COVID19 – Day 7ish.

Things I never would have noticed but for this quarantine period – there’s a dead tree in the floodplain at the bottom of the hill behind my house. It seems to be the home of a family of downy woodpeckers on one side and a family of bluebirds on the other.  Also, pileated woodpeckers (the Woody Woodpecker ones) sometimes hop around the ground like chickens. Who knew?! I’m currently watching a blue jay and a red bellied woodpecker fight for what seems like the most preferred position on the fence. Not sure what that spot has over other spots, but I am enjoying the scene. Especially in the absence of sports.

As you can tell, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time looking out the window. I have been intermittently getting actual work done and just goofing off. The art bug hasn’t bitten me yet. I’m hoping that will happen soon because it will make the days go by much faster and much more enjoyably.

I recently looked back at some old facebook posts that I made years ago and I love seeing what the day to day was like when the girls were little. I have a terrible memory and so hopefully one day we’ll look back on this and say “wow, can you believe how it was back then?”

Doug went out for groceries yesterday morning. He was able to get most of what we needed, which was a relief. He calculates that going into this we have 2-3 months worth of toilet paper supply 🙂 We are dependent upon fresh veggies, milk, and half and half. We have a guinea pig – well 2 – but one guinea pig with some health issues. I need to make sure Lily gets a lot of vitamin C and she isn’t super fond of the supplements available to guinea pigs. She however loves sweet peppers, so she gets one baby sweet pepper per day, as does her sister Cinnamon. She still seems to be having seizures, though. Or strokes. I don’t know. Some kind of neurological event. But she pops back up after a bit and seems fine.

Charlotte has been running around outside so much that she is hoping for a rainy day soon because her legs are sore. My super athletic 12 yr old is tired from too much time climbing trees and running around in the flood plain. I guess this is one of those silver linings.

Elisabeth has earned a masters degree in Netflix binge watching. She has also been working on some kind of mindstorm lego/arduino hybrid thing and 2 different jigsaw puzzles. Yesterday she must have hit rock bottom and she started cleaning out her closet.

Right now there is a big social debate as to what is allowed. Our town online Facebook group had a big “debate” yesterday about whether kids playing outside together is allowed under the current “#stayhome” idea. Basketball? seems like no. Soccer? also seems like no. Walking around town together? hotly debated. In our house I think we’ve decided that the adults will practice extreme social distancing meaning only going out for groceries. The kids can play outside with their neighborhood friends so long as they keep a 6′ distance. I suppose as things deteriorate that will have to change.

Our school system has no plan for distance learning that will give the students credits. They are working on it. They say. I worry about what happens with my kids and their school, but I guess in the big picture view they are the least of our collective worries. There is nothing at all required until April 14. Hopefully they will figure it out then.

I keep waiting to see some positive news about progress against this virus. I personally have some extremely smart friends working on it – I love them dearly and hope they can continue working on this without themselves getting ill. I am going to try sewing some masks since hospitals are running out and some hospitals are asking for donations. i know they aren’t as good as n95s, but I will do what I can (if my sewing skills are up to snuff…. we’ll see!)

 

COVID Day 4 – I think?

My foul mood started yesterday afternoon and persisted through this morning. The idea of THIS being all we get to do for months was way more than I could handle. I know that is a terrible perspective because people are losing their jobs or worse, dying from COVID19. But knowing that your foul mood is baseless and actually not being in a foul mood are two separate things.

At any rate, I eventually forced myself to do a workout that our fabulous gym is providing to us daily. There were a lotta squats and my legs were shaky but I felt significantly happier afterwards. I also spent some time working on a problem set for a global warming class I’m taking online with friends. All I learned from that is that I do not remember differential equations. Khan Academy here I come.

Another friend said his kids were doing duolingo and I replied that mine were pretty much in full forget school exists mode. I think that was a surprise because most people around here are encouraging their kids to do school work. Our school isn’t grading anything or requiring anything for a few weeks at least. In fact, E’s teachers have sent emails specifically telling them not to do work. We are embracing that plan. I posted this on Facebook and maybe made a few other slacker parents feel better about themselves:

Just in case anyone out there feels bad about their parenting. My kids aren’t in AP Laundry or advanced dishwashing. Nor are they doing math or science. They haven’t looked at Khan academy or anything from Fairfax County. They, I believe, have read a book for pleasure at some point in between binge watching Marvel movies, The Good Place, and whatever canned laughter Disney+ show they have on now. They get aired out in the sunshine every few hours, as we are thankful that we live on a flood plain. We did some art. We’re taking full advantage of all the snow days Fairfax County builds into the schedule and will tune back in if/when things count. I’d make you a nice color coded pinterest-worthy schedule to follow along with us, but we reject the notion of schedules right now. We operate on whenever the dog/cats tell us it is time to feed them.

