Monday, August 8, 2022


And then they went home.

Julie Sucha Anderson

A few weeks ago, we had an invasion of family. Four of our five adult kids and all four grandchildren. A week of constant activity. 

When they all drove away on Sunday, I poured a drink. It was 10:45 in the morning. With my husband sequestered downstairs taking a golf nap in front of the TV, I sat in my blue chair and listened to my library book while playing some stupid puzzle game on my phone. 

A few hours after that, my husband and I met on the dock. Exhausted. Where I long ago handled three children with organized deft, every day, all day long, it's now much harder at almost 66 to muster the same vigor and strength. 

Even though I love, love, love having my grandchildren and children around, it wears my old ass out. 

I should learn from my neighbors, who have 10 grandchildren and accompanying parents. They only invite them all out for one day--and then they go home. Let it be said that all of theirs live within an hour and a half. A day trip is much more possible. 

They also have a rule where only two grandchildren (all well out of diapers) can come and stay for an extended period of time -- like twenty-four hours. 

Me? Probably wouldn't work. I'm a glutton for gathering. For seeing all of mine sitting at my table. A crazy chase of children, toys strewn about the room, art supplies on the table, water and milk and juice cups misplaced in a colorful array about the cabin. For all of us crammed into the boat for a ride that puts several of them to sleep. 

Like I said. A glutton.

It is quiet here now. After that Sunday, where I cracked that Ranch Water at 10:45 in the morning, Monday brought a small burst of energy. Our upstairs is a big room encompassing the living room, kitchen, dance floor, and dining room. For months I've needed to wash the laminate floor with something more than an occasional swipe. Travel, sleeping here, sleeping there, and more travel have not left an open window for such work. Besides, I've never enjoyed cleaning.

With the floor task complete, I blew the dust from the book shelves and end tables, replacing the numerous knickknacks to their rightful places after sending them to higher heights in escape from curious little hands. 

A return to normal. One where I sit. Although I miss the little bodies squeezed in beside me while reading a book (or playing PBSKids online when a restful repose is necessary) I'm enjoying the quiet. The organized chaos as opposed to the boisterous, liveliness of a houseful of active children. 

When I raised my kids, I gave it my all. They sucked out every brain cell I had. Could be why I'm a more relaxed grandma. Why I can handle the mayhem while it's raging. Also why I'm grateful when it's over, while I yearn for their return.

Respective flags.

Manicures by Bob

Restful Repose

My turn!

This is what you get, BamaChef, for not being here. We missed you. 

Almost one. Little Parks.

Sometimes you just need to sit with Grandpa and observe.

Don't empty the whole bucket at once.

Full boat.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Change in the Time of Covid - Year One

I decided today I'd publish a new blog post. Made a pact with myself. Other than writing my three morning pages, my writing life has taken a back seat. I'm currently hooked on a woodpuzzle app. Obsessed with it. I know when I do that, it means I'm on the cusp of something creative.

That creativity is often subjective based on the power behind it. Could translate into something new for dinner. A pattern made in the lake with my float, arms working as oars. Plowing through six unread New Yorker magazines gathering dusk on my ottoman.

Often, something more concrete. Like writing a blog post after almost two years. 


Today, when I opened up my blog after many, many months of not doing so, I saw where I'd made several attempts at posts in the past year and a half.  I came across this draft, marking a year into the pandemic. I'm not certain how I lost track of it--which distraction, grandchild's birth, event, or travel trailer adventure fancied my attention. 

Or if I decided it wasn't worthy. Or too long. Rambling. Sort of like the long days of Covid for many of us. 

Yup. That was it.

Since I'm piddling with another essay, I've decided to post this one written in March 2021. Satisfies my pledge to post a blog today so I can get back to reading one of those New Yorker magazines and work on my floating. 

Greetings, and good health to all.

March 2021

The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailer: he took my measure anew everytime he saw me, whilst all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me. 

Bernard Shaw

One year since Covid became a word. An anniversary--welcome or not. I often reflect on anniversary dates, and this one is no different. My curious nature has me wondering about my measurements. How this year changed me.

Adaptation: Even though I can talk to a pool table, I'm an introvert. Never am I bored and often must force myself out of Hermitville. Other than disappointment for the cancellation of several large trips on the calendar, I had little trouble adjusting to the world's shutdown. I didn't have outside work. Cancelled social engagements? Love Zoom. 

My days have a pattern. I awake in a coma, not ready to rock'n'roll. While the first cup of coffee revives my brain, I read a short meditation in a yearly book of wisdom. This year: Celtic wisdom. Last year: Buddist. Year before: Tao. Year before that - my favorite: Mark Nepo and the Book of Awakening.  

On each daily page, I record:

1. Where I am in the world. 

2. If I meditated or not (added that this year, and very challenging as it takes about three seconds before my mind wanders.)

3. Exercise achieved

4. Alcohol consumed

5. Calories ingested

6. Hours of sleep -- I'm not very good at that. Something about Night Hawk and Early Rising Husband Who Makes Lots of Noise.

Sidenote: In those days of Covid, #'s 3 and 4 dominated. #3, if sauntering up and down the street 10 times a day counted as exercise. I lifted a few weights and practiced yoga. Gentle yoga. Lie on the ground yoga. Until that got boring and I purchased harder DVD's. #4 required a necessary recording, as it creeped in on becoming one of those daily activities.

Back to morning rituals. After recording my previous day's activites, I read three new poems, write a don't-pick-up-your-pen stream-of-consciousness-really-shitty poem, followed by three pages of dribble into my journal. I once wrote either a one-page short story or essay each day. Covid begged for brevity -- hence the poem. I ain't no poet so trust me when I say there is nothing worthwhile in those hundreds of stanzas, a topic chosen on a nanosecond notice. 

The news calls next in regard to the developing science on Covid and US/World events. Which means I read a diverse array of newspapers and periodicals so I can distinguish between opinion and reality. People on my street are flush with opinion. I require data. Real data. Data doesn't lie.

Breakfast follows yoga. 

Then there's that book I'm rewriting -- again. That requires a dedicated two hours of staring out the window.

Curbside grocery shopping. Cooking dinner. Toilet cleaning. The maintenance of house stuff like swiping at cobwebs and blowing dust off bookshelves. 

Then comes things I want to learn -- like how to draw and paint. So a daily lesson from a book. I'm an incredible artist and since I don't have to show my work, no one will ever know I'm lying through my teeth. 

Usually one day a week, I don't follow my path. My four-year-old granddaughter spends the day with us. That's a non-thinking day. We do whatever she tells us to do. 

I've not felt the need to clean out closets and drawers. Pretty much everything that needed fixing before Covid still needs fixing. New recipes from the incredible Ina Garten have increased my cooking reprotoire. Following recipes is hard, though. Often I can't find where I put them meaning every night's a crap shoot as to whether a dousing of Cholula is required. 

Admission here: Other than becoming a faithful follower of Ina and some chick named Shiva who leads yoga in White Sands National Park, I did all that other stuff before Covid. I just do it at a slower pace. No rush. No interruptions by having to be somewhere.

The year has not been empty of sorrows and joys. A year of not seeing the son in NYC brought a deep yearning for his embrace. Not to mention worry for his safety in the epicenter of sirens and virus. The loss of my husband's mother during Covid meant we couldn't be with her at her passing. 

Joys included often seeing my other two sons and their families, one nearby and one within a few hours. 

We welcomed a new granddaughter. Meet Ava Gwen. 

Most grateful am I for my partner, who eats whatever I cook. He doesn't have to share the TV screen (we have only one) and knows not to talk to me until after my second cup of coffee. He chats with all the neighbors on his walks and gets the scoop, so I don't have to. We watch the PBS Newshour together and share an adventurous spirit. Which prompted the purchase of that used Airstream camper creating an avenue for exploration in a stagnant travel world. Which also aided greatly in keeping up spirits. 

