Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thoughts on ……

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…… being quarantined.

These may be deep so prepare yourselves.
(Like with a high pair of boots.)

So, how’s everyone handling all of this free time? I know that it’s been isolating, frustrating, stressful and downright boring, but maybe we’re looking at it all wrong.

Instead of feeling trapped and “stuck” …… maybe we should consider this to be all of that magical, illusive amount of time we wanted to get ______ done (fill in the blank).

You know …… if I had all the time in the world I would read that stack of books on my nightstand.

Or …… I wish I had enough time to paint the house.

And …… if I had the time I’d cook more.
Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!
Sorry, maybe that one was hilarious to only me.

So, we’ve had about 6 weeks or more of this kind of time. What have you done with it?
Did you learn anything?
Have you checked multiple things off of your To-Do List?

If so …… YOU are a MUCH better person that I am!!!
How is it that I’ve had an almost infinite amount of time and yet haven’t accomplished much?

Here’s a list of things I intended to do (please note: some items were added before the pandemic):

1. Knit a blanket.

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2. Knit a mat out of plastic bags.

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3. Learn calligraphy/brush lettering.

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4. Finish some books.
(Yes, “finish” implies they’ve been started. Yes, all of them.)

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5. Tile a tiny bathroom floor.

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6. Teach my dog to stop following me EVERYWHERE I go.

7. Finish the illustrated Harry Potter books. (See #4)

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8. Start a doodling journal.

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9. Go to Spain, Portugal and Italy.
No, not all at once. Italy was going to be 2 weeks after Spain.
Sheesh.

10. Learn Portuguese. (See #8. And yesterday’s blog.)

11. Tan my legs.
(You may need sunglasses for this picture.)

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12. Blog more.

13. Teach J how to drive.
(That was just to see if you’re still playing attention.)

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14. Help potty train E.
(Don’t even start.)

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Yes, I realize that I ended on the number 14, which kind of freaks out those of you who are a bit OCD. Which reminds me ……

15. Throw people off balance more.
At least I’ve made some progress on THIS one.

Okay, now that you know how lazy I’ve been …… fess up.
🙂

And So ……

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…… we’re half way through May.
Just like that.

I certainly hope that teachers won’t require kids to write the usual essay, “What I Did This Summer”.
Those are going to be as boring as hell.
(Which begs the question, Is hell boring? Because, that would indeed be hell.)

What have you all been up to?  Any fun trips? Any family reunions?  Parties?  Parades? New restaurant experiences?

Me?
Oh, I’ve been experiencing all kinds of exciting things.

I’ll give you a list, in no particular order. (Remember, “exciting” is relative.)

