Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.b.20

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I got two books and a movie for my first curbside library pickup during pandemic times.

Contact free library pick up! Woo hoo!

The day in March that it was announced the libraries were closing was the day that the magnitude and severity of COVID-19 became real to me as an actual threat. 

I was at the library on the last day it was open before closing. We had a book club that night. The librarian said we were allowed to check out anything we wanted with no limits. I came home with two bags full of stuff. When I got home, I cried.

Libraries are a lifeline. The library is an important place to me for many reasons. I was very happy when I bought my house that I am in walking distance to my local library. This made me ecstatic. Since moving into my house, I attend adult craft class at the library. I started an adult book club at the library. I use the library for internet access. The library is where I would go to use the internet for my online class through Berkeley last fall. I have attended music concerts on the library lawn in the summer.

Libraries have always been a safe haven and place of respite for me. When I was homeless, libraries were a safe place to take a nap. Libraries are a place where you can be in air conditioning to get a break from the heat outdoors in the summertime. 

Libraries are a huge source of entertainment. Not only can I get books, but also DVDs. That saves me money so I only go to the movie theatre if it is something I absolutely want to see. It also means I have less clutter inside my house. Instead of spending money on books and DVDs, I can use my money on other things. I get books and DVDs free from the library. The books in my home are only my absolute favorites that I read repeatedly. 

As I went through the bags of items I checked out of the library in March, I returned them to the return bin outside the library. I went through all the items and have been content with the books and DVDs inside my house.

When the librarian called me this week to let me know that contact free curbside pickup is now available, I was overjoyed. No one is allowed in the library for safety reasons. However, you can request items online or by phone and can pick them up curbside contact free.

You can ask for exact books, a favorite author, or have the librarian choose something for you. 

I successfully picked up items last night through the contact free curb service. I am so happy to have library access again. We are not allowed to interlibrary loan items (which makes sense). You can only get items that are already at your home library. 

I cannot tell you how much I have missed the library. I am so happy they have figured out a way to safely provide services to us once again. Contact free pick up protects both the library staff as well as the person checking out items.

Thank you, library! I have missed you! 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.a.20

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I am so thankful for strawberries. This was the second time in 4 months I have been able to get fresh fruit due to food shortages.

Day 100 of captivity. The natives are getting restless. I have had enough of being stuck inside my house because other people refuse to wear masks and distance. I have no faith in humanity to do the right thing anymore.

It has now been 100 days since the doctor told me to stop going to the grocery store and pharmacy. It has officially been 111 days since I have actually been to a grocery store myself.

I am so tired of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired of it or not, this is the world in which we live. At this point, I’m just waiting to die because people are not wearing masks and distancing.

As frustrated as I am with the situation, I do not feel as though I am missing out on anything. I have altered my behavior to keep myself safe. Due to multiple food allergies that react by touch, I did not go very many places before the pandemic. The changes I have had to make to my routine have not been huge. So what have I changed? Here’s the list:

Groceries: This one has been the most challenging. I am so thankful and so grateful for the small army of people who kept me supplied throughout the worst of the pandemic so far. I have now successfully been able to receive grocery delivery so that I am not putting my friends at risk. I am now grocery shopping once per month. As long as I have food to eat, I do not mind NOT going to the grocery store. I loathe shopping in general. I am not missing out on anything by no longer going to the grocery store. I am fine with contactless grocery delivery once per month.

The Gym: This is the time of year when I am running outside. I typically use the treadmill from October to April. I am not missing the gym right now. That may change come this fall and winter. As long as there is not ice on the ground to cause me to fall, I will run outside. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go to the gym.

The Library: I do miss the library. However, I am taking this opportunity to reread every single book on my bookshelf to make the decision whether I should keep the novel or get rid of it. So, I am using this time to engage in a minimalist exercise. I miss the people in my book club, but we have been able to keep in touch with phone calls and letters. The library recently reopened for touchless curbside pickup only. I have requested two books and a movie for curbside pickup. I will let you know how that goes when I pick up my items. I am thankful for the touchless pick up option. If we end up officially quarantining again, I am content to read what I have in my house to make my “keep or donate” decisions.

Church: I have found a podcast that I am able to listen to and enjoy to hear Bible messages. Of course, this is in addition to Bible reading. It’s nice to hear someone’s perspective on how the Bible applies to daily life. I am fine with doing church by podcast. I don’t want to physically go to church and then meet Jesus by getting COVID-19.

The salon: We have reviewed this one previously. I am now shaving my head, which means I do not need the salon. I do not feel like I am missing anything here. In fact, I am using the money I am saving by NOT going to the salon to help pay for groceries. My groceries expense has increased about 3x due to the food shortages and price gouging.

