Sunday, January 31, 2021

End of January

I seem to have come down with Something.  It started about seven days ago; sniffly, swollen glands, generally feeling yucky and lethargic.  It is the kind of Something that would not have bothered me a bit a year ago, but now I view my symptoms with more caution and curiosity than I would have done Before the Pandemic.   I don't feel terrible but I am far from feeling good.   In an abundance of caution, we cancelled dominoes for today, and of course I feel bad about that, though I am happy not to have to plan and cook a meal, which sounds today like more work that I feel like doing.   Where do germs or viruses come from?  I have not left the house for two full weeks and the only people I have seen at all are Jack and Evan, neither of whom have been or are sick.    At Jack's request (insistence, really), I contacted my doctor and he said that if I am not better next week he will want to see me but he seemed to feel, as I do, that this is probably nothing.   Hopefully I will be right as rain by then and can skip that trip and do others instead.  I actually have a little stack of errands I would like to get done once my energy is back, and of course after my symptoms are gone because I would not want to expose anyone else to this unknown annoyance.  My biggest concern is that I not be sick whenever my 'number' comes up for the Covid vaccine.  I don't want to be bumped from that list for any reason!

Speaking of the vaccine, my much loved daughter in law got her first dose of vaccine this week!   This photo she sent made me do a happy dance!  Surely the time is coming into view when we will be able to get together again!   Everything in me aches for that day.  (And aside from that, isn't she lovely?!)  My son had his first dose a week ago and so far, neither of them have had any side effects.


Last week I was reading about a new yarn store in a quilting forum and I linked from that remark to a youtube video of a knitting demonstration, making a simple cowl.  The "teacher" said that it would take a size 15 needle so I checked my drawer and sure enough, size 15 (10mm) is one of the many needles I still have, so I ordered a skein of yarn.  I rarely try hand work anymore since my hands and wrists wear out so quickly, but this easy pattern is all knit, only 17 stitches wide and 90 rows long, so even if I can't do it an hour, I can certainly do it.  The yarn,  a washable merino, arrived quickly and now I have a new amusement to help me pretend that I am not just wasting time while I am sitting!  It's thick and nubby and works up quickly, so if this one goes well, I will make more and put them away for next Christmas.  It would be good to have a few gifts done and ready for what is alway a busy time of year.   And I know, since January flew by, that the rest of the year most likely will fly by, too.


We saw the antlered deer again this week.  Seeing them, watching the birds at the feeder, catching the occasional glimpse of other critters . . . it all calms my spirit and fills me with something  like joy.   I am constantly amazed at how fortunate I am.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Tears of Relief

I am not a television person.   It is not that I am a screen snob -- I spend countless hours on my laptop, sometimes to the neglect of virtually everything.  But I can rarely be cajoled into watching TV, even programs I actually like.  This Wednesday, Inauguration Day, was an exception.  I sat in front of the screen all day long, missing moments only to shower and do other necessaries.   And all day long, I had tears of relief running down my cheeks.  The smallest details set me off -- the Pledge of Allegiance, for instance, where for the first time I can remember, the person reciting the Pledge also signed ASL for the hearing impaired.  I realized that usually someone who is deaf must have to look up in the little box at the side and miss the actual action, but here they could watch what the rest of us were watching.   A small and so-sensitive touch that someone included in the ceremony and started my tears going like faucets. If this administration can think of that small detail, who knows what levels of inclusion might be possible?   And when I saw the assortment of bodies and races and ages and levels of talent, from very amateur to very professional,  in the Parade Across America, I lost it again.  I felt so proud of the courage and vulnerability and pure joy I was watching.   Seeing three former Presidents join together in welcome, knowing that a fourth would be there if his health had allowed, hearing the young poet, seeing the new President bouncing his baby grandson .. . it was just teardrop after teardrop all day long.   I know that the honeymoon won't last, in fact today already some people are back to being their jerky selves, but it was a day of pure  joy for me, and long overdue.  And honestly, listening to Dr. Fauci talk openly the next day about re-joining the World Health Organization and explain the science behind variants and modes of infection, without having to put a positive spin or baby-down his language, was so refreshing that I got misty all over again.  I look forward to sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing, with a President who talks like a grown up and refrains from childish personal attacks.   As I told my son, I am a happy old lady.

