What to Do?
I love Halloween. It's been a million years since my own kids trick-or-treated, but I still love carving pumpkins and handing out treats.
But what about this year? Do I want kids crowding on the porch? Will parents even allow their kids to go door to door?
We only get a handful of kids each year anyway, so I figured I could find a safe way.
I put a mask on Jack and then decided nobody wants to see a pumpkin in a mask...especially a flaming mask. I use candles.
Don made chili, because we always do that on Halloween and I made my plan.
I wanted to keep kids from crowding onto the porch... if we for some reason we had crowds. I put a table at the edge of the porch, with a bell and some hand sanitizer, just in case anyone cared. An odd set up.
I didn't want tons of leftovers, so I bought only a little candy. Then I worried. What if I run out? I supplemented with some wrapped fig cookies that we happened to have on hand... odd and curious cookies from the international store.
Then I wondered if kids would cringe and say, "What...?" Like I did, when I got a can of Campbell's Soup one year, when I was a trick-or-treating gypsy.
My Sweet Butterfly!
All the prep was worth it, just to have some fun with my little Butterfly Neighbor! When I heard the bell ring through the open window, I threw on my own mask and grabbed the basket.
My sweet friend turned around and showed me her wings and I asked how old she was. "You're four? Then you need at least 4 treats!" I scooped up 4 offerings, with my tongs and plopped them in her blue pumpkin. I will never forget her little face, smiling behind her mask.
A few other kids came. All happy and polite and most with masks... 2020 style. One little "Lacrosse Player" used his lacrosse stick to reach for his candy.
It was a perfect night for trick or treating. Balmy, with a full blue moon AND it was a Saturday! But I can't say it was a perfect Halloween.
The Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land is where it's all happening.
I remember months ago when I saw tents go up in the parking lot. Covid testing, near us? It seemed surreal. The tents are still in the lot, ready for drive-by testing. But now, there are also voters lining up outside the huge building, waiting to cast their ballots on the last day of early voting.
Records are being broken across the country for early voting.
At the same time, the U.S. is breaking records for Covid cases.
It makes me worried to think about how many people checked 2 things off their list today. I got tested for Covid, then I went and stood in line and voted.
Today, 9 million voters have cast their ballots in Texas!
That's more than the total number of voters in Texas in 2016! We still have 4 days until Election Day!
All the focus is on election right now. So, I'll go off on a sports tangent. At least there have been a few sports distractions, for those who crave it.
I haven't watched a thing, but back in September I was surprised when I heard the NFL season had started up. Then suddenly there was controversy. I've heard that some refuse to watch NFL, because of their focus on racial injustice.
Usually we do watch the World Series. Totally lost track and didn't even know it happened, this year.
The day after the Series ended, I saw clips on TV. Evidently Clayton Kershaw was pulled out and isolated during the game, when his Covid test came back positive. However, he came out onto the field to celebrate his first time winning the World Series title. There are too many things wrong with this story.
I'm not a big sports fan and I'm not really into chess either. But now I hear that Competitive Chess has surged in popularity, thanks to the pandemic.
This news actually cracks me up and delights me. Andrea Botez is a funny, competitive, dynamic, Chess Queen. There are chess fans out there, watching and cheering on chess matches all over the world.
I might need to dig out the old board and pieces!
Yesterday we got home from our Missouri trip to see my dad. Weather was lousy on our driving days and we weren't really up for meandering.
I still had a good time staring out the window in Arkansas. I missed a lot of good photo ops, but managed to grab my phone and snap a few shots from the car window. I loved those pumpkin hay rolls... one, with a mask!
But when I spotted this park in Harrison, Arkansas I shrieked! It was the funny slide that caught my eye.
I made Don do a U-turn and drive up to the park. He opted to sit in the warm car, while I made a beeline for the slide. I remember it from a park in Grinnell, Iowa. I was small and the slide seemed monstrous!
I was giddy as I pondered the steep and slippery slide. I remember my older brother skillfully making it to the top. I was too young. My sister called it the Piano Slide. I can see why.
I wandered and grinned to myself and took a stupid selfie. I recognized all the Miracle Playground Equipment! They made this stuff just outside of our town in Iowa.
