At the doorstep of 2021

The year is white from ends

with flourishing green in the middle

The year

The year is what we have chosen to be our reference point. The year starts and ends in winter in places where I have lived and still live. The end and the start of the year happen to be white very often or about 85% of the time, sometimes with snowdrifts and shiny snow blanket over grasses and frost on trees, sometimes – with only ice patches and mud, sometimes bitterly cold, but always in winter. I am aware it’s not everywhere like that.

The green part of year

I am a fan of the middle: from early spring till the last green grass stem is still growing. I stop painting winter right before Christmas, and in the recent years, I am trying to stick with my decision not to paint any snow. It is easily explained: I cannot wait for the first flowers and plants to come up. I will be digging soil in the backyard when it hasn’t even completely thawed yet. That is my gym and my exercise and always has been.

Sinful idleness versus meaningful doing

The age impacts the flow of time and our perception of time settings to a great extent. The older one gets, the more serious they are about using time wisely, at least I am. I do measure my days by accomplishments, not by hours. If I haven’t managed to get anything meaningful done during the day, I’ll be upset. Therefore, spending time just exercising or walking aimlessly while I can also get done something useful in the garden, is a sin for me. Just like idle sitting around or having small talk.

No small talk for me

I avoid small talk, I certainly do as much as possible. Walking is fantastic, and I add usually a target to it: one store or another, appointment or visit. If I’m in the middle of painting, I simply cannot answer the phone. That frequently involves making small talk. Paint dries quickly, ideas vanish and mood changes. We never paint with the brush and paints only, there are a lot of other factors which go into my art.

Nobody has all answers

It’s good to believe that we know all the answers as our age grows and gets past 60, but it’s not true. The more we know, the more questions arise. I am very thankful for my medical knowledge, pharmaceutical and diagnostic skills and clinical experience. That has really helped and not only me. It keeps making life easier. I’ve also discovered how Canadian doctors are not always up to standards and protocols, and how much their diagnosis can be affected by rush, generalized assumptions and plain misunderstanding or inattention.

Superficiality

Superficiality is very widespread. The justification is that nobody has time. That is the biggest paradox of nowadays: everybody has plenty of time for fruitless scrolling through the internet on any screen that happens to be around, but no time for the good and meaningful things which make life worthwhile. Most people don’t ever read anything that’s under the picture or within the actual text, or the first 3 words at the best. Superficiality leads to sloppiness, disorganized and careless attitude in other areas of life.

Lack of quality

Quality is very quickly disappearing as the result, and lack of quality actually applies to absolutely all areas of our life. For instance, while I know that restaurants are having tough times, the restaurant and takeout food is just not for me and my family. We have gotten takeout meals a few times, and most of this food went to the garbage bin. It had no taste, no flavor, and there was certainly no love applied when cooking. High class workmanship and good skills in whatever walk of life we are looking for, are just not there. It makes no sense trying to get somebody’s help when it’s pretty clear you will have to do it over.

The year 2020

Everybody of us applies our own ratings and our own measuring tape based on experience, age, knowledge and so forth to whatever we are evaluating. Comparatively, I cannot complain about this year. The previous one, the 2019 was much worse since I lost my mom that year. Garden was doing extremely well this year. I put in many jars of preserves for winter. I had no live art classes from March to December, therefore, I was able to paint many more of my own paintings. Some of them are really excellent. Washing hands, disinfecting all items and areas, wearing a mask and staying at home was not a problem for us because we are a tiny 2-person family. Financials could be way better, but, unless one is a billionaire, that’s always an area which could be better.

December: snow and more snow
December: white and pure snow all around
Magnolias
Early spring magnolias, they blossom in my backyard
Spring lettuce
Lettuce comes up and produces early
Summer cucumbers
We were enjoying our own cucumbers in the summer and later pickles in the fall and winter
I had tomatoes from June to November, some got used in preserves
Summer flowers
Flowers in full bloom, this is already October
Bell peppers
Bell peppers or paprika were doing fine also, late October here
Last nasturtium
The last nasturtium blossoms, direct before the strong November frost
January sometimes comes with sunny days

Be patient

The COVID-19 pandemic probably will take quite a while to resolve. As we have seen, this virus mutated very quickly, thus, causing to establish whether the available vaccines still work for the new variants of this virus. It’s uncertain that more new variants won’t appear before everybody has received their immunization dose of vaccine. Only time will show how long we are staying safe and how long the vaccine actually helps keeping one safe: a year, 3 years, more years? Time is what we didn’t have so far. Being patient is very important, hence, everybody contributes to putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.

Wishing safe, healthy and good New Year!

Thanks for reading if you did!

Self-isolation, make this time count

At least spring is coming

In the Northern hemisphere, we are close to the first day of spring. Although, spring can be cold and windy in some parts of Canada, for instance, Ontario, we are almost there. Temperatures are getting milder and gradually increasing. That means garden and outside work can start soon. Lucky people, who have a greenhouse! What better time to self-isolate and provide oneself with fresh produce as early as possible?

