Friday, April 3, 2020

The bright side

It's been about two and a half weeks since I started working from home and basically sheltering in place, with the exception of very few trips to the grocery store. I once tried ordering groceries to pick up, but I waited 5 days for an appointment to go get them. By the time I got there, I realized there were more items that I needed. Obviously, I need to have a better plan. This morning I shopped for non-perishables so that we have one extra of what we need, and from here on out, I can keep a list going and pick up extra when we do a weekly or biweekly order for perishables. If nothing else, these days I'm finally learning to get organized with my grocery shopping.

It's Friday, and time to look back at the week to see that there are still lots of blessings to count, even in these times. Linking up with Susanne and the FFF crowd.

Music ~ The other night I watched a special by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood -- an impromptu concert from their home, just the two of them. It was such a treat, just their voices accompanied by a guitar. This Sunday there's going to be a similar show with lots of artists performing from home. I'm thankful for musicians who share their talents this way. It feels so personal listening to them without all the lights and theatrics and background. Very comforting.

Flowers ~ Last week when we were picking up groceries, Dan suggested some flowers. I picked out some bright red tulips, my favorite in the springtime. I split the bunch in half and put some by the kitchen sink and the others in the living room.

Having enough ~ I haven't missed my tendency to "impulse shop", and feel blessed that we have enough. Probably more than enough. We are buying just essentials and I don't pick up extras like magazines or a can't-resist-it new hair care product or extra food. Well, maybe chocolate, but that is a necessity for mental health:) It has added to simplifying my day to day life.

Warm days ~ Aside from a couple of cold days, the weather has been so nice. The grass is already green and long enough to mow. Just a few flowers have popped up, but I look daily for signs of perennials making their appearance.

Bloggers ~ I've noticed some blogs are picking up again and I've found a couple of new (for me) blogs, too. It's good to see that everyone is doing well, and to hear the positive side of life, especially when the news is so grim these days. Bloggers do love to celebrate the good stuff!

Stay safe, be well!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Favorites

There's been a lot of sobering news this week, heartbreaking reports of how the virus is impacting lives. More so than ever, I need to look for encouragement and remind myself of the blessings that abound. Here's a glimpse at my week:

1. Home office ~ I'm really enjoying working from home, moreso than I thought I would. A big window to look out on the neighborhood and a view of the mountains to watch the weather rolling in. Listening to Pandora. Coffee breaks with Dan on the back porch, which won't be happening today with the snow that is predicted for this afternoon. Work is a little different, a little more complicated in the healthcare industry right now, but it's going smoothly and I'm so grateful for our group's amazing providers.

2. Books ~ I can't imagine going through this shelter in place (went into effect for our state on Wednesday) without books. I'm finally digging into my TBR pile -- and yeah, I still ordered one from Amazon the other day (what is wrong with me?!) I just finished Daphne DuMaurier's My Cousin Rachel. I realized this morning, that I have yet another one of her books on my bookcase, among the collectors' library that belonged to my mom. So, that goes on my TBR pile. In addition to reading, this is an opportune time for the book lovers among us to snoop and see how others store their collections. A lot of newscasters are working from home. I love it when they broadcast in front of their bookcases. Some shelves have books stacked in all sorts of piles going every which way.  Some shelves are neatly arranged, books only, and I wonder how are they organized? By subject? Author? And still others are a mix of books, framed photos and keepsakes. I'm intrigued.

3. Yesterday, Dan and I moved some dirt from the compost pile to the raised garden beds. It was a gorgeous day to be outside. I planted a couple of salad bowl gardens on the back porch. There is some comfort in knowing that the seasons go on, in nature life will continue as normal, and eventually we will all get back to our usual routines. For Lilly this is one big vacation, as it is for many pets who are just so dang thrilled to have their people home full time.

4. We've been Facetiming with our kids regularly. One night, we had both the boys on together, Joe in his apartment with Sam in Seattle, and Luke with his crew in Wisconsin. After a while, the boys started talking games, so I just sat back and listened and watched, Luke with his kids crawling all over him, Joe waiting patiently to get Luke's attention again, and then the two of them going at it. I actually got teary-eyed, missing the days when they were both at home and this banter was just a matter of course. And, driving me crazy more often than not. I'm grateful that we have this time to reconnect and spend buckets of time with one another.

