WHAT A COUPLE OF WEEKS

Well, I had planned to post last week. Since I started posting just once a week I have been writing my post on Fridays, but last Friday there were a few things that got in my way.

My brakes had started to squeal a little a few days before and I planned to drop my car off at the mechanic around the corner that morning.

Doctor Visit:

Unfortunately that got sidelined when there was blood in my urine that morning. I called my doctor's office, but she has been cut back to two days a week because of covid and there was no one else in that office that day that could see me. 

The woman I talked to did find me an appointment that afternoon with a doctor in another one of their offices. I definitely needed my car to get there so I figured I would take it in the next day.

About a mile from the doctor's my brakes started making a terrible grinding noise. I managed to get to my appointment, go through the covid screening, and see the doctor, who I named the nutty professor. My urinalysis showed infection, but he wanted to send it off to have it cultured before he gave me an antibiotic. Of course it was the weekend. 

The Car Ordeal:

My next task was to call AAA for a tow truck and text my daughter to see if my son-in-law could come and drive me home. He could. Forty five minutes later the tow truck arrived with a driver who was not wearing a mask and kept getting in my personal space. I finally had to ask him to please keep his distance. What is wrong with people? Covid is raging here in Atlanta. 

Saturday, when I hadn't heard from my mechanic by noon I called to see what was going on. He said he had spoken to someone, a man, who told him to go ahead with the work. WHAT??? There is no man here. I asked him if the man had given him his credit card. 

It seems my right front brake line had broken and the left front brake had been doing all of the work. I had to get two new rotors, new pads, a new brake line, etc. etc. YIKES!!! You can only imagine what that set me back. I offered up my youngest grandchild (Tessa), but apparently her reputation preceded her because they declined. 

The Rest Of The Story:

The nutty professor messaged me to say there was bacteria in my urine, but it was up to me if I wanted an antibiotic or not. Okay, when did I become the doctor? I opted out because I don't like to be on too many antibiotics and I had just had one two months ago for another UTI. 

Later that day I heard from my regular doctor who was not pleased with that and wanted me on an antibiotic. I was feeling a bit cranky by that point and tried digging in my heels. However, my heels were a bit slippery and I finally agreed to the antibiotic Tuesday. By Wednesday, when it was finally called in to the pharmacy I was glad because I think the infection was worse. 

So, the story ends with me spending Wednesday afternoon porch sitting with my two daughters, while the grandchildren were out of town with their other grandparents and I am now being a good patient (sort of) and relaxing at home.

I definitely feel like I deserve a cookie. Don't even ask how much Covid weight I have put on. 


NONE OF US ARE IMMUNE

As the days drag on I have begun to realize that the way we are living now is our new normal. As much as we may want to fight it we are not going to see changes anytime in the near future.


I am following the recommendations and the mandates where I live. I always wear a mask when I leave my apartment, I social distance, I stay at home for the most part, and I wash my hands at least a million times a day.

This week I found out a very close friend of mine from where I lived before I moved here has tested positive for Covid. She is 94 with underlying health conditions. Needless to say I am very concerned for her. She was doing everything right. She has been wearing a mask, having her groceries delivered, washing her hands, and social distancing. The only time she has left her apartment is to go to the doctor. 


None of us are immune from this illness, and the best we can do is follow the guidelines to keep ourselves safe. 

I definitely get cabin fever, so I have started to get out and walk again. I know that the risk of transmitting the illness is less outside, but if I see another walker or runner heading towards me, who is not wearing a mask, I move off the sidewalk and turn my back so I can social distance.


I also work on my little garden. It is not producing much this year except for my flowers. I gave up on the tomatoes and pulled the plant out. The squirrels were the only ones benefiting from it. 

The cases in Georgia are really going up although the hot spot seems to be in the middle of the state. Most people in Atlanta are now wearing masks as they are now mandated here.


I was scared last week to find out a staff person in my apartment building tested positive, but the health department determined that no one here was put at risk and no one else has tested positive. 

Today I will go for my outside social distancing visits with my family. I feel so lucky to live so close to them and can't imagine what it would be like if I was still 400 miles away from them. 

My wish is for everyone to stay safe. Unfortunately, none of us are immune. 


FINDING JOY, KEEPING JOY, AND SHARING JOY

It can sometimes be difficult to find joy these days. So many people are tired. We are tired of being confined to our homes, we are tired of being scared of a virus, and we are tired of worrying about what our futures are going to look like. 


It is difficult to live without joy in our hearts.  

"Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm 
and our intelligence aglow."
Helen Keller

Joy is defined as the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something good and we each find joy in different but often similar ways. Love, our families, small moments, a job we love, gardening, a flower, and much more can bring us joy.


The most important thing is to choose joy, to allow it into our lives, and then to find ways to hold onto it, to hug it close to us.

It is not only okay to find joy and keep it in these difficult times, it is also important to share it. When we find ways to bring joy to others we enrich our own lives. 


I know how much Tessa loves water. She has always been a water baby. I also know that she was sad that their pool had to close. Well I couldn't give her a swimming pool, but I found something I thought would bring her joy. 


I think the splash pad was a hit and seeing the joy on her face brings me so much joy.

How about you? Do you choose joy?





COOKING, NEEDLEPOINT, AND TESSA

I always thought of the dog days of summer as August, but time is so different these days, and the heat is on. 

I have been doing some cooking and baking this past week. My garden is definitely not producing like it did last year. Last summer I had more cucumbers and eggplants than I knew what to do with. 

love my cutting garden

This year, although I have lots of flowers on my cucumbers, it is not producing any fruit, and I have only had one eggplant.

I was able to harvest the one eggplant and I used it to make my favorite eggplant tomato casserole (had to buy tomatoes as I can't seem to beat the squirrels to the tomatoes). You can find the recipe here



I also decided to try my hand at baking a loaf of blueberry gluten free bread with crumb topping. So happy I did because it was delicious. 


The original recipe is not gluten free, but I just all purpose gluten free flour and it was perfect. I ate it as a dessert.
The original recipe is here. Be prepared for some unwanted, but worth it pounds to show up on your scales. 

I have been working on a needlepoint pillow for the last couple of months. I have learned to cut myself some slack when it comes to making it absolutely perfect. I have found that I am really enjoying the process and that it is relaxing for me. Thought I would share with you the progress I have made. 



Visited with my family on Thursday this week. Tessa and I had a Facetime breakfast tea party last week, but I hadn't seen her or my other grandchildren for a week and a half. 


Tessa of course wanted to show me how large the chicks and the ducks are now, The first group of chicks are as big as Trixie and the ducks are pretty much full grown. My son-in-law built a little door from the chicken coop into the duck pen so that the chickens can be in the larger space during the day. It then gets closed up at night so the ducks are safe from the fox. 

We finished up our visit with Tessa running through the sprinkler, a normal summertime childhood activity. Oh to be eight again. The pool they belong to had to be closed back down because one of the employees tested positive for Covid and Atlanta is back on phase one restrictions.


I am so grateful for those couple of hours a week. 



KEEPING PACE WITH LIFE

Even in this time when life has slowed down it still seems to be going by too quickly. The older I get the harder it seems to keep up the pace. 

Monday was a lovely day with family. It was Tessa's eighth birthday and she definitely had a fun filled day. Their pool opened and they made an appointment for swimming in the morning. Tessa loves to swim and I know she is missing the swim team this year. Maybe by next summer things will get back to normal.


I have a tradition of calling each of my grandchildren and singing happy birthday to them on their special day. Cary had told me Tessa's busy schedule, and as I knew I would be seeing her that afternoon I didn't make the call.

Apparently one of the first things she said that morning was that Nana would be calling her to sing happy birthday. I felt terrible that I didn't call. 


Tessa of course in her sweet way, after my third apology, said, "Don't worry about it, Nana. It's okay." I know I will never not call again.

Tessa's other grandparents and her cousin were there when I arrived and so we had a nice visit, ate delicious gluten free cupcakes that Sidney baked, and watched while Tessa opened her gifts.


After her other grandparents left, Katy was able to come over and visit. It was her first time out of her house, since the first of March, other than the medical appointment she went to in June, . Tessa was so excited and one of the gifts Katy brought was very special. 

She did a watercolor of a photo she took of Tessa five years ago when they all came to Kentucky to visit me and Tessa was walking through one of my family's green houses. On the back she wrote out a description of the visit. I know it is something that Tessa will always treasure. 


Summer is especially nice this year as we are able to gather safely outside for family visits. 

The swiftness of the pace of life ebbs and flows, but it keeps moving forward as must we.

PLAYING WITH CHICKENS AND BLUEBERRY PICKING

Last Saturday I went for my usual visits with my family. I only stayed at Katy's for an hour because the big Saharan dust storm was over Atlanta, which meant the air quality was really bad and Katy was unable to be outside for long. 

