Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hodgepodge Questions and The A to Z

Before I post this week's questions for the Hodgepodge (scroll down) I want to mention a little something called the A-Z Blog Challenge.

As per my normal way of participating each year, I signed up last minute over the weekend and posting starts Wednesday. That would be tomorrow. I hadn't given any thought to the challenge, but since it seems there's plenty of time to blog these days I jumped on in. Visit this link by April 4th if you'd like to blog along too.

The A-Z Challenge started back in 2010, but my first year participating was 2011. I stuck with it every April through 2016, but this will be my first year back since. The way this challenge works is you post every day during the month of April, using the alphabet as your guide. Since we don't blog on Sundays that conveniently makes room for 26 posts to coincide with 26 letters of the alphabet.

You're not required to have a theme, but I like a theme. I need a jumping off place to give my normal random some structure. In the past I've written about travel (2011), a trip to Asia (2012), parenting (2013), marriage (2014), change (2015), and home (2016).

Since coming up with blog content in the age of social distancing means one must get creative,  I thought it might be fun to make this something of a group activity. I emailed 26 friends/family who I know read my blog and gave each one a letter of the alphabet. I asked them to send me a word beginning with that letter and I'll write my posts around their chosen words.

I thought they might drag their feet a little, but almost everyone responded immediately. And now I have an interesting collection of words that have nothing to do with anything so it will be fun to take off writing and see where I land. Stay tuned!

Now on to this week's Hodgepodge-

We're still here. In our own little houses with plenty of time to blog, so why not join the Wednesday Hodgepodge? Answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. See you there!

1. Has spring sprung in your part of the world? How can you tell? Did March come in like a lion where you live? Going out like a lamb or something more ferocious?

2. The last thing that caused you to spring to your feet?

3. Do you have a spring clean to-do list? What's one chore on the list you've already managed to accomplish? What spring clean chore do you most dread?

4. Tell us something you've learned about yourself or the wider world as a result of social distancing/the virus crisis.

5. Something you love that's the color pink?

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Monday March Madness

Not the fun kind of March madness because fun was cancelled this month, wasn't it?

Well maybe not cancelled but we are definitely having to work for it. Pretty soon all my blog posts will be titled 'what I ate this week'. We're all learning to get creative and figure out new ways of connecting and socializing from at least ten feet away.

Are you on Zoom? We had a Zoom call with a group of college friends Friday night, and another with a former work colleague of the hubs on Saturday. I don't know why we never did this prior to social distancing because it's a great way to connect as a group and we laughed a lot. I even played cards with friends last week via Zoom and our Sunday School class is meeting that way as well.

Temps have climbed into the 80's here which is delightful. We haven't dropped the boat in the water yet, since pollen has run amok-

Don't think we'll be dining out here just yet, but I am looking forward to al fresco dinners in the near future. And once most of the pollen is down we'll be back to meeting up with friends by water. Everyone can stay safely on their own boats a healthy distance away and life might feel a little bit ordinary. Whoohoo!

Hubs has been spending his at-home time painting all the trim in the house. He enjoys a project and this is a tedious job that needed to be done. He's a meticulous painter and it all looks so crisp and clean. Perhaps if we're confined to home much longer he'll get to some of the walls too?

We've cooked some stuff. Ha! We're all cooking these days aren't we? We tried a new recipe on Saturday for grilled shrimp tacos with avocado salsa and it was a keeper.

So easy and I'll definitely make this one again. I found the recipe here.

Still have two dogs to walk which is a happy distraction and a reason to leave the house. I'm watching very little news, but do tune in to hear our governor's updates and catch headlines to see if there are new developments to be aware of on any given day.

We started watching a program on netflix called Tales By Light and are enjoying that. Each episode features a photographer taking pictures of something fabulous somewhere in the world and their shots are pretty amazing. My daughter and I have been binging old seasons of The Great British Baking Show and are completely addicted. I'm determined to bake something I've never tried before using my one packet of yeast, which I was lucky to get. Suddenly everybody's a baker.

