Pandemic Tug Experiment

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What? No hugs? For months on end that has been a caution and a challenge for me and many others. I have devised a solution. Pandemic tugs.

It is recommended that we do not hug friends and family at this time. Nor strangers for that matter, but who wants to hug a stranger? That’s creepy. In the combat of the subversive spreading strategy of the current coronavirus, we stay distant. I pondered the fact that many remain without hugs and the deficit in our sense of connection that can create. There must be a short term better way.

There is beauty and purpose in a sweet, safe hug with a loved one or someone you simply want to encourage. I miss that. Maybe you do, too. What can we do instead to stay safe, respect others, and still sense a physical connection? This sent me on a quest. I came up with this idea.

Tugs! Isn’t that what you were thinking, too? No? Well, then, let me explain.

As I thought further, the idea came to me that maybe tugging on a rope would help. Crazy, right? Think about it. In a hug, you touch another person tenderly. You sense they are really out there and you are connected. The second best idea could be a tug when you cannot hug.

Tugs and hugs do have some similarities:

  • Two or more people are usually needed.
  • Some resistance is applied, so physically you know someone is out there for you.
  • There is a sense of connection.
  • Often people feel better afterwards.

So I began to explore with my theory and then found a few friends to experiment, I mean play, with the theory. Let’s see what happened. Here were my next steps.

  1. Find something to tug. A rope came to mind. Knots would be helpful.
  2. Get a rope with knots, or add your own to a plain rope.
  3. Make sure the rope is long enough for social distancing.
  4. Make sure the rope is washable for germ precautions. That, and dirt precautions.

Amazon, naturally, had a dog toy rope long enough for my purposes, and it was also washable. It is knotted and has a tassel, which adds a sense of play and silly. Now, we’re talking!

I ordered two for tugging with friends without passing them around. I don’t feel that is a high risk, but it is courteous.

The ropes arrived. I was very pleased. The experiment was underway, supplies in hand.
Each rope was long enough to provide a measured physical distance. Perfect!
I was prepared and ready to try my fresh idea.

Two friends came over for a physically distant outdoor visit. They were game to test my tug hypothesis which was: Tugging on a rope with a loved one would be fun and provide a sweet physical sense of connection.

Here goes! We all tried it and tugged together. My hypothesis proved true.

The resistance needed to tug on a rope provides a fun sense that someone is out there engaged with you. It worked!
We couldn’t help but smile, but you cannot tell because, well, masks.
This did not feel like a hug, obviously. Yet it did create a sense of connection and play, and that lightened our hearts.

The experiment was a success! The tugs are a cute replacement for hugs while we are in this pandemic. I was so happy we each felt the physical presence of friends in this off-beat way, and that brought joy.

And then we tugged good-bye, with smiles on all faces.

Some of you will find this awesome, too, and may even need to invest in your tug of love rope. Or get a four way tug of love rope to extend to a group tug.

4-Way Tug Tool

Desperate times call for creative solutions! Tug someone soon!

Stay connected, my friends, and may tugs of joy be yours this holiday season.

Cozy in Crisis

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The fall season is a favorite of mine. This year, it’s a balance of joy and struggle. The pandemic, a guest that has worn out its welcome, makes it more complicated. The anticipation of this week’s federal election fogs my joy, too. I feel the stress of wondering about the results, the response of leaders, the response of Americans, and the responsibility of the media to be patient with reporting results. You might be feeling all that, too. But, hey, what’s a little more uncertainty? After all, it is 2020. When all I want to do is curl up with a cozy blanket in a fall chill, I feel the weight of our current circumstances that leave me cold in a different way.

I do love autumn, but I have to get creative this year and not give up on the joy. What are you doing this fall to enjoy the season? Here are some of my favorite activities lately.

  • While at my desk, sometimes I sit virtually by the river to enjoy the calming sound and beautiful fall color while working, using the YouTube video below.
  • We enjoy a simple cup of hot tea in the evenings, a November ritual that gets interrupted by hot cocoa once December comes.
  • To cut back on all my computer screen time these days with working remotely, I went old school and ordered actual paper magazines. Remember print magazines? Do you still read physical magazines?
It is fun and relaxing to flip through pages for color, design, articles, and ideas.
  • I enjoy watching Hallmark movies with an autumn setting. The sets of those movies are always beautiful.
Hallmark is one place I get my fall color fix, since I live near Los Angeles.
  • My college football team did not play for the first half of the season. Fortunately, the Big 10 did start their schedule on October 24. I hope it works out safely for all the teams.
Purdue’s first game took place on October 24, and they won!

