Posted in Home, Life, technology

Words for Wednesday: book life

At the risk of sounding like a luddite, some thoughts about the differences between digital books on e-readers and a real, honest-to-goodness paperback or hardback book printed on paper pages have been rolling around in my mind lately.

Why? Because of the photo above. In a concerted and time-consuming effort, Mama has been clearing out this ol’ empty nest. We’ve lived in our country home for 21 years now and the accumulation of stuff tells me so.

So short of selling the house and moving (which always helped de-cluttering in the past but is precisely what Mama and Papa don’t want to do), I set my sights on eliminating the ever-growing assortment lurking in closets, drawers, and especially our very large unfinished basement.

What a job it was! Middle daughter contributed quite an assortment of no longer wanted items herself, so we decided to hold a garage sale or a tag sale as some folks call such an event. Sorting, marking items with prices, and setting up tables to display it all seemed like a herculean task, but I remained undaunted. We advertised our sale – where else but Facebook?

After two days of selling (and praying people would show up to peruse our stuff and take it home with them), we did manage to unload sell a good bit of our former belongings, including some bigger items. But WAY too much remained, and we hauled two very full SUV-loads to our nearest thrift shop to donate.

After all was said and done though, an observation I made saddened me. Papa and I are readers, and we own shelves and shelves of books. We decided it was time to reduce those collections, so many boxes filled with paperbacks, hardbacks, and even children’s chapter books all priced inexpensively and ready for new homes were added to the sale.

To my dismay, hardly anyone even looked at the books. Out of the scads of people who rummaged through our offerings, practically every one of them walked right by the books without a glance. I think we sold a grand total of two hardback books to an older woman and a handful of children’s paperbacks to one lady who mentioned she was trying to entice her son to read more.

What? No one wants “real” books anymore? I get it. You can download books digitally on your kindles or e-readers. But still….for me, reading  electronically isn’t as relaxing as cozying up on my couch with a nice cup of hot tea and a book in my hand. And finishing that book gives me a kind of satisfying fulfillment concluding a digital copy just doesn’t provide.

And I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the beach, I’d much rather read from a printed paperback then haul my kindle down onto the sand.

When I get distracted by the soothing sounds of ocean waves or that seagull who keeps trying to get close enough to see if I’ll throw it some crumbs or I simply get drowsy, I can put a physical bookmark in my book and set it aside.

I don’t have to readjust my focus on reading to realize my e-reader resorted to sleep mode while I was inactive, or squint in the bright sunlight to try to read it, or shut it down because it needs recharged, or locate a safe, non-sandy spot to store it.   

I assume I’m not the only person who prefers printed books to electronic ones, but I searched the all-knowing internet just to make sure I wasn’t the only off-the-wall hermit of a real book lover still in existence. (Don’t get your shorts in a knot, I know there are still some of you out there in cyber-land.)

And here’s one of the sites – 5o Reasons Real Books Are Vastly Superior to eBooks –  I found that caused me to nod my head often as I read it even though the guy who wrote the article called it satire.

I also found a non-satirical site comparing the two that spouted good common sense about why physical books are better than eBooks. It stated that reading on a screen is more tiring for your eyes than reading printed matter. And interestingly, studies have shown that students comprehend less when reading electronically than with traditional printed books.

You know what? I have found that to be true myself. I will buzz through an eBook quickly and then not even really remember much about the storyline but with a printed hard copy, I remember it well.

Sometimes I look at the library of eBooks I have and don’t even remember reading the ones that my kindle app marks as read. Plus, to be honest, some eBooks just really aren’t as well-written as traditionally published ones.

When it comes to books, I’d rather hold a printed one in my hands, go to the library to borrow as many as I want, and enjoy reading that way.

So what to do with all of the boxes of books still sitting in our garage? I could establish a free little lending library like one of my blogging friends has done. I love noticing those and have often photographed some on our excursions.

Somewhere on Cape Cod
At a children’s playground

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never-failing spring in the desert.” ~ Andrew Carnegie

But a few things might hamper that idea – we live in a very rural area and honestly, I sincerely doubt if anyone would even utilize one here. I’m not sure placing it in any nearby towns would work well either because lately I’ve noticed a lot of vandalism. Plus that wouldn’t be purging all of those boxes of many books at one time.

Thus, I may contact a used bookstore in the city and see if they would be willing to take some of them and, more than likely, I’ll donate the books to some community libraries in our area and thrift shops.

I just hope my assumption that folks don’t read printed books, or any kind of books for that matter, is wrong because I recall a quote once made by the writer, Ray Bradbury: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

Anyone interested in a couple boxes of real books? Or do any of you readers out there have another suggestion for me? There’s still lots of good reading in those books.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” ~ George R.R. Martin

© 2021

Posted in Home, Life

Words for Wednesday: Slow and steady

I imagine that most of my readers know the old tale of the tortoise and the hare.

