Category Archives: Thoughts Expressed

Minimalist

This last couple of years I have written frequently about our process of letting go and discarding things we do not use anymore. The letting go is an emotional, psychological and sentimental exercise as well as being physical. We all tend to cling to things that have memories attached to them, particularly if they belong to someone we love. I suppose it is because in keeping these things, we feel as if we have a small part of that person around us which gives us comfort.

Throughout this time of discarding things, I have carefully packed up items I knew our children would delight in having….Memories of times gone by…things I inherited from my Mother, Father and Grandparents were put into small boxes for them to unpack at a later date. But, I asked them first before I did so. No sense in foisting on our adult children something they do not want! Each one tells me what they are interested in and as always, each ones choices are as different from each other as they are.

I have already gifted some of my Mothers and Mother in laws things to our daughter who has them in her home where she can enjoy them now. She was given the choice of what she wanted and there were a few things she loved and asked for. It is fun to go and visit her and see these things when I am there. There are not many, because she did not want many, but what IS there, I enjoy, and so does she. She calls it the Ancestor Section which consists of an antique buffet of my Mothers on which sits a wedding lamp of ours and some photos of both sets of Grandparents plus a very few little collectibles. Not much, but enough.. Looking at these family things brings up all kinds of warm and happy memories of times gone by. I think the joy comes in the feeling of continuity of family through the generations.

Recently, we had our young neighbors over for breakfast in our courtyard as a gesture of farewell because they were moving the next morning to New York! They lived here in Texas for 5 years and now they were moving on. They are a young couple with a 14 year old daughter and as we sat and chatted with them, the subject of packing stuff for their move came up. She told me that they had packed the majority of their things themselves because the moving company rates were outrageous. She continued on to say that because she was a minimalist, the packing was not as bad as it could have been.

In our conversation, she began to talk about the differences between her Mother and her when it came to their homes. While she is a minimalist, her Mother is a collector of all things. She is not a hoarder, but she has a penchant for pretty collections which she can well afford as she is a Biochemical Engineer and her husband is an Attorney,

She laughingly talked of her parents attempt to downsize. Apparently, they had too many gardens to care for which became to much for them and she said they sold their home and bought another home that was the same size as their previous home but on a much smaller lot. She asked her Mother why they bought another big house since the adult children are all off living their own lives. Mother said, “Well, we want to have space for our children to come visit”. The daughter said ”But, no one comes to visit other than maybe once a year”. Mother said, “It doesn’t matter, I want people to be comfortable when they come to stay.”

She went on to lovingly mock her Mothers way of life and commented on how her Mother wanted to pass down a family heirloom tea set to her granddaughter who is the only grandchild on either side. Neither the granddaughter nor her daughter wanted it, but they finally took it begrudgingly at the insistence of Grandma. At this point of the conversation, Mother and daughter looked at each other and laughed.

I found myself shrinking inside to witness how some descendants of our generation see us and think of us. I felt sorry for her Mother because obviously her daughter doesn’t understand the mothers life story. She also did not have the intuition to simply be a gracious receiver of something Grandmother held dear. The “art” of gracious receiving did not exist here. Another thought flitted through my mind that many in our children’s generation do not seem sentimental about generations past. Many in the younger generation see things through a different lens than we did. We valued a loved ones material goods for sentimental reasons. So many of our descendants don’t feel that way and I think it is because a lot of this generation in America were raised in a world of seeming abundance.

As she went on talking about her Moms expensive collections which require display cases and curios, I found myself thinking of my own collections acquired through the years…figurines, artists proofs and prints, lovely dishes… (she said “my Mom has TWO sets of dishes and silverware….can you even imagine that?”)

( Uh, yes…I actually can.) ( 🥰 Lol! )

Then she and her daughter laughed while shaking their heads at their Mother/Grandmothers folly. She proudly said, “I only buy what I need. No excess for me!”. Neither Mother or Daughter recognized the intention of love attached to a piece of history behind the family heirlooms being offered. They were simply seeing the gesture as something to avoid.

Now, I DO want to add that as I describe our conversation that day, it may make our neighbor seem insensitive or unkind. I do not believe she was intentionally meaning to be either one.. She was simply and candidly expressing her thoughts and fortunately her Mother wasn’t here to hear it. She was expressing how she felt and it helped clarify to me how my generation may be seen through the eyes of the next generation. Ouch! 🙂

Heirlooms? These were things we once coveted when WE were young and first married. Beautiful antique furniture and home goods were a much desired acquisition in those days. But, in those days, there were still a fair amount of women who were housewives, raising their children while their husband put in long hours to support the family. Because she spent so much time at home, a woman enjoyed feathering her nest, so to speak. Most women are nesters of one form or another. We are a product of the era we grew up in and it all seemed perfectly normal at the time.

In the course of our long drawn out exercise of seeking the “Less is more” lifestyle, I have seen first hand the accumulation of what nearly 50 years of marriage brings about. In our case, we have moved a LOT of times which allowed for some discarding of certain things along the way, so while we are not buried in stuff, we still have much more than we need.

What I have discovered is that material goods hold very little value anymore because there is so much excess in the world we live in. The thrift shop in our small community built a much larger building about a year ago and it is already FULL of peoples cast offs. The cast offs in this area are very good quality because we live in a city in constant transition with people moving in and moving out all the time. One of the Managers of the store told my husband that they make about $100,000.00 a month in sales, which after paying their mortgage and utilities, ALL goes to local and city charities. All workers there are volunteers. This makes me feel good as we drive over with another load of things for them to sell, things we do not need anymore.

When I first started this project, I often felt overwhelmed as I sifted through years of goods that brought about memories. I was one of those Mothers who really believed in what the Norman Rockwell paintings conveyed. This was what I dreamed about and hoped for. What I did not realize was how much times were changing and how those beautiful paintings were depictions of times gone by, not of what the future would present. My material possessions were always purchased with the intent of serving our family and friends and creating memories. It was all innocently done with the best of intentions.

These days, we tend to gather more frequently as a family at our children’s homes where casual is the name of the day. We LOVE spending time with them at their homes where we can be the company versus serving as the Host, Hostess, Chef, Server and clean up crew. Yes! I like this new way of doing things.

If life were a banquet, I see us starting out as an appetizer followed by moving on to the soup and salad of childhood. Then we grow up right into the main course of adult and family living. When we grow old, it is then time to cleanse the palate before ingesting the next course. We clear away our things much as the hostess clears the table in preparation for the final course. Since we have enjoyed the many rich and varied flavors of the main course of life for so long, perhaps the final course will be a delectable dessert, a smaller and sweeter helping of life as we experience the completion of a banquet filled with so many sensory pleasures.

Well, enough reflections for the day. It is time to get back at the thinning out of worldly goods. It has been a rewarding exercise, allowing me to reminisce upon each item I handle while pondering its future. This ongoing project is being executed for the day I am brought home by the angels, where my children can walk in, make quick work of what remains at our house and get on with their lives. I don’t want them to feel burdened by my worldly possessions. Until then, with every load to the thrift shop, my square footage grows along with my sense of peace that comes from simple living. This has been a extended time of counting my blessings! Less is more! Yes it is!

jjb/5/21/2022

Home again, home again, Jiggity, jig, jig!

Interstate 35W is the route we usually take to our daughters in North Texas and as the years have gone on, the traffic just seems to get worse and worse. Many long haul truckers and semi’s are constantly whizzing by at 70+ mph with cars zig zagging in and out of the traffic trying to get ahead of these monster trucks. White knuckles grip the steering wheel and each year we feel our age more…or, perhaps these drives are what ages us?

We decided that there just must be a better way to go between our two homes so we started searching the maps of the countryside for roads that could take us home even if it took us a littler longer. Hubs found a route and we took it and now wonder why we had not checked this out sooner. We had good 4 lane roads with little traffic and NO semis, thank the good Lord! The countryside was dotted with live oak trees and cows, goats and sheep, so an entirely improved experience.

