Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Merry Merry Very Very Month Of May

It's funny how there's so much time to blog, but not a whole lot to blog about these days. Thursdays were made for lists of thirteen, but can I even come up with thirteen things today? It's almost the end of May so let's go with thirteen randoms from the longest May ever.

1. Seriously. Normally I feel like if you blink you miss this month, but not 2020 May. I keep looking at my calendar thinking surely it's time to flip to June, but nope. Still May.

2. The weather isn't helping. I cannot remember a gloomier grayer spring than the one we've had this year. On the bright side the grass is green (and soggy), my knockout roses are falling over from the weight of blooms (and water) and my tomato plants have tomatoes so whoohoo! Trying to keep them from drowning is the new obsession round here.

3. There are bigger problems in the world I know.

4. How about some happy news? I got my hair done this week and feel like a new woman. My appointment was first thing Tuesday and the shop had been closed for two days prior due to the holiday weekend, so I felt good about the timing.

The 'new normal' way of doing things is you wait in your car until the stylist texts and when you do come in you take your temperature with a side of hand sanitizer for good measure. We both wore masks and she wore gloves and it was just the two of us in the shop the entire morning. A day brightener for sure.

5. In other happy news May-June means we have three nephews, a niece, and a daughter all marking birthdays within forty days of each another. That's a lot of Amazon-ing.

Besides the other Amazon-ing I mean. ahem

We have ordered more than a few things online this month including our drug store essentials, a cap for the Septic tank, a new pair of pjs, a filter for the ice maker, a door mat, phone chargers-cases-and cords, dog food, replacement cereal bowls for my everyday dishes, binoculars, a photo canvas, an herb garden stand for the deck, baby gifts, engagement gifts, a hammock stand, and this that and probably the other too. I'm thankful for online shopping and the US mail right now.


6. Also during this season of not making plans my niece is making plans. She got engaged about a month ago so we're going to look at some venues together tomorrow. At an appropriate distance while wearing a mask because it's 2020 and that's how 2020 rolls. They won't be getting married this year because bless their hearts, brides everywhere y'all.

I know people are struggling with so much serious stuff, but we know more than one bride who has had to cancel, postpone, or hugely adjust plans and deal with enormous disappointment in the past few months and it's hard. We understand this sort of sadness very well and I do hope the heaviness of navigating what should be a joyous time will lift and people can celebrate all that should be celebrated.

7. I do think the wedding industry is in for some changes, and couples are spending more time thinking about being married as opposed to the wedding itself. A silver lining take away perhaps?

8. We've had a lot of storms this spring, including a couple of tornados striking tiny town, although not our particular neighborhood. About a week ago we noticed one of our ginormous pines was seriously leaning. It sits beside a rock wall, the construction of which we knew disturbed its roots. The tree was holding it's own until it wasn't so removal was in order.  


9. These tree guys are amazing. This tree was about 100 feet high and he scampered up there like it was no big deal. Sometimes they can just fell them, but because of the proximity to the house this particular tree had to come down in pieces. It was fascinating to watch them work.


10. Truthfully my stomach was in knots and I couldn't watch the whole thing, but hubs gave him his camera and tree guy helpfully snapped a photo of our house from on high. Hubs was green with envy and if there'd been an extra pair of spurs? tree climbing shoes? he'd have been right up there with him. Another reason I had to wait in the house.


11 Quick topic change...Blogger has changed it's format. For once I think I might like the new better than the old. Once I  get used to it of course. Technology always gotta be changing but I guess that keeps us on our toes.

12. Speaking of technology my teacher daughter made an end of year slide show for her class, and y'all it made me so teary. Three quarters of the year spent with big smiles on their faces, doing all sorts of learning and growing together in the classroom, their best buds beside them, and then the last quarter pics of at- home learning that parents sent her. The contrast tugs at the heartstrings.


Parents have rallied in this season, and truly they've done what needed to be done, but it's just so different and strange and you could see so clearly some of what's been lost for these little ones. I pray they can return to the classroom come September.

