Lens-Artists Challenge: Pastimes

Lens-Artists Challenge #97: Pastimes

With so much time being spent at home, many of us have been looking for new pastimes or taking up old ones in order stay occupied or even sane. So that is my theme for this challenge – Pastimes. It could be something that you are trying for the first time or a hobby or interest that you have enjoyed for many years. Feel free to dig into the archives or take a picture to illustrate a current pastime.

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Trying to stay sane…that can be a challenge all on its own.

However…

The days begin with one of my favorite pastimes since I’ve been retired and empty nested. Coffee and the local newspaper. The paper itself is getting thinner by the day. Less ads with businesses shut down. No current sports to cover.

“Letters to the Editor” are ramping up though. Almost as much as during the presidential primary. I find them entertaining but I am also intrigued at the drama people thrive on and perpetuate.

I also read the obituaries. I always have. Some may think that’s odd or morbid or depressing. However, the obits often tell the fascinating – and often inspiring – stories of lives well lived…details of places visited, accomplishments and family. My favorite discoveries are the glimpses into sweet memories or personal quirks that make me think…I would have enjoyed meeting this person…

Of course not everyone’s obituary is like that. Some (probably due to the expense of listing) are brief and sum up the life of a 90 year old citizen with no details whatsoever. I wonder about them.

My late mother-in-law used to claim she read the obits faithfully every day to make sure she wasn’t in there. Sounds like reason enough for me.

The paper may still take half the morning to read while I sip and enjoy. Who knows…maybe eventually I’ll find some positive news.

morning coffee

 

A new pastime due to the pandemic has been a work-in-progress jigsaw puzzle. It waits for completion on the end of the dining table near the window…helping take my mind off the latest crisis. Perhaps fueled by my return to watching the evening news…just in case there is a breakthrough in testing or research or something hopeful.

We just finished our second puzzle (this one full of dogs looking very relaxed). We will admire it for a few days and then plan to move on to the next one.

puzzle

There is a patch of woods behind our condo building, which I have mentioned before in this blog. Many of my macro shots originated there. It has a few paths as well as an unpaved access road for the utility company. It borders a state highway, so it is not as quiet as I would like.

However it’s still a place of refuge during these days.

woods path

When all else fails – go outside! Walk! Sometimes I plug my white earbuds into iTunes and listen to one of my many playlists. Perhaps “Energy Dance Mix” or “Motown Choices.” There’s nothing like Aretha belting out R E S P E C T or Diana’s soaring Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to lift your spirits or quicken your step.

With my camera close at hand, I keep an eye out for potential Eureka moments when the sun is at the perfect angle in the afternoon. The golden hour that photographers get excited about.

And then at the end of the day…

I find that I have returned to a pastime that originated a very long time ago. When writing was my default – especially in troubling times. During my childhood I wrote feverishly in diaries (I say “feverishly” because the handwriting often had that look to it) about everything I did…down to the most mundane listings of television shows I watched. Emotions and opinions jumped out every so often too. Much of it is boring as sin to read now, but it served its purpose back then.

When the pandemic hit, I started writing at night again. Usually in bed before turning out the light. Just summarizing the day…and eventually the statistics. At first I thought…this is silly…but then did it anyway as it felt like the most natural thing to do. Perhaps to make sense of what was going on…or something.

I feel like I sleep a little better too.

I dug out a diary from 1965 to show here with my current one.

I wonder what the children of today are writing in their diaries…about how they are passing the time.

Time will tell.

Taking a Break

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #57: Taking a Break

…respond to this week’s challenge by showing how we and/or others “Take A Break”…How many ways can you think of for getting away from the daily grind and finding peace?

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I like to walk. Outside. I will admit I count steps – or at least keep track of them – via an older model fitness tracker I wear every day. No bells, whistles or flashing lights. Just an app on my phone which records how many steps I’ve accumulated. If I can count at least 5,000 in a day I don’t feel like a slug. 10,000 is the elusive goal. It all depends on how I’m feeling. How well various body parts are cooperating.

If nothing else, it motivates me to push back my desk chair, close my laptop, find my walking sneakers and head outdoors. Sometimes I call a friend to go with me – we chat and discuss the world’s problems.

