Paris

Before the world closed down, I spent several days exploring and enjoying the sights and tastes of Paris as an extension to a river cruise. The memories of that trip linger in my heart and mind.

But they are not the Paris I refer to in the title. This is the image and scent I am thinking about today.

For years I have used this lotion! Recently I learn that Bath & Body Works has retired this scent! 😦 My tube was on its last squeeze and I happened upon an outlet store in Kentucky, so I thought I’d run in a get a new tube. That is when I discovered there was no Paris Amour!

Finding a new scent at Bath & Body Works is difficult in good times, but wearing a mask renders this task nearly impossible! There were lots of sample bottles of the new summer scents available, but which one is right for me? Fortunately, I was the only customer in the store. My husband was waiting outside, so I needed to be quick. I would take the scent testing paper, dab a bit of lotion on it, and sniff while holding my mask open. After a half dozen sniffs, I could no longer differentiate between scents. Not wanting to commit to a full 8 ounce tube, I opted for the smaller 2.5 ounce container of Sunshine Mimosa. Perhaps this will become my new favorite, but it won’t bring me memories of Paris every time I reach for a dab of lotion.

Don’t you have a story to share?

Small Reunion

I started to reach for a book to read, then I thought of the SOS invitation today

What can you stop doing in order to make time and space to write?

Go stop it.

Write.

So I walked away from my book stack, opened my computer to write.

The pandemic has caused a lengthy separation in our family. Some of that ended this week. All parties (some in their 60’s, 80’s, and 90’s) were finally vaccinated. It was good to see the whole person, rather than just a head via zoom. It was good to put arms around a body and hug rather than wave farewell via zoom. It was good to have face-to-face conversations rather than garbled sound via zooms with unstable connections.

A year of family togetherness has been lost. Time is precious and we need to take advantage of every opportunity to be reunited. I know we will make the nine hour drive to be together again and again.

Merry Christmas in April

“You are getting an email for your Christmas present,” my son said, followed by, “you will either love it or you may hate me for it.” Those words piqued our interest. How could anything he selected for us make us hate him? He went on to explain that we had a gift certificate to a virtual cooking class. All we had to do was decide on what kind of international cuisine we wanted, check out the menu offered, then sign up for a date. This week we used our gift certificate to prepare Lomo Saltado &Β Arroz Con Leche with Chef Luis from Lima, Peru.

On Wednesday a box arrived with a few of the ingredients needed to make Lomo Saltado and Arroz Con Leche.

Lots of filler to keep everything safe.
This made me laugh. πŸ™‚
Here is everything unpacked.

Of course there were perishable items I needed to get before the class. Here is the list detailing the types of pans and utensils needed to create our meal.

The usual, sharp knife and cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, and pots and skillets, plus:

  • 3 medium pots
  • 1 wok or large skillet
  • 1 heavy bottom skillet for potatoes
  • Metal tongs
  • Wooden spoon

As I read this list, I began to wonder if I had enough of the right sized pans. Turns out I did. πŸ™‚

There were about nine zoom boxes of others cooking along with Chef Luis. Several of the couples were also the result of Christmas and birthday gifts from children.

Here the chef is showing how to check the rice.
I have to say, these potatoes were tasty. I will make them again.
Even my husband was enjoying the experience. (Normally, he does not enjoy cooking.)
Here is our version of Lomo Saltado and Arroz Con Leche. Unfortunately, I forgot to add the cilantro/green onion garnish that you will see in the picture below.
This is the official recipe card photo, but I don’t see the yellow pepper in the photo. I think the chef made a few alterations to the printed recipe.

It was a good time and a great meal. We were stuffed by the end of our dinner. Merry Christmas to us! No, we don’t hate our son. πŸ™‚

Where Is Home?

Home can be defined as the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. I like the idea of living permanently in a place, but that was not in the cards for me.

My earliest memories are living in a Chicago suburb. I didn’t know it was a suburb, if anyone asked me where I lived, I proudly said, “Chicago!” I thought I would live there forever.

After sixth grade we moved because my father found a job that could better support a family of five children. We lived a few months near Washington, D. C. as he completed training for his job. When that was over we drove to Houston, Texas (seventh grade) to live for a year. Houston was never home. It was a place to reside, but nothing felt right in that city. I was considered a northern girl. I didn’t talk like a Texan. I didn’t think the sun rose and set only in Texas or that Texas was the center of the universe. I was relieved when our time in Texas was up.

