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Simple Love

It’s been a long summer. As matter of fact it’s been a long 10 months. And it’s about time to write.

So as I sit on my well loved and broken in sofa with the velvet cushion covers eating my second donut and third cup of coffee of the day.. Yes that’s right, don’t judge it’s Sunday.. I am pondering a new beginning, as I have for the last 10 months. We have had many new beginnings, which to me simply means overcoming obstacles or hiccups in the road of life.

In our little part of the world we have overcome many obstacles in the last 10 months, but we have also shared many joys, laughs and memories.

As I have analyzed my own needs and wants I have discovered I love the simply joys. Todays ode to joy is dedicated to sheets, and the undeniable irreplaceable joy in sheets. New or old, for me it’s a love affair for the ages.

Allow me to explain in detail, I have very specific parameters with sheets. I like cotton 100%, Egyptian cotton or Percale mix. That’s it. I despise microfiber, which is just polyester pretending to be silk. But let’s say what we really are, polyester sheets.. eewwww.

There is something glorious about new sheets, which I buy about once a year. Once the appropriate pattern is chosen, which is usually a vintage floral with a stripe or two thrown in for good measure, the unwrapping occurs.

As I tear off the packaging, my newest ones came in a lovely bag, so that was a pleasure as well. As I open the drawstring top and slide it down over the rolled up sheets, my excitement grows. Seriously, it’s real. I unroll the package and separate the pillow cases from the fitted and flat sheets. I gently shake out the new fitted sheet and lovingly put it on the bed, marveling at how well it hugs the corners ( which after the first wash is always questionable). Then I shake out the flat sheet, absorbing the crispness and laying it onto the fitted sheet which welcomes it’s friend to the party. Once they are appropriately connected, I carefully tuck under starting at the end of the bed first and working my way up each side until I am satisfied with the smoothness (can’t actually bounce a coin, those days were extreme) but smooth none the less. After sheets have been put on the bed followed but the fluffy comforter, the pillows are added. Now it’s ready for that first sleep.

The joy of folding the covers back to brand new fresh sheets is unsurpassed in my opinion. They are crisp and new and lovely. It is truly an aaaah moment before beginning the nights slumber.

But the love affair with sheets is two-fold (no pun intended), because I love my old cotton sheets with equal joy. They are like an old friend who is aging but still has great purpose. Because the new sheet high can only last for a brief time, I must always return to my solid old friends. These sheets contain a different quality of joy. From years of washing and hanging on the line every chance I get, theses sheets are soft, faded and have lasted the generations like good friends.

As I wash the old friends and prepare to hang them on the line, I am reminded of yet another simple joy, the clothesline. Being able to hang out sheets or comforters in that crisp air ( yes, upon occasion I hang things for airing out in the winter) or the hot summer morning creates anticipation and joy. Why you ask? Have you ever smelled a sheet dried on the line?

The joy of a fresh air sheet on the bed, is another ahhhh moment. The scent lingers and lulls one to sleep. It is an a scent from yesteryear and I treasure every wiff.

So I guess as we move forward to hurdle the obstacles in life, perhaps approaching it as a new unopened sheet or an old familiar one is the way to go. Because both ways provide joy. And that’s what it’s all about right?

Until Next Time,

Morris-Nelson

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Seasons

I was out on an evening walk with my daughter and she observed that I am in a difficult season of life.

There are many seasons to our lives and this is just another. Yes, it has been difficult, job loss, unexpected health issues, we all have them. but inside that outer lining of difficulties is the proverbial silver lining.

I choose to remember and live for that lining. To remember those things in my life that make it sterling. So as she often says “welcome to my TED talk”.

The unexpected challenges in life do not define us, they make us search harder for the goodness or maybe just take the time to acknowledge and embrace it.

Last November I lost my job. Yep, I did. The reasons or non reasons matter not. It was not the soul crushing event that it can be, I embraced the opportunity to breathe and sit back, relax and enjoy this unexpected break. I have a home, food, a car, a family and health.

So during the last 7 months, I have diligently searched for work, had a handful of non-eventful interviews and currently remain unemployed.

I have learned to be a creative cook, using leftovers to create new meals, a gardener learning to freeze my “crops” for use later, sharing my soups (thinking an all soup restaurant might be a thing), spend time with my grandkids, my 84 year old mother, paint a few rooms, chill with my dogs and be at peace.

