Words for Wednesday: finding my thrill

I can usually count on two distinct aspects that normally occur every summer: 1. I fall into a summer slump and 2. Our blueberry bushes provide us with a good crop of berries.

So summer isn’t my favorite season AT ALL. I can hear many of you out there exclaiming, “What???” while shaking your heads.

In your book, summer equals relaxation, warm weather (no snow or ice), beach trips, fun in the sun, swimming and lounging in the pool, picnics, suntans, and the list goes on. I get it. You enjoy all of those activities.

Well, guess what? So do I (with the exception of suntans – this extremely fair skin I inherited from my English ancestors does not tan), but I simply cannot stand the heat and humidity of summer. I wilt like a wet dish rag.

When the weather dials it up several notches to hot, sticky, humid temperatures, I can be found inside in air conditioning. And I don’t want to be inside.

I want to be outdoors in fresh air without sweat dripping off of me, running into my eyes, and burning them. I want to enjoy time outside in sunshine without it sucking the life out of me, draining any ounce of motivation I may have drummed up. (And this, my friends, is why I love fall and spring 100% more than summer.)

What results is what I call the summer slump. I get cranky, lethargic, and totally unmotivated. Heck, I can’t even get inspired to create a lot of blog posts (indoors, of course) when summer rolls around and pushes temps into the upper digits of the thermometer.

I found this definition of “summer slump” on urbandictionary.com:  A period during summer in which a person performs inefficiently due to the excessive amount of free time on their hands. The symptoms often include:

  • remaining around the house for the majority of the day,
  • sleeping in excessive amounts,
  • persistent viewing of television,
  • prolonged exposure to video games,
  • neglecting personal hygiene,
  • consuming large quantities of food (in most cases, junk food),
  • loss of desire to leave their residence,
  • and abstaining contact from the outside world other than Facebook or the occasional trip to 7-11.

The definition continued listing causes as “lack of school or a job, absence of friends, insufficient funds, and/or lack of transportation,” and also listed effects as “moodiness, weight gain, shortness of breath, insomnia, increase of nerdiness, shrinkage of intimacy, and/or depression.

After reading this definition, I realize that perhaps I’m using the term summer slump incorrectly. First of all, I’m retired so I don’t lack a school, job, etc. Instead, I’m glad I don’t have a job right now!

Secondly, I’m not experiencing any of the effects (gee, am I more nerdy??). And lastly but foremost, the only symptoms I truly have is the first one – remaining around the house for the majority of the day.

I don’t sleep a lot, I watch TV rarely, don’t play video games. Don’t worry though because I do shower, so neglecting personal hygiene is not an issue.

I haven’t been eating a lot because it’s too darn hot to cook let alone eat. And I do have a desire to leave my home but between hot weather and this pandemic…well, there you have it.

I’m not sequestering myself away from communicating with the outside world, and Facebook – well, don’t get me started on that subject, so let’s just say I’ve been staying off social media to prevent adding extreme anger to my slumpiness (which I’m sure is not a word!).

I don’t make occasional trips to a 7-11 convenience store because we don’t have one (but there are Sheetz and Get-Go shops within driving distance) and I don’t visit those type of places regularly anyway.

Consequently, I guess I don’t have a classic case of summer slump per this definition, just my particular type – one of my own making I suppose. My summer slump consists of being lazy, unenthusiastic, and just plain uninterested because of the heat, which is totally out of my control.

And that explains aspect number 1. Now on to the second item on my summer happenings list. Blueberries.

A bumper crop of those delicious berries keeps me a tad busy. With multiple pickings, my kitchen counter has been filled with those sweet blue yummy fruit. And now, our freezer has quart-size ziplock bags full of them.

Blueberries force me to get out of my summer slump and do something – wash and dry them after picking, prepare some for eating (on breakfast cereal almost every day) and the rest for freezing.

I blanch them first then cool, dry, and place the berries in a single layer on a tray in the freezer so they freeze individually. Next, the frozen berries go into ziplock bags and I pop them back in the deep freeze. This way they don’t all lump together and you can take as many or as little berries out of the bag at a time as you want.

