Everything is Weird

Zoom! That’s what Bob and I did last week – only we weren’t on a video meeting, we were on an airplane. This is the only time since 9/11 that this has felt weird. And the only time ever that I can remember when masks were expected, I should say required, to be able to board the plane.

We were among 30 souls on a flight to Milwaukee. This golf trip had been on our calendar for months, and we were thankful that it was not canceled. Bob had been looking forward to playing with our son and his sons on the famed Whistling Straits golf course. He was not disappointed. It was beautiful most days and unseasonably warm, which means perfect for us Floridians.

But it was a weird trip. From the moment we pulled up to the curb at Orlando International and found no cars lined up dropping off passengers, it just kept getting stranger. No lines to check in. No one in front of us at TSA. No problems!

Orlando International Airport – May 25, 2020

Once on board, I settled into my window seat, bucked my seatbelt, and slid my mask down. I don’t know how people do it when they must work all day in one of those things! Bob was shocked to see my mask dangling from my neck. I am usually the rule-follower, but there was nobody except him within 20 feet of me – another advantage of the window seat.

The “service” on the plane was different. Canned water and real plastic straws were available, as were little packets of pretzel mix. These were easy for the flight attendants to toss to us from a safe distance. The cans of water – not so much!

My one disappointment – the typically funny Southwest crew had lost their sense of humor. I think it was the masks. Who can blame them!

Once we arrived in Kohler, Wisconsin, it was time to have our temperature taken and take a little quiz as to our prior activities and places we have been. You would have been proud of me, as I answered honestly and kept my inner smart alec under control. I was pretty sure telling them I lived in NYC would have been a bad idea. For once, being from Orlando seemed to be a perk.

The isolation in Wisconsin was much more pronounced than it has been here at home. They had just opened the state, and when I say opened, I mean that if you searched, you could find things that were open. Those things did not include spas, which my daughter-in-law and I had looked forward to visiting while the guys played golf. But we settled for having our temperature taken a lot – that’s almost as good.

Blackwater Run Meadows Golf Course

There was always shopping, which is cheaper than a spa, but again it was weird. We read the sign on the door to a boutique and knew we had to wear a mask and sanitize our hands. We opened the door and stood at the sanitization station spreading hand sanitizer over our hands in the full view of the only person in the store. She looked panicked to see our unmasked faces and rushed halfway across the store to tell us that we had to wear a mask. I assured her that I had not been fast enough to don a mask while sanitizing my hands and that we would comply, but the whole thing made me sad. She was afraid. I’m not sure if she was afraid of contracting COVID-19, or if she was afraid that she would get in trouble for having an unmasked person in the boutique, or maybe I have a foreboding air about me that I don’t realize. There was such a palpable fear and anxiety in her. I am ready for the fear to be gone.

After we started browsing around, she relaxed a bit, but she kept apologizing for the fact that the town was mostly closed. When I tried to tell her that it was okay, she said, “I hope you’ll come back another time when everything is open.”

I replied, “Oh, we’re never coming back,” but she didn’t give me a chance to finish my statement. She started apologizing again. Finally, I was able to persuade her that it had nothing to do with her or the town or anything other than we came for the guys to golf. They golfed. On to the next golf course. In short – she was a wreck. Poor lady! Seriously, I felt for her.

I think I would have enjoyed Kohler more under normal circumstances, but my husband got to play golf with our son and grandsons; and they had a great time. Successful trip!

Whistling Straits

Our flight home was uneventful except for Bob getting yelled at by a flight attendant. His favored aisle seat has disadvantages. When we were in the airport at Milwaukee, there was one restaurant open. I innocently bought a snack and a beer for the plane ride – I’m old enough! What I did not know was that there was no alcohol allowed on the plane. Since Bob gave him my trash, he assumed that Bob was the perpetrator. I just remained in my window seat pretending I was asleep and chuckling softly.

There was something weird about the Milwaukee airport. After going through security, there is an area to put yourself back together again – shoes, keys, cell phone, laptop. It can take time, so you need an area for that to happen.

This is where you go to get recombobulated after you have been discombobulated.

I love words and this one is a doozie. I had never heard it before but immediately knew what it meant. Barry Bateman, former airport director, never heard it before either, so he invented it. I love it! I think we should have Recombobulation Areas all through the country and not limit them to airports. So many of us are feeling angry and depressed, or baffled, befuddled, bewildered, buffaloed, confounded, confused, flummoxed, perplexed, puzzled, vexed, or even discombobulated. We can all agree that things just aren’t right in the world today. We all need some recombobulation. I’m hoping that now that we are allowed out of our houses, we can get to work on that.

