Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

What Does a Calendar in Covid Time Look Like? — May 13, 2020

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

Easter | A Day in the Life (Episode #2 Revised) — April 11, 2020

Easter | A Day in the Life (Episode #2 Revised)

I couldn’t come to grips with writing a new post this week. Something or Someone advised me to step back and take a self-care breather.

So, I’ve pulled this one from the 2015 archives, brushed it up a bit, and offer it to you on this Easter weekend in 2020. The memory is one of my childhood favorites. It always comes to mind during the week before Easter.

One Easter Sunday stands out in my mind above all others. The year 1950. I was around age four. Dressing up was a highlight to most little girls, especially around Easter.

Easter meant a visit from the Easter Bunny with baskets filled with eggs and jelly beans and always a chocolate bunny. And it almost always meant new clothes. This particular Easter meant a new pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. I was proud and excited to wear them. I thought Sunday would never come.

Finally, Sunday came. Up early to check out what was left by the Easter Bunny, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, and then dress for church.

That’s when it all fell apart. I heard Mama and Daddy talking. Well, maybe arguing.

Resurrection, Easter, Mary Janes, Spring

“She cannot wear those shoes. Can’t you see it snowed last night?”

Oh, no! Mama was telling Daddy I couldn’t wear my new shoes. If I hurried, I could get dressed and have my new shoes on before they finished.

“Honey, the snow isn’t that deep.” Hurray for Daddy! But Mama was having none of it.

Finally, Daddy saved the day. He told Mama if she felt it was too messy to wear the new shoes, he would carry me from the house to the car, from the car to the church, and reverse his plan when it was time to come home.

I’ll never forget wearing those shiny new shoes. But above all, I’ll never forget how loved I felt when Daddy reached down with his long arms, picked me up, and carried me to the car and into church that morning. I like to think it was Daddy’s way of showing me the unconditional love of God.

Easter, Resurrection, He is Risen
Via Ann Voskamp

Featured Image Attribution: Selling of my photos with StockAgencies is not permitted from Pixabay 

Changes…Not Again! — March 6, 2018

Changes…Not Again!

Changes next exitMy family history consists of many changes. With parentage defining our personal history, my parents and my DNA have more or less labelled me in many respects, especially change.

When my dad arrived home from work on Fridays, he teased my mom that it was a good thing he wasn’t a drunk. His reasoning was based on the number of times Mom rearranged the living room furniture, he might have thought he was in the wrong house!

Likewise, Dad couldn’t resist physical moves to newer or different housing. I don’t dare count the number of moves we made until finally Mom said, “Enough!”

I share this bit of family history with you because I’ve done it again. I’ve not only changed the look of my website, I’ve moved it. Yes, I’ve moved from Squarespace back to WordPress, but for good reasons.

Sometimes we have to spend a little time in a new place to get all the details on top of the playing table. Then we realize the deal wasn’t as great as we first thought.

There were and are features at WordPress that I decided I just didn’t want to give up. And Squarespace lacked certain conveniences I’d grown spoiled to having available. So, I’ve made the move back “home.”

Now, there’s one little thing I couldn’t move back with me. That was the list of people who followed the blog using something other than signing up for my newsletter. There are three ways to follow a blog:

  • First, if you are a user, you can use the “Follow Button” as seen near the top of the sidebar to your right. It only takes one click and my blog posts will show up in your WordPress Reader.
  • Or just below that button I’ve placed a “Follow Via Email” block where you simply provide your email address and my posts appear in your inbox.
  • Perhaps you love social media and prefer to follow using one or more of the media channels. Look for the “Let’s Connect” block and choose your channel of choice.

For the next six weeks or so, I’ll continue to circulate the posts via my newsletter account. But at that time, I intend to take a sabbatical from the newsletter and sharing my posts using the newsletter software. I’ll give fair warning before taking this action.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope you continue to do so.


Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — October 27, 2017

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

A Little Background

We’ve all heard this phrase or used it when frustrated by circumstances which push us away from progress. Are you familiar with the origin of the phrase?

Two steps forward one step back…is a catchphrase reflecting on an anecdote about a frog trying to climb out of a water well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous.

The phrase is sometimes cynically rearranged to ‘One step forward, two steps back…’ to reflect a situation where, seemingly for every attempt to make progress in a task, an actual retrograde performance is achieved. The phrase One Step Forward, Two Steps Back was used as a title of a 1904 revolutionary pamphlet by Vladimir Lenin.