Prepping the berries is a plus because I’m sticking my head inside the freezer several times a day. And at least I can stay cool that way.

Summer? It doesn’t thrill me. But I’m grateful for the summer blues – blueberries, I mean. I guess you could say I’m like Fats Domino.

“I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.” ~ Fats Domino

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Breaking out

I love my home, I truly do, but I’ve found the need to break out of it.

Our current house is the one abode I’ve actually lived in the longest time of my life. My family lived in two different houses when I was growing up, but the longest period of time I lived in one of those was from age seven to the time I went to college.

Papa and I have lived in several houses in different locations over our 40+ years of marriage but this structure situated on our country acreage is the place we now call home. And I’m most grateful for it. I’m content living here. This place gives me peace.

But…even I, a person who loves her home and doesn’t mind being at home, have grown weary of just that – being home.

Being socially and physically isolated and having to follow sheltering in place edicts that have been forced upon us by government officials determining it was to flatten the curve of the covid-19 pandemic, to protect us from widespread outbreaks, to eliminate overwhelming hospitals, etc. has been difficult to say the least.

We are a mobile society. We are accustomed to going where we please, when we want, and for how long we want. That’s one of our freedoms that perhaps we take for granted and have been duly reminded of during this time.

However, I’m not writing this to discuss the pros and cons of everything that has transpired in the last few months. You have your opinion and I have mine and let’s leave it at that. The real reason I’m expressing this is because basically, I’ve become antsy from staying at home for so much of the time.

Oh, I get out a bit. Of course, since we live in the country, I can go outside of my house for as long as I want and weather permits without meeting another soul. Also a friend and I go walking for exercise and sanity a few times a week in an area where we encounter only a couple people here and there.

Papa and I have ventured out for take-out food occasionally. And since our state governor finally opened up our county (even though we had very few covid cases, we were locked down until he moved us to a “green phase,”) we’ve stopped grocery store deliveries to our front porch and one of us, all masked up like a burglar, treks to the market.

We’ve also taken little jaunts in the car just around our neck of the woods along country roads, just driving for the sake of it and getting out of the house. All we encountered on those outings were other cars, some wildlife here and there, and scenery but not any interaction with other human beings, be they friend, family, or stranger.

We’ve Face-timed our grown kids, chatted on the phone, and I’ve led a Bible study via video conferencing for some ladies from my church, but both Papa and I have yearned to just get out and about, seeing different sights and people, taking a road trip, and simply traveling with a destination in mind, Those aspects are just some of the ways we’ve enjoyed retirement and now it’s something we truly miss doing.

So, covid-19 or no covid-19, we decided to change that, mostly because both Papa and I refuse to live our lives in fear. This week, I’m going to take you, my readers, along for a ride or two to spots we ventured to visit. No worries though, we practiced social distancing when it was necessary and yes, we cared enough about other folks that we wore a mask when we landed in public places.

We traveled to spend an entire weekend at our son and daughter-in-law’s home (several hours away and in the state next door). In fact, every member of our family, which included us, our grown kids and their spouses, and our three little grandchildren, gathered together for the weekend there, the first we’ve all been together since Christmas.

It proved to be a joyful reunion and watching our three little ones play together just made us so darn happy. What a world of good it did for us as we enjoyed fun and fellowship with our family, delicious food, and plenty of relaxation outside on son and daughter-in-law’s back yard patio.

It was just the prescription needed for Papa’s and my bit of melancholy over social isolating and to put aside any smidgen of fear that keeps permeating the news and air waves and threatening to engulf us.

Tomorrow, I’ll share our next little journey busting out of our sheltering in place “prison.”

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.” — Dr. Henry Link

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: Pea Pickin’

It was pretty green around here the other day.

Little One (our oldest grandchild) and Papa went out to the garden and picked peas – two baskets full. Peas, peas, and more peas. Our two little rows of plants were loaded down with green pods chock full of those round little balls of deliciousness.

Little One helped me shell quite a few of those peas until she got a tad weary of it.

As we worked together, you might say we were like two peas in a pod. I split open the pods, handed them to Little One and she plucked out the peas and deposited them into a colander.

While the two of us sat at the kitchen table shelling those peas, childhood memories floated back to me, summertime sweet memories, as sweet as those peas.

I remember being a little girl just a couple of years older than my grandchild, sitting on the side porch with my own grandmother shelling peas from our family’s garden.

History seemed like it was repeating itself for me in a way as I shared my recollections with my five-year-old granddaughter right then and there.

And as I verbalized those memories, an old saying came back to me as well. Bless your little pea pickin’ heart.

I recalled that country singer/entertainer Tennessee Ernie Ford used that catch phrase a lot on television shows back when I was a child. And he also actually sang a song entitled, Bless Your Pea Pickin’ Heart.

You can listen to it here.

Who would think baskets full of fresh peas at pea pickin’ time would bring back so many  pea pickin’ memories?

“How luscious lies the pea within the pod.” ~ Emily Dickinson

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Easy summertime livin’

Summer has arrived in our neck of the woods. The days grew longer but now once again shorten a little with each new day. The sun shines brightly. The flowers are blooming and the garden is growing.

But I confess I never welcome summer, although I do admit to some aspects of summer I can find myself liking.

Like more daylight in my hours making darkness descend later, that’s good. I also enjoy sitting on our front porch swing when weather permits and watching the fireflies light up our yard with their little blinking lights here and there.

And I do I relish sunshine, I really do, but not when the sun feels so intensely hot it scorches my fair skin (thanks to my English ancestors).

The blooming flowers are, of course, beautiful but they require watering to keep them that way, especially when rain showers don’t appear as often as they should. As does the garden if we want to see any produce from it.

The problem with summer, in my opinion, is it just gets too hot and humid (and we don’t even live in the south!). When temperatures soar and the thermometer steadily climbs up into the 90-some degrees Fahrenheit, usually the humidity increases as well.

And as each degree ascends higher and it gets downright sticky, I wilt like a soppy, old dish rag. My get-up-go disappears and I become lethargic, lazy, and cranky to boot. Even my motivation to write in this blog wilts and withers.

That old Gershwin tune, “Summertime and the livin‘ is easy” just doesn’t cut it with me. Summertime is usually hard for me to do my living the way I want. I’m more of a cool weather gal.

But summer has arrived. It IS July, after all, and we are in the throes of the season. But, at least for the last couple of weeks, this summer feels different.

Of course, there is the covid-19 thing still hanging over our heads and that definitely caused summer to be altered. The usual summer festivities like county fairs, farm shows, and festivals have all been cancelled. Large scale picnics, outings, and family reunions are all on hold.

But it’s more than just these restrictions that cause me to sit up and take notice to this summer. In the last week or so, 90° plus weather has arrived, but the humidity level has stayed fairly low.

Evenings cool down instead of feeling like I’m trapped in a sauna. Early mornings are pleasant and my friend and I can still enjoy our walks without sweating profusely.

We only recently turned our air conditioner on and that’s unusual. Up until now, we managed sleeping at night with windows wide open and cool air circulating with just the help of a ceiling fan and a box fan. And I’ve managed to keep the weeds at bay without sweltering while plucking them.

I just mentioned to Papa yesterday that even though it was 93° out, I wasn’t wilting and weary from the heat. My body seemed to adjust to the higher temperature more easily and I’m fairly certain it’s because of the lack of high humidity and I shared that revelation with my husband.

Papa mused, “Hmm…maybe you could learn to live in the south or somewhere like Arizona.” To which I replied with a tsk rolling off my tongue, a shake of my head, and a scoff. No way!

I’ll stay right here, right where I am, thank you very much, and I’ll just be grateful for a summer that perhaps I can endure.

A summer I might be able to enjoy. A summer that’s different. I just hope it lasts.

If you need me, you’ll find me on the front porch swing taking this summer easy.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: break

We all had to take a break whether we wanted to or not – at home.

Because of the pandemic and the resulting edicts to “shelter in place,” all of us, in one way or another, were forced to take a break.

Oh, I know, those who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs because they were deemed essential workers still worked hard and we’re so thankful for them. And scads of others, who were able, worked from home.

But a vast majority of us took a break – albeit a longer one than we thought it would be – from the daily routine and normal life.