The issues we are facing right now also point out some attitudes and behaviors which we should have gotten rid anyway.

Switching to self-entertaining

Many industries, establishments and businesses were doing just that: entertaining. Based on recent literature and consumer response, we can see how much pressure is put on anybody whether they are a teacher, a social worker, an event organizer or simply a parent to be able to entertain. Some people assume it a normal way of life; to always expect that somebody has to entertain you.  Normal way of life is finding one’s personal entertaining hobbies, activities and passion in what we love doing. When we have an idea what makes us feeling good and whole, we do not need somebody entertaining us every minute of the day or night. Lots of people do not know how to spend time in self-isolation because they have always relayed on somebody else, who makes their life interesting. It’ s time now to switch to entertaining oneself.

How about self-discovery?

Maybe it won’t, unless one wants to spend their entire time in front of a screen. For those, who feel fine, but are required to completely self-isolate, this is good time to engage in self-discovery and to try completely new things which are important, but were neglected because of the busy life of meetings, parties, dinners, travel and shopping. Maybe this time, somebody will learn how to listen to nature. Maybe need will make one dig up their backyard this year and engage in gardening. Somebody might start exploring backyard animals and birds, their funny habits, watch and take photos of them or start journaling, sketching and painting.

Limited choice means a lot of choice still

I heard some people being upset and complaining they couldn’t dine out and attend concerts and theatres. Tough or what? It is actually the same as usual for our family: we never liked dining or eating out and always preferred to cook from scratch. Being a good cook is a talent I inherited from my parents and kept developing with innovation. I am very happy that I can cook anything of just a few products or you could say nothing. I suppose, creative people are creative in any area of life. There are 2 main distinctive approaches: one is consumer’s approach, the other is creator’s approach.

Consumer’s reality

What do we need to buy or get to be safe and happy? If you are a person, whose happiness depends on things and purchases, you will need to buy a lot and also, in conditions of decreased manufacturing and production output, many things will be not available. That will make consumer upset. Stores will be closed for a while, except basic groceries and pharmacies, and restaurants, cafes, clubs and for that matter any catering services except for takeouts and deliveries are already closed in Ontario. Anything ready-made is much more expensive, too. We ordered a few times delivered food and it was of such a poor quality compared to what I cook. I was simply recovering after a recent surgery and couldn’t do much for while. I cannot imagine how bad it would be to always order ready-made food. We also ordered groceries once and it wasn’t really how you buy them at the store. No 2 pieces of meat are the same and things like vegetables or simple potatoes come in very different sorts for different purposes.

Creator’s reality

My mind always works like that: how could I repurpose this particular thing? What can I make of these items? What can I use to fit this function? Something like that. I do cooking, gardening, sewing, crafting, decoration and obviously art. I have done this for about 50 years, and I can literary make anything I need, that would include simple furniture and all items necessary for winter, spring, summer or fall, including hats, purses, gloves, bags and similar items. I always regretted I cannot make shoes and boots. When you feel that you can create anything you need, you start feeling very calm and very relaxed. I don’t think every person will start sewing and cooking or gardening, but it makes one independent and saves huge amounts of money.

Self-isolation activities

Start with outdoors, seeding and planting

Not everybody has a backyard or lives on a farm, but most people have access to some kind of outdoor space where it is possible to place some pots or boxes with soil or planting substrate. I always s wanted to live in a detached house with a backyard. We have been moving a lot, but that didn’t stop me from creating a new garden wherever I went. You might say it is a lot of work. It is heavy work and it means physical work until we get things going. However, doing physical work outdoors in fresh air is the absolutely best thing for a human. It is way better than any gym. The heaviest part and most boring is soil preparation.

Container garden versus permanent garden

My current personal situation is such that I have no suitable area in our large backyard for plant beds. Since there are only rocks beneath the grass coverage, I went containers last spring. I learned a few things. It is better to put only that many seeds as many plants you expect to come up, plus maybe 1 or 2, in a container or pot. It is better not replant cucumbers, zucchinis, lettuce and similar plants, and you cannot successfully replant dill, radish and small arugula or spinach, for that matter any similar small-leaf vegetables which can be consumed right away from the first tiny leaves. In my experience, anything grows well in container, as long as we can provide with efficient depth of soil. Advantage of container gardening is that you can move pots, boxes, bags or other containers around to have more sun or shadow as required.

Start up creative activities

It is a very suitable time to start something new. If you never tried the above mentioned things and only used services, choose one area. You’d be amazed how much pleasure is using creative approach to any restrictive situation with limited choices. It will literary drive your creativity and teach something new about yourself, too.

I have no classes at the moment, I intend to describe these activities in more detail, as well as give practical advice for beginners. One thing I definitely have in abundance is experience. I don’t mind sharing it.

If you only click on “like” from Reader, you will probably never know what I am writing about. I usually do not return 10 likes when somebody hasn’t read any of my posts and doesn’t have an idea about what my 2 blogs are about.