Thursday, March 26, 2020

Corona Virus togetherness

So we thought retirement might be hard with that other person home all day long. Oh, my.

I was alone for twenty-five years before I married again at 71. My life was all tucked in around me with no one to consider. I had my own bad habits and really didn't need anyone else's. It is difficult to be with someone 24/7.

With those of you having a retired spouse at home, I can only imagine the changes you have had to make in your daily life. But we do have an advantage over these couples now isolated together. And, for many not only is the spouse at home, but the house is resounding with the noises of bored children.

What do we do with all this togetherness? Even though we were retired, I find myself climbing the walls. I miss my weekly grandkid fix and miss my furry granddog. I miss hanging out with my good friend JoAnne. I feel that urge to escape then reel myself back once more, trying to harness this need to be with people.

There are things I can do, but I find myself weighed down with the immensity of what is happening in the world. We have depression waiting to latch on and keep us even more isolated. Well, that's not going to happen! Not to me. Not to you.

Now is the time to learn from one another. It is the time to care about the world barely noticed before. It is time to grow in faith and possibilities. Time to find out what you are made of.

First, we need to be smart. Our desires are secondary at this point. There are people putting their lives in danger for the masses. If they can do that, we can certainly pull ourselves up and be strong for those around us. We have computers to keep us in touch. So use it! Skype and FaceTime. Write letters to your family even though they live nearby. Keep a diary about your life. Write of your youth, your love of family, your hopes and dreams. There are stories all around you. Write a personal, Messenger note to each of your FB friends. Let them know that you are truly thinking of them.

This is a time of opportunity. It is a lesson in living. In living with others. For me, it is a good time to work on myself. Yep, I am full of flaws. So what better time to work on me. Remember to listen to one another, not just nod your head or grunt in reply. We are literally in this together.

I ask you to make memories with those in your household. Play games, talk, create, learn something new together. Perhaps this is the beginning of beginnings. Be safe. I send you my love.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

I will make do

As kids, we made do with what we had for entertainment. We used tobacco lath for horses, burlap bags for everything from costumes to doll bedding, bales of straw for forts and corncribs for playhouses. With friends, we put on plays, searched the creek bed for turtles and frogs and discovered new things in nature with each season. We could make do.

Cambridge Dictionary: Make Do: to manage to live without things that you would like to have or with things or worse quality than you would like: ex. We didn't have cupboards so we made do with boxes.

Make do. It seems like all my childhood was 'make do'. We did not have much but made do with what we had. A word came up in a conversation with my sister June. Bandana! Any farm kid knows that their dads had a stack of handkerchiefs (or bandanas) that we girls nabbed when we were going to 'make do'. Of course, Mom grabbed them for our runny noses and used them to cover our chests covered with Vicks when we had a cough or wrapped around our necks for the same remedy.

As for us little ones, those blue and red bandanas became diapers for our dolls and sheets for their beds. In church, one of these lively cloths became Cats in a Cradle. Sometimes coins would be tied into the corner for our Sunday School offering. And to keep babies entertained, they became great peek-a-boo cloths.

Then we got a bit older. Mom would take bandanas and create bathing suits for her little girls. A couple tied made the bottom and a string gathering the cloth in the middle then tied behind the neck with the ends tied in the back of the child made the bra. Bandana beauties! Then we got even older. Those bandanas became headbands, neckbands and headscarves.

We saw those handkerchiefs hanging out of our father's work trousers and watched them flap on the clothesline. We carried them into the field to wipe away the sweat. Somehow they became that overlooked staple that did so many things. We never thought about it. We just made do. Everyday things were essentials in times of need. They even went on to be fads.

Yes, we can all make do. We can manage to live without things that we would like to have. In this process of 'make do', our world will rejuvenate itself. Streams and rivers will rest. The air will clear. The earth will make do reliving the peace and clarity it once knew. Perhaps this is a wake-up call for us all. As for now, I will make do.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

We step up not back

The red sign was placed by the door on the house. Food was prepared by neighbors and left outside the door. A family was ill. They were quarantined. It was my family. I had not yet joined this household that held my parents and older sisters. All had contracted Scarlet Fever. My mother was the caregiver, dealing with her own illness. The house was tagged because of a contagious disease.

So here we are in the midst of a worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Not like we didn't know it would arrive sooner or later, yet no one is prepared. Not even our government. People strip the stores of products out of fear. Having grown up with an outhouse, I am not so worried about the toilet paper. As long as we have magazines and leaves, we should be just fine. Pandemic. An illness, a challenge, a change of attitude and of life.

Yet in this chaos, we see such a variety of responses. There are those who consider this ridiculous. How can anything like this strike at us? We are in a modern-day and age when all things are easily remedied. What's with these people out in the stores stocking up on anything and everything!?

