It occurs about once a year. It’s more likely in the summer, and it’s embarrassing. I develop a writing block, and the result is I simply don’t know what to offer up in this column.
Usually, in any given week, I encounter something, or someone, so interesting that the topic evolves almost naturally. I research initial ideas, formulate a vision, do a few rewrites and pop out my 520 words.
This week the approach hasn’t worked. Don’t think I’ve not had an interesting week. We have had our youngest grandson in residence. The week prior it was our oldest granddaughter who visited us. There was some overlap. There is almost 20 years of age difference and thousands of miles of geography between them, and they had not seen one another in years. The reunion was tender. But you can only write about your grandchildren so many times and in so many ways — and when you have seven of them, you must think about equity.
In terms of writing about topics of possible usefulness to the readers of this column, I considered sharing some of my husband’s current health challenges with ideas for solution. Issues we thought we had avoided are engulfing us. Lots of time spent this week on health care websites and in communication with experts. We have come up with some interesting approaches to chronic pain. Before documenting those, I’ll wait until we figure out which of those solutions is the most effective.
How about a few words on the joys of healthful summer eating? We have waist-high, raised-bed gardens available since early spring. They give us enormous delight and a soon-to-be overflowing crop of grape tomatoes. Every day this week, I have had a delicious end-of-the-day eating experience compliments of the garden. A salad packed with wild organic arugula and colorful peppers. It has become a new staple in our diets. Let it be known, that salad was not well accepted by those visiting grandchildren, but no matter — more for us. I tried to make the case that it went well with the endless amount of mac and cheese they were consuming, but there was no persuading them.
In the “what’s for dinner?” vein, I think my biggest gain as a grandmother this week came when I was able to answer the question: “How do you make chocolate-covered strawberries?” Adding a tiny amount of lard to the melted chocolate is the key. Eating them requires no instruction.
In the “what are you reading?” category, may I suggest avoiding cable news and opting for airy short stories, read in a hammock with a glass of lemonade and a wide-brimmed hat.
In any given week, each day offers possibilities for engagement and interaction. As I age, I see more clearly that little things matter most. A sweet exchange with a child, an engaged dialogue with a friend or partner, a moment of quiet reflection after an active day.
How was your week? Busy too, I suspect. Life is like that. And it’s splendidly full of interesting individuals and grand opportunities. Pay attention.
Sharon Johnson is an associate professor emeritus, Oregon State University, and the author of “How Gray in My Valley: Enlightened Observations About Being Old.” Reach her at Sharon@agefriendlyinnovators.org.