Thursday, April 30, 2020

Zee End Of The A-Z Challenge

We've come to the end of the alphabet and as per my usual way of completing these sorts of challenges I go out with more of a whimper than a bang.

Today's word comes from my nephew (yes, another one), a high school student currently finishing up the school year you know where. While I'm sure the academic side of life is happening, what's missing are all those little extras that make the high school years so memorable.

Memorable in a good way, not memorable in a global pandemic sort of way.

Day 26-Z is for Zest

Is it wrong that when I first saw the word I immediately thought food? Lemon zest. Lime zest. Which leads me to thinking of lemon curd, and key lime pie, and maybe I've been spending too much time in the kitchen? Hey, in the age of Corona you take your zest where you can get it, right?  Life lately has been less salsa, more clear chicken broth and we're ready for a bit more spice.

I read a quote attributed I think to Bertrand Russell that said, 'Hunger is to food as zest is to life.'

Hunger sends you in search of food. Zest sends you in search of life.

As we move into month number three of social distancing confusion abounds. Should we stay in or should we get out and mix it up a little, see what happens? Numbers are up or numbers are down or nobody has a firm grasp on what the real numbers might be? On a scale of 1-10, what is the current crisis level? Expert A says we're a 2 and Expert B says we're at least an 11 so who do we believe?

We're home too much and concerned about the long term effects the precautions we're taking will have on children, the elderly, and the anxious. We miss our people, our paychecks, our classrooms, and our plans.

What is zest for life anyway and how do we find it in this very strange season?

For me having a zest for life means approaching life with enthusiasm. A sense of excitement for what's ahead, but also satisfaction in the here and now. Easy peasy, right? Ha! Sometimes it actually is a pretty simple thing, but lately I think we're all finding it more of a challenge. How do we retain our zest for life when one day looks a whole lot like the next and everything seems to end in a question mark?

Here's my personal strategy for times when zest is waning-fake it til you make it. 

I'm a big believer in the idea that if I tell myself what I want to feel, then act as if I already feel it, eventually there comes a day when I discover I really do. It's not foolproof, but more often than not it works.

Thanks for reading along in the A-Z Challenge this month. And thank you especially to friends and family who've supplied the words. You add zest to my blog and to my life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Young At Heart In the Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge and Day 25 (whoop whoop!) in the April A-Z Blog Challenge. You'll find my thoughts on Letter Y at the end of this post.

If you've answered this week's HP questions add your link to the list, then hop over to read what your neighbor had to say. Here we go-



1. Expect the unexpected on From This Side of the Pond. Here's my x-ray question...when was the last time you felt like Superman? What's your superpower? Explain.

Completing this A-Z challenge. It was a lot of words, even for me. 

What's my superpower? Lately it feels like cooking. 44 days in a row yowza! 

2. Are you a fan of the 'superhero' type movies? If so what's your favorite?

Not especially. I haven't seen any of the Captain America Marvel blahblahblah. Just not my thing. If I had to choose a favorite 'superhero' movie I'd say I liked some of the Batman series of movies. 

3. Have you postponed or cancelled a trip to the dentist in recent weeks, and if so when do you think you'll feel comfortable going back? How about other routine medical procedures?

I'm supposed to go to the dentist next month but I don't even know if they're seeing patients for routine cleanings at this point. I go three times a year, so can easily postpone this one until things settle down a bit and I likely will. 

I do have two other routine medical checkups coming due that I would rather not postpone. I guess I'll have to see if having them done in May is even an option. They're not urgent, but definitely need to happen to keep something that truly would be urgent from occurring. 

I do wonder how many more serious illnesses will be diagnosed in the general population as a result of everyone postponing their little preventative tests and procedures that spot trouble early on?

4. What's something that makes you feel youthful? Something that makes you feel 'not so youthful'? Tell us why.

I'm going to expand on this one in my random thought today (see #6) because my A-Z word of the day is-youthful. 

Something that makes me feel youthful? Keeping up with technology as much as I can, doing a plank or a push up, a great haircut, hearing see ya next year from the doctor, traveling somewhere I've never been before, and using my brain.

Not so youthful? Trying to keep up with technology, exercising beside a 20-something, roots that need to be dealt with, being introduced to someone and promptly forgetting their name, my eyesight, and in general all the body maintenance that needs to happen on a regular basis. 

5. I feel compelled to include some sort of corona related question in the HP these days. What's the strangest thing you've seen in relation to the virus? Something that really struck you as odd, made you stop and think, 'Dorothy we're not in Kansas anymore?'

Lots of things...people being arrested for kayaking alone in the middle of the ocean, city governments dumping sand in a skate park to keep people away, playgrounds roped off, swings tied up, basketball nets cut down...the list goes on. 

But I'm going to say walking into the supermarket wearing a mask is near the top of my own personal list. It feels weird and it is weird but I suppose before too long we won't think twice about donning a mask, and this will be our new way of life. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I've been participating in the April A-Z Blog Challenge all month long, and have really enjoyed it this year. Today's word comes from a friend I met while living in England (she's American) and we moved back to the states about the same time. We both loved to hike the English countryside, and she reads my blog and leaves me lots of kind comments, so thanks M for the word of the day-

Day 25-Y is for Youthful 

I have a pretty big birthday coming up a little later in the year and at this point I have no idea how I will be marking the occasion. Once upon a pre-Corona time I thought hubs and I could hop the pond and celebrate with tea and scones in the land of tea and scones, but given all the current crazy I don't see that happening. Plan B it is. 

As soon as I figure out a Plan B then Plan B it is. 

