Categories
Fun Life

Classics

Today is Francis Ford Coppola’s birthday, which reminds me that I’ve never seen The Godfather.

I’ve also never seen Rocky or Casablanca. In fact, although I love movies and have seen many, there are quite a few classic films on my “never watched” list. There’s no particular reason that I haven’t seen them; I don’t have an aversion to watching them. I just haven’t done it.

So, I’ve decided that is something I will remedy. I will fill the gaps in my motion picture awareness. It’s a somewhat frivolous goal, but goals don’t always have to be about serious objectives. Life should include a bit of fun.

Given the many streaming sources and classic tv channels out there, it should be relatively easy to find the movies on my list. The next steps are coordinating my schedule and stocking up on more popcorn.

Here’s to the classics and making time to see what you’ve been missing.

Categories
Life Nature

Woodpecker

There’s a Woodpecker that visits a couple of trees in our backyard every morning. He spends hours tapping away at the branches.

Most of the time, it’s charming, the rapid rat-tat-tat-tat-tats that echo across the backyard. I confess, however, that I sometimes become irritated by the sound. It’s surprisingly loud, starting at the crack of dawn, and it goes on and on, all morning.

Nevertheless, I’ll keep my complaints to a minimum. I like that our backyard has become Woody’s favorite breakfast joint. It’s fun to watch him as he hops around the trees, assessing the branches, choosing the best spot. He’s an entertaining sidekick during the morning gardening routine, even though he is a noisy neighbor.

Here’s to nature’s simple pleasures.

Categories
Good Life

Something

For me, one of the hardest things to get used to during this pandemic is the uncertainty.

I’m one of those people who wants the news, even if it’s bad. I sometimes search out the spoilers before deciding whether to watch a show or movie. I feel a kinship with Harry, from the movie When Harry Met Sally, as I flip to the last page of a book and read the ending first.

“Not knowing” bothers me. I’ve thought about why this is, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because “knowing” is a component of decision-making, which is a component of action, and action is the best way (for me) to manage my feelings. From an emotional perspective, doing something is a coping mechanism; it keeps me from being overwhelmed or getting stuck in sentiment. From a practical perspective, doing something allows me to (hopefully) make a difference, even if only in a small way, even if only for a moment.

There’s been a lot of uncertainty, a lot of not knowing, in this pandemic. It is better in some ways now; we’ve learned more about the illness and are more capable of protecting ourselves. Some of the jobs that were lost or on hold are returning. Some of the challenges have become easier. We’ve made progress, but we aren’t completely out of the woods yet. The uncertainty still exists.

Which is why I was excited to volunteer at a local COVID-19 vaccination site yesterday. I have no medical training, so I directed traffic. In terms of “big picture” impact, it was not the most important task. Judging by the hundreds of cars making their way through the vaccination line, however, it was a needed and helpful chore.

As each car passed, I felt a little hiccup of delight. Each car represented one more number on the pandemic scorecard. Instead of it being a negative number, however, it was a positive step forward…and I was doing something to contribute. It was just a little something, only a minor something, but it was a thing I could do to help us all get to where we want and need to go.

Based on the smiles of people in the cars, and by the overall happy mood of the other volunteers at the site, my feelings weren’t unique. We each had our own specific reasons for being there, our own emotions and experiences that had brought us to that place at that time, but we had all chosen to be part of this hopeful process. We were driving away the uncertainty, together.

Here’s to the power of doing something.

Categories
Life

Earrings

For me, it’s little things that best define the daily differences between Before Pandemic and now. Earrings, for example.

Before Pandemic, I worked in a “business casual” environment. Each morning, as I dressed in my office-appropriate attire, earrings were part of my ensemble. On the few occasions when I forgot them, I felt incomplete.

Now, and for most of the past 12 months, I rarely wear earrings. It seems unnecessary.

It’s true that putting on a pair of earrings could add a touch of sparkle to my comfy pants and sweatshirt of the day. If I wear earrings, however, I might feel it necessary to also wear shoes and lipstick. I might then decide to use a hair dryer to blow-dry my hair and start worrying about my raggedy, unpolished nails.

You can see how this could easily get out of control.

I do still like my earring collection and sometimes wear a pair, but it’s a deliberate choice, done in specific circumstances. Last week, for example, on my Errand Day, I traded out my comfy pants and slippers for a pair of blue jeans and sneakers and then added my kitty cat earrings for a bit of fun. Before Pandemic, the kitty cat earrings were reserved for weekends; they weren’t professional enough for business casual. I was happy to give them a moment in the weekday spotlight.

Perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, I’ll go back to wearing blouses and blazers, dress pants and skirts. If so, my earrings will once again be part of my daily wardrobe.

In the meantime, the days are getting longer, and the weather’s getting warmer. I’ll soon be switching from sweatshirts to t-shirts. Fortunately, my comfy pants can be worn all year long.

