A Slightly Merry and Very Wet Christmas

It is shortly after midnight December 25, 2020. After a record snowstorm here of 24.7 inches last week on Wednesday into Thursday, central Pennsylvania is now experiencing warmer temperatures and day long rain, leading to mild to moderate flooding in the area. Of course, it is only mild or moderate if you are not in the path of the water. The other factor pending is the temperature. Right now, it is 47 degrees, a relatively warm start to Christmas day. However, in true 2020 fashion, the high is to be 37 degrees today and the low 19, and Saturday will be even chillier.

Here’s hoping for a stellar 2021! A year where the COVID-19 pandemic becomes relegated to history even as we remembe and mourn those who were its victims, where Donald J. Trump is resigned to the garbage heap he deserves along with his complicit family, friends, and the weak Republicans who allowed him to run roughshod over the United States and ruin its reputation across the world, and where compassion, empathy, and peace become the new watchwords and behaviors the world so desperately needs.

Blessings to all and fervent wishes for a wonderful life ahead.

Such a Year!

It is now December, the start of the Christmas season, and the last month of an incredibly long and difficult year. A year full of more trials than successes, more pain than joy, and so much fear and anxiety, 2020 has been a year that no one could have imagined outside of a novel or a horror movie. Every day, some of us worry that we will hear a loved family member or a dear friend has tested positive for COVID-19, aka a novel coronavirus. An off day becomes a day of terror, full of fear that one will suddenly lose the senses of smell and taste followed by a slight difficulty in breathing. A cough is no longer an allergy but a harbinger of worse to come. Every day, more cases are registered, more people are hospitalized, and more deaths are reported.

One very frustrating point is that many people still slough off the warnings as a complete and utter hoax. “It’s no big deal, no worse than the flu.” “I only had a little cough and a slight headache.” “I tested positive but never had any symptoms.” Yes, it’s all a little inconvenience until one can’t breath, goes to the hospital, is admitted into the ICU, and needs a ventilator, a machine that breathes for the patient who is struggling to take in air through COVID-damaged lungs and allows the body to rest and heal. Some need the help for a few days, others perhaps for weeks. However long the process, it won’t be pleasant, and the patient is sedated and alone, leaving family members to worry whether they will ever see their loved one alive again. Most do, but many have not.

Fathers, mothers, siblings, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, so many have succumbed to the virus, with loved ones left behind to grieve for the rest of their years. Some families have lost multiple members, some both mothers and fathers, leaving younger orphaned children behind to mourn. Most people have at least heard of someone who has tested positive or has gotten somewhat ill. Others know of friends that tell about family who have been admitted to the hospital, and some weep for those who have passed alone in nursing homes.

Today, December 3, 2020, there were 210,161 new cases reported and 2,706 deaths, with over 100,000 patients currently hospitalized in the United States. Each one of those numbers is someone’s mother, father, spouse, or child, and according to Johns Hopkins University, “the U.S. death toll currently stands at 275,550.”*

Don’t become one of the statistics. Follow the CDC guidelines and do your best to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Distance and isolate this holiday season so you can celebrate together in the future.

*Stats from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/live-updates/coronavirus/?id=74456908

Haunted by the Past

I am reminded of a quotation by William Shakespeare in his play “Julius Caesar” when I consider the many errors in judgement and behaviors I have made throughout my life: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is often interred with their bones.”

As a mother, I made numerous mistakes and was frequently a impatient person. Sometimes, perhaps often, my verbal behavior was abusive and, more often than not, directed at one particular child at a given time. Generally, it was not the child I was angry with; I misdirected my feelings toward the innocent rather than those who should have been the recipient of my angst. I have no excuse for this and will never be able to make amends for it. I have caused damage to those I injured, as harm was inflicted on me as a child as well.

I believe this is why my children have chosen not to add to the population, a fact I used to lament but one I fully understand now. They have chosen to break the abuse cycle by not becoming parents themselves. I do regret that they have likewise opted not to experience the joys that are also part and parcel of parenthood though. While I acknowledge that I caused much harm, I also felt much joy and gave them much love as I watched each stage they went through from infancy to adulthood. In spite of my enormous and numerous failings, they became caring and amazing adults in their own lives. I do not take credit for this. This they did on their own despite me.

I love them very much, and I am so proud of them. Have they made mistakes that I do not take blame for? Yes, I am fairly sure they have, but they carry on and become better persons for their errors. I hope that they do remember some of the good experiences in our family as well as the bad. I do not want my legacy to consist of all negative emotions.

