All that snow

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AWe had quite the nor’easter Monday which saw New York City buried in over 12 inches of snow. I stopped counting at 12 inches. When I went out Tuesday afternoon to pick up a prescription from the local pharmacy, it was still windy and snowing. The walkways had been plowed but the whole area was still blanketed with thick snow. I cannot imagine how it was in Central Park.

My thoughts about winter haven’t quite changed. I am a warm weather person. Humid, hot, warm.. bring me back home.

It is very pretty when the snow is freshly fallen — when everything is a pure white.. then it melts and turns to slush and then we have to deal with it as we go about our daily business. Then it’s no longer cute.

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The sad news is that after a streak of 169 days of walking over 10,000 steps a day, I got stuck at home and there was no getting around to even attempting any portion of my daily walk. Today was a struggle with thick snow even on the plowed walkways, and it had started to snow again, so I had to head home after just under 4,000 steps. I feel like I need to recalibrate and restart.

I was initially disappointed but I’ve tried not to be too hard on myself. Covid has taught me to be more flexible and to be more forgiving. And forgiveness should really start with ourselves. So I forgive me.. and yes, I will get started on my next streak of 10,000 steps minimum a day soon enough.

I woke up to a cool and grey morning, and I finally got to make my tsamporado or cocoa porridge. Yes, we Filipinos like our sticky rice porridge with cocoa. I tried to do a smaller portion, but still ended up with two servings. Gone in one sitting. LOL. It was one of those mornings when I weighed myself but refused to stick to my calorie limits for breakfast.. just this once.. so I indulged. (I am almost fearful to see how much I ended up gaining tomorrow.). It brings me back to memories of home — even if the last time I had this, I actually made it even I was supposed to be the visiting daughter waiting on Mom’s home cooking! I didn’t mind.. it was all part of the full experience of being home with family. I remembered to use a ratio of 1 portion sticky rice to 5 portions water, and 1/2 portion cocoa. I would normally have put sugar but I opted for sweeteners so I completely omitted that.

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January just bid us goodbye and we are on the second month of the year already. Things seem to be moving faster somehow. And here I am looking at a stack of magazines that came in last month which I need to skim through and make a quick decision to keep or toss. I plead guilty to letting my subscriptions get the better of me — I don’t get to open to read and scan them when they get here, and they end up in a phantom pile which remains untouched for weeks on end. This year, I promised myself I will set aside time to scan, read, and discard what I don’t need. January magazines, you will be scanned this weekend.

I have been busy sorting my beads — again. I’ve made a concerted effort to eliminate the mini-bins I have all over the place containing pieces I had used to work on previous projects. Metal findings, crystals and glass, and gemstones. It’s been slow but I’m proud to have consolidated more than 12 mini containers. I’ve already washed them for use later. (I use dishwashing liquid but don’t use the sponge I used with the dishes and pots and pans. The oil residue tends to be left on plastic surfaces, so I use a half sheet paper towel to apply detergent to the plastic cups.)

The excess Christmas cards are all in one bag, ready to be put away in a special closet where I keep it for the following year. I was fortunate to have caught the after-holiday sale of Papyrus last year, and the subsequent clearance that followed before they closed for good just before Valentine’s Day. I am actually all good for next Christmas, but I’m thinking I might work on making my holiday cards again. Maybe.

It was a very different Christmas this year. I am hopeful that we will have an even more different Christmas come the end of the year — something closer to what we were used to. I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable, though. We all thought the lockdown would end sooner, and that we would be going back to something akin to normal like back to the office by this time.. We were thinking that in October, but now, it looks like the projected return in May is still up in the air.

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I am patiently waiting my turn to be eligible to be vaccinated. At almost 55 and not being a frontliner, I think mid year or the fall is pretty optimistic given how the rollout has gone. So I’m taking care of the other vaccinations a golden girl like myself needs — like the shingles vaccine. I almost got it this weekend but the pharmacist told me I needed a prescription because I was under 60. (Something they could’ve told me when I called to inquire… they said, come on over and so I did.)

I will confess that my initial reaction to the vaccine was one of skepticism. I kept telling myself I don’t know what the side effects are — and is it worth the risk? Since the rollout started, the waiting has given me time to reflect and think. I’ve seen friends who are qualified to be with the initial batch of recipients get theirs, and I have to admit that I am green with envy. I wish I could get mine.. and shortly after, I wish my boy could get his. But the way they are going by age and risk factor, there are millions ahead of us.

