Writing In Retirement Blog

Lessons Learned from the Crazy Days of 2020 (Otherwise Known as the Year of the Pandemic)

The difficult year of 2020…

I barely remember the beginning months of 2020 with its angst over the Impeachment of President Trump. That all began to pale as the news of this nasty illness brought forth to all the world the Grim Reaper in a very – real – sense. As the days went by the Grim Reaper crept closer and closer to our shores. Then it tumbled into our cities. Pushed along by our very mobile society, it washed into every facet of our lives. You could not go an hour without hearing the dreaded words “COVID 19” – the pandemic.

As I look back on this year I wonder what lessons I have taken away from this craziness we call 2020. Personally, I was hurt by not being able to be busy with activities like the Wii bowling group or my Book Clubs. I valiantly tried to keep the writing group together by writing prompts for those that had email addresses but was frustrated that we couldn’t seem to share our writing as we had when we were together. I soon found I was a 24/7 news watcher. I couldn’t seem to focus enough to read books. I struggled with being depressed. My aches and pains became worse from doing so much sitting in front of the TV and computer. I talked to my dog too much and to my relatives too little. I swore more than I ever have in my life – mostly at the TV when the orange man was talking.

The lessons I learned were that had I not had friends to write to and talk to, I never would have kept my sanity. I learned that I believed in science and was willing to follow the guidelines set by them. I found that having a dog as a companion was an absolute godsend. I found I could learn new techy things in a pinch like when I tried Zoom for the first time or when I finally gave up trying to get my old phone to do new tricks and instead got a new phone. I learned to grieve through texts and to be with relatives and friends during a video funeral. I found I just had to have human contact each day by going to a drive-thru for lunch. I learned that just seeing real people made me realize that the world was still ‘out there’. I learned and relearned that so many people had it so much worse than I, including my neighbors. I learned to express gratitude to those who were doing their best to continue to serve.  I learned I could be someone else’s lifeline by listening and giving support as much as I could. I learned charity really does begin at home in my own neighborhood.

I turned to prayer, meditation, and relaxation exercises (learned eons ago in Yoga classes). I used my years of healing others to help heal myself. I drug out my slow cookers and started cooking meals instead of going to restaurants. I wrote when things just burst out from my mind that I could not contain. My motto of the year was One day at a Time –just make it through this day and there will be a tomorrow. I also relied on living each day so as not to have regrets about how I interacted with others.

Coping with the deaths of beloved neighbors, longtime friends, and even my dear sister seemed surreal. Thank goodness I have so many happy memories of them that I can recall to keep away the blackness of grief.

It’s been a long torturous year and I am as happy as anyone to slam the door shut on 2020. The first day of the year 2021 seems brighter somehow than yesterday. Hope is on the horizon. A calming of the rough waters surely will come soon. The year 2021 to me is like the bud of a mystery flower – opening slowly to show its magnificent form and colors. I know 2021 will not be without its troubles too, but surely – surely – 2021 will not be as difficult to live through like 2020. We can only hope, live one day at a time, and be grateful for each day lived.  

Comments are welcome.

A Poem For Christmas

This is a special poem I wrote for friends and family. I hope you are well and enjoying your Holidays wherever you are. Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Season’s Colors

By Marie Staight

What color am I? Do you ask me? 

Today I am green –

 The color of wreaths and Christmas trees.

Tomorrow my body will be emersed in red –

The colors of ribbons, cranberries, and bows.

The Poinsettia with their beautiful crimson heads.

Christmas Eve, my voice will sing in blue.

Of the manger where an infant lay.

My voice will sing the songs of Love anew.

On Christmas Day, I will glory in White.

The garb of Angels standing by.

The pure, translucent light.

What color am I? Do you ask Me?

Green, red, blue, and white.

The colors of celebration, you see.

So please grant me these wishes

In this season of Love.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas!


A Poem for Thanksgiving In the Time of COVID19

In the United States, we have a holiday – the fourth Thursday of November called – Thanksgiving. Although some make it out to be a religious holiday or a patriotic holiday, it is neither. Thanksgiving is a regular day of the week dedicated to being grateful, that is, thankful. Thankful for where we are in life, wherever that may be. It has been the custom of this day to prepare a great feast for our family and friends. A secondary custom is to watch the Thanksgiving Day parades and football on TV. It is mostly an excuse to be with those we love, to break bread, and be happy for what we have in life.

