Last Blog Post
Today is vaccine day!
I said I would stop this blog when I got vaccinated, so this is my last post.
This morning before getting excited over our 2:00 vaccine appointment, Don and I had to check out of our hotel and meet the plumber at the house. We've been gone 80 days and we have dead trees and busted pipes from the big Texas freeze last February.
We may have leak issues in the house, but it feels great to be back home and to see blooming azaleas! Don put on a mask and greeted our Hero/Plumber. A few neighbors stopped and chatted outside. It's been so long since we've talked comfortably face to face. It was cold and quiet and "pandemic-y" when we left in January. Now it seems like everyone, (including our plumber) has been vaccinated!
Don started in, assisting Kerry in the search for broken pipes. I moved soggy boxes from the garage to the sunny patio, beside the dead oleanders. Oh why didn't we sort through all those boxes of travel slides and files, during those lockdown days!
It began to look like our problems could take days to fix. We filled buckets of pool water for toilet flushing and we set up a washing station in the sink... kind of like the system that amused us when we stayed in Guatemala, a few years ago. I looked at our unopened suitcases and was glad we couldn't use the washing machine.
Don and Kerry worked together all morning. When Don was up in the attic I hollered reports to Kerry, in the garage.
At one point, Kerry cut a hole in the ceiling and disappeared. He found some treasures.
There were beer bottles, from a happy construction crew 23 years ago.
And there were 6 busted pipes.
But suddenly it was time to rush off for our vaccine appointments. It was almost too easy, walking into our doctor's office and going back into the examining room together. It only hurt for a moment and we rubbed vigorously, like we'd been told.
I can't believe how quick and safe it felt. I sort of regret that we didn't have the big, line up for a vaccine experience. After 12+ months of pandemic, it seemed like we should jump through more hoops for the shot. And we just have one shot with Johnson and Johnson! That seems like cheating. But that's okay! We are done and I can't believe it!
We don't need rewards. Being vaccinated is a gift and I'm grateful for that.
We did however, celebrate our vaccines with carryouts from Freddie's! We brought some back for Kerry, who worked all day... and will be returning tomorrow.
So, this house is a mess of unpacked bags and boxes. We still have no water. But I'm sleeping in my bed tonight and I am vaccinated.
I'm so grateful to be here today. I know my year has been an easy one compared to almost everyone I know. My rants have been silly at times, but they've helped me make it through the year.
I have no idea who has even seen this crazy blog. I do it for me, so it doesn't matter. But for anyone who ever runs across this Not So Happy blog, feel free to make a comment. Share a complaint or two and let me know how you're doing.
Cheers to the light at the end of the tunnel! I'm done!
One More Thing!
Okay, it's been 2 days since I posted and ended this blog. I said I was done, but I really want to end with a different focus.
Tonight, we celebrated on Zoom with "the kids". A year and 2 days ago, we 6 Zoomed for the first time, with a Tiki theme. Today, we Zoomed for the first time as a group of 7. Our theme was "Yay for Vaccines!" As of yesterday, we have all had shots!
I started this blog in 2016, with cancer complaints. I learned that patience and flexibility help a lot! Mostly I learned how to accept support from family and friends.
Just over a year ago, I restarted this blog, with complaints about the covid pandemic. I already knew how to isolate and adjust. I knew to appreciate my health and to work hard again, to stay healthy. But more than anything, the pandemic reminded me that communicating with those we love, is the most important and healing thing we can do.
Tonight, we toasted to vaccines and good health! We cheered for Baby Charlotte's 6-week birthday! I am so at peace knowing our family has become closer this year. I'm so grateful that we all have stayed healthy!
I stepped out of our cozy historic hotel and went on a morning run. I figured I could soak up the blissful scenery, to settle my nerves.
It was fun to see Bluebonnets this morning. I knew I was back in Texas. Sad we couldn't stay in our cabin last night, but we were too tired to deal with broken water pipes.
I trotted down to the lake and all was peaceful.
I bent down to see the dew on the bluebonnets!
I peeked at the hotel's 3 cabooses and remembered when Don and I stayed in one 6 years ago.
I jogged over by the red barn and I didn't get much exercise because I stopped so often. But I felt good. After I showered we checked out and I ignored the unmasked woman working behind the counter. I can't stress over her right now.
On the Road
We headed for Sugar Land and kept fingers crossed that our house would be okay, after the big Texas Freeze of February.
I smiled when we passed Pearl the Squirrel, on TX 71! Pearl is still wearing a mask (and carrying an Easter basket) even though the mask mandate was lifted in Texas.
Johnson and Johnson
Our best news this morning, was getting appointments for the J & J vaccine tomorrow! I called our doctor's office this morning and we will go in tomorrow afternoon! A part of me worries. Is this one-shot vaccine really as good as Modern and Pfizer??
So I used the traveling time to read some more. Some info was far above my head, but bottom line is... take it! It is not a "lesser vaccine". So instead of worrying over storm damage possibilities, I started getting giddy that tomorrow Don and I will be fully vaccinated!
Then we got home to Sugar Land. We had expected to see dead plants, but it was still startling to see brown palms and oleanders.
We headed inside and it felt odd to see the place, after 3 months. It actually looked cleaner than I remembered. It felt good to walk through the house.