I don't know if you call that change. Or if I'm told I can't go one way, I'll figure out another route. For in my desires to learn new things, I also like to see new things. The wanderlust something I can't control. 

The Airstream got us out of Dodge and taught us something completely new. Steep learning curve. Sewer hookups. Boondocking. Watewater management. 

Hikes in Big Bend National Park, Minnesota and Wisconsin forests, and a magical day spent in White Sands National Park soothed our weary souls. For even hermits who know how to entertain themselves grow weary.  

Big Bend National Park - Santa Elena Canyon, where the United States kisses Mexico.

Big Bend National Park - The Window

White Sands National Park

Camping was a safe exploration. Have to pee? Pull over and do your business on your own throne. Fix  lunch in your own kitchen. Park your camper more than a six foot length from others. No excuse needed for an unfriendly leer if someone dares an approach.

Of course, there were those who came too close. Like Tony from somewhere in Nevada who drove a huge RV bus with electric bikes that could go 80mph. Tony liked to chat, standing less than six feet away and interrupting my pathetic watercolor lesson on the picnic table. 

"Just tell me to go away if you don't want to talk to me," he said. 

Before I could say, "Go away, Tony," I learned that Tony sold high-end sports cars before he retired. Tony's family raced golf carts, or something like that, in the desert. Tony planned to watch the big Nascar race on Sunday. If not for Covid, he'd be at the race. In all that exhaust and noise. Watching cars go around in a circle. 

Instead he's wasting the life of a reluctant listener.

Not that she has anything against people who watch cars go around in a circle.   

Tony took a gander at my art instruction book, the flower I was supposedly painting. Then just nodded his head at my rendition, which looked sort of like Picasso's girlfriend after Jackson Pollack dumped that first paint can onto a canvas. 

The next day, November 7, I didn't explain to Tony why I was drinking a bottle of champagne in the middle of the afternoon.  

On our travels, we met a couple in Wisconsin who completely redid a 1954 Airstream. Another couple in Big Bend making plans to go all the way to South America in their camper.

A group canoeing the Rio Grande playing their guitars and flutes around their campfire, allowing us to sing along to John Prine songs from our campsite. 

A young family of five on a two-month tour of national parks--the parents working and kids virtually schooling while on the road.

An older couple in the process of selling the sailboat they'd been living on for five years while sailing the seas. 

On these road trips, I continue my daily norms. Morning coffee. Writing. Meditating. Yoga inside the Airstream -- utilitzing the skylight for my arm stretch to achieve Volcano Pose. Walking. Tending my soul.

A year has passed. I'm a week out from full vaccination. What lies ahead? 

I've asked my friends how they've changed this past year. What they do or don't do anymore? What do they see happening when their world opens up? What have they learned about themselves? What's important?

Interesting replies. I'm gathering them, and and hope to write about them. Subjective subject. No one really says yet exactly what they are going to do beyond gathering with dear friends and sharing a long hug. An indication that the change back into the world might be more gradual than the quick retreat we all made last March.

Still figuring it out for myself. My experience is different from those working out of their homes, children underfoot and schooling them. Those who lost their income and careers. Those who live alone and crave the touch of others. Those with elderly parents living with them, rather than in nursing homes. Those who are not well. Those who became ill from the virus. 

The family members of the millions around the world who have died. 

We all have a story. We've all been affected. Even those who think not. Can't go through something like this and think you haven't. 

What has changed for you? What will or will you not do that you used to? What have you discovered about yourself? What's something new you learned to do? 

End Note: Reading this sort of puts a wasp in my panties to write one as to where I am now, two years and four months into the pandemic. Hmmm.

Where are you?

Also, have to show that other grandbaby that blessed us. Meet Parks Conrad Anderson


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