Categories
Life

Better

Yesterday, I was reminded of something Dr. Maya Angelou once said.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

It seems like logical advice, the kind of thing that shouldn’t have to be said. Yet, it can sometimes be hard advice to follow – maybe not the “do the best you can” part, but certainly the “do better” part.

It’s tempting to think of the process of change as a straight line from A to B. In reality – at least, based on what I’ve seen – it is more like a preschooler’s messy scribble, full of ups and downs, criss-crossing lines and circles.

Changing – getting from A to B and, eventually, to G and K and beyond, forces us to acknowledge past mistakes (innocent as they may have been). We must face our failures. Speaking from personal experience, doing so can be painful, humiliating, exhausting.

Changing also requires us to accept the frightening proposition that we must think and act differently, even if what we must think and do instead may not be clear. For somebody like me, who likes to know where I’m going before I buckle my seatbelt, it can be difficult to let go of the familiar while simultaneously agreeing to take a new, potentially undefined (potentially imperfect) path.

To truly do what Dr. Angelou recommends requires a conscious choice and, sometimes, a great deal of trust. It may be more comfortable and less troublesome to just let things stay as they are, to focus only on the “do the best you can” part. It may be tempting to tell ourselves that change isn’t needed; that the way things work, or feel, or fit right now is okey-dokey.

Yet, if we don’t resolve to do better when we have the opportunity to do so, we’ll never know what is possible. We’ll know what is, but not what could be.

Which reminds me of the words of the poet Erin Hanson:

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

Categories
Life

Weird


Last night, at 2:00 a.m., it suddenly became 3:00 a.m.

That’s weird, but what’s even weirder is that the time jump didn’t happen for everybody. Only some people.

In case that’s not weird enough, in about seven months, it will happen again, except in reverse. At 2:00 a.m. one night, it will suddenly become 1:00 a.m. Again, however, only for some people.

So, for part of the year, for a portion of the population, there’s an hour floating around out there, waiting to be called into action. Then, when it’s no longer wanted, it’s sent away. It doesn’t actually disappear; we (some of us) simply choose to either acknowledge or deny its existence.

Because of this choice, we (some of us) spend a couple of days (sometimes longer) adapting to the implications of the change. Things get a little blurry as our bodies and minds get used to more sunlight, or less sunlight, when we go to bed and when we wake up. Some of us do weird things like forgetting stuff we usually know or getting unreasonably irritated at minor problems or falling asleep in the middle of the day. It can be challenging for adults; for young children, the experience can be especially intense.

Billions of years ago, before humans even existed, the thing we now call “time” was happening without us. The journey of the stars and planets through space, the progression of life and universal action, has never depended on us or even required our involvement. However, we invented a way to measure it, a mechanism for defining it. We gave it context and meaning.

I suppose that’s why we’ve (some of us) accepted the existence of an hour that doesn’t really count, like the free space in the middle of a Bingo card. It’s there; it contributes to the outcome. But, it’s arbitrary. It can be used in different ways, depending on what we choose to do with it.


Here’s to all of us who lost an hour of time last night. The weirdness is real.

Categories
Life

Blooms

The way I remember it, March 11, 2020, was a tipping point.

Not the tipping point. The past 365 days have been strange, unusual, unprecedented (ugh, that word), and it makes sense that there’d be more than one tipping point. But, I specifically remember March 11, 2020.

On that day, the actor, Tom Hanks, announced that he had Covid-19. If it had been another celebrity, perhaps I wouldn’t have been as shocked, but Tom Hanks? The actor who’s played an astronaut and an airline pilot and a castaway and Mr. Rogers? The guy who’s in 90% of my flypaper movies (you know, the movies that stick with you, make you pause and settle in and watch again, even if you’ve seen them many times before)? That Tom Hanks?

When he made his announcement, there were approximately 1270 cases in the U. S., and the U.S. death toll was at 38. As I remember it, there seemed to be a lot of debate over whether we needed more caution or could proceed with life as usual.

At that point, the numbers told an abstract story for most of us, something we should pay attention to but not something that affected us personally. There were warning flags, changes in supply chains and office protocols and travel plans. And, of course, there was sympathy for the people who were sick, empathy for the loved ones of those who’d died. Nevertheless, we (I) wanted to believe that we’d be safe, as long as we washed our hands and stayed home most of the time.

But then, Tom Hanks made his announcement. America’s Dad was sick.

That same evening, not long after the Tom Hanks news broke, the NBA announced the indefinite suspension of the 2019-2020 season due to a positive Covid-19 test of a Utah Jazz team member. I’m not a sportsy person and don’t watch basketball, but I had the news on and therefore learned of the NBA announcement right away.

That announcement, in tandem with the Tom Hanks info, shattered my illusion of invincibility. I suspect it did the same for other people. Covid-19 was no longer something that was happening in the background. It could happen to anybody; it could affect us all.

