There is so much going on that I am overwhelmed.
It seems I keep noting the horrors happening around the world—Afghanistan, Covid-19, wildfires…
Last week I added hurricanes to the list of things upsetting us all. Henri took a sharp left west, and most of us got off easy with just a lot of rain. My friends and several colleagues an hour south of me on the Rhode Island coast lost power for three or four days, but they, too, had an easier go of it than predicted.
This week’s storm, Hurricane Ida, though? She’s bearing right down on New Orleans, set to cause some real heartache for southern Louisiana—an area still trying to dig out from the four major storms that hit them last year.
It’s getting closer to home.
For most of us, I think, we cope with the intensity of these traumas by compartmentalizing them. We put them at arm’s length as terrible things that are happening “way over there.” It’s getting harder and harder to do that these days.
Thanks to social media, I get real time updates from several friends who live in New Orleans and in the surrounding parishes (for as long as power holds and their phones stay charged). The storm is inevitable, and watching and waiting is just, well, it’s awful.
I have family and friends in California. Some have been forced to evacuate. All of them have had to cope with the dangerous air quality. And now so do I. The smoke from California and Canada is affecting us here in the northeast.
More and more folks I care about have become seriously ill with Covid-19. I now have two friends in ICU beds. I have a colleague who has been cleared to return to work, as the virus has passed, but she is suffering so terribly from dizziness and other side effects that she is still unable to teach. On a cheerful note, a dear friend is returning to work today after two weeks of being very sick.
I married into an Air Force family. One of my dearest friends, whose son is like a nephew to me, is career Navy. There are Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coasties, and Army active-duty and veterans in my inner circle. I can’t even talk about the military and civilian lives lost at the Kabul Airport without getting choked up.
Even the good things are a bit much.
I started a new job this week that is going to be amazing. I have been so warmly welcomed. I have plenty of support for getting up to speed. I’m NOT up to speed yet, and the learning curve is steep. It’s got me pretty frazzled. To complicate things for myself, on my third day on the job, I managed to lock myself out of the online reporting system. The one person who can let me back into the system is in southern Rhode Island, and did not get power or internet back until mid-week, so it may be a while before she gets to me.
Mary and I are under a very tight deadline for completing the layout and changes for a poetry anthology we are editing. It is beautiful stuff. It has been a wonderful project. Still, the deadline looms.
Because of the wet July and hot, hot, hot August, my gardens are out of control. They are also behind, so I am getting buried in cucumbers and green beans now. The tomatoes are JUST starting to ripen. Usually, I am finishing up with tomatoes by Labor Day. When they come, it will be in a flood. So, I anticipate roasting off tomatoes before work in the mornings, instead of at a more leisurely pace. <resigned shrug> On the flip side of that—I picked our first pumpkin yesterday. I am a bit worried that the pumpkins will be going soft before my grandsons get to make their first jack-o-lanterns.
What is keeping me from going over the edge?
In an attempt to calm myself down before getting too overwhelmed to function, I threw myself into the garden. Pulling weeds is physical labor that is good for my body. The immediate satisfaction of a cleaned up flower or vegetable bed is good for my soul.
I roasted my first batch of San Marzano plum tomatoes, and jarred a batch of gin and tonic pickles.
I harvested sage and tarragon from the herb garden, and hung them in my dining room to dry. They smell like Thanksgiving dinner, so that is pretty great.
I learned how to sew together peppers to dry. I have never done it before and it is as easy as it is cool.
After exerting myself, I sat in the not-so-hot-right-now-because-it-is-August hot tub with a book. I soaked until I was wrinkled.
I had a cup of tea and caught up with some friends.
I went to bed early.
I prayed. For all of the people and all of the things.
No magic potion. No secret rituals. I did ordinary, run-of-the-mill tasks that soothed all of my senses.
I woke up this morning excited to go back to work.
What regular old tasks are keeping you going?