Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Labor of Love

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #113: A Labor of Love

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When you are only 13 years old and decide to sew a patchwork quilt for your parents, it’s a labor of love. That’s what my daughter did 25 years ago amidst her very busy life as a middle school student.

She sewed our Christmas gift that year (and I think it took all year!)…by machine and by hand and presented her father and me with a quilted king sized bedspread, which has lasted to this day.

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Christmas Day 1995

Just a Few Words Wednesday

(This was going to be a Wordless Wednesday post, but pairing it with Nancy Merrill’s vacation memories challenge made the wordless part too challenging…)

Photo a Week: Vacation Memories

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Covidcation 2020
Pocono Summit, Pennsylvania
Four Days of Quarantined Family Fun

From lakeside….

morning lake

To a nearby deserted baseball field one morning…

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Back to lakeside at day’s end…

firepit end of day

…three generations gathered.

sunset on the lake
Treasured memories…well documented.

An All Too Brief Pandemic Pause

 

on the road

What a sight it was a week ago Friday.

Six hours of driving (almost) nonstop. Highways to city streets to country roads. Following the GPS lady’s directions – every minute bringing us closer to our CovidCation. The weather was beautiful – almost too good to be true.

Faster and faster we drove (well I did…my husband’s foot is not as leaden as mine).

We were out-running a virus after all.

Get my lunch out of the backseat please! The car was packed with 2 coolers, 2 suitcases and laundry baskets full of necessities. My gluten free toaster in one of them. As we learned bringing our kids to college, laundry baskets work out well for car trips…as they can nest when they’re empty for the trip home.

It occurred to me that travel by car meant I could bring Full Size Bottles of whatever I wanted. So I did.

My laptop and our cameras…carefully packed. We remembered the tripod for a group photo. Paw Patrol bubbles (but of course). Decks of cards. Guitar.

We arrived at the lake house in the Pocono Mountains around 6:30 pm.

Within a minute a short blonde 4 year old came running out…Grandma! And somehow he was up in my arms with his arms wrapped around my neck, legs encircling my waist. I don’t know how I picked him up but I must have. The first full on leap into my arms hug since February. Far too long.

After that, my daughter and I shared a good long hug. Face to face for the first time in 6 months. Then hugs for my son-in-law, my son and his girlfriend. We had tested and quarantined and stayed safe. Carefully planned and orchestrated.

All those hugs felt so good.

Of course we were joined by the two family dogs: Lutra and Taco (who have been featured in this blog before). They enjoyed themselves immensely as well.

We were in our own little bubble.

bubbles

A four day pause from virus fears.

firepit

What a sight to see.

No masks.

No social distancing…except from the family swimming across the lake.
(Grandma which one is the dada and which one is the mama? Grandma I think the bigger one is the dada….)

ducks

It was glorious.

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #109: What a Sight
Ragtag Daily Prompt: Pause
SixWordSaturday

Never mind…

 

park bench kids copy 2
June 2019

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Never mind that my husband and I spent our 42nd(!) wedding anniversary Wednesday in our condo garage…wearing our finest face masks & work clothes. Emptying out our 2 storage units for hours. Yeah, we still have too much stuff, but oh well.

The Mold Remediation Company was scheduled for Thursday to clean all 32 units plus the entire garage.

It took hours to move all of our crap stuff into our parking spaces. We were joined by our fellow masked condo dwellers…many initially embarrassed by the exposure of hidden “treasures.” I can’t believe I still have so much stuff. The thing is, there used to be SO much more before we downsized. So, don’t worry about it.

Talk about lousy timing. But that’s 2020 for you.

garage

[Never mind that I alerted the Condo Board to this issue 3 years ago and they didn’t listen to me. I told you so.]

Never mind that even after 4 repair attempts, the refrigerator’s lights still don’t work…and is limping towards its last days.

Never mind all of that.

Why?

On Tuesday we braved the local hospital’s outpatient lab to get Covid-19 tests, so we could be sure we weren’t infected (we aren’t). Even though we have no symptoms.

waiting room

Why?

Because we are going on a CovidCation.

Today we are driving to the middle of nowhere in the mountains of Pennsylvania to a house by a lake. We will enter a Covid tested bubble of love…to spend a quarantined 4 days with our “kids,” their spouse/partners, grandson and 2 dogs…most of whom we haven’t seen in 6 months or more.

My 4 year old grandson has been asking me on facetime…

Grandma are you excited to go to the lake house?

facetime

I sure am!

Never mind that we spent the better part of yesterday (Thursday, right?) moving our crap stuff back into the cleaned storage units. Followed by packing up clothing, supplies (so many supplies when you are older), and food. Hoping we made enough lists and remembered everything. The option of “we can buy it when we get there” is no longer okay…to stay safe.

If the stars align and health prevails, we will soon be on the road today: Friday. Six hour car trips are a huge challenge physically – and I haven’t attempted one in 3 years, but…

I’m excited to go to the lake house!

