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Archive for the ‘grown children’ Category

It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.” Whenever we have company, we have a crisis.
So when my brother-in-law woke us on Thanksgiving Day morning with the news that the house had no water, it wasn’t really that surprising.
It’s often a water problem for us. Some years, like this year, there’s not enough water, but we’ve also had the opposite problem: too much water.
Way back when we lived in rural Kentucky, our water came from a well. The first time I put my foot down and refused to travel for Christmas, we had both grandmothers visit to see their almost two year old granddaughter. That was the year the pump went out on Christmas Eve. The only water we had available was in the recycled plastic milk jugs that I kept in a back room.
One nice thing about small towns, you know people. We knew the owner of the only hardware store in town well enough to get him away from his Christmas Eve dinner to open the store and find us the pump we needed. That night, when Santa stopped to leave some gifts, he saw us with flash lights and heavy coats, wrestling the new pump into place.
Then there was the Christmas with too much water. We left our new house in Heber Springs, Arkansas for some last minute shopping. Back when we lived in Heber Springs, the closest Toys-R-Us was in North Little Rock, about an hour and a half away. We loaded up the station wagon and made the trek down on a cold winter day, just hours before the arrival of those same two grandmothers.
We knew there was something wrong as soon as we opened the garage door. Water was leaking out the door to the kitchen. We left the kids strapped in their car seats and carefully opened the door. Whoosh. The kitchen was flooded.
It turned out that the pipes to the upstairs bathroom passed through the uninsulated garage and then went over the master bedroom. The break was directly over the bedroom.
When the grandmothers arrived the next day – one from California and the other from Louisville, Kentucky – we had the flooring torn up in half the house, and a air mattress on the subfloor of the master bedroom.
The biggest family gathering we have ever hosted was earlier this year when our son got married. Everyone came. Both my husband’s sisters, my sister and brother, all their kids and even a third generation – my brother’s grandchildren. But how do you put up 17 people? We started looking for a rental house that we could book for the weekend, but all of them were too far away. Then we had a brainstorm. The house two doors up from us had already been on the market for a year or so. It was completely furnished, but no one was living there. We knew the owners well enough to ask for a big favor, and they agreed, we moved eight of our guests in for the weekend.

Lotta family!
It was right before the wedding when the septic tank backed up into the bathroom and all water use in the borrowed home was immediately terminated. We had 16 people sharing our two bathrooms preparing for the wedding.
Luckily, we knew a good plumber because when his sister visited the year before our septic tank backed up into our bathroom and she immediately moved to our daughter’s house in town.
One of my favorite Christmas crisis stories was a simple misunderstanding. At least it seemed simple to me. I’m not sure our neighbors in New Haven, Indiana ever understood what was going on.
We got home from an early Christmas Eve church service and I turned on the oven so I could heat the bread. I forgot that the bottom of the oven was covered with apple pie overflow from my earlier baking. My husband’s family always has lobster for dinner on Christmas Eve. So while I got the water on to boil, he went out to the garage and brought in the little cardboard boxes of live lobsters.
About the time, the big pots of water started to boil, the oven started smoking as the apple pie juice burned. Naturally, all the smoke alarms went off. In spite of the freezing temperatures, I threw open the kitchen window to let the smoke out and my husband started chasing the kids around the house with a live lobster. The smoke alarm was blaring, the kids were screaming, smoke was billowing out the kitchen window and one of the kids flung open the front door to escape the lobster. The entire family, still dressed for church but minus coats and shoes, erupted out of the front door screaming and laughing. The neighbors called 911. I can’t imagine exactly what they told the dispatcher.
Thanksgiving this year was saved by the quick work of the water department. About the time I put the turkey into the oven, the water came back on and we able to cook the potatoes, squash, and my sister’s turnips without any problems. The kids came over, the neighbors came down and no one even had to call 911.
Let’s just hope Christmas goes as well.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about grandchildren.