 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

A Whole Lot of Firsts

You already know that I’m not good with numbers, so I have no idea how many days we’ve been doing this COVID-19 thing. What I do know is – it’s more than any of us would like it to be.

I am sitting in amazement, though, at how God has prepared us for times such as these. For instance, just a few years ago grocery delivery was for the elite. Now it’s for everybody. (Except me. I can’t bring myself to do that yet. I like the grocery store. I like choosing my own produce. I may have to change my ways in the future, but not yet.)

Friday of last week I donned my mask and gloves and went to Publix. That was before it was advised that everyone wear masks in public, so it seems I was a little ahead of the times for a change. About a third of us were dressed the same. How embarrassing! Seriously, I was impressed at how kind and considerate everyone was. Publix has for its motto – Where Shopping is a Pleasure. It was a pleasure, but it was weird.

I color coded my hand-written grocery list so that I would not have to make return trips to an aisle I had already gone down. I was greeted by signs in the dairy department – one item of each kind per customer. I picked up a gallon of milk for my neighbor and a half-gallon for us. The Publix people were happy to let me do that after I explained why.

I opted out of help to my car (if you don’t have a Publix, you wouldn’t know that helping you to your car and loading groceries for you is part of their service, with no tipping their policy). When I peeled those gloves off of my sweaty hands, I thought about all of the health care people and other services where folks have to wear gloves all the time. I’m thankful for them all. (I was also thankful that I keep a small towel in my car so I could dry my hands and not have them slipping all over the steering wheel.)

On returning home, I set up a table in the garage and wiped down everything before it was allowed in the house. Some things I left in the garage for later. Honestly, it was simpler grocery shopping with toddlers, but I didn’t mind taking the extra precautions.

One reason for the extra precautions is that my mom lives with us. Bob and I are getting up there, but she is officially “up there.” (Again, full disclosure, I probably would go the extra mile of caution anyway; but having Mom with us helps me not get made fun of by my husband.)

Speaking of Mom. She has witnessed many things firsthand in her lifetime.  She was born in 1928 (she’s 92). Some of the firsts are, in no particular order:

  • Air-conditioned houses and cars
  • Televisions in homes and then color television
  • WW II
  • Microwave ovens
  • Cell phones
  • The internet
  • Man walking on the moon
  • Man-made satellites and a space station
  • Personal computers
  • Vinyl records, 4 track cassettes, 8 track cassettes, cassette tapes, CDs, downloading music
  • VCRs, Betamax, DVDs, Bluerays, streaming of movies and the like
  • Cameras have gone from little brownie box cameras to cameras on our phones
  • Fluoroscent light bulbs, LED bulbs, Smart bulbs
  • Google, Youtube, Facebook, Amazon (including the Echo Alexa that sits in her room, which she uses to sing along with her favorite hymns)
  • Hawaii and Alaska become states
  • And now a pandemic

Ten years before she was born, there was the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Mom has been through a lot – even polio as a kid and waiting to see if her brother who was a POW in Germany in WW II would return home (he did). And now she’s going through social distancing during the current pandemic.

It’s a privilege for me to witness her adapting and marveling at the technology which I can almost take for granted. Here’s a few shots of her doing just that:

 

Mom watching my sister and her son sing during their on-line church service in Georgia

 

 

Mom attending the Zoom meeting of her Tuesday morning Bible study

In a day when in a sense we are all shut-ins, my 92-year-old mom lives a life of thankfulness for the things she has and the things God set in place ahead of time for such a time as this. God bless you all and keep on looking up!

Six Degrees of Coronavirus?

 

Glad I stocked up before flu season hit!

The last week of January, Bob went to Oregon on business. We had begun to hear rumblings about the Coronavirus, but I was only mildly alerted regarding Bob’s trip. I reminded him to take hand sanitizer (which was in abundance at that time) and asked him to steer clear of anybody who may have traveled to China.

By mid-March, I was mentally exhausted from the reporting of this horrible virus. Little did I know that we’d only just begun.

We were expecting a visit from my sister from Washington State on March 11. A week earlier, northwestern Washington had become an epicenter of outbreak; and my sister was debating the wisdom of making the trip, which was to celebrate our mother’s 92nd birthday. Since she lives in northeastern Washington, we agreed she should come. By the time she landed in Orlando on the 11th, Kirkland, Washington, was all over the news.

