Tuesday, July 28, 2020

SOL: Book Joy! and #52Stories 29/52

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

We read books multiple times a day, every time I watch the grand boys.

I celebrate these recent book connections from three and a half year old grandson Jack with joy and a bit of grandmotherly pride.
  • The first connection occurred as Sara was making pancakes. Jack noted that they were feasting on pancakes just like chipmunk did in the poem, "Breakfast." I recently shared Toasting Marshamallows: Camping Poems by Kristin O'Connell George with my daughter so that Jack would know what to expect on their upcoming camping trip. And then I worried that it was too advanced for him, but apparently, you're never too young for good poems.
  • Jack was getting ready for a backyard camp out with his dad. They set up the tent. They put the sleeping bags in the tent. They were planning to have s'mores. So Jack suggested that they hunt for firewood to build a fire (even though they were roasting marshmallows over their outdoor grill). Because that's how they do it in Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night.   
  • Last week, Jack was busy previewing one of the books from my book bag. I glanced over and thought, Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins is a tough one to figure out on your own. But Jack puzzled his way through the pages and ended the book with this proclamation, "It has a happy ending."
And this photo of fifteen month old Robby and his dad engrossed in the Sunday paper is priceless!
You can't help but be delighted when the next generation shares your love of books.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Poetry Friday & #52Stories 28/52: A Porch Visit Disappoints

   Margaret at Reflections on the Teche is hosting 
this week's roundup of poetic goodness 
with a reflection on the virtual
Summer Poetry Teachers Institute 
she participated in last week.

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life. 

When my daughter (a PA in the medical field) returned to work after her furlough, I resumed watching the grand boys. Our small bubble includes their family of four. But our routine was interrupted this week when daughter spiked a fever. We're staying apart until she gets tested. This poem captures my attempt to drop by her house without being seen this morning.  

A Porch Visit Disappoints

I had good intentions.

An alarm set for 6:15,
an early morning drive 
so I could arrive
before the grand boys woke up.

Half a flat of peaches to share,  
library books for the boys,
and a magazine for daughter. 

Our phone conversation
revealed that Robby,
our early riser,
was already up. 

I tiptoe to the porch, 
quietly place the peaches 
and sack on the table, 
poised for a quick getaway.

But Robby pops into view,
grinning from ear to ear
in jubilant greeting. 

His contagious smile 
turns upside down,
wails of frustration
mounting as he realizes that
Grandma isn't coming in. 

Doggone Covid-19! 

- Ramona Behnke

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

SOL #52Stories 27/52: Welcome to the Pacific Back Yard!

I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life. 

Our weather has warmed up a bit, so the grand boys and I made sure to play outside this morning before Robby's morning nap. Jack wasn't quite ready to join us, so Robby and I headed out first, with Jack joining us after he got dressed.
There's so much to love when you experience the back yard through a child's eyes. There's the mountain to climb in the corner of the yard and the rocks to scale if you're feeling adventurous like little brother Robby. And when you reach the top of the mountain,  there's a speaker's stand for you to plant yourself on and declare to the world: "Welcome, everyone, to the Pacific Back Yard!" Those words, shouted in joy, reminded me of the sort of thing that Jack's Uncle Blake would have done. Funny how you see characteristics passed down in family members, even when they aren't around each other much.
We went from the corner of the yard to the Dirt House on the other side of the yard where joyfully running laps was the next activity. There's something so delightful about moving our bodies that it's easy to forget unless you watch the youngsters in your life. And Robby spent some time playing peek-a-boo with Grandma in the branches.

Then we stopped off in the center of the yard to play on the slide, peek out of the slide, climb through the tunnel under the slide, throw the ball onto the platform, and watch it fall down the stairs or roll down the slide. Occasionally, a boy went down the slide!

