Continuing in our Puzzlement*

*Just for fun: How many of the “banished” words of 2020 can you find in this post?

It’s been over a year since our nation took two weeks to try to level the curve regarding COVID. In all fairness, nobody I know believed the “two weeks” thing, but we were willing to see if we could “get ahead” of it. After all, those were uncertain times.

So, out of an abundance of caution, during these trying times, while adjusting to the new normal and starting to un-social distance ourselves from those we love, I’m offering a snapshot of my household, which consists of my husband, my mom, and myself. We have thankfully been spared of Rona and every other kind of malady which usually manifests itself over the course of a year. No colds, no flu, no nothing. Perhaps one of the positive things that has come out of this past year is that we now stay home when we’re sick. We have discovered that even though we think we are essential and perhaps even if some entity has pronounced us to be essential workers, we really are not. It’s good to stay home when you’re unwell.

As for supplies – I have a good supply of sanitizing wipes and cleaning supplies. We have a dozen rolls of paper towels on hand and a good 40 rolls of toilet paper. This number is not inflated by hoarding due to shortages. It’s a result of shopping at Costco.

We continue to ponder and puzzle over so much rhetoric and how easy it is to spread fear. We ponder how we could ever have thought of any days as certain days when all our days are in God’s hands and we know not what they will bring, but we trust in him. Uncertain times have always been and will continue to be, even though we thought of them as fairly certain. One never knows! Life is an adventure, after all, and we don’t control as much as we like to think we do.

Bob and I continue to do jigsaw puzzles as we consider it relaxing. When I last reported about our plethora of puzzles back in July, we had no idea how many we would do during the pandemic. The number was uncertain, but I don’t need to live with that kind of uncertainty. This morning I did some ciphering regarding the past 12 months of completed puzzles. Here’s my report:

40 – the number of puzzles we completed

7 – the number of 1000 piecers

1 – extremely unique and challenging Mystic Maze puzzle

8 – the number of Liberty puzzles (piece number doesn’t matter as much on these difficult, beautiful puzzles)

19,989 – number of pieces we put together

One of our favorites

We will continue to do puzzles until our eyesight and/or backs give out. It’s our new normal, and remember, we’re all in this together.

Our stack of puzzles which we received at Christmas. I think our family knows us pretty well!

A Lot Has Happened in Ten Years

This week I’m celebrating ten years of blogging! Ten years! That’s kind of a big deal for me. Of course, there are other things I have kept up for ten years.

  1. Marriage for 45.5 years
  2. Been in the same church for 27 years
  3. The same hairdresser for 25 years
  4. Same writers’ group for 18 years
  5. Dieting for the last 45 years, well, more or less.

In 2011, I never dreamed I’d still be blogging in 2021. I didn’t think much about what the next ten years would bring when my friend Debi (of The Romantic Vineyard) sat down with me on my back porch and helped me set up everything.  Thanks, Debi! And thanks to all of you who stop by. I’ve “met” some of the most interesting and kind people as I share life on the lighter side.

Ten years has brought a lot of change in my life. My husband and I have three more grandchildren added to the family. Plus, we have another daughter-in-law.

Five years ago we moved to our present home from our home of 32 years – the home where we raised our four children. We had anticipated my parents moving in with us and knew a new configuration would be helpful. Seeing to that and getting a home with a screened-in pool off the back of the house was the only way I could manage moving from all those memories. (We had lived in Florida for way too long without a pool.) Mom has been with us for over three years and has a part of the house that’s all hers. It’s such a blessing!

Here’s something that I would not have thought about ten years ago: Going through a pandemic and the attempted vaccination of every adult on the globe. Even one year ago I’d never have thought about that as we scrambled for toilet paper and jigsaw puzzles. Nevertheless, here we are. Thankfully, it is a decision each of us can make for ourselves.

I made my decision somewhat hesitantly. I thought I’d have a little more time to think about it and come to a conclusion based on all of the myriad of facts which Facebook and the media provide, but then, out of the blue, they lowered the age of eligibility. I was forced to talk to real doctors.

Hopefully I won’t have to keep wearing a mask for much longer!

