Monday, March 8, 2021

Freedom!

 I received my second COVID-19 shot today.  Within hours, a friend texted me to say she and her husband received THEIR second shot today, too. And could we come to dinner in two weeks? Dinner? At someone's house? IN PERSON???  Hallelujah! Praise God!! Amen!

(The HUB gets HIS second shot in two days. Life is good.)

We WILL wear masks. Hugging is still not recommended. But visiting in person!!! With someone I am not related to? Wow!!!

The funny thing is this: I was not aware of the negative effects of insularity on me. Yes. I have dragged and yes, I also felt sluggish and reluctant to engage every morning. 

Still, when I sat in front of my computer screen to talk with groups of people, I felt huge waves of gratitude. I enjoy NOT going to stores. My younger sister started a music sharing hour with me each week. That would NOT have happened in non-quarantine times. See? Things worked out for me! I prefer eating at home and don't miss restaurants.

Right now, I feel so light, so unburdened that I suspect the whole looking-on-the-bright-side thing kept me sane but not unaffected by quarantine.

Some things will change. In a couple of weeks, Hub will want to go out to eat. If I need one ingredient to make a recipe, I will run to the store and get just that one thing. We might drive to upstate New York to visit the above mentioned sister's palatial new home. We CAN GO PLACES!! Masked, of course, socially distant, but NOT HERE!

Here is what I hope will not change:  Music with my sister; Scrabble games with my Mom two or three times a week; walks - but NOW I can walk more places once the snow melts; staying home - I do like staying home; a slower pace; an appreciation of what we have.

It may be the Spring sun returning. It may be my second vaccine dose but Hope is in my heart today.


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Make Your Bed - Sunday Selfie

Awhile back, Adm. William H. McRaven started a commencement speech this way, "If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."

I never saw the sense of making my bed until the last decade. After all, you're just going to climb into that same bed in a few hours anyway. 

The first thing to change my mind and my habits was noticing the delight of climbing into a bed after I change the linens. "Ahhh," I think as I sniffed the sun dried scent. "Clean sheets."  

After that, I made my bed more days than not.

Then I read one of those little motivational commentaries that our search engines toss up every day. It assured me that making my bed would revolutionize my life, even if I made the bed 5 minutes before I climbed in for the night!  That's crazy talk!

So I make sure my bed is smooth and nest before I climb in at night. Here are 5 ways that making my bed makes a difference in my day.

1. I feel cared for. Hub and I sleep in separate rooms because of back conditions and huge snoring issues - both of us snore hugely!  So, why bother?  The fact that I do bother means that someone cares enough to make my bed. Sure, that someone is me. I still feel that I am worth caring for. Make your bed.

2. That piece of discipline, if done early in the day, sets me off in a "getting things done" mode. I get the message that the day has started. Make your bed for a good start to your day.

3. I do get more things done. Once that bed is made, I don't want to waste the effort by climbing back in. So, I go do other things - like writing a blog post, or cleaning, or walking or hanging out with the Man, Make your bed to feel like you accomplished something.

4. The habit of bed making gave me permission to buy a lovely hand-quilted quilt. Spreading that quilt across my bed every morning makes me feel rich. Hand-quilted quilts can cost hundreds, if not thousands,  of dollars. The fact that I bought mine at a church Christmas Bazaar from the Quilting Group for not-so-much does not matter. Each morning as I toss that quilt out like a fisherman casts his net, I feel like the quilt is catching and keeping the blessings that come from a group of women all stitching at the same frame.  Make your bed beautiful. Find something lovely to spread on your bed and you will want to look at it every day.

5. I sleep better. I do. And on the nights that sleep evades me, the neatness of my bed reminds me that I am fortunate. Make your bed. Make YOUR bed. You HAVE a bed. You are blessed.


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Secret Agents of Good - Spy School

 Little Blue Bunny and his compatriot, Franklin, are back at SAOG (Secret Agents of Good) school this week.  With all the white stuff outside, they decided to hone their spy skills.

(What they get up to when they are NOT in SAOG training!)

Today they plan to become...SUPER SMELLERS!!! AND TERRIFIC TOUCHERS

Yes, the Blue Bunnies of Beneficence will use their noses to sniff out (hehehehe) different scents. Why is this important, you ask?

Well, a SUPER SMELLER can warn others of gas leaks, or of possible bad tastes, or of garlic overload.

But also, a SUPER SMELLER can stay safe by avoiding food that smells "off" - usually a sign of spoilage.

