Great Sadness

I am learning what grief is, first-hand. My oldest sister has passed away from a brain tumor. While we were all sheltering at home, the tumor was growing, and we didn’t recognize the symptoms until it was too late. She was cremated and when it is safe for us all to be together, there will be a memorial service.

Sis was the first of our generation to pass away. Although she was in her early eighties, I thought she would be among us forever. There is a huge hole in my heart where she used to reside. I hope that eventually I will find she is still there.

One of the best qualities she had was her ability to include everyone in what was going on. She always made me feel a part of things, and welcomed Dear Husband and me to every holiday gathering she hosted. That was no mean feat, given that she had a huge family. I loved getting to see how the kids were growing and having the chance to hear what was happening in the adult’s lives.

I could give you a laundry list of all her accomplishments, but I know that her immediate family would prefer that her life not be spread over the Internet, so let me just say that she was an amazingly talented woman, who raised a lovely family, who was generous with her time and compassion. She was the person we all want to be.

I miss you, Sis.

Catching Up Part 2

I can’t believe I haven’t been here since February 25, 2018. I write blog entries in my head all the time, but it seems that I rarely get around to putting them down.

It’s been a tough year for all of us, more so for some. As I write more than 322,000 people in the US have lost their lives to covid-19. The numbers across the world are horrifying, and yet we have a portion of our population who see wearing a mask as an infringement on their personal rights. I’m so very tempted to let them suffer the consequences, but there are several problems with that thought. First, they could possibly spread the disease. The idea of wearing a mask is to keep the virus to ourselves, and perhaps it reminds us to be more careful as we go about our day, so that we aren’t in places where we can pick up the virus.

Secondly, the nation is paying for the astonishing cost of care that a person with covid-19 requires. Those who don’t wear masks/wash hands/social distance are likely not to be able to afford that cost, so we as a country have to shoulder the expense for those who are not willing to do what they can to eradicate this beast. How long will our medical personnel be able to keep up the effort required to help people with the virus? The constant fear of becoming ill themselves, and the emotional toll of seeing patient after patient die is more than we should be asking of them. While it’s nice that the President is sending military medical personnel to California to help in the hospitals, wouldn’t it have been better to head this off when they knew it was coming?? I digress.

I suppose I have to admit that there is a moral problem with my suggestion, but anyone who is so egocentric that they feel they don’t have to help in this fight has a moral problem. My husband feels this is a form of natural selection, but the problem with this is that they take others with them.

The vaccine is available. It’s just starting to be administered. We have a LONG way to go inoculating the country, but we’ve made a start. Hubby and I won’t be in the first or second wave, maybe not even in the next two or three months, so we are still sheltering at home. Christmas was hard, not being able to be with family.

I’m lucky that my husband is my best friend. We are comfortable passing the time together. We have a simple routine that gets us through the days. I’m going to need to get out and walk this Spring. I’ve gained the covid 15 (and more). I can see adding treadmill sessions to our Zoom exercise until the sidewalks are clear again.

We’ve been trying new recipes, cooking together. Hubby is an excellent sous chef, and willing to work with me in the kitchen so that we can try more complex recipes. I have such a taste for baked things and have been trying to limit them, but I just ordered a magazine called “Bake From Scratch.” Maybe a bad choice! I did not make a single Christmas cookie this year!

I hope that those of you who may read this blog, or just this post, are making good choices. I hope my friends are well, and have escaped all the problems that covid-19 has thrust upon us. I wish you well in this coming year, and hope that 2021 will allow us to be together again without fear. Hugggggggs!

We bought a home two and a half years ago, and I knew at the time that we needed to change some of the plantings at the front of the house. The previous owner planted holly bushes in a two-foot strip between the sidewalk to the front door and the garage. There are three major problems. One is that the area is in deep shade, no direct sunshine at all. And the second is that holly is prickly, and our guests could be scratched as they walk up the sidewalk. The third is that holly should be much too large for the area where these have been planted. The space requires a much smaller planting. I need to move two or three of the six plants to the back gardens, and give away the rest.

