Where Grace and Kindness Abide

During these uncertain (and pretty scary) times, a friendly face or a kind word means a lot. I am at times worried and fearful about this unwelcome guest on our planet; the corona virus. We are all stressed and nervous, and even when we stand six feet apart from each other, we are still scared. We are all trying to keep our heads, get the things we need (without being grabby about it) and trying most of all not to worry.

When I can’t find all the things I need at the grocery store, I often go to our local Walgreens to find it. Luckily they usually always have what I couldn’t find anywhere else. At the checkout is a sweet-faced young man who sits in a chair behind the counter.  He has some kind of issue where he has to sit, but he is always kind and pleasant to everyone.

He is the kind of person who looks you straight in the eyes, and asks if you are having a good day. We had a small chat yesterday about the current conditions we are living in right now. He told me that he enjoys his job and likes talking with people. I’m sure that he doesn’t realize how much he lifts the spirits of his customers; I’ve never seen anyone leave the store without a smile on their faces.

Considering what our nation is going through right now, a smile and a few kind words are as rare as gold. I’ll admit that I am often cranky, snarky and dismissive; not a pretty resume. But it is people like the Walgreen’s guy who makes a sweet difference each day.

I hope that during these scary times that I can remember to smile and be positive. And if I can’t, I can remember the kindness of that good man behind the counter at Walgreen’s. He is just one more beacon of hope; may there be many more.

Comfort Food for the Days Ahead

If you are a fan of those delicious cooked chickens in your local super market as I am, you’ll know that they make a fabulous meal. We enjoy the cooked chicken for a couple of meals along with vegetables or potatoes. When we’ve had our fill, I strip down the rest of the bird, separating the meat from the bones and skin. It’s a messy job, but well worth it.

I chop up the meat for chicken salad and a few treats for the cats, then I dump the chicken carcass into a pot of water. I let it boil and bubble away, and throw in some bay leaves, sage, salt and pepper, and some rosemary leaves. When it tastes good and chicken-y, I strain out the bones and skin; that’s the broth. You can just have it as is (which is great for soothing colds!), or you can chop in onions and celery and carrots; feel free to dump in some of the chopped chicken as well. It makes a wonderful chicken soup; perfect for this time of year.

Once that’s done, I toss the rest of the chopped chicken into a bowl and add chopped onions and celery, salt and pepper and mayo for chicken salad. You can also cut up some olives and throw them in as well. It makes a delicious lunch.

As we need to stay close to home these days, it’s a comfort to make and enjoy good meals. Stay safe and stay healthy.


Lest We Forget

We are all trying to adjust to the current new normal; kids and parents at home together during the day as well as night. We are not used to having to run to the nearest supermarket as soon as they open to stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, food, water, and so on. Our regular routines are jumbled and we are nervous and worried. The corona virus has radically changed our thinking; we are realizing that our normal way of life has turned up-side down.

That said, this is not the end of the world. Maybe we can look at where we are today and learn from it. Maybe we can take some joy out of this current situation and enjoy the time we have with all those we love. Of course there’s always television and the computer, but how bad would it be to start playing games together, or cooking together or reading together?

Perhaps we can look at our current “normal” and learn from it. I’ve mentioned food storage before; it’s easy to make a space for cans and packages of pasta and so on. If you have a freezer, stock up. And of course, find a place where you can stock toilet paper and paper towels.

This too will pass. The best people in our country are hard at work to make the vaccines we need to defeat the corona virus. Like any kind of disaster, we Americans can work through this. I look upon the current situation as a learning experience (not to make light of those who are suffering from the virus); we cannot afford to be complacent. It’s a whole lot better to be prepared just in case. This isn’t being alarmist; it’s simply being prepared for the “what ifs.”

During this time in our history we have choices; we can be scared or we can be prepared. We can decide how we will weather the “what ifs” that could happen. I’m sure that many families have “be prepared” drills so that, should the worst happen, they will know what to do. It’s a matter of being prepared, not scared.

All that said, let’s make the most of our time together. Let’s think about what really matters. Let’s not let fear cloud our minds; let’s just do the best we can and know that this too will pass.

What Do We Do With Everything We Grew Up With (And End Up With)?

When my parents died I knew that we had to clean out their house, find a storage unit for the furniture and what-nots and so-ons, and then sell the house. I’ll be honest; it was kind of gut-wrenching. Granted, I didn’t always love Mom’s taste in brass lamps or other things, but everything in that house meant something to me.

The Crankee Yankee and I would go up to the Wolfeboro storage unit and go through what we wanted to have in our home, and take the things I didn’t like or care for to the local auctioneer. Just yesterday we went up to the auctioneer with a load of stuff. Of course, thanks to the unwelcome guest, the corona virus; there won’t be any auctions anytime soon, but at least we are cleaning out that storage unit.