We happily drove along, sipping our latte’s and nibbling on our tiny scones…(everything has been reduced in size with increased cost of ingredients). This scone was easily only 1/3 the original size purchased previously. That is ok since our waistlines don’t need the calories, but the price stayed the same. It wasn’t until we got back in the car and looked into the scone bag when we realized how much we had overpaid. Lesson learned for sure!

It only took us 20 minutes longer to reach our destination and we felt the time was a good investment for our increased comfort. Soon we pulled into the driveway and after 6 weeks away, my heart did a little blip just to be on our own property. I walked through the front door to our courtyard and stood there with a dropped jaw looking in astonishment at what I saw. Covering everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, was a thick layer of pea green pollen. It was just a terrible sight to be the first thing I saw on my arrival back home.

I let my husband unload the car and I went to work with the water hose and washed everything down with water. The porch was thick with green pollen dust so I methodically rinsed down everything in sight. This has been an exceptional year for pollen but I have never seen it to this extent before! I spent 2 hours hosing and rinsing, moving furniture where needed, and also watering plants along the way.

Once done, it looked welcoming and I felt less stressed…though I felt somewhat emotionally disoriented. After 6 weeks away…it feels surreal and even foreign to be back here. So, I began a walkabout looking at my plants of which many were newly planted a year ago to replace the devastation left behind by our freak February snow and ice storm.

Here stands my newly planted dogwood tree. it is just a baby, yet it put on a show for me. The blossoms are a delight!

I continued along the path and a couple of my cactus caught my eye. I love these little guys who take so little care but offer so much joy!

Further along I spy a few of my perennials blooming…

My purple smoke bush…newly planted last year…

Then I sit down in our swing and turn to look at our fountain!

My pump in the picture below brings back childhood memories of one child pouring water in the pump to prime it and the other child pumping the handle wildly up and down until finally, finally, the gusher erupts! Ahhh, cold water on a hot day! it was definitely worth the effort.

As I sit here, look who comes to visit and take a bath!

Looking me in the eye!
Kiss an angel Good Morning!
Yes it is!

So, as I was typing this, my husband happened upon the scene with a freshly squeezed icy lemonade! I am feeling at home once again and ready to see what God has planned for us tomorrow! Home Sweet Home! It feels good to be back to the familiar!

Texas Roses!

It feels like spring today with warm sun and cool breezes.

Me contemplating this life I have been living….

Pies served daily ? Not so much. Love lives here? ALL THE TIME!

The grill is beckoning me….and my stomach is growling so off I go! I still love Texas no matter where in it I live! Praise and thanks to God for His powers of healing. Thanks also for the gift of life itself for ALL living things.

jjb/4/18/2022

There I am!

I am leaving for home tomorrow and after 6 weeks away, I have mixed feelings. Excitement and longing for my own nest is the greatest emotion, but right on the tail of this is regret and sadness to see this chapter come to a close.

Humans are perfectly imperfect, are we not? We can, on the one hand, feel great joy while at the very same time, we also feel a sense of melancholy. When God created us, He must have said “Let these beautiful beings be complex in every way for a greater learning experience”. The vast array of emotions we experience in our lifetime is unique to humans which creates a very rich, diverse experience.

What started as a health scare for our daughter, turned into a six week period of time where Mother and daughter came together in one place alone. There has been a whole gambit of emotions to be dealt with as our daughter chafed at living under the restrictions of no driving for three months. Her husband travels with his job, so they needed someone to stay with her and be her driver. We realize that we could have hired an Uber driver for her needs, but I felt she needed someone here for emotional support as she came to terms with yet another new health challenge. Before 2020, she was in excellent health and in the last two years, it has been one thing after the other. Not sure what is happening, but, since we have limited control we just pray and make the best of things.

I told her brother when he called that I thought she may be feeling smothered by having Mother around all the time. Thank goodness she could go to work three days a week to give her some breathing room. This left me in another persons home, in a strange town with nothing to do until my time came to drive. Hence, began the projects. I knew if I just sat around for 6 weeks (as if I were a houseplant) things could spiral downward in a hurry due to restlessness and frustration on both our parts. I asked permission first, received it, and then rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

In the beginning she and I cleaned out three full suburban loads of stuff collected from all the closets and cupboards and drove it all to Goodwill. After that, I asked her permission to paint things in need of refreshing and she granted the request. I began painting doors, walls and ceilings in the laundry room, guest bedroom and guest bathroom. While I was in action, I did quite well, but once I sat down at the end of the day, my body went into full body stiffness. It was so crazy. When I was in motion, I felt as I always have. When I stopped, it was like I was an old jalopy seizing up. What the heck is that all about?

I have decided that “what this is all about” are many lessons wrapped into one. The lessons are here in a broader sense of this time together. The physical aspect is only one part of it. Lets face it, I am not even middle aged anymore though my spirit just does not understand this. The reason my body rears up in anger is because the body and spirit no longer match. My spirit is young and my body is old…it is as simple as that. As my Dad used to say, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!”. haha! I always laughed when he said that, but it is clear to me now that he was not joking. It is true!

Miraculously though, as the weeks passed, my body got stronger and stronger. Climbing a ladder was easy peasy and painting a ceiling with a long handled roller with my head bent towards my back became second nature to me. I realized as the days passed that when “purpose” returned to my life, so did love of life itself. Humans are meant to have a purpose of one kind or another as long as we walk this earth, or we become stagnant and useless in our journey.

In some ways, my daughter and I together actually do resemble an old jalopy where early on in this journey we had the herky-jerky motion of one stepping on the accelerator at the same time as the other stepped on the brakes. She is no longer a child but I think she felt like one as I drove her to and from work much like I did when she was in junior high school. She hated it and was vocal about it. As time moved forward, she got used to it and realized she could see an end in sight. On my end, I have always been a person who burned the midnight oil. I have always been a night owl, and because of this habit, I enjoyed sleeping in a little bit in the mornings. Now I was on a new schedule of getting up at 5:30 a.m. and once again, my old body rebelled, but “spirit” firmly put it in its place. This was our new temporary life and “body” may just as well decide to adjust! So there!

I just graduated with an “honorary masters degreein the mastering of keeping my opinions to myself. Oh boy, there were so many moments when I wanted to play the “Mother knows best” role, but I knew it was actually best to not go there. Daughter was suffering so many emotions and adjustments, she did not need to have a manager mother around on top of everything else.

During this time, I learned what it would feel like to be a solitary older Mother living with her adult child and it was unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory when viewed in this fashion. I missed my partner so much. I realize that after nearly 50 years, we are no longer separate human beings. Somewhere along the way we fused and became ONE, so living without the other speaks to what life would be like living as a HALF rather than as a whole. I doubt a person ever feels whole again after such a loss. I only got a peek into this, and the thought of it nearly broke my heart. It makes me feel grief for my friends who have had to continue their journey in life as a half. In truth, we are ALL whole and complete unto ourselves and I do not mean to imply otherwise. I only mean that it “feels” as if we are not whole until life kicks in and we can find our true solitary identity once again.

She and I have had our ups as well as our downs. We have had some words, both positive and negative. We have shared tears and then great joy and laughter. In the end, we came together very well and I feel blessed for having had this once in a lifetime opportunity for a Mother and Daughter to be alone together in one house for 6 weeks. In the back of our mind we knew it was not a permanent situation, which I am sure helped with the adjustment on both accounts.

She says she has finally figured me out! haha! Well good luck with that thought, daughter dear, because my own Mother died never having done so. She used to scratch her head in bewilderment with some of my thoughts and actions. I think the same will be true with my daughter as well when she reflects on me after I have left this earth. Truth be told I haven’t even figured me out. I don’t understand even half the thoughts and feelings that percolate through my mind on any given day. I am old enough to know that we are not really meant to figure out everyone and everything. Sometimes we just go with whatever happens and let our spirit take over. Go with the flow as they say because our lessons are happening all the time.