Some days are like a scavenger hunt for contentment, to find a centering joy not dependent on what life looked like before. Fall is a favorite time and I want to keep that feeling. Lets’ not give up. I want to look back and feel like we made the most of it, in spite of the limits and heartache of separation from loved ones.

Although cloudy moods can set in, and that is natural, many days have sweet encouragement in simple things, including these for example.

Slow Cooker Chili
My Annual Great Pumpkin Personal Party
Fall Baking
Dodgers won the World Championship and that brought lots of local joy.

This fall will not be the same. We must shift expectations. I love how some friends have taken road trips to find fall color and beauty. Following their inspiration, we can choose to be OK and get through it, making the most of it. Then we can look back on it to see it worked out after all. Maybe not without disappointment, but hopefully still with joy.

What are your November or autumn rituals or plans? Can you still do those even in a pandemic? Where will you have to get creative? What will Thanksgiving look for you this year?

Stay cozy this fall, my friends.

It’s Almost Halloween, So When Do You Start Christmas Fun?

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It is almost Halloween. Scary, isn’t it? Time still creeps by, even in a pandemic.

O.K. Corral Museum, Tombstone, Arizona – 2019

And if it’s Halloween with all the tricks and treats, you know that it’s almost Christmas somewhere.

Sugar Cookies from Alicia’s Cookery & Catering, Brea, CA

Now I know there are some strong opinions on Christmas and timing, too. Since everything seems controversial this year, let’s add this to the mix. We each probably land somewhere different on when is too soon for Christmas or not soon enough.

Some of you (us) are already turning our thoughts toward Christmas. You know who you are. This post is specifically for you, Christmas people. I am interested in your timeline and how you are doing in this pandemic year with setting your expectations accordingly.

First of all, how do you rate yourself as a Christmas fan? On a scale of 1-10. A “1” would be someone who appreciates usually getting the day off, but that’s about it. You might be a “10” if:

  • Your home, once decorated, looks like Hallmark used it as a set for one of their Christmas movies.
  • You go to Disneyland (if you are local) multiple times during the season (years when it is open – boo, hoo).
  • You have multiple Christmas items of clothing in your wardrobe.
  • You start listening to holiday music, well, already.
  • You are a professional when it comes to shopping for gifts and love it all – purchase to pretty packaging for delivery day. You may be done already. Or maybe you’re one who makes gifts for everyone on your list. I think that is meaningful, but definitely shows a higher level or ambition and organization.
  • You quite possibly stress out with all the demands and busy days of the season – on purpose, filling every free moment on your calendar, and then collapsing satisfied or let down shortly after the big day. And just before putting away the decorations.
  • Your expectations are high for the best Christmas ever – every year.
  • You send Christmas cards early and every year.
  • And what else?
    • For any of you who qualifies as a “10,” you probably do not have time to read this post, even now.
    • For those of us who observe, and love, the ambitious “10’s” around us, what did I forget that should be on the list?

Like I mentioned, I am interested in your traditions and how you are doing this year in light of the pandemic guidelines and how that impacts our mood. Hopefully, we can still enjoy the season in many ways. Please share!

  • When do you normally begin to honor Christmas? Does this year feel different?
  • Have you already begun to watch Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas movie series? Or do you plan to wait on that?
  • Have you been to Home Depot to check out the tree display? Or other retail displays of decorations?
  • When do you usually start listening to holiday tunes? What do you think about this year?
  • When do you decorate? What are your traditions with decorating? Will this year be any different?

I’m not feeling the momentum yet that sweetly builds from Halloween through the next two months and settles back down quietly by New Year’s Day. I typically make myself wait until after Halloween to begin listening to Christmas holiday music. My parents laid down that law when I was growing up. This year I don’t think I’ll be in the mood for the music that early. I do have election fatigue, pandemic fatigue, and conspiracy theory fatigue. That can stifle the mood, but I predict I’ll bounce back, possible later than usual.