However, this year it is different. For the sake of all, we are hunkering down in each of our bubbles. Sacrificing being with all those we love to keep us all safe from this terrible scourge – the COVID 19 virus. So this is a poem I wrote for the times.

Thanksgiving Day Memories In the Days Before COVID 19

by Marie Staight

Thanksgiving memories in the Days before COVID 19

I awaken to talking and laughter

The rhythm of forks on plates beating like a tambourine

The sweet sound of people snoring after.

The smells gently waft through the house

Exciting my nose and palate

Accompanied by the pungent scent of Brussel sprouts

Whiffs – must be the shallots.

My mouth has the memory of the tastes

The outside crisp, the inside juicy

 Mommy opening the oven to baste

 How crispy and dark the top, you see?

The smooth whipped white potatoes

The salty taste of the olives and pickles

The crispy, crunchy bitter taste of Fried green tomatoes

The sweet, tart taste of cranberry sauce tickles.

The colors of the table set for a queen.

Blue plates, gold silverware

The yellow cornucopia of squash, cobbed corn, and beans

The freshly ironed green linen was laid with care.

But this Thanksgiving will be ‘mask’-ed

Our table will be thinner

Social distancing we’ll all be asked

Thankful, we’ll have our Turkey TV Dinner.

Happy thanksgiving to all who read this!

Humor for Thanksgiving

Sometimes I am in a silly mood and have to write goofy stories. This is one of them. I suggest you read it out loud making the indicated noises – makes it even goofier than the written word.

The Strange Case of Tom and Tilly Turkey

The following is the Barnyard Investigation interviews’ actual transcripts concerning the disappearance of Tom and Tilly Turkey on November 25th. The lead BDI (Barnyard Detective Investigator) was Maxine Moo, helped by the special agent Billy Bull.

The first witness to be interviewed was Gilbert Goat.

Maxine Moo (MM): “Good afternoon, Mr. Goat. I’m sure you are aware of why you …”

Gilbert Goat (GG): “Oh, I am very aware of why I am here. Something Baaad had happened to Tom and Tilly. I knew as soon as I saw the blood on the stump in the barnyard later in the day that something very Baaad had happened to someone…”

MM: “Yes, well, Mr. Goat. What I’d like to know is when did you see Tom and Tilly last?”

GG: “Well, let me see. I guess it was the morning of the 25th. I’d noticed that there was a lot of activity going on at the Farmhouse. Mistress was even late feeding us, which isn’t like her. There were all sorts of wonderful smells wafting out from the Farmhouse kitchen – apples, which we got some scraps from when she did come to feed us.”

MM: “Yes, yes, go on, but when did you last see Tom and Tilly?”

GG: “Tom came out first from his nighttime coop. About ten minutes later, Tilly waddled out – between you and me – she had put on quite a few pounds recently. Of course, Tom was always a rather hefty guy, but he too looked a bit paunchy that day. If you ask me, I think it was because Mistress had been giving them extra corn in the last month. Anyway, Tom was strutting around muttering about how he had a baaad feeling about the coming days.”

Billy Bull: (Low voice) “A Bad feeling? Did he tell you why he felt like that?”

GG: (Looking at Billy Bull with surprise and then turned back to Detective Mooo.)” He said something about a platter and gravy, but I had no idea what he was talking about. Tilly was her usual silly self, searching the ground for any stray specks of corn that might still be eaten. She was clucking on about how Tom always thought the sky was falling.”

MM: “Go on – what happened after that?”

GG: “That was when Mistress came out to feed us goats. I don’t recall seeing Tom and Tilly after that.

MM: “Alright, thank you, Gilbert. You were very helpful.”

[Gilbert leaves muttering about the Baaad things that surely happened to the Turkeys.]

BB: “Well, boss, what did you think of that? Tom had a hunch that something terrible was going to happen that day.”

MM: “Let’s see if Peter Pony can shed some light on what happened to the Turkeys.”

[Peter Pony was led into the interrogation stall, and Billy Bull started his questioning]

BB: “How old are you, Peter?”

Peter Pony (PP): “Twenty- two years old. Lived here all my life. Know everyone, Seen everybody.  Nothing gets by meeeh (neigh).”

BB: “What can you tell us about the disappearance of Tom and Tilly Turkey?’

