Winding down

I’m hoping that the road to La-la land will be a smooth and short one tonight. Just knowing that it’s Friday brings me a sense of calm — looking forward to sleeping in, even if I already know I’ll probably wake up way earlier than I had hoped.

It’s summer here in our part of the world, and that means longer days. Earlier sunrises and later sunsets. Even as I sleep, my “eye” sees the daylight outside even with blackout curtains, and extra layer of paper on the window pane to boot. I somehow know the day has started, even when I wish it wasn’t beginning quite that early. Maybe I’m just getting old. No matter how I try, I cannot muster the kind of sleep that my teen is able to do with such ease.

I’m hunkering in this weekend. I don’t know what I will bake but I do know I have the bananas and the other recipes. I am down to three of my oatmeal raisin cookies. I might attempt a simple roll.. or if the inspiration hits me tomorrow, i might try to bake some bread. Maybe.

I’m sorting the craft supplies again, and I’ve had some measure of success. I’m still hoping this weekend sees me picking up my tools. My free time has been focused on figuring out which ties to use for my masks, and how long the elastic should be. My cord stopper has arrived, but I’m torn between using them and not using them. I lay the last prototype down tonight and decided it can wait another day. After all, I’m staying home. I need not worry about returning to work anytime soon.

I was going to do a Friday Five but decided I just wanted a quick post — something to tie up the loose ends at the end of another workweek.

Happy Friday.. I wish you a good weekend wherever you are, and whichever way you choose to spend it.

Me, I’ll be in my happy place — even if only in my mind, thinking about my favorite desserts, walking my favorite parts of the city.. and maybe I’ll reminisce about that while sipping a glass of wine.

Home for a month now

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AWeek 4, a birthday via video chat, and working from home like it was just any other day. But it isn’t any other day.

It’s been a month since I last sat at my desk in the office. I’ve managed to make working from home “work”. I’ve secured enough food for my son and I even if we didn’t go out for three to four weeks. And I am almost relieved that the daily briefings have become briefer and less dire sounding. There is hope.

Working from home

The work from home situation: Week 4. I’d be lying if I say that I am all settled with working from home. I still wake up on a set schedule, just an hour or so later. I get ready and log on to the network with coffee mug in hand between 8:30-9am, which is right about the same time that I actually walk into my building back when I was at the office. I try to stop around noon to grab a bite. And at around 5pm, I start getting ready with my daily wrap up — something necessitated by the fact that I can no longer hand the boss her next day packet with her prereads and briefing materials. I usually hit “send” on that by, or just after, 6pm. So in essence, my daily schedule hasn’t changed. It’s still a long day, but I do it in the comfort of my home, and I am no longer dressing up and commuting to Manhattan.

The meetings have not really abated, so I still spend a huge chunk of my day trying to set her calendar straight, or organizing meetings for and on the boss’s behalf. With such an intense atmosphere at the moment, I have tried not to overload the calendar and give her and me time to pause and breathe. There is, after all, only so much that the body and soul can take.

And we are besieged from various fronts, both professional and personal. I am personally just grateful that I have a lot on my plate, instead of nothing. Many people, like the cafeteria and catering staff who were employees of our contractor, must be falling in line in the job centers and unemployment lines to get assistance. I am blessed to still have a paycheck coming in.

Hunkering down with a plan. I don’t like to liken the current situation to the apocalyptic scenarios that many of our movies have brought to the screen, but it does make me worry. Enough that I haven’t really been sleeping well. I try not to worry about my son and I, or the family back in Manila.

But I do.

I used to plan our meals on a week to week basis, and the weekends every other. As it dawned on me that going out would be more and more difficult, and how my grocery delivery service started falling short on the items I wanted to get but ended up not getting, I took stock of my pantry and made a plan.

Hoard, I do not. I am truly baffled why there was such a mad dash for toilet paper, and why every other aisle gets restocked and stays stocked, except the toilet paper aisle. Well, at the start, the bread aisle was a sorry sight. But the bakeries churn out enough to make sure that everyone gets their bread. But really now — toilet paper? Even before the mad dash, I have always had a healthy supply of paper goods, but only because I have found it more economical to buy in bulk, since I have them delivered to my home. Other than a huge pack of paper towels and toilet paper say, every 2 months or even longer, I don’t really consume that much. Again, there’s only my son and I. So you can get my allocation. The local grocery is now implementing a two-pack maximum for purchases.