From Lindsay & Letters (no longer available)

I go back and forth as a mid-range fan of Christmas fun. Lately, I am a “5,” average fan of Christmas who loves it, enjoys it, but keeps the calendar as open as possible and has toned down the decorating to quite minimal. I’m not into the gift part. In the past, I was more of a “7” or “8.” Going to Disneyland, if it were open, is part of the holiday magic for me. I also plan to watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. Or many. But not yet.

I have another post on Christmas 2020 coming soon, but for now, if you are a Christmas enthusiast early bird, I hope you’ll share your perspective in a comment.

Stay cheerful, my friends.

P.S. For a quick look at Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas: Are you a Hallmark fan at Christmas?

Are you a Hallmark fan at Christmas?

Did I Mention Prevention?

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I take prevention seriously. I’m on the five-year plan in this case. I have the pleasure…no, that’s not quite accurate. I have the privilege…nope, not exactly the right word either, although having health insurance that covers the procedure is a privilege, and I am grateful. I have the practice (that works!) of having a colonoscopy every five years. This was my year. Again.

Prevention is helpful. My mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in her early young 80’s. That gave me the fast pass to more regular (pun intended) colonoscopies. I was fifty-years-old at the time, the expected time to start the exam. I just completed my fourth one. By the way, my mom survived colon cancer, thankfully. People without a family history of colon cancer typically get one every ten years.

Please take prevention seriously. Perhaps you’ve heard about how a colonoscopy can prevent or even treat colon cancer early enough to correct it. Perhaps you agree that it sounds like a good idea. Perhaps you are a procrastinator. It is understandable. Perhaps you should schedule one soon, depending on your age and situation.

Prevention is only good if you take the steps. I want to encourage everyone to do so when it’s your turn. I also hope you have insurance to help cover it. Here is a great four-minute video explaining the procedure and the peace of mind it can bring. If you are unfamiliar with the colonoscopy, this may help you feel more relaxed about getting one.

Let’s switch to the prep part of the experience. The day prior to the procedure, the goal is to clean up your colon for picture day. I’m looking forward to when they make this easier. The first part with a diet of clear liquids, a day that could include jello, apple juice, and broth, goes fine. I had to just get over how much I enjoy three meals a day. I drank extra water and clear beverages all day, which is really helpful for staying full and avoiding dehydration, which helps the nurse find your vein for the IV the next day.

I always use a straw to shoot the prescription laxative right down my throat and shorten the time it spends sliding across my taste buds.

In the evening, it’s showtime. I used the prescription laxative, as always, but this one was new to me. I’m glad they make advances in this category. Someday, if the laxative is a chewable tablet that comes in an easy to tolerate flavor, I’m buying stock in the company.

This time I was happy to find out there was less to drink. That’s a good thing and an advancement since my first one. Let’s just say it really worked well. Don’t picture colon fireworks. Don’t picture the thrust of flames at a rocket launch with the rocket not leaving the toilet seat. Just don’t. It is an exciting time and everything usually comes out alright. In the end. And we get to do it all over again the morning of the procedure. Those prescriptions are effective and a clean colon makes the colonoscopy go better.

My husband surprised me with a package of Charmin. We don’t usually buy that brand. I really appreciated the extra comfort for this event. Very romantic.

Back to the prep. I got my supplies ready and poised near the toilet. I planned to camp out for an hour. Or two. I got some reading done. I played a game on my phone. Time to myself is often a luxury, just not in this situation. It is a good idea to keep friends and relatives away from the bathroom door in case of smells or sounds that could embarrass one. Light a candle in a favorite – or any scent. I’m considering getting a padded toilet seat for my next round.

I was able to sleep fine that night. I had to get up early for round two of the laxative. I was feeling clean and confident by the time I was ready to head over for the procedure. All I could think of was lunch. My colonoscopy was mid-morning, so lunch was my goal. Having something to look forward to, to focus on, is helpful. Mind over matter. I felt proud of my effort once the prep was done and I’m ready for my little inspection and the nap that comes with it.

Every patient gets to wear a face mask this year. No surprise. I wondered if it would feel weird, confining. It did not.

I got wheeled into the procedure room. A team of three men in masks and medical clothes all introduced themselves to me. Not awkward. I was so ready to have it all over with for five more years. After the introductions and pleasantries, I woke up in recovery and felt just fine. It seems to go just that quickly.