5. Take out dining ~ we're aiming to support our local restaurants by ordering takeout once or twice a week. Hardly a sacrifice on our part, but I was touched to learn that our favorite Italian restaurant is also donating meals to healthcare workers at our local hospital. There are so many ways for people to band together at times like these. Opportunities to shine some light in dark times.

Prayers for all the helpers out there, especially our healthcare workers. So many angels among us.

Linking up with Friday's Fave Five.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monday Daybook

For Today, March 23, 2020

Looking out my window . . . the sun is shining, the sky is deep blue, and the snow is melting! Yesterday we went for a walk and it was warm enough to wear just a vest over my long-sleeved t-shirt. It's a far cry from the 10" of snow and freezing temps we had on Friday.

I am thinking . . . how nice it is that blogging has picked up again. For me, blogging is a combination of journaling and having pen pals in the form of other bloggers. It's so nice to hear from everyone and see what they've been up to.

I am thankful . . . for this little guy who celebrated his fourth birthday yesterday! And I'm thankful for video chat, so that we could wish him a happy birthday 'in person.' When you're four, just knowing it's your birthday is celebration enough. He wasn't concerned that there wasn't a party. He was just so happy to be four.  "Happy Birthday, Gramma!" he said, just before we hung up the phone.

One of my favorite things . . . adding art to my journal. Mostly clippings that catch my eye, sometimes I'll sketch something myself (not an artist, so for my eyes only). Kindergartner at heart, it is still fun to cut and past.

I am creating . . . still working on making order out of chaos around the house. Next up: catch up on my photo albums.

I am wearing . . . jeans, long sleeve shirt and sneakers. And make-up;) I'm finding that it's so easy to get dressed these days, with my usual at-home 'uniform.' I thought I would take a break from make-up for a while, but looking in the mirror was frightening! I feel better when I'm more put together.

I am reading . . . Just finished Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina. Oooh, it was such a good story! A novel about the Bronte sisters, based on fact, but fictional in the account of Emily's unrequited love affair with a young clergyman. The descriptions of the moors and life during Emily's time were so vivid. While waiting on a copy of Wuthering Heights from Amazon (How can it be I don't have a copy?), I'm reading Daphe du Maurier's
My Cousin Rachel.

I'm watching . . . Octavia Spencer in the Netflix series Self Made. There are only five episodes, so Dan and I are trying to pace ourselves.

I am hoping . . . that for everyone who has to postpone or give up a traditional celebration or an event of something in their life -- a wedding, graduation, sports event -- that they will find peace in letting go and that they will find joy that the marriage, achieved education, ability to participate even happened. Like Bentley, be joyful! 

I am learning . . . the practice of self discipline. Watching the news just once a day. Checking in on social media less frequently. Having structure to my day. Trying to apply this to snacking so as to avoid the Corona 15!!

In my kitchen . . . A window over the sink is a must in any kitchen, in my opinion. Since I spend so much time there, I've surrounded ours with my favorite things. With a view of the backyard, I really don't mind washing dishes, something I do regularly since our dishwasher broke (see the big, empty hole to the left of the sink. We are still debating the merits of a dishwasher vs. more cabinet space. I suspect we'll have lots more time to do so these days.)

Dan made me a little shelf above the window where my cows stand watch. Left to right: a vase that was my grandma's, milk bottles from when we had milk and half & half delivered until a couple years ago, a creamer that was my great-grandma's and a creamer from my goddaughter because she and I share a love of the whimsical.

To the left of the sink: a collection of salt and pepper shakers, most of which were purchased on beach vacations. A little piece of the tropics to remember and dream of when I'm washing dishes.

On the windowsill: a couple of more sets of salt and pepper shakers, this one from my grandma. I could easily become one of those collectors who has a roomful, but I remind myself that dusting them would be a bear.

 A photo of my mom and grandmother in Grandma's kitchen.

In my garden . . . a salad garden. It will be nice and warm today, so we're going to work in the yard. Dan is picking up some lettuce seeds when he goes to the store this morning, and we'll start our lettuce bowl garden on the back porch.

Post Script
One of my favorite Instagram feeds is the U.S. Department of Interior. They post the most gorgeous pictures from our national parks.

Shared Quote
The world belongs to the enthusiastic. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A moment from my day . . . 

 Linking with Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

New normal

People who say
 "go big or go home"
seriously underestimate my willingness to go home.
It's literally my only goal for most of the day.

As someone who has been self-isolating for the past week, having the advantage of working from home, this 'new normal' feels oddly normal.