Charlotte and I again went on a flood plain hike. No otters were spotted. But I’m getting pretty good at skimming stones. Not Charlotte good, but better than I was before!! Elisabeth has decided to combine her Lego Mindstorms with her Arduino in some creation that I don’t yet understand. And I think they have 3 different jigsaw puzzles going at the same time. Doug got out the VCR today to play an older movie for Elisabeth. Fascination abounded. “What’s it called again??” Imagine if I still had a typewriter!!

I actually have to go in to the office tomorrow to fetch some files so that I can actually work from home. This will teach me to put everything on the server and do away with paper. Our office is so small that we could all be there, be 20 feet away from each other, and be within all CDC guidelines but I am still opting to work from home because I’d feel terrible if I was an unknowing vector.

All in all, I think I will go through these ups and downs a lot. Daily. Hourly. Maybe even minutely if that word exists. We all will. But the horror stories I hear from doctor friends are enough to make me understand it has to be like this. I just hope it doesn’t go on as long as predicted because I really do mourn for the lost activities. Today started out rough, ended up fine. I’m trying to avoid the news, but every so often I have to go look it up for some perspective and to remember why we are where we are.

I hope everyone else is hanging in there. I hope that at the end of this we all have a renewed appreciation of spending time with each other.

COVID19 – Day 4

Whoops, I missed a day. I’ve spent a lot of the last two days avoiding the Twitter, which has proved good for my brain. I’m working from home, which is much harder than it sounds when everyone is home… Yesterday I took the girls out on a drive through the Virginia horse country so we could unwind a little bit while singing loudly to our favorite playlists. We drove out to Middleburg and back and marveled at how beautiful Virginia really is.

Charlotte and I have decided to use these weeks to get outside as much as possible. We are reading a book on reading nature’s signs and hoping to go outside to put our new skills into action. So today we went and spent a couple of hours out in the floodplain, attempting some landscape sketches, identifying fox prints, and just sitting in our bleacher seats in the sand next to the stream talking about life and friends and stress and coronavirus.

Today I realized that while the humans in the house are all prepped for shutting ourselves in for weeks, and the pets are all set too, I had neglected to get the dry food the cats eat. I have wet food for weeks, but they like their Fussie Cat Market Fresh dry food…. and, it was sold out online. Everywhere. So, despite my intent for today I had to go out and buy something. I went to our local small pet food store and the only people/things in it were the two sales people and their dogs. Two Great Danes and an 8 week old Akita puppy. I’m all for social distancing but I’m here to tell you that time with other people’s dogs, especially puppies, cures what ails you. That little puppy was so cute. I am also here to tell you that putting hand sanitizer on your hands in the car, after playing with an 8 week old puppy and that 8 week old puppy’s teeth, is a whole new level of hand sanitizer…..

From a business perspective, it has been really hard to hear from my clients who are struggling with their small businesses and wondering how they will pay the bills when they have to close the doors for an unknown period of time. They’re worried for themselves and for their employees. I wish I had better answers for them and I’m hopeful that in the coming days some viable solutions for these business owners will become available.

The buzz all around seems to be that school is done for the entire year. I have such mixed feelings about this. Obviously we need to be safe and do what is required to flatten the curve. However, it is just really very sad to think that my kids won’t get to finish out the school year with their incredible teachers. I guess we will see what the next few weeks bring. I hope that they can go back, even if just for a few weeks, to get a sense of closure on this year. I know I complain a lot about driving them everywhere, but I will cry tears of joy the next time I get to see them hop out of the car with their carpool buddies at soccer practice.

 

COVID-19 Journal Day 2

Well, today I got off of the couch. My nagging migraine of the last 3 days relented. I did the most exciting of exciting things and folded laundry.

It is interesting how every decision requires some form of calculus now. Are private flute lessons ok? What about five girls getting together to play some friendly soccer? Is it worth a stop at the grocery store for five things? Or should we wait until we need more to minimize trips? I imagine in a few weeks the answers to these questions will be different than I determined today and clearer. But right now each interaction involves weighing pros and cons, trying to figure out what is my own fear versus what is really the right course of action for flattening the curve.