Well, I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week, and I’m giving it one thumb up. I’d give it two, but my left thumb is killing me (too strong a word?). I read about all the possible side effects, and I cannot find anyone who has experienced thumb problems. They do mention possible joint pain or swollen lymph nodes, but no mention of swollen fingers, particularly left thumbs. Somebody has to be first. I’m sure our crazy, changing weather or my pruning of the rose bushes had no bearing on my problem whatsoever (she said as she pulled giant thorns from her thumb).

For now, I’m avoiding shuffling cards, thumb wars, and hitchhiking. I’m sure I’ll be fine. Maybe when I get the second shot it will clear up. I’m just glad I can drive myself to get it since hitchhiking is no longer an option.

Firsts and Lasts (and a movie review to boot)

This week Bob and I ventured back to the local AMC theater. This was our first movie in over a year, (thank you, COVID.) Frankly, I have not missed going to the movies, but Bob really has. That is why I conceded to go to a movie called Chaos Walking starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. It also featured David Oyelowo, whom I loved in A United Kingdom. (You should watch that one.)

This was the best choice available for us; but as we watched it, I felt like we chose the runt of the litter. Yes, it was a movie and was pretty clean, but it was Sci-Fi, which would be okay in a lot of movies, but I lost track of the sci-fi-edness of it fairly early on.

What was it that I hated about this movie? As I’ve thought about it, my dislike of this film has grown since we saw it on Monday night. That night I thought it was just “meh.” I gave it a C-. By Tuesday I dropped that to a D+, and now I’m having to wonder why I was so generous in the first place.

To quote IMDb, this movie is “A dystopian world where there are no women and all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of images, words, and sounds called Noise.”

I should have read that before going, but I focused on Daisy, whom I liked in Star Wars, and Tom was a good Spiderman, so I was open to giving it a try. One positive note, I will never again struggle with what dystopian means.

I asked Bob later – what made us want to see a movie about an imagined world full of fear where you can hear the noise in each other’s heads? Don’t we get enough of that on the news and social media?

He did agree, but I know deep down in my heart that it was worth it to him to sit and eat popcorn with me in a darkened theater while safely distant from the other four people who plopped down eleven bucks for the same experience.

SPOILER ALERT: By the second act of the movie, surprise, women were found not too far away. They were running the show in their community because you couldn’t hear what the women were thinking. Selective communication was a big plus. The men’s thoughts were shouted from them in an annoying din. They separated the living areas by gender because the ladies couldn’t stand the noise. I get that – I felt the same way from my seat in the theater.

This was the only thing suitable to talk about after the movie. The “noise” had gotten on my last nerve. Sometimes I can barely stand the noise in my own head much less watch and hear the noise of every male in this movie. I surmised that maybe the women’s thoughts weren’t heard because as a gender we can have more of an emotional base. I don’t know; and whatever the reason if they even had one, they never told us. They didn’t even hint at it. Worse still, we didn’t care.

You’ve been warned.

That was my first for the week. I likely won’t return to the theater until the next James Bond movie debuts.

I also had a last this week, which ties to my age, and that age also means I get to sign up for Medicare this year. I thought it was a reason to celebrate, and I suggested that to my gyn after completing my yearly exam, but she had a full afternoon ahead of her. Aren’t we supposed to celebrate the little things? Yes, we are! Can you guess what was my cause for celebration and why I thought this was the fitting way to celebrate? (Hint, I don’t think it’s lady-like to mention this in mixed company or on a format that would make my sons roll their eyes and say, “really, Mom!”) Cheers!

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Seasons and Sneezins (or Issues with Tissues)

When Bob and I were first married back in 1975, our budget didn’t allow for frivolous items such as Kleenex or napkins. We bought toilet paper and paper towels, and they did double-duty, i.e. paper towels were used for napkins and toilet paper was used for Kleenex. Of course, never reused, especially after attending to the “duties” of life. (I thought I’d throw the word “duty” in there for my adult kids who still smile or chuckle when they hear the word. Confession: I do, too. Duty.)

