• Random Thoughts,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  UGH.

    One Year Since Everything Changed

    We’re all starting to recognize that it’s been a whole year since our entire world turned upside down. One exact date doesn’t fit all; each of us has our own markers. Soon the internet will be flooded with thinkpieces about this still unbelievable and in many ways devastating anniversary, and while I wouldn’t normally choose to add to the clutter, I couldn’t imagine not writing about it, especially this week. For me, this week marks a year since I last worked on-site with my team. This week marks a year since I last went out into a crowded bar to listen to live music and dance with a bunch of…

  • Amazing People,  Blessings,  How To,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Thanks, Healthcare Workers! (or, Here’s a Template for a Thank You Note)

    “You were all already heroes in my eyes way before this tragedy struck my family, but now that I know what I know from experiencing it, I am truly in awe of all of you.” I wrote a thank you letter last week, as did my mom and sister. I delivered them to the hospital staff who sit at a table just inside the ER doors, taking temperatures and evaluating people who want to enter the building. Those gatekeepers would deliver the thank you notes to the Nurses’ Station on the COVID floor for me, just like they delivered various things my dad, mom, and sister needed from home when…

  • Music,  My Dad Has Mad Skillz

    Bitter Sweet Symphony

    Earlier this year, I brought home my Dream Car, a red Mustang convertible. That full story is for another day but suffice it to say that I have wanted that car since I was 16 years old. The day I drove one home was, as you might guess, dreamy. My Dad loved my car. LOVED. IT. I remember the June day we drove it over to show my parents. Jim and I got out of the car and after I rang their doorbell, we stood way back (thanks, pandemic) so they could walk to the driveway and see it up close. My dad went around to the passenger side and…

  • Blessings,  Pretty Pictures

    The Kindness of Strangers

    A quick catch-up for those of you who aren’t connected with me on Facebook: my dad, mom, and sister all tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-December. Dad was hospitalized immediately and passed nine days later, which was devastating. We haven’t yet begun to deal with the staggering level of his loss; Mom and my sister were admitted in the two days after Dad’s passing. Sister was discharged after about a four day stay: to be honest, I currently have to ask Jim or look at my phone to have any understanding of what time, day, or date it is. What is time, anyway? Mom was discharged after about a six…

  • Amazing People,  Childhood Memories,  Family Fun,  Favorite Things,  My Dad Has Mad Skillz

    In Celebration of a Life Well Lived

    It’s very strange, thinking that the obituary you wrote for your Dad is one of your best pieces ever, but that’s where I’m at. While it’s always a challenge to try and capture someone’s essence in a few (okay, a lot of) paragraphs, I know I did a great job for him. I can hear him saying, “Way to go, Toots. I’m proud of you.” Irving Howard Witcoff, 78, of Chicago, died on December 25, 2020 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Irv was born on October 9, 1942 at Loretto Hospital in Chicago, Illinois and grew up on the west side. He attended Harper High School and was by all accounts a…

  • Confessions,  Family Fun,  Tradition

    A Thanksgiving Like No Other…But Still Pretty Great.

    If you know me well, you know that holidays really aren’t “our thing” in this house. Jim and I like holidays, sure, but we don’t decorate for any of them except for Hanukkah, and even so we do that one very minimally these days. We don’t make a big deal over the holidays regarding family gatherings; while we enjoy being with family on holidays if it happens to work out that way, we’ve always stressed that there is great enjoyment in appreciating any random day during the year when our family is all together. On those days there is the absence of perfection pressure and, frankly, we don’t need a…

  • My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    Quilts of Many Colors

    My mom made me a very special birthday gift this year: a “city quilt,” pictured above. The jewel-tone colors are so bright and pretty, and it’s big enough to fit on my King-sized bed AND for Jim and me both to use in the living room while we’re hunkered down, watching TV. (Thanks, mom!!!) When my parents and sister came over to our back patio for outdoor birthday dinner last weekend, my mom announced it was time for gifts and then she handed me a huge black garbage bag. I knew immediately what was inside because: It was public knowledge that she had been working on a quilt for me.…

  • Confessions,  UGH.

    It’s Okay Not to Be Okay.

    A couple days ago I was a little down, which is an understatement. It happens to all of us at one time or another, especially this year. This particular horrible day was the first one in a long time for me, thank goodness: I have many, many more good days than bad. Terrible days like that one are a huge contradiction to who I normally am: a chipper and optimistic person who is also a great cheerleader and excellent cheerer-upper for others. Days like that one can be confusing and/or totally shocking to those who know me well, but nobody has good days one hundred percent of the time. In…

  • Confessions

    Power Trip

    I had a dream recently that I went to a gym (Remember gyms? Sigh.) with a few friends (Remember going places with friends? Sigh.) so we could take a class together. I was adamant that my friends didn’t tell the instructor that I used to teach classes a long time ago, because I knew what would happen. The dream made me laugh. I taught group fitness classes (spinning, along with low impact aerobics and strength training) for almost ten years but it’s been seven years since I “retired.” (The picture above was taken right before my final class.) I don’t even really think about teaching anymore so it was strange…

  • Fun in Knoxville,  Motivation,  Working On My Fitness

    Relearning Old Skills is Easier When You’re Kind to Yourself.

    Recently we went for a bike ride. This was a big deal for me. I haven’t ridden my bicycle in at least six years…maybe more like eight years: I can’t recall. Twelve years ago I rode my bike a lot because that was the summer when the price of gasoline jumped to nearly five dollars per gallon and I was absolutely not paying that just to drive myself to the salon for my part-time job, or to my workouts at the gym. I rode about 75 miles each week, something I can’t imagine doing at this point in my life. Anyway, we have this great ten-mile green way near our…