His mercies are new every morning ... that message from Lamentations 3:22-23 comes to mind when I see a sunrise. The one today, while not jaw-dropping, is nonetheless beautiful as I started my day in my writing chair. I probably had just missed more colorful moments that only the earlier risers see. But I'll take this one.
I was asked yesterday if time slows down when you're retired. That is one of those "it's complicated" answers. This winter is layered with not only my new season of retirement, but three other seasons: winter, COVID, and cancer.
Winter comes every year in Indiana--nothing to see here about that--but life is harder during this period when it's cold, there's less light, and the complexities of both. The season of COVID is certainly getting old because we have a vaccine and we're still wondering how much longer we need to mask up to go anywhere, when will it be safe to return to our usual activities, and will those even be there going forward (I'm thinking of a pool-exercise class I adore, and a return of a local Weight Watchers class that isn't offered on site locally right now). When can we trade in the Zoom for seeing our people in real time in the same rooms? When will we be safe?
Then in my life, there's my husband's illness, and the process of getting through that.
I realized last week just how much I miss people, and quite specifically, missed being INVITED TO DO SOMETHING SPECIFIC! Cathy, a writing acquaintance, delighted me last Thursday by inviting me to join her at a library Zoom event on the topic of home organization.
I was in the grocery store when the invite came, and I jumped on my answer: YES!
In fact, I looked so forward to that Zoom session of viewing something totally non-essential and frivolous that I fixed my hair and wore makeup. I even put on perfume. The best part was that she thought of ME. It wasn't an impersonal group invite. It wasn't an opportunity to sell me something. It was a simple, This is happening. Wanna come?
Man, we should all do that more! Invite people into our world! Whatever it takes!
I asked Cathy the next day WHY she invited ME? She mentioned my interest in home organization that is conveyed online, but beyond that, she said she really didn't know why she invited me. I maintain that it was a Holy Spirit whisper because He knew I needed a little something-something perk. (And I do love home organization, although please don't open too many drawers or doors in my home. You'll be disappointed.)
We're so grateful that Brian is finished with his treatments, feeling stronger and more himself every day, and the sunshine this week has spurred us to address some nagging to-do list items. For example, what do you do if you have small holes in your window screens? (Not computer screens; I'm talking about old-fashioned house-window screens).
Last year Brian found these little patches that you put on the holes and he went wild with them. Well, they did the trick of closing the Pearly Gates for the bugs, but -- I'm sorry -- they look too much like Aunt Bee has patched Opie's worn-out jeans.
So he found a mobile business (God love small businesses!) where they show up and replace your screens. Bonus: For just $10 more a pop, they will build a new frame if you have bent ones. Yes, we have those, too. So Brian figured up what we need, and we have ourselves an appointment. Woo, hoo!
Now the clever and talented among you might suggest that we do this ourselves with bulk screening and a special tool. So easy, they say. So affordable, they say. People: If you can do this quickly, easily and do it well, good for you. But for some of us, there's a reason that God selected Noah to build an ark and not us.
You might even suggest using some matching thread and sewing up the unsightly screens. (See above paragraph.) We're just happy to have this little thing about to be done. I was so happy that I went around and cleaned the insides of the windows and the window panes. You don't see that every day!
I guess you could call it a little spring-cleaning preview! With that, I'm going to close this puppy down and sweep the kitchen and master bath. After all, we might actually have some company by the time we turn 85.
Happy Hump Day and onward to one of my favorite days of the year -- Spring Forward Day.
Through the years, I've weeded out my extensive collection of cookbooks, but there were two I planned to always keep, one a hardcover, the other soft, Farm Journal's Timesaving Country Cookbook (Nell B. Nichols, Editor / Doubleday). I would keep them for no other reason than they were on my mother's shelves before they came to mine.
Besides church cookbooks that I also have, Mom didn't have any other cookbooks besides these two. She had a large collection of recipes cards, and clippings from magazines and newspapers, and I have all those, but other published cookbooks, no.
