21 things I hope to do in 2021

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

2020 was the sort of crazy ride few of us expected, with tosses and turns and deep dives. But now we’re waving goodbye to it, and I thought I’d share a brief list of 21 things I hope to accomplish in 2021. So here goes, in no particular order…

  1. Sleep more. 2020 was a year in which I failed to get enough rest. I overworked, overstressed, and binge watched escapist YouTube videos (New Zealand drone views were one of my favorites). So… let’s start with more than 5 hours of sleep at night.
  2. Read more. I mean for fun. I read for work all the time, but it’s not the same.
  3. Write more (not service pages for Australian plumbers!). I have so many book ideas and so little time.
  4. Eat better. Like sleep, much of healthy simple cooking had gone out of the window in 2020. I need more soup and homemade bread in my life.
  5. Work less. I got some fantastic clients in 2020 and appreciate the constant stream of work, but what I really need is more time off.
  6. Enjoy my children more. Time is so fleeting and I just want us all to have a good hike together, a game of monopoly, a cozy read-aloud, or simply some time to chill. And I want to be able to do that without constantly checking the time.
  7. Declutter. My home would be more manageable with less stuff.
  8. Get crafty. I did some great crochet projects in the past year, but I’d like to expand my horizons and try new things.
  9. Grow more stuff. We’re fast approaching the Sabbatical year in Israel, and I don’t want to miss my chance.
  10. Get into raising quail. We currently have one, after a tragic accident involving a sneaky stray cat. I’d really like to breed these fun little birds.
  11. Make soap again. Just because.
  12. Discover places I have never seen before. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a new walking path near town would be great.
  13. Appreciate myself more. This year, it has struck me numerous times that if I had someone in my life who does for me all I do for other people, I’d feel like I have a guardian angel who constantly pampers me!
  14. Stop fearing and roll with the punches. Yes, it’s a crazy world. No, there’s no security. But stressing all the time doesn’t help.
  15. Clean more effectively (so I can spend more time doing things I enjoy).
  16. Exercise.
  17. String a clothesline again (I’m currently using a folding rack).
  18. Hang up a couple of hammocks.
  19. Find ways to earn more money in less time (so I can do all the rest of the things on my list).
  20. Make my bedroom more inviting and cozy. I love my bed more than any other place in the world. 🙂
  21. Reconnect with old friends. Make time. Answer that phone. Return that message. Get together.

What are some things on your wish list for 2021?

Why I’m probably going to wait before getting a COVID vaccine

Warning: this might be a bit of a controversial post (something I don’t really do anymore these days!)

Like everyone else, I’ve been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. And like everyone else, I’d just love to get my life back.

I don’t think COVID is a hoax. I’m not really into conspiracy theories. I am a very run-of-the-mill person. I vaccinate my kids (with a slightly delayed schedule for newborns).

But I would still rather wait a while before lining up for a COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s why.

In the past months, the world has been pretty much obsessed with the upcoming vaccines and when oh when we can get them, and whether Pfizer’s or Moderna’s is more effective. There’s been a lot of indignation about knowing that there won’t be enough vaccine stock for everyone at once, and a whole lot of arguments about who gets first priority.

There’s been a lot of talk about “emergency approval” (fancy word for cutting corners with trials and testing) and doing it all fast, fast, and FASTER.

The comments from more cautious people saying, “but wait, maybe we need more trials” are pushed to the bottom of talkback lists and the people writing them are labeled as whackos.

The novel vaccines (actually labeled “revolutionary” by their makers) were judged as being “safe to use” with suspicious speed. And there has been talk about making them mandatory.

I doubt anyone will be coming to round us up and tie us to chairs to get us vaccinated. But people who would rather wait a bit before trying a new, only recently tested vaccine might find themselves facing serious limitations in travel, employment, and their children’s education.

When you Google “covid vaccine side effects” you get the typical list of vaccine side effects (swelling, redness, slight fever, etc) but nothing about longer-term possible implications. Why? Because there simply hasn’t been enough time to test them yet. COVID has been with us less than a year.

I’d like to wait at least a year to see some conclusive, nonbiased research on the effects of various COVID vaccines on pregnant women, children, and immunocompromised groups. We’re being told that governments and the WHO have given the green light. They claim it’s safe.

But the thing is, they really, really, REALLY WANT it to be safe.

Governments want to reopen the economy with no limitations. They want to make sure the hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. They want the unemployment rates to go down. They think in global terms.