I was eager to play the piano. That's one positive thing about the pandemic. I started playing again and I've missed it. But there wasn't time for playing.
So Don had a very calculated plan for turning our water back on. He suggested we not unpack, in case we had to stay in a hotel. That's negative thinking.
We opened up valves and faucets gradually. We shouted to each other from different bathrooms. At one point Don hollered, "Did you turn on the washing machine?" I didn't, but water was spewing in the laundry room! I ran to the garage to get beach towels, where I discovered water spraying down on our embarrassing pile of boxes.
Back to Hotel Living
I swore we were done with pandemic hotel stays, 2 days ago. I'm tired of cookie cutter Marriotts, but this is a new one down the road. We have become robots with our hotel routines.
We could have stayed at the house. We have a pool for toilet flushing water. But a hotel meant we could be showered for our vaccine appointments tomorrow. We need one night to just take a deep breath and plan how we'll do this no water thing. It's looking like we may not be able to get a plumber for a week.
So tonight we are NOT in our home. But we will be tomorrow, water or not. We will get our vaccines and sleep in our bed again and then I'll be done with this blog!
So Many Grandma Friends
Today while traveling, I sat in the passenger seat and selfishly entertained myself on Facebook. Scrolling through posts, I was quickly reminded that I have a lot of friends, who recently became grandmas. I would have preferred becoming a grandparent, without a pandemic. But, this pandemic club does bond us.
Heidi's First Friend
Heidi gave birth to Charlotte, this past Valentine's Day. Days later, my old friend from St. Louis reached out in a text and told me her daughter was also expecting a baby. Here I am with Patti and our little girls... long, long ago.
Today I noticed this bit of news, while peeking at social media.
Patti's daughter made the news! Haley received both doses of Moderna, before her baby was born. Tests show that her baby has high levels of antibodies! Great news!
As we drove along the highway, I had a good time thinking back to when Haley and Heidi were babies. Patti and I were pregnant together and we were so delighted when our little girls became such good buddies.
How curious that our daughters were born in 1986 and then both became mothers in 2021, during the pandemic... 10 days apart! I wish we weren't living in 4 states, or we 6 "girls" could get together!
More Pandemic Babies
We moved from St. Louis to Tulsa when Heidi was 4. We were thrilled when the Hart family moved in across the street. We spent 7 years running back and forth between houses. Heidi and Leigh Anne got in a tiny bit of mothering practice with their American Girl Dolls. Mostly they ran and played and laughed together, from age 4 to 11.
2+ decades later, both girls were married and expecting baby girls, during a pandemic. I'm so glad they've kept in touch. I'm so grateful that Leigh Anne's mom and I have also. It's been fun to cheer each other on from afar, as we've became grandmothers. We used to wonder what it would be like when our girls had babies... we never guessed that we'd not be able to be at the hospital, because of a pandemic! We never guessed our girls would have baby girls, just 3 months apart.
My mind wandered further back in time, today. I thought about the first friend I ever had, that became pregnant. Claire and I were college buddies... very silly college buddies. Her first child was born years before mine. She was a grandparent years before me.
We lost touch for years, but have communicated during the pandemic. Over a month ago, when we were still in Portland, I got a text from Claire. She was in Portland (from Utah) watching her grandchildren for a week. She knew I was in Portland, awaiting the arrival of a grand baby. We talked on the phone, cracking each other up, like the old days. I can't imagine how much fun it would be to see Claire as a grandma... paintbrushes and roller-skates! We were both pretty silly 40+ years ago and we still are. But we take our kids and grandkids seriously. Neither one of us wanted to risk getting together, even though a meet up would have been a very quick drive.
I'm glad that things are changing. Pregnant women are getting vaccines and maybe they won't have to wear masks during childbirth. Grandparents are getting vaccinated and finally seeing their grandkids. It's so nice to realize things will be different by the time I have another grandchild. Chances are good that we won't be in the midst of a pandemic!
From Las Cruces to El Paso
Today I felt like a horse racing home to the barn. We left our hotel in New Mexico. Yay! We would be at our TX cabin tonight and all done with hotels. This last one was being renovated, which added to the stress.
El Paso was glowing this morning. I love getting back to Texas, but I have concerns about how safe I'll feel in casual Texas, with the lifting of mask mandates. Don and I also have worries about our cabin and house. Did the big freeze damage pipes?
As we traveled through El Paso I looked to the right and studied Mexico.
Is today the day President Biden visits the border? Or yesterday? It seems odd to think that those beautiful mountains and all those buildings are in another country. It's incredibly sad that so many communities on both sides of the border, used to work together. Okay, that's another tangent.
Don and I had our last picnic! I'm sick of sandwiches on the road.
I can't wait to get back to our real kitchen. I'm ready for dishwashers and a stove and oven! Yay for home. Almost there!
The Cabin After Feb Freeze
We made it to our cabin before 5. We were greeted with dead palms and dead Rosemary bushes.
We entered with fingers crossed. Before turning on the water, we opened faucets. The water that was left in the pipes, showed us right away that we had a burst pipe upstairs. Just as we feared.
We didn't even question staying at the cabin. We've been in "make-do-camping-mode" for almost 80 days. We just headed for the closest hotel, which happened to be this charming place.
I walked in with my mask and the woman behind the desk looked startled. Are masks so rare here that she thought I was holding her up? She did put on a mask after we spoke for 5 minutes. She was just ready to close up, so we lucked out.