Sitting in my living room, watching the news, I heard an imaginary creak and a crash, the sounds of the familiar world leaning and then falling over, landing in a heap on the floor.

Now, here it is, one year later. March 11, 2021. The numbers are so much higher; the question of whether caution was (is) warranted has been answered. Most of us have gone from being abstract observers to having personal experiences of pandemic loss and illness and terrible change. Many have gained unwanted perspective and dark wisdom, lessons from 365 days of unprecedented (ugh, that word) circumstances. It is easy to focus on the awfulness; there is so much readily available.

However. But. And.

There’s now something new, something that didn’t exist 365 days ago. We have vaccines, along with more information, better knowledge, tools and resources. We have a little bit of hope, made possible by time and action and awareness.

I wouldn’t say we’ve hit a tipping point toward the positive just yet. We’re bobbing in the waves, ready for that moment when it all turns. It’s still so delicately balanced; a slight push could tilt us backward. But, we’re ready. The shift could happen soon.

This morning, I spent a few minutes enjoying the blooms on the trees in my backyard. Delicate pink and white blossoms, soft green leaves; symbols of Spring.

I don’t remember noticing them last year. I’m grateful for them today.

Categories
Life Pets

Ruff

An update on our puppy, Charlie.

He’s no longer a puppy. He’s full-grown, or close to it, standing a few inches taller than our other dog (and his best friend), Mollie. He has long, spindly legs and a little underbite that, at certain angles, makes him look like a piranha. His fur has grown in, short but curly and fluffy.

He’s still chewing on things, finishing off his puppy teething days, but I’m no longer worried about leaving shoes out where he can get them. He’s learned to chew on his toys, ripping and mangling them in short bursts of time, cheerfully turning them into flapping, helpless scraps of cloth and plastic and stuffing.

He’s also discovered his bark.

His bark starts in the pit of his belly, rolls up through his neck, and ends in a growly ruff, ruff. It’s surprisingly loud for his size. It’s rare for him to burst forth with a ruff on his own; he typically waits for Mollie’s bark as a signal to begin voicing his opinion. He doesn’t bark often, but when he does, it can’t be missed.

I’m still his Favorite, his Most Beloved, his One Above All Others. He still dances with joy anytime I return from being away, even if it’s only been for a few minutes. He still snuggles with me when he naps, still sighs contentedly at night as he curls up on the blankets next to me and drifts off to sleep. I hope that’s something he never outgrows.

Here’s to that moment when you realize that the puppy is gone but some of the puppy sweetness remains. And, here’s to loving the dog that the puppy has grown up to be.

Categories
Life Nature

Spring

“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields…and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Categories
Life People

February

When I close my eyes and think of the word February, I see the word love. I see the colors of warmth and affection, red and pink.

Unfortunately, when I think specifically of February 2021, I also see grey.

First came Covid-19 symptoms, which led to a positive Covid-19 test, which then led to several weeks of quarantining and restless discomfort. My husband and sons didn’t get sick, however, and I’ve recovered. We are lucky, and I am grateful.

Next came snow and ice and electricity failures. Days and nights of freezing temperatures with no power, no heat. We fared better than most, and again, I’m grateful. For some, the situation was extremely bad. For some, far too many, the situation was deadly.

Then, without electricity and heat, the water stopped flowing. Later, in the thaw, the water raced through once-frozen pipes, finding the weak spots, punching holes in the metal. It poured into homes and buildings, through ceilings, out of walls, up through floors, finding all possible exits and creating new ones where none existed.

Again, my family and I escaped the worst – not all of it, but our experience was mild in comparison with the experiences of many others. We were fortunate. But lots of other people weren’t.

Still, in the midst of the frozen heartbreak, there were moments of warmth. Neighbors looked after each other. Emergency personnel never stopped providing care and protection. Employees at grocery stores and restaurants did what they could to get food and supplies to the those who needed them. People stepped up to get it done – “it” being whatever was most needed in the moment, even if that was simply a few sticks of firewood or a bottle of water.

Now that the snow has melted, that empathy, resilience, and compassion hasn’t ended. Instead, it’s bloomed. Lots of organizations are marshaling their people and resources to support those who’ve lost so much, those who must recover and rebuild. If you’re in a position to assist, your help is greatly appreciated. I’ve listed a few of them below, and a quick internet search will find additional options that would welcome whatever you can give.

Yes, when I close my eyes and think of February 2021, I see grey. But, I also see yellow and orange, the colors of hope and generosity, courage and kindness. And the red and the pink are also there, front and center.

February is still the month of love.

North Texas Food Bank – https://ntfb.org

Tarrant Area Food Bank – https://tafb.org

Central Texas Food Bank – https://www.centraltexasfoodbank.org

American Red Cross – https://www.redcross.org

Meals on Wheels – https://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org