Finally, it was back to the speaker's stand so Jack could once again joyfully proclaim, "Welcome, everyone, to the Pacific Back Yard!" He even gave brother Robby a turn on the platform.
We wish you could have joined us for playtime in the Pacific Back Yard! A shaded space in the cool 70s is an absolutely perfect way for this Grandma to spend a summer morning.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Poetry Friday: An Ode to Kool-aid

  Jan at Bookseedstudio is hosting 
this week's roundup of poetic goodness 
with relaxing thoughts about floating
with her poem, "Mom and me in the sea."

I've been absent since the middle of May, but I signed up to host in August for my first time ever. So I need to start showing up. Today I'm sharing this recent discovery, "An Ode to Kool-Aid" by Marcus Jackson, a sweet summertime tradition for those of us who grew up in the 60s!

SJT & SOS: Balancing, Prioritizing, & Puzzling

 It's time to show up with our friends for 
Spiritual Journey Thursday.  Carol at 
Beyond Literacy Link is hosting our gathering and
selected balance during the quarantine as our July theme. 

I struggled with our theme for this post until I picked up The Definitive Guide to Self-Care during my middle of the night insomnia bout on Wednesday night. It's an alphabetical look at self care. And surprisingly, the first entry under B (where my bookmark lay) was balance. The entry suggested that we make a list of every aspect of daily life and then note whether each activity charges our battery or leaves us feeling depleted. Then our task is to figure out what changes to make or what to add that would help restore some balance to our lives. Apparently to live a balanced life, we need to seek a balance between things that mentally revitalize us and things that tire us out. Simple enough. And then I followed the note at the end of the entry: "See also Prioritize."

So I flipped to the Ps for that entry. It began with the question, "Are you focusing your energy on the right things?" And then a reminder that we will never be able to do it all, an extremely freeing thought. Not everything fighting for our time, energy, and attention deserves it. Our challenge? Figure out which things can wait, which things don't matter, and which things it's okay to be just average at (not everything in life is deserving of our full focus).

And then I turned the page. The prioritize entry was completed, but my eyes were drawn to an entry on the opposite page, puzzle.  Quarantine time has been a time of renewed interest in jigsaw puzzles. I liked this observation: "It's incredibly satisfying and meditative to turn a disorganized pile of fractions into something lovely and whole when everything else feels like it's falling apart."

When I revisited this entry on Friday morning, I decided to add a graphic created from a Zoom meeting I recently attended. Because sometimes in order to find balance, we may have to find our way out of a funk first.

To savor the magic of story, join the fun each Thursday by linking your story at Sharing Our Stories.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

SOL: Remembering Things to Love!

In spite of our current isolation and missing many things, I'm looking for things to love today:
There are grandkids - Robby and Jack and Teddy and Ruthie


And a son who makes sure I get to visit (FaceTime) with Ruthie frequently (I think she knows my voice.)
And a rewatching of Lonesome Dove with my husband 
And this pic from his latest hike
And a Zoom book club gathering
And phone calls with family and friends
And walks outside

And flowers 

And my first Ezell's fried chicken with sides of coleslaw, baked beans and a roll, delivered by a friend 
And a daughter who willingly helps me with my photo project 
And lunch with a friend, sitting safely distanced at opposite ends of a long picnic table, shaded by this gorgeous canopy 
And gift pick ups from Island Books, wrapped and set outside the door for safe retrieval
And an impulse purchase of my favorite chocolates - nine salted dark chocolate caramels, parceled out one per evening while I read
And finishing this memoir which I loved
And a grandson who just said, "Grandma, I love playing with play dough while you work on your computer." (Little brother is napping and this boy does table activities while I write.)
It's a joy to remember all the things to love! Share something lovely from your week in the comments.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Sharing Our Stories #52Stories 26/52: Lessons from a Lunchbox

I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

Maybe your dad didn't have a lunch box, but my working class dad carried one every day to his job at USNAD (United States Navy Ammunition Depot) in McAlester, Oklahoma. He left home before I ever woke up, but I was there in the afternoons when he came home from work, lunchbox in hand. It was dark gray metal, with a rounded top that could hold a full size thermos of coffee, enough to fuel his long day of work. And his lunches? I'm not sure what kind of sandwiches he had. Bacon? Baloney? Fried egg sandwiches? There wouldn't have been any fruit except for bananas and certainly no vegetables. My dad loved bananas and used to say if you were out of bananas that you were out of groceries.

