this is the archive for the ‘just life’ category:


february 2021 — one second everyday

february was rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. many missed days, but also some good stuff.

chatting with friends far away, system updates gone wrong (but saved by backups!), new birds, zoom overload, chinese new year, perseverance on mars, chinese classes, food experiments… and mr. rogers, making us see the good in the world once more. :)

weeknotes, 8/21

– my mom got the first dose of the vaccine, and this was the best news of the week year so far! knowing that people we love are safe is just the best. <3 it might take a while yet, but i can’t wait to hug her again.

– wore my it’s never aliens tshirt for the first time, and it was brilliant.

– in an effort to make the drudgery of replying to emails more palatable, i’ve made my peanut butter consumption dependent on number of emails replied, at the rate of 1 peanut butter teaspoon per 10 emails. it’s been a good strategy, not just to curb my consumption of the stuff (which is like crack to me), but also to make me amazingly productive all week (email-wise at least), even stocking up on extra spoons for the weekend! productivity gurus should just hire me as a consultant. :D

– was getting kind of tired of seeing my own white hairs in video calls, so decided to paint my hair at home with a kit from the supermarket. cheaper, and not a total disaster as I had feared!

– had to study this video for chinese class this week, about what used to be called “leftover women”. pressure by parents to marry off their children in china is still as high as i remember it 10 years ago, though the kids seem to be alright.

– new yarn for my first ever sweater arrived!

– and on a sad note, my godmother passed away this week. she was in her early 60s, recently retired after being a nurse and caring for others all her life. she was single, well-traveled and awe-inspiring to me as a kid — i admired her talents in different crafts, but also her fierce independance. early last year, she started complaining of headaches, but postponed getting checked due to the lockdown until they became unbearable… and a tumour in her brain was discovered. months of painful treatements ensued but to no avail, as is often the case — just a slow, excrutiating decline into death. a stark and painful reminder of the overall unfairness of life, and of how much we keep living on borrowed time, postponing things to a “later” that might never come.

as someone once said, “there’s only one age: alive.”

weeknotes, 7/21

not much going on this week, but:

– we’ve been giving baking bread a try, mostly to supplement the boy’s diet while i keep my carbs low. sourdough is still a challenge, the starters never seem to bubble and grow in our kitchen… but normal yeasted bread is an achievement unlocked!

– after one too many liquid mishaps near the computer, the boy offered a travel mug for christmas and i’m a little bit in love with it — it’s perfect for my many daily servings of hot beverages. speaking of which, we’ve switched to decaf maybe a year ago and haven’t looked back. it might not be as tasty as really nice coffee, but i can definitely feel the difference in my well-being.

– watching perseverance land on mars!

– the black-headed gulls‘ heads are turning black, switching to their summer plummage. feels like a sign that spring is around the corner!

– in the spirit of using what we have these winter months, i’ve picked up my watercolor supplies and started painting alongside random youtube videos, to tune out at the end of the day. i feel like a child again, it feels great to just put brush to paper with no expectations of anything good actually coming out of it.

– and a quote to hang on to until the days warm up again:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” – albert camus

weeknotes, 6/21

i feel so rusty about blogging lately, like there’s nothing new worth mentioning in these rinse-and-repeat lockdown days… but there is always something going on, and i hope to pay more attention to the little things this year, to notice and be grateful for them. so, here’s an incomplete list of stuff that i stumbled on this week — the mundane and extraordinary, all roled up in one.

– this lego white noise album on spotify, which is just someone rummaging through boxes of legos. i’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

– gathered up the courage to reactivate my long dormant italki account, and actually schedule some chinese speaking practice! super daunting at first, but it went well in the end, and i look forward to more of these.

– went for a bike ride to stretch the legs and saw a huge grey heron, standing magestic on the side of the road, so close and unfussed by passerbys. i wanted to pull aside the few people walking by and point to it — had they ever seen one?! i’m amazed at how many birds i see, now that i’ve started looking. today’s finding: common shelducks, with their weird nose/beak.

– finished watching alice in borderland, for a change of language and for glimpses of an impossibly empty tokyo. it’s… ugh. the first three episodes are a kick in the teeth, it gets slightly better after that.

– this quote, which has made me think about trying to embrace winter and this period of withdrawal, being content and making do with what i have.

“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but it crucible.”

Katherine May, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times (via Austin Kleon’s blog)

– weekly dinners with friends keep us going and keep us sane. we chat, kids show us their favourite books and the postcards we send them — it’s not a hug, but it’s as close as one gets these days. reach out if you’d like to do one with us!

one second everyday — january 2021

a fresh new year… literally!

we spent most of january huddled under blankets, sitting half a meter from the fireplace, daydreaming about a warm house… or of escaping to a sunnier spot. the pandemic rages on in portugal and so we’re stuck at home. still, we try to make the best of it, chatting with friends online, knitting, working, reading and birdwatching. we’re lucky to have the lagoon so close by — it’s been a lifesaver for stretching our legs on a run or bike ride around the salt ponds now and then. we’ve been trying new routines and schedules, and i’ve been losing weight and messing up with some spreadsheets and beeminder. januaries are good for new starts! :)