Gail and Tom
Now that we are back to normal, wait, are we?
Where are you a year and a half later? Are you homeschooling? Are you working at home? Have you started a new business, a new hobby, new friends via zoom? Not too much has changed for Tom and me. We read, write, edit, do various work, and garden. Tom edited my revised historical novels with their artsy new covers. The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin and The Memorable Mrs. Dempsey will be out August 18, 2021, on the anniversary of women’s right to vote.
Gail’s upcoming releases.
We’re an hour from our New Jersey family, not that I’m complaining, but it might as well be another country. Life is busy, no dropping by, we must arrange get-together dates. We live on the way north, so we get visits from a family going that way. Travelers and the rest of the world must pass through the rolling hills of Connecticut to the upper northern New England states and Canada. Grandkids Ben and Stephanie are on their way to Maine, six hours north of us. The stop here cuts an hour off their trip. Grandkids are refreshing and fun.
“You had a long drive—would you like something cold to drink?” I ask.
Stephanie’s eyes sparkle. “Thanks.”
“Try this new one we found in Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious. SANPELLEGRINO Italian sparkling drinks Aranciata Rossa, it’s good and so sweet.”
Stephanie shakes her head and holds up her purple plastic water bottle. “Some fresh water and ice are fine, thanks.”
Ben holds up his gray bottle. “Me too.”
Spoil the grandkids, my mantra. Goodies—cookies, ice cream, popcorn—they love popcorn, anything but just water. I grab my colossal can of mega-sized peanuts, fill up small scoops, and hand them out. They munch the nuts and sip the water. It satisfies me for a minute. Feeding them supper—pizza, hamburgers and fries, dessert from the Portuguese bakery here in town, Pastéis de Nata, custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry and chocolate chip cookies the size of your fist. That’s more like it.
These grown-up grandkids, Stephanie, nurse, Ben, mechanical engineer, like any friends I have, propose exciting subjects. Technological changes over the last sixty years. Unknown challenges. I’ve rewired. It’s a struggle, but each wrangle gets easier, even now whoever heard of plugging in a phone to recharge. What the heck? Batteries run life, like a hybrid car. Huh?
My most memorable decade, the 1950s and the polio epidemic summer, all the pools closed, the beaches empty. At fifteen, mother hurried me for my polio vaccine to a nearby doctor. Tom’s brother Will caught the dreaded polio. His right hand suffered from the crippling polio. According to the June 2021 AARP magazine, those who had polio can relapse in their elder years, like shingles from chickenpox.
I danced halfway through the ‘50s. My fav, the lindy, renamed the swing! Can you hear Tommy Dorsey piping in the swingin’ music? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers swirling and twirling.
Lilian August classic walnut desk
Ben and Steph, both homeschooled. Will they homeschool when they have kids? Maybe. We all agree there’s no simple answer for the best education. The evening ends too soon. That six-hour drive calls for an early rise. We don’t hear a sound when they leave. We’ll have another visit soon, delivering the classic walnut five-foot Lillian August desk to their new home. A gift from us.
How did you make it through with your crew? Who was the first person outside of your bubble that you hugged?
It’s my pleasure to introduce Author Rebecca Heflin as my guest today. Rebecca captured my heart with her dedication to help others, to help organize the blogs for Soul Mate Publishing, and read on for the other million things about this amazing working woman.
Author Rebecca Heflin
This time last year I was making my holiday preparations, which included the honor of presiding over the marriage of my nephew and his fiancée on Christmas Day—a truly joyous way to spend the holiday. This time last year, I was looking forward to a new year, fresh with the promise of a new start. Which meant, this time last year, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Instead, I was naively planning two international trips, a local canoe and camping trip, several charity events, two weddings, countless family and social gatherings, and the celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary.
Who could have imagined it wouldn’t be long before the world would be living the plot of some sci-fi thriller?
January and February bumped along as normal, with work, exercise classes, dinners with friends, and preparations for the release of my 10th novel. By the end of February, the dark edges of the coming storm were visible.
