Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye Unexpected Year of 2020

I still remember, in February, hearing more about the virus; 
by late February I knew it was coming.
I was seeing what was happening in Germany via Wednesday Chef on Instagram
before everyone here panicked and emptied the shelves. 
All I remember of March was fear of not getting grocery delivery.
Later, once I got a recurring grocery delivery slot for once/week,
my anxiety slowly lessened. 
I remember the first time I was in my local church; I think it was after Pascha;
but I am not sure; but we went with HUGE social distancing in place to confession
for the first time since lockdown; I remember feeling emotionally shocked,
and very near tears.  How could we have been kept from everyone, from church,
from liturgy, from Holy Communion?! 
Then, slowly, towards Pentecost, we went to liturgy for the first time. 
And slowly, a little more.  And then, thankfully, things really started opening up
again and we were going to church regularly; we still have; it still feels like a miracle.
But I can see, also, how tired we are. 
Even today, I had to go back in the house because I forgot my headband with buttons to put
my mask elastics on (helps save my ears, I am sensitive to sinus pressure) ...
so many times I ask my Husband, as we are leaving for church,
'do you have your mask?' 
and this week I wore a face shield for the first time; I double mask more.
I figured out that I like the masks with a good nose piece to help my glasses not steam up.
I even got a pretty mask for Christmas, white with beautiful flowers.
I remember the first times I was in church wearing a mask and how
stressed I felt, how uncomfortable. 
I figured out in summer to wear cotton masks and use a hand-held old fashion fan
to help with the feeling of 'hot air' ... 
We started having coffee hour outside and I was thrilled and if it is outside, I am
still very thrilled.
In August we started doing routine medical stuff (dentist, eye doctor, physicals) and 
I was finally back in NYC after missing it,
after feeling such grief for it, such sadness for the NYC that was being
so desolated; so many people have left NYC (and other cities it seems)
a huge flight to more rural areas; and it is the people with better jobs,
with money, who are leaving; what will happen to NYC now? 
One of the many casualties was my favourite NYC diner, Ridgeway Dinner on 6th Ave. 
It's gone. It's up for rent.  I think of the men who worked there, for years.
What happened to them? Are they OK? 
I started going whenever I could to Tea and Sympathy in NYC in hopes that 
my business would help them stay afloat and to enjoy being there of course.
I went back to my library and was so so happy to be there.
I found some beautiful dishes at TJ Maxx and Marshalls (small cake stand 
and 3 trays of various sizes).  I got tons of masala burgers from Trader Joes.
Hugely, we went to Michigan in later August to mid-September.
We saw family. 
I remember how strange it felt to see my parents and be in their house
and not wear a mask.
Everything became flipped upside down.
Now it is socially acceptable, esp here in NJ/NYC to wear masks
as a sign of respecting the other person.
Even when I suddenly imagine being somewhere I missed, I 
always picture myself wearing a mask.
Everything, upside down.
For us, in many ways, the unbloggable of a few years ago was a 
harder time for us; we are in a more secure place as we ride out this 
pandemic; and yeah, the survivor guilt of being one whose Husband
still has a good job when so many have lost their jobs,
it's real.  I just live and breath it pretty much every day.
But I also have had moments that were so good.
Like having people over for meals; doing Christmas last week
for Photini.  Being at church and being in the Christmas joy of the services.
I've had a lot of loss of community and of people moving away. 
And now people, long time friends of mine, are leaving IG and I am bereft. 
So lots of loss.
Lots of everything upside down.
No Christmas with family this year; no birthday with family this year;
not knowing the future in ways I never knew I would not know.
Yet. Hope. Christ.
Yet we have hope, we have Christ.
May Christ bless you dear blog friends, dear readers, many unknown
(thanks to some for saying hi on my birthday!)
May Christ bless us and save us!
PS: my January Christmas baking is DONE, as you see in pictures! 

44+1 day

This is my other new tray (yes, the tray the cinnamon rolls were on is the other!).
Can you believe that they were at Marshalls for $7.99 (this one above) and the other was only
$6.99?! 15 dollars before tax! and from Portugal.  
Those are like upscale consignment store prices!  

