A lesson I keep needing to relearn.


I had one of those days yesterday, and it ran into this morning. I think every middle aged woman in America will understand what I mean.

Maybe other people feel this way, too, but I don’t know. I don’t know if men feel like this. Or if young Moms do.

I don’t know if women in other countries feel this way.

But I know that my fellow late middle aged women friends will be nodding their heads and saying, “Yup.”

The problem that I was overwhelmed with yesterday was the crushing sense of responsibility that women in my generation feel.

By the late afternoon yesterday, I was feeling that I absolutely had to do something to fight back against Donald Trump. I’m already going to the March next week, but that didn’t feel like it was enough. I write for LiberalAmerica every day, but I didn’t think it was enough to keep calling out the idiocy of our incoming President.

I was upset because my writing wasn’t perfect. While taking care of my 18 month old granddaughter and a puppy and an old hound dog, I had written three articles about the Trump transition. But the mistakes that I made weighed on my mind.

I was upset that hadn’t written and published perfectly. What must everyone at LA think of me???

And while I was trying to write, to make some money because I retired way before I should have, even though I retired partly to take care of my grandchild, I worried that I wasn’t doing enough for that grandchild.

I hadn’t taken her outside for three days! OK, it was pouring rain and 35 degrees and the yard was full of frozen slush. But I know that kids need fresh air. And I was failing.

And I kept getting frustrated with the puppy. Who was acting just like… a puppy. He wanted to eat shoes. He wanted to grab Ellie’s stuffed animal out of her arms and run around the living room. He was driving me nuts. I was not a good puppy mommy.

I was sure that I wasn’t writing enough. I wasn’t writing and publishing well enough. I wasn’t giving Ellie enough attention. I was short tempered with the puppy.

Even though I vacuum every day and dust every week, I was sure the house was dirty. I only baked home made bread with Ellie once a week. I hadn’t made cookies with her for three weeks.

I felt awful. I felt overwhelmed. I felt that I just. couldn’t. do. any. more.

Then I went onto Facebook. Where I read a post that absolutely melted my heart and gave me a strong slap in the face. In all the right ways.

You see, the town where I taught for 22 years is in the middle of a terrible crisis. Children are killing themselves in what feels like an epidemic of hopelessness.

And that has added to my sense of failure. Some of the children who have died were once in my care. While I know that it is the height of arrogance to believe that one elementary school teacher could have made a difference, I still have felt that I’ve failed.

So this morning, when I read this post, I was struggling to greet the day. I was sure that I wasn’t up to the challenges ahead of me.

But.

The full post is here. You really should read it, no matter who you are or where you live.

The author is the mother of a young adult who grew up in that town where I taught for so long, and where my daughter is now a teacher. She is the mom of a child who struggled with mental illness.

Basically, what she wrote was that we all need to take a big step back from our desire for perfection. She wrote that kids should break some rules. They should seek out some fun when they can.

She wrote that we should all accept our best and just move on.

I read her post.

I looked at my puppy. I looked at my sweet, beloved little grandchild.

We all went outside for an hour and got soaked, muddy, dirty and tired.

It was fantastic.

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Ellie in the puddle. The puppy is in the woods. The old dog was inside snoring.

This is NOT the behavior of a rational adult.


 

I am unable to tear my eyes away from Donald Trump’s Twitter vomiting.

Its like seeing a terrible natural disaster;  you are horrified. You are filled with disbelief.

And yet.

You cannot look away.

I log on in the morning, and I cringe. I see the kind of vindictive, petty, immature ego stroking bullshit that the President-elect sends out to the world.

To be honest, if I had a 14 year old who spent his time tweeting nasty lies about other people just to make himself feel good, I’d take away his devices and get him into therapy.

Things like this:

I mean…I am a student of American history. I understand the vital importance of a free press in a democratic society. So that whole “dishonest media” line scares me.

Then there is the obvious lunacy of referring to a non-existent wall between us and our Mexican neighbors as “The Great Wall.” All you can think when you see this is, “Seriously, dude? You are comparing your proposed, unplanned, maybe its only a metaphor, border wall, or fence, or something to one of the great achievements of human history?”

The mind boggles.

I decided today that I should look at the tweets of other world leaders. You know, just to see if any of them are as…I don’t know….creepy as the ones from Trump.

I started with Obama. I scrolled through about 8 weeks of his tweets. This one pretty much sums him up:

It gets his point across, and it certainly supports his political aspirations, but when you compare it to Trump’s. Well. It looks so professional.

Next I went to Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. I wondered what he was tweeting these days.

How about these:

I tried, I did! I tried to find something self-serving, something snarky, something mean spirited or vindictive. Nothing. Rien. And may I add that Mr. Trudeau tweets in both English and French…

Then I went to Germany. Surely Angela Merkel would have something as inane and self focused as our own Big Orange Menace.

That was interesting. Mostly the German Chancellor retweets other people. When she does send her own tweets, they mostly look like this:

It says, “Thank you for your trust! Chancellor of Germany.”

