Is it Really Only Day 2?

Is it really only Day 2 of this madness?  Was it really only 2 days ago my company sent me home to telework?  Seems like a lifetime…..

Home with 2 teenage grandchildren thrilled to be set free from school.

Food I thought would last over a week is gone – gone on Day 1.

On Day 1, I hopped out bed super, super early to get my day started.  Before jumping on my computer for work, I made ham & grilled cheese sandwiches for all.  Of course, by the time the teenagers woke it was brunch, and the sandwiches were hard and cold.  Didn’t faze them a bit.  Not long after, their dad made them lunch and they wolfed that down.

I was so in tune with my work, I did not cock my head ever so slightly to the right to notice the pile of dishes growing in the kitchen.  By the time I turned off my computer and glanced around, I almost fell out of my chair.

I started cleaning and making a simple supper of salad & blackened chicken.  I did not finish until 7:30 p.m.  What da heck?  I am usually finished much quicker than this, even working outside of the home.

I vow the next day I will be better.

Close to 8 p.m., the son and grandkids go for a drive to get out of the house.  I happily lock myself in my room to watch This is Us.  I’m all comfy about ½ hour in when I am suddenly plunged into darkness.  We lost power caused by a wreck down the street.  So much for that.

Almost two hours later while we were still without power, the son and the kids entertain themselves by holding up the flashlight and making shadow figures with their hands.  I am not amused.  My grandson said this is what the future looks like.  So I do something most unbecoming of a grandmother.  I walk up to the flashlight and project half of a peace symbol onto the ceiling.  That’s what I think about that kind of future!

Day 2 – up super early again, and start with a simple bowl of yogurt, fruit and granola.  By 8:30, the dog finally wakes up.  He is not a morning person – at all.  Much later, the grands wake up and rummage through the kitchen like raccoons in a trash can.  By late lunch, my son is making chili cheese fries.  He thinks he is frying too many potatoes.  Ha!  The son did not eat any because he had to head to work.  I ate a small plate.  Not a potato was left 10 minutes later.

The afternoon scourging continued.

When at work, I park farthest away from my building to get extra steps.  I walk on my 10 minute breaks.  I walk to the farthest bathroom.  I walk to the farthest water fountain.  I walk at lunch.  I sometimes leave work with 8,000 steps.

My co-worker and I vowed to take our 10 minute breaks and walk in the fresh air of our yards.  Didn’t happen – at least not for me.  At 3:30 I look at my FitBit – 975 steps.

I vow the next day I will do better.

I did not……

Fast forward to day – well, I don’t even know what day it is of this social distancing.  Time is inconsequential right now.  We are adjusting to our new normal in our household.  I am getting a little better at my steps.  I love jumping out of bed and being ‘at work’ in one minute.  The commute is great!  Some lazy days, I work in my PJs – and make sure to put a piece of paper over my laptop camera for live meetings.

The son and I realized we were caught in this ‘stay at home’ mode so unprepared.  Years ago, here at Spooky Hollow Southern MS, we always said we were semi-prepared for an apocalypse.  Semi-prepared meaning we were only prolonging our misery and death.  We had chickens.  We had a big vegetable garden.  All of us are “marksmen” and ready to hunt.  Over time, we got rid of the chickens, and have not gardened in a few years.

With me moving back home last year, my son and I intended to revive the garden on a smaller scale.  We debated chickens, but decided against them.  We intended to slowly revamp the garden during the winter if it was mild.  The winter was mild alright, but wet.  There was no tilling rows until the soil dried.  Also, my son was in a deep depression.  There was no tilling him until the depression dried out.

The weather warmed, the soil was drying and COVID-19 made a vicious appearance.  Our lives were rocked.  We never expected to see a time where there was a food/toilet paper shortage.  Watching the gluttony on TV propelled my son out of his depression and into movement.  Having teenagers, I believe he panicked for a moment worrying about feeding them for the long term.

We shifted into high gear and did about a month’s worth of outside work in one weekend.  I decided to get a few baby chicks.  I said we were getting six chicks and that was it.  So I now have 8 chicks and 5 ducks……

None of this will help out in this current crisis, but we will be a little better prepared for the next…if there is a next….I hope there isn’t a next……

Titus 2:12

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age…

My grandson said he wants to return to pre-Coronavirus days.

