Life is an Adventure - How to keep it up with Covid-19?

Posted by Sue, Volunteer Mentor @sueinmn, May 6 8:48am

For those of us whose mantra is “Life is an Adventure” being confined is a torture. What are you doing to stay positive and hang on to that feeling while self-isolating? How are you dealing with cancellation of activities and trips?
If I stop to muse, I get very sad – my little adventures with my young grandsons have stopped for now, my annual trips to favorite places are cancelled for this year, our long-anticipated trip to the Passion Play is postponed to 2022, and our autumn road trip with friends is in doubt. So, I try to not dwell on those.
I find that the improving weather helps – I go out and walk my neighborhood every day and really observe what is there, admiring blooming trees, emerging gardens, even kitschy yard art along the way. And I try to spend 2 hours in my own gardens working, then I sit quietly on the patio to enjoy the result.
And I guess learning to participate in my formerly face-to-face volunteer activities remotely is a sort of adventure – it surely has challenged my mind and my tech skills.
But I haven’t yet resorted to the cleaning and sorting of stuff that seems to be popular among my friends and neighbors – if this goes on….
What are you doing for adventure these days?
Sue

@zep I forgot to mention – my daughter added a bee house to my garden for Mothers' Day – watching for the bees to find it.
And I rearranged and added to my bird feeders so I can enjoy them more – from inside and out. Thinking (slightly) of adding a squirrel feeder somewhere in the yard so I can watch their antics – and maybe discourage them from trying to get into the squirrel-proof bird feeders, though that too is entertaining.
Off to walk between showers!
Sue

REPLY
@sueinmn

@zep I forgot to mention – my daughter added a bee house to my garden for Mothers' Day – watching for the bees to find it.
And I rearranged and added to my bird feeders so I can enjoy them more – from inside and out. Thinking (slightly) of adding a squirrel feeder somewhere in the yard so I can watch their antics – and maybe discourage them from trying to get into the squirrel-proof bird feeders, though that too is entertaining.
Off to walk between showers!
Sue

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oo! More good ideas. Placement, I've found, by error, is critical when it comes to bee houses. I have yet to find a good place, though I keep trying. First year I secured two bee houses inside an old chicken shed near the garden. Out of the rain, I was thinking. No bees. Next year, I put them under the porch eaves of my art studio. No bees. Read somewhere, they need to be hit by morning sun. So I'll try again, somewhere. My sister who lives in PA. has full bee houses with overwintering bees in them. Don't know her secret, yet.

But placing multiple bird feeders with viewing pleasure in mind, that's ingenious. So far, squirrel and cat avoidance has been my foremost concern. Luckily, feeder and birdbath are close together, which makes for enhanced bird partying, and rivalry, which is fun to watch.

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@sueinmn

So I am finding some peace and happiness very close to home. Usually this time of year is crazy-busy for us, and time in the yard and garden is frenzied and geared toward "getting it done." This year, I am looking critically at where plants are, how they grow, whether or not there is a better place for them, whether "less is more" in some spaces.

To accomplish this:
Yard art has been moved around to show it off and make more interesting views from the patio.
I have been aggressively marking extra plants and giving them away. Friends and neighbors have been the recipients of a couple hundred extra perennials to grace their yards.
Planters and pots have been planted in color themes and deployed to enhance the patio and garden beds. (I usually just plant whatever catches my eye in the greenhouse.)
The patio has been thoroughly cleaned & rearranged to make it more relaxing and all the "hidey holes" cleared of excess stuff.

At the end of each day, I grab a beverage and sometimes a book, and relax on the patio to admire the gardens.

Rediscovering my joy in gardening has been an adventure, and has eased my feelings of loneliness as we continue to distance. As a side benefit, while I work outdoors, my husband has found long-delayed tasks and projects nearby to occupy him, our whole home is improving, and we relax together between tasks, admiring each other's work. Yesterday, as we rested between chores, we figured out how we can safely entertain up to four friends or family members on the patio this summer, which lifted my spirits immensely!