Next assignment was Kansas City, Missouri (we lived in Overland Park, Kansas; eighth grade). I thought this was going to be home, I was wrong. There was an opening in a field office in Springfield, Missouri, my father got the assignment. Pack up and move again.

I entered high school hoping this would be a place we could stay. We did stay. I tried to leave. I wanted to attend college anywhere else. I went to college in Springfield and lived at home. It was not the college experience I had dreamed about for several years. However, I did meet my husband at that college during my last semester before graduating. πŸ™‚

After getting married, we created a place of residence in another town, but home was back in Springfield where my parents were. I don’t think we ever considered our houses a home until we had our son. Now we were a family and we created a home. I thought this is where we will live until we die. I was wrong.

Another job was offered to my husband and me, so we left the place we called home for twenty years to build a home back in Springfield. It has been home for the past twenty-four years. That’s almost permanent, but someday we will move again. We will move closer to our son. That move will be permanent.

I marvel at the families who have lived in one house for their entire life. I thought that would be my life, but I was wrong. I moved and moved and moved, but even though not all places could qualify as a home by the definition above, I was always a member of a family. That’s what makes a home, the people who surround you.

Documents

Cleaning out drawers leads to discoveries. There is a metal file cabinet in the closet of my office. The top two drawers are accessed frequently to file paperwork throughout the year. The bottom two drawers have not been opened in many years. The access to these drawers were blocked by various boxes and assorted paraphernalia that gathered in the bottom of the closet. Since retiring, I’ve been sorting, organizing, and winnowing my paraphernalia so now I can discover what was placed in those file drawers years ago.

I have deduced last time the drawers were opened was 2014. I discovered my tax documents from 2009-2013 waiting to be shredded. There were also property tax receipts from 2003-2013. I thought our tax papers were stored somewhere in the attic. Apparently not. It’s a good thing we weren’t audited, as I don’t know if I would have looked in the file cabinet for the old tax papers.

I pulled the shredder into my office ready to begin the task of shredding. However, there’s an obstacle in the way of shredding. The tax papers are held together with heavy duty staples. I don’t think my shredder will be able to chew through these staples. At first I try pulling the pages apart to dislodge the staple, no success. The staple continues to grip the paper as if its life depended on it. I need to bring in a tool to get this job done. I cannot locate my favorite staple remover (a clever device that slides under the staple and lifts it out), so I must use the one that looks like a jaw with fangs. I wrestle with the staple and the jaws. I twist, turn, tug, pry. Slowly I extract each staple. It was a battle, but I won. The shredder chewed and devoured each stack of tax documents until all I had left was a bag of confetti.

Another discovery was found on my bookshelf, standing upright between books a clear plastic sleeve containing a telegram, a sample of my writing (have no idea how old I was), and my sixth grade class picture.

Here is the telegram my grandparents received after I was born. My father was in the Air Force and stationed in the Philippines.
I must have had an assignment to write about someone. I wrote about my grandmother. Don’t try to decipher the scrawl, it’s not very good. Here’s the beginning: “She runs around the kitchen on her tipytoes. What is she doing? Making donuts of corse.” Apparently, spelling was not my forte.
Notice the girls in the front row only have skirts or dresses. We were not allowed to wear pants. How sad that I only remember a few of the names.
That’s me in sixth grade.

I wonder what other discoveries I will make as I sort, organize, and winnow my collection of objects of my life.

Eventide

I stand on the balcony, watching the outline of the landscape slowly slip away. All that remains is immense vastness above. Tranquility descends and wraps around me as I savor this moment in time on the other side of the world.

Softening sunlight melds with the clouds creating layers, alternating light and dark on the sky canvas. The lingering glow dissolves on the horizon leaving a hillside silhouette as we travel away from the light.

Soon it will be time to rest and rejuvenate for the adventures tomorrow will bring.

I miss sunsets from our traveling days.

Gloaming nightfall somewhere in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Papau New Guinea. December 16, 2018

The Call

My cell phone is sitting on my desk when the call comes in. I look to see who it is. Not a number I know. I pause before I reach out to hit the decline button. With lightning speed my mind says, “Answer it. It might be the call you’ve been waiting for.” Then the other part of my mind says, ” It’s a robo-call. Don’t answer. If it’s important they will leave a message.” Back and forth the thoughts fly.