Now while this may not sound like Nirvana to some, for me it is. I have worked since I was 15 without a break in service. To be able to sit outside or ride my bike at will, to enjoy the aroma of fresh mowed grass or the feeling of accomplishment for painting or repairing something in my home is a natural high. I have been on this adrenaline high since last November.

So because the world likes to mix things up, it threw in a few health issues in the mix. People I love are facing challenges and the best I can do is to support (yes, in my often over helpful way…sorry that’s me) maybe I drive you to a clinic for treatment or I follow the journey you are on, I over educate myself and try to learn all I can. This proactive approach helps me to be the best I can be for you.

And despite the setbacks that life has brought my way, I continue to be resilient and strong ( that’s how mom raised me) and seek that silver lining.

Yes, I wish I wasn’t driving you to a doctor appt, but I am glad that we get to spend some time together, enjoy a meal after the appointment and most importantly laugh. A lot. As they say, priceless.

Yes, I wish I was going to a job in the morning, but how many times do I get to watch you get on the bus for school? Or know that you have returned safely?

Yes, I am sorry you are ill, but when have we ever gotten to spend this much time together? To share old stories, catch up, be in the moment and laugh. Not enough.

So in a way this break was just another thing that I needed and didn’t know it. So I guess I really should probably thank my previous employer for having the foresight to provide what I needed, it’s been good.

It’s just another season. I enjoy them all.

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” — Henry David Thoreau

Until Next Time,

Jeany

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Libra coffee cups and planters

So today I am reflecting on the day and my own frustration with the world situation. I needed a boost and that came in the form of changing up my coffee cup. You can laugh but the right words on a cup can boost my mood. Today’s cup was a gift from my daughter awhile back. It’s a simple cup, but the right weight in my hands and it just feels good. Yeah it’s the little things. The words remind me..I am Libra, charming and impatient. All True. I begin my day on a positive note warm coffee, good cup.

I sit at my new desk space (a lovely piece of wood held up by two plant stands) and I love it , it’s always a work in progress but …. I sit in front of a window and I do like looking out and seeing the Mighty Mississippi while I work and I can watch the seasons change outside the window. It’s nice.

Yesterday was Sunday and I spent my day with my grandkids. I got tired of the screen staring so I proclaimed… we are going outside, it its nice out.

We spent the morning traipsing around the local Menard’s store .We bought rocks, flowers, dirt and paint. Every selection came with guidance or a story from Nadia the youngest. The boys 11 & 13 are good sports but less involved in the decision making. As we walked through the flowers, Nadia selected each and every flower, simple placing them in the cart. Her decision factors were important items like: ” I like purple”, “Mom would like this one” and “this one is just pretty” No growing factors or dirt discussions…just visual choice plain and simple.

We came home and lifted bags of rocks from the car to the yard. We came home with some petunias, and a variety of others that I can’t identify other than by the plastic stick thing in each of them and that they were a pretty color.

This little one wants to help with everything. The boys helped with the rocks and were both eager to paint the pots we brought home . Phoenix chose the bigger pot and opted to use spray paint versus paint brush. As we watched him tackle the spray paint we encouraged him to not get it on his face in the process, he did pretty well. As it dried he chose to paint a dragon ball on the front in bright orange and red which really looks great on the turquoise pot. His younger brother chose turquoise as well and not to be outdone by his cool older brother he also painted a smaller dragon ball on the pot… now we have a theme.

Nadia travels to a different drummer, and knew before we left the store that hers would contain all the colors, a rainbow pot. As soon as we got home she set to work. She used every color we bought and there was no guidance, just have fun and they did. Then we planted the flowers and spread the rocks and enjoyed the beautiful day.

In the course of the planting, Nadia who is very independent says ” I want to do this myself so when am a grownup I can be a planter” I responded “Yes, it is fun isn’t it?” then she shared “You could be a planter Gma if you just got rid of that job you do” Truer words could not be spoken. She has a lot of wisdom for 5. If only we could all retain that simple thought process through life.

They capped off their afternoon with a round of “the floor is lava” while I cleaned up the yard and positioned the pots on the newly spread pebbles. Then we sprayed them with the hose to make them shiny. We replaced our worn flamingos into the rocks, one has one leg but we just pretend the other is hiding and hung our new summer flag that proclaims “Enjoy the Ride”. Our work here is done.

