STILL SEPTEMBER

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How can it still be September? Especially in 2020? It seems as if this year has been going on forever! Just finished looking thru the last few months of entries in my blog and it sounds like another world. The most important things in my life were making an occasional pie, going for daily walks, reading and enjoying my IPad. That was then, this is now.
Now we are in Michigan, it is fall, I am still doing the same things mostly, but none of it feels the same. We have become home bound, concerned about our health, cautious when we go out in public, wearing our masks, still reading, watching the world go by on our TV or IPads, and wondering how in the world we all got here. The world I grew up in seems to have disappeared somewhere. When I talk with other older friends they seem as bewildered as I do. It’s like all of the ideas and principles that we were taught are just words that have lost all of their meaning. Trust in anyone else seems to have evaporated.
I remember when the VietNam War was going on and someone read the Pentagon Papers in Congress. It was a huge shock to me. I couldn’t believe that our government would ever actually lie to us. We were so naive, we thought that we could all believe whatever was in the written word. From then on many people began to lose their faith in what they were told.
Now it seems that the country has come to the conclusion that they can’t trust anyone no matter who they are. And this is not a good thing for anyone, to become so cynical and untrusting.
There still are millions of good people out there, no matter where their sympathies lie. No one is perfect, but most people would still like to follow the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.”
I do believe this, I have to, or I could not face each day. I don’t want to waste any of the days that I still have coming to me. And it would be a waste to hate, no matter what.

MIRACLE AT WALMART

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IMG_0185.jpgOn a warm and sunny morning this week, in the midst of a chaotic day, I received one of the best presents I have had in a long time.
We had finally gone to Muskegon where we both enjoyed the services of our great beautician. Her name is Joyce and I have been under her care for twenty eight years now. I was so happy she hadn’t decided to retire yet. I have had her far longer than I have had a husband. So we left there and headed for Walmart in Whitehall to catch up on our shopping.
All went well, Bob loaded up the cart and I pushed it out to our car. On the way home we talked over the days events as we headed for Hart about twenty miles north. When we got home Bob headed for the trunk to get the bags, and me, well, I reached for my pretty purple cane. Oh oh, it wasn’t there. I had left it hanging on the side of the grocery cart in the Walmart parking lot. This is not the first time I have forgotten the darned thing by any means. I was Disgusted with myself, to put it mildly.
So I called the store, and they told me they had six canes there! I guess I am not the only one. We decided to take our afternoon nap and then we would go back the twenty miles to get it. So that is what we did. Bob never said a word about it, he is such a gem, but I felt badly that I had been careless.
But when we got to the store I went in and looked at the six canes but mine wasn’t there! I left them my name and phone number, hoping against hope but I knew it was probably a lost cause. But it was such a pretty cane.
On the way out the door there was an associate and she smiled and said “Can I help you?” I said to her, “ I was in the store earlier in the day and I left my cane behind” and right away she pointed to the sidewalk beside her and said “Here it is, it has been sitting here all day. Someone turned it in “ and there stood my beautiful purple cane, with a claw bottom, just waiting for me.
I couldn’t believe it. If she hadn’t spoken to me I would never have known because I had checked so thoroughly in the store.
So whoever is my guardian angel in the Whitehall area, I hope that you see this. Thank you so much! There really are good people around us and I feel like my spirit has been renewed.

