Five things that made me happy today – 12/31/20

There’s a lot of heaviness this year, and we will be lugging it for a while. But we will find ways to make it lighter, starting with finding the good. Starting with kindness.

Gretchen Staebler

1. It was in the mid 40s and windy when I got up, but it felt colder because of the wind. It never got out of the upper 40s all day, but there were only a couple of showers.

2. I spent the morning reading through people’s “end of the year” posts. Most folks were able to find a silver lining to this awful year. I hope you checked out my “Intentions” wrap-up that I posted this morning.

3. We each had “whatever” for lunch today. I had a can of Progresso Lite Clam Chowder, and Big Al finished off the chili from last week.

4. The elves who usually bring us “happy hour snacks” brought us a party pack for this evening with party hats, and handmade cheese and crackers from Pike’s Place Market. I may have cheese and crackers for supper!

5. Happy New Year to all my gentle readers. I really appreciate all of you.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Intentions for 2020 – Review for December (and basically the whole year)

My Star Word for this year is “Encourage”. The internet says “encourage” means to give support, confidence or hope to someone.

Here are my intentions for 2020.

NOTE: We basically shut down the middle of March, opened up a little in May and in August we closed down again with the rising COVID-19 rates. The Wellness Center is open, but you have to sign up for a time to use the equipment – only one person at a time and only 30 min. three times a week. They are doing fitness classes on Zoom twice a week. No personal training. Still no dining rooms open, although the Dining Room did deliver Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner to our houses. No Happy Hour because it’s too cold to sit outside. The staff hosted 10 Days of Merriment before Christmas when they provided a treat and a drink. Still no gatherings, including Senior University, Gazebo Group, although we meet by Zoom. Still no visiting in any of the other buildings. Masks at all times outside the house. Shopping is still of the on-line variety. I go to Trader Joe’s about once a month, and I haven’t been to the commissary since the beginning of November – otherwise, I order from Safeway and they bring it out and put it in my trunk – no contact, or from Amazon – again no contact.

Physical Health

  • Continue to eat real food, and, hopefully, lose about 15 more pounds this year. – I’ve managed to maintain the weight I came into 2020 with. Quarantine, difficulty in finding a place and decent weather to exercise have meant that I’ve yoyoed over 5-7 pounds and ended up back where I started.
    • Minimize chocolate, including mochas. – Starbucks keeps luring me with specials and “free” stars and I got a plethora of chocolate covered nuts for Christmas. At least I’m not eating MUCH more chocolate.
    • My endocrinologist wants me to get more calcium (preferably from food or drink) and she told me it’s okay to count the mochas towards my calcium intake.
    • Be sure to get 25 grams of fiber every day.
    • My cholesterol was a little high when I had my blood tests for my annual physical. I cut down on the number of eggs I eat weekly – no more than 4 per week, and I’m keeping the cholesterol under 350 gms on the days I eat eggs, and under 150 gms on the other days.
  • Continue to work with my personal trainer for strength, balance, and endurance.
    • Still no personal training, and I do very little other than use the NuStep.
  • Notice and report any unexpected physical changes (rashes, bumps, etc.) to my doctor.
    • The biopsies on two places on my face revealed one squamous cell cancer that will be taken care of with a peel, and one basal cell cancer that I’ve scheduled Mohs surgery for towards the end of January.
    • I’m currently suffering through a 6-week peel that has me trying not to scratch my face off.
  • My mammogram was completely clear. The bone scan showed that I have a little bit of osteoporosis in my left fibula – 1.7% chance of a broken hip in the next 10 years.
  • In the light of COVID-19, I’m trying to be much more intentional about washing my hands regularly – ALWAYS after I’ve been out of the house. – Wash Your Hands, Don’t Touch Your Face. We carry Lysol wipes in the car for complete sanitation for our hands.
  • A fourth case of the virus was reported by a staff member at Franke Tobey Jones, one in July, one in September, one in October and one in November. We’ve had a total of 17 cases here, all limited to either staff or residents in the Skilled Nursing facility. They have a quarantine wing there, and everyone who was infected is now moved out.