As you can imagine, that put some stress on our visit.

The next day our other sister arrived from Georgia – thankfully an easy drive for her. We determined to and did enjoy the celebration, but there was a Corona cloud over our time together. It hung over us like humidity on a summer night. Thick and icky. We quickly began to realize that we were at the beginning of new daily and hourly updates of how our country was weathering this invasion.

It certainly has made me think twice about using the word “viral.” Nobody wants to go viral now.

In less than a week we went from hand washing tutorials to the new term “social distancing.” And the socially safe distance changed in that time as well – from no gatherings over 100 to 50 to 10 to just stay home. It was head spinning. We began to wonder if my sister and her husband would even be able to fly home. And the underlying question on everyone’s mind – is their enough toilet paper to go around?

So surreal! When my family returned to their own homes on March 18, we all breathed a sigh of relief. When things are falling apart, there’s no place like home.

Now we are looking at six feet of separation as a bare minimum and more likely being homebound (sheltering in place) as our country comes together to fight this awful thing.

But, as you maybe can imagine if you’ve been following me for a while, funny things started stirring in my mind. Things that could be funny about this but weren’t funny yet. Distance – time not social – allows the funny to seep into our life again.

For instance, I was talking to Bob last week and told him it looked to me like the cases of COVID-19 were increasing exponentially.

Bob – “Exponentially! That’s a math term.”

Me feeling proud – “I know.”

Bob – “I don’t think it’s truly going up exponentially. What exponent are you using?”

Me – “Two. I thought I could handle that one.”

Bob – silence

Me – “I hear the cases of COVID-19 are rising steadily.”

Also, did you know that going stir crazy refers to being in prison? Stir is a slang word for prison. Maybe you think you’re going stir crazy, but unless you are in prison, what you may be experiencing is cabin fever, which does not involve a literal fever. So, don’t sweat it. Remember, if you’re breaking out in a sweat, then your fever is likely breaking. Also, you don’t have to live in a cabin to have cabin fever. You can have condo fever, mansion fever, apartment fever, or even split-level ranch fever. It’s all the same. It knows no social difference – all it knows is it wants out.

So, I imagine our new normal is like yours. We are careful about everything. My 92-year-old mom lives with us, so nobody comes in our house. I spray the mail down with Lysol, for crying out loud! And you know what? That is funny. Picture me standing in the garage by the trash can sorting, spraying, tossing, and then washing my hands vigorously while singing Happy Birthday. All because I got the mail. Out of the box at the end of my driveway. Yep, that’s what it’s come to.

Then I thought about Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (the party game based on the theory that any two people on earth are no more than six acquaintances apart). That’s when I realized that I could not separate my thoughts from the Coronavirus by six degrees. If I got to two that was an accomplishment.

I conducted an experiment where I would not talk at the dinner table regarding anything connected with the virus. It was a quiet night. I guess I should have told Bob what I was doing, because it was the quietest five minutes we’ve ever had at the table. No – it doesn’t take me only five minutes to eat. Yes – that’s about how long I lasted before I gave up. And yes again – I think Bob enjoyed the silence – however brief.

I discovered I couldn’t talk about the following:

  1. My grandkids in NC. They are being home schooled now because …
  2. Our son in MI. He is teaching remotely from home because …
  3. Our local grandsons. We can’t get together with them because …
  4. Our weekly church meetings are now on Facebook Live because …
  5. You can only buy one thing of paper or cleaning products because …
  6. The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (aka birding drive). We can’t go – it’s closed because …
  7. Going to a restaurant. I’m not sure I want to go where people are because … and then the restaurants closed because …
  8. The place where Mom and I get our nails done. We were there the last day it was open. It’s now closed because …
  9. Bob working from home because …
  10. Disney World. Yes, Disney, Universal, and all the theme parks are closed because …

 

So, you see we don’t need six degrees. We don’t even need two! Everything in life right now points back to that stupid virus.

When I told Bob what I was trying to do, we both realized it was futile to try to keep from talking about it. It’s affecting our daily lives and the lives of everyone we know and love. We need to talk and share and cry and laugh and pray. And that’s what we’re doing. That and a lot of reading, puzzles and games, walks, bike rides, and bird watching.

1000 pieces! I joked that this one was saved in case of a pandemic.

