trifectas

There are occurrences that happen out of our control that maybe could have been avoided or prevented, but they happen all the same.

Something brought such an event to mind this week that made me laugh out loud. I recall at the time not being amused.

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One morning when my son was maybe 6 or 7 years old we had overslept, he was going to be late for school and me late to work. Throwing his lunch together and getting breakfast ready I realized I had forgotten to get any milk. Could he have survived one morning not having milk? Sure. As an obsessive single mom could I have allowed this?

No.

So I called to my son that I was running up the street to get milk, ran to my car, pouring rain, saw the dog had got out, put her in the car, jumped in, drove the short distance to the store.

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Leaving the car running, I ran in, grabbed the milk, paid the cashier, dashed back to the car to see my little dog, delighted to see me again, jump on the door locks locking all 4 doors. I stood for a moment, at a complete loss. I ran back in the store (this is 10 years pre-cell phones) and, explaining my predicament asked they call 911. About 5 minutes later the fire truck pulled up, chastised my thoughtlessness explaining carefully if a living thing had not been in the car they would not have come to help.

Well, I thought, that ‘living thing’ was the reason they were there.

No matter. I had the milk, got breakfast in my son. As we sat at the light to turn in to the school I jotted a quick note explaining his tardiness. A jarring jolt accompanied by crunching metal, I looked up to see the front of my little car neatly folded under the rear of the concrete mixer in front of me at the light. Apparently I could not maintain proper pressure on the brake pedal and write simultaneously.

”Why didn’t you say something?” I wailed to my son.

”I wanted to see what would happen,” he calmly replied.

** Days better spent in bed **

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projects

Like most others in this forced lockdown I have sought out projects. It’s amazing how much you can find to do when you really look.

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Some shrubs had grown halfway up the window. How is it I did not notice I couldn’t see out of the window? So I pruned them. Amazing the difference an enlarged perspective made.

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My mom always told me books are my friends. Some are such good friends I had 2 or 3 of the same book, or very similar. So I culled through my bookshelves. I stored the boxes of books in a room I don’t use much. It looks like I am moving. Maybe the used bookstore will open soon, or the library will receive donations again.

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Next project— a couple of slow moving drains. This can be a pretty gross chore, but the all-natural cleaning method of baking soda, cleaning vinegar and salt is very gratifying. All that fizzing!

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A realtor who listed a former house for me told me to wash window sills and baseboards. Who knew these got dirty?? So I learned a new housekeeping chore. Check.

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My latest project will take longer. The caps on the fence posts around my yard are literally disintegrating. So I went to the hardware store. They all have 4×4, 6×6 but not 5×5 which is what I have so I looked online. There is a company called Post Cap Depot. Who’d have ever guessed? I had hoped to have a project for this Memorial Day weekend but this one will have to wait. So I am repotting some plants that are pot-bound. No one should be confined.

And I am going to reflect, in this time of harsh restrictions, on the brave American military who have fought to protect our God-given freedoms for over two centuries.

We are all fighting for those freedoms now.

CDF0FFD1-5D08-4313-9BB1-AFF7FD4D4FF8Lily and Lulu are worn out!

So I wish everyone a safe and healthy reopening, and I won’t ever take any freedom for granted again.

 

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strange

I should’ve taken a picture.

One thing this viral plague (not) has done for me is take my shopping outings down several degrees. Which is a good thing, though the shopping did keep me around people in my semi-reclusive life.

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I didn’t though, take the picture. A few weeks ago I read a blog post where the blogger was upset with shoppers who ignored or were oblivious to aisle signs directing shopper traffic. (I never actually imagined I would say words like that.) I laughed to myself thinking, seriously? Now there’s somewhere that directs people in how to walk in a grocery store??

I couldn’t imagine it. Until I got yelled at.

I had a shopping list for a local food pantry and could not find the rice aisle. A large woman on a shopping scooter cut the corner short into the aisle I was exiting, frowned at me and said “you’re going the wrong way.”

I stood dumbly for a second trying to process what she meant. And recalled the post I’d read.

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I looked down and saw the large stickers on the floor at each end of the aisle: green, go this way; red, don’t enter this way.

Oh My Gosh.