I have been thinking of purchasing some the next go around, because I saw a feature story about someone providing it as “gratuity” for service providers like delivery people. But for my own personal use, we are covered at home. Literally and figuratively.

I have taken to putting in a small container of hand sanitizer with my tip. I also try to put in a note of thanks. These days, the customary tip of 10-15% just doesn’t feel like it’s enough, but I can only do so much.

I don’t want to get used to this because it is anything BUT normal. I try to look forward and get ready for the day when we will be slowly getting back to what we were before this invisible enemy crept up from behind us and took us over. There is hope. There is ALWAYS hope.

So in the meantime, I’m gearing up for week 5. Stay home, everyone.

Waking up to a new normal

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4A

It’s been almost two weeks since I started working from home and waking up to the new reality of living the corona virus pandemic. It’s been an experience I’ve wanted to write about since day 1, but first, real work interfered. Thanks to technology, the company I work for was well positioned to operate remotely. My position, assisting one of the chief somethings of a Fortune 500 company, has always been set up to be able to work from home. It wasn’t so much preparedness for a situation like the one we are in right now, but more for those instances when working beyond the regular office hours became necessary.

I’ve been meaning to write, but I know that the stress of the current situation has made it more difficult in terms of getting the words out. But after going full steam into adjusting to the situation, I think I’ve gotten a better grip and have somehow steadied my gait.

I log on to the company system and begin work — dealing with the stream of emails absent the usual calls. Because of the prevailing situation worldwide, work has been busy and my first week was exhausting. You’d think working from home was such a perk, but it takes real effort when you’re trying to do your normal office routine.

I’ve been working off of a smaller laptop screen, and trying to resist working via a regular keyboard. I’ve been vacillating between hooking up an old monitor here at home or ordering a new one. Both options seem to be surrendering to the fact that this is not going to be a situation for the short term, which is probably why I have been resisting it. However, I might soon have to succumb to the reality that my eyes are not taking too kindly to the smaller screen. Just part of the adjustment to the new home office situation.

I’ve been to the grocery three times since — and I’ve had several deliveries from online shopping. Although we keep getting reassured that there is no shortage of basic necessities, there have been empty shelves and less options — but it is heartening to see that the local grocery has been restocking.

Corona Diaries

Still, there are many items which have remained out of stock. I fell in line for hand sanitizers in Bath & Body works days before New York Governor Cuomo urged offices in NYC to reduce their office workforce. Their bins were empty when I visited, but I got the tip from the store clerks that a delivery was coming in the following morning. So I went in before heading to the office and I saw the line snaking several times within the store. It took more than half an hour for me to reach the counter. The hand sanitizers retailed for $1.95 but was available for a promo sale of 5 for $8 but only for the first 10 pieces. After that, you had to buy the 11th piece on for regular retail.

I have my own opinion about that whole set up, but I’d rather save it for another post. Like most everyone else, I got more than the 10 pieces — I’m guilty of having bought maybe around 30. I had promised a friend at work I’d grab her 5 if I ever got the chance to.

Corona Diaries

I have a small Keyfood nearby and a Walgreens. Like I said, I’ve gone there probably three times — going there once a week like I would on any normal weekend. I went with disposable gloves, making sure not to touch my face. The toilet paper shelves were empty — but I am pretty good with that for a bit. The fresh produce was well-stocked. It was the meat and poultry section, as well as the bread which was nearing empty. They did restock, but selectively. The grocery shelves, for the most part, didn’t exactly scream normal. It was a stark reminder that things were disappearing from the shelves even if they were being restocked.

My grocery delivery, Freshdirect, has not delivered any meat or poultry that I have ordered the last two times. That’s basically the reason I’ve stepped out to get other things from the local grocery. Despite being a delivery pass member which is supposed to mean I get priority in reserving a delivery slot, the delivery slots have been pushed further and there aren’t really that many choices available. Items that are “available” to put in my “shopping cart” also disappear by the time I check out. I’d like to think that it’s the sheer volume of orders they are receiving that’s caused this, and not exactly because their stocks are running low.

