A Valentine to Remember, Part 3

Katya and I sipped our beers and chatted about the scavenger hunt, the fact that OUR husbands planned it and somehow put all the pieces together without either of us being the wiser. We considered that the bar had been raised and that we had better come up with something good for next year. Then we remembered – they are men and therefore a LOT easier to make happy. There’s that joke, the punch line of which is, “Show up; bring beer.”

We’d been sitting at this Formica topped table in the casual Mexican restaurant through most of a bowl of chips and a beer each and we were starting to get hungry for dinner when our phones finally buzzed. We received texts that said, “Look across the street.” The guys waved from the wine bar window seat and then left their seats and headed our way. So they were watching us!

David and Norm entered the restaurant and came to sit with us. They looked at us expectantly as we looked right back at them. There was clearly something amiss. Suddenly, David gets up and goes to the counter. We assumed he was ordering beer, but instead he came back with an envelope. He handed it over and we opened it.

“Text I love you to your husband to receive your next clue.” Oops! They knew we didn’t get our clue because our texts to them said, “Where are you?” and “What now?” They were waiting across the street, assuming that at some point we would figure out to ask the cashier but since we thought that we were finished, we never did that. Plus, the counter had been busy for most of the time we were there.

At this point, we showed the guys that we still had our gifts to open. They were surprised that we had waited but decided it was a good thing because we both loved the matching necklaces they had chosen for us. We knew tons of work had gone into that piece of the scavenger hunt; finding a matching piece of jewelry to satisfy two very different women is quite a feat!

We noticed the guys didn’t order anything to drink so we offered to go up to the counter and get some food and beer going. That’s when they told us that we weren’t actually having Mexican for dinner but that they had made reservations at the fabulous Italian restaurant next door and that in fact, our reservation time was at hand.

Dinner was wonderful, warm, candle lit and fun. Romantic music filled the room as we replayed all the fun we had throughout our evening, laughing together and toasting love and friendship that would continue to grow for years.

We’ve had many fun adventures in the years since our Valentine to remember. Katya and I even managed to put together a pretty fun weekend for the guys the following year! I’ll write about that one, too. It isn’t a four part series, though.

Wearing my Valentine necklace today inspired me to write this story and to share the new significance a 14 year old necklace has to me. How precious to have a husband who will go to such lengths to demonstrate not only that he loves me, but that he loves our friends too. And how lucky are we to have friends who have been through big and small moments with us for so many years? These are precious relationships and I am so grateful. Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Valentine to Remember, Part 2

Co-conspirators – in this story and many others!

Louise loves a good laugh to this day. We lost her true love and best friend, Ted on my birthday a few years ago. We all miss him so much but no one more than Louise. She’s struggling now with some dementia but her sense of mischief and humor are still very much intact!

So, Louise pulls two envelopes out of her purse and I can still see the, “We got you!” smile on her face as she handed them over. Katya and I were astonished as we considered the scheming that had occurred to pull these two into the Valentine’s Day plans. Our husbands were pulling off a spectacular ruse and we had fallen in head first. It was just now starting to hit us that we would now be completing a scavenger hunt while sporting cocktail attire, including high heels. Our sense of fun and adventure (and growing admiration for our men) took over and we began to try to solve the next clue.

This clue was also in the form of a cute poem and I recognized right away that it was sending us to a local jewelry store where we had purchased Norm’s ring and had his grandmother’s refurbished for me. I learned later that my hubby actually wrote the clever clue and I kick myself for not keeping it. We didn’t need the 2nd envelope but we opened it anyway just to be on the safe side. Our destination confirmed, we hugged our friends, thanked them for participating and headed out for our next destination.

You can’t even imagine the amount of thinking and wondering and giggling that happened while we made our way to the jewelry store. It still makes me giggle when I think about being sent to a jewelry store on Valentine’s Day! We arrived at the store and found the owners busy with other customers. But they knew who we were and told us to wait and that they would be with us in a few minutes. More wondering ensued: “Did they get us jewelry for Valentine’s Day?” “Wait. Did they actually spend a ton of money?” “Not sure whether to be happy about that…” “Oooh, did you see this one? So pretty…”

Eventually, Danny who is a friend of a friend as well as our favorite jeweler, went in the back room and came out with two gift bags (squee!) and two envelopes. Our jeweler friend/accomplice smiled knowingly and told us to enjoy our evening as we headed out to the car.