Not exactly the same level of self serving ego stroking that we are seeing from Mr. Trump.

So.

OK.

Surely Vladimir Putin is just as obnoxious as his neon-headed puppet. I checked his Twitter feed, too.

This one caught my eye pretty quickly.

But this one was in there, too.

I spent a lot of time on Putin’s feed. I couldn’t find one single tweet that called any of his opponents nasty names. I couldn’t find one that made it look like Putin was responsible for everything good in the world.

I tried.

I did. I tried to find one single world leader who was as immature, as self-absorbed, as mentally unstable as Donald Trump. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find anyone in the role of world leader who came close to the obvious personality disorder that we see in Donald Trump.

So here is my question:  Who can take center stage to name the very deep mental illness that our future President is exhibiting? There are no psychologists or psychiatrists on Capitol Hill (I checked.) But can’t someone point out the obvious?

This guy is sick. He is NOT rational. He is clearly NOT able to put the needs of the United States before his pathological need to be admired.

There must be someone in the mental health field who can step onto the national stage and call a spade a spade. Whether the issue is Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder or something else, the truth is obvious.

Mentally healthy adults do NOT use Twitter to attack those who disagree with them. Mentally healthy adults to NOT use Twitter or other social media outlets to continually point out their own successes and attributes.

They just don’t.

The United States of America is about to swear in a delusional, mentally ill President.

Who is going to save us?

 

The Wolf King Reborn


I am the Wolf King.

Or at least, I used to be the Wolf King.

Lately I’ve been The Old Dog Who Can Hardly Get Down The Stairs.

What can I say? Time goes on, and arthritis hits hard.

For the past few weeks, I have had to contend with the humiliating prospect of a young pup, constantly jumping up to nip my ears or grab my collar. Always trying to get me to jump and play.

Annoying little fool. I have gone along with him as often as I could, but sometimes I just wanted to smack him. I have barked and growled at him so much that my royal voice is getting really creaky.

Today was a sunny day, and the air was crisp and cold. The yard was filled with fresh white snow, and birds filled our feeders.

The puppy, so foolishly named “Lennie,” was whining to go out. Woman Who Feeds Me made those sickening little cooing noises at him, and soon he was wearing his blaze orange collar.

I stood, slowly and regally. I do not beg to go outside.

But I don’t say “no”, either. I waited, aloof and calm, as the Woman Who Feeds Me put on my bra…. I mean, my Wolf King harness.

We headed out into the cold.

For a few minutes, I walked calmly alongside the Woman. The small, annoying puppy ran in circles around us, barking and yipping and racing in and out of the woods.

After a while, I noticed that my leash seemed very lax. I was able to wander away from the Woman Who Feeds Me without feeling the tug of the leash. Hmm.

Suddenly, a truck pulled into our driveway.  Somewhere, deep in my brain, I remembered that I am the Wolf King; the protector of our castle.  I began to bark. I ran toward the truck.

A though went zinging through my head.

“Hey! I’m running, and there’s no leash.” I glanced back at Woman Who Feeds Me.

Sure enough, she looked guilty.

“Tucker, come!” she called. She held out a tiny cookie.

One. Tiny. Cookie.

Ordinarily, I would walk on hot coals to get one of those cookies. But now. Now the cold wind was rushing through the woods. The smells of deer and moose and birds and fox came wafting toward me. I lifted my head. I sniffed.

I looked back at Woman Who Feeds Me. Her hand was out. Her voice sounded stressed.

I looked forward, toward the woods. I saw the puppy, running free, racing in circles.

“Tucker?”

My old eyes met the worried eyes of my Mistress.

“Adios!” I barked. And I raced like the wind away from the yard and into the woods.

Oh, OK. Mostly I didn’t really race. I sort of lumbered. And limped a bit. But I still went into the woods with the puppy dancing around me.

It was glorious. It was heaven. It was freedom, remembered from a time long ago.

It. Was. The. Best.

After a while, Woman Who Feeds Me, Annoying Puppy, Poopie Baby and Young Woman With Treats all went back inside the house. They called me to come.

But I would not be tempted back inside.

No. The Wolf King decided to sit outside of the house. Resting in the deep snow. With freezing ice pellets sticking to my niblets.

My back was aching like you read about, what with all the running through the woods, jumping over fallen trees, avoiding puppy kisses, and climbing over snowbanks.

I kind of wanted to go inside. Back to the fire. And the heat. And the cookies.

And the couch.

But I remained firm. I stayed out for hours.

I was so proud of my freedom and my strength.

Eventually, as I dozed with my paws held over my half frozen nose, I smelled the intoxicating aroma of cooking chicken livers. The window to the living room had been opened, and the simmering pot placed on the ledge.

“Oh, Woman Who Feeds Me,” I howled. “Have you no shame?”

She was trying to lure me back in.

But I would NOT be moved.

I stood erect ( except for my bendy spine and my splayed-out back legs.) “NO!” I barked with royal strength. “No! I will not yield to the liver! I am the Wolf King and I am FREE!”

