Monday Musings

When you get into a tight place and it seems you can’t go on, hold on, for that’s just the place and the time that the tide will turn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Powering through these last weeks of 2020 is proving to be more than I can handle very well. Even though powering through adversity is an often used tool in my skill set drawer, it’s not working right now. Apparently it has gotten rusty.

Writing…amidst the exhausting news of rising pandemic horror, political uncertainties, isolation and various personal conflicts…is just not happening. Life has become more of a free-fall overwhelm into Twilight Zone territory. Last week’s Snow Day post made me realize where I was headed. I know I have plenty of company, but still. So my point today is that I will be taking a break from my presence here, but hope to be back with all my blogging buddies soon. You are all very important to me.

Take care, stay safe and I hope you can enjoy your holidays…whatever they may be.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: December 18

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: December 18

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was published December 18, 2018 as an entry for Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge.

Now…in 2020…a stark reminder of all that we may have taken for granted before. Most glaringly in my eyes…that gift of time together.

********

Photo a Week – Things That Matter Most

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week:

A Photo a Week Challenge – The Things that Matter Most

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO OF THINGS THAT MEAN THE MOST TO YOU.

The things that matter most are not things. At least not to me.

I have heard it said that when you are on your deathbed, you don’t wish you had spent more time at work. More often it is…I wish I had spent more time with my family.
My friends. My kids. My grandparents.

The “things” that matter most to me are the family and friends I love and care about.
And who love and care about me.

What else matters?

That I am fortunate enough to have a roof over my head and enough food to eat.

8-14-90
Family…the Beginning

frisbee
Family…the next generation

IMG_1217
Food

IMG_6819
Shelter

Snow Day

I sit here at my desk in the room where I write…surrounded by white. White walls. White windows. And outside the windows…white crystals and flakes swirl past…settling on window sills and our tiny porch. The line of evergreen trees. The path to my woods.

Gone are the vibrant reds and warm yellows of autumn. The colorful peaks of nature’s splendor. My world’s palette is – once again – on its way toward a rustic simplicity of browns plus green.

Snowstorms trigger time travel…

Circa 1990s…lying in bed at 6am listening to WTSN – a local AM radio station…waiting for the long-time morning show host to drone through the alphabetic list of school closings. My kids were living at home then and had gone to bed praying for mountains of snow to fall overnight. As they got older, sometimes they heard the radio announcement before I did…MOM NO SCHOOL WOO HOO…drifted down the hall from their rooms to mine. The sweet sense of excitement and gift of a DAY OFF never failed to fill those days with a magic all their own. Why is that I wonder…how snow gave us permission to play. To not consider other alternatives. Admittedly we were able to switch gears fairly easily as I worked part-time with a flexible schedule. My husband, a teacher at a private school, never got snow days off when our kids were…well…kids.

I don’t recall all that many snow days when I was growing up. I’m not sure why, unless in the 60s we were expected to power through. Safety issues were not all that prevalent back then. Those were the days before mandatory seatbelts and bike helmets after all. In my memory, school was cancelled when the snow was Two Feet High. Whether that was actually true is not verifiable.

My kids built snowmen and slid on plastic discs down windswept or snow-shovel-swept piles of snow. Over and over. They climbed snow drifts as high as the mailbox atop a pole by the street. And made snow angels in the front yard.

My younger brother and I built snow forts – making snow bricks by (mittened) hand, one by one, carefully stacking them onto short walls until finger numbness began to set in. We would spend most of the day in the front yard, coming inside for lunch, hanging our wet wool coats and snow pants to dry in the hallway, the steam rising while we ate. Filling the kitchen with that distinctive wet wool smell. My mother never took photographs of our snow day exploits – just shooed us out the door after breakfast and then again after lunch. So I rely on memory. After the fort came snowball production & stacking – followed by one sided snowball “fights” with passers by…mostly my sister or the boy next door. We all got along, my siblings and I, during those times outside. Just us. There was something about all that snow and a shared sense of fun and purpose.

Maybe it’s why – when I saw children in this over 55 community the other day – I got a little choked up. Looking out the window I spotted 2 little kids down the path…trudging up a small hill of leftover snow and then repeatedly sliding down. An adult stood nearby. Grandchildren…with their grandpa. Just a guess, but I bet I was right. Lucky them.

The only time I can usually sleep past sunrise is during a snowstorm. Today was one of those days. The highway grows relatively silent as only a few of the bravest drivers hit the road that early.

More snow than we’ve gotten in 2 years announced the very excited meteorologist this morning on our local TV station. Meteorologists LOVE snow storms. They stand outside in the middle of this once-in-a-2-year-blizzard, shivering and freezing with hoods pulled up…announcing the obvious: It Is Snowing.

Every channel is about the snow. Interviews with “plow guy” (always a guy) abound. Reporters on street corners with coats wrapped tight shoving yardsticks into snowbanks, directing videographers toward the view behind them. Look it’s snowing! Look there’s a car off the road! Remember to drive slow!