Once in the car, we discussed the jewelry store gift bags. Each held a gift wrapped box. We shook them and they rattled teasingly. We decided to wait until we were all together to open them so that the boys could enjoy our reactions. Then we started more speculation: “They are probably candy necklaces. That would be so cute and creative!” “Yes, but jewelry would be good too – as long as it isn’t TOO expensive.” “Do you think they got us the same thing?” “When did they do all of this?!”

The next clue was challenging at first but we finally decided it must be the old town Mexican restaurant that David and Katya had enjoyed many times over the summer. We kept talking about meeting there but hadn’t yet. And it made a lot of sense that we would conclude our fun evening with dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place since we had enjoyed several such meals on our honeymoon a few months ago. (Yep! We went on our honeymoon with our friends!)

The restaurant was mildly busy when we arrived. The clue hinted that we should ask for our next clue but we couldn’t quite figure out who we were supposed to ask. There was a guy sitting across the room and working on his computer. He looked to us like someone who David might have enlisted to participate, but just as we decided to approach him, he closed up his laptop and left.

We waited in line and figured maybe the cashier was going to give us our final clue. Not sure what to do next, we ordered chips and salsa and each had a beer. Remember, we’re dressed in cocktail attire, so I’m sure we caused some interesting speculation among the other restaurant goers. We chuckled at what people could be thinking while also wondering what was next. There was no clue and there were no boys.

After about 30 minutes of wondering, we gave up and each texted our husbands. “What now?” to mine and, “We’re at the Mexican Place, where are you?” to hers. These messages become pretty funny.

…When we continue.

Featured

A Valentine to Remember

The year was 2007 and the men decided they would perform a grand gesture for Valentine’s Day. We won’t go into what may have inspired their burst of romantic creativity.

Norm and David gave us a couple of days notice that Katya and I should meet them at the Bellevue Harbor Club for Valentine’s Day happy hour. We were thrilled that the guys had made a plan so far in advance and we decided to dress to the nines. We schemed and plotted about who would wear what, how we would accessorize, all the girly things. We were having fun and hadn’t even gotten to the actual date!

When the big day arrived, Katya and I met at her house for the getting ready pre-function. Again, we enjoyed the process of dressing up and prepping for the big date while Norm and David ran last minute errands or something. I can’t actually remember the lie they told about why we all needed to arrive separately.

Katya and I arrived at the club but didn’t immediately see the boys. We asked the woman at the front desk if she had seen them. Instead of answering, she asked us to wait just a moment. She excused herself and said she would be right back. Weird but ok – we enjoyed the beautiful view and chatted about what we thought the boys might be up to.

A few moments later, the club manager walked up to us holding two envelopes. One said, “Open first” and the other said, “Open in case of emergency” or something like that. We opened the first envelope and it contained a clever rhyming clue. It only took a couple of minutes for us to decide we were supposed to go to the mall. “Why would we go to the mall?!”, we wondered. Nonetheless, off we went…

As we entered the mall parking garage, we started to have second thoughts. “What if this isn’t right? What happens if we go to the wrong place? How will they know; are they watching us?”

That’s when we decided to open the second envelope. Sure enough a less challenging clue told us to go to Ruth Chris Steakhouse. I said, “Someone once told me they have a fantastic happy hour.”

“That was ME!”, Katya exclaimed. So we knew we were on the right track.

As we entered the bar, we noticed our friends Ted and Louise enjoying a glass of wine on their own Valentine date. We commented to each other how we hoped that when we were in our 70’s, that we would still be going on dates. We stopped to chat with them briefly then continued looking for the guys. When we didn’t find them, Ted offered to buy us a drink (who were we to refuse?). As we neared the bottom of our glasses, Louise began to search in her purse for her wallet – at least that’s what we thought – until she pulled out two envelopes!

….To be continued.

Is it Gossip, tho?

Sharing something like my positive Covid test is exactly the kind of thing I would have kept to myself in the past because I worry too much about what people think.

I think it comes partially from growing up in a small town. It’s a common refrain, “What will people think?!” Seriously, what you do, how you do it and who you do it with is all common knowledge when you live in a small town. At least, some version of those things is common knowledge. It was one of the things that made me want to leave the minute I graduated from high school.

This isn’t always a bad thing, though. I’ve come to realize that the small town gossip mill is frequently the way people know to look out for one another. Sure, sometimes it’s talk for talk’s sake and the opportunity to judge a little, but I think just as often it is basic communication that helps to nurture the kind of community you don’t get in an urban environment.