We tapped off the day with the late evening trip to the park which is located at a campground, so that means on Sunday everyone goes home. It’s part of our ritual to visit the playground right at dusk. Nadia had made a friend the day before and was hoping she would still be there and was disappointed for a second when she wasn’t and immediately joined her brothers in a quick game of tetherball and then proceeded to own the playground…because it was empty.

All in all just another day in the Midwest.

Until Next Time,

Jeany

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340 am and other times of day

It’s 340 am and I cannot sleep. I get up and make some cappuccino and burnt toast with butter. The beverage is lame and has a weird aftertaste. It gets pitched and I start a pot of real coffee. If I am going to be up this early I will need it for sure. My house is quiet, the constant hum of the air conditioner and air purifier as they battle for control of our air is accompanied by the hum of the ice maker followed by the occasional dropping of newly formed cubes into the bin. My dogs are laying at my feet vying for domain. The younger one growls occasionally just to keep the older one in check. Women are like that. In the bedroom is my guy who just came to bed about the time I got up. Our shifts work fine and we each get a whole bed for a good part of our sleeping hours. The patrol cars pass by every 15 minutes ( I live across from a prison..yes really) and the lights keep me company like a silent sentry.

A wise person told me this early morning that time has lost all meaning. A truer statement could not be said. As we muddle through every day since March 17, 2020 (for this house anyway) we have lost the sense of time. My life used to have order and routine. I am not all about the routine but I have come to understand that I need some level of it, to keep me motoring along.

I used to work 5 days a week in the same location. Now I work 2 days a week in one location and 3 days from my home. don’t get me wrong it is a routine in itself. It’s just a new one. I had to create it, to survive and thrive.

I used to get up @ 600 am and get ready for work, take out the dogs, drink a cup of coffee and head out the door. Now, I still wake up at 6, sometimes later as the commute to the office/extra room is not as far and that allows me a more leisurely morning. I try to actually shower and dress for work everyday, not always successful but it’s a goal. I find when I do the whole routine my mind is in a better place. I let the dogs out around 730 (they like routine as well) and then I log on to my work computer at 8am daily. And that is where any similarities of the two different work routines blur and separate.

My desk is now mobile like a moving feast..I cannot sit in one spot all day long, so the computer moves into the kitchen, the living room, sometimes outside or in the basement. My work can be done from all locations. I take Zoom meetings in the office space to provide a consistent visual behind me as I silently compare the office setups of all those I am meeting with.. yes that is where I am at currently, Zoom room status. I will say I have definitely upped my game since March. My first Zoom meeting was in the basement, it made me laugh as the exposed rafters of the unfinished basement loomed in my background with a single bare bulb for illumination, as if I was on the set of GOT ( Now that’s a term I would have NEVER used before quarantine) or possibly a medieval torture chamber. But.. you work with what you have and that is what I had..

Now, I actually have a dedicated space, a new chair, an antique desk and a bamboo chair roller pad thingy. It’s great. Thank you Marc.

So now life is a mix of uncertainty, work hours are no longer 8-5, sleeping hours are rarely 10-6, more likely 10-2, up for an hour then back to sleep from 3-6 (on a good night), grocery shopping hours are uncertain, school hours are uncertain in form and function. And through it all we go with it, we acclimate and adjust because we have no choice. we are not in control of this world and 2020 is a fast changing monster.

This loss of time feels as if we are in a tunnel looking for light at the end….constantly. And even if tomorrow we could turn back the clock to the days before March 17, 2020 it would be difficult as well because now we have acclimated. so it may be difficult to go the other direction, even if we had the latitude to do so. The world is constantly changing and 2020 has been a runaway freight train. 2020 stole our time, our life, our livelihood, our health, our loved ones, our freedom and for some our purpose. And it’s still got 3 months left in this reign of terror.

But we being the resilient creatures we are took back our time and redefined it, slowed our lives and enjoyed simple things more, worked on our health (have you seen how many people are outside exercising?) created new livelihoods from home, found new purpose, cherished our loved ones more than ever and came to understand our freedom as the right to speak out, stand up and get into good trouble.

The times we are living in could possibly be one the most creative periods in our lifetime. I believe that we are constantly innovating and discovering new methods to continue our lives. We are inventing new products to help each other, we are creating new ways to learn, new ways to cure, new ways to connect and even new ways to love.