So I guess this better enables us to not breathe other people’s exhaled breath or something. So in addition to trying to find items that potentially, because of high demand, may not be available I have to watch which way I can go down the aisles. For me, in my simple little routined but free-form life this is a significant adjustment.

As long as I live (or as long as this fiasco lasts) I will not scold anyone for going the “wrong” way down a grocery aisle.

At least some of the beaches are open now. And considering some other states and their authorities restrictions it could be worse.

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So let’s don’t mention the new tropical storm coming this week. Maybe it will blow the bad germs out to sea.

 

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interruptions

My father was a very smart and talented person. He cultivated friendships. He genuinely liked people. Many were business associates and some provided serendipitous turns in our family’s life.

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One couple I recall very clearly from when I was around 9 or 10. They had a big picnic for families every summer, even with a clown to keep kids happy and out of the grown-ups hair. The couple owned a small business that was kind of faltering so my father offered to help support it and invested in it. As he retired years later, he learned the little company was in receivership and offered to pay its debts and bought it.

Begin phase two of our family’s life.

The business being in bankruptcy we knew we had nothing to lose. But it had offered an important service to the city so Dad was determined to get it going. And he did.

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Initially things went slowly. That first year, home for summer break I was sitting in a comfy chair reading one Saturday morning and as Dad came into the room he tossed a large manual beside me and said, “Read this. Monday morning you’re a typesetter.”

The company did not generate enough income to hire many people so at first our family did everything. My brother was applying to medical schools and interviewed people in his off time. My mother kept the books, paid the bills. Dad insisted on paying us, so I kept a tally of hours I actually worked during the workday. And so we went on until Dad got some impetus behind it.

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He asked people what they wanted to get out of it, what would be most helpful. He asked them to complete surveys and fine-tuned, tweaked and polished the little company until it was useful. And gradually hired a few more people and it started paying for itself.

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Some 30-years later Dad passed away and my brother and I kept the business. After a year or so it began to falter again, so I went back to see what it needed. It needed a lot. The years before he died, Dad had trusted others to manage things and neither my brother nor I were close by to help. So after a few months of tweaking, cleaning and many hundreds of hours of prayer, 14-15-hour days a friend of Dad’s approached us to ask about purchasing it. My brother and I discussed it and felt it was the best for the business.

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In a short span of 10 months or so I learned quite a lot. About a company, coworkers, stress management, keeping calm, and about myself. I understood how my father became successful.

Hard work. Selflessness. Redeeming the time. Wasting nothing.

So though that time was an unexpected interruption it was a crash course in humility, gratitude, inner strength, courage and complete reliance on God. Dad was no longer here to advise me. To this day I miss him, his deep belly-laugh, his wisdom, a no-nonsense approach to people and life. He never lied, and he always left people feeling better about themselves.

He was gifted.

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birdies

My brother plays golf. He and our mom hit the links every chance since he could walk. I never caught the bug so was not as close to Mom as my brother because she lived to play.

My birdies are the kind with feathers.

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Last spring I put a bluebird box. The backyard is not very big, so a lot of interest in the box but no residents. Rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I spend a lot of time outside. I garden, terrier mix Lulu checks the perimeter, husky mix Lily suns herself or eats small lizards.

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This year we have a family. Barely audible baby cheeps are coming from the box. Conveniently there is a feeder of mealworms a mere few feet away. Lily and Lulu aren’t remotely interested in birds. Good thing. My dad had a setter bird dog that once ate a baby mockingbird. For the rest of her life she was kami-kazied every time she left the back porch.

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These beautiful creatures should have a lot to worry about— wind, rain, mites, ants, snakes, protecting their babies, food. But they don’t. They live in most areas where they are found year-round. And each year they find a home and raise their families. Their only brooding is with family-raising.

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And they sing. They sing with all their heart. It’s a pure, chaotic little song that has a random tune.

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If they aren’t happy someone should tell them they make others happy.

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refocus

In summer rescue dogs Lily and Lulu’s walkies are before sunrise and after sunset with quick outings through the day in the backyard. Has to be this way because the heat gets to them. To me, too

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So this morning, because of some lovely late cold fronts was very cool as we ventured out around six, still in the dark.

Summer walkies are an adventure. More bunnies and toads. Never is husky-mix Lily more focused than when a reptile crosses her path. When a toad stops the required hopping Lily does not lose interest. She will gently tap it with her paw until it starts to hop around again. This morning she actually tapped it with her nose.