PP: “I had slept in on the 25th because I … well … I was kicking up my heels the night before, so I was late going out to the corral. It was then that I saw the Master coming out with his ax. He stood there in the Turkey coop yard, sharpening his ax. I knew then that someone was in Big Trouble.” [PP paused here to shake his head. He gulped and began again.] “Anyway, the Mistress came out then and started nagging on him to ‘get it over with.’ She needed to get the ‘Birds de-feathered if the children were to have Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow.’ Well, I had heard such talk before, and I decided to make a run for the pasture as I didn’t want to be around anymore. I took off for the pasture, and as I did, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tom and Tilly rushing about in their enclosure looking very upset. I never saw them after that. They just disappeared.”

BB: “Thank you, Peter, for your eye-witness account.”

PP: “Like I said, nothing gets past Meeeh. [Neighs]”

MM says, “Things don’t look good for the Turkeys. We have one more eye-witness, Robbie Rooster. I’ll see if I can round him up.”

BB answers, “He’s probably strutting around the yard in front of his girls. He’s such a show- off.”

[The interrogation resumes after 10 minutes when BDI Moo returns with Robbie Rooster strutting proud as a peacock into the stall.]

RR: “I know what happened to those poor birds. I saw it with my own eyes,” he crowed  Er-er- aroo as he paced back and forth in the room.  [Er-er- aroo]

MM:” Please, could you sit down and tell us what you saw?”

RR: “Er-er-aroo, I saw the Master do it. I was sitting atop the barn watching out for Freddy Fox, who has been sneaking around this last week. I saw the whole thing happen! Er-er- aroo First, it was Silly Tilly. Took her by her feet and slammed her on the stump, then WHACK! Snapped her head right off with an ax. Just like that, he did! Terrible, it was …  Er – er – aroo.”

MM: [Gasping.] “The Master cut off her head?”

RR: “YES! Er-er- aroo! He had a hard time catching Tom, though. Unlike his wife, he knew what was happening. He ran the Master ragged chasing after him, but in the end, he caught poor Tom and WHACK! The same fate for him as for Poor Tilly.” Er-er- aroo

MM: [Shaking his head] “Such a shame; Such a lovely couple.”

BB: “Lose their heads; did they?”

RR: Er-er- aroo “Yep, then the next day, we see feathers blowing all around the yard and the smell of apple pies and a wonderful meat roasting. I’ve had my suspicions that it’s those birds, but I never really knew.” [ Robbie resumed his strutting pacing and crowing.]

MM: Thank you, Robbie, for clearing this case up. Your story was very mooo-ving.”

[Billy Bull and Maxine Moo watched Robbie proudly sashay back into the barnyard.]

BB: Well, boss, I guess that clears up the mystery as to what happened to Tom and Tilly.”

MM: “Sad business. Sad business, but it is the way of the barnyard, isn’t it?”

BB: “Detective Moo, at least we now know for sure that there was no foul play involved.”

Detective Moo sharply looked up at Billy Bull: “Yes, Agent Bull, At least we know there was no foul play. No Fowl play at all.”

A Poem for the Times: I Wish I Could

My dear friends, I know I have been absent for the summer months. I’ve found it challenging to write due to the unrest, the vitriol of the election, the downward spiral of job loss with its consequences of homelessness and hunger, as well as the unrelenting deadly virus. What a summer! My muse went out on a walk somewhere. As I became embroiled in all the complexity of life, my brain froze, and I found sitting down to write was just too difficult. Then this morning, my muse – at a most inopportune time – whispered in my ear. What was I to do? If I ignored her, the thoughts would be lost forever. So I sat down immediately and composed this poem. Feel free to share it as long as you credit me.

I Wish I Could Send You Rain
By Marie Staight
I wish I could send you rain
To quench the thirst of your land
And all the crops and trees.
I wish I could battle the fires
To stop the burning
Of your houses, farms, and wildlife.
I wish I could send you the fresh, clean air.
The unblemished air of a controlled climate
Air to breathe without soot and toxins.
I wish I could send you food to eat
To nourish your bodies
And help you grow strong.
I wish I could plant justice
In your towns and cities
So everyone would be treated the same.
I wish I could wave a wand  to
Mend all the sick and
Rid us of this awful pandemic.
I wish I could send you peace.
A peace that quiets all the souls
And brings love to one another.
The only thing left in reality
Is to wave my magic hand
And VOTE to change all the epidemics.
God help us all if change does not come
If there is no cleansing rain
If there is no fresh air
If there is not enough food
If there is no justice
If the sick do not mend
If peace does not come.
My heart beats in panic
 Vote, Vote, Vote, Vote …