I have to start by saying I’m really not in any hurry. While it’s true I know lots of people who are younger than I am and answering to Grandma, I’m not anxious to join their ranks.

Really. I’m not.

The truth is all my children have moved out of their teens into their 20s. My husband and I were blessed with three great kids, who share a fine sense of responsibility and a good work ethic, but I still don’t see them as adults. Why should I?

They have years and years ahead of mortgages and car payments and worrying about the future. They should enjoy their young adult status as long as possible and have all the fun they can while they can.

Once a young adult becomes a parent, most lose that young adult status. While some people become full-fledged adults without ever being parents, and occasionally you run into a parent who just never grew up, for most people that threshold between young adult and real adult comes with the responsibilities of a new generation.

So while my own kids are enjoying their young adult status, I have some time to think about the grandmother I may become. Someday. No hurry.

Our family has always been grandparent deficient. I only remember my mother’s father well. The only memory I have of my mother’s mother is one she would probably hate. I must have been about 6 years old that Easter when my mother sent me next door to my grandparents’ house to show off my new spring outfit. I ran into the house unannounced and directly into my grandmother as she stepped out of the shower. I remember her trying, unsuccessfully, to cover herself up. She died unexpectedly not long after that Easter.

But my grandfather was a great grandparent. I remember him fixing my bike and paying me to pull dandelions in his yard when I needed money for candy. He was at all our special occasions, even when we grew into bored teenagers who didn’t value his presence. I hope he understood that deep down inside, we loved him.

My own children never knew either of their grandfathers, but they did have two wonderful grandmothers, who often seemed to visit at the same time. Many of our Christmas photos feature a grandmother on either side. Sadly, we lost both of them in recent years.

I want to be the type of grandmother my mother was, but I wouldn’t want to have to do it long distance the way she did. Of course, it wasn’t her fault that we kept moving away from her.

Even when we lived on opposite sides of the country, my mother always knew what activities my kids were involved in. She always seemed happy to get the endless dance and baseball pictures, although she finally asked me to stop sending them in frames when her bookcase was overflowing.

When she came to visit she always tried to help. When our youngest was born, it was Grandma who flew across the country to drive the oldest to dance lessons. But they never made it to dance lessons. Grandma got lost and ended up on the other side of Fort Wayne, Ind. Eventually we got her back.

The kids probably never knew how much Grandma was on their side. I still have a long, thoughtful letter she wrote in reply to my complaints about our teenager driving us crazy. Her advice: “Don’t let the teenage turmoil ruin your relationship. Just keep loving your child and she’ll return to you as a young adult.”

Grandma was right, of course.

When my kids are ready, I want to be the type of grandmother who takes the kids for a few days so the parents can get away.

I want to spoil my grandchildren a little bit and then lecture their parents about spoiling them. I want to go back to the Fisher Price aisle at Walmart and buy some more Little People toys and help another generation push legless people around in tiny cars.

Even though I’m really not in a hurry to have grandchildren, I really can’t wait.

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Every morning for most of the past 13 years, I’ve left my house and headed to town via the HIghway 12 bridge. Every morning, I look both ways and access the day by how the lake is looking.
Today the lake was an amazing, sparkling blue. The sun was out and there was a little breeze. It’s gotta be a good day, right?
Sometimes the lake looks a little gray. Or even a little green. Sometimes there are white caps.
I check out the boat launch parking lot each morning. In the winter the parking lot might be completely empty. In the spring it looks a little full. Are the fancy trucks with the matching trailers there for the big fishing tournament? Is someone unloading kayaks on the other side?
Once I saw an eagle swooping low over the bridge – headed for the bluffs on the other side. Really, my eyesight isn’t that good and I’m no expert on what an eagle looks like, but it made my day to think I watched an eagle over the bridge that one day.
It still amazes me that you can see a change in the lake level over night, as the water creeps up into the parking lot. Then in late summer, you can start the see the sand bars emerge. Sometimes it looks like you can walk out to the islands, although I’m pretty sure you never can.
It’s been unusually cool on Beaver Lake this spring. It was too cool to swim on Memorial Day and that may be a first. Now the first weekend in June has come and gone and we didn’t even move the boat. It was just too cold. That’s very strange for us.
But luckily, we have our ways to enjoy the lake even when we’re not swimming or boating – we have dogs.