What "little adventures" can you find close to home?
Sue

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@sueinmn Yesterday and today I found myself more "in sync" with my yard, and have concluded it won't be done this year. I will go slowly and carefully, learning about the plants and getting weeding done. This property had fallen into missed maintenance before we got here. "Rome wasn't built in a day" so I will go easy on myself. Figuring a yard feature in front will be easy because we have many large-ish rocks to move around.

We took a drive out to the local reservoir, and found it very peaceful. As things are slowly opening up here, we found it pretty quiet there. Water levels are down quite a bit, with moderate drought forecast. This area should have been under at least 3 feet of water, instead of us being able to take to Jeep down.
Ginger

Gales Resevoir headwaters

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@IndianaScott

Good morning @sueinmn You bring up an interesting aspect of our new world. These times can certainly be frustrating!

While everyone is different and how we react to change is unique to each of us I've chosen a different way of looking at this.

First, having lost my wife recently and yesterday losing a longtime friend, I look at our current societal changes as temporary and mostly an inconvenience.

Likewise, since my wife died I bristle when people talk to me about 'getting back to normal' or asking ' how do you like your new normal'. Again, just how I look at life, but I believe if we spend time looking at what was normal or looking to get back to normal, we are spending our time and energy on looking back — not forward in life. Trying to recapture what was, not looking to what is or will be. Significant changes in our lives do exactly that — change our lives. I look at my life now as different and that makes it a new unknown. Just as I look at these times as different and not looking back. Sure I miss doing some things, but at the same time I have found far more than what I may have missed. I've spoken to more friends of old, relaxed, completed more long delayed projects, written more letters, read, etc. than ever before.

It's different, but to me different can be very good 🙂

Strength, courage, and peace

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@IndianaScott, What a lovely post, Scott. My heartfelt condolences for your most recent losses of both your wife and longtime friend. How remarkable and courageous of you to post such a wonderfully meaningful and upward looking post in the midst of such fresh grief.

Without a doubt, both of these most important people in your life would have heartily agreed that they were indeed most fortunate to have had your kind, caring and optimistic spirit in their daily lives.

Like you, I heartily resent others talking about "back to normal" or the "new normal". There is nothing "normal" about these times for many of us, especially caregivers or those facing the terminal illnesses on those we love.

The double whammy of the pandemic arriving simultaneously with facing the end of life for my best friend is cruelly overwhelming for me at times. As the primary caregiver for years of both my mom and only sister and for a shorter period for my nephew, I was alone in making medical, home health, legal and quality of care decisions. I thought I'd experienced the full range of emotions every caregiver knows and experiences at one time or another. However, during those years, I was able to be physically there and actively present with them. Now with my closest friend of decades I cannot be there for her.

Until her most recent release from hospital, I'd been able to actively participate by preparing meals for her and interacting with her medical team and others at her and her guy's request.

Her last recent hospitalization dismissal and diagnosis that the cancer had become much more aggressive coincided with the Covid-19 outbreak. My pulmonologist told me in no uncertain terms, unless you self-isolate, contacting the virus will more than likely prove fatal for you. While that certainly got my attention, it also meant that I cannot see or physically spend time with my friend and her wonderful guy.

My friend had begun signs of dementia prior to her earlier stage 4 metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Now, she has great difficulty completing a sentence and that adds such frustration for her. We try to "guess" what she wants to convey but sometimes/often we miss the mark which adds to her stress.

However and although she's been told of her advanced cancer, her memory loss has been merciful in the respect that she cannot remember or realize from day-to-day how critically ill she is. We communicate daily and I work to recall the wacky, funloving, mischief making, comical times we've shared. She chuckles and can recall them at the moment. I remind her of the many times she went far beyond the usual friend factor in her support and encouragement of me at critical/crisis times in my life. I have great difficulty grasping the reality that a time will come when I can no longer hear her precious voice, her laughter. I am thankful for what we do have but oh, I so wish I could do more.