We have family members who are job searching, family members who are in medical and financial professions, family who are teachers. We have family who are young and old and in between. We have friends who are becoming grandparents and friends whose parents have passed during this time. It’s okay to talk about how the virus has affected all these things.

But I do want to keep my focus and not let the negative or downright scary dominate my speech. Of course, we need to discuss what the current events are regarding the pandemic, but we really need to think about and speak about more positive things.

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

Philippians 4:8 (Amplified Bible)

If any of you have family on the front lines and would like me to add them to my prayer list, please let me know. For that matter, any other needs you have are welcomed too. Thanks for reading and may God bless and keep you.

(more…)

Biblical Application or Brotherly Aggravation?

Bob and I have had our local grandsons staying with us for several days. Grand-parenting is like taking a refresher parenting course, except you don’t care what grades you get because your only job is to enjoy the kids and to return them alive and well to their parents.

I was pretty worn out by the end of each day, which may have had something to do with the fact that the days started before the sun got up, which is something I usually avoid with great vigor. But I don’t think I was as tired from slicing a couple of hours off of my nightly sleep as I was from the activity. And the chatter. And the laundry. And the food preparation, which I am not used to doing on a daily basis for multiple meals, but I found that I still am quite capable in that arena. So that’s good. I guess.

Mostly, though, I just enjoyed having them around, except for homework time. The boys are both in double digits now, so they are fairly independent in their studies. But I received a note from the teacher that said something like – have your student finish the rough draft of his research paper, format it to look like a pancake, send it to someweirdgoofyname.net to ensure he gets credit for completing the task. The words download, reload, or unload may or may not have been used.

All right, those are not the exact words, but they are close enough. I handed this over to my husband who didn’t receive it with the confidence he used to have when dealing with our own kids, lo, so many years ago. Somehow or another, between the two of them, they figured out how to crack the code and get ‘er done. Since our laptop computer was in use and not theirs, we had diddly squat to go by, but my sweet and capable husband figured it out. If he hadn’t been here, I probably would have kept the boys home from school. I know that would have been wrong, but that would have been the price that my son and his wife paid for having us watch the boys.

My favorite part of their stay was being privy to some interesting conversations between the two of them. They are very close in age, so they’re always together. I was driving them home from school when one of them yelled at the other, “Hey, get your finger out of my ear. What are you doing?”

Boy 2 – “I’m just doing what it says in the Bible.”

Me – “There is nothing in the Bible about sticking your finger in your brother’s ear.”

Boy 2 – “It’s in Matthew, Mark, or, I don’t know – one of the gospels. I was going to get the wax out of his ear, but then I remembered I had to get the wax out of my own ear first. I did that, so I stuck my finger in his ear just like the Bible says.”

Me – “I’m certain that you have that confused. First get the log out of your own eye, then you can get the speck out of your brother’s eye. There is no mention of ear wax.”

Boy 2 – “I think it means the same thing.”

Me – “Now I know you’re messing with me. Just keep your fingers out of each other’s ears.”

They were laughing away and on to the next aggravation by that time. I almost got to use my old line, “You may never touch each other again.” Almost. Or my other old line, “Just because I’m laughing doesn’t mean that what you did is appropriate.”

My husband and I have raised three sons and a daughter. Watching our grandchildren grow up is such a blessing, so much fun, and really tiring. I should be ready for them to come over again in a couple of weeks. Just, no homework please.

 

I will not spin. I will not be spinning. I will not have spun.

This is my convoluted, conjugated New Year’s Resolution (not revolution).

The earth is spinning on its axis at approximately 950 mph here in Florida. I can handle that. All other spinning is bad for me. Except maybe spinning a yarn, which should not be confused with spinning facts. In this politically-driven climate, I won’t go there. That could make my head spin.

My main goal so far this year is not to get dizzy. And when I say get dizzy, I mean experience vertigo – not to be confused with the Alfred Hitchcock classic film starring Jimmy Stewart, which I have experienced via television and it did not make me dizzy at all.

I don’t want to make your head spin, so I’ll get to my point. I truly do live a wonderful life (final Jimmy Stewart reference). A big part of that wonderfulness is family. So, when our daughter asked Bob and me if we wanted to go in with them on a family Christmas present for the six of them to experience Universal Studios, we did. Of course, we decided to tag along.

They are huge Harry Potter fans. I think I saw a movie or two back in 2004. I also read the first book, as I had to know what all the hubbub was about. They were good, but not really my genre. But my grandkids are a genre all their own – if that’s possible. So, we watched a couple of movies as a way to study up on Harry and his friends before exploring the parks with them. We didn’t want to look like complete muggles.

