Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Can't Say I Am Sorry to See You Go

Doesn't it seem like last New Year's Day was a decade ago? I went looking for photos and it just seems like forever. 

We babysit for some of our younger grandchildren and the baby had turned six months old. We decided it was time to leave the house and went on our first Friday Field Trip.  We took the kids out to lunch (first time for the baby in a high chair), and took our strollers to an indoor Lawn and Garden Show.  Unfortunately the next week had ice on the roads, so we stayed home. 

Instead of a field trip, I made peanut butter sandwiches and stepped into my kitchen. What used to be a straight bone in my upper arm turned into a displaced spiral fracture, my first ambulance ride, five hours in Room One of the Trauma Unit (I heard them say we are running red on their little radios), six days packed in ice, a six and a half hour surgery and an unexpected hospital stay. 

First week of lockdown. I would like to thank the United States of America for forbidding anyone I know from coming to visit me. 

Me, the next three months of a global pandemic. Still grateful for no visitors and extremely grateful to my husband who dressed me, fed me and assisted me on walks to the bathroom. Due to the pandemic, the physical therapy department of our hospital was closed so I developed a frozen shoulder in addition to the slowly healing arm and could barely move. And didn't move.


Birthdays - Yes I am wearing a hat. Still could not raise a hair brush to my head. My husband is wearing one, not as a compassionate man, but as a person making fun of me. 

Homeschool because parents still have to work. 

By September I had discovered zoom tea parties and combed hair. 

And by the time the parents contracted Covid, I was able to comb my hair and host an online storytime for quarantined grandchlldren. 

Thanksgving. You can see how this is going. 

Christmas. I love this screenshot. The top couch has missing parents chasing 3 preschoolers, we have lost one screen with me, another screen with my son-in-law and grandson, a screen with the guy on the top right's parents and brother and my husband is scratching his nose. And don't the rest look thrilled. 

Our small county has now increased to 75-100 cases a day. At a neighborhood church they had more deaths in last 10 days than all of 2019 (not all Covid related - death rates are just up).  Our governor has asked schools to remain closed an additional two weeks after Christmas, but schools systems around us are going back full time or at best, hybrid for a few days a week.  I am not sure when we will ever get a handle on this.  The big news is that our county is now going to set up it's first testing center. Previously you had to contact a doctor, get a prescription for a test, make an appointment for the days that hospital does tests and then go for your appointment.  The new testing center will be open one day a week with no appointments or test orders required. So we are only 8-10 months  behind the curve.  Bah Humbug. 

Here's to a brighter 2021!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Let's see who is smarter this week Will it be Miss Merry or the new Blogger? 
Santa is having a rough year. Perhaps you see the dollhouse behind Santa? Is it wrapped because of Covid? Or is it wrapped in plastic because of tiny fingers? Hmm. 
I decorated a few rooms. I had hidden some of my dollhouse Christmas decorations, apparently from myself. I am sure I will find them in January.
The dollhouse is a little rough. It was built in the 1970's by my father in law. It first went to my sister in law, then was her young daughter's toy. It came to me and the grandchildren can't stay away from it. It normally houses plastic furniture and we are waiting until they outgrow it until we restore it. 
Somehow the saran wrap that I wrapped around the house is still working as we enter week two! 
We loaded the car with grandchildren and went to visit a socially distance Santa. Our town normally has a big tree lighting event. This year it was a drive thru with reindeer (from a local reindeer farm), Elsa and Anna from Frozen, a church with carryout cocoa and an elf who transported your letter from the car window to Santa. My grandkids loved it!  
In previous years the city would truck in a huge tree, they would close Main Street and we did a countdown for lighting. This year the hospital donated a rooted live tree which was planted (and will grow) and it was lighted overnight. We went up with these two on a warm night in late November. 
The same night we went to see the tree, we stuck them in strollers and walked up and down both sides of the street to see the wonderful store windows all the businesses decorated this year. 
This is the first year that all the windows have been decorated and it was really wonderful. Someone asked me how many people were walking on that warm evening. We were the only family. 
I have at least 25 or 30 window photos, so I will stop now. 
It snowed. 
This guy needed a break from two baby brothers so we took him to look at a yard with an amazing model railroad and amusement park. The homeowner spent over 200 hours setting it all up. 
The small village just west of us has a factory now used as a very cool industrial furniture reclamation warehouse type business. Santa rents it for the month of December as an annex to his workshop. The elves on the opposite side of the building are animated! 
Since Christmas will be a zoom event this year, I did not need to put the leaves in my dining room table. This made room for my pink tree!  And I set the table with my pretty dishes since no one will really be sitting there. 

I haven't decided which plates to stick with yet. Perhaps I will iron some tablecloths, too. 
Aww, less wrinkled. 
One day I even baked bread. I told my four year old daughter "Look, Mimi can bake bread", she said "Mimi, don't you know grampa can just buy it at the grocery store?"