Watching the news (ok reading the news, let’s be honest) is a bit like getting whiplash. Schools are open tomorrow to please come fetch the PE uniforms so that they don’t really smell in a few weeks. Oh, wait, no they aren’t. The virus spreads only via droplets, or maybe its in the air. Maybe asymptomatic people spread it, maybe they don’t, maybe they’re the biggest vectors, bigger than even symptomatic people?!

One thing I think that I’ve decided is that I need to filter out the worst case scenarios from my news feed. Not that I disbelieve they are possible, but because I can’t fathom that situation and it makes me tense up into knots when I read them. So I’m just going to go under the working assumption that worst case scenario is unfathomably bad and stop reading the details.

I hear Virginia tested about 15 more people yesterday. I wish that were hyperbole. Maybe they tested 60. But it’s at least an order of magnitude less than we should be testing every day. I suspect the abrupt turnaround on schools being open for kids to fetch their belongings has something to do with another positive test result from someone affiliated with our school system. FCPS had its first positive in an employee yesterday – a 6th grade teacher who had the good sense that God gave her to stay home when she felt ill after watching her husband get ill with COVID19 symptoms but be unable to get a test – because of bureaucracy or some other absolutely inexcusable reason. Apparently the policy within the schools was that you could still come to school unless you had tested positive for the disease, which is hilarious since its statistically unlikely you’ll test positive for the disease. Not because you don’t have it, but because you essentially have to win the lottery if you’re ill with COVID19 symptoms to actually receive a test.

So today we cleaned up some. We went to private flute lessons. The girls are currently outside kicking the ball around with friends. We’re keeping our 6 feet away while also trying to keep our sanity. Tomorrow a work week begins. I have to go to the office at least tomorrow because our trial continues. I’m taking it day by day as to who goes where and when. I suspect that once/if we ramp up our testing, it will become extremely clear that COVID19 isn’t very many degrees of separation away from each of us and more things will shutter and I’ll get to spend a lot more time in this window seat, with this cat, working, writing, and creating.

Side note: I kicked around the idea of getting a masters in public health after I graduated from MIT. I’ve never wished more that I had done it. I’m absolutely fascinated with the science and the sociology at play here and would love to be able to contribute to the helpful articles in some way. As it is, I will just journal about our daily life as a way of preserving this unprecedented time.

Social Distancing

When I feel stressed – I write. I find that it feels good to get what is bouncing around in my brain out on paper. Kind of like the need to listen to a song that is stuck in your head (side note: go listen to the most recent Reply All podcast called The Case of the Missing Hit). Getting it out helps me stop spinning on it.

2-10 Fred in Basket
Fred practices social distancing by squeezing into a basket half his size.

 

And now that we’re all socially distanced from each other, I have more time to write. In looking at the positives of all of this down time, one positive is that I have many fewer excuses as to why I’m not creating the things I always say that I’d create given the time. Well, thanks to COVID-19 – I’ve been given the time. 

So, why am I just sitting here on the couch? Well partially because I’m on day 3 of an intermittent migraine that has captured the vision in my left eye. Partially because I can’t pull myself away from The Twitter. And partially because it was always kind of nice to have the excuse of being busy so that I didn’t have to put in the hard work of doing all the lofty things I always said I wanted to do. The irony is that the cure for my migraine and my Twitter addiction is almost definitely getting off of this couch and doing something creative. Vicious cycle this is.

But I don’t think that I’m being entirely honest with myself if those are the only reasons I’m acknowledging. I am also feeling very anxious and anxiety puts up a huge hurdle to any creativity that I have. My anxiety probably peaked on Wednesday/Thursday of this week when uncertainty surrounded every decision. Is there school tomorrow? Is the soccer tournament still happening this weekend? What about the one the following weekend? Are we going on spring break? Why isn’t there any chicken of any sort at Costco?! All of those anxieties were resolved yesterday. Doug got chicken at Wal-Mart. School has been cancelled until after Easter. Soccer has been cancelled indefinitely. The relief I felt was palpable. I slept through the night Thursday night for the first time in a long, long time. But then the magnitude of those decisions that caused the cancellations has settled into my brain and all of the other “but what abouts” start. 

And, as a preface to this – I know my “what abouts” are representative of my extremely blessed station in life. I don’t even know what this brain of mine would be doing if I had to go work a job outside of the house in order to keep everyone fed and had kids that suddenly had nowhere to go 5 days a week. It wouldn’t be pretty, and I have endless empathy for people in those positions. As it is, I just grumped to a friend that I don’t have enough junk food in the house and am about to Amazon Prime myself some Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles and Almond Joys. I understand that my worries are truly nothing in the grander scheme of what’s going on in this world. My family will likely be totally and completely fine once this is over.