For me, this is not a sacrifice. I'm perfectly content with doing my part by just lying low and staying out of the way, allowing those who are skilled and trained to do their jobs.  Still, this past week I found myself quickly falling back into the default mode of "I really should be doing something."  It felt irresponsible not to be, when so many are risking their lives on the front lines.

I've seen stories on the news about people who are sewing medical masks for area hospitals to fill in the need where supplies are low. After talking with my friend who works for a local hospital chain, I found a program to work with. But, just this morning, the organization sent out an email saying that the upper echelon of the organization had overturned the decision to accept homemade masks. I'm not really surprised. Today there was an announcement that companies are going into overdrive and will be producing millions. It is definitely a more pragmatic solution, and probably more sanitary. 

But still, I wondered, shouldn't I be doing something?

Maybe the hardest part of all this will be to humble myself and acknowledge that this might not be my season to act. Always having been a Martha, maybe this is my time to be a Mary. The world sure needs some prayers right not.

So, rather than feel guilty about enjoying my seclusion, I'm focusing on gratitude for having this time to reach out to my family and to do some personal recharging. My house is as clean as it's ever been. I've read two books this week. Baked bread and cookies. Organized my recipes. Next will be photo albums

My friend says she feels as if the Holy Spirit is challenging humanity to work at unity. So, I pray.

I'm fascinated by the news that the lack of human activity seems to be giving the earth a time to heal in many places. There's less air pollution. Clearer water.

 It was announced last night that Rocky Mountain National Park temporarily closed. A few days ago, the park announced that it was waiving fees to enter, giving everyone a chance to get outdoors and enjoy nature while social distancing. But the little town at the entrance of the park was concerned for all their citizens and the town's limited medical facilities. With hordes of people coming through, it would put the community at risk. So, the decision was made to close the park.

I imagine the animals are dancing with joy, happy to have their home to themselves without human paparazzi at every turn! It makes me feel peaceful, in an odd sort of way, to know that when I look towards the mountains there is a spot that is untouched by all of this, waiting for us to return and enjoy it once again.

Shutting down, reevaluating, finding peace. There is worth in that, too.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! So grateful for this little exercise for many reasons, but today especially because it tells me what day it is. (Friday, right? or is it Wednesday? or Sunday? these times are confusing).

1. Water and electricity ~ I was reminded the other day that while sheltering in place may be an inconvenience, how fortunate are we that our "shelters" are palatial compared to what many people in the world have.  My small house has running water and power at the touch of a button. I'm not standing in line at the local park with a 5-gallon jug, in hopes the fresh water supply will hold. 

2.  Humor! ~ I've been trying not stay glued to Facebook and Instagram, because it is so easy for me to fall into that habit when I have too much time on my hands. But, the memes about homeschooling just crack me up. For example:

3. Working remotely has been going well, and I'm grateful that I'm able to do so. I have my window right in front of me, a view of the neighborhood, and it is really peaceful. I'm in constant contact with my colleagues through email mostly, and texting as needed. I've decided I'm going to bring my work computer home next week. My little laptop is making me cross-eyed.

4.  Neighbors ~ I love our neighborhood, and this week has been an example of just how good these people are. Yesterday, our neighbor across the street came over -- in the blizzard! - to tell me that the windows in Dan's truck were down! He apologized saying, "A___ (his wife), saw them. She's like the Mrs. Kravitz of the neighborhood and doesn't miss a thing." God bless the Mrs. Kravitz's of the world who look out for the rest of us.  My neighbor next door texted, "how are you guys doing? Need anything?" Last night, Dan was at work, and I saw a bundled up figure pushing his/her snowblower along our front walk, clearing all the wet snow for us.

5.  Dan's work hours have been changed to after store hours when he can stock shelves and avoid contact with the general public. Being that we're in the "old and vulnerable" age;) it seemed like a good move. His store has also set aside supplies for employees that need them, which is one of many examples of how well they treat their people. They are so good to their customers as well, going out of their way to provide and help those in need.

Be well, stay safe everyone!

Linking up with Friday Fave Five.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Day 4

There was a meme on Facebook yestesrday that said something to the effect that, "This week has been the longest year ever." 

As we're all being quickly thrust into a new normal, I realize that it's been just four days since my own 'self isolation' began.  Last Friday, I was out and about, cleaning my hands with my little bottle of hand sanitizer in between stops and just about every contact. My friend Kathy and I had planned to meet for what has become our weekly mass together. When the archdiocese cancelled all masses, we met for breakfast, only half joking that they didn't cancel our tradition breakfast after mass.