Kleenex, like the word Xerox, is a brand name, which I was not aware of until I had to shop on my own and realized there was a generic version of tissues at a friendlier price. I have retrained myself to call them tissues out of respect to all the tissues who were miscalled Kleenex. That’s a lot to bear for a product. I’ve been called by my sisters’ names for my entire life, so I know how they feel.

Early on, I only bought tissues for “company.” Bob and I continued to unroll T.P. whenever our noses ran, but I would draw the line at getting a roll out for guests wearing short sleeves who happened to sneeze while they visited us. That, my friends, is what hospitality looks like.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

By the time we were raising our four children, I saw the wisdom of having real tissue boxes instead of the kids unrolling toilet paper every time they had colds. I was smart enough to dole them out as needed.

When I became a grandmother and the kids or grandkids got sick, I would send care packages consisting of Lysol, Gatorade and tissues, because I knew they would not own a box of tissues. They had to go through the toilet paper for Kleenex stage of their life like all of us do. By this season of my life I bought tissues from Costco, so I always had plenty.

Fast forward: Bob and I became empty nesters in 2015. We kept that title for about eight months before a parade of friends and family lived with us off and on culminating in my parents moving in back in 2017. Mom continues to live here.

We’ve been helping support our elderly parents for ten years, and we’ve learned a lot. One of the most important things is that you can never have enough tissues and it better be the good stuff. None of this sandpaper-rough one-ply garbage.

Mom told me she was running low on Kleenex (she doesn’t use the word tissues and that’s okay). I pulled the remaining three boxes from the linen closet and gave them to her. Before I handed them off, I said, “You can take the box from the kitchen if you want.”

She likes having a box there. That generation likes having a box everywhere. I’ve learned that this is part of their wisdom. They don’t move as quickly as we do, and a sneeze can surprise you. Nobody wants that.

Out of curiosity, I thought I’d take inventory of our boxes that are in use. Now I, too, have had my eyes opened to the wisdom of having tissues around. Not only for sneezes, but sad movies and books, bad news on the phone, watching the nightly news – all of these can have me reaching for a tissue.

Counting the boxes was one of those moments of self-assessment and contemplation. I have lived through so many different tissue seasons in my life. I’ve gone from zero boxes, to one or two, and now to ten open boxes of tissues. Ten!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What has happened to me, I asked myself. I must be either a hoarder or we’re a family of perpetually runny-nosed people. There is a box in each of our three bathrooms. (Since COVID, I don’t want people using our precious toilet paper for anything except its designated use.) Basically, any place where someone can sit or lie down in our house has a trusty box of tissues right there.

Is this the person I have become? A hoarder or one who lives in fear of runny noses or errant sneezes and panics over the thought of unpreparedness?

Or perhaps there is a third option. Maybe I’ve simply entered into a new tissue season – one that could involve having tissues up my sleeve at the ready for whatever the day may bring.

Nay. I refuse to go there. I will never be that woman. I may be what Southerners call a “seasoned” citizen and I am a magician’s daughter, but you will not find me pulling anything out of my sleeve no matter what the future may bring.

I don’t mind getting older, but thinking that I could be on the precipice of that time of my life where tissues have such elevated importance is enough to make me cry, but no worries, I have tissues right here beside me.

Ants on Crack and Other Random Curiosities

Because my world is smaller than it used to be due to that which shall not be named, I am noticing little things. Like ants. Ants are crazy busy, and there are actual crazy ants, which are from the Caribbean and can be found in Florida. As you may be aware, Florida is famous for bugs.

Typically we see fire ants or carpenter ants or even Pharoah ants, which are known to have a superiority complex. Fire ants love to bite people while the more industrious carpenter ant just wants to make improvements to your house; i.e. make it his house.

Whatever type of ant, if it’s making mounds, it is my job to get Bob to destroy them.

Over the summer I discovered ants boring a hole in our driveway. I can’t imagine what possesses them to do that, but it was interesting until I remembered I don’t want my driveway to look like Swiss cheese.

This is how deep they had gotten before we stepped in. These ants are aptly named Pavement Ants.

About 1.5 inches deep

Last week at a quick glance I noticed they were at it again. I pondered the ability of ant jaws to chisel through concrete with their tiny teeth. Bob handled it but assured me that they weren’t indiscriminately chewing through our driveway. These ants were on crack.