My daughter made a spreadsheet of the menu and I am also excited about that. We might even make s’mores – and I’ve been told they will be GF (Gluten Free aka Grandma Friendly).

So I may be absent from my blog until next week.

CovidCation here I come.

It was only a month ago

Inspired by Cee’s Flower of the Day

SixWordSaturday

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yellow roses
Six Roses – but one is hiding

 

Is it just me or does Valentine’s Day seem like a really long time ago?

Was it only one month? Four weeks exactly…on February 14th…when my husband handed me this stunning bouquet of six yellow roses?

Happy Valentine’s Day! We tried to figure out how many Valentine’s Days we had spent together, but settled on “over 40…”

Since that day, my life has taken off on an alternate trajectory. Or so it seems.

The morning of the 15th we discovered water had leaked into our bathroom from the condo above us. Our upstairs neighbor left her faucet running unattended into a clogged sink. Water poured through our bathroom ceiling. In condo land, she isn’t held financially responsible. And so it began…the reports…phone calls…repairs…cleanup…costs. The worry about mold. The hours I’ll never get back. Finished just yesterday.

There was a happy four day interlude during a trip – which may be my last one for a long while – to Washington DC to spend time with my children and grandson.

Reports of a new virus started popping up in the news during that visit – the 3rd week of February – but I paid it no mind. That’s happening in China after all.

Then a week ago, news of a crisis affecting one of my sisters activated an intense worry-filled texting chain and phone calls with extended family I had not been in close touch with for many years. However, as many of us realize, a crisis – a matter of life and death crisis – can open a space and lower boundaries – at least for a while. Because…it’s family and you love them. We reach across the divide…anxiously searching for answers. Solutions. Each day and night fraught with worry. Feeling helpless and intermittently hopeless. Emotional support can only do so much.

Today is looking somewhat brighter. Hopefully her crisis has passed enough to be manageable. For now. We cautiously breathe just a bit easier.

The texting chain has now switched to the coronavirus and its affect on all of our lives. Another serious and potentially deadly situation. More anxiety piles on.

Sixty four texts greeted me this morning filled with humorous memes, cartoons and reports of people searching for toilet paper. Long lines at the grocery store. Stockpiling in case of quarantine. The family texting chain continues. Desperate for connection. In a new crisis.

Four weeks ago was Valentine’s Day.

Six yellow roses brightened my day.

Photo a Week: Christmas Memories

Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Christmas Memories

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE ONE OR TWO OR MORE PHOTOS OF YOUR CHRISTMAS AND/OR HOLIDAY MEMORIES.

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Christmas memories fill up my photo albums. All the best ones involve my family…when our children lived at home and we celebrated together.

Choosing just a few was indeed difficult…

One of my favorite memories was the year my son was a fast moving – very curious – toddler. At the tender age of 13 months, he was able to dash from one end of the living room to the other, quicker than we could catch him.

The Christmas tree presented a special challenge that year…as he was fascinated by those shiny things hanging from the branches. As well as the colored lightbulbs strung on green wire. Which he could unscrew, shouting HOT! HOT!

Barricades were in order…until we removed them on Christmas morning.

christmas barricades
1988

Which presented the perfect opportunity for ornament inspection and removal…while daddy and big sister were opening their stockings and getting their pictures taken.

christmas 1988
1988

However, nine years later….he was the expert at hanging the ornaments up ON the tree.

decorating 1997
1997

One more special memory.

 

 

 

 

Nostalgic Cookie Sing-Along

Inspired by:

Lens-Artists Challenge #75: Nostalgic

…I look forward to seeing the nostalgic moments that are most special to you. Past holidays, times with family and friends, travel moments, or just something that reminds you  fondly of days gone by – it’s your call. Give us a small peek into the things you’re nostalgic about.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #76: Music

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Get out the red and green sprinkles!
And the tiny chocolate chips!
Cookie sheets!
Cookie cutters!
Start the music!

It’s Time!

IMG_1598

When I was raising my children – and by the time each was around 2 years old – we made Christmas cookies together as a family. Simple cream cheese sugar cookies.

We used the same aluminum cookie cutters I used when I was a child.

Our tradition? I made the dough the day before so it was easier to roll out.
My daughter – and then my son – learned how to use a rolling pin and press a tree or bell shape into the flattened dough.

1992 t
Let the decorating begin!

Creativity was serious business.

The teenage years sparked unique decorating ideas such as the occasional anatomically correct gingerbread man. Ahem. All in good fun though…

Every year we were accompanied by the Sesame Street Christmas Sing-Along album pumping through the speakers (yes, we had speakers in the kitchen!)…and the clicking of the Canon camera.

My husband, I and the “kids” continued this annual family tradition for over 25 years…always accompanied by Big Bird, Cookie Monster (of course!) and the rest of the gang.

