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

Categories
Good Life People

Teachers

Every year on this date, I think about teachers.

There are countless examples of jobs that provide value to society – doctors and designers, lawyers and librarians, bakers and builders – just to name a few. Some are well-known and well-paid. Others, not so much. All contribute in some way to the intricate, delicately-balanced web that holds us all together in this world.

The foundational profession, however, is teaching.

The people who teach are the ones who help us do more than we did before. They help us be more than we used to be and build more than exists now. They help us imagine and evaluate and understand and create so that then everything else is possible.

So, here’s to the teachers. Thank you for seeing our potential, believing in us, and guiding us forward on the journey to tomorrow.

“I touch the future. I teach.” – Christa McAuliffe

Categories
Family Life Pets

Baby

My dogs, Mollie and Charlie, wear sweaters. Yes, I’m one of those people who puts sweaters on her dogs when it’s cold outside.

When we first adopted Charlie, a few months ago, he was just a puppy. His sweater was small and fit him perfectly, covering his back all the way to his hind legs.

Today, I realized that he’s outgrown his sweater. I was watching him run around the backyard and noticed that his sweater only came halfway down his back. It was a bit of a shock, the suddenness of the change. I’m almost positive that the sweater was still the right size yesterday.

I ended up taking one of Mollie’s sweaters and putting it on him instead. Mollie seemed ok with it, but I’m an oldest child and know that it can be hard to watch your stuff be handed down to the younger ones. So, I’ll be buying Charlie a new sweater of his very own pretty soon so that Mollie can have hers back.

I suppose that, having had human children, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the fact that Charlie had outgrown his sweater. That’s just what happens with babies, including puppies.

You get used to letting go of most of the toys, the shoes, the books and trinkets that represent the moments. For sentimental reasons, however, I have saved some of my children’s clothes, the ones that they wore for special occasions or that carry special memories. I’ll pull them out of their storage boxes from time to time, look at them and marvel at how small they are, hold them gently in my hands and remember those tiny, sweet boys. Sometimes, I can do so without tears, but most often, I find myself misty-eyed, deep in happy memories.

I’m a little embarrassed at having some of the same emotions today when I replaced Charlie’s sweater. He’s a dog, not a human. Then again, he’s one of my babies. Furry, with four legs instead of two, and, of course, different in so many other ways. But one of my babies, nonetheless.

Here’s to the passage of time and the sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising changes it brings. And, here’s to parents. We must let our babies grow up…but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember the babies they once were.

Categories
Life

Fragile

A while back, I wrote about how there are times when it’s easy to find the words, and understanding the world around me is simple. But sometimes, the world feels too heavy and the feelings too complicated, and I can’t make sense of any of it.

These past few days fell into the latter category. As I watched the news of the chaos at the Capitol, my emotions – sadness, anger, disbelief – took center stage. They demanded my attention and froze the parts of my brain where the recognition of what is happening connects with here’s what it means and then here’s how to move forward. So, I gave myself permission to simply absorb the events and move through the days, trusting that at some point, there’d be a thaw.

This morning, I woke up with an earworm of Sting’s song, Fragile. It’s funny how the mind processes things even when we don’t realize it’s doing so.

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the color of the evening sun
Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star, like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are

Here’s to picking up the pieces and moving forward. Here’s to starting once more in this fragile world.

Categories
Holidays Life

Resolutions

I’m making two resolutions for this new year. Just two.

I’m sure I’ll end up setting other goals and working toward them as the year progresses. However, my optimistic resolutions from New Year’s Eve, 2019, didn’t survive the 2020 roller coaster ride. Best to start slowly this time around.

So, for 2021, just two.

One is measurable, easy to define: Read one book per month, for a total of 12 books by the end of the year.

I didn’t used to have to set a goal to read, but in recent years, my reading dedication has been displaced by other…stuff. That stuff is mostly social media silliness, which can be fun but which also eats up time without necessarily giving anything of value in return.

I’ve also found that I can’t concentrate like I used to, that I have to go back and read the same paragraph several times because my mind wanders in the middle of it. This state of distraction is related to the constant barrage of information coming from social media, 24/7 news, and eleventy-billion digital entertainment options, I’m sure.

Whatever the reason, I don’t want it to happen anymore. What I do want is to get lost in a story again, to become so wrapped up in the plot and characters that I lose track of time and forget where I am. I want to be inspired by words, to learn new things, consider new ideas, and enjoy the message.

One book per month is attainable and realistic. I suspect I’ll end up reading more as I get back into the swing of things, but one per month is good to start.

My second goal is not really something that can be measured. It’s more of an idealized perspective, a state of being: Be a nice human.

It’s a simple goal, one that can be achieved without much planning or preparation. However, it does require intent. It sometimes requires deliberate action and conscious choice. And that can be hard, at times.

So, I’ll work hard to achieve this goal, but I’ll also forgive myself when I’m not perfect. I’ll grant myself grace when I have a bad day.

I’ll also remind myself that being a nice human doesn’t have a finish line. Nobody’s waiting to hand me a gold medal on a podium as I complete the race. What matters is each decision I make, moment to moment, day by day. And if I keep trying, if I mostly choose to be nice instead of selfish, nice instead of angry, nice instead of rude or mean, petty or hurtful, I’ll have done something worthwhile.

Here’s to a new year and new resolutions. I wish you health, happiness, and all good things in 2021.

Categories
Fun Life

Snowman

The weather forecasters have been talking about a very small (itty-bitty, teeny-tiny) smidge of a chance of snow around here in the next few days.

So of course, I woke up this morning with an earworm of “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?” from the movie Frozen.

Odds are that all we’ll end up with is a lot of cold rain. We don’t get much snow in this area, especially this early in winter. Mother Nature likes to play jokes on us when we think we’re smarter than she is, however, so either way, snow or no snow, I won’t be surprised.

Still, I’m hopeful. It would be nice to be able to give this year the chilly send-off it deserves while welcoming the new year with fluffy frozen flakes of fun.