Speaking of baking, daughter2 and I finished a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle last week-

It ended up being 998 pieces thanks to a lightning fast little brown dog who shall remain nameless, ahem, but still fun and really pretty. How long do you leave a completed puzzle set up? We wrapped this one up on Thursday and I put it back in the box Saturday. Since it looks like staying home is the name of the game for a while longer I need the table space to start another.

So that's about it-reading, cooking, walking the dogs, working puzzles, a little TV, a few home cleaning/organizing projects, and more blogging than I've done in months are what's filling the time here. I have to say many of these activities are things I enjoy doing anyway, even when social distancing isn't the norm.

How 'bout you? What are you doing to stay busy?

Friday, March 27, 2020

To Market To Market. Not So Fast....

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today, and here's how that looks-

Tell your inner critic to hush, then write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word. Then hop over to the Five Minute Friday link up hosted by Kate Motaung and add your blog to the list. Don't forget to leave a comment for the writer linking before you, because that's the neighborly thing to do.

Today's prompt-adjust

I went to the grocery store yesterday.
Sounds simple and in simpler times it was, but I think we can agree these are not simple times.

These days our every routine action requires thought, restraint, and self-control. The most mundane tasks needing to be accomplished on an ordinary weekday can't be done without taking into account people and distance and how to get from point a to point b with as little human contact as possible.

So I sat and I thought. I made a two week meal plan as opposed to my normal one week shop. I knew  it would have to be tweaked depending on what's available on this particular Thursday in my local market, but having a plan to work from helps.

We take so much for granted don't we?
Will there be any rice on the shelf? Garlic? Meat? Who knows?

I made a list. I always make a list, but this one was well organized to avoid backtracking once inside the store. Getting in and getting out is the name of the game now. No handling the avocados to find one with the exact degree of ripeness I need, no lingering at the deli trying to make up my mind. In fact bypass the deli and for once buy the prepacked safety sealed lunch meat.

Before leaving home I took my card out of my wallet and zipped it in my jacket pocket. I could leave my purse at home, meaning one less thing to wipe down. Same goes for my rings. I needed to buy gas before I shopped so I rememebered to put some plastic bags in the car to cover my hand when I grab the nozzle.

Wearing a bag on your hand to pump gas doesn't look at all crazy in 2020. I toss the bag and put a dollop of hand sanitizer in my palm. The sanitizer we've always kept in the car for emergency hand 'washing', although I honestly cannot recall ever experiencing a true hand sanitizing emergency.

Pumping gas now qualifies.

I came home and took care with where I laid the bags. One counter only so I could spray it down later. I opened boxes and dumped the contents into my own bags and took the boxes to the garage to be recycled one day.

One day someday when our recycling resumes. They sort by hand so not happening since nobody wants to touch anything, not even a brand new empty cracker box.

I washed every bit of produce and disinfected the counter where the bags sat and it made me tired and a little bit sad. It all feels so extreme.

Small adjustments to slow the curve.

Everyone is being asked to adjust to a new normal these days. For some the adjustment is enormous. Scary sickness. A new way of working or perhaps not working at all. Educating small children. Teachers learning too. College students suddenly home and at loose ends.

We're retired and our children grown so how we'll accomplish work each day or teach modern math to a nine year old isn't an issue. What we're facing is mostly inconvenience, minor irritations, and small disappointments.

Still we miss normal life. We miss meeting friends for dinner out, not thinking twice about getting on an airplane, visiting my mom, sharing a church pew with a stranger.

Most of all we miss making plans. We're wired to look forward to what's next, but in this upside down season I'm learning to adjust my line of sight and see blessings in the now.

To embrace flexibility. Grow my patience. Be grateful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

We're Baaaack...The Wednesday Hodgepodge Volume 361

Good morning! It's been a while hasn't it? I'm looking forward to 'seeing' some familiar faces here, and hopefully new faces too. If you're new to the Hodgepodge welcome to a happy little corner of the Internet. In this age of social distancing, isolation, and general unease, the Wednesday Hodgepodge feels a lot like having coffee with old friends. And it looks like we're going to have several weeks to get reaquainted, ahem.