Scott, Members here can only be inspired and grateful for what you posted above and your many other supportive, encouraging messages. If you can view these uncertain times as an adventure with new possibilities going forward, surely the rest of us can latch onto some of your optimism and bravery as we count our blessings each day. Sincerely, Alice

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@gingerw

@sueinmn Yesterday and today I found myself more "in sync" with my yard, and have concluded it won't be done this year. I will go slowly and carefully, learning about the plants and getting weeding done. This property had fallen into missed maintenance before we got here. "Rome wasn't built in a day" so I will go easy on myself. Figuring a yard feature in front will be easy because we have many large-ish rocks to move around.

We took a drive out to the local reservoir, and found it very peaceful. As things are slowly opening up here, we found it pretty quiet there. Water levels are down quite a bit, with moderate drought forecast. This area should have been under at least 3 feet of water, instead of us being able to take to Jeep down.
Ginger

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@gingerw When people exclaim about our yard, we always remind them it took over 30 years to get here, and each year is a new adventure. The first 10 years were spent removing and giving away 14 tons of washed river rock and pulling out landscape fabric so I could have gardens. The next 25 have been spent designing, planting, redesigning, mulching, redesigning, edging, redesigning…

I do know I'm done expanding and ready to simplify. For example, I'm done with garden "thugs" – as soon as I figure out a plant wants to spread beyond where I want it, out it goes. If it's too much work, out it goes – so we buy our apples at the orchard now. Last week Russian sage was ruthlessly eliminated from the mailbox bed, where it wants to crowd out the lilies, daylilies and roses. Today as we relaxed and looked at the back fence line, I told my husband the large spectacular clump of one native, the Cup Plant, needs to go because it wants to be The Boss, and even the seedlings are a challenge to remove. Now I get to choose one or two showy shrubs to replace it and find someone with a strong back to dig it out.

Today another 90 coneflowers, milkweed plants and a few other natives were potted to go to my sister and her son for their gardens, which means the pond garden is nearly finished for this year…except more mulch – about 20 bags of it.

Tomorrow I tackle the 15' x 100' back garden – that one takes a solid week to get under control, and probably has another 500 seedlings to share. I don't think I'll even bother to try to get my fingernails or feet completely clean until that's done. Yesterday I even found dirt inside my bra when I went to shower – my kids used to say I really get into my work.

I would be going a lot slower except I have exactly 3 weeks until thumb surgery, then I'm out of the garden for at least 6 weeks, and not much good for the next 6. I'm going to hire the 12 year old next door or my nephew's boys down the road to keep the feeders and birdbaths cleaned and filled, pond skimmed and filters clean, since all their summer activities have been cancelled – we'll see which one wants to play in the water most.

So Ginger, give yourself a break. Set one or two goals each season, then sit back and enjoy what you've done. Let the land tell you what it wants! To me, the most important feature of any landscape is a peaceful place to sit, and comfortbale chairs to sit in.

What's your big goal for this spring?
Sue

REPLY
@sueinmn

@gingerw When people exclaim about our yard, we always remind them it took over 30 years to get here, and each year is a new adventure. The first 10 years were spent removing and giving away 14 tons of washed river rock and pulling out landscape fabric so I could have gardens. The next 25 have been spent designing, planting, redesigning, mulching, redesigning, edging, redesigning…

I do know I'm done expanding and ready to simplify. For example, I'm done with garden "thugs" – as soon as I figure out a plant wants to spread beyond where I want it, out it goes. If it's too much work, out it goes – so we buy our apples at the orchard now. Last week Russian sage was ruthlessly eliminated from the mailbox bed, where it wants to crowd out the lilies, daylilies and roses. Today as we relaxed and looked at the back fence line, I told my husband the large spectacular clump of one native, the Cup Plant, needs to go because it wants to be The Boss, and even the seedlings are a challenge to remove. Now I get to choose one or two showy shrubs to replace it and find someone with a strong back to dig it out.

Today another 90 coneflowers, milkweed plants and a few other natives were potted to go to my sister and her son for their gardens, which means the pond garden is nearly finished for this year…except more mulch – about 20 bags of it.

