Isolation leads to trip down memory lane

What did you do for Easter? Bet you didn’t go far from home. Me either. The highlight of my day? I cleaned out the cabinet in the hall bathroom, something I may not have done for, oh, a decade or longer. It was like opening a time capsule.

It’s a deep cabinet, not the one just under the sink but beside it, two shelves down low so you have to half lie on the floor to get the stuff out, which explains why I hadn’t cleaned it out in a long time. I can GET DOWN, but I don’t want to get down on the bathroom floor. It was time. Things were falling out when I opened the doors, and I had no idea what in there. Tired of staring at my computer screen, I had just enough sunshine, caffeine and Easter chocolate in me to tackle the job.

Out tumbled years of memories, stuff I don’t know why I kept, and things I didn’t know I had. For example:

  • A steamer! I had totally forgotten I had it. I first used steamers during college when I worked at the uniform shop at the old Valley Fair shopping center. We sold uniforms for nurses, waitresses, and other professionals. Remember when nurses all wore white dresses? One of my jobs was to steam out the creases in the newly arrived uniforms. The steamer worked so well I bought myself one to use on the gowns I wore to sing with the Valley Chorale for 14 years back in San Jose. Gowns, crystal earrings, jeweled sandals, makeup . . . I felt so gorgeous in those days.
  • Three boxes of hair ornaments from when I had long flowing dark-brown hair. I found barrettes, clips, and scrunchies, pretty things that make me want to grow my hair long again, even though I think it looks better short. Maybe it will happen. With all the beauty salons closed, my hair is already growing out of shape. I could go through the awkward phase while we’re in isolation. Maybe I’ll even give myself a home perm. Looks bad? Who’s going to see it?
  • Nail kits of various sorts, including free ones from a charity for the blind and the worn leather case of tools that Mom used on us when we were kids. I brought it home after Dad died last summer. I remember sitting on the side of the bed while she cut my tiny nails. She often cut them too close, and it hurt, but a lifetime later, I learned while cutting my husband’s nails at the nursing home that it isn’t easy cutting someone else’s nails short but not too short.
  • Suntan lotion galore. I confess I rarely remember to use it until my skin turns pink.
  • Two wrist braces from my various sprains and strains. I had wondered what happened to them. Annie, age 12, and her brother Chico (no longer with us) were headstrong adolescent dogs when they knocked me over on the concrete out back and I landed on my right hand. I had planned to take Chico to the Blessing of the Animals at church. I went to the ER instead. I have learned that if a dog is coming at you like a speeding freight train, get out of the way.
  • A full bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a can of Off! bug spray, and a can of Wizard air freshener, gardenia scent.
  • Several wrapped toothbrushes, a half dozen travel-size tubes of Crest toothpaste too hard to squeeze, and several dozen of those floss-on-a-stick things that Fred liked to use. Stocking stuffers?
  • Enough disposable razors to keep me smooth till I die at 105 and some blades that go with razors that disappeared long ago.
  • Two zipper bags with eye drops and “fit-over” sunglasses from my two cataract surgeries in 2010 and 2011. One eye was done before Fred died April 23, 2011, the other after.
  • An expired night light. When my late husband Fred was ill with Alzheimer’s, he got lost at night looking for the bathroom. Nightlights helped. I also have more recent memories of my father’s house, which was lit up like a football stadium at night. The light didn’t bother him, and during those last awful nights at his house when I was up and down giving him pain pills and answering his calls for help, they were useful. But I tossed this one in the trash. It’s just me now, and I like it dark.
  • A big basket of gauze, tape, bandages, and ointments left over from various injuries. Dad kept a similar basket of first aid gear on the dresser. Because he was taking blood thinners and his skin was like tissue paper, the slightest cut bled like crazy and required serious bandaging. His arms were covered with half-healed cuts. So far, I have been lucky and haven’t needed these things, but you never know.
  • Blow dryer, curling iron, a dozen attachments I have no idea how to use.
  • Hotel soaps from trips all the way back to our visit to Portugal 30 years ago.
  • A Styrofoam pipe cover with chew marks from when my puppies got hold of it at least a decade ago.
  • A face mask, probably purchased to help with my allergies to pollen, dust, fur, feathers, various fabrics, and oh, just about everything. I already have a beautiful cloth mask a friend made for me, but now I have options.

