The Hectic Time of Year—CoronaLife Day 579

For a lot of people, the Christmas/New Year’s season is their crazy season. While that has its own stresses, I find this time of year, from mid-October to usually sometime in November more stressful.

Why? Because my daughter decided to be born close to Halloween, and now, aside from the usual hectic-ness of a child’s birthday, Halloween is her favorite holiday.

Halloween, in turn, involves many tangential activities. Pumpkin-picking, corn mazes, costume parties, trunk or treats, hayrides, and the local bonfire, not to mention trick or treating on Halloween itself. The costume must be bought or made, probably starting no later than the beginning of October, if there is anything you need shipped.

I mentioned her birthday is close to Halloween. Well, you can forget having a birthday party anywhere near her actual birth date—there are too many other things going on (see above). So we usually have it in November. One year, it was the first weekend in December!

Just preparing for and doing all these things is hectic enough, but for those of us who are not naturally social beings, it can be a lot of people-time, too. In this Covid era, it comes with new stressors as well, especially after a year of limited social activity. My daughter greatly missed all these things last year, and is ecstatic they are back this year.

Which brings me to why I am always super-stressed at this time of year. Because it is also cold and flu (and now Covid) season and these things fly around school like crazy. I always hold my breath from now until whenever all these activities are over, praying that she stays healthy. I don’t want her to miss anything she loves, especially not this year.

I know it is a bit silly to worry over something I cannot control, but that is life with anxiety disorder. And so I will spend the next 5 weeks crossing my fingers and counting down the days.

Then I will take a few deep breaths and start my Christmas shopping.

Illness in the Time of COVID – CoronaLife Day 572

So on Friday my daughter started complaining of a sore throat, stuffy nose, headache. I had all the same symptoms, too. In a normal year, we would have just shrugged it off as a back-to-school cold making the rounds.

But this is not a normal year.

For all that many activities have begun in a more-or-less normal fashion, this year is still not normal. It is normal-ish. In many ways, having an “almost normal” year is more disconcerting and disorienting than having a wildly divergent year, like last year was.

When things are nearly normal, there is a tension you never escape. You cannot relax fully, as you could if things are truly normal, yet you feel like you should be more relaxed than you are. But this normal-ish environment keeps throwing small bumps and curves in your path and there are still challenges to be met and managed. It is almost more exhausting living in this so-near-and-yet-so-far zone than when everything was upside down. Or maybe it’s just differently exhausting.

So we both had colds—but all these symptoms are also Delta COVID symptoms. We took an over the counter at home test, which are not terribly accurate for non-symptomatic cases but should register something if you are actively symptomatic, as we were. Completely negative. A relief.

For school, though, if you have COVID-like symptoms, you need to get a negative PCR test (the really accurate DNA-based type you have to send into a lab). It was impossible to get one over the weekend, so I got one on Monday. Then we had to wait to see how long the results would take to come in. Even in a normal year, I would not have sent her to school on that Monday, because she was not feeling great, and on Tuesday I probably would have kept her home, too, just to let her recuperate. But I was worried that she may end up having to stay home feeling fine while waiting for the test results.

Luck was with us, and we got the results on Tuesday. Negative, so back to school on Wednesday!

This is illness in the time of COVID, especially when you have an unvaccinated person involved. Schools have to be extremely careful to avoid an outbreak, since most of their population is still vulnerable. In five weeks of school, we have had 3 (unrelated) cases. I am thankful for the precautions our school is taking, and also thankful we live where testing is easy to get and free of charge.

Here’s hoping we don’t need to do this again anytime soon!

Photo Finish—CoronaLife Day 565

I am continuing the progress on my mom’s genealogy book. I have completed all the photos pages with the pictures I have.

We are tracking down which of my aunt’s six kids has the “old” photo album with the intergenerational pictures in it. Once we locate it, I will borrow it and scan some of the relatives I am missing from there and add them.

