Welcome Back

As I look back, I realize it has been almost a year since I wrote in my Ponderings. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, I thought that I had cancelled my WordPress account, but I realized today that I was wrong. My ponderings, through the years, have been a joy to write, and I very much missed being able to put my thoughts to paper.

My past year has been a difficult one, with many months of helping my husband through some serious health issues. He is still far from good health, but we are making the best of it. Between the remnants of Covid restrictions and my husband’s health needs, I have missed many of the activities that have brought me joy and contentment. Sometimes I feel as if life is passing me by in these “golden years” of mine.

Fortunately, I have good friends and relatives who help to keep me active — a trip to Cooperstown in autumn with two good friends, monthly brunches with a group of friends, special times with my children and their families, my cousins, and friends. In times like these, we must savor the small pleasures of life. Hopefully, as the pandemic seems to be waning a bit, my world will expand a bit more again.

There have been many sad moments in these months, also — the unexpected death of a young cousin, the death of a young veteran who I have loved deeply since he was a newborn, the deaths and serious illnesses of friends, the deaths of my two little dogs, one of them very sudden. Of course, we always suffer these losses, but in this past year, it seems my heart breaks even more easily.

Right now, my heart is aching for the people of Ukraine.

I am thankful tonight, though, that I am once again able to access my Ponderings account. I didn’t realize how much writing my blog about the everyday joys and sorrows of my life helped me to savor the good and survive the bad. Thank you to all of you who listen.

Living in Limbo

As we reach mid-November, the pandemic has begun to soar once again, and even though our town looks beautifully like autumn, our spirits are tired and worried. This is the time for gathering our families together for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sitting together by the warmth of the fire, reminiscing and enjoying being together. Right now, however, in our state, we are not allowed to gather more than ten people in our homes at one time. I had been looking forward to Thanksgiving at my son’s house with all of my children and grandchildren gathered together — with a fire in his woodstove, delicious food, too many conversations to keep track of, and the laughter of grandchildren of all ages. How disappointed I am that we are slowly coming to the conclusion that this not only exceeds the limits set by our governor, but also carries the possibility of infecting us with the virus.

This virus is a sneaky one — sometimes people can be spreading the virus without even knowing they are sick. For some people, it is as simple as a light cold, while others linger in ICU beds and die long, slow deaths. We have no way of knowing on Thanksgiving day if one of us is harboring the virus. We must make a very difficult decision. Do we go ahead with our holiday plans and risk the possibility of serious illness, or do we err on the side of caution and miss being together on this holiday which, to many of us, is the beginning of the Christmas season. There is no easy answer to this dilemna. Each family must make the decision they feel is right for them.

It is cloudy this afternoon, and the wind blows the few leaves that are left on the trees, the birds gather around their feeders, children are laughing as they play outside in the beauty that is autumn. And yet, in hospitals all across the land, there are virus patients fighting for their next breath, and nurses and doctors who are exhausted from their long hours each day caring for their patients. It is almost as if we live in two different worlds — the lovely world of the healthy, and the terrifying world of those with serious cases of Covid.

And so, this Thanksgiving will be unlike other Thanksgivings. Will my family be gathered together, or will we decide it is not worth taking the chance. We are all tired of this virus, tired of wearing masks, and distancing ourselves from others. Sometimes I don’t even recognize my own friends with their masks on. What a weird world we have lived in these long months. What a sad world. As we say Grace at Thanksgiving dinner, we should add a blessing for all of those who are suffering or who have been lost to this terrible illness.

This will pass, as all tragedies do, but I think each one of us will have a new appreciation for life — for the ability to once again be able to hug our friends, to gather closely around a table and eat together, to put away the hand sanitizer and the masks — to once again feel free.

May the Lord bless us all on this Thanksgiving!!

“I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends”

The pandemic that has had our world in its grasp for much of 2020 is still haunting us all. We are wearing masks to keep from spreading the virus, staying apart from others when shopping, talking, or having any number of ordinarily safe interactions. Suddenly, our beautiful world seems dark and dangerous, and we feel as if we are living a nightmare. Autumn is my favorite time of year, but this year I am worried about my grandchildren being in school — how can we expect young children to stay apart and remember to wear their masks and wash their hands frequently. These are the same children who are used to running up and hugging their friends, sharing lunches together, whispering secrets in each others’ ears. For me, as an adult, it is frustrating — wearing my mask makes my glasses steam up. Grocery shopping is a joke — my glasses are so steamy I can’t read food labels.

