Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Life Continues, Seasons Come...

Haven't checked in for a few days, honestly not much is new in my life. Still in self-quarantine, still haven't accomplished much around the house altho what a perfect time, right?? I can't seem to stay focused on any one thing. I begin a task, then I get sidetracked onto something else. If I come out of this pandemic without accomplishing anything at home I'm gonna be mighty angry with myself. Perfect time to read, there have been some great deals on Kindle books lately, but honestly I read only a few pages and I either fall asleep or my mind begins to wander.

I read an email today from Susannah Conway, a Brit that's written books, photographer, Tarot Card devotee (which I have absolutely no interest in) but in the email I found something that kinda explains what's going on in peoples hearts and minds during this time of exile. When it comes to stressful situations there are loosely two kinds of humans, dealers and feelers. The dealers deal with uncertainty by action, they are productive, they make plans and get shit done.  The feelers on the other hand move through this time with uncertainty and chaos in a feeling state. They find it difficult to focus and can't get their shit together. Guess where I fall.  Obviously there are those that are in-between but I'm pretty sure most of us fall in one category or another.

Today, our govenor announced no school for the rest of this school year. No surprise. With the cases still mounting, our hospitals still struggling, people still dying, who would feel safe going back to school or to a movie, or to church, or anywhere there is a cluster of people. We are living in a Stephen King novel. Damn!

Thank God for the advances in technology that we can stay in touch via ZOOM, texts, messaging, facetime etc. You don't have to be totally isolated with these high tech advances. Altho a surprise Facetime that catches me offguard with no makeup, hair not combed, and still in my PJ's, not a good look.

I don't lack for entertainment via TV....I stream Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Acorn, Sundance, Apple TV and PBS. None of them are expensive, except Prime and it's a yearly fee with other perks as well as Prime Video, and it gives you a world of entertainment, takes your mind to a different place and time. You may think this is a little overboard, but I'm alone, have been for 8 years and I enjoy a good story. The networks have been really lacking lately in decent TV. I think the only regular TV show that I continue to watch is "How to Get Away With Murder" It is down to the last 3 episodes so then that will be gone. Oops forgot about Killing Eve....I really like both characters. I do watch PBS quite a bit. World On Fire started a couple of weeks ago on Sunday nights is a good one. If you didn't catch Windermere Children a movie about the surviving children of the Nazi consentration camps, a true story and is quite compelling, I recommend a watch.  I know we don't want to hear, see or read about the horrors of war, but this was truly inspiring.

I'm considering one of those home delivery meals, there are quite a few choices of companies but when looking over their selections I am a little overwhelmed with their meal descriptions.... Roasted togarashi salmon with miso-glazed eggplant, Korean glass noodle japchae with cabbage and carrots, then this one Cauliflower-Shell Bolognese with ground beef and Italian Cheeses. If I went into a restaurant and these were on the menu, there would be no way I would order any of these. Can you understand my dilemma? Anybody else tried one of these companies?? Would you recommend any particular one??

Hmm, I started this post probably a week ago and never finished it...again proving that I am in the "feelers" group. Since then I have made my first entry into civilization by making a trip to Walgreens, mask on. Glad to say everyone in the store had masks on, excluding a vendor taking inventory in the liquor department. Walgreen's had my favorite ice cream on sale, Haagan Dazs Swiss Vanilla with Chocolate Covered Almonds, buy one, get one 1/2 off. I bought two, came home and immediately devoured one without stopping. Ice cream is a comfort food for me and I've been without that comfort for a few weeks. Don't judge.

I read and see on the news that many want everything to open back up and resume life. I get it, I know people are suffering without income, lacking social lives, without a place to go daily, feeling totaly helpless and without hope. But....I honestly think it's too early. The virus is still attacking. Here in Illinois there were 2,253 new cases today along with 92 deaths TODAY.  If we open up now, how many more cases and how many more deaths will there be???  I don't get those religious fanatics that want to open their churches and claim that Jesus will protect them....yes, but Jesus also gave us brains and rational thinking. Sorry...I'm ranting. They also may be secretly sipping Lysol too.  I miss my church and my church family alot, but I'm willing to wait until I am convinced it's safe. I have daily conversations with my Lord, I don't need to go to a building to have a relationship with Christ. We have ZOOM Bible Study every Wednesday, I love seeing all their faces and hearing their voices. I know it's not the same, but it's better than risking my life and theirs as well.