The park was empty. More from weather than Covid probably. I enjoyed having it to myself. Don doesn't share these memories, so I didn't force him to get out and play.
As we drove along later, I texted my sibs to see what they remembered. I looked on the internet and found the slide's odd name. "Earn-A-Slide". Makes sense.
I don't have photos of the old Piano Slide in Grinnell, but I do have this one. I'm wearing my Grinnell College sweatshirt.
Today I am feeling so mad at myself that I didn't climb that slide. I could have done it... I think I could have done it!
So today we are back in TX and Don and I headed off on a walk. I put on my (larger) Grinnell College sweatshirt. I told Don I really regretted not climbing that darn slide, in Arkansas. I even had the sweatshirt in the car. Perfect photo op. I'm sure I could have dragged Don from the car to cheer me on.
This is what the pandemic does to us! It makes us extra nostalgic and it makes us feel anxious to do the silly things, that we might never have a chance to do again.
100 years ago, women gained the right to vote. This seems incredibly important right now. Why haven't I given it more thought? How I wish I had asked my grandmothers when they were alive, about their thoughts and memories of the suffragette movement.
100 years ago, these messages were designed by the artist and suffragette, Rose O'Neill. The second image is a reminder that Spanish Influenza was still a huge concern in 1920. Voting and Pandemics! Big issues then. Big issues now.
I only heard about Rose O'Neill, a year ago. She's best known for the Kewpie Doll image that she created in her drawings and illustrations.
Yesterday, Don and I literally spotted "Rose O'Neill Road" from the highway. I remembered the name and looked the museum up on my phone. I quickly called and asked about visiting. We arrived a few minutes later.
Museum During the Pandemic
Sometimes things fall into place. I was able to have a safe and private tour with Susan, who could have given me a 5 hour tour with all her knowledge.
However, I told her I was trying to keep it extra short, (and safe) since I had a husband waiting in the car. Not my favorite way to see a museum, but I couldn't just drive by.
The gallery was filled with O'Neill's illustrations and art from her long career.
There was a Norman Rockwell feel to some. And and eerie fairytale feel to her "sweet monsters".
I remember my grandmother had a Kewpie Doll. Where is that now?
So many people mix up the Kewpie doll and Precious Moments figures... or even the Campbell Soup Kids. O'Neill's Kewpies began as illustrations. They were so much more, before they ever became dolls.
I hated rushing, but I was in and out pretty quickly. Before heading to the car, I dashed down the path to take in the gardens and absorb some of the colorful forest, surrounding.
It was a treat seeing the grounds and the house, with no one around. I'm not even sure what this sculpture is?
The hardest part was leaving before I had a chance to tour the house, which was actually rebuilt after a fire in the forties. I left with so many questions. I have questions about this somewhat under appreciated artist. I want to know more about the suffrage movement AND I want to peek at my grandmother's old diary. Did she vote in 1920?
Along with a zillion people, Don and I got hooked on the Ozark Netflix series, last spring. We cringed a lot. It was not the most calming thing to watch, for pandemic distraction.
I also read Bill Geist's book for lockdown-light-reading. I loved it, but it also did not give the Ozarks a very good spotlight.
I have good memories of the Missouri Ozarks, that go back to childhood. I was happy that we could squeeze in some Ozark driving, on our travels to see my dad in Springfield.
Seeing fall colors from the car, was some pretty satisfying and safe entertainment, for the third season of this pandemic!
Masks in Ozark, MO?
Don and I have always been curious about the town named Ozark. We took a drive. There wasn't much to see. I took 2 photos.
I did not take a photo of the small crowd on the street corner, waving handmade signs. "Honk, if you're against wearing masks!" We didn't honk. I did put on my mask and wave, as we drove by. I read later that the small town had recently made masks mandatory.
We drove on, to see the town of Rockaway Beach. There wasn't much to see there either.
So we got out of the car and posed like tourists, with a couple signs.
We also saw lots of Trump signs and flags...
...and odd signs and decorations in the little downtown area.
On the Road
We decided to stick to the winding roads and save our small town visits for another year, with no pandemic and no election stress.
This photo taken near the town of Walnut Shade, is the image I choose to remember from our Ozark drive.
Yesterday, Don and I were feeling pretty wonderful when we got back from visiting my Dad. I still don't know how we managed to find 2 days of picnic weather in the midst of a stormy, cold week.