The grocery store, the gym, the library, church and the salon are pretty much the extent of my social outings before the pandemic.

A friend recently expressed concern that I am still isolated (this is by recommendation of my doctor, remember). Yet, I am totally fine being isolated. I did not do much before the pandemic. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go any place. People’s cavalier attitude regarding this virus right now is scary. It is not worth my life to go out someplace when I have no need or desire to go anyplace. I can communicate with people through letter writing, phone calls and text messages. I’m fine.

Another concern raised by a friend is that they want to see me for coffee. If we weren’t having a pandemic, I would be open to that. Every contact you have with someone is an exposure, so seeing anyone in person right now is not safe.

However, we can still have coffee. Make your coffee and then call me on the phone. There. We are having coffee in a safe way. 

Things around me are reopening. People I know are taking HUGE unnecessary risks with their health and safety that I am uncomfortable taking. Unfortunately, if I come into contact with those people (like at work), then they are exposing me to all of their risk taking. I’m still waiting for my execution date.

People and businesses in my area are not doing enough to keep people safe right now. The safety measures are not being enforced in my area. People are being remarkably careless. No errand is worth my life at this point in time. 

We must remain vigilant. The pandemic is not over yet. As frustrated as I am with 100 days of captivity, the alternative is death. I have three little ones to take care of at home. I’ll take captivity. 

Stay safe. Wear a mask.

Inquiring Minds

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Ever notice that your library has a “theme?” Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a library connoisseur, but I have noticed that libraries have themes. In my life, I have visited numerous libraries, but more on that later. In my geographic area, I have physically used five libraries with some sort of relative frequency and noticed distinct differences among them.

Library I is about 90% non-fiction. You want to learn something, as in actually learn something, you can find it in this library. Dewey Decimal in his Heaven must be so proud. This is the largest library in a multi-county area. It has one little room of fiction novels, and the rest of the entire library is non-fiction. If you want to write anything from a paragraph to a thesis to a book, you can practically do all of your background research here. This library has everything from the mainstream to the most obscure of titles in non-fiction.

Library G has the best selection of science fiction DVDs. Whether you want to watch The Highlander, The X-Files, Earth 2, The 4400, Star Wars, or Star Trek, this library has the most extensive collection in this area. Why? Are the people who live near Library G really into science fiction? Is that where all the Trekkies live? If so, I want a Convention. I was seriously contemplating ordering a pin that looks just like a Star Trek The Next Generation communicator for my birthday. The only thing that stopped me … well, I was trying to act like a responsible **cough, cough** 40-year-old adult. So, I didn’t.

Library D has the most extensive and prolific collection of biographies. Whether you want to read about a baseball player, a political figure or the front man of a popular 90s heavy metal band, this library has it. They get in new biographies all the time. They even have an entire room with a window seat in it devoted to biographies. After being tortured throughout grade school with book reports and reading about dead people, I never even knew biographies could be exciting, engaging and downright interesting until I discovered this library. In fact, I am actually on the waiting list for a new biography just released in February 2019 to get on inter-library loan from this library.

Library C has the largest collection of large print books I have ever seen anywhere. They’re not just dusty afterthoughts. They keep up the collection and are constantly ordering new books in large print all the time. Sometimes, a new popular book will be all checked out with a waiting list for the “regular print,” yet I am able to find it on the shelf at this library in large print. Look, I’ve worn glasses and/or contacts since the age of 8. We all know I am not getting any younger. I so so so love me some large print. In fact, I often prefer it. This library has it, and it isn’t just your grandmother’s dirty little secret. The large print section is front, center, and large in more ways than just font.

Library M has a very distinct collection of Christian fiction. This library dedicates about half of an entire room to Christian fiction. In all other libraries, I have seen occasional Christian fiction novels mixed in with “general fiction.” This is the first library I have seen that actually gives the genre it’s own distinct space. Not only do they give the genre it’s own area, but this is another library that pays special attention to its particular section. New titles are often ordered in this genre. Not only can you find older, traditional titles, but also newer volumes and series.

Do libraries do this on purpose? Do they notice that a lot of people check out Star Wars and then start ordering more sci-fi movies? Is there some sort of library plot going on? Like, hey, let’s make all the biography readers go to Library D, but if you need it in large print, then you can only find it at Library C. I’m sure there must be some rhyme or reason to this. Either that, or I am the only person who notices this “phenomenon” and am slowly losing my mind.

Not only in my geographic area, but in others, I have noticed “themes” in libraries. When I was growing up, there was Library N that has a large collection of science fiction books. There was Library W (in a completely different state!) that had also had a large section of science fiction books.

I have been in libraries in both rural and urban areas and noticed themes. Do you notice a theme in your library? Any particular genre that seems more prolific than others?

