Day in the Life, in Photos

One of my favorite bloggers organizes a week in the life project a few times a year. The idea is simple: really make an effort to capture your everyday life in photos, no matter how small or insignificant your daily activities may seem. I did it for the first time in April, and, wow, I learned so much. We always take care to record the big occasions in life: birthday dinners, vacations, graduations, and the like. But I find more and more that the further behind me my experiences fade, it’s not those moments that I wish I had some record of. It’s things like the buttons on the department elevator, the way the leaves fell on a rainy day, a Saturday morning grocery run, and all the little rituals that are so much a part of our lives that we don’t even notice them anymore. I would love to have pictures of sun-dappled Sunday mornings with the New York Times in my old apartment, or even the bus stop where I spent so many (many!) hours of my life. Those are the things I long for when I think of times and places past–the years that I lived in Berkeley, the early years of my relationship with Eric. So those are the kind of things I’m trying to record now, even if they seem mundane. I had an extra impetus for recording this day, which was Wednesday of last week–I’ve just started a new routine, since I’m now working from home, and the new-ness of it has been making me feel a little unsettled. I somehow felt that this exercise would ground me and sort of inaugurate this new season, and it did. So, here goes! Every morning begins with one cup of very strong coffee, made in my filter drip in our utterly dark kitchen. At least it matches the way I take my coffee. I look forward to the day when this little detail will charm me as part of our early married life!

My coffee time in the morning is spent catching up on the interwebs before I get to work. I love that there’s so much to read every morning. I guess it helps that I’m three hours behind the East coast. As a side note, I really love our coffee mugs. They are the perfect size, if I do say so myself.

This day was actually a bit of an unusual one, since Eric had time observing overnight this week. He’d been up all night Monday and was set to head back for more on Wednesday night, so I was being careful not to wake him. I was a bit under the weather and wanted to make soup for lunch, so I soaked these chickpeas overnight, instead of using our awesome (and very loud) pressure cooker.

It takes me a while to get hungry after I wake up, so I usually don’t eat breakfast until 10 or so. This has been my staple for weeks: banana cardamom walnut oatmeal. As soon as I run out, I make more. It’s the best.

After breakfast, it was work time.

And then time to paint a few circles on my painting.

And then time to call a bunch of pharmacies to see who might have my eye medication.

And then time to water our plants. The 100-degree weather has done a number on them, but this little basil plant keeps on kicking. I’m especially proud of it because I planted it from seed.

I made lunch and loved all the pretty spices. Last week I was just starting to get sick, so the only thing that sounded good to me was hearty and spicy soup. This one definitely fit the bill.

Here’s lunch: chickpea, red lentil, and quinoa soup. So satisfying.

And a nectarine! We missed the farmer’s market last week because I could not bear to stand in the unimpeded sun at noon, so our grocery store produce was all kinds of disappointing. I guess now my new mantra will be: the produce is worth it!

Then I went to Target to fill a few prescriptions. Since I had to wait for them, I wandered around and marveled at all the fall stuff. Yay!

Even the Kleenex boxes were in on it.

Live pumpkins!

And pretty necklaces. Whenever I see things like this, I wonder if I could make them.

But this was probably my favorite sight of the whole day. I was wandering through the office organization stuff to get ideas, and I saw this: the Virgin Mary peeking out from behind a little shelving unit. It made me so happy that I saw it, and this moment made me realize what I love the most about doing day in the life photos: it makes me a collector, a hunter of beauty, in ways I never would be otherwise. I firmly believe this: all lived experience is beautiful and full of art. We can’t possibly see all of it, but we can celebrate the things we do see.

And here’s something else to remember: this summer Pasadena passed a city ordinance banning plastic bags in stores. We try to bring bags with us wherever we go (otherwise we’d have to buy paper ones), and these little guys fold up into little pouches I carry in my purse. Eric gave them to me after we’d been dating for about a week. He is so sweet. It’s funny how quickly this has become a part of our life. Once we picked up a few things for dinner at a grocery store a few towns over, and we were so weirded out when they packed it up in plastic bags! It was like being in some alternate universe.

By the time I was back, Eric was up and working on preparations for the night of observing. I spent some time writing in my journal, which I try to do every day. I love the sound of the pages crinkling when I turn them and the faint scent of glue it mysteriously exudes.

Then I prepped some coconut ice cream for my birthday. I find that it goes much better if I make the base and let it chill in the fridge for a day before churning it.

I made a big pot of chamomile tea (for my cold!) and put most of it in the fridge for the next few days. And I had a cup in my owl mug.

You can’t have tea without…book reading time! These are a few of the library books I’m hanging out with these days.

Then it was time for a bit more computer work before dinner, the zucchini poblano tacos that I make probably every other week.

By this time Eric had headed off the control room for the night, and I was getting to work on my blog post for the next day.

I squeezed in a quick bit of knitting (down to two skeins!) before going to meet Eric at the control room.

It was my first time there, and it was pretty impressive, as is the fact that the Keck telescopes can be controlled from a little room in Pasadena. Eric was on video link with the telescope operators in Waimea and at Mauna Kea, and that was pretty cool.

I spent some time hanging out with my Kindle on the couch while Eric focused and took data, and eventually I headed home for bed. It was so odd saying goodbye to Eric at the end of the night–it reminded me of when I used to drive him home in the pouring rain when we were dating (or of the nights when he’d take off into the cold on his bike). Now as I write this, Eric is at Palomar for a few nights. He doesn’t typically observe this frequently, but it has made it a busy few weeks, for sure. And now, I’ll always remember what it was like.

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