    1.  Today I saw a hawk fall down from ….. the roof, the sky …… I have no idea but he definitely fell.  He plunked straight down into a planter right outside my window. Thankfully, Gracie didn’t notice because she would still be barking had she seen that. It’s been raining all night/morning so it was drenched. Maybe it was water logged?  Do birds get water logged and fall out of the sky?  If so, I think that’s a serious design flaw.It sat there for a minute, then slowly flew to a low branch of a nearby tree and then sat there for another minute before flying to a branch of another tree.  At this point I texted my daughter (remember, I’m living in an a studio apartment off of the house) to tell her to come and check out the hawk.  He/she was pretty cool looking, even wet.IMG_1504
    2. I succumbed to the latest craze and joined the ranks of Animal Crossing addicts this week.  It was my Mother’s Day present to myself.  The first couple of days I thought it was as boring as hell (?), but it starts to grow on you.  Yesterday I picked about 300 batches of weeds on my little island.  I’m a go getter!  To those of you who are in the know, I woke up to a real house today. Yay! Tents get old.
    3. I’ve ordered family size meals of fajitas (for pick up!) way too many times in the last month. But last night, for the first time, I ordered us margaritas! It’s a new world!
    4. I’ve watched too many episodes of Wild Kratts and PJ Masks than I can count. Mostly under duress.
    5. We got a blow up pool for the boys so it’s been nice to watch them play for 20 minutes and fight/fall/get in trouble for 40.
    6. I’m about to overrun the backyard with all kinds of candles and tiki torches because the mosquitos think I am a buffet.
    7. We got a grill for Daughter #2 because she had never grilled and it was high time. I told her to get hamburger patties on her grocery run and she did. We busted them out the day we got the grill.  They were already cooked patties. But hey, warming up previously cooked burgers is still grillin’. So she can check that off of her bucket list.(Seriously, if she really has that on her bucket list it’s a very sad list.)
    8. I put my house back on the market.
    9. I emptied my house of the last pieces of furniture in one evening by posting it on my Neighborhood app as “free”.  You can give almost anything away. And very quickly.
    10. I replaced a shattered french door pane in my house.  Well, “I” didn’t replace it but I paid for it so that’s just as good.   I’m off of a golf course so one would assume that a really bad golfer broke the window. But get this: it’s double-paned and it was the inside pane that shattered. Weird, right? No point of impact, no clues. Just a shattered pane of glass that was mostly still in the frame …… waiting to crumble into a zillion teeny pieces. I think I have a poltergeist. (Can you charge a poltergeist rent?)
      Between rounds of greeting people (at a distance and with a face mask, thank you very much) to give away furniture, I knocked all of the glass out of the frame and cleaned it up. And I wore gloves so no, I didn’t cut myself.
  1. I’ve done 3 nights of  3-4 hour on line training with D#2 so that I can be her support person with a new foster agency she’s signed up with. Also under duress. (Not the being her support person part, the 3-4 hours part.) IMG_1406
  2. I’ve played many, many games of mahjong, watched live theatre, participated in book club/movie group/NY meetup groups/walking tours/happy hours and a couple of courses via Zoom (but then, who hasn’t?).
  3. I’ve been learning Portuguese.
  4. This is a big birthday year for me.  (I won’t tell you which one but it has a six and an oh) so I planned a big year of travel.  BIG. Huge.  Hugely bigly.  So far four of those trips have been cancelled.  So I stopped learning Portuguese.
  5. I think the mail carrier thinks we’re crazy because I get a package from Amazon nearly every day.  Nearly.  Not always.  But that’s mostly because ALL OF MY  SUMMER CLOTHES ARE IN NY!!!  I’m supposed to be there!  Well, actually, I’m supposed to be in Portugal today (don’t go there).

Okay, I think that’s all of the excitement that you can stand for now.  I hope that I didn’t overwhelm you. If so, don’t worry.  It’ll pass.

I hope that you are all safe and healthy.  All of my family is, thank God.  The babies are good.  Growing fast …… away from me.  Sigh ……  But hopefully that will end soon.  Not the growing part, don’t be ridiculous.  The “away from me” part.  Sheesh.

I am missing NYC very, very much.  I know it’s good that I’m not there, physically.  But emotionally …… I’m sad.  I want to be there.  I want to support the city in the ways that I can by being there.  So I’m doing what I can from here to support theatres, museums, people and groups. I can’t wait to go back.  No, I don’t know when that will be.  I hope I it’s by the end of next month.
We. Shall. See.

Take care.  Wear masks.  Social distance.  Wash your hands. Stay home when you can.  Yada, yada, yada.

But seriously …… take care of yourselves.

xoxo

Does Anyone Else ……

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…… feel like they could start crying at the drop of a hat?
Or is that just me?

I feel weird.
In limbo.
In 2 places at once.

I’m physically here in Texas.
But part of my heart is in NY.

I know that I should feel good that I’m not there.
But I don’t quite.
Part of me feels like I should be there, doing what I can to support the city that I love so much.

But my heart is also here in Texas.
With most of my children and all of my grandchildren.
Especially the one I haven’t been able to meet yet.
Damn.

I know that I’m blessed.
I know that things could be bad.
We are all healthy.
We have food.
We have toilet paper. For now.

So why do I feel like crying?
Is it because Jim’s not here …… in this horrific, history-making time on this planet?
Is it because yet another dear friend lost her husband a few days ago?
Is it because everything and everyone is so uncertain?

Probably.

I’m not afraid.
I’m not worried.
I just don’t know what I am.

This is just …… the strangest.
Right?

One phrase keeps going through my mind.
“Jesus, take the wheel.”

Except it feels like there’s not even a wheel now.

Another phrase also keeps going through my mind.
And maybe …… it’s not just me.

Jesus, now would be a really great time for you to come back.

I’m just sayin’.

My Heart Hurts ……

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…… for a friend who is now a member of this horrible club called “widowed”.