For me, libraries are comfortable. Reading a favorite book can feel like coming home. At the same time, I absolutely love reading something new. I read voraciously.

At various times when I was homeless both as a child and as an adult, libraries are places of refuge. You know you can go into a library to be safe and warm. Library I even allows people to use their library card to check out umbrellas when it was raining.

When I was homeless in a large city as an adult, I would sleep in libraries. It’s a common thing. Quiet, safe place. As long as we weren’t bothering anyone and were in a relatively non-traffic area, the librarians kind of looked the other way. I remember one time when I feel asleep on a library couch and had purposely set a watch alarm to wake me 15 minutes prior to library closing so that I could wake and leave on my own to save the embarrassment of being woke by the librarian.

Unfortunately, I was really tired that day. The alarm went off – and continued to go off – for five minutes until I finally woke up with a librarian and one other very concerned looking individual standing over me. Talk about embarrassing. That library in particular, by the way, had a theme of children. We will call it Library H. The children’s section in that library was huge. It has the largest selection of children’s literature I have ever seen. That library even loans out children’s toys.

I found out about four years ago that that particular library has now closed. It’s collection was donated to Library U on the opposite side of the city. I have not been to visit Library U since it “acquired” Library H. I wonder if Library U now has a children’s theme since it acquired Library H, or if Library U has retained it’s original theme of theology texts.

If library themes are on purpose, I would like to know how and why they are planned. If they are accidental, then it must be some sort of Mayan crop circle concept going on. Or, it could all just be in my mind. We see what we want to see.

Inquiring minds want to know. Does your library have a theme?

My First Art Show

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With my photo on display at my first professional art show – The Regional Photography Exhibit sponsored by the Cultural Council

I have the honor and the privilege of having one of my photos chosen for the Regional Photography Show this year held by the local Cultural Council. It is my first professional art show. Never before have I even submitted my work for anything.

As you can see from the opening reception photo above, the work I submitted is the piece that has been the cover photo of this blog from day one. I have never used any stock photos on this site. All photos are my original photography.

Granted, in the past few years since my stroke, most photos have been of the cats or whatever is immediately around me. You have to go back in the archives to see more of my landscapes when I was physically able to travel around more to the beaches and parks. My disability has kept me grounded and closer to home more than is normal.

My work will be hanging in the public library all month, along with some other very stunning and brilliant work. It is very humbling to see whose company I share.

The opening reception was an amazing opportunity to connect with the other photographers and artists. It meant so much to me that some of my coworkers and other of my community friends were there for the reception. I think next to buying my house last month, that my first art show is the highlight of my year.

One of the questions that was asked of us right before the show was hung was if our work is for sale and the price. I did not respond with my work being for sale. I don’t take photos to make money. I take photos because I enjoy it. Then, I post them here with some ramblings about my life at the moment for everyone to enjoy. So my photo is just hanging in the library for everyone to enjoy and it’s not for sale.

When my photo was chosen for the exhibit, I had it professionally mounted and framed. It is so much better than the $10 Walmart frame I had it in. Once my work is done being in the show, it will return to the space it occupies in the hall between the bathroom and bedroom. Except when it returns, it will be in a much more professional form.

I deeply appreciate all of my readers and everyone who visits my blog. No offense, but having one of my photos in the public library for the month is a little bit more amazing. It’s hanging in the library where I live for people in my community to see. That’s kinda cool.

However, I never would have made it this far or even had the gumption to enter the contest if it hadn’t been for the past 3 years of this blog. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being there. I just keep going trying to rewind real slow.

Thanks for supporting my work by reading me. This art show is dedicated to everyone who has been following my journey showcasing my work on this blog.

Beach Reading

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Above: The one time I took a novel not related to my degree fields to the beach last summer. 

I am very fortunate to live to live in an area that boasts one of the top 10 largest book sales in the country. This weekend, I spent a whopping $8.14 on 20 paperback novels and 5 CDs. One of the CDs was brand-new, still in the plastic shrink-wrap. It was the final weekend of the Friends of the Library book sale, and I made out like a bandit.

I have been to the book sale plenty of times in the past, but this was the first time I was able to choose books out of pure pleasure. The past 20 years in school, I would read the occasional novel unrelated to my degrees over one of my school breaks. I typically had a wish list of this popular novel or that new release. This was my first time making choices based on subjects and authors I have always wanted to read and never had time to look up.

One of the novels I chose has a sticker affixed to the front proclaiming it to be a perfect beach read. That sticker made me stop and think. I have read plenty of guilty pleasure “beach reads” in the past, although I have never read any of them on a beach.

