Ordinary Household Objects: Day 5

Ordinary Household Objects: Computer Mouse

Kathy & I made one of those “essential errands” today with a jaunt to one of our favorite destinations on the other side of the SC border.  Yes, it was a liquor store. 😉

On the way there we took I-485, which circumnavigates the city of Charlotte and is the most efficient way to our destination.  On our return, we made an intentional “wrong turn” and took the rest of the loop which results in about a 65-mile journey.  But what else is there to do? 🙂

Along the way, we were excited to see the green popping in the trees, white and pink Dogwood in their spring splendour, and relatively empty roads.  A reminder that, for Mother Nature, life goes on with or without all the pandemonium that we mere mortals are dealing with.

To top it off, I used “Fuelpoints” from our local grocery store and filled up the gas tank for $.80 a gallon!

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 4

Ordinary Household Objects: Hair Brush

Kathy & I love to eat out but we had already cut back a lot in order to offset all of the “travel eating” we have done lately.  We aren’t big fans of “takeout” food, generally preferring to “dine in” or just cook at home.  About the only things we’ll do takeout with are Chinese and pizza.  Last night we had planned to get Chinese from our local restaurant, but they didn’t answer their phone so we don’t know if they are open or not.  We talked about alternatives, including driving over there to see, but in the end we just decided to eat in.  In “normal” circumstances we would never have hesitated to just go somewhere else, but these times seem to be far from normal.

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 3

Ordinary Household Objects: Hand Soap Dispenser

Our recent “stay-at-home” order states that we should limit travel  “upon public streets, alleys, or roadways or other property except by those in need of medical assistance, food or other commodity or service necessary to sustain the well-being of themselves or their families or some member thereof.”  But in a publication of FAQs, the hypothetical question of “Am I allowed to go out on the lake?” is answered with “Yes, you can take your boat out on the lake, but practice social distancing if you go out with others.” So I can’t get in my car and drive around, but I can go out in my boat?  Seems a little silly, but if I decide to go out driving and someone stops me, can I just say that I’m going to the lake to ride around in my boat?  If that’s not necessary travel I don’t know what is!  Now I just need a boat…. 😉

Ordinary Household Objects: Day 2

Ordinary Household Objects: Bottle Opener

It’s pure coincidence that the first two objects are related to adult beverage consumption.  That just happens to be the drawer I opened first.  Really! 🙂

One of the things that I hope comes out of all this stay-at-home business is a shift away from the gross consumerism of the past several years.  My daily walk takes me past a Walmart and 2 fast food outlets.  None of them seem to have slowed down much.  And work continues on the self-storage monstrosity that is going up nearby.  I understand that the American economy is very consumer-driven.  But when people have more stuff than they can store at home and need to rent space to keep the overflow, that might be a sign that maybe they should stop buying more crap!

Photo Project: Ordinary Household Objects

Ordinary Household Objects: Corkscrew

Mecklenburg County, NC is under a 3-week “stay-at-home” order starting today through April 15.  I’ve need another project, so I’ve decided to start a “Photo a Day” project based on closeup photos of ordinary household objects.  It may take a few days to get my bearings & directions, but I think it will be fun!  Kathy likes it because it will keep me from bothering her (maybe!). 😉

Clet The Sign Guy

Florence, Italy

I had heard or read about this guy long before we visited Italy two years ago.  When we were in Florence I started seeing some of his art, which consists of “modifying” street signs to make whimsical or sometimes political commentary.  I only saw them in Florence, although I understand that he (or copycats) have made this art all around the world.

Clet Abraham was born in the UK in 1966 and was educated in art at Rennes before moving to Italy in the early 1990s. He is a well known and respected painter, sculptor and restorer.  The “modifications” are easily removable adhesives that Clet and a few friends apply at night, sometimes in plain view of security cameras.

The artist explains:

My street sign work stem from a reflection upon our “common visual space”. The omnipresence of street signs, other than being a sign of the [Italian] culture of “anti-responsibility”, can verge on the absurd. The message is very poor (sometimes I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot by them) and yet they have a highly invasive aesthetic. As a professional in the world of visual space, I feel called to intervene, both to notify the public of the absurdity of the situation, and to propose a constructive and respectful alternative. My adhesives are developed to add a further level of reading [to street signs] constructed on the base of their original signification in order to maintain its utility but give it some intellectual, spiritual, or simply amusing interest. The final objective? That traffic keeps flowing without us feeling spoken down to!”

