Thursday, December 3, 2020

Ghosts of Christmas Past

First of all, thank you for such kind comments and helpful thoughts as I've been recovering from my back issue (which has been far more aggravating than the a-fib diagnosis!) Your thoughts mean such a lot, especially since I've missed some of your posts and replying to comments. But I so value them, your care and concern and your visits. 


I've been thinking a lot about Christmases past this year, as it will be a very one-on-one Christmas for us. Just Rick and me. I could be sad about this (OK, let's be honest -- I AM sad about it) but it's also a good time to look at the richness of Christmases past and be grateful for so many wonderful years.


So, a photo post, filled with people you don't know but that mean a lot to me. Like Mom and Dad. 


My mom knew how to make Christmas so special. I still have most of our old family ornaments and so many holiday things she passed along to me -- not the least of which was an unabashed joy in celebrating this bright, happy holiday.  Even on her last Christmas, she was filled with smiles!


Dad, meanwhile, always knew how to have fun. Those Christmases after she died weren't always easy ones, but they were fun.


We spent many family Christmases with my Cleveland cousins. We would wrap anything so the tree was filled with what appeared to be an abundance of gifts by the time they arrived in Lansing. (Of course, if it was a pair of socks, it was in two boxes. We had energy then.)


We had an annual gift decorating contest, too, which I've written about here. It was always fun to see who would have the most creative wrapping!  Some of the gifts were pretty creative, too. When cousin David was still in his dating mode, his sister gave him a kit to be prepared for anyone! (Fortunately, Bonnie won out!)


There were times we tried too hard. Not long ago I found an audio cassette of one of the first Christmases without the moms. It's more than a little off the wall, as we went for the merry. But inside I think all of us were more than a little broken.


Christmas with friends was a tradition, from the college days...


....to Cork Poppers. I'll miss our holiday wine swaps!


I've already missed one holiday tradition this year, the annual greens market with my friend Jan.


Mark and Jan -- and Rick and I -- do an annual holiday exchange based on a Christmas song. We target our gifts to lyrics in the song and we always end up with something fun! I don't know if we'll be able to do this in 2020. It might depend on the weather!


Another group of friends usually gathers together for holiday cheer. This year, we're scheduled to connect on Zoom.


Sometimes Christmas Eve isn't what you'd expect -- and that's a good thing. One of my favorites was a last minute invitation to enjoy Christmas Eve with friends of Rick's (and mine, too, through him.) In addition to a fabulous Chinese dinner, we spent the evening making clay ornaments. Mine holds a proud place on my tree. Greg's took ages, and was gorgeous.


A lot changed when Rick came into my life, bringing Greg and Kevin for the ride. My first Christmas with them I was awakened at 5 a.m. by Kevin hurling in bathroom. You know you must really like a guy when you clean up his child's throw-up in the bathroom at 5 a.m.


When they were kids we started our Christmas Eve cookie making tradition. Holidays became brighter still when Molly entered the scene!


We continued the tradition last year, a little differently. First of all, it wasn't "official" Christmas Eve; second, the parents were shopping and Rick and I were hanging with the boys. They were pretty good helpers! (One helped, one taste tested!)

This year will be different. We won't be having friends for dinner or Rick's trio playing after.


We'll miss scenes like this on "Christmas Morning."


But we'll still find time for quiet moments.


And relish in our togetherness, appreciating how we have been there for each other every minute of this wild and crazy year.

But even if the lights are not attached to the headband of a toddler, even if everything is a little topsy turvy and uncertain, I know we will find the joy in this season and perhaps appreciate it even more this year than all the years before, because we've all seen what time and illness can do to our lives, how it makes every new day uncertain and therefore one to be cherished.


I believe that.


I really do.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Not Decking the Halls Yet

I think Rick and I would chalk up this year's Thanksgiving to being high at the list of the worst! The night before I got  message from my doc that after only 48 hours, my heart monitor had already started to indicate A-fib, which was distressing. (If anyone reading this has it, I'd love to chat with you.)  After the impacted ear wax, the lung stuff and sinus headaches that never leave, it was just too much.


 But TG morning started out so well. I made stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries; we had rolls and dessert good to go. Rick brought over the turkey breast.

But sometime during cooking my back went into -- what? Spasm? Something pinched?  Pain.

By then I could hardly move. A family phone call was a break in the action, and we watched "The Crown" for a while. But when I tried to move it took 15 minutes to get about six feet. 

 

Then the turkey got done before everything else was. We thought we might eat in shifts. But after munching on shrimp and cheese while watching more elaborate dinners at Buckingham Palace, neither one of us were hungry. And I was in too much pain to even take a picture of the table.


Eventually Rick got me put to bed and the next day I was able to get into the doc. It seems that it's a muscle spasm and for a while I am grounded, mostly on the sofa. No decorating for this kid.


Sitting up for any length of time is uncomfortable so I may not be commenting or replying to comments but I will be reading and checking in. Hopefully I can get something posted here now and then, too.

Thanks to all of you for checking in on the last post. I hope you had a great holiday.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Late November at the Ditch

We had a Thanksgiving to remember and I don't think I mean that in a good way. Please forgive me if I don't answer comments soon or visit as I'd like. (But not Covid!) Meanwhile....