Let's talk about this word. Youthful. I feel like my kids would say if you use the word youthful then you're not. Ha! There are several definitions, most relating to your actual age, but one says something along the lines of having the vitality or freshness of youth so that's the one I'm going with. 

My girls are what I would describe as fresh faced. The glowing skin, the silky hair that looks adorable no matter if its perfectly styled or stuffed into a messy bun, no angle they need to avoid while being photographed, and most especially that unidentifiable quality towards living that I'm going to call exuberance. 

Me on the other hand, well my hair needs a professional and my skin care routine is probably too little too late, and a messy bun on me just looks plain messy. Also nobody better snap a photo without a little warning if they know what's good for them. 

In other words, I'm not fresh faced. 

Except in my head I kind of am. I'm often taken aback by the image I see in the mirror because that's not me, is it? It is me, but it's not the me I am on the inside. 

On the inside I am still exuberant. Maybe not every single day, but mostly I still feel like there is so much to look forward to and there are so many beautiful places to see and interesting people to meet and experiences to be enjoyed and that makes me feel youthful. 

Is youthful a fact of the calendar or a state of mind?  
Asking for a friend. 



Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Questions For A Most eXcellent Hodgepodge

It's Tuesday which means it's time to come up with the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Before I do that though, I have to figure out how to write a whole entire post on the word of the day. The April A-Z Blog Challenge is winding down, and I definitely don't want to drop the ball at this late date.

Today's word comes from another lake friend and it's a toughie. Did she choose this word because her hubs is a doc or because when it comes to letter X it's either x-ray, xerox, or xylophone?

Day 24-X is for X-Ray 

Yeah. I got nothin'. How about we include the word somewhere in this week's Hodgepodge questions? Works for me and you'll need to make it work for you too.  Here we go-


1. Expect the unexpected on From This Side of the Pond. Here's my x-ray question...when was the last time you felt like Superman? What's your superpower? Explain.  

2. Are you a fan of the 'superhero' type movies? If so what's your favorite? 

3. Have you postponed or cancelled a trip to the dentist in recent weeks, and if so when do you think you'll feel comfortable going back? How about other routine medical procedures? 

4. What's something that makes you feel youthful? Something that makes you feel 'not so youthful'? Tell us why. 

5. I feel compelled to include some sort of corona related question in the HP these days. What's the strangest thing you've seen in relation to the virus? Something that really struck you as odd, made you stop and think, 'Dorothy we're not in Kansas anymore?'

6. Insert your own random thought here. 






Monday, April 27, 2020

Winning!

So here we are, another Monday that feels a lot like every other day of the week, but we are all going to carry on and pretend it's new and different. Technically it is new and different, it's just a bit hard to tell from the vantage point of social distancing. 

And I am still making my way through the alphabet challenge, because it's still April in case you also needed reminding about that. Here we go-                           

                                                          Day 23-W is for Winning 

Today's word comes from one of my summer camp friends. I don't know if everyone is in touch with friends they made as a summer camp counselor when they were twenty years old, but I am and it's truly a very special thing.

Camp is good for kids in so many ways-physically, mentally, and spiritually, and it's good for the people who work there in all those same ways too. I'm feeling sad that children who were looking forward to going to camp this summer are likely not going, and I'm feeling sad for the staff who were making plans to work at camps all across America.

There is a long list of disappointments every which way you turn, and this is just one more. We have to intentionally look away from the list of heartaches we're each holding, and instead work at focusing our eyes and our minds and our hearts on things we can control. I know there is a lot of good and kind and beauty out there still and I want to see that.

Now about today's word. I can keep this short and sweet.

Winning.

I like it. Ha! My family can testify to the truth of this statement. I am not a naturally athletic person, but I am a naturally competitive person about a lot of things. 

Sometimes this is not an attractive quality.

In my defense I am not competitive in the way women can be competitive with one another. I don't really understand that, but if you throw a board game in front of me LOOK OUT!

Because I like to win.

I am all about solidarity when it comes to women doing the best they can with what they have, encouraging one another, lifting each other up, and in general not being mean girls no matter their age. Just don't challenge me to a game of cards.

Or dominos-cornhole-scrabble or anything else that might be dubbed 'game'.

Hey, have you noticed how I'm rolling through this A-Z thing like a boss?
Winning! 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Man Versus Nature

Today's word was sent to me by my nephew, a college student currently finishing up the school year at home with his folks, the way all college students are finishing up this school year. High five (virtual of course) to all the college kids out there learning course content and more life lessons than they anticipated when they headed to campus last fall.

Thank you J for the word of the day!
Day 22-V is for Victory

Sharing a glimpse into lake life and two small victories we've experienced in the last week or so. You might even learn something here today, maybe more than you wanted to know, but let's carry on anyway. 

A little over a week ago hubs noticed some sticks and pine straw in the water under the boat lift. The lake we live on is crystal clear so he knew something was up. Upon further investigation he discovered a varmint had been terrorizing the landscaping on our hillside and was also feasting on some of the tree trunks along our waterline.

Bother.  


Major bother. 

Bucky had worked his way all the way up our hillside, gnawing as he went, ripping the low growing juniper out by the roots, shredding it's bark to use as construction material for his new home, which he thought was going to be under our dock. Nope. Not happening. The local HOA, aka me and the hubs, put the kibosh on that quicker than you can say Bob's your uncle. 

