THE BIG LANDMARK ANNIVERSARY PARTY was planned down to the smallest detail. We had the venue, the menu, the band, the save the date emails had gone out, followed by invitations. We were ready.
We were coming home from picking up our son and his wife at the airport when Gehardt started feeling poorly. We got home and he asked me, "Does my forehead feel hot?" Oh, no!
The next morning the kids ran out and got home COVID tests. We all tested negative except him. We sent him to bed where he slept away the day.
Then we sent him to urgent care where he got a prescription for Paclovid, which worked within hours. By Sunday, the day of the big party, he wasn't feeling too bad. Alas, he was still a germ factory. Sooo, what to do. I was still negative and had sent out an email alerting all our guests. I'd planned on staying home but my family urged me to come if I was still negative.
So here's how the party turned out. The band ran away and so did a lot of the guests. I didn't blame them one bit! We still partied with me masked and keeping my distance. We FaceTimed with Mr. Germ - we played CD's and danced anyway and I sent home a ton of leftover food. A good time was had by all.
It certainly wasn't the elegant, extravagant event I'd planned but there was still the bright side to look on - a marriage to celebrate and people to celebrate with plus a mild case of COVID. I even persuaded a few of the guests to act as stand-ins for Gerhardt for our "anniversary" picture. Lemonade from lemons.
I think this experience helped me practice being a good sport and remembering to always find something for which to be thankful.
I know COVID has taken loved ones from us and has ruined everything from memorial services to weddings. As it, hopefully, is dying down to something not so deadly, let's try to remember to keep looking for those silver linings. Hang in there, celebrate what and when you can and count those blessings!
One upon a time in my youth, I made many trips to Nashville, peddling songs and trying to become a published songwriter. It was my Mecca. Alas, that didn't happen and I fell into a writing career instead. But I still loved Nashville with it's creative energy and wonderful music. I've been trying to get back there for years.
At last, this summer I made it. It felt like coming home!
But home wasn't as I remembered. Music Row, with its charming old houses all turned into recording studios and offices for publishers is no more. It's all high rises... except for the few quaint houses that have been turned into hair salons or lawyers' offices. I must admit, that was painful to see.
But songwriters are still there, working their craft, and all my old music buddies were still there, too, although they've moved on to other pursuits - one became a minister, another is a professor, and my dear friend who I wrote so many songs with became a writer and is now teaching online spirituality classes. But all happy and all doing well. And being together again, the years fell away.
In addition to checking out the city including the amazing Country Music Hall of Fame - a must for any music fan - I got to go dancing at The Wild Horse Saloon, ate Southern at The Cracker Barrel, and, to top it all off, was able to celebrate the release of my latest Moonlight Harbor novel, SAND DOLLAR LANE at the Barnes and Noble in Brentwood. What a fun party!
I never became a songwriting legend. I probably won't ever become a literary legend either. But I'm happy doing what I'm doing and brightening my own little corner of the world. I think in our own family histories we can all become a bit of a legend, don't you? For what do you want to be remembered?
Even though it was practical, I was sorry that we decided to sell our California digs this spring. I loved that condo, enjoyed the neighbors and (before COVID), enjoyed using the pool. I also, loved being only ten minutes from our son's family. It enabled us to spend time with them a lot but still remain independent and not feel like we were getting underfoot every minute of the day, which was the case in the early days when we'd come down to visit and stay with them in their modest home. Now, with things opening up again we've decided to just Air B & B on our visits.
So goodbye lovely condo. And goodbye many lovely pieces I'd collected to furnish it, like this one that was to be my writing desk. In the end, I wound up using it for storage. But, oh, I loved it with its beautiful lines and ornate antique carving. Alas, there is no room for it back in Washington and so it had to find a new home.
I tell you what, it was hard to part with this. The day the people who bought it came to pick it up I hid in the bedroom and let Gerhardt help move it out. I just didn't want to see it go. Sad, sad. Hard to pry my hands off that pretty.
There have been other pretties, too: a charming Mikasa dish set that I'd brought down from Washington just for this place. A south of the border style serving bowl and condiment set perfect for Cinco de Mayo, a comfy chair I wish I could take home. No room. Happily, many of my kitchen treasures are getting shared with extended family here, who are happy to get them. And that makes me feel good.
I have come to realize that parting with my California treasures is good spiritual training. I'm sure you've heard the old saw that you never see a U-Haul headed to heaven. How true! There will come a time when we will all have to leave behind those earthly things we think matter so much.
And in the light of eternity, should they ever matter? The things in our life aren't the important "things." What we need to hold close is our families, our friends, and our relationship with our Maker. Anything else is just trimmings.
I love pretty trimmings! But the older I get the more I have to pry my hands lose and be willing to let go and let someone else enjoy them. I can't take 'em with me where I'm going. And I won't need 'em!