You may be asking why I would choose to go there seeing as I tend toward vertigo. Good question. We discussed it and decided to go with the full knowledge that I would not be able to get on a lot of the rides. A lot turned out to be about 95 percent. Our grandchildren were quite dismayed that I could not ride along with them, but I was happy standing in line with them and enjoying the pre-ride entertainment and holding all their stuff. Well, mostly I was. We stood in line for two hours for Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure, which evidently had been towed to the nearest mechanic. You can’t wave a magic wand and fix such things. You would think you could, but no. This is clearly evidence that the park is run by muggles.

Realization #6,413 – Things like this don’t disappoint me like they used to. I used to ride all the coasters. I liked it. It’s okay that I can no longer do that without puking my guts out while my head spins for the next three weeks.

There is entertainment out there that you spin-lovers may not notice. Like, reading the signs at the beginning of each ride. This became my hobby. My conclusion: It’s a wonder anyone can go on those things.

What could have occurred on this ride to prompt such a specific sign?

Even Seuss Landing had danger within.

No riding for me. I just would not spin.

 

Things in Seuss Landing were just as lethal for us non-spinners.

 

 

Cat in the Hat. Imagine that!

One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Fish could be spewed all over town

Just from a spin – that’d make me frown.

 

 

Was it worth it, you ask? 15,000 steps in one day?

Why, yes, it was. And quite magical, I’d say.

 

(Disclaimer: No rides or people were spewed on during the research for this post. No episodes of vertigo occurred. Bob and I enjoyed what will likely be our last visit to Universal Studios – unless the grandchildren ask us to go again.)

The November/December Blur – Time to Savor the Moments

Somehow or another, Thanksgiving was two weeks ago and Christmas is two weeks away. There is a lot going on, and I am trying to savor the moments.

Speaking of savoring, November was an exciting month for me. As I referenced in my post of November 11, I spent a lot of time writing last month. Time that was measured in both minutes and words. As for the minutes, God only knows how many of them I spent sitting at my computer pounding out a first draft for my next novel. The words can be counted though, and according to Microsoft Word, I wrote 50,018 of them. (What makes it better is that when added to my prior writing, I now have a complete first draft.)

According to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo*) hierarchy, that makes me a winner. And if you’re a winner, you get stuff. That means I get stuff! Stuff I can purchase to show everybody that I’m a winner. I know, it sounds funny. But you better believe I have ordered myself a t-shirt that declares to the world that I won NaNoWriMo. Not only will I proudly wear it, but I’ll also happily confuse people about what in the world NaNoWriMo is. So, it’s doubly good.

And, I am not the only winner in our family. My 13-year-old grandson, Manning, plays Pop Warner Pee Wee Football and his team had an amazing season. The day after Thanksgiving they won their Division II Regional Championship.

Manning asked for a picture with him and his whole (present) family after his team won the Regional Championship. It was special to have cousins in town to cheer him on.

 

Do you know what that means to win a regional championship? It means they’re going to Disney World – specifically the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. There they have played two games against other regional winners and have smoked them. On Friday morning they will play in the Pop Warner Superbowl for all the marbles and ESPN 3 will even televise it.

I am so proud of Manning and his brother, Winston, too. Winston’s team did not make the playoffs this year, but I can tell you that both boys have practiced and trained so that they can be the best they can be on the field. It bleeds over to off the field as well. They are turning into fine young, albeit goofy at times, men.

Friday morning you can find me out at Disney rooting for Manning. I hope he wins! Of course, in my book he is already a winner. Well, not in my actual book, but you know what I mean.

The complex is huge. It’s like a city, and they really went all out for the kids.

 

 

*****

*If you’ve ever entertained the idea of writing a novel, this is a great way to launch those ideas into a bonified manuscript. Maybe you’ll want to join in next year. Here is the NaNoWriMo mission statement:

“National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”

*****

Black Friday

I have considered wearing an armband to show that I am grieving over the loss of Black Friday. Gather around and let me tell you the story of the true meaning of this shopping event. If you started Black Friday shopping in the last 10 or 15 years, then you have no idea the fun you missed.

First of all, nothing was open on Thanksgiving Day except for the occasional grocery and convenience store. We ate our feast and played games together and watched football. Movie theaters were open. Many times, we’d catch a holiday movie on Thanksgiving evening with family and friends. After which we would go home and enjoy one more piece of pie and go to bed because we had to get up early the next day.

