Living through another lockdown

I’m failing to keep up with what’s going on in the rest of the world, but Israel is going through another lockdown, and I feel like I’m nearing the end of my rope. I’m not alone, either.

Things are mostly closed, except for food and pharma. Places are shut up and businesses are going bust. COVID statistics are frightening. Hospitals are nearing maximum capacity and we’re all going to suffer from further overload.

There’s something profoundly unsettling about having to keep away from people – to meet a friend and then be restricted to talking awkwardly from a distance through a mask, without being able to give a hug.

No library. No swimming pool. But thankfully, the heat is letting up enough for us to plan some hiking and spending time in the open air during this week of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).

I have some friends who have taken this whole crappy period as an incentive to do lots of house remakes and upgrades. Me? I feel like I have weights on my arms and legs. I just slug through work, food prep, basic cleaning, and some reading and crochet to keep sane.

I keep counting my blessings. We’re all in good health. I

live in a large house with a yard, trees, chickens, etc. We have a large supply of books and craft supplies. There are plenty of educational and entertaining stuff on the Web. I work from home and have a flexible schedule.

How many people have it way, WAY harder?!

Still, I find it hard to shake off this heavy, heavy oppressive feeling. And I’m sending this post out there as a big virtual hug for all the people who feel the same.

Stay safe, guys. And stay sane. Hug your kids. Do that puzzle. Bake those cookies. Put on some music. Do whatever makes you feel good that isn’t totally unreasonable. Be kind to yourself. You’ve got this.

How to deal with interruptions

I love this image: this is me every day!

I’m cooking breakfast.

A kid spills a glass of milk and makes a huge mess.

I sit down to work on a writing project for a client.

A simmering pot bubbles up and spills all over the stovetop.

I’m trying to do some yard work.

A neighbor drops by and engages me in conversation over the fence, totally oblivious to the dinnertime pressure the late afternoon hour means for me.

Life is full of interruptions – especially when you live in a house with kids who cry, fight, don’t want to do their schoolwork, and constantly mess up their surroundings. You might feel like you’re about to tear your hair out in frustration when you know all you need is an hour to finish a project, but you can’t even get 15 quiet minutes.

So how do I still handle things without going crazy?

Answer: I don’t. There are days when I feel I’m about to crack under the strain, but I do find that a few things help me keep the balance.

  1. I get up early in the morning. At least, I try, as tempting as it is to get a few more minutes of shut-eye. I have found out that my best chance of getting stuff done is early, before anyone else is up. But to do that, I need to go to bed early the day before – if I push myself to be productive after only 3-4 hours of sleep, I’m groggy all day long and won’t be much good for anything.
  2. I expect interruptions. I know I won’t have long quiet stretches of time throughout the day, and set realistic goals.
  3. I break up tasks into increments. Rather than say, “OK, I have an article to write/closet to rearrange/kitchen to clean and it will take one hour,” I say, “Now I write a few paragraphs/clean a couple of shelves, and it will take 15 minutes. After that, I’ll go on if nothing’s in the way.”

Even if I’m super organized and set my priorities just right, I can never do all I’ve planned – but usually, I have something to showcase at the end of each day, which is better than nothing.

Happy Rosh HaShana

This has sure been a crazy year. I know most folks choose to save their end of year recaps for December but, being Jewish, I take advantage of the opportunity.

So here are my hopes for the upcoming Jewish new year:

  1. I hope that the nutty virus that has been shaking our world upside down just decides to pack its suitcases and move along. Or, you know, that the science community finds a reliable and SAFE remedy.
  2. I send my best wishes to all the people who have suffered from Covid physically, emotionally, and financially. While not easy, this year has been prosperous for me professionally, with profitable opportunities and interesting projects. I am grateful and acknowledge my privilege. I hope we can all find a way to survive and thrive.
  3. I wish for more time to sleep and relax. And return friends’ calls. And just hang out with my sweet kids. And clean (I just wrote that last one to make myself seem more industrious 😁 I actually think I spend enough time on the house).

So I’m giving the world a big virtual hug on the cusp of this brand new year. Stay safe and well. Stay mentally healthy. And stay hopeful and creative.