Here are some Spy School ideas.

-What's That Smell Game?

1. Gather some small cups or containers.

2. Gather an equal numbers of items with strong smells - like onions, vinegar, flowery perfume, peppermint, vanilla, or coffee. NOTE: stay to food safe items. Some very smelly items should be avoided - like cleaning supplies.

(Smelly things.)


3. Place a little bit of one smelly substance into each cup, one smell to a cup

4. Cover the cups with a thin tissue.  Some things that smell also have identifiable looks.

5. Challenge your spy student to identify the smell in each cup.

(Franklin is taking the plunge. I hope it smells good.)

 

Make it harder.

Place the cups around a room and ask your SAOG trainees to find them, using their sense of smell. 

-AAHHHH! What did I touch?

Sometimes we have to reach into containers to find things like lost toys, or lost crochet hooks, or lost pocket change or lost keys. Actually, I am thinking of sofa cushions right now, which are not containers. I think you know what I mean.

When reaching into dark places, it is helpful to know when to NOT grab something - or to be able to figure out what we DO grab. Just saying. This is where TERRIFIC TOUCH power comes into play.

For this game you need an empty box with a hole big enough to reach through. I suggest a tissue box, because those boxes come with holes.

(Could you guess what this was, if it was in the box?)

1. Place something with a particular shape or texture into the box. NOTE: for safety sake do NOT use sharp, poisonous or dangerous items for this test.

2. Cover the hole with a cloth so the trainee can NOT see inside.

3. The trainee must reach inside.

4. a. The trainee can tell you what they think is in the box.

    b. The trainee can describe how the item feels.  

5. If the trainee is successful in step 4,  it is the trainee's turn to test the tutor, (or trainer or teacher or....).

 

Good guessing, Franklin!


-Grab it!

This game is like a scavenger hunt for the senses. Make a list of words that describe things, like fuzzy, or furry or fluffy or feathery or - moving on to another letter now - smooth, sleek, slippery, slimey, shivery..

or any other describing word. You can add words that use other senses, like "bright" for the sense of sight, or "sweet" for taste or smell, or "loud" for hearing.

Challenge your SAOG trainees to GRAB something that matches your word. If you are keeping score, give extra points to trainees who grab creative choices. Or not. Play it by ear. Or eye, or tongue or nose or fingertips. It's all good.

Extra Points for putting everything away.


The Final Installment of SAOG Spy School will show up here sooner or later.


 


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Clean Windows - Sunday Selfie

I rearrangd my office in the Fall. I wanted to watch the changing seasons from my windows while I worked on the computer. This is especially nice during Meeting for (Quaker) Worship - heretofore referred to as MfW -, when long periods of contemplation are broken by thoughtful messages. Looking at the trees in the Fall and Winter, watching the passers-by, even noticing cars on the street below me, - all this adds to the meditative feel. 

  The first thing I noticed after I changed the room around was how dirty the windows were. Sigh. How many cleaning services announce that they DO NOT clean windows? But windows today are easy to clean. So I tipped the panes in and cleaned the dust and street grime from my windows. The result was startling.

 It's time for us to clean our windows. This past year has thrown all manners of grime, dust and dirt on the lenses through which we look at the world around us. Mornings have become littered with the burdens of the day before. 

 We should never forget what happened in 2020. Forgetting is a sure way to repeat mistakes. We can wipe it away from our daily view. We can see more clearly what we need to do. 

 The light shines in differently through clean windows. 

 Messages at today's MfW focused on Hope. One message quoted a poet as saying that hope was an "axe" to break down doors. To me hope is a cleaning rag or a broom, to clear away the cobwebs and dust. The doors are open. We just can't see the way through if we don't clear away the anger, fear and despair of the past year. 

Clean windows...a world of hope.

Friday, January 1, 2021

A NIght Time conversation


Happy 2021 everyone! THAT is an ORDER!!!

 

This morning at about 1 am, I paged through my most recent journal. Wow! For all the staying home and all the "I didn't do much" opening sentences, I, and I really mean we - Hub, D, and Little Blue Bunny, et al, and I - did a huge bunch of stuff.

I had forgotten about the night time reading sessions with the stuffies and the conversations we sometimes had in the dark. But this conversation made it into my journal. I had stopped reading to the stuffies for awhile. LBB noticed. After we talked, I turned on the light, grabbed a pencil and I wrote it down as best as I could remember.

Here it is with a tiny bit of editing...

Sept. 21, 2020

LBB: You don't talk to us anymore.