Early meant around 5 am. Lots of stores opened at 5 or 6 and my mom and I would plan our route by scouring the ads in Thursday’s paper. Why get an early start? There were lots of good deals, but also you could get free stuff. FREE. You didn’t have to buy anything. Amazing.

Free ornament from J C Penney’s – I put this on the tree every year and it reminds me of shopping on Black Friday with my mom.

The jewelry store in the mall gave out coupons to possibly win a piece of jewelry and they’d give you little cheap charms, too. J.C. Penney would have their free Christmas ornaments. Target gave out goody bags full of swag. And that’s just to name a few things.

We would finish our shopping before noon, come home, eat another turkey sandwich, and decorate the house. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done during what was the kick-off of the season.

I remember back in the 1990s when my daughter Dena had reached the age where she was old enough to go with me. She was thrilled. Now a mother of teenagers herself, she has turned Black Friday into an event of epic proportions. This year she started out late on Thursday night with her 16-year-old daughter, returned home several hours later for a nap, and then went back out again, this time making it a foursome with her 14-year-old daughter and me. She has more energy than Charlie Brown has anxieties.

 

New Black Friday memories

I have given up being excited about the event, but I am excited about spending time with my daughter and granddaughters – to a point, that is. I won’t leave the house until 9 am, and my first stop has to be Costco. That’s where the real magic happens.

I wanted to introduce Dena to the joys of Costco Black Friday shopping. I’m not talking about the things you find in their ads; I’m talking about food. Food that you and your family and friends will eat and then you can brag about the deal you got on it. Plus, you don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn. And that’s a huge plus.

In years gone by we have gotten Butterball turkeys for two or three dollars. This year, unfortunately, Costco was better about judging how many turkeys they needed for Thanksgiving, so none were left, but that still left the pork loin.

 

At $8 off per package, we got this baby and five more like him for around $4. That’s three for Dena and three for us. Her family of six will devour a half a one in one meal – that’s $2 a meal. Score! Bob and I will cut ours in thirds and we’ll be eating pork until next Black Friday.

Later in the weekend, when my non-Black-Friday-shopping daughter-in-law asked Dena what her best bargain of the day was, you can only imagine my joy when she said $4 pork roast. Score one for Costco and getting up after the sun rises on Black Friday. I may as well say it, score one for me, too.

I’ve Decided They Can Come

They bring with them a lot of energy and it can seem like they take more than they give. I had seriously contemplated what it would be like if they didn’t come this year. I’d get more rest. The budget wouldn’t take the enormous hit it usually does. There would be no consumption of mass quantities (of food).

Image result for picture of Coneheads consuming mass quantities

Do you remember the Coneheads when they appeared on SNL? Supposedly they were from France. Photo Cred: FilmFed.com

But I can’t say no and I really can’t stop them anyway, so I’ve decided to let them come. That’s right – Thanksgiving and Christmas are welcome in my home this year.

Image result for picture of the grinch contemplating stealing christmas

No Grinching for me this year. Photo Cred: tvline.com

Can you imagine what it would be like with no Thanksgiving or Christmas? I tried and I can’t. For me, the struggle is that my kids and grandkids are spread across the country now. Some are close, thankfully, but it’s not the same as it used to be. It hasn’t been for quite some time.

I’ve decided, once again, that that is okay. I’ve also decided that it’s okay if I have a favorite season of life. I have a favorite season of the year, so why not extend that to life’s seasons. Mine would be the years when my husband and I had all the kids at home. I loved it in spite of the sleepless nights, crazy hormones, constant calendar challenges, and all.

For favorite season of the year, it would have to be summer. Long days of sunshine, trips with the family, more relaxed schedules. I can almost hear the waves crashing on the beach as I type. My least favorite is winter. I hate to be cold and I don’t like the short days, but I do enjoy the coziness of it and the holidays.

Image result for picture of its a wonderful life

One of the movies we have to watch every Christmas – It’s a Wonderful Life. Photo Cred: imdb.com

Don’t get me wrong. I am enjoying the season which God has me in now. It’s just not my favorite one, and that’s okay. It really is a wonderful life all through the seasons. Do you have a favorite season? Either of life or of the year?

A Homecoming I Couldn’t Have Pictured

My plan was to take the year off from decorating for fall. I was thrilled with my decision. I even bragged about it to my daughter, which normally would be dangerous. One year I had told her that I planned on doing much less Christmas decorating and you would have thought that I canceled Christmas. I offered good, sound reasons, but she looked so disappointed. She may have believed that she was witnessing me aging right in front of her eyes. Who knows, but she was a little distraught over it.