Our room was on the far right, with our own entrance.
No one above or below. No one next door. Yay for isolation!
Porch to Ourselves
It wasn't really pandemic isolation I was needing. I'm just tired of hotels. And tired of tiptoeing in an Airbnb, with very quiet owners living above.
Don and I took drinks to the front porch and watched the parking lot in front of the Grand Central Cafe. So many pick up trucks and happy Texans coming to dine.
We waited until the crowds died down and placed a carryout order. We ate in our hotel and laughed at ourselves. We really thought we were done with hotels for a while.
We'll drive on home to Sugar Land tomorrow. (Leave cabin repairs for later) Fingers crossed that the Texas Freeze of 2021, spared us issues at our house!
Passing Quartzsite, AZ
While driving through Arizona today, we saw the sign for Quartzsite. Last January when we passed this small town, we saw a sea of trailers and RVs. I thought it was temp housing, for families that have lost homes during the pandemic. Don knew better.
Don recognized the town from reading the book, Nomadland and he knew about the annual Rubber Tramp Rendezvous gathering. The giant swap meet (spotlighting gems and minerals) attracts 1.5 million. How curious!
Quartzsite in March
It was quiet in Quartzsite today. We stopped for gas as an excuse to get off the highway and peek around. I threw on my mask and ran into a gem/ souvenir shop. I bought some postcards and the sweet woman gave me the yellow camel pin.
I did a quick Google search and learned that this small desert town was once part of the US Camel Corps, before the Civil War. The Corps fizzled, but camels roamed the area until the 1940's. I love this stuff!
I spotted this green cafe and was giddy. Don and I have many memories of curious folks we've met, at small diners like this! I can only imagine what stories we might learn from some of the locals here.
I'm so tired of this kind of travel, which has nothing to do with the journey. So, I compromised. I masked up and ran inside to order 2 coffees, to go. It was fun to see the retro dining counter and travel trailer knickknacks on the wall. But I'm starting to wonder how my year of pandemic awareness, will change my carefree approach to dining in dives! We'll see.
We drove around a bit more and wondered about the small shops, especially those that were for sale. The pandemic has hurt almost every kind of business, but I wonder if the people in this area are more used to ups and downs and highs and lows. I wish I could chat and learn more.
I did get to see some saguaros. This long drive from OR to TX has been broken up with lots of good things, mostly visits with family. But seeing saguaros in Arizona, is always a treat!
On the Road
Last night, we said good-bye to Scott and Chali and checked into our Sacramento hotel. I glanced at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant, right next door and chuckled. A big reminder that we're headed to Texas. I thought to myself.
After just seeing the restaurant, we got to our room and I saw a news clip about the CEO of the TX Roadhouse chain. He had taken his life, due to Covid related symptoms. It was an awful and eerie reminder that the pandemic is still here, even though states are opening up and vaccines are becoming more available. Covid is still taking lives.
Shooter in Boulder
Tonight Don and I are in our hotel in Palm Desert. We're just trying to get back to Texas and be done with this pandemic travel. But right after checking in tonight, I got a text from my brother. "Active Shooter Boulder... Andy and Casey are holed up in their apt..."
For the rest of the evening, Don and I studied the TV in shock. Our nephew and his wife live across the street from the King Sooper's grocery store. Andy had just shopped there, yesterday. The news had few details, but we learned that a policeman was killed. It now looks like, 10 may have been killed. I can't stop thinking about these innocent people, who have lived through a year of pandemic stress, only to be killed by a gunman on a Monday afternoon.
Once again, Don and I sit in a hotel room, glued to our TV. Our trip west in January and our trip home in March, has been plagued with tragic news. On January 6, we began our trip, taking in the horrific happenings at the Capitol, as we drove west. The day we started the trip home, we learned of the mass shooting that included mostly Asian women, in Atlanta.
So today, we watch the news unfold about the the Boulder shooting. I wonder will this ever stop? When we look back on this 12 month pandemic period in the future, what will we remember? It won't just be about Covid-19.
Today, I'm going to think about all the green we saw on our drive today. What a contrast to all the sad news. I think I'll think about these beautiful scenes as I go to sleep.
Safe With Family
A year ago we cringed at the news of Spring Breakers, gathering as Covid numbers spiked. It just happens to be spring break now, as we travel home to TX. I'm so glad we can spend a couple days again, with Scott and Chali. They've been smart and safe during this long year. We feel so comfortable staying in their home.
Yesterday, we actually ventured out and went to an open air winery near Sacramento. While spring break crowds were being arrested in Miami, we ordered wine flights and took off our masks to sip. It felt almost normal.
But besides making the decision about getting out into this "normal world" after months of avoiding people... we had to make make a choice about seeing other family.
Our nephew and family offered to meet up with us. I suddenly realized how much more complicated life is going to be as we navigate this new world, where our cautious friends are becoming more social. So many decisions! Our doctor nephew and his scientist wife can certainly be trusted. It was actually nice to get some questions answered about the J & J vaccine and future air travel.
Plus, we got to see these sweet kiddos. We haven't seen them in 18 months.
Scott and Colden got to compare their Covid hair growth!
Today, we had one more day with Scott and Chali. They took us to the nearby town of Folsom, for an adventure.
