Category Archives: Home is Where the Heart Is

Blooming at Home

I finally took a bit of a drive Saturday, after staying almost completely housebound since the 13th of March. It felt a little strange to be driving around, to be honest, and nice to be back home within the hour. Hope I’m not turning into a hermit! I’m pretty sure my girls and a few friends would never put up with that, so that’s unlikely. But while I’m home, I’m trying to appreciate every little bit of good and beauty I can find.

Vinca-Periwinkle in my front yard

Although, my view is expansive out over the golf course behind my house, my own yard is TINY. This has its pros and cons. David and I used to love checking  the progress of new trees and shrubs we’d planted in previous years, since we started from scratch at two different properties. At one of them we had ten acres and planted a LOT, including fruit trees, so checking them was more exciting than it sounds. Okay, maybe not, but we loved it. We called it our “bud walk.” Now my bud walk takes five minutes, max, if I walk very slowly.

As a result I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with the few flowering trees and shrubs I have. You should have seen me trying to protect my small lilac from the arctic freeze we had a few weeks ago.

16 April 2020

First I hauled a couple of heavy wrought iron patio chairs around to the side of the house to place on either side, then found a tall stake for a center support and draped the whole thing with a couple of rubberized picnic blankets. Then, like an idiot, trusted that the threatened storm would not include any wind. Oops.

The next morning I bundled up and took bungees out to secure it a bit better. Then the deep snow came and the next morning I was out early knocking snow off straining branches as well as my makeshift lilac shelter, but mostly ended up with a lot of snow over the tops of my boots and down my neck. After all the work and drama, the blooms are slightly anticlimactic. Oh well.  There are a few more each year. Someday it will be stunning!

As much joy as I get from seeing spring bringing things back to vibrant life, I enjoy this guy even more . . .

Beckett – 8 months

Chelsea keeps me stocked with photos, and we were even able to have this little lawn party recently, with the adults masked and/or appropriately socially-distanced, and after a LOT of sheltering at home!

Beckett – about 8 1/2 months old

Wishing you health and peace and a few blooming flowers (or babies) to enjoy!

Staying Connected in Solitude

Yes, home is where the heart is . . . and where the rest of me is for the foreseeable future. These days many of us are practicing social distancing or actually marooned in our homes as I am, since I’m not 100% healthy.  It really does NOT seem to be COVID-19, but the doctor made me get tested on Friday to prove it was safe for me to come in to have my sore throat checked. Of course, results are currently taking four to six days, so I’ll either be really sick or nearly well by then, but I understand the need for caution. I seem to be on the mend today, so I’m hoping I won’t even need to go in after all. While I’m on (self-imposed) house arrest, I decided to stay connected to all of you in other ways. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post just after Christmas.

I took a short trip with Chelsea and Beckett to Washington D.C. the 11th to the 15th of February. I was busy working remotely and being the traveling nanny while Chelsea had work responsibilities, so I didn’t take a lot of photos. Definitely had a great time with this cutie.

Beckett – February 2020

I finally made it to The Phillips Collection to see one of Renoir’s most famous paintings, Le déjeuner des canotiers, or as you may know it, Luncheon of the Boating Party. It was Beckett’s first visit to an art museum. He slept through the whole thing. Probably for the best. I walked the few blocks from the hotel with Beckett in the stroller, but then had some trouble finding it:

The Phillips Collection

Yes, as you can see, there’s a giant sign with “Phillips” on it in all caps and the obvious front entrance, but in the midst of pushing the stroller with one hand, holding an umbrella with my neck and checking the map on my phone, I read only the little white sign you see that mentions some additional part of the museum, so turned left down this alley. I walked literally BETWEEN the two buildings of the museum, but managed to end up on the next block asking directions. Unbelievable.  (Thought everyone could use a good laugh about now. You’re welcome.)

Chelsea kindly took me along with her in the evenings to catch up with as many of her DC friends as possible in four short days. Here she is with friends Travis and Rob.

Beckett is DONE with Happy Hour
Beckett enjoying the middle seat

Traveling with a baby is an almost comical amount of work (and gear–I’d forgotten), so I’m glad I was able to go along and help. We managed to score an empty middle seat on the flight back (yes, row 43 or 4003 or whatever–the last one– but still). Fortunately, he’s a pretty happy little guy most of the time and limited his pterodactyl imitation during the flight to just a few funny squawks.

With Beckett on the flight home

Before and after the DC trip, I was super busy with homework for two poetry classes and weekly French lessons, all of which involved a great deal of searching for inspiration, then writing and rewriting. Those pretty much drained my weekly creativity supply, but now my first two poetry classes are over and the third has been canceled, along with the rest of the semester’s OSHER classes (for the safety of everyone), so I’ve got a bit more time. My French lessons are via Skype every Thursday with my teacher and friend, Natacha, so those continue.  Writing a page in French every week takes me almost as long as writing a poem, sometimes longer, but I love it and I continue to learn.

So here I am in my solitude, but this weekend I’ve talked on the phone with numerous family and friends–now that my throat hurts less and my voice is coming back–so my cup runneth over. I sincerely hope you are all staying healthy. In this worrisome, almost surreal time, I pray for all of us peace, comfort, compassion and grace, regardless of our physical health.

I hope you are keeping your distance but staying connected to your dear ones. Let me know how you’re coping. I’d love to hear from you!

Christmas With Family

On this final day of 2019, I am adjusting to the sudden solitude and so very grateful for my dear ones. We all gathered here once again for another festive family Christmas celebration, still missing David like crazy, but glad to be together.

Chelsea and Brian and baby Beckett live nearby, so I see them throughout the year, but except for a few Chelsea and Beckett overnights, they didn’t stay here during the holidays like the others. Still, they were here Christmas Day.

Brian, Chelsea and Beckett

Here’s Beckett wondering why a stuffed animal is singing to him and flapping its ears . . .

Beckett and his new singing, talking elephant
Brittany and Andy

Brittany brought her boyfriend Andy, who kindly postponed his family Christmas to join ours. He was a great sport in this house full of women. He played games,  worked jigsaw puzzles, helped Felicity learn to fly her mini-drone,  and cooked and cleaned as much as any of us. Andy’s a fun guy so it was tough to get him to quit hamming it up so I could get a normal photo, but he makes Brittany smile, and I love that!

Andy and Brittany

They hit the road early Sunday morning to drive down to Albuquerque to celebrate Andy’s delayed family Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Fortunately they forgot about ten things, so I’ll get to see them again soon.

Courtney was queen of travel this year, even more than Brittany and Andy. She flew out here on the 22nd and back home Christmas night, just to turn around and drive back with Bailey and Felicity on the 26th. It was a lot, but we weren’t about to leave her alone on Christmas or deprive any of us the comfort of togetherness on the 27th, so she did what she had to do. I made them pose for a photo before I’d let them go Monday afternoon.

Felicity, Courtney and Bailey

I waved goodbye and the house was suddenly VERY quiet. I remember David and I would always say to each other, “Well, back to you and me again,” and we’d have a glass of wine and talk about all the fun of the past few days. He’s been gone now two years, and I still don’t know what to do with myself in those moments.

Two years. Time is such a weird thing. It flashes by at the speed of light when we’d rather it stop and drags when we want it to hurry up. David is beyond time now, and here I am knowing only that two years have gone by and grief is not done with me yet.

But there will be other family times. I wrote a poem in November called “Magic Words” that I think sums it up.  The poem starts with a long litany of the chores and chaos that are part of hosting a crowd over the holidays. You probably know what that’s like, so we’ll skip to the last stanza:

. . . I will say thank you again, once the house is empty and quiet

and the extra shoes and coats,

the kids, the crafts, the snacks,

the phones, the tablets, the chargers,

the dogs, their leashes and dishes, their crates and treats,

have all been packed up and taken away.

I will call all three and say thank you so very much for coming,

for being my dear ones, my family,

for crashing into my silent aloneness

with your exuberant, irrepressible, gloriously loud life.

fromMagic Wordsby Sunny Bridge – November 2019

 

Wishing you a 2020 with lots of warm, wonderful times with your dear ones!

Welcome, Beckett!

Beckett David Johnson, about 12 hours old

Beckett David Johnson arrived at 12:56 a.m. this morning about thirty seconds before Chelsea was to be rushed in for an emergency C-section. He emerged on the last-chance push with the help of forceps, so well done Chelsea, coach/dad Brian, the entire medical team and of course Beckett for finally agreeing to move out of the cozy womb.

He’s 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 19.5 inches long, so we’re not sure what he was waiting for, but he’s here at last. The last few hours were tough on both Chelsea and Beckett (so, of course, worried husband/dad Brian, too), and all Beckett wants to do today is sleep. We all know that feeling, but please pray that he will begin to wake up enough to nurse, which is necessary for many reasons, but at the moment to keep his blood sugar up to healthy levels.

Proud Mama Chelsea and Beckett

Just wanted to share this good news!

*I promise to pass along any well-wishes you leave in the comments.