MINCEMEAT PIE

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DSCF0437On a wet and dreary Sunday afternoon in Michigan, sometimes it is difficult to gather up your long lost ambition long enough to make tracks for the kitchen, just to make a pie. Looking out the window I can see that the whole world seems to have turned green overnight. The lawn looks gorgeous, Bob has just finished the first go around with the riding mower, and spring has finally arrived. The maples are finally leafed out and it won’t be long before we can no longer see all of the lake. It looks as green as the pictures you see of Ireland in all of its glory.
But. I am here to bake a pie. A mincemeat pie, one of my lifetime favorites. It used to be that we bought little square packages of mincemeat. You had to add water to its consistency and cook it before you put it in the pie shell. The only time you could even buy it was just before Thanksgiving and then up until Christmas. But now mincemeat comes in a very heavy quart glass jar. It is a very pretty jar and I always think I should keep it because there must be something it would be useful for. It is relatively expensive to buy, $6-8 depending upon where you shop. But I splurge and buy three jars, knowing that when I get back from Florida next spring it won’t be available up here. Problem is after I buy it here, then I leave for the south and then I buy three more down there for the holidays. Who could have dreamed that I could spend so much on mincemeat? Just because I love the taste and it reminds me of a long ago time.
So I have now baked the pie. The house smells so good. But mincemeat pie tastes best when it is cold, so I must wait for another occasion. It is a big pie tin so I will cut it into eight pieces and that will be four times we can enjoy it. At this stage of our lives it is absolutely amazing what simple pleasures we can look forward to. Maybe next week I’ll make it Apple, I still have a few apples from last fall.
A beautiful green but soggy day here in Michigan, and I have enjoyed writing to you about our Mincemeat pie. Maybe it will put you in the mood to bake something too. Just think about how your house will smell when you do it!

A GIFT FROM WORDPRESS

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photo of tiger and cub lying down on grass Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Pexels.com[/caption
Would you look at this! A new picture that I just downloaded from WordPress. My cup runneth over. Just received a notice that now a new free Photo Library is available to me.
They couldn’t have picked a better day for me. After watching all of the depressing news I just decided to come to my trusty laptop and see what I could find to cheer me up. The first thing I found was an article I wrote a short time ago about what makes me happy? I could hardly believe how upbeat I sounded at the time. I was about to copy that to cheer myself up when I saw the photo notice. So I pulled it up and when they asked for a subject, I put “Tigers”. Wow, hundreds of tigers, in every shape and color, popped up on the screen. Making up my mind just which one to chose was a hard thing to do. But Mama Tiger watching over her little one won out and so that is what I chose for this time.
Now that I know that I can go to this photo library any time I want to, it gives me the urge to start writing again. And it is about time. I can hardly remember a longer writers block than I have had the past several months.
So here we go. I shall continue to find photos that I love, and I hope that you will too. And just remember, like I have heard all my life, “This too shall pass.”

MARCH 14, 2020

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Just finished reading from my Twitter feed a few minutes ago and there was the suggestion of someone who has lived thru a lot of stuff. “Write down what is happening to you right now because there will come a time when someone will ask you what this crazy time was like”. Sounds like a winner to me!
This morning, Saturday, we headed for our normal weekly visit to Walmart, here in Zephyrhills, FL. All week long I had been hearing all of the toilet paper stories, the empty shelves, cleaning supplies and so on, so I was pretty prepared for that. It was only 9:30 so we figured the stores wouldn’t be too busy yet. The parking lots didn’t seem too full so Bob dropped me off at the door and went to park.
Wrong! The store was full, full of people shopping, but there was just one major problem. It looked like a swarm of ants had been thru the place before I got there. Not one saltine cracker in the store, the soup had disappeared except for clam chowder, and even the detergent was sketchy. On a Saturday morning you expect to see full shelves because it is such a heavy shopping day. As the realization came to me that people had gone crazy over worrying about having enough to eat in their homes I began to take a couple of deep breaths. The whole thing reminded me of what it was like during the Second World War when things had to be rationed for the good of the country. I remembered seeing people who hoarded things in their basements out of sight because it was against the law.
The citizens who have used normal precautions in keeping their kitchens stocked are going to fare a lot better than the ones who were always running out of everything. What shocked me the most is how close to the edge the average person is when they are given a new situation and they react in a panicky manner to it. Common sense seems to fly out of the window.
Coming home from the store I breathed a sigh of relief as we rolled into our driveway. We are home safe and sound. But I am wondering how many snowbirds may decide to head back to the North a little earlier this year? How many may decide whether to fly or not? We are all going to have to use our common sense and remember we are in this together. In this way we will make the best decisions for our families in the days to come.

TIME FOR SOME NEWS!