Emotional Health

  • Remember that excessive encouragement can be nagging. – I’m trying to remember.
    • Say it with a smile.
    • Al knows what he should do (he has exercises to do between PT visits) but he is unmotivated to do them. I’m having a hard time NOT nagging him.
  • I’m becoming more resigned to this enforced confinement.
  • The promise of vaccines is wonderful, but I’m trying not to pin my hopes on that with case counts and deaths rising. We’ve gotten word that the staff and folks in Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Memory Care will begin receiving shots 1/10/2021.
  • Continuing to post “Five Things that Made Me Happy Today” every day on my blog helps me.
  • I’ve returned to my Meditation practice, daily. I’m using the Oak app. It fits my needs, and helps with my mood.

Intellectual Health

  • Expand my leisure reading. Read 50 books this year (not just “fluff”). I didn’t make it.
    • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – finished
    • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo – finished
    • Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy – finished
    • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – finished
    • On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle – finished
    • 142 Ostriches – by April Davila – finished
    • Pretty Girls – by Karen Slaughter – I gave myself permission to quit after 25% of it
    • The Tuscan Child – by Rhys Bowen – finished
    • The Victory Garden – by Rhys Bowen – finished
    • Carrying Albert Home – by Homer Hickam – finished
    • Clair de Lune – by Jetta Carleton – finished
    • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michelle Richardson – finished
    • Educated – by Tara Westover – finished
    • Shameless – by Nadia Bolz-Weber – finished
    • All American Boys – by Jason Reynolds – finished
    • When We Believed in Mermaids – by Barbara O’Neal – finished
    • How the South Won the Civil War – by Heather Cox Richardson – finished
    • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson – finished
    • The Lakehouse by Joe Clifford – finished
    • The Sentinel by Lee Child – finished
    • The Wonderboy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg – finished
    • The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – finished
    • Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – reading
  • Keep up with the national news daily without obsessing over it.
    • Listen to NPR. I’m a member of my local Seattle station, and have started taking advantage of special on-line interviews they offer to members.
    • Watch Rachel Maddow
    • I subscribe to The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, and CNN’s 5 Things You Need to Know, and I try to read most of the important news once a day.
    • I’ve subscribed to Heather Cox Richardson’s daily letter. It’s helping keep me sane.
    • I’ve also recently subscribed to WTF Just Happened Today? A daily newsletter that arrives at 3:00 pm.
  • Participate in Creative Writing classes here at Franke Tobey Jones. – Creative Writing is on hiatus until sometime in the new year.
  • Participate in Great Decisions here at Franke Tobey Jones. – The new season will start in late January – possibly on Zoom.
  • I’m listening to Heather Cox Richardson on Facebook Live on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She answers questions on Tuesday and has started talking about Reconstruction on Thursdays.

Spiritual Health

  • Participate in virtual weekly Bible study on Zoom.
  • Participate in virtual weekly Worship on Facebook Live.
  • Our new transitional pastor will start with the new year.
  • Participate in Interfaith Dialogue – No meetings because of COVID-19
  • Continue with General Assembly Nominating Committee – Nothing happening for a while

Social Health

  • Tend the relationships I have at Franke Tobey Jones.
    • Wellness Center – The center remains open, and I use it. No other people there.
    • Gazebo Group – We continue to meet weekly on ZOOM.
  • Tend the relationships I have at Bethany Presbyterian Church.
    • Bible Study – Fewer people attend via Zoom than attended in person.
    • Earth Care Congregation – we have been certified as an Earth Care Congregation. I subscribe to several Climate Change newsletters.
  • Keep up with family.
    • I try to communicate with my sons regularly on Instant Messenger.
    • My younger son lives close enough to come see us, and help if we need him. (His help was invaluable when my husband was in the hospital.)
    • My sisters and I have an Instant Messenger group set up and we check in on each other every morning, and through the day.
    • My sisters and I continue to do a Zoom call every Sunday afternoon. I’ve seen and talked to them more since the COVID than in years. I hope we continue that even after all this is over.

