Here it is, early August. We are still under a “stay at home” order. Summer is winding down. Did you get out of town for vacation? Some of us did. Some of us did not.
We had reservations at the Blue Lantern Inn, Dana Point, California, to celebrate a milestone birthday with an ocean view. We made the reservations back in January this year, when life was simpler. I didn’t want to cancel until closer to the weekend, hoping for things to improve regarding the pandemic. They did. Briefly, at least.
As the weekend approached, I debated back and forth if it would be a good idea to go or not. It did seem to be a low risk activity. I spoke to the inn personnel. I consulted my doctor. I researched online. We had until seven days prior to cancel for a full refund. So on that day, we decided we’d go. The commitment was made. I totally overthought it, but I wanted to be safe, not sorry.
We had a lovely time. We did practice social distancing by simply relaxing in the room or sitting out on the balcony, except to go pick-up food. We followed the requirement to wear a mask when we were outside our room. We washed our hands. And hoped for the best.
Basically, we went “glamping” – the term for glamorous camping. Not knowing what to quite expect, and basically quarantining ourselves to the room, we packed extra supplies. The inn was not doing housekeeping once guests checked in. There was no food service. Here are some some things we did to make this work.
We cancelled our vacation plans for May. We cancelled our vacation plans for this month. With our current uncertain circumstances, it seemed to be the wisest thing for us. I’m glad we did get one weekend away. It wasn’t the get-away we’d had in mind when we made the reservation last January, but we had a good time.
Where did you get away to this summer? What did you give up?
I’m cleaning out my stuff. Partially because of time at home due to the pandemic. Partially because I am simplifying my life. Partially because I’m getting old and want to take care of it now while I have the energy.
As a result, I recently came across this matching stationery.
I really enjoyed writing letters back in the day. I had a weak spot for pretty stationery. I probably spent a small fortune on it and would find little stationery stores in any city to window shop.
Letter writing is almost obsolete in an age of technology. Handwritten communication now carries an extra measure of love for the recipient, especially when a letter comes in snail mail. The writer’s voice, handwriting, time, and affirmation are carried in that note or letter. So personal. Something to hold that doesn’t vaporize as new emails and texts pile on top.
This matching letter paper and envelope, above, represents a by-gone era. Letters were so welcome between friends and me during our summer camp and college years, and then between my parents and me when I moved away from home as a young adult. Soon mobile phones and personal computers shoved those activities aside.
Newer generations won’t have as much of this. I am thankful for the artists, like Erin Vaughan, still creating beauty, like the notepads below. Writing on pretty papers is still something many of us enjoy.
We have more conveniences and less time. Someone explain that to me. I do have less time to write letters. If I spent less time on social media and wrote a quick letter or note instead, I wonder if I could spread a little more love. And my stress level might decrease, too.
Back in the early 1900s, a man was busy with his young wife raising their two little boys. In 1918, reportedly at age 22, that woman tragically lost her life. My dad told me she died of complications of the flu. Now I realize it was probably the Spanish Flu, another pandemic. Such a painful loss of life and love gone too soon.
A few years later, Joseph remarried. Little, lovely Emma became his wife. They gave birth to another boy, his third son. That son grew, and years later he became my dad.
I cannot quite get my head around it. I might not be here if it were not for a tragic family consequence of the Spanish Flu. I don’t feel good about that, but it is interesting. This connects me in an odd way to another historic, serious, disruptive health crisis and the changes it brought, the impact it had.
The heartache was very real for so many back then, including my own grandfather, and it is today with our pandemic. The frustration is a daily burden, then and now. There are no easy answers. No more shortcuts. But good will come.
Generations from now, when this is history, what story will they tell?
I was an educator for twenty-seven years prior to retiring in 2017. With all the talk about reopening schools this fall, with the current pandemic not yet under control here in the United States, I have to say, it’s never as easy as they make it sound.