I take a chance, “Hello?”

“Hello, this is (I don’t remember his name) from Wal-mart Pharmacy.” YES! It is the call I’ve been waiting for. My pulse quickens as I hope he says the magic words. “You are scheduled for your second COVID vaccine on March 17. Will that be alright?”

Will that be alright? “Absolutely!” I reply. Relief floods through every cell in my body. I’m set for the second shot! Hope begins to flicker on the horizon.

Life won’t change a lot. I will still wear a mask. I will still distance myself in public. I will still use more hand sanitizer than I used a year ago. I won’t be dining in restaurants until Dr. Fauci gives the okay. I will feel more comfortable being with friends who are also fully vaccinated. April 1 is two weeks after March 17, it won’t be a Fool’s Day for me.

Just Like That

One long year ago, I spent two days working with fifth and sixth grade teachers. I spent one day with a friend exploring the orchid show at the botanical gardens. I spent an evening in a crowded gym listening to Peter Reynolds read his new book and talk about books. I stood in line, surrounded by people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, waiting for Peter Reynolds to sign my book. After being away from home for four days I drove home. I didn’t realize that was the last time I would be able to interact with people face-to-face for a year.

In January, we were getting reports of an illness in China. Cities in China were shut down. I wondered, how does that really happen? In February, the reports were about cruise ships being quarantined and turned away from ports, I wondered what was going to happen to the passengers and crew. In March, the reports of how many countries and people being infected were frightening, I wondered what I needed to do to stay safe. By April, I knew life, as I had known it, was totally altered and I didn’t see how/when it would go back to “normal.”

Just like that we were in the midst of a pandemic. Nothing seemed safe anymore. I couldn’t go to the grocery store. I couldn’t go to a restaurant. I couldn’t get together with my family or friends. The world may still be spinning on its axis, but my orbit came to a halt.

Slowly, over time, some things changed or adjustments were made. Masks and plastic gloves made it possible to go back to the grocery store. Curbside pick up allowed us to eat food that I didn’t prepare. Zoom brought family and friends into my house. These adjustments are okay for now, but I hope they are not forever.

Just like that life changes and we have to change too. I may not like all the changes, but I will change so that we can get back to our “normal” life. This is what I know for sure.

Don’t you have a story to share?

Oops!

Why is it so hard to remember where you park the car at a grocery store? I never used to have this issue. In my younger days I knew exactly where I’d left the car. Slowly, I began to realize I needed to scan the lot for my car. So I came up with a plan, park in the same area every time. Now, I can head in the right direction and spot the car easily.

That works when you are at your normal stores, but what happens when you stop at a store where you don’t have a usual area?

I walked out the same door I had entered ten minutes earlier. My mind was still reeling from the scene in the grocery store. Police officers were trying to restrain a woman who was howling, “Don’t hurt me! I said I was sorry. Don’t hurt me!” They were off to the side, so you couldn’t see, but the sound was piercing and continuous.

I spotted my red car and walked up to it. I noticed it looked like the tail lights were on. I reasoned it must be the angle of the sun hitting the lights that made it look like they were on. I reached for the automatic tailgate button. Slowly, the tailgate rose, but it did not reveal my collapsible crate , but instead a walker! What?! There was a woman sitting in the passenger seat! This was not my car! Quickly I apologized and pressed the button to close the tailgate.

I walked around to the passenger door and profusely apologized to the laughing woman. She had assumed it was her husband opening the tailgate with their groceries. My car was on the row in front of hers and two parking places down.

I’m going to need a better plan for finding my car in grocery parking lots.

Brrrrr!

What a week! Temperatures breaking records set decades ago. Warnings of power outages due to too much usage. Utility companies begging residents to limit electric and gas usage.

I have unplugged every nonessential electrical item. I am hand washing my dishes (the dishwasher is a great drying rack). There is no fire warming the hearth room (it’s gas). The hot water heater and thermostat has been turned down (I cover up with a weighted blanket). I wait, wondering if this is the day our neighborhood loses power. So far, we have been lucky. I am still holding my breath as temperatures slowly inch up.

The snow starts. It stops. It starts again. This cycle is repeated every day this week. Today is different, the sun is out allowing me to marvel at the shadows and sparkles.

A mound of sugar crystals on the boxwoods?
Shadows play in the yard.
Footprints from a visitor
A few steps are enough, time to take flight.