pandemic diaries: encore

It's funny how my last post is titled "this is how it ended." I thought I'd end these pandemic diaries with the end of the 2020-21 school year. The kids went to summer camp and eventually back to school. But as we all know the pandemic has not yet ended. First delta and now omicron have made sure of that.

So what did we do on our summer vacation? For 4th of July weekend we stayed in an RV (never again) in Noyo Harbor (where parts of Overboard were filmed). We learned that the 8yo is serious when she says she's getting car sick, that #vanlife is not for us, and—wow—I really dislike the smell of any kind of wood-burning fire anymore. I do like the price of a small town pitcher of beer, though.

A $7.81 pitcher of beer.

In July, for the first time in about a year and a half (not including the kitten adoption events of summer 2020), I returned to volunteering at the shelter during open adoption hours! For awhile the shelter was open on Thursday evenings, which was perfect for my work/kids schedule at least so long as both parents are working from home. But eventually it got too dark, cold, and rainy to handle most of the adoption process outdoors, so now I'm there every other Sunday afternoon. I didn't realize how much I'd missed socializing cats and adoption counseling until I was able to do it again.

Me, with a kitten, circa 1982 or so, Reno, Nevada.

I continued to settle in to my now full-time day job, especially with the kids finally out of the house for at least a few hours each day. I attended a "reach your potential" style professional development workshop and learned that in a world seemingly dominated by jackhammers, I'm definitely 100% a hummingbird. I've been in this role for over two years now (first as a part-time contractor), but I'll celebrate my official one-year full-time anniversary next Tuesday. More on that in another post.

As mentioned above, the kids returned to full-time in-person school in early August and I can honestly say it's been wonderful for everyone. I know that's not everyone's experience but my kids have been so much happier being in-person again and their schools have experienced relatively few COVID cases (0 at the 8yo's elementary school!). I'm nervous about how 2022 will begin with omicron raging as it is (although both kids are fully vaxxed and Neal and I are boosted), but if we've learned anything over the past 20+ months, it's how to take things one step at a time.

Shortly after the kids returned to school, I decided to give Neal a break and take the kids on a short road trip to Winnemucca, Nevada (to visit some family on my Mom's side...it's also where she and my grandmother are buried). It's so interesting visiting a truly small town and then returning to the Bay Area, where there's a real uptick in the "born and raised" discourse lately, which to me is not all that different from the small town mentality. So many of the conversations I was overhearing in Winnemucca, population less than 8000, reminded me of conversations I hear all the time lately in Oakland: who gets to claim this town as their home, who gets to stay, who should go, and what are the reasons people are leaving? As someone who moved around every 2-4 years for the first 30+ years of my life, it never ceases to be a curious thing to observe.

In EV news, we finally got rid of our Leaf, which we'd nicknamed our Oakland golf cart because the battery was so old and we could only drive around town a bit before needing to recharge. We leased a 2022 Chevy Bolt and I'm convinced it's cursed. It hasn't caught on fire (yet) but we've already had to repair the side mirror, replace one of the front lights (which of course was not a simple thing we could do ourselves), and take it in for more substantial repairs after a minor road rage motivated fender bender (not my fault, although I could have done a couple of things differently—and will in the future!—to decrease my contribution to or escalation of such events). Otherwise, I love it! I was referring to the Bolt as "the Leaf" so much in the beginning, I decided to name it Leaf.

Things have been so busy since school started, but I have managed more weeks than not to spend a little bit of time a couple of evenings and an hour or two on the weekends in the studio. I'm quite pleased with how my current body of work is progressing (follow my art insta here) and hope to start documenting finished work in order to submit an exhibition proposal to a specific venue in Oakland in early 2022. That said, it's turning into one of those projects I can imagine working on indefinitely, not unlike the Winchester Mystery House or David Ireland's house, both of which we toured this fall.

Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA.

David Ireland House in San Francisco.

I started a (peri)menopause book club of one. Here's what I'm reading.

In podcast news, I discovered Debbie Millman's 'Design Matters' podcast, attended her webinar about how to interview people, and have season 2 of my own podcast all planned out, complete with a kind of sponsorship in the form of gift cards for guests from a local art supply chain. I just need time to do the interviews and edit the episodes (and, y'know, ask the interviewees if they'd like to be guests on the show, which I'm weirdly nervous to do). On a related note, if you're into podcasts and art, I highly recommend the 3-part series about the art world/market that recently aired on Freakonomics (parts 1, 2, and 3).

I painted a picture of my cat. So now I've painted both of my cats and neither has any reason to be jealous of the other (although Wolfi's painting is bigger than Penelope's...).

I finally had my eyes examined after about 5 years and got new glasses for the computer and reading. Ah, the inevitability of aging.

In running news, I successfully completed the Alameda 10-miler and walked Hellaween with the kids.

Shortly after that I suffered what my doc thinks is a meniscus tear. It took forever to get a follow-up visit with the sports medicine doc and my MRI is finally coming up next week. It feels a lot better since I haven't been running, but I'm missing running to the point of dreaming about it, so I'm really hoping the MRI confirms it is not a root tear and I'm given the green light to start training for the Oakland half-marathon in March.

A persimmageddon that wasn't! While we estimate our tree produced about 1000 persimmons last year, we only got about 100 persimmons from our tree this year. Earlier this week I put the final few to use in a last batch of veganized lemon-glazed persimmon bars (they were easy to veganize: just sub one flax egg!).

New hobby: playing with my new camera. Neal got me a Fujifilm X-T30 for my birthday and I got a zoom lens for Christmas. I've taken it out for a spin a couple of times. So much to learn!

Otherwise, our post-Christmas road trip to Los Angeles was canceled due to the 13yo breaking a bone in his ankle on Christmas Eve Eve. I may never book another Airbnb again.

Joan Mitchell at SFMOMA.

P.S. Did I ever write about the sunflower seeds the 8yo got from her garden teacher last year? We planted them in late spring with no real expectations so you can imagine how blown away we were when we experienced them in all their wonderful majesty. The 8yo and I checked out the Joan Mitchell exhibit at SFMOMA on my birthday in October where I jotted down this quote about sunflowers: "They look so wonderful when young and they are so very moving when they are dying." Isn't that lovely?