Summer Heat and Showers

The heat continues with only slight moderations by day, although it was pleasant enough last evening after dark to sit in the backyard and search the sky for the elusive Persiads. After 9:30, the clouds were still sparse enough to see many stars, the bright planet in the southern sky (sky charts are really confusing to read so I cannot name it), and the multitude of airplanes high in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, I chose to pop inside for a brief time to grab my camera and missed the one that Joe spotted right after I went in the door. On another note, it is also challenging to take clear photos of plants in the dark because focusing the camera is not easy, at least for me. I did get some nice moonflower images though.

The sky clouded over before eleven when the best of the meteor shower was to be visible, and then it rained. While the shower of water, such as appeared, was definitely welcome for the plants, the accompanying clouds obscured the shower I really hoped to view. Here’s to a clear sky tonight!

Still Meandering

The more I wander, the more lost I feel. Or, perhaps I do not wander enough. Stuck in a rut of my own design, I remain enmeshed in unproductive musings, unable to pull it together and rise above the swamp of despair.

Some things evidently do not remedy themselves easily. This post was a draft from March 24, 2020.

Summer Doldrums

A general feeling of malaise from the COVID-19 stressors is being compounded by a renewed sense of loss. For some inexplicable reason, I have experienced enhanced sadness recently as I remember persons who were part of my life, some for many years, but who are no longer living. As the fourth anniversary of my mother’s passing approaches, recalling those others who played an important role in my life is sending me to a low point that is not healthy or desirable.

Many were close to my current age when I lost them, and that in itself might be adding to my distress. Since Mom died, I have been increasingly aware of my shortening time even though she lived many years past where I am now. Is this just grief still surfacing, compounded by the constant stress of living with the uncertainties of the effects of the novel coronavirus, or the familiar fear of the inevitable that we all must face?

Given it is August and this summer has been very unsettling, I really need to refocus and try to get myself back together before fall, and the usual seasonal affective disorder, lands with both feet.

Hot Time, Summer in the Country

Well, it is August 1, 2020, and it has been one hot, lazy summer. So many plans to work on multiple tasks since PCT closed in March, and I have completed very few. Okay, being honest here, how about none? We started painting the kitchen–not done. We planted the garden–doing okay, but I never get it done the way I want. I will not discuss the flower bed at the rear of the house. Suffice to say, the trumpet vine we dug out years back refuses to die, and where I cut it back in the late spring, it has returned with a vengeance. inside the house, even the clothes to be sorted and sent packing have failed to cooperate.

The warmer the weather becomes, the less motivation I have. So, that tells you what I have accomplished since early July, doesn’t it? The masks I planned to sew, not done. I cut three out last night, and maybe I will sew tomorrow. The jewelry I purchased all those lovely beads for is still awaiting the design fairy, and she really needs to step up soon and get off her fairy fanny and do some diligent work.

I did manage to sweep the kitchen and vacuum the living room, which was satisfying and sorely needed. The critters all seem to be throwing off so much fur I am surprised they are not naked. Oh, I also updated one computer from XP to Windows 7. Yay, me! I did pat myself on the back for that task since I have been planning it for about six months.

Here it is after 11:00 pm, and I look around the computer room with a shudder at all the clutter. Yep, it’s staying cluttered, too, because I don’t want to do any more today. Tal vez mañana!

A Most Strange Year

Well, July 2020 is almost at an end. Looking back to January, one would have found it difficult to imagine the world as it is today, something out of an apocalyptic novel with a tale that stretches the imagination and leaves the reader fearing for what is to come…

No one knows where the COVID-19 virus will appear next, how deadly it may be, if it will further mutate, or whether the disease will strike oneself, a family member, or a friend. Perhaps, as the president has promised, one day it will just disappear. Given its behavior thus far, that will indeed be the best case scenario for our menacing foe, but such is an unlikely ending to the horror story that is the year 2020.

Happy Birthday!

So, today was another birthday. I am okay as long as I do not focus on my age–pesky numbers anyway. Admittedly, I have some issues when it comes to getting up from a kneeling position. Is it age or lack of quality exercise? Yes, I am a lazy slug-type person when it comes to focused workouts. It should be enough that I live in a two story home with one bathroom–on the second floor. There are also thirteen steps to get to the landing outside, before the next three steps to access the front porch and entry door. Oh, and that doesn’t include the cellar steps if I want to get canned goods or look in the freezer. Steps should count as exercise, right?

Gardening also takes work, not to mention weeding the flower beds. We have had quite a lot of precipitation lately so there are many weeds, so darned many weeds. Sometimes, I can even find the flowers, and that is more than I can say for the peas I planted in the potatoes.

