We Have Friends Coming for Dinner

There was a lot of activity at the bird feeders on Sunday, as the snow fell gently all day. It was a beautiful day and each of us spent some time at the dining room table watching our guests squabble, flutter, and sometimes partake of the seeds provided for them. It was a buffet with sunflower seeds, mixed bird seed, and suet cake available for their feasting delight. But still they squabbled and fluttered their wings to keep others at a distance. Normally we have guest who are better behaved when at the table.

Indoor dining at our home for this year’s U.S. Thanksgiving celebration will be much smaller and hopefully with less territorial fighting. I jest because I am confident we will find joy in being together around our table, the three of us – Jim, our daughter who is living with us during the pandemic, and me. The three of us agreed not to have guests this year as the virus cases and deaths are increasing rapidly across our country and here in Michigan. In our brains and guts we felt that even a small risk of having another safety-conscious couple for dinner was too big a risk. It seems we have opted for safety over the joy of sharing the indoor space of our home and table with people we love and care about. Everyone is making this risk/benefit analysis.

My quiet moments of contemplation recently have centered around the question of whether I am being too cautious, letting the experts on TV increase my fear to an unnecessary level. I have always been a big-picture thinker, able to take multiple viewpoints and analyze them down to the bottom-line truth (at least for me). This has been a hard topic for me because it pits taking care of our household members against hurting family and friends by refusing their invitations or our traditional gatherings. The end thought of my contemplations was that each one of the more than 12.5 million people in the U.S. that have been confirmed to have the virus plus the possible millions who developed symptoms without getting tested happened because of contact with another human being. That is how this virus spreads. The best way to avoid being a part of that statistic is to not have unnecessary contact with people.

We are all feeling the impact of this pandemic year (stacked on top of political, environmental, racial, and economic stresses) as we grapple with isolation fatigue. However, when we think of the totality of a lifetime, all the gatherings we have experienced in the past and all the gatherings we can look forward to in the future (if we keep ourselves safe and alive) I think we can find the strength and courage to do what we need to do for the next few months.

I find I am drawing my strength from remembering those times when we were missing family members because of travel or illness. It was sad but we made the best of it. I am drawing my courage from remembering those wonderful gatherings, big gatherings, where there was laughter and joy, children giggling and running around (and parents yelling “slow down”) and people speaking different languages. I can hear the echoes of those gatherings within my home as I prepare for our small gathering that will be full of joy and thankfulness that no one in our family has died from the virus. I will also be holding all of you who have lost a loved one in my heart, knowing that my heartbeat can carry comfort to others.

It’s Not This Time of Year Without…


No, I’m not suggesting that Thanksgiving week wouldn’t be right and whole and real without a rake – any more than without Black Friday, at least in my life. But this year we returned from Florida to Michigan for the holidays to find the leaves that were on the tree when we left were now on the ground. For a couple years our son raked them because he was living with us, other years they would blow away, probably to a neighbor’s yard, or the farmer’s hedge row behind them.


This year they were not only on the ground, they were embedded in long grass. They couldn’t be blown into a big pile on a sheet, they had to be raked and picked up, and it is hard work with the long grass. JB got most of them up this afternoon, with a little help from me – as much as I could do. Now we are drinking hot chocolate, and I bet JB has closed his eyes as he sits in his recliner downstairs. I turned the lights out when I took his hot chocolate down.


When we left Michigan in mid-October, several plants in the garden were still blooming and it seemed wrong to cut them down. When we returned last Tuesday, I was afraid there wouldn’t be any color left but I was excited to see a few trees with deep red leaves and new colors had emerged in the garden as the weather turned from warm Fall to frosty Winter.

I did some garden clean-up. It felt good to pull out the last of the annuals, deciding not to collect marigold seeds, and to cut back the dead growth of the last perennials. It always feels like I’m tucking my beloved flowers in for the winter. It isn’t sad because most of them have sent up little green sprouts as a promise of new growth in the Spring. And the sedumns that I planted in the small, dry bed between the drive and sidewalk and have volunteered around the garden are so hardy that they stay green long into winter.


I got tired and my body began to ache so I sat myself down on a turned over pail. I smiled one of those memory smiles. I smiled because it wouldn’t be this time of year, the start of our holiday season, if I couldn’t feel the cold, but gentle breeze on my face and through my clothing. I close my eyes and listen to the sound of a mower down the street but it sounds so far away – muted. It seems everything becomes quieter when the temperatures drop. I draw within myself, not in a bad way but in a way that nurtures my introverted spirit. As I sit in the chill, smelling the freshness of almost freezing air, and hear the sounds of silence, I feel a comfort that tells me that all is well in this moment.


