family, friendship

Memory Chest

I recently wrote about what I missed due to the pandemic state we will live in currently. What I neglected to mention is that my memory chest had grown immensely during the same time. An irony of sorts.

A kind soul said to me one day: I hope your memory chest becomes as full as mine one day. Those words rang true to me in many ways. Many years separate us in age but quality memories ring true with both of us.

Sharing is caring and building memories involves sharing. Sharing of good times, great times, sad times, trying times and oh so many adventures. Here’s a virtual toast to your memory bank. Building the best of the best memories.

For today I am reliving my memories in photos, journal entries, blog posts, adventures and so on. Below is the blossoming of a lifelong friendship. From teammates to besties to barn buddies. Their shiny smiles can light up a room.

And then there is ageless beauty of a mother, wife, caregiver learning to soar on her own in a complex world. As you recall In my last post I said I missed smiles. The smiles hid behind masks. These two photos alone show what I wrote about. In nature, away from crowds, in the fresh air, less populated areas you are not looked upon with disgust for no mask. It’s a glorious feeling. A sense of freedom among the chaos.

Onto lazy day snuggles with your puppy. Who says you can’t grab a blanket and snuggle away. It’s never too hot to grab a blanket and pile it for a snuggle sesh.

And who can forget backyard bbqs and all the fun they bring. Memories fill the the chest. The hand written notes saved have a spot in the chest. The memorable cards saved have a secret compartment, too. The newspaper clippings from back in the day have a place as well. The trophies and other keepsakes are all part of the memory collection. The memory chest. They all make the memory chest plentiful and unique to you. Keep building yours, like I am mine.

Share the memories. Share the smiles. Make others smile. When creating this post I didn’t look for smiling pictures they were just the ones that seemed to fit. Ironically there are full smiles.

Unfortunately there are some corona memories in the bank. Hopefully they will be covered with dust soon. Until then I will escape the ordinary to find my peace and make additions to my memory bank. My words to pass on to you will be the same as the ones given to me: May your memory bank be as full as mine one day.

How amazing is it that when I wrote this post that the cup above was on my daily tea from a local vendor. How did they know a smile was on my mind? Enjoy the journey. The escape. The process in general. Pay attention to the little signs around a you.

challenges

Flexible, Agile, Pivot

These three words have come up multiple times in the past week.

First, from my friends in the teaching profession. Those are the three words they are being told to embrace as school begins in person (don’t say face to face it sounds too close) as we return to the buildings. Don’t plan too far in advance, as things could and probably will change day by day. In fact, since we started writing this post, we’ve already switched from in person to online school in many places to start the upcoming year.

Be flexible and ready to adapt to evolving conditions and unexpected challenges. Be agile, able to move quickly, efficiently and confidently from situation to situation. Pivoting to change direction is almost inevitable. With so many unknowns and twists and turns on the horizon those words are valuable to latch on to. For teachers who are trained to plan, abide by calendars, and be as routine and predictable as possible, it’s a bit against their training and possibly their nature. Time to rethink, reframe, and expand in a different direction, and help students and their parents do the same.

Me on the other hand, I giggle a bit on those three words. They represent my life In many ways, during a pandemic or just a routine Tuesday afternoon. All the twists and turns. All the adapting. The organized chaos I call life. I thrive under pressure and beg for adversity most days. It’s fuel to my fire.

Then the conversation hit on a Friday night at the ball field. We all had masks on. Following the rules. The sun was scorching despite the evening hours. I took my face mask down briefly for fresh air. It was still hanging on an ear. Technically I was wearing a mask. The directions didn’t specifically define what mask type, how it needed to be officially placed and so on.

Out comes a gentleman I knew well. He saw my mask and followed his glance with an affirmation (or was it an accusation?) of me not being a rule follower. That spurred a discussion that lingered. I am a rule follower. I just choose to follow the rules within the terms I choose. He implied that I am an A, B, C2-C3-C4 person. As if all the rules have an asterisk. Options within the boundaries.

Yes, that is correct. I always have a backup plan and C4 may be a good pivot point description for me. Explosive. Dynamite in a way. Always with a second, third and fourth plan. I call it depth. It’s layers deep. I make the rules work for me. It allows me to not only survive but thrive.