Social Justice

  • Participate in Town Halls and face-to-face meetings with elected officials. I try to participate when there are virtual meetings.
  • Support the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, and MoveOn.
  • I have regular donations going to my US Representative, and to the Democratic National Committee.
  • Support the election of officials who are champions for Social Justice issues.
    • Climate action
    • Racial justice
    • Health Care Availability
    • Wealth Inequality
  • We vote by mail, exclusively, in Washington State.

Five things that made me happy today – 12/30/20

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.

President Josiah Bartlett – the West Wing

1. It was 43 and drizzling this morning when I got up. After pouring rain all morning, it cleared off about noon, and this happened. Then the clouds returned and the rain started again, ending with 46 just before nightfall.

2. I spent the morning preparing my Intentions review for December, Then I tried to start to begin to think about intentions for 2021. I’m definitely going to hold them loosely.

3. Big Al had his final visit from the Home Health nurse. She made sure to answer all his questions and pronounced him on the mend. He will still have PT for a while, but once a week instead of twice a week.

4. I tried my hand at gumbo, and I think it was very acceptable. We have enough left over to eat on for a while.

5. One of my sisters got her COVID19 vaccine today. I’m so jealous. Her daughter works in the hospital and they had enough doses to let family members of medical personnel get a shot too.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 12/29/20

The past has its own terrible inevitability. But it is never too late to change the future.

Heather Cox Richardson

1. It was mid 30s and cloudy this morning when I got up. Now, late in the afternoon, it’s drizzly and in the upper 30s. Winter!

2. After breakfast, I made a run to Safeway to pick up my order. Wonder of wonders – they had everything on my list – no substitutions and no skipped items. In addition to all our regular weekly groceries, I decided to make a charcuterie board for Friday and Saturday so I didn’t have to worry about cooking. I got assorted cold cuts, assorted cheeses, an apple, a pear, grapes, olives and gherkins.

3. Lunch was everybody fix their own. I had a ham sandwich and Big Al had a rerun of his Sunday leftover Thai noodles.

4. Under the heading of “if I knew then what I know now” – I would have put every spare penny I could lay my hands on in stock for cardboard box manufacturing.

5. I apparently had a second Christmas – Big Al had bought me three new windchimes that he forgot all about. We were looking at boxes in his room and there they were. My current set of windchimes have had all their chimes lost, even though I’ve restrung them with wire instead of the string they came with. I realized I didn’t have a charcuterie board, so he got me one of those from Amazon Prime – next day delivery. I hope I have enough stuff to fill it up.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 12/28/20

The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger – nothing ever comes out for the poor.

Pope Francis

1. It was 29 and foggy when I got up with a weather warning to watch out for black ice. It got up to the mid 40s this afternoon in the bright sunshine but it’s going to be cold overnight again.

2. I was very impressed the New York Times article about HCR. Check out her letter from yesterday for insight into what tRump’s REAL problem with the Defense Authorization Act may have been.

The New York Times

3. We had ham, Yukon Gold potatoes, and Bush’s Best Baked Beans for lunch. Grocery store order tomorrow (in case you thought I’d gone crazy with eating out of the pantry and freezer.)

4. The clothes are washed, dried, folded and hung up, and it’s barely 2:00 pm.

5. Gazebo Group meets this evening via Zoom. I’m excited to hear about everybody’s holidays.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 12/27/20

I suspect that all of us — whether by choice or by circumstance, or both — have expanded the scope of who we are and how we deal.

Kelli Korducki

1. It was 43 and drizzling when I got up. The sun was out for a bit this morning, but it certainly didn’t warm up any. Still in the 40s.

2. The sermon in church was from Ezra 3:10-14. The Israelites had returned home after being in exile for a generation or more. When they came back and rebuilt the temple, most people were happy, but some said “It’s not like it was before” and they were sad. When we get past this pandemic, do you think we’ll all be longing to go back to the way it was before, or do you think we really will be able to “Build it Back Better?”