On the other side of the sidewalk there is a shrub rose and two plants which might be red-twigged dogwood. All three of those plants need to be moved, so that they get the sunlight they need, and the area leading up to the front door is open and inviting. I’ll have to research shade plants that will work in those two areas. Hosta and coral bells would work, but I’d like to look a little further.

We also have a bank of shrubs touching the front face of the house. There is a mass of overgrown juniper, a beautiful barberry, and a yew. The specialists at the Growing Place tell me we need to rip out the juniper because it is so overgrown. It would be okay to replant juniper there, but the present plants can’t be pruned back to a reasonable size. The yew brings in a green that doesn’t go with anything else that has been planted. I won’t mind ripping that out. I could bring in grasses behind the barberry, to contrast the form and color.

As soon as I learn how to upload a picture, this will make more sense. I have the perfect view of the house to share.

Winter’s End

We have had an astonishing Winter. We went 87 days with snowfalls of an inch or less. Actually, I bet there were about 85 days with NO SNOWFAll! I can’t remember a Winter like this; it’s a first. Temperatures were unusually mild. It felt like Spring a month ago. We were out on the lawn measuring everything that didn’t move, preparing for a landscaping class. Our neighbors were out working on their lawns, using leaf blowers to clean the sidewalks and drives.

Of course, now that we are in our last week of Winter, temperatures have plummeted, and storms are on the way. We had a couple of inches last night, and they are forecasting 6-9″ in the Chicago area, tonight and tomorrow. Cook and Lake counties, which border Lake Michigan, and DuPage county, are likely to have lake effect snow, which will bring them nine inches. We’re in Algonquin at the moment, and the northern suburbs may have six inches, perhaps a little less to the south.

I can deal with this. What worries me is that Winter could possibly come when we should be seeing Spring. I’ve lived through a blizzard that shut down Chicago in May. I’d rather not see that again. Everyone, think positive: NO MORE WINTER!!

Christmas Giving

I’ve probably posted on this subject every year for the past ten years. I feel like the Grinch! I really don’t like to shop, and rarely know what to give my family, yet I need to make the effort.

My oldest sister gave me a book I can’t wait to read. My younger sister, who knows that we love to watch our backyard birds, gave us a suet holder and suet, and birdseed bells. Both of these are perfect gifts, something I really enjoy. Now, why couldn’t I remember that they love these things, too?

I told someone recently that I thought we should either have a specific limit as to how much we could spend on a gift, or, perhaps we should try having a year where we only gave things we made. I’ve been operating along a mix of those two ideas for a while, and both of them have pros and cons. It takes a lot of time to make things for my entire family, and not everyone wants something I can make. There are times when the perfect gift falls outside the cash limit that has been set. I need more ideas. I want to give more than a card, but not be bankrupt at the end of the holidays.

And, time is always an issue. I may have to start working on Christmas in September to accomplish everything. It takes a LOT longer these days to get it all done.

I feel very Grinch-y right now. It’s a good thing Christmas is past.

The Good Thing About High Winds

…is that you may not have to rake your lawn when they die down. Of course, while your leaves may be in the next town, you might gain someone else’s leaves. You just have to wait to see how things settle. I figured that we might have to rake part of our neighbor’s lawn because our leaves were being blown into their yard, but we may luck out.

Dear Husband has a flight test to take to finish the requirements for his pilot’s license. It was scheduled for tomorrow, but it’s been put off until Sunday. That’s a good thing, because the winds will be so high that there won’t be any flights tomorrow. Unfortunately, Sunday is the day the association will be taking the gliders apart for winter storage. Fortunately, they are receptive to Dear Husband’s need, and will save his glider for last. Keep him in your prayers and positive thoughts, please. I hope that he will accomplish his goal and not have to carry this over to next year.

The winds are really gusting tonight. I think the noise may make for restless sleep. For sure, we will have to keep an eye on the roof to see if any shingles need to be replaced after this weekend. It could be worse. Somewhere to the North, they reported 33 inches of snow. At least we have just the wind!

The Day Before

Today is the day before the most disturbing election we have ever held. We have listened for the past 18-24 months to what everyone has had to say, ad nauseum. There are several things I can tell you.

1. I CAN NOT vote for Donald Trump.
2. I don’t like my other choices
3. No matter who wins the election, we will have a serious problem with a nation divided.
4. The problems we see at the presidential level are repeated down ballot.

