Sunday, September 6, 2020

I Put On Heels

The pea vines turned tan. Or is it beige? Brown is too broad of a description.

I pulled the last of the vines from the garden a few weeks ago.

The leaves on the raspberry canes are turning yellow while the fall berries ripen. The contrast is beautiful.

The sunlight has changed. As it always does. And I wonder what winter will bring.

It’s been almost six months since we were told “It will only be for a couple of weeks.”

Today is Sunday, so we went to church.

Today, I put on heels.



If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Color Blind


When I was in my 20’s and 30’s if you had asked me about my experience with race relations growing up I would have said that my parents raised us to not see color. Looking back, I realize this is not true. We saw color. But it was through their actions and their words that my parents taught us that there is no difference.

Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham

When I was in high school a black* family moved into a neighboring town. Our school system is regionalized, so three towns attended the same high school. April was in my class, and in my homeroom. One morning she pronounced that she was the only minority in the 10th grade. I looked at her, puzzled, and told her she was not a minority. She had been born in the United States. She informed me that she was the only black student in our class. I had to agree.

When I got home that day I asked my parents about her statement. I explained that she could not be right. She had been born in the U.S. After all, only those who had immigrated were minorities. My (white) friend from Great Britain was a minority. April was not.

It was then that my father sat me down and explained racism. He told me about segregation. He told me about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. He shared his own experience in a segregated Air Force where he was called “n . . .  lover” for hanging out with his friend Mack. And he told me about an incident where a knife was pulled on him for leaving the “white section” to go and sit with his friend in the “black section.” I was horrified.

I still am.

I questioned him how human beings could treat each other in such a way. My father suggested I read Malcom X. My mother protested. Slightly. She thought I was too young to read it. He responded that if I was old enough to ask the questions, I was old enough to read about it. Besides, they would be there to talk to me about what I was reading.

This memory has stuck with me over the years. I do not think about it all the time. However, it becomes forefront in my thoughts every time see it on the national news or I encounter racism at work. My heart breaks that this is who we are as a nation. It is not what I want in a work environment.

My dear black, Latina friend tells people we are twins. I am the vanilla to her chocolate; we are chocolate and vanilla swirl. I have asked her to teach me about her reality. So she teaches me about micro aggression by pointing it out when she encounters one and we are together. 

I never want to live in a world where she cannot be my friend. Where I cannot hug her when we meet for lunch. Where her life is in danger because she is my friend.

I will not be color blind.


*I use the word “black” because several of my black friends prefer that description. They tell me, “My ancestors are not from Africa.” Also, it is the word that my generation grew up using.





If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Coffee Filters & Toilet Paper


There was a run on toilet paper at the beginning of March here in New England. At the time, I didn’t get it. We were fortunate that we had stocked up on groceries and necessities before March 13. To me, the hoarding made no sense. I have been working from home since April 2nd. Now I understand. And then there are coffee filters. My afternoon coffee is now made at home. I’m using twice as many coffee filters each week.

Here are some reflections on the past few weeks.

Stick to a schedule. When I was first told I had to work from home, that it was no longer optional, I made the decision to stick to my usual schedule. I would set my alarm clock and go through my morning routine. The only difference was that I did not have to leave the house.

Get dressed. This is closely tied to “stick to a schedule.” My first week at home I dressed as if I was going to campus. I even put on slacks and dress shoes. I quickly dispensed with pantyhose and skirts because that just felt like too much work if no one was going to see me. Sticking to a schedule and getting dressed for work has kept me focused and helped with the transition. (By the end of the first week I realized that jeans and sneakers were ok. As long as my Zoom attire was professional).

Makeup. This obviously goes along with “stick to a schedule” and “get dressed.” However, I never realized how much makeup I wear until now. I have always worn some makeup to work, and a lighter version for Church on Sundays. Saturdays, holidays, and vacations are makeup-free. Now that I put on makeup even though I’m staying home I realize how often I apply that lip gloss. (Saturdays are still free).

New ways to wear my hair. I discovered a new way to pin my hair away from my face when I wear it down. It’s not a drastic change. And I bet no one would even notice. But it makes me feel accomplished. Plus ponytails. I wear a lot more ponytails.

Less TV. One observation is that I am watching less television. Which has led to:

More reading. I am currently reading two books. One for a weekly book study. We are covering a chapter a week. It is certainly a good way to get through a book. The other is a novel. For fun. I am making better progress on this one than other books in my recent past. Instead of watching television (see above) I am reading.

