About, Integration

Being brave like the friendly neighborhood birds

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Braving the “great outdoors” – or just leaving my building

me on my first outing to get mail & groceries via public transit; thanks to my aunt for the face mask

Tuesdays are my half days at the other job so I tend to do as many errands as possible on those afternoons. Lucky me, I have an aunt who sews and made me a face mask. It came in the mail last weekend. Perfect timing, really, because I had to go to the local UPS store and get mail. Then groceries.

But what a trip. So many people (1 in 10 maybe) on the streets wore a face mask and practiced social distancing. People on public transit sat far from each other. Some wore gloves and/or mask. Many did not. As I sat in the train car, I saw many people down town walking, sitting, talking, smoking or not close together and in groups.

Yet here I am with my mask on and a pair of knit gloves either in my pocket or on my hands for safety. Am I being paranoid about safety? Was my gear over the top? I honestly don’t know. But I felt safer going out with the mask and gloves on especially since I tend to sneeze at random times when going out of my apartment.

The UPS store was fairly easy to navigate. Ran into some people and had a nice chat. But it also brought home how many people are struggling with unemployment because of the pandemic. Should I feel guilty about having a steady job? Probably not, but sometimes I do. At the same time, I’m grateful too. Because without that job I wouldn’t be able to continue writing and posting blogs, etc.

Still, going out in the world at this time feels brave to me. I am mildly agoraphobic and experience panic attacks outside of my comfort zone. Right now, I don’t have a comfort zone outside of my apartment – new neighborhood, new transit lines, new neighbors – so even going to the balcony feels scary. And when the fire alarms in my building went off that afternoon – well I’m happy it was taken care of promptly and we all were able to go back inside relatively fast. And yes, I stayed far away from the crowds while keeping the building in sight; better that way after I accidentally got startled when a friendly boxer dog tried to say hi.

Friendly Neighborhood Birds

two ravens cuddling in a tree across the street

It’s not easy to stay entertained when confined inside. I’m lucky my office is near the windows. The trees started blooming this week, so everything looks green now. It’s harder to see the birds – this photo is from last week – as they like hiding behind the foliage, but once in a while I see the large ravens and smaller crows walking on the branches and interacting with each other.

They put on quite a show hopping and diving from branch to branch or tree to tree. Waving their wings and bobbing their heads. The ravens sometimes fly high and dive bomb to the ground before pulling back up and flying away. I smile and laugh when I see them. Sometimes feel disappointment when my head doesn’t turn fast enough to see them move.

My favorite part about watching them (sometimes listening too) is their sheer joy with life. They fly and walk on roof tops or branches. They chat with each other and play or fight. Then fly around playing in the sky. Sometimes I envy them their freedom. Other times I feel inspired. But my favorite part is when they turn their heads towards my window and bob their heads – almost like they are acknowledging me and inviting me to join them in shenanigans (aka fun).

At one point this week, one of the ravens landed on my balcony rail and stayed for a visit – I was indoors with the window shades up. It stared me in the eye and waved its wings before flying off. Did you know raven eyes are red? And they are BIG birds. Now, if I had been outside when that happened, probably scared myself silly. From the safety of my apartment – I was excited and happy for the visit.

Do you have any friendly neighborhood wildlife? Does observing them entertain you too? Or maybe you have pets or plants that make you smile instead?

Creative Cooking or Creative Delivery – how do you choose to spend your food money?

This week I didn’t get a food delivery. My first box from Imperfect Produce came on Wednesday. Plus I still had a lot of food to cook from past orders. And Tuesday’s quick shopping trip was to get dry ingredients for baking.

Can you believe so many stores are out of All Purpose flour and any kind of wheat flour? I checked Thrive Market, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods before going to the local store near UPS. They didn’t have it either. Instead they had some gluten free baking mixes and almond flour. I got the almond flour, some more sugar, and cacao nibs for my chocolate experiments.

So why baking? Well, bread and pasta are not easy to come by these days. Food delivery is not always an option, and I am picky about the types of bread I buy at the local stores. Pasta, I’m lucky my parents send me care packages through the mail. The latest one had gluten free pasta in it so I don’t have to try making pasta without a pasta machine.

But I am interested in making bread and biscuits, etc. at home again. It’s been about 10 years or longer since the last time I tried it. Sometimes I was successful, but many times I failed. Still, I truly believe that baking bread and other stuff – pastries and brownies and bars maybe? – will be more fun and interesting than buying what’s available next time I brave going out.

For the last photo I air fried salmon and baked some veggies in the small convection oven earlier this week. Food and photo came out good, so I’m sharing it here.

Salmon with onions, grape tomatoes, and cucumber seasoned with curry powder

What “traditional” skills, if any, have you begun experimenting with? I’m itching to pick up my knitting needles and fire up the sewing machine again, but my body says “not yet”. But that’s another story for another day.

If you have ideas or hobbies, interesting stories, or anything else to share, please write in them in the comments.

Love and Rainbows ~ TJ

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