The executive branch is threatening to withhold funding, so it seems school bullying has begun at the top. Anyway, on behalf of my fellow educators still on the job, God bless you all. Here is my take on a quick look at the reality of classroom details and management that could be reality this fall. Enjoy!
Between the cautions of the pandemic, my greater awareness of what the 4th of July means to Americans with a different experience, and a speech given, I had a quieter celebration with a wider perspective. I learned more and became more thoughtful as a citizen.
We still had a fun at-home holiday. Much of it felt normal. Some of it felt very different. Some of it was new this year. We made the best of it, enjoying it all.
On July 3rd, we had a good time watching the movie, Hamilton, while eating ham(ilton) sandwiches and custom cookies. What a great musical for a variety of reasons! We’d seen it performed live in downtown Los Angeles two years ago. The movie gave us a much better view.
Food and Social Distant Fireworks
Over the weekend, we ate outdoors. My husband cooked great food on the grill several times. We had red, white, and blue strawberry shortcake for dessert while we watched PBS’s A Capitol Fourth and fireworks over Washington, D.C.
Afternoon Virtual Jazz
Earlier that afternoon, we listened to a virtual outdoor concert while seated in the backyard by the pool (see photo below). We relaxed to a few hours of great music using a wireless speaker and my phone. The Front Yard Groove Social Distancing Concert was expertly performed by talented young musicians, via Facebook live, from the front yard of a friend in Inglewood.
Anyway, the 4th of July, though bright and sunny outside, was clouded for me. I continue to kindly sort it all out. It is a tension to be managed. I was happy to celebrate the 4th of July, but it was a most unusual set of circumstances this year. It will continue to be one of my favorite holidays, but now with the hope to do better for all people who call the USA home.
The third component of my quieter, more reflective July 4th pertains to the recent words of our President. I felt sad and disappointed by the speech he gave at Mt. Rushmore on July 3rd. His words were divisive, harsh, and felt too partisan for the context of the evening. That was painful and will not be without consequences. I grieve the many ways on how divided our country is currently. The chasm is growing and dangerous. Leaders have the responsibility to heal, not hurt.
National pride is complicated, layered. Patriotism can be expressed in many ways. I am so glad to be an American, so grateful to live here, to experience this historically young federal republic. But I lament for the broken, bruised, and bleeding flaws, too. For the systemic injustices we have yet to overcome. We have more compassionate and wise work to do.
The second component that impacted my celebration of Independence Day 2020 relates to my continued choice to respond thoughtfully to the recent social unrest regarding racial injustice. I am listening and learning as stories are shared by the black community. On the weekend of the 4th of July, the historic speech given by Frederick Douglas came to my attention again and in many formats. I was reminded of some harsh truth. That speech impacted me, and I thought more deeply about the experience of others this year. Here is a video of one of the best recitations of that important speech that I saw or read this past weekend.
I lament the power and wealth disparity in our nation that I believe feeds on the suppression of certain groups. I will take steps to change that in the days to come. But for this July 4th, I sat quietly at times, to honor others and their stories.
The 4th of July, traditionally, is one of my two favorite holidays. Here are some of the reasons:
Time off work
Fun with family and/or friends
Community traditions: local fireworks shows, concerts in the park, parades, “taste of” events.
No shopping for presents and busting the budget
Decorations are minimal – easy to put up, remove, and store.
We often have a lazy schedule, waking up without an alarm.
It lasts a couple days, not a couple months.
It is not a three-month retail event.
The red, white, and blue theme are so summery.
This Fourth of July was quite different for me.
This year was a much quieter, more subdued event due to three current events. Maybe yours felt different, too. Between the cautions of the pandemic, my greater awareness of what the 4th of July means to Americans with a different experience, and a speech given, I wasn’t sure what the 4th would look like for us, but I knew it would be different.