But.

In no particular order other than this is the order my brain decided to spit them out in:

  • What are they going to do about learning math? Algebra I and Algebra II are foundational courses and losing minimum one month of instruction in them will hurt them in their nerd lives later.
  • And what about sports? They need their sports to keep them sane. Two weeks over winter break was tough.
  • And what about the trip to see my mom and sister and her family in a few weeks? I really feel the need to be with them at some point soon.
  • What are the kids going to do for the next 4 weeks in the house while Doug and I try to maintain some modicum of productivity work wise? Sure it feels like a snow day now, but in a week are we even going to be civil to each other?
  • Will my legal clients ramp up their needs or dial them down? If the last two weeks are any guide…. I’m going to need a LOT of coffee.
  • Will our extended family be ok? My dear friends and their families? 
  • Will there be a replenishment of chicken/beef at Costco? Am I going to be trapping squirrels and firing up the barbeque soon?
  • What in the heck is with the desire to go out and buy a gun that I’m hearing about? I heard our local gun store was jam packed with people essentially walking in and saying “Hi, I have no idea what I want but I want a gun.” Are people seriously afraid that someone is going to break into their house and steal the toilet paper they hoarded?
  • Are the neighborhood children going to be outside screaming like they are now? For the next month? Will that be what ultimately does me in?
  • Am I already a crotchety old lady who is going to go shake my cane at them and tell them to get off my lawn? (yes, clearly. This isn’t an anxiety, this is a rhetorical question)
  • Are we doing anything about this “we don’t have enough ventilators if this thing really peaks” problem? 
  • WHY in the heck do we not have a distance learning program already set up, tested, and ready to go in one of the richest, biggest school districts in the nation? How are we here?
  • Similarly, why hasn’t the school lunch dependency problem been solved before now? This cannot be a problem we are just now realizing.
  • Why is government red tape standing in the way of academics doing their thing? (just google the Seattle Flu Project – but maybe take some deep breaths first).
  • Why is our lot in life to be stuck at home without any sports to watch?! Seriously can’t someone come up with a sport that is interesting to watch yet doesn’t require fans or getting very close to each other? Curling with facemasks maybe? I could go for some curling.

But then I’m reminded of some advice I was given regarding anxiety (aside from write, which advice I’m clearly taking). Think of some positive things. So, again, in no particular order:

  • Doug went to Costco like a warrior and we have a lot of food to cook and eat without having to resort to squirrels.
  • But if we did have to resort to squirrels, we have a lot of them. And a really nice grill.
  • I have my own veritable zoo of comfort animals. Fred says hello from my lap.
  • My kids are not kids that I have to fight with about screen time. They have already made lists of all the things they are excited to do and are currently out playing basketball in the driveway.
  • We do not have to get up at 6am for awhile.
  • I have been given the gift of time to create.
  • We have enough coffee.
  • I have the luxury of working from home, as does Doug.
  • We have Amazon Prime which so far is still going strong.
  • Unlike other times we’ve been stuck at home, this one has beautiful weather and we get to keep our electricity.

The anxiety everyone is feeling is real. These times are scary and uncertain and unprecedented. But it finally feels like at least in my area of the world people are taking things seriously and exposing themselves to fewer things. This is just our new normal for a number of weeks or months. We’ll get through it. And maybe on the other end of it we’ll have a robust distance learning system in place for these kids, and solutions to the number of students dependent upon the schools for food, and maybe we’ll be more ready for these sorts of scary events in the future. And maybe the creatives amongst us will put some beautiful things out in the world. And maybe some others who are stuck at home and so bored and their mother made them do something artistic will find their inner artist that we all have.

Now that that is off of my chest, I’m going to go draw something. Until I get overly frustrated and quit. Because I’m a fussy, moody artist like that. (Below is a picture of another fussy, moody artist that I live with, doing her thing.)

2-2 Stop Motion Animation

24 Frames – A Filming Project. July – Free Choice

 

My submission for the monthly filmmaking project that I’m involved with is short, sweet, and…..not what I intended. But, we have been traveling almost non-stop and are just now home for the rest of the summer. So when you put off getting your clips together until the end of the month, and then at the end of the month you have TORRENTIAL RAIN…… you figure out a new plan. So this month my project is entitled July Rain. I set out to try and get super slow motion rain drops and other movements. I also had to try and use my body to stabilize shots so as not to get my stabilizer wet. Neither thing was very successful in my mind, but I do feel like I learned.