Let's get started...answer the questions on your own blog, then hop back here and add your link at the bottom of my post. Then hop over and visit (at the very least) the blogger who linked before you. Comments make the world go round or at least the blogosphere. Don't forget to post the button code (located in my sidebar) or a link back here so your blog readers can play along too.

And we're off-

1. Howdy Hodgepodgers. It's kind of fun to be back, isn't it?  Last time we met was September, 2018. Tell me something big-important-happy-or sad that's happened in your life since that date. Just one thing. We don't know how long this current isolation situation is going to last and we might need to dole out our news bit by bit.

I suppose we've each one experienced all of the above in the past eighteen months because life is like that. I may ask this question another three times until we've shared something from each category. I'm going to start with the happy which is this-

I have a new grandson, born halfway around the world to my daughter and son-in-law who are currently living in South Korea. We were fortunate to make it to Korea two days before his birth and had the most wonderful month with this precious family. I wrote a few posts about our travels which you can read if you're so inclined, starting with the post linked here 

While I hate the distance I am so very grateful we traveled when we did. We facetime regularly which I guess is now every grandparents new normal, and it's not the same but is still pretty great. We are completely smitten with this new little man and his big brother. 

2. Might as well get this out of the way early on...COVID-19. On a scale of 1-5 how serious are you about keeping your distance? Explain. fyi-I didn't create the scale but have seen it several places online. Also fyi-we won't only have virus related questions each week, but for this first one it feels right.

1-Not at all, living normally
2-Cautious but still going out
3-Going out as needed, mostly home or working from home, still seeing friends/family
4-Extremely limited, only going out when unavoidable, minimal contact with people
5-Full lockdown, no one in or out

We are a full 4, bordering on a 5. Definitely not letting anyone in and going out only for groceries once a week or less. I'm going to go ahead and add my .02 here...I surely hope nobody is a 1 or 2. 

3. Raise your hand if you think you might run out of steam in the cooking department before it's all said and done? What's something delcious you've cooked or eaten in your own kitchen in the past week?

I enjoy cooking but this everyday thing is likely going to get old before we're over this current crisis. I have always planned meals and shopped from a list so that's not a problem. We love a nice meal in a restaurant or a casual get together at a friend's house, but for now we're strictly cooking at home.  

Even when life is 'normal' there are no food delivery options on the lake, and we typcially don't do take out because by the time you go to town to pick it up you might as well eat there. Right now a few restaurants are offering curbside pick up so we'll probably do that at some point to help keep businesses afloat. My daughter ordered a couple of Home Chef meals (our favorite of the home delivery) for next week just to give us something new and different to eat. 

Best thing I've cooked/eaten in my own kitchen this past week? Homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I made them for a friend who had surgery recently, but the recipe (linked here and it's my favorite) makes a lot so we kept a dozen and gave another dozen to a neighbor who also had surgery recently. Hubs left the cookies on their doorstep then texted so they'd know what we'd done because that's how things work in a pandemic. 

4. What's a television show or movie you've seen recently (it could be an oldie) that you really liked?

Hubs and I watched Midway and thought it was really good. We watched Knives Out over the weekend and it was okay. Took a while to get going, but it stars Daniel Craig so there's that. 

5. Share something funny you've seen or heard this week.

The Interenet can be such a nasty place, but right now parents who find themselves suddenly at home all day every day- all night every night are killin' it. I hope they keep their sense of humor because every day I see something that makes me laugh. I was a teacher so especially relate to those memes. Visit @momonmeltdown for more funnies-

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I love listening to Claire Crosby sing with her dad. About three years ago one of their videos went viral so they're pretty well known now. This one is particularly timely. Stay well everyone! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Questions For The Wednesday Hodgepodge

I explained (here) last week I would revive the Wednesday Hodgepodge for some period of time if there was enough interest. Well there was plenty of interest so here we are in Week 1. Or Week 361? I need to decide if this is brand new or more of a 'keep calm and Hodgepodge on' kind of thing.