dogs on boat
Since the two younger dogs have a tendency to leave, we take them down to the dock on leashes and leave a body-guard at the top of the gang plank. The body-guard description is apt, although that person is not guarding a body. That person uses their body to guard the gang plank.
It only works for one of the dogs. Both the grand-puppies are swimmers so they can and do get off the dock at will. Rocco will chase a stick for hours, although he never brings it back. When you bring Rocco to the dock, you have to gather up an  arm load of sticks and bring them along. If you run out, he lets his displeasure show. He’s very serious about chasing sticks. But as long as you have a stick to throw, he’ll come back onto the dock so he can go charging up the center and fling himself into the water. Again. And again.
Lucy is a fish hunter. That’s the only term for what she does. She crouches on the dock, or sometimes she gets out on an empty boat lift and she watches. Intently. Then, with no warning whatsoever, she launches her self into the water and goes after the fish. So far, she hasn’t caught one. I’m kind of glad of that. There’s no telling what she would do with a captive fish. After she cruises around the dock a few times, driving Sam into a frenzy of barking,  she will get out of the water and trot back up to her vantage point on the dock so she can continue the hunt.
Sam, the new dog, isn’t swimming yet so he never leaves the dock. I’m sure he will figure the swimming out eventually. I want to wait until the water is a little warmer and then I’ll lure him into the water from the shore line.

sam at lake
Sheba, the old dog, has never been a swimmer, although she knows how. She mostly stays on the dock and barks.
Once Sheba starts barking one or two of the others is bound to join in. Then one or two of the people will start yelling at the dogs to be quiet which, of course, seems to make them bark even louder. I think people for miles around dread our arrival on the dock.
If things get too quiet, we go to opposite ends of the dock and practice coming when called. Lucy and Sam are in obedience school, even if Sam seems to be needing some remedial work. Sheba will come too if she knows there are treats involved.
I sometimes try to catch a glimpse of our dock before I get onto the bridge in the morning. If you look at exactly the right second, you can kinda see it. But if I miss seeing our little sliver of lake, it doesn’t matter, because there’s a great view as you cross the bridge and start your day.

