three quarters of a century

I recently had an inspired thought, an idea! So I said to Mauri:

“I have a significant birthday coming up in a few weeks and wondered if you’d like a hint of something you might do as a gift for me.”

Mauri and I are at the stage in life when we don’t need much, and when we do need something, we buy it. This works for us until Christmas or anniversaries or birthdays come around, and we resort to boxes of Good & Plenty or gift cards.

So I told him what he could give me for my 75th birthday. A playlist! A playlist of “You Are” worship songs that direct my praise upward, that affirm who God is, what he is. I would put my playlist on my phone so I can pray important words of worship while I walk 3 to 4 miles every day.

Well, he didn’t think twice; he would love to do that for me!

Thanks to COVIDtime, my live-in musician spent hour after hour in the studio until he had 17 (!) songs for me to add to the 61 songs fitting the criteria that I already had in iTunes.

For this three-quarter-century birthday, I wanted to change up our usual dinner-at-Benihana’s routine. A restaurant a few towns down the road was open for lunch diners and we love their food.

Our excellent server explained to Mauri exactly what was on his plate. I figure anyone brave enough to order pork belly lettuce wraps with Korean sauces would know. My delicious choice was more mainstream.

Mauri made the mistake of telling me this morning that he was taking the day off his eating plan (Noom), which has enabled him to reduce his weight more than 40 pounds! We’d already had coffee cake with our bacon/eggs breakfast, but I still accepted the birthday dessert she offered: brownie a la mode.

Next on the birthday agenda was a hike at the abbey. Too bad about the crummy day.

I suppose reaching my super-senior years has me imparting age-related meaning to sights like this.

We both did our share of huffing and puffing on the ups. But here Mauri stopped to give me a foretaste of the songs he had shared in a Dropbox for me. In case you’re wondering if a 73-year-old man can still make beautiful music, the answer is a definite YES!

Since the one he played is in the public domain, I can share it with you.

Stop for a selfie. No, I did not grow antlers.

I don’t usually get to watch him make my card. He had fun writing lots of 75s on it. Here was a chance for me to listen to all 17 songs—each one a gem, exactly what I wanted. How blessed am I? I don’t really think I can express how happy I am.

But right at the end of the last song I got a video of Quinn and Krista singing Happy Birthday to me from the Virgin Islands. And right after that Taylor and Beth sent a video of their three kiddos singing the same to their Gus (followed by a FaceTime call). And right after that Ben called me from Michigan. Earlier in the day brother John called for a long chat. And the multiple notes of well wishes from friends and family will have to wait until tomorrow because writing this post took precedence.

This marionberry pie has been in the freezer for months, just waiting for a special occasion. I guess this is it! Maybe the Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream was in the freezer for a purpose too. My perfect day ended with pie/ice cream and a movie—”Peanut Butter Falcon.”

So happy birthday to me! And tomorrow—the first day of my 76th year—I will choose from three 26-song playlists of worship music for my walk. I hope God will incline his ear.

Posted in family matters | 8 Comments

on my mind lately

It’s usually very easy to sit at my computer and tell a simple story with a few pictures and a few words. But life outside the comfortable walls of our home doesn’t lend itself to anything I can begin to write about. It’s all I can do these days to think about it! Discordant discourse on the news and social media drains my spirit, as it likely does yours, but it’s hard to avoid—even when I try.

I wrote my first post more than 14 years ago (!) and have oriented the subject matter of subsequent posts around family, travel adventures, and this/that. And here I am, six months from its finale, bereft of inspiration. Instead, what I have to offer right now is agitation, which is hard to photograph, hard to put into words, and completely unhelpful for either one of us were I to try.

But I miss connecting with you, sharing what my dad always called “larie farie” (a.k.a small talk). So I will venture out from under my rock to share some this and some that with you faithful readers. For efficiency, Quinn and I often communicate with “bullets,” so I’ll do a quick update using that shortcut:

• Since I mentioned the conclusion of this blog at the end of 2020, I want to forecast a new quarterly communication planned for 2021—> titled “Those Crazy Macys,” using Mail Chimp. More about that another time.

• I chose five, only five, of my #oneadaymay photos to share. They encapsulate a whole month of COVID-19 quarantine. Ready?

• Once the newly painted doors (with working knobs!) are rehung, I’ll post some pictures of the completed upstairs upgrade. It was a project long overdue and took a forced stay-home order from the governor to get ‘er done!

• Mauri uses his time writing arrangements for Newberg Brass, recording for fun, rehearsing to lead worship via video, and spending quality time with his instruments. They talk to him, you know, and one or another will let him know if it feels neglected. He also takes the dog on long walks every day, and today marked 61 days in a row of riding his bike as many as 6.75 miles.

• Darcy just celebrated her 11th birthday but still has a keen eye for squirrels.

• Not quite three years, granddaughter Avery surprised no one by breaking her first bone. The girl has no fear. Of course it happened three days before vacation at the beach. She’ll be sporting her purple cast…

• I’ve typed and deleted countless words. You know what they say about not saying anything at all if you can’t say something nice? Well, say, I’m going to heed that advice and publish this nondescript but reasonably nice post. See you next time!

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guessing game

Instructions: scroll through the following pictures and try to figure out what each one has in common with the others. Ready?


Wow—you are very clever to figure out the guessing game.

Much more clever than I was when my clever children greeted me with their version of the blue and white flags and I DIDN’T GET IT!

Still, Quinn continued the tradition of celebrating birthdays this way for her children and husband. And how cute is Bailey showing you how old he was! So there wasn’t much doubt that he and his bride would need a set of flags in case they wanted to carry on the family tradition.

So I commissioned sweet cousin Hannah @sweetmamasews to make a set for Bailey and Sarah. Hannah’s twins do their part.

And here they are one year ago tonight at their rehearsal dinner down in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. Tomorrow they celebrate their first anniversary. Maybe, just maybe, it will include a little blue and white.

Posted in family matters, nostalgia, series / match-ups | 5 Comments

is it over yet?

You might not agree, but I think it’s time to get going again. Not that I have anything pressing on my calendar. I am still content with life as it is, but I’m feeling a little rebellious now that we’ve moved out of flu season. Will my sanitized environment serve me well when I go out again? There are just so many factors to consider!

Regardless of my attitude about this whole shelter-in-place thing, we keep rolling with the punches. When I would normally take my friend Denise a birthday something at work yesterday, I put together this “something” to press against her office window. My plan was only slightly thwarted when I learned she is working from home.

Nothing about the coronavirus caused Mauri’s cousin Janet to die suddenly from a clot near her lung, but it did prevent Bill from being by her side at the end. Such a sad and premature event in the midst of a pandemic! My heart goes out to those closest to her.

Rather than delay the inevitable, Caesar got his due almost within the pre-pandemic timeline. Right now “he” needs it more than we do! Too bad the USPS won’t gain any new revenue; I used 28¢ stamps just taking up space in a drawer, like a forgotten gift certificate.

Who is this in our front yard? Looks like grandson Lincoln placing a sign in the deep grass. His mom, Linsey the Realtor, hosted a Facebook event: “The same people that created the Don’t Give Up movement have created these We’re All In This Together signs during these interesting times. We’d love to buy a sign for each of you, our clients and referral partners, and install one in your yard, if you are okay with it.”

Would you look at that! Lincoln brought his parents and brother to install our sign because we were definitely “okay with it.” So nice to see “live” humans, especially some who belong to us! (An hour later the mowers came to do their weekly grass cut.)

My friend Marianne expresses love through the gift of flowers, and we were recipients this week. They really were beautiful without this gaudy filter, but I needed something to kill off some wakeful hours when most people are sleeping.