That made perfect sense to me until Bob explained they were on a crack in the concrete.

Something else to ponder down here is the I-4 Ultimate Project which began in 2015 and has no sign of being completed during the remaining 15 months of 2020. I’m not good with maps, but it appears to me that any delays are probably due to the Scarlet King Snake (or is that a Coral Snake) resting in the middle of the project.

Red Touch Yellow – Kills a Fellow
Red Touch Black – Venom Lack
Yellow Touches Red – Soon You’ll Be Dead
Red Touches Black – Friend of Jack

I early voted and it was a breeze, much simpler than remembering the coral snake rhyme. The old Party City in our area is now serving two parties and third parties as well. It was an easy in-and-out experience except the woman who checked me in was sort of blind. She was excited to work the polls for her first time – so excited that she forgot her contact lenses and had to use a magnifying glass to check my picture and signature. That was a first for me, too.

And, finally, a consumer alert. Available at Walmart, of course, for a limited time: It’s time to buy your KFC fried chicken-scented firelogs. I hope they don’t cause a grease fire.

I’d Like to Weigh in on Something

Every morning, without fail, my husband dutifully weights himself. Several years ago he lost about 35 pounds and watches that scale to make sure it doesn’t creep back on. Most mornings I, too, weigh myself. But not in front of him. When you’ve been on a diet for 45 years, you get a little sensitive about certain details. Yes, he can know how much I’ve lost. No, he cannot know what my current weight is.

Eventually, I tell him, but only after I get to my goal. He is a genius with numbers, so I know he can remember my weight loss and figure out from whence I came, but I don’t think about that. And he’s smart enough not to mention it.

Last Saturday was like every other day, only I was awake to see Bob weigh himself. He got on. He got off. He got on again. “Hey,” he exclaimed, “this scale is like the wheel of fortune gone crazy. It stops on a number and then rolls to another, over and over.”

Bob’s weight went from 170 to 214 to 68 in no time at all. Well, folks, that is 2020 for you. Nothing is what it should be. I stepped on and was delighted to see that I was in a weird bathroom/carnival game, not knowing where the scale would land. I decided I would choose a number I like and go on with my day.

By Monday, Bob was going through scale withdrawal and stopped at Costco to buy a new one. Alas, they had none. I know they’ll reappear in January, but for now, Bob had to find another source. If you follow me or know us, you will marvel at how we think everything can be found at Costco and if it isn’t there, then it’s either the end of the world or the year 2020. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s pretty much how we operate.

Bob got on Costco.com and found some options and listed them as I fixed dinner. Did we want bamboo finish, clear glass, black finish? Would we like our weight to the nearest tenth of a pound? Hey, these have Bluetooth. They will track our weight for us. That’s when I put down the spatula.

A great big NO to tracking! I turned the contact tracing off on my phone. Why would I want our scale to keep my numbers for public display to anyone who was passing through our bathroom? And who needs Bluetooth for their scale? Really, is that what this crazy world has come to?

Bob added that some scales can track up to four people. “Fine,” I said maturely, “but if you get that scale, I’ll never weight myself again.” And with that, I sliced myself a piece of pie to make sure he knew I meant business.

Amazon (Costco’s alternative universe) gave us more sensible and lower cost choices. When I saw a scale that came with a tape measure, I knew order had returned to my universe. So if you are feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, remember you can discover what your weight is for $14.38 on Amazon.com. Let’s just hope this scale can keep a secret!

The Importance of Friends

I am finding it more and more challenging to uncover the lighter side of life these days, but that only makes me more determined. My mind has become a bit numb. I would wear a hat to warm it up and maybe get the blood circulating, but that is problematic for me due to the size of my head (plus, I don’t think it works that way). I used to be sensitive about my extra-large noggin, then I discovered that my friend, Moggie, has what she considers a small head. For entertainment we would go try on hats together. The hat that sat way on top of my head would slide down to her nose.