My parents were both using crutches at the same time. Dad had a hip replacement and hadn’t yet been released to walk un-aided and mom had a broken foot or ankle. Its not like my folks put an ad in the paper detailing their situation. To the best of my knowledge, they didn’t ask for help. Still, friends and neighbors came by to help with chores, provide meals and generally check on their well-being. It was word of mouth that informed the community that these two needed extra looking after. Even if they did ask someone to help, my guess is there was more help because of what I considered to be, “gossip” about their condition.

Years later, my mom was regularly helping her (more) elderly friend with rides to appointments. One winter day mom dropped her friend at the hair salon in the next town over. While the friend was getting her hair done, mom went for a walk. Suddenly Mom hit a patch of ice, slipped and broke her leg. A passerby noticed mom laying on the the side of the road and called an ambulance.

Hubby and I were on our way to see mom for her birthday but we were still about three hours away. My dad called to tell me mom was at the local hospital and that he was on his way there. This is my favorite story about small town life and it does have a connection to people knowing other people’s business.

I immediately called my best friend from high school (still my bestie after 47 years). My friend works for an accounting firm in that same next town over. Upon hearing that my mom was in the ambulance she had just heard go by, she dropped everything and met my dad at the hospital. Jumping right into, “daughter” mode, she helped my dad find the insurance card in mom’s purse, helped mom communicate with the hospital staff, called and kept me informed. Once they were all settled, my friend went back to work. From her desk, she arranged for my mom’s friend to get home from her hair appointment and for everyone’s cars to get back to our town. I’ve actually forgotten some of those details, but suffice it to say that as a lifelong resident of our small town, she knew the people, knew their circumstances, knew their relationships and was able to take care of several families with a couple of phone calls because she knew the details of other people’s lives. I’ll always be grateful for my friend’s help that day. She is Wonder Woman in my eyes!

I’ve thought a lot about how communication works in a small town since I moved back three years ago. In my volunteer roles, I’ve seen how difficult it can be to get the word out about events and fundraisers. As a citizen, it can sometimes be difficult to just know important details like winter road conditions or wildfire updates as in the case of our area’s massive wildfires last summer. Without the same media available in the urban areas, word of mouth becomes a critical communication tool.

I’m so glad I am both maturing past the point of worrying quite so much about what other people think AND appreciating small town life and all of its quirky goodness. I know it will help me be someone who nurtures the community I have always loved despite its quirks and to nurture my own well being too.

Covid

When Covid restrictions first hit last March, I was in strict adherence with staying home, doing grocery pickup and generally being extra careful. I never stressed about disinfecting my groceries or leaving UPS deliveries on the porch for days, but I was diligent about staying away from other people because my elderly parents counted on me. I couldn’t afford to get sick and I certainly didn’t want to expose them.

Eventually, as more information surfaced about the highest risk behavior vs. lower risk situations, I began taking small chances. There were certain people I knew were as diligent as I, who were minimizing their exposure to others and adhering to guidelines and I began to see them in person. Our county only had two confirmed cases for months and many people, including me, let their guard down a little. It was summer time and it was easy to be outside, wear a mask, remain “socially distanced” but still be active and somewhat social.

In late summer and into Fall, our county’s case count began to rise. We had a couple of deaths. But now our summer habits were set. All the outdoor activity began to move indoors.

I recently tested positive for Coronavirus. My friends and family have said they are surprised that I would catch it because I had been so careful. But the reality is that I wasn’t all that careful. I was cognizant of the risk and I was thoughtful but not careful. I definitely have been respectful of the virus and the risk it held for myself and others. But I knowingly took some calculated chances. I was diligent about keeping my risk low, but I didn’t keep my risk at zero like I did when it all started. When I explained how I thought I was exposed, three different health care professionals told me that the suspected exposure was low risk. Nonetheless, the test I took for peace of mind came back positive. I had no symptoms that I was aware of. I was planning a trip with a few of those aforementioned calculated risks and I wanted to be absolutely certain I didn’t have the virus. I was so shocked to get a positive result that the nurse laughed at my reaction. “Why did you get tested if you were so sure you were negative?”, she asked. “Well, I knew I was ‘kind of’ exposed so I just wanted to be sure.” I was tested seven days after said exposure, well into the timeframe to develop symptoms and yet I hadn’t.

It was the health department representative who three days later identified the symptoms I had the previous weekend. I was exposed on a Wednesday. At different points over the weekend, I had a slightly scratchy throat that I assumed was the dry winter air in my house and a brief sinus headache that again seemed normal. I had a very slight upset stomach that I thought was because of too much holiday eating and drinking. In hindsight, I had a day of feeling, “bleh” as well. But I had dismissed every one of those symptoms as “normal”. I never had a fever as far as I know.

The thing that bothers me most is that I could have exposed tons of people without my knowledge and definitely without intent. Had I not decided to drive two hours to get a test for which I didn’t need preauthorization, the results could have been catastrophic.

My advice to anyone who thinks they are being careful: Reassess your behavior. Make sure you aren’t behaving like you’re still outside, masked and six feet apart now that you’re mostly indoors. And if you are not even trying to be careful, please reconsider. I was exposed by an asymptomatic (at the time) person. As a designated essential worker, they were exposed at work. And they did get eventually get sick. Luckily, it has been relatively mild, but not at all pleasant for them.

When it comes to Covid, I’ve been thoughtful, but not careful. I thought being “smart” and measuring risk was good enough. It isn’t.

2020 Hindsight

There are 46 minutes left of 2020. I’m sitting in a mostly silent house with my dog and my husband snoring peacefully in the other room. It seems about right that I would just now finally write a reflection of this year.

If 2020 taught me anything, it is to take nothing – and no-one – for granted. Every moment with a loved one is precious and it is the mundane moments that you carry forward not the big, spectacular events we’re taught to create and stress out over. It isn’t the lavish Christmas open house and New Year’s Eve party, it’s last Tuesday’s text exchange and that one time we went to the casino with your dad.

My dad died in September this year. A lot of stuff happened to lead up to his passing but what I am always going to remember and cherish is the day I took him to get some skin cancer removed from his ear. Vascular dementia made it hard for him to explain what he was thinking or feeling and his conversation was limited to a couple of topics. But after his procedure we went through the McDonald’s drive through and sat in the car eating lunch and chatting. He was smiling and laughing and enjoying our time together. He was lucid and engaged and his smile that day is forever imprinted on my heart. It was the most precious moment and it was just a random Tuesday. We didn’t get to spend the last two Christmases with him but I will always have that parking lot picnic.

A month after my dad passed, my friend Kari suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. She had just begun treatment for stage 2 breast cancer and an infection took her quickly. I could write an entire post about how special she was and how much she meant to me. I miss her every day. In our brief three year friendship, there were many spectacular moments. But the one I am most grateful for was the random Tuesday I dropped something off at her house. It was early the week she died and the last time I saw her in person. We had a brief visit followed by, “See you later.” And, “I love you”. It is that exchange that is cemented in my mind and on my heart. It’s why I’m sad but not devastated by grief. How lucky that the last thing we said to each other was the most important thing ever? There is such a feeling of peace that comes with knowing our friendship was complete. Nothing unfinished and nothing left unsaid. Do I wish I could have more fabulous shopping days or pool days or wine-30’s with the Mohler Girls triad? Absolutely. But Kari would want us to go on, to have earthy fun on her behalf while she keeps our loved ones entertained in heaven. Knowing that, I’m doing my best to live her example going forward.

I’ve been trying my best lately to remember to tell people what they mean to me. I’ve tried to be present for the good, the bad and the ugly in life. It’s all we have and you never know which moment is the one you’ll carry with you or leave behind.

I’m grateful for the the gifts that 2020 gave me. Along with its challenge and heartbreak and frustration, this year gave me the precious gift of perspective.

I’m proud to have lived and loved and learned so much this year. And I’m looking forward with hopeful optimism to 2021. Cheers!

It’s Snow Big Deal

Hi! Hello! Its been awhile. I’ve been challenged a bit by life but I’m back now and I have a lot of catching up to do! Stay tuned as I revisit the 17 (!) drafts in my working folder as well as share the latest updates. Don’t forget to subscribe if you don’t want to miss anything.

This morning I woke up to a couple of inches of snow on the ground. The significance of being surprised by snow in late November is that today it wasn’t cause for concern and for me, that’s cause to celebrate.

When it comes to life in the slow lane, being ready for anything is a critical skill. A couple of inches of snow, when combined with wind, can easily become driveway-clogging snow drifts several feet high. Combined with fluctuating temperatures, snow can become ice that wreaks havoc with power lines. We are on a well and therefore have no water when there is no electricity. Recent years have shown that a few snow drifts can keep us home bound for some time. One really needs to pay better attention to the weather than I did yesterday.

We’ve lived in our current home for just over three years and it has been quite the process to learn what it means to be prepared. Although I grew up just a few miles from here, I had to re-learn the importance of all the food my parents grew and stored for the winter months. Living in the Seattle area for 20+ years, I got in the habit of grocery shopping often and not keeping much of a pantry. Our old neighborhood boasted five major grocery stores within walking distance. Our local store now is more of a convenience store and is a 7 – 10 mile drive, depending on which route is available.

The first winter here, I prepped to a degree, but I was challenged multiple times with not having what I needed or what I wanted readily available while snowed in and/or without power. This is going to be our fourth winter in this home and I am very proud to finally have a well stocked pantry and freezers. Combined with generous and helpful neighbors, the generator we purchased for use with our travel trailer but large enough to be helpful when the power is out, and a few gallons of water we have stashed, our pantry should get us through the winter come what may. I might even be able to be one of those generous and helpful neighbors if needed! And that’s why I said to myself, “Cool! Snow!” this morning with no sense of dread or worry about whether we could manage.

Being prepared means being able to look out the window this morning with child like enthusiasm (I might get to use my brand new snowshoes!) and deep gratitude for this life in the snowy slow lane.

Photo by Norm Strickland

Why I Don’t Know

It’s the title of a Lyle Lovett song and it came to mind as I thought about the emotions that I feel, or don’t lately. I “frequently” stuff my feelings out of fear of being judged or because I just don’t want to deal with the pain at the moment. I frequently choose to be super busy instead of dealing with how certain things make me feel. My therapist says I should say, “frequently” instead of “always” so I can teach myself that I’m just doing the best I can, just like everyone else. This has actually helped me to become kinder to myself, to use a different word to describe the things I do (frequently).

Which leads me to what I don’t know. Or, as the title of this post says, WHY I don’t know. when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic and the other world-level stuff we’ve decided as a country to deal with all at the same time, I have been on, like so many others have described, an emotional roller coaster. For awhile, I was thinking, “What’s going on?” “Why is this all happening?” “How come I can’t get my house cleaned like a normal person?” Among other things.

I would answer myself, “I don’t know what’s going on.” “I don’t know why this is all happening at once.” “I don’t have the foggiest idea why I am not cleaning the house.” (That last one is a lie). Then a friend shared that her pastor brought up the grieving process and that most people aren’t recognizing that’s what they are dealing with. (Insert raised hand emoji here). Despite my years of training on the topic of change management, and the fact that the change curve is based on the grief cycle,  I have not understood until recently, that we are all grieving and managing change right now. As we leave behind the life we once knew and enter an unknown future, people are managing big emotions (or not) and then managing them differently over and over as they watch the news, read social media, or talk with friends. Do you recognize yourself or anyone else in these commonly defined stages:

Grief Cycle Stage

What it might look like

Shock & Denial Avoidance, Confusion, Fear, Numbness, Blame
Anger Frustration, Anxiety, Irritation, Shame, Embarrassment
Depression & Detachment Overwhelmed, Helplessness, Lack of Energy, Blah
Dialogue & Bargaining Reaching Out, Desire to tell Story, Struggle to find meaning
Acceptance Exploring Options, A New Plan
Return to a Meaningful Life Empowerment, Self-Esteem, Security, Meaning

The stages are not linear, even though I put them in a table. In reality, when you’re dealing with change/grief, you may start anywhere in the cycle and continue from there or jump around. It is most often shown on a curve or in a circle. I caught myself in anger earlier this morning then moved on to dialogue as I set out to write this post. In keeping with my musical theme, I might say that for me Sheryl Crow said it best with, “Every Day is a Winding Road”.

As I’ve counseled others in the corporate setting many times, the trick is to keep moving, to forgive yourself and others for being in any given stage, and allowing yourself to acknowledge the emotion and to actively manage it. That may mean doing something productive, or it may mean not doing anything at all. As a leader of staff, I’ve had to manage my own grief and change cycle while helping others to keep moving as well. It isn’t easy to do – the self management being the hardest part.

Thanks for joining me in my quest for reaching acceptance and a return to a meaningful life. I know that it is a, “Long and Winding Road”, but if we, “Come Together” and help each other through this, our collective journey will move a bit faster and our individual one will be a bit easier. Stay well!