That book hopefully will solve a mystery for us. We have a photo of my grandfather with his siblings. We know who they all are, but the two oldest girls were only a year apart, and we don’t know which is which. We have no other pictures of Caroline, but we think there is a photo of Annie in the album. If so, we should be able to determine which is which, as they look very different.

So what remains? The chapter title pages. I think the first one will be the hardest, as I figure out how to work with the multi-layered image I am using. Once I figure it out, the rest should be able to be tweaked easily. I also have the cover to do, but I can’t really do that until I know how many pages the book will be and get the template from the printer.

I have secured proofreaders for my book’s text, so that is set up. Hopefully by the end of November I will have all the parts together and I can do the final formatting and cover.

With luck, I can have it ready for order by Christmas. However, I know there are supply chain issues in publishing right now, so it may take a little longer. But my goal was to have it ready to order by the end of the year, so I’m hopefully on track for that.

I am moving forward on my project. How about you?

Growing Trees—CoronaLife Day 558

I have reached a milestone in the genealogy book—I finished the text! It is compiled, and indexed and 92,000 words long. I have a date with the proofreaders, and then off to the races.

In the meanwhile, I am working on the inserts for the book—photos, trees, chapter title pages. I thought I had finished the trees already, but I was wrong. A month or so ago, my mother had asked for a detailed tree of her maternal side of the family from her grandparents down, including all aunts and uncles and their children and grandchildren. I made it for her, and then thought I would include it in the book (the private version, not the public version, as some of these people are living).

Of course, then I thought I should do the same for my mom’s paternal side, just to be fair and complete. Only two of the aunts on that side had children, so I thought it would be fairly easy. Famous last words. One branch we had lost touch with, so it took a lot of digging to find out what happened to them and to get down to the required generation. I still don’t know when the aunt herself died, although I have clues. The other branch was easier because we knew the people, but I had to do some research to find birth and death information.

So all that tree-growing took much more time than I expected, and has taken up the bulk of my week thus far. But now I have completed that and can say for sure that this time I have finished all the trees! I began pulling the photos I wanted to use, and I can clean them up in a couple of days. The chapter title pages may or may not be a headache—it depends how easily the graphic I got to use for it can be manipulated. In theory it shouldn’t be hard, but you know the saying, “I’d love to live in Theory, because everything works there.”

So that’s my latest project update. The proofreaders won’t get to it until November, but that gives me plenty of time to work on the inserts and get them ready to go. I will likely do a cover design, too, but that is harder to do until I know the exact dimensions and get the cover template from the printer.

So how are your projects going?

RIP Zippy—CoronaLife Day 551

The day we knew was coming arrived on Thursday. Zippy the fish expired in the night.

He was a true survivor. Bought on November 8th, 2020, as one of 3 fish, the other two succumbed to a mouth fungus within 2 days. Zippy avoided the fungus and roamed the tank at top speed, thus earning the name Zippy.

Zippy was our pandemic fish, helping my daughter navigate the isolation of quarantine and remote learning. He enjoyed being read to, especially Harry Potter, and my daughter says he was a good listener during her lonely times in the pandemic.

He developed an internal tumor, as one of our other fish had. He grew rounder, and his swimming became more difficult, but he never failed to come to the surface for his breakfast. This was a big change from when we first got him, when I didn’t see him actually eat for weeks.

As he grew in size, swimming tired him out. We would find him resting on the bottom, or on a plant leaf, or on the sponges of the filter. His favorite spot was the top of the bubbler, where he could set down and let the bubbles wash over him like a jacuzzi.

He still struggled to the surface for a single nibble of food, but then he would sink like a stone to the bottom. He spent more and more time at the bubbler, and we knew it would not be long. He showed his survivor streak, though, because he lasted several weeks longer than we thought he would.

Then Thursday morning came, and he was not in his usual spot atop the bubbler. My daughter spied him, in a front corner of the tank. True to form, he was considerate enough to die at the front of the tank, where he was easily found, instead of in amongst the plants.