As for my understanding of my daughter, I am leaving with happy thoughts. I leave with the knowledge that she is not nearly as sensitive as I am which will save her a lot of grief in this world. I used to worry about her feeling lonely as her husband is away often with his career. I realize now that she is very independent and has many friends to talk with to keep her company. She is just fine in this regard. Her love of her dog has seeped into my being and now I love Lil Nugget too. Six weeks of me and Nugget spending countless hours together while A is at work has created a human/canine bond that did not exist before. I was never one who had to have a dog in the home although we did when the kids were young. When Max was brought home as a puppy, he had to follow strict rules. NO getting on the furniture was ever allowed and that especially meant no sleeping with a dog in our bed. This little dog sleeps with A and G. Nugget also likes to curl up on the sofa or chair to sleep. This is allowed in their house rule book. After 6 weeks she sometimes chooses me over A and snuggles up next to me on the sofa. It has become so second nature these days, I find myself absentmindedly petting her as I read my email and she just presses herself against me and burrows deeper into slumber. I have to say, I have grown to love our little grand dog, and it is just fine that she is on the sofa, which is proof of everyday miracles when it comes to me.

Thank you God for this time together of one older Mother and her almost middle aged daughter. (Seriously, can these ages really be so?) Despite the continuous daily adjustment of one human with another, in the end we came together with a new appreciation of each other. Mothers and daughters are a part of Gods lessons to us in understanding that one can love another person even if their personalities are mirror opposites of one another. Where one is weak, the other is strong and therefore, if we are open to it, we learn to hone our life skills through another human being.. I doubt this kind of arrangement will ever happen again, and I am delighted to have experienced it. No matter where you find yourself in life, no matter what is happening at the time, it is likely not a permanent situation. With life comes change so I find comfort in what my Mother used to say in response to their frequent career moves. She would say, “No matter where I go, there I am!”. haha! It still makes me laugh. Yes, indeed, no matter where I go, “there I am!”. Hence, in life’s ever present sea of change, we find the familiar which consists of me, myself and I.

Everywhere I go, THERE I AM! Amen!

jjb/4/16/2022

Fly birdie fly!

It’s morning again….and this time I am sitting in “the office” as my daughter calls it, which consists of me sitting on her sofa in the living room. I am hunkered down in the corner of the sofa closest to her big living room window which looks out on the street.

I am tired today and my muscles are sore from painting her laundry room yesterday while she was at work. It is not easy to paint a small space with big appliances. I was in various contorted positions…up on a ladder, to edge paint along the ceiling, then I was bent over at the waist, squashed between the washer and dryer trying to paint the wall behind them. I had to move both machines back and forth as I painted just to finish the wall. I had no trouble doing any of this….but man oh man, am I paying for it today! I have muscles I didn’t know I had and they are in protest of yesterdays activity. But, I feel satisfied, none the less, for having a beautifully painted room to present to my daughter when she got home.

Why am I doing all these projects? Because I can’t imagine just sitting here day after day for 6 whole weeks. I need to have a purpose and she and her husband are the beneficiary of that same purpose.

Its the work ethic I grew up with. Idle hands were often put to work if you could not find something to do, so we learned quickly to choose for ourselvess. This work I am creating for myself is good for me if sore muscles are any indication. It means that I am using muscles that have been dormant for far too long.

I have been busy the entire time I have been here, always asking permission before each project. Today, I paint the guest bathroom. Why not? Neither my daughter or husband have a lot of spare time for extended projects. Hence they have free labor at their disposal. Our daughter is very pleased and said “MOM! You are a machine!”. I have heard that before!

This writing was put aside as I ventured into more projects including painting the guest bathroom and bedroom, which were, thankfully, the last of the paint projects. All physical work was offered and accepted. Now they have three fully refreshed painted rooms. I also worked outside in the backyard filling pots with flowers which of course is my first love…Being outside in the garden is good for the soul!

It has been an interesting experience living in our daughters house for so long. We are both learning to co-exist in a respectful fashion towards one another. In some ways she and I are much alike, but in other ways we are very, very different. For starters, we come together from two generations which the span from one generation to the next in this day and age is HUGE.

Our preferences are often different. Music is a big one. I love soft flowing music and she loves faster louder music. I love routine from day to day and she flies by the seat of her pants as they used to say. I love deep philosophical discussions whereas she communicates in sound bites. The good thing about being together for 6 weeks is that when one is with a “soundbite” conversationalist, you need a lot time to piece together their thoughts to understand how they think. I have learned a lot about my daughter and most of it is good.

My husband is coming to pick me up to bring me back home for Easter dinner with our son and wife who lives in the same city as we do. We have reservations at a restaurant late afternoon and I look forward to the lively conversation and really look forward to being waited upon. Oh yes, there is that side of me as well. ”Waiter, oh waiter! “ ha! ha!

Time just keeps moving along bringing to me one new adventure and lesson after another. The biggest lesson this time is understanding how very independent our daughter is. She doesn’t really “Mommy” anymore, but she does love and enjoy her Mother/Friend. Her Mother enjoys her back. She is a powerhouse full of confidence and resolve. No one will ever take her down in life. If we were turtles, she would be the one with the shell, and I am the one minus the shell…She has a sensitive side as well, but it is protected with the armor of youth. I am sensitive which some may consider a weakness, but I think of it as a strength. Where we are weak we are strong, or at least we learn to be. Strength with a sensitivity towards others has its place and is needed in this fast paced society of people too busy to ponder the life of another.

My daughter is home today and she keeps asking me if I am o.k. (no doubt because I am so quiet) I am just tired and today is my day to do nothing but read and write and relax. Our projects are all done and she said she felt that these projects have contributed to a stronger bond between us. I am glad to hear this. A health scare on her part brought me here in the first place and has kept me here for 6 weeks. She is doing great and her husband soon comes home from his traveling career. He will be here for her for the next 6 months and then in 6 weeks time she is free to drive to her hearts content. She will be THRILLED!

I am lonesome for my husband….I have never been away from him for so long, although he did come here for a couple of days two weeks ago. It has been a good and rewarding time, but I am now like a birdie ready to leave someone else’s nest! Fly birdie fly. She flew out of our nest 25 years ago and now I am flying out of hers. I can relate to the euphoria she must have felt back then.

I look forward to wandering around my own gardens, sitting on my own sofa and sleeping in my own bed. I look forward to going back to a contemplative life full of books and flowers and conversation with my other half, my very favorite person in the world! It is with him where I belong, where I will live out my natural life. I was so blessed to meet him so many years ago! I am so blessed to still have him in my life.

Life….It has been a privilege to have had this journey. I look forward to many new adventures!

Out with the old…

How quickly we go from the height of our strength, health and beauty to joining the club of the aged. Well, wine is better when its aged and so is cheese, right? Hopefully, so are humans…at least to their loved ones. Where did time go? How did it pass by so fast?

About 3 weeks ago we got a call from our son in law to tell us our daughter was in the hospital again and this time for a 7 minute seizure. At the end of the day, and at the end of all the tests, they could not find any cause. There are a number of possible reasons but nothing conclusive.

Before the pandemic hit, this girl was healthy, but since 2020 its been one thing after the other and not all of them related. Right now, since the seizure, she appears in tip top shape. She is back at work and the reason I am still here is because after a seizure, state law dictates no driving for three months. So I am her personal chauffer. Her husband travels a lot with his career, and he will be home for Easter and will be working from home after that. Then I will go home.

This 6 weeks has been a bit of a gift in a world of constant movement. Everyone is SO busy. Everyone is TOO busy. We rush here and we rush there, always on the move. Now, I am in a quiet zone of non busy and in a zone of just Mother and Daughter. We have had our moments of adjustment, but as time ticks by, we are developing a rhythm to this new temporary life. She had a difficult time at first, losing control of her health, losing her freedom to drive here and there, and having someone being injected into her home and life because of state laws concerning driving.

We have done very well and have filled the time deleting “Stuff” from her closets on her days off from the ICU, and as we have gone along, she gets more and more motivated to get rid of even more stuff no longer serving its original purpose. Slowly, closets are opening up, and the house seems bigger. I think the poor girl felt like she could never get rid of things that parents and grandparents have given her, and once I gave her permission to donate things, her enthusiasm escalated along with her joy.

We are two different generations coming together and discovering how different we are in our tastes of the material things we value and lifestyles. Times have changed and it is important to give our adult children permission to carve out a whole different identity from our own. We packed the Traverse suburban completely full two times (almost ready for the third trip) and off to Goodwill we went. Out went Grandmas china and crystal, out went gifts long ago received, out went all sorts of household stuff no longer necessary to her life. Maybe they were never necessary, but she was too polite to decline.

I told her about when my Mother died how I chose to not take anything of hers home with me other than a tapestry purse she always carried with a chiffon scarf inside that she always wore when it was cool outside. I did not need anything to remind me of my Mother. She was and still is as present and clear in my mind and heart as she ever was. We had a deep love and respect for each other, and now my daughter and I are building the same kind of relationship.

I will miss her when I go home and I sure hope she will miss me. I think she will. I know she will. In my mind, she is still that little girl in a picture of our family from long ago. In my presence she is a strong, independent 43 year old for whom I prayed and prayed when I was pregnant with her. “Please God, give me a girl”, I prayed over and over. When she was born, I was beyond thrilled. Now, 43 years later, I am still thrilled. God is good!

jjb/3/29/2022

Getting it right!

It has been 21 months since the beginning of the Pandemic and life has been turned upside down and inside out. The majority of the news has been rife with doom and gloom and dire predictions on every aspect of our life. One has to search extensively to find uplifting stories that stir our hearts and bring a smile to our faces. The sheer magnitude of negative news and misinformation is staggering. After a while it just clutters up the mind and weighs a person down..

Yesterday I started putting up Christmas decorations. Usually this is something I enjoy doing. All through the many years, Christmas music has always wafted about our place as I pulled out time worn holiday decor from their storage spots in our closet. Each item brought back memories from long ago. This year, rather than reveling in this tradition, it somehow became a chore!

We no longer have a large Christmas tree. We did away with that years ago when climbing a ladder to decorate a 10 foot Christmas tree became a risky task for an aging body. We settled on a small 4 foot table tree which remains decorated year round. After Christmas, we simply put a large plastic bag over it and store it in one of our closets. I do not miss the time I used to spend dressing and undressing the tree each year nor the time it took to painstakingly store Christmas bulbs in little partitioned boxes.

The tree was set up in no time on our buffet table. After setting it in place, I pulled out a choir child centerpiece of my Mothers that goes back to 1965. Every time I see that piece, my Mothers smiling face comes to mind. My goodness, my heart still misses her. She was such a good Mother and an even better friend. Life goes on, as they say, but there are always those special moments that come about that I wish I could share with her and when I wish I could have one more conversation with her. Lifting this centerpiece out of the storage box brings about the yearning for a reconnection to my Mom.

In the center of our family room and in front of the fireplace sits a large square coffee table and this is where the centerpiece rests each year, and this is where I place it now.

I then set about decorating the mantle. I struggled with this for some unknown reason. I just could not get it right. While it looked nice, it gave me no joy. Why was this?

On to the dining room table…another centerpiece.

I put all holiday items not used this year into boxes to be taken to the thrift shop. Some were more difficult to part with than others. I suddenly felt weary so I just left the boxes designated for the thrift shop sitting about and went to sit down in my chair. As I looked around the room at the Christmas decor it felt cluttered and overdone.

My feet were aching from moving around in slipper socks on hard porcelain floors. No forgiveness there. I felt very tired and my spirit lagged! What in the world was the matter with me?

I fell asleep in my chair and when I woke up I realized a lot of time had passed. Looking at the clock I knew I better go to bed and catch a few winks of sleep because it was well after midnight. I toddled off to bed and I slept soundly for a few hours but then I awakened from a bad dream. The dream was disjointed and in it, I was searching for my place in the world. Somehow I did not know where I was, but I also could not remember my way back to where I belonged. I tossed and turned and finally got up and came back out into our family room and my chair. What in the world was going on here?

I think the Pandemic has completely altered my view of life and what is really important. For much of the last 21 months I have been packing up small boxes of things and sending them to the thrift shop, It isn’t difficult to part with things if one does it in small amounts. Bit by bit, our things keep going out the door. Bit by bit, I enjoy the space that emerges as things are lifted up and sent off. I always offer these things to the kids first and sometimes they happily take things and sometimes they politely say “no thank you!”. No hard feelings on my part for I am happy to purge one way or the other.

Interesting to me is my uneasiness with the Christmas decor. How much of this seasonal fare does one need after all? This morning I eliminated the mantle decorations and the table decorations entirely. I kept my Mothers choir child centerpiece (purely sentimental) and the 4 foot tree on the buffet table, along with a few decorations under the tree. Everything else was put in a box for the thrift shop.

My spirit lifted! Well, now, things that once gave me great joy no longer serve that purpose because I am no longer the same person. I guess you could say I am evolving.

A lot of clutter and uneasiness had taken root in my mind and emotions these past 21 months due to being inundated with an avalanche of negative news and dire warnings. Happily, it now seems to be dissipating since shutting off the devices that delivered them to my psyche. Eliminating social media was also helpful. I desperately needed a feeling of solitude and peace wherever I could find it. Rather than listen to everyone’s else’s life narrative, I chose to investigate and marinate in my own thoughts as I worked out in our garden. I enjoyed communing with the birds, the bees and the plants while pausing for a moment now and again to give notice to a soft breeze on my face or the warm sun on my body. I have allowed myself the luxury of time spent reading a good book here and there and relaxing time reclining back in my chair, eyes closed, taking in some beautiful soul stirring music.

My goal to surviving this Pandemic is to cultivate a relationship with self and to enjoy communing with my creator. I am reclaiming my place in this world, and MY place is “within”. This is where I find comfort and joy and where I find a sense of belonging. I still enjoy spending time with friends and of course I love my family and the times I spend with them, but all the rest is just a bunch of noise. In the Bible there is a short verse where it is written “Be Still and know that I am God”. As I remember my dream, I realize that finding my way to where I belong is to understand that while I am “in” this world, I am not to be “of” this world. I don’t have to let the people and events of this world intrude onto my inner space where God resides in the form of the Holy Spirit.

I continue to feel a sense of urgency in wanting ALL excess clutter removed, be it material goods or mental processing! My mind wants peace and quiet and a place where I can hear God speaking to me! It has been difficult for me to tune Him in amidst all that horrific negative static.

Simplifying feels like a good way to honor Christmas. Jesus was born in the most simple and humble of places, yet the story of his birth was majestic. Imagine in those days the quiet vast expanse of inky black sky dotted with countless stars under which the Wise men traveled. Imagine how one star stood out from all the rest as the brightest of lights beckoning and guiding their way to the Christ child. Imagine the stable wherein the focal point was a Mother, a Father, and a brand new baby Jesus. No clutter….just a simple place where animals and humans stood anchored and connected in the sweet smell of soft hay.

O.k. The coffee cup is empty and now I need to pack up the discarded pile of Christmas decor. Another trip to the gift shop is in my future.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and I pray that in the not so distant future we will be living a life that encompasses

more love than hate,

more joy than sorrow,

more positive than negative,

more good than evil

and a life devoid of the all distractions that clutter brings.

I am forever indebted to my Mother and all my loved ones who introduced me to a living and personal God! I am never alone. I will always keep close to my heart God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! I do not know how I would have managed in this life without Him.

Praise be to God!

Luke 2:7 ESV

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Jjb/12/3/2021

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Having a moment…

Today has been one of those days. It started out simply enough with a quiet morning, a cup of coffee, and a walk in the courtyard while planning my day.