Next stop was Cary's where Tessa immediately asked if I wanted to play outside in the backyard with her. Well of course I did. I couldn't think of a better way to spend an afternoon, and Tess had activities planned. 


First she brought two stools outside so that we could sit in the chicken coop with Trixie and her brood. Trixie was more than happy to have us visit with her, although she tried to escape the confines of her prison cell twice and as warden (Tessa) and guard (me. I know my place in the hierarchy) we managed to get her back inside. 


The four younger chicks have been put outside in the coop now, but they are afraid of Trixie who doesn't recognize them as belonging to her, which of course they don't. I'm not sure that she wouldn't sacrifice them to the owls if they got outside the coop.


After chicken playing we moved onto blueberry picking, which apparently was fraught with danger for me. The blueberry bushes are covered with netting to keep the birds and me out. Tessa moved the netting back, jumped over the low fencing, and told me to climb over. 


To my credit I did get one leg over the fence before I realized that the second leg was not going to cooperate, because if I tried to lift it over the fence I was going to lose my balance (it happens with two knee replacements). 

Tessa, the natural problem solver, was trying to figure out ways to help me out. I am so glad that there was no one there to video it, because I started laughing and Tessa started laughing and I was afraid we were going to have to call the fire department to rescue me (I forbade her to go inside and tell her parents on me)

Fortunately, I was able to get the first leg back out of the enclosure and Tessa remembered there was a way to open the fencing so we were able to get inside and pick the berries. Of course what I didn't realize was that when Tess went inside to get baskets she tattled on me. The name Benedict Arnold comes to mind. 


It was at that point that I felt we needed a cooling off period so Tessa suggested we move the stool over under a tree to watch the ducks. When my daughter Cary came out and asked what we were doing way over there I began to have my suspicions that Tessa had been positioning us so that we weren't visible from the house and no one would disturb our closer than we probably should have been time together. 


As for the rest of the week I developed a kidney infection and had to go to urgent care on Tuesday. I was really worried about a trip to the doctor, but they were taking wonderful precautions and I felt very safe. 

I seem to be slow at kicking the infection, which means I am forced to stay at home and rest. I am sick of staying at home and resting, but it means that I am researching how to use the camera on my new Iphone 11. 


I am not going for my weekly visit today, but Monday is Tessa's birthday and I won't miss that. Katy is hopefully going to be able to come and stay out in the yard away from everyone. It will be her first time out of her home, other than her one medical appointment, in over four months. 

It may not be a typical birthday celebration, but I'm sure it will be wonderful. After all it's Tessa's big day. 

Happy July 4th. 

OWLS CHICKENS AND DUCKS OH MY

My daughter has become quite the urban farmer (along with the help of Tessa of course), and like any farmer dealing with the livestock is a continuing concern.

Trixie has not been particularly happy about being cooped up so much recently, but with the continuing presence of a pair of owls her safety and the safety of her chicks is a big priority.

This owl was staring my daughter in the face right outside her back door one day. 


Cary and Tessa were not too happy about the threat it posed to the chicks, but in no time at all the owl swooped down, plucked up a mouse, and flew up over the fence. It definitely moved up a notch in their good graces, but unfortunately for Trixie she and the chicks are still mostly confined to quarters.

She was outside for a bit, keeping a watchful eye on the three older chicks, while I was there one day, and it seems that she has rewarded the family by starting to lay eggs again. 


The baby chicks aren't the only ones who are growing up. I can't believe how much the ducks have grown. It probably won't be long before they start laying eggs as well, and they are now bigger than the owl so I think they are safe.


Kyle, my son-in-law, has been working hard on a new home for the ducks, which will keep them safe from predators. No more duck dinners for the fox that comes sneaking around at night.


I didn't get to see Tessa last week because she was over swimming with her other grandparents, but I dropped her off  some taquitos from Trader Joe's on Wednesday morning and I am going over for a visit this afternoon.

Sorry I didn't respond to comments last week, but my phone bit the dust and my computer was apparently having sympathy pains. I have a new phone now and the computer seems to have come out of its stupor. I'll share more about the phone next time.

Have a great weekend.



CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Am I getting old or is it all of the time I am spending on my own these days that brings up old memories. Maybe it is a combination of both. 

It seems like there are so many things these days that trigger memories that were hidden in the back of my mind. 


I belong to a Facebook group that posts photos of the little town where I grew up in southern Ontario in Canada. It was a beautiful picture postcard town. 

The downtown was filled with local shops, restaurants, a skating rink, and a movie theater. 

