POTD: Drifting in the Shallows

Happy Monday everyone! Today’s post is short and sweet. It’s a photo gallery from one outing to the Michigan City Lighthouse during the long Thanksgiving weekend. Despite the blank, overcast sky, my sister was amazed at how blue Lake Michigan still looked. We were joined on the pier by a paddling of ducks and one lonely seagull who was determined to have his picture taken. There was something incredibly soothing about walking among them as we approached the lighthouse with few other people to be seen and the sound of gently swaying water rippling against the pier. 


POTD: The Feast

I hope everyone has been able to enjoy some family time and excellent food this week, even if it meant a Zoom call over dinner for some. This was my first year ever hosting dinner although cooking the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy and brustle sprouts was definitely a team effort involving my sister and her fiance.

Not only was it an amazing success. We also made enough food to feed an army! I’m currently hunting for one to enjoy the leftovers.

Giving Thanks

It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, even during COVID. There’s always work to be done, chores to be finished and projects to be started. Sometimes we forget to stop and take a good look at all the things that are just right. What better day to be thankful and celebrate the good things? Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here is my current list of things that I’m thankful for right now.

  • Cheap plane tickets (without which I may not have been able to host a Thanksgiving feast for three).
  • Mom (the master chef behind our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and my lifeline as I attempt to replicate our traditional feast for the very first time in my Barbie sized kitchen).
  • A potato masher (and a number of other kitchen gadgets I purchased recently to help the holiday cooking progress as smoothly as possible).
  • Christmas lights (any Christmas lights – the ones brightening the streets of downtown Valpo, the ones spiraling my neighbor’s balcony, the ones twinkling on my own tiny Christmas tree, even the ones that haven’t been lit yet but will soon be declaring the Christmas spirit everywhere). 
  • Boots in my entryway (the ones that belong to my sister and her fiance because no one should be alone for Thanksgiving).

These are hardly the only things I’m thankful for but that list could go on for days and give Santa’s naughty list a run for its money. Suffice to say that it warms my heart to be able to hug two of my favorite people today. 

POTD: Midwestern Charm (Fall Edition)

I don’t have anything terribly profound or useful to share today. I’ve recently been afflicted by the COVID blues, social distancing measures making it difficult to connect with friends, old and new. I’m constantly itching for activity and social interaction while simultaneously wanting nothing more than to curl up on my sofa and take a nice long nap. 

However, despite the ever evolving trials of 2020, life is good here in Valpo. It snowed today for the first time all year after an exceptionally long Autumn. When I’m feeling stuck, I need only step outside for a stroll around the block to be reminded of the loveliness of nature here in Indiana. 

It All Worked Out

There is a common backwards logic associated with advice which comes from the lips of successful friends. There seems to be a point in one’s career when people start listening with only half an ear because “it all worked out.” People assume that because things are going well now, you must not have much worthwhile experience to share on the subjects of adversity, hardship or determination. To those people I ask this: How do you think I got here?

It’s safe to say that my life has been a series of well calculated risks. But the opportunity for crushing failure was always there, nipping at my heels, often far too close for comfort. While success does occasionally stem from a convenient cocktail of undeserved handouts, nepotism and sheer luck, it certainly is no guarantee of an easy life, past, present or future. It’s so easy to write off the experiences of successful people, even our closest friends, simply because we weren’t there the day they moved mountains. 

POTD: James A. Garfield Monument

Welcome to James A. Garfield Monument, built in remembrance of the 20th president of the United States. Today’s post is a brief history lesson. After a long career serving as a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War and as a congressman, Garfield was elected president in March, 1881. His term was cut short as he was assassinated months after taking office. However, born and raised on a farm near Cleveland, fellow Ohioans still pay their respects when they visit his tomb in Lake View Cemetery.

It’s Decided

Today’s post comes from a brief conversation I had with one of my fellow parishioners when I attended church on Sunday. In an effort to maintain social distancing at church, seats are reserved in advance. Standard procedure now includes visiting the check-in table to receive a seat number before being led there by volunteer ushers. Despite being new to the parish as of last year, I’m starting to recognize a few familiar faces. The woman who usually works the table, checking names and scribbling seat numbers on a pad of sticky notes, has started to remember me as well. She always gives an enthusiastic hello when she spots me in line before sending me off to my seat. 

However, this particular Sunday was a little different. This time when I stepped up to the table she gave a great sigh and slapped both palms flat to the table, allowing her pen and sticky notes to clatter away, looking for all the world like a doctor about to deliver a diagnosis. She looked up at me very seriously and said “Sofia… We’ve decided to be friends with you. It’s just so hard to meet young people, especially now with COVID.”

What on Earth do you say to that? I wanted to jump up and down and clap my hands together. I wanted to run around the table and give her a hug. I still don’t know who “we” is but I’m in! Where do I sign? As it was, I only had time to provide my short but emphatic concurrence before following the usher to my seat. 

It was the kindest, most heartwarming thing she possibly could have said to a nearly total stranger. Clearly someone at church had noticed my regular attendance as well as the fact that I never had company. As I was led to my seat I couldn’t keep from smiling. Someone in the parish had been thinking about me and, what’s more, they wanted to be my friend despite knowing almost nothing about me. The next day she connected with me on social media, thereby opening a line of communication beyond the church check-in table. 

When someone comes along and publicly, loudly, proudly declares themself your friend, you pay attention. It certainly is not an offer I intend to pass up.

Playing Tourist

My family liked to joke about playing tourist on vacations while I was growing up, particularly during one especially memorable trip to Europe when I was ten. We spent two weeks touring the lush countryside of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. As a fair haired family of four and with my parents both relatively fluent in German, we were usually able to blend in with the locals, avoiding the pointed eye rolls reserved for obnoxious tourons.

However, there were moments throughout the trip when being a dumb tourist had its advantages, when coming across the foreign lettering of a “No Photography Allowed” sign for instance. It wasn’t until recently that I began to consider this as an important life skill. All amusing linguistic loopholes aside, there’s something fabulous about being able to recognize new joy even in your own home, with all the wonder of a wide eyed tourist. 

Wherever you go, it’s never a bad idea to have a camera handy at all times. You never know what you might see. Do you take time to notice the magic in your world? Go ahead and gape upon familiar sights as if beholding them for the very first time and don’t be afraid to snap a few pictures.

POTD: Jack Frost

This weekend for the first time all year, I sat up and glanced out my window to find dawn breaking over a world glittering with the first kiss of winter. The season of rising before the Sun, bundling up to scrape off my car windows and driving to work in the dark has begun. This is one of life’s great irritations for many people but I can’t help squealing with excitement while penguin waddling across an ice covered parking lot every time I see frost on my windshield. 

Has Jack Frost visited you yet?