sam and lucy

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Before our youngest child was born, we told our middle child the new baby was going to be his birthday present. He wasn’t particularly impressed. He wanted a bike.
Having two children with birthdays three days apart used to cause a lot of problems. Back when I was arranging their birthday parties, I could never find a way to combine them. When the older one was hosting roller skating parties, the younger was barely walking. When I took the younger one and her friends to a G-rated movie, the older one was only interested in R-rated movies.
Birthday week was a nightmare when they were both in grade school. Not only did I feel obligated to provide 25 cupcakes for each child’s class, there was also baking required for both the family birthday party and the actual kid birthday party.
I would have been fine with serving purchased cakes, but with two kids needing gifts, parties and special dinners, I needed to pinch pennies whenever possible.
I used to love planning a themed birthday party — back when they were young enough to tolerate my ideas. One of the last themed parties we had happened to be for the oldest daughter, who agreed to a beach party in the basement. Her birthday is in February, so it had to be an indoor party. Even then, none of the invitees wore their bathing suits. We drew beach scenes on long pieces of newsprint and hung them around the walls.
I wasn’t quite crazy enough to import sand and water into our partially finished basement, but I did force my husband to help me make “surfboards.” We cut a piece of plywood to a surfboard-like shape and placed it on a piece of PVC pipe so the kids could balance while we played Beach Boys songs. The kids all thought we were crazy.
For the younger two, birthday week always corresponded with the opening day of the city’s Children’s Zoo when we lived near Fort Wayne, Ind., and I took advantage of that.
First, I had to scour the local Hallmark shops for zoo-themed paper goods. Then I used to load up the little red wagon with snacks and drinks and round up four or five of her friends. I got to know that zoo really well over the years.
We always started with the prairie dogs, which looked like the guinea pigs we had in the basement, and we finished with the petting zoo, which meant chasing the goats out of the little red wagon.
Looking back, I’m wondering if maybe I liked the zoo trips more than the kids did. I’m not sure.
It’s been a while since I’ve been in charge of anything except for the family birthday dinner. With the youngest off at college and the middle child living in his own house, the biggest obstacle is scheduling the festivities.
It took an entire morning of texting, emailing and, as a last resort, calling to pin them down to one dinner. Now comes the complicated menu negotiations.
She wants grilled shrimp, he wants barbecued spare ribs. The older sister, who had her own birthday dinner in February, has diet restrictions to factor in. So salad, shrimp and spare ribs. Yum.
By combining the birthdays, I solve the cake issue. I’ll just buy one cake for everyone. It may have to have one white layer and one chocolate layer, I don’t know.
One thing I do know, with all three of them now in their 20s, I know I’m lucky to have them home for birthday dinners every year. I may have to make 50 cupcakes for old times’ sake. Or maybe not.

photo

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Another column originally published in The Weekly Vista
July 2012

What’s a summer without a family road trip?
Some people might say a summer without a family road trip is a good summer, but not me. I’ve always loved loading the family up and driving somewhere with a cooler full of drinks, a bag of broken chips, some soggy sandwiches and a few car games.
This year I get to do it one more time.
I thought when the kids grew up and moved away, that was the end of family road trips, but I’ve managed to get two of my three children to agree to go with me this summer. So it’s not the entire family, only the female portion.
We’re on our way to a family reunion in Rhode Island, which I figure is about a 24-hour drive. Many people would choose to fly, including both my daughters, but I held out for the car trip.
Driving gives us hours to form close family bonds. It not only gives us a chance to see the country along the way, it also gives us space to bring a bicycle or two. You can’t take your bicycle along if you fly, so that makes driving worthwhile. At least that’s what I told my passengers. I think they might have been willing to sacrifice the bicycles and fly to Rhode Island, but none of us really wanted to spend the money.
Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about road trips. I know how to pack the cooler and ration out snacks. For example, you want to start out slow with the drinks, so that means limiting the salty snacks. It’s best to start with a couple of small pieces of fruit, like grapes. If the kids don’t want to eat them, they can use them as missiles and pass a few minutes with a food fight.
I’d like to think my daughters are too old for a good old-fashioned food fight, but I’m not so sure. I think putting them in a car together for a few hours may bring out the child in them. If I still had the minivan I used to drive when they were younger, they’d find extra ammunition in the seats. Those grapes must be raisins by now.
Later in the day, chips and soda will calm them down for a few minutes before a bathroom stop. I save the cookies in case I need to use them as a bribe.
When they were younger, we used to bring the old Fisher Price cassette player and listen to books on tape. Back then, the books were often the Berenstain Bears, but in recent years, I’ve discovered grownup books that come on CDs. No one ever wants to listen to my books, but if I put them in anyway, everyone in the family will get interested. There have been times when we actually sat outside the motel room to finish up the end of a chapter.
A portable DVD player has become another trip essential. Television series on DVD work out well. When I travel with my husband, we take turns watching and trade off our driving duties each time an episode ends. That gives us a lot of bathroom stops, which is always a good thing.
The car games have evolved as the years have gone by. I have happy memories of playing the state license plate game as a child. The entire family would be on the lookout for out-of-state plates. My kids were never interested in that. They liked to play the handheld LCD games, which eventually gave way to Game Boys and now smartphones. But even with all the electronics available, I might be able to get them interested in a family sing-along, if the right song comes on the radio or the MP3 player or the iPod.
With only the three of us, it should be easy to find an inexpensive motel room somewhere along the route. I remember when we would only consider a motel that had a pool.
After a day in the car throwing grapes at each other, the motel pool gave the kids a chance to burn off some energy and wash off some fruit juice. Now, a shower should be sufficient, and maybe some cable TV.
When we get to Rhode Island, we have a rented house and extended family waiting. For the first time, my kids won’t be the youngest. My nephew has thoughtfully provided a new generation to take on vacation. Now, he’s the one lugging around a portable crib and diaper bags. I can’t wait to hear his car trip stories!
 