While online retailers continue to be open, most basic stocks have been reduced to being available in store only because of high demand. So cereal is a hit or miss, and even your regular Mac n’ cheese. Forget about bottled water. I am trying not to get too stressed about it but it’s taking a bit of an adjustment. People seem to walk around normally — but there’s a bigger group of people wearing masks now. I didn’t wear any last week, but the numbers have jumped high enough to even make me sew my own masks in that same vein of getting ready, “just in case’.

A friend had procured two n-95 masks for my son and I before we stopped working at the office. I somehow managed to misplace mine but my son’s is here. He hasn’t really been going out except to be with his Dad. I have tried to minimize his being outdoors to the point that I haven’t asked him to do chores — I prefer that I be the one going out, receiving the deliveries and throwing the trash.

Fortunately, there’s only my 15 year old son and I. I am well stocked for his staples, but there’s this nagging feeling that makes me want to keep the stocks I have at this level. So as we consume the food, I feel like I want to keep the pantry stocked as they are. I really have no reason to worry for myself — I have always eaten light, and I have always been dieting one way or the other. I can adjust to what I have on hand. It’s a different thing for my Uber picky teen. So I made sure my rice is stocked, even requesting his father to get us an extra bag of rice when he got one for himself. My son really has a very limited repertoire so I just need to make sure I’m covered for more than two weeks.

So our tiny apartment has been our literal refuge the last two weeks, and from the looks of it, will be our literal four corners for more weeks to come. I am grateful that the New York School systems and his high school in particular, has successfully rolled out online learning. Not quite your usual classes, but there have been videos to watch, school work to read and download and submit. It hasn’t been a total standstill on that front.

When the offices and shops decided to shutter their operations, leaving only essential services open, I couldn’t help but think of the families who depended on the breakfast and lunch offered for free in New York City schools. Governor Cuomo made it known that was one huge consideration in not suspending classes. Fortunately, that has been solved and children are now able to pick up bags with their meals from the schools. I thought of the workers who relied on hourly wages which meant no work, no pay.

I have had difficulty getting to sleep even when the workday saw me drained and exhausted when I finally logged off. I would sometimes end up napping in front of the TV at the end of the day, but when I lay my head to sleep, I would find myself awake well past midnight.

Staying connected with friends and family overseas has been a blessing. I FaceTime with my 80 year old mother more now. We say I love you. I tell her she needs to stay indoors. My son and I were actually planning a weeklong trip home to celebrate her 80th birthday on March 9. We were planning to fly out on March 5 and return on March 15. I kept postponing booking the flight home despite the bargains because the Philippine president was threatening to cut off every avenue I was planning to take to get to and from Manila, and self quarantining was becoming a thing on this side of the world. The biggest threat was being cut off if travel was somehow curtailed between Manila and New York. It turned out to be a good decision to hold off. We will just celebrate whenever we can make it to Manila again, even if it means celebrating in December.

Governor Cuomo’s daily press conferences have been a staple in my calendar. I watch the White House press conferences only because I wait for the reassuring presence of Dr. Fauci. The numbers can be alarming but the truth of it is, other than hunkering down, I really can’t do anything. I am hoping that the other families around me are doing the same, staying home. I’ve seen countless video online of physicians and artists banding together commending the great humanitarian effort from all sides of the world to save as many people as possible. And they fight on, with a simple request from those of us who don’t as yet, need their care — that we stay home.

So I’m trying to do my part. I’m staying home. I’m hoping to ride out this crisis with my fingers crossed and all the prayers sent to heaven, that if we do get affected by it, that it be in a way where we will not need any medical care. That we will be able to ride it out as if it were just a regular cold or bout of flu. I wish.

I’ve rambled on long enough. There are more stories to tell. I am hoping I can keep writing. For now, I have to do my Sunday chores, get ready for the week ahead, and maybe sew another mask or two. I think I’ll have a glass of wine, and maybe have a salad for dinner.

I was thinking of going to the grocery. But I don’t really need to. Not until I see what Freshdirect delivers tomorrow evening. Fingers crossed.. yet again.