Some gifts that I was given!

This tea too...we had it this morning for Mr Husband's names day.
(The day his Patron Saint is celebrated).

This is the $6.99 tray.  I am still amazed at the good price.
We had the last of the cinnamon rolls for breakfast!
I put them on parchment paper and lightly toasted them so they were 
nice and warm but not over baked!

Really fun.  When I was a teen my Mom used to take us to a place
called Mom's Cinnamon rolls and we would get big ones and 
I would get a cherry coke to drink!  Now I never drink any sort of 
pop/soda.  If it's fizzy it's kombucha! LOL :)

I finally got Christmas cards done and a few small gifts sent...

I ended up having pretty bad insomnia last night
so was super tired and used paper plates again today for lunch and dinner! 

I had a good birthday as you know, but parts were hard too.
Sometimes I struggle with feelings of guilt for being so blessed.
Like when I was cabbing in and the driver was bringing me to TJ Maxx
(also where Marshalls is) I told him (we were talking) that I hoped to find some
good sales and he said he did not buy any Christmas gifts for his family this year
because it is a different kind of year (pandemic :( ...) and then I felt a bit more
bad, as if I had said something wrong, even though it was my birthday and
I was happy going into NYC, which is rare now days (though I got to do so more than 
I had hoped for...during this pandemic)... and I had read about a homeless person
working at a store similar to TJ Maxx and for the first time I realized that
the people who are at the checkout counters in NYC may have complicated
lives of poverty or scarcity.   While I had a few months of poverty years ago,
when I did not know how to pay rent, and it was not easy always having contracts,
not really knowing how to pay for things a few months out, other than those 
2 or so months of 'I don't have money to pay rent' over 10 years ago, 
I always had enough and often was able to buy something I wanted rather than
just what was absolutely essential (like food). 
And then there was the whole pandemic part of it;
I find I can't think too much on the fact that so many are deeply suffering;
I can't take on the suffering of the entire world; or even lots of people.
My Husband and I do what we can and not what we can't.
But it's hard to know that things are so bad; seeing restaurants struggling;
I am hearing of so many people getting sick right now with the dread virus
and I miss seeing my family at Christmas.
It's hard to feel sad and guilty for feeling sad when you know so many have it 
so SO MUCH worse.  
Yet we all DO feel sad.  We miss what we used to call our normal life.
Every time I return from a fun time in NYC, like yesterday,
I feel sad.  Like when will I get to be in NYC again on my own
for a fun day out? Not sure. 
That said, I am really super grateful that I was able to go to NYC
yesterday on my birthday.  That I was able to got to Tea and Sympathy again
and do my part to help them; I really hope they make it with this pandemic going on.
And my friend Photini may be gone for a bit.  
And she may leave for even longer later on...
so many friends have left, some because of the pandemic...
others I want to become better friends with, it's hard
because I can't have them over, because of the pandemic...
Well, it felt good to just write about the hard things.
It helps me by not only 'getting it out' but somehow to have 
courage again.  To see how blessed I am in the midst of all of this. 
To keep trying to be as creative as I can be.
To keep loving others.
Tomorrow DV I will be baking more for Christmas goodies.
I hope to have 2 more days of baking if I am lucky.
But I don't have more than that as I have to get all the baking 
organized and bagged and all gifts wrapped and finished.
I have a lot to do but I am so glad that I get to do it.
Christmas is January 7th and I need to be all done and wrapped up,
literally, by January 5th.  
I hope you, my blog friends and readers, are doing OK.
I pray that you have moments of peace; drops of comfort.
Even if small.  Even if you have to look for them.
I pray that God has mercy on us and saves us! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