I have wanted to go to Hawaii for years. And years. And years. Gerhardt and I finally booked our dream cruise for 2020, planning to go with two lifelong friends. Well, you know what happened in 2020. And 2021, which we'd re-booked for. But finally, this year we made it. This is a big anniversary year for us and we are planning to travel our little hearts out. Now's the time, while we can still carry our own luggage.
If you've never cruised (and aren't afraid of the water) I highly recommend this method of vacationing. In addition to a lovely room and fabulous food your entertainment is included in the voyage - everything from shows to trivia competitions, ping pong, crafting classes and dance lessons. Gerhardt even took ukulele lessons. (And he was a sport and took a salsa dancing class with me!)
If doing something like this is on your bucket list, I encourage you to save for it now and make it happen. Sometimes we put things off until ... later, I retire (you name it) and we never live to see that point. Carpe diem!
AACK! ANOTHER BIRTHDAY. How does this keep happening? How do I keep getting older and older? Oh, yeah. By still being here and alive, that's how. So the wrinkles keep coming, along with aches and pains I never had when I was a sweet young thing. And, oh, no, here comes the dreaded turkey neck. And dry skin. Ick. Just. Ick.
I have often wished we could stay looking about thirty right up until it's time to move on to the next great adventure, but that's not how it works. And really, maybe that's for the best. Aging is a reminder that life is short, that we all have an expiration date. It's a reminder that time is passing, that we can't take a moment for granted, that we need to wise with however much we're given and become all God wants us to become, to appreciate the gift of life. And to remember there is a life after this and be prepared to meet our maker. And to be grateful to still be here. To live to an old age is a privilege, and if we're still here, we're here for a reason.
Every year brings a blessing - a new member either marrying into or born into the family, a new friend, a new hobby, a new book to read. And write! And now, with the pandemic easing up, a chance to travel. So I'm getting wrinkles. So what?
I think about Betty White, the actress. She was the cutest little old lady ever and everyone loved her because she was so positive and happy and kindhearted. I don't think I ever heard anyone ever say, "Betty White, what an old bat." Because who cared that she was old.? Her smile was timeless.
So, as I start turning into a little old lady, here's what I'm telling myself when I look in the mirror and am tempted to lament the loss of my brown hair and that dewy, young skin: "Be Betty White. Be content with where you are in life and live it to the fullest."
Happy birthday to me!
BIG LOVE DAY is almost here. Little Sheila has been celebrating already, delivering heart shaped cookies around the neighborhood. Last night we hae two other couples coming over to join us for fun and games. As you can see by the picture above, I was ready. I had a little Valentine quiz for everyone and dollar store party favors for the boys. The adorable heart bath bombs are from F.R.O.G. Soap, right here in my home town of Bremerton, where you can find all manner of eco-friendly soaps and goodies. I also had supplies for our men to make us Valentine cards. You will notice there's no glue, no scissors, no lace... nothing complicated. Just colored paper and stickers. The guys were able to handle that. And they did! Below is Gerhardt's work of art. What a clever boy he is. :)
I hope, whether you are happily in a relationship or on your own, you can find a way to make some fun this Valentine's Day, either by gathering with girlfriends, delivering treats to the neighbors, or enjoying a romantic evening with that special person. Love is in the air. Let's all catch some!
Last fall we fell in love with an adorable little beach house with 180 degree water views. Like us, it was a bit old but we knew we could fix it up. Building houses, remodeling houses - piece of cake. Been there and done it!
Ah, it's like childbirth. You forget the pain. And there was pain to come.
After patching holes in the walls and replacing a rotted beam under the deck the bathroom was the next job to tackle... and we're still tackling it. We soon learned why our vintage toilet that was the perfect height for Munchkins rocked. It wasn't a case of needing to be better bolted to the floor. It was a case of needing a floor to bolt to. Period.
And so the adventure began. And continues. There was a "glitch" in ordering the shower door and it never came. The building supply chain lost an entire order of floor tile. Oh and the shower tile refuses to allow our contractor to cut it in a sphere to go over the drain. On and on it goes.
But patience is a virtue, right? And boy, am I learning patience. (I hope!) Also, realizing there's always the proverbial silver lining. If we hadn't decided to remodel the bathroom we wouldn't have found the rot in the flooring. There would have come a day when little Sheila would have fallen through the floor, toilet and all. Someday this will be finished... and just like those HGTV shows I'm so fond of, we will be oohing and aahing over the finished product. Or else we'll have jumped off the deck!
Happy New Year?
How about you? Been here, done this? I bet, if you tackled any home improvement project, you have. Tim the Tool Man made it look so easy!
Look at how pretty and harmless that snow looks. Ah, Mother Nature.
Ha! She's not always a nice mommy, especially to travelers. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are snow sissys. It's a fairly moderate climate and we don't get that much of the white stuff. When we do, it's panic time.
The snow held off so we could enjoy family times on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we knew it was coming any moment and so decided to spend the night at the airport on Christmas Day so we could fly out to be with our son's family in sunny CA the next day. We would dodge the Arctic cold and ring in the new year with the kids.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men... and Sheila. We awoke December 26th to see the hotel parking lot and all the cars in it covered with the white stuff. I felt very smug. Good thing we came out early. Planes were still flying out so it looked like we were good to go.
But before we left to crawl into the snowy airport parking lot, I stopped at the front desk and asked if we could get our room back just in case we couldn't get out. The desk clerk was so kind. Yes, she'd give us a late checkout and she'd be on duty until 3. Just call her and we'd have our same room. Great. Our flight was due to go out at 2. I was so organized.
Then we got to the airport. Flights were getting canceled. At our gate (where we had arrived hours early, just to be on the safe side), people were sitting on the plane to Portland -a 45 minute flight - for 2 hours, waiting to get de-iced. They were still there when it was our turn to fly out. Our flight got moved to another gate. Then our flight got delayed. Okay, delay means you're still flying out, right? Wrong. If only I'd realized that sooner I'd have called the hotel. Alas, I trusted the airline, especially when our man at the gate desk said, "We're just waiting for the crew." After several friendly chats with him I learned that this translated to, "We're trying to find a crew." Oy. I began hunting for hotel rooms. Ours was long gone. So was every other room in every hotel anywhere near SeaTac International. And the one hotel that had a room had no shuttle. It was looking like we were going to be spending the night at the airport. All we needed now was Steve Martin and John Candy.
We finally decided to get in the car, drive down the old highway 99 and see if we could find a room... somewhere. Then the shuttle driver who took us back to the parking lot said he'd heard the freeway was clear. All right. Go for it. We were heading home.
The freeway was not clear. The freeway was scary. I had moments of tears, moments of panic, and many moments of kicking myself for not securing that room way back when I first left the hotel.
The good news is, we made it home in one piece.... after seeing many cars stranded off on the side of the freeway.
The even better news is... I learned many lessons in all of this. One being to go ahead and listen to that instinct and have your Plan B ready. In this case, I should have been willing to eat the cost of a room not used rather than wind up with no room. If I had we'd probably be in California by now. But that's not the most important lesson. The bigger lesson is not to panic. To have a little faith. As we drove down that snow and ice infested freeway it finally dawned on me that I was acting a lot like the disciples in the boat in that storm we read about in the Bible. Jesus, the Master, was with them, calmly asleep in the boat, and yet they were in total panic mode. We're all gonna die! That would have been me, the sissy in the boat, hyper-ventilating. But I didn't want to be the sissy in the boat. I wanted to trust that God was watching out for me. So I began to command myself, "Don't be the sissy in the boat. Trust God." I finally calmed down and was able to stop freaking out. And I learned that faith and trust go a long way toward alleviating panic and unhappiness. This was a short journey - nothing like the longer one I took when I was fighting uterine cancer - but it was a good reminder that, no matter where I am or what I'm going through, my heavenly Father is with me. We're currently snowed in and won't be celebrating the new year with the kids. But we are well and together. And grateful.
Right in the middle of promoting a book, right before Thanksgiving, right when I need to start getting ready for Christmas - yep, a perfect time to move. Not! But after you've been looking for over a year, when the right place comes along you say, "Oh, well," and jump off the cliff. Which is what we did. So, now, in addition to chatting with book clubs and doing Facebook events, getting ready for the holidays and unpacking, I'm in the midst of reno chaos. But, look at our lovely view. And we have great neighbors, so it's all worth it. The house is small but there's only two of us (and a ton of stuff!), so it should suffice. We enjoyed condo living and the friends we made but it's nice to have a house again. I'm digging in and staying put until my dying breath and they have to dig me out. (Which is what I said three moves ago. I guess you never say never.)
So, what about you? Have you moved a lot? How many times? Would you move again?
When the news of the 9-11 attack came I was on a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, off to do a book signing with a friend. The DJ on my favorite station said America was under attack and I thought is this some sick War of the Worlds joke?
It wasn't, and the whole world went into shock. Needless to say, the mall was quiet that day. In fact, every neighborhood was, with people in their homes, watching the horror unfold on their TV's.
Now, here we are, on another anniversary of that sad day, and I'm thinking about all the lives that were impacted in so many ways. The obvious, horrible first one being the loss of people dear to us. Then there was the fear of what would happen next. But so many other aspects of our lives were affected. How many babies were born that day? How many birthdays permanently overshadowed by grief? How many weddings were being planned? How many celebrations of the blessings of life ruined because of this horrible event.
For anyone who had a big moment in her or his life stolen, I'm sorry. For anyone today, who has a birthday or a wedding anniversary I say celebrate. Don't let the evil that was done all those years ago steal your joy. Remember, yes. Remember those who lost their lives needlessly. Pray for their families as this day will always be a hard one for them. But don't let evil triumph. And remember that we are still the United States of America. Yes, we have our differences. Yes, we have our problems. But united we stand, divided we fall.