3. We had Royal Thai for dinner today. Big Al had Pud Kee Mao and I had Pud Woon Zen. They do a good job and put lots of veggies in their noodles so I don’t feel bad about eating it.

4. The Christmas cactus we got from Al’s sister has really started opening nicely.

5. Greisser Girls Gab in just a few minutes – that always makes me happy.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 12/26/20

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.


1. It was 46 and cloudy this morning when I got up. We had alternating sunbreaks and showers all day. We even had a rainbow in the mist. It got up to 48 just before nightfall when it went back to 46.

2. I went to the Wellness Center before lunch because it was Saturday and the time was available. Big Al had his Zoom call with the STEP cronies, so we were both able to completely clear our calendars for the day. The pandemic has taken care of most of the Bowl Games so we don’t even have college football until later in the week.

3. We are eating really light today. I opened a large can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup We can share that and both feel pretty good about ourselves.

4. I almost finished watching all three discs of Lord of the Rings this afternoon – at least I got the ring destroyed, and “the eagles are coming.”. It’s about the triumph of good over evil, by the most unlikely of beings. It seems fitting as a Christmas movie. It says that we all matter and if we are faithful we can change the course of history.

5. Settling in to watch whatever Big Al wants to watch this evening. I’ve hogged the TV since Thursday.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 12/25/20

The things we yearn for – the end of racism and white supremacy, the end of poverty, the end of oppression, the end of addiction, the end of homelessness, the end of homo/transphobia, the end of all things that diminish and destroy – these don’t come magically. Thoughts and prayers don’t make these things happen. Justice comes when God’s people stop waiting and get to work turning themselves around. 

Debra Avery

1. It was 40 deg. and drizzly this morning. The rain started in earnest about mid morning and continued the rest of the day. Still 40 deg.

2. Merry Christmas! It’s a very low key Christmas this year. We had breakfast with real grapefruit, and sausage and eggs, and cinnamon rolls.

3. We opened presents that were heavy on the chocolate, nuts, Oregon T-shirts, books and DVDs. I got a couple of decorative things that go on trees that look like cardinals. I’ve been missing them, so that’s great. I’m seriously going to need an intervention with all these chocolate-covered nuts around, not to mention the BIG Whitman’s Sampler and the SIX!!! Toblerones.

4. We had our Christmas Dinner delivered from the dining room here at FTJ. Shrimp cocktail, I had cranberry walnut stuffed pork, and Al had chicken cordon bleu. There was golden rice pilaf, green beans, orange-roasted butternut squash, and crème de menthe pie. Our 7-year tradition of eating Christmas dinner at the Lobster Shop has come to an end, but this was an acceptable substitute.

shrimp cocktail and salad
my dinner with stuffed pork loin
Al’s dinner with chicken cordon bleu
Crème de menthe pie

5. We’ve talked and/or texted with both sons, my sisters and my brother, and Al’s sister-in-law, and sister. Nice to have the family connections across the miles.

How about you? What made you happy today?

Five things that made me happy today – 12/24/20

Whatever is dear to you this season, may you find fullness and hope; and at least some measure of joy.

Gretchen Staebler

1. It was 32 deg. and foggy this morning – glad I don’t have to take the car out anywhere – possible black ice. It managed to get up to the mid 40s before dropping back into the 30s when the sun wen down.

2. We found a big box on the front porch after breakfast – it was a delivery of a potted plant from Al’s sister and brother-in-law. A gorgeous Christmas cactus with lots of buds!

3. This is Christmas Eve so of course we had chili. We used to make a pot of chili to be eaten after the candlelight service because we could leave it cooking while we were at church. We ate ours today for lunch because the service is on Facebook Live, and we won’t have to go out.

4. HCR forgot she was supposed to do a program today. She suddenly remembered and put something together in half an hour. She just talked and answered questions, and let us get to know her personally, a little better. I really liked that format for a change.

5. While HCR vamped I got most of my steps for the day in on the NuStep.

How about you? What made you happy today?