44 Years Today...


44th birthday today.
I feels a bit surreal that I am 44.
For a pandemic birthday it was, overall, quite good.
I woke up early (I had an early zoom meeting a bit after 9 AM)
and put on a nice going-to-town outfit, did my makeup,
(I don't wear makeup everyday, more like for special occasions,
though going to NYC usually warrants that every time, LOL) 
and I had a nice cranberry muffin and a new Birthday tea that I had
picked out for myself at the Dutch store in Grand Rapids MI 
back in late summer when we were so BLESSED to visit family...
After the meeting, I went by cab to NYC.
There I went first to TJ Maxx (found some cute clearance priced
stationary and some useful cloth masks with wire by nose and beads to 
adjust the ear elastic, with a little case to keep them in) and then
I went to Marshalls and found not one but TWO very beautiful white 
pottery trays, made in Portugal! I was thrilled.  
I have been looking for some bigger all-white pottery trays for years,
esp for this time of year when my main table is white for Christmas... 
so that was super exciting!  
Then I went to Michael's to get (found made-in-USA!) paper plates for 
dinner (found both dinner and dessert sized!) ... it was my Husband's 
solution to my not doing the dishes...and it made it feel like a party
when we had dinner tonight!
I found two wool beret hats from a Street Vendor 
(I call these items New York Specials) which is great
as I had really wanted a cream one for Christmas time and the one I 
ordered was too small and I did not know that I could get one ordered before
January Christmas... 
Then I cabbed to Tea and Sympathy and had the
vegetarian breakfast and then went shopping at their store...
got some decaf PG Tips black tea, the cutest mug from/made for Whittards, 
a nice new Tea and Sympathy bag and their scone mix... and some other surprises...
Then to Trader Joe's (amazingly got 2 things, a bottle of Kombucha and a bottle
of olive oil as I had opened my last bottle this past week!)...
I then realized that the street vendor may have gloves, and I was hoping to get 
some more as I wanted a second pair for my jean jacket that I often wear 
while walking (I had a thin pair but not a thick pair and kept borrowing
my long wool red jacket's red warm/thick gloves and then not having them
when wearing the red jacket!) ... so that was super great!
Then the dentist... thank God it went really well and I have a nice good
filling in the back again.
It's sore now but was not then and I am so thankful! 
Then I cabbed home,
this time wearing not just a double mask but a face shield as well,
as the car did not have any sort of partition between the driver and myself.
Such is life in a pandemic. 
After this I quickly got the stickers off my two new white pottery trays
and washed them with very hot soapy water so I could use them!
I also washed my new mug so I could use that!
Mr Husband and I had already chosen various take out dishes for
my birthday, his name's day (tomorrow), and some, we hope,
for the day after as well!
So we had a real variety of fun foods to eat tonight and more to try tomorrow!
I video called my sister and niece and they watched me blow out 
my cinnamon roll 'cake' (since I never had time to bake myself one LOL)
and hung out with us while we ate our dinner.
It was super fun.
My newly four year old niece first asked if we lived near Oma and Opa
(my parents) and when she heard we did not, she asked if I could
mail her the rest of the cinnamon rolls in a box... she asked a few times LOL...
She is always very interested in everything I eat and about things in the kitchen... 
I've already gotten her 3 cookbooks :) (for kids)
I am so happy about the beautiful (perfectly creamed coloured) white tray
for my teapot and things... I have some wonderful plastic trays that I love
but they did not match my white Christmas table cloth... so I was thrilled
to finally find ones that did! 
I got surprise birthday gifts of tea, a super cool bookmark and a book,
plus cute poem cards from my Husband and
I got (I choose myself) the Romanian shirt that I hope to wear for Pascha
(or the day after) and also a lovely floral scented candle...and this morning
the tea I had for breakfast... 
Well, that was my day.
Boy am I tired now...and tomorrow I need to find a card for my 
Husband's name's day! I already wrapped a gift, thankfully :)
My Mom said it best, 
that it is really important to look for everything we are thankful for.
So while I was not home for my birthday, and my Husband could not join me for lunch,
like he would have if he was working in the City as he used to pre-pandemic, 
I had a really great day and was showered with blessings.
I am so greatful.
May God have mercy on us, protect us, help us and save us!