• Lisa Millraney

the new normal, whatever that is

So! How’s everybody handling our ‘new normal’? are you busy, or bored? For me, it’s definitely the former.

Obviously a lot of folks are beyond antsy. Things are starting to open back up. I realize the way the world works at this time, that is essential; people need to work and pay bills, absolutely. That said, I’m not comfortable going out to any degree at all, until there is something in place that makes me pretty certain I’m not catching anybody else’s crud and, should I have crud and not know it, I am not giving somebody else my crud. Hence, my butt is still ensconced at the Ivy Encrusted Cottage, and shall be for the foreseeable future except for vitally important activities.

Those still happen, and I got buried under what felt like an avalanche of them the past week or two. Back while I was caregiving, I was visited by folks from the city about running a sidewalk down my street, including through my front yard. That was fine with me, since they promised A, not to block my driveway at any time, because I explained I had an elderly demented parent and might need to run her to doctor or hospital with no advance notice; B, to pay me a bit; and C, to move my mailbox and take out the ruins of a tree stump (heck yeah, I’m taking shameless advantage of their presence. LOL). They surveyed, put staubs out to mark the path, and…nothing. For THREE YEARS. Now suddenly, in the middle of a global pandemic, the city has decided to move forward with putting the sidewalk in. Um, okay? LOL.

In practical terms, it wasn’t a big deal, except I had to figure out how to get the paperwork the contractor sent me notarized. My bank has a couple of notaries on staff, but two months past my having to go down there to get the mess with my stolen check fixed, they were completely closed down. I called anyway to ask, and get this, they are currently notarizing documents through the drive-thru! So that was sorted.

A week later, I got another similar packet, from another contractor, but this time about my parents’ property—the small town nearest to it wants to extend the water main, including across their front yard. So same procedure, right? Wrong. I realized I had never officially filed the paperwork where they deeded the property over to me. There hadn’t been a need for it. After a brief panic, I made some phone calls and an appointment, went to the county offices, and got the deed registered.

That sounds so simple! We all know though, that right now, nothing like that is simple. As little as I’ve been going out, it felt surprisingly weird to get dressed and put on a mask and head off. Most of the other people there also had masks on—most of them, sad to say; wish they all had. Lines were marked off six feet apart, and when I arrived I called the office upstairs and one of the registrar staff came and escorted me up. The offices, I’m sure, are usually bustling with people, but they were vacant, echoey and quiet. New normal, like I said, whatever that is now or is going to be in the future.

That was actually the second time that week I’d had to brave governmental offices, because my insurance agent contacted me at the very same time to point out I was paying for coverage on my dad’s old truck but had never gotten it put in my name either. So the day before the property trip, I made another run, this one to downtown Nashville, and stood in another socially distanced line with folks in masks (and one guy with his bandana over his face like he was off to rob a train after he got his business done, hehe).

The lines were outdoors, mostly, so thank heavens the weather was decent. That made me feel a little more relaxed, which, maybe it shouldn’t have? We know so little about this virus so far, but most infectious bugs don’t stand up to sunlight and fresh air very well. I’m taking an online class about it to learn more. It’s free, from Johns Hopkins University! (Could you have imagined a few months ago being able to do that? I couldn’t)

Speaking of free classes, with in-person inservices and seminars universally cancelled, my professional organization kindly opened their continuing education archives to all license holders for free for the next month or two. Consequently, I knocked out the rest of my year’s requirement, and am considering taking advantage of their generosity to do enough hours for the next two years. Hey, it’s here, I’m here, let’s do this thing.

In the vein of necessary excursions, doctor’s visits fall into that category. My dear doc has his office scrubbed and socially distanced and masked, so I went in for a scheduled follow-up. Everything was fine, except my shoulder has been aching off and on for the past couple of months. He examined it and says I may have a touch of bursitis. WHAT. I’m not old enough for…ulp. Maybe I am. I’m not nearly as young physically anymore as my brain still thinks it is. Another weird feeling. (Crosses my mind when I brush my hair and notice more grey. Not planning to go to hairdresser anytime soon, so I guess I will get to see just how much grey I have, huh? Kind of interesting. It doesn’t look like an awful flat grey, thankfully, just shiny and sort of pewter-silvery, for lack of a better description)

Let’s see, what else is new. I put out a small garden—wasn’t in the mood to dig up half my yard. Right now I have Better Boy tomatoes and Tabasco peppers, plants I picked up on a grocery run, in boxes on my patio. The rosemary and mint I planted last year survived the winter and came back, and I put some basil out. I ordered some seeds to start inside, and just yesterday put out some big Russian sunflowers, Cherokee wax bean bushes, and zucchini vines. I even have red bell peppers and cherry tomatoes sprouting in an egg carton of dirt in a sunny window—those seeds I got from veggies I ate! Thus far all appear to be growing well. I put some small fencing around them to keep the fat rabbits and nosy squirrels at bay. I HOPE.

And while on the subject of the great outdoors, I went to take down the hanging basket of petunias on my porch to water it, and discovered this inside!

Having consulted with several knowledgeable friends, I think they are sparrow eggs. I’m gonna be a birb auntie! As for indoor plant life, I expanded into carnivorous plants and got two little sundews. They eat bugs, and have been very helpful with the ants who sometimes sneak inside in spring.

That’s Venom on the left and Audrey on the right. Audrey is a standard Cape sundew, Venom is the alba variant. You may be able to tell the teeny hairs on his leaves (what they use to catch bugs) are pale where Audrey’s are pink. They seem quite happy on my kitchen windowsill.

In other activities, I’ve baked bagels and popovers, and fried donuts, with my sourdough starter, I have a bowl of dough rising as we speak to make rolls, and I finally found the recipe for a dessert called tiffin that I ate 20 years ago in Ireland, so that’s getting baked soon. I also baked some historical cookies, Anzac biscuits, that were pretty darn amazing. I made quiche, and soap, and learned how to sew my own masks (I like these fitted ones a little better than the pleated)

Hey, I used the fabric I had. LOL.

I went to a wonderful virtual yarn show, worked with a dyer, and finally got the yarn for a phoenix-themed shawl I’ve been wanting to knit for a year or two.

I might also have bought another skein because it was Iron Man themed. Oops. LOL. The shawl I mentioned casting on in my last post was for my aunt, from a skein I got last year that she fell in love with. It’s done, but I’m not posting a pic—sometimes she reads my blog and I want her to be surprised. (waves to aunt Peggy) I will say I like the pattern well enough, I cast on another one for myself! I finished the cross-stitch amabie too. Turned out very cute, if I do say so.

And last but certainly not least, I signed the final version of the contract for Song for the Seacrossing last weekend! Yay, I am officially published. Well, maybe I should wait till it comes out to say that? I don’t know! I keep vacillating between breaking out the bottle of local blackberry wine I bought last year, that I said I would open when my first novel was bought, and waiting. The ebook edition is scheduled for early October, but do I want to wait that long to hit that wine? What do y’all think? Of all the strangeness of this present life, it feels strangest to be excited about at last achieving a goal I’ve worked toward since I first made up a story and put it on paper decades ago.

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