It felt wonderful to be out on a beautiful day. The historic downtown area was buzzing with activity. People dined at tables on the sidewalk, while musicians played. It was still too crowded for my comfort.
I looked at this old hotel and the historic Hop Sing Palace Chinese Restaurant. I am craving the day that Don and I can get back to our favorite kind of exploring.
But we're not quite ready for navigating crowds. The 4 of us just wandered instead.
We hiked across the old truss bridge and watched kayaks and paddle boards glide beneath the Rainbow Bridge.
It felt like the good old days, posing like tourists.
Then the youngins did their own posing with these pretty painted wings!
Then it was back to the house to grill outside! I feel so lucky to have this time. Maybe next time we visit, we'll check out the prison where Johnny Cash spent time. There's an adventure.
Taking baby steps right now.
Spring in the Park
Yesterday, Don and I arrived in Sacramento. It was cool and cloudy when we peeked at the city park near Scott and Chali's home. We put on masks because the park was pretty busy,
A year ago, spring arrived and we were just beginning to wrap our heads around the pandemic. Little did we know, we'd be wearing masks in a park, a year later.
First Day of Spring Picnic
I feel so lucky that we were able to add a visit with Scott & Chali on our way home from Oregon. Today was the first day of spring and the sun was shining in William Land Park.
We found an open picnic table by this big tree, but spread out in the sunshine instead.
It felt like heaven after 2 chilly months in Oregon. We had a picnic from a nearby deli and soaked up some sunshine.
What a treat to enjoy the warmth and sun today. But mostly it was good to be with family. We FaceTimed with Heidi and Jamie and Baby Charlie, in Portland.
We cuddled with our grand-dog, Lola!
Tiki and Flowered Shirts!
Then we finished the Springtime celebration, with flowered shirts and tiki drinks! So fun and silly.
I can't thank our kids enough, for staying smart and safe, for this whole year. We've been able to navigate these visits, because we all trust each other.
Slow Getting News
On Wednesday, Don and I were away from news and TV as we packed and got on the road. Yesterday we checked into the Marriott, in Redding, CA. I grabbed this paper.
I am taken back to last year, when my heart ached for my Asian neighbors and the Asian businesses in Houston. Trump's language and behavior was outrageous. He was inviting hate and intolerance. China Virus... Kung Flu. It was ugly, then.
And here we are today! This is frightening to see. I am so angry and yet so grateful that we have a president who is going to Atlanta today, to offer support to the community. I spotted a flag at half mast this morning.
Today Don and I drive to Sacramento to spend 2 nights with Scott and Chali. My daughter-in-law is a strong and smart, Asian American Woman and I will give her the biggest hug ever. l hope Chali can help me understand what this means to her. There is so much I need to learn.
Just as the world was starting to feel safer...
Another Good Bye
Last night we spent the first night of our road trip home, with Jennifer and Kate! Today we had to say good-bye.
Last night, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with beer (not green) on the deck. Fire and blooming trees and flowers! Wonderful.
We ate the most incredible feast inside. Best of all we dined and talked and carried on without masks!
We've been very very cautious with our recent visits. But J & K are both fully vaccinated now and life is getting better! Inside and no masks, is okay.
Kate made Don's favorite! Corned Beef & Cabbage... Carrots and Potatoes, plus Irish Soda Bread!
In the morning, we chatted more around Mom's old table while we ate Jennifer's corned beef hash and fried eggs! What a treat to have time to talk and laugh and share. We talked a lot about how the world is beginning to feel different, now. So much worry is lifting.
It's fun that the 4 of us are grandparents now. Don and I got a text from Heidi with this photo at one point. We shared with J & K and laughed over that cute bow.
Later, Heidi shared this photo. Melting heart. Now we 4 can share stories and pictures of our grandkids. And share the woes of not living close.
But the good news is... our good bye to Jenni and Kate was easy. We will be in Oregon much more often now!
This Morning in Clackamas
Today I woke on the 65th morning, of our Airbnb stay.
I sat on the couch in the dark as I have on many mornings and I thought about these last 2 months... helping with Heidi and Jamie's move, waiting on their new baby in the midst of an ice storm... and watching Baby Charlotte grow for a month!
I haven't run daily, In fact I've probably put on about 10 pounds during these months. I won't miss these hills or the drizzly, chilly runs. But I've enjoyed the changing scenery, as I've huffed and puffed. I'll kind of miss my phone call routine, too. I've stopped on most runs, to make a morning call to Dad in MO. Today, I told him we were leaving.
Today was probably the prettiest day of our stay. This is what I saw on my run! So crazy to leave, as the trees (that were once covered in ice) are beginning to bloom.
Before Hitting the Road
I made a dash to Walgreens to get a prescription around 9. Just today, they opened for vaccine appointments. I saw Just one older couple. Where were the crowds? It was odd to know there were vaccines chilling, behind that counter. This is the closest I've been to an actual vaccine!
It took all day to pack up our "suite". All the junk we brought with us originally... as well as all the things we've purchased online since... toaster, tv, coffee pot, puzzles... Living in this basement has felt more like pandemic lockdown living. It was nice to have a pretty day to make about 20 trips up those 34 stairs to the car!