My most lasting memory of him occurred about two weeks ago. The tank was having a bacteria bloom, and the water was so cloudy you couldn’t see the back (and it’s only a 5 gallon tank!). I was wondering if he was in there dead somewhere, when he came charging out of the fog toward me, with that particular wobble they get when they have a tumor, but in that moment it looked like a swagger. A little slow motion and dramatic music and he could have been a superhero fish, charging out of the mists.

RIP, Zippy, you will be missed.

Finding Our Footing—CoronaLife Day 544

We have a few days of school under our belts now, and we are starting to find our footing. I am getting used to having time to myself again, after a full 18 months of remote learning/summer. So far I have not been using my time wisely, but that is typical for me at the beginning of the school year. It’s almost like having so much free time paralyzes me with choices. But I know that will settle down.

My daughter is also starting middle school, so that’s a big change for her. But she, too, is starting to find her footing in more ways than one. We are also transitioning from her walking boot to a walking brace starting today, and hopefully her ankle will be back to full strength October 1st, when the brace is due to come off.

Although I have been spending time doing a lot of “catch up” work (little things I never seemed to find time for while my daughter was home) and searching out last-minute school supplies that I didn’t realize we needed until we actually got there, I HAVE made progress on the genealogy book.

I should finish indexing the final chapter today. Whoo hoo! After that, the equally painstaking job of formatting the book properly, making sure the margins and page numbers are correct, and that page breaks do not fall at inopportune places, begins. Once that’s done, I will send it to my proofreader to catch all the mistakes I thought I caught but didn’t.

Finding our footing has been a bit harder this year, as we spent the last 18 months in a period where every day was much the same, and time seemed to stretch endlessly. Then, abruptly, on Friday, everything changed and we were back in the world. It is disconcerting and a bit overwhelming.

But we will get through it, as we do every September, and hopefully COVID will not hit our school and send us back to remote. Whatever happens, we will adjust.

We always find our footing.

A Wild Start to September—CoronaLife Day 537

Today (Wednesday), I awoke to an alarm for the first time since school ended in June. One of the perks of having an older child is that I don’t need to get up with her in the summer. She can get herself up and make herself breakfast. So I have not set my alarm for a couple of months.

This morning I did, and I didn’t care for it. Too dark out. But I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, downed a fruit cup, and was off to the races.

Setting up for the teacher’s breakfast to welcome them back to school.

Running home to feed my broken-ankled child and myself breakfast.

Going back to school to clean up after breakfast.

Coming home and going for my 2.5 mile daily walk before the bad weather set in.

Vacuuming most of the house.

Running to the store for grocery pickup, then unpacking and putting it all away.

Finishing vacuuming the house.

Making and eating dinner.

I finally got to sit down and relax and…

Tornado warning! Tornado warning extended! Flash flood watch! Tornado-in-immediate-area-take-shelter-now-did-you-not-get-the-first-two-warnings?!

So, some time in our under-the-stairs closet, since we have no basement.

Lots of texting with my folks, who were alternately hiding in their crawlspace and sweeping water that was coming in from their patio out the garage.

The worst has passed, although it is still raining, so the flood watch is still in effect.

What a wild way to welcome in September!

In other news, I now only have 2 chapters of my genealogy book to proofread and index. My daughter hopefully will be off her crutches tomorrow. And Zippy the fish is still alive, but I am just waiting for him to pass, as he is not looking or acting well at all.

Busy Week – CoronaLife Day 530

Summertime is hard when you don’t have a 9 to 5 job, because it is so easy to lose track of what day it is. I forgot yesterday was Wednesday, and I hadn’t written this blog!

It’s been a crazy busy week for me: two meetings in my Board of Education capacity, plus a financial review with the local PTA. Lots of preparation time for those, plus the time for the meetings themselves. After so many months at home, these bursts of activity (especially in-person/social activity) exhaust me quickly.

Because of those other commitments, I have not gotten a ton of work done on my genealogy project, but I did make some progress. I now have three chapters to finish proofing and indexing. Then I will need to fix the formatting in the compiled book, and start working on the photos and other inserts. So I am edging closer to the finish line.

