Adapting and Fine Tuning

I am missing weekly outings with my camera and have been spending a lot of time editing old photographs instead of taking new ones. My choices this week were, brood about it, or follow the lead of Teri at Second Wind Leisure Perspective, and look in my own back yard for opportunities to create beautiful images. It was raining this past Monday, so overcast conditions created the perfect ‘moody’ backdrop for the following photos.

I took these RAW images with my Lumix GX7 outfitted with a 45-200mm lens, set at Aperture priority. I am a big fan of creating Bokeh effect in the background, then tweaking color, light and shadow to get the look I want. I used Photoshop Elements and NIK to process the following images.

In addition to the new photos, I also selected a few that you might have seen before. I think they are worth sharing again.

This water lily has been a favorite for years and will probably always be. I can’t imagine having a more perfect moment than this one was. Everything came together magically.

What lifted my spirits and made me smile this week is the realization that doing what we love doesn’t have to be put on hold. Our ability to adapt, be creative and find ways to breath new life into old hobbies and habits can turn a gloomy day into one filled with beauty.

Shared at Trent’s World weekly Smile Challenge and Teri’s Weekly Photo Challenge. The idea is to visit these sites and share something that makes you smile or lifted your spirits this week. While you are there, please have a look at what other bloggers are sharing and show them some love.

What made you smile this week?

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Little Adjustments Everywhere

Making it Work

With the addition of two adult children to our household, week three of Covid social distancing required a few tweaks to the plan for Filling Time Between Coffee and Wine. The division of space continues to evolve, as does keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked. We haven’t hit any major stumbling blocks and attitudes remain cooperative!!

As I wrote in a previous post, we had resigned to do our food shopping on-line as it becomes increasingly dangerous to visit the market. That idea stalled, due to a shortage of ‘personal shoppers’ in our local market and Malcolm is once again our designated procurement officer. We haven’t abandoned the idea completely and will revisit that option as the dust settles.

It has been at least a year since I last used my sewing machine, but providing Malcolm with a face mask was reason enough to dust it off. A search through my considerable stash of fabric remnants produced an acceptable color for my fashion conscious husband. 🙂 Wipes and hand sanitizer complete the outfit. Covering him up and restricting frequency is the safest adjustment we can make for now.

There are numerous patterns on Pinterest that can be used to make this mask, but honestly, just measure from cheek to cheek, cut a rectangle and add 2 or three pleats that will allow it to open up and cover from nose to chin. I attached elastic from side to side, rather than just over the ears, for extra comfort.

Day to Day Happenings

Finding space for alone time has become a new challenge, but as good weather permits, I am spending a lot of time floating in the pool, or lounging on the patio when I need quiet time.

The pool floats are courtesy of UPS delivery, ordered on Amazon, of course.

In the photo on the left I am setting up for a FaceTime chat with friends who live in our neighborhood. It is the first time I have applied makeup in over a month. My girlfriend commented that I looked ‘dressed’ for the occasion. If that means wearing something other than a big tee shirt and baggy gym shorts, I guess she’s right.

The cell phone Tripod that I wrote about here continues to pay dividends as I use it to make FT calls more tolerable. I don’t know about you, but holding the phone while trying to find a vantage point that doesn’t highlight my saggy neck is challenging.

The tripod takes all the guess work out of positioning and is the perfect vanity tool. We had a full on happy hour with our friends that was almost as nice as seeing them in person and I didn’t think about my neck once.

Exercise

Our neighborhood park is still open, but closely monitored for group activities which are not allowed, so I continue to enjoy my daily back board workout there.

Sharing time in our home gym has happened effortlessly and without the need of a schedule. Malcolm still takes his daily walks through the neighborhood and occasionally to the park. I am planning to incorporate water aerobics into our daily activities next week; water temperature permitting.

Watching and Reading

I just finished reading The Woman In Cabin Ten, by Ruth Ware. It is the tale of a travel journalist on assignment aboard a luxury yacht. As in Woman in the Window and Girl on a Train, the main character is painted as an unreliable witness by the author, which keeps us guessing as to what is real or imagined. Good thrill read for those of you who like a solid mystery.

Five episodes of Little Fires Everywhere are now available on Hulu. I read the book last year and loved it. Reese Witherspoon and Carri Washington are perfect in the main roles and I highly recommend this series.

For those of you with a warped sense of humor, you might like the Tiger King series, on Netflix. It is somewhat akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion, but weirdly entertaining. I blame this one on the kids. It was their turn to pick.

Inspirational

A friend sent this YouTube video to me on Palm Sunday and I thought it would be appropriate to share with you today. Without a doubt, music soothes the soul and we could all use a bit of that right now.

For the past month, I have not posted anything new to my Instagram feed. The photographs I share there are generally taken at our local beach, which is now closed. Of course it is killing me, but what’s a gal to do. Last week I scrolled though some older photos, made a few new edits and posted them.

The response was overwhelming and indicative of just how much we need peaceful images and serenity right now. Two of my pictures were re-posted (with credit) on local sites this week and have been very well received. It is gratifying to know that pictures I take are being used to soothe frayed nerves.

Adapting my favorite hobby to our current conditions has been challenging, but editing old photographs satisfies my creative needs at the moment.

Pearls of Corona Wisdom and other Unsolicited Advice

This week looked a little different from last week and that is a good thing. The world is making progress. My advise is to carry on. Adjust your life to ‘what is’ and make the best of your situation. Connect with people you love, take care of your self, maintain some sense normalcy in your daily routine, develop new interests and dust off old ones. Putting your life on hold and waiting this thing out will likely contribute to sadness and even depression and who needs that?

I don’t know about you, but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I watched some YouTube travel videos with my daughter a few nights ago and actually got excited about where to go next. Wishing you the very best this Easter Sunday. Stay healthy.

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When Two Become Four

As we moved into week two of social distancing, Malcolm started to do what CPA’s do, calculate the math. Based on facts at hand, and no clear plan for containment of the Covid19 virus by our Governor, he estimated that Miami, our largest city, would be in trouble within two to three weeks. Our daughter who lives in Miami had already been working from her tiny, high rise condo for nine days when we called to issue an invitation mandate that she and her boyfriend join us for the duration.

They were hesitant about the decision for obvious reasons; Malcolm, his mom and I are all on the endangered species list. We made a convincing argument for why she was in far more danger than us at this point, and they packed up and left Miami. That was ten days ago.

Making It Work

Maintaining our Corona altered leisurely lifestyle and staying healthy as the kids manage their 9 to 6 workday is an interesting dance that we are still learning the steps to. A few basic ground rules, mostly regarding allocation of space and duties has abated an OCD meltdown on my part and I am actually beginning to see a mutual benefit to the situation.

We are well aware of triggers that create anxiety, tension and resentment within our family dynamic and thus far, we have avoided conflict by having a genuine desire to make the best of this situation. Patience, understanding and respect for boundaries continue to serve us well.

The Down Side

You guessed it. The Corona Cave, that I wrote about in the last post, has been reallocated to office space. We miss it, but at least it has been sacrificed to a greater cause. They each have their own (quiet) work space in the house, and we are back to hanging out in the living room. Not my favorite space to lounge, but, at least it’s closer to the kitchen!

The Up Side

We enjoy their company, their energy and their contribution to our well-being. Having them here gives us a sense of purpose beyond ourselves and it makes us happy to provide a comfortable, stress free environment while they continue to work at jobs they love.

Obviously, best behavior practices and patience are the order of the day, but I can honestly say it hasn’t been difficult. Hopefully, we will still feel this way by the end of May.

Something to Think About

This disease will change the way we think about a lot of things and our temporary situation prompted me to consider how it might impact our living spaces in the future. I can’t say that we are ready to embrace this communal living concept as the new normal, but it has made us rethink the idea of down-sizing to condo living. Logistically, in our global society, it would not work for a lot of folks to accommodate adult children, but what about elderly parents? What do you think? Will multiple-family dwellings be a thing in the future?

Be Well!

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Filling Time Between Coffee and Wine

Like most people, Malcolm and I have come to terms with how life will be for the foreseeable future. Being retired enables an inherent flexibility that we are especially grateful for right now. Our wings may be clipped, but adapting to our new reality has been easier than imagined.

Making a conscious decision to be diligent about the things that matter has been the key for us. Creating balance in our daily lives which includes time for family, friends, health, fitness, hobbies, travel and finances has always been at the core of our well-being.

Of these priorities, only travel and finances have been detrimentally altered by this disease. Everything else can be easily maintained, even when ‘social distancing’ is imperative. When the dust clears, we will deal with adjustments to the way we travel and restructuring of our financial security.

For now, creating structure and balance within our daily lives, while remaining true to our values is most important.

Adapting to How Things Are

My twice weekly social tennis game has been replaced by a brisk daily workout against the wall at our local park. Not only is it a great workout, but it provides some valuable meditative time as well.

The park is just a few minutes from home by car, so I drive over and Malcolm walks. It is about a 40 minute walk, so by the time he arrives I am almost finished. It is a win/win for both of us.

Our floating picnic is quickly becoming a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime. Launching the kayak and paddling out to a secluded beach in the middle of the river has its perks. I posted this photo on my Instagram Stories last Sunday and my daughter accused me of being insensitive. What do you think, too much?

Malcolm and I have always had shared and individual hobbies and the hobby he misses the most is entertaining friends in our home. He is still cooking lots of yummy food and treats though, so I may have to up the workout to twice a day just to keep up with the calories he is forcing me to consume (wink).

When he isn’t baking a seriously sweet Caramel Flan like the one above, or a starchy comfort food like the mac and cheese below, he is running to the market for fresh produce. BTW, he scored a package of TP this morning!!