I have convinced myself that when you look at me you are not thinking, “wow, she has a huge head.” If Moggie and I stand next to each other, you wouldn’t be thinking about our heads. You would likely notice that I look like a giant next to her, but that’s okay. We have learned that the size of our heads or height of our bodies does not define us. We large headed folks can mingle with small headers quite nicely. That’s called diversity.

Moggie stopped by our house spur of the moment the other day. It was like medicine for my soul to see my friend.

There have been times, which had nothing to do with a pandemic or social distance mandate or masks, when I felt isolated in my life. One of those times was when Bob and I first moved to Orlando from Maryland back in the 70s. We were young and knew no one outside of my family. We had begun attending a mega church and that was not proving a successful means to friendship building. So many people and no new friends! It was a bit overwhelming for us.

We prayed that God would give us friends.

One night we bravely attended a church class for young married people. Since it was smaller in number, we thought we’d meet people. Alas, they all seemed very friendly – with each other. Little did we know that God had something different in mind. After our meeting was over, we were going to the main service, so we wandered out to the hall with another couple who were also first-timers. We sat together in the meeting and introduced ourselves. I remember whispering to Bob that maybe we could invite them over, but before we could act on that, they passed us a note with their address on it and a friendship was born.

That was over forty years ago. Since that time God has brought many more amazing friends into my life. Recently I have been attempting to refocus on friendships. It has been far too easy to live life isolated from the relationships God has blessed us with. I want to encourage you, in whatever state of pandemic safety you find yourself in, reach out to those you love. Friends are a gift – it’s important that they are present in your life.

I’ll leave you with this, if someone thought it important enough that their pets have friends, how much more should we humans cherish our friends.

According to the report, this was to fill the need of dogs feeling isolated during the pandemic. Wow!

How’s Your Summer Going?

Is it getting to you yet? The constant reminders to be safe? The debate of masks or no masks? The fears that are controlling us more that any virus could?

I’ll be honest – it gets to me, at least sometimes. We took a road-trip to South Carolina to help our son and his family with their move from Michigan. That was a wonderful diversion. We hadn’t seen them in a year and the boys have grown so much. There was no place I would have rather been – nothing I would rather have been doing than helping them move and spending some time with them. Even in 97-degree, South Carolina heat, it was so worth all the sweat and sore muscles just to see them face-to-face.

These two!

It was wonderful, except for when I needed to use a restroom while on the road. You’ve never seen desperate until you’ve seen a full-grown woman pounding on the door of McDonald’s to beg the people inside to open the dining room just long enough for her to use the restroom. They gave me the same empty stare I’ve seen over so many masked noses and mouths. No sympathy. No compassion. No entry.

I’ll admit that was a low point, but I got through it. Now that we’re back home and into our usual/unusual routine, I find that some days I’m ready to jump out the window, then I remember we live in a one-story house. Then I remember I’m 64 and would likely hurt myself even from that height and I don’t like pain. Then I remember if I make a mess, I’d have to clean it up. Then I remember I have a lot of time on my hands right now so what’s one more mess to clean up in an effort to make my point. Then I remember I’ve worked hard at avoiding work, so I go take a nap.

Always the careful one, first I calculate the risk.

 

It looks like a medium risk of at least scraping myself or getting dirty from the window ledge. Not worth it.

So, how’s your summer going?

***********

I remind myself:

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalm 16:6

 

My Phone Thinks I’m an Idiot

I’m fairly certain my phone thinks I am an idiot. It didn’t come right out and say so, but it definitely implied it.

We spend a lot of time together, my phone and me. Having a phone in 2020 is a lot like having a toddler. If you don’t know where it is, you have to find it before something terrible happens like you get a text, or a notification that it’s going to be a bad weather day, or someone goes crazy on your Amazon account. Or, in the case of a toddler, they have locked themselves in the house and figured out how to turn on the stove while climbing a ladder and holding scissors. (more…)

Musings of My Thinker

My LiveTrends Thinker Living Air Plant is not handling the pandemic well. He lives on my kitchen window ledge. Usually he looks toward the kitchen. I think he likes observing and thinking about people. He’s been hanging around for over a year now and in that time, he has asked nothing of me except for a little mist of water once a week or so. That’s the kind of plant/decoration I can handle! Plus, I think he’s cute. (more…)