The procedure went so fast. My results were all clear. That is tremendous peace of mind. I am thankful to the people who do this for a living. Of course, they send you home with pictures. I’m choosing one now for our family Christmas card photo.

I got a wheelchair ride downstairs where my husband waited outside to take me home. I discipline myself to take it easy for the rest of the day, and that always pays off. And my lunch was delicious. I always choose macaroni and cheese.

Since it is 2020 and things are uncomfortable anyway, why not just add a colonoscopy to the mix and make your intention prevention?

Stay healthy, my friends.

P.S. I have to include this comedian sharing his colonoscopy experience, both the abbreviated version in the video and the full column from the Miami Herald. Here is Dave Barry. If you need a few laughs at this time in your life, this could help.

This is a summary if you prefer watching to reading.

Here is the link to the article: Dave Barry Article, Miami Herald

Slow Cooker Applesauce

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Washed and ready to go.

Since 2020 has had so many lowlights, I figured this was the perfect fall for me to also cut back on seasonal sweets for health reasons. Why not make things even more miserable? I can go one autumn without homemade desserts like apple crisp, apple pie a la mode (topped with a little cheddar cheese), and Disneyland apple slices with dipping caramel. My waistline will thank me, even though my sweet tooth feels abandoned. But then we come to homemade applesauce.

Slow cooker applesauce to the rescue. I love making applesauce in the fall in the slow cooker, with plenty of apple and cinnamon scents wafting through the home. I eliminate the added sugar, often as an experiment to see if it turns out sweet enough. After all, when I bite into a raw apple, I don’t sprinkle sugar on it. It is plenty sweet on its own.

When I was a fourth grade teacher, as did many of my teaching colleagues, I’d make slow cooker applesauce in the classroom every fall. The apples would soften and warm all day long and the classroom smelled much better than usual. Many teachers do this for Johnny Appleseed Day, which may be a celebration merely to give a theme to making homemade, or classmade, applesauce during the hours of academic life. What a little sweet treat for the students in the afternoon!

Here is the recipe I used this year. I used all the apples we had around the kitchen. I’m not sure of the brands. I don’t peel them either. We like a more rustic applesauce around here. And I love skipping that step. I did not add any butter.

The recipe is from WW (Weight Watchers).

The first batch of apples I cut into were bad on the inside. You can read more about that here. I had to use other apples. These are said to not taste great. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, contrary to the popular saying.

Why Apples Are Brown on the Inside

I substituted other apples and washed them off to use.
Squeezing the fresh lemon juice to add to the apples.
All chopped and piled into the slow cooker.
Looking through the lid, slow cooker on low, and the cinnamon sticks stand at attention like little spice soldiers.

The sweet and cinnamon aroma filled the afternoon, building anticipation of a homemade evening treat.

Such a rich color and flavor!

Later that night, we enjoyed small bowls of homemade, delicious, chunky, rustic applesauce and added some whip cream, just to add a little pizazz. The applesauce was sweet enough, even without the added sugar.

Fall foods and cooking are part of the season, even in a pandemic. I am grateful for these simple traditions and pleasures. Next up, butternut squash? Perhaps. We’ll see.

Simple pleasures. Simple blessings.

Stay saucy, friends. Applesaucy.

Birthday Love Long Distance

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Long Distance Daughter – Part 2 (For Part 1: Click here.)

Here’s an idea for those with aging parents living far away or those who cannot have visitors currently. I know this can bring heartache and frustration. With the pandemic, circumstances beyond geography may limit how we share the love and care well for our parents. Here are two ideas that could encourage you to find a way to care creatively.

Back in January 2019, as my mom’s 95th birthday approached, I felt challenged by some of the limits placed on celebrating this milestone. If you have loved ones far away, you might identify.

  • My mom and I lived about 2,300 miles apart.
  • She had specifically instructed me that she did not want a party. I always try to obey and honor her.
  • I felt guilty that I was unable to travel to be with her.
  • I knew she did not want a gift that needed storage, display space, or dusting.
  • I felt societal expectations and pressure to do something big for her.
  • I felt internal pressure out of my love for her and desire to honor her.