OK, enough. It is really looking like Spring around here. Lily and I walk almost everyday, not today because we are having our April showers, all day long. The grass is so green, the flowering trees are beginning to blossom, the tulips are up with their brilliant colored blooms, ahhh. Life continues, seasons come, babies are born, and one day our lives will resume.

Until next time, stay safe and well,

Friday, April 10, 2020

This Time Last Year...

Right now, the temps are in the 60's, the sun is shining and there is very little wind, the perfect day to grab my camera and breeze over to the Morton Arboretum or drive up to the Chicago Botanic Garden, but oh wait, they're closed.

So today, I have to rely on pictures from last year. Sweet memories, I was in France on a riverboat cruise with girlfriends in April, with an extended 5 day stay in Paris. I know you will remember this time last year, we arrived in Paris the day after Notre Dame caught on fire. How devastating that was for Parisians and for the world. Thank goodness I had been to Paris 3 years prior and had toured the church, but it was still such a disappointment and loss. Several blocks around the cathedral were blocked off and even the river boat cruises could not sail past the site. Just googled progress on the restoration and the building is still covered in scaffolding with no end date. It's hard to believe Notre Dame was built in the 1200's and this past Christmas is the first time in history that they have not celebrated Christmas Mass. I'm not going to do the math, but the number must be staggering.

The side of Notre Dame in 1995

Paris has to be one of my favorite cities in the world. I've been twice and could go again without hesitation. The architecture is so magnificent, their neighborhoods are exquisite, their parks are gorgeous, their museums are supurb. If you haven't been go, well not right now, but you know, when things return to normal. And who knows when that will be, there is no such thing as planning ahead these days. One day at a time.

City of Lyon


Our riverboat cruise was in the south of France, from Lyon to Avignon. We drank a lot of wine and visited quite a few wineries and even a truffle farm. Truffles are grown underground and history tells us pigs would dig them up, but today the truffle farms now have dogs that do the digging, instead of oink oink, we have barks. Rather fascinating to watch a dog sniff them out. Damn expensive little morsels. The Perigord Black truffle grow from spores that live underground in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of several tree species in particular hazel and oaks. The fungus helps the tree extract nutrients from the ground and the tree provides the truffle fungus with carbohydrates to grow. Those last two sentences were copied directly from the internet. It's rather a complex system to grow and harvest those "diamonds in the kitchen" . A term used by a French lover of food. 

 Scene from the first night on board our river boat

Along with wine and truffles we also toured cathedrals, bakeries, museums, walked through small villages, visited the markets, and even saw the bull running thru the streets of Arles prior to the bull fight, which we did not stick around for. Easter weekend Arles has an massive outdoor market where you could easily drop quite a few euros, street bands and ofcourse the bull fight. Quite a fun day.

The neighborhoods of France

We spent Easter Sunday traveling by train from Avignon to Paris, checking into our Paris hotel late in the afternoon. Literally dropping our bags in our room, we headed outside. The famous Tuileries Garden was a block away so off we headed to drink in the beauty. We ate our first meal in an outdoor corner bistro across from the garden. What fond memories. 

And to end this rather lengthy blog post, I am sharing a post from a facebook friend whose 16 year old daughter, Anya said this...

“I don’t understand the concept of “needing” friends. Sure it’s nice to have friends & other people around & I enjoy being with my friends and family when I can. But the idea of being unhappy when you can’t see them or the idea of NEEDING to be with them for happiness doesn’t make sense to me. You should learn to be happy within yourself, be happy with just your own company, in your own skin & not find happiness IN others. If you rely on others or being with others for your happiness, you will always be disappointed because people can let you down. Find happiness within & then share it with your friends when you are together.”

Finding that happiness from within, having faith that we will return to being with our friends and family, is the real message here. We can't rely on others for our needs or our happiness right now, we have to rely on our own strengths and faith, realizing our true blessings. God bless you during this Christian Holy Week and Jewish Passover.   

Until next time, stay safe, stay well, stay calm....

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Smiles, Giggles and Laughter...

After I finished writing my latest post I thought back to when I created this blog, way back on April 10, 2011 I published my first post. Now 970 blog posts later, completely ignoring this space for years, I have returned to this page. Thinking back 2011 was a stressful time for me. My sweetie was still living at home, failing fast with Alzheimers, my mother who had been living with us had passed away the previous November, I was apart from my friends and activities, but blogging, along with photography was a savior to me.  Kind of like I am today. The circumstances are totally different, but not really.  Blogging was a stress reliever for me back in 2011 and now in 2020 it's emerged once again to be a repeat performance of stress relief. I hope each of you has found something, anything to relieve the tension that has become a daily dose.  If I had young children now and had to be responsible for helping them learn at home, the scene would be a complete failure.