OK, it seemed only fair to show you the unfiltered photo.

I tried a watercolor filter on this picture, but it is fine as is. It makes me want to hum “Here Comes the Bride.”

The time had come to lay to rest the salmon (not peach, not pink) walls of bygone days. So I actually accomplished something constructive. It required me to unshelter for a masked trip to Home Depot, but I’ve now spent three days doing this:

…and I still have a ways to go. The walls are fast and easy; the trim tedious and slow. Yesterday I was on the floor reaching up to paint the underside of a low closet shelf that no one will ever see. But—if not now, when?

Quinn has added 18 years since she celebrated this day with us in 2002, but she has her whole family around to yahoo her birth—thanks to Covid-19. So I guess it isn’t all bad!

Posted in in the neighborhood, this and that | 3 Comments


I have very little to complain about while we wait out the storm. We have everything we need, even TP, well supplied from long before it became a commodity. We’re still far from boredom with plenty of projects to pass the time.

Mauri spent some time cleaning our backyard utility corner and found this long-lost home-fashioned apple picker! Since we no longer have an apple tree, it will be passed along to the son who has a use for it. But first, some needed repair.

Me? I continue my quest for the perfect mask. But don’t worry, I have other important things to do that distract me from the disappointment in cancelled plans for this spring. We had planned to spend last week at Harbor Villa overlooking the Pacific Ocean like we did the week following Easter last year. Instead we stayed home and relished the view of our own lovely backyard.

This morning I woke to the sounds of rain on the skylight above our bed. It would have been the Camellia Festival, and I was registered to participate in the 10k walk. Last year I walked 5k and came home with this beauty. I had hoped to plant another this year—a small disappointment, I know. Gone though was my hope to walk the 10k as part of my training for a much bigger walk that Quinn and I were planning for May. She made all the arrangements for us to fly to Spain to walk the final 90 miles of the Camino de Santiago. It was to be a celebration of my 75th birthday. We would also eat authentic Italian food and visit important sites in Rome where the apostle Paul was imprisoned and wrote some of his epistles.

But all is not lost. There will come a day when we’ll get the all clear to travel to Spain and Italy. There’s reason to hope now that we’re starting the process to get life back on track. Mauri and I were to travel all the way to Idaho (!) later this month for a conference, which was cancelled but now rescheduled for August. And we have a week booked at Harbor Villa in August as well. So disappointment has been replaced with anticipation.

You and everyone else have stories of covidisappointment, I’m sure. So we buck up and count our blessings and wait for brighter days.

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resurrection day reflections

I wish you had a blog! I would love to read your stories and not always drag you into ours. But here we are again—me writing, you reading.

These days we’re all in the same boat, following the safekeeping rules while stretching our creativity to make the best of our situation. That was never so true as with yesterday’s celebration of our Savior’s resurrection. Did you have a chance to visit services online other than your own?

We start every Sunday with Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church in Atlanta. So not much difference there.

Well, it was a little different; we ate the traditional Easter coffee cake while we watched.

This is my church’s gathering. Not all of us could fit in one screen; it was so good to see everyone again! [I stole this from KariAnna because her pic is much better than mine.]

Here’s a church I follow online—Christ Church in Moscow, ID. (They host the Bible Reading Challenge I shared with you in a previous post.) Social distancing restrictions vary from state to state. This church gathered on an air strip! It made human connection possible in a memorable way on a memorable day.

Our local kids added beauty to our day.

And they spent part of the afternoon chatting with us on the Bluejeans app. We showed off our protective masks and shared show ‘n’ tell like in our family-dinner days of yore. Kennady showed the polished rocks he found on his Easter egg hunt, Brynn showed a whole set of books recommended by her teacher, Will showed his Lego construction, Erin showed some plant starts for their garden, etc. Mauri tried to play the song he’s been working on, but it didn’t translate over the airwaves. But you can hear the song!

