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.