If you're new to the Hodgepodge you'll find the 411 in a link on my sidebar or by clicking here for instructions. The button code can also be found on my sidebar so copy and paste it into your post each week to help other bloggers find their way to the party. Make sure you copy the code in its entirety or it won't work.

We remember how to do this right? Talking to myself of course.

Here are this week's questions...answer on your own blog then hop back here on Wednesday to add your link and share answers. The link goes live sometime between midnite and early morning so you might have to check back if you don't see it right away.  If you're new and need technical help I'm not really your girl but conveniently I have a daughter in the house so ask away!

Here we go-

1. Howdy Hodgepodgers. It's kind of fun to be back, isn't it?  Last time we met was September, 2018. Tell me something big-important-happy-or sad that's happened in your life since that date. Just one thing. We don't know how long this current isolation situation is going to last and we might need to dole out our news bit by bit.

2. Might as well get this out of the way early on...COVID-19. On a scale of 1-5 how serious are you about keeping your distance? Explain. fyi-I didn't create the scale but have seen it several places online. Also fyi-we won't only have virus related questions each week, but for this first one it feels right.

1-Not at all, living normally
2-Cautious but still going out
3-Going out as needed, mostly home or working from home, still seeing friends/family
4-Extremely limited, only going out when unavoidable, minimal contact with people
5-Full lockdown, no one in or out

3. Raise your hand if you think you might run out of steam in the cooking department before it's all said and done? What's something delcious you've cooked or eaten in your own kitchen in the past week?

4. What's a television show or movie you've seen recently (it could be an oldie) that you really liked?

5. Share something funny you've seen or heard this week.

6. Insert your own random thought here

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Turn Turn Turn

It's only taken 18 days for me to complete the 10-day writing challenge, but nobody's got anywhere they need to be, right?

Here we go...

Day 10 word prompt-clear

Let's talk about something that's on everyone's mind right now.


Ha! You thought I was going to say that other thing, didn't you?

We have had a crazy amount of rain this winter and everyone is so ready for warmer temps, sunnier skies, and the start of spring. But then spring arrives and with it comes rain of a different sort. I almost forget pollen is a season all it's own in the southland, but on the first day of spring we were indeed greeted with sunny skies and yellow everything.

I've always struggled with seasonal allergies and have learned it's best to stay inside as much as possible until a fair chunk of this stuff has hit the ground. Conveniently almost everyone is sticking close to home just now, so not quite as much of a hardship this year.

We had a little bit of rain overnight and woke up to crystal clear blue skies this morning. Hubs and I were like, 'Quick! Get the dogs and let's go for a walk before the air dries up and we're back to pollen everywhere.' 

This too is just a season.
It won't last forever.

Most hard things don't and it's good to remember that in pollen season.

In every season.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Hey Hodgepodgers! No That's Not A Mistake

Before I dive in to the word prompt of the day I want to throw something out there. For eight years I hosted a blog link up every week called The Wednesday Hodgepodge. I asked a few random questions each Tuesday and bloggers answered on their own blogs, then linked back to mine on Wednesday so everyone could share answers. It was fun but in 2018, after 360 episodes, I declared it done. It felt like it had run it's course and had also become something of a burden to my already very busy life.

But hey, life isn't quite so busy at the moment and while we're all pretty much housebound I thought I might ressurect it for a bit. It was a great connector of people and I feel like we're all longing to connect someway somehow.  If you're a blogger and this is something you'd like to see happen, let me know. It was always a word of mouth kind of thing but it worked. If there's enough interest we'll start next week so stay tuned.

Okay on to Day 9 in the ten day writing challenge...

The word prompt-mistake 

Make no mistake..I'm a glass half full, where's the silver lining, let's find the sunny side of life kind of girl. Which can be a challenge in this weird new normal we're currently experiencing, but still I'm going to try.

A list of thirteen always feels appropriate on a Thursday so how about thirteen small blessings to be found in all this at home togetherness.

1. My family is going to have to play games with me. They will laugh and possibly roll their eyes, but they won't be surprised to see this is the first thing I thought of in terms of silver linings.