She knows better.

Toads have a protective toxin they coat their bodies with. This causes a dog to froth at the mouth. Which Lily did. She is tenacious. She kept at the toad so I stepped in and moved it to a shrub and we walked on, Lily spitting and shaking her head.

As we turned the corner toward home both Lily and Lulu went on high alert— a rabbit jumped in the road. It waited till they were just at attack position before it bounced away.

Still, the excitement made their obligatory morning naps reminiscent of the chase in their dreams.

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So many times this week my emotions got tossed like waves in a storm, listening to armchair commentators critiquing the virus. Who to blame, wrong information, who said what, what should be done, and shouldn’t be done, until I was angry in my own head.

So I refocus. This experience is no surprise to God. Neither are requirements that are levied on our communities. So I look to Him. I ask for peace. I pray for people who need prayer. I find things to be grateful for.

So many things.

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intentions

For years every summer from when my brother and I were very small my family and I transformed our lives in one week at a small South Carolina beach town. Our parents, away from work and the daily demands of life were relaxed and actually fun to be with. Trading comforts like air-conditioning for ceiling fans we ate basic southern food, played in the ocean and sought interesting shells. Occasionally a pod of porpoises swam by as we sat transfixed on the porch. Idyllic, undemanding, peaceful.

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Even before reading Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us I have always loved the ocean. It’s mysterious, moody and can be, like me, quite dramatic. So when I retired, moving to within minutes of the beach was a dream come true.

Except hurricanes.

Since this remarkable viral plague paralyzed the world I am surfing Zillow almost daily. I have convinced myself that living in the mountains will be my best option. Yes, ice storms. Yes, frozen pipes. I have yet to make my pros and cons list for living both places. I tend to be impulsive. This is a bad trait when considering something like moving house. Since 2003 for instance I have moved 7 times. Three different states. Four of those moves were for work. That is a lot of boxes and bubble wrap. So this one (if there is one) I hope will be the last.

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What made this hard is knowing I will be a 6-hour drive from the ocean. And one of the houses I looked at boasted a “concrete-insulated cellar of bomb shelter quality convenient for safety from tornadoes”.

So maybe hurricanes, though terrible, can be withstood.

 

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brave new world

My mother must have thought her ears were playing tricks on her one Saturday afternoon. As a high school teenager I enjoyed completely zoning out in a swath of contemporary rock music. But instead of the usual chaotic sounds of Hendrix, J. Geils or James Gang, Dvorák’s symphony no. 9, “From the New World” wafted from the stereo in the den. I was reading the album cover (long before cds and liner notes) and glanced up to see her peering around the doorway, quizzical expression. I gave a slight smile and her face vanished.
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During this pandemic many grocery and other stores here have a “senior shopper hour”, usually 6-7 am. Like lots of others I believe age is just a number and never considered myself a senior but my drivers license indicates that I am. Having to buy for only one (human) means, for me, shopping trips are infrequent. So this week I availed myself of the early opportunity.

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I was unprepared. There weren’t many others, at first, but they all (except for me, most of the store employees and one other lady that I noticed) wore gloves of some kind, and a face mask. Their eyes darted furtively over the scarf or bandana or medical mask gauging the distance between the nearest person and where they wanted to push their cart. I realized we have had to adapt to a completely new sort of analysis in this social distancing requirement and juxtaposition is a whole new factor.

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I gathered the few items and Easter preparations on my list, avoided the paper products aisle and made my way to the cashiers. My personal shopping bags were not permitted, they said. What if I bagged my own stuff, I asked. That is ok. So the very polite young man and I chatted while he scanned and I bagged, how cheery and helpful the store associates are, how nice to have the hour offered. As I toted my purchases to my car the sky was a brightening translucent blue and a pattern of small pink-white clouds. Turning the key in the ignition, the radio station played the New World symphony. Right there, a combination of my own memories, this weird virus and our paralyzed country I felt sorrow well up inside. Before the tears fell I told myself, no. This is not the way the world will always be. We will not always push ourselves apart or wear masks and gloves or have ‘special’ shopping hours or be remanded to our homes.

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We will overcome this. It will not last forever. This is not the new ‘normal’.

Happy, Easter. Blessings of Passover. God is sovereign.

 

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