Back in January, I wrote my first (and thus far only) post of the year, chatting about the last decade and waxing lyrical about controlling the narrative of our personal stories by charging into the 2020s with the same energy as the upthrust from a SpaceX rocket launch.
Hmm… didn’t really go to plan, did it?
Whilst I had knowledge at the time of the situation unfolding in Wuhan, and years of watching apocalyptic movies did send my panicked brain to worst case scenarios on more than one occasion, I certainly didn’t, at that point, envisage we’d be where we are now.
But this post isn’t about the doom-heavy world picture being painted by a viral artist, or about the thousands of uplifting acts of hope and strength from humans around the globe, as we’re already acutely aware of the devastating impact on people’s lives. Plus, there are much better reporters saturating all outlets with both ends of the scale, without me getting involved!
I have to say though, there may have been a myriad of changes to the human race as a whole in the last few weeks (I STILL don’t understand the toilet roll thing) but I’m mindful that personally, it could be much worse. I might not like having to disinfect the weekly shop, or feeling I have to be battle-ready on the few occasions we leave the house, but as fairly introverted folk, we’ve not had to adjust as much as others. The slower pace and peace outside has been a welcome positive and we live in a house just big enough to prevent us from wanting to kill each other!
Side note: I’m not sure if I’m expecting a passing truck to sneeze on me but has anyone else found themselves socially distancing from other cars when driving? Probably just me…
Anyway, I digress.
You all know I’m a faddist and for once, my lack of continuity when it comes to any hobby has put me in a good place during Lockdown. Alongside working from home, I’ve rarely felt bored or on the brink of cabin fever as I’ve flitted from one incomplete project to another!
There was a return to knitting…briefly. I had notions of creating a patchwork newborn blanket for our friends but baby arrived early, by which point I’d only finished a single square – I doubt they’d appreciate it for their 18th! I also attempted sewing, being impressed with my DIY face mask…until it fell off the first time I used it for longer than 3 minutes.
For 5 days straight, I worked out alongside Joe Wicks and his PE lessons to the nation, until I remembered I have the knees of a pensioner. So I turned to online ballet lessons (because there’s an activity that doesn’t require knees…), pirouetting around the living room in a surreal re-enactment of Fantasia’s hippo dance. My ankles (and pride) didn’t fare much better than the leg joints!
Baking has been a weekly distraction – it began with having to bake my own birthday cake at the start of Lockdown (tiny violins at the ready) and has continued – as has gardening (thank goodness for the lovely weather). And last week, my dodgy acting skills were put to the test for a contribution to the video message being sent to pupils from our school.
Some would have even suggested that now was the perfect opportunity to blog more or finish that sci-fi tale I started waaaaay back. But no, my newest fad has been exploring the final frontier, with this…
Yes, a telescopic birthday gift! Clear, unpolluted nights, the Lyrid meteor shower and Elon Musk’s string of satellites orbiting overhead have seen me stand in the garden until the late hours, watching the sky with one eye screwed shut.
It’s quite blooming marvelous what you can see up there! I can’t wait to take it further afield into darker skies. Astronomy has been an interest since being a child and I’d say I have an ever-so-slightly-higher-than-average knowledge of our Solar System and surrounding galaxies.
But when you look at Venus for the first time, not as the bright ‘star’ it normally appears as, but being able to see the curvature of the actual planet from your back door, well… mind-blown.
Of course, none of this would be as much fun if I couldn’t share what I’m seeing, so the sideline to this adventure has been to take astro-photography more seriously.
I’m still pretty rubbish at working out the manual settings required for the long exposures and so far I’ve been sensible enough not to splash out on a scope adapter to attach the camera, so an ad-hoc collection of tripods and balancing it has been. Pretty chuffed with the results though.
And look at the moon! This was taken a few nights ago of the waxing crescent, using my iPhone. You can see the craters! We’ll skim over the fact that due to flipping the image (I liked the composition better), it has the look of a boob…
Next task is to see what DSO (deep space objects) I can pick up (hopefully some pinwheel galaxies) and try to view Saturn and Jupiter. I’ve not yet been hardcore enough to get out of bed in the middle of the night to see them. Although I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been stargazing in my slippers and dressing-gown – back garden astronomy has its advantages!
So if you need an easy escape to your four walls, looking up is a good direction to take. We’re all in this together and we will get past it. It’s some comfort to know that somewhere out there…
Even though I know how very far apart we are,
It helps to think we might be wishin’ on the same bright star.
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby,
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.
I do hope you and yours are well and looking after each other. Stay safe, stay home, wash those hands, dab when the hayfever reactions kick in and have a string of excuses ready to reel off if you do it in public.
And whatever else you’re doing, remember…don’t EVER inject bleach.
IMAGE CREDITS: My own plus, Pinterest, Classic Fm, Metro.co.uk and YouTube.
Lyrics from ‘Somewhere out there’ by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram