Endless Days

The other day, I asked Court what he was going to do for his birthday, which is August 8. It’s a big one — he turns 40. He gave a half-laugh, and said, “Really, what is there to do?”

Though that is a fairly glass-half-empty response (and I can’t IMAGINE where he gets THAT), it is unfortunately also true. You can go out to eat, but you will be isolated and choosing from a much-downsized menu. And nothing says you have reached a landmark birthday like being served by a faceless person wearing a mask.

No movies. No sporting events. No concerts that you have waited a lifetime to see. Just some happy birthdays from your loved ones and maybe a pair of socks. Still, birthday kisses from your kids are a precious gift, quarantine or not.

Things just never seem to change these days. Now Dr. Fauci is suggesting we might need to start wearing protective eye gear. As 10-year-old Mylee (who is wise beyond her years) said, “Next thing you know, we’ll be wearing hazmat suits.” I laughed, but I thought to myself that a year ago if you told me I would be wearing a mask every time I left my house, I would have laughed in your face. Now I can’t even see your face. Nothing would surprise me these days.

But, the good news is, as St. Paul told the Romans, nothing will separate us from the love of God. Neither anguish, persecution, famine, nor peril will do us in, because God is always with us.

Boy, sometimes it’s really difficult to see the hand of God in our lives these days. I’m a pretty good and faithful Christian, but I often find myself asking why God keeps handing us these burdens. Just when it feels like things are getting back to some semblance of normal, COVID-19 numbers start rising. Isn’t it bad enough that we have to cheer for our baseball teams with cardboard cutouts mimicking fans in the stands? Basketball players are being isolated in a Disney World “bubble” so that they stay safe. All the Mickey Mouse you could want, with no kids to share it with.

Having said that, I don’t believe that God handed us a novel virus as a means of punishing us. I don’t believe that COVID is a sign that the world is coming to an end. COVID-19 is a result of something that we humans did. Perhaps it was a clumsy scientist who knocked over a vial of the virus without knowing. (Can you tell that I barely passed biology in high school AND college?) What I do believe is that God is standing with us, keeping us strong, giving us tools to cope.

I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying with great gusto that a vaccine is developed soon. In the meantime, I have to believe that God is standing by my side every minute of the day. I bet he doesn’t like the way I use his name sometimes. Yikes.

Saturday Smile: Beachcombers

In general, all of my grandkids make me smile. But, I mean really. Look at this photo of Micah and tell me it doesn’t make you grin…..

 

Have you ever seen such unmitigated joy?

The Hibbert-McLain family, who have spent months in quarantine, spent a few days a week or so ago on a beach in Maine. You can tell that Joseph and Micah needed the break from Vermont…..

I miss them and can’t wait until I can see them again. I am sooooo over COVID.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Girls in the Garden

The idea of living in a gated community where children run around freely, in and out of each other’s houses, sounds delightful. But perhaps this freedom doesn’t protect the children as much as one might think. After all, sometimes the danger is within the gates. The Girls in the Garden, by Lisa Jewell, gives us a taste of that kind of a life.

After Clare’s husband Chris burns down their house without knowing whether his wife and two daughters are inside (they weren’t), he is committed to a mental health facility. Clare and her daughters, 11-year-old Pip and 12-year-old Grace, move to just such a place. Things seem fine. The girls make friends. Clare learns to survive without her husband.

And then the night of Grace’s 13th birthday party, Pip finds her sister unconscious and near death, overdosed on sleeping pills. Until Grace awakens from her coma, no one knows how this travesty happened.

Readers are led down one path and then another. Just when you are certain you know who tried to kill Grace, that person becomes just another red herring.

Lisa Jewell is one of my favorite authors. I believe I have enjoyed every book of hers that I have read. While The Girls in the Garden was not necessarily my favorite of her’s, I think the author’s writing is exceptional, and was enough to make me enjoy the book.

And enough to want to put my arms around my grandkids and keep them close.

This one is a thumbs up.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Using Up Words 
My daughter-in-law Jll told me recently that our 15-year-grandson Alastair appears to have a limited number of words he will say in a day. It has something to do with having three sisters and listening to them talk. Once he reaches the maximum word usage, it is tough to get anything more out of him. She’s joking, of course, but he does appear to get weary of talking/listening. Last night we invited him over for dinner since his mom and sisters are in Bozeman and his dad was not home either. I texted Jll and told her that he was coming to dinner, and that I hoped that he hadn’t used up his word limit by the 6 p.m. dinner bell. She texted back that she talked to him on the phone earlier and she only got about seven words out of him. You might be in luck, she said. Apparently we were, because he told us all about his three-week Colorado camping trip, and that took a fair number of words.