The Worst Part of Leaving
Today it felt odd to be leaving the Clackamas/Happy Valley area. But last night was just sad. We had our last evening at Heidi and Jamie's. It was the day before St. Patrick's Day and I made sure we documented just one more holiday that this little Valentine Baby has experienced in 4.5 weeks.
I got in some good holding, while Charlie was alert. Then she got sleepy when it was time to enjoy our sushi feast. Perfect. By the time we headed to the door, she snoozed through all our good-bye hugs. Don and I stepped out into the chilly night and squeezed hands... one of us just might have sniffled a bit. That first good-bye is hard. We don't actually know when we'll be seeing these 3 next.
Those good-byes will only get harder, when Charlie is older and knows us. I remember feeling a lump in my throat as a kid, watching Daw wave goodbye. Our station wagon would pull out of her driveway, with all 6 of us waving out windows. I was always sad, but mostly because I knew Daw would be alone and missing us. Or was she happy to have her house to herself... that makes me laugh.
Mostly I remember the joy of going to visit Daw. This is what I am looking forward to as a grandmother now. Greetings and reunions are the best! And even better in post pandemic times! I can't wait!
We took Charlotte on a walk today. It was our last day and our last outing with this little one... for a long time...
She didn't see much, while she slept inside the buggy.
Charlie didn't see much when we went to the zoo the other day, either. When she's older, that "buggy" will become a stroller and she'll see all the animals.
But that wasn't the point. She wasn't there to see the animals... she was less than 4 weeks old. It was just a wonderful way for Charlie to get some fresh air and for her family to enjoy some tiny bit of normal.
Well it wasn't really that normal. Usually the zoo on a pretty day, would be jammed. But there were restrictions, which is why we felt safe going.
Tickets were limited. We got the latest reservation possible. We were the last in and we strolled slowly. It felt like we owned the zoo. I'll remember how peaceful and calm it felt to wander down the 1-way path, encountering close to no one. Maybe it's good Charlotte wasn't a 3-year-old, wondering why the carousel was closed and why she couldn't go in the petting zoo.
What to See?
There were also lots of animals that we couldn't see. Some were hibernating.
Some were moved, because of renovation projects. But we saw wonderful totem poles and blue sky and gorgeous, towering pines!
We adults took in the spring sunshine, when we stepped out of the shade. I loved watching Scott chatting with his sister and staring and his baby niece. I loved remembering when they were both kids and adored zoos trips.
Towards the end of our visit, we saw a few big favorites (giraffes and elephants) and encountered a few other zoo guests, who had slowed down to enjoy. They looked like nice families, all in masks and enjoying the day, just like us. For a moment, it made me miss other people. I like observing animals and I kind of love people watching at the zoo, too. This is an odd time.
But mostly I loved experiencing Charlotte's first zoo trip. She won't remember it, but I will.
"I Want a Vaccine" Club
Actually, I am in a club. I'm one of those people who wants a vaccine.
It's curious to see these charts. It's crazy that we have to have this political divide with vaccines. Shouldn't we all want it?
So those who don't want it, have different reasons. Most just want to wait and see. 47% are worried about side effects. I sort of get that. But I figure a lot of "wait and see" people, just want the rest of us to get it... so they can be safe.
Don and I head home tomorrow and it looks like we may be able to get the vaccine at our doctor's office, back in Texas.
I wish these 2 in Portland, could get the vaccine. If Charlotte had been due a month later, Heidi might have gotten vaccinated. Now pregnant women are higher on the list! Now she's just back to being in that younger, less risk group. All vaccinated in Oregon by July? Now they say sooner!
Today, Cha gets her vaccine. Her job as a social worker with IRC, has been tough to do virtually. I'm so glad she will be on her way to being fully vaccinated. Hopefully Scott won't be too far behind.
I'm so proud of the young people in our family, who have done everything possible to keep themselves and others safe for a year. This is a weird stage, of different rollouts in different states and counties. Now there are more vaccinated people, than people who have had the virus. (I'm not in either club) But it's still a world where some are and some aren't. How wonderful when all households that want to be vaccinated... just are!
Charlie Turns One Month
I had to get a photo with Charlotte. It was her birthday today.
Ugh! Where did those wrinkles come from? What a contrast to Charlie's soft, smooth skin!
What's to Blame?
Covid or Cancer? The first pic was taken right before the pandemic worries set in a year ago. Maybe the lighting was just good.
The second photo was taken weeks before I was diagnosed with cancer. That was almost 5 years ago, but still! Cancer treatments took their toll and then worries of Covid added more wrinkles.
But I don't really care about those wrinkles. I don't have to stare at myself.
Someday when Charlotte is older, maybe she'll notice my wrinkles. Maybe she'll wiggle my wobbly upper arms. My grandmother patiently let me do that!
For a while I'm safe! Charlie is seeing me through a her Infant Filter!
Even when she's a year, she'll see a more youthful grandma!
Really, I'm not focused on wrinkles today. We just have a couple more days with this sweet one.
I'm absorbing what I can with my eyes and ears and touch. She makes the most lovely cooing sounds!
Happy Pi Day and Birthday!
We celebrated Charlotte's first month birthday, with a bunny puppet and pie!
Charlotte was born on Valentine's Day and she turned One Month, on National Pi Day!
I love celebrations!
A Year Ago
This is me a year (and one day) ago. It was the day before I re-started this complaining blog.
