic disorder that causes her to have low immunity, her doctor ordered the test. Last night, I received news that the test was negative. For this news, I am grateful.

Later today, I will pick up an order from Walmart. There were no paper towels available when I made the order on my phone app yesterday. I’m trying to forget that I have only one paper roll in reserve at the top of my cupboard.  It’s disturbing.

IMG_0255
Louisiana live oak tree next door

Then, after putting away groceries, Daisy and I will return to the cottage grounds next door. The old oak tree next to the house provides a shady canopy that shields from the warm afternoon sun. Overgrown azaleas and magnolias growing along the fence line provide lots of curious sniffing for Daisy as we amble along.

As I stated above, the property is for sale. I believe they are asking about $400,000 for the cottage, barn, and extensive grounds. Won’t you be my neighbor?

 

 

Ups and Downs

The U.S. attained the #1 spot in the number of reported corona virus infections. We’ve jumped ahead of China and Italy. We’re up to more than 82,000 infections as of last night.

As everyone knows, the stock market has been mostly down. I have some retirement accounts that I haven’t given much attention because I don’t want to see the downward slide. I just have a bit in stocks, but still, who wants to see even a modest dip?

Louisiana now has over 2,700 infections, mostly in the New Orleans which is just a hop and skip from where I live. Again, another statistic I would prefer to be down, not up. New Orleans is in the higher category of infections nationwide.

Personally, I am doing well. My general mood has been up, not down. Aside from a slight obsession with paper towels, which are in chronic short supply in the stores, I am doing fine. I don’t feel the same obsession with the other paper product, toilet paper, which seems to occupy the minds of many Americans. There’s enough toilet paper in my cupboards to last a month or two.

In fact, during this present crisis, I have been mostly upbeat. Facts have not been my enemy, although perhaps, I am just a little over informed. However, I haven’t had a turn downward toward fear or panic.

My state of mind hasn’t always been upbeat. In fact I have experienced a lifetime of ups and downs, highs and lows, upper swings and lowest lows. My doctor calls the condition bipolar disorder. I often don’t see myself as bipolar, but I have to admit, something in my wiring is not quite right. I think, though, my case is somewhat mild.

My highs are rare, but not very much out of the ordinary. Just fleeting times of rapid thoughts and speech. When under pressure, sometimes my thoughts are illogical, even a tad grandiose.

More frequently are the black dog days. I have weeks and months when everything seems dull and moribund. Sometimes, I feel like death would be preferable to living. My lows can be quite low.

So there. The cat is out of the bag. Since my diagnosis 30 years ago, I have been rather private about my condition. It didn’t seem to warrant much discussion. I accepted it. I have lived my life as well as I could.

Now, the news is out for anyone who care to read and comment. I’m not publishing this post on Facebook, where I have a different set of friends than here on the blog platform. I’ll pause a bit before writing that post.