I don't often visit the Ditch at sunset, especially to walk, but sometimes when driving by I can't resist stopping. It's a different place. The ducks begin to fly in and congregate. It's quiet and the reflections dazzle.

It's much different in the daytime when you can see what is going on. Quite a few deer seem to hang out on the island but I'd never seen a buck until this walk.


He was quite far away and my zoom isn't what it used to be, but he seemed very comfortable in his woods.


It's probably the safest place for him to be. It's deer season here in Michigan!


I haven't seen many birds there of late -- until two large flocks of cardinals flew in, landing high in the trees.


It wasn't quite a murmeration, although it might have been if they'd landed at the same time. These berry-laden trees seemed to be quite the popular destination.


There are legends that cardinals are good luck or visits from those who have passed.


I just know they are beautiful.

Ihope a few of them find their way to Lizzie's feeder!

 I leave you as we began, with a different sunset, a different day.


On to December!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Giving Thanks

On Thursday, the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving, honoring the the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies when the Wampanoag Native Americans shared their harvest feast with the colonists. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day in November.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt officially set the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving in 1941. (Cue the music!)


In most years the holiday is marked with televised parades and football and a massive celebratory dinner with family and/or friends. This year's will be a little different. As Covid rages throughout the country, wise Americans are limiting their celebrations, perhaps only having household members at the table.  It's the right and smart thing to do. But it is different. And for many, a big adjustment.


As we are giving thanks for the blessings of the year, many reflect on the personal or collective issues for which they are grateful. And yet for many, the day will be touched by the grief of loss of a family member, a good friend, or even the family pet. Yes, loss is rampant in our world today, not only through death but through the loss of things we took for granted -- loss of a job or family income, the ability to travel without additional nervousness or being able to hold those little grandchildren in our arms are several of the many losses that come to mind.


Still, there is much for which I have to be grateful this year and I will share a few of those things. At the top of the list is a supportive partner in Rick who has taken great care to protect me in these challenging times. For many months and with few exceptions, he has been my only ongoing human, face-to-face contact. I do not take that for granted.


I am grateful that despite a few nagging issues that will be with me forever, I am still healthy. I guess by that I mean I don't have Covid. So far, at least and each day I pray never. We have heard the stories from friends and neighbors who have had this disease and it has touched Rick's family with two of his relatives who fortunately are still here. Yes, grateful for safety.

I can't leave out how thankful I am for a talkative cat with a big purr who needs me because she doesn't have thumbs. She's a constant companion and yes, we talk to each other.


Grateful for a home that is warm and the resources to buy food and things I might not just need but want. For a cottage where I could hide away and isolate this summer and still feel somewhat normal. And for little things like cable and a computer and telephone. Things that keep me in touch.


Then there are the friends and family. Human contact -- even if it is on Zoom or twelve feet apart in the yard. People who care. I cannot imagine my life without the wonderful friends who have been part of it -- both in "real life" and online -- and that means you!

I am grateful that the administration in our country is turning toward a more mature, responsible leadership and filled with hope as we look toward repairing relationships around the world. This will not be easy and it will not be fast, but I'm confident that things will improve. I am so thankful for developments that promise a vaccine soon, and for the amazing men and women who so selflessly serve in our hospitals, doctor's offices, grocery stores and so very much more. 

I take nothing for granted. We've seen how quickly life can be taken from us, how circumstances out of our control can change a world. Every day I am grateful simply for the fact that people I love --and I -- am still here.


I send all good wishes for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving if you celebrate and a lovely weekend no matter where you are!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Just Real Life

 The birds are chowing down at the feeders and in the yard lately. We haven't had snow here yet in mid-Michigan but it has been brisk and they are bulking up!


I should have bought more seed!


I'm not seeing a lot of action at the Ditch lately (although someone in our neighborhood posted the most remarkable photo of a buck on the island in the pond). But I did note this most beautiful cardinal.


The cardinals are one of my favorite birds. We have them year round but they are less visible in the foliage. Once the leaves fall (and then snow!), they pop right out.


Speaking of birds, I've been adding some owls to my feltie inventory. Here's my new little guy. I have a wide selection of these cute little ornaments (most also stand flat if you don't want them on a tree). Most are hearts and critters, Santas and gnomes. If you are interested, please let me know in the comments and I can email you a pdf with purchase information. 


It's been an expensive month. I had to have a crown (and repeat visits before because the temporary crowns kept falling off!). Then new glasses. And I really am not sure I like them, though I'm getting used to them. They're a little bigger than I thought! (It's hard trying on glasses with a mask!)


I've also been going through what I call for lack of a better term "ear water boarding" for impacted ear wax. I'm hoping the third week will be the charm. I have realized how much I value my hearing. 

Apart from the vintage postcards I shared recently, I don't have a lot in the line of Thanksgiving decor (although there is still plenty of autumn in the house with leaf bouquets, pumpkins and wheat). But I did bring out my Campbell Kid dolls. I'm sure there must be loose doll shoes hanging around in the basement but I wasn't about to go digging. No one but Rick and me will see them.

They used to have little hats which might be around here somewhere. They were often used on Stimpy because -- well, it's hard not to put a hat on a cat.


Even harder to keep it on.


 Yup. Just real life these days. And glad to have it.

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