We have been absolutely swamped with yard work since the historic Texas snow and ice storm destroyed over 30 percent of our trees and bushes this past February.. 23 years of growth gone in a few days. I rarely cry, but cry I did as we walked around our property assessing the damage shortly after the storm. So many of our plans and plants gone, gone, GONE ! This at a time when we have a very limited access to landscapers who could take care of the storm aftermath due to them being swamped with excess work. So here we were, Mr. B and me, day after day going out there to cut and trim and dig and plant. Not exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves at this stage of our life. I had actually envisioned the two of us sipping Mimosa’s on a summers eve while swinging on the swing in our courtyard. Instead, we were gulping water to quench parched tongues as we labored away.

That said, we are now a few days away from June and everything has been sorted out. Things don’t look as full and lush as they did before the storm, so we are now watching baby bushes and trees growing upwards and reaching for the sky. Hope springs eternal.

As I walked around assessing the new plants and their growth, I was surprised by how my grief over the loss of my plants and trees had morphed into a “looking forwardto how things were going to shape up.

We are now on the 15th month of the Pandemic. Life has been severely altered from what it was before. Will it ever go back to what it once was? This is doubtful because life is on an ever changing trajectory forward. I am a person who does not embrace change, even though I understand that change is at the very heart of our journey through life. It is how we learn and grow.

As I stepped back into the house, I got a call from Mr. B sharing with me that our daughter was in the emergency room with acute kidney failure. I was stunned because this exact same situation happened to her last year when she was struggling with covid. We discussed the situation with her husband and we were put on standby mode for driving the 4 hours up to support her. Her husband is back in town and taking very good care of her and both she and he said to “sit tight”.

I felt like I was abruptly jerked back in time to the last time she dealt with this. She is part of a group of people who are known as “Long Haulers”. She is one of those people who dealt with the symptoms of covid far longer than most. We thought her 4-5 months of lingering and ongoing symptoms were finally gone for good. But, here now, after about 6 months of good health, her body reared its ugly head in the form of acute kidney failure and an inflamed pancreas. I have to say, this incident took my breath away because I thought we had left that particular route of our life journey behind. We are now on what could be defined as a detour back again.

This time I found myself reeling with emotion. Is this going to be her future? Will she live a normal life punctuated periodically by health crisis? The bubble our family has lived in for so many years felt like it had developed a pin hole and was deflating around us. I found myself imagining many life altering scenarios which made me feel helpless and afraid. There are just too many “what if’s” to consider, and it overwhelms me.

The thing is, we have dealt with problems before, but those were things that affected us personally. Some were pretty tough to get though but we managed. We have had times where I felt a lot of fear where I could barely breathe. This is what happens to someone not previously challenged. What we discover is that with each challenge, we grow tougher, more resilient and more courageous. Our faith grows too!

Faith does not come to those who are sitting on a peaceful lagoon under a cloudless, sunny sky. There is no real need to check our faith then. We may talk philosophically and theologically about faith in those times, but it is a “thinking mans” lofty ideal rather than a work in progress. The test of faith comes to those who are seeking a strength they do not possess. A test of faith comes to those of us who have taken our unblemished good life for granted, assuming life would always be a joy filled ride. But then we blow a tire and swerve to avoid hitting a tree and end up in the ditch.

This morning after the phone call, I was wiping down my kitchen counters and my imagination was high jacked with troublesome thoughts of what could be. In those moments, I looked around our lovely home and realized how little any of the physical stuff really matters to me. Of course I have been in that mental zone for a long time now, but today it really spoke to me.

One does not realize it at the time, but when we decide to have a child, we are signing up for a life long journey filled with enormous love, parental pride, celebrations of achievements, and a rediscovering of the world through the eyes of a child which give us many joy filled moments. However, these moments are also punctuated by the wringing of hands and concern over another person’s welfare. Their pain is our pain, their disappointments are our disappointments, magnified! I think we actually feel their dips and lows in life more acutely than they do. I doubt I ever worried nearly as much about my own life outcomes as I have over my children. I had no idea how completely invested I would be in the life of our children and that emotional investment grew right along with the child. By the time they were adults, we were so melded into their life that we almost felt like we were having an amputation done when they left home. Of course, we adapted to this in time, but the commitment we feel toward them never leaves us.

What value does life hold without our loved ones? I was remembering the day of our daughters birth and how fervently I had prayed for her! Every day of my entire pregnancy I prayed for her and had total faith that God would reward me with a daughter, and He DID! I remember holding her in my arms and my joy spilled over onto everyone in the surrounding area.

This little girl was a force to be reckoned with. She was never the shy retiring little flower at the edge of a garden! She has held her own with her two older brothers and has held her own with her moral compass and principles in life. She is strong, decisive and focused. She has a confidence about herself that I did not achieve until I was much older. I admire her greatly.

She has been a blessing in more ways than I could ever have imagined during the gestational months I carried her! I always imagined her in my life as I grew old. Yet, there are never any guarantees! Thinking of this made my eyes well up. No guarantees! It makes me think of that old saying “When man makes plans, God smiles”. Indeed….we just never know.

There is a major thunder and rain storm passing over as I write this. High winds, heavy rain and lots of thunder. The angels are bowling in the sky, we used to say. It matches my mood.

I have talked with our daughter and she is being pumped with fluids by IV. 4 one liter bags so far! Thank you God for this day and age of modern medicine! Thank you God for the reminder that prayer and faith are sometimes rewarded. I have thought of so many people who have dealt with significant loss and my heart goes out to them. This Pandemic has altered the lives for most of us forever. I, for one, will never take anything for granted again, most especially the relationships and love of those who are near and dear to me.

Please, Lord, take care of our “little Tootie” as her Grandpa used to call her. Please also give comfort to all those who are burdened with so many of life’s problems. I pray that we can soon move forward and away from this Pandemic life so that we may live the way You intended for us to live. Thank you Lord for the reminder that we should live one day at a time. “Do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough troubles of it’s own.” So, TODAY, Lord, I pray for restored health!

Amen and amen!

jjb/5/28/2021

The Best Blessing of all!

I was swept off of my feet, by a man who was sweet
When I was a mere slip of a girl.
As we danced our first dance, our attraction advanced,
With each little dip and swirl.

I was really quite sure his intentions were pure.
I could tell by his modest replies.
It did not take long as we swayed to that song,
To know he was one catch of a guy.

My smile became brighter and my heart became lighter,
When we married and started our home.
It makes my heart leap to feel a love rich and deep
for Al, the man in this poem.

48 years have gone by, which brings tears to my eyes
To feel so lovingly blessed.
I pray that someday we’ll still dance and sway
Together, in our heavenly dress.

JJB/4/30/2021

Thanksgiving!

I turned on the television and within minutes there was hateful sarcastic speech, so I turned it off. Then I went to my email and read a Next Door Neighbor question where within minutes a comment popped up that was very inflammatory about the area in which we live. I backed out of that site quickly.

I have determined that anything said or written that is dark or mean spirited is just going to be eliminated from my life! I move away from it! I have to say, in a country where people have been blessed with so much, there seems to be so much discontent and unhappiness, and it saddens me greatly! I have seen people in other countries with so much less than we have here in America and they actually seem happier than people in our society do. Maybe less really is more.

Our church opened for services in the new church building but we did not attend. We do watch it virtually and it was nice to see that people were in attendance. It was far from full due to covid restrictions for our sector of society. We are advised by our government to stay home and stay well.

I miss our old life. I miss the coming and going and mingling with people. We are still here sheltering in place after 10 months. While we have discovered that we are most likely introverts, based on how well we have been doing, we are finding the lack of socialization to be a huge loss! That said, it has had its positive side as well!

We finally had time to do things we had such limited time for before. Reading, clearing out and downsizing things, painting, repairs, gardening and trimming on our property, etc. etc. We have been doing devotions in a leisurely fashion rather than having to squeeze them into a busy schedule! Time has been a gift to us, though it is countered with a longing for communion with our friends and family.

