Into the Past #sol20

I had a delightful Facebook conversation with my cousin Kathy this past weekend. She is an avid genealogist, and she shared some of her research with me.

I learned about and saw photos of my great and my great-great grandmothers on my maternal grandmother’s side. I also saw a photo of my great-great grandfather on my maternal grandfather’s side.

It was wonderful learning about these ancestors. I truly want to learn more now. I am preparing to start a new notebook just for the family information that I find out. Thanks to the Sprocket printer I bought recently, I can easily print and add the photos I find, as well!

The stories of the past fascinate me. I am excited to see where this adventure leads!

Facing the Silence #sol20

Yesterday, I wrote and posted this in the 100 Days of Notebooking and BEYOND group:

Today the quiet is deafening. My husband is at work. I am alone in the house. When I write, I do not play music, podcasts, etc. However, I am quite used to “white noise” in the background, such as that typically provided by the traffic outside.

With the television and radio off and no podcast or audio book playing, the quiet becomes quite overwhelming.

I am trying to sit with that, and I am learning something about myself. In this quiet, I have no distractions to keep my mind busy. I have to let my busy, multitasking brain be okay with the fact that I can concentrate on simply one thing at a time. I can practice a singular focus.

I am discovering that this is difficult to do! I am used to a barrage of sensory information entering my mind all of the time. To only have one thing in front of me and the quiet isolation of this quarantine surrounding me, I am feeling a bit off-kilter.

I am sure I will get used to it. Though that presents another concern…How easy will it be to get back into the groove once everything gets back to normal?

String, A Button, and Grandma #sol20

It was an especially long and boring day at Grandma’s house.

“Grandma, I’m soooooooo borrrrred,” I whined as I hung upside down from the couch. “There is nothing to do!”

I heard Grandma sigh as she walked into the living room. She placed her dish towel on the coffee table and began to check off a list of activities on her fingers.

“Have you looked through the picture albums, looked through the card box, played with my jewelry, colored in your coloring book, and played outside?” I shook my head yes. “Well, then, I guess it is time for something special.”

I sat up from my upside down position so quickly that I nearly fell onto the floor!

She brought out her button tin and a bundle of string. She cut off a lengthy piece of string.

“Tracy, go through those buttons and pick out a nice large one with two button holes.” She handed me the large colorful tin. It was nearly full. It would take me forever to find a button!

With great curiosity, I rummaged through the tin. There were buttons of all sizes, shapes, colors, and styles! It would be hard to choose only one. I finally settled on a large, brown button with only two holes.

“Ah, yes,” Grandma said as I handed it to her. “This button from my old coat will work nicely.”

She strung the button onto one end of the string. Then she took the other end of the string and threaded it through the second hole. She tied the two ends together and handed it to me. I just looked at her, puzzled.

“What do I do with this?” I asked.

She said, “That is what the pioneer children used to play with.”

Seriously, that explanation did not help.

She then showed me how to hold both ends of the string loop and swing the button in a circular pattern to wind the string. Next, she instructed me on how to pull and relax the string so that the button began to spin. Back and forth I pulled and relaxed. The string would twist one way and then the other. The button spun and spun, while the whole thing whirred loudly.

I was entranced.

“Thank you, Grandma!”

With a quick hug, she grabbed her dish towel from the coffee table and headed back into the kitchen.

Boredom conquered…at least for a little while!

The Heart of the House #sol20

I live in a large, old house. The main part of the house is 100 years old this year. Its rooms are large, spacious, and open. It is a great space for grandchildren, nieces, and nephews who love to chase each other. In years past, a little Jack Russell Terrier enjoyed running from the front door to the back as quickly as possible, back and forth, back and forth, until he was breathless and ready to get a drink. My house was made for this activity.

The heart of the house, though, seems to be my tiny kitchen. That is the room where everyone gathers. Regardless of the fact that my kitchen is no larger than a small hallway, this is the space that my family and friends choose to occupy when we have gatherings.

My mom and daughter help me cook during the larger gatherings, like Thanksgiving. We are forever saying, “Excuse me, a pot of boiling water coming through!” or “I need to get into that drawer behind you, please.” After a while, you might hear Mom say, “Okay, people, you need to find somewhere else to go! We’re trying to cook in here!”

A few years ago, my daughter and I hosted a baby shower for my sister. We had everything just perfect. The parlor and dining room had plenty of seating and the decorations were on point. Everyone oohed and aahed and milled about taking it all in. We conducted the usual baby shower activities. It was nearing time for the cake, so I slipped away to start the coffee.

