Monday, July 27, 2020

Mask Making With CrapMonkey

Knowing how to sew is both a blessing and a curse.

For a time, I enjoyed making dolls and doll clothes, occasionally a dress for myself, curtains for the house, a formal for our daughter’s 8th grade dance…

But then word gets out and people start asking if you wouldn’t mind fixing this ripped pocket, or taking in this dress which is six sizes too big, or hemming these jeans or making the sails for your 15 foot sailboat….

And then the world decides to catch the MOTHER OF ALL VIRUSES and suddenly your 12-year-old, 4-H self feels obligated to make masks to protect family and friends.

Only the minute you sit down at the 35 year old Kenmore machine, you notice that every little thing begins to annoy you, from the color of the pin heads to the fact that EVERY TIME you try to take a stitch the needle un-threads itself and you can’t see that stupid needle hole because, seriously, you could NEVER see that stupid needle hole even when you were 12 years old and in 4-H making a circle skirt.

So, you throw all the mask making supplies in a heap, slam the bedroom door and vow to never go back in until overseas visitors arrive and need a place to sleep.

There may have been some cursing, also.

But then your friend Mel comes up to you at work, all excited because she has ordered 100 pounds of fabric, 2500 miles of elastic and seam binding and a spool of metal wire large enough to secure millions of things that need to be secured with wire, all so she can make masks.

just a sampling of supplies...

And as you stand there waiting, the words come out of her mouth….

“You know how to sew, right?”

And she has such a hopeful, excited look that you don’t have the heart to say that even the thought of talking about making masks makes you want to scream horror movie style and run to the nearest closet, curl up in a ball and slam the door.

Let alone trying to teach someone how to sew in the process…

(It should be noted that the last time I attempted to teach people to sew we were planning a fun trip to Jamaica and everyone needed super cute girl pirate shirts. NO where in that process was the concern that those shirts might save a life or at least prevent the spread of anything but laughter.)

But then, in a nearly out of body experience, you see your mouth open and the words hang in the air like a Sunday morning comic strip: SURE, Let’s make a day of it! We can do dinner!”

And that is how, a couple weeks ago, Rob and I hosted Mel and her partner for mask making and BBQ.

one of the most important sewing supplies, these days. 
one that my 4-H leaders never mentioned, btw. 

Before this goes further, there are a couple things you need to know about my friend Mel. She is ALWAYS prepared and has researched everything exhaustively at which point she has taken all the information she has gleaned and used it to invent an even better way to do something.

She is generous to a fault.

And, due to an unfortunate intestinal issue on a trip to Cabo several years ago, has earned the nickname CrapMonkey. 

(check out the original CrapMonkey post:  )

So, it was no surprise when she and Joy arrived with the above listed mask making supplies, Mel’s new Brother sewing machine, a bag full of beer and wine, and some very delicious looking steaks.

because craft sewing also requires craft beers

We set up the basement with a big table, our sewing machines facing one another like partners in a crafting law office. 

this little trouper has been through a lot.

Fabrics were discussed, chosen to meet personality needs of family and friends and soon an assembly line began with Mel cutting, me pinning and Joy ironing.

sewing, or at least trying to...

ironing, which is very important

The lesson was going along pretty well, until the new sewing machine refused to sew a straight line, tracking to the right, and wadding the fabric up into an annoyingly tight ball.

Given the fact that  my machine is a good 35 years old, pretty much only goes forward and backwards and is not a Brother brand, I gave it my best shot and spun all the dials and changed all the settings I could and then still managed to act surprised when it continued to refuse to sew a straight line. All the while, Mel is frantically looking online at an owner’s manual the size of her phone screen.

Because she was looking at it on her phone screen…

Thankfully, we were saved by Rob announcing that dinner was ready. We had some much needed nourishment and even more needed wine before returning to one last attempt.

As Joy continued with her pressing of seams, I assembled and sewed, and Mel continued to fight with Brother.

pleat placement demo

Suddenly there was a shriek of only CrapMonkey magnitude.

“I found it! I searched ‘BUNCHING’ and here is the problem…”

After searching ‘poor tracking’ ‘fabric wadding’ ‘tension issues’ ‘how do you make this expletive piece of expletive work’, the google search for bunching fabric yielded an embarrassingly easy solution.

The machine was threaded incorrectly.

That was it.

Re-threading the machine produced a fine straight line.

And it was time for Crapmonkey to GO TURBO!!

In the next half an hour we power sewed about a dozen masks.

just a few of our custom designs

By now, it was getting late and everyone had work the next day. We barely made a dent in the warehouse of fabric and notions, but the foundation was laid, and mask production was ready to proceed at our respective homes.

For two weeks now I have walked past the abandoned sweatshop, throwing disdainful glances at the nearly finished masks spread out on the table just waiting for elastic earpieces and metal nose bridges.

I managed to make a few requested masks in support of our local baseball team for a sister-in-law. And some adorable littles and their stuffed animals will be sporting the latest in virus protection out West.

Teddy and Pooh modelling the latest in children's
and matching stuffies masks. 

But the fun of Crapmonkey Mask day is long gone and the thought of making masks for tiny kiddoes is nearly too much to bear.

I guess that’s what living in a Pandemic is.

Trying to find a way to make the weird and unsettling feel normal.

You don’t have to like it. You just have to find a way to get through it.

Maybe I need to turn to google for a better answer.

It worked for CrapMonkey.


Hoping everyone is staying safe out there, an appropriate 6 feet apart, and wearing your MASKS – over both your mouth and nose!

As a person of science, I am here to tell you that while they are irritating, uncomfortable and irritating, they are actually very important in the fight against the spread of disease.

The Healthcare System and Coast of Illinois thanks you.



Friday, March 27, 2020


That one brave bud, waiting to open...


March took an ugly turn, didn’t it…

A little disclaimer – I generally try to keep this blog on the light side. I don’t like to talk about the fact that I am a registered nurse. My nurse life is very separate from my home life.
Until now.

Welcome to the World of Covid-19.

(Don’t give up. This is not a depressing post. Remember the title – HOPE!)

For most of us, this is the first, and hopefully only Worldwide Pandemic we will ever see.  There have been other World Health Risks – AIDS, SARS, Ebola, N1H1. But none of these have reached this level. Nothing since the Spanish Flu of 1918.
I have been thinking about what to post for several weeks now. My first love has always been journalism, although I am a terrible ‘journal-er’. But, after seeing a post on Facebook regarding the importance of keeping a personal journal through the coming days from the perspective of a historian, I have returned to the dreaded Journal. (Mr. Pillman, my junior high English/comp teacher would be so proud.)
So, here it is.
We are on Day 7 of a Shelter At Home order by the State of Illinois. Prior to that everyone had been asked to Social Distance due to the high probability of spread of the Coronovirus.
But this started long before March 20, 2020.
The following is a personal timeline –

December 2019 – we begin hearing of a virus coming from WuHan China.
Life through January is the usual on the Coast of Illinois. Work, appointments, birthdays. Planning for Mardi Gras. There is talk at work of this epidemic possibility. But mostly I am obsessed with the arrival and subsequent torture that is the new exercise bike. (see the previous post…)

January 31, 2020 – President Trump bans foreign nationals from entering the US if they were in China during the prior two weeks.
                We celebrate our 35th anniversary at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. As always, it is  lovely, dinner is delicious.
At Cinder House, Four Seasons St Louis
February 7, 2020 – Dr. Li Wenlaing dies of Coronovirus. (He was one of the first to warn the Chinese government of this dangerous virus.
                I am driving home from work and hear the report on NPR. We continue to live our lives. We have family dinner on Sunday night. I take a trauma re-certification class the following week. We have our bi-annual Mardi Gras party on February 15. Serious talk of the epidemic is more common.

February 29, 2020 – A nursing home in Seattle is announced to have numerous patients and staff infected and the United States reports its first COVID-19 death.
                My husband and I spend the afternoon at the St. Louis Art Museum. We see the special exhibit – Millet and Modern Art. I spend most of my time studying Starry Night by Van Gogh. Seeing such a piece of art in person literally takes my breath away.
This doesn't do justice to the art. The lights seemed to radiate outward from the painting
We wander the Grand Basin and take note of people ‘social distancing’. There are conversations overheard regarding the ridiculousness of how much hype the virus is getting. That evening we have an impromptu dinner at Mineo’s – one of our favorite restaurants – and listen to Brian Clarke perform – one of our favorites. We hear the news of the Seattle nursing home and I know, deep down, that life will change. Suddenly this day, this evening is just that much more meaningful.
Brian, the performer and Bridget, the owner of Mineo's
March comes in with its usual schizophrenic weather. Work is ridiculously busy, and everyone is a little edgy whenever a respiratory isolation patient makes it into our unit.

March 6, 2020
                My husband and two friends pick me up after work. We attend the Dean Christopher show at the Blue Strawberry. Dean is a fantastic Dean Martin impersonator and the Blue Strawberry is a unique, intimate supper club style venue in St. Louis. 

We laugh about this being the last time we all get together for a very long time.And after my tirade about how stupid work was our friend shuts me down with - And how was the rest of the play, Mrs. comeback ever!

March 8, 2020 – Italy locks down.
                Somewhere in here people in the United States begin hoarding toilet paper. Toilet paper doesn't come from Italy. Why aren't we hoarding spaghetti sauce and Chianti?
                The comedic possibilities are endless…
                Rob and I take a trip to Grafton Winery, along the Great River Road. Another of our favorite places. Another ‘last’ for a while.

March 13, 2020 – all Illinois schools close and parents everywhere regret that decision. 
                I get a haircut, after checking to be sure my stylist is still working. After that I do a grocery shopping. I am amazed that the shelves are stocked full of toilet paper, although things like lunch meat and frozen pizzas and fresh meat are gone. There are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. I thank heaven that we tend to ‘eat the perimeter’ of the store. I will eventually regret my decision NOT to buy a 6 pack of Charmin.

March 16, 2020 – Illinois Governor Pritzker closes ALL bars and restaurants except for carry-out or delivery.
                                Rob attempts to pick up Chinese carry-out but our little restaurant is not open, even though the sign in the window is on. This leads to much yelling in the back, and no black pepper chicken. Which turns out to be okay as we had hoped to make this a dinner and a movie night and watch the old move China Town while eating our delicious food. No one told me there was very little actual CHINA TOWN in the move CHINA TOWN.
He picks up Lilly’s gyros instead.
If nothing else, we are supportive of our local establishments.
Our work schedule is beginning to dwindle. I work at a 1000+bed hospital in St. Louis. We see an average of 60-80 surgeries a day. There is talk of stopping all elective procedures and in preparation we begin to see the decline. Our numbers decrease slowly to 40, then 30. I am on-call as back up one day and don’t get called in – a rare event.

March 20, 2020 - Illinois Governor Pritzker declares a Shelter in Place order for the state of Illinois. Beginning at 5pm on Saturday, March 21.
                I am at work. I ask if this means I am exempt from returning. This is met with a resounding Facial Expression that answers any other questions. We have a family lunch on Saturday, which allows our kids to come over and then go home before the lockdown starts. I have not been in contact with any obvious COVID patients at this point, but I know that this will be changing. I don’t want to admit that this will be our last family dinner for a while. Once I am in the general population of patient care – removed from surgical recovery – I am at a much higher risk of bringing the virus home.
This was not a good weekend. My emotions ran the gamut. I power cleaned the house. I set up a ‘quarantine’ area downstairs in case I need to keep myself away from my husband. I pack a bag to take to work with a few essentials should I be required to ‘quarantine’ there.
I realize I am way to good at spelling ‘quarantine’.

So, here we are. Day 7 of Shelter in Place. Our toilet paper supply is dwindling. Rob took advantage of the 60 and older shopping hours earlier this week but to no avail. The bathroom tissue aisle is still a wasteland. Even the Great and Powerful Amazon can not guarantee  delivery next day...

Our work schedule has diminished to an average of 20 patients. This means a lot of displaced staff. I spent a day screening people as they entered the hospital. We are no longer allowing visitors in. Try telling the family of a brain surgery patient they can’t wait nearby…
I spent several hours cleaning one of the shut down areas of our recovery unit. We are all studying up on inpatient charting as our computer charting is much different in the peri-op area. People are shadowing in the ED and ICUs as preparation for the patient surge that is likely. We are all shell-shocked.

I was lucky enough to get an extra day off yesterday. It’s a good thing. I spent the day before fighting back what promised to be a World Class Nervous Breakdown. The sun peeked out a bit. JoeyKatt and I sat on the couch yesterday morning and watched a robin begin to build a nest right outside our living room window. and I spent the afternoon cleaning up some flower beds.
Plants are beginning to peak out of the ground, leaves are beginning to green up.

Spring is slowly arriving and with it the HOPE of a new start.

Life is different now.

We all are experiencing this in our own ways.

While we may not have toilet paper, we can always have Hope.

Look for it in little things – a flower trying to open, a beautiful sunset, a simple text from a friend, that last bag of Cheetos. 

This is a Pandemic. It is also an opportunity for our scientists to develop even better ways to fight disease. It is an opportunity for the healthcare industry to truly take note of what is lacking, and develop ways to improve our practice in much more essential ways. It is a chance for all of human kind to hit the reset button and prioritize what makes life livable on a global scope.

The cliché quote by Emily Dickinson  - Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words-and never stops at all – may bring you comfort.

For me, I must go with Woody Allen’s version – Hope is not that thing with feathers. That thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew. I must take him to a specialist in Zurich…

Live is weird right now.
Embrace it. Write it down. Share your fears and your laughs. And yes, it is okay to laugh and joke. No one really wants to end up wearing feathers in a Zurich clinic....

Yes, this is serious. No one ever said life wasn’t.
Keep sight of what is special to you, while also doing what is best for the world.

Look for the things that give you Hope.

And in the process, maybe we will come out of this on the other side with a better understanding of life on this big wonderful planet.

That brave little bud. I brought him in to shelter him from the storms promised today.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by. I hope to update Coast Of Illinois soon. The tale of the 40 Year Old Sailboat has a final chapter to tell...

Thursday, February 13, 2020


We are well into the resolution keeping period of the year, and while I don’t make ‘resolutions’ per se, I try to set goals. One of those being to exercise more frequently.
To that end, we have had an ongoing debate over joining our local RecPlex which opened about 8 months ago.
The RecPlex holds a lot of perks:
It’s only a couple miles away, within bike range in warmer months.
It’s brand new, with a pool, a work out room full of fancy equipment, and minimal gym sock smell.
Two of our friends are frequent users.

But there are also downfalls:

It’s a couple miles away, which means I have to get up, dress, get there, work out, get home, clean up – making my thirty-minute workout a day into more of an hour. An hour of which only thirty minutes counts for anything.
All the fancy pools and equipment in the world won’t necessarily motivate me, without a class instructor to encourage me. And sadly, my work schedule makes in nearly impossible to consistently hit a class.
Our good friends are there. We would like them to remain good friends, and as I feel that all relationships are based on a certain amount of mystery, seeing me in spandex might just be the tipping point.
Spandex does not allow for much mystery.

With all this debate, and a cost/usage analysis done, it was decided that purchasing a Well-Advertised Fancy Exercise Bike would be the better way to go. (From here on out noted as WAFEB)

And that is where the Snowballs  begin.

First it was where to put the WAFEB. If the television is to be believed, most WAFEB owners have thirty story penthouses with views erected just for their bikes.
Lacking a thirty-story penthouse with a simultaneous view of mountains and ocean, we went with the spot in our downstairs formally known as the Toy Room. (Our kids are 29 and 31. The name is truly a formality at this point.)


But we couldn’t possibly go with the room as is, except for the fresh coat of paint applied a year ago after the enormous flood.
So, what started out as a ‘let’s clean out the toy room' became:
What are we going to do with these tubs of books, blankets, electronics, office supplies…? Where did all these staplers come from? Is that a hole punch? And OMG, is that REALLY the floor under there???
That discussion concluded with me needing to mop and then steam clean what’s left of the ugly tile in prep for putting down the beautiful, new, really-too-pretty for a workout room, rug.
Oh, and a trip to Goodwill.


Yet all I really want to do is upload pics to a printing site and have wall art made to decorate….
And maybe make a vision board….
Oh, and there might be an aromatherapy diffuser to add a zen quality as I curse at the chirpy instructors and help cover up the cat box scent…(did I mention the new Workout Room is also the Cat's bathroom?)


One of the arguments for getting the WAFEB was me actually using the WAFEB.
I work four, 10-hour days a week. This gives me three days off.
So that’s three days of workouts.

But I am also a 58-year-old woman who clearly needs more than three days a week to make a dent in my current state of physical decline.
I have plans to dedicate three of those four workdays to work outs. 
I have also recruited a friend to text me in the morning and remind (harrass) me to get up and work out. She is relentless. And not easily offended by my replies...

This means getting up at 5am to give me enough time to brush teeth, wash my face and peel my eyeballs open, change into work out clothes, feed the cat and crawl downstairs to get 30 solid minutes of exercise in before starting my actual workday.
But that is just the beginning.


In order to get up at 5 am, I now must:
Go to bed by 9:30 at the latest.
Cut out the occasional glass of wine in the evening to facilitate going to bed.
Turn off BRAVO, Home design and that evil entity known as Facebook.


I started this plan a little early by easing in to working out again with some yoga classes provided, conveniently by the WAFEB company.
With the purchase of WAFEB we got a subscription to their Fancy Work Outs. Which are subversively encouraging, given titles such as 2-week Yoga class for Beginners and 10 day Get in Shape or We Will Track You Down and Take Photos of You in Spandex intermediate strength training.

As it turns out, the WAFEB company is pretty darn prompt with their delivery so at this writing I have just completed week four of the six-week Beginner Learn to Cycle, because Clearly You Have Never Ridden A Bike Before, workout.
It has taken me this long to figure out how to UNCLIP my feet from the pedals at the end of each session. And it's still hit or miss if I remove the shoe or the foot first.
But I haven’t fallen off or over the bike yet, so that’s a win!


And there are so many rides to choose from, Pop Music Rides, Rock Music Rides, Love Advice Rides, Lady Gaga Rides.....
(I am dying to try that last one, not sure if it's just Lady Gaga's music or if she actually leads the class...)


And with all this working out, it seems a shame to eat anything less than healthy.
So…. meal plans…meal prepping….new lunch containers…

The WorkOut Room. Deluxe folding chair for putting on clip-on shoes of death. The table, sporting weights and painting is for the ipad should I manage to advance to Core work...

While JoeKatt is not thrilled with sharing his spa, he does appreciate the scenic photos and M&M clock. The jenky seat cover is purely a personal choice...
And, should you like to do a late night 'mood' ride...

Monday, January 13, 2020

Vamos Corillo! (or Let's go, friends!)

Travel is so much more than leaving your home for a different, temporary location.
Travel allows you to experience new locations, foods, weather, lifestyles.
Travel opens your mind, and your heart to the things that make us different yet bring us all together.
the beach near Old San Juan
Last Spring, we were lucky enough to take a return trip to the Caribbean and the British Virgin Islands. 
While Rob set up the majority of the trip, I was in charge of setting up the flights. There is no easy way to get to the BVI from the Coast of Illinois. Travel day can either be a 16-hour odyssey or a nice leisurely day with an overnight stop.

Of course, I chose the leisurely day with an overnight stop. (On the way down only. The return was regrettably Odyssey worthy.)

We flew Southwest on this trip, which flies into San Juan, Puerto Rico. The following day we would be taking a much smaller plane to Tortola.