Anyway, in the afternoon I got to see the beautiful old farmhouse my daughter’s friend is working on. Oh, I could live there in a minute! I lived in the country until I was ten, and I have always missed it terribly. The original part of the house is small, but it has a wonderful addition attached to the main house. Sort of a family room style with a loft area that is large enough to be a bedroom. The loft has plenty of light, just like the room below it. It’s only downside might be the sloped ceiling. For me, it would not be an issue as I am short enough I can walk almost to the side wall before I hit my head. One of the few perks to being under five foot three!

The original house is stone walls. Not just a little stone facade, but actual thick stone blocks. You can tell because the window sills are over a foot deep. Oh, how my cats would love those! So would my plants, at least until winter when I have a feeling they would get too cold. The rooms are small but have so many windows, and since it is in the country, there is no next door neighbor mere feet away to block the light.

Later in the day, my husband cooked dinner: filled pork chops, mashed potatoes, and extra stuffing. I opted to labor on my birthday and made a salad for us. My daughter-in-law stopped by with a cute card and bottle of wine for me. My oldest son, her husband, is away at Army Reserve training until next weekend so I was glad to see her. Then, my daughter came in, and a bit after that, my youngest son and his girlfriend. It was nice to see most of the family, although some of the celebration was bittersweet since my mother has been gone for two birthdays now.

It is days like this that I remember how much she loved me and how proud she was of me as well. I keep coming back to the thought that I am an orphan now.  Time passes, and I finally understand why I would hear so many older people say that time seems to speed up as you age. I feel that pace now and remember how slowly the years seemed to go by when I was younger. I think back to when my children were babies and miss those times.  I remember the days I lost patience with them and was a terrible parent. Oh, to be able to turn back the clock and be a better person! How those times haunt my hours now.

So many times one hears that “you can’t go home again.” Physically, that is likely so; mentally, you can always return–sometimes even when it would be better not to in order to maintain peace of mind. I can close my eyes and recall the old farmhouse where I lived with my grandparents, the barn where I fed the baby chickens, the rope swing my grandfather hung in the tall tree while standing on the cab of his truck, my grandmother in the kitchen, the oil lamps giving light when the electricity went out, and the apple tree where I would eat my sandwich on summer days. I can remember sadly moving to the city, my mother moving in with a failed marriage and my new baby brother a few months later, and my grandmother dying less than a year after.

Birthdays are frequently a time of reflection, when one thinks back to celebrations of years past, happy times, sad occasions, all part of the life cycle. So, if your birthday is approaching, embrace it and think of the moments in life that were joyous, the times that brought you peace and wonderful memories. Save the bad recollections for another time. Rejoice in the now, and if no one else hugs you, hug yourself.

Blessings to you and wishes for a renewing rest.



Summer Musings

Midway through July 2018, I have yet to accomplish a small fraction of the tasks I assigned myself for this year. Front porch, still a mess; balcony no better than last year; garage lacks free space to park a bicycle; cellar has but a tiny path in-between clutter; and the attic, well, who wants to sweat through a hot enclosed space in the depths of summer? I have done no sewing of those upcycled bags to be made from children’s skirts. The skirts are washed and piled in a closet or tote. The jewelry supplies are nipping at my heels and begging to be constructed into lovely wearable art. Ah, but I am such an unmotivated slug!

I have dried a few herbs and started some tinctures, but there is much more to harvest– including tiny chamomile flowers. The yarrow needs to be cut and dried; later in the fall, the mallow must be dug and then dried. The mint is plentiful and makes amazing tea–which is much better than soda even with a small amount of sugar for sweetening. Spearmint with a touch of lemon balm is particularly refreshing and tasty. I have hopes of drying many more herbs and inflicting them upon family members and friends as Christmas gifts in neat, tidy little packages. Again, I have aspirations and dreams.

The garden is moving along, while I endeavor to keep Mr. Groundhog from mowing it down. The yard long bean plants have exceeded the poles again this year, and the cucumbers are in a race to beat them. I always have good intentions of getting an early start and leaving time to relax, but alas, I have failed again this year.

I did sit long enough the other evening to watch for hummingbird visitors with some success. There are two that visit the yard to sup at our Bee Balm. I also caught one sipping a yellow Jewel Weed flower. They are such intriguing creatures.

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Darkness has arrived, and it is time to contemplate that which has been accomplished. The laundry is dry, the bed is made, the fish tank and rabbit pens are clean, and supper is over. Tomorrow is another day.

Many blessings to you and wishes for a pleasant, refreshing, and spirit-renewing rest.