I'm smiling, but I was already in worry mode. That's why I started posting, to relieve stress. I never ever thought I would be up to 327 complaints. I never thought I would be posting a year later.
It's been helpful, having this outlet for my rambles. I especially needed to vent during those first isolated months of the pandemic. But I need to move forward and stop all this recording. When I'm vaccinated I will stop.
When everyone in my family is vaccinated, I will finally breath easily. I'll still enjoy walks in quiet places, like this. (Powell Butte Nature Park) But it will be a treat, not to avoid people constantly!
What Happened This Year?
It's interesting to look back at all that has happened in the U.S. and the world, in one year. I won't get into that now. But, what has happened in my own world, in 12 months?
Since we had so many months isolating at home, I feel like I should have accomplished some great things. I didn't write a book, or learn a language or even get out my old bike! What did I do?
Early on, I got out the 40-year-old canoe and Don and I played ukuleles. We both learned how to Zoom and we had fun cooking and we had festive meals at the table! We celebrated just about everything we could think of. We got out and walked more and appreciated wildlife. I started playing piano regularly. I read a lot and I learned to juggle!
Even though we were incredibly cautious, we left home and got out on the road. Our trips mostly revolved around meeting up with family. It's hard to believe that our travels let me see Oregon mountains and coast... farmland in Missouri.
In Texas, we camped and picnicked and hiked. In January, we headed west. In our 2 months of Oregon, we've seen sun shining on the Willamette River and pine trees covered in ice. Can't complain.
Being With Family
One of the nicest benefits of the pandemic is how it's brought us closer to our kids, even though we're all miles apart. Don and I have also felt connected with our siblings, sharing worries and humor with Zoom gatherings. I could write a book with all I've learned, from daily phone calls with my dad.
Best of all, we've been able to navigate this crazy pandemic and actually be in person with family this year. We pulled off a summer reunion with the kids and fall picnics with Dad in Missouri. We drove to Oregon 2 months ago and have been able to safely gather with family again.
The best thing that has happened during this pandemic year... Don and I became grandparents!
It's been a weird and exhausting 12 months! If I'd known a year ago, that I would routinely wear face masks in a year, I would have gasped. If I'd known a year ago that I would be a grandma... I would have squealed with delight!
No complaints at the moment!
Good-Bye Uncle Scott
Scott's visit to see his niece went fast. It was hard saying good-bye this morning. It shouldn't have been, because we'll see Scott and Chali in California soon, on our drive home to Texas.
Scott worked hard to make this visit happen. He stayed quarantined before, was tested more than once and drove from Sacramento to Portland.
Sharing the Airbnb
During the day Scott worked at his laptop and did Zoom meetings in the bedroom. We all gathered in the late afternoon and evenings.
Scott got in a lot of baby holding time. He introduced himself as Unkie Scott! He also got to fit in some hikes/walks and feasts and a zoo trip. He was off at 7:30 this morning. I'm so glad he came.
Today, I got in the car and did my own road trip. It was a beautiful day and the drive to Olympia, WA was an easy one. I wanted to meet my sister's grandchild for the first time.
Olympia is nearly 3,000 miles away from Houston, so I've never met Remy. It was only a 2-hour drive today, but there is a pandemic and I'm not vaccinated. But Nana J and Nana Kate were visiting Remy and installing a swing set. A perfect outdoor setting for a 1-hour visit!
After nearly 2.5 years, I finally met this cutie.
It was worth a 4-hour roundtrip drive, to see this sweet face! I can't wait for Remy to someday meet Cousin Charlotte!
Before I left I pulled down my mask and blew Remy a kiss. I wanted Remy to see what Aunt Beth looked like. Remy smiled from the Fire Engine Tent and I smiled the whole way back to Portland!
That was a short-short visit, but I'm glad I went!
One Year Ago
A year ago today, the Covid outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
A year ago, most of us were beginning to freak out a little bit. We were told that it would take possibly years to come up with a vaccine. I didn't own a mask yet. I would have really freaked out if I'd known that today, I'd be wearing a mask and picking up groceries at the curb.
But I also didn't know that in a year, I'd be holding my sweet grandbaby.
A year ago, Heidi and Jamie weren't expecting. When we found out the news, it gave us something wonderful to look forward to!
It's taken a lot of work navigating this pandemic world, so we can safely spend time with this baby.
Uncle Scott was able to drive up and join the Quarantine Baby Bubble, a few days ago! I'm so grateful that our family has been in agreement, about how to cautiously be with each other.
A year ago I had no clue what craziness was ahead. I also had no idea what kind of wonderful things were ahead!
A Year Ago Today
On this day a year ago, I had some fun.
You can tell I'm having fun, but I was actually worried.
I had reservations to visit the Color Factory in Houston. I was excited to see this curious exhibit, especially because I was planning on doing a COLOR theme with my senior and kid groups, where I volunteer. (I haven't volunteered in over a year now)
But a year ago, the news was getting serious. NYC had shut down Broadway and NCAA had cancelled basketball tournaments. Should I really go to this exhibit, just because I already had a ticket?
I stewed long and hard and then I went. It felt safe and guests were limited. I enjoyed myself and I used a lot of hand wipes. When I got home I felt guilty and about my selfish decision. From that day on I started thinking about keeping myself safe and also keeping others safe. The whole "Don't be a part of the problem" idea was just starting to be clear.
Plans with My Sister
I hate decisions. I'm really good when they have mask mandates and specific rules. I just follow the rules. My sister and I wore masks when we visited recently.
But today, I'm deciding whether it's safe for me to have a visit with my sister's grandchild. Sweet R. is over 2 years old and we've never met! I have a chance to have a safe outside visit with Remy, along with Nana J & Nana Kate on Saturday. Should I make the 2 hour drive and meet their grandchild for the first time? I need to stay safe, so I can be back in my Quarantine Baby Bubble with my own grandbaby. I hate big decisions. I hate this pandemic. I hate navigating this world of safe visiting during a pandemic...
Vaccinated People Can...
Ok, I am not vaccinated. But I want to know what I can do when I am.
It feels so strange to suddenly realize how many people I know, have recently been vaccinated. I don't qualify here in Oregon. Will all my vaccinated friends be partying and traveling without me, by the time I get back to Texas?
Vaccinated People Should...
Will someone please make this clear to everyone out there. I have a feeling that vaccinated people will quickly forget about those who aren't?
Maybe I need to wear a tee shirt announcing, "I'm still waiting my turn for a vaccine. Please keep your mask on around me."
If research determines that vaccinated people really can't spread Covid, then please get that out there. It will be hard for those of us who are still waiting, because the vaccinated people will be living the life, while I wait. But I sure hope we find this to be true soon, so more will be eager to get the vaccine. The more vaccinated people in the world, the safer I'll feel!
Mostly I want everyone to have vaccines so we can start being grandparents in a normal world again.
When we drive back to Texas in 10 days, Charlotte will be a month old. It will be hard being away. I want to be able to make plans to fly back and visit more regularly. I want my kids and spouses to be able to come home safely for Christmas or just to visit. I want to see my siblings and my dad and Don's family as well. Oh I can't wait!
9 Hours Alone
I had the Airbnb to myself for 9 hours. Don left at 8 am and returned at 5:00, with Scott. I was trapped without a car. That was actually fine.
I entertained myself. This Vitascope "puzzle" was a lot of fun, until it wasn't.
I stopped at this point, which is not even halfway. Frustrated. I may never be able get this "working puzzle" to show the film strip, unless I acquire more patience. I'm proud I got this far.
I read a little news on my phone.
This bit of news was not good to see. We'll be back in the Houston area in a couple weeks.
Too bad we won't be back in Texas, in time for this bit of fun! Ugh.
This is a party to celebrate the governor's lifting of the mask mandate and the full opening of restaurants and bars. We'll be back 2 weeks after this party takes place. Just in time, to see the results of Texas reopening.
I wanted to read outside, but it was cold and drizzly. I went for a run instead. After I showered and warmed up, it seemed like the perfect day to watch a movie in the Theatre Room. But it's chilly down there and I usually let Don my tech guy, deal with the feisty equipment.
So I read and drank coffee instead. The sun came out for a bit and I stepped out to call Dad in Missouri and compare notes on the progress of spring.
It was weird spending 9 hours alone. I haven't been alone for more than an hour probably, since this pandemic kept us home a year ago! It was odd and nice.
And then Don returned at 5, with "Uncle Scott". He has come to meet his 3 week old niece. He and Chali would have come together, if they could have flown safely. But her work schedule didn't allow her enough time off for a driving trip.
Scott and Chali have both been safe and isolated in Sacramento, but Scott insisted on getting a Covid test before meeting his niece. Then he headed off on the 9 hour drive to Oregon. Don decided to help make the drive less daunting and met him halfway, at Medford Airport Parking. Why not? Don had the time. They enjoyed the 4-hour drive to Portland, together.
Covid has made things like visiting new baby relatives, very tricky. But it has also cleared our calendars and given us time to figure out ways to be together.
What a sweet moment to see Heidi showing off her sweet new baby to her smiling brother.
Then Jamie gave Charlotte a quick diaper change and turned to Scott. "Want to hold her?"
It melted my mama/gramma heart to see my son cradle that little baby in his arms and coo to her. I will never forget!
Signs of Spring
We've been in Oregon for nearly 2 months. Most days have been cloudy and cold.
But today I started seeing signs of spring! We don't see daffodils in Texas. I love these.
The sun came out, too! I'm starting to wonder what our yard will look like, when we return to Texas.
The big Texas winter storm, (named Uri) evidently killed off lots of landscaping. Our neighbor says all our Oleanders may be dead.
While walking, I saw some branches that gave me a little hope.
I often pass uprooted trees on my walks and runs. The ice storm from weeks ago did a lot of damage. But this tree is still thriving. There's hope for our plants back home!
We encountered this sweet friend on a walk, near our daughter's house.
There's still a pandemic out there and lots of worry in this world. But the rebirth of spring is always a time of hope! I'm feeling positive!
I was furious when the governor announced opening TX and lifting the mask mandate. It looks Alabama will lift theirs on my birthday.
"We should have a choice!" is what many say. The people who say that... how many of them will choose to wear masks? This is different than seatbelt laws, that some still fight. My mask keeps YOU and me safe! And Texas is lifting the mandate, as it reopens 100%.
But we are still in Oregon. So I'm not going to think about it right now.
This is the window of the cafe, where we picked up carryouts. Things are a little different here.
