What Does a Calendar in Covid Time Look Like?

The sun sets, and the sun rises, bringing us a new day.
 
“Where’s your calendar?”
 
Those words request a coming together to check and synchronize our calendars. Three separate calendars need complete synchronicity. There’s the kitchen calendar, Bob’s little black book calendar, and the calendar I carry with me. Neither of us is willing to trust our important engagements to a digital calendar. I do use Google calendar for writing deadlines.
 
Yet, our habit is in the throes of slow death, and it is dying because our calendars are bare. There is nothing to synchronize.
 
Pure white is the color of the squares on the kitchen calendar. Appointments and engagements scheduled pre-pandemic have lines drawn through them. Some are marked “CANCELED;” others “RESCHEDULED.” 
 
Usually, Bob is away from home three nights a week for rehearsals with his bands and church choir. Not now. We marked those plans off our calendars.
 
Once or twice or three times each month we have a concert on our schedules. They all now fall under the categories “canceled” and “rescheduled.”
 
Our major outings are trips to the grocery store, bank, and postal box. We don’t shop in the store; we go there only to pick up what I’ve ordered online. This calls for a short ride to and from the store parking lot. The return trip can take a bit longer depending on the route Bob selects.
 
When banking is needed, Bob makes a short trip to the bank. Likewise, if we need to mail bill payments, Bob gets in the car and drives a short distance to a postal box. Needless to say, we’re saving money on fuel.
 
Our church services live-stream on Facebook on Sunday mornings. Other church-related activities take place via Zoom. I participate in a couple of writing-related Zoom events. One on Saturday mornings for a “coffee gathering.” The other is a workshop on the lyric essay this coming weekend.
 
I text our next-door neighbor to see how they’re doing. Phone calls or texts check on two out-of-town friends. Emails catch up with another out-of-town friend. Social media, primarily Facebook, keeps me on top of family happenings. There is something positive about the Internet and technology after all.
 
I’m hopeful your calendar(s) look busier than ours. Under the current circumstances, I’m uncertain how that could be. When you hear or read the news, the pace seems the same for us all.
 
My purpose in all this rambling? I wanted to commit it to our family history for posterity’s sake to prove it actually happened. When you consider how busy we are, it’s unthinkable that someone would have a blank calendar. Not to mention three!
 

COVID calendar, blank calendar, too busy, lesson learned

Day by Day

Day by day things are changing in miniscule and massive ways it seems. Especially in this pandemic state we find ourselves living in.  It is like spring changing in small ways day by day. And then one morning the tree outside your window is a burst of color.
 
Blossoms unfurl their petals. Trees turn blossoms into fruit. Grass pushes through the earth to create a bright green lawn. Buds are everywhere. Future blossoms on camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, peonies, tulips, daffodils, and more.
 
Some of the day by day changes aren’t so lovely as these. Let’s pull out a random change—I pick grocery shopping! Right about now I hate grocery shopping. Since Bob and I fall into an “at risk” category, our state guidelines suggest we stay home. This means ordering online to pickup what we need at Fred Meyer, the local Kroger-owned store. The store seems to have its system well organized and operating efficiently. For me, it is the ordering part that’s driving me a nuts.
 
About the time I have the order ready, something else pops up that we need. I rush to the computer to add it to our list. That happens again, again, and again. Then it’s the hassle of finding an open delivery date and time. Sometimes it can take several days to get locked in. Then the day scheduled for pick up arrives. You receive a text message letting you know what they’ve substituted or didn’t have at all! But the pickup itself is always a pleasant experience otherwise.
 
How much longer do I have to do this? Will I ever grow accustomed to it? It all rests on the restrictions set by our state government as COVID-19 peaks and flattens. We understand the opening of Oregon and its businesses will go slowly based on many matrices.
 
I’ve adopted a day by day process, doing what I can in the hours I’m awake and on my feet. That includes personal matters relating to taxes, estate planning, retirement funds, and more. The “more” includes household chores and cooking rather than writing and social media. AND continuing PT exercises at home.
 
I had wanted to restart my newsletter at the end of March, but didn’t quite focus on it enough to make it happen. For me, there’s a sense of being out of mind and body some days.
 
Coping with a change in the world around us is never easy. We are not always comfortable with change, especially sudden change. Even though life will return to the way it was, or almost, it is hard to accept the now as what some call the “new normal.” This isn’t the normal I want for my life. 
 
Yet penetrating through these days is a light. If we cling to that light, a special Light, we will find our way back to some semblance of what we used to call normal. Life may or may not go back to exactly what it was. My hope is that we’ll be something better than we were before. It’s possible. 
 
Spring flowers can be constant in coloring for two or three years. The next spring they may evolve into a different color. Isn’t it possible to hope we can change for the better?
 
Lam. 3:21-23, Scripture, hope
 
 
Featured image attribution: Phyllis Nagels on Unsplash

 

Autumn in Oregon

Autumn in Oregon heralds our rainiest season of the year. Weather prognosticators promised rain for days. Areas nearby and surrounding us received showers. Sometimes only sprinkles. Our neighborhood received nothing.