It was a place of parades, dances, and swimming in nearby Lake Erie.


A war memorial carillon tower stood in front of the high school and chimed out the hours every day and Christmas carols in December. 


A river meandered through the town. Park areas surrounded the river and most days I crossed over the wooden bridges walking or riding my bicycle. In winter I bundled up and cut through the park on my way to toboggan at the golf club.



I loved going to the town's historic little library. I think I must have read every book in the children's section. 

Still to this day busloads of visitors come from all over the province to see the Christmas decorations in the park.


My home was set on two acres, which backed up to the river. What a wonderful place to play as a child. I would go down and sit under the pine trees or wander the dirt path beside the river. My parents told me there were blood suckers in the river so I never tried to go in the water. I'm not sure if that was true or if it was a way to keep us from drowning. 

We had two identical elementary schools in town, South Public and North Public. I attended North from the fifth through seventh grades. The left entrance and playground were for boys and the right entrance and playground were for girls. 


These days when I close my eyes I can see those long ago images and sometimes at night I dream of them. They are comforting to me. 

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?
                                                       Barbra Streisand

I know I would love to have one day of experiencing it all again, knowing that the aroma of my mom's fresh baked chocolate chip cookies was waiting for me when I walked in the kitchen door. 

SAFE HUGS AND TRIXIE

Where does the time go? I'm not really doing a whole lot and yet the time still seems to be zooming by.

Last Saturday I went to visit my family. I am now going once a week because I really just get too lonely when I don't get to visit with them. I am very lucky to live only nine miles away from both of my daughters. 



My daughter, Cary told me that the New York Times had written a column about safe hugging during the pandemic. She knows that I have been feeling really sad about not getting to hug my grandchildren for three months. You can read the article here.

Human touch is important for all of us, and going for three months with no human touch is not good for your mental health. It is especially hard on grandparents. 



So when I went for my visit, I hugged each of my three grandchildren using the safe hug guidelines. They have been primarily self isolating, as have I, so the risk was very low. 

Those three hugs were the best hugs that I can remember. Although I hugged the two older ones inside the house, Tessa and I hugged outside and I gave her a kiss on the back of her head through the mask. 

I think it is best to assess the risk versus the need to have that important contact if you are thinking of hugging members of your own family. 



Tessa and I had a visit with Trixie while I was there. Trixie was not a happy chicken because she was still confined to quarters due to the two large owls who are lurking in the yard. 

She did seem happy to see me and let me know that I needed to rescue her from her mean old family who are trying to protect her. 



I tried being nice by poking some chickweed (a favorite of hers) through the chicken wire, and she did eat it, but also pecked my fingers. I felt she was being a bit ungrateful. 

Maybe the fact that I told her she now has some online fans went to her head. It is ever so hard being a celebrity. I'm hoping the paparazzi doesn't show up because there is no telling what she will tell them about her perceived mistreatment. I'm counting on Tessa to ward them off. 




GARDENING

Mistress Laura quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Despite having the worst space for sun my little garden is doing its best to grow. 



The wildflowers have popped up and are starting to reach to the sky. I'm hoping that by next month they will start to produce blooms that I can cut for bouquets for my apartment. 



I'm noticing different things with the veggie plants.

Although both of the pepper plants have a small pepper already I have noticed that they are slow growing and the leaves are a bit yellow. They may be suffering from too much water, but unfortunately I can't control Mother Nature.



The one tomato plant is very healthy and is growing rapidly while producing flowers. Hopefully I can harvest a few tomatoes off of it this year before the squirrels get them. 



I'm a bit concerned about the cucumber plant. It is behind the tomato plant and I am worried that it is being shaded, which is keeping it from growing. 

I'm finding that the eggplant and summer squash that I bought most recently are doing better than the ones I bought first.



These are all photos I took earlier this week right after I weeded. Things have grown since then, including the weeds, so I will be out weeding this morning before it gets too hot and in between the rain showers.

My little garden may not be big, but it is helping to take my mind off of everything that is going on right now. Sorry for only one post this week, but like a lot of people I am a bit stressed right now and so I am taking mental health breaks as I need them. 



I will be going over to visit the family this weekend. Tessa was gone when I was there last Saturday, so even though I missed seeing her it gave me a little more time with the other grandkids. 

Stay safe, my friends.

P.S. Trixie has been confined to quarters after an enemy attack by two giant owls this week. Fortunately Trixie fought them off and there were no casualties, although Tessa appears to be MIA. I'll be searching around the backyard for that girl on Saturday.  

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