2. While the grocery bill is still high, our dining out bill is $0.

3.Since nobody has to leave the house for work at 6:15 in the morning I'm sleeping in.  Hubs would say that's not really true because it's still black as night when I get up, but! it's not 5:45 am so that's something.

4. My baseboards are going to be the cleanest they've been since we moved in three and a half years ago.

5. Lots of time to read and not feel like I should be doing something else.

6. A grown up daughter in the house 24/7

7. I saw a meme that said Issac Newton more or less invented Calculus while Cambridge was closed due to the plague, so surely I can write a blog post or two.

8. Speaking of memes...parents unexpectedly managing school at home for an indeterminate period of time are creating some of the funniest stuff on the Internet right now.

9. The Internet. I know we have mixed emotions about technology at our fingertips, but in this season of keeping your physical distance it's a blessing to connect via our devices.

10. The opportunity we've been given to examine our priorities and make adjustments going forward.

11. Less waste. Thinking twice before randomly grabbing a handful of paper towels when one will do the trick. Using all the food in the frig. Fewer trips in the car.

12. The reminder that we need far less than we think we need.

13. Gratitude. For all the things we are suddenly aware we enjoy and take for granted when life is not interrupted by a virus...dinner in a restaurant, sitting in a church pew, an airplane whisking us away to somewhere wonderful, cheering on our favorite team with a few thousand other folks, visiting an older loved one face to face and so much more.

So what's one small blessing you've found in the middle of the crazy?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

On The Street Where You Live

So how is everyone managing so far with the whole social distancing thing? My teacher daughter is working from home and in case anyone wonders what teachers are doing with all that 'free time' they're getting paid for, let me assure you they are working.

The school system requires teachers to keep 'office hours' from 7:30-3:30 and I'm pretty sure she'll hear her message notification sound in her sleep. In addition she is completing report cards, uploading videos, walking parents through the day's work, reading aloud to her students, speaking to parents by phone and email, answering questions, and creating more lesson plans in the event this e-learning turns into 'the remainder of the year'.

Also I'm not sure the Internet was ready for every single person in the US of A to log on today.

Hubs and I are tackling some of those spring cleaning jobs that need tackling. I scoured bathrooms, hubs vacuumed, we covered our porch furniture and temporarily rolled up the outdoor rug because pollen season is officially upon us. I baked a loaf of banana bread with my overly ripe bananas and figured out what I can make for dinner with ingredients from my frig.

It's gray and dreary outside which seems to fit the general mood of the world right now, but everyone needs to strap in and stay the course. We've had a few people call and ask us to do things but y'all! Social distancing means distance from all things social. There are some essential interactions that have to happen but non-essential activities (aka all the fun stuff) need to be put on hold. It's not forever and we can do this.

Let's carry on with the ten day writing challenge shall we...

Day 8-the word prompt is street

I grew up on a street where kids played outside til dark or til their mamas called them home. Where we couldn't wait for Saturday. Where we went door to door selling girl scout cookies and rode bicycles 'Look! No hands!

Where teenagers mowed lawns and washed the family car with a bucket and a sponge.Where we played freeze tag on the front lawn, had garage sales and block parties and knew all the neighbors, not just the ones next door.

Where we walked to school, learned to cross at the corner, say hello when spoken to. Where flags flew and gardens grew and just washed sheets were pinned to a line. Where dinner was at 6 and the evening only news right after.

Where we didn't know what went on behind every closed door.

Where you wore new shoes in September and galoshes when it rained. Where dogs were walked and pumpkins carved and windows were thrown wide open in the coolness of spring.

Where the whole family shared a phone and a couple of cars and only the grown ups drank coffee.

I grew up on a street with backyard swingsets and driveway hopscotch. Where we jumped ropes and kicked cans and tightened skates with a key worn round your neck. Where snow days meant pulling a saucer to the top of the road, then hanging on tight as you careened back down. Where Santa came by firetruck every Christmas Eve.

