New World

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Spring – 2014

 

we talked of a new normal

as we hid in our homes

but, the old still abided

in the hearts of those who love

good news cheered us everyday

the drive-by birthday greetings

teddy bears on display

meals freely delivered

a husband who stood outside the window

of his wife’s room

where he could no longer go

there, on either side of the glass,

they sang Amazing Grace together

this was a sweet new normal

I didn’t  want to lose

but then that normal

changed for my world

the words pancreatic cancer

turned my world upside down

now we are back home

but not the way we dreamed of being

our days are filled with tests and procedures

and the endless repetitive questions

name? birthdate? 

have you had fever, chills, change in taste or smell?

and I see the hollow look in the eyes of my love

the one who has been by my side for over 41 years

the one who protected me

kept me from falling when I lost my way

and all I want to do is to

take away the sadness

 

Except for that pesky virus…

Hurricane  Andrew

from Los Angeles Times

 

August, 1992, was when we moved from Orange Park to Lake Wales, Florida. The  second week there our youngest celebrated her third birthday. Then south Florida was hit by Hurricane Andrew. Though it was south of us, it was frightening watching it unfold on the news, tracking its path, just in case. Which is what we always do in Florida.

 

“Except for that pesky hurricane, Andrew, the summer of 1992 was magic.” – Rick Bragg

 

Today we are once again watching a story unfold that is bigger in scope than the hurricane. It sometimes seems distant, this coronavirus, but not for long. Most times it seems like it’s at our doorstep. But, we couldn’t stop the hurricane, or all the other hurricanes, so we just prepared the best we could. Same as today.

In 2004, we hunkered down with our newlywed son and his bride when Charley came barreling toward us. This time it was one day before that youngest daughter’s birthday. And the same day our older daughter arrived home from overseas, landing in Orlando in the midst of the chaos.

That was the year that three hurricanes crossed over our home in Winter Haven. Charley – Frances – Jeanne.  Ivan also hit Florida north of us.

I don’t really know what point I’m making here except that I am grateful God has brought us through all these storms. I am praying he will bring my family safely through this current storm. I want to be able say, like Rick Bragg, that except for that pesky virus, the spring of 2020 was magic.

 

Quarantined Dream

Waking-in-the-night

“Waking in the Night” – dreams.co.uk

 

So I woke up this morning about 4:30 with words and an idea in my head. I knew if I didn’t get up they would disappear. I wrote down a few verses and went back to bed, but not to sleep. I had a lot to get done today. I eventually got back up, put on some coffee, did a few chores, then started prepping the hallway for painting. I got it painted and it looks much better!

So, finally, I got back to add to/revise my poem that I’d started at 4:30.

 

Quarantined Dream

In this quarantined dream
I long for the other side of the pillow
cool against my cheek
but I can’t flip it over
not just yet

In this quarantined dream
I’ve been walking so long
I want to unlace my boots
and peel off my socks
but I walk on
without the spring in my step

In this quarantined dream
my lips are dry and cracked
I search for the balm
peppermint and soothing
that gives relief
but I search in vain

In this quarantined dream
I layer on the covers
but I can’t get warm
shivering with unanswered questions
I throw on another blanket
and wait

In this quarantined dream
full of speculations
I wonder about the Vitamin C
while grasping for sunshine
and fresh air
but they slip away

In this quarantined dream
I try to hide
from the numbers chasing me
the warnings and the symptoms aren’t far behind
but where is the truth?

In this quarantined dream
I think I hear a knock on the door
but I know, even if it’s real,
I can’t answer it
not just yet

 

Bookcase Browsings #5

IMG_7161

Girl Sick in Bed (1937) — from Norman Rockwell’s American Children by Marian Hoffman

 

Kids are home, or at grandma’s. Teachers (including substitutes like me) are home.  It’s not a vacation but I am seeing some of the upside. Yesterday as I walked Ruby in the neighborhood I saw two young teen girls walking a dog. I’m pretty sure I recognized the dog, which means these girls were probably staying with their grandma. I saw two tiny boys walking with their grandma. On two roads where, in six years, I’ve never seen a kid, I saw boys on bicycles. Seeing all these kids makes me happy. I know they are home for a very uncomfortable reason, but it is heartening to see them getting the sunshine and fresh air that is so good for us.

In chapter two, Sick Days, of  Norman Rockwell’s American Children by Marian Hoffman, the picture above  is accompanied by a story. Here is an excerpt:

“During the time Julia was sick, Joanna stopped by after school to drop off the day’s homework. Julia wondered why she still had to do homework when she wasn’t allowed to do anything else. “

I’ve seen a gazillion different takes on what kids should be doing during this time. I understand that not all homes will be concerned about the kids’ education while they are home. Some are just wondering how to survive the financial crisis. My opinion, as a teacher and mom and grandma, is that I’d much rather see a kid on a bicycle, or reading a book of their own choosing, or just hanging out with grandma, than plowing through a bunch of meaningless worksheets. For highschoolers, maybe they do need to keep up with some of the academics.

As a sub, a sort of “fly on the wall”, I can tell you that there is so much wasted time at school that if you added it up it would probably be about as much as the time these kids will be home. But the time at home will be better spent.

 

There’s Hope For Sure

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Red Mountain Park 2/22/20

 

In the middle of a very rainy winter, when it seems like spring will never come, I welcome the sunshine. I head to Red Mountain Park and am never disappointed. There, amidst the lifeless flora, I can always find some green. Sometimes a flower, even though IMG_7054considered a weed, peeps out below my feet to remind me that spring will come.

I find the abandoned railroad tracks where trees have grown up in the middle.