When we lived in NJ we used to walk in a nearby wildlife preserve and we'd see quite a few beaver lodges there. We never saw an actual beaver and I used to think that would be kind of cool, but trust me, it's not cool. Now that I've seen one a little too up close and personal I can tell you they look a lot like an overgrown rodent. Are they rodents? I had to look that up but yes, they are semi-aquatic rodents.  


Anyway, on the lake these creatures have found an alternative to the more commonly recognized lodge set up, and instead  burrow into the shoreline and/or set up camp beneath your dock where they proceed to wreak havoc. 

When we installed our dock we added something to the wiring that the dock guy called beaver guard. Who even knew such a thing existed??? I surely didn't, but I'm glad he mentioned it because turns out we needed it. The guard is a kevlar- like sleeve that fits over your dock hoses and it's pretty much indestructible. It prevents beavers from chewing through the air hose which would then cause your lift to drop and your boat to float away.  
That doesn't happen often because most people tie their boats to their docks even when they're on the lift, but occasionally one floats out there.  At the time we thought this was perhaps an unnecessary expense, but turns out dock guy was 100% right and we're so grateful now we added that when the dock was installed. 

We're animal lovers here, but y'all we needed to get a handle on this before he moved his family in, so we ended up calling in the professionals. An animal control specialist came out and said we could snare him or trap him and either way he'd be a goner, which I know is so sad, but also very necessary. We opted for the snare which felt like the safer route given the fact we have an overly curious little brown dog living here. Everything was back as it should be (no beaver living under my dock) within a couple of days. 

Hey, it was me or Bucky so capturing that 40+ lb beaver felt like a small victory. I know!! He was huge!! The animal control guy said he'd seen one close to 60 pounds, but ours was definitely on the ginormous side. 

He did not use the word ginormous but I know he meant it. 

Okay, how 'bout one more small victory since that's the word of the day? Last night hubs (he's always on top of things around here) spied a log floating along the shoreline.  As I mentioned earlier our lake is one of the cleanest clearest lakes in the country and it's extremely rare to see debris of any sort floating.

So he hurried on down to the water and thought he'd just pull the log in, but turns out it was an entire tree trunk likely deposited somewhere on the water during last week's tornado. 


Life has not been dull here. 

A friend who had boated over to the neighbor's dock saw hubs trying to haul in the tree and came over with a pole to lend a hand. We have rip rap all along the shoreline so it's not the easiest thing to maneuver around especially when you're in flip flops, but together they managed to pull it in.

And his wife snapped photos and texted me with the caption V is for Victory which made me laugh, since I knew that was already the word of the day.


Little brown dog helped too.


He wanted to anyway.

This would not be a good thing to run into with your boat, so it's a good thing they managed to get it onshore. Hubs jokes he might carve this into a totem pole. 


Hey he's got the time now, right? 

Friday, April 24, 2020

For Certain

Happy Friday everyone! I know it feels like forever and a day I've been at this A-Z Blog challenge, but we're nearing the conclusion so hang in there. Talking to myself now because wow the alphabet has felt especially long this year. 

Today's word comes from one of my lake friends and no we're not related-ha! We do however have many things in common including both of us once upon a time working as speech-language pathologists. We're also members of the same church, have two grandsons very close in age, love to read and talk and play cards and go out for brunch and the list goes on. She reads my blog and encourages me to keep writing, so thank you C for your friendship and the word of the day. 

Day 21-U is for Uncertain

It's a beautiful day here today and I want to think happy thoughts, so I'm going to turn this word on it's head. I can do that ya know.

The word uncertain makes me feel that other 'u' word-uneasy. There are things in our everyday lives that we count on, regardless of whether or not we should, and when the world tilts we aren't quite sure what to do about it. So we freeze.

We wait. We pray. We hope. 

There's a debate in certain communities as to whether or not we can truly know anything for certain, and some will want to argue the point, but I'm a dreamer not a scientist and I say yes. 

Here are a few things I know for certain. Things of which I am absolutely and completely positive. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. No ifs ands or buts. Come hell or high water or quarantine. 

1. My grand babies are sunshine and pure sweetness. 


Please don't even try to dispute it. 


2. I'm going to look older than I feel if the salons don't reopen in the next few weeks. Hopefully I won't have to prove it.

3. We cannot control the actions of others. Only our response to them. 

4. Life can be pared down very quickly to what's most important. 

5. Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Queen For A Day

Today's word comes from my brother-in-law, and he is something of a joker so I knew to expect the unexpected. When he sent the word he said it was the first thing that came to mind.

Day 20-T is for Tiara

Hmmm...so is he saying when he thinks of me he thinks princess?
Or that I'm a royal pain?

I'm sure it's the first one-ha!

This word will be fun and and since it's Thursday I'm going with the ever popular Thursday Thirteen. Can I come up with a list of thirteen thoughts related in some way to the word tiara but also to me? We're about to find out-


1. We'll start here. This little sign sits on my bathroom vanity and was a Mother's Day gift one year from daughter2. The sentiment is sweet and also true teehee.

2. Next up is the first thing that popped into my head when I read the word. My summer camp friends are nodding, thinking 'no problem' because back when I was young and spent summers as a camp counselor they lovingly (I think?) referred to me as Princess J. Here's the short version of how that came about-

3. Picture summer camp. An idyllic setting nestled into a bluff beside the Chesapeake Bay. Tall trees. An open air chapel in the woods. Dirt. Gravel. Latrines. Troughs to brush your teeth in. You get the idea.

Camp meant shorts and t-shirts and no makeup and your hair pulled back into a pony tail or tucked under a baseball cap, and it definitely meant hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes on your feet so 'root man' wouldn't get you. I was fine with all of that. I love the outdoors and I love camping and I love spending time in the woods.