I have long had a love of water, reflections, etc so I took some footage of reflections in puddles. If anyone secretly peeked into my photo catalogue, you’d see a long running water theme, including a perhaps absurd number of reflection shots.

So this month, I present…. July Rain.

Please continue the blog circle and see the beautiful work of my co-creators! Next up, Tasha Boin, who routinely puts out gorgeous videos that make you want to jump inside your computer and experience the beauty she sees.

24 Frames – A Filming Project: May – Freelensed

Freelensing, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the “art” of shooting without the lens attached to your camera. You basically hold it up in front of the camera and hope for the best. That isn’t entirely all there is to it – you can control what is in focus, how much light leaks in, etc by how you angle the lens and how close you hold the lens to the camera. It is certainly an art form.

I tend to be a precise shooter who prizes focus and detail. To say that the theme of “freelensed” gave me not just pause but outright fear is an understatement. But one of the reasons I joined this group was to expand my horizons and learn how to incorporate new techniques into both my videography and photography.

Not only did I learn how cinematic freelensing can look – I completely fell in love with the results. This video is heavy on the freelensing because, well, that’s the theme this month. But I think freelensed shots will forever have a place in my repertoire for future films.

This is a very short film (1 min 20 sec-ish) that is mostly just freelensed clips that I have cobbled together to tell a little story. May around here is synonymous with honeysuckle. My two girls really love getting the nectar out of honeysuckle and we’ve been known to pull into random parking lots when we see honeysuckle so they can free range.

One day Charlotte and I set out to find some lingering end of season honeysuckle and I used that opportunity to pull together some freelensed clips.

After you watch, be sure to scroll down to follow the blog circle and see my friend Erica’s video! There are 3 Ericas in our small group – what are the odds?!

See Erica’s beautiful work HERE!

 

 

24 Frames. A Filming Project: April – Day in the Life

This month’s video is very different from the others that I’ve done. For one, it includes no people. It also lacks any furry friends.  But it is sort of a love letter to the flood plain behind my house. The theme for my group was “Day in the Life” but since you all already saw us doing carpool karaoke, I liberally interpreted the theme and went another route…

Last May, I spent a lot of time sitting in the flood plain waiting for the baby fox to make an appearance. I started realizing how relaxing and calm just sitting and watching the birds, trees, water, and clouds can be. Ever since, it has been my go-to place for taking deep breaths and de-stressing. I have to sneak out the back door, though, without the dog noticing, because it is also her happy place. And constantly being brought a sopping wet tennis ball to throw by a dog that smells like swamp is not as relaxing as it sounds.

This month I set about to document some of the beauty I encountered in the course of a day in the flood plain. So this is a short one and a half minute video of the beauty in my backyard.

Continue along the blog circle and watch my friend Tasha’s beautiful video here!

March – A Video Portrait

The theme for this month’s video with the *amazing* group of women I am working on the 24 Frames project with is “Video Portrait.” I had originally envisioned something like the pictures hanging on walls in Harry Potter books where the subject wasn’t necessarily doing much other than existing in front of the camera. But then I decided that I wanted to try and capture what Elisabeth is like at twelve years old. We picked three of her favorite activities – flute, soccer, and reading – and went with it. As I worked on the videos, I really enjoyed taking in the smaller details of Elisabeth – her fingers, her smile, how she moves. Also this month, I learned how to use Adobe Premiere Pro. And by “learned how to use,” I mean I learned the very very very basics. I think it might have more functionality than Photoshop!

Here’s my video. Make sure to scroll down and click on the link to my friend Sonia’s amazingly artistic video portrait (seriously, its beautiful).

Continue the blog circle to see Sonia’s beautiful work here: http://soniabourdon.net/24-frames-filming-project-march-video-portrait/

 

24 Frames – February – Get In The Frame

For the year 2017, I am working with a group of extraordinarily talented women to further our video skills. Mine are certainly in their infancy and I am learning a ton from this group. This month’s theme was “Get In The Frame.” This is harder to do with video than with still images because good videos generally involve artistic camera movement.

I elected to do a sort of day in our life, which was fun but a challenge. Our group also shares the videos on Instagram, which has a 1 minute time limit. A day in our life, shoved into a minute, makes for more of a glimpse into our life than a full video documenting our day. I tried to have fun with this, and so it is a bit less artistic than some other videos I’ve made and more just fun(ny). In the future I might make two versions of my videos – a longer one and a 1 min one for Instagram.

Enjoy – it is silly – but so are we. Make sure to scroll down for the link to my friend Fiona’s submission for this month!!

The next video in our blog circle is Fiona’s! Go HERE to see Fiona’s video!