Me: I know.

 

 (Actual journal entry above.)

LBB: It's like you forgot all about us.

Me: I could never forget all about you...It's just I worry about  grown-up things.

LBB: Want to talk about it?

ME:  It just feels like this whole year, we are just waiting, waiting for things to get better.

LBB: Are things getting better?

Me: No. We started waiting for all this waiting to feel normal.

LBB: Ha! Hahaha! Normal?

Me: I can hardly remember going to Meeting for Worship, or going to the library or stores or to parties with friends. It almost feels like we never did those things.

LBB: I know you went on ships because you never took me.

Me: You would have jumped overboard.

LBB: Not!

Me:

LBB:

Me: I don't want to talk about it anymore. I want to talk about Wizard World.

LBB: Ahhh! Yes!

Me: Yes! Wizard World where a shy quiet Wizardy Wizard made a wing kite to fly her friends into a magic land.

LBB: .. and Little Blue Wizard thought that dancing princesses should be turned into flowers.

Me: I remember that! How about the time that Prince Philip,  I think, was turned into a platypus by his own brother?

LBB: Did I save the day?

Me: You and Wizardy Wizard.

LBB: We both did.

Me: Hmmm. Now I remember. You had new magic because you flew to Australia.

LBB: I did. Queen Apple Tree took my Wizard World magic away because of the whole princesses into flowers thing. Then I got new magic when I flew to Australia.

Me: You know, I wrote a lot of this down back then. I just have to find those journals.

LBB: I would like to read that someday - to refresh my memory.

Me: Me, too.

LBB: Nana?

Me: Hmmm?

LBB: Do you feel all worried now?

Me: Not so much. Thank you, Little Blue Bunny. You are a good friend.

LBB: Thanks, Nana. Go to sleep.


I wish magic lands to you all - wherever you find them - and good friends to drag along on your adventures.  2021 will be full of wonders. Look forward with courage and hope.

There's a bunny in that manger!
                                            

 



 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Bits, Bobs and Books!

The absence of reviews on this blog might lead you to believe that I am NOT reading. Tsk, tsk, tsk. How could you think such a thing?

Among all the other bits and bobs of my life, books are a constant. It is true that I can go a full day without opening a book but then the shakes set in. So here is what I have been reading.

Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver series! If you are fan of British mystery writers who penned their stories in the late twenties through the early 60s, you might enjoy this series. Miss Silver spent most of her working life as a governess before she became a private detective.  She has such a comforting, yet authoritative, manner that people tell her all sorts of revealing things. 

Wentworth adds a lot of fashion and society details to help define her characters. Readers visit country manors and town homes of upper society. I have only read four of the 32 novels but I suspect Miss Silver deals with middle and lower class suspects and victims as well.  THIRTY TWO NOVELS. 

The mysteries can be a bit histrionic. There is always romance involved. And Miss Silver's powers of deduction can appear miraculous. Read this series for the ambience, the puzzles and the relationships of young people who use repartee to cleverly dance around their feelings.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat. In an alternate Thailand, Pong is an orphan born in prison. When he turns 13, the tattoo that identifies him as a prisoner will be changed so that he can join society in the city. Pong, like everyone in the city, idolizes the Governor. After the Great Fire that destroyed everything years ago, the Governor arrived and with his gift of Light, he restored the City and outlawed fire. But when the Governor visits Pong's prison, everything changes for Pong, his best friend Somkit and the warden's daughter, Nok.

The jacket flap compares this book to Les Miserables. Pong escapes the prison and Nok is obsessed with finding him. She follows him to a mountain monastery and then into the city slums, uncovering secrets of her own family and of the Governor, himself.  LOVED THIS BOOK. The Governor's magical power, the old monk that helps Pong, Somkit's inventions, and Soontornvat's writing add up to a lovely adventure.

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate. YAY! Bob, the stray dog, gets his own book. The story of how a dog who claims to be all about "numero uno" becomes a HUGE hero and reunites with characters he lost long ago is charming, a quick read, and continues the story of Ivan, the gorilla, and Ruby, the elephant calf from The One and Only Ivan. I see a pattern emerging. Let's see if I'm right. The One and Only Ruby may be next.

Bob lives with George, a zoo keeper, Sara, and their daughter, Julia. Bob loves to visit his best mate, Ivan, and the adorably enthusiastic Ruby at the zoo. When a huge storm hits, Bob must help save his friends and hunt down the familiar bark of one of his litter mates. It's a page turner.