Then we have those who are terrified. They fill every crevice of their home with "in case we need it" items, stripping the shelves selfishly. Bottles and jugs of water are piled into grocery carts. Water!!!! If I'm not mistaken, I can actually still turn the tap if I am thirsty.

Lastly, we have the practical people who check to see if they can get by for a few weeks. They consider how to economize and even share with others. Schools, organizations and even neighbors are making lunches for school kids on special needs programs. Teachers are also creating programs for their students to follow at home. We all work together. There is a sense of community that comes out of such times as these. With communications so readily at hand, we follow the news and see where help is needed. Our world is not so closed in. We use our creativity to stay busy and to entertain children. We step up, not back. We hold out a hand, not take from it. No one can say where this will lead, but it has led us to one another.

I hope you fall into the last category. We are all in this together, our homes, our neighborhoods, our country, our world. Let's focus on what is important. Let's focus on one another. There is no red sign on the door, only common sense.

Friday, March 13, 2020

We are all in this together

We are all in this together. Our world family is struggling each in our own local, but you are my neighbor and I am yours. The best way to help is to hunker down and take care of yourselves. I care. I ask you to care. We are a world that needs love and caring. So please, please, please take care of yourselves and those you love. Be creative in your own homes and spend time with those you love. We can do this.

My current mantra:

Stay home.
Stay safe.
Be smart.
Drink wine.

Sending you all my love,

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Growing into grandparenthood

Yes, I had raised two children. Okay, I knew about bottles and diapers. I knew about motherhood with its trials and joys. What I had to learn about was being a GRANDPARENT.

We have natural instincts that come with us when we are born. We know how to cuddle a small animal and a stuffed toy. We feel protective of those we love. We use our instincts to protect ourselves. However, there are many things we learn only by trial and error.

Twenty-one years ago I watched a baby girl come into this world. Every fiber of my being wanted to hold, love and protect this newly breathing child. I was a first-time grandma. Grandma. Before I could learn what to do with this child, I had to learn how to wear the name.

Upon hearing that a baby was coming, I remember vividly thinking, "I'm divorced, fifty-one and a grandma!" Immediately I felt old. Who would ever want an old woman?!?! I probably should begin wearing dark colors and stop coloring my hair. Perhaps I should wear an apron. Those are the grandmas I remembered. My life would once more consist of diapers and spit up! GRANDMA!!!! How dare they! I wasn't ready yet!!

Yes, that was the first grandchild. When that newborn was placed in my arms, I realized that there was no greater name than grandma. I was her grandma. My tears greeted her then, and now I find when she comes home from college more tears flow. I learned what it was to love more deeply than ever imagined on that day March 11, 1999. For once I found a bond that I had never noticed before. It was one with my mother, with my grandmothers. I began to wonder about those women who were no longer in my life. I wanted to know more.

How does it happen this growing into grandparenthood? Oddly, it felt natural. In fact, it was wonderful and keeps getting better. As my grandchildren age, I miss the diapers and the spit-up. I miss all the 'firsts'.  I miss the long periods of time spent with tea parties and legos, with dress-up and dirty faces. I miss it all.

My older granddaughters call me Grammy. The seven-year-old twins call me MeMe. Blessings each and every time I hear the words. Why do I write this blog? Because I know you understand what it is to be a grandparent.

As for today, Happy Birthday, Sydney. Thank you for teaching me what it is to be a GRANDMA.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women's Day

My great grandmother wore long dresses with hand-stitched pleats across the high necked bodice. She wore black, heeled shoes that laced and stockings that covered her legs. Her slip was also hand-stitched cotton that fell to the hem of her skirt. The sleeves of her bodice were long appropriately covering as much skin as possible. Her hair was worn up until bedtime and most of the time she wore an apron. How do I know? I have pictures. Bloomers were still hanging on. And modesty was the author of their lives.

My grandmothers wore ankle-length dresses of fabric that softy-draped. Their shoes were laced and had stubby heels. Again, the long stockings held on for another generation. And, once more, the apron seemed to be part of the ensemble on most days. Hair was shorter as were the sleeves on their dresses. Collars took the place of the high-up neckline. Bloomers gave way to silky skivvies. Women could vote and were finding a new voice.

My mother was definitely a modern woman, stepping away from her mother's constant desire for the old way of dressing. Her dresses were shorter and collars disappeared. She wore house dresses made from feed sacks and nylons or socks instead of stockings. Until she was older, she always wore a dress. Her shoes were flat and built for comfort. She dressed according to the budget and reveled in wearing bright colors. She had a voice and taught her daughters to use theirs.