Lunch breaks. My lunch breaks are different now. I still make a typical workday lunch, but I do not eat it at my desk. Taking a break from the computer is refreshing. I wondered why it feels different than being at work until I realized that all of my meetings and interactions with people is on the computer. Taking a break from screen time is helpful to recharge.

Cooking. Having to stay home has resulted in more home cooking. Many restaurants are closed. During the week my husband and I often have a couple of dinners that are take-out. Since I am not out, to drive past our favorite take-out places, we have been having more home cooked meals.

More meals at the dining room table. See above. It feels as if we are not rushing quite as much.  

New choices. Several of my friends and colleagues have chosen to leave their current home. Some have left or are making plans to leave New England. Others are moving back. When asked, it is the same message: we choose family.

At some point we will emerge into a new normal. There are things about the current situation that I hope we keep. Deliberate choices. An intentional pace. And ample supplies of coffee filters and toilet paper.




If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Grief














There is an emptiness
In the house

You no longer greet me
When I get home

I miss our evening
Routine

And your soft kisses
That wake me in the morning

There is a hole
In my heart

When do the tears stop?




2/16/20

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Kiwi


In Loving Memory

Kiwi


September 18, 2008 – January 30, 2020


Also known as Miss Kiwi or Kitten, Kiwi was best known for her silly, curly whiskers and loving temperament. She never met anyone she did not welcome into her home. Strangers were just friends she hadn’t met yet.

Kiwi loved to play chase with her beloved sister or snuggle together on a soft pillow or bed. Her favorite thing was watching television with her human parents. That was the time for cuddles and a warm lap. An equal opportunity kitty, she would share her affections with both parents but particularly liked the lap that her human mother provided.

Kiwi leaves behind her older sister, Beautiful Maria, her human parents That Lady and Daddy, and several human aunts and uncles who will miss her terribly. In addition, she leaves behind her four legged, furry cousins in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Washington, and Florida.

She is forever in our hearts.


If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Little Women


Except that there are five of us.

Growing up my family had close ties to another family just up the road. My sister and I were close friends with the three sisters. Our school district was quite small so classes were often shared among the grades. My best friend from the age of six was the oldest of us. One grade ahead of me she led the way from elementary school to high school. She paved the way through our teen years and into college. Though we are geographically distant, to this day we are as close as ever. I know I can call her any time of day or night and she will pick up the phone.

Her younger sisters were spaced between me and my sister in terms of age. My sister had the privilege of sharing classes with both. And a classroom with the youngest. The bond among the three of them is strong and everlasting.

The years have taken each of us in different directions. Three of us have stayed in New England. One moved to Texas. Another lives in Switzerland.

Their father recently passed away. It was sudden and unexpected. We came together as a family to love, and hold each other tight. Such an event is never the easiest way to reunite. The occasion brought us together to celebrate his life, and our lives together.

Our lives are different from the characters in Louisa May Alcott’s novels, but track closely all the same. We grew up together. Shared triumphs and disappointments. And have experienced life, and loss, together. As adults we continue to be more than friends. We are family.

We are our own Little Women.






If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Inheritance


When I hear the word “inheritance” I think of an estate; where someone has died and bequeathed a financial benefit to a relative. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of inheritance includes “the acquisition of a possession, condition, or trait from past generations.”

My mother recently moved into a Senior Living Apartment. My sister and her friend did most of the heavy lifting when it came to the move. They packed things in boxes, identified furniture to move, and disassembled the various electronic devices that went with her. I helped with some of the packing. Some.

Sorting through my mother’s things afforded us an opportunity to inherit items that she wanted us to have. There were items that she was not going to take with her, but we had given her as a gift so we “helped ourselves” to the inheritance. At some point, we will have a family gathering to sort through items that others may want. I am sure there are gifts my brother or niece gave her that they would like to keep for themselves.

Sorting through my mother’s vast collection of coffee mugs was interesting. I hope that those she left behind will be inherited by family and friends.

Over the years, there is one mug that I always used when I visit my mother.





I assumed she would take it with her to her new apartment so that I would have “my mug” during my visits. Instead, she asked that I take it with me. It is my inheritance.

Of all the items I could ever inherit, this mug will mean the most to me. My mother is still alive, and I think of her every time I see it. I treasure it when I use it. And I am aware that there will come a time when this mug will be all that I have left as a tangible reminder of my mother’s love for me.

For me, this is the greatest earthly inheritance a daughter can receive from her mother.

Thank you, Mom!


If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor.