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.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
Winter brings back the cold. Reliable get-out-the-thick-sweaters cold. Gotta put on a coat before stepping outside cold. Hats and gloves cold.
Most of the time, however, this season of cold shows off…with spectacular displays of snow. My favorite time is right after a snowfall…while it is still fresh and new.
Before the city plows started piling it up at the end of our driveway…
That’s how I remember winter days back when we owned a house with a driveway and a walkway and a deck. Where the oh-so-beautiful snow couldn’t remain where nature dropped it. When we had to shovel and snowblow and move it out of the way.
Color exploded in the sky our last Christmas at the house where we lived for over 36 years.
Along with Christmas comes a gathering together of family. Complete with holiday lights and decorations.
Winter also brings about changes at the beach – the sand is groomed into hills to guard against storm surges. At least that’s what the hippy guy from town told me – who I crossed paths with the day I took this picture.
A January walk in the woods isn’t totally devoid of color…if you look closely…
And last…but not least…in my growing family winter always meant… …are you ready for some basketball?
Both of my children played for their high school teams and enjoyed it immensely. As did my husband and I…watching and enthusiastically cheering in the comfort of a heated gym.
My soul never thinks of beginning to wake up for other people till lunch-time, and never does so completely till it has been taken out of doors and aired in the sunshine. Who can begin conventional amiability the first thing in the morning? It is the hour of savage instincts and natural tendencies
Countess Van Arnim
There’s a reason I have no photographs of sunrises. I am still asleep – or not yet fully conscious – that early in the day. My mornings need to evolve. I shift into fully awake mode after drinking an oversize mug of coffee. Plus finishing breakfast and the morning newspaper’s mix of news…both happy and not.
Empty nest retirement definitely has its pluses.
When I was growing up, however, my weekdays began at high speed. School day mornings…a blur…
Get Ready For School Hurry Up You’ll Miss The Bus! Finish your breakfast! Come Back You Forgot Your Lunch! Hurry! The Bus Is Coming! The Bus Is Coming!
Childhood weekends – thankfully – were a different story…
Early on a Saturday morning…the year I was 9: my 7 ½ year old sister, 6 year old brother and I would tiptoe down the hall of our small ranch style home. Careful not to disturb our sleeping parents.
If our 2+ year old baby sister was awake and willing to be quiet, she joined us.
A carpeted hallway covered the short distance from our bedrooms to the living/dining room. After just a few quick trips we had gathered all the toys we needed. Since the black & white television was in my parents’ room at the time, we were on our own to entertain ourselves.
And entertain we did.
The Barbies – (with friend Midge) – strutted around straight legged showing off their tiny don’t-step-on-them-with-your-bare-feet shoes and stretchy outfits. Ken made an appearance, but usually as an afterthought. My sister’s pink Barbie car transported B&K in a circular route under the dining room table…often without their clothes on. Sometimes Ken’s arm was removed and inserted in his torso backwards. Creativity on the loose. I’ll admit those adventures were mostly my idea. My sister loved Barbie like crazy, but I was quickly bored. Hence the unusual Saturday morning escapades. Which we all considered quite clever and hysterical.
My brother brought to the excitement an assortment of small green plastic army men, a GI Joe and an array of stuffed animals – many based on cartoon characters. Yogi Bear. Huckleberry Hound. Barney Rubble. Bugs Bunny – with a string…which when pulled…gave voice to What’s Up Doc?
Despite the differences in size and species, plush bunnies & bears interacted with dolls without a single problem. In whispers and hushed tones. Barbie to Yogi: Where’s the pic-a-nic basket?. Bugs to Ken: Got any carrots?. And so on.
Miraculously the 3 (or 4) of us played seamlessly together during those early childhood mornings. We didn’t argue. Or poke each other. We took turns. It was quite remarkable. And unusual.
Our common goal: Don’t wake up mommy and daddy!
Those Saturday hours with my sisters and brother are precious in memory. They represent moments of our best times together.
Reality and its rivalries shifted back to normal when my parents woke up. And the day started for real.
Until the next weekend…when the crowd gathered once again.
Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of you earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? …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 is from February 14, 2019 in response to the photo a day challenge (which is the same this year: Hearts) and Ragtag Daily Prompt: Intimate.
And, after all, it was Valentine’s Day.
Love and Hearts and Grandparents
If we have someone who loves us — I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side — then it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.
from Grammy 1966
from Grammy 1966
I have much to be grateful for in my life. The love of family is at the top of the list. As a child…and then as an adult…I was well loved by my grandparents. Held up. Cherished. Accepted.
All four of my grandparents – and my one living great grandparent – took the time to write to me. Personal letters. Postcards. Valentines. Birthday cards….
I heard from them on a regular basis…knowing I was important in their lives. And not forgotten, even though we lived miles apart.
Treasured pages of handwritten news, stories, questions about my life and plans for the future….
Offering encouragement and understanding
And unconditional love.
This post inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback – January 3
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?..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 is from January 3, 2019 in response to V.J.’s Weekly Challenge.
Quote of the Day…
Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you are aboard there is nothing you can do.
Isn’t that the truth.
Even when I want to say…get me the hell off.
I am not ready for this yet.
For the irrelevance thrust on me.
Rendered invisible. Packed in behind the younger.
Respect once earned upended in the turbulence of senior discounts… now that you’re 50…60…over 60….doors start to shut. Deaf ears abound.
Forgetting one too many things
Which 20 years ago went unnoticed.
Or commented on.
Mask floating down. Got it.
Pulling the life vest cords. Got it.
I tell the younger kin I am not this old inside my head.
They nod. Eyes looking beyond. Already past me.