All because we Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.

Until Next Time,

Jeany

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Laundryland

I loathe the laundry mat. However, it provides a useful function when the washer won’t spin.

I put my clothes in an overpriced, foul-smelling clothes container. I have a super sniffy nose ( as my grandson always tells me) and I can smell mildew a mile away.

First you load up all your “stuff”, channeling George Carlin now.. and put it in the car. Load up the supplies, it’s an outing after all. Book, tablet, phone. I can’t get bored. Then I drive to the local 24 hour one, but first I google to see if I have other options, I don’t. It’s not the best but there are definitely worst ones.

It’s in a little college neighborhood dotted with bars and restaurants. It was gloomy day today so, I scored a mostly empty laundry mat..Always a plus..

Just me and one young kid about 12 or so and the tall lanky boy man who as taking a picture of the washer that ripped him off when I arrived.  He asked me if I knew the number for the laundry mat, he wanted his money back. Got to the last quarter and it wouldn’t take his money or return what he had fed it.

The scourge of the laundry. Move your “stuff” after it’s all settled in. So he is scattered all over the laundry mat, wherever he could find a machine big enough, the more he could pack in the better.

Tall guy, shadow of a beard, knitted beanie on his head.. green all cotton coat dressed down look, but expensive phone and car.  College student perhaps?

A TV is on and you can barely hear it over the hum, whirl and spin of the washers.  But you can look at if you wish. I prefer to use the free internet here at the “neighborhood Laundry”. It’s your usual laundryland appearance, numerous “do not use” signs taped to dryers and washers, the vending machine of supplies which I adore because they are so 1950, a candy/chips machine and a soda machine.

The decor is early yard sale, or restaurant closing, take your pick. Two blue tables, each with three threadbare chairs. A couple of tables to fold or sit on, depending who you are and two chairs that no one sits on, because the stains ar far too many and unidentifiable. A unisex bathroom that was…remarkably clean.

This laundry actually has an attendant during the day, so that’s a plus. And there is the mandatory bulletin board covered with business cards , mostly from small business owners looking for work or people who want to save your soul.

So after the skinny laundry dude took a picture of the washer to send off to the owner ( I would like to know how that photo proves he lost money) but he seemed confident. He actually got someone on the phone who assured him they would return his money. I hope so, he went to a lot of effort to make contact with them. When his clothes are done he packs them in two oversized black garbage bags and loads up his car.

Its drying time.  8 minutes for a quarter, fastest 8 minutes ever. I continue to feed my four dryers and dine on my dinner of orange crush and sun chips. Garden salsa so it’s like almost veggies.

Some patrons actually bring hangers, there is a gentleman hanging every T-shirt on a hanger. Me, I am a folder, with military precision. Yes, there is a cadence.. and things that need hangers, get folded and placed on the top of the basket.

As I begin my folding, a man about 80 years old wearing a green carhart jacket and a stocking cap topped off by a skull scarf around his neck begins a conversation, asking if I think he should use hot water because the warm doesn’t really feel warm. I assure him he should use hot, because even hot isn’t very hot.  It is followed by a detailed description of why he needs it to get something real clean. Seems he walks his landlady’s  dog because she can’t, and he got into something really messy and stinky. As he stands there chatting away about the Hawkeye jacket the dog wears, argyle he says. Real nice, oh he’s in the car, I will go get him so you can meet him, and off he goes.  He comes back with this bundle of fluff wearing a bears jacket this time, because his Hawkeye one is dirty. He is a sweetie, and the man is so proud to show him off. And he is taking really good care of him.

I pack up my laundry and load the car and he wishes me good luck with my doggie, who is waiting in the car.

Another day in Laundryland.

Until Next Time,

LJ

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Hockey Fan

I am an ECHL Hockey Fan and the Mallards are my team. Tonight I watched the last Quad City Mallards game and was filled with emotion. They have given us so much, and its not all about winning.

The franchise owner has decided to dissolve the team for financial reasons. Whatever the reason its a punch in the gut.

The Mallards are so much more than a hockey team. They made us look forward to Winter weekends. They filled us with hope. Every game. They make us yell and cheer and just plain have a blast.

I love hockey. I went to my first game about 5 years ago… one period and I was hooked. Forever. The energy, the passion, the talent and yes the fights. Filled with with excitement every weekend.