In my corner

Grand Central

For days on end, I’ve been trying to get myself to write a post here and in my craft blog, but the truth of the matter is, life had me sidelined by more pressing matters that needed immediate attention, and we sometimes have to pause other portions of our lives to deal with it.

I love how this multi-frame pic came out, achieving overlaps and shadows of the typically busy scene at the grand concourse of Grand Central Station. I picked a corner and tried to hold the camera still. I wanted to capture the movement of the people but keep the building itself as a steady backdrop to the action. It captures what I sometimes feel going through my head or my heart or both.

I’ve been trying to sit with unsettling feelings instead of wasting time fighting them off. It works for me. So yes, I’ve been listening to my meditation guide and trying to imbibe what he is urging me to do, although it has been days since I took the time to meditate. (NOTE TO SELF: meditate.). I never quite realized that avoidance takes more effort that just acknowledging the feeling and letting yourself settle with it. I try.

Meanwhile, I have set a few goals for the weekend, but mostly putting my house in order— literally. I have projects waiting which I will write about in my other blog, and I look forward to just resting and recharging. To me that means going through my magazines, maybe reading a chapter or two and creating. We all have our means of coping, and fortunately for me, I had long ago identified what takes me to that place of calm.

It’s quiet. This weekend is mine. And while I enjoy weekends spent with my boy, I like the silence and the space to just think and worry about me. I don’t need to worry about taking care of anyone, just this weekend and days like this. I can venture out and go to the city, or do something different and maybe visit a museum or just go window shopping, but the gusts blowing outside make me yearn for the coziness of home. And more and more, I find that the quiet moments help me to deal with the noise when I return to the world come Monday.

I have also just returned to posting on social media again — and I am many posts behind. I’m getting there. Sometimes I think I should just post the pictures, no hashtags, no blurb. But just as I blog more for myself than for anything at else, I need those tags to remind me what that moment was all about. Even when I post about a meal I may have had, its more than just that food that was instagram-worthy. It’s more about the feeling of the moment and the company and the conversations and the memories that were made. My boy and I have started a new tradition when his weekends are mine. We now go on a Fridate. He and I are liking the new routine and then we head home together. I take a picture of the food and yet that encapsulates that one evening and the joy it brought. Happy thoughts.

I like quiet weekends when I can be alone with my thoughts and just be still. I used to think that I needed to keep myself busy outside to explore and enjoy and experience life. Then I discovered I could do the same without leaving my home. Of course, there are days when I feel the urge to just go out.. I might, tomorrow. Or I might just stay home.. and keep busy. Or maybe I will just rest and recharge. I kind of like it here – me in my corner.

Thursday into Friday in 5 minutes

Thursday to Friday Blog GraphicI’ve had this window open for most of the evening and here I am finally getting ready to head off into la-la land.

I had to stay home today to take care of the mother-in-law and of course, Angelo.  My caregiver called in sick.  As it was easier for me to take a day off, I promptly called in my “emergency time off” card.  And just as I couldn’t do anything when I got the 7:30-ish text from my caregiver saying she wouldn’t be able to come in, I guess the boss had no choice but to just be his usual self-sufficient self sans his ever dependable Executive Assistant today.

I tried to avoid logging on to do any work except for the end of the day.  I was, after all, supposed to be off.  I didn’t ask to work from home.. I actually gave a day for this.

We capped the day with a light dinner at the neighborhood Mickey D’s, picked up some odds and ends at the Asian store then headed home.

I just got some news from home which makes me wish there weren’t 10,000 miles between New York and Manila.  Alas, it is more than just 10,000 miles — it’s work, home, Angelo.  So the 10,000 miles stays.

Amen.

Staying put this Sunday

By late last night, I had decided NOT to go to Springfield, MA for Heirloom’s West Springfield Rubber Stamp and Paper Arts Festival this Sunday — this, despite the fact that I had been “dreaming” of being in craft heaven today.  I just hated the fact that I’d have to wake up earlier than I even do during the work week.  Saturdays and Sundays are precious for the extra hour or so to just vegetate and catch up on sleep.