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One of the most important rites of spring is the first bike ride of the year.  On Saturday I  attached  the older sister’s former bike rack to the back of my car and I headed off to my favorite trail head.

There are a lot of things I love about living near the lake, but riding bikes isn’t one of them.  The streets in our little subdivision are way too steep for me and I firmly believe you would have to be suicidal to go out on the two lane highway on a bike.  So bike rides always begin with a car trip.  Luckily for me, Rogers is in the process of building a really great set of bike trails.

Back in the day I would have scoffed at bike trails.  I prided myself on riding in traffic. I remember telling people, it was really just a mind game.  You had to pretend to be a car and just go for it. Luckily my young self never spoke to my children.  By the time I was telling them about bike riding I was very much over pretending to be a car.

But I remember what it was like.  My love affair with bicycles started long ago and hasn’t ended yet. 

I bought the blue Schwinn “racing” bike at the Schwinn store in East Providence when I was in college.  I was actually replacing another fairly new Schwinn that was a little heavier and didn’t have the racing handlebars. I couldn’t really afford to trade in that fairly new bike, but I wanted a racing bike badly so I managed to talk my mother into buying the older one and paying too much.  She was easy that way when she knew I really wanted something. 

I loved the racer!  And I loved riding it around Providence.  When my car blew up, I rode the bike exclusively even to the self-service gas station where I worked. Between me and the gas station was a hill of Arkansas proportions.  I could never make it up that hill, but I kept trying.  I’d end up pushing my racing bike up the last few yards, panting and sweating and there was always an old woman working in her yard at the top of the hill and every day she’d call to me, “You’re going to give yourself a heart attack.”  I was only 20 years old and in decent shape.  I didn’t really understand her concern.

The best ride was going downtown.  They’ve changed the roads around Providence since then and I suspect the rotary is long gone, but back then I had to use the rotary at the bottom of the big hill next to the Rhode Island state house.  Rotaries are traffic circles, of course.  There’s usually a couple of lanes of traffic, headed in the same direction around the circle, the problem is that in order to stay in the rotary and not go shooting out one of the exits you had to move across at least one lane of fast-moving traffic.  I would use the momentum from the big hill to get up to speed and go flying into the rotary just as if I was driving an actual car.  If I saw one of my kids doing what I used to do, I’d kill them.  But somehow it worked both me and my blue Schwinn racing bike survived. 

My next stop on my biking adventure was the Kentucky years when I learned exactly how narrow a two lane road can be if you’re riding a bike and an oversized load comes up beside you.  I also had to dodge cows on occasion, but I kept trying to ride my bike.  After we were married, I tried hard to convert my husband.  I even bought him a bike of his own, but I couldn’t afford a second Schwinn and the inexpensive bike I found seemed to self destruct each time he rode it.

When the kids were little, I found a second blue Schwinn racing bike at a garage sale and we added baby seats. 

My bike had a baby seat for years because our youngest child refused to give it up.  I remember when she was in kindergarten and all her friends were giving up their training wheels, she was still in the seat behind me.  It lasted until she got so heavy,t he seat started sinking down onto the tire and then we took it off.  By then we were living here by the lake.

The youngest still doesn’t like bike riding, but the older two have taken up where I left off.  Some day we’ll do a long ride together – maybe the Katy trail in Missouri.  I have to work on my endurance and I have to get over the mental image of an overweight, middle-aged woman on slim blue racing bike. 

My rite of spring ride was only a few miles long and it left me pretty sore, but I’ll keep trying and one of these days, we’ll do that trail.

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Turning my home videos into DVD’s has been a big project. As usual, I find myself wishing for a better technology background. Of course, back when I was in school picking up background, we didn’t even have VHS. Home movies were on film that was projected reel to reel. And computers were mammoth things in school offices, not something you’d be able to play with at home. But this isn’t a blog about my age or technology. I wanted to write about the home movies.
I had a few surprises when I started really watching those tapes I made about 20 years ago. It’s funny the things you forget.
I totally remembered that my kids were very cute toddlers, but I had forgotten the dimples that made the middle child’s smile so infectious. Even now, twenty years later, I find myself smiling back at him every time he turns towards the camera. Of course he was smiling every time he turned towards the camera. That’s just the kind of kid he was.
His older sister was always firmly in control of everything except her own hair. She ordered her brother to do her bidding as her blond curls bounced around her face. When she was little, we kept her hair short and let it wave and curl on its own. But during the middle school years, when she insisted on growing her hair long like all her friends, it got a little out of control. But she wouldn’t listen to my advice to cut it.
When I saw the first few shots of our youngest daughter, I was amazed that she was the only one of the three who had hair as an infant. And her hair wasn’t anywhere near as blond as it is now. Isn’t that strange? She looks more like her sister now than she did back then.
But I think I was most surprised at myself. Was I really that skinny in between baby two and baby three? I sure wasn’t after baby three! And I was pretty confident as I interacted with the kids and their friends. Maybe my mother was right. I should have been a preschool teacher!
My mother and mother-in-law where frequent guest stars in our home videos which were mostly shot at family events. When you see them there with the kids, it’s impossible to believe that they’re both gone.
There are several birthdays on those old tapes and so far I’ve run across two long sequences of piñata bashing. I mean really long sequences. You would think I would’ve learned from the first time – when it took so long to break the homemade piñata. On that tape you can hear one of the mothers pleading with her son to hit it harder because they really have to leave. I started my young party guests out with plastic hammers and no blindfolds, but as they continued to bash without results, I passed out wooden spoons. I know I must have considered using a baseball bat at some point, but they were doing more damage to each other than to the piñata so I held back.
Then a few years later the same thing happened at completely different birthday party. Again, you can hear the parents begging their children to hit it harder. Everyone was ready to go home.
I’m glad I videoed the destruction of my living room after hosting a “Cabbage Patch Party” for eight kindergarteners. I remember almost panicking when the last mother dropped off the last of the six year olds and didn’t stay to help. Why did I think I could wrangle eight little girls, a four year old boy, and their Cabbage Patch babies without assistance? I’m pretty sure we all survived and eventually I must have put my living room back together or else we just moved. I’m not sure…
If I had it to do all over again, I’d shoot a lot more video of everyday things. We have one sequence on the front lawn of the house in Heber Springs. I know I shot it because we were getting ready to move and I’m glad to have those images because we loved that house. I’m just sorry I didn’t video tape our first boat which was also left behind in that move. Of course, in those days we didn’t own a video camera.
For years we used a camera borrowed from his work to shoot those Christmases, birthdays and the new baby. For the dance recitals, we simply copied other people’s videos. Even twenty years later, it’s easy to identify the child whose parents let us copy their tape. She’s the one in the center of the frame, waving to the camera. Our little dancer is somewhere in back and you have to watch carefully to glimpse her. But I’m happy to have even the glimpse, because our oldest child in the little red tutu was the cutest dancer ever to grace the stage in Heber Springs Elementary School!