The staff were all college students and were given one day off per week, 24 hours to rest and recharge and maybe pop home to see the folks, and on my one day off per week I liked to put on real clothes.

As opposed to camp clothes.

A cute dress. Roll my hair. A little makeup. And my most favorite thing-shoes with heels. I have always loved shoes with heels.

So there I would be, one day a week, in the middle of the woods, wearing a summery dress and heels, walking across the dirt and gravel road to get to my car so I could enjoy my day off. Voila! a nickname was born.

4. The short version was actually not that short so it earned more than a couple of spots on the list.

5.  Moving on...when I mentioned the word of the day to my daughter and asked what in the world I could say about it she said, 'Well you know mom, whenever we play Yahtzee you always write your name as Princess J on the score sheet.' Guilty.

6. If hubs and I ever renew our wedding vows I will be wearing a tiara when I say mine.

7.  I love the cake named in honor of Queen Victoria aka the Victoria Sponge. Strawberry or raspberry jam and cream between two layers of fluffy vanilla sponge dusted with sugar or topped with more whipped cream. What's not to love?

8. I like the music of Queen.

9. I might be slightly obsessed with Princess Kate.

10. When my girls were growing up the favorite board game in our house was Pretty Pretty Princess. They loved it best when Daddy played.

11. The house we rented while living in England was so cozy and was on one of the first housing estates of it's kind outside of London. The house was built in the 1920's and when construction was completed the Queen Mum visited there. Sadly no royals came to stay while we were in residence.

12. I am not a drama queen.

13. Once upon a time I married my Prince Charming.
   
And we lived happily ever after.
The end.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Surviving the Hodgepodge and The Alphabet Too

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge and the Letter S in the April A-Z blog challenge. Scroll to the end of my post for that last one.

If you've answered today's Hodgepodge questions, add your link at the end of my post then go say howdy to your neighbor. In this season of healthy social distancing it's okay to be social here.


1. What's something you resolved to do this year? Have you done it?

I didn't make any resolutions this year. At least nothing official, nothing in writing. Last year kicked our tails, and I guess if I resolved anything it was to give myself some breathing room, to make space and time for rest and recharge, and to welcome a new year without the pressure of a long list of to-do's. 

We just never know what's waiting around life's corners do we? 

On the bright side, I said to my hubs recently that I feel sincerely rested for the first time in a long while. I have taken time to breathe, nap, daydream, read, write, and create. 

Is anyone talking about what happens when life is back at full throttle and some of us want to stay in low gear?

2. Where do you go to find quietude?

I live on a lake and my porch view is pretty much the definition of the word. As long as nobody sits beside me and reels off their house project to-do list or some such nonsense. Hi hubs! Also, a walk in the woods is good for mind-body-spirit and when I need a time of true quietude I aim my feet there. 

3. A friend asked this question on her Facebook page and said I could borrow it for the Hodgepodge...you're only allowed to buy 5 things at the grocery store, and all must start with the first letter of your first name. Whatcha' buying?

My initial is one of the tougher ones I think-the letter J. 

jellybeans-of course because I've admitted here previously I have a weakness for them

juice-I drink cranberry with a splash of orange most mornings

Jonathan apples-I like all apples and you know what they say about keeping the doctor away.

Jamón-a most delicious dry cured ham from Spain that we all love, plus I need some protein in my grocery cart

Jif peanut butter- because when I don't know what I want I reach for the peanut butter

4. The television show Survivor, the Gloria Gaynor song 'I Will Survive', survival mode, survival of the fittest...pick one and discuss.

I'm going with the Gloria Gaynor song, and will save the discussion for my random thought. Keep reading. 

5. Share a favorite quote or saying about strength.


6. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm going to use this space today for my A-Z Blog Challenge word of the day, brought to you by...yup, you guessed it...another sister-in-law.

Day 19-S is for Survive

I know my sister-in-law had something a bit more serious in mind when she chose this word, but I went a little deep in yesterday's post and wanted to lighten things up some here today.  

Does anyone not know all the words to I Will Survive? Can you sing it at anything less than full volume? Do you feel like you could rule the world when you're through singing? 

When I hear this song I flash back to the college years and the angst of young love, broken hearts, and the power of friendship. I was a freshman in college when this song came out and if you watch the music video there is no mistaking the decade. There's someone on roller skates because why not? Hello 1970s! 

Raise your hand if you think the 70's were the absolute best.

Music is a door to time travel and this one opens up to when the world sat waiting at my doorstep. 
To the friends who made me brave when I was young and full of dreams. Friends who were fun and smart and funny, so so funny. Who could be irate on my behalf when irate was what was called for. 

We're back there living in tiny, un-pottery barned dorm rooms sharing electric rollers and too many late night pizzas, playing honest to goodness albums and laughing til we pee as we hold hairbrush microphones to our lips and sing at the top of our lungs.  

One part kid two parts adult, or maybe it was the other way around. 

We lived and loved and grew and changed and we did so much more than just survive. 

We grabbed each other by the hand and ran head long into now. 



Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Picture Perfect

Happy TuesdaySaturday. This is how we refer to the days of the week in retirement and I think it works for this strange season we're all living in too. If you're looking for the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge you'll find them in the post before this one, or by clicking here.

Now back to your regularly scheduled A-Z Blog Challenge word of the day. This one comes from my brother-in-law who is a talented musician and a smart guy, so of course he chose a word with many meanings.