I had forgotten about these photos until recently, when I was selecting photos for the last post.  I’m glad I was able to dredge them back up!

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

Willful Ignorance

Atlantic, North Carolina

We’ve read the stories and seen the pictures – hundreds of spring breakers congregating on the beaches and in the bars in Florida.  Partiers fill the bars in Charlotte, New York or other cities on a Saturday night.  A group of runners posts photos of their latest group run, and when someone suggests too much togetherness they shake it off with a “haha, we’re always together anyway so what difference does it make?”

Skagway, Alaska
Skagway, Alaska
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Well, the difference it makes is that those young people are the ones who are getting sick.  A news release from Mecklenburg County Public Health indicated that nearly 50% of the 80 cases (at that time) in the county were people in the 20-39 age group, with another 33% in the 40-59 age group.  Us oldsters – once again – appear to be the wise ones, at 18%.  Huh.

Washington, North Carolina

I get that we live in an independent society, but people seem to be more concerned about their personal inconvenience than they do about making sure they don’t get sick or transmit a virus to others.  I stood in line at the liquor store on Saturday, and no one in the line was maintaining the recommended distance.  They were talking and laughing and carrying on, no one seemed to be concerned.  I will give them credit though – they didn’t seem to be complaining and were nice to the clerks!

Friends returning just yesterday from several months in Italy remarked at the stark differences between the airport in Rome and JFK in New York.  New York is currently the epicenter of contagion in the US, and only a fraction of the people were wearing protective gear and no one was maintaining distance.  Granted, some of that may be because we were not/still are not properly prepared with adequate supplies (another contentious subject but not my bone today!), but mostly I think we (as a society) are just selfish and lazy.  Italy has a strong sense of community and is taking it very seriously, and they have still been hit hard.  Cause & effect, choice & consequence.

Charleston, West Virginia
Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I live in a neighborhood where the majority of the residents are well into their 70s all the way to their 90s.  And nearly all of them have some kind of health issue that puts them at risk.  And most of them are being sensible and staying put.  We make regular runs to the grocery store, but thankfully we have a fully stocked (except for toilet paper!) grocery store and a Walmart within sight of our neighborhood.  We go early, get out quickly, come home and wash our hands and face.  I’ve been keeping up my morning walks, and rarely see a soul.

Hippies Use Side Door sign in Fernandina Beach, Florida
My Mind Will Be Closed Today sign in Fernandina Beach, Florida
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Sign at a jewelry store in Estes Park, Colorado

For all we wring our hands at the stories in the news and on the internet, we don’t seem to be taking it seriously.  And that’s going to make it harder on the people who have to take care of us when we do get sick.  Those people are taking it seriously now, and we need to listen to them and do the right thing, instead of wondering if we have enough junk food and toilet paper or what’s going to happen to our summer vacation if the school year gets extended.

Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
Please also close the other half of the grid. Thank you. St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles and French West Indies

What’s With All the Emails?

Piglet: W-w-what was that, Pooh?
Winnie the Pooh: [laughs] My tummy rumbled. Now then – come on, let’s go home.
Piglet: But Pooh, do you know the way?
Winnie the Pooh: No, Piglet, but I’ve got twelve pots of honey in my cupboard, and they’ve been calling to my tummy.
Piglet: They have?
Winnie the Pooh: Yes, Piglet. I couldn’t hear them before because Rabbit would talk. I think I know where they’re calling from, so come on. We’ll just follow my tummy.
From “The House at Pooh Corner”

“I couldn’t hear them before because Rabbit would talk.”

I know I’m not the only one, but over the last few weeks I’ve started getting emails from businesses and companies that I haven’t heard from in weeks, months or years.  For some reason all these people feel the need to “say something.”  Sure, for businesses it might be a winery saying that they were closing their tasting room, or the grocery store announcing shortened hours.  But if that’s all there is, that’s all they need to say!  But instead of “We’re Closed” they have to say something like “we care about our customers and understand that in this difficult time blah blah blah.”

I get that a crisis provides a good opportunity to remind customers that they are still around, but I don’t think an email from a spice shop in Blowing Rock that I’m not even sure I’ve been to is going to make me say, “honey, let’s drive up to that cute little spice shop in Blowing Rock and stock up on some of that Adobo seasoning we like.”  On the other hand, there isn’t anything else to do….