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Sometimes you just don’t want to write. You can try and try to talk yourself out of it, but sometimes you just can’t. You can’t talk yourself out of not wanting to write. How’s that for double negatives?

The problem with writing is there’s always something else you can be doing. Even back when I was paid to be a staff writer, I could always find something else that needed to be done. After all, a clean desk is vital and so is internet research on cutting edge issues like my latest diet. Since I had to drive to some assignments, there were times when cleaning out my car was way more important than writing.  I’d go through the hundreds of pens in my glove compartment to make sure each one would work when I needed to take those very important notes.

Now, as a freelancer, there’s even more important stuff that I can be doing. Right now for instance, I could go out and pull the grass out of the front walk! It’s sunny outside and if I was outside weeding the walk, not only would I be improving the curb appeal of our property, I’d also be improving my Vitamin D levels. And, let’s face it; I’ve been kind of depressed lately. A little bit of sunshine would improve my mood to the point that the freelance stories would be writing themselves! I’d be doing everyone a favor by going outside instead of trying to figure out a compelling lead for a project due next week.

I’m a writer. How come I just don’t want to write?

It’s really not being stuck in my office. I have my desk strategically placed by a sunny window. It’s pleasant place to be especially when I remind myself that it’s sunny and cold out there.

Oops, excuse me while I run to the kitchen and check the tomato sauce simmering on the stove. On the way, I’ll also check my other “work station” where I have my new VCR hooked up to my laptop via a DVD burner. At this very minute I’m burning a very important DVD featuring the 2005 Ballet Westside dance recital. See, in 2005 I paid for a professional video tape of the dance recital and what a shame it would be if I didn’t get it transferred to DVD. I can just picture my future self craving a few hours of watching dozens of kids I no longer know dancing to songs that are no long popular and then realizing I no longer own a VCR. Maybe that’s even more important than pulling that grass out of the walk.

Hmm, did I ever finish that email to a friend I haven’t seen in 20 or 30 years? Another very important task I could be doing right now, but maybe that’s a little bit too much like writing….

I should just go get a Diet Coke.  A little shot of caffeine has got to help, right?

The dog is sound asleep next to me. Every now and then she even snores and I’m wondering if maybe I shouldn’t walk her? It would probably be good for our elderly dogs to have an extra walk since it’s such a nice sunny day. They need vitamin D too. Maybe that’s what I should be doing?

Surprisingly my housework is mostly caught up. Not that my house is ever really clean, but the college daughter was home this weekend so the laundry got done early. She’s already on her way back for a Sunday afternoon practice. The laundry is even put away, but I wonder: Isn’t it time for me to go through my drawers and swap winter clothes for summer clothes? After all, it is March…

I  talked to the other two kids this morning. Too bad, that would have been a good reason not to write. I can’t even call my sister since I know she’s out of town.

I wonder if I’ve totally misplaced those notes so that I really have to wait until tomorrow to do that project.

Time to stir the sauce again and maybe watch one dance as the DVD burns…. Then I can sit down and pound out that story! Really, in just a few minutes.

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My office has gone to the dogs.  Actually, it’s not a new thing but lately it’s been an annoying thing.  My allergies have taken a unique turn this past month. Instead of sneezing or wheezing, I’ve been rubbing my eyes constantly. Makes it almost impossible to wear my contacts.  I haven’t been to the doctor, not even an eye doctor, because I’m pretty sure I know what’s causing it and I’m pretty sure there’s no cure.

It’s the dogs, of course and they’re kinda here to stay. I do try. Some “dog people” don’t understand why I bother with the house rule of no dogs on the furniture but that’s my attempt to solve the allergy thing.  I like to think that keeping them off the furniture gives me a little buffer that helps screen out the allergens.  Of course, it doesn’t work.

