Here’s How I’ve Been Rolling…

Never in most of our lives have we experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. I started to post about this shortly after the lockdown with the sentiment that “this, too, shall pass.” But something stopped me.

Now I realize that my gut was telling me it wasn’t gonna pass all that quickly. With another year of social-distancing on the horizon, I thought it MORE important to check in with you NOW and share how I, personally, am “rolling with it.”

(PS: The “JUST ROLL WITH IT” sign pictured above has hung on my kitchen wall for eight years and never until recently seemed so relevant.)

Opportunities I’ve come to appreciate

1. Growing out my hair

At first, when the salons were all closed, I was annoyed. But once they opened, I realized my hair was past the worst of its awkward moments–or, at least, I was learning how to cope with them and seeing how quickly each one passed.

I didn’t really trust that hair salons would stay open, nor did I trust I was safe going to one, so I just embraced longer hair. After all, why go through all those same awkward growing-in points over and over? Make some progress already!!

I stopped coloring my hair in my late 40s, so I didn’t have that to worry about. The surprising thing is how much natural curl my hair has. I remember fighting against that when I was a teenager–sleeping on juice-can-sized rollers to make my hair stick straight–but now I can embrace the waves!

And the even cooler thing is EVERYONE tells me how great I look, from my husband to my daughter to my Facebook friends to my neighbors. Hubs even says I look younger. Can’t beat that, can you? And here I thought longer hair only made women over 50 look older. I admit, that was close-minded, short-sighted, and long-winded.

So even if I wake up tomorrow and all this pandemic stuff has disappeared, I’m going to keep letting my hair grow.

Coping strategies in the meantime include…

Believe me, it’s a game-changer. There’s a great video on Amazon showing how to use it. I, however, simply hang my head, comb my hair over and fully dry with my regular blow-dryer to add volume. Then I brush back and use the hot styling tool on its lowest setting to shape and finish by going back over everything on the high-but-cool setting. It only takes a few minutes, and WOW!

A PLETHORA of hair clips, bands, barrettes and ribbons. I’d forgotten how much fun I could have in simply decorating my hair, simply because it’s been so long since I had enough hair to do anything with!

I particularly love:

  • This 10-piece resin clip-style barrette set for $8.89. Two in each of five colors, one rectangular and one triangular.
  • The Medusa’s Heirlooms brand of barrettes. I have some beauties shaped like a starfish and a dragonfly, as well as mottled shell looks and western style . They’re a bit pricey, but I watch for them on Zulily where they sell at as much as half off.

2. Completing some major household chores

Not only painting our master bedroom Garden of Paradise green, which I posted about just the other day. We bought the paint just before lockdowns began, anticipating this would be a great time to paint, but then we didn’t find time for it until six months in!!

But also, renovating the grass in our side yard.

We live in central Indiana where cool-season grasses like bluegrass and fine fescues flourish. But our side yard had been invaded by zoysia, a warm-season grass that becomes invasive in cooler climes.

Where did it come from? Who knows–birds or wind–but the problems with its presence are certain: It takes forever to green up in our cooler springs and looks dead until about the end of May; and it continues to spread and crowd out other, more desirable grasses. This happens especially because cool-season grasses are cut at 2.5-3.5 inches and zoysia should be maintained at 1-2 inches. Let it grow higher and watch it take over, growing between sidewalks and into flowerbeds and possibly our front lawn and our neighbors’ lawns.

Honestly, it’s been there for a while, but we noticed last fall when we planted that maple tree that it had consumed about half the side yard. To get rid of it without too much disturbance to the tree’s root system, we needed to eradicate it this year. Easier said than done though.

These pictures were taken in the home stretch. We planted the grass Labor Day weekend. The photo on the left shows germination on Sept. 6. The photo on the right shows how it filled in by Sept. 25. The mats you see around three sides prevent soil erosion and will biodegrade.

