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…

 

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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.

Framing the Shot

Inspired by Lens-Artists Challenge #60: Framing the Shot

This week, we will explore different ways of framing images. Many photographers agree on one thing about framing – that it can help direct the viewers eyes to where you want them to look.

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It’s hard to believe the summer of 2019 is – for the most part – in the rear view. I don’t know what it is about summer, but it always seems to “go by” faster than winter with its endless cold dark days.

This summer, we traveled more than usual. Not very far…Vermont in June and Washington DC in June and August. No trips overseas or cross-country. Which is okay…longer distance travel is probably not going to happen anymore. Also okay.

As always – no matter how far I travel – I document. My ongoing attempts to freeze time.

For this challenge, these 2 shots came to mind.

The first one is from our three day June visit with friends on Lake Champlain in North Ferrisburgh, Vermont. We witnessed spectacular sunsets over dinner from their back porch.

At one point venturing closer to lake’s edge for unobstructed views…

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Sunset on Lake Champlain – framing the shot

During our second visit to Washington DC we spent a few hours babysitting for our 3 year old grandson. A few blocks away his parents started painting his new bedroom a pale shade of pink…in preparation for their move a few days later.

I think he sensed that big changes were in the air. After an hour of making multiple garages with magnetic tiles for his miniature construction trucks with Grandma & Grampa, he became restless and began looking for Mama.

That is, until we heard a Home Depot flatbed delivery truck across the street. The front porch offered the best view…as we watched one man unload a large pallet of lumber and building materials. By himself! With an attached forklift! Fascinating stuff for a lover of all things construction.

Several minutes of respite for a 3 year old…and for Grampa too.

guys watching lumber
Two guys on the porch

 

Dream Vacation

Inspired by Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #55: Dreamy

 

Living in the northeastern United States, I have endured many snowstorms, blizzards and variations on the theme of freezing rain and sleet. Along with gloomy cloudy skies for days on end – with matching sub freezing temperatures.

I know there are people who enjoy the sitting-by-a-roaring-fire aspect of that time of year…known as late fall, winter and early spring where I live. They enjoy wearing multiple layers of cozy flannel shirts, wool socks and thick sweaters. Before venturing outdoors. To navigate the front steps. Which are icy.

Not me.

I dream of warm…and sunny…and relaxing.

Destination?

San Diego – more specifically Coronado, California.

I was lucky enough to vacation there 6 or 7 times. Just my husband and me. Our two children came along twice. They loved it too.

In 2006 – my last visit there – it was me, myself and I.  Back when I could travel easily. Hustling through an airport with several suitcases…not a problem. Eating whatever and wherever I wanted to. Enjoying local cuisine…with no worries or restrictions.

And most importantly: the energy to walk and explore for hours.

I’m so glad I didn’t wait.

 

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Coronado Beach 2006
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Sunset Cliffs, San Diego 1999
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Coronado Beach 2006

 

 

 

Photo a Week – Vanishing Point

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: A Photo a Week Challenge – Vanishing Point

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR THREE…) THAT FEATURE A VANISHING POINT.

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One vanishing point: Getting ready to board a train – on the way to the Museum of Fine Arts to see an amazing Ansel Adams exhibit…

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Train tracks to Boston – Winter 2019

Another vanishing point: About to start walking…looking forward to a relaxing afternoon…disappearing to the beach.

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Path to the beach – Cape Elizabeth, Maine – Summer 2014

 

Traveling

Inspired by….Ragtag Daily Prompt Quench

I used to really enjoy traveling.

Even when I was a little kid. Despite the fact that I got carsick, I enjoyed the excitement of discovering the unknown. Even if it just meant the next “tourist trap” as my father described Country Stores and such. We didn’t go on many family vacations but they were always memorable for one reason or the other. One was the coin operated vibrating bed in a cheap motel room somewhere. I shoved a coin in the slot, pushed the button and surprise!

Fast forward a few decades. Air travel was exciting then. There was security of course, but we could bring any food and drinks right through all the checkpoints. Family members accompanied us to the departure gate and waved goodbye.  Even 20 years ago, a cross country flight was not the hassle it is now. I didn’t think twice about the process. And I could run without gasping for breath to the gate for my connecting flight.

Now it is stressful – at least for me. My adult children are faintly annoyed by this (well, perhaps more like eye-rolling annoyed). They don’t understand…because they have mostly known air travel post 9/11.  I remember when it was easy. They do not.

So here I am. High anxiety 2 days out. Making lists. Everywhere.

Getting ready to fly to see my grandson – all 2 ½ years of him. And his parents too, of course — who need some childcare help while the daycare is closed for a few days. Grandma to the rescue. So to speak rescue. Well, Grandma is trying her best to get her travel act together. For a 4 day visit. Let’s see….
Make a list –
What will fit in the carry-on….that I can lift and drag/wheel through the airport including the ladies room. Along with my tote bag, purse, computer, etc.
What do I need…what don’t I need….
Back cushion!! Don’t forget that.
Special goodies for the kiddo.