Yet here's how time gets away from us. The hardcover volume, for example, was published in 1961. So I've had since then to crack it open--and haven't . Until last week.
I wasn't even looking for a recipe or seeking a trip down memory lane. No, it was about staging. I wanted to redo the contents of the tiered shelving alongside our kitchen cabinets. So I was looking for some cookbook props whose size would fit the narrow shelf space.
I took the sun-faded dust jacket off Mom's book and what do you know? It suddenly looked as though it could have been published yesterday. Pristine, crisp, and with an attractive red spine that would go well on the shelf.
Okay! I liked the results. But before placing it, what I liked even more, was inside inside the cookbook.
It was a gift from my mother: An envelope taped to the inside blank cover page, holding clipped recipes from magazines for Hungarian Fruit Squares and Snappy Beef Stew. The outside of the envelope contains Mom's own personal table of contents for recipes that stood out to her.
Interesting. Ha, there's one for Lard Crust. You don't see that anymore, do you?
Inside, Mom paperclipped a section of pages together. There's no comment, so I don't know what that means, but I'm leaving the clip there.
I've found it to be true when it comes to old family Bibles--be sure to look inside them for all manner of information about births and deaths, clipped obituaries and other little surprises of clippings and poems and stories that your ancestors thought enough of to store what turns out to be securely, inside the family Bibles.
But I hadn't even thought about the cookbooks. Hungarian Fruit Squares don't float my boat (not a fan of apricots) and putting cheese in beef stew doesn't quite work for me either. But I'll check out the Porcupine Meat and the Salmon Scallop. Maybe.
When I need a Mom fix, I'll look inside the cover and see my mother's handwriting. My mother, who passed at 92, would be 108 this year; almost now beyond the possibility of anyone her age still being around.
She'll forever be in my heart.
As for the second cookbook, oddly enough, it was the paperback version of the hardcover. I'm wondering if one of these books belonged to my Grandma Jobe and was so well liked, they both had a copy. I didn't keep the softcover.
Who knew? Guess it turns out I can't keep everything.
A most-generous newspaper reader, Carrie C., sent to me a gorgeous houseplant as a retirement gift. Not just a houseplant, but a floor plant, a Spathiphyllum. I've had her a month now, and managed to keep her not only alive, but fully content.
She rewarded me a few days ago with a special treat: Blooms! Lovely white leaves surrounding these sturdy, hobnail-type centers.
,Isn't this bloom exquisite?
The plant, (she lets me call her Phylly), seems not to be fussy about her needs: Make sure she has a nice drink, low-light, and no direct sun, a warm spot in the house. I keep wanting to ask her if she's OK, being that while she's not in direct light, and generally warm enough, there is that door next to her where Reggie goes out several times day, but she answers with tolerance and kindness as she presents me with now a bouquet's worth of these white flowers (although I don't pick them. They are perfect accessories for Phylly).
I have another location in mind in our living room. I'm hesitant to rock the boat with a move since she seems pretty comfortable where she is. Hmm, we'll see.
I also gave her a lift this week! When "grand-dog" Jax comes to visit, I have been moving Phylly to the top of the dining-room table for safe-keeping. I noticed one leaf had a "nibble" out of it, and while I'm not mentioning anyone by name, I did see a suspicious bulldog looking over the leaves the first time he met Phylly.
So now she's off the floor a ways, nestled inside the plant stand. I picked it up at my favorite hardware / home-supply store, Ace Hardware in New Castle.
When Brian and I were first married, and on for a few years, when we were too poor for many household doo-dads, I bought grocery-store houseplants. I had a beautiful corn plant that grew from a sprout to at least my height. But as time went on, I moved on to other pursuits.
I did winter-over a foxtail fern a few years ago, but that's about the full-extent of my time as an indoor-plant mama. The pressure is on, Phylly! Let's work together to not let Carrie down!