Uncomprehending…until it’s their aged faces staring back at them. That’s what she meant.
There will be no mad dash for the exits.
Even in an emergency.
I’m on this ride for the duration. Wind. Rain. Thunder.
Wrinkles. Gray hair. Early dinners. Early to bed.
System slowdowns. Bumpy rides. Love and loss.
Dried up everything, but oozing with wisdom.
And ideas. Just ask.
But they won’t.
The longer I’m on this stormy plane ride, the wiser I get.
Not my first rodeo.
…the next leg on my Golden Years journey.
Seatbelt fastened and secure.
Building up those frequent flyer miles.
If you stop to be kind you must swerve often from your path.
I have stopped watching the nightly news. Which is totally unlike me. Usually wanting to know…What Is Going On. The importance of being informed and up-to-date was always at the top of my list. Part of being a responsible citizen.
It seems to me there used to be more balance. The good and the evil. The positive and the negative. Now all I do is wince. Our leaders fighting. Shouting. Accusing. Deaf to the voices of reason…or fairness…or empathy. Especially empathy. Unwilling to even pause and consider a different path.
Nightly Breaking News punches story after story. Announcements line up in 10 second sound bites. Assault…Abuse…Cheating…Lying…. Young child missing…young child found in a shallow grave. Inconsolable parent. Another shooting. Blurry security camera video. One more senseless loss of a sister, a brother.
The news anchor drones on, his face barely changing expression. Night after night.
Rarely would I see kindness…until the final 2 minutes of the broadcast. Showcasing an act of generosity. Compassion. Selflessness.
Good to know there are people still out there…
On a different path.
Part of teaching is helping students learn how to tolerate ambiguity, consider possibilities, and ask questions that are unanswerable.
And what would they be…the unanswerable questions…
We ask them all the time. Naively. Believing answers are forthcoming. Nice, neat, tidy answer boxes we can check off…putting our minds at ease.
Humans need explanations. Logical reasons for behaviors…and difficult situations. Doubt disturbs the equilibrium we crave.
Children’s why questions…usually answerable…
Why do I need to wash my hands? Why can’t I touch the stove…run into the street?
Until they’re not…
Why are those kids so mean? How come grandpa had to die?
As time passes, the answers thin out. They don’t cut it.
We see through them. The holes. The exceptions. The weaknesses. The path to newer questions. Black and white fading to gray.
In the end…sometimes no answers. Not really. We’ve lived too long to settle. We know better. But still…not why.
Why is she sick with cancer and I’m not? Why can’t the doctors figure out what is wrong with me?
Shifting realities pose more questions than answers.
Humans don’t fit neatly into a category of reasons why.
Too much mystery. Too many unknowns. Intangibles.
Questions expand. And filter down to the universal…
What is life? Why am I here? What happens when I’m not?
I took a class in college – my one and only Philosophy course – entitled “Explanation” – and was immediately lost in a sea of questions. The professor with his PhD paced back and forth in front of rows of earnest young students like myself. Trying to absorb his explanations of deep philosophical questions and answers. The existential questions of…life? To me…it might as well have been another language all together. I had no answers for him that I understood, but I offered them anyway on exams….and assigned papers. Fortunately the answers were good enough. To earn a B in the class.
I wonder how it would go if I were taking that class now….
This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #39: Unanswerable
Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.
Vote YES for the middle school expansion!
Today is voting day in my small town. Or…as it was formerly known…Town Meeting Day. Or, more specifically, Town Meetin’ Day.
Many years ago, it was actually an open meeting for all town residents. Who assembled on folding chairs set up in the town hall. Votes were cast on various budget items and for the election of town officials. Attendees were given an opportunity to stand and voice support or opposition to the matters at hand. Sometimes a paper ballot. Sometimes just a voice vote.
Now, as the town has changed – and the population has increased – we vote in voting booths. In the former high school’s gymnasium. Exactly the same way we vote in the general elections.
Some may say these local elections are not all that important.
We are choosing the individuals who will sit on the School Board. We are voting for the members of the Board of Selectman, which governs our town. Making crucial decisions. Rules affecting how we live, where we live, where we park. Public safety. Fire trucks. Street signs. Police activity. Water quality. Local businesses also absorbing the direct and indirect ramifications.
Today there are over 20 individual budget items to consider, including the annual operating budget. One item on the ballot – for the 3rd year in a row – is all about education.
The middle school desperately needs to be expanded and renovated. Each yearly proposal has slashed more of its requests to reduce the cost. Letters to the Editor in the local paper shout out We Need This! or A Waste of Money! Often implying that the senior citizens…or those without school age children…are the reason this hasn’t been approved.
The financial burden of property taxes (which is how our schools are financed) is real. I get that. But I also know that the dollar increase due to this ballot item is not extraordinary. It averages out to a few monthly meals at the local bar and grill over the course of a year. Maybe. Or a weekly latte at the coffee shop.
So I ask myself…why don’t people understand the significance of educating our children to the best of our ability? Why do they want to keep class sizes large and cram kids into a too-small cafeteria? No music room? Art on a cart? Educating the whole child…what happened to that, I wonder….and its ramifications if not done with care. And, yes, with some sacrifice.
As cliché as it sounds, it remains a fact: (Everyone’s) Children are the Future.
My children were raised in a different town than where I currently live. I will always be grateful to the citizens who voted in favor of school improvements and supported the teachers with the salaries they needed and deserved. Despite the sacrifice. I know many of those voters were senior citizens. Who had the foresight – and wisdom – to understand the need. And the significance.
Our children and their education is important.
Voting is crucial.
Let’s not take either for granted.