Going shopping for school supplies for my daughter tomorrow. We combed through her “art room” and found lots of things on the list, so it’s much shorter than it was originally. Biggest thing will be her backpack, which I waited far too long to order online and will now not arrive here until later in September. We will have to make do with the older backpack, which is still serviceable, but too small for everything she will need to carry.

In other news, Zippy the fish, although still with us, is probably not long for this world. He has been expanding with some sort of internal tumor for a couple of months (we had another fish that died of one), and although he still eats every day and swims, his behavior makes us think he is winding down. He rests a lot and “pastes” himself against the walls sometimes, as if for support. We thought he was dead yesterday, but he wasn’t—just hanging out at the bottom of the tank.

My crazy week is at an end, and hopefully I can push through those last (fairly long) chapters in the genealogy book this coming week.

I hope the last few weeks of summer are treating you all well!

Indexing Headaches—CoronaLife Day 523

I have spent the entire day with the Norwegians.

One line of my mother’s family goes back to Norway. The connection is very far back, so far that much of it may be more properly classified as “lore” rather than provable fact, but it’s fun any way you look at it.

The Norwegian chapter is a long one, spanning some 200+ years, and is an epic adventure of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, as well as vast reaches of northern Scotland. Between the Norwegian names and the many places touched upon, it is enough to make any proofreader’s head hurt.

I am familiar enough with these people now that the spelling is not much of an issue for me. What really hung me up was the indexing. I spent pretty literally the whole day on it. Some of it was my own fault, because I forgot what I had done in previous sections.

For instance, I forgot I had put the kings of Scotland under the heading “Scottish Royalty” because I was also placing their children under that heading. So today I entered them all as “Kings of Scotland” and then had to go back and change them.

Or I forgot that when I indexed a woman as the wife of someone, I put that info in parentheses, not just offset with a comma. Luckily there were not many wives, so it was not as laborious as it sounds.

Then there are just the crazy indexing errors that are basically typos. When entering the index coding in Word, if you don’t do it exactly the same each time, it will show up as a separate person. For example, “Gans:Kerry”, is not the same as “Gans:Kerry ”. Most of the time I avoided having issues by simply copying and pasting the same code for the same person, but occasionally I’d run across someone I’d missed and have to re-type it from scratch. Or it would be a person I had entered far earlier in the book, and had forgotten exactly how I had entered him (but THOUGHT I remembered), and then when I would check the index there he’d be, twice.

I have gotten all the Norwegians indexed now, however, and can move on to my next chapter. Seven chapters left to wrap up the summer with.

An Unexpected Break—CoronaLife Day 516

So there I was, chugging away at my maternal genealogy book. Compiling and indexing until I was dizzy. Deciding who was important enough to add to the Name Index, what places I would tag in the Place Index. Figuring out how to insert section breaks and make my indexes into two columns. Coming along well and then…an unexpected break.

My daughter broke her ankle.

She broke it walking. Inside. On a flat, clean, carpeted floor. She was texting her friend, and she likes to pace while she texts, and somehow…she broke her ankle. All I know is that she started yelling, “Mom! Mom! I think something snapped!”

Sunday was the emergency room. Monday was the orthopedic urgent care. The end result was a boot and crutches. Tuesday we both recuperated. Today I went to the library to get her a bag of books to read over the next few weeks.

Therefore, I have not gotten much more work on the genealogy book this week. On the other hand, I HAVE been getting a good workout running up and down the stairs bringing stuff to my daughter, since she can’t carry anything up and down the stairs. I might lose some weight out of this deal.

My plan is to get back to the book tomorrow (well, today by the time this posts). Aside from a follow-up on Friday, things should be quiet. The ankle break was very small, so perhaps we will get the go-ahead to be weight-bearing on Friday. It would be great if we do, because my daughter has mostly ignored the crutches anyway and just hops around the house. I worry she will injure her good leg, and then where will we be?

Hopefully things stay quiet, because our Norse Lineage awaits!

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