The first weekend in March was my birthday. I celebrated it that Friday with dinner out and a show at our local performing arts center. There was also an out of town wedding that Saturday, which my husband and I attended. Looking back, being in those very public venues probably wasn’t the smartest decision on our part, but the tidal wave had not yet hit our area. March 17th was my last day in the office, as the university I work for shut down and sent its employees home to work remotely. It would be only a day or two later when the entire state would go under lockdown. Again, in my naiveté, I thought things would be back to normal in a month or so. Silly me.
Zoom meetings would become a regular occurrence in my daily life, and the next few months were a blur of fear and adjustments, as my husband and I created new routines for ourselves. We limited our grocery shopping to once a week. If we didn’t pick up an item during that weekly visit, we just lived without until the following week. Toilet paper (when the store had it) was priced at roughly the equivalent of a gram of gold. Preparing for grocery shopping felt a little like preparing to enter a contaminated laboratory: masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes at the ready. After returning home, it felt like entering a decontamination unit: washing hands, wiping down groceries, and disinfecting everything we touched.
We watched in horror as the numbers rose and people died—many of them frontline workers. I obsessed over the daily case counts, horrified when we hit 1 million cases in the U.S., not even considering that we would reach double-digit case counts in a few short months.
It wasn’t all bad, however. We also watched the world come together in a common experience. Music and voices rose from city terraces. Drive-by birthday, anniversary, and graduation ceremonies became a thing with horns beeping, lights flashing, and signs waiving. Humanity found a way to celebrate life’s milestones even amid a pandemic.
For me, working from home meant no commute. This freed up time for other things. And the lack of social engagements and other commitments meant time for jigsaw puzzles, minor home improvements, and gardening. Not to mention more quality time with my husband. We had a beautiful spring—cooler than average temperatures, and beautiful low-humidity days—which gave us the opportunity for more outdoor activities like corn-hole games, bike rides, and long walks. Life slowed down, and I couldn’t complain about that.
As we learned more about how the virus was spread, and businesses opened up again, we developed a routine that gave us a little more flexibility. Masked and otherwise following the public health guidelines, we gradually began to leave our sterile cocoon. We had friends over for outdoor socially-distanced dinners (BYOF). We began supporting our local restaurants with take-out or delivery, eventually feeling comfortable dining outside at our favorites.
In May, my husband and I celebrated a quiet, but romantic 25th wedding anniversary—not exactly how we had imagined, but nice just the same.
We took three short driving vacations, 2 to the mountains of North Carolina, and 1 to the beach in the Florida panhandle. The change of scenery provided a welcome respite to the sameness of the daily routines.
After working remotely for 6 months, I returned to my office, but still isolated from my co-workers. I only see them masked and walking in the hallway or on Zoom. It was surreal when I entered my office in September to see the calendar still on March.
Here we are again with Christmas past and New Year’s fast-approaching. There is a light, in the form of vaccines, at the end of this long dark tunnel that is 2020. It will take some time, and more patience is necessary, but we will get there. We will overcome this. The world did it in 1918-1919, and we will do it in 2020-2021.
But will the world ever be the same again? I, for one, won’t be. I am forever changed by this experience. I will never again be blissfully ignorant. I have lost my innocence.
Even so, not all the changes are bad. I have come to appreciate so many things I took for granted: my health, my family, freedom of movement, hugs and kisses shared among family and friends, big gatherings and shared social experiences. And my good fortune. Throughout it all, I have wanted for none of life’s necessities. I can’t ask for more than that from the crappy year that was 2020.
Rebecca Heflin is a best-selling, award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job at a large state university.
Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to touch base with her.
All of her books are available on Amazon
as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Eden Books.
The third book in Rebecca Heflin’s Seasons of Northridge Series, A Season to Dream, will be released mid-2021.
Gail in red
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and The Holiday Season is usually the time of year when we love to add a bit of sparkle and color to our beauty regimens. Let’s get dressed up even though we might be spending this Holiday Season at home. Take pictures, videos, and hop online to celebrate with everyone. And what better way to look your best than by using healthy and clean beauty products. That’s why I’ve been using BeautyCounter for almost four years.
I want to share with you a brief history of BeautyCounter, founded by Gregg Renfrew, and why it’s revolutionizing the beauty industry.