I filled a garbage bag with the throwaways, moved some items to more appropriate locations, and slid the rest back in with room to spare. We’ll see what’s there in 2030.

Meanwhile, Jesus is risen, and I’m off the floor. Hallelujah.

How did you spend your Easter Sunday in this strange, strange year?

Easter and spring offer new life to the Oregon Coast

My big adventure this last week was Easter. I spent a lot of time looking at the altar and cross in this picture. Choir practice till 10:15 on Wednesday. Mass on Holy Thursday. Another Mass on Friday. And the lollapalooza of the Easter Vigil on Saturday from 7:30 until 11 p.m. At the Saturday Mass, we started outside with the lighting of the fire, then carried candles into the darkened church. We read and sang the whole story of our faith, welcomed new members into the church with baptism, and finally celebrated that Jesus has risen from the dead. We had more Masses on Sunday morning. So that’s what I have been doing. I’m a little disoriented not having another Mass to sing and play at today.

After church on Sunday, I joined friends for brunch at the Adobe in Yachats. Picture an ocean view, mimosas,I salmon and crab quiche, and a loaded buffet. Nobody could eat it all, but we tried.

Finally, I came home to my dog, who was so happy she couldn’t stop licking my face. I put on my sweats and tackled the mess in my woodshed, piling stuff up to take to the dump. What a thing to do on a holiday, huh? But my back has been acting up lately, and I finally felt able to do something besides soak in the spa and sit around with an ice pack. So now I can look out and say, “Yes, I did that.”

It was a good Easter with marvelous weather here on the coast. My biological family is back in California, but I was surrounded by loving friends and didn’t feel lonely for a minute, even though the Easter holiday is fraught with difficult memories. It was on a Holy Thursday that I found out my mom had cancer. She passed away three months later. I was at a Good Friday Mass two years ago when I got the call that it looked like my husband might be dying. He passed away early the next morning, and I missed the remaining Easter services that year. So to have everyone alive and well this year, with the sun shining, the plants and trees all beginning to bloom, and the joy of the Easter story successfully told again, I have many blessings to count.

P.S. A young friend who plays with guitar on us decided the Holy Spirit’s name is “Bob.” I like it. How about you?

To each his own Easter

Yesterday was Easter. That means different things to different people. For me, it meant the conclusion of Lent and five days in a row at church, singing with the choir, praying, meditating and experiencing the whole story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. Finally we can say “Alleluia” again. Jesus died and rose from the dead. What we believe about that is up to each of us.

For Christians, the resurrection is the point of Easter, but most of our society seems to be more focused on parties, candy, colored eggs, and Easter bunnies. Even without the church part of it, Easter is a grand celebration of spring, where the world, like Jesus, comes to life after a long winter.

Some people just ignore the day, going about their usual activities. The streets of Newport were clogged with tourists and locals visiting the beach, the bayfront, the aquarium, the local shops and restaurants on a day that wasn’t sunny, but at least it wasn’t raining or windy. In fact, it was almost warm.

In my neighborhood, it was a day for outside chores. My neighbor’s tree-trimming chainsaw harmonized with lawnmowers, boat motors, children and dogs playing, and the hum of my washer and dryer. As the clothes washed, I tackled the spa. Uncovered for nearly a month until I could get help putting the cover torn off by wind back on, the water was full of dirt and pine needles. The filters were clogged. After several false starts,  I got the submersible pump working and pumped the water out of the tub. Then I climbed in and started scrubbing. Soon my clothes were soaked as I lay in the puddles at the bottom, mopping with a big yellow sponge. The plastic surface is hard and slippery, but I managed to get it clean without  hurting myself. It took over an hour to refill the spa with clean water from the garden hose and replenish the bromine and other chemicals. Then, triumphant, I turned the tub back on and the heater roared to life. This morning, the water is 100 degrees, just right.

I had invitations to Easter celebrations, but I chose to spend the afternoon on my own, doing whatever I wanted. My husband Fred died on Easter weekend last year, but that wasn’t the reason. I just wanted to do it my way. So I cleaned the hot tub, washed my clothes, walked the dog, wrote a silly poem, ate spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and watched TV until I fell asleep on the couch, comfortable in the knowledge that God is alive and my spa is clean.

I hope your Easter was as good as mine.