As an individual, I would rather live another year or two with masks and social distancing than take the risk of an insufficiently tested vaccine. Why do I say “insufficiently”? Because there simply hasn’t been enough time.

Here is one of the few articles I’ve found with a safe, balanced approach towards the COVID vaccine. Neither an “avoid all vaccines like the devil” nor “let me be the first to get it”.

So I’m just going to do something very conservative. Wait and watch. And I know many people around the globe are thinking along the same lines, though we might be a bit of a silent group.

“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.

I’m glad I got to live in the world that was

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I love digital technology. I love having all the information in the world at my fingertips. I love how social media enables me to connect with people all over the globe. I love the explosion of gorgeous drone videos on YouTube, through which I can get a bird’s eye view of every corner of the world, from Alaska to Tasmania. And I love the amazing remote work opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible (or at least so convenient) without Google Docs, Skype, and PayPal.

Nevertheless, I’m glad I was born and got to live part of my life in a period when the world seemed to spin more slowly.

A world where you had to learn to use encyclopedia and dictionary indexes if you wanted to obtain information.

A world where you could miss a call and you never knew who called because there was no digital display of the caller’s number.

A world where you would take a photo without immediately being able to view it on a digital screen. You’d have to go to have your vacation photos developed in a photographer’s shop, and there were always some surprises (for better or worse).

A world where you actually still got to receive handwritten letters with beautiful stamps – I do feel lucky to still be in touch with people with whom I started to correspond before email was a thing.

A world where, if you wanted to buy something, you’d either have to visit or call stores in your area, or browse through mail order catalogs (remember those?!)

A world where you couldn’t listen to whatever song you wanted, whenever, wherever on YouTube – if a song you loved was playing on the radio, you’d stop and listen, and maybe hurry to record it on a cassette.

Being Orthodox Jewish, I still get to experience this simpler, unhurried, not-so-distant-past world every week. From the time candles are lit on Friday afternoon and until Saturday night, we look up words in a physical dictionary, knock on a neighbor’s door rather than text, and have no way to tell the time if we happen to go out without a wristwatch.

This weekly digital detox is so healing that I honestly believe everyone needs periodic unplugging in their lives.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you miss the most from the pre-internet world?

Simple summer fun

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, but this doesn’t mean our days are lacking in action. On the contrary, we’ve gotten into our summer routine, which is both busy and relaxing.

Above: some lovely modeling clay art by Shira (11) and Tehilla (9).

Aaaand, we’ve had a hugely exciting event last week when our cat has had her kittens. She is such a good mom and it actually looks like she’s counting on us to babysit her kittens when she leaves them for a bit!

So these are our days. Some work. Some rest. A shady spot in the garden. Playing with the quickly growing baby chicks. Ice cream and watermelons.

Hope you’re all having a good time too and taking care of yourselves.

Big Bird Crochet Pillow

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This quick and easy project would make a perfect gift. It’s soft and cuddly and extremely satisfying to make.

Materials:

Two cakes of super thick chenille yarn of this type (200 gr total). I used black, grey and white variegated.

Odds and ends of black, white, brown, and dark brown worsted weight yarn.

Stuffing of your choice.

Start by crocheting two identical circles from the chenille yarn, using a 7mm hook.

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Assemble the eyes and beak. For the eyes, start making dc with the black worsted yarn from the center, using a 3.5mm hook. At the end of the round, slip stitch and join.

In the next round, use white worsted yarn and work 2dc in each dc of the previous round. Slip stitch and join.

In the third round, work sc using the dark brown yarn in the following pattern: 1 sc, 2 sc in the next stitch of the previous round, 1 sc, 2 sc, etc.

For the beak, make a triangle in sc using the light brown yarn. Instructions for making a crochet triangle can be found here.

Naturally, you can play with the colors however you like.

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Sew the eyes and beak onto one of the chenille circles using a tapestry needle and worsted weight yarn of the same color (light brown for the beak, dark brown for the eyes).

Join the front and back of the pillow together by slip stitching. I used black worsted weight yarn for this because I thought it would look better. The thinner yarn disappears between the threads of chenille and the join is very neat and almost completely invisible.

Once you have just a bit of the front and back left to join, stuff the pillow. I used old stockings, but you can use store-bought stuffing if you prefer.

When the pillow is stuffed enough to your liking, finish the slip stitch join, tie up the ends, and push them inside.

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Voila! The pillow is ready for squishing.