My “tell” was how my computer crashed the night before and wouldn’t restart after many tries. Mauri jumped in to search for online help while my brain processed all the ramifications. After a very long and fruitless half hour of troubleshooting, Mauri suggested I connect my charge cord. Problem solved. I’ll think I should pay better attention to that small detail in the future. But my story had a Part 2. The next morning I pressed the start button on Mauri’s espresso machine to steam a chai latte, but it didn’t—start. So I jumped in to search for online help…

I got that far in my “tell” to admit that was a big lie. It’s Mauri’s instinct to find solutions—clearly not mine! Sadly, our stories didn’t end the same; there was no plug-in fix for the big Breville.

No worries—this man was ready with a solution. The deceased Breville went to the garage and in came this old Saeco, the one Rachel sold him when she worked at Starbucks years ago. He fiddled with it, primed its pump, and he was back in the espresso business.

And after a refresher course, I was back in the business of steaming my chai lattes.

The Carlsons FaceTimed me while I was on my walk, so I sat down on the curb to play a game of Old Maid using the cards I made with family pictures. Do you see me on the phone there on the upper right?

Here are the little darlings in their Easter fashion.

I started to put away this plaque but wondered to myself why. He is no less risen today than he was yesterday. He is risen indeed and seated at the right hand of the Father.

We were sorry to read on Facebook that Jen’s father died, and on Easter morning she and Dave traveled to North Carolina to be with family. Jen is a friend and faithful follower of this blog, so I wonder if we could stop for just a moment and ask our risen Savior to attend to Jen and Dave, give them safety from the virus and meaningful connections with loved ones. Thank you.

Posted in family matters | 3 Comments

more of the same

What better way to start a post about the nothing we’ve been doing for weeks now? Did that sound like complaint? I assure you it is not! We are of all people most blessed to have so few worries in a time of worldwide upheaval. Our biggest burden to suffer is disappointment over cancelled plans. We still have our creature comforts and best of all our health. Mother Nature didn’t get the pandemic memo and continues to display her wonders right outside our front door.

How good are your eyes? Can you spot my squirrel friend peering down at me?

Spacial limitations don’t keep us from enjoying our daily walks—Mauri’s with the dog, mine alone or with a friend at an appropriate distance.

I seem to get hooked on certain podcasts. Some favorites include The Briefing, The Andrew Klavan Show, Relatable, What Have You, and most recently Knowing Faith. I discovered Knowing Faith on Twitter through Jen Wilkin. A few days ago they invited me (and thousands of other listeners) to a live taping of two episodes. I couldn’t pass that up; seeing them completes the joy of their interactions and shared theological insights. Mauri listens to some of these podcasts and also Pray As You Go, Stuff You Should Know, and Everything Is Alive. We both have Bose soundwear “collars” that allow us live at peace together, him listening to jazz or bluegrass while I laugh along with Bekah and Rachel on What Have You.

I spent some time experimenting with different mask patterns, the kind you sew, but ended up preferring the simple foldable variety with a way to hold it in place without involving my ears. I have yet to wear it anywhere, but now that it is advised, I’ll mask up for my weekly grocery run next week.

Mauri led worship this morning but had actually recorded it two weeks ago. He’s been spending time in the studio during our quarantine. Here’s one of the songs he recorded.

Beth has not only kept their three littles alive and well and entertained while confined, she has somehow manages to photograph and video many of their stay-at-home activities. We see them through a shared Google Photos folder that gives us endless hours of viewing fun.

Check out Emery’s left-handed golf swing!

I joined the Bible Reading Challenge in mid-December, and it easily became a daily feast. Reading assignments are arranged for the 20,000 or so of us to read the entire Bible in nine months, allowing for a re-read of the New Testament during the summer months. Here’s how I learned about it! You can understand why I jumped right in.