The news of her husband’s sudden death shocked me and broke my heart. She is such a wonderful, kind and loving person. She’s kept up with me over the years and has always shown me love and support.
Her husband was a wonderful man who loved people and loved Jesus.
Death doesn’t discriminate.

There are just no words.

There’s only pain.

My heart hurts for the pain that she’s experiencing.
It hurts to know that she has to feel the things I’ve felt.
And still feel.

I hate this.
Grief sucks.
Death sucks.

I wish I could do something to take her pain away.
But I can’t.
No one can.
And that also sucks.

Love your people.
As hard as you can.
Because you never know.

Being Quarantined With Children ……

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…… should not be a thing.

It really shouldn’t.
And before you think I’m horrible for saying that, especially since I’m quarantined (read: stuck) with two of my delightful littles …… know that I love them with the fierceness of a thousand suns.
And can be driven up the wall just as fiercely.

I think that if our government would’ve been better prepared for a pandemic (hahahahahaha!) they would’ve thought through this scenario.
Or they should have.

If you’re going to have a pandemic then I think you should have professionals standing by to be stuck (read: quarantined) with young children.
And by professional I mean anyone who signs up.
After a background check, of course. I’m not an idiot.

Now, I’m not talking about babies. I would love to be quarantined with a baby. Especially one of my two new ones (one I’ve yet to see in person …… sigh).
No, I’m talking about any child between the age of 18 months (when the Terrible Twos/Terrific Twos (whatever) usually start and oh, …… 13. This could be stretched to the age of 18 if enough parents sign a petition.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for these two precious (read: precocious) little boys. They make me laugh and they touch my heart on a daily basis.
They also make me very grateful.
Mostly grateful that I don’t have to raise them.
I did my time.
I’m good.

They are wonderful little creatures who can be loving on one another one minute and then trying to see who can throw a toy at the other one the hardest a split second later.
They can be happily engaged in a project, making you stare in wonder at their creativity and intelligence.
Then they can then turn on a dime, screaming that the crayon broke, the Lego wheel fell off or the paper tore, making you stare at them in wonder at their ability to reach decibels you thought only possible on an Air Force jet.

Their ability to switch between calm and rage (and back) amazes me.
One would think you might need to warm up before going from zero to sixty.
Not these guys.
They are professionals.

I realize that they won’t be little for long.
I know that each phase they go through won’t last.
(Even though they feel like forever when you’re in them.)
I know that this time is precious and that I’m blessed to be able to be with them.

And yes, it’s better to be stuck down here than in Covid-19 riddled NYC.
I may think differently tomorrow.
😉

In the Stillness of the Evening ……

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…… memories tend to come back.
Sometimes it’s the memories that you forgot you had.

That happened tonight.
While I was holding my granddaughter (I’d nickname her Granddaughter #1, but since she’s an only that would be silly. I know that you, my wise reader, know full well who she is.)

For the last week and a half (a bit less than that) one of my jobs has been to take her at night so that my daughter and her hubs can get a few hours of sleep. I get her early-ish. Anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 or so. And then I hold her, rock her, walk her, sway with her, etc. to try to let them sleep as long as possible before her next feeding.
Tonight is my last night.
(Cue tears.)

Her other grandparents come tomorrow evening.
I’ve never had to share grand parenting.
It will be …… different.
I don’t feel negatively about it. I’m thankful that she will have so much love in her life.
But it’s …… just different.

Anyway, they will arrive tomorrow and take over helping out around here.
I will take care of the grandsons tomorrow night and we’ll all be here Sunday for her baptism (which her grandfather has the honor of performing) and then I’ll head back to Waco with Daughter #2 and the boys.

The other grandparents are lovely. I’ve enjoyed being around them the few times we’ve been together.
They raised 3 terrific children and one is the best husband I could ask for my daughter.

And yet …… this short visit will be a bit difficult.
Another feeling that I didn’t foresee.
It came out of nowhere.
Or everywhere, I guess.

There are two of them.
A couple.
They are beyond excited to see her …… their first grandchild.
They get to share this excitement.
With each other.
They get to watch each other hold her and compare her to each other and to their children.
That is a blessing.
I’ll be fine, with a tinge of sadness.

But I digress.

Memories.
In the stillness of the evening.

This one came back to me:

One morning, back when we had only 3 or 4 children (only!), I woke up to find a letter from Jim.
He had stayed up late and wrote it while he watched me sleep (not creepy at all if you don’t over think it.)