There is always a next time, and there’s Amazon.com.  I received three products I ordered in the mail yesterday, and seeing my new dies convinced me I had enough to keep me busy over the weekend.   I got the Spellbinders S5-154 Shapeabilities Expandable Patterns Botanical Swirls Die Templates (on the left below) and the Spellbinders S5-148 Nestabilities Decorative Labels Eight Die Templates (picture on the right).

In addition, I got another one of my Ranger DYC-33882 Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Collection Ink Spray, Lemon Zest which should make for a good addition to my current stash of spray inks.

I figured I could always order online and just wait for it to arrive at my doorstep.  That way, I control the expense better and I don’t get carried away with all the fantastic demos I see in the craft fair!

I am going to color some plain white envelopes for a zentangle envelope swap over at Swap-bot.  I am just postponing “staining” my nails which is a natural consequence of using these inks.  I also want to do more of my Philippine Map postcards to make room for spoilage.  (My most recent attempt in writing the lyrics of the Philippine National Anthem as background cost me two prepped backgrounds.) 

Sometimes we really just have to take the time to slow down and recharge.  Yesterday was a good day to do that because of the scorching heat in New York. (And summer isn’t even here yet!)  Plus, I had to help the little tyke do a project for school which, I’m happy to say, turned out quite well.

I’m looking forward to the week ahead.  So you might actually see samples of projects done with my new “tools” — and I might even get to post in the shop again over at Gotham Chick (on Etsy).  I’m inspired because of a recent sale.  Time to get crafting again!

Just staying home

Sponge Bob is on TV.  No matter how many times I sit through the show with Angelo, I still don’t get it.  It makes me miss those days when cartoon shows made just a little bit more sense.   I grew up with Popeye the Sailor Man who I watched in black and white.  I didn’t quite know what spinach was except that it was that goo coming out from a can which he popped every time Brutus got the better of him and he suddenly had superstrength.  Of course in Manila, we had malunggay and talbos ng kamote.. even a daily dose of Popeye never quite got me into vegetables.

We’re just staying home today.  Sometimes that turns out to be more tiring for me because my day is denominated by meals cooked, break between cooking and then finishing chores.  I started several Art Journal pieces which I hope to finish later tonight, and while I’m still heavily into zentangle, I’m trying to do other things like do more crayons and maybe hopefully start painting.  It’s the day before the last day of February and it looks like I’ll be doing some of my 28 hearts in March.  I tried.  But I’m pretty happy with my Art Journaling output for the second month of the year.  I actually can’t wait to sign up for the March list.  (We sign up each month.)

Homework done.  Newly-washed clothes are waiting to be put away.  It’s time to start thinking about dinner.  This is why I like that I don’t like being home all day on a weekend.  There just end up to be more chores than normal — than if we had left the house sometime midday for our usual lunch outside and to do our usual errands.  We actually did that already yesterday, but I welcome not being pressured to make the most of the hours left before the week begins again when we choose to stay home..

Another week begins.  I’m actually looking forward to it.

From grey to medium brown

I just applied a hair color wash that needs another 13 minutes to develop — so I thought I’d stop by and try to write a post before I hit the shower.

I’ve been staying home the last two days — yesterday, when I took a day off, and today, thanks to the ice blanketing the streets of New York City.  The boy has been nursing a fever and while he is better, he’s at that stage where a relapse is always just a heartbeat away so tomorrow, he stays home.  It’s still very cold outside and it’s just not worth making his condition worse.  Yet I cannot escape the reality that tomorrow, I must go back to work.

I’ve been puttering around the house but have not really had a chance to do much beyond taking care of the boy, cooking for my mother-in-law, and today, working.  I tried to pick up my jewelry making tools but wasn’t really all that productive, except for a simple pair of shoulder duster earrings as they call them.  I’ve been trying to work on my Art Journal Every Day, and while I am working on creating varied layouts of a single heart for the whole month of February, it hasn’t come to me quite as easily as I thought it would.  It is a process..

Perhaps later.

I would normally enjoy staying home with the boy and Alan, but it’s a different case with an 80-year-old mother-in-law showing signs of worsening dementia, and a promised temporary house guest in my soon-to-be 21-year-old stepson.  Too many complicated nuances I would rather not get into, but it’s a major adjustment.  Life goes on..

Timer just rang.. let’s see how this dye worked!