Some may see it as grey. Operating in the grey tones of life. Pushing the limits. Especially if the limits don’t make sense in certain situations. Staying in the black and white only confines me. Shades give life texture, interest, originality, make me memorable. For some, it makes them rewrite the rules with more care and specificity. It forces people to be agile in their mind and in their lives. But I am always at least one step ahead, if not more. Rewrite the rules and try to corral me. Just another challenge for me to find the gray and keep growing.

I see it for what it is. Depth, diversity, dynamic layers ingrained within. How the mask conversation turned into an unmasking of sorts

perspective

Travel Updates

A while back, Chick 1 shared her experiences with travel during the pandemic.  I recently took a weekend jaunt and thought I’d share a view of today’s travel from my perspective.

We have entered the mask zone. We arrived in Tennessee at the very start of their mask mandate.  We “masked up” pretty much everywhere we went, from hotel lobbies to gas stations.  It became our reminder / rallying cry every time we got out of the car.  Starbucks even provided them on their counter.  (But, the indoor seating was closed and all traffic was one way.)

Buffets are a pandemic no-no, so we ordered off the menu then took breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and drinks up to the room to microwave.  Better than some of our friends who just got a grab bag with a granola bar and a piece of fruit.

Masks shopping.  Sanitizer in lobbies.  It’s becoming part of the scenery.

We were at a tournament, so the girls started their morning with temperature checks.  No team tent, instead we tailgated with our immediate framily group behind our car. All of the spectators wore masks on the sideline (or we were supposed to). I won’t discuss the bad behavior by some fans, but I will say that many tempers were on edge in the extreme heat and what I would say is extreme stress for many.

But, on the upside, we did have some great moments outside, at a distance, mask-free.  And thanks to the El Arroyo Sign for the giggle below, which hits a little close to home.

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Another glimpse inside pandemic life. What have you seen on your travels?  Let us know in the comments.   Be safe and keep smiling.

perspective

New Normal

I thought I had adjusted to a new normal post-pandemic. I carry hand sanitizer and mask for when the need arises. I keep my distance. I limit the number of people I gather with and so on. I even utilize the x marks when needed.

Then I took a road trip for a funeral. It wasn’t a pleasure trip. I was forced to travel. I didn’t want to fly and deal with that drama so I opted for a road trip that I made many times in years past without issues.

Oh, but what has changed. Let’s start with the big one, everything has changed.

The simple task of going to the bathroom on a road trip. Stop in well lit areas, aim for clean and well-known spots echo in my mind from my parents’ early teachings. Those simple rules are history because we now have pandemic rules. Fast food and restaurants are take out only, no bathrooms. Gas stations are employee use only for safety. Hotels are for patrons only so no option for lobby use. So where does the car traveler go to use the bathroom when in rural areas? That’s the question at hand. For me it was a hole in the wall grocery store. Good thing it was the day time due to their operating hours. Am I the only one who has had this challenge arise?

Nutrition: you want to eat a good meal while traveling. You want to have energy to endure your travels. Where do you eat? In your car. How exciting, you get to eat in your car. The car you are traveling in. No break. This is just another way the pandemic has changed things we took for granted.

Mask or don’t mask is a question for me. I’m traveling through 6-7 states to mourn the loss of loved ones. Each state has their own rules and regulations. It’s hard to keep up. When I think about this new normal I just bury my head in the mask.

I thought dogs had it bad when they wore their cone of shame after surgery. I now feel their pain as we all adjust to the new normals of life and I don the mask of shame. At least I’m sporting sushi in this mask.

Of course I can’t forget about the riots that broke out amidst my travels. Circumstances bad enough to shut down cities and make me wonder where to stop for gas when I get alarms on my phone with major warnings like below. This world today is crazy and ever changing to say the least.

For now I will end this post with you thinking about if I need to go buy depends or not to make it to my destination. Enjoy that visual.

family

Grocery Store Chronicles

When I was close to 10 years old I would go with my Mom every Friday to shop for groceries with my Nana. I didn’t know it then but I learned so many lessons from these Friday trips.

I learned to care for others. I learned that elderly people needed a little help whether it was transportation or help with lifting or even just social time with loved ones to talk. I learned that I liked Fridays with my Nana because she gave me candy, ice cream or even some change for helping out. I was rewarded for being nice. I was the youngest sibling so I was toted along always. I never minded the time spent and when I look back I’m glad I had the opportunity. I also learned math at the register and so many other little tidbits.

I didn’t really notice at the time how independent my Nana was. She always had her own cart. She always paid for her own groceries. She also put up the divider between her order and ours. She was doing what she needed all by herself with just a little support from us. Not financial support but assistance getting to and from and being social.