The racing rabbit always moved at top speed and was so confident that he would win a race with the slow-moving, creeping-along pace of the tortoise hands down. Harry the hare was so darn sure he’d win he not only boasted about it, but he also stopped and took a nap along the way. But Terry the tortoise, plodding along but not ceasing, ultimately became the winner.

Moral of the story: slow and steady wins the race.

That old Aesop’s fable, especially the moral, came to my mind as I sat down this week to compose a new blog post and I remembered the photo above stored in my picture cache. On morning walks with my friend, we often see rabbits and once we met a turtle on the sidewalk. He ever so slowly moseyed along and of course, we passed him with flying colors, but not before I snapped a photo of him with my cell phone.  (I’m glad he didn’t ‘snap’ back.)

And that reminded me that all too many times I’m like the hare – racing hither and yon to accomplish a task. However, unlike the hare in Aesop’s tale, I often don’t take time to just sit and rest. My motto has always been once you start a job, finish it first, then you can stop and relax. I’m one of those impatient types of people who want the job done NOW.

“Your speed doesn’t matter. Forward is forward.” ~ unknown

But in the last few months, a household chore – no, call it a gargantuan task – had me racing as if I were a contestant in an old television game show from the 1950’s and early 60’s called “Beat the Clock.”  Anyone besides me remember that one?

What prodded me into warp speed? Papa and I have called our country house home for 21 years now – the longest amount of time we have ever lived in one place.  Being stationary in one spot, we’ve accumulated a lot of “stuff.” When we moved more often in the first 20-some years of marriage, we always purged. But now, our basement seriously looked like a hoarder’s treasure trove.

And I was determined to clear it out. With the onset of our oldest daughter and son-in-love moving into a house, where they now have plenty of storage, we hauled a load of her belongings to them. That made a bit of a dent.

Middle daughter has also stored way too many possessions in our basement, and she and I began sorting through it all, packing up items in plastic storage tubs for future use, and eliminating others. That made another dent.

But how to get rid of a boatload of perfectly good stuff that might bring a little extra cash for her and us as well? Why, hold a garage sale of course. You know, there’s a very good reason why I haven’t succumbed to this kind of expunging for 20 years – it’s a lot of WORK!

For months now, I have been culling through the basement stash, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak. Setting aside the usable items that could most likely be sold and determining the rest which, frankly, just needed to be deep sixed in the trash or recycling bins.

As usual, I tried to work at Harry the hare’s pace, sorting, categorizing, pricing items, and packing them into boxes so that all that was required during the couple of days before the sale would be to unpack and set it all up.

Whew! It proved to be a huge task and I still had other household responsibilities to handle as well, not to mention conjuring up creative ideas for blog posts, advertising the sale on social media, scrounging up tables, making direction signs, etc.

Something had to give which is why I took a longer than a week-long break from blogging.

In the end, I found that working like Terry the turtle was far more productive for me. And as we hauled all the garage sale boxes to our actual garage and outside onto the driveway for the sale last weekend, lo and behold, our basement walls became visible!

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

We did manage to eliminate much of it and make some garage sale goers happy with their finds. But there’s still quite a few items left over. Now it’s time to sort through it once more, pack it up, and find a donation center that will accept it. Unfortunately, right now, some of our thrift shop/non-profits are not accepting donations of this kind.

I’m determined, however, that the stuff doesn’t claim our basement as its home once more, so I’m reminding myself again…slow and steady wins the race.

Can I interest anyone in a few boxes of garage sale leftovers? I just may have something you might need because one man’s trash is another’s treasure, you know.

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” ~ unknown

© 2021

Posted in Christmas Eve, empty nest, Home

In Your Silent Night

Christmas Eve. Silent Night.

The words to the age-old Christmas carol come so easily to mind.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

It IS a silent night here in Mama’s Empty Nest. Only Papa and I are here.

No grandchildren under the age of 5 run to and fro, happily shouting and playing and not wanting to settle down to sleep because of the excitement of Santa Claus’ arrival.

None of our offspring here playing games, raiding the fridge and snacks in the pantry.

Oldest daughter and son-in-love are in their home down south heeding travel restrictions.

Nurse middle daughter works her shift at her busy hospital. Oldest grandchild is spending the holiday with her father’s family.

Son and daughter-in-love with our two other grandchildren are nestled down in their own home many miles from us in the state next door.

All is calm in Mama’s Empty Nest. All is bright as Christmas lights shine brilliantly outside our country home and our Christmas tree dazzles in the darkened living room.

It’s just another silent night. Or is it? Not for us. It’s a night to remember and reflect on another silent night over 2000 years ago. A night when a Savior was born into this world.

If your night seems too silent this Christmas Eve, watch and listen to this video. May you find joy somewhere in your silent night.

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent., For this is still the time God chooses.” ~ Taylor Caldwell

© 2020

Posted in Home, Life

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  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


Posted in Home, Life, travel

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


Posted in gardening, Home, Life

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


Posted in Home, Life

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


Posted in Home, Life, photography

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,

Posted in Home, Life

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



Posted in Home, Life, travel

When home is the safest place to be

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