Monday, October 5, 2020

"See? That's Not So Bad!"

 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  I’ve been deliberately turning away from the firehose of news gushing from my radio, computer and phone these days.

 

 


Instead, I’ve been practicing mindfulness, gratitude, and just trying to open my eyes and actually notice the world around me, instead of obsessively doom-scrolling to see the next unbelievable twist the writers have for 2020: The Series.


Anyhow, it’s been easier because recently, I’ve started walking the Maine Millennial’s dog. If you follow her online or read her column, you’ll know the poor thing was struck down with shingles, roughly four decades before most unvaccinated people get it. (Another recent victim; our own Jenn, who fought off a bout last year.) Shingles, which is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus, can be brought on by stress. Stress? Who could possibly be stressed these days? 


Shingles hurts a lot, and since I couldn’t do the first thing I wanted to help, which was to be like the Empath in that Star Trek episode and take her pain into my own body, I’ve been helping out by walking the Doux Reviews: Star Trek: The Empath 

dog. Janey is four years old and full of energy, and she tends to have a startling amount of pull when she lunges after a squirrel, so her two long walks, morning and evening, require a certain level of exertion The Maine Millennial just isn’t up for right now.


Here’s the thing: I started doing it because I had to if I wanted to help my daughter. I have not been yearning for a dog of my own to walk. My last pup, Louie the semi-toothless Shih Tzu, passed away over two years ago, and despite the fact I’m a pretty passionate dog lover, I’ve  

been reveling in the freedom to say yes to spontaneous invitations without worrying who would let the dog out (in the Before Times, of course) and in the joy of snuggling into my pillow for an extra half hour of sleep instead of having to get up and out because some species never learned to use a toilet. (I think it may have something to do with not having opposable thumbs.)

 

But I’m finding I actually enjoy the task I backed into. I like the fact I’m getting a brisk walk a couple times a day - something I kept saying I was going to do for myself, but never did. I like getting to see the beautiful sights in my neighborhood - the Saco River, graceful old houses decorated for fall, the fruits and flowers of autumn. I like hiking on the trails through our local park, immersed in nature (and it’s exactly the sort of thing that’s great for my Achilles tendinitis.) 


Reds: Have you ever had a job or a task you dreaded, only to unexpectedly enjoy?


LUCY BURDETTE: I’m having a hard time coming up with tasks I dread, except for scooping the kitty litter. It would be a stretch to say that it can become a zen task to get every granule clean:). So I won’t.


However we are on the same path with doggie responsibilities, except mine is a puppy and I asked for it! It was good not to have to worry about taking an animal out early and late and many times in between, but actually both times of day are gorgeous (if it’s not raining.) The moon has been beautiful and the sky clear and many planets in plain view. And although puppy training is HARD, it’s also very gratifying. And she’s such fun to watch!


Jungle Red Writers: Pandemic Puppies

RHYS BOWEN:  Julia, I can tell you tasks that I didn’t want to do and still don’t enjoy. One is house cleaning, since I can’t invite my cleaning lady back at this moment. Another is cooking. I’m so bored with my own food and never eating out. We’ve done take out but it loses appeal if it’s half cold by the time we get it home.

 

One task I did enjoy: son and daughter were coming for socially distanced outdoor dinner. I dug out an old table and chairs— probably from the 1980s and had to scrub off years of grime. I was sweating and panting by the end but it was surprisingly satisfying.


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I cleaned out my top two dresser drawers. Mainly because I realized  I had no idea what was in them, and even though daunting, it was easier than writing. It was amazing. I tossed a billion little scraps or notes and receipts and things I don’t know what were or couldn’t even read. I found a disposable camera full of undeveloped photos, which, I figure, is a terrific clue for a mystery, right?  I found a wonderful note from my Mom (note circa 1999), five or six unexpired Barnes & Noble gift cards, a bracelet I thought was long gone, about 7 charging cords (to what, I have no idea), two nice camisole tops still in their plastic wrappers, PEZ in a MIcky Mouse dispenser, and a 100 dollar bill. Pretty nice!    


my bedroom dresser, a big bloody mess-cleaning out drawers | Laurel Home

HALLIE EPHRON: Drawer straightening is surprisingly pleasant for me, too, though I’ve never found anything particularly valuable among my underpants. But there’s something so satisfying, going from disorder to order and ending up with a pile of stuff whose use-by date as expired or that you really don’t need any longer. Straightening my office is like that, too. And washing curtains -- the satisfying part is hanging them back up and standing back and admiring how fresh they look. I’ve been surprised by how little I miss eating out. 


DEBORAH CROMBIE: Well, I won't say I've ever dreaded walking the dogs. But, there are days when I'd rather not, especially in the height of summer. Now, however, our older dog has developed severe arthritis, so I have to walk them every day, and I am always glad when I do.


And, like Rhys, we are doing without our housekeeper for the duration, and as much as I dread those things like scrubbing the tub and mopping the floors, I always feel very satisfied with myself once those tasks are done.

 

JULIA: There you have it. Proof that my mother was right when she told me to do the hardest thing first. How about you, dear readers? Do you have a task, chore or endeavor that turned out to be much better than anticipated? 