 
Until…last Saturday night. We awoke on Sunday morning with evidence of overnight rain. And we’ve had several good…let’s say heavy showers since.
 
When it rains in Oregon, we experience fog of varying levels–light, moderate, heavy. Especially when driving through forested areas. The fog dances through the branches of thick and heavy evergreens. It may sound a bit spooky, but it’s a lovely site and cozy too. The white-gray of the fog softens everything around it.
 
Sitting here watching the rainfall, I’m entertained by everchanging colors. The sky goes from blue to gray to almost black and then bursts open with either rain or sun breaks and white clouds.
 
The leaves are changing from green to the bright colors of autumn. With the days shortening, darkness drops its curtain earlier. Then the sky turns a blue-black dotted with sparkling lights if the sky is clear.
 
As I watch the changing of the seasonal colors and weather, I sense the Presence of the One who made it all possible. He calls me to rethink changes in my life and the lives of those around me.
 
I take a few moments and reflect on family and friends. I realize our great-grandchildren are no longer toddlers but are four, seven, and ten. Oh, and a new one on the way in January!
 
I take a look too at those friends who have left us for a better place and give thanks for their presence in our lives. God now has new angels in His heaven looking down on us.
 
Always present God provides our every need. Even a good conversation on a somewhat dark and dreary day.
Featured image attribution: Knopka Ivy on Unsplash

Origin of Life in the Slow Lane

In January, I posted this update relating to my site and my thoughts on future writing plans. At the time, I chose a new title for my site. That was not to imply I wasn’t happy with the previous title, The Writing Studio. It didn’t seem to fit my online persona as well as it did the actual studio my husband designed and built for me.

Today’s post, I hope, will give you a look into how I chose the new title, Life in the Slow Lane. My explanation is long in coming but with this bit of change, my desire to write grows stronger each day. And so it is that I share the origin of the new name.
 
Living in the slow lane is a beautiful gift. A gift of time. Time for planning and dreaming and reflecting. Each of these processes brings a special gift. These gifts conjured up images of trips down long and winding country roads, thus the title “Life in the Slow Lane” was born.
 
One day, while struggling with chronic pain, I realized that I pushed myself in ways I could give up. Overload, perfectionism, and social media took precious time from my family and faith. Without either of these, I am lost as an individual. 
 
Slowing down is hard for a perfectionist. The detail-oriented tend to bury themselves in overload. My thoughts gave me a sense of humility and raised questions. All this forced me to take a good look at what I want the next decades to look like. Asking yourself questions can be scary and humbling but it also guides and directs you.
 
One of my biggest writing battles is with myself. I love the craft and process of scripting words together to tell a story, my story. I have completed a manuscript of my memoir. But I’ve reached a point where I can’t make up my mind about publishing it. I know it’s well written although it needs some restructuring. It tells my story with truth, love, and faith. With very little work, it could be ready for submission in a few days/weeks.
 
I’ve wrangled with myself like a cowboy trying to rope a calf and brand it. Bob and I have had discussion after discussion about what I should or shouldn’t do. In all honesty, there are many points under my “shouldn’t” column. And if anyone ever needs someone to coach them into doing something, I’ll hire Bob out.
 
The biggest part of my problem? I’ve finished the fun part of writing this book–the writing and researching. I don’t want to deal with launching, marketing, selling, and putting myself in front of the book. It’s not that I’m not proud of what I’ve accomplished. I am. However, I did what I’ve always said I would do: Write the story of my difficult relationship with my mother. It seems others have always assumed I meant I’d publish it too.
 
During the last three years, my inability to focus on writing has taught me several things. First, I could have spent many more years sitting or lying in pain than I have. Diagnosed at age 12 with scoliosis, I was fortunate to not suffer from back pain until I was in my late 30s/early 40s. Luck was with me all those years.
 
During this time, I’ve enjoyed the love and companionship of a caring husband and one of the best nurses I know. He’s cared for me through more surgeries than either of us wants to count. Despite this, we have enjoyed the activities we enjoy both at home and in our community.
 
My thoughts next turned to once the recovery from this recent surgery is behind me. What do I really want to do with my life? Lots of things came to mind, but the best and most important are below:
 
  • Wake up every morning looking forward to spending each day with the love of my life, 24/7, no less.
  • Listen to classical music every day, whether via radio, CDs, or Bob practicing one of his many horns.
  • Love our home and care for it as I have always done, except when unable to because of pain.
  • Spread our love to our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids despite the miles separating us. 
  • Gardening! I haven’t been able to dig in the dirt and garden for so many summers now. I’ve watched Bob do it all and longed to be out there with him.
  • Volunteer my time as I am able, especially with the Mothers of Preschoolers program.
  • Ride in our red convertible come spring and summer down those long, lazy country back roads.
  • Write, write, write! Whatever I choose to write. Whatever I want to write. Simply because I want to write. Not because I’m looking to make a name for myself as a writer, or get rich as a writer, or whatever. I love words and writing them down. And I love telling stories.
  • And whatever I’m doing I want to do it all giving the credit and glory to God.
 
There you have it—the name behind this site is a short summation of my life from here until God calls me home. Nothing more, nothing less than who I am and believe I should be.