Today a friend of ours was working security at our church and he texted us to see how we were doing. This was the first Sunday service in our newer, much larger church. I dearly love our former, small, chapel type church and I know I will miss it. So, since we could not be there, I asked him to send me a photo of the new church cross. I felt so uplifted when I saw it because the cross and the Bible are the foundation of our church.

God feels closer and more present to me now in times of covid than ever before. He has always been an important presence in my life, but these days I am leaning a littler harder into Him because I long for peace in this world. I am so incredibly grateful to my Mother for teaching me about Him in the form of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! I am grateful to know about the gracious and free gift of life everlasting. How would we feel without that promise? I cannot imagine!

Blessings to all as we approach Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for!

God bless!

jjb/11/15/2020

Cockadoodle-doooooo!

Good Morning! One thing that is a relatively new thing for me is how my sleeping patterns have changed. Some nights I can sleep a solid 9 hours and other nights I open my eyes after 4-6 hours feeling WIDE AWAKE, yet attempting to roll over one more time to catch another wink or two. But, alas, the rooster has crowed in my mind and I know I may as well get up! Last night was one of those nights. I slept like the dead for about 5 hours, from 10 pm to 3 am and then that was it!

It worked out fine for me though because Mr. B and I are driving up to our future daughter in laws mothers home today and we are going to have a socially distanced lunch out on her patio. We decided to “brown bag it” to be safe and I decided to bring some brunch type breakfast muffins. I am making them with biscuits, sausage, hash browns, green onions, eggs and cheese. They should be yummy and I plan on bringing a few extra along to leave with our dil’s mother for future consumption.

So, first things first, I made coffee and poured it into a cup that was a gift to me from a long time friend who was one of my bridesmaids in our wedding. Considering how long I have been married, I am rather proud to still be able to call her my friend. As we move into the autumn and winter of our life, we come to realize just how valuable long term friendships are. We know each other’s history and she and I kid each other about the fact that we “have” to stay friends because we have too much information on each other. We always laugh and say “If I go down, YOU go down”, meaning that neither of us must ever tell some of the things we know about each other. Lol! So I tip my cup to my friend who I call Ethel (I am her Lucy) and wish her a telepathic “Good Morning” because she lives in the far northern climate and while I reside in the south.

It is still dark out at 5:22 a.m. and I have been up over an hour already. Normally I am a night owl type, where I enjoy reading long into the night, but on these rare occasions where I am up early, I find I enjoy the beginning of the day as well.

The furnace is running this morning. This is the 4th night of a cold front that came through, but fortunately, the weather man is promising that today will be in the 70’s. I love weather in the fall where the sun is warm and the air is crisp. God knew we Texans would need variety so he blessed us with it! Today is going to be a very nice day. We will get to enjoy nice temps, a nice drive and a social outing of which there are very few in these days of covid.

COVID! That nasty invisible enemy that lurks out there just waiting for us to bump into it! We avoid doing this by staying home. It has been 7 1/2 months already since Covid turned our life upside. We went from having fun part time jobs to being unemployed because we are in the high risk group. We used to have friends over to our home often, but now we rarely do because of distancing issues. We haven’t seen our older son and his family in over a year because it would require an airline flight or a motel stop if we drove. We used to frequent restaurants a lot, and have only eaten “out” three times since we have been shelter in place, and those times we ate outside on a patio. Church has been closed for a long time so we attend virtually. The pattern of our life which used to be very busy, came to a screeching stop!

BUT, some good things have come out of this! We have been spending much more time on our property planting and trimming. I have never cooked this much in my life. By cooking, I mean trying new recipes and making delicious simple meals. It has been fun finding recipes online and creating something I haven’t tried before. Mr. B sure enjoys it! Eating out has lost its attraction for us and even when covid finally leaves town, I doubt we will ever again spend that much time or money on dining out in the future as we once did, nor on shopping or entertainment….

We have returned to our roots, metaphorically speaking. We were both raised in simpler times, in simpler homes, with simplistic needs for happiness. It does not take all that much to make us feel happy and content. We have replaced television with books and online documentaries, cooking shows, and old movies. Whatever made us think we needed so MUCH in the pursuit of happiness? We spent many years pursuing “the dream” and in many ways it worked out for us because we were able to put our children through college, move to the south, build our retirement home and so on. But, now that we are here, sheltered in place as they call it, we have rediscovered who we really are and we are happy. We recognize the imperfections in ourselves and each other and feel the love anyway. We see the imperfections of our lives and feel gratitude anyway. We see the imperfections of the world and we pray to the one and only perfect person who ever lived, and then we feel contentment!

Life is good!

Now, I have to see about how those breakfast muffins are doing! Will check back in with a picture!

YUM!

jjb/10/31/2020

An old love thing…

As I here in my old leather chair in our kitchen/sitting room, the sound of a strong wind beckons me to look through our windows. I can see the branches of our trees moving about by the sheer force of our Autumnal wind. No wonder the nickname for Autumn is “fall” because many of the leaves are doing just that. They are being blown off of the tree limbs and like little parachuters they are falling every which way as they ride the currents of the air. They flit this way and that way, until they finally coast on down and hit the ground. The word “blustery” comes to mind. The sun peeks out on occasion as the clouds scuttle by hurriedly in the wind.

A cold front moved into Texas a couple of days ago and as a result of this, I went into full “north country girl” mode. I dug out the pots and pans and baking utensils and I continued on with the Christmas cooking project I began a while back for our daughter and son in law. They are a busy career couple who rarely have anything to eat that is not grilled or tossed… as in grilled meat and a salad. (Quick and Healthy). I wholeheartedly approve of how they usually eat healthy and I support that! We ALL should eat like this most of the year, but holidays are special times to indulge in some good old comfort food!

We will likely not see each other on Christmas 😢 because she will be working in the cardiac intensive care unit. The holidays are when home cooking is much desired, so I decided to make them a variety of home cooked meals to help them celebrate the holiday. I am making old fashioned dishes like my Mother and Grandmother used to make which equates to delicious because I am using their old recipes.

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Delicious does not always equate to healthy eating, so I am substituting keto ingredients wherever possible as I attempt to preserve the original intended flavor. The idea is for them to have a freezer full of home cooked meals that they can pull out, thaw and reheat; (not every night of the week of course, because that would be unhealthy eating). I thought that perhaps once a week they can have a nice dinner together with a glass of wine and candles casting a glow on the table as they share their work experiences of the week previous. I hope their taste buds feel the love behind the flavor because I am liberally seasoning all the food I am preparing for them with loving thoughts.

It came to me that this culinary act I am partaking in could be described as “an old love thing” (to quote an old Tammy Wynette/George Jones song). 😄 Of course Tammy and George were singing about something other than cooking, but the application is still the same. Our maternal ancestors expressed their love for their families in their kitchens and I remember very well the sounds and aromas emanating from my Grandmothers and Mothers kitchens. I still salivate when I catch the scent of fresh baked bread, or the spicy, meaty aroma from my Mothers home cooked pork and beef roasts slow cooked and simmering in their combined juices in one large cast iron pan.

I was going to bake Cornish Pasties today, but have to wait for a grocery delivery of the course ground beef. The Pasties will have to wait for another day to be made. I am excited about creating this Cornish aka Finnish/Swedish baked meat and potato pie because I have never attempted to make them before! This Pandemic delivers certain odd rewards as we hunker down in modern day confinement advised for high risk individuals. One reward is the gift of excess time. We were always too busy before to spend this much time in the kitchen and I am finding myself humming little tunes as I listen to music in the background. Humming usually comes with feelings of contentment, so I guess the Pandemic has delivered a blessing of domestic happiness to me in the midst of everything else it has done. A little bit of good along with the bad. So the year 2020 might as well forget trying to get me to give up on life! I love life and to keep it interesting, I just keep changing up what I do from day to day.

The day is speeding by and my project of disassembling all of my old albums is calling to me from our home office. It is a HUGE task to go through 50 years of pictures and decide who gets what! The end result will create room on my shelves where the albums used to sit, and it will be one less thing for the kids to have to concern themselves with after we go to join our parents.