There were definitely more cash transactions back then and the clerk even knew how to count change for one dollar or a twenty. Today is 95% credit card and most clerks need to read the change back amount on the computer to complete the transaction. Such a shift over time.

It wasn’t too much longer before my Nana passed but I still remember those Friday trips like it was yesterday. Vivid memories yet I can’t ever recall how much time we spent at the store. I’m thinking it was a long time now that I think back.

Now fast forward to today. It’s corona time! Life has slowed on many levels as noted previously in posts like Nature Therapy. A slower style I have been adapting to and enjoying. Not sure how long the slow pace will last but for now I’m enjoying the relaxation.

Today I had the honor of taking my Mom to the grocery store out of the blue. Masked, observing social distance and limiting touch. How different it was from when I was a kid…. I may have licked the pole on the way out back in the day. Talk about how times have changed! The trip awakened many childhood memories of shopping with my Nana. I invited my teen daughter to go along but given corona she opted for a big no which is a good gesture however another indication of change in time. As I noted above as the youngest I was toted along. Nowadays kids seem to get choices.

In my fast-paced hectic life, I’m used to running into the store grabbing what I need and getting the heck out, whether it’s pre-corona or during corona so I don’t catch anything. Anyway this trip was different. My Mom physically moves slower. She likes to look at all her options. She likes to check her coupons. She like to compare pricing to the ad she had for another store. No iPhone to google a price. No rush to be anywhere. No need for speed. How this brings back memories of shopping with my Nana.

I observe and adapt to my surroundings. I go with the flow. The slow flow. And I mean a turtle’s pace to get through the produce section. Then the deli counter where the meat needs to be sliced just right and she needs white American cheese not orange cheese! Then we have to skip the ice cream section because that has to be last so it doesn’t melt. Then if she buys the strawberries she needs the shells to make shortcakes and don’t forget the whipped cream. None of this was in her to buy list by the way. Her time to shop was a field trip of sorts. She needed to get out of the house for a sense of normalcy. She needs to pay for it herself for her sense of independence. She needs to choose what she wants.

The cart started to get heavy but she needs it to rest her weight. She pushes I pull. We must be a comedy show for those crazed folks darting around the store to get what they want as if the place was on fire and here we are puttering around as if time is of no matter. My surroundings didn’t seem to phase me. I was supporting the one I was with. I live life in the driver’s seat yet in this situation I am a passenger. I’m looking out the virtual window to see what’s around.

When you slow down to this pace you observe so much. Some of which can be ugly. For example, a person snagging the last can of green beans off the shelf in their haste and hurry not realizing they just snatched it from the reach of an older person who moves slow. Craziness is what I say to myself but did the person even notice because they were on a mission to get in and out fast. They might not have seen her waiting 6 feet away, waiting for her turn at the shelf when one hurried in snatched and hurried off?

She is in her 80s. She is not phased by corona. She wore a mask so others didn’t judge her but it wasn’t comfortable. It irritated her left eye and moved around causing her to adjust often. She had taken great care to watch a nurse show the proper way to put a mask on in a YouTube video and she said it doesn’t work. I keep touching my face. This is pointless. The nurse video said don’t touch your face. I just shook my head and smiled.

We were in the store close to one hour thirty minutes. Quite possibly my longest trip to the grocery store ever. It was just one cart full. They didn’t have many items she needed and for that I get to get up early and go again in the morning. And she wants to go to make sure I buy the right items.

This is hilarious and awesome all at the same time. One day I won’t have the opportunity to go shopping with my Mom but today I did. Corona didn’t stop her and it didn’t control her tempo, her attitude or her ability to make me giggle. To give you a visual of our shenanigans the photo below is from day 2 of shopping. This visit was Target and I was ever so thankful for the “Caroline cart” designed for special needs folks but my Mom has her own special needs; her limited ability to walk but she doesn’t think she is ready for a wheelchair so this was a great compromise. It also allowed me to zoom through the aisles faster and limit my time to 45 minutes with her all buckled in the seat. She would kill me for posting this but I’m a big fan so it’s an honor for me to share.

In about 40 years time so much has changed about visiting a grocery store. I have my memories and I have today. Now I can’t wait to see what it’s like in another forty years when somebody totes me to the grocery store or maybe they won’t because modern times will send a courier with my groceries.

Do you have any fond memories of grocery shopping? It may seem like a silly question but I hope you have memories like me.