I listen while I walk to the BRC assignments on the phone app. I’m surprised by how much more I absorb this way than from reading in on the page. I had to stop and chuckle one day right after the Dow started plummeting when I heard this (highlighted above)!

But we don’t worry. I told Quinn I can’t read the Bible and worry at the same time. God was in control of all things before the coronavirus caught the world’s attention and he’s no less in control of all things now!

So—what have you been up to?

Posted in 514, family matters, in the neighborhood | 1 Comment

who is that masked (wo)man?

Mauri turned some shirts from his closet over to me to re-home. Normally that plaid one would head to consignment, the knit one cut up into squares for multiple purposes. But in these trend-setting times, I found a different use for them.

We aren’t masking up yet, but if the times necessitate, we are ready!

I tried several patterns but settled on THIS ONE. I adapted it slightly to satisfy a few sewing sensibilities, but then I didn’t match the plaids on that central spot at the ridge of my nose.

But the T-shirt lining is quite face friendly. A liability to wearing this mask is my phone’s inability to recognize me, so I’ll just hope I never need to wear it.

Posted in in the neighborhood | 1 Comment


In no time at all we’ll look back on March 2020 as an interesting chapter in our history. We’ll tell stories of the unexplainable “interest” in stockpiling TP, the stock market plunge, country-wide cancellations, social distancing, travel bans, daily Presidential updates, and controversy over what to call a virus that originated in China.

Your stories will outshine any I might tell because we already had a healthy supply of TP and are happy as clams to stay right here in the comfort of our humble home, venturing out only for daily walks and the occasional drop-in at Nap’s for mushrooms or bread. Oh, there was that Sunday morning trip to Washington for Mauri to lead worship at one of the rare churches that held service. He didn’t know it was live-streamed until later, which allowed me (and you, if you want) to watch and listen.

Early on, before the strict stay-home guidelines were announced, Pete and John came over to help us plant five new roses in the memorial rose garden. Brother Howard came too to serve as adviser. Mauri’s interest in photography resurfaced recently, so he snapped some pictures.

Here’s a look at “before.”

Don’t worry—this garden is about to become full of the promise of spring!

Mauri’s shooting my “best” side. Ahem.

Work complete, John captures Team Macy for posterity!

This was about as close to work as we got during the quarantine (so far), other than our more-than-usual efforts at housecleaning.

Sometimes I walk with a friend but usually by myself in our neighborhood. I have my Bible reading assignment or a podcast playing on my sound collar, which almost caused me to miss seeing this big kite straddling the road.

The owner made his way over to attend to the problem (cars were already lining up) when suddenly it picked itself up (OK, likely a gust of wind helped) and became airborne once again.

Stuff like this doesn’t happen every day!

Before local restaurants closed their dining spaces, my friend Marianne suggested lunch at this authentic Italian restaurant, only a few blocks from home. The rain is rare for Oregon.

She ordered the octopus salad. Yep.

After treating her Gum and me to a coffee date after school, Brynn practiced for social distancing.

Extra time on my hands causes posts like this on social media. The caption: “Can you handle one more TP joke? This one from my own house! I didn’t realize when I found this use for a Christmas gift just how perfect it is! #coronahumor

I also posted this picture with: “It’s hard to feel doomy on a day like this.”

I should retitle this post “hodgepodge,” given its hodgepodgey contents. I’ll assume you have lots of time on your hands and don’t mind scrolling. This picture of the Carlson twins will make it worth your while. <smile> Beth sent it today to show me the difference in their heights. At birth, Emery (right) was teenie tiny, and the girls were designated “the little one” and “the big one” as a way to tell them apart. Well, that has all changed! Looks like Emmie takes after her statuesque mama.

I hope you are managing OK during these most unusual times.

Posted in 514, in the neighborhood | 2 Comments

a variety of joy

If I don’t experience joy every day, I need to reexamine what makes me joyful! Above all, I take great joy in my identity as a Jesus follower and the brightest future known to man.