Harvest
When we got back to Denver on Monday, I went out to check my plants. Between Addie and her boyfriend Trent, they did a dandy job of watering my vegetables. In fact, my tomato plant was plumb FULL of ripe red tomatoes. We have been eating them with every meal since…..

 

Icy Water
The day that some of us went into Yellowstone Park and the rest went fly fishing on the Yellowstone River was kind of overcast, and even had little bits of rain. By late afternoon, however, the temperature had risen and after we watched the boat dock, Dagny and Maggie Faith were ready for a swim. And as far as they were concerned, when there’s a river, you can swim. Even if it’s icy cold. And even if you don’t have a swim suit. Regular clothes will do. They had a blast, and it was all we could do to talk them into getting into the car afterwards…..

What’s For Supper? 
Montana has what they call supper clubs sprinkled around the countryside. Usually located in small communities, they offer delicious steaks, walleye fish, and other delicious food, topped off with a full bar. Julie took us to one called Land of Magic, about 40 minutes from her house. My ribeye steak and icy cold martini tasted delicious. Simple and yummy food, with all of the cowboy decorations you could ever want…..

Ciao!

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Having grown up in the midwest, thunder storms are not unfamiliar to me. The sky darkens, the wind picks up, the clouds start swirling. Soon, the rain begins. If it’s a real mean storm, hail begins falling, perhaps destroying any plants that are vulnerable to the elements. If it’s a really, really mean storm, HIT THE DECK. Or rather, the basement, because tornado sirens begin letting off their terrifying sound.

The other day when Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole were visiting us, I said, “I wish we’d get a tornado warning.” They, of course, looked at me like I had two heads, and for good reason. Tornadoes are bad, and I shouldn’t ever make light of them. But I explained to them that what I really like is the sort of coziness a storm brings. Thunder cracking. Lightning flashing. We all huddle together on the sofa, riding out the storm.

Denver doesn’t get many tornado warnings. Most of the really severe weather takes place on the eastern plains. The storm might pass over on its way to Akron or Sterling or Lamar, but it usually moves past us pretty quickly. Havaing said that, I will tell you that before Bill and I married, he claims to have watched a tornado pass over the city. He stood on his balcony and watched as it made its appearance on Broadway — one of Denver’s main streets near downtown. I don’t think it did much damage.

I certainly didn’t like storms when I was a little girl. There was no use waking up my mother, because she wouldn’t have had a lot of patience with my nervousness. But it really didn’t matter because my baby brother was terrified of thunderstorms. I could count on him to head straight to my room to huddle until the storm passed.

To Mom’s credit, she somehow always knew when there was a tornado warning near us, even in the middle of the night. She would shake us awake, and tell us to find our rosaries, because we were heading downstairs to the southeast corner of the basement. Or was it the northwest? I can’t remember.

I have never seen a tornado. We had them in Columbus, of course, and I’m sure they still have them during the hot, humid summer months. Bill and I recently rewatched the movie Twister starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as an estranged couple who fall back in love while Chasing tornadoes all over the countryside. Who knew you could smooch while a level 5 tornado is whirling around you and cows and semi trucks are flying by like toys. Given that the movie was made in 1996, they probably were toys. But watching a tornado in a movie isn’t quite the same. I wonder if I will see a live tornado in my lifetime.

I began thinking about this because yesterday afternoon about 3 o’clock, the sky got eerily dark, and the wind started blowing. I checked Weather Channel, which had a severe weather advisory. I quickly went out back and pulled all of my plants under the covered patio. My tomato plants are starting to produce, and I have harvested a goodly amount. I’m not about to have them destroyed at this point. Alas, aside from a brief rainfall, the storm amounted to nothing. I guess that’s a good thing.

But I leave you with this question: Why is it that just as soon as the first rumble of thunder, police or ambulance or firetruck sirens begin sounding? One of life’s great mysteries.

Bye Bye Montana

Bill and I arrived home late yesterday afternoon after driving from beautiful Casper, WY, where we spent Sunday night. We left Bozeman Sunday around noonish, saying goodbye to our wonderful host Julie, and our daughter-in-law Jll, and our grands. Jll drove into Bozeman Saturday evening with Addie and Addie’s friend Fiona in tow.