Gregg Renfrew, Founder of Beautycounter
Gregg Renfrew: Like many of you, I’m a wife and mom—and, like many of you, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. As I applied sunscreen, lotion, and any number of beauty products on myself and my kids, I never thought for a second they might not be safe: After all, I thought, we live in a country that regulates everything. So imagine my surprise when I learned that when it comes to the personal care industry, that’s simply not the case. Companies are allowed to use harmful ingredients and make their own judgments about safety. And so I started Beautycounter, a company devoted to progress. Here you’ll find a wealth of empowering information about ways we can all make the world healthier, along with safer products you can trust. Because we all deserve better. Our vision is bold; real answers are never timid. Help us put truth back in beauty.
Our Mission To get safer products into the hands of everyone. Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues (including but not limited to asthma, cancer, and infertility) are on the rise and are due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it’s in the shower, on our commute, while we eat lunch at a local restaurant, or when we clean our kitchens at home.
There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skincare and beauty industry. What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids’ bodies every single day, day after day, and to make their own judgments about safety. It’s time for a change.
The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.
We deserve better, and we’re doing something about it. At Beautycounter, we’re committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by U.S. law: We’ve banned the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through our “Never List
”— all while ensuring our products perform and that they’re as indulgent as any other shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market. It’s not easy work, but it’s well worth it. This is about progress—not perfection. Because every little bit counts.
Learn more about the impact the environment is having on your health.
The prestigious and reliable Scientific American Magazine speaks: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-safe-are-cosmetics/
Gail Ingis is an interior designer, artist, and multi-published author. She is also a wife, mom, and grandma. She takes care of her skin using BeautyCounter. You can contact Gail at email@example.com.
That’s Tom on the left. 🙂
It’s a scary time out there for all of us, especially those of us in our golden years. We’ve been through a lot in our time, war, unemployment, illness, divorce, death of loved ones, but we continue to march on because that’s what we do. We are the generation who have learned to make the most out of every day we have. And these days, it’s even more important. Like everyone else, we want to do our part and stay healthy and not overburden the medical system. We’ve done all our shopping and stocking up on supplies. Although it’s tempting to get take-out food from restaurants, it’s probably better to cook at home. Except we couldn’t help getting our breakfast “to-go” this morning from our favorite eatery: Duchess Diner in Fairfield, CT.
Breakfast Duchess-style: Eggs over easy, sausage, home fries very well-done, and whole wheat bread. We get one order and split. He gets the bigger portion. SO GOOD! – Duchess Diner in Fairfield, CT.
We will keep going on our morning walks, and we decided to have some alternate fun beginning in the garden on those almost warm and sunny days, maybe take out our favorite swing. The plan is to give our little Honda Insight a fresh waxing and make it sparkle.
Happy Birthday, Ed! That’s his granddaughter Carley. She’s hanging out with him for a while.
Runners and walkers love to come to our neighborhood to enjoy the views and the ever-changing spectacular designs of God. We also get visits from foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and packs of deer, eight of them were on Ed’s lawn the other morning. I guess they heard it was Ed’s ninety-fifth birthday and came to offer good wishes. Maybe they were the ones who tied the birthday balloons to the lamp post? (Psst…actually it was Diane, who lives down the street.) Ed is made of sturdy stuff too! He was a navy man in WWII and he walks every morning, our inspiration.
I’ve done a few things in my life too. In 2009 I decided I wanted to write the love story about the artist, Albert Bierstadt. And I did, not before taking enough workshops and courses that would have given me a Masters in writing. I’m eighty-four and I’ve written two historical romance novels (yes even us old folks remember what it’s like to fall in love). And, now, I’m writing my memoir. What a trip down memory lane. Some of it is fun, some not so fun. But that’s the thing about life, you take every day as it comes. Yes, Tom and I are holding hands and are doing well.
I did mention we were going to do something funt? Today was Hat Day! I wish you all good health and happiness in these coming months. May this time bring us closer together and may we make some good memories pitching in to do our part.
Farewell till next time.
Gail Ingis is the author of INDIGO SKY and THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN. You can find her books on Amazon.
My current books