#49 | Future Plans

“Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road– Only wakes upon the sea. – Antonio Machado

My cat Felix, watching another cat on TV. #Meta

Good morning!

How are you doing? Are you getting some exercise (even if only a little bit)? Eating as good as you can? Connecting with others as best you can (from a safe distance, of course!)?

Like so many of you, we are entering our fourth week of staying at home, and while we are OK – my wife and I both are pretty high-ranking introverts, we both have offices at home, we have a pretty nice amount of food in our pantry and a chest freezer full of meat and frozen vegetables – we have entered what can only be called a new level of mourning for the past as we accept our new normal.

And I think that is what this is – a new normal. I don’t think we ever can go back to the way it was. The best timelines I have seen for a vaccine that can be rolled out at scale is measured in terms of months and even years, not days or weeks.

I think this is our WWII, our Great Depression, our Civil War – a widespread event that leads to privation and massive loss, and that changes society forever as a result. Only, this time it isn’t just a US event, but a global one. The ramifications for this are mind-blowing.

I’m ever hopeful, but also ruthlessly pragmatic, so I am beginning to make plans that assume some form of this current status for six months to a year. So I am building both a chicken coop and a vide studio for virtual meetings. I’m ordering more canned goods when I do the grocery shopping and building more pantry shelving. And in our garden this year, we are planting not only vegetables but also flowers. Because the vegetables are necessary for us to live, but the flowers remind us of what we are living for.

Five Beautiful Things

  • Here are five beautiful public gardens (including Monet’s at Giverny and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew) that have virtual tours, if you are getting tired of looking only at your own flower beds.
  • Traffic light art? This is both beautiful and creepy. (via Kottke)
  • The National Zoo has livestreams of some of their popular animals, like the naked molerat and the giant pandas, if your kids (or you) need a fieldtrip.
  • The loss of Bill Withers last week felt like we were being punched in the gut. There’s no sunshine when he’s gone. (FYI – a lot of his music is available to stream for free on Amazon Prime if you are a member).
  • If the loss of Bill Withers was a punch in the gut, the loss of Ellis Marsalis felt like God is just trolling us. Here is a lovely piece from when he and his sons were on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood back in the day.

An update

So, starting a podcast is slow AF. Who knew? I mean, to actually record, edit, and upload an episode is not really a big deal. Once you know how to do it, you know how to do it. But then you have to wait for the various directories to recognize you exist. Like the two biggest, iTunes and Spotify.

But my little podcast does exist, and I have uploaded two episodes and will get the other two uploaded in the next 48 hours, and then we will be caught up. You can listen to them here in the meantime, and we will just continue calling this the soft-opening phase.

#48 | The video heavy edition

“What day is this, anyway?” – Me

The 24th of each month is PDay in our house, where we celebrate the arrival of our foster son. There is always cake and all the accouterments.

Hi, y’all.

This is Hugh Hollowell, with another edition of Life is So Beautiful, a weekly reminder that the world is, despite what you have been told, filled to overflowing with beauty.

It’s been two weeks today since we got serious in our house about being in lockdown, and the week before that was spring break and we were getting cautious, but it feels like forever since I sat in a restaurant with my wife and kid, or sat on the shady bench and watched him play on the playground with other kids, or nibbled on samples in the grocery store while I leisurely shopped. I miss driving him to school.

Part of me wonders if those things will ever happen again. If they announced tomorrow that we could all go back to normal, would you feel safe being in a packed restaurant again? It will be a long time before I don’t automatically bob and weave when someone gets within 6 feet of me.

One positive effect of publishing a weekly newsletter about finding beauty for 5 years is you look for beautiful things everywhere, and like most things, you find what you are looking for. I love the increased number of people walking and gardening in my neighborhood. I love all the flowers – it seems like spring is springier this year, or maybe it is just that we are all outside more, to enjoy it. I love the many ways we are all collaborating and sharing and bringing our gifts – from the artists and writers reading their stories online to the local baker who is, through video, walking people through the process day by day of how to make sourdough from scratch.

It’s all so very beautiful.

Five Beautiful Things

Note: Normally, I try to deliver a variety of posts, but I figured with a lot of us having more flexible schedules, I could be forgiven a week heavy on videos. Enjoy! – HH

  • Actress Tilda Swinton’s Springer Spaniels, cavorting in Scotland, while accompanied to a Handel aria? OK, yes please!
  • Since the 1980’s, this Japanese man has drawn colorful pictures of every meal he has eaten. I feel like such an underachiever. I haven’t even eaten every meal I have cooked!
  • Yesterday, because of a serious dose of cabin fever, our family went “motoring”, where we just drove 50 miles or so on the Natchez Trace to see the wildflowers and get out of the house. But these videos (here and here) are video of mid-century Los Angeles, as taken from a car while it’s driving around. In short, motoring in the past! Without leaving the house!
  • A hummingbird frenzy! (For best viewing experience, turn up your volume)

This… defies explanation. A Rube Goldberg contraption of dominos falling, as assisted by cats… just watch the damn thing already!

About that big announcement I promised…

I told the Patrons about it this weekend, and now I’m telling you – over this time of quasi-confinement, I have been teaching myself how to edit audio because I have pulled the trigger and am launching a podcast!

It is the audio companion to my Hopeful Resistance newsletter, for those who prefer to listen rather than read. The back issues are being uploaded to the internet over the next few days, and after that, every Friday. Check here to see if they have been uploaded when you read this, and then they should be available at iTunes and other places shortly after that.  They should be at that link in the next 48 hours if they are not when you read this.

Think of this as the soft opening, or rather, the private invite to the soft opening. Starting Friday, I will be promoting the heck out of this, but I wanted to let y’all know first, so you can be watching for it.