49086125Did I tell you about the graphic novel, Lightfall by Tim Probert? The artwork is lovely!  Beatrice must find Grandfather Pig and she must keep the Fire, (a flame in a glass globe), burning. Something ominous is stirring in the land of Irrpa! Beatrice meets a Galdurian - perhaps the last of his kind - who offers to help her. Because he has survived for hundreds of years, his help can be bit confusing. And, of course, the book ends with a cliff hanger. It's awesome.

The Bits and Bobs of this post's title refers to all the things I do to keep myself sane in these trying times. Here is a list:

1. Computer games. I downloaded an Advent Calendar from an online greeting card company. As I wait for December 1st, I play the games collected in the "living room" of the calendar. I WASTE SO MUCH TIME playing these games but, hey! I am not a fan of housework and I can't go many places.

2. Crochet. Crochet. crochet. and more crochet.

3. Poetry. I don't write as much as I'd like but I have been writing more during this time of solitude.

4. Walks. I should take one NOW. I especially like walking with my nonagenarian mother. I am so lucky to still have her in my life.

5. Storytelling! WOW! Here is a link to my latest venture with members of Patchwork, the Storytelling Guild. (Scroll down to the video.) This was our show for Tellabration, the International Weekend Celebration of Storytelling. I am the last teller of the performance. There are so many great stories here.

6. Planning Holiday events for my worship community - well, one event. I am planning a Zoom carol sing on December 6th. This may be a recipe for disaster because Zoom is not made for group singing or recitation. A carol sing is spontaneous and Zoom is not designed for spontaneity either. There are a lot of details to work out. I don't have an accompanist who can jump in and play any carol. WHAT AM I THINKING??? Pray for me, and for the intrepid singers.  

Luckily, the Christmas Eve Meeting (planned by other Friends) is NOT spontaneous and the music will be carefully recorded and presented. 

7. Watching TV shows from France and Italy. My husband "owns" the TV and he found a streaming service that offers TV shows from around the world. It's hard to crochet and watch these shows, since we have to read the subtitles. But the series that we watch are fun!

8. Music. Listening and singing. My granddaughter asks me if I have to sing a song about everything I do. The answer is, "Doesn't everyone?" 

And here is a lovely video from the One Voice Children's Choir.



Stay safe, friends.

 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Thanksgiving dilemma

 He asked again today. "Are we making a turkey on Tuesday to share with A & L & D when they pick D up after work?"  

Me: (Blank stare)

Him: Or, what?

Me: (Frowny face and helpless shrug)

Him: Should I get a small turkey at the store?

Me: Uh, um, I don't know.

Him: What are we doing for Thanksgiving?

Me: (Drops head to the table.)

My latest coping strategy is to wait until it is too late to do anything and do nothing. That can NOT happen with Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. We open the house to our son, our daughter-in law, our granddaughter and our daughter-in-law's family and to my mother and sometimes to one or more of my siblings. Dinner is followed by a walk and card games, silliness and chatter - and football on TV.  It is a day to just be together.  Also, FOOD!!!

When family can't attend (last year, they planned to be out of the country) we invite friends. No matter who we host, it is always the same. Food, conversation, laughter, football, games.

Um, not this year. 

I already texted the usual suspects and cancelled a large gathering.  However, I can't let go of the idea of pies and roasted Fall veggies and stuffing.  Should I bake pies and drop them off, masked and socially distant - set them on the doorstep, ring the bell and run away?  I can easily peel and slice enough vegetables for all of us and deliver them on Wednesday.

Should we take a chance and invite my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter to a short celebration? We see them twice a week anyway. (We see the parents for five to fifteen minutes at a time. And D for the afternoon. That doesn't count as "residing" with them, I guess.)

WHAT SHOULD WE DO??? I. DON'T. KNOW.

Kim and Penn Holderness made their decision to stay home. And then they made a video about it. Check out that Grammy's dance moves. 


I have a lot to be thankful for, anxiety aside. So far, my closest circle is COVID-19 free. I have a roof, the Internet, a sister who works at a yarn store if I run out of yarn (!!!), books, enough money, lots of food, a nice husband. What else could I need?

I need hugs, lots of hugs, to and from everyone I love. So, I WILL bake pies and peel veggies. I will fill those pies with hugs and drop them off with the ones I love. We will Zoom or Skype or Facetime our meal and NEXT YEAR we will all be together.

Stay safe, everyone.  Happy Thanksgiving.