When we went on a walk with Heidi and Baby Charlotte, I had to smile at this Masked Moai!
We wore our masks as we walked in Laurel Hurst Park. Everyone we passed wore masks. We don't have to mask up when outside. But just like the RBG image in the store window... it shows respect for those we pass on the walk.
We have less than 2 more weeks of Oregon.
I'll miss the trees. I'll miss being in an area where most seem to respect pandemic courtesy.
But mostly, I'll miss this little one and her parents!
Stop in California
Don and I don't know what our options will be for vaccines when we return to Texas. We at least know how to "road-trip" safely. We've had practice.
We'll be making a stop in Sacramento to see Scott and Chali. No worries about those 2 not taking this pandemic seriously. This is what you see on the wall, when you enter their home.
I'm so grateful to have family that's in agreement, about keeping each other safe.
Lately, I've seen a lot of ranting social media posts.
"Those left wing liberals are trying to cancel Dr. Seuss!"
No one is cancelling Dr. Seuss! There are just some books in question.
I will always associate the pandemic times, with the confused and complicated cancel culture topic.
Reading to Charlotte
I can't wait to read Dr. Seuss to this little girl someday. I hope she adores the illustrations and the soothing rhythms, of the Seuss books. Seuss' zoo book will stay tucked away, until she's old enough for discussion.
We own Don's childhood copy of "If I Ran the Zoo". Two years ago, I wanted to use it as a prop, for a Zoo Theme, that I was doing with some senior groups. When I picked up the 70 year old book, I gulped an illustration of...
Oh how I love children's books. These books are special ones, that Charlie's aunt picked out for her.
I read most of these to my kids. There's a Dr. Seuss title included. Dr. Seuss shared some pretty amazing messages in most of his books. No one is boycotting all Dr. Seuss books!
Books I Never Had
I love these books that Heidi received at her shower.
I don't remember any books from my childhood, that empowered little girls. Well, maybe Pippi Longstocking. Pippi gave me confidence to be myself. Charlie will need some good books and good parenting to prepare her for this crazy world!
When Charlotte gets just a little older, she can cross the street to her neighbor's Little Library.
The cute little box, just popped up the other day. What a perfect way to share with neighbors, during these isolated times.
There's even a bottle of hand sanitizer and a tiny garden on top. There are children's books and adult books. Today, I added a book that Don just finished. Then, I wrote a message in the library journal.
By the time we got back to the Airbnb, the sun was still out. I could see Mount Hood again!
It was about 55 degrees, so I grabbed a blanket and some tea. All this thought about books... I decided it was time to read!
We have less than 2 weeks in Oregon, before we head back to Texas.
I'm excited to get back to warmth and sunshine and my own house.
Not Excited to Leave
I am not excited to leave this sweet baby or her parents.
Don and I have fallen in love with Charlie. She's going to start doing the really fun stuff and we won't be here to see.
Now I Really Want to Stay
Actually, I don't want to go back to Texas. Not with this in the news, today.
Governor Abbott wants to open Texas 100% and to end the mask mandate. Why? Has he been vaccinated? I haven't. I want people to continue being safe with masks and distancing, until those who want a vaccine can get it.
This really makes me angry.
These are some shows that Don and I got hooked on, during the pandemic.
I'm glad there's a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, but I'm also running out of time. We've had 12 Covid months and I haven't accomplished wonderful things. I haven't made much of a dent in the list of shows and movies I want to see.
Last night we watched the Golden Globe Awards and I was reminded of more shows. We watched in our Airbnb, on the TV that rests on 2 boot boxes. I'm so glad Don ordered this TV and didn't listen to me 7 weeks ago when I said, "I don't care if there's no TV in here. We can just read!"
It was cozy, sitting in our pajama pants, quietly watching the ceremony. We looked like some of the actors, who were filmed at home in their jammies. After a year of pandemic, I'm getting used to all the virtual ceremonies and celebrations.
Virtual Golden Globes
Usually I skip the Golden Globes and gear up for Academy Awards. But in these past 12 months, I've learned to welcome all TV celebrations.
There were actually many sweet moments. These faces above, were indeed my favorites. Someday I won't recognize all these faces, but they all made me happy.
What I Will Remember
This ad for Frida Mom's, may go down in my memory, more than the show. When I saw the realistic commercial aimed towards new moms, I texted my daughter.
She had already heard about the controversial ad, that shows more breast than any TV ad in the past. I'm sure some oldsters booed this shocking ad, but I cheered. I would have appreciated this 34 years ago when I struggled to do what I had thought was supposed to come naturally. My stress would have been eased, had I known other new moms were fumbling and hurting like me. This whole "Breast is Best" world puts a lot of pressure on women.
I didn't have great success with breastfeeding, back in the day. I would have appreciated some guidance. I craved more alone time, to figure things out. But there were visitors and outings to navigate, along with my awkward nursing skills...
Wait! How dare I complain. New mamas like Heidi have just dealt with 9 months of pandemic pregnancy. They continue to be restricted and isolated, if they are cautious new mothers. I hope before long, Heidi can safely meet up with other moms and share support and tips. Until then, cheers for technology.
Man, I could have used Google, back in the day!
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me. I ranted for a year, until I got my vaccine in March 2021.
Coronary Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was Don who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!