13. Hubs and I were enjoying our coffee the other morning when we spied a beautiful blue heron on the shoreline. He started making his way across the width of our property with his eye on something we could not see.

We thought maybe a snake, but then all of a sudden he plunged his head into a tiny hole and came out with a chipmunk in his bill. He quickly got back to the shoreline and proceeded to prep his breakfast.


By prep I mean drown it before he ate it because this is what they do. I always thought herons were pescatarians, but evidently I thought wrong.


Guess I was also wrong about not having anything to say today. Ha!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

We're All In This Hodgepodge Together

Welcome to the middle of the week and your friendly neighborhood Hodgepodge. If you've answered this week's questions add your link at the end of my post, then leave a comment for the blogger linking before you. That's what good neighbors do.


1. The US of A celebrated Memorial Day this past Monday. Does your family have any military ties? If so, tell us about them.

Yes I do. My dad was a career Marine and my son-in-law is a surgeon in the Army. In addition we spent nine years living in Annapolis so we also hold the Navy in high regard. My dad is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and if you've never been I highly recommend a visit there. A beautiful peaceful place full of meaning, history, beauty, and the remains of so many of our nation's brave and beloved soldiers. 

2. Cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, mac and cheese, macaroni salad...your favorite BBQ side? How many of these do you make from scratch vs. buying from the deli?

This is a toughie. Why are food questions always the hardest for me to answer? I like all of those sides, but my two favorites are baked beans and cole slaw. If we're grilling burgers I want baked beans, and if it's BBQ I need a side of cole slaw. 

I don't make my own potato chips, but everything else on the list I prefer from scratch. I rarely if ever buy a salad or side dish from the deli.

3.  I enjoyed asking this question back when the Hodgepodge was a regular thing...Lake Superior State University posts a list each year of words they think should be banished from the Queen's English for misuse, overuse, and/or general uselessness. The 2020 list includes-quid pro quo, artisanal, curated, influencer, literally, I mean, living my best life, mouthfeel (word used by foodies to describe texture of food in their mouth), chirp (basically an insult, you can read more on the website), jelly (short for jealous), totes (short for totally), vibe, and OK Boomer (internet response from millenial to older generation).

Of the words/phrases listed which would you most like to see 'banned'?

I have never heard the word chirp used in this way so don't think I'd notice if it were banned. Same goes for OK Boomer and mouthful. I totes use jelly, I mean, and vibe so not going to vote those out either. I guess I'll say influencer because it sounds pretentious and who declares someone an influencer anyway?  

Somebody reading here is probably saying OK Boomer right about now-ha! 

4. I'm sure next year's list will be filled with words springing out of this weird season we're all in currently. What word or phrase associated with the Corona would you be happy to hear less often?

Unprecedented. Because is it? Wasn't there a pandemic about a hundred years ago we keep comparing with this current pandemic? Also it seems when someone behind a microphone tosses this one out if feels like they're doing it strictly for effect. 

I read a thread on Twitter asking this question and most answers were the predictable phrases we all think of...unprecedented, uncertain, we're all in this together, social distancing, flatten the curve, etc but my favorite was the mom who answered with 'What's for dinner?'  Ha! That's some truth right there! 

5.  The month of May wraps up in just a few days. Bid her adieu in ten words or less.

Life is rarely just one thing and May was no exception. 

Tornadoes struck, roses bloomed, a virus lingered, moms were loved. 
More than ten words but whatev. 

Hmmm...should whatev have made the list in question #3?

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Some of you follow my daughter's blog and/or her Youtube channel, but for those who don't she shares fun videos and insight into life in and around S. Korea. Been on a bit of a hiatus for the past three months (I don't need to explain why, right?) but she's back with a new post and video up this week.  It's fun to travel vicariously through her-

Her blog can be found here-Sincerely Shannon


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 370

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then pop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. See you there!

1. The US of A celebrated Memorial Day this past Monday. Does your family have any military ties? If so, tell us about them.

2. Cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, mac and cheese, macaroni salad...your favorite BBQ side? How many of these do you make from scratch vs. buying from the deli?