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T IMG_0270Feb 13th, 2020, and I have been unable to stir up the energy that is required in order to write on my blog. It’s not like I haven’t thought about all of you, my favorite readers, wondering how the winter has treated you this past few months. But this has been the season for just getting thru it while pasting a smile on our faces.
It all started in December. We had gotten flu shots in Michigan in October and assumed that all would go well after that. Arriving in Florida in November we resumed our usual routine here in the sunshine and everything was going splendidly. Bob was looking forward to his pinochle games starting up and we put our daily walks on the agenda. But December arrived and we both started to do a lot of coughing, sneezing,and sniffling. Doctoring it up with the usual over the counter products, we grumbled and complained but none of it seemed to help at all. In fact it just got worse. Twice we visited the clinic hoping for relief, receiving shots, and antibiotics, but none of it helped. Finally I took Bob to the emergency room at Advent Health Hospital where he was admitted and stayed three days. But by this time he had done so much coughing and choking, especially with his asthma, that some damage had occurred in his throat. Even after we came home from the hospital the coughing continued. When he was sent for a checkup he was sent to a throat specialist. Now he is going to have a video taken of the vocal chords and then he will have 6-8 weeks of therapy because he has lost his voice, at least temporarily. Several of our children have been down here and a big help to us making it go a lot smoother.
We are both feeling some better now. Still some coughing, but nothing like it was. Bob and I are learning how to communicate with each other, but it is still pretty quiet in our house. He is taking a different medicine now, and it seems to be helping. Every once in a while he can say a few words and I can actually hear them. We are in good spirits mostly because we are very optimistic people to begin with. But it sure will be nice when I can hear him call me from the other end of the house! I will never complain about his hollering again! That’s a joke, my friend!

WONDERING

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img_0324 Wondering.
How I ever managed to get this far,
Remembering what a fascinating journey it has been,
Reflecting upon the many full time happy days gone by,
Counting all of the steps I managed to stumble into,
Refreshing my memories of the days of my childhood,
Smiling at the thoughts of happy teenaged years rollerskating,
Thankful for loving husbands, parents, family, and children,
Regretting the times I was too busy, too hurried, too something,
Believing that there was always going to be another day for me,
And here I am.
Still wondering, still perservering,
Knowing that the future is not ours to see,
And still smiling, still reflecting, still believing,
And still thankful.

WHAT WILL 2020 BRING?

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495486-R1-13-24A_014On the next to the last day, December 30th, of the last year of this decade, 2019, the thoughts of newly arriving change are finally taking hold of my mind. It has occurred to me this morning that I am going to have to retrain my pen to write “2020” when I sign my checks. And as that thought sunk in, my mind flashed back to 2009, and I realized that ten years is really a big chunk when you are already on the senior end of your life.
In 2009 we were still living on our farm, growing great fruit, and going to the Farmers Market three days a week. Life was extremely busy, we were filled with great purpose, and time flew by. We didn’t have as many great grandchildren yet, and we were yet to feel the sorrow of losing our son. But time has a way of changing things whether we are prepared for it or not. Eventually we had to pick ourselves up, look forward instead of back, and then the changes began to take place. The main part of the farm was sold to a local farmer, we had a big farm equipment sale, and we began to adjust to retirement.
Retirement is a big word when you have spent your whole life with the thoughts of pleasing people with your product, beautiful, healthy fruit. It took several years before we began to feel that it was time for us to change our way of life, at least in the wintertime. The first year we traveled to Florida, rented a mobile home and began to make new friends. By the second one we acquired our own home, and Bob started planting us some orange and tangerine trees.
But in the summers we still returned home to Michigan and our farm. Life kept on moving at its own pace and we had to adjust to it. Time has now moved on and the decade is about to come to a close.
We are still here and life is still good. Our family has sometimes become smaller, and we have grieved, but then new members have arrived and we welcome them. This morning although I have looked back, I have also begun to look forward and wonder what will happen next. One thing that I know for sure is that nothing will stay the same for long. One of the best things for me is that I have been able to express my feelings by writing and I hope that will continue for another decade.
In the meantime we will continue rising every morning, going for walks in the park, and practicing how to write “2020”. I will let “2030” wait for a later day. There will be many changes to adjust to but we are strong and we will enjoy watching them.