So that's what I have been up to. I guess I will press publish and see what size fonts appear! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Done with my Pity Party

Thank you for the kind words on my last post. Things are looking up so far.  My daugher and her toddlers will leave quarantine in 2 days. She will be headed back to her crowded classroom and my grandbabies will come back to us during the day.  They did not develop any symptoms from the exposure to the co-teacher who was "positive with symptoms" and were monitored by telephone by her county's health department for 14 days. Due to 35 teachers in her district either ill with Covid or quarantining at home, she has been providing video lessons daily in math and science as well as creating worksheets she emails to the school for distribution. Somehow she still had to use her sick days for this (despite a teacher's union which somehow did not include procedures during a global pandemic) but is hoping to have them reimbursed with an application to the Cares Act. (I have no idea what all that means). 

November 2019: We attended my nieces wedding at a plantation
in New Orleans. 

After a rough few days, my strong and healthy young son who is a police officer is doing really well and will return to work next week. His wife and three preschoolers managed to put up 3-4 Christmas trees already despite her district moving her virtual teaching to her home during the duration. 

You may remember I spent the first months of the pandemic when we did not have our grandchildren sitting in a chair. I fell in my kitchen in early March and sustained a displaced spiral fracture of the humerus which I do not recommend to anyone. Between surgery, recovery and rehab, it was summer before I was functional. 

 Noveember 2019: Coffee and Beignets at Cafe du Monde
in the French Quarter

This time I have been taking advantage of the alone time.  My living room has a huge built in bookcase (thank you dear husband for fulfilling my dreams) where I basically move piles higher and higher out of reach of my 16 month old grandson. We were surrounded by mountains of paper and stuff. I have sorted 90% of the piles and it is a new room!

I also went through our 18 toys boxes (two module units of nine) and disposed of broken and outgrown toys.  I really think we might have room for a Christmas Tree.  

Since we can't celebrate Thanksgiving as a family, I am planning a romantic dinner for two. Or perhaps ordering pizza on Wednesday and eating leftovers on Thursday. We will see what happens. Either way I'm not decorating for Thanksgiving or getting out my Autumn Dishes.  We are going straight to Christmas. 

November 2019: Some people go to Bourbon Street to drink. '
Others find a hidden book store.

I have already started replacing artwork on my walls and hung the stockings. I have decided to do red and green in my living room and a pink Christmas in the dining room.  Since I won't need all the leaves in the table since no one can come, I am going to put up the pink tree I bought at least ten years ago and have only used once. 

As I decorate, I will be sharing more photos!  And I am looking forward to seeing your ideas, too.  I already have inspiration for next year when I am planning a peppermint kitchen (Thanks, Debbie at ! 
November 2019: St Louis Cemetary, New Orleans

P.S.  Prayers for all those suffering with this horrible disease right now.  I just got word this morning that a former co-workers husband is in ICU with Covid pneumonia. My very best friend since junior high's husband had open heart surgery on Monday. The hospital closed today (Wednesday) to all visitors so she will be relying on phone chats. The staff is being so accomodating despite working 60-80 weeks with staff shortages due to infections in our hard hit area. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

So Scared for Our Country and Our World

 My county has been averaging 1-10 cases per week. My state had numbers under 1000 a day.  This week we have sky rocketed to 20-30 cases per day and over 5,000 cases state wide. Today we were at 6508 cases in one day.  Today's death in my county included a girl a year behind me in school. She was healthy and fit and contracted the virus two weeks ago. In my daughter's county, deaths included a 4 year old. 

Two of my sons have lost their jobs when their positions of over 15 years were "eliminated" along with their pensions. 

My youngest daughter was sent home from her teacher position to quarantine for 14 days (with my grandchildren) as her co-teacher has tested positive. Our state has limited testing so her health department is calling her daily for a temperature check and symptom report. 

My youngest son, a law enforcement officer, has tested positive with symptoms. He and his family are quarantined for 14 days with his children out of school. Fortunately his wife is already teaching virtually. 

My oldest daughter, a nursing professor, has been recruited to help administer a vaccine if one should be found. Tonight I heard that the good news on the Pfizer vaccination is that it lasts at least a month and doesn't hurt you even if it doesn't work. 

Here is one of my quarantined grandchildren social distancing shortly before becoming housebound. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Book Reviews for Enforced Isolation Reading

Since my 2020 Holiday Plans are traveling from the teapot in the kitchen to my reading chair in the living room, I am going to start posting book reviews. Although I am a dedicated child's storybook and cozy mystery reader, I have jumped into biographies.