I grew up on a street where the scent of a charcoal grill said summer's here. Where the world was it's own kind of crazy but not held in your hand or attached to your ear.

I grew up on a street that said be a kid because childhood is a precious thing and should not be hurried.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Five Minutes of Mystery

I spent this morning clorox wiping every light switch, door handle, and drawer pull in my house, so I think I'm ready to write now. While everyone else has moved on with their blog lives I'm still plugging away at the ten day writing challenge.

Day 7 word prompt-mystery

We spent the weekend with our lake neighbors in sunny Florida. They read my blog and when she asked me what the next word was going to be in the challenge I said 'mystery'. We both kind of laughed and she said 'I guess you're going to write about the Coronavirus, right?'

I might mention it.
Are we allowed to talk about anything else right now?

Our friends bought a beautiful home overlooking the Intracoastal and we made plans a while back to spend a long weekend with them. Initially we were going to fly, but decided instead to drive and do our best to keep away from crowds.

Let me just tell you I don't think Floridians (or maybe it's all those snowbirds?) got that message about social distancing. There were throngs of people everywhere you looked, but thankfully the beach is big and the ocean wide. For the most part it felt like we were able to keep a healthy distance.

Hubs and I like a good road trip and we passed the hours and miles listening to an audio book we both really enjoyed-Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Lots of names to keep straight so it was a good book to listen to as opposed to read.

We arrived to gorgeous weather and spent the weekend relaxing at the beach or out on the water. There was some fishing-


Lots of hand washing and catching up on life.

We ate one lunch and two dinners in restaurants, but since our host loves to cook the rest of our meals were prepared at home. Nothing was closed and it was a little disconcerting to see how casual people were about mingling.

We steered clear of the crowds which is what hubs and I like to do anyway when we're at the beach, so it didn't feel that much different than other ocean holidays we've taken.

Except in my mind it was.

What are the stores like at home? Will the governor close schools and what will that look like for my teacher daughter? What in the world is going on with the financial markets and why are people stockpiling toilet paper?  

Did I have the Coronavirus in November when I had that weirdly worst cough I've ever had without all the flu symptoms? Covid-19 wasn't a thing in South Korea, or even China yet, but could it have been some form of the virus? 

Am I paranoid? 
Not paranoid enough?

Did I wash my hands after we left the restaurant? 

Should I call and cancel my hair appointment? 

When will things settle down? How long will we need to stick close to home? When will all this uncertainty about what's safe and unsafe end?

It's a mystery.

I know we're lucky. We're currently in good health. We have food in our frig and gas in our cars and people we love hunkering down with us. Not everyone can say the same.

I think about the lonely. Those already teetering on the edge of depression. Elderly people spending too much time alone in their homes.

The high school senior missing her prom, the championship game, a much anticipated class trip-play-concert. College students who won't get to walk the walk to Pomp and Circumstance.

Moms at home now responsible for filling their child's day with some semblance of normality in a completely abnormal situation, and parents who work and don't know what to do about kids at home needing instruction or at the very least supervision.

The sick and the fearful and people everywhere navigating so very many disappointments of every shape and size.

Unease oozes out of every news feed, television screen, and overheard conversation.
So much unknown.

And so much not.

Here's something that's not a mystery-

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

We are loved with an everlasting love. Every single one of us. God loves us and is for us. He has not promised we'll never suffer, never struggle, never feel confusion over our present circumstances, but He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

In this age of information overload I go back to the truest words I know...

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust...' Psalm 91:1-2

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Love In The Time Of Technology

Hmmm..seems I've missed a day or five in the 10- day writing challenge, but 50% is better than none at all don't you think? My plan is to continue knocking out the prompts I missed because it feels really good to be writing again. Today is technically Day 10 of the challenge, but I'm backing up to when things went off course which was Day 6.

The word prompt-send

Ever since I read the word I've been humming that song Send In the Clowns, which for some reason leads me to thinking about politics and how crazy our world is most days. For the record that song has nothing to do with politics, it was written for 'A Little Night Music', but in my mind I think politics.