Even my Inauguration Day cactus got into the act.  It seems to be thinking that it might be safe to bloom again.

Monday, January 18, 2021


This coming week will hopefully be the beginning of a new chapter here in the United States.  We are far from united at the moment, but this is a moment of hope as we listen to the sane and sensible words of the President Elect.  I am still hanging onto every news development, still shaking my head a lot, but hoping that the inauguration will go peacefully and that many people, some as yet unknown, will be brought to justice before all is said and done.  I am also hoping that the huge number of people who believed the president's and his supporters' lies will finally be willing to look at the truth of what has happened, at how they were betrayed.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Jack and I are back on the dominoes circuit.  Evan is such a lot of fun and, despite our worries about the pandemic, it is good to have this time with him.  We look forward to it every year.  Every week follows the same pattern, and has for years, almost as if the evening is scripted.  I cook a meal, and Evan is a graceful guest.  He will eat whatever I serve him, but some weeks he eats more than one helping and says over and over, "This is good.  This is good," so those menus go on our regular rotation. 

We play a simple game of straight dominoes, several sets a week.  At the end of the season, When Evan's parents return from Florida, we count the tally and declare a winner.  Every set of dominoes contains one blank tile, which adds 50 points to a hand if one is left with it at the end of the round, and a game set  is over once a player hits 100 points, so no one wants to be left holding that tile.   Jack and Evan call this tile "the stinker," and Evan greets it with delight every Sunday when we open the box.  He looks around for it and then, every week, exclaims, "There he is!  There is that stinker!", as if its existence had been in doubt.  He and Jack both do a high five and yell together, "There he is!"  The whole evening is peppered with stinker phrases: "No stinker this round, where could he be?  He's hiding, I know it, he's hiding!"  And they laugh and laugh and laugh. 

It has become a pattern for me to promise every Sunday that I plan to beat them both, and then one of them  will ask, "what did she say?", with the other answering, "I wasn't listening."   And they laugh.  It is simple and silly and miles away from thoughts of politics or illness or conflict.  We look forward to it.  And these days, of course, Evan is our only social life, so maybe it means just a little more.  His parents, in Florida, have been able to get the Covid vaccine.  We here in Michigan, which has gotten repeated shortages of serum, have not.  This is one of the things we are hoping will change after the shift in national leadership, the different deliveries to Republican and Democrat led states.  We would like to see all of the states treated equally, without the vendetta that the president called on our governor with predictable results.

We've had a little luck with our game camera this week, although the woods have been mostly still during the day.  It is time, past time perhaps, for me to try another model to see if we can get better photos, but it is still a thrill for us when an image is captured.   We've had shots of several deer but this is the first antlered buck we've captured, and we think we finally have evidence that the smaller animal I sometimes spot is a fox.

The photos are terrible, of course, but we are easily amused.

One of my (14 year old) granddaughter's drawings, a still life, was posted on her school's Instagram page, and that was a thrill for me to see.  I've seen very little of what the kids are doing this year, and I have missed being more a part of their lives, so every little glimpse is precious.

Not much else is new, of course.  We are playing the New York Times' Spelling Bee, sometimes texting back and forth with my DIL to check on one another's progress.  That has been fun and, just as with the  grands, every contact is precious.  I am working on a few projects and a couple quilt tops.  We are healthy.  These days, that seems more than enough.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021


We enjoyed our annual New Year's Eve chocolate fondue via Zoom this year, and it was more fun than I would have dared hope.  We just sat in our different houses and talked and snacked and laughed.  I am so glad we did it.    And although I wasn't there to take my usual million photos, I managed to catch a couple screen shots!  Just seeing their faces makes me so happy.