After weeks of figuring out how to have a safe visit during a pandemic, we felt happy and relieved that we'd pulled it off. We arrived back at our Branson hotel in time to have a quick toast outside. When in the Ozarks... have a giant beer!
Last Presidential Debate
Then it was up to our room to grab a bite of dinner before the last debate. Maybe I should have had a giant beer first.
I honestly had no idea what to expect, after the out of control debate, in September. Supposedly they were going to use a mute button when needed.
I'm not even sure if they used a mute button at all. Trump seemed oddly sedated this time. No ranting. No talking over Biden. But it was still stressful. Just hearing the comment, "There is no one in this room that is less racist than me." No wise and honest person, would ever say that.
Suddenly the debate was over and I tried not to overthink it. I watched the wives come onto the stage. Melania wore her mask.
Jill's mask was coordinated with her outfit. Joe, put his on. The cameras didn't the show the "guests". I assume the Trump "kids" kept theirs on, this time. I know. It's not all about masks, but I couldn't help but notice.
It was easier to go to sleep last night, than after September's debate.
Woke to chilling temps and thunderstorms. I'm so glad we already had our 2 picnic days with Dad.
Today was a reading and puzzle day, before we head back home to Texas. A dozen days till election.
Breakfast With Dad in Springfield
Yesterday we almost didn't get to take Dad on a picnic. There have been spikes of cases in the county and Dad's facility has gotten stricter. But we picked him up at 10 this morning and brought him to our motel.
This handy structure wasn't even needed after all. We lucked out with one more sunny day! We spread the cloth and decorated with pumpkins, then Don picked up a breakfast feast from George's Restaurant, next door.
We had lots of catching up to do, even though Dad and I have talked daily since the pandemic started. All our communication has been on his landline and through the mail. Suddenly we were together in person and I could show him things!
This morning, Dad looked at videos of his great grand baby and he looked at wedding albums of his grandkids. He even looked at some old magazines from the 50's.
Scrapbooks and FaceTime
It was fun to hear Dad's comments as he looked through family scrapbooks from the 1960s. He took his time, looking at photos of our family, when we lived in Grinnell, Iowa... then New York, Florida and Italy. He smiled and pointed, "We had fun, didn't we?"
Then we FaceTimed my sister. Since Dad doesn't have a smartphone, Jenni and Dad were face to face, for the first time since Christmas. He laughed and carried on with Charlie, Jenni and Kate's dog.
Doling Park in the Afternoon
We went for a change of scenery in the afternoon. Dad remembered Doling Park fondly, but said he hadn't been since high school. There were no nearby tables, but we took out our chairs. We nibbled on cheese and crackers and sipped root beer.
We made friends with a kitty and we watched clouds and pointed out our favorite trees. At one point Dad looked up at a plane, "I wonder what those people are saying, up in that plane?" We all gave our guesses.
Don and I had planned to stay another night and do another picnic. But rain and cold was predicted and we weren't sure we could talk Dad's facility into a third day.
We packed up and had Dad back by 3:30. I hate good-byes and this could have been a hard one. But parting was sort of rushed and awkward, with no time to be sentimental. A kind, staff member greeted us at the door and offered to carry Dad's bags of books, pumpkins, brownies... Our good-bye hug was quick and probably illegal. I had to remind Dad to pull his mask higher and Dad rolled his eyes. Not the smoothest exit, but we drove away so happy. When I talked to Dad later, he sounded the same!
Motel in Springfield
Today we woke up at the not-exactly-ritzy, Rail Haven Motel. We've stayed here before when visiting Dad. It's cheap and easy and I've always been fond of the old place.
Should we have changed our Springfield routine and stayed at a (possibly safer) Marriott this time? We're here during a pandemic, trying to visit my elderly dad. Was this a wise choice? It actually felt wonderfully safe, since we could drive right up to our guest room door. The room was very clean, but I used my own sanitizing stuff, as well. Plus, we had access to a huge covered patio (not pictured) for outdoor visiting.
I told Dad we'd pick him up at 10 for an outside breakfast. I haven't been sleeping that well, so I was up before dawn. I put on my running shoes and headed off, towards a familiar neighborhood. Changing leaves! I like that kind of change.