I used to jokingly remind friends about the premise of “I am Legend” — the remake of “Omega Man” — and how a vaccine gone wrong started a mutation in humans that led to catastrophic results. And that was something that was supposedly vetted — even in the realm of cinematic fiction — and science failed miserably to foresee the consequences. What more this vaccine which was rushed through the usual years of trials and tests — not without reason, but still, it makes one wonder if we are taking a bigger risk putting our faith on the vaccine.

I don’t want to dwell too much on it lest it change my willingness to be vaccinated before I actually qualify to get my shot. That’s for another post altogether.

Speaking of other posts, I’ve actually started to trade postcards again — in baby steps, primarily because so much has changed about collecting. And of course there’s the usual burden of postage costs, and the added delays thanks to travel and cargo restrictions across international lines. I paused there and suddenly thought about whether or not it would be better to sit things out in the meantime. But I have the postcards to trade. Again, a product of my efforts to get organized. I’ve actually been going through my spares and have identified the postcards that need a new home. One postcard at a time. It’s given me ideas about writing a post on things I have learned about collecting postcards which the younger postcard collectors might want to read about. I’ve been drafting that post in my head. Next one in all likelihood.

We’re still looking at colder days ahead. And then rain. (Never good when it snows a ton and then it rains. That can only mean ice which no one likes.). I am just grateful the week is halfway done. Work has been busy but an okay kind of busy. I’m dealing with it. No fires to put out just yet. (Fingers crossed.)

I’m trying to wind down now so I can get to dreamland faster. The weekend was a struggle, and I am trying to be optimistic about tonight being easier. There’s the sleep cast.. and a little help.

Goodnight, world. I’m hoping the universe carries me through to a restful sleep tonight.

Crafting, Work and Life in general

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I realized that January was creeping away from me when I started looking at February for scheduling things at work. That first month sure went by so fast that I didn’t realize my last post here was in the first half of the month. And we are off..

I’ve been busy at work, busy with life, and trying to get the craft projects going. For the most part, I’ve been trying to get myself better organized — a project I began before the year ended. As always —- be it in organizing my closet, my make up or my craft supplies —- it is just so hard to let go. But I’m trying.

As we all await our turn to get vaccinated, I have come to terms with the fact that at 54 and not being a front liner, I will have to wait a little while longer. So my life in the midst of this pandemic has remained pretty much the same: still working from home, being vigilant about wearing masks, and practicing social distancing as best as I can. I have also adjusted a bit more by being pragmatic about my pining for travel — I have sort of resigned myself to the fact that none of that is happening this year. If I’m lucky, maybe towards the end of the year. Otherwise, realistically, I really cannot picture myself going on any long journeys until at least 2022. So be it.

My days continue to be spent at home. I think I’m doing better with defining my work hours. I try to log off at 5:30pm, then I get ready for my evening walk and brave the cold. And yes, even the snow. My streak remains unbroken since I vowed never to go under 10,000 steps. 165 days. I am amazed at my own determination not to falter, even when I feel exhausted at the end of the day and all I can do is walk briskly. This might not mean anything to those who hit the gym religiously at a given cadence during the week, or who fiercely jog and sprint through the air without a sweat. For someone who has always been at odds with the concept of physical exertion, the mere fact that I have kept my daily walks a ritual this whole time is a personal accomplishment.

I have to admit, though, that the weight loss has been a seesaw the last couple of weeks. I know — the excuse of holiday binging is no longer applicable, but I’ve managed to gain back 5 lbs below my prepandemic weight that I had so valiantly lost in the third quarter. I’m trying to get back on track — and not add any more weight. Somehow, my resolve has not been as firm as it used to be, and for that I am not making any excuses. I am not content with being happy that I had managed to lose the over 15 lbs I gained with all the baking and the cooking I experimented after the lockdown. I have to keep at it to reach my desired goal. So I plod on.

I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself. The last couple of weeks have seen me being restless for hours in bed before I finally find sleep. There are days, though, when I do manage to plop my head on the pillow and drift off without a care. I keep reminding myself that I should try to end the day earlier instead of waiting for the stroke of midnight to get on with my evening routines. It doesn’t help that the 16-year-old has to be chased to bed! And yet when I think about these little “problems”, I have to pause and remind myself I am fortunate that this is all I have to deal with.

One of these days, I will write about the things this pandemic has taught me. I have learned a lot — even beyond my space here. Sometimes a lightning bolt hits me in the mind or in the heart, and I find myself in the midst of a realization — and it sticks.

Sometimes the thought snowballs in my head and I say to myself, I knew that all along but just refused to admit it to myself. And I pause again and let it sink in.