Truevine by Beth Macy. True story of two brothers, a kidnapping and a mother's love. This book reads like a documentary. Two albino brothers in the Jim Crow South are kidnapped or sold by family into the traveling circuses of the era. The book is full of history and interviews. I kept flipping to the many referenced photos to familiarize myself with the people, the location and the conditions. I found the book very thought provoking and fascinating which made me spend much more time carefully reading every word than I normally do when I am reading light fiction. This will go on my reference shelf to read again.

Shopgirls by Ellee Seymour is a much lighter read. Ms. Seymour introduces us to several young women who leave school as young teens following WW2 to work in a posh upscale department store. We learn the workings and history of the store and follow each of their lives through family life, dating, marriage, children, sorrows and later life. No deep thinking required. I would call it cute and feel good and I am keeping it on my book shelf. This book includes some photos, too.

Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of the First Lady of Food by Susan Marks. I am waiting for this book to be delivered. It is the biography of a fictional character created in the 1920's by General Mills and traces the culinary and marketing history of the women of the home service department who signed her name. I am looking forward to reading this one.

While I am waiting for it to come, I am reading this "Noir Mystery" which is a little more gritty than I usually read. I found the author at the Zoom "Noir at the (Virtual) Bar: Mystery Writers of America, part of LitQuake, San Francisco's Literary Festival that went virtual last month. 

I have a feeling the story is not going to end well and I might be wondering about it for a while. I think it might be part of a series and I will have to decide whether to continue to see what else happens or move on to something happier. It is riveting.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Spooky Social Distancing with My Pod

Let me start with this adorable granddaughter posing in late October with the hanging basket I put in my bicycle basket every spring. This year's growth is stupendous and has survived at least one if not two frosts already. In the spirit of total honesty, she did not like the bell bottoms or the hair ribbon and discarded them as soon as I took the photo. 

I started hosting Spooky Suppers for my family decades ago.  I was much younger and had a lot more energy. I seem to remember the first year after we built our garage I invited the whole neighborhood (like 30 kids) to supper before our city's trick or treat. We turned the playhouse into a haunted house and served spooky food. These were the days before digital cameras or phones with cameras. I probably didn't even have film in the camera we did have, so no pictures. Every once in a while I come across the flyer I hand drew and had photocopied. 
My youngest grandson turned two years old the Saturday before Halloween and his parents hosted immediate family for a special party. My talented daughter-in-law really outdid herself with all the spooky food. This guacamole was delicious as well as a big hit with the five and seven year olds! 
I contributed some spider deviled eggs which took me a ridiculous amount of time to make. Between the broken arm in March and previous hand issues, I think I need to rethink some of the things I used to do and try lower my expectations of myself. 
She made this nifty pasta salad by adding some food coloring to cooked pasta and cutting the jack o lanterns out of cucumbers. This idea is a keeper!
These adorable spiders are premade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with licorice legs. So cute! The kids loved them, while the adults ate mummy hotdogs and chili. 
She even made and decorated these cupcakes all by herself!!! - while working full time as a virtual first grade teacher with 60 students and parenting three children aged 6 and under. She is wonder woman. 
The party guests were grandparents, parents, and the grandchildren in our "pod", the local kids for whom I provide daycare. I was going for "hippy" but look more like "Carol Bascom". 
My other daughter-in-law (I am doubly blessed) hosted the pod for dinner on Halloween night. I saw something similar to this pie on King Arthur Flour's Instagram (I think). Again, with total honesty, I used readymade pie crust, instead of making my own. 
I used the scraps of pie crust to make these mummy tarts. The recipe was definitely from King Arthur Flour. 
After the trauma of spider deviled eggs, I added some red food coloring and made pumpkins. I did try to find green onions for more realistic stems, but they seem to be the new shortage? I went to two grocery stores (don't tell my husband) and ended up with green olives. 
My youngest daughter made this delicious taco dip. She did make a black olive spider. 
She even arranged the cheese slices as a pumpkin face. 

Somehow I did not get any photos of the rest of the food - sandwiches, vegetables including these new bite sized mini cucumbers which I am in love with (WHY can't I go shopping?) and a layered pumpkin cake which was amazing. 

And here are my out-of-town grandchildren who I miss terribly. They dressed as Corona Virus and the CDC. Their parents are both healthcare workers and, trust me, would dress them as CDC workers 24/7 if they could. 

Their neighborhood held a safe trick or treat by placing tables in driveways with treats spread out. Children came and chose a treat from the table. 

My son's neighborhood was overly creative with tubes from windows dropping candy and one house where they tied plastic soldiers with parachutes to the candy bars and blew them off the roof with a leaf blower. 

Some people kept the kids home and had candy hunts (like Easter Egg hunts). My  goddaughter did this by hiding the candy, turning off the lights and giving her children flashlights to search.  

We decided to skip the treating this year. We were not comfortable with groups of people visiting our porch. 

Happy Halloween!!!! 

Miss Merry