So now we are up to me. The rebel of the 60's who loved mini skirts and bikini bathing suits. In four generations, the skivvies had gone from bloomers to almost nothing. We dress following the fads and styles that emerge in this fast-changing world. Our necklines are lower and leggings are fun and comfy. We wear tank tops and shorts. We wear sweats and clothing for comfort. And, we don't need to dye our hair or wear makeup. We are us. We are our voice.

In these four generations, we have gone from women who always followed what the men in their lives dictated to becoming women who said, 'we are equal'. We fight for our rights and the rights of others. We are the trailblazers, teaching our children to be strong and compassionate. We are grandmas of the present who want our families to see that aging is not bad; it is beautiful. Those grandmothers before did the work so we could have the freedoms in dress and in expressing our feelings. We can stand up as equals choosing our own lives.

My great grandmothers' pictures are captured in sepia tones or black and white. My grandmothers are captured on black and white glossies. My mother is on video and color glossies. I am on digital. We have come a long way, Baby.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Myriad of March messages

Sharing with Neff Road this writing. Enjoy! Happy March.

I love to check out the Farmer's Almanac! Who doesn't?!  I grew up with it. Farmers believed it while the rest of us heard it quoted often. This is the source of the following exposé of March. "Dad, you would be proud of me."

I thought I should see if March 1 is a lion coming in or maybe just a cute, wooly lamb. My first glimpse was fog outside the window followed by sunshine and spring flowers, adding color to the neighborhood. The budding trees just opened with the first flowering. My verdict: A lamb. Definitely a lamb. This saying probably came from some long-ago ancestors who believed that the weather foretold things to come. This truly is not so much a weather predictor as perhaps a hope. If it comes in roaring, at least let it leave softly. Since our weather has been the mildest on record, I would say that we are probably looking at a sheepish ending to the month.

Here is one I had never heard before: A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay. Well, my friends, this one does not make sense. The barns are full for winter feed. Hay is baled and stored. Corn has been shelled and ground for feed or stored in the corn crib to use as needed. 
If I remember rightly, hay is not baled until May or later. Rather hard to bale it and fill the barn if it is not ready. (Oh, I think I have a headache.)

Another keeper: As it rains in March, so it rains in June. You and I both know that there is no predicting this fact. This was probably believed by the same people who hoped that the lioness that arrived at the beginning of March would surely change and make a cuddly lamb exit.

Here is a rather redundant one: March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers. Early flowers will absolutely bloom in May primarily because they are perennials. I believe that we started thinking about planting the garden in April/May. I seem to remember planting zinnias in the garden with Dad and Cousin Gene in May. That might have been the year I thought I would surprise Dad and pulled out an entire row of weeds, aka zinnias. Never planted in the garden again.

Ever heard this one: So many mists in March you see, so many frosts in May will be. I know it is in the Almanac, but I'm thinking perhaps this is an Irish Almanac.

Thank goodness this is the final one: Is’t on St. Joseph’s day (19th) clear, So follows a fertile year; Is’t on St. Mary’s (25th) bright and clear, Fertile is said to be the year. No, I did not misspell Is't. I am thinking once more we are across the pond. If you can match these dates with the appropriate weather, then you might want to get a Farmer's Almanac next year.

I have my own saying for this new month. If there is peace and love at the beginning of March, there will be harmony and joy at the end of the month. Yep, I like mine straight from Pam's Almanac.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Miles and miles of heart

Okay, guys and gals, this is the week of hearts and roses, chocolates and champagne, love and more love. So, if you have not prepared, as might be usual, be notified right now that time is running out. Take your loved one to dinner. Plan a special evening to tell that special someone that you really went all out this year. Surprise the one you love with stepping out of the norm into the memorable. The LOVE WEEK.

(From Damn Yankees) You gotta have heart. Miles and miles of heart. Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course, but keep that old horse before the cart. First you've gotta have heart.

Being my usual nosy self, I decided to check up on this expression 'keep that old horse before the cart'. Hm. Pretty obvious, right. You can't pull the horse with the cart. The horse could push the cart. And, maybe, just maybe, this makes sense to me. I looked a little further into an explanation. Since I can find everything I need online, I was sure I could find a horse behind a cart. So: Cart before the horse is an idiom or proverb suggesting something is done contrary to a conventional or culturally expected order or relationship.' Oh, I like that part 'contrary to a conventional or culturally expected order.'

Having a bit of age and experience behind me and being (much to the frustration of my husband) a very observant person, I find that we are indeed creatures who settle into a way of life or routine never thinking to change. We tug that old cart behind us at a pace that even slows down when we reach a certain age. Yet, that old horse keeps pulling. In essence, nothing changes because it seems that people do not want to change. Well, I know that we never grow, become wiser or smarter, if we do not change.