I have a deep sense of imminent peril much of the time. I can’t read the paper or listen to the news without hearing death statistics. I literally wipe down everything I buy and bring into my house. I keep thinking to myself, “You must calm down — this isn’t helping” but my mind doesn’t listen.

The only thing that really helps me deal with my anxiety is to be with friends and loved ones — to talk about other things, to laugh with each other, to find strength from the bond of friendship or family that we share. And yes, we are careful. For the most part, we don’t sit close together or hug (although I do admit to a few good hugs).

Outside dining has been a blessing to us all — I’ve shared lunches and brunches with friends, sitting in the fresh air, with a canopy keeping us cool. Who ever would have imagined that we would be so grateful for these times together. Maybe one of the best results of this terrible pandemic will be a new understanding of just how much we really need our friends. Through the years, we have laughed with them, and cried with them, and even argued with them, but this pandemic has shown us that we really NEED them. Time together is an essential part of our lives.

And so, each time my mind begins to scurry towards the unthinkable heartbreak this pandemic has caused, I think instead of the joy I feel when I am sitting with a friend, sipping a drink, eating, talking, and laughing. Alas, family and friends are truly our greatest blessing in this life.

The Months of Despair


I just walked through my gardens and saw this single white rose on a struggling old rosebush.  Most of the gardens are lush this year, and I have been taking photos almost every day of the beautiful blooms.  Somehow, this single flower spoke to me on this lovely June afternoon. 

The spring months have been unlike any time I can remember.  Since the Covid 19 coronavirus reared its ugly head in China around the first of the year, almost every country in the world has become a victim to this pandemic.  Entire countries have been put on lockdown, and people quarantined to their homes.  Businesses shut down temporarily, but for some it has resulted in a more permanent loss of the business.  Employees have lost jobs, and the lines at food pantries are growing each day.  The death toll worldwide is unbelievable.   As the death tolls began to minimize, our nation has slowly begun to return to a more normal way of life, although this new normal is far from the carefree normal we have been accustomed to.   To avoid further disease spread, there are no large gatherings of people — no concerts, no sports, no school, no graduation ceremonies, no town meetings, no county fairs.  The list goes on and on.  

I was unable to stay away from my children and grandchildren, so I do see them, but I so much miss socializing with friends and other relatives.  In our neighborhood, we talk across the fences, or stand several feet apart and chat, but none of this is normal.  In the grocery stores, we must not get close to other people, and the shelves are often quite bare.  We have no idea when this will end, or what our world will be like when it does.

And, suddenly, two weeks ago, another tragedy befell our nation, which has added tremendously to our fears and worries.  A white policeman killed a handcuffed black man by holding him down with a knee on his neck — just seeing the TV coverage broke my heart — and, of course, enraged people all across the country.  There have been demonstrations in several cities (some have become violent), and it has brought to a head the plight of so many poor black citizens in this country.  We must solve the issues involved in this complicated problem, which has divided our country for years and been ignored when possible by politicians.  Also, the demonstrations bring the fear of further spread of the pandemic as all of these protestors gathered together in large groups.  There is so much involved in this major issue in our country — so much change needed to assure a better life for those who are treated unfairly, and changes made in our police departments to assure that the hiring standards are higher, and the thousands of dedicated, honest police have every protection they need as they watch over our communities.

And so, this post is a very sad one for me — this country of ours and the world in general, could face many more months of this virus, and years of working to lift up our black and brown communities and assure that we all coexist equally in our country.  This is a time when we all must come together — we cannot solve these serious problems without being unified and caring for one another. 

I am brought back to thoughts of my garden again — how the flowers are all so different and all so beautiful.  My single white rose touches my heart just as much as its red brothers which grace my arbor.  I have two prayers in my heart today — one is to defeat this virus before it kills more people, and the other is to find a way for our country to solve its problems and come together as people who respect and care for one another, regardless of race, creed, or politics.


April’s Gift


April arrives on the cold heels of March, with brown leaves blown all over the yard, a few snowdrops here and there, but mostly, a barren beginning to this most special of months.  Brown is everywhere, from the stalks left over from last years’ gardens, to the mud-covered grass, to the barren tree limbs.  It is a dismal sight.  There is work to be done — raking dead leaves, piling broken tree limbs by the roadside, pulling up the stalks that were beautiful flowers last summer.  April means hard physical work in weather that is often still more like winter than spring.  It is a tiring job, as the winds blow and the sunshine lacks warmth.

April showers are seldom gentle — usually, they are cold rains, but they do serve a purpose — they wash the mud from the tiny new plants that are beginning to peek through the earth.  There are firsts to celebrate — the first snowdrops, the first crocus, the first daffodil leaves, the yellow forsythia blossoms.  Still, much of the yard is more brown than green, and waking up to an inch or two of snow is not uncommon.  However, April is a month of hope and of faith.  We know in our hearts that spring is about to arrive.

This year, due to a pandemic of worldwide proportions, most of us are confined to our homes, and missing the fellowship of friends and loved ones, the Easter and Passover celebrations, the birthday parties, and the ability to travel here and there at will.  We are housebound.  Our lives have changed drastically, and the adjustment is difficult.  However, those of us who love our homes and our gardens are fortunate, for the changes that surround us in April are food for the soul.

The weather is cool on this day in late April — we really haven’t had many warm days this month.  However, the birds are busy scurrying to and fro, from the bird feeders to the tree branches to their birdhouses to the ivy in the back yard.  Soon there will be eggs to tend and then baby birds to feed.  The grass has turned to green, the trees have buds and tiny leaves, the daffodils blow in the breeze and the pretty blue and pink hyacinths are lovely.

My back yard is a peaceful one, with shade from a beautiful old maple tree, a tiny pond, a garden with beautiful bleeding hearts just about to bloom, lovely ground cover, lilies of the valley peeking through, and Solomon’s Seal finally coming up after much of it was accidentally destroyed a couple of years ago.  And, finally, between the grass and the moss, in this old yard of mine, our April carpet is green.  It showered all morning — in fact, much of the week — and the moisture has helped turn the brown to green.  

Soon it will be time to plant the annuals — although, with this pandemic keeping us at home, I’m not certain how quickly I will be able to buy the plants.  Somehow, I will manage, because even though my garden has many perennials, it needs the addition of the beautifully colored annuals to make it complete.  I will worry about that another day.  For now, I will relax with a good book this afternoon, and take a late afternoon walk through the yard, looking for the little forget-me-nots which are just beginning to pop up, and savoring the lovely green of April — marking the beginning of the growing season here in my sweet old garden.



This photo was taken a few years ago from my son’s front yard, after a thunderstorm passed through.  To me, a rainbow signifies hope — hope that after the darkest hours, there is light.  Right now, our world is going through a dark time.  A deadly coronavirus is sweeping from nation to nation, person to person, and killing thousands as it sweeps through.  As part of the vulnerable age group, as a mother, as a grandmother, I am terrified by the scope of illness from this disease.  

In several states a large portion of our population is now basically quarantined to their own homes and yards, businesses are shut down, and only those deemed essential workers or businesses are carrying on, in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus.

I have always loved my home, loved days when I had no plans and no scheduled responsibilities, and have been completely happy being at home.  Now, however, after barely a week of quarantine, I am feeling the walls close in.  I miss seeing the faces of my children and grandchildren.  Normally, my twin grandbabies are here two days a week and often on Saturday evening. How I miss those precious babies, and the chaos that erupts as they enter the door.  I miss running to the grocery store at will, visiting the library, the local consignment shop, the craft store, and having lunch with friends.  This morning I had plans to get together with a group of friends for brunch, and later today, a late family St. Patrick’s Day dinner at my son’s house; instead, I will be at home.  I never realized how much time I spent away from home until I am no longer able to leave.  And the walls close in a little more.  I notice this week I have even lost track of what day it is, because my days before always revolved around activities on the calendar.

I will follow this directive to quarantine, because I am afraid of acquiring this disease myself or spreading it to others.  This is a dangerous disease with no current medications to combat it; we must rely on our own immune systems, and they have failed thousands upon thousands of people across the globe.  Once I get past this surreal feeling that haunts me,  I will get busy cleaning out closets and sorting through years of accumulation in this house I’ve lived in for close to fifty years.  I will go outside and rake the gardens out and enjoy the wonder of tiny plants coming to life, and leaves slowly appearing on the trees.  I will watch the sparrows in my birdhouses, building their nests and waiting for their babies to hatch.  I will be missing my children and grandchildren, missing their cancelled sports and concerts, missing those moments of togetherness we take for granted as families.  With today’s technology, I will be able to talk to them and see their faces on my phone, but that is not the same as hugging them close.

We all must sacrifice; we all must practice all the safety precautions outlined for us, because this is a deadly disease.  We must all work together to save each other.  Those of us who pray should be praying for the health of our loved ones and friends and thousands of people we do not know nor ever will.  And I will also be praying for a rainbow — a rainbow to show us that the dark time is over and we can come into the light again. 

                                                         God Bless Us All



Passing Down the Reading Gene


One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading to me each night before I fell asleep.  My pile of “Little Golden Books” was a large one, and my mom must have read every one a hundred times in those early years.  I remember her soothing voice growing hoarse each night before I finally drifted off to sleep.  My mother set a good example for me, because she, herself, loved to read.  I can remember her in the kitchen, stirring a pot on the stove, with a book in one hand.  She loved to read about the Civil War era, as well as the books she bought from the “Book of the Month Club.”  

Once I was in school and learned to read, an entire new world opened for me with the school library.  How I loved searching the shelves for “just the right book.”  I loved biographies, devoured anything written by Louisa May Alcott, and read each and every book in the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To this day, my personal library contains my original LITTLE WOMEN book, with its crackly cover and musty pages.

When my three children were born, I expected that they would inherit my love of books and reading, but I was sadly mistaken.  No matter how many tempting books I bought them, or how many times I snuggled them in my lap and read to them, none of them were interested in reading.  How could this possibly be???  How could a mother who loved books so deeply be unable to instill the joy of reading in her children.  However, through the years I learned that you cannot force your children to love something you love.  They make their own choices, and reading was not a choice my children made.  

Happily for me, though, my grandchildren seem to have been born with the reading gene.  From their earliest years, my older grandchildren enjoyed snuggling in my lap and reading.  At naptime, I always read three books to Emma before she would snuggle down on her pillow and go to sleep. Books have been an important part of their growing up years.  Now, my two little grandbabies are following in their cousins’ footsteps.  They each have their favorite books, and often fight over which book I will read to them.  The “Llama, Llama” books seem to appeal to both of them, and last night I ended up sending the ITSY BITSY SPIDER book home with them, because they both loved it so and did not want to leave without it.

Those of us who love to read find it difficult to understand how anyone can choose to not read, and I’m sure non-readers cannot fathom our deep love for books.  My children look at my library nook and the shelves throughout the house which are filled, and shake their heads.  They don’t understand why I need to be surrounded by books.  I look at my grandchildren and wonder if they, too, will always cherish the books they love to read as much as I do.

Savoring The Small Pleasures


I look at this photo and am immediately transported back to a lovely October day when we drove to Kingston, NY, with my daughter’s family and my in-laws.  We took our twin grandbabies on a scenic autumn train ride, and then had dinner at a beautiful riverside restaurant in Kingston.  The day was lovely, dinner in the autumn twilight was delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  

So many of the cherished moments in my life have been these simple pleasures.  There are people who find their happiness only in the major pleasures — expensive vacations, dream homes, impressive cars — and that is fine for them.  I am content to savor the everyday joys that come my way.  While some people are waiting anxiously for the next vacation or cruise, I am enjoying the small, everyday gifts of life — lunch with a good friend, the rays of sunlight as they fall across the green leaves of the plants on my chairside table, a day spent with my precious grandchildren (especially if it includes lunch at our local Panera), the sweet faces of my grandbabies as I hold them close in my arms at naptime.  

I am so excited to greet the new decade of the 2020’s, and to wake to a new day in the early morning darkness of January, to watch snow falling gently, to listen to the chirping birds at the feeder in the morning, and to see the deer arrive at dusk for their cracked corn.  And yet, I also look forward to spring, when there is a softness to the air and tiny green shoots begin to push their way through what is left of the snow.

I love driving through the countryside, gazing at old barns and beautiful pastures, pausing to visit an antiques shop and coming home with a small treasure.  I love spending time with friends, talking and laughing, or helping each other through difficult times.  Family gatherings are special treats, as I have watched our children grow up and have babies of their own.  I savor my quiet time each night after my husband has turned off the TV and gone to bed, leaving me to read and write in my journal in the deep silence of midnight.

There is nothing wrong with being a person who finds joy mostly in the larger moments of life, but I do believe I am blessed to find my happiness in these everyday pleasures that bring consistent bits of joy so frequently each day.


Thanksgiving Memories


Thanksgiving 2019 arrives this coming Thursday, bringing with it a multitude of memories.  When I was a little girl, our Thanksgiving celebration was a small one — my parents, grandparents, my sister and me.  The turkey was fresh from a local farm, the pies made by my mother (with me helping to roll the dough), and the table was set with my mother’s best “china”, many pieces of which still reside in my own china closet.  While I always looked forward to this special day, it somehow felt as if a “real” Thanksgiving should have more people around the table.

I married into a family whose Thanksgiving dinner was much larger.  The faces around my mother-in-law’s table also included aunts, uncles and cousins, and later, my own babies and my little nephew.  It was a day to celebrate family, as well as give thanks for the good things in our lives.