What about the weather! High anxiety 2 days out.

Ridiculous.

I wonder if this is a sign of advancing age…the inescapable fact that my body is just not responding to my commands as it used to. Sitting. Standing. Stairs. All harder. Trying to find safe foods to eat on the road…gluten free because I have to.
What the heck.

However what I do know for sure (thank you, Oprah) is that I miss the sight of this little one who I last saw in person…walking down my hall in June. It’s the ache in my heart that won’t calm on its own.

So, until his little family moves closer – about 500 miles closer – I will quench my thirst for this bundle of love and limitless energy.
By powering through this travel thing.
To see him. And his parents too.
FaceTime is all very well and good,
But nothing beats a real hug and sloppy 2 year old kiss.

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see ya next time Grandma

 

 

The Whole darn Bunch

Opa never told me about his drawings.

I found one in a box with a stack of his and Oma’s old photographs. A small rectangle of cardstock – measuring about 6″ x 2 1/4.”  Drawn in ink, perhaps with a fountain pen. My mother had written on the back…identifying it as Opa’s handiwork.

 

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circa 1926

Who are these people? I recognized two names: “Hank” is Opa and “Ruth” is Oma.  The details make me smile. Cowlicks. Curly hair. Twelve friends holding hands and grinning. Each person just a bit different from the next. Whimsical and sweet and young and happy.

And then I found these photos tucked in with the drawing.

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Labor Day 1926 Loveland Park, Ohio

I can match two of them…Hank and Ruth are second from the right. The rest – I can only guess; although “Andy” in the tank top could be a close bet on the far left.

Oma was 19 and Opa was 20 years old in September, 1926; as I imagine most of these young people probably were too. Were they all childhood friends? I have no idea. All the photos tell me is they were enjoying the day and each other. Celebrating a day off from work together.

How Opa & Oma loved their friends! They traveled with them. Exchanged letters for many years. Went out to eat. Visited both near and far. Opa went on numerous hunting and fishing trips with his buddies. Oma went along on at least one hunting trip that I know of, but I think the black flies put an end to that. They traveled to Florida for deep sea fishing trips with lifelong friends. They both made friends most everywhere they went.  Opa was an open, gregarious man who relished the art of conversation. Oma was a bit quieter, but ever present with a twinkle in her eye and a sly comeback.

Opa traveled in Europe quite often in the 1940’s and 1950’s for business. He once struck up a conversation with a man sitting next to him on a long distance train in Switzerland. Opa’s soon-to-be new friend happened to have twin daughters who were the same age as his daughter (my mother). The twins became penpals with my mother and eventually emigrated to the United States a decade later. Fast forward to my childhood — they became like family and shared many holiday celebrations with us. One twin became my sister’s godmother. I am still close friends with the surviving elderly sister, who now lives back in Switzerland. Look what a chance meeting on a train led to.

I wonder what happened to my grandparents’ friends after this Labor Day in 1926. Their friends from before marriage and children and, in a few years, the Great Depression.  When everything changed.

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Labor Day 1926 Loveland Park, Ohio

I am glad they had each other…The Whole darn Bunch.

 

 

slides

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The bright color caught my eye. The trademark yellow-with-red-lettering Kodachrome logo. Empty boxes that once held carousels of slides. I didn’t notice any slides or carousels; obviously not recyclable. The boxes had tumbled out of a recycling container that I passed on a recent walk. Put to the curb. Recycling day.  But I wondered about their contents. What happened to the slides? Did they get scanned? Printed? Or handed down to the next generation (I wondered hopefully…). I recognized those boxes and that logo because that was me a few years ago. My late grandfather photographed with slide film. He took pictures everywhere: on fishing trips, hunting trips, trips to Europe, Asia and around the USA. He also photographed his family, especially his grandchildren when they were young. Anyone who is still familiar with slides knows the quality is superior to film. To view 50-plus year old slide images is to step back in time.

My grandfather, who we called Opa, loved his grandchildren and loved to take slides, polaroids and 8mm home movies of us. I remember the bright pop of the flashbulb, which he licked before inserting in the flash unit of his camera. Usually while balancing a cigarette in one hand or while it hung from the corner of his mouth. (Throughout my childhood, I always held my breath waiting for the cigarette to fall out and set him or the house on fire. Fortunately it never did). Now I have those slides.

slide sorter

He also took hundreds of photos on his many trips with my grandmother Oma. A few years ago I went through the large box of slide boxes and “magazines” (for slide projectors pre-carousel) that had been handed down to me. Opa had sorted them but only labeled sporadically. Venice – Paris – Zurich – Florence – Pompeii – Naples – Rome – Switzerland – Madrid – India – Germany – ???                                               IMG_2759 copy

I looked at every slide, curious and fascinated by the people and places he framed and preserved. I estimate the time frame to be in the 1940’s – 1960’s. I wonder if he ever loaded the magazines into a slide projector, sat back and watched the images one by one.  I sure hope so.

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…a few samples of his work…