“This should be your time”

A kind commenter told me this (I can’t find the exact quote right now): I’m sorry you have to work, even from home. this should be your time with your children.

Let me tell you…. There are days when I miss the simplicity of getting up and not having to juggle work projects with taking care of children and endless household chores.

Theoretically, yeah, I’d probably say that all mothers should live peacefully, free from all financial constraints until their children are at least in their teens. However, as we all know, there is a big difference between should, can, and is.

  • I feel more financially secure working. After several periods of extreme financial duress and my inability to do anything about it as I virtually cut myself off from all paid employment options, I know that the stress of juggling work and home is nothing compared to the anguish of having no income for extended periods of time.
  • My self-esteem is higher as I make my own money. I have always said that this is a misleading term: when you are married, all money goes into the family pool. Theoretically, who earns the money shouldn’t make any difference. “Just” mothers shouldn’t feel in any way inferior. But this is another instance of should vs is – as we live in the money economy, those who generate value but not money are often invisible. In a marriage, one of the spouses being responsible for 100% of the income often leads to an imbalance – and misuse – of power.
  • Getting into the workforce is tough after an extended break. I had been out of paid employment for a decade, and finding paid work involved scrambling for ground-level, low-paying jobs, plus losing much of the advantages my degree and clinical training would have given me otherwise. For a woman who had been out of employment for two decades or more, the process would doubtless be more difficult.

I don’t work full-time, nor is it my goal. But I am doing something I can easily upscale as my children grow older and I am able to put in more hours.

Always looking for balance, I certainly wish I had more of “my time” but thankful for the opportunities that have allowed me to swim rather than sink.

New book release: The Berserkers

A GENETICALLY MODIFIED RACE

I am happy and proud to announce that The Berserkers, the latest volume in the Antarctic sci-fi Frozen World series, is out now. Like its prequel, The Bloodthirst Gene, it makes a shift from purely environmental sci-fi to genetic engineering, and features violent supremacists, giant reptiles, and a worldwide ramble that includes Antarctica, Tasmania, and London.

“A society of ruthless genetically modified people seeking to recreate a Viking-like culture.
A formidable leader looking for the perfect bride to found a new, supreme race. 
And a girl who has the misfortune to catch his eye thanks to her unique genetic combination.”

To celebrate this new release, I am making The Last Outpost, the first book in the series, free until September 2, so anyone who hasn’t had the chance to take a look at Frozen World until now, this is the perfect opportunity to dip your toes in.

I hope both new readers and existing fans of the series enjoy this latest installment. I was going to say final – but I am hesitant to use that word, because following feedback from early readers, I tend to think I will need to add another volume to really and truly wrap the series up.

Fresh Pineapple crochet top

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I have finally woken to the reality that, as much as I love the feel of merino and alpaca yarns, I do live in a hot climate and must be practical in my crafts. Thus this summer crochet top in 100% cotton – another creation in the pineapple pattern, done with a 2 mm hook.

Materials used: Two 200gr cotton cakes from Ice Yarns – I estimate I’ve used up about 350 gr, with a bit left over from each cake. I liked the stitch definition, but this yarn does tend to split. I’d love to make another top in this gorgeous yarn.

The method I used is very similar to the one in this detailed YouTube tutorial:

A word to the wise: if you are making adjustments to the pattern, make sure the number of pineapple motifs at the neckline is even. I made an odd number and realized it too late, which resulted in asymmetrical sleeves. I don’t mind this much and was very happy with the top when I wore it last weekend, but if I had been intending to give it as a gift, I would have been self-conscious about this.

The good things in life

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This has been a busy summer, but thankfully, not too busy to appreciate the good things in life. Above: a little moth we were lucky enough to be able to watch transform from a chrysalis before releasing it.

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Our mango tree surprised us with pretty big fruit this year. The previous winter had been rainy, so I guess it needed more water.

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Two pullets of this spring’s hatch. All in all, we have 5 young pullets and 8 cockerels (the latter will not be remaining with us – one roo is quite enough!)

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Quail eggs – as pretty as they are delicious.

Hope everyone is having a good August! I love the sunshine, but could do with less heat.