I hear you child.

I want to return to days of common sense.  If you cannot bring your family to church for fear of spreading the virus, why bring the entire gang to Wal Mart?

I want to return to days of morals where morons don’t lick the ice cream in the freezer section of the grocery store, put it back, while filming this and posting to social media.  What’s worse is when idiots think this is funny, so said idiot imitates said moron, performing said ice cream licking……


We started a Spooky Hollow Southern MS YouTube channel.  We will be documenting our progress.  For those that know us, you know you will witness major goofiness.  My aim isn’t so much to educate, but to make you think and do your own research.  We are former city dwellers, with limited knowledge of creating a victory garden and a faux farm.  We do not have specialized equipment. We use what is on our property, or purchase what we need economically.  We have many goofy moments, trials and tribulations.  I will be documenting these moments to share with you – mainly so that you can learn from our mistakes.  If you need really professional advice, you best go elsewhere. But if you want to learn about starting country life, with lots of laughs, you are in the right place.

You can also check us out on FB:


(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights {temporarily suspended due to COVID-19} – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary!  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)

Another note:  Avon has daily essentials, such as toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, liquid soap, bug guard and sun screen.  We even have Chi Hair Dye.  You do not need to leave your house.  All items will be delivered directly to your door.

Too bad Avon does not sell toilet paper…….


After the Spiral…..

I spiraled Valentine’s week.  I am not proud of it, but it is what it is.  I know spiraling can be expected during grief.  Does not mean I was ready for it though.  It was a bad spiral.  I was not sure I was going to climb out of that rabbit hole this time.

I had a panic attack in Dollar General.  I barely made it through the check out, ran to my vehicle, and cried once I shut the door.  Cried all the way home.

Grief is rough.  On top of regular grief, trying to process your husband committing suicide makes you wonder how you function every day.

With the help of my therapist, I realized I was missing what might have been, and going down the What If rabbit hole.  What if my old vehicle dies?  What if I can’t fix the problems in my old house?  What if I never get my vegetable garden started ever again?  I have to re-till and amend the soil because I have not had a garden for 3 years.  What if I can’t do this by myself?  What if I can’t fix the potholes on my dirt road?

The irony is, the hope of ‘what could have been’ sustained me through my husband’s mental illness.  I always had hope his physical and mental ailments would be cured and we would grow old together as planned.  Now, after his death, the ‘what could have been’ was driving me insane.  Identifying this emotion, owning it for what it was, sure helped propel me to once again put one foot in front of the other.

Another factor playing into my depression was the weather.  Our region normally has mild winters.  We didn’t have particularly extreme cold days, but we had a wet winter.  Most times, there are nights where we can go outside, light a fire and have outdoor movie night.  There was none of that this winter because it was just too wet.  Not being able to be outside, on the land I so love, was much more draining that I ever could have imagined.

Fortunately, Saturday was dry and mild.  With my newfound grasp on reality, I was able to spend some time in sunshine and this lifted my spirits tremendously.  I felt empowered!

I tackled the yard, starting with cleaning up some messes.  Then, I learned how to drive our zero-turn lawnmower while wearing my bright pink Avon Mattitude Liquid Lipstick.  I also learned how to connect my headphones to my cell so I could listen to music while cutting the grass.


I broke the lawnmower.

Not progress!

And as if widowhood wasn’t enough, a lizard got in my house.  I picked up a magazine, saw a little stick sticking out of it and proceeded to remove it, when said stick jumps on my finger.  Said stick turns out to be a baby lizard.  I shake my finger while screaming and hopping around.  The baby lizard scampers to parts unknown and can probably live in this house to adulthood because I am not picking it up.  I realized I should have known that wasn’t a stick because why would a stick be sticking out of my magazine?

Not so much progress, but that’s okay.

So heck on this day!  I went out for boiled seafood and $2 margaritas for National Margarita Day.

Problems not solved, but who cares when you can get $2 margaritas?

Sunday rolls along.  I decide to pick up sticks in my yard to burn, which gives me the idea that I can burn some oak logs in my garden area.  That would go a long way in amending my soil.

Hallelujah moment!  Garden problem partially solved!