Day 18-R is for Resolution

When I hear the word I immediately think of a list of things I want to do to change my life for the better. It's a long list of small things and a short list of large to-dos, but I don't think I'll tackle that today. I liked another definition my brother-in-law reminded me of and that's this one-

'the amount of detail available in a picture or situation.' 

Life currently. 

We are plodding along with our masks and our hand sanitizer and our staying at home and everyone is beginning to feel a bit weary. Some people are more than weary. They're anxious, depressed, angry, and a little bit rebellious. 

We all wonder when life will resume some sense of normality and will that new normal look like our old familiar normal? When will we feel comfortable boarding an airplane, celebrating a wedding in a venue filled to capacity, visiting our parents or grandparents and sharing a meal in person? When will we get a clearer picture of what's happening and what's to come? 

We. don't. know. and we hate that most of all. 

All our lives we're told to 'be present' and 'don't be so busy making plans for tomorrow you miss today'. We're reminded 'to enjoy the moment' and 'savor this season you're in because 'time flies and you'll wish it back someday', even if the day-moment-season you're in is completely exhausting. 

We roll our eyes at cliches thrown our way, all the while knowing there's a kernel of truth in there too. When something feels murky we don't want to examine it too closely or pick it apart and figure out what we might be learning about ourselves and the world around us. We want to put unpleasant circumstances behind us and move on into the future and something better.

We want resolution. 

So often we complain about our lack of time, about the hurried pace of the world in which we live, about too much clutter in our heads. Suddenly we're given what we wished for in the gift of plenty of time, a slower pace, and less 'stuff' taking up space in our brains and now we're not sure if  if that's what we really wanted after all.

We're human and we like making plans. We like looking forward to tomorrow-next week-Christmas. We live with the mostly unspoken assumption that there will be plenty of time for relishing today at some point in the future...when life settles down, when this passes, when things are back to normal...

We are not the boss of time. 

When I thought about the meaning of the word resolution I remembered the black and white television set I grew up watching. It had an antenna and often the screen would be grainy, filled with static and wavy lines that made it hard to see the whole picture. You'd have to move the antenna around to improve the resolution, but it was never perfect. 

 I thought too, about a verse I love in the book of Isaiah...

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" 

God is not restricted by time. His presence and power exist outside of time and He alone knows the end from the beginning. While we like to think we're looking at the big picture, we see only in part.

Our screen is grainy, but God sees with complete clarity time in it's entirety.

In times of stress and uncertainty I rest in the knowledge He is the creator and keeper of the clock, and His picture resolution is beyond compare. 

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 365

Here are this week's questions for the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with the universe. Don't forget to include a link back here so your readers can play along too. Here we go-



1. What's something you resolved to do this year? Have you done it?

2. Where do you go to find quietude?

3. A friend asked this question on her Facebook page and said I could borrow it for the Hodgepodge...you're only allowed to buy 5 things at the grocery store, and all must start with the first letter of your first name. Whatcha' buying?

4. The television show Survivor, the Gloria Gaynor song 'I Will Survive', survival mode, survival of the fittest...pick one and discuss.

5. Share a favorite quote or saying about strength.

6. Insert your own random thought here.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Serenity Now

Shhh...


Today's word comes from my sister-in-law (yes, another one), and it's interesting to me how so many of the words I've been given say something about the giver.

Day 17-Q is for Quietude


Maybe not a word I use often, but certainly one I seek. 


To escape the noise in this world and the noise in my head. 


A quiet state. 

                  

Inhale. Exhale. 

                 

Stillness...tranquility...repose. 


We make room in our lives for what matters.


Wishing you moments of quietude in the week ahead.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Positively Grateful

I don't typically blog on Saturdays, but since I'm still rolling through the April A-Z challenge I'll make an exception. Today's word comes from an American friend I met while living in England.

Our daughters went to high school together and we were both involved with Young Life and the American Women's Club so spent a fair amount of time together back in the day. She's a woman of genuine warmth and her faith runs deep. She encourages me to keep looking for that silver lining, and the word she chose suits her-

Day 16-P is for Positive


One thing that helps me stay positive in this topsy turvy world is cultivating a heart of gratitude. Sometimes gratitude comes automatically and sometimes we need to stop what we're doing and take stock. 

During the last A-Z I used Saturdays for making a list of 20 small blessings featuring the letter of the day, and that's what I want to do now. Unfortunately P was one of the letters I made a list for in 2019 so I'm going to have to get creative. 

Can I come up with another 20? I think so, and NO double dipping (aka repeats). You can read last year's list by clicking the link here

The letter p and things for which I'm positively grateful-

promises kept
a red ripe plum
poetry
making plans
precious grandbabies
answered prayer
freshly painted walls
purple pansies
possibility 
the perfect shade of polish
peaceful mornings
French pastry
an accident prevented
a field of poppies
my sister P
the letters and wisdom of Paul
a dip in the pool on a warm summer day
crossword puzzles
free parking
a problem solved

What would be on your 'P' list? 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Once Upon A Time

I'm playing a little bit of catch up today since I was without power earlier in the week and missed a letter.

Today's letters come from my sister and also from a long time dear friend who worked with hubs for many many years. Both made trips to our home in England way back when and the words they chose go together, so it's a combo post today. 

Day 12-L is for London

Day 15-O is for Once

Once upon a time we lived in England. Not London, but nearby in a small village about 15 miles west of the city. A dot on the map where we walked our pup through the commons, met friends for dinner in the local pub, and hopped a train to London any time we pleased. Which was often. 

Where we mastered the art of parallel parking in minuscule spaces, puzzled over the rules of Cricket, and learned a whole new vocabulary.