I loved running down Weller Street! Such fond memories of so many sweet houses... best of all my grandmother, Daw's house. My sibs and I used to climb that stone post!
Such fun surprises along my route. "Who gave you permission to look that cute?" bleached onto the sidewalk. A crochet covered sign pole!
Skeletons and a little library! A sweet yard sign, explaining their rain garden! Such a friendly and welcoming vibe.
The biggest surprise was seeing 33 Biden signs on my grandmother's street. Springfield has always seemed pretty conservative, so this was an unexpected change.
I chatted with a woman who lived next door to Daw's old house. It was fun to tell her what I remembered of the neighborhood. The elderly woman had a Biden sign, but she told me there was definitely one Trump voter in the area. I found the house and laughed a little.
At the end of Weller Street I found a stone arbor that I vaguely remember from childhood. Someone made a change to this arbor that totally delighted me. The 100+ year old structure, now holds artwork, antiques, poetry and flowers.
One sign listed the artistic contributors. Another sign invited visitors to enjoy, but to please stay socially distanced. What an odd and wonderful surprise to see on this morning, before visiting with my dad.
What a beautiful start to my day.
Morning in the Ozarks
We've been trying to figure out how to safely see my Dad for a while. Today was the day. We woke to a foggy morning in our Branson hotel.
I called Dad at 9 and reminded him we'd pick him up for a picnic at noon. I reminded him to wear his mask. As we drove 45 minutes to Springfield, I shook my head. Where's the sunshine that was predicted?
We arrived right at noon. Don and I put on masks and stepped out of the car. I was nervous. I haven't seen Dad in about a year and I knew I probably looked 3 years older with my ratty hair and covid stress wrinkles.
It felt awkward to focus on Dad's mask, instead of hugging. Dad has always greeted with big bear hugs. It was suddenly worse than awkward, when Dad said he wasn't able to go with us. I thought he was kidding. (Dad has an odd humor sometimes) "No. They said I can't go. We were all tested again this morning." It was a confusing moment. Dad was firm that they wouldn't allow him to leave. "Well, it was great to see you." He was actually going to head back inside.
To Hug or Not to Hug?
That is the question. I decided yes. If he was supposed to be quarantining. then, I'm sure hugs weren't allowed. But we hadn't driven from Texas to Missouri and isolated in a hotel for days, to just wave at each other.
I told Dad, "We're going to have a safe hug!" I hoped no staff was watching. I wonder when my dad's last hug was? He hasn't forgotten how!
Then I buzzed the front door and asked to speak with the director. After a quiet discussion about how safe Don and I have been for weeks, we were given permission to go on a safe outside outing. I'm not mentioning the name of the facility, because that was a tough call for the director. I so appreciate her understanding.
We rolled windows down in the car and kept masks on. Well, I actually had to remind Dad a few times to keep it on. We were good.
We picked up food from our all time family favorite, Steak 'n Shake! It was a short drive to Sequoia Park. The park felt peaceful and friendly. I liked the "Let's Be Together-ish" sign, with the 6 foot reminder.
Together-ish at the Table
Our little feast was a treat. Dad even had a milkshake. Don and I wore our masks until we were ready to eat.
I didn't bring a tape measurer, but that's as far apart as we could be.
We feasted and the sun got warmer...
We found a tiny bit of shade and got out the chairs and a table for books. I had Dad go through some of his old ones that I've been storing. He found some he wanted to take with him.
It felt heavenly to be in no hurry. It was nice to be in a park that Dad enjoyed, when he was young. Nearby train tracks inspired some talk about hopping trains... We talked about the picnic quilt and how I've used it for storytelling for years. We talked about elections and how Dad's mom and aunt argued... we talked about the current election and how glad Dad is, that he voted early by mail!
By 3:30 we had him back, with plans to pick him up in the morning. I still can't believe we pulled this off. I feel like we stole Dad away, even though we had permission. Oh, how grateful I am.
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. This time it was the invasion of COVID and it affected every person. I ranted for a year, until I got my COVID vaccine in March 2021.
CORONARY Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was my hubby 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!
Navigating This Mess!
5/2016 - 12/2018
3/2020 - 3/2021
9/2021 - 1/2022
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