Five years ago, I had a regular walking buddy – also a good friend – who would drive to my house for an afternoon walk. At that time I lived in a quiet neighborhood on a cul-de-sac. A relatively level road. Perfect for walking and talking with minimal huffing and puffing (more for my benefit – my friend, an experienced hiker, slowed her pace down for me).

Since then, she moved to California and I moved out of the house on the cul-de-sac. To a condo a few towns over. The “walking trail” promised by the developer is no trail at all. Just crushed stone gradually being taken over by grass and water runoff from the roof drains.

My steps outside now consist of walking up and down in front of the condo buildings.  I can also turn the corner and walk further into a neighborhood of matching houses…which are really condos. One “active adult community” next to another…but without many active adults visible.

A big change from the old neighborhood. No swing sets. No children on bikes or running to catch a ball. Rarely anyone at all.

Sometimes I drive downtown and walk to the end of the main street to reach the town “parkway” – which isn’t really a parkway like the infamous Garden State Parkway I grew up next to. It’s a quiet two lane road next to a tidal river. Grassy areas on either side of the road. Lined with memorial benches…often filled with locals finishing up their ice cream cones.

And for those of us who need one…a resting spot…to take a break.

parkway benches

The parkway’s sidewalk is next to the river.

Perfect for walking…especially late in the day…

river downtown

It doesn’t get much more peaceful than that.

 

parkway sign

 

 

 

Trail

This post inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The prompt: Trail

One year ago, my daughter, son-in-law and 2 year old grandson came to visit. Grampa and I babysat for two days while his parents went to a wedding.

Perhaps babysat is not the most accurate term. Very little sitting took place.

A walking trail encircles our condo building. The builder never finished grading it properly…forcing us over-55s to step carefully along the uneven gravel surface.

However…the two year old dynamo in the Washington Nationals baseball cap had no trouble at all. With only one year of walking experience under his non-existent belt, he was fearless.

And fast.

June 2018 trail

Grampa, on the other hand, had to pick up the pace to keep up.

 

Photo a Week – Cityscape/Townscape

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week – Cityscape/Townscape

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR MORE) FEATURING CITIES OR TOWNS.

 

I had the good fortune this past weekend to visit with my son, his girlfriend and their sweet pup. They live in the Boston area in a 4th floor walkup apartment. Lots of walking ensued…over 12,000 steps worth.

I also didn’t miss the opportunity to run into the middle of the street for photo ops along the way.

Boston and its suburbs – which often have the same look and feel of Boston proper – offer the usual old city buildings packed in amongst newer, more trendy coffee shops and ice cream stores. Apartments. Duplex homes and condos. A blend of the historical and present day.

Fortunately the snow had melted off the sidewalks and the sun was shining when we arrived at the Coolidge Corner subway stop in Brookline on Saturday.

corner
Coolidge Corner
Brookline, Massachusetts

On the way to my son’s apartment…a canopy of trees caught my eye.

side street

 

However, when we turned the corner heading out of Brookline…I noticed a strange parade approaching.

One I did not expect to see in the middle of a suburb of a major city.

turkeys

Waiting for no one to stop or move over, they just marched on from one corner to the next…hurrying on their way.

turkey parade

 

Part of the cityscape…no fear.

 

Flash Fiction Challenge – Stranded Suitcase

Flash Fiction Challenge: July 26, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.

https://carrotranch.com/2018/07/27/july-26-flash-fiction-challenge/

My contribution:

 

The Respite Suitcase

 

She is so very tired. Of walking and walking.

The sun blinding as she emerges from the woods.

Dirty.  Legs scratched. Cotton dress torn.

 

Cars roar by. A motorcycle backfires.

She jumps, turning to go back.

Then she sees it. It looks kind of familiar.

Grimy and gouged, its rusty metal corners bent in.

An old suitcase stranded in the brush.

 

She stumbles over to it, considering.

I’ll just rest here for now. It’s okay.

She cleans a spot for sitting, picking off dead leaves.

Carefully lowering herself down, she sighs; eyelids closing.

As a truck pulls over. Unnoticed.