As good as it looks now doesn’t begin to tell the story of how hard it was to accomplish. Extension service recommendations were to wait for the zoysia to green up–which means it’s actively growing–then treat with Roundup two times, two weeks apart. We waited until Memorial Day for it to fully green up. Then it took FOUR applications of Roundup two weeks apart for all the top-growth to die.

Then we began to dig it up and still found a few places with clumps that looked like they could still survive. So we rototilled it all after digging out, raked and dug out more clumps, then covered the whole area in black plastic for A MONTH. The idea was to deprive the area of actual sunlight yet bake it with heat so that whatever might still be alive under the plastic would die.

By then it was Labor Day. We’re still not sure we got it all, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed until spring. Can’t remember when I worked so hard. Glad I got to do it with my best friend (Chris, my hubs, who else?), and so glad to have given the neighbors so much to talk about. ;->

One resident a few lanes up wrote the HOA president saying if she lived on our lane she’d raise “a barrel of hell.” Hmmm… It made me think maybe I should have saved some of those zoysia rhizomes and transplanted them into HER side yard. Good thing I was too exhausted.

Sometimes it’s gotta get a little ugly before it gets better, folks.

3. Welcoming a new member into our family

Our vet had told us for some time the best thing for Maisie’s anxiety was a companion animal, preferably a male who would take her hissy-fits in stride.

Remember back in February when I wrote about my neighbor’s cat having kittens while she was on vacation? After that we talked about adopting one, since we helped bring it into the world. But as pandemic lockdown loomed, Chris wondered whether it was not a good time to adopt an animal. But I said I thought it was the BEST time because we’d be at home more to help the two animals get used to each other.

As you can see here, our own Miss Maisie-Cat is tickled to have little brother Mister Scout nearby. He keeps her running, steals her food, and licks her head when she’s grumpy.

He also sticks his face in the flour when I’m baking, so I’ve learned to corral him in one of the bedrooms. However, that hasn’t kept him from breaking two lamps shades, one lamp socket, and clearing the dinner table with a running jump and slide. He’s often found on top of the refrigerator and the bedroom armoire, as well as eyeing the chandeliers. He likes butter and pie dough and acts like we’re killing him when we trim his claws.

And dang, he’s not so little anymore! At 7.5 months he weighs in around 9 pounds and is still growing.

All aggravation aside, I think we’ll keep him.

4. Renewing my master gardener credentials

I first completed the Purdue Extension Master Gardener course some 15 years or so ago, then never turned in any volunteer hours to get my official certificate and badge. So starting last January, I retook the course, most of which was completed remotely when the pandemic struck.

I scored 97 percent on the final exam in April and had my 40 hours volunteer time logged by early in the summer to move beyond “intern” status and get my official badge. In fact, now as we settle into fall, I’m just a few hours away from earning “advanced master gardener” status.

I write gardening articles for our HOA newsletter, designed and planted our neighborhood entrance flowerbed, and am researching a public-private partnership with the city to landscape a stormwater swale that separates our neighborhood from a busy road.

5. Honing my baking skills

At 64, I FINALLY have learned to flute a piecrust! Not as good as mom did, but the crust itself is flakier and actually tastes better than hers. (It’s Pillsbury prepackaged dough, but don’t tell anyone, k?)

I’ve also experimented with a number of cookie recipes and baked many a Tuscan flatbread to share with neighbors.

6. READING so many great books!

The stack on the right are the ones I’ve read since the pandemic began (minus three others), mostly since summer began. Those I’ve yet to read are in the stack on the left. I recommend anything by Elizabeth Strout or Ann Patchett. Next I plan to take on The Song House by Trezza Azzopardi.

What I’m most looking forward to

Yeah, that. Big time.

Also eating out again, traveling at will, wandering leisurely through the grocery store touching whatever strikes my fancy, and antiquing/thrifting.

But most of all I’m looking forward to not being a target for scorn by those too immature to follow a few simple practices to help keep us all safer.

What I’m most thankful for

The continued good health of my family, myself, my friends and neighbors, and all of you..

May the good luck we’ve experienced so far continue, and may we all find our own ways to roll with whatever the future holds.

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