We had a wonderful week, and understand now why Dagny and Maggie Faith were so content staying there all summer. I believe they both will come home with their mother this upcoming weekend.

I was simply too tired to write a blog last night,so I will see you tomorrow. Some final photos….

A Day In the Park

Last Thursday was filled up with nature. Bill and Dagny went floating on the Yellowstone River with Dagny’s Uncle Mike, who is a professional fly fishing guide. Dagny caught and released an 18 inch trout, and Bill enjoyed the beauty and watching his granddaughter become a master angler…..


While they fished, a Julie and Maggie Faith and I drove to Yellowstone National Park and went animal watching. We saw elk and many, many buffalo. We saw a mama eagle up in her gigantic nest with a few babies. Best of all, we saw a black bear so close, we had to be careful to not startle her…..


We met up with the anglers, and went back to Julie’s where Chef Dagny prepared us a divine dinner. The classic line was when she learned she had used the last of her Aunt Julie’s olive oil and would have to substitute vegetable oil: “Well, I guess we’re in the slums.”

A very good Montana day.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Book of Longings

I have always wished that I knew more about the human life of Jesus. Between his birth and when he addressed his elders in the Temple, we know nothing. And after that, until he begins his public life, again, crickets. I wonder what kind of kid he was. Did he get along with Joseph? Did he understand his role in the history of the world? Did he know he would die a violent death?

The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd, gives us her ideas of the human side of Jesus, at least as a young adult. I was somewhat reluctant to begin this book. As a believing Christian, I didn’t want to read a Jesus-bashing book. Reviews led me to think the novel wouldn’t make me uncomfortable, so I dove in. It didn’t.

In her acknowledgments, Kidd addresses the liberties she takes on what we know about the life of Jesus. That’s why her book is called a novel, she says. The book, in fact, offers Jesus as a secondary figure. The Book of Longings is about the role of women in the Middle East during those times.

Ana comes from a wealthy family in Jerusalem. Her father works for King Herod. Her parents want nothing more than for Ana to do as other girls do: marry and bear sons. Ana, however, has different ideas. She wants to be a scholar. She is spirited and intelligent and independent. When her first betrothal to a much-older man falls apart, she isn’t unhappy, partly because she didn’t want to marry an older man, but mostly because she was mesmerized by a young man named Jesus. He was equally interested in Ana.

Eventually, Ana and Jesus marry, and have a daughter. But Jesus feels a calling to lead the people of Israel. In the novel, at least, he doesn’t know what he’s really supposed to do; he just feels as though God is telling him to lead. He and Ana depart, they think temporarily. Ana’s brother, a rapid anti-Roman named Judas, follows his brother-in-law Jesus.

Ana, along with her aunt travel to Alexandria where she awaits word to join Jesus when things have settled down. In the meantime, they live in a commune of sorts with other women, and are able to do things they would never have been able to do in Israel. Three years after they separate, Ana learns that Jesus is about to be crucified. She goes to him, but only has time for a quick goodbye. And we all know what happens to Judas….

The story of Jesus and Ana is told gently and in a lovely way. Mostly, however, the reader cheers for Ana and her “sisters” who are about to make what they hope is a difference in their society.

I really enjoyed The Book of Longings.

Here is a link to the book.

 

 

A Bozeman Wednesday

Wow. We packed a lot into our half day on Tuesday. Yesterday, however, was the first full day of our Bozeman vacation, and we used it well.

Bill loves a good pastry shop, and could literally think of nothing better for breakfast than a pain au chocolate. That’s a chocolate croissant to you and me. So lucky for him, Julie dropped us off at Wild Crumbs, which is a wonderful bakery not too far from the pretty downtown Bozeman. We waited in line, abiding faithfully to the social distancing recommendations. Unlike the people of Wyoming, Montanans don’t laugh at people in face masks…..

After enjoying our pastries, we set off on one of our favorite activities — GEOCACHING. And when I say “our” I really mean Dagny and Maggie Faith and mine, because Bill could live forever without geocaching. But those girls go to all extremes for the cache…..

We went two for four, but one of the two was pretty tricky, involving figuring out a code to open the box. I go along for the ride.

Dagny headed off to her job at Little Star Diner at 1, and we relaxed until Maggie took off for her job at 4 o’clock.

Maggie was finished babysitting at 6:30, and off we went to eat dinner at the Little Star Diner where we ate delicious food and had the chance to spy on the cutest prep chef you’ve ever seen in your life…..

It was a day to remember….