It seems that he had listened to a Garth Brooks song that night and it made him do a lot of thinking.
And he wanted to tell me about it.

He wanted to tell me how much he loved me.
He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated me, as a Christian, a wife, a friend and a mother.
He wanted to be certain that I knew all the things.
Without a shadow of a doubt.
In case.

In case tomorrow never comes.
About 17 years before it never came.

That’s the memory that came back tonight.
A blessing …… in the quiet of the evening.

She’s Here ……

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…… and my heart has grown yet again.

She’s tiny (just shy of 6 pounds), beautiful and perfect.
Her birth was easy and relatively quick.

When I first looked into her eyes I felt such joy …… and such sadness …… that it was hard to breathe.
My heart is full and yet it hurts.
A lot.
God, I miss him.

I didn’t expect it to hurt this much.
Which is what grief does best, I suppose.
It sneaks up on you at the worst times.
And the best ones.

He should be here, falling in love with a little girl all over again.
He should be here. For Daughter #3.
And for Granddaughter #1.
But since he’s not …… I’ll have to give her all of the love we both would’ve.
I think I’m up to the task.

They named her James.
There.
Are.
No.
Words.

Her middle name is Eliana.
This is what my daughter posted:
“She is named after her late grandfather (my dad), whose integrity, generosity, and wisdom we hope she inherits. And her middle name means “God has answered”- she is indeed the long-awaited answer to our prayers.”

She is indeed.

A Gift ……

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…… that sure didn’t seem like one.
At the time.
Until it did.

Loneliness is something that a lot of people worry about. And something a lot of widowed people experience.

With the approaching arrival of our first granddaughter, Jim has been on my mind. A lot.
I mean, he’s almost always on my mind, but these days it’s more often. I find myself missing being able to talk to him about this birth and the one in March of our grandson. The missing of him and the missing of being able to share this with him is palpable.

As most of you know, I dated twice after Jim died. Seriously.
Neither worked out (duh). In fact, the second relationship was a disaster and he was the worst person I’ve ever met (though he sure hid that well in the beginning).
But he did leave me with something. Something that I knew, without a doubt, I’d have with me for the rest of my life.
At first I was beyond pissed over this. Then sad. Very sad.
But today? Not so much.
Today I consider it kind of like a gift.

What was it?
The knowledge that I would most likely never date again and that I would never re-marry.

I know, I know. That doesn’t seem like a gift.
But it feels like it now.
Most of the time.

It feels freeing …… to not be dating and to not feel like I’m missing anything.
It feels freeing to not want to date.
It’s difficult to explain this. Because most people want to be in a relationship.
Most people spend a lot of time and energy looking for “their person”.
And I don’t think that’s wrong. Everyone needs to do what’s best for them.
Being single …… being alone …… isn’t for everyone.
Just as being in a relationship …… being married …… isn’t for everyone.

I think this probably seems strange to people because the people who know me, who knew us, know that we had a good marriage.
A very good marriage.
And it would seem that I’d want that again.

I did at first.
And then I didn’t.
Because the one thing that those relationships taught me is this:
It’s much better to be single than to be with the wrong person.
Whether that person is good, or not, doesn’t matter …… if he’s wrong for you.

I guess that’s another part of the “gift”.
I can be happy being single because there are way worse things.
And it taught me that being alone doesn’t always mean being lonely.

It also cemented the knowledge that what I had with Jim is something that many people will never experience.
And that knowledge makes me happy.
(That I had it, not that most people won’t. That makes me sad.)

I think it’s also what makes me not feel lonely while being alone.
The memories, the love, the knowledge …… make me feel content.
And that is a gift, indeed.

So while I do miss him, sometimes more than I can stand …… I know that his love is still with me.
I know that I had something really great.
And I know that’s rare.

I guess a gift is in the eye of the beholder.

Even When It’s Dark ……

…… there’s sometimes a bit of light.

Or maybe that’s just here in NYC when there’s a blackout. 😉

So yeah, I lived through the blackout of 2019. Of course, it’s easy to live through it if you’re not stuck on a subway train, or an elevator (like some in my building).
It might also help that it only lasted 5 hours. But hey, those were 5 very long, hot and exhausting hours. Especially when you have to climb down and back up 20 flight of stairs.