This team has been part of our landscape for over 20 years, I am sad to see them go.  Did we have standing room only crowds? Nope, But we did have family Fridays, $2 beer and hot dogs. We have hot dog races on the ice, we have bubble battles, we have dance offs ,we have kiss cams and couples of the game, and we have fun. Big fun. in the entertainment genre the Mallards never disappoint. No we don’t always win, but when we do….woo wee!

But isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Love them good or bad.. All in.

Tonight was the perfect send off for our current team, the names float in an out of the jerseys some we keep longer than others, some mean more to our hearts than others. We marvel as they take hit after hit and sometimes crawl off the ice only to appear in the next game seemingly unscathed. I have seen pucks to the neck and fights that I wish went on longer. I have rejoiced when they send an opposing player to the penalty box or better yet out of the game. I have yelled and screamed at unfair calls and loved every win.

Hockey is an acquired taste, my first game I was an observer, the third game I had a cowbell, tonight a jersey. I have progressed into a full blown hockey fan. I share the games with my family and one by one we have come into the fold. Tonight, my youngest granddaughter was ringing the cowbell and enjoying the goals, my grandsons were yelling along with their sister who is usually very reserved. She screamed her heart out. And me, vocal as usual.  No holding back, our entire family.

This is what hockey does, it unleashes us, it allows us to believe, it allow us to release. With a beer and hot dog on a Friday/Saturday night. It’s the best.

So proud. Thank you for the fun, thank you for the memories. You are the best. Win or lose.

Until Next Time,

LJ

The Art of the Hire

As many of you know, I was searching for a job for quite awhile and only recently secured employment. However, during the search I saw signs everywhere “help wanted”. I ask the simple question is this overburdened job market true and if it is, should we be revamping our hiring criteria to fill those slots?

Hear me out. I have listened and conversed with many different age groups and education levels seeking work. Ranging from teenagers to college students or nearly retired and the same question is being asked “If they need help why are employers so inflexible?”

Let me elaborate with a couple of example cases.

Case #1 – Teenager seeking work. High School education, good work ethic, wants to succeed and wants to be appreciated by employer. Applies endlessly, no follow up, no interview and when finally hired it’s haphazardly often through a text such as “can you work tomorrow? show up with black pants” On the first day, given no welcome, no training, just thrown into it. If it’s your business shouldn’t you care about the training, the hiring process? After all, it reflects your company and in the end you, doesn’t it?

Case #2 – Non-traditional College student pursuing a degree, seeks position in field of study with potential learning and growth. Of the slim number of positions available in field, all require a college degree. This applicant is pursuing said degree, but employers remain rigid on requirements. This seems to be an oversight on the part of employers, you could secure an employee at a opportune moment, but instead you choose to allow positions to remain empty instead of considering other hiring plans. Your loss, when commencement rolls around another company is chosen, because you remain rigid and did not see the value in working towards a goal and being given an opportunity because of it.

Case #3 – Almost retired, but seeking work. Experienced worker seeking fulfillment in area outside of primary career path. Applicant provides resume, which seems overqualified for your particular position, so you don’t call. You should have called, applicant really does want to work at the bakery or the arena or the school.

Employers need to refresh their processes and the pattern they follow when reviewing resumes and candidates. Think outside the box.

In my humble opinion, do not discount youth or age. Both bring their own set of virtues to the table. youth can be eager and informed, age can bring life experience, diligence and patience. Both can learn from each other and both can be an amazing asset to your organization.

As for the college student, perhaps you should consider the value of a non-traditional student in the midst of an education path that you are seeking. Perhaps tailor a graduated increase (the government does this with some 7/9/11 roles) after hire until completion. Don’t make a commencement a make or break for these future team members, consider different hiring paths.

And make the wage attractive, don’t insult their efforts by lowballing the offer. There are some institutions that logically seem great candidates to implement this new direction of thinking. It is never more discouraging that looking at a job and seeing $11 an hour AND requiring a Associates degree. It’s simply a slap in the face of the student. It’s as if the hiring official is saying ” yes you are trying but we don’t value it enough to increase pay or reduce requirements, we would rather leave the position unfilled” Just seems to be bad business to me.

I know it’s a hard time for many employers, I know employees expectations are high and something must give. Maybe that something is stale, outdated ineffective hiring methods.

Just my thoughts,

M-Nelson