Part of the reason it doesn’t work is my “office.”  When I sit in my home office (formerly the youngest daughter’s bedroom, but she moved to the basement the day her older brother moved out), I sit about a foot from the only furniture the dogs have permission to use.  Her former bed now belongs to the two dogs who share it only when they can pretend the other one isn’t there.  It doesn’t make any sense for me to have the dogs so close and I know it.  They should be in HIS office, the other home office that my husband has always used. He’s not allergic and he has single handedly spoiled two perfectly good dogs.

Back when we had three kids living in their own bedrooms, we had a futon in his office for the dogs.  The futon was the closest thing we had to a guest room back then which is probably why we didn’t have many guests.  When company threatened to arrive, I’d have to push dogs off and bring in a heavy duty vacuum cleaner.  I’m sure any company that slept there dreamed about chasing rabbits.  It was so obvious that it was the dogs’ bed. When the grandmothers used to visit, we put them in the youngest daughter’s room and she slept on the floor. 

But one by one the older kids moved out of the house and youngest took over the basement.  The little dog was happy to move with her to that basement bedroom where they both ignored the “no dogs on the furniture rule.”  Then the youngest daughter went to college and the little dog was ours again.

Our dogs don’t really like each other very much, although over the years they’ve reached a kind of truce.  The problem is that they both want to be the alpha dog, but the little one was forced to give up when she realized she was a third of the size of the her “sister.”  And my husband plays favorites.  He doesn’t even pretend to treat them fairly.  The big dog is his and the little dog – the one we used to call “that stupid puppy” when our then preteen son brought him home – is not.

Did I mention that both our dogs are old?  Really poor planning on our part.  We now have two 12 year old dogs and I’m afraid that means a double tragedy is coming our way before too long.

So the little dog moved back upstairs and I resurrected the little dog bed that we had bought her years ago and put it in our room.  The little dog bed wasn’t the little dog’s first choice.  We had the big dog bed, a big square cushion at the foot of the bed and then the little oval bed up by the book case on my side and everyone was O.K. with that until we had to move the little oval bed.  The other home office was being painted, so we moved his computer into the bedroom for a few days and I put the two dog beds next to each other at the foot of the bed. 

One day I went into the bedroom and found the little oval dog bed, with the little dog in it, right in the middle of the big cushion.  She looked pretty comfortable and maybe a little bit proud of herself.  I didn’t think too much about it, but when we were getting ready for bed I moved it back and I asked my husband why he had moved the little bed onto the big dog bed. He swore he hadn’t.  The next day, there it was again.  I always knew the little dog was smarter than the big dog!

I left the little oval bed where it was and later that day I found the big dog trying to sleep in it.  She managed to get her rear end kind of curled into the little bed, but the rest of her was lying across it on the big cushion.  It actually looked very uncomfortable, but she was happy because she won.  The little dog was stretched out on the real bed in my office, of course.

The dogs don’t respect the furniture rule.  We keep a dining room chair lying across the couch or they’re up there.  When company comes into the living room they often comment on the chair and that’s the only reason we remember to move it.  We’re used to it being there.  If one of us sits on the couch, we just push the chair over a little bit.

They usually stay off our bed because it’s a water bed.  We bought it back in the 80’s and never got around to replacing it.  The dogs don’t seem to like the swishing, but once or twice I’ve surprised a guilty looking dog standing next to a bed with waves almost large enough to surf on. 

The big dog likes to rub her face on her master’s pillows, which I think is a little weird. It’s also annoying since she un-makes the bed to free up a pillow for rubbing.  I never use his pillows.

The dogs spend most of their time in the house.  They are 12 years old after all, and the big dog barks constantly when she’s outside.  I’ll never figure out what she’s barking at, but I suspect she knows exactly how much it annoys me. 

I wish I could report that the dogs have replaced the kids in some small ways, but they haven’t. In spite of two noisy and jealous animals who like to move their beds around, I miss the kids.  It’s no fun to yell at the dogs when they simply yawn and go back to sleep. 

Dogs ignoring each other

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