In the meantime, it is a great day to be alive, don’t you think? EVERY day is a gift!

jjb/10/29/2920

Adjusting the sails

Good morning everyone! The cold front finally hit Texas, so we woke up in the middle of the night shivering and had to get up to add another blanket! Wow! It reached 80 degrees just 2 days ago and last night I think Al said it dropped to 47. Brrrrrrrr!

Al had one of those nights where he slept until 2 a.m. (about the time we got up to add another blanket) and when we went back to bed, he could not get back to sleep. When I got up this morning, he was tipped back in his recliner snoozing, so I talked him into just going back to bed. These days there is rarely anything on our calendar anyway, so no reason for him not to do so.

I feel I want to address my previous commentary about cooking and baking for our daughter. In hindsight, I see that it sounds rather braggadocio but when I wrote it, I was filled up inside with warm feelings of loving kindness and wanted to express that feeling. I did not mean to say “look at what a great Mom I am!” (because I most certainly am not….just ask the kids…they may vote for average 🤨). I was just having so much fun cooking while imagining her feeling like we were right there in her home every time she reached into the freezer.

Our daughter and husband are what is sometimes called “dinks”…(duo income no kids). She has a wonderful husband who travels with his career. So, for the times when she comes home to only her French Bulldog, I thought it would be nice for her to find “us” there with her through the extension of the food we made for her, stuff she will never make for herself, because as she said, “I just don’t cook that much Mom”. She will make easy things like salads and burgers, but doesn’t mess around with things that may require a recipe. So, these types of foods are embraced and most welcomed by her on occasion.

Life is strange…When I was young, I imagined after we had our children that we would have many grandchildren sitting at our table eating Swedish Pancakes and coming for sleep overs. But, I am reminded of the old phrase “When Man makes plans, God smiles”. The truth is that while we are all busy making plans, life happens, that often bears no resemblance to what we had originally imagined or intended. So, Al and I have just TWO grandchildren and we are GRATEFUL for those two. However, as luck would have it, they live in Minnesota and we live in Texas. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with them and in these days of covid they check in with us by way of texts, calls and emails. They have been raised very well, and are very bright girls. BUT, they are not here. 😢. We do not have the daily, weekly visits that so many of you have with your own grandchildren.

Time passes SO quickly. This fleeting of time has really taken us by surprise! Our older Granddaughter graduates high school this year and the younger one is a Freshman in high school.

So, in the many years Al and I have been married, we keep readjusting our sails upon the sea of life, taking on the headwinds to our dreams and facing the storms that come our way that could easily tip our boat. This latest storm is the Pandemic and it has stolen from us our sense of security, our sense of family, and our sense of purpose. Suddenly, we find ourselves isolated and overly cautious about the decisions we make. Where, once upon a time, I was impulsive and impetuous, I have become very slow to act on things, and where I was once gregarious, I find that I am getting far too comfortable in our little nest viewing the world through our window. It feels safe here and far removed from the craziness the world finds itself in.

The political dialog and the uncivil discourse that we have been subjected to through the news and social media since the Pandemic began has been soul crushing to me because if ever there were a peacemaker, I am the personification of that. I bloom when living in peace and I shrivel when faced with conflict. It all saddens me to the core. There is a spiritual warfare going on in our world and of that I have no doubt! I am making my self ready for the next storm…I am battening down the hatches.

So, just what does a Grandmotherly septugenarian do about all the hatred and discord and evil happening around her, other than to pray and vote and follow the pandemic rules that seem to change daily?

She carries on with her life, trying to create an illusion of peace and love and harmony and “doing unto others as we want them to do unto us”. She writes and she plants and she cooks in her own little orbit and tries to bring happiness to the people she loves. She tries to be grateful for all the things she has been blessed with and ignores the things that did not pan out for her. Time is only well spent when we think of others over ourselves.

So, today is Italian Spaghetti sauce and Quiche day! We have told Andrea she may need to being a couple of coolers down and she laughingly said she may have to buy a new freezer!

To anyone who may think this is about me being a good mama, thank you so much! You really give me too much credit! But I can see that these are YOUR good hearts responding to my project, all you good mothers who sense what this is about. Because, what it REALLY is about is creating a purpose for myself in a purposeless, covid isolated world. What is it they say? If life hands you lemons, make lemonade? That’s it for me.

(OR, maybe I could take those lemons, ZEST them, and make her a birthday dessert)….hmmmmm! Lol!

Love, Me… aka..Julia Child…..(nah, not even close, but this gal is working on it!)

jjb/10/27/2020

Peace, baby, peace!

I never see a red geranium where it doesn’t bring to me memories of my childhood and visiting my maternal grandparents home. My grandparents always had potted red geraniums sitting on their front porch. Hence, each time I see a red geranium, I am transported back to a time and place in my life where I had absolutely no awareness of the workings of a government and how it can affect and even control ones life. This colorful flower brings to mind a time when my whole world revolved around a family axis where I felt loved and secure with a strong sense of belonging.

Thinking back now, I realize that I have never been “political” in my life. I have always voted, and my vote was dependent on what I saw on the local news. That was about it. That said, I have to also say that staying home for 7 months in the year 2020 has given this retired person a LOT of time in which to research everything I have ever wondered about, and I have learned SO much!

In a conversation with a friend the other day, we were talking about coming of age in the 1960’s when the Vietnam war was raging. Woodstock (during the so called “summer of love”) was the place to be if you were a young person in 1968. There used to be a saying that if you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there! That statement applies to me. I remember hearing about Woodstock but this old soul was not interested in attending. My contribution to the era of “peace, love and rock and roll” was wearing hip huggers with bell bottoms paired with a lot of colorful paisley print tops. I wore platform shoes and greeted everyone with the two fingered peace sign everywhere I went. I enjoyed feeling young, cute, and part of a generation that was out to save the world.

As my friend and I were comparing the politics of today to the politics back then, I told her that I just do not remember seeing or experiencing the enormous amount of hate and destruction that we are seeing now. I DO remember the very heated civil rights movement of the times and JFK being assassinated and it was shocking. Our school Superintendent brought all of us together into an assembly to watch the news and in that act alone, we were made aware of the enormity of it. JFK’s tragic assassination was followed by Martin Luther Kings assassination and finally, R.F.K.’s assassination as well. It left Americans in a dazed and frightened state of mind. We found ourselves wondering what horrible thing would happen next. I was impacted by the seriousness of the assassinations but it all seemed more “surreal” to me than real, like so,etching out of a very bad movie! In 1969, Richard M. Nixon became president. Ohio astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. In Los Angeles, the cult of Charles Manson went on a two-night murderous rampage. In New York, 400,000 people showed up at a New York farm for the Woodstock music festival. I can remember when the Kent State shootings in 1970 horrifically ending what initially began as a peaceful anti war protest. Vietnam War protests were going on in Minneapolis, as well, at the same time I was working as a young nurse at the University of Minnesota Hospital system. Because I worked long hours at the hospital, I did not have the time to participate in any protest. While others were out there acting as political activists, I was taking care of very ill patients.I said to my friend, “So, in remembering the long and violent history of the 60’s why does everything seem so much more terrible and intense now than it was back then?”

She said, “Well, I think it is because in those days the news was limited to morning and evening, whereas now we have a 24 hour, 7 days a week cycle of news and there is no getting away from it. The shelter in place order and social media only intensifies what we are seeing and hearing.”

Her statement stopped me in my tracks because, of course, she is right! These days we are surrounded by the Main Stream Media news and until recent times I tended to believe what I heard because I grew up in a day and age where a persons word was their honor and we lived in a time when the news was factual, not biased. Hence, I thought that if it was on the news, it must be true! This is just not the case anymore. So much of what we hear and see in this day and age is not journalistic news. What used to be journalism has morphed into biased opinion pieces with a lot of rancor attached.