Instead of quoting this phrase (‘Two steps forward one step back…’) sometimes it is summed up with the briefer exclamation of “Frog in a well”.[1] This tale should not be confused with another tale with a different meaning, but also sometimes titled Frog in a well, which refers to having seemingly small aspirations in comparison with compatriots.[2][3][4]

— Source: The Free Dictionary by Farlex

(For the full listing in The Free Dictionary, please use this link.)

Did I Bore You With That Story?

All of the above is shared to set the stage for sharing something that may shock some, surprise many, and make others among you smile.

As I’ve mentioned before, I contacted 1106 Designs about the possibility of working with their staff on preparing my memoir for publishing. Before that could happen, however, I felt a need to restructure my manuscript. It did not feel right. The perspective in which my mom is shown isn’t a fair one, in my opinion, and I wanted to correct that.

The more I thought about picking up those pages and cutting them up to tape them into new homes, perhaps even in another chapter, I could not bring myself to touch that project.

It didn’t help that when we returned from a weekend getaway the first weekend in October I felt under the weather for approximately two weeks, a time providing me with the opportunity to make a clear decision.

I consulted with others who have written memoir, talked with my best friend and husband, and then prayed. It was a big step I would be taking. I needed to know I had gathered the best of the best around me to consider this decision.

The News

I have decided to temporarily shelve my memoir and think on what I want to do with it later. In the meantime, I have decided to try my hand at fiction.

For some time, I have been toying with an idea. And a different view is indeed needed from my writing seat. This idea involves working on a historical novel set at the turn of the 19th century.

At this time, the orphanage system in our country was large and desperately needed. No welfare system existed to care for children without homes and often without parents. My father was one of those children. His widowed mother made the decision to admit her three children (two sons and a daughter) to the Masonic Orphanage in Louisville, KY.

I would like to share my father’s story but do not have enough accurate historical information throughout his childhood and adolescence to do a biography so I’m turning to the historical novel. 

Excitement is in the air as I begin to research the orphanage system and continue my attempts to learn more about my father’s family history. You’ll learn more as I know more.

In essence, this means that The Writing Studio is no longer focused only on memoir and creative nonfiction. I’ll be writing more about fiction as I make my way through the writing of my novel while hopefully maintaining a balance between the various genre.

Getting Back on Track — June 15, 2016

Getting Back on Track

Feature image attribution
Feature image attribution

Getting back on track now we’re home after riding the rails across this country (almost) and back isn’t easy. Getting back on track after several months of fighting unrelenting pain is also difficult. Combine the two and I literally don’t know where to start.

Start at the Beginning

I suppose the safest place to start is at the beginning of our rail riding experience. Initially, our trip was single-purposed: attend our younger grandson’s high school graduation. Plus we wanted some extra days to soak up our son’s family since we only see them about once every three years or so.

Our first stop along the way was the ever-bustling city of Chicago where we rented a car to drive the rest of the way to Springfield, TN, where our son, his wife, and their son live. Grandson, Steven Michael (aka Mikey), was graduating from East Robertson High School on May 20th and we rolled in on the 19th.

Graduation was a fairly routine ceremony–procession, speeches, awards, diplomas, recession, camera flashes, tears, laughter, tossing of hats, etc. Rather than chain this well-honored student to family, we released him to enjoy a party with friends. After all, we had a few more days with him.

The three guys–Grandpa, Steve, and Mikey–spent a day drooling over Corvettes at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, as well as a tour of the assembly plant.

While they did their thing, DIL Amy and I took in some retail therapy at Opry Mills Outlet Stores, the former site of Opryland. We did more talking and drinking cool drinks (it was hot!) than we did buying retail items, but the entire day was good for our souls.

Leaving these three as well as Amy’s parents was not easy, but leave we must and so we drove back to Chicago to drop off our rental and pick up the train headed back to the Northwest.

Another Celebration in the Middle

Fran with granddaughter, Emma (last photo)
Fran with granddaughter, Emma (last photo)

Just before we left home we received word that Bob’s sister, Frances (87), had passed away following a stroke. A memorial service was scheduled for May 27th in the afternoon. Our route home passed within three hours north of Avon, where the service would be held. We changed our rail tickets, ordered up another rental, and got off Amtrak in Whitefish, MT, on May 26th at 8:45pm.