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When my mind is burdened with thoughts and decisions that need to be made, I can find a calm. Though I return home with those decisions still unmade, the burden seems less. I not only have the assurance of spring, but the assurance that my future is in God’s hands, just like spring.

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See, you can only live one day at a time
Only drive one hot rod at a time
Only say one word at a time
And only think one thought at a time
And every soul is alone when the day becomes night
And there in the dark if you can try to see the light
In the most pitch black shape of the loneliest shadow
Well then you ought to sleep well
‘Cause there’s hope for sure

High Steppin’/The Avett Brothers

 

 

Life Lessons

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As a kid I learned that on some washing machines the knob only turns clockwise. You can’t force it backwards. Oops.

When I got married I could make one dish. Hamburger pie. The cheaper, blander version of Shepherd’s Pie, I figured out years later. During those first few years of marriage I called Mom a lot. On the landline. 733-8413, my childhood phone number. I learned cooking basics via the telephone, but I learned firsthand, however, not to run water over a hot glass casserole dish. It could put your eye out. Fortunately for me, it just shattered in the sink. 

After a ruined engine, I (we, actually) learned you must take care of a car. It needs water and oil. It’s like a kid – it runs great when it’s cared for.

“Sometimes it’s not what we hold onto that shapes our lives – it’s what we’re willing to let go of”  -Grammy from Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

Death holds many life lessons. I am learning still from Mom, though she’s been gone almost two years. She kept the important stuff: photos, letters, family documents and genealogy papers. She let go of replaceable stuff. She loved to shop in thrift stores, especially for purses. But, she had a system. If she bought a new/old purse, she got rid of an older one. She had a manageable teapot collection and some cows, mostly given to her by grand-kids or friends. As we prepare to move, hopefully our last move, I have this example to help guide me.

Revenge or protection?

 

chief s

stltoday.com

“Revenge by young men is considered gain, when at the cost of their own lives. But old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.”   – Chief Seattle

 

My thoughts are where do we draw the line between revenge and fighting for our freedom? My son was in the army and I have a soft spot in my heart for those who truly believe they are fighting for our freedoms, for those who really love their country. But it seems the higher up the chain of command, the more sight is lost for what really matters. Revenge and economy seem to take the place of protection and prevention.

Thoughts?

Hello, Goodbye

Word Art 17

So, I was talking to 2019:

She said, “Goodbye”

I said, “High.”

She said, “Low.”

“But, these are my goals for 2020,”  I told her. “If not high, at least higher. In three categories: books read, miles hiked, blog posts written. So, 2019, let’s take a look and you’ll see what I mean.”

“With you, I read or listened to 43 books. That averages 3 1/2 a month. With you, I hiked 132 miles. That’s an average of only 2 1/2 a week. With you, I wrote 67 blog posts. That’s about 5 1/2 a month.”

She said, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t know” 

She said, “Stop”.

I said,  “Okay. I’m done with you. Finished. You are kaput!”

So, I talked to 2020 for a bit.

“Hey, 2020!” I said,  “Hello, hello, hello.”

I said, “Go, go, go.” At first she misunderstood me.  

“No, no, don’t go away. I mean go WITH me. We’ve got some goals to take care of to beat 2019. We need to read at least four books a month. And hike at least 3 miles a week.  And write at least six posts a month.” 

2020 said, “Yes.”

 

Pet Sins

I’m not talking about sins that pets commit. Pets can be bad and do things that are mighty inconvenient, but they can’t sin as they have no soul. Sorry, Virginia, but all dogs don’t go to heaven.

I’m also not talking about those sins that are our favorite little secrets. That’s for another day.

I’m talking about the ones that are the favorite ones to bring up in church. The ones we can mention over and over because we don’t think we’ll be stepping on any toes in the process. We can talk about how horrible abortion is, because surely there isn’t anyone in our fellowship that has ever had an abortion, right?

Homosexuality is another favorite, for surely there are no homosexuals sitting in our congregations. So, lets just make examples of those two horrendous sins so we can all nod our heads in agreement while patting ourselves on the back. Of course, we can occasionally mention gossiping and envy because we all agree we are a little bit guilty, you know, like, everybody does it. And it’s okay sometimes to bring up drunkenness because drunks are just plain funny, you know?

Just don’t go talking about divorce or gluttony because you might just offend too many people.

.

I guess it’s a natural thing

mamaw

 

I discovered Sean of the South this year and when I see see his name in my inbox every morning  I know I’m in for a good read on his blog.  He writes about everything, but a recurring theme is the loss of his dad when he was 12. He even mentioned that someone has said he talks about that too much. I don’t think so. It’s a part of him.

Grief touches us all in different ways. When my Dad died I grieved, but so much was going on in my immediate family that I didn’t really have time to stop and grieve. It hit me about eight or nine months later. Like a knock down punch.  Mom had been grieving in her own way. I remember she wasn’t eating enough at one point, then later it was the opposite – she was eating a lot of sweets which was unusual for her.

She also could not listen to music for a long time, because it always made her think of Dad. It was quite a while before she began playing the radio again.

This year for NaNoWriMo I’m attempting the family story once again. Last year I wrote about 23,000 words. This year I’m trying to redo it in the forms of verse and letters. So I’m reading/rereading the tons of letters I have here, from 1925-2015. Today I read a letter Mom wrote her sister, Billie, a month after their mother, my Mamaw, died in 1983.

“Seems like for the last couple of weeks I’ve had a delayed reaction to Mama’s dying. Can’t explain it, but I guess it’s a natural thing, I don’t know.” 

It really struck me all over how much I miss Mom. Lately I’ve found myself tearing up with an overwhelming feeling of loss. It just comes over me and I can’t control it. In three months it will be two years that she’s been gone. I know I’ve talked about it a good bit here; forgive me.