80 comments:

  1. Julia, I turned away from the news this weekend and had a lovely welcoming fall weekend. Some of the fun part of it required a dreaded task or two, but the results have given me much joy yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday). On Saturday I tackled cleaning the areas of the house where I wanted to put out Halloween decorations. After I trudged through the cleaning, I got to put out my decorations, including the orange lights that make me feel like I’m in a magical wonderland.

    Sunday brought me to another fall welcoming activity. I wanted my chili. That meant fixing it though. But, since I already had onion chopped and frozen from the last time I needed onion in a recipe, browning the hamburger and chopping the green pepper and mixing in everything didn’t seem too bad. I should mention here that chopping onion is a much dreaded task for me. So, I made my chili and enjoyed it so very much.

    Something else I’ve been doing lately is going through the tubs of papers and cards and newspapers and pics and more from when my parents died and my siblings and I divided things up. Did I mention that my mother had been dead 25 years and my father 23 years? I have so dreaded this task, but with my MIL’s recent death and the influx of stuff from her house, I knew I couldn’t put off sorting through my stuff any longer. But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve enjoyed looking at the old newspapers (reading them) and the vintage cards from when I was born (I even enjoyed the few offering my mother sympathy for having another girl and not another boy). I’m about through with the sorting and throwing out, and my MIL’s paper stuffs are sorted, too. I ended up experiencing lots of joy with this dreaded task.

    And, Julia, we’re thinking about getting another dog soon, and while I think I don’t want to walk a dog again, I know I will find it a great way to get myself outside in the wonders that wait there, along with getting the much needed exercise. I hope Victoria doesn’t have to suffer with the shingles much longer.

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    1. That's smart about chopping onion and freezing it Kathy. Does the texture turn out the same?

      and yay on the dog!

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    2. Kathy, I also freeze chopped onion. It's so handy! And yes, the texture doesn't change.

      A tip I've recently discovered is to cut the root end off the onion first, and then chop it. For some reason it doesn't release as much sulfur that way.

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    3. Yes, I would love to know the verdict on the frozen chopped onions!

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    4. Kathy, you've really got me wanting chili now!

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    5. The frozen onions are great and retain their texture. Karen, I do cut the root end off, but I didn’t know it helped like that. Debs, the chili tasted so good last night. I added a dollop of sour cream this time before eating it, along with the shredded cheese. The first time I had sour cream on top of the chili was at Kramer Books in D.C. back when President Obama was President. Kramer Books called the chili President Obama’s Chili, as it was the recipe he ate, and it was delicious. That it was served with the dollop of sour cream surprised and delighted me. I don’t always add the sour cream, but I always add the cheese. Oh, and Lucy, I think you are so brave to go with a puppy. We will probably adopt an older dog.

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  2. I’m wishing Victoria a speedy recovery . . . .

    Exercising is one of those things that I’m not fond of, but taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood has turned out to be more satisfying than I’d expected . . . .

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    1. that's a good one Joan and it almost always helps...

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    2. I keep coming up with excuses to walk to the mailbox (which happily the local USPS hasn’t seen fit to remove)

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    3. And we really do see a lot of interesting things on our walks!

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  3. Ouch, shingles. I hope she feels better soon!

    Straightening up my office is so satisfying but rarely gets done. Maybe I'll go clean out a dresser drawer!

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    1. see I use straightening the office as a reward for writing, usually finishing a big project:)

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  4. Poor Victoria! Ugh!

    Getting started on any dreaded task is always the hardest part, I find. Once I'm immersed in exercising, cleaning the house, organizing the junk drawer...whatever... It's always better and more rewarding than anticipated.

    Which reminds me. I really need to dust the living room.

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    1. Dusting! that always seems like a waste of time to me...

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    2. Oh Lucy, I love that you just put that out there! I wholeheartedly agree, but have always been embarrassed to admit it.

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    3. Speaking of dusting the fall task of dusting the baseboard heaters and radiators beckons - I need to get to it before the first blasts of heat turn my heating system into a dust machine

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    4. Lucy, I'm with you on the dusting. It just comes right back!

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    5. Oh, dusting! But it is kind of fun to see all the dust go away. Which lets you know how long it is between dusts :-)

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    6. I have to dust--leaky old house. And I'm horribly allergic to house dust, so if I let the dusting go more than a couple of weeks, doing it will give me an asthma attack. Better to do often and be able to breathe.

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    7. Deb, if it does go longer than two weeks, then wear a mask. It will, help you not get an asthma attack. We all have masks right now.

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  5. I'm with Annette--getting started is always the hardest part of any dreaded task. Sometimes even a beloved task like, um, writing. (Love the initial brainstorming and the later revising/editing. That initial rough draft--really a raw draft--not so much.) Anyway. I have a whole fall/winter's worth of organizing remaining: wrapping paper section of basement. Office closet/drawers (yikes!) And the remaining family photos. We've actually made a lot of progress on those...

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    1. Wrapping paper section? Whoa. I think we need a blog post from you about that! Have you ever seen Martha Stewart’s?

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    2. I have a couple of shelves with stuff jammed in willy-nilly...

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    3. Grandma saved bows and had boxes in the attic. Large dress boxes held the bows by size and boxes were sorted the same way. They were just at the top of the stairs before the turn and last steps to the actual floor of the attic. When they moved out it all had to be tossed, no attic or basement in the new home.

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