Later, I went down my muddy dirt road, noticing my husband’s shovel that he kept in the woods to dig little trenches when the rain got bad.  So right there, in my good tennis shoes, I hopped out of my vehicle to dig a few trenches to drain some of the water.

Pothole problem temporarily solved!

I go back home feeling really proud of myself.  Now to clean my tennis shoes and take a shower.

And then….

I see that baby lizard in my tub.  I run out the bathroom, stop in the hallway, and say ‘time to man up, Gretchen.’  I march back into the bathroom with new resolve.  Taking the advice of one of my widow friends, I threw a face cloth over the lizard.  She said she heard little lizard screams as she carried it outside.  I am hard of hearing so I did not hear any little lizard screams, but I did feel it wiggling in the cloth.  I almost threw up.  I opened the back door to release said lizard, and it was clinging to the face cloth for dear life.  Before it could jump on my hand, I threw out the cloth, ran inside and locked the door.

Lizard problem solved!

Days later, when I know the lizard has left the face cloth, I will just burn that cloth in my garden burn pile.

Problem solved!

Man, it’s grand not to be stuck in a spiral.


The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1

(Just a note to my U.S. readers:  Since I am the Avon Lady, I tithe my online order earnings to my daughter and youth minister son-in-law’s personal ministry of reaching out to college students.  My daughter and her husband are the sweetest Valentines I know.  Every Monday night, they open their home to the students, break bread and play games.  Some of the students are foreign exchange.  From a handmade table in south Mississippi, the gospel is being spread around the world.  Please check out my Avon website.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time ordering online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any order.)

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Letting Go of a Dream

It was OUR dream.

We loved to garden together.  That was our ‘good times.’  We didn’t bring any other interference into our garden time.  It was just me, him and Mother Earth – no marital problems – no anxiety – no mental illness.  Gardening was the best times for us these last few years.

Our dream was in our retirement years to have a huge vegetable garden and a roadside stand.  We would can what we couldn’t sell.  We have been in prep mode these last few years, building up to OUR dream.  We gardened, we harvested, we canned.

We called our little homestead a faux farm because it was not sustainable.  Some years we had bumper crops, some years we might have a tomato.  We knew if the apocalypse came and we had to survive on our own land – we would be the first to die.

We chronicled our success and failures on our Facebook page, Spooky Hollow Southern Mississippi.  We laughed at our failures.  We took great pride in our successes.  One year, our cucumber crop was so large, we gave those away as party favors for my granddaughter’s birthday.

We even had fun scooping the poop – so much fun that I wrote a poem of one our adventures on May 21, 2010 (never dreaming that 9 years later – almost to the date – my husband would be dead from his own hand).

“I do not like to scoop the poop. I do not like it sticking to my boots. I do not like the way it smells. And now I do not feel so swell. But Bubba-Man says I do not give a dam. We are here to scoop the poop. We do not care if it sticks to boots. We do not care how bad it smells, because this will make our garden swell.”

Such enjoyable times.

But those days are gone now.  My husband killed those dreams when he killed himself.

I am faced with downsizing.  I have a huge assortment of canning jars and nowhere to put them.  I tried to find places to stuff them, but no such luck.  Then I realized I would probably never have need for this many jars and I must face parting with them.  That thought stabbed me in the heart and actually brought tears to my eyes.

Isn’t is silly to cry over canning jars?  Grief – a miserable necessity.

I know I can still have a garden – a smaller one.  I know I will still can my produce – just not as much.  I do not know if I will ever have a roadside vegetable stand.  But what’s the point anyway?  What I do know is I will not be sharing this experience with my husband.  That was the whole point – him and I – conquering this dream together – sharing this intimate experience that was only between us.

The prize was in the process.  OUR process.  Not his process.  Not my process.  OUR process.

OUR gardening trumped every bad experience in life.  We were in tune with each other, and only with each other.  A true union.

Our gardening experience – this is ‘us’.  No, that’s not right.  This ‘was us’ – this was ‘the good us’.

It hurts like heck letting go of a dream.

I’m not sure if I will ever enjoy gardening again.


(Just a note – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter and SIL have a personal ministry of ministering to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  Recently, they fed as much as 24 people, all on a youth minister’s salary.  God provides.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Be sure to check out our other deals. We always have some.  Avon isn’t only make-up.  If you have not seen an Avon brochure in a while, check us out.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)