SIMPLE PLEASURES

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img_0365A great new subject for our class this week! Simple pleasures in my life! Thoughts come rushing thru my mind in a hurry on this one. And the first one to land right in front of me is the one that anyone who knows me is that I am an avid reader. Anything that is in print has always been my constant companion. Reading under the covers at night with a flashlight, or the glow of the corner streetlight at my bedroom window is one of my most vivid memories. As a child no one had to ask twice what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. Luckily most of my cousins were just the same way so we did a lot of trading with each other. And fortunately my mother made sure that I got to the public library each week. So books or cereal boxes or newspapers, whatever came in front of me, I devoured. That has never changed.
Which brings me to the next big thing. Fortunately, they are both connected to each other. You might have guessed I am talking about my Ipad. I know I must have existed without it at some time, but I prefer not to look back to the Dark Ages before it. With the Ipad I can and do anything I want to, reading, studying, investing, puzzling, writing articles for my blog, working on my checkbook, paying bills: nothing much I can’t do. Whenever I get the urge for the latest one Bob is the fortunate one who inherits his next reader. He has finally found time in his life to become a great reader too. Retirement can be a wonderful thing.
But there still is another pleasure that I have indulged in this morning. For years I was the pie maker, I took great pride in my pie crust and with four growing boys, never made less than three at a time. This was just my thing and whenever we went to a potluck or picnic my pies were what I took.
But time went on, boys grew up, got married, and their wives became good pie makers. Gradually, little by little, my pie making took a different direction. Now I make one for Bob and I, slice it in 8 pieces, and it lasts for a long time. Occasionally I still take one to a sons house but it is different. Now the grandchildren are doing their share also. But this morning, I decided to make an apple pie for us. Peeling apples, adding sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, making a big (A)on the top crust, I felt a little nostalgic about it all. As the added touch I sprinkled a little milk, sugar and cinnamon on the top crust and I thought of all the hundreds, probably thousands of pies I had made over so many years, and here I am, down to one pie, it is so simple. When I went to take it out of the oven, the house smelled so wonderful that I wished I could bottle that smell and keep it forever. Such a simple thing, the smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the juices bubbling, and yet I can still remember all of the good times when I was making three pies, and they were being devoured.
My simple pleasures are the ones that bring back the most memories and I am really grateful for all of them.

DID YOU WATCH NEIL ARMSTRONG?

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imageEvery week at our Creative Writers class our facilitator has the duty of recommending some suggestions about interesting subjects to write about. It isn’t mandatory to do so, so if it doesn’t ring a bell for me I do a little digging into my own personal thoughts. But this one has some very personal recollections for my family and for me.
In July of 1969 our family made a big move from a house we had built ourselves on the outskirts of Muskegon, Michigan, to a small community called Holton, about 25 miles away. It involved changing schools, and driving farther to work each day. We bought a mobile home and 11 acres and a creek flowing thru it. It was just outside of Holton and it had never had electricity run to it. Getting the property all set up took longer than we had thought it would. But we moved in, did get the water installed and that was the main thing. At this time there were four half grown boys, aged 8 to 15 years.
But there was one big problem. The news was full of stories about the upcoming moonwalk and we had no electricity. This was truly an overwhelming event and we all wanted to see it. Since we had no idea when the power company was going to show up we made the decision to go shopping for a large generator. It cost $600 and we really couldn’t afford it but we did it anyway. It was very noisy when it was running so we were lucky we had no close neighbors.
So on July 20, 1969, we all gathered around our little television and watched all of the moon landing together. Outside the generator rumbled but we didn’t care, we were watching history! Watching an event with four young excited boys was a great deal in itself. Looking back is kind of a marvelous thing for a parent to do. I am going to ask those men, now in their 50s and 60s, what do they remember? Was it really a big deal to them at that time? Fifty years ago! I am sure it was. I know it was to me.