However, along with the tension and stress there has been some outloud giggles and laughter. I have collected some of these "funnies" I have seen posted on Facebook and want to share them with you and maybe you can laugh outloud or at least put a smile on your face. But I gotta admit that the absolutely funniest one I've seen and can't post are the pictures of honest to god folks and their inventive means of protecting themselves. Now if you can, picture this....woman in grocery store with a party hat strapped around her head as protection for her mouth and nose, pointy and colorful, another lady totally wrapped in plastic, not sure how she was breathing, and the man paying the grocery cashier with a paper bag over his head, a black garbage bag over his arms and torso, plastic packing wrapped around his legs, trying to get money out of his wallet with yellow plastic gloves as protection for his hands all the while the cashier is trying really really hard not to laugh at him. And finally the lady at Home Depot with a zippered plastic blanket container over her head with the clerk again probably trying very hard not to laugh, not to mention the lady on the motorcycle with her bags of groceries hanging from the handle bars with a kitchen sponge wrapped around her face, you know one of those yellow sponges with the green scrubber on the backside. At least she had the scrubber part facing out. You gotta give them credit, just trying to protect themselves.

I've also read these funnies....
If you see my kids 
crying outside and
picking weeds just
keep on driving.
They're on a field trip.

Wear your mask at home.
This is not to avoid the
virus, it's to avoid the
constant eating.

Does anyone know if we can
take showers yet or should
we just keep washing our hands?

Remember when we were little and had
underwear with the days of the week
on them? Yah. Those would be
helpful right now.

Home schooling question:
Does having your children fix you mixed
cocktails count as chemistry?

Gwenyth Paltrow said in an interview we should take
this time to learn a  new language or write a book.
I just shook chip crumbs out of my bra & I don't know
what day it is. I'm fairly certain I'm not going
to attempt either of these things.

Ran out of toilet paper and now
using lettuce leaves. Today was just
the tip of the iceburg, tomorrow romaines
to be seen.

Anyone else's car getting 3 weeks 
to the gallon at the moment?

Stepped on my scale this morning and it
said: Please use social distancing,
one person at a time. 

Remember when you wished the
weekend would last forever?
You happy now!?!?

First time in history:
We can save the human race by
lying in front of the TV 
and doing nothing.
Let's not screw this up.

And finally, Steve Krasinski from "The Office" and Prime Video's "Jack Ryan" has a youtube video entitled Some Good News with John Krasinski...check it out on youtube, it will definitely make you smile.  In the search box type in Some Good News and it will pop up for your enjoyment.

Until next time, stay safe, stay well,

Monday, April 6, 2020

Seems Like Ages...

What day is this, oh yes, Monday. Sometimes I actually have to check my IPAD to summon up what day and date it is, you too? Every day is about the same for me. Get out of bed around 7:00 AM, let Lily out, feed  Lily and Gracie, make the coffee, wait for the coffee in anticipation, give Lily a chewy treat so she will let me sit and check emails, read the newspaper, check Facebook, check Instagram, read my daily devotionals,  and then every thing begins to repeat....let Lily out, check emails, check Facebook etc etc. Usually talk by phone with a friend or my son or daughter, begin a group text with friends. Somewhere between all this I wander to the kitchen to search for food.  Vowing that today I'm going to accomplish something. I am a big fat failure in that department. I know many have taken this opportunity to dig in and get those tasks done and I applaud them, but me, not so much. Please don't ask me where the time goes, it just goes and before I know it, the day is almost over. Honestly sometimes I get dressed, sometimes I don't. I usually get dress when the weather is desent and I can take Lily for a walk, but if the weather is crummy, cold, rainy, the robe and gown may stay on.

This being alone is sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse.  Being alone affords you to get dressed or not, cook meals or not, eat what you want when you want. But if you have others living with you, you tend to get dressed, make the bed, clean up the kitchen, change lightbulbs, keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked properly, etc.

I have a friend that is ultra organized, she has not minded this "stay at home" at all. Gives her the opportunity to clean out her garage, rearrange her book shelves etc. She says "I may not be able to control things out in the world, but I can control my own space around me."  Oh I wish I would follow her lead. And kudos to all those who have that same mantra. So you are thinking I must be some kind of slob....and yes, you could say that. I tend to be messy, and not pick up after myself. Right now I have no structure and just like kids and animals I need structure.  Having a cleaning lady come every two weeks helps me get my house in order, gives me that structure...throw out all that mail that has been collecting in piles, hang up the clothes I have left laying on the chair, make sure the kitchen is clear of dirty dishes etc. but now with this "stay in place" order I don't have her to help. I know, don't feel sorry for me, I should be able to clean my own house, but since I have confessed my lack of gumption, I really miss her.