I must admit, initially, I was a little nervous about the stop. Puerto Rico, as well as the whole Caribbean, was still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. I am always a little tentative when it comes to trying a new location, especially when traveling with friends. The desire to show everyone a good time is strong.

And I have a reputation of booking awesome hotels sight unseen to maintain.

With all that pressure, I typed in ‘hotels in San Juan’ and going by photos alone settled on Villa Herencia in Old San Juan. The photos showed an old-world Latin-style hotel with stucco, brick work, courtyards, mosquito netting and bathtubs on the roof.

Seriously. How can you pass up bathtubs on the roof?
sun bathing, taken literally

We were all a little nervous when our airport taxi driver had to ask directions to the hotel….twice. There was much laughter as a couple of people in the taxi mapped the drive on phones, which gave conflicting routes.

The Bishop's. We drove past them so many times, we felt they were blessing us personally. 

The driver persevered and committed to driving us up and down streets so narrow we were pretty sure they were sidewalks, past breathtaking views of the old fort installation and finally dropping us off in front of a locked door on a blue stone road in the middle of Old San Juan.

Eduardo met us at the door, welcoming us with a booming voice and endearing smile. He gave us a breakfast menu to fill out for the next day then took us to our rooms and left us to explore the premises.

through this hallway...

the courtyard outside our room

This is the moment of truth, when traveling with friends who are relying on your hotel pick to set the tone for the trip.

High ceilings, heavy wood furniture and mosquito netted beds, modern fixtures surrounded by antique mirrors in the bathroom…although the rooms were small, they were absolutely beautiful.
mosquito netting for ambiance only

modern meets antique

a secret behind every door

I retained my Great Booking Mystique.

Given the fact that we had less than twelve hours in Old San Juan, we hit Eduardo up for some suggestions before heading out into the city. He gave us numerous suggestions for dinner, depending on our preference of ‘touristy’ ‘authentic’ ‘quick’ ‘young-vibe’ ‘where he would meet friends’. We settled on a tiny tapas style place Rosa de Triana, complete with stone arches, dark hallways and candles. Mojitos and tostones consumed, we wandered the streets of Old San Juan.
We wrapped up our evening on the patio at Barrachina, sampling flan and dodging unidentified that felt it important to try to bean us in the heads.

I’ll let pictures give you the rest of our tour, but first I have to mention our Villa Herencia breakfast.

On check in we were given a menu to choose from – eggs, fruit, yogurt, toast. Not a huge selection, especially for people who LOVE breakfast. But we figured it would be a good start and we could grab something at the airport.
We woke early, packed our bags and met in the dining room – another high-ceilinged room filled with heavy wood table, and coffee and juice laden buffet. The ladies preparing our food apologized for the delay, only to arrive minutes later with silver trays for each of us.

this is now known as breakfast eduardo

I have never had breakfast served to me on an individual silver tray. I could seriously get use to this.
El Morro, a portion of the old fort

the city gate

San Juan Cathedral, Ponce de Leon was being renovated

Forteleza Street 

I have always found old world Latin style beautiful and romantic. I did not expect to leave San Juan with such a strong desire to return. It has become yet another place that I will always hold near and dear.

And to that end, Puerto Rico is once again in need.
Puerto Rico is a United States territory. They do not have the luxury of benefits afforded to the rest of our states. Yes, there is a history behind this. I am not going to enter that discussion. This is not that sort of page.
Rather, I am going to appeal to our humanity. This island country has been hit with multiple earthquakes over the past few weeks. They were still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Maria two years ago.
Below is a list of sites which are aiding Puerto Rico.
If you can, give them a hand now.
And in the future, give Puerto Rico a visit.

American Red Cross

Hispanic Federation

Direct Relief


All Hearts and Hands

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Aaaaayyyyyyy It's a New Year!

Happy New Year!