JB says he will do a quick first time over with the mower and some hot chocolate would taste good. Before I go in I take a few more photos of the color that is still in my late fall/early winter garden. Maybe I’m trying to hold on to this moment in time, because it’s not this time of year without… these rich fall colors and a nippy cold nose.

This moment in time was created in response to Nancy’s prompt “It’s Not This Time of Year Without…” at The Daily Post, a part of WordPress support for bloggers.


An Attitude of Gratitude

The U.S. is celebrating Thanksgiving this week, a time to gather around the table with friends and family to celebrate the harvesting of crops and to remember all that we are thankful for. I think our neighbors and friends, the Canadians, have a more appropriate date in October when crops are actually harvested. Here in Michigan we are pretty frozen over and anyone harvesting now needs to take it straight to the freezer without any processing.

We have learned that expressing gratitude is good for our health – both physical and mental. Most of the time I am very thankful for the beauty of my world and the wonderful people who inhabit it. There are periods, however, when life is just plain hard and there doesn’t seem to be much to be grateful for. As Tawny posts – sometimes we feel blue and just can’t see life without the blue tint.

I like to smile and laugh and feel good inside so here is my adjustment of my attitudes along with some reflections about life.

My sister died this week and that sucks. BUT: How wonderful to have blogging buddies all over the world who have sent me loving and caring words of support. You are appreciated and have comforted my aching heart. I have been reminded of how caring and loving my children are. I have friends and cousins who fill my world and give me the security that help is close, if I ask. There are new people coming into our family circle. My son is engaged and she has welcomed us into her extended family and her two children have joyously entered our family circle. That is a three-fer! Both grandsons are finding their paths and are in long-term relationships, one of them getting married in June. My three granddaughters are growing up to be beautiful, both inside and out. I smile big when I think of my family. We can easily fill the house with laughter and love on holidays.

Our five-year-old frig took a dump. BUT: We are fortunate we have the funds to buy a new one without having to forego paying another bill. We found one, after a day of shopping, that is even more perfect than the old.

I just discovered that the new frig isn’t magnetic so I can’t display my collection of magnets from all around the world. BUT: (Editorial comment: Pull up your big-girl panties and deal with it Pat. This doesn’t even deserve space on the post.) I realize that my frig is full of food and that is more than the majority of the people of the world have.

The chronic condition that leaves me in pain and fatigued most days, can only be controlled not cured. BUT: I have a good doctor that helps me control symptoms and I have more than adequate insurance to pay for what I need. There are medications that have made it possible to gain a whole lot more functioning and I have learned how to control my lifestyle to ease symptoms. My husband, children, family and friends understand and are sensitive to my needs. I am still doing some pretty amazing things – when I want to.

I sometimes miss the excitement of work and the income. BUT: Retirement is wonderful. I am thankful that I could afford a DSLR camera because I am energized by the world of photography. I am now able to travel to places that are exciting and fill my hard drive with photographs. I discovered the world of blogging and have met so many wonderful bloggers who fill my days with interesting images and words. I have enough resources to be a snowbird in southern Florida, leading to new friendships and a reduction in bad-body days.

I am also grateful for:

Beautiful music like the Messiah and Granddaughter plucking out Worried Man Blues on her guitar.

The grand mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the rolling farm fields of Michigan.

Virgin Redwoods in California, maples in the midwest, and palms in Florida.

Great gardens with exquisite plantings and the random plantings of Black-eyed Susans and daisies in my garden.

Great paintings in famous museums and the portrait of J & I done by our future step-granddaughter.

The people who shone a light to guide me, the privilege of guiding those who walk behind me, and the young people who are teaching me new ways.

Walking in the cold surf of oceans and lakes, and slipping my achy body into our hot tub.

And most of all sharing meals with the people I love. Wishing you many happy meals either in celebration of holiday or just of life. Blessings to you.


I have been feeling the urge to do a post on thankfulness seeing that here in the US we are celebrating Thanksgiving – a day of giving thanks. But so much of what I thought of saying sounded so trite and overused.

Then I had lunch today with my friend, Julie, who I think you will meet in my next post. I am thankful for Julie, and for all the other people who have stood by me. All my family and friends and administrators, and colleagues and students and doctors who stayed with me and understood that life was sometimes hard and that I was doing my best. I am thankful that they ask how I am doing, but then move with me to more fun and interesting topics – after all I am much, much more than an illness.

This year I am thankful for my new blogging community that has affirmed me through “likes” and especially your comments and having my life enriched by your blogs.

I am thankful for music that brings us together and cuts through prejudice. I am thankful for music that touches my soul and reminds me of all the things that are important in life – big and small.

My wish for you is that you may find many things in the days to come to be thankful for, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances. And I hope that I will be able to stand by you!