I thought I was safe with this year’s decision. Dena lives in North Carolina and wouldn’t have the ongoing reminders that my house was free of fall leaves and pumpkins. My tables could be dusted without moving all the tchotchkes. There would be nothing to put away before decorating for Christmas. I was happy.

Last weekend we traveled to Maine for an October getaway. It had been planned for a few months, so I was dismayed when I found out that Dena would be coming to Orlando while we were gone. She would be attending her high school twentieth reunion and would stay at our house. I wouldn’t see her.

Part of me knew I wouldn’t see much of her during that time anyway, so I found happiness in knowing that she was staying at our house.

On return home last Monday night, the first thing I noticed was a basket of fall décor on my dining room table. It confused me until I looked around and found pumpkins all over the house. Dena!

I’ll admit it, I was mildly annoyed but then deduced that she must be returning next month to put away the things which she got out. After all, that is how I raised her (tried to raise her).

It was 7:30 at night. We had been traveling all day and by the time we lugged my mom’s, my sister’s, and our luggage into the house, plopped down our bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches on the counter, and did that other thing you do after riding for a while, we were pretty tired.

But there was a feeling that we were being watched. In addition to the pumpkins, leaves, and baskets, there were pictures – lots of pictures. They appeared one after another. I hung my mom’s coat in her closet and a picture of one of my grandchildren dropped out. I looked on the fridge and found that Dena was looking back at me. There she was again, nestled into our grandchildren photo gallery on the foyer wall. She and her family were everywhere, including:

  • On the ceiling in the shower
  • In my car visor
  • In the freezer
  • Underneath of a jigsaw puzzle she had put together
  • Behind a pillow on the porch
  • In Bob’s and my laptops
  • In a container of cashews
  • Taped behind my make-up mirror
  • I flipped open the blinds, and there she was again – in two different rooms.
  • In my desk
  • In Bob’s closet
  • In the front closet
  • In the mailbox
  • I took out the garbage this morning, and there was my grandson looking at me from a picture taped to the inside of the lid.

Here’s my favorite hiding place:

I’m being watched on the pool deck from the phone holder on our hot tub.

 

It was time to call Dena. This was the best homecoming she could have planned and I have decided to forgive her for decorating my house because there is something wonderful about coming home to pictures of family. I will, however, continue my efforts to get her to come back down here to put this stuff away next month.

The selfies she took at our house were supposed to be clues to where other pictures were hidden. I’m not good at Clue.

So far, we have found 27 pictures. She tells me we have a long way to go before we find all of the pictures and that she hid clues in some of them to lead us to more. I think she forgot that I am terrible at the game of Clue and I’m sure I have messed up the sequence which would pave the way for Bob to discover more pictures. We’ll have to wait and see where she turns up. One thing for sure, she will.

Four Days, Three Nights in New York City – Cramming It All In

When I told Bob I wanted to take a girls’ trip to New York City to celebrate our granddaughter, Mia, turning 16, he was a pushover. We included her sister, Ella, and their mom, our daughter Dena. I was excited to introduce them to the Big Apple, and two weeks after our initial conversation, the four of us met at LaGuardia Airport ready to do this thing!

Traveling with my granddaughters was a treat, though New York City hotel life was surprising for them. They couldn’t get over how small the room was. Two queen beds and all necessities, including a street view complete with a dumpster for a construction project, didn’t impress them; but they quickly adjusted.

We stayed close to Times Square and were able to walk to the theater district. Mia has been in a couple of high school productions, so she was totally digging Wicked. Our balcony seats in the Gershwin Theatre afforded great views. She was a sponge soaking it all in.

After Wicked, we grabbed dinner from the local 7-Eleven, which I highly recommend for weary travelers who have had a big lunch. You may think that anticlimactic, but if you haven’t traveled with teenage girls, let me tell you it was the perfect dinner choice.

We rested until a half hour before sunset and then walked into a nearly empty Empire State Building like we owned the place (after we shelled out way too much money to, for all practical purposes, walk around on a rooftop). The views were magnificent, and it’s an iconic New York thing to do, so – worth it!

My granddaughters! So much fun traveling with them!

View from the Empire State Building

 

I wasn’t sure how impacting the 9/11 memorial would be to the girls, but they had learned about it in school and wanted to go. I’m glad we made it part of our trip.