Where we fell in love with Indian curries, iced buns, and Sunday roasts with a side of yorkshire pudding. 


Where we indulged daily in the pure pleasure of a cuppa with a friend. 


Where we raised teenagers...


Drove left while seated right...


And spent hours in a garden where poppies and foxglove and people grew. 


Where we donned wellies to hike past ancient trees and fields of rapeseed...


Across moors and bridges and old stone walls in the middle of nowhere.



Around bluebell blankets and fields of sheep. 



Through kissing gates that led to wide open spaces and beauty as far as the eye could see. 


Where history was at every turn...


And when the sun shone it was your favorite day of all the days. 

This picture popped up on my Facebook page last week, our first tagged photo on the site some 11 years ago-

We're in front of Buckingham Palace here and asked a stranger to take our picture. Selfies weren't a thing yet, or at least they weren't for us. I think the trend was just getting started back in 2009 but 11 years later we still haven't mastered it, so yeah. We asked a stranger to take a picture and they obliged. 

A moment marked with the click of a camera.
There were a thousand more. 


Once upon a time we fell in love with a place and words and people. 


We are in love with them still. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Turbulent Waters

Does anyone else feel like the alphabet is about 500 letters long? On the bright side, we've passed the halfway point as of today so whoohoo!

Today's word comes to you courtesy of my sister-in-law,  and I know some of you are thinking 'wow, she's got a lot of family.' You're right. I do, and it's been fun in this season of distance to feel a connection to each one through this little writing exercise on my blog.

Also, every day before I tackle the writing I tell myself I am not going to mention the Corona and then every day it seems I do. It's hard to avoid and while it wasn't my intended theme, its turned out most days to be at least an undercurrent.

Day 14-N is for Navigate

Since this letter happens to land on a Thursday I think I'm going with an old fashioned list, which is how almost all bloggers used to blog on Thursdays, aka The Thursday Thirteen. 

The word navigate is most commonly used in reference to the water, but it can also mean to make one's way over or through. Since our boat is still under cover until the pollen subsides and we're all trying to navigate through life in these uncertain times, let's go with definition #2. 

What are you doing that you're finding helps you on a daily basis to stay positive in your outlook, connected to family and friends, and not crazy-bored-fearful-restless? 

Perhaps you are all of those things at various times, which I think is normal, but in general what are you doing to navigate the choppy waters of 2020?  I read something on a friend's FB page that said while we're all in the same boat, we're not all in the same storm and that resonated with me. 

I don't have little ones at home who need to be fed/bathed/loved/entertained 24/7. I don't have teenagers at home, filled with 1000 disappointments about the life they are missing, we're retired so there are not the job stressors or lack of job stressors so many are feeling, but still everyone is navigating their own life's boat right now and how we stay afloat is worth some thought. 

Here's my list of 13...there might be more but these are some of the things helping me navigate the turbulent waters we find ourselves in today-

1. Prayer, which may sound cliche to some, but is a true lifeline for me. 

2. Maintain a routine. We've learned the importance of this since hubs retired, and have had a few years to practice. I know I need a bit of structure to my days, that a blank canvas all day every day is not for me. I need some to-do's to complete and some things on the calendar to look forward to. 

I'm an early riser, and while there's no real reason to be these days I still get up early. Same goes for getting dressed in real clothes and doing the weekly mundane chores that need doing. I guess it's different for everyone, but I know I cannot stay in pajamas for days at a time, unless I'm truly sick. It's depressing. I make my bed every single day and doing that one simple task somehow makes life feel more normal.  

3. FaceTime with my daughter and grandsons in South Korea. They are such sweet happy boys and it's obvious they're well loved and cared for. Seeing them on the screen doing all the things little boys love to do makes my heart and mind feel ten pounds lighter.

4. Cards with friends and my mom each week via Zoom feels almost normal too. We chat and laugh and catch up just like we do when we play cards in person. 

5. Keeping up with friends and family also via a Zoom call keeps them close, maybe not physically but at least in spirit. Also, scheduling calls in advance gives us something to add to the calendar and look forward to. It might be small in the scheme of things, but having something to look forward to later in the week adds a bright spot to a mostly blank slate. 

6. 'Attending' Sunday School and my Women's Bible Study each week (again via Zoom) keeps life moving forward when it quite often seems like we're all at a standstill. We carry on from week to week, moving through our studies as if we're all in the same building. This helps give the days some much appreciated forward momentum. 

6. Menu planning. Trying new recipes and pulling out some old favorites. There are not a lot of things we can plan for right now, but what we'll eat for dinner these next two weeks is something that requires thought and planning and helps me feel productive. 

7. Knowing it's okay not to be productive right now. Embracing this season of stillness and figuring out what I want to take away from it once we're all free to move about and interact with one another in person. Being grateful for time and space to think. 

8. Writing. Moving my observations, feelings, and concerns from the top of my brain into my journal or onto this blog clears my head and helps me see things differently. 

9. Turn off the news. Or at least don't watch a lot of news. This is an absolute key to good mental health right now. 

10. Same goes for how I handle social media these days. If you're posting funny memes, sharing recipes, cute pictures of your children, your mother, or your pet I'm all in. I hide any and all posts where someone is ranting about the government, the President, or the upcoming election. 

I'm not saying these things don't matter, but now is not the time. I won't allow myself to be sucked in to the arguing and the scolding and the finger pointing. It's a mood killer and I'm navigating around those hazards whenever I can. 

11. Read books, work puzzles, solve a crossword, play a board game...keep your mind busy. 

12. Get outside. Fresh air and sunshine do wonders for the soul. 

13. This is a season where navigating our life boats is difficult, treacherous even for some. But even in more ordinary times we are always making choices as to how we see our lives, and whether we're going to allow the challenges we encounter to sink us. My joy does not depend on my circumstances and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Wednesday Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back here and add your link at the end of my post. Don't forget to copy the button code or add a link back here somewhere in your post so your readers can join in too.

I don’t have it in me today to get creative with a title. Currently sitting in the car blogging on my phone as we are still without power after Sunday’s tornado. Hoping everything posts and links as it should. Let’s give it a whirl-


1. In Monday’s post I mentioned I would incorporate the word I was given for letter K into this week’s questions. That word was karaoke. On a scale of 1-10 how excited would you be to find out there was karaoke happening at your next gathering/outing with friends? 10=gimme that microphone!, and 1=I suddenly remembered there’s somewhere else I need to be.

I enjoy watching, but am not a singer so am going with a 4. Unless we’re talking carpool karaoke and then I’m all in. I do love belting out a song when I’m alone or not alone in the car. 

Have you ever actually done karaoke?

Does sharing a mic with my sister in our living room count? We once sang some Shania Twain a little too enthusiastically, and in fact my daughter brought it up had a flashback as soon as I said the word karaoke. For the record, my sister and I thought we were GREAT! Ha! 

If you had to perform karaoke what would be your ‘go-to’song?

Dancing Queen by ABBA? Or anything by ABBA because everyone knows all the words and their music is made for a sing-a-long. If I'm on the mic I want other people singing with me. 

2. How do you listen to music these days? Favorite app or do you listen the old fashioned way? Do you have music playing often in your home? Is there still a CD player in your car?

We have Sonos in our house so normally listen that way. Speakers are inside and out and we can control where music plays, and can have different music playing in different parts of the house. We like Pandora and we also have Alexa which I tend to use when I’m in the kitchen cooking. I normally listen to Sirius radio in the car, but we do have CD players we still sometimes use. This is where I see a generation gap because my kids do not listen to CD's in their cars. 

We have music playing in our home most nights. Hubs would have made an excellent D.J.

3. The HP lands on US tax day this year. Or what used to be tax day before everything including filing your taxes was cancelled, delayed, postponed or extended. FYI- filing your taxes has not been cancelled, only delayed for a bit.

Besides staying away from anyone and everyone, what have you found taxing lately?

I have always enjoyed grocery shopping but it’s a lot of work these days. Trying not to take too long in the store, wearing a mask, not handling what I’m not buying, getting it all decontaminated once I’m home, wiping down door handles, all without hubs help since we’re keeping it to one person handling the items. I hope someday soon we can leisurely meander through the market, then come home and put everything away without a fuss.

4. You’re without power so no oven, and you can’t open your frig or freezer in order to keep what’s in there from spoiling. And you don’t have access to take out. What will you make us for dinner?

My life currently. We ate peanut butter sandwiches on Monday night with half a box of cookies as our side. It was pretty delicious. I'm answering these questions on Tuesday and conveniently had a Home Chef delivery already scheduled so we'll eat one of the two meals I ordered, salmon because hubs can use the grill.  

5.  I’ve seen this exercise going around Facebook and thought it would be a good one to include in the HP...what are five things everybody seems to love and go crazy for that you personally don’t care for?

I’ve enjoyed reading responses to this one on Facebook. Here’s mine-

High waisted swimsuits
The Marvel series of movies
Tattoos
Cruises
Late night TV host monologues

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

I wrote my answers to the HP earlier today (Tuesday), but it's almost 5 pm now and I wanted to edit my random thought. Whoohoo!! Power is on and we're back in business! Almost back in business. I didn't get my A-Z post written for Tuesday's letter (L), but I'm not going to skip it because the word my sister picked is one of my favorites. A virtual room temperature pint to anyone who correctly guesses-ha! 

Anyway, it ties in nicely with the word a friend sent for the letter O (Friday's post) so I'm going to incorporate it there. Stay tuned. 

But what about Wednesday's letter? That one came from my brother-in-law and I feel qualified to write about it here...


Day 13-M is for Monotony

Did my brother-in-law know when he chose this word we'd still be social distancing, only now without power to keep things humming along at home? 

So what about you? Are you bored? Is life feeling a bit monotonous? Let's all weigh in...

I guess life is a bit monotonous in the sense the days tend to run together and one day is not all that different from the next. We're not spending time with friends, not traveling, and not dining out the way we normally do, but I have to say I'm not at all bored. 

For all the coming and going we do on a regular basis here, I am something of a homebody. I'm enjoying less activity every single day, and am indulging without guilt in my quieter hobbies of reading and writing. I don't feel any pressure to be somewhere else and it's kind of nice. 

I like it. 

A lot. 

Today I read a whole book, start to finish, while sitting in the sunshine on my back patio. It was glorious. 

I know we'll all be glad to get back to the days where there is freedom of movement and freedom to interact with one another up close, and I look forward to that too. I also know I'm going to want some days like today built into my calendar always. A little calm to cut the crazy. 




Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 364

Here are the questions for this week’s Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then hop back here tomorrow to share answers with your friends and neighbors.

Currently setting this up to post via my phone since we’re without power, and I can’t link the button. Hopefully by Wednesday my internet will be back in business. Here we go-

1. In Monday’s post I mentioned I would incorporate the word I was given for letter K into this week’s questions. That word was karaoke. On a scale of 1-10 how excited would you be to find out there was karaoke happening at your next gathering/outing with friends? 10=gimme that microphone!, and 1=I suddenly remembered there’s somewhere else I need to be. Have you ever actually done karaoke? If you had to perform karaoke what would be your ‘go-to’song?