As my mother-in-law aged, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my sister-in-law’s house — such a lovely place to be, with her fireplace adding warmth and atmosphere as we ate.  As the family grew, we never knew for certain quite how many cousins and second cousins would be there, but the food was always plentiful, and there was ALWAYS room for one more at the table.  

Through the years, there were only a few times that I hosted Thanksgiving; we always gathered at my house for Christmas dinner, until my daughters-in-law took over the Christmas celebration.  Last Thanksgiving we all gathered here, but my old Victorian house with its many rooms, does not have one room large enough to hold our growing family.  Somehow, a buffet-style Thanksgiving lacked that beautiful feeling of family gathered around one table.  This year, our ever-growing family will be at my son’s house, where we can all sit together to celebrate our day of Thanks.

Holidays are a time of both celebration for the family surrounding us, and sadness for those who have passed from this world.  There have been many Thanksgivings when our hearts were aching, but the traditions helped us through our losses.  We may have had tears in our eyes, but we also had the beautiful memories of our loved ones to cherish.

Somehow, after all the years that have passed, with my dream of large family celebrations answered, one of my fondest Thanksgiving memories will always be helping my mother to roll out her delicious pie crust in our little kitchen (sampling pieces as I helped).  My heart misses her gentle heart and her kindness.  By the way, she did not enjoy cooking, and usually ended up with a terrible migraine when dinner was set out on the table — Love you Mom!!


Evolving as We Grow


In a little country graveyard, lies my firstborn baby, in a grave marked only with corner markers.  She was laid to rest at the feet of a good friend’s husband, and at the time, I marked her grave with a wooden cross, which slowly deteriorated through all of these long years.

I am writing this today, in an effort to show how our beliefs and opinions evolve through the years.  At the time my baby was stillborn in 1973, abortion was a contentious issue, as it still is today.  In those days I was strongly pro-life.  A few months after the loss of my baby girl, I wrote an article for a local newspaper about the hopes I had carried for this first child of mine, as well as my deep feelings about the abortion issue.  Following are excerpts from this article:

“When I first learned that I was pregnant I was thrilled.  I had wanted a baby for so long…it was an answer to my prayers.  I read everything I could on prenatal care and kept an avid eye on all of the month by month developmental charts.  I was awed to think of this small being I was carrying.  When I first felt the baby move and heard its heartbeat, I felt that this must be one of the most special moments of a woman’s life.  I began to think of how I would raise my baby.  I wanted to help my child to grow up at peace with himself and show him the beautiful side of people and nature.  As I began collecting baby clothes, I pictured the tiny little body which would be using them.  I wanted my child to know he was loved.  I fell asleep at night cuddling my stomach because it seemed somehow as if the baby would know I was holding him and loved him.

Two months before my due date, my little girl was stillborn.  It was a shock and I was heartbroken.  I never even had a chance to hold her and tell her I loved her.  I could have nine more children but I would not miss this one any less.  When I see a little girl laughing and playing, I know my little girl will never laugh.  When I see flowers and sunlight, I know she will never see them.  She will never fall in love or be a mother.  A part of my heart is lying in that tiny grave, under the flowers she’ll never be able to see.  Nothing can change the heartbreak and regret I feel, but perhaps this story will touch the heart of a mother who at this moment cannot decide whether her baby’s life is worth a change in her lifestyle.  Maybe in this way my baby’s death will count for something.”

As I read these words now, 45 years later, after being blessed with three more children and five grandchildren, I realize how cold and cruel these last two sentences seem to me.  In those days, I saw abortion as completely wrong and selfish.  I was young and had not experienced much of life.  I did not know how difficult and tiring raising a baby alone could be.  I didn’t think about how a single mother would need to work to support her child, to pay for childcare, to feed and clothe her little one.  I did not know that the costs of healthcare would rise so astronomically.  I did not think of so many issues that arise for single parents to face alone.  

Through the years, these very issues have influenced my stance on abortion.  The very people who scream the loudest against abortion often do not have any concept of the problems facing a poor, single mother.  I realize that there are women who make this choice for reasons I do not understand, but it is not up to me to judge them.  Giving birth and raising a child to adulthood is, to me, the greatest treasure in life, but to some women, discovering they are pregnant feels like a life sentence.  Who am I to decide for another woman what is right for her?

I still don’t like the idea of abortion — I can never say that I am comfortable with it, and I do not believe in late-term abortion, but I think abortion must be a private decision.  It should not be legislated by politicians who know NOTHING about a woman’s circumstances.  Through all these years of living and listening to all sides of issues, I have evolved, and I pray for the women who must make this difficult decision, and I believe it is a decision better left up to the woman herself.