Since both Papa and I are basically retired, we didn’t have to worry about jobs. We were busy though caring for our oldest granddaughter during that time.

But for the most part, we seized the opportunity to step away from the normal busyness of life and enjoy our time at home. And we didn’t squander that time at all.

“The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn’t be squandered.” ~Harper Reed

So what did we do? In between playing with our granddaughter, helping her with her preschool homework, and providing new things to discover and learn, we enjoyed some simple aspects of life. And I took quite a few photographs to prove it.

I’m sharing some of those photos from our “break” with you today. Despite the trying time that it’s been, we managed to find joy. And doesn’t that make every day worthwhile?

So how have you managed staying home during this time?

Enjoyed the blooming flowers
Spruced up the yard
But we still had time to just relax outside

“Find what brings you joy and go there.” ~Jan Phillips

©2020 mamasemptynest,wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: when not purging sparks joy

blogIMG_1557It was all the rage a while ago – decluttering your home, adapting to a minimalist kind of lifestyle. In other words, rid your home and your life of items you no longer use or in the words of the queen of tidying up, Marie Kondo, get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

Well, of course when we accumulate too much stuff, we need to evaluate, sort, donate, or pitch some of those items. But totally clearing your home of items that you haven’t used for awhile? That just doesn’t click with me.

Maybe it’s because my parents grew up in the Depression era and so they utilized items that others would pitch into the garbage bin. They also saved things because you just “might need them someday.” And well…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I’ve been known to save things because I can see where they might be useful later. I do scrutinize something to ascertain if it can be reused or repurposed. And I do think twice about letting go of some things because if I do, I just might need them later.

And you know what? Just last weekend, I was glad I do so. Here’s my case in point.

Like so many across of our country, we’ve been sheltering in place in our home due to the covid-19 business for the last…oh, I don’t know because I’ve lost track of time…several weeks that seem like “forever” in the words of my five-year-old grandchild.

Since Papa and I are in the “vulnerable” group (over 60), we literally have been staying home, getting groceries delivered to our front door step, and generally making do with the situation. But finally, our state governor has placed our particular county in the next phase  — we’re no longer in the red – of his reopening plan.

We can venture out into public once again and some businesses may reopen but we must don a face mask.  This is a bit of a problem for someone like me who is a trifle claustrophobic.  But along with everyone else in the world, I viewed videos with instructions on how to make masks – sewn and non-sewn.

Disposable masks are a hot commodity and could only be found online for a chunk of change. So I opted for the non-sewn ones and tried to “make” masks from bandanas, (which for some reason we have many) and hair ties. They didn’t work so great as we constantly ended up touching them to make sure they stayed on our faces. That defeated the purpose and honestly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe in them.

Scrap that idea. Finally, I bit the bullet and decided to sew our own, especially since we have a child in our midst who is too small to wear adult-sized face masks.  

Now, I confess I am not much of a seamstress. I wouldn’t claim to be one although I do know how to sew. I learned some from my mother, some in Home Economics classes in junior high, and even more from sewing classes given many years ago by my oldest sister, who is a seamstress extraordinaire. (She even fashioned her daughters’ wedding gowns.)

I own an old, simple sewing machine and can do basic sewing but my skills aren’t the greatest, although I did sew a number of Halloween costumes for my children when they were small.

But here’s the thing. My portable sewing machine is stored away in a box, sometimes for years.  My sewing chest full of thread and needles only comes out of the laundry room cupboard when I need to sew a button or make a simple repair on an article of clothing.

So I dragged out my neglected sewing machine and set it up on the kitchen table, rooted in the laundry room cupboard for some material remnants from a few things I fashioned many years ago, found the right colors of thread and – surprise! – a package of thin elastic and white shoestrings that were never opened in my sewing chest.

It took me a good part of the day, but I managed to sew three cloth masks – one for Papa, one for Nana, and one for Little One. I used the left-over material for the outside of the masks, some 100% cotton cloth for the linings, matching colored thread I already had, elastic for ear loops for the adult masks, and shoestrings for Little One’s mask which will be tied on instead of bending her ears down.

All of it didn’t cost me one cent! And all those items, including my sewing machine, have been stashed away in my cabinet for years, unused. Had I purged that cupboard of its contents because I wasn’t using those items, I wouldn’t have possessed the materials I needed for this “rainy day.”

And you know what, THAT sparked joy for me.

“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” ~ Aesop

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

When home is the safest place to be

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Can’t get too much more social distancing than this!

My first thought as I write this post sitting at my desktop computer in our home office while I practice social distancing is to ask you, all of my readers, how are you doing during these crazy times of the corona virus (COVID-19) crisis?

Are you well? Are you staying at home to protect yourselves and others? Do you have enough food and necessary supplies?

I pray daily for all of us. And I want you all to know that if you have prayer concerns, please leave those in the comment space below and I will pray for you and your family.

My second thought as I write is this is not the kind of post I want to write, so I’m determined that I will try my hardest to continue to post only encouraging, uplifting thoughts to offer bright spots of hope during this difficult time in our world after this.

Papa and I just returned last Wednesday, March 18, from a trip out west. It was not a trip taken without some trepidation and careful thought. We had this trip planned some time ago. Airline tickets purchased, hotel and car rental reservations made. Our daughter too was taking a stay-cation from work to be with her child, our granddaughter, who we provide child care for, just so Papa and I could go.

We flew to Arizona on March 9 with supplies of anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer in our bags. We tried not to touch areas at the airport before departure, washed our hands often, wiped down our seats, and practiced social distancing by sitting in an empty gate area away from people as we waited to board our flight.

Once on the plane, we disinfected the arms of our seats, serving trays, seat belts, lights and air valves above us, and we were relieved to see the flight was nowhere full. We had our row to ourselves, just the two of us.

Our itinerary was to drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff, stay the night there, and depart the next morning for the Grand Canyon. We accomplished that part of our trip and I will write more about our Grand Canyon experience later.

Next on our schedule was to drive to my sister and brother-in-law’s home in southwestern Arizona. Once we arrived there, the four of us hunkered down a bit due to rain (a full day of steady rain was abnormal for there) and my sister experiencing some back pain.

Since we had visited them two years ago, we really had seen most of the interesting sights in their area, so it wasn’t that difficult to just spend our days visiting and talking with our loved ones in their beautiful home.

We did manage some ATV riding out into the desert, a Sunday afternoon drive to view something we hadn’t seen before, walks in the nearly deserted neighborhood, and just soaking up sunshine outdoors by the swimming pool.

But for the most part, we truly did practice social distancing even though we weren’t that aware of the fact that we should. We chose not to watch TV news because we didn’t want to surrender to the panic that seemed to flood the airwaves and we had very limited access to the internet. Looking back, I count that all as a good thing.

Our concern arose as we neared our departure to fly home. Would our flight be cancelled? Was it safe to fly in a plane full of people? What about exposing ourselves at the airports (both the departure and arrival – fortunately we had a direct flight)? Should we just keep our rental car and drive all the way back home over 2000 miles?

Concern ran high, especially with our grown children, who texted and called us often to check on us.  We prayed a lot for wisdom, guidance, and peace.  The day before our flight, we drove the three hours or so from our dear ones’ home to Phoenix, stayed the night in a mostly empty hotel, and the next morning waited for our flight back home.

Again we sat far away from others, used caution in what we touched, washed hands, sanitized seating areas, etc., and did the best we could. Again our flight was not completely full so Papa and I were seated by ourselves.

blogIMG_1412Everyone on board seemed to be wiping down surfaces and the flight attendants collected all of our now contaminated wipes in garbage bags immediately. We were only served drinking water in pull-top cans, no cups, no ice, and were also given some packaged snacks.

We arrived ahead of time at our destination in our city’s airport, deserted more than I have ever seen it before. I texted our daughter to wait in the cell-phone parking area outside the airport until we collected our luggage at baggage claim and stepped outdoors. We texted her then, she pulled up, we loaded our bags into her vehicle, and we headed for home.

Were we completely safe? Only time will tell. But I know one thing for certain. I have never been so glad to get home, sweet home in my entire life. Since then, we are continuing to practice social distancing as I hope you are.