We survived another holiday season.  Fancy foods have been consumed and subsequently purged from the fridge while the purgee made heart felt promises of NEVER eating half a ham ever again

Gifts have been wrapped, opened, admired and put away while pondering the thought process that brought the giver to think the box of plastic hockey guys would truly be loved by the 61 year old recipient.
the face off
a skirmish resulting in the Yellow Guys goal
and the inevitable fight which broke out after that controversial goal

Loved ones near and far have been hugged and made to promise to visit more often, all the while hoping that the ukulele concerto will truly become a real thing.  
Resolutions have been made. Goals have been set, which is really just a kinder, gentler way to say resolutions.

And now it’s January 5th. And if I don’t get this post up by Tuesday, I will have blown my goals for 2020, one of which is to post here once a week. And being as Jan 7 – which technically is a week from Jan 1 – is Tuesday, I figure I am still good….

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not great with goal setting.  I don’t like putting them out into the world as I seem to take that as a challenge to see just how quickly I can screw it up. But, as the holiday season one horse open sleighed right over me, I decided it was time to change it up.

Truthfully, I prefer the option of picking a word to represent your plan for the new year. I toyed around with ‘reset’ and ‘reconnect’ but finally – This Morning – settled on Time Out.
Not the sit in the corner and think about what you did Time Out, but more of a last 20 seconds of a football game, there’s no way they can win but maybe if they run the clock out there could be a miracle Time Out.

I can’t quite figure out why I don’t seem to have any free time these days. Time where I don’t HAVE to do anything. Or, more honestly, have time to do the things I really enjoy doing.

I blame my upbringing.

I grew up in a house where you did your chores before doing fun activities. Those activities became the prize for dusting that stupid dining room table with the giant carved legs and cross pieces requiring me to crawl under it and then crack my head as I crawled back out – all the time hoping I hadn’t passed out and missed Johnny Quest.
This philosophy was reinforced by my 5th grade teacher, who noted on my report card that ‘Laura does not use her time wisely’. Apparently, completing my homework and then quietly reading a much more enjoyable book at my desk was not satisfactory. It only reinforced my believe that I needed to always be productive, although at this writing I suddenly realized that perhaps it was more of an insult to her worksheet producing abilities. And now I am picturing her tiny, support hose wearing body hunched over a desk, late into the night, trying to create the ultimate mimeograph sheet of questions set to finally, at last, stump that little Schloz girl…

It isn’t easy to break those habits reinforced nearly daily.

(Don’t get me wrong, my childhood was not a coal mine of constant household chores. I had plenty of time for Barbies and imaginary adventures and getting trapped in trees. And 5th grade was, in reality, pretty fun, except for this teacher’s penchant for spraying the room down with Lysol daily and discussing her varicose veins.)

And that philosophy has served me well throughout my adult life. I have run a tight ship around the house, and I hope, impressed my managers with my great work ethic.

But I have a terrible time doing fun things when I know there is another load of laundry crawling up the wall, or a fine layer of protective dust on the furniture.              
So, to that end, I have made my Word of 2020 – Time Out.

(Fine, it’s two words. Just me, overachieving again.)

And to manage making this a year of Time Out, I needed to set some goals.
Goals such as ‘reading for enjoyment every day’ and the afore mentioned blogging goal.

But the biggest is to just allow myself some TIME.
And it hasn’t been easy.

Into the new year by 5 days, I have managed to read a little each day, however, it took every fiber of my being to stop taking down the Christmas decorations to take a ride up the river for some music and a glass of wine.
a cold day on the Mississippi. the barge is parked. taking a Time Out!

Bluffs along the river road
sunset at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Illinois
And at the end of the day, as I was making pancakes from scratch with the odds and ends of dairy and non-dairy products I had in the fridge as I have yet to grocery shop this weekend, I had to agree, those hours were truly Time well spent.

So I will again wish you a Happy New Year from the Coast of Illinois.
May your New Year be as productive as you need and as fun and exciting as you want!
me and the Bronze Fonze
(while the above pic was from a quick before Christmas wedding trip in Milwaukee, I had to include it because....Aaaaaayyyyyy,,,, it's the Fonze!)

See you next week!!