I am busy these days working during the day like always. Then at night, I sit with my boy and we have dinner while watching a favorite show. After everything has been put away and the dishes have been washed and I have freshened up, I fiddle with my craft projects. Sometimes, I write a postcard or a card or letter to send out.

I’m getting into crystals and trying to study more about their properties as sources of energy. Very interesting considering they have always just been gemstones to me. Pretty little things to work with. I have found some new suppliers from mainland China which has encouraged me to research more about crystals and their properties, while at the same time goading me to explore new ways to work with undrilled stones. Lots of avenue to experiment on doing just that — and I am all excited!

Crystals and my creations

I’ve been thinking about picking up the crochet needle to make another beanie or two, but I have enough in rotation right now — all made by me in the last 24 months, so I don’t really need any. It’s just that I keep seeing my yarn stash and I know those can be put to better use. The good news is, even with yarn sale after yarn sale at my beloved Michael’s, I have strongly resisted the urge to grab any more given my untouched spools.

The art journal for 2021 has been languishing in the prep stage — but I am not worried about that. I have at least two signatures left over from what I prepared for the 2020 journal, so once that gets started, I will keep going. That was such a gratifying journey, memorializing my year in pictures and words and what have you. I want 2021 to even be more creative and different — there is just so much to write about.

Time to pause and hit publish on this one, before it ends up staying in my draft folder again. Words wasted are thoughts lost.

Monday Musings: Another Stay at home week

Monday musings in paper and inkI’ve been writing posts and they are hanging out in my drafts folder. There are so many things I want to write about but writing has been mostly in my mind — but I’m determined to get this all out here. More than a month into the stay-at-home deal, I’m still anxious about many things and now have to think about preparing for the return to work. I thought it would be a good idea to go back to something I’ve usually turned to when I’m in a writing rut — my Monday Musings which spew out blurbs and shorts of anything that comes to mind the moment I’m writing here.

Yes, we will be returning soon. Probably not until the month is out at least — So I’m thinking June. While the work-from-home situation has been a challenge, I consider it a blessing. I appreciate the fact that I still have a job and have a paycheck coming regularly, which come with the benefits and all those blessings. It’s been difficult because I don’t have the resources I have when I’m physically in the office, and I’ve had to devise new ways and means to do my work. But I have managed, and I really have no complaints. Well, maybe save for the fact that we are busy as ever, and the work from home deal hasn’t really meant less work. I am also thankful that I don’t have to worry about the commute in this kind of a situation. And when life returns to a sense of normalcy, we will adjust — we will cope.

I am already working on my personal face covering but that has been sidelined by my efforts to contribute to this Herculean task of beating the virus. We all do what we can. Still, I need to start thinking of the commute, and how we will be operating with the new safety precautions which, I am sure, we will be told and be constantly reminded about in the weeks to come.

Art on pause. For a first quarter that saw my art journal zooming into life, I have actually put the project on hold for the month of April. Not that there wasn’t anything to draw or write — I just burned out, I guess. Or maybe things just caught up with me. Or maybe I found the balance I was looking for in feverishly working on it the months before. My pages are waiting. I have the signatures all set. I have the sections figured out. I just need to pick it up again. This week, I promise.

My Art Journal: Grateful

Jewelry projects revisited. I did pick up a cab that I wanted to attempt to encase in crocheted artistic wire. I’m not quite happy with how it turned out but the attempt was a start. I am going to try to create a few pieces one of these evenings. I have tried to get on with the organizing here and there — something you’d think I’d have so much time to do. Not quite true. But the thought is there.. and in fact, I just might attempt to string some beads I am fancying and within reach here. If only there were more hours to the day.

A week of celebrations, it will be. My big guy will be 16 this Friday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the tomahawk steak I ordered will arrive on time. He’s not one for cake but I just might bake him one. And on Sunday, it’s Mother’s Day. A whole lot of celebrating up ahead!

Congratulations are in order for the successful examinees who passed the Philippine Bar Exams of 2019. A topic near and dear to me — the feelings never gets old.. and personally, the wave of gratitude that takes me over every time as I look back to my own legal journey decades ago. (Oops.. dating myself here. LOL). But we celebrate all those victories — one of the highest, if not the highest passing rate in many years. To all those who made it, congratulations.

Let’s be kind and practice social distancing and wearing a mask. It’s the new way of saying “please” and “thank you.” With all the deaths and hardship that the whole world has witnessed in the past few months, a little kindness can go a long way.

Waking up to a new normal

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!