3.  I enjoyed asking this question back when the Hodgepodge was a regular thing...Lake Superior State University posts a list each year of words they think should be banished from the Queen's English for misuse, overuse, and/or general uselessness. The 2020 list includes-quid pro quo, artisanal, curated, influencer, literally, I mean, living my best life, mouthful (word used by foodies to describe texture of food in their mouth), chirp (basically an insult, you can read more on the website), jelly (short for jealous), totes (short for totally), vibe, and OK Boomer (internet response from millenial to older generation).

Of the words/phrases listed which would you most like to see 'banned'?

4. I'm sure next year's list will be filled with words springing out of this weird season we're all in currently. What word or phrase associated with the Corona would you be happy to hear less often?

5.  The month of May wraps up in just a few days. Bid her adieu in ten words or less.

6. Insert your own random thought here.




Monday, May 25, 2020

Blogging In The Age Of Corona

It's Monday and in the old days, aka before the you know what, Mondays on my blog meant a weekend recap. I think I'm gonna need someone to define weekend, because isn't every day the weekend now? This particular Monday is also a holiday, but there's no parade, no backyard barbecue where everybody brings a dish, no music played a little too loud or team cornhole happening on the driveway.

Weekends used to mean a dock full of our best pals, dinner at the neighbor's house, a boat ride to the local hangout where we were sure to meet up with friends and likely make a few new ones along the way. Now it's me and the hubs, porch sitting, dog walking, coffee drinking, talking about all manner of everything under the sun but quite often circling back around to how strange everything feels and what to do about that.

How does one blog in the age of Corona? How do you write about static?

My blog has always been what I affectionately describe as a 'slice of life'. That's my niche. My wheelhouse. The extraordinary ordinary of everyday life. Observations about the people I live with and those who cross my path. My role as mother-daughter-wife-sister-friend. The times we're living in, the wider world, and my place in it.

Right now it feels like we all have tunnel vision and are staring down this one big thing that we can't seem to get through or go around or climb over, and how do you keep writing about that? Do I want to keep writing about that? I can't not write about that, can I?

I don't know that I'll need this blog to help me remember this weird season, but ten years of blogging has taught me that reading something written in real time weeks, months, or even years later brings perspective and validity to the memory.

So here's what I've observed lately...

For all our pining about how we don't like change, turns out we kinda do. We may fear it a little and wobble some before finding our new footing, but change propels us in new directions and that's a good thing. Or at least a different thing and we want different. All of this stay at home all day every day business has shown us we don't want same old same old. We don't want every day to look like the one before.

Yes we wanted a less busy calendar, but not a blank one. Yes we wanted a break from all the going and doing, but it's not a break if it lasts forever. Yes we wanted time to step back from the crazy and re-evaluate priorities, figure out what's truly important, but then we need to step back in and act on what we've learned. And yes we might love to make dinner for our family but not absolutely positively every single night, plus every breakfast, lunch and snack too, am I right?

Yes I'm right.

It's hard right now to see how we ever get back to where we once were in terms of activity, interaction, and community but I suppose like most things it will be a process. One day I'll read back on this blog post and remember a long season of being at home.

I'll remember slow starts to the morning.

Books read on the porch without an ounce of guilt.

So much meal planning and intentional shopping.

Using what's in the frig.

Substituting this for that because that was nowhere to be found.

All the cooking. Have mercy there was a lot of cooking.

Church on the computer.

Zoom calls with family and friends.

Missing people being close enough to touch.

Completing projects we finally found time for.

Disappointment.

Kindness.

Wearing a mask.

Not going anywhere and not really minding too much except when we did.

Blogging in the age of Corona is not so different than blogging in the time before. Like all the seasons I've written my way through I know this one too will look a bit different when viewed through the lens of hindsight.

Looking forward to getting there.
I think?

A part of me wonders if it's possible not to go all the way back to where we were? To just go some of the way back?  To retain some of the low key-quiet-just us sitting on the porch because we feel like it- way of living?

Guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Numbering The Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! How is everyone? Out and about or napping on the couch more often than you should? I'm asking for a friend. 

If you've answered this week's questions add your link to the end of my post, then go say howdy to your neighbor. Everybody's got time, right? Here we go-

1. In a single sentence tell us something about your 40's. If you haven't reached that milestone yet tell us something (in a single sentence) about whatever decade you're in now.

If you read my blog you know I wrote an entire post on this topic yesterday. You can read it here. A single sentence is tough because that's ten years of living, but let's go with this quote attributed to Danny Kaye-

"Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint on it you can." 

2. Life begins at forty. Agree or disagree? Tell us why. And if not at forty, when?

I think the spirit of this sentiment is somewhat true. I also think life is what you make it at any age, so there's that. For me 40 was probably the age where I felt like I knew myself, gave myself grace when grace was needed, had figured out what real friendship looks like, and felt less need to control the universe. At 40 I realized I wasn't young anymore, but I wasn't old either and I embraced that. 

Now in my fifties I pitched a minor rebellion but in my 40's all was well. 

3. Share a favorite book, song, or quote with a number featured in it somewhere.

Let's go with books today. I'm sharing several that I loved because I'm not good at just one-

The Million Dollar Boy by Monica Wood
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

4. A picture's worth a thousand words, a stitch in time saves nine, back to square one, catch-22, on cloud nine, my two cents...pick a number phrase and tell us how it applies to your life currently.

Catch 22 feels like it fits. There are a couple of definitions, but I think 'a situation presenting two equally undesirable solutions' is the thesis of our current social distancing predicament. 

Stay away and potentially stay well while the economy crashes.
Revive the economy with business as usual and face a potential health care crisis. 

Ugh. I feel for the people in charge trying to make decisions in this confusing and uncertain time we find ourselves navigating. 

5. Last time you drove more than 40 miles from home? More than 400 miles from home? Where were you going? Was it before or after this current season of social distancing?

I honestly don't think I've been more than 40 miles from home since the stay home way of living began, which for us was April 7th. We'd been at it a week or two prior, and since then I've only been to a couple of local grocery stores and the plant nursery, all of which are less than 40 miles from here. 

Hubs and I did drive to Florida to visit friends in early March before this whole thing started and that was definitely more than 400 miles. We enjoy road trips, and I think that's the wave of the future at least for the short term. Not sure when we'll be boarding an airplane again to jet off somewhere fun. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Daughter1 gave the hubs a hammock for Christmas and now that it's hammock weather we ordered a stand so we could get it set up. Y'all. It is ginormous. This stand rivals Noah's Ark in size. I look like the princess and the pea in this picture. 


It is so incredibly comfy and now we just need to figure out where to put it. Currently it's sitting on the lower driveway which has a great view of the lake, but I picture myself tipping out onto the concrete so we'll likely need to relocate. Maybe the hillside once we level out a space in the mulch there. 

And yes I know it's technically hubs hammock but there's plenty of room for two. 

Same as the Ark. 



Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Roaring 40's

If you're looking for this week's Hodgepodge questions you'll find them in the post before this one. 

I know technically that term 'roaring' is linked with the 20's, but I'm talking age today not world culture, so The Roaring 40's it is. My roaring 40's.

A while back (two years if you're counting) I asked a question in my weekly Hodgepodge wanting people to describe their 20's in a single sentence. I enjoyed reading their answers so much so that I eventually wrote an entire post reflecting on my 20's some three decades out (you'll find it here), and later two posts about my 30's (here and here). My plan was to hit all the decades, but you know what they say about plans.

Since I've officially entered the year of a 'big birthday' I wanted to come back to the decades I missed and revisit them in the form of a blog post or two.  Today that means The Roaring 40's. Like your 20s only better because there's less striving and more seizing the day.

I've written bits and pieces about this decade over the course of my blog's life, but these reflection posts are more about life lessons learned, and how a particular season looks in the rear view mirror.

My 40's started with hubs planning a fun birthday surprise, a weekend away in a cute little B & B on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He even managed to sneak my mom into town to stay with our girls which meant so much to me. I wrote about it in great detail in a post linked here so I'm not going to say more about that now.