Jack and I expected to be in bed long before midnight but he set up the Apple homePod speakers I bought him for Christmas and told Siri to play Beatles music and moved on from there to every song and group that either of us could think of.  The next thing we knew, I was singing the night away.  I was stunned at how easily all the words from the songs of my youth came back.  It was midnight before we knew it and we ended the night by dancing in the living room to Neil Young's Harvest Moon.  A nice end to an awful year and a hopeful beginning to the next one.

The years ended and started with snow, twice during the holiday, and my snow plow service didn't come to plow us out.  We had several inches before we gave up and tried to clear it ourselves.  I left phone and text and email messages but no one ever got back to me, even as of today.  Fortunately I was able to hire a couple of young people on our "next door" internet app to come and do the work because Jack and I, working together, weren't making much progress.  But this week I will start the frustrating search for a new service -- not easy to do once you've waited for the snow season to begin because their routes fill up quickly.   And if I can't find anyone I will have to swallow my annoyance and call our old company and play nice.  They did promise me, after all, not a month ago when I called just to confirm, that I was on their list to be plowed out whenever it snowed more than 2 inches and we had way more than that . . . twice!  In fact our letter carrier left a note complaining that she couldn't safely come up our driveway.    I would be surprised to learn that they either didn't work during the holiday or dropped me off their list since all local businesses are crying about how much the pandemic has ruined their business.  One would think they would actually be eager to work when the opportunity arises, and many other companies were; we saw their trucks all week up and down our street.  I've known several people in this part of the world who made the bulk of their yearly income clearing snow so it's no small thing.  Anyway, the driveway is clear  now, the mail carrier is happy again,  and snow is not predicted again this week, so hopefully I'll get it all sorted out tomorrow . . . since I forgot to do it today.  It is hard for me to remember to worry about snow when it is not snowing.

Speaking of our mail carrier, she brought me an unexpected box yesterday, which said on the outside that it had been ordered and sent by Jack's daughter.  Inside was an ember coffee cup, which I just recently saw featured in an article on the internet.  It is temperature controlled through a phone app --- what WILL they think of next?!  It claims it will keep my coffee or tea hot for as long as needed, preventing those last swallows of cold coffee I have every morning.  The cups are ridiculously expensive and something I had thought about getting for Jack because he is the one who enjoys his coffee HOT, but I decided he would not really appreciate it - and I learned I was right when I tried to get him to try the cup with HIS morning coffee.  And it is for sure much too expensive for us to want his daughter, who is expecting a baby, to buy.  When I thanked her for it she said she is "catching up", so I have lots of mixed feelings.  Jack swears he didn't say anything about my hurt feelings, and I hope that is true.  And truly we don't want any of the kids to spend money they really can't afford on us, because we have or can get anything we need.    The ember reviews say that many people find it very worth having, so maybe we will, too. I had kind of expected that I would pass it on to Jack after a polite interval because temperature matters more to him than to me, he keeps a cover on his cup to try to keep the coffee hot, while I let mine sit until I remember it is there.   But it was kind of nice to be able to dawdle over my coffee this morning and to have it be as good when I finished it as when I first poured it.  Still and truly, I did not need a gift from his daughter  - the lack of a gift was never the problem - but of course it was very nice of her, and I will try not to think too deeply about it.   I am not good at letting slights, or perceived slights go, but I will work on it because of course I want our family gatherings to be frequent (when they are safe again) and comfortable for all of us, and I do care and want the best for his kids.

Election drama is coming to a head, and I hope it will finally peak -- maybe today, surely by the 20th -- and that the whole Trump era will finally get out of the collective American spotlight so that we can move on to the many problems we are facing these days.  Meanwhile we will try to carry on as we  have, staying as safe as we can and being grateful for what we have.