number 28

love. home. hope.

WE'VE MADE OUR WAY HOME to South Carolina where we're easing back into city living, COVID-style. Which means we're still considerably more cautious than just about anybody we know, but we are rejoicing in back-yard conversations with our kids, long neighborhood walks (may I say we have moved to a lovely part of town, where there is nary a black bear to watch out for), the reassurance that people are finding ways to carry on and celebrate and Make The Most of this unimaginable situation. Still there are moments my heart breaks anew, like the other day as Eliza and I made our way around the big block that holds Dreher High School. As we passed a voice came over the school's loudspeaker, a nostalgic sound the wind carried to us on the perimeter sidewalk, and we both looked toward the building and its tall, empty windows, struck by the emotional contrast of the P.A. announcement and a parking lot that held not one automobile.

"That's weird," Eliza said.

"Maybe it's automated," I suggested. "Or there's some staff, or teachers?"

We turned the corner and sure enough there was a handful of cars. Then on the other side of the building sat three or four long tables, sprinkled across the asphalt and positioned a good distance apart. One or two students manned each station, every face covered by a mask, and the one poster board sign we could see read: RETURN TEXTBOOKS HERE.

It felt so sad, this drive-up end to a school spring that should have been filled with sports and proms and graduation. We offered a quiet wish of love and support for all the students and parents forced to make such a painful sacrifice, and we walked on, looking for tiny bits to lift our spirits: a Happy Sweet Sixteen yard display; giant Magnolias everywhere, and in bloom; a self-actualized turtle, one that did not even consider retreating into its shell, despite our curious inspection.

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There may be no end in sight with regard to the pandemic, but there is still so much good to be discovered.


THERE IS A NEW JASON ISBELL ALBUM, and that right there is reason enough to rejoice.
My sweet friend @jennarojek is an online nutrition coach and fitness guru with one of the most amazing and inspiring Instagram feeds on the net. She's a workout beast--which is mesmerizing to watch--and she has also adapted her program so it is COVID friendly, working out on the sidewalk, in a parking lot, in her garage. As she says about our current plight: "This is HARD. This whole situation is nothing anyone has experienced, so mental and physical well-being is even more important than before. Keep moving. Keep positive. Staying active does wonders for mental health, so it's a two for one if you can continue to move everyday!" Give Jenna 30 seconds and you will be not only be inspired, you'll be motivated.
CALL YOUR DAUGHTER HOME is my first wild rave in a while, and I don't even know how I came upon this title. (I think it may have been via the Lady Banks' Common Books newsletter, sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and chock full of "literary gossip" and new releases and a treasure trove of vetted recommendations.) Anyway, after reading the blurb, I clicked straight to the library and reserved the book on Kindle. I was blown away by the first chapter, so I ordered the audiobook on Audible which IT IS SO GOOD ON AUDIO. The three female first person narrators NAIL the voices which is worthy of note because southern voices are so often AWFUL, and another chapter in I ordered the novel in hardback because I love the cover and because just had to see those sentences and those paragraphs and that CRAFT. I will be studying this novel like a textbook, which I am not suggesting you do unless you are also a novelist writing a multi-voice first person narration manuscript. (You only need read it and love it, which I promise you will.)
I'm considering this a vital information public service: 72 Titles Leaving Netflix in June 2020: Watch These While You Can. Cheers, Mad Men, need I say more.
I may have teared up watching this story about a dad in Memphis who built a stage in his driveway to celebrate his daughter's graduation.

Dusting Off Your Instinct

Do you feel as I do at this in-between stage of the pandemic? Is your heart restless? Is it difficult to settle down? Are you frustrated that it takes three times the energy and four times the effort to complete anything requiring thought or focus or work? HOW WILL WE MAKE IT THROUGH. Well, a little thought has found me, and it might just show us a way. read more here

To pay attention,

this is our endless and proper work.

-- Mary Oliver
Mama and Papa Blue joyfully announce the successful fledging of five (Crop 2) babies!

Stay home. Extend grace. Take good care.

until next time, cathy
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