The past few days delivered abundant joy to me in seen and unseen ways. If it weren’t for the ease of recording my days on my phone camera, my declining memory could and would likely forget what brought me joy as recent as last week. So I’ll simply pick a starting place and go from there.

We’ve had an abundance of blue sky this winter. This is the tree in our front yard that promises to sprout green leaves soon.

Our camellia bushes couldn’t wait to cheer us with their creativity.

On Saturday I drove over the coastal mountain range to attend Newberg Friends’ women’s retreat at Twin Rocks Friends Camp in Rockaway.

They offered Saturday-only registration, and I couldn’t pass it up.

My friend Jo Helsabeck offered encouraging reminders of the importance the Bible has in our life as Christians. Together, with her helpful techniques, we memorized the retreat theme verse, Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)—”Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will never neither fail you nor abandon you.” I’ve been reciting it several times a day, but still made that mistake while typing it. This is why we memorize scripture when we’re young!

After lunch I took a walk up Charlotte’s Mountain (named for Mauri’s Aunt Charlotte). If I had followed the sign, my walk would have become a hike and my shoes didn’t feel up for it. It was tempting though!

Though my mother was an oil painter, I inherited the barest minimum of talent from her. Acrylics are easier than oil, but that mattered not to this novice. Still, I had a lot of fun demonstrating my inability, then found a place to dispose of the final result after I showed Mauri.

My sincere joy included discovering how many true artists successfully finished the project.

I ask you, what could be more joyful than reconnecting with this dear friend and the added bonus of our matching YETI tumblers?

After dinner, I returned home on curvy and foggy roads with the company of my favorite podcast sisters on “What Have You.” (You’ll hear more about them in the days to come!) The following morning, at the end of worship with my Church of the Vine community, I checked my phone before walking home.

I had to sit down to take in the import of this picture Quinn texted me. I already knew she and Dusty, Marissa and Cassidy, and Ben had rendezvoused in Durham, NC, to join the masses in Cameron Stadium for a Duke game. But there are little people in this picture, and the joyful realization hit me…

…these three Carlsons were together in one place! What could be more joyful than that?

I feasted on this photo, missing Dusty who I thought was behind the camera. No, Beth had asked a passerby to snap this for the mOm she knew would *need* a picture. (Dusty got called away for a one-day work trip but made it back for the game.)

Later I learned they each drove two hours to the central location of Richmond, VA, where they found world-class hamburgers and a huge fenced park—Park 365.

You might rightly wonder how a Chick-fil-A mobile restaurant could be included in a post about joy, but have you ever experienced Chick-fil-A? If so, you have no need to wonder! Having the truck come to our small town truly qualifies.

Are you suffering whiplash? Here we are back in Durham, but it’s because the game would start at 4pm on Monday and my “kids” were sharing their day on social media.

Oh, you might be wondering what’s the big deal—Durham, Duke, the Blue Devils. It goes back to the time their dad worked at Duke University, the late ’70s, when they started building lifelong allegiance to the basketball team and Coach K.

When Ben posted this picture of Duke Chapel I had no choice but share my memory of him singing with the Durham Boys Choir in concert there.

Just a group of red-robed boys to the average eye, but pure joy for mine.

Ben’s purchases might illustrate his level of loyalty.

They arrived in plenty of time, I see.

Cassidy’s Instagram post clarifies her (and her sister’s) team pride.

Not that Ben needed additional affirmation….

Of course we were cheering Duke on from the comfort of our cookin’ room, planning to miss the end of the game to celebrate Sage’s 9th birthday. But a text came from Erin with the news of party cancellation because Sage wasn’t feeling up for it. Along with the text, she shared this picture of Sage’s galaxy cake. Add it to my variety of joy, even though we didn’t get to taste it and Sage is sick. 

What brought you joy recently? Don’t forget to notice it!

Posted in family matters, grandkids, nostalgia | 2 Comments