Afterward I went into work for an hour to set up my new work computer, then to the grocery store. 

Since then, my only outing  has been a bike ride yesterday with Dan, and taking out the garbage. On our ride, we went to our local coffee shop (no seating allowed, just grab and go) and then to a park to sip our drinks at a safe distance from the few other people who had ventured out.

I think visits to the coffee shop are over, just as is my working in the office. (But not the bike rides). Today, after I go in to pick up a few files and things, I'll be working from home. Meanwhile, it IS St. Patty's Day! so I'll get the corned beef started in the crockpot and this afternoon whip up some Irish soda bread. 

I think we could all use a good dose of the luck of the Irish in the days ahead. Anyone else out there celebrating St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, March 16, 2020

A March Daybook

For Today . . . Monday, March 16, 2020

Looking out my window . . . a sunny day, blue skies with a single stream of jet smoke forming an accent mark over the mountains. The Chanticleer pear tree outside my window is just beginning to bud.

I am thinking . . . that the social distancing of the past week has made me feel closer to people. As many people work together for a common cause, it makes me wonder why we can't seem to band together more for other critical causes. What if we all said that for the next two weeks we're going to make a giant leap toward less waste, or providing places for homeless families, or supporting those who fight addiction. I just wonder what could come of it.

I am thankful . . . for our vet who was able to get us in for two appointments right away in the past week when Lilly contracted a virus. He responded by phone several times, and under his guidance Lilly is doing just fine!

One Some of my favorite things . . . 'Happy' perfume by Clinique, keeping a gratitude journal, family group texts, hearing my grandkids say "I love you, Grandma!" on the phone. 

I am creating . . . order out of chaos in the basement storage room.

I am wearing . . . jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers.

I am reading . . . The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. It's an absolutely delightful story that I would highly recommend to fellow bookworms!

I'm listening to . . . country  music radio.

I am praying . . . for healthcare workers, community service personnel and public officials who are making decisions for all of our safety.

I am learning . . . new routines for home care, including cooking and cleaning! Changing it up keeps it interesting;)

In my kitchen . . . I've been planning our menus for the past two weeks and it's working out great! I make up a list of meals for a week, and then each morning decide which one to make, depending on our work schedules and any other activities going on. Last night we had chicken sour cream enchiladas. The night before I pulled a frozen pizza from the freezer. Other menu items: oven baked pork chops and noodles with peas, and soup and sandwiches. 

Around the house . . . doing some much overdue home care. A bit of Spring cleaning and organizing. We FINALLY bought a new mattress, and while moving the old one I found a pair of glasses that I thought were long gone. That was a nice bonus:)

In my garden . . . for my birthday the past couple of years, a couple of my friends gifted me with those little planters of daffodils and hyacinths. After they were done blooming, I planted them in the front garden by our front stoop. They are the first flowers to pop up in the spring.

Shared Quote
You can't reach for anything new if your hands are full of yesterday's clutter.

A moment from my day

Closing Notes

Like everyone else's community, ours feels like it has shut down. Schools are closed for the next two weeks, our town's rec centers, museum and library have closed their doors. (Although the library is offering to deliver books, isn't that awesome?) Dan and I are still working. I'm not as concerned for me, because I only go in a few days a week, and have limited contact with people. Dan, on the other hand, is in one of the big box home improvement stores, and so he is being as cautious as possible. 

As a semi-introvert I'm in heaven with the practice of social distancing, and loving the opportunity to perfect the art of staying home. In fact, I secretly wonder why we need a pandemic to make it acceptable to not want to leave your house? Yes, I realize that this is not a luxury or a staycation for many people, that it is in fact a hardship. There are many who aren't able to welcome this as 'downtime.' I'm not minimizing that, but just speaking for my own circumstances. I find my days to be calmer and more focused. I'm reaching out to my family through phone calls, Facetime, texting, so it isn't total isolation. I've welcomed the opportunity to just stay put, to take on some chores and pastimes without feeling like I have to squeeze them in before leaving for an errand, work, appointment. I'm cleaning house, decluttering, and also writing some letters and have joined back up with an online writing group that was on hiatus. We've decided this is a good time to reconnect and use the time to create. I'm practicing how to live in the moment, something I don't want to lose when we eventually get back to our normal way of living.


Linking with Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.