A little idea came my way. I had no idea how it would work. I want to share it with you now, in case it inspires you to borrow and adapt it or it prompts new creative ideas for celebrating your long-distance loved ones. Here’s what I did:

  1. Created a postcard non-party invitation, using a resource, Vistaprint.
  2. Picked a design and color she would like.
  3. Added a photo of her as a young woman.
  4. Added the information announcing her birthday and no party.
  5. On the other side, some of my mom’s favorite activities were listed.
  6. Recipients were invited to select one activity to do in honor of my mom, to think of her in that, and to have fun!
  7. If they wished to let her know, they could do so. I provided her address at the bottom of the card.
The front of the card sent to her friends and family….

Next, on the reverse side, I…

  1. Listed some of my mom’s favorite activities
  2. Invited people to select an activity to do in honor of my mom.
  3. Included her address, in case they wished to let her know what they did in her honor and for greeting cards.
And the back with fun ways to honor her.

I was sneaky prior to this. On a previous visit, without her knowing, I’d taken photos of her address book to have names and addresses to mail the announcements. I addressed the envelopes, stamped them, and sent them on the way with a hope and a prayer prior to her birthday.

Here’s what happened:

  • She got many, many lovely cards from her beloved family and friends.
  • People wrote amazing messages and caring thoughts to her.
  • People did fun things in her honor and shared the stories with her.
  • Someone sent a gift card to the Olive Garden, with instructions for my brother to pick up tiramisu for her to enjoy.
One group, business associates, sent a photo seated in a room eating tiramisu.
  • Someone sent flowers.
  • The cards kept coming.
  • Someone sent her violets.

My mom was so touched by it all. She had the best time checking her mail. She was so amused by the whole idea. I never could have imagined the sweet impact this would have on her. She said to me, “I feel like my life really made a difference.” That still fills my heart with so much joy.

I had no idea how this would fill her heart with love on her ninety-fifth birthday. Needless to say, I was so happy. What started as a desperate attempt to celebrate a precious woman from far away, to ease my guilt of being a long-distance daughter, turned in to one of the most memorable things of her recent years. I was deeply touched as well.

Four months after that fun time, my mom passed away. I had the peace of mind that all those written tributes, words that might have been shared at a funeral, were shared at just the right time. She got to read them all. And over and over. Sometimes, even in situations where we feel so limited in what we can do, love breaks through at just the right time in the perfect way.

May 2018 (Mom at 94-years old)

By the way, she didn’t want a funeral either. We honored her request.

Stay creative in loving others, my friends.

P.S. Here is another idea that brings sweet joy, too. My friend made this amazing photo wreath for her mom’s recent 95th birthday. My friend is also a long-distance daughter with her dear mom living just under 2,000 miles away. I love this idea! Getting creative to show our love long-distance goes a long way.

Movie Review: Mulan 2020

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As is true for many of you, we recently watched Disney’s newly released movie, Mulan, a live action version of the earlier animated film. I don’t have clear memories of the previous Mulan (1998), so I was able to enjoy this movie on its own merits without comparison.

If you’ve seen the first version, you know the story. Disney did a good job refreshing it and keeping it engaging. Likable story. Most of the characters created a level of empathy in me. The conflict and resolution were satisfying. It is predictable to some level. Mulan’s struggle, to be so gifted yet so restricted in her culture at the time, gave it a universal theme. The lead actress in this role, Yifei Liu, brought the character to life.

As with most Disney stories, we watch for some humor and some darkness. Battle scenes and war are never relaxing, never the first choice in a movie for me, but predicting that the good will probably prevail helped. It’s Disney, after all. Not American politics.

Some will want to know what age group this movie would be appropriate for, would appeal to. Those are two different questions. It will depend on the child and the parenting style. The fighting and death might be of concern for younger kids. It is a movie filled with angst with more mature themes of hiding who you really are and the destructive pain of feeling alone. Some children will connect with that on their own level. Some may be too young.

For a better review of what age groups to share it with and major themes to consider first, check out Common Sense Media for their in-depth review and comments.

Common Sense Media Movie Reviews: Mulan (2020)

You’ve probably heard that Mulan (2020) is available on Disney + (Disney Plus) for a fee of $29.99, on top of your fee for channel access. So one has to decide if that is worth it. This streaming movies for a fee on top of subscriptions is new to me, and part of some business models since the pandemic closed the theaters. It could be a win-win. Here in the Los Angeles area, we need the movie industry to survive. It is a major employer in our area and does provide a service, for better or worse. Perhaps this helps the industry create some sort of income.