Relax. I don't blog about politics.

Let's talk grandchildren instead and how we survive ridiculous geography through the miracle of FaceTime. Maybe that sounds a teensy bit dramatic, but honestly there are days when it feels true.

My daughter usually calls as they're beginning tomorrow and we're winding down today. The mancub is often still in his pj's finishing his waffle when technology brings the phone screen magically to life. His eyes light up as our faces appear and he breaks into a smile that sends me to the moon.

We talk about this and that and he might pull out a book or do some Thomas the Tank Engine track repair. He asks his mama for things and she tells him to wait because we're talking and then she says ever so gently, 'remember we need patience'.


Sometimes the mancub wants to tell us what a T-Rex says or how the little boy upstairs came to play and shared his trucks or how he saw an Apache helicopter out the window yesterday. My daughter aims the camera at baby brother who is perfectly precious and I'm sure wonders about the people always shouting HI!! and WE LOVE YOU!! from that thing in mama's hand.

We sigh a little at all we miss and also all we have.

When it's time to hang up I blow a kiss to both the boys. From 7,130 miles away the mancub sends one back. I reach out my hand to catch it as it flies.

Love in the age of technology makes kisses sent around the world feel real enough to touch.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Five Minutes At The Table

Table? Huh?

We've hit the halfway point in the ten day writing challenge and today's word is a head scratcher. I mentioned our old kitchen table in yesterday's post which is unfortunate. Should have looked at the word for today before I hit publish.

Today's prompt-TABLE

When hubs and I built this house we had much discussion over whether or not there would be a formal dining room. Formal in the sense that it would be its own space with all the bells and whistles as opposed to us having one great big kitchen table where all meals would be eaten.

Hubs was inclined to nix the dining room from our blueprint, but I dug in my heels and was adamant there would be a dining room in this house. Where would our great big extended families sit when they came to visit?

Where would we eat Thanksgiving dinner? Store my china and all those rarely used but dearly loved serving pieces?

Celebrate a grandson turning two?

How would we solve all the problems of the world in a house without a dining room?

Because y'all. I'm pretty sure most of the world's problems could be solved if people ganged up less on social media and gathered more often around a dining room table with a plate of food and face to face conversation.

Of course a kitchen table works too, but meals eaten in the dining room take me back to childhood and a simpler time. My dad at the head of the table, carving knife in hand. My mom smoothing the last little wrinkle from her perfectly pressed cloth. My siblings and I using our very best manners because something about dinner in the dining room made you sit up a little straighter and listen a little more.

It gave me an extra oomph of love for these people who were mine.

Time spent at the dinner table can do that. It connects us to one another in a way very few things can, especially in this 21st century immediate-hustle-hurry up way we often live.

Don't we all need to tap the brakes and slow the pace once in a regular while?

Let's linger around the dining room table just a little bit more. Let the love we feel for the people gathered there flood our hearts and fill us till we're full.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Before And After

Continuing with the ten day writing challenge hosted by Kate Motaung.

Today's one word prompt is-After

I've done a few of these five minute writing challenges through the years and know what works best for me is to go with the first thing that comes to mind the minute I read the prompt. I always end up coming back to that first thought anyway, so might as well embrace it from the get-go.

The first thing that popped into my head when I saw today's prompt was 'after school'. I don't know why the brain traveled there. It's been a very very long time since I've had school aged children.

One day you're chaperoning a fourth grade field trip and the next you're somebody's grandmother. The little girls who filled all the empty spaces in your home are teaching school and raising children of their own, and you rarely think about those long ago days of math facts, reading logs, and whispered bedtime prayers.

When I think 'after school' my mind never goes to the teenage years. Instead I am catapulted back to 1990-something and the elementary school where nobody had to buzz you in because it was before.

In my minds eye I see little girls clambering off the bus. Eight years old. Ten years old.

Emotion splayed across their faces at the end of another school day.

Tired. Wired. Hungry. Hurt.
Delighted. Excited.

Full of words or tears, stories about their day spilling out everywhere or drawn out slowly bit by bit.