P.S. The last two are Beatles song references, just in case they actually need to be identified.

Hometown Pride and Gratitude

In an effort to stay somewhat sane during the pandemic restrictions, I’ve been attempting to keep a gratitude journal. Reviewing the last few entries, I noted an even greater feeling of appreciation and gratitude for the people of my small hometown. Wishing for the chance to gather again brings to mind one of the best things I’ve experienced since moving back and one about which I’ve been meaning to write.

Our little town of about 400 people is undergoing resurgence and renovation and a number of folks are working pretty hard to leverage that into new opportunity. One group working to develop new business opportunity in our town is the local Public Development Authority (PDA). Over the winter, I had the privilege of helping this group to develop a vision statement.

Historic Harrington cultivates the richness of hometown pride while encouraging new opportunity

 for an inviting and thriving community.

 

The PDA rolled out their vision at the annual community meeting in February. During the meeting, in which the civic groups, churches, city government, Chamber of Commerce and the school shared their accomplishments and future plans, these concepts came up over and over. I saw huge investment in our town, both monetary and in terms of time and effort. I’m just super proud of  the PDA for drafting this, “ideal future state” for our town and for all the others who stand in agreement, whether or not they adopt this vision to guide their own work.

Doesn’t it just sound like a great place to live, have a small business, be a part of the farming industry and to raise a family? Our town is those things already but now you know a few dozen volunteers are nurturing these values to create even more opportunity for present and future generations. That is something about which we can all be grateful.

Remembering the Now

Mom blamed my dad. It was around 8:30 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, and I was checking my reflection in Mom’s bedroom mirror. I’d be leaving for church in a few minutes and Mom was enjoying a quiet morning in bed with a good book. Out of nowhere, we heard a loud, “BOOM” and the ground shook for a few seconds.

“What is your father doing now?!” Mom asked.

“Who knows?” I answered as I bent to kiss her cheek. “See you after work.”

I headed to the car and noticed Dad working in the garden. It didn’t look like he was doing anything that might cause a small explosion. I chuckled at the idea that he’s automatically blamed for making such a racket. I waved goodbye and headed to town.

I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s faces as the ushers swung open the heavy wooden doors to release the congregation. The sun was still shining but a huge black cloud billowed menacingly toward us from the South. It was fast moving and looked other-worldly. As it began to obscure the sun, a few of us turned to look at Pastor as if he had something to do with it.

I worked at the local golf course and was due to arrive soon for my shift. By the time I got to the clubhouse, it was black as night outside and raining ash so thick you could barely see your hand in front of your face.

To my surprise, a steady stream of regular golfers entered the clubhouse, many appearing to be headed out to play! One gentleman in particular showed up in a rain slicker and carried a flashlight. I still conjure this image whenever a golfer’s passion for the sport comes up in conversation.

I remember the early chaos as government officials tried to figure out what needed to happen. The eruption affected different parts of our state in different ways, but everyone was affected in some way. This was of course before cell phones, the internet and social media. Messages changed regularly regarding wearing masks and whether travel was ok or not. Ultimately, masks were recommended but not readily available. Some people wore face coverings and some didn’t, some drove their vehicles and some didn’t.

Our town was simply buried in ash. I remember the clean up efforts and that everyone pitched in. Neighbors helped neighbors and I was tasked with helping a couple of elderly folks clean up the dust inside their homes while my brother dug out driveways. I think he even drove some equipment for the city clean up. I remember front end loaders scooping huge buckets of ash and piling them in the same places they’d piled snow a few months earlier. The National Guard was called out but we were pretty much done before they finally got to us.

My family lived in the country and therefore had a full pantry and a freezer full of beef and chicken my dad raised. But others really felt the shipping disruptions as grocery store shelves were empty within days and we wondered when they would be refilled.

I remember the talks of whether high school graduation might have to be cancelled. It wasn’t, but there were a few days when our seniors were worried that they might not get to experience the long awaited rite of passage. As I was a junior in high school, this was one of my bigger concerns.

I remember the following year when things were normal again. You could still see ash here and there, particularly on the side of the road but otherwise you might not know what had transpired the previous May. The wheat harvest for the next few years resulted in surpluses being dumped outside of the grain elevators and covered with tarps. We pretty much accepted that the good crops were one good thing to come out of the disaster.

It’s strange when a memory is so vivid that it feels like it’s happening in the present. Oh, right. Now I remember.