People have shared that it is cheaper than going to the theater. Perhaps, if you pay regular ticket prices. We are seniors, so we do not. They also mention adding in the cost of popcorn and drinks. True, that boosts the cost of the evening. So in this case, spend $30 and then make your own popcorn, pour your own drinks, and use your own bathroom.

If you have a family of even three or four, you’ve at least broken even by then, and still enjoy the convenience of your own home. Each person will determine if it is worth $30 or not. The cost does go down the bigger the viewing group, so there’s that.

Here’s another great article about Chinese culture captured in the movie, Mulan. For those readers interested in gaining further understanding into other cultures, this is a good article.

Chinese Culture Reflected in Disney’s Mulan (2020)

Here’s a list of some of the information shared in the article that I found interesting:

  • Based on a Chinese folk story created long ago
  • Explanation of Mulan’s make-up in the matchmaker scene
  • Understanding the Chinese characters on her father’s sword – loyal, brave, and true.
  • The meaning of the phoenix in Chinese culture
  • Definition of a “qualified wife” in feudal China

Have you watched the movie? What did you think?

How do you feel about the fee to view?

Did you know being a matchmaker was a serious occupation for women at the time of Mulan’s story? Would you like that as a career choice?

[Spoiler alert] Did you miss the 1998 character, Mushu?

Stay loyal, brave, and true, my friends!

Face Mask Maintenance

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Face masks have become a 2020 thing, thanks to this pandemic. At least for many of us. Perhaps that doesn’t include you. I’d have to say we’d all prefer not to do so, but it is a good thing many of us comply. This post is not to argue that point. If you are anti-mask, this post will not interest you.

For those of us who do comply, have you figured out your face mask habits yet?

  • It all started with buying one, at least for me. Then buying a few more. I’ve gotten one as a gift. We got one free. Now I have a collection. Has your mask supply grown into a collection?
  • One day, I might need to wear one daily, until the community is safer. Like when I return to work, though that is not anytime soon. My supply is ready. I have enough, like underwear, to get through the week or more, when needed.
  • My masks are varied in color and design. I have a Cubs mask, a Stand with Sanchez mask for our local Congresswoman’s campaign, and other designs. The designs were randomly chosen, no strategy. How about you? Did you make any of yours? You have a style strategy?
  • I have cotton masks, silk masks, and synthetic masks. I have not developed a preference. If they fit comfortably around my ears, they are usually comfortable across my nose and mouth, and that is all I ask.
And I do have a favorite mask.
  • I don’t match my face mask to my outfit. Do you?
  • I use a lanyard to hold my mask. Such a geek, though practical. Similar to a Midwest kindergartner’s mittens on a string, I just drop it around my neck. No setting the mask down and losing it. No shoving it in my pocket or purse. It is very convenient on walks. It just rests on the lanyard and I put it on when other people are passing by.
My portable mask lanyard system.
  • We wash the masks weekly. That’s simple enough and now a habit. It is one more tiny chore birthed in this pandemic.
  • How do you store your masks? Do you organize them? I simply put mine on a ring and hang them on the dresser.

It seems like masks will be part of life for a while. Currently we have smokey air, so I’m even more convinced a mask is helpful outside.

Masks care does have multiple steps. Who knew? Now we are experts.

If you only wear are disposable masks, I thought that would be easier. But you do have to have a supply, actually toss them in a trash container, buy more, and store them, too. So even those are not completely low maintenance.

Face masks. They serve us well for now. If only I could master the part that keeps my glasses from steaming-up. So simple, yet one more thing to manage.

I’m laughing as I write this because who knew simply adding face masks to your outer wear would come with all these care components. I didn’t even mention how my husband and I have to keep them separate, like our socks.

Maybe when this is all over we can meet for craft night and make Christmas tree garland out of all of them as a memento of a tough time.

Stay masked, my friends. We are not out of danger yet. Around here anyway.

Another Pandemic Holiday

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Still “safer at home” for yet another holiday.

My simple red, white, and blue Labor Day Weekend view from the kitchen window as “safer at home” orders continue.