Tomorrow I tackle the 15' x 100' back garden – that one takes a solid week to get under control, and probably has another 500 seedlings to share. I don't think I'll even bother to try to get my fingernails or feet completely clean until that's done. Yesterday I even found dirt inside my bra when I went to shower – my kids used to say I really get into my work.

I would be going a lot slower except I have exactly 3 weeks until thumb surgery, then I'm out of the garden for at least 6 weeks, and not much good for the next 6. I'm going to hire the 12 year old next door or my nephew's boys down the road to keep the feeders and birdbaths cleaned and filled, pond skimmed and filters clean, since all their summer activities have been cancelled – we'll see which one wants to play in the water most.

So Ginger, give yourself a break. Set one or two goals each season, then sit back and enjoy what you've done. Let the land tell you what it wants! To me, the most important feature of any landscape is a peaceful place to sit, and comfortbale chairs to sit in.

What's your big goal for this spring?
Sue

Jump to this post

@sueinmn You have no idea how supported your post made me feel! When I came up here last August, first thing was to have the five cedar trees along driveway removed. They closed the property off, and were intruding on safe navigation of curved driveway. I like seeing the surrounding hills and feeling the breeze. Hubby mourns their loss, but we will plant some boxwood hedges between the Japanese Burberry still on that driveway fence line. That will be visually pleasing, and offer some privacy.

Sometime next year we will replace the property fence, once we know what direction the vacant lots on two sides will take. If the owner does not sell them outright [he won't sell to us], they go to auction by end of the year. I will be moving the lovely rocks that semi-line that fence. They make keeping a clean line difficult, and some will be used to create my "directional" yard feature. Eventually the bigger ones will help on north slope. Someone went to a lot of work and expense to bring these rocks and boulders in. My husband laughs that the first words out of my mouth when we looked at house, "I hope they are leaving the rocks!"

The biggest challenge I have is finding out what will grow best around here. Wild blackberries, definitely. Ivy snaking up our pine trees. Ferns in the shaded areas. Daffodils, iris, and roses are established.

Thank you.
Ginger

REPLY
@gingerw

@sueinmn You have no idea how supported your post made me feel! When I came up here last August, first thing was to have the five cedar trees along driveway removed. They closed the property off, and were intruding on safe navigation of curved driveway. I like seeing the surrounding hills and feeling the breeze. Hubby mourns their loss, but we will plant some boxwood hedges between the Japanese Burberry still on that driveway fence line. That will be visually pleasing, and offer some privacy.

Sometime next year we will replace the property fence, once we know what direction the vacant lots on two sides will take. If the owner does not sell them outright [he won't sell to us], they go to auction by end of the year. I will be moving the lovely rocks that semi-line that fence. They make keeping a clean line difficult, and some will be used to create my "directional" yard feature. Eventually the bigger ones will help on north slope. Someone went to a lot of work and expense to bring these rocks and boulders in. My husband laughs that the first words out of my mouth when we looked at house, "I hope they are leaving the rocks!"

The biggest challenge I have is finding out what will grow best around here. Wild blackberries, definitely. Ivy snaking up our pine trees. Ferns in the shaded areas. Daffodils, iris, and roses are established.

Thank you.
Ginger

Jump to this post

@gingerw Back in our home in Pa we had black walnut trees , a Katalpa treeSP? and dogwood trees . Besides the blue spruce pine trees they all faired well in winter . Honeysuckle as a ground cover just some ideas for colder weather

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Happy Friday everyone! I learned about something new this morning at my Toastmasters Zoom meeting and I wanted to share it with everyone as it is something easy to do if you have a smartphone. All you need to do to start the adventure is download an app for your phone and go on an adventure in your yard.

YouTube video that explains it all — Counting the Species in my Backyard… for SCIENCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-LjzKx-u9g

Download iNaturalist to join the It’s Okay to be Smart global survey project and submit your observations!
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/it-s-okay-to-be-smart-global-survey

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@johnbishop, What a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing this. I've posted it to my daughter and grandboys for some excellent outdoor summer activity …with a little science learning on the side. Yes!

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