My greatest concern is now not for myself. It’s for my sister and brother-in-law who are  nearing 80 and not in the best health. My sister has several autoimmune diseases and I pray that she and my brother-in-law stay safe from this pandemic.

But I also pray daily for our daughter, a hospital nurse, and all of our healthcare workers.  Just yesterday, she learned there is a patient with a confirmed COVID-19 case in her hospital. We have already put an action plan into place – our granddaughter will stay with us until this crisis is over – because our daughter worries that she may bring the virus home to her child or to us.

I urge you, if you are a person of faith, please pray as well for those on the front lines of dealing with this new and unknown virus. They are selfless and are putting not only their selves at risk but also their families. 

I have to ask would we do the same for them? We can. By staying put in our homes, not going out to public places, and not socializing face to face.  Instead if you’re able, go outdoors where there aren’t any folks; take a drive in your car but stay in your car; take a walk around your house but keep your distance from your neighbor.

I’ve read often times that God told us 365 times in the Bible (that’s once a day for an entire year) to “fear not.”  I take those words of my God to heart. We will trust in the Lord of all to protect us, but we also will use the good sense He gave us to continue to practice good hygiene, eat healthful food, and stay home.

I pray you all do the same, even if you aren’t ill and don’t think you’ve been exposed. Think of others before yourself.

Be safe, my friends. Stay home, shelter in place, and be well.  Staying home is the safest place for us all right now.

Come back to Mama’s Empty Nest for words of encouragement, hope, and some light in the darkness. I will try my best to provide it.

“No matter who you are or where you are, instinct tells you to go home.” ~ Laura Marney

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Nutcracker memories

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Little One’s fascinated by them too.

Since I was a child, I’ve always loved the classical music of The Nutcracker, written by Tchaikovsky. I mean who doesn’t love the idea of a sugar plum fairy dancing in your head while you listen to that beautiful music?

A long time ago, I started a small collection of different nutcrackers and they almost always adorn someplace in our home at Christmas time. I don’t really recall which one I acquired first, but over the years, I’ve added more. But before the collection became too large, I decided to stop and just keep it small.

Of course, The Nutcracker is a famous ballet, usually performed during the Christmas season and I do have a vague recall of having seen it televised when I was a child in the early 1960’s.

Later, as a married adult I attended a live performance of The Nutcracker danced by a ballet company in the city where we lived at the time.  And as our children came along, I decided that one day we would take them to see the ballet as a holiday treat.

We managed to accomplish that, although our son, who was pretty young at the time, fell asleep and missed more than half of the performance. Still it’s a lovely memory in my mind: the five of us all dressed up in Christmas finery traveling into the city to enjoy a live ballet with a Christmas story line.

Our oldest granddaughter seems to share my fascination with nutcrackers. We’ve read the story to her and she remembered that Nana has a set of nutcrackers that decorate the top of the piano at Christmas time.

While Papa and I were hauling out the holly to set our house ablaze with lights and decorations, Little One was here as it was a baby-sitting day.

“Nana, can I help you get the nutcrackers out?” she asked. Well, I’m a grandmother, a doting one, and even though I probably never allowed my own children at her age to help with the nutcrackers in fear that they would break one, of course, I said, “Sure!”

I found the plastic storage bin where the nutcrackers were located, opened it, and one by one, Little One helped me release them from their protective layers of tissue and bubble wrap. Something needed my attention in the kitchen, so I left our granddaughter in the dining room with the decorations.

Re-entering later, I found myself amused that she had lined them all up mostly by height and was enjoying them. So I left again to do something else.

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“Okay, all of you nutcrackers, line up!”

Soon, I heard a little bit of thumping. I called to her and asked if she was alright. She assured me she was. A few minutes afterward, she sought me and asked me to come into the living room. I was shocked at what I found.

My four-year-old grandchild has an eye for decorating! She had crawled up onto the piano bench and placed the nutcrackers, one by one, in a very nice fashion. She was so proud of her accomplishment that she dragged her mama, when she got back from working, in to see her display.

We all chuckled when she announced that she did it all by herself and “I didn’t even get distracted.”

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Little One’s display — just as good as Nana can do!

Those nutcrackers gave me yet another Christmas memory to cherish. And some day, when she’s just a tad older so she won’t fall asleep, this Nana and Papa will take our granddaughter, dressed in her Christmas finery, to see The Nutcracker ballet in person.

And that will be yet another Christmas memory for her and me, I hope.

“The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale.” ~ Vera Nazarian

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: love is blue

blogIMG_8816Whenever I notice something blue, an old song from the late 1960’s entitled Love is Blue, (music composed by André Popp, French lyrics by Pierre Cour, and English lyrics by Bryan Blackburn) pops into my mind.

To me, the music sounds somewhat ethereal, almost haunting. I can remember loving to play the piece on the piano as a teenager and I still have the sheet music somewhere.

The lyrics to that song are sad and melancholy, telling the woeful tale of lost love.  “Blue, blue, my world is blue. Blue is my world, now I’m without you” are the opening lines.

Blue is always associated with feeling down, sad, lonely, or downright depressed. But for me, the color blue doesn’t have the same connotations.

Blue is one of my favorite colors and when paired with my absolute favorite, yellow, those two together just make me cheerful and happy.  I get a mental picture of bright yellow daffodils or vivid yellow sunflowers against a brilliantly blue sky. So beautiful.

I also love the clean, crisp look of blue enhanced with white. Wedgewood china comes to my mind. And Chinese porcelain or Holland’s delftware, or French toile fabric with blue designs. Again so very lovely.

In two different houses where we lived in the past (in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest), our kitchen colors were blue and white. And even though I’m not that fond of cooking, I enjoyed being in those kitchens because of their décor color.  

Blue. When I see it, I’m definitely not feeling blue.

Blue is calming to me and I find myself drawn to blue in nature…blue skies, blue water, blue on a bird, blue flowers.

It’s one of the reasons I wanted a hydrangea – a blue one, of course – planted in our yard several years ago. When it blooms in late summer, I just want to sit and gaze at its gorgeous color because I love it so much.

For me, love IS blue. Big blossoms of blue. How could anyone feel blue looking at these?

“Blue thou art, intensely blue; Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?” ~ James Montgomery

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Be still…in silence

blogIMG_7876 (2)During my day and evening hours when I was determined to be still, I found myself just sitting down and resting. 

This week I will share the reflections I found by doing so.

Oh, I still got my exercise in each week by walking in the early morning hours with my good friend and keeping up with household chores and gardening work. But some of the time I just found myself sitting still.

Sometimes relaxing in my easy chair and ottoman when my gaze would wander to the open French door leading to our deck.

Sometimes warmed by sunshine on a deck chair hearing the gentle breeze rustle through our maple trees and watching our fine-feathered friends find morsels to eat at the bird feeder.

Sometimes curled up on the couch with a good book to read.

Sometimes in a quiet spot while on vacation with Papa just enjoying our surroundings.

And sometimes perched on our front porch swing, rain or shine, observing all my eyes could take in and listening to the silence of the countryside.

On several of those times spent swaying back and forth on the swing, I’d suddenly hear a whirring sound – quick and distinct – and I’d duck my head thinking that perhaps a bumble bee just whizzed by my head.

And then I would see it. Not a bumble bee, but a tiny hummingbird which zoomed past me to sip some nectar from the hanging hummingbird feeder at the other end of the porch.

I stopped my motion of swinging and remained perfectly still just observing the rapid movement of wings that I could barely see as that tiny creature hovered in the air, then dived into the feeder, dipping into the sweetness it found there.

By the time I carefully reached for my cell phone to try to capture a photo, the little thing would zip away.

I can’t recall how many times I just sat and watched and waited with my camera or cell at hand to snap a photo.

But one day, it was worth the wait in silence to capture a picture of a tiny bird that is anything but still.

It always is best to be silent at times.

Silent to see that which you may have not noticed before.

Silent to hear sounds you may miss in the hurry scurry of everyday life.

Silent to listen for God’s voice to whisper in your ear, “See my beautiful creation made for your enjoyment.”

“Let us be silent so we may hear the whisper of God.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com