Labor Day is here. We’ve watched time pass for nearly six months, along with other holidays including St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and now Labor Day. In my area of the country, we are still restricted since the transmission rate remains too high. I was reflecting back to when this started in March. I assumed we’d miss out on one or possibly two holidays. I cannot believe we are now at Labor Day without much change.

My memories of holidays and celebrations from previous years and familiar traditions fill my 2020 heart. That will have to do. Up until this pandemic, I held to the expectation that these annual holidays would always be enjoyed in familiar ways. Now I don’t know what to think, but I hope and pray we don’t hit another spike in a few weeks following this weekend. Being cautious and careful now will help so much, and move us off the state watch list sooner rather than later.

On top of the pandemic this Labor Day weekend, we are in a season of conflict and conspiracy surrounding so much of our American life. I never imagined there would even be such disagreement on the values so key to who we are as Americans. Concepts of freedom, liberty, and justice don’t just decorate a holiday plate anymore. They are often clouded by debate that I never imagined.

Hopefully we will dodge another holiday weekend transmission spike and do better than we did following Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July weekend. Hopefully we will find ways to find unity in all the conflict. Sometimes it feels like siblings are fighting, breaking the house rules, we all get grounded for it, and have to stay home longer.

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas up next, I make no claims to know what to expect, and cling to hopes that at least some of the favorite elements can still be a part of those seasons. Plus, we have an important election in that timeframe too. It will be an interesting ride all the way through to New Year’s Eve for sure.

In the meantime, let’s relax, make the most of it, and be grateful for the blessings we do have buried in the challenges. Not much changes for us. We usually spend the weekend at home working on projects and then grill good food. Only the heat is slowing down those activities.

Sparkling water with frozen watermelon cubes fill my glass, as I write on this very hot afternoon.

I look forward to raising a glass in a toast to a happier 2021! And cheers to a happy Labor Day for you! Tell me your Labor Day plans and what is different this year for you.

Stay patient, my friends.

Additional Note: Please continue to keep others in your thoughts and prayers, volunteer if you can, and continue to financially and on social media support organizations equipped to address the needs, for those among us who…

  • Are battling or impacted by all the acres of wild fires
  • Do not have shelter
  • Do not have access to air conditioning
  • Are serving those with CoVid, either family or professionals
  • Are struggling with food insecurity
  • Are looking for work
  • Need health care
  • Live in an abusive home situation
  • Feel isolated, anxious, and/or depressed
  • Experience fear due to disparity in treatment by those who are in power

The One and Only Ivan

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One of the things I enjoy about “safer at home” orders is that movies are released straight to streaming. Saturday night we watched The One and Only Ivan. It was my choice. I’d read and loved the children’s book a while back and was looking forward to the movie recently released.

The One and Only Ivan Book

I was glad I’d forgotten much of the story details so that I was truly free to enjoy the movie without comparing it too closely. For me, the book usually wins as better than the movie.

Here is the trailer for you.

I found the movie sweet and enjoyable. I laughed, teared up, smiled, cheered, and went along for the ride. I loved the characters – all of them. Human and animal. I thought the visual effects were engaging and helped me suspend belief when the animals spoke. Thankfully, they all followed the rule of speaking only to other animals and not to humans. I liked the storyline and the different twists. Though a straight forward plot and familiar dilemma, it was a perfect movie for a relaxing break from reality.

My husband watched it with me. Although not his first choice for a movie genre, he felt it was pleasant enough. This is a good family movie. Remember, I am not a movie critic. I simply know what I like, and that is usually good enough.

Going to movies was a big deal and a rare event when I was a child. Now our TV monitor is large, has clarity and good color, along with the excellent sound. I still enjoy going to the movies, but staying home to stream them is more convenient, cheaper, and just as enjoyable. The popcorn was homemade and deliciously fresh. The bathroom is convenient and clean. No one in the room talked, used their phones, or sat too close to me (hello, introverts!). Well, my husband sat close, but that’s different. The movie experience was without disruption, a win for home viewing.

The One and Only Ivan, based on a true story, was worth watching. Please watch it to the very end. There is some information on the true Ivan, as well as a little surprise. The monkey from Pirates of the Caribbean screams onto the screen. You know that is not true, but don’t stop before the credits.

Stay artistic, my friends!