So yeah, I’m a survivor.
Now I just need to find a t-shirt that says that.

Here are some pics from the aforementioned blackout.

This is me after getting a text from some neighbors about the power outage to the building.  And then another text saying that it was from Midtown to 72nd on the Upper West Side.  I live at 63rd.  At this moment I had just finished a 2 1/2 hour walking tour (wearing the wrong shoes) and was tired, hot, sweaty and 3 1/2 miles from home.  With sore feet.

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I walked a while and then finally found a cab driver who didn’t seem to know about the outage.  Score! Because if he’d known, he never would have agreed to take me “as close to Columbus Circle as you can get”.  He looked at me rather oddly when I said that.  And then I confessed why.  He and I became good friends.  Trauma does that to people, you know.  As do dangerous situations.  We’ll never see each other again but for a while we were best friends, surviving the carnage together.
Too much?

Aaanyway, he got me a little more than halfway there so I gave him a good tip and bade him goodbye.  And headed home.

This is the dark Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.  Odd to see it dark in the daylight.

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These are the people who had been in said TWC and were now just hanging out, waiting to see what would happen next. You can also see the people congregating in the Cirlce across the street.  It was getting crowded.

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This is the other side of the Circle, where the steps leading down (or up) from the subway are.  A happenin’ place right about then.

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These are the people who had been stuck down there on those trains and in that dark subway station.
I’m glad I was with my good friend, the cab driver.

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These are some of NYC’s finest, keeping dumb people from going down into the dark subway station and trying to tell other dumb people that they have no idea when the power will be back on.  Do their uniforms say “Con Ed”?  I don’t think so.

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This was the sign on the door of West Elm.  I found it amusing.  All of the stores, restaurants, cafes, etc. were closed.  ALL of them. But it was nice of West Elm to sign it.

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This is the view of my building as I was walking up to it.  Notice that some poor souls were already opening windows.  I tried that.  For about 50 seconds.  It was so hot and humid out that I couldn’t take it.  Not to mention the constant, and I DO mean constant like I’ve never heard, sound of the sirens screaming past the building as firemen, police and ambulances rushed to free people from elevators and rescue others who needed electricity for things like oxygen.  You know, survival necessities.

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This is my lobby.  With no light.

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This is the view of Columbus Circle from my apartment, at dusk and with no lights. Well some lights, but very few in buildings.
Did I mention that my apartment is on the 20th floor?  I did?  Well, good.  Because it is.
And that stairwell was very warm.

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Here’s the view of Columbus Circle after dark.  So weird.  Some buildings had generators.  Lucky them.

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This is a dead flashlight, thus proving that its name is a lie. I spent quite a bit of time looking for it, then put fresh batteries in it only to find out that it was going to be of no use to me at all.
Stupid flashlight.
(I now have 2 new flashlights and a lantern sitting on my dining room table, courtesy of an irate shopping spree on Amazon, in the dark.  I’m sure I’ll never have a use for them.)

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This is the candle that I chose to light before I found the perfectly useless flashlight.  I’m not sure if it helped with my stress level, but it smelled good.
It was also hot.

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This is a view of a mostly dark and closed Lincoln Center.  They had all manner of shows going on that night.
For a few minutes anyway.

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These aren’t anything special, just some dark buildings across the street.
Though I bet the people who live in them would be highly offended by that comment.

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And this …… THIS is the email that I received a few minutes before the power came back on and I did a very, very happy dance.
I’d do it again and film it for you but it wouldn’t be the same.  Tragedy turning to joy cannot be successfully re-created.

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This has nothing at all to do with the blackout.  I went on another walking tour the next afternoon (the irony does not escape me that I was tempting fate to do another tour so soon after barely surviving Armageddon the last time I did a tour) and the tour guide pointed this building out.  This happens to be in my hood.  When it’s finished this will be the tallest residential building IN THE WORLD at 151-ish floors. It will be taller than the Freedom Tower with its radio tower thingee on top.
Let me know if you want to buy an apartment in there.  I’m sure I can hook you up.
And I bet we’ll NEVER have another blackout again so you can feel safe living on floor 151. Ish.

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So there you go, the tale of surviving what must have surely been one of THE most dangerous and exciting nights in the history of this city.  If not the world.
I’m just glad that I survived so that I could tell you all about it.

Too much?
Tough.  It’s my blog.
🙂