First, we are in the middle of a pandemic. I felt sad because this holiday would be different due to the “safe at home” order we are following here in California. But I didn’t know exactly how that would work out. We chose to stay home and celebrate with just the two of us. We did not gather with family or friends, share a great holiday meal with a crowd of loved ones, go to the beach, or watch a fireworks event. We spent the day similar to every day for the last 110 plus days. At home. Simple living.
Though bright, sunny, and hot outside, it was clouded for me emotionally. I realized that was OK. I was happy to celebrate the 4th of July, but it was a most unusual set of circumstances this year. It will continue to be one of my favorite holidays, but now with the hope to do better for all people who call the USA home. We will always make the most of it.
Every July, I like to see the American flags flying from local houses as I drive through the neighborhood. This year, our flag was not out front at our home. Don’t judge! We moved our flag to the backyard this year. In the front yard, I rarely saw it, since we don’t go out front much.
With the flag flying in the backyard, we could see it frequently. We enjoyed it when we sat in the backyard and when we looked out from the kitchen or den windows. It was illuminated at night, too, which is proper flag etiquette.
Do you have an American flag? Did you display it at your house for the 4th of July this year? Did you see many on display this weekend in your neighborhood?
Here in Southern California, many of us are staying home in response to the “Safe at Home” order from California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, to battle the CoVid19 crisis. I’ve often wished for more time at home to get this project done or do that creative project. Now I do have extra time, and I struggle to figure out what to do next.
I watch the news. Although it is hard for me to conceive, experts say things will get harder in the next weeks. I can feel the anxiety that produces. Focus is fleeting in the midst of the uncertainty outside our front doors.
Last Saturday, I needed a break. I needed to do something for a few hours that could take me away from current reality with an engaging activity. It had to take place at home. I got a silly idea. I decided I was going to build a tent at home inside. I returned to a childhood activity that I loved.
I jumped on that idea, and it filled the afternoon with creative fun and sweet play. I found great joy in a stressful time. I feel a little vulnerable sharing this with you due to the high level of silly. This is not something one would typically do alone at my age.
But I really wanted to try. So I’ll share it with you and perhaps encourage you to play more, too. As a responsible 64-year old adult, I rarely take time to play. I had forgotten how great it can feel.
Here are the details of my unusual afternoon adventure. I was only limited by what I could find around the house, the size of the space selected, and my imagination. Every step was freeing and fun. Just plain fun. It also brought cheer by bringing to mind one of the reasons I loved working with fourth graders as a teacher. To play like a kid.
Step 1: Diagram the plan and make lists of things to include.
Step 2:Collect materials and supplies.
Crutches: Support beams
Pair of old windows: Small french doors for entrance
Sheets, quilt, blanket, and variety of pillows: Ceiling, floor, and supplies to get comfortable and cozy.
Things to do in tent: Book to read, craft book on lettering, bag of pens for lettering or writing, note writing bag (note cards), and headphones
Gauze curtain panel, shelf: Front entrance valence and snack shelf
Magazine: For reading and relaxing
Step 3: Construct the tent using the highly technical engineering skill of trial and error.
Step 4: Prepare some snacks for sustenance.
I rummaged through the kitchen and packed up the kind of things a kid would find to eat. Cashews, mini-marshmallows, Trader Joe’s Baked Cheese Crunchies, pretzels, and a banana. For a beverage, I loaded my small pink canteen with ice and sparkling water. Plus, I took a paper straw for my drink to create more of a party feel, and perhaps save an ocean turtle.
Step 5: Get into the tent and enjoy the afternoon.
Perhaps you’ve guessed by now that my inspiration tent was the one in the movie Holiday. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the tent. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t give it away.
Once upon a time, many of us had to stay at home for weeks. Many of us will do our best to make the most of it. Though an odd and difficult time, some memories we create will last far beyond this pandemic. I am grateful for these good moments.
Remember, you’re never too old to make the best of a tough time. Stay home. Stay patient. Stay creative. Stay playful.