What I will say is people freak out a little bit when this birthday approaches, but when my 40th rolled around I felt great. Vibrant, relevant, mentally sharp, and looking towards the future with anticipation and delight. I was physically healthy, and also really happy in marriage, motherhood, and the wider world as I knew it. Of all the decades this one holds a tender place in my heart.

My girls were in grades 5 and 7 when I entered my 40's and were university students when the decade drew to a close. In between there was a whole lotta life lived. A lot a lot. On a grand global scale we had 9-11, war in the desert, the housing crisis, and economic collapse. On a personal level there were job changes, an overseas move, middle school-high school-college for the kids, and so many new people, places, and experiences shared it would be impossible to list them all here.

What I see when I look back at any decade is how God orchestrated the events of one season to make me ready for the next and this one was no exception. I started my 40's living in a sweet little town beside the bay, a place we all loved and where my family of four had become comfortably comfortable. Maybe even a teensy bit complacent? I don't mean complacent in the sense we weren't busy working-going-doing, but more life is good and let's not look for ways to rock the boat k?

Except what if the boat is meant to be rocked now and then?
What if it's better, stronger and more sea-worthy if it's rocked from time to time?

There's nothing wrong with living a comfortable life, but I know me and sometimes when I get too comfortable with something I hold on with a tightly clenched fist. Two tighly clenched fists. And God is always teaching me to cling tightly to just one thing-Him. I finally figured that out in my 40's, but it took being catapulted from the ordinary every day familiar into something new and different before it stuck.


I've written probably more than anyone wants to read about moving overseas as a 43 year old grown woman who had been perfectly fine thank you very much, right where she was, only to discover she still had some growing to do and a new home and country were just the place to do it. We traded life in America for life across the pond at what I can see now was absolutely perfect timing, although for young teenagers it maybe didn't feel like it.

My 40-something self had a heap of anxiety percolating on the inside too, but I went with what has worked for moms since the dawn of time. I slapped a smile on my face and repeated my oft repeated mantra -every little thing is gonna be alright.

And it was.


One of the miracles of parenting is that we moms and dads learn a lot of life's most important lessons as we walk beside our tweens and teens, and I had one of each when we hopped the pond. 'Cept we didn't call them tweens back then.

We did talk a lot about the new millennium but had no idea they'd be dubbed with that moniker some twenty years later. Sorry kids!

I spent most of my 40's in the UK and traveled extensively while I was there. My kids even more so, and hubs most of all, but more than the traveling it was the everyday living that changed us in ways that mattered and lasted.


I think I need ten years to write about ten years, but since we don't have that kind of time I'll wrap it up with a few priceless (to me) treasures unearthed in my 40's that I've carried in my pocket ever since-

There is great value in periodically examining the direction of my life and deciding if a course correction is needed. Am I doing what God created me to do, or am I living from habit?

I am capable of learning and doing hard things, things outside my imaginary comfort zone.

God's timing is providential and perfect and sometimes we might need a little bit of hindsight to see just how true that really is.

I can trust Him with my kids. Really trust Him. This has served me well every year since as my daughters have spread their wings and flown in ways my 40-something self could not have imagined or predicted.

It's a small big world and it is beautiful.


'If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:9-10

Wherever I roam there He is.

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 369

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with all your friends and neighbors. One two three go-



1. In a single sentence tell us something about your 40's. If you haven't reached that milestone yet tell us (in a single sentence) something about whatever decade you're in now.

2. Life begins at forty. Agree or disagree? Tell us why. And if not at forty, when?

3. Share a favorite book, song, or quote with a number featured in it somewhere.

4. A picture's worth a thousand words, a stitch in time saves nine, back to square one, catch-22, on cloud nine, my two cents...pick a number phrase and tell us how it applies to your life currently.

5. Last time you drove more than 40 miles from home? More than 400 miles from home? Where were you going? Was it before or after this current season of social distancing?

6. Insert your own random thought here.