The virus is getting too close for comfort and as of today, his trips to the market are hereby suspended by the Executive Committee (me). It seems irresponsible, even as careful as he has been, to continue this indulgence. From here forward, we will have to make do by using the delivery apps recently installed on our phones. Walmart has really stepped up their efforts and I highly recommend downloading that one if you haven’t already.

Creating Comfort

We have a lovely home with plenty of space to be separate or together, but when it comes to waking up in the morning (coffee) and settling down in the evening (wine), we both want to be in exactly the same place – a comfy recliner.

Redecorating the family room a few months ago left us with some excess pieces of furniture that didn’t fit the new/lighter downstairs look. After surveying the upstairs loft, which hasn’t been used since our daughter moved away for college, we came up with a plan to reclaim the space. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

We started by donating gently used items and pitching the rest. Then, we rebuilt the TV cabinet to accommodate a modern flat screen TV. Next came re-purposing the old downstairs pieces and acquiring a couple of new things to make the space cozy. I am happy to say that we completed our little ‘reading nook’ just in time for a pandemic!

We expect to be spending quite a bit of time here for the next few weeks and possibly months to come, so why not be comfortable. His chair, devices and chargers are on the left, mine are on the right. We each have head phones and can tune each other out when we want to. Not shown in the photo is a small space with a coffee pot and wine cooler. It is the perfect Corona Cave. Yes, I said that.

When I saw this cartoon posted by Joe at Easin’Along I had to laugh out loud. Similarities to our new space and our attitude are uncanny. Thanks Joe!

Lessons Learned

What made me smile this week was the realization that we can adapt and ride this thing out in relative comfort, and maybe even with a little humor at times. We don’t have to put our lives on hold, but we will have to be creative, stay positive and make a few sacrifices. Some of us may even use the time to do some good. If you are like me, you will know you are doing the right thing when your actions align with your core beliefs and you wake up looking forward to another day, not dreading what the news will bring.

Please remember that many, many people are hurting right now and reach beyond yourself at every opportunity to brighten their day in some small way.

We could all use a little smile right now and would love to hear what you are doing to ‘lighten things up,’ not only in your own lives, but for others. Please share your thoughts regarding how you are filling the time between coffee and wine in the comments section. And, don’t forget to visit Trent’s World to add a link to what made you smile this week.

Sharing Some Goodness

Malcolm made these yesterday and they are yummy. He says I should remind you guys that they are made with no sugar; the sweetness of the bananas is sufficient. They were great with our morning coffee.

Until next time, be responsible, stay safe and take delight in the little things.

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When Retirement and Coronavirus Collide

For several months, a group of friends and I have been planning to host a Mahjong Tournament for our neighborhood players. A few days ago we decided to cancel the tournament because it felt irresponsible to continue. Obviously, this is a minor alteration to our busy retirement schedule, but there have been many other considerations and cancellations as well.

Besides having a full and active social calendar, the thing we love most about being retired is the ability to travel when and where we want. We spend a lot of time considering destinations, researching options and securing plans. Most of our trips are finalized well in advance, but sometimes we hit the road in a moment of spontaneity, just because we can. I’d like to say that will continue to be our attitude, but this spring has altered our thinking in ways we never thought possible.

Being in an ‘at risk’ category has made us think twice, not only about ourselves, but about the people we interact with – namely, Malcolm’s 90 year old mother. Irresponsible is the best word I can come up with to describe how we feel about exposing her, or ourselves carelessly to a virus that could have devastating consequences. Can we avoid the disease completely? Who knows, but we can take precautions, beginning with what hurts most – cancelling our travel plans for May and June.

After months of anticipation and countless hours of preparation, our Alaskan voyage through the Inside Passage, followed by visits to Banff, Lake Louise and the Canadian ice fields will not happen. At least not for the foreseeable future.

We made the decision to cancel early on, based on a gut feeling, but did not put the wheels in motion until an advisory from Celebrity Cruise Lines declared their intention to transfer paid fees to a future cruise booking. That was just the beginning of the unraveling that was to follow. Three flights, a rental car, and two hotels later, Malcolm had recouped almost 100% of our initial outlay. Had we held out another week, we probably would have received refunds for everything, but we just wanted the pain to be quick and done. Unlike our daughter, who is keeping the faith that her July trip to France will still be possible.

When the final toll is taken this virus will have long term effects that will shape our thoughts and actions for years to come. There will be a new reality, but what will or should it look like?

According to the CDC, anyone over the age of sixty is at risk for complications from this disease. I am not an alarmist by nature, but the thought of death, or reduced lung function from having this flu (who knows what the next one will be) is something I am concerned about going forward.

Will those concerns keep us home? Absolutely not! As soon as I get over my disappointment (almost there) we will begin to think about how we can travel smarter. Maybe this is the year to take a long drive, visit our national parks, or rent an RV and try a new experience.

We would love to hear how the Coronavirus has affected your plans and daily life. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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