This Old World Keeps Spinning

Remember when April 15th meant tax filing day? And every year, the local news would have a reporter standing outside the post office for all those Filers-Come-Lately, invariably asking them why they waited till the last minute. (And they invariably responded with boring, predictable reasons–time got away from me, always file on the last day, etc. etc. etc. A real news story would have been someone saying something like, “Well, sir, first I had to rob the bank and then I had to launder the money and then I had to fill out all these dad-blamed forms.”)

Anyway, I watched the news last night and nary a word was said about filing a tax return. I think the world has sort of forgotten about filing in the midst of a pandemic, as you do, I suppose. I’ve forgotten all kinds of things…

Isn’t it funny how quickly we adjust to a new routine? It seems like I’ve always sanitized my house before going to bed: wipe the counters and doorknobs, spray the TV remotes, let Libs the Tiny Terror out–

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A view from the door

But hold on, y’all! Last night, when I opened the kitchen door to let out Libs, I stepped outside to close the screen door to my deck and there she (or he) was again: the possum! She (or he) was a bit bigger but it was the same possum, boldly eyeballing me from the rail of the deck. I screamed–you would, too, with a possum just a few feet from you and nothing but air in between–and there was no fetching the phone to get a picture because the two of us were locked in a staring contest. Until I finally had the presence of mind to slam the screen door shut and the possum turned and waddled down the deck rail, presumably grabbing a hold of the post and making his (or her) way down to the ground and back to the woods.

And you would think that a dog who lives to terrorize every human being and/or dog who walks within 50 yards of my house would have barked to beat the band but no. There was nary a yip out of Libs, who was apparently more interested in doing her business than keeping me safe.

Which brings me to you. I sure hope you’re staying safe and keeping well! I pray every day for this pandemic world we’re living in now, whether it means we forget all about tax-filing day or that we continue to sanitize every inch of our home before bed. We’ll carry on.

But may you have a possum on your deck–real or metaphorically-speaking– to remind you that some things in this old world never change.

(Um. Totally forgot that I started this post to cleverly tie in my post over at the Muffin, “Plato Would Be Proud: Crafts and Games for Children’s Magazines.” Which has nothing to do with tax day, sanitizing, or possums. But there is a pandemic connection, so I think that counts.)

Toilet Paper and Lincoln

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So. It’s been a week, right?

I was supposed to be at a writer’s conference this weekend but we had to cancel it, due to coronavirus concerns. Just in a span of a few days, we’ve gone from “not too bad” all the way to closing down conferences, concerts, and now an entire continent.

And though we can practice “safe distancing” and stringent sanitizing, when all is said and done, we just have to ride out the COVID-19 storm. And hope that we have enough toilet paper (Will that be in the history books, do you think? Americans stocked up on toilet paper during the outbreak of coronavirus and caused a deficit in that industry that lasted for years. Even as late as 2035, storage units were filled to capacity with toilet paper.)

But on a more serious note, please consider a little extra checking on those who live alone. And a few more prayers wouldn’t hurt, either.

Meanwhile, I’m reminded of that old joke. “But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” Dark humor, I know, but it also ties in with my post today over at The Muffin: “Even Lincoln Needed Likes.”

abraham-lincoln-administration-adult-art-290150It’s a pretty interesting tidbit (from those wacky collections at the Library of Congress) that might take your mind off the news. And since we all might be hunkered down for a while, hoarding toilet paper and eating a lot of peanut butter, reading interesting tidbits might be a good option.

Take care of yourselves, friends! And as Saint Thomas More wrote to his daughter, “Pray for me as I will for thee, that we may merrily meet in heaven.” (But not for a long while yet!)

Pondering Ash Wednesday

altar-arches-architecture-art-632628In a world that’s beyond fast-paced, where news is instant and everyone is hyper-connected, when change is not just daily but moment-by-moment, I crave constancy. There’s a certain peace that comes with routine, with the assurance that some things will not change, not at their core, at least. I think that’s why I like Ash Wednesday so much.

From when I was just a little kid in a scratchy school uniform to this evening when I go to Mass, I know what’s going to happen. The familiar scent of the ashes, the church decked in purple, the same dirge-like music…it’s all there, just the same. And it’s comforting, these rituals; makes me feel like, despite all the crises in the church, there is hope and strength in these traditions that bind us together in faith and love.

So I like my Catholic traditions, even if some of ’em have fallen by the wayside over the years. Like giving up something for Lent. Holy Sister Mary Joseph, I used to give up something every year, even before I knew why. Mostly, it was chocolate back then, which made Easter morning baskets all the sweeter.

But as the years progressed, I’ve quit most of the easy vices to give up, or I don’t indulge enough to make giving ’em up meaningful. Now I’m left with the tougher ones on that Seven Deadly Sins list. Like pride, avarice, envy, sloth… for cryin’ out loud, how do you give up pride? And if I gave up sloth, does that mean I’d have to give up my naps? I LOVE MY NAPS.

I pondered this problem in my latest post over at The Muffin in “Giving Up to Get More.”And though it’s about how we can give up certain bad habits to become better writers, they’re bad habits that affect us in more ways than writing. They’re the kind of bad habits that keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves, whether that’s a writer or a mom or a salesperson.

So I’m giving up my Debbie Downer habit this Lent (according to Youngest Junior Hall, I start first thing in the morning by reading out all the bad news from the paper. I also read the wacky news and Dear Abby but fine, I’ll keep the latest on the coronavirus to myself).

I was about to say it’s not going to be easy but see? There’s that negativism cropping up already and I haven’t even gotten my ashes yet. Pray for me, y’all, it’s going to be a long Lent!