Punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language: they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour and stop. Lynne Truss

midweek musings…

A few weeks back, my niece out in California forwarded an article to her mother and me that appeared in CNN Business.  It’s wrong to use two spaces between sentences, Microsoft Word says.  Beth had noticed that Jeanne and I both still use two spaces at the end of sentences and although she figured it wouldn’t sway us to revise our ways, she thought we would find the article interesting.

Microsoft may have made the decree in 2020 that two spaces between sentences is too many, but in my family this debate has been alive and well for many years.  In 2001, our youngest son, Adam, was in high school and his oldest brother was editor of the Ball State Daily News at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  Adam asked his older, editor brother Emmet to look over a paper he had written before he turned it in to his English teacher.  Emmet took Adam to task for having two spaces at the end of each sentence pointing out that the paper was typed on a computer, not Mom’s old typewriter, so Adam changed the spacing.  Sadly, his teacher disagreed.  Adam’s explanation that “…my brother Emmet said…” didn’t do him any good.  “Emmet doesn’t know everything and he’s not teaching this class.  Use two spaces.”  This was obviously before it was universally known that Emmet knows everything.

I have had it pointed out to me by the younger generation that two spaces are passé, but I have been putting two spaces at the end of sentences for nearly 50 years and I doubt I’m going to change.  In discussing with my sister and niece, my sister remembered reading somewhere that two spaces allow for thinking.  A short pause, like taking a breath.  So while newspapers, magazines and other publications may look at each extra space as wasted money, I look at it as the punctuation traffic signal that gives me time to absorb and reflect.

Being in quarantine week after week has also allowed me extra time for thinking.  I have thought about that as much as I love to read, I have had a hard time concentrating on anything too complex.  And in my stream of consciousness thinking, I thought about when I was in middle school and the gracious Jones girls next door had a subscription to American Girl Magazine that they were always willing to share.  That magazine had nothing to do with American Girl dolls but was a girl scout magazine written for young girls and teens and included fashion articles, hairstyling advice and serial stories.  I loved those stories!  I would eagerly wait for the next month’s edition so I could devour the next installment.  

And so in the ninth week of quarantine, I decided to write my own serial story.  On Sunday, you can meet Libby and read the first installment of her story, A Mother’s Gift.

C’est la vie.

Men are what their mothers made them. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Although parts of the U.S. are starting to roll back their shelter in place orders, Mr. Smith and I are still firmly ensconced in the love nest.  For me, like so many others, COVID-19 Mothers’ Day is bittersweet.  We are living two hours from a grandchild for the first time in our lives and I had anticipated a lovely Mothers’ Day lunch together, watching Eleanor run herself silly at the park, giving her a bubble bath and putting on her pajamas before tucking her into her car seat and throwing kisses as she headed home with her parents.  Maybe next year.

Maybe next year, Eleanor!

For over a decade I worked in a flower shop.  Mothers’ Day was one of the busiest holidays.  One year I was assisting an acquaintance with her order when she asked me “What did you get for Mothers’ Day?”  Instinct told me that this was not idle chit-chat.  Either she wanted to tell me about some fabulous gift she had received or simply wanted me to assure her that no matter what she received or did not receive, being a mother was a reward in itself.  With retail stores currently shuttered and online shipping presently unpredictable, perhaps this year we can lower our expectations and just enjoy the day, one moment at a time.

My mother and me. 1956

With many parents working from home and schools/daycare closed, families are spending more time together than usual.  Many weeks ago, I visited my oldest son and his family to try and help them adjust to their new normal.  As my son headed for the family room downstairs for another Zoom call, my daughter-in-law grabbed his hand and stopped him to give him a hug.  She said, “One benefit of quarantine is more hugs!”  As crazy as it has been at their house with two adults trying to keep up with their work responsibilities all while monitoring three active boys with e-learning, my sense is that they have adjusted and it’s not all bad.

Aunt Ruby, my boys and me, and my mom. 1985

We moms may not get to enjoy celebratory spa days, fun brunches out or strolls through parks or museums this year, but we know this too shall pass.  Anybody who is a mother knows they are in it for the long haul.  We may not be able to spend the day together hugging our children and grandchildren, but that will never stop the love.  This year I will demonstrate that love by staying away to keep us all safe.  So, we’ll FaceTime, laugh, share stories and blow kisses virtually.

My three sons.

I am the mother of three amazing men.  So, Mr. Emerson, today I will pat myself on the back and say job well done.  Then I will raise my glass to my equally amazing daughters-in-law, mothers, mothers-in-law, aunts, sisters, daughters and all the caring, nurturing women who have crossed my path. Happy Mothers’ Day and stay safe.

C’est la vie.

Rainy days and Wednesdays…

midweek musings…

It’s a rainy, gloomy day here in Wilkes Barre.  Luckily, my midweek musing from a couple of Wednesdays ago about pen pals and how I love to receive snail mail worked some magic!  Since then I’ve received letters from two sons, drawings and letters from three granddaughters and a wonderful card from a friend that made my day.

Today I mailed off notes to my granddaughters and grandsons with some activity sheets. I want to give a big shout out to the New York Public Library.  For the second time during quarantine, I received an email with free printouts for kids. There are crosswords, word searches, mazes and a fill in the blank to write your own version of Goodnight Moon.  I am including the link so you may also enjoy!  My favorite is the Library Logo Lion Mane Maze. 

During the Great Depression, Mayor LaGuardia named the beloved lions who guard the 42nd Street library Patience and Fortitude for the qualities he felt New Yorkers needed to get through a difficult time.  The lions are still standing strong.  

The quarantine continues but the warmer spring weather has allowed Mr. Smith and me to get out walking more often.  This past Sunday the skies above were a cornflower blue with giant puffy clouds and a temperature near 80 degrees.  Wilkes Barre is the home of Wilkes University and on a late afternoon stroll, we explored much of the campus that normally would be crowded with students.  We came across this statue of John Wilkes wearing the appropriate PPE.  Wilkes Barre was named in honor of John Wilkes and Col. Isaac Barre, two members of British parliament who heroically defended the American colonies in tumultuous parliamentary debates during the Revolutionary War.

I hope you are all weathering the shelter in place all right.  I have my good days and my not so good days.  Luckily more good days than not. I am taking great comfort in a routine.  I look forward to sharing a morning coffee with Mr. Smith before he braves the outside world.  It helps me to have somewhat of a plan for the day.  Years ago, I created a chart designating specific chores for each workday.  I usually follow it. After a day of cleaning, writing or reading, I look forward to sharing a glass of wine and chatting with Mr. Smith when evening comes.  We are lucky people and we know it.

C’est la vie.