I said yesterday that my plan was to go to Trader Joe's today, well after I wrote that, I had a friend text me and urged me to order on line and either pick up my order or have it delivered. After thinking about it, and the fact I didn't have a face mask or the means to make myself one, I decided yes, I will order from Jewell (our largest grocery store). I thoughtfully put things into the virtual cart, ofcourse no TP, which didn't surprise me, and after $200  I thought it was time to check out.  When I began the process of date and time of pick-up I was shocked that I couldn't pick my groceries up until Sunday....what??!!  So, yes now I must make a trip out to pick up a few essentails in the meantime.

Good news, while grocery shopping on-line my (thoughtful, lovely, considerate) neighbor brought me a homemade mask. And she being a nurse, made sure it was a full face mask along with an extra bearier in between layers. Now, I feel a little safer when I do go out.  I felt like she presented me with a pot of gold, that's how excited I was.

And speaking of a pot of gold, that bottom image, and all the images above were taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden's Orchid Show in March. Such a short time ago but seems like ages.

Now I'm going upstairs, take a shower and get dressed altho it's hardly worth it since it's already 3:15 PM. See what I mean about where does the time go??

Until next time, stay safe, stay well,

Sunday, April 5, 2020

It's Good to be April

Above is the bird calendar for the month of April that I sold last November, collecting a nice profit to be donated to The Alzheimer's Assoc. I've been doing this for several years now, printing note cards, creating calendars with different themes, and last year I began selling Canvas Prints. Hopefully I can continue this practice this year but who knows.

Life has turned a very strange and disheartening direction affecting each one of us. Dangerous for all, isolating for many,  Not to mention job losses and the ever present threat of having the disease. Our healthcare workers are risking their lives to save others, extremely admirable and so very brave.  This pandemic has brought out the best in many people.

Today being Palm Sunday many gathered around their computers, IPADS, and Smart Phones to listen to our pastor present our Palm Sunday morning service.  Pastor Pat just recently joined our church as an interim pastor for the next couple of years, fortunately we all had an opportunity to meet him and to attend Sunday Services to listen to him deliver his message before this horror began. This morning early in the service he looked at each of us thru the camera and said with such compassion "how are you, how are you really".  Honestly I broke down in tears, the first time since this all began. I have been living on a day to day basis, taking one step at a time. Staying home and only going out for walks with Lily. But the cupboard is bare, the only thing left on the shelves or in the refrigerator is "out of date" items that should have been thrown away many months ago. Thank goodness all grocery stores around here have "senior" hours so my plans are to go to Trader Joe's tomorrow and hopefully stock up for awhile. Since it's just me, I can have breakfast for dinner and vice versa, I have been known on occasion to have cereal for dinner. But even the cereal is gone. My neighbor across the street has brought me 4 bottles of wine over this past month, thank God. That is the one thing in my day I look forward to, a glass of wine.

Yesterday was my Mother's birthday, if she were still with us she would have been 102. I'm relieved that both my parents and my sweetie are in a place much better than here right now. I still miss my Mom, I guess you never get over needing your Mom. I'd sure love to be playing gin rummy and having a glass of wine with my Mom right now,  she loved playing cards and she loved her 5:00 PM glass of wine. Sometimes we would sneak it in a little earlier than 5:00.

This time of year is absolutely my favorite time to be taking almost daily trips to the Morton Arboretum with camera in hand. In April and May the daffodils and wildflowers are blooming, the crab apple trees, magnolias and dogwoods are bursting with their loveliness, but no trips to the Arboretum this year. They closed on April 2nd which was a real blow. I could spend hours driving thru the Arb stopping to take pictures of whatever I saw in bloom. Last year I found a whole area filled with Virginia Blue Bells, a mass of blue wherever you looked. Driving or walking the Arb is one venture you could easily "social distance" from everyone considering it is spread over 1,700 acres.  Right now they are only closed until April 30th but I have doubts they will open on May 1st.

The calendar picture above was taken at the Arb about this time last year, robins gathering their cuisine.  The two flower pictures were from today's walk in the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day today, as I walked and looked at the blue sky and spied the buds on trees and bushes,  my hope continues that we will get through this nightmare. Right now we are in that valley of darkness, but our Lord will lead us through and we will together say "this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Until next time, stay safe, stay well.....