There is a real thrill that comes with change. It is a new adventure filled with new observations and, more than likely, new people. A life becomes more productive and fuller with change. That horse gets a breather behind that boring cart, probably stopping to munch on grass and maybe even meet a new horse or two along the way.

You gotta have heart. And, it doesn't hurt to give that heart away. I would like to change up those words: You gotta have heart. Miles and miles of heart. Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course, but keep that old horse behind the cart. Then you'll find a new start.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The helping hand

Exhausted, I pulled strength from somewhere around my toes and took on what needed to be done. Flu. That awful, terrible thing that we all know. It knocks us off our feet, tossing us like rag dolls, refusing to let go. Rough, huh? Well, let me tell you something. When it hits our grandkids, it strikes at our hearts. Straight shot. You and I would trade places with them in a minute if we could, so we do the next best thing.

My son and family returned from ten days in Orlando, having the time of their lives making memories that will be relieved and cherished forever. Flying home to Oregon, Nolan got the flu. His temperature soared and the barfies found him. All ready to come home and resume the routine was met with an immediate halt. "Mom, can you help? We need Emma out of the house so she doesn't get it." Well, no need to ask. Everything takes a back burner and grandparenting at its roots takes place.

Millie, their Airdale, had already spent ten days with us. Now she would stay on along with a lively little miss. Now to complicate all this, the doc informs me that I have arthritis and bone spurs in my knee cap. For a grandma who has been active for years with her grandkids, this is not the best news. Getting up and down from the floor and going stairs takes great effort and tolerance of pain. Can't let that stop me!

My mother was a whirlwind of strength and endurance. As a parent and a grandparent, I get it. I can tolerate a great deal to make this a good time for Emma and show my son that I am more than able to help out.

Emma moved in for two days. We played games, went to horseback riding class, she went to school, we giggled a great deal and enjoyed our time together. She took care of bracing my knee, and I scrubbed her back. We made memories in the simpleness of everyday living.

Nolan finally was well enough to come and stay an afternoon with me while his sister was at school. I  even found time to dash off to the school for lunch with Emma. My son and Lisa knew that the kids were safe and well-cared for. I was never a parent who loved to send her grandkids off with their parents. I love living close enough to be part of all their lives. I never had that for my kids. I will not allow them to miss it.

My husband's son just had a new baby. I am thinking that the activity level with this one will be a little more reserved. But who knows? I may just find that this new one adds a bit more energy and strength to this old girl.

We are the blessed. We get to make memories for our loved ones. We are the authors of their past and the participant of their futures. MeMe. Yep, that's the best name I have ever been called. How about you?

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Open each petal one by one

Paul Simon describe it best in "Sound of Silence": And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more. People talking without speaking. People hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never share. And no one dare....disturb the sound of silence.

A very real thing happens to many people after the first of the year. In case you did not know it, January is considered the month when people are most depressed. In fact, the third Monday is called Blue Monday. I know it is a difficult month for me. A let down after the holidays always finds me. Memories of sad events that took place during the holidays seem to linger after the first of the year. Dark stormy weather does nothing to help with my winter blues.

Depression is very real. I had no idea what it was when I was a kid. In fact, no one ever talked about feelings or expressed them for what they were. Sorrow, hurt, difficulties in life, (and the list goes on) were never shared. My examples were all considered strong people. In retrospect, I find that they failed their daughters by not expressing their feelings. People could be grumpy and angry. Maybe they were silent and off to themselves. I know I spent long periods of time alone with my thoughts. I never would have thought to share them. (I know, hard to believe I had such a problem.) 

I first realized what depression was after the birth of each of my two children. Each time I was at a bad place, trying to swim upstream. I did not ask for help nor did I admit the struggle I felt. Then I began writing. That I could do. The words were just for me, but this tool gave me insight. When I went through a terrible divorce, I found that I needed help beyond myself. And, in that reaching out, I found my strength.

In working with troubled teens, the biggest hurdles I found were in helping kids open up about their feelings. Anger would rage. Drugs might come into the picture. Some kids came to me with bruises on their bodies. They had no one to go to whom they could trust. I got it. I felt that way most of my youth. I learned a great deal from the depths of my feelings and by moving around this country. I learned that I could change from what I learned as a child. I found that I could only have healthy kids if I was open and honest about the feelings with which I dealt.

It is a time of year to understand and help others. January is a tough month. You are not alone if you are feeling down. Seek someone to talk to. There is no shame in admitting that the load is too heavy. In fact, you are doing yourself and your families a favor. If you know someone who is depressed, open a dialogue with that person and help him/her find their own help source. I like the following quote by Goldie Hawn. I leave you with this:

The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.”