Cookies in the making. Oven warming. Four voices singing – the muppets’ lines memorized to perfection…

It’s that time of the year
When we all want to hear
A Christmas sing-along…

Or

Count, count, count — counting the days,
Count, count, count — counting the day…
I’m counting the days, ’til Christmas day is due…

(just a sample taste of this fabulous album – released in 1984 – just in time for our family).

A bit of nostalgia I never tire of revisiting.

1995 k t cookies
Cookies!
Decorated or about to frosted!

Both in pictures and in song.

Photo a Week: Babies

Inspired by Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Babies

Super cute, super funny, super whatever, human, animal, or whatever, we want to see your babies!
IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO (OR TWO OR THREE) THAT FEATURES BABIES.

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I don’t need much inspiring when it comes to baby pictures. And there’s no way I can limit this post to three photos. Be warned.

I have always believed that babies are the most fascinating subjects for photography. They are just…who they are. Their faces…their expressions…. Transparent. Open.

Happy. Sad. Tired. Bored. Sleepy. Curious….the list is endless.

Choosing just a few family photos for this challenge was…challenging! They were all taken with a Canon 35mm (film) camera – except for the last one which was with an iPhone.

When my kids were babies, I took a weekly photo during their first year. I think they got used to it…all I know is I got some interesting glimpses into their personalities.

For instance, my 10 month old son first thought it was hilarious…then not so sure……then I’m outta here.

My daughter loved getting her picture taken anytime, anywhere.

kris baloons

Although easily distracted by rug or blanket fibers.

Which soon became an afternoon snack…fine motor skills already well developed.

When my grandson was 10 months old, he enjoyed his first tour in a shopping cart up and down the toy aisle with Grampa and me.

shopping

He was clearly amazed at the experience.

 

 

Pie Tales

pie banner


I’ll bring an apple pie!

A few weeks ago, our new friends who live down the hall invited us to share Thanksgiving dinner with them and their extended family. We were honored. Also grateful, as we were not going to be able to spend it with our adult children and their families.

It’s an unusual kind of apple pie...I warned my friend. The apples aren’t peeled. There’s no top crust… I also have to make it gluten free.

She was fine with whatever I wanted to make.

It is also huge…filling a lasagna pan.

At Thanksgiving, there is no such thing as moderation. Ever. Especially when it comes to pie. The turkey? The stuffing? And all the rest?

Just the path to pie.

In Thanksgivings past there were always at least 3 kinds of pie at my table…to go along with family shenanigans and card games (as shared in my 2018 Thanksgiving story). I miss all of it.

The most popular? “Hearty Apple Pie” – each slice 2 inches high by many inches wide.

Well, it has been a few years since I made this pie. After downsizing and moving and spending Thanksgivings by ourselves, there was no need to make one until now.

I still had the old family recipe.

As I assembled the ingredients yesterday, I thought…what could go wrong?

First step: substitute gluten free flour blend for the real thing. Press into the pan.

pie crust
Dough pressed into pan

Doesn’t quite look the same, but should be fine in the end. It’s PIE after all.

Next step: Core the apples. Can’t mess that one up.

apples cored
Cored apples

 

Next step: Slice apples in the food processor.

Um…the food processor doesn’t work. I tried a different outlet. Nope. My husband and I tried several variations of blades and positioning of the “pusher assembly” and the cover. Still nothing.

Find the directions! 

A fuzzy memory rose to the top of my aging brain. This was the new(ish) food processor we had gotten about 10 years ago. It had replaced the nice simple one from 1978. Back when there were no complicated safety features. When it was your own fault if you stuck your finger in when the blade was running. Back when you popped the blade in, snapped on the cover (the only safety feature) – added the apples through the hole in the top…and voila! sliced or chopped results.

Much simpler.

Not anymore. The current small appliance companies are in the business of saving us from ourselves. Which, in many cases, is necessary. As it turned out, there were 3 different steps and clickings into place that I had to perform before even one apple could be sliced.

I was annoyed for 2 reasons. First that I had forgotten what to do and second, that it had become necessary to make devices so complicated that I had to remember this sequence in the first place. (probably a third reason as well – that I was turning into the old fart I never wanted to be…complaining about newfangled stuff…).

Anyway, after much huffing and puffing and locating the directions…success.

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Next step: Mix with lots of yummy spices. No holding back here.

mix apples
Apples mixed with spices!

Next step: Transfer to the waiting piecrust.

ready to bake
Ready to Bake

(fyi: covered apples with brown sugar, almonds and dots of butter which look like cheese…but aren’t)

After baking: Extra Large Apple Pie ready to share.

baked
Ready to Eat!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

(where there’s no such thing as moderation)

 

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #74: Moderation

Wishing

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #72: Wish

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Close your eyes.

Make a wish.

Blow all the candles out at once!

So your wish will come true…

birthday candles011 copy 2

A healthy baby.

One, then two.

Wish them strong and happy.

Wish they always follow their dreams.

Stay safe from year to year.

Wish them confident and sure.

Lives full of love

and

light.

So thankful…

For all those years

I blew out every candle.

What do I wish for now?

walking together

More time.