2. How do you listen to music these days? Favorite app or do you listen the old fashioned way? Do you have music playing often in your home? Is there still a CD player in your car?

3. The HP lands on US tax day this year. Or what used to be tax day before everything including filing your taxes was cancelled, delayed, postponed or extended. FYI- filing your taxes has not been cancelled, only delayed for a bit.

Besides staying away from anyone and everyone, what have you found taxing lately?

4. You’re without power so no oven, and you can’t open your frig or freezer in order to keep what’s in there from spoiling. And you don’t have access to take out. What will you make us for dinner?

5.  I’ve seen this exercise going around Facebook and thought it would be a good one to include in the HP...what are five things everybody seems to love and go crazy for that you personally don’t care for?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Ka-razy!

Good Monday morning to you all. I hope there was joy in your Easter weekend and everyone found ways to mark the day as special in spite of the distance between you and those you love.


Earlier in the week I asked hubs if we could get up before the birds on Easter Sunday and watch the sun rise from our dock. Our own little Easter morning sunrise service if you will. The weather forecast was not looking stellar, and he thought it would be too cloudy for any beauty to show up, yet there she was-


But only for a minute and then the rains came. Also lightning, thunder, howling winds and a couple of tornadoes. We ended our Easter Sunday sitting side by side at 3 AM in our lower level storage room  which is concrete and windowless. What a day.

What a year.

What a world.

We had Sunday School with our class via Zoom and enjoyed our traditional Easter dinner (ham and pineapple stuffing) eaten on the good china in the dining room just because. We face timed with family, even getting my mom in on a call with all my sibs which was special. And we especially loved watching our grandsons from afar via pictures and video calls with my daughter.


Our little town did sustain some damage from one tornado that touched down, and sadly there was a fatality as well. Your prayers are very much appreciated as people mourn and clean up and repairs begin. Life feels a bit extra hard these days, which makes me more grateful (or maybe just more aware) than in years past for the significance of Easter and a hope that cannot be shaken.

I'm still writing each day in the April A-Z blog challenge but am taking a slightly different tack with today's letter and word.

Day 11-K is for Karaoke

This word comes to me courtesy of my sister-in-law, the one who plays the violin with an orchestra, who can carry a tune, and has that music gene in her DNA. Alas I do not. Have you seen the movie My Best Friend's Wedding with Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz? Well for those who have not, Cameron Diaz's character is peer pressured into performing karaoke, and it's not pretty but it is hilarious. 

Me doing karaoke would be similar. 

Since this word feels light and kind of fun I've decided instead of a whole post on the word I'm going to incorporate it into my Wednesday Hodgepodge questions this week . Let's see who might be a fan and who realizes they suddenly have somewhere else they need to be when a D.J. announces it's karaoke night. Stay tuned.

Also stay well-stay safe-stay home-stay happy. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Who What Where When Why

My brother supplied the word of the day today and it's a toughie. I had to really think about how to incorporate this one into a blog post because I think this word has the potential to rile people up and I am all about not riling people up, particularly the day before Easter.

Day 10-J is for Journalism

We could ask what is journalism in 2020? What does that word mean in the era of social media where everybody and their brother has an opinion and a keyboard and a platform? Where who we look to as an actual authority on a particular subject is open for debate? 

Where we have entire websites devoted to fact checking every spoken and written word but don't know if we can trust the fact checkers? Where news people no longer make any attempts at hiding their political biases on either side of the fence? Where how someone feels about the way something is said matters more than the facts of the matter. 

Let's talk about Easter, k? Specifically this sweet picture- 


And we're going to do it the old fashioned way, using the standard 5Ws taught to high school journalism students about 100 years ago. 

Who? There's my dad with his infectious grin and my blue eyed baby girl in his arms. And there's my niece and my girl wishing mom would take the picture already.

Some things don't change. 

What? Doing what children have always done the weekend before Easter. Dropping eggs from a bit too high a distance into plastic cups of dye on a plastic cloth covered table. Raise your hand if you or a child you know dyed eggs this weekend. 

Tradition is a little bit like glue. It holds families together apart. 

When? 1991. I can still feel the sweetness from some 29 years away. 

Where? My parent's kitchen. The one where so many of my dearest and favorite memories are lodged. Where my mom cooked a thousand trillion meals. Where we were taught to 'put your napkin in your lap' and 'Mabel Mabel if you're able, keep your elbows off the table.' 

Where grace was said and floors were swept and whose turn it was to wash and dry was a debate for the ages. Or till Dad stepped in. 

Where new generations joined the party and the beat rolled on. 

Mostly life is full of change. 

Why? Why what? Why do babies grow up and move oceans away? Why do granddads leave us far too soon? Why do little girls worm their way into your heart and leave their mark in every nook and cranny forever and ever amen? Why are grown up children smart and able yet always and forever the little girls captured in a photo snapped three decades before? 

Memory and forward motion can live side by side. 

How? How do we celebrate Easter in this strange new world? How do we get back to the life that was before? Will we? Do we even want to? Will we emerge from this time of social isolation changed in some way? 

How can we not? 
Life is full of change. 

On Easter I hold tightly to what never changes-

God's love for each one of us. 
So deep and so wide nothing can ever separate us from it. 
Not our fears for today or our worries for tomorrow. 

It brings light and hope to a world full of questions with no easy answers. 

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. 
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace."