From the Porch

Many great “Porch Tales” have been written over the years. There are Front Porch Tales (by one of my favorite authors, Philip Gulley), Back Porch Tales, Tales from the Porch and more. This one will be minus the “great” adjective, but it is being written on the porch. Cinnamon and I are on the porch enjoying the soon-to-be-too-hot out-of-doors.

Porch, minus Jennie and Cinnamon.

As far as social distancing goes, this week has been filled with fun just far enough from other participants to be safe, but not so far as to limit the fun potential. Ah ha, this ol’ dog can learn new tricks (however, I would prefer “this ol’ cat”) like how to have socially-distanced (but not isolated) fun. In fact, learning new ways to have fun is fun. Let’s take it a step further; fun is fun (okay, that was one step too far).

So, what fun-filled socially-distanced activities did I participate in this week, and can you do similar activities? Yes (maybe not as graciously as super-hostess Andrea, I certainly couldn’t) because necessity is not only the mother of invention (in my life, poverty was always the mother of invention), the pursuit of socially-distanced fun is also a mother of invention. Boy, “Invention” has many mothers. Maybe “Invention” comes from one of those polygamous Mormon communities – nah.

Andrea hosted a lovely day of yard art painting, complete with an elegantly socially-distanced lunch. We wore masks when closer than six feet apart, and while far enough apart to be safe, we told maskless stories and happily painted the weathered ceramic yard creatures.

We held our breath while smiling to take this maskless photo.

I loved Terry’s tales of growing up in a large loving family (when one of the kids would have a friend to dinner, which was pretty much every night, her Dad would say, “better get out another can of corn, Mom”). I loved Andrea’s tales of her Mother’s insatiable curiosity which led to many new interests and experiments (shamanism, vegetarianism and many other isms). All were worthy of the best of porches, even though they were told in our makeshift garage art studio. As far as garage art studios go, it was neat as a pin, well ventilated, with all the accouterments amateur artists could need.

Happily refurbished yard art.

New Mexico’s governor announced that plans to lift or lessen social gathering restrictions were on hold due to an increase in COVID cases, following what had been a steady decline. I say, okay. Fun can be had, on the porch, in the garage, and other places, that I haven’t yet experienced, with either a mask on or six feet between party-goers. Life is good.


I consider myself a life-long learner. I wish it was because I had an insatiable curiosity and desire to learn, but the reason is pure necessity. I am a slow learner. I have been making pancakes for my kids and grandkids for about thirty-five years. After years of burning the first batch, last year I realized that I needed to preheat the skillet. I have not burned a pancake since (a few were on the toasty side, but did not achieve “burnt” status).

Last year I wrote that Spring was a harsh task-master (specifically, spring cleaning and yard preparation). Summer is unofficially here and it will be official tomorrow. The squash plant I bragged about last week has squash bugs and I found a tomato worm on my giant tomato plant. Summertime can be demanding too (and gross when you factor in bugs and worms). The Gershwin brothers must not have lived in New Mexico, because the “livin'” during a New Mexico summertime is hot and sweaty. sprinkled (sometimes buried) with generous amounts of dust and sand. Summertime is good here, it just isn’t easy. I re-learn this lesson every summer.

I am still learning that when I say “yes” to every request made of me, I get overwhelmed. I’m 63. We don’t even want to discuss what kind of trouble that got me into when I was a teenager. As I said, I’m a slow learner.

One of my greatest learning challenges is learning to be happy. When I’m busy, I wish I was resting. When I’m resting, I am bored and wish I was busy. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a remedial “How to be Happy and Content” course? If so, I should enroll. I’ll probably get a C-. Life is good!

I hope no squash bugs or tomato worms are visible in this photo.


Here it is again: this week. Friend Shari called last night to check in, because I hadn’t yet posted my weekly Friday blog post. I told her I felt like I didn’t have anything to say and then proceeded to talk for thirty minutes straight, barely allowing her to utter a word. My kind (patient) Shari helped me to remember, that abundance abounds (how’s that for a little redundant alliteration) in my life. Words spew forth from me when I don’t think I have any, and even when I should shut the spigot, and allow my abundance of words the time required to gel into something worth saying. So, with no further deliberation, I’ll let the words flow (I’m hungry, and I told myself I couldn’t have anything to eat until I finished this – this will not contribute to quality, but it will get it done).

In early May, I planted a zucchini seed. Last year I had a giant zucchini plant, that produced a huge supply of that vegetable. Friends and neighbors ran when they saw me approaching, fearing that I might have a flimsy plastic Walmart bag about to burst with its load of zucchini concealed behind my back, as I awaited my opportunity to hoist it upon them. I did. After last year’s experience, I felt I had no alternative, but to plant a zucchini seed this year. Due to the quarantine, I had to plant an old zucchini seed that I found in the bottom of a drawer. This gave me hope that it would not germinate and ultimately generate zucchini. I was wrong. I now have a giant zucchini plant with an abundance of blooms and their vegetable progeny. In addition to words, zucchini are soon to be abundantly available in Jennie Land. Posting this, may result in a scarcity of friend and neighbor availability, which will make it easier for me to leave flimsy plastic Walmart bags full of zucchini on doorsteps. Life is good.

This year’s zucchini plant.

In another example of abundant supply, Shari’s Mom’s Mary-Poppins-carpetbag-like tub of sewing supplies which I had been given, again provided me with the supplies I needed for an unplanned, unexpected need: stuffed animal emergency surgery. Granddaughter, Liadan, arrived Thursday night for a sleepover with two well-loved, well-worn stuffed animals, each missing its nose. Upon searching through the aforementioned tub, I found not one, but TWO button cards, with a stuffed animal nose button. What are the odds of that happening? I sewed a nose button on each of the previously noseless stuffed animals, to Liadan’s delight. This contributed to the abundance of joy, which is Liadan, and elevated me in her esteem, which abundantly added to my joy.

Button card, post nose-button-removal

Words, buttons; what else might be abundantly available? I’m going to go look in my refrigerator right now to see. Life IS good!

Well Said

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a YouTube video link ( which portrayed a father telling his son a bedtime story about the positive impact “the virus” had on society. It is lovely. That was two weeks ago. This week the news media is no longer focused on the COVID virus, but the viral violence and unrest following tragic incidents of viral racial injustice. I often worry that rather than informing, the news media incites. However, in the midst of reporting the various atrocities, be it political interference in a peaceful protest to allow for a photo op, or opportunistic violence and looting, CBS chose to include the reading, by a young African American poet, of a Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.”

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

Well said Mr. Hughes.

I was reading Dear Abby in the newspaper this week (I read it to ameliorate my self-pity), and Abby, in response to a writer, who was wallowing in his own self-pity due to self-perceived inadequate levels of personal happiness, quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.”

Well said Mr. Emerson

I know that black lives matter. I know that all lives matter… the same. We all matter – no one group more than another. What I don’t know, is what other people, and groups of people, experience in their lives that causes their pain and unrest; therefore, I shouldn’t judge. My grandmother gave me a bound copy of Maya Angelou’s inauguration poem, “On the Pulse of Morning.” She read her poem during Bill Clinton’s 1993 presidential inauguration. I loved its words, “History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, but if faced, With courage, need not be lived again.” I loved Ms. Angelou’s explanation of her poem: “In my work, in everything I do, I mean to say that we human beings are more alike than we are unalike, and to use that statement to break down the walls we set between ourselves because we are different.” 

Well said Ms. Angelou.

I want to learn to be a better person. How blessed I am that there are so many GREAT teachers: poets, protesters, philosophers and even viruses.

Cinnamon teaches me to rest and enjoy nature.