Even though I used my park pass quite frequently at the beaches last summer, I took reading for grad school with me almost every single time. I was multi-tasking to the max and not fully enjoying anything. There was only one week when I had a “slow week” writing my thesis that I took a book not related to my subject area, as I needed a break from grad school.

This summer may very well be the first time in my life that I go to a beach and sit and read a “beach read” novel while my feet are buried in sand. While I sing the praises of the library and much prefer to borrow books than purchase them at some big box store, I feel justified in my book sale purchases because the money goes back to the library. Not to mention, I try to keep library books in good condition. If I take a book to the beach, it will at the very least be sandy, and at worst, maybe wet or damp. I would rather have a book I own suffer the consequences of being a beach read then a library book.

What makes a book a good beach read? I’m not sure. This seems to be another one of those first world problems. I am joyfully looking forward to long summer days spend surfing and lounging on the beach experiencing what it feels like to read a leisure novel in sand and enjoy every moment I have in the sun.

That small sticker that says, “beach read” makes me think of how to slow my life down and enjoy more. Life has changed so much in the past 5 months that I have been out of school and started to institute major changes.

In some ways, I have been wandering aimlessly trying to figure out which activities I want to keep in my life and in which directions I wish to go. I have walked into the library and just picked up whatever was new or looked good. I have been to book club trying to figure out what I like and want to read. At the book sale this past weekend, I was finally able to confidently pick up books, and be like, “this looks good,” without having to put a lot of thought or planning into the process. I did not have to consider whether I would have time to finish the book before it was due back at the library or before school break ended. That is some sort of freedom.

When I think about beach reading, I tend to think of it in context of class. People who have more money obviously have time to sit on a beach and read. When I was going to school full-time and working 70 hours a week, spending more than 3 minutes in the shower was a luxury, forget having a few hours to wile away on a beach. Then I think back to the mid-20th century when beach trips were actually the recreation of choice for the working class. Beaches are typically free. If you had a day off, you would just grab your towel, some sunscreen, and a good book, and head into the great outdoors for the day. In today’s society, time is at a premium. Actually having time to read on a beach is finally a luxury I am going to be able to have since rewinding real slow.

What books have you read that are perfect beach reads? What makes a novel a beach read? Isn’t any book I take and read while laying in the sand a “beach read?” When we slow down our lives, we have more time to do things we really enjoy – even if that something is to sit in the sand doing nothing at all.

 

Enjoy without owning

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My library card gets a voracious workout. Now that I have officially retired from a 20-year career as a professional college student, my library card is starting to rival a heavyweight champion. I am very fortunate to live in an area with a well-stocked library that also has an impeccably organized inter-library loan system to be able to get virtually any item I may desire. From books to DVDs to music CDs, I can check out pretty much all forms of media and entertainment you could possibly imagine.

The joy in this is that I am able to continuously feed my mind without my wallet getting thinner. Libraries are free. If I were to purchase everything I have recently checked out of the library instead of borrowed it, I would need to buy stock in Amazon or Barnes & Noble, as the tally for my mental stimulation is staggering.

I have gotten so much enjoyment over certain books or movies that I have checked out of the library lately that I have put some of those items on my Amazon wish list. Then, I noticed the tally on my wish list and realized I need to slow down. Way down. Just because I enjoy something does not mean I need to own it.

If you enjoy something you have read once, how likely are you to read it again? I do have some novels on my bookshelf that I will re-read continuously because I enjoy them that much. Many of my novels I do not re-read, even though I enjoyed them immensely the first time through. This is why my barometer for purchasing an items is often “if I have checked it out of the library 2-3 times, then I need to own that item.” Lately, I have caught myself putting items on my wish list after only one go-around.

Realizing what I was doing, I went through my wish list and deleted items that I have only read or watched one time. Sure, I enjoyed it the first time I read or watched it, but did I enjoy it enough that I will probably want to revisit that item multiple times? Probably not. I simply got caught up in the holiday flurry of making a wish list for items that you want-but-don’t-need.

Over the past few years, I have been working on curating the movies and novels in my house so that my collection is housing well-loved items that I will visit time and again. There is no need to have to dust, store, and take care of items you are not using or that do not bring you joy more than once.

Using my library card instead of purchasing every item on my wish list ensures that my house only contains items I truly love. It also helps to be sure that my budget stays on track and that my money is being allocated to expenses that truly need to be met and is not spent frivolously on wants. Money saved on books and DVDs on my wish list is money that can be used to fund experiences – so that I have moments with friends in which I can make memories that last a lifetime.

How does enjoying without owning increase your happiness? Do you have more time for family because you spend less time cleaning? Do you save the money you would have spent on an Amazon wish list and use it to take a vacation instead? Enjoying without owning helps to reduce the clutter in our homes and frees our time for things most important in life – memories and experiences.