The next thing I know, twenty women were in the kitchen, balancing their coffee cups and saucers and their pieces of cake. Regardless of invitations to sit wherever they would be comfortable, they chose to stand in my tiny kitchen and visit over their coffee and cake for quite some time.

Yep, the smallest room has the most glory and seems to be the most loved. Truly, it is the heart of my house.

They Chose to Write #sol20

I had a wonderful surprise today. Two of my students shared writing with me on Google Docs.

Now you may be wondering why that is a big deal. It is a big deal because they have not been in school for two days, and yet they are writing. I did not tell them to write. We are not doing e-learning at this point, but they wrote anyway. One wrote a how-to piece about drawing people and the other wrote a persuasive piece about bringing pets to school. He started another one about why dogs are the best pets.

Both of these students wrote decent first draft essays. I am thrilled by how well-written they are. It is great to know that they are truly learning the material. As normal, I commented on their writing, detailing their strengths and a goal or two to work toward. That simple act provided a sense of normalcy for me. I hope it felt that way to them, too.

It touches my heart that they chose to write on their free days. Simply because they wanted to write. My heart is full.

Time Distortion #sol20

Time is such a strange thing. Sometimes it seems to rush by in a whoosh, while at other times it seems to creep by slowly as if it is hardly moving at all.

I think one of the strangest things about time, though, is how it becomes so distorted when something big happens.

We buried my father in law on Friday. During the calling on Thursday evening and Friday morning, I spent five hours catching up with people who came to pay their respects. Time seemed to stand still as we relived memories, hugged, and cried.

At the same time, my phone received constant and ever changing messages about school closure and preparedness. It was obvious that the world outside of the funeral home, church, and cemetery was moving at a frantic pace. Snap decisions were being made and changed repeatedly about school attendance, lesson planning, what would be waived/not waived, sporting events, traveling students…on and on and on.

I felt like my family was standing in the middle of a hurricane. Time was barely moving, if it moved at all. All around us was the swirling chaos of the current time. It was a strange feeling, and honestly, I felt a bit of comfort that I was not in the midst of the swirl at that time.

Now the funeral is over, and most of the school decisions have been made. Time feels as if it is settling back into a more normal pace. Granted, I am not on my normal daily routine, but time is no longer standing still or moving at breakneck speed. It feels more like Spring Break mode. Slower than normal, but steadily moving along. I can handle that.

I don’t know what is to come in the weeks ahead, but it will be interesting to notice how time feels in relation to it.

Dear Writing #sol20

Dear Writing,

Thank you for being here for me again. My heart mourns tonight for the loss of my father in law. During times like this it feels like I’m moving through a fog. Perhaps it is supposed to feel this way to cushion the crushing pain of loss.

Thank goodness that you are here. You help so much! You help me make sense of the unsensible. You help to clear the fog and soothe the pain.

You have always done these things for me. You are a balm for my mind and soul. I am grateful for you, for a platform where I can share you, and for people who want to take the time to read you.

Thank you, writing, for being a most important part of my life. I am not sure how well I would function day to day without you.

Love,

Tracy

The End is Never Easy #sol20

My original slice was going to be about my granddaughter’s creative fort building. I will save that for another day. Something of greater importance is on my heart today.

My father in law is dying. The family has expected this day to come for quite some time. You see, he has Parkinson’s Disease. It is a terrible disease that slowly robs the victim of quality of life and soundness of mind and body.

Yesterday, my father in law entered the hospital for heart failure. They thought that once stable, he would be released. Things took a turn for the worse. Now he is off of all supports and receiving “comfort care.” The doctor gives him less than 48 hours. Our family is devastated. My husband and his four sisters are with their mother tonight by their father’s bedside, hugging, remembering better days, holding his hand, and waiting. Waiting for that moment when he will suffer no more. My heart breaks for him and for all of them-the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. It will be hard without Ol’ Poppy.

So here’s the thing. Even when the family knows it’s coming, expects it at any time, it still doesn’t make it easy. It’s hard. It’s damn hard. The end is never easy.

When the Grandkids Arrive #sol20

Today’s the day! They’ll be here in a while! One a sometimes-angsty teen, one an energetic child.

Every weekend they come to stay. We talk, we laugh, and of course, we play.

Each visit brings a new surprise. They are growing so fast before my eyes.

When they arrive, the stories they will tell. Who did what, can you believe, and ugh, that person needs to chill! (angsty teen)

My house will be chaos until the next day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This house and my heart are made for this: the busyness, the voices, and the laughter of kids.

I can’t wait to see them today. Not much longer now! They are on their way.