Sometimes a piece of cake was tucked into his lunch box, carefully wrapped in waxed paper. And so when Daddy came home from work, I took his lunch box, set it carefully on our red kitchen table, undid the metal clasps and peeked inside to see if there might be a tiny morsel of cake left inside for me, Dad's youngest and sometimes spoiled daughter.

 I love this replica of my Dad's lunchbox that I found
years ago. It makes me smile every time I see it.

My memories of this lunch box are not all sweetness and happy times. When you washed the supper dishes, the job wasn't finished until you washed Dad's coffee thermos. And if you forgot? Well, a gruff voice woke you from your slumber at 5 am and you were escorted to the kitchen to complete your forgotten task. 

Sometimes life (or your dad) hands you a morsel of sweetness, but it (or he) can also be the voice reminding you that chores are to be done when assigned. And if you forget? Well, an early wake up call at 5 am does wonders going forward to help you remember.

To savor the magic of story, join the fun by linking your story at Sharing Our Stories.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

SOL#52 Stories: 25/52 Library Services During a Pandemic

I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.
I'm not sure how we could have survived the last few months without our stash of picture books. I had a box of picture books ready to return to the library in my trunk when I made my mad dash to the library on the last open day, but I forgot to return them. Thank goodness! They have been reread over and over again. We even had a few winter/holiday books that had arrived on my holds shelf after Christmas. I tend to renew books if we (Jack and Robby and I) are enjoying them. So that's how our pandemic bins of books included several holiday titles too. A winter book is good reading all year round!

Here are two bins (52 books) ready to return  to the library:
Our libraries aren't open to the public yet, but we can return books during a few hours each day. The current situation requires the borrower to insert the books into the outside book drop. The books are quarantined for a minimum of three days before being checked in. And when a library reaches their capacity to store the returns, the book drop is closed for the day. I'm sure whoever is behind me won't be happy to see that I'm returning two full bins of books. 

I've become quite attached to some of these books, so I decided to showcase a few favorites.
It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear
*Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Charles Waters and Irene Latham
*The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse by Charlie Macksey
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, this book was the book to break my pandemic book reading slump.
*Titles in blue indicate books I loved so much that I had to purchase them for my own bookshelves.
Sometimes Rain by Meg Fleming 
One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller by Kate Read - one of Jack's favorites 
Most Marshmallows by Rowboat Watkins 
Me and the Seasons by Liesbet Slegers - Robby's favorite 
 and . . .   
Jack's most recent favorite (not in the bin b/c books aren't due until the end of the month) Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez

What I've Read:
The Dressmaker's Gift by Fiona Valpy
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
*Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
 *Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen
*Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 
*Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
(* indicates books that I highly recommend)

Books I'm Currently Reading:
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
Indistractable by Eyal Nir
In the Country of Women by Susan Straight 

Library Books I Want to Read before Returning Them:
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
Hill Women by Cassie Chambers 
(Hey, they're not due until July 31!) 

And one final exciting thing to add to this bookish pandemic post! Our library is offering Curbside to Go pickups. "At the moment, you can only pick up holds that were ready for pickup when we closed. You will get an email notification when your holds are available." When our library closed, Anne Bogel's new book, Don't Overthink It was a hold on my account listed as "in transit." My account now shows the title as "ready." We'll see if it's available when I stop by the library to return books today or if I have to wait for the email notification. I'm trying hard not to overthink it!

I had more adult books checked out than I usually do because I was trying to decide which books to propose for the upcoming year at our book club retreat (scheduled for mid-March, but cancelled). We went ahead and proposed our titles via a Google doc and chose our books for 2020-21. 

I'm happy that I wrote this post because it collects some of the titles I read during this unique time. Share some of your library pandemic stories or book recommendations with me in the comments.