I have been doing a lot of research since living “shelter in place” and I have spent hours upon hours and entire days sifting through all kinds of information from Theologians, Historians, Scientists, Doctors of Medicine, both Conservative and Liberal views and what I have found has disturbed me.

What I have discovered is that in this day and age most Americans have their own version of the “truth”. How I view the world is colored by the information I receive and how you view things is colored by the information you receive and often it is two entirely different versions!

What is very disturbing to me is witnessing our National Leaders on all sides fighting non-stop and it seems we have more dishonesty than honesty running rampant in our upper level of government on ALL sides. There has been no compromise, no thoughtful debate, no civil discourse. Sometimes I wonder if we are following the same path that the Roman Empire walked and we know how that turned out for them. As a result of being saturated by the daily onslaught of negativity, many American citizens are following the same pattern! People have decided which “side” they are on and they feel they need to prove their point to others. It is especially sad when friends or family members begin to challenge each other. (What ever happened to privately voting for our personal choice?) When we add all of this to the “shelter in place” mandate we feel like we are being fed a toxic stew that is slowly poisoning all of us.

Despite the fact that our American life feels like it is on fire and under attack, I remind myself daily that what I really must FOCUS on are the blessings, because all of this mayhem feels like spiritual warfare to me. I choose to focus on what God can do for us rather than what Satan is dishing up. I believe we must care for one another despite our differences and we need to understand that the differences between us are in place to teach each other lessons in life! We can agree to disagree and be grateful if we can still manage to appreciate or even save the friendship for what it once was and still can be.For sanity’s sake, WE have created a rule for ourselves and for when we are with our family and friends, and it is that we no longer discuss politics with anyone! We want to keep the relationships we have formed over the years and we recognize that to do this, there are simply some topics that are off limits…money, religion and politics for starters!

While I realize it is important to keep myself informed of national and world events, I also understand how limited the power is that I have over any of it! Voting and praying are huge in their power and I plan to do both! Other than that, as we go forward, I will consciously take in each moment of each day with the understanding that the true daily gift of an ordinary life is a blessing to me!

jjb/10/8/2020

To Each His Own

We are having a very laid back morning with a hot cup of coffee in hand. Al is reading and I was watching this video that was sent to me by a friend. As I watched it, I knew immediately that the world we are living in is changing at a speed that we will not be able to keep up with.

Our get away to N.M. was much needed..a change of scenery, a different perspective, and no media. We changed our lives when we switched our information away from main stream media to non biased sources….people like historians, pastors, conservative and liberal thinkers who speak from a historical perspective about how we arrived to this time and place in our country.

This video is very unsettling to me because TRUTH is tantamount to how I make decisions in life. Just give me the facts (not altered facts) and I can go on from there. I don’t feel a need to explain to anyone my line of thinking. People are usually not interested anyway. I just want to live my life in a response to a truthful reality.

Reality is on the cusp of being altered to feed people whatever information technology wants us to believe. It is already happening. I have never seen so much emotion elicited over an election. The emotion is on both sides because both sides really passionately believe what they are reading and seeing. I no longer believe anything I see or read because I know that everything can be (and probably is) altered to suit the people who are putting it out there.

So, I spend much time in communion with God. When the election comes, I will say yet another prayer before I put down my vote and I have faith that God will allow what is meant to happen in 2020. No matter who wins, there will be people incensed about the outcome! I am already prepared to accept the results whatever they are.

I am glad that God has laid out the length of our lives as he has because I do not feel we are mentally or emotionally able to function in the world beyond the average life expectancy, especially not as fast as it is evolving these days. Artificial Intelligence will bring miraculous new benefits for humankind, but it will also bring the dark side as well.

So, today is our last day here and we are going to Cloud Croft after breakfast. I love our leisurely life in old age. We were blessed to be born in the era we arrived. We were blessed to have lived lives that were comfortable, where we had just enough to get by, and where we were blessed to be born to people who taught us about our creator and His son who died because ALL lives matter.

God bless all our friends today! We are so grateful to have you in our lives!

Love, Jjb

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3o_unnafSg

Crazy

When I was a little girl and my Dad was going off somewhere, I would say, “Where are you going Daddy?” He would often jokingly respond with, “Crazy, wanna come with?”. I thought that was a funny response and would always laugh when he said it.

Now as we continue with our shelter in place, 180 days, almost 6 months since it has begun, the house is beginning to close in a bit! Some days, I wonder how to avoid that trip to crazy and am pretty sure no one wants to come with me and Al.

We live in what I have dubbed “the goldilocks house”. It’s not too big, it is not too small, it is just right. We really love our place. We enjoy our porch and courtyard, both of which help us during these days of covid to have a feeling of purpose with our cleaning, gardening, watering, painting and repairing. It is nice to be able to go outside and spend time with our plants and garden. Over all, our shelter in place has gone quite well! But, there ARE those days!

Thankfully, we have the internet to keep us in touch with friends and family via social media and zoom! We also have our cell phone which gives us phone calls, text, emails etc. These things help take the edge off of the solitary nature of our life in these quarantine days. But, it isn’t the same as being right there near your loved ones! I have never been a lover of crowds, but I would do most anything these days to be in a big room full of people so I could bask in all the energy that would come with it!

Quiet and solitude lends itself to deep thinking and deep reflecting! Still waters run deep, you know? I have ALWAYS been a thinker and a reader and a writer! While I have always enjoyed people, I especially enjoyed and treasured my quiet times! These days I do nonstop reading and research on the net which acts as pseudo company for me.

As of late, I feel a need to switch from inward introspection to looking outward! I miss the spontaneous movement and interaction of our previous life.

This morning we had many people sitting in our family room with us and it is always such a psychological lift to have everyone here. This always happens during devotions. Al will read the devotions for the day and then, following the devotions, Al takes our prayer list and reads off all the names of friends and family we are praying for daily. As he reads, one by one, they pass by my minds eye! I “see” the image of each person as the name is read and my heart responds with joy at their image while a petition to God is said on their behalf.

Our minds have a huge storage capacity for our memories starting in childhood. It is similar to looking at our photo albums where we see a vast amount of pictorial memories, beautifully preserved, and we relive the moment like it was just yesterday.

Devotions during the time of covid is a wonderful discipline and exercise and the rewards are immense. Prayer and petition are the ultimate vitamins for maintaining our spiritual health contributing towards the healing of others. At our age, our list is long because each year adds more people and more petitions. This long list speaks of the blessings of the abundance of people still in our life who matter to us!

Did you know you came for a visit today? It was lovely to see you and bask in your presence. Knowing of your existence gives meaning to our life! As a visual of our family and friends march through my mind as Al is reading your names, my feelings of crazy disappear. Your presence in our home feels loving and healing and I thank you for this fine spiritual medicine! I KNOW, without any doubt whatsoever, that we will meet again someday, here or on the other side! Imagine how joyous that reunion will be, in a place where peace and love reign supreme! I find myself thinking of so many people who have gone on before me…People I loved deeply, people who had influence on my life and it brings tears to my eyes! I miss them so much! To reunite with these people again will be a source of extreme joy!

At present, we live in very stressful, violent times! Satan is busy and there are many working on his behalf! Their work is visible, noisy, and frightening. But at the same time, WE work on Gods behalf and our work is quiet and silent! We know that in the end, God conquers all! I am grateful I am on His side of the equation!

🎼Onward Christian soldiers, going off to war,

with the cross of Jesus, going on before! 🎼

I just heard this song the other day and stopped to listen because I haven’t heard it in a long, long time! The song resonated with me. These are important times for Christians and we need to know what it is, and Who it is we are fighting for!

There is no doubt to me that we are on the winning side. We just need to do our work and pray that more and more follow in step for the cause! God wants to reign in as many believers as possible, and we can help Him do this!

God Bless America! We are doing our part with prayer while staying in place!

When the day comes where we finally get to see our children I will wrap my arms around them and hang on for dear life! I miss them SO much!

In the meantime, we will silent march in Gods army, knowing that prayers and petitions have immense power!

jjb/9/3/2020