Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - April 10, 2020

Opposite of exciting

Our neighbor is mowing his lawn while two of the neighborhood cats are sprawled out in the sun on our back deck. Husband Art is doing his usual Sunday search for information on whatever topic sparks his curiosity. Today, that happens to be LED lights.

We finished a breakfast of bacon, fried eggs with fried mushrooms and tomatoes, toast and orange juice. The fried mushrooms and tomatoes are a by-product of our many trips to the United Kingdom, where an FEB - full English breakfast - was the usual way to start the morning. A special treat was the prickly pear jelly with green chiles we purchased a year ago when we were with our daughter and son-in-law in New Mexico. However, I did forget to add some beans - another FEB staple!

The dishes are now done and I have my second cup of coffee sitting to the right of my laptop. I had seen the mug at the tourist information office in Metz, France the past couple of years, but the price tag seemed a bit high at nearly 20 Euros - about $24 - especially for someone who already had an abundant supply of coffee cups. However, last summer I couldn't resist. Made of porcelain by the Villeroy and Boch company, it has an unusual shape with black and red symbols representing France's Lorraine region - the dragon Graoully, Mirabelle plums, St. Etienne Cathedral, the German gate and others.

And that's the way Art and I will spend our next few Saturdays, Sundays and other days - by just slowing down a bit and looking more closely at things we often don't give much time to.

The last Sunday of March, we put our smart phones down and checked them only twice - once around noon and again at 6 p.m. Art read a Consumer Reports magazine from cover-to-cover in one sitting; cleaned the corners of our kitchen sink where lime deposits had built up from our hard well water; replaced burned-out bulbs in our dining room ceiling light fixture; and pumped up the tire on his car that has been sitting in the garage all winter.

Together, we spent two hours defrosting our freezer. I'm not sure why we didn't buy a frost-free one when we got it years ago, but it was definitely time, as nearly four-inch layers of ice covered the coils in some places. Art used the heat gun from his work, and I went back and forth between the freezer and our sink emptying the water and chunks of ice that fell into the dishpan. When it was done, we had to decide what frozen food to keep and what to toss. Raspberries and blackberries we had collected from our many berrying adventures in northern Wisconsin were in the "keep" category, but 10-year-old desiccated trout didn't make the cut.

Background music was provided by three CDs we had previously not found the time to play. Ah, unopened Christmas gifts in March! My favorites were Josh Groban and Aled Wyn Davies, the latter being a Welsh tenor we had heard in person at a concert in Wales in spring 2018. As evening came on, we walked to Wildcat Creek, where years ago Art went fishing for catfish.

This past weekend, I spent most of my time "puttering" - "pottering" for my English friends - which I describe as "going from thing to thing, with no particular goal in mind."

I brought out my box of Easter decorations and spent some time creating an Easter "tableau" - an arrangement of faux forsythia, a realistic-looking chick, a few ducks, some bunnies and an old Easter postcard greeting on a silver platter. But before I arranged all the items, I polished the platter to a perfect shine. It was a gift to my mother in 1986 on the occasion of her retirement from 31 years of teaching.

Art grabbed another postcard I had bought at an antique shop somewhere and translated the Norwegian message into English. "Dear Carl, since this is Easter Sunday and I have nothing else to do, I decided to send you an Easter post card. With warm feelings from sister Selma." How fitting.

Then he traced Carl and Selma Thykeson to Fox, Minnesota near the Canadian border.

I hung various framed items that have been languishing in multiple locations around the house. In one corner, I hung sketches of favorite places, a sunflower photo taken by daughter-in-law Miriam, a poppy watercolor by a local artist, a "cantuta" (national flower of Bolivia) acrylic done by Mom, a poem about Grandpa Nels Mostrom's native �ngermanland Province in Sweden, an Americus woodcut of a teacher, and others. It's probably "too much," but I kind of like the "gallery" look.

Art and I have also enjoyed cooking at home. Typically, we would go out to lunch almost every day during the week. Now, we look forward to a simple lunch and more-elaborate evening meals. My favorite recently was baked salmon with a rice dish including peppers, onions, mushrooms and carrots. But his corned-beef and cabbage was mighty tasty too.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists the following synonyms for "exciting":

breathtaking, charged, electric, electrifying, exhilarating, exhilarative, galvanic, galvanizing, hair-raising, heart-stopping, inspiring, intoxicating, kicky, mind-bending, mind-blowing, mind-boggling, rip-roaring, rousing, stimulating, stirring, thrilling

I think what we've been doing would be considered calming, uncharged, heart-settling - in other words, the opposite of exciting. Still, I somehow find our simple activities special - and they make me smile.

Top-left: Finally found the time to hang items that have been sitting in various places; top-center: Metz coffee mug; right: my "tableau" with mom's silver tray; bottom-left: completing the freezer defrosting.

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