I take in the always too big backpacks and the everyday after school refrain of 'I'm starving!'.

I see that well loved, well traveled oak table, the one hubs and I bought unfinished when we were newly-marrieds. That table sat in front of the kitchen window and it was there those little girls talked about their day, ate their snack, did their homework.

I remember the plink of piano keys and the ringing of the timer saying practice done.

There were little legs in ballet tights, pony tails in scrunchies, puffy coats.

The sound of little girl chatter in the backseat of my car.

I remember singing.

Freckles across the nose.

Making plans.

I remember thinking after homework, after dinner, after the bedtime routine is through, then I can rest my ears...my brain...my feet.

I remember some days wanting to hurry up to the after.

There are days I'd love just a few more minutes of before.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

What's The Plan Stan?

I could waste time here explaining in far too much detail how and why I dropped the blog ball yesterday, but let's just file it under poor planning and move on with the challenge.

Actually I have to add one more thing because if you know me you know I have a hard time simply moving on without explanation. One reason I didn't tackle yesterday's word was because I'd written a five minute post on yesterday's prompt-STORY a few years back. (August 2, 2013 to be exact)

That post lodged itself in my brain, and at the end of a very long Tuesday I lacked the oomph required to come up with something new and fresh. I don't like every blog post I've ever written, but I did like that particular post and have linked it here. Okay, moving on for real now...

Today's one word prompt-PLAN

Well. Isn't that timely? Ha!

What's the plan Stan? We say that a lot here, sometimes in reference to what's on tap for the weekend and sometimes in reference to what's on tap for life. I've always been something of a planner. A list maker-date keeper-goal setter-tell me what's the plan kind of girl. I love party planning, travel planning, wedding planning, meal planning, a week at a glance and dates on the calendar. For the most part this has served me well and I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I feel when a plan comes together.

And then sometimes a plan falls apart.
Completely totally wildly to pieces.

What does a planner do then?

She learns to unwrap her tightly clenched fist, the one holding her notebook or her calendar or her 'picture of the future' and trust God has a better plan. It's hard sometimes because our plans can look good, can even be good and seem like the right and best way forward until kaboom.

Here's what I know. God can make beauty out of the ashes of our blown up hopes and dreams. He  uses the broken pieces of our seemingly good, but ultimately failed plans to teach us, grow us, and give us something better.

We don't want people telling us that in the immediate aftermath of a plan gone awry, but as the dust settles grab hold of that truth and tuck it in tight.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

Monday, March 2, 2020

Five Minutes of Today

My blog always needs a jumpstart this time of year, which is why I signed up for a ten day writing challenge beginning today. The challenge is hosted by Kate Motaung and you'll find details here.

In a nutshell...Kate emails participants a one word prompt every day for ten days, then we write for five solid minutes on the day's prompt. Or more than five solid minutes if that's what works for you. Personally I enjoy the five minute challenge because I tend to be an overthinker. Off we go-

Today's prompt is-TODAY

Starting with a toughie. What to write isn't obvious, at least not to me, and I usually like a theme to keep me on track. Will I figure out a theme? Stay tuned. I did glance back at some old calendars for inspiration and realized we are currently five years and a couple of days into retirement.

Five years and a couple of days out from the routine of work life.

Five years and a couple of days removed from job commitments and employer expectations.

In this current season 'today' quite often feels like a giant canvas crying out for paint. But how much paint? And what color? And which brush to use?

When you work full time or you're in the throes of raising children from toddler to teen you don't have a lot of blank canvas to fill. More like the back of a used envelope if you're lucky. Your todays are pretty well laid out for you, and if you do nothing but get a child fed, bathed, and tucked safely into bed at night you've managed a small masterpiece.

Retirement on the other hand means every day is Saturday and it's up to you to throw as much or as little paint on life's canvas as you wish. Dare. Dream.

In the year 2020 my todays nearly always start here.
I watch with awe as the world's best artist turns the charcoal night sky into watercolor day.

It's where I read and think and plan and pray.

Where I prep the canvas of a brand new today.