The fascination with extreme weather – one more onslaught we can’t control – continued for hours.

But you know what? There was no mention of the latest ridiculous political maneuvering in Washington DC. No discussion of who lied to who. I don’t think anyone even mentioned the pandemic. And all the relentless pain and suffering. The increasing numbers of the sick and dying. Hospitals strained to capacity. All in this surreal world that doesn’t make sense anymore. All that explains why my husband and I have to spend Christmas alone for the first time in 45 years.

Mother Nature mercifully took over today and gave at least some of us a brief respite…from all that is so much worse than a simple historic few feet of snow.

It almost felt like a regular snow day.

~~~

photo a day challenge: Windows
photo a day challenge: Colors and letters – White
Ragtag Daily Prompt: Rustic Simplicity

Lens-Artists Challenge: Letter A

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #126: An Alphabet Challenge — Subjects That Begin with the Letter A

We invite you share images that feature a subject that starts with the letter A. You can also include signs and graffiti with the letter A. For an added challenge, capture an image that illustrates a concept with the letter A, such as alone, abstract, or afraid. 

~~~

A is not just for Apple (as I was taught in school). So, for this challenge I ventured away from that delicious example.

I’ll start with Ablaze.

During a recent walk through my favorite (and only) refuge in the woods, I waited until the sun dropped low in the sky. This doesn’t take long during a late November afternoon, as daylight hours shorten. The wait was well worth it. One of these days I’ll figure out how to avoid the sun spots when I take these shots, but for now I let it be.

The field lit up as if on fire…lasting maybe a minute. When the sun Appears low on the horizon, it demands one’s Attention and prompt Action to capture a photo before it’s too late…

Next up is Angles

During a visit to an Art museum last year, I captured this shot of a wall visible from the cafe. Geometry was never even close to being my favorite subject in school, but I know an Angle when I see one. The sun…once more…doing its Amazing work…

Last…but not least…is Ass.

Yes, I know that sounds crude and perhaps inappropriate, but let’s remember…besides defining a body part or a human worthy of scorn, it names a member of Nature’s kingdom. Also known as a donkey.

When I visited the Shelburne Museum in Vermont last year, one exhibit consisted of a turn of the (last) century schoolroom. The room was full of Antique desks, a wood stove, blackboard and such. But what drew my attention were tablets hung on the wall – alphabet (and perhaps syllable) learning tools for young students of the day.

Apple was not used as an example for the letter A. The teacher at the time chose Ass.

All these years later, I learned some new interesting facts about this long maligned animal…

It also made me wonder when and why teachers Abandoned “A is for Ass” for “A is for Apple.”

Macro Monday: Hanging Out

I realized a rapidly developing obsession with leaves may be taking over my Macro Monday posts. But I am going with it anyway, since…after all…every leaf is unique and deserves its time in the sun. Or at least here on one letter UP.

So many leaves. So little time!

Seasonal

One Word Sunday: Seasonal

~~~

You have to look down and step carefully during a walk in the woods…after a much needed rain. Otherwise your shoes get soaked.

During one such walk in mid October, I was greeted by a mirror image of the view from above. Trees – pelted by the previous day’s storm – still dropping their leaves on the path. It reminded me of those accidental (or not) double exposures from back in the days of film.

The last of Autumn’s colors…briefly preserved.

Warrior

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #123: warrior

~~~

It’s just awful. I worry every night I could bring something home to my husband.

Her dark brown eyes wide above the blue face mask, she looked straight at me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Her fear was palpable. I know her husband has health issues and is most likely over 60. They say masks cover the mouth and with it all facial expression, but I disagree. Not always the case.

I had asked her what it was like working in health care now. How she was doing with it all. She knew I was familiar with hospital work from years ago.

Have you seen your kids? I asked after we discussed the reason for my office visit.

My son is 29 and he got married this summer over Zoom from California. She then described the experience of watching from across the country an event she had never envisioned happening as it did.

The pain in her voice. The look in her eyes. This woman has been one of my doctors for probably 15 years and I had never seen her like this. Always a handshake and a smile when entering the exam room. No handshake this time of course, although I suspect there was a smile behind the mask.

But nevertheless she was as professional and empathetic as always. She listened to me and took notes by hand. No computer screen diverted her attention. We are partners in my treatment plan. It’s no mystery why she has earned Patients’ Choice and Compassionate Doctor awards. Doctor of the Year as well.

We also briefly discussed the pandemic situation in New Hampshire and the ignorance (her words) of people who won’t wear masks. Her voice tight she added…I am just holding on for the vaccine. We need the vaccine.

After my appointment was over, she left for the hospital to begin her afternoon surgery schedule. A hospital with Covid patients.

I couldn’t help but think she deserves one more award.

She is a Warrior.