We have become a nation of leaders who are more interested in maintaining their personal agenda than in passing laws which will help our citizens. We are no longer the greatest nation, by far, and it’s because those who have been elected are only looking out for themselves. People who are qualified to lead no longer wish to run the gauntlet of the election process.

I’d like to see us improve the quality of our education system. I’m open to innovation in how we teach, but we need to make sure that we are an educated nation so that we can make educated choices, and not just follow along like sheep. We need a simplified health care program. EVERYONE who needs medical help should be able to participate. It should be mandated on the federal level, rather than giving states the right to decide if they will participate. And would someone PLEASE come up with a workable way of dealing with immigration?? Our nation was created by immigrants. We should be willing to open our arms to those who are in need. That doesn’t mean we should accept those who want to tear us down. (Dear Husband reminded me that Congress should not pass any laws that apply only to themselves…or, they should have to follow the exact same laws they pass for us.)

And, I want term limits, and shorter campaign periods, with limits on what can be spent on a campaign!

Okay….I have to walk away from my computer, but this is enough to tell you how I feel about the coming election.

Where has all the time gone?

My high school class will celebrate our fiftieth reunion this month.  FIFTY YEARS!  Where has that time gone?  I can remember as a child thinking that the summer would NEVER pass.  I was always eager for school to resume, to get back to band and interesting studies.  As an adult, I’ve always been able to entertain myself, but as a child  it seemed that the days moved like molasses.

Now, the reunion looms, followed by an anniversary, and another birthday will pass in a month or so.  Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, funerals, reunions, they are all reminders to take a look at our lives.

Like most of you, some of my time was taken up with family.  Dear Husband and I built a house and invited my mother to live with us.  She was with us for 18 of the 25 years we lived there.  For a lot of those years I was a paper pusher for my husband’s company, and a lot of time was spent balancing the books.  That seemed important at the time.  Along the way my stepdaughter married and they gave us three granddaughters.  We measure time by their lives, too.

Now, we’re retired, working at staying well, and getting used to the idea that retirement isn’t actually afternoons spent in a hammock.  It seems that we are even busier now than when we worked. Perhaps that is the secret to the passing of time.  We have always had goals to reach, activities to accomplish.  We move from one goal to the next, not adding up the minutes and hours and days that are passing, until we get to one of those way points in our lives.

I’m glad that we have the chance to look back, to see if there are things we want to add to our lives, or if there are things that we should let go.  Whatever we do, I expect time will pass faster with each day.

Words never to be used

Did you know  that there is a movement among a small group of educators to stop fourth graders from using the word “said?”   “Get,” “nice,” “very” and “thing” are also on the list.

I understand the intent, to help students learn that there are amazing, and more specific ways to express yourself, but there are pitfalls in the current practice.  This is supposed to be  a two-step process.  First, you expand their vocabularies, and then you help them learn when to use the two-dollar words, and when to use a simpler description.  Unfortunately, the second step seems to be forgotten in many schools.

I think it’s fine to expand a child’s vocabulary.  I’m all for clear descriptions.  But, I think we need to work on flowing prose, and interesting sentences, rather than how to pack a paragraph with adjectives.

Here’s a link to the article, if you’d like to read about it.

The Passing of an Era

Last month Dear Husband sold the Arr!!  It now resides in the Atlanta area.  We understand that its new owner is going to refurbish it over the next couple of years.  It will get cleaned up, repainted, all the bright work will be done, and the wood will be sanded and varnished.  I’m so glad it’s gone to a new home.  It was a yarr little boat!

DH is still very interested in soaring.  He’s reading all the ads for gliders and talking with the members of his soaring club to learn which gliders are worth looking into and which are not.  I socked away the cash from the Arr!! into a fund for a possible purchase.  We’ll see if he flies the club’s planes or gets one of his own.  There are advantages both ways.

DH tried to solo before the planes were put away for the winter, but there just wasn’t enough time.  If we had been home in November, he might have made it.  This just gives him more time to study for the exam which will follow soloing.

So, we have left “Anchors Aweigh” behind and are moving on to “Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder.”  DH is never a dull man to be around!