Our drive was in total darkness down a long and winding road with few possibilities for stops. However, with Steady Bob at the wheel we made it without incident to our hotel in Helena. Early the morning of the 27th we drove to the home of our nephew and his family for breakfast. Fran’s older son, Walt, and his wife, Marilyn, have six children. Soon the two youngest will be the only two at home. The rest are either out of or in college.

What a delightful morning that was as we sat around the kitchen table eating homemade waffles, fresh fruit, and freshly made whipped cream and celebrating the life that was Fran’s. After breakfast, we headed out to the family ranch, handed down generation to generation, and now operated by Fran’s younger son, Hank. Many memories are held there as well.

Fran’s life is best summed up in a Facebook post by Timothy J. (TJ) Kerttula, the oldest of the grandchildren:

This was the passage Grammy was meditating on before she went into the hospital and this is what her bookmark says ” My meditation of Him shall be sweet.” I am going to miss her with her hugs, challenges to my spiritual walk, challenges to memorize more verses and the example she was to all her grandchildren. She poured her heart and life into us. I am thankful for the time I had with her this past week. Talking to her, even though she couldn’t talk to me. She found a way to comfort us with the squeezes from her hand and the nods of her head. Now she is in heaven with Jesus with no more pain, no more sin, singing praises to Him and gazing on His face. She has finished the race.

What an amazing hope we have through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Memories flooded our minds and hearts all day and especially during the celebration of life that afternoon. Many more people attended than expected and extra chairs had to be set up quickly. A time we were so glad to be able to share.

Unplanned side trips can be a blessing and this truly was one. Not only had we witnessed our grandson’s graduation from high school to college, we had celebrated Fran’s graduation from this life to the great life awaiting her in her heavenly home.

Back Home

Getting home and back to your own stuff is always the best part of any trip. We had driven back to Whitefish to catch the last leg of our rail trip. However, the train only stops once daily in Whitefish and that’s at 8:45pm, leaving at 9:16pm. We had a day to drive back and then kill in Whitefish. Driving around Whitefish we saw some interesting places. Some closed. Others open and crowded.

Bob explored the outdoor exhibits at the train station. We picnicked by spreading our lunch in our rental car (the wind was a bit blustery outside). With Kindles in hand, we both read, then napped, read some more, people watched, and then went somewhere for dinner (I can’t remember where!). Around 7:45pm we headed into the station to freshen up before boarding the train for home.

Following a good night’s sleep and our last meal onboard Amtrak, we pulled into Portland around 10am on Sunday, May 29th. Home never looked so good.

Getting on Track

After a doctor’s appointment that first week home, I began physical therapy and rehab for my many months of incessant pain. Interestingly enough, after all the waiting, the pain management doctor suggested an injection in a different site. During our trip (started four days after the shot), I was the most comfortable I had been since January or February. We decided based on that result I should begin PT, and I can say for the first time I actually look forward to my appointments.

This therapist has taught me so much about my spine, the curve in it and how it impacts everything about my body, and what I can do to keep up good spine health going forward. I still can’t believe that after my first appointment and some exercises and manipulations, my shoulders are level for the first time in years. My skirts even hang straight now.

I’m nowhere near the end of this journey. I don’t know yet how many appointments I have, but I do know the exercises I’ve been given are a lifetime commitment.

On an unrelated health issue, I’ve learned I will be having an exploratory procedure in July. Pending the outcome, I am keeping things low-key for now with respect to blogging, social media, book reviews, and the newsletter.

What I Learned

While traveling, I spent my time watching the countryside pass by, read a lot, took some good naps, laughed a lot, cried some, and let the busyness of computers, email and social media fall to the side.

And you know what? The world didn’t crumble at my feet. Clocks didn’t stop. God continued to bring morning with the light and evening at dusk, and He watched over us just as He does when we are frazzled and too busy to even stop and thank Him.

The lesson in all this is that I get too busy wanting to do it all, wanting to be perfect, wanting to please everyone else, wanting to measure up to expectations I read in this or that article. None of it is necessary.

The only things I need to be concerned with are satisfying God’s expectations and everything else will fall in place. Simple as that. Forever and ever!

Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah 29:11

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