The 9/11 Memorial is a must-see. Spending some time thinking of all those who lost their lives on that awful day, reading their names, and being thankful for our country.

We all had a different M.O. for touring the city. Dena is aggressive like her dad but, unlike her dad, loves museums. Sadly (wink, wink), we got rained out that day. Mia likes a slower pace, taking it all in. I’m somewhere in between them, except for the museum part. I can only do so much of that. Ella had the most unique method of touring. She literally ate her way through the city. She didn’t meet a street vendor she didn’t love. It became our goal to photograph Ella eating as many different things in as many different places as possible.

Ella and Mia – Ella is eating the first of many pretzels from street vendors

A rare healthy snack choice for viewing from the Empire State Building. We have to keep up our strength.

I think she is polishing off a bag of spiced nuts in this shot, i.e. shot like picture not shot like the police came because someone got shot.

Ella snacking again and contemplating why people would stand in line to touch weird places on the Wall Street Bull.

Waiting for Ella to finish her lunch before we tour Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton is buried.

We took a ferry to view the Statue of Liberty. It rained on us so we had to get a snack inside.

Ice cream cones before it rained.

 

 

 

Mia joins in for a caffeine fix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York pizza by the slice. Dena wonders if Ella will share.

As for our rained-out museum day, we knew it would rain; it had earlier. That is the reason why we were sitting on our ponchos as we rode atop the double-decker tour bus, to shield us from wet seats. We felt an errant raindrop here and there, but there was a lovely breeze and we were quite comfortable. That is why I took my hair out of its ponytail and let the wind blow through it. This was the closest I would ever come to doing a hair product commercial, so pleasant. And so short-lived.

Out of nowhere, the sky opened up and an insane amount of rain dumped onto us. Dena, who was on the other end of the seats from me and had fallen asleep (we started our days early), was rudely awakened. We were all trying to get up and pull our ponchos out from under us, but they didn’t cooperate. Being the least coordinated of the group, I got the most wet as I had my hair sticking to all inner surfaces of the poncho and my head through an arm hole and my purse not wanting to go under. We looked like drowned rats. It went from hair commercial to before-photo in one instant.

It seemed like a good idea to get off at next bus stop, which was for the museums, so like drowning rats, we jumped off. Reality hit us as we stood there, dripping, staring at each other – we were too wet to do anything but jump in the river, which I’ve heard is a bad idea.

That is why Uber was invented. We went back to the hotel, dried off, took a nap, and found some more food for Ella.

Our last day, we took the subway to Chinatown and Little Italy. I told the girls the following true story:

On a prior trip, Bob and I were roaming around Chinatown with three other couples. We were on the look-out for purses. Bob and I were lingering outside of a shop, waiting for our friends when we were approached by an unassuming-looking Chinese woman. She pulled out a folded poster with pictures of more purses than I could have imagined.

I think I let out a little gasp! Yes, we were interested and we had to act fast – no time to wait for our friends. We followed this stranger around the corner where she met a man leaning against a van. He took us off her hands and walked us into an office building. This was what we had heard about and hoped to experience. We’re stupid like that.

Once in the office building, an elevator opened and once again we were passed off to a new stranger. Up we went to who knows what! When the doors opened, we were in presence of the purses! There were thousands of them. We called our friends and told them how they, too, could be escorted through dubious channels of strangers and reunited with us in the purse place.

They thought us crazy, but I say – crazy like a fox!

Some of our friends joined us while, I’m assuming, the others prayed for our safe return.

Return we did, and we had lots of cheap purses as the reward for our risk.

I’m not sure why I wanted to do this. I guess it felt like a New York thing instead of a possible abduction thing. Plus, I rarely ever change my purse, so the whole thing was ridiculous. I could never recommend doing this, but it was strangely fun.

This time while in Chinatown with my girls, we were solicited by purse people. Traveling with my precious grand-daughters caused me to resist. That may mean that I’ve either gotten more street safety savvy, have come to respect brand names, or I didn’t want to have to buy purses for everybody. I’m not sure, but the girls seemed relieved.

We went to Little Italy instead where we shopped from actual stores and finished our day in Chinatown doing a little window smelling. And that’s how we ended our trip.

Ella didn’t ask to eat anything here.

Lots of fresh food

Perfect way to end the day – crackers in bed.

I understand there is some wonderful cuisine in New York City. We didn’t eat much of it, but we sure had fun.