Funny thing about the stuff we grow up with; we either cherish them and love them, or pass some of them on to others; or just auction them off. The Crankee Yankee’s younger brother, David, always helps us when we go through the things we want to auction off. Just yesterday day that’s exactly what we did. Each time I go through that storage unit, I often have a hard time deciding what I would like to keep. Over the years I’ve discovered that while I may have sentimental feelings about some chair or table or knick-knack—then I drop the sentiment and realize that I don’t really love that chair or table or knick-knack; I love the memory of it when my parents were living in the house.

So what exactly do we do with everything we grew up with? If I could talk with my mother, I know exactly what she’d say: “don’t be ridiculous; if you don’t really like <insert do-dad here> then don’t keep it! It’s only “things” after all.” And she would be absolutely right.

When you come right down to it, things really are just—things. We can love them, admire them, gift them to others, sell them or simply keep those things that we really love. There is always a pull on my heart when I go into that storage unit and see the furniture I grew up with. At this point, we have given away or auctioned off some of the things we didn’t particularly like, so I’m happy that the people who now own some of Mom’s and Dad’s things are enjoying them.

My memories of my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and cats who have gone on before me are lovely memories indeed. They always make me feel closer to them, and I am pretty darn sure that, when my own number is up I will see them all again where love abides and all our people and pets are with us forever.

But as far as I know, furniture, knick-knacks and doo-dads just stay on the earth, and make new friends who will enjoy them just as much as my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends did. As a dear aunt used to say “things are just things; it’s the people  who matter.”

Ain’t that the truth!

Toilet Paper and Paper Towels; Oh My!

Well, who knew that toilet paper and paper towels would become so precious? Just yesterday I went to our local Odd Lots to see if they had any; they did, but with a proviso: only one pack of toilet paper per customer. Well, considering that most grocery stores are out of it completely, that was better than nothing. Plus, they carried paper towels (with no restrictions).  Good thing I got what I did when I did; because I went all over town to find more. I checked out each and every store that carried toilet paper and paper towels; no one had any.

So the Crankee Yankee and I drove up to WalMart in Epping, and were able to score two packs of toilet paper and two packs of paper towels. Considering what precious items these have become, I feel as if we must be uber careful not to use it up. Oh, believe me, I thought of getting a few dozen face clothes to use; as my other name is “The Laundry Queen;” I could easily wash them all. But on the down side, the used wash clothes would stink, which means they would all have to go into a zip bag and I would be laundering every hour.

So, I’m just grateful that we have toilet paper and paper towels to get through the next few weeks. Seriously, it’s probably worth its weight in gold right about now (except you really can’t wipe your butt with a gold bar). Seriously, this is a totally new situation for us all. We are not used to empty shelves in the markets. We are not used to not being able to have a meal at a restaurant. We are not used to sheltering in place for the common good. We are not used to carrying hand wipes around and keeping in our homes 24/7. But for the time being, this is our new now.

However, I believe with all my heart that this too will pass. I have to make light of things like how precious toilet paper and paper towels have become; I realize how scary the times are right now. That said, we live in America where professionals are hard at work at defeating the corona virus and I believe that they can make it happen sooner than later.

Hang in there; we are all together in this. And whether or not we are or are not religious, prayer does help; both for the ones we love, for our country and for ourselves. Here are some ideas to while away the indoor time:

  • Play games (especially Scrabble)
  • Teach the kids how to make cookies
  • Watch some good movies
  • Paint your toenails
  • Read some great books
  • Clean out your closets
  • Give yourself some “me” time; give yourself a facial, take a hot bath; anything that makes you happy

Hang in there everyone. This too shall pass.




This Truly is the Time to Look on the Bright Side of Life

If you are a Monty Python enthusiast like me, you will have heard the song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Considering how the corona virus has come into this country without so much as a “by your leave,” we have already had our lives jumbled up because of it; stay away from crowds, no Saint Patrick’s Day parade, no Boston marathon, no going into restaurants and so on. As if that wasn’t enough, many schools and offices are temporarily shut down, which means that everyone is pretty much all at home with each other.

Ok, it’s not our usual way of life, but how about this: if we are to be in our homes together, how about we look on the bright side of it. When was the last time you pulled out the Scrabble board or any other game and ate popcorn while the whole family played together? When was the last time anyone was not at all busy and could take the time to play with the kids or teach them some things that will be useful in their lives?

Everyone is generally in the “rush-rush-rush” mode, so perhaps a few weeks all together under the same roof might make families calmer and closer together. Of course, teachers can email students and give them homework, and parents can teach kids how to bake and cook, or read stories together or play games. How bad would that be?

Look, this is a new wrinkle in our country and it’s shaken us all up. Life as we know it has changed drastically, and who knows how long it will be before the corona virus is defeated. How about we try to look on the bright side for the time being; who knows? It may change families forever and make them closer. How about we try to look on the bright side and stay focused on what part of this may be a good thing.

Just an idea to help look on the bright side.