It just seems to me like a little bit of piling on.  If you want to send me an email when you open, that would be great, thanks!  But, if you happen to be having trouble with your X-Rite software, we sympathize.  If you happen to be driving through Sanibel, Florida, stop by, even though we’re only doing take out.  But no one is offering to bring me toilet paper….

I feel better now, thanks! 🙂

Oh, the photo is a series of “tree portraits” that I took in Hilton Head a few years ago.  The tree was just outside our condo, and I took multiple photos of it over the course of a week.  These 5 are printed on individual pieces of wood and hang in our bedroom.  My only “installation.” 😉

Finding Our Own Truth

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Kathy & I had friends over last night for a visit and dinner, “social distancing” be darned.  We hugged, shook hands, sat in the same room together.  It was nice.  He is an avid cyclist and nutrition geek, she is a respiratory therapist for a local hospital.  Naturally a lot of our conversation revolved around the coronavirus. Four adults having a mature, intelligent and reasoned discussion.  But four distinct points of view and varying levels of concern because of our respective temperament, background and outlook.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

I won’t get into details of the conversation because it doesn’t matter for the purposes of this post.  But suffice it to say that it reinforced for me how our own perspective influences our response to events.  This isn’t a news flash, but it seems like the larger the crisis the more it drives and exposes these differences.  In many ways our attitudes are driven by where we get our information, if we choose to get information at all.  Sometimes the ‘head in the sand with an occasional peek out’ is a sound approach.  Sometimes we want to take in everything we can, and then filter out the junk and keep what we want.  Usually it ends up being something in between.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

I used to joke that every morning I would get up, turn on CNN, and if they weren’t talking about the end of the world I would get dressed and go to work.  These days, I get up, look at the New York Times and Washington Post websites, and they are (figuratively) talking about the end of the world.  But I get up anyway and go make coffee.  And tea for Kathy.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

I recently compared the media, meant to include all sources of information – internet, news, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – to walking into a large grocery store.  Everything in that store is something that someone wants or needs.  But not all of us visit the pet food aisle, or greeting cards or (not us!) the wine section.  Most of us visit the dairy section, the frozen food section, the canned goods section, and the meat case.  More of us should visit the produce section, but unfortunately most of us head for the junk food.  We have to choose, and the choice can be hard.  What we buy is influenced by advertising, long held habits and beliefs (like loving or hating spinach or Brussels sprouts), family preferences and diet.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Every section of the store represents a source of nutrition.  The quality of that nutrition varies widely from one department to another, but our individual choices determine what goes into our cart.  And what goes into our cart affects our diet, which in turn determines our quality of life.  The same thing applies to the media.  Everything we put into our “information cart” affects our attitudes and outlook, which in turn determines our mental outlook. It determines our truth.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

It seems weird to equate groceries to information, but I think the parallels are valid and relevant.  Just like we all have our own diets, we also all have our own truth.  The cross section in the room last night was ultimately a very narrow one compared with the rest of society as a whole.  But it illustrated to me how we all need to take responsibility for the flow of information into our lives, try to find the items that best suit us, and decide what to put into our cart based on our needs and priorities.

Biscayne National Park near Homestead, Florida

Kathy & I have adopted the mantra “day-to day, week-to-week and month-to-month.”  Take care of the immediate, think about next week but only worry about next month if you have to.  Today at least I feel like we are still on the outside looking in.  Like sitting on the beach in the sunshine but knowing that there’s a tsunami headed our way.  Our stylist (actually Kathy’s stylist but the person who cuts my hair) called this morning to say that she was closing after Saturday, and would we like to come in today.  And we said yes, because who knows what tomorrow or next week will bring.  We’re stocked up on food but will still go to the store to buy fresh stuff for as long as we can.  I’m cleaning camera gear and stacking up photography books to read.  And when the weather warms up, I’ll pressure wash the porch furniture and get ready for summer.  All of our travel plans are on hold and we’re keeping our heads down as much as we can.  Gas is below $2 a gallon but there’s nowhere to go!  Our retirement accounts have lost thousands, but we’re healthy and far from broke.  That’s my current truth.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Photographs and stuff!