This week, Jim became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. He is 81, and we are eagerly awaiting the phone call or email that will give him a time to go in for his first shot.

It’s been a long time coming, and we are so thankful that our son, a granddaughter and Jim’s brother John have already been vaccinated. Our daughter Michele, who is a teacher, will be getting hers this week, too. We know that, even after we have received the vaccine, we will need to continue being masked – which is no big deal, really – and socially distanced until enough vaccines have been administered to make it safe to discontinue the practices that have become almost “normal.”

But, I am anxious to once again be able to visit John and his wife Vicki, who are very special friends as well as family members ... it’s been too long. We have been able to occasionally spend time with younger members of our family this past year, but our fear of possibly passing the virus to John, especially, whose health is compromised, has kept us away.

I also look forward to the day – possibly next summer? – when we can join John and Vicki in attending a drama or a soaring musical at the Cottage Theater where their daughter Tracy has been a popular member of the cast in many plays, and an amazing singer.

We long for the day when we can go to town and have a leisurely lunch or dinner with each other, family or friends. Right now, when we go in to run store errands, we pick up a hamburger or sub sandwich and sit in my car to eat. It takes the fun out of lunch. The one exception that we’ve found is when we go to Taco Time in Eugene and park under a couple of fir trees in the parking lot there. There’s a resident squirrel who frequently will climb down the tree and beg for some rice from my veggie burrito, or some “tater-tot” crumbs that we toss out the window. He’s quite entertaining.

I’m trying to plan for the day when we can take a road trip or a full-blown vacation, too. They say that planning for a trip is half the fun. I don’t know about that, but it gives us something to think about.

As we work our way out from under the pandemic cloud that’s been hanging over us for so long, we are also counting our blessings. We are surrounded and protected and loved by our family, which always has prioritized our welfare. We’ve been able to snuggle our great-grandbabies who are almost out of the snuggling stage now, and watch all of them grow and lead happy, joyous childhoods as every child should. Videos and photographs sent to us show Harper reading her first book, and Hayden, all by herself, catching her first lamb that escaped from their family’s holding pens. Then there’s toddler Shiloh, helping to herd the lambs down the lane at the ranch, and little Cora taking it all in from her baby carrier on her mommy’s chest.

Sawyer, who loves tractors and trucks, and his little brother Hudson, come to visit occasionally and he heads right for the framed photo of his “Papa” on a tractor, that sits on a table in our living room. He immediately jabbers about the tractor and then points out who is sitting on top of it.

Miss Calliope just turned one recently and she gives both Papa and GiGi huge smiles when she sees us and holds her arms out for us to take her.

Then, there’s our newest little one Josie – our daughter Stacey’s first granddaughter. We look forward to cuddle time with her soon.

The world is looking a bit brighter and we all need to count our blessings – more now, than ever. It’s going to get better ... but we need to make sure that we take each step as it comes so that “better” lasts a long time.

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