I lasted a full four minutes before my aching back, my shaking legs, my frozen niblets and my empty belly got the better of me.

OK. So I came back in.

I got all warm. I ate my liver. I let the Woman and the Baby cuddle me.

I came back in.

But really? I only did it because I could hear that puppy whining for me to come back home to him.

I can’t resist the little goof when he gets all kissy like that.

But don’t be fooled.

If they drop that leash again, I’ll be off.

The Wolf King will be back. You can count on it.

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Still as handsome as you ever were.

Rock maple and dovetailed joints.


 

32235_398975950898_543400898_4765939_6508281_nMy Dad could do anything with his hands. When we were little, he used to spend a weekend taking apart a car engine, cleaning everything, then putting it back together again.

He could fix leaky pipes, he could paint walls and trim. My Dad could lay down carpet, strip wallpaper, rewire lights, plane the bottoms of doors so they wouldn’t stick.

Most of all, though, my Dad could bring out the life and the beauty of wood.

He made shelves, and little stools and steps and work sheds.

My Dad made my sons tiny wooden train sets that fit together perfectly. Each car had one of the boy’s names on it.

They are still here, in our house. The golden stained wood still gleams. The pieces still fit, 25 years after he made them. They are still beautiful.

Last weekend I drove two hours out to the small city in the Berkshire Hills where my boys live. I got a tour of the classic Victorian house where my son Matt is living.

As soon as I saw the old wooden floors, and the built in shelving, and the gorgeous dark wood bannisters on the stairs, I though of Dad. He would have loved that house!

We went up into Matt’s room, and there I saw his bureau. An old, golden hued wooden bureau, in Matt’s bedroom.

And it was if Dad was standing there beside me.

I started to laugh, but there were tears in there, too.

“Oh, man! I forgot that you have this bureau!” I said, running my hands across the smooth top.

“This is rock maple.” I said it reverently, although I have no idea what “rock maple” is. I could hear Dad saying those words to me, and they were filled with respect and pride when he said them.

So I repeated them to my boy.

This old bureau had belonged to my husband in his childhood. He doesn’t know where it came from, but he grew up with it. When we got married, it became our bureau. It was in our first apartment in the corner of the bedroom. It travelled with us to grad school in New Jersey, and then to our first apartment after graduation.

When our baby was born, we moved for a while back into my parents’ house. We needed to save money and we needed a safe, clean place to live. So back “home” we went.

And that’s where my Dad taught me how to refinish furniture. We took that old bureau, scratched and dinged and dirty, down into Dad’s garage workshop. And he stripped the old stain off, and sanded it, and sanded it again. I learned about the grades of sandpaper, and the use of a good “tack cloth”. I learned to use mineral spirits to clean up every speck of dirt and sawdust.

I learned about the proper use of stain, and how to smooth it on evenly. Dad pointed out the dovetail joints in the bureau drawers, telling me that you don’t see those very often any more.

Together we chose the stain, a very light golden oak that brought out the warmth in the hard, hard wood. Dad showed me every grain in that wood. He showed me how to be sure that every rough bit was smoothed away.

“Like a baby’s bottom,” he’d say when we got a drawer face perfectly smooth.

It was so special to work there beside him. He never got impatient. He never seemed in a hurry. I saw how the wood came to life under his hand. I saw how he was able to coax beauty out of something rough and old and stained.

I had wanted to toss out that old piece of furniture as soon as we could, but Dad was horrified at the thought.

“This is rock maple!” he’d said. “Those are dovetailed joints!”

Together we worked on the old wooden bureau, and I learned that my father was an artist, though he never described himself that way. I learned to be patient when polishing the top of a refinished piece of furniture with wax.

I learned how to listen, to watch, to imitate. I learned how to see the strength and the beauty under the rough exterior.

I learned how much my father loved a job well done, and I learned how much I loved my father.

Last week, standing in that bedroom in that old Victorian house, I caught sight of that beautiful bureau, with my son’s belongings sitting on top.

“This is rock maple!” I told him seriously. I pulled out one of the drawers. “See?” I asked him and  his bemused friend, “These are dovetailed joints.”

They agreed that the bureau is a real beauty. They were smiling at my earnestness.

We left then, turning off the lights and leaving the old rock maple bureau in the dark, in that old, old house.

It’s hard to say how much I love the thought of my son sleeping every night beside that wood that had felt my Dad’s loving hand.

I hope Matt keeps that bureau. I hope he gives it to a child of his own one day.

I hope that he tells that child, very seriously, “This is rock maple, you know.”

 

 

The Right To Bear….


I write this blog for two reasons. The first is for fun. The second is for therapy.

Sometimes I just write because its so much fun to have people tell me that they laughed at my words. They say they were entertained, and that makes me feel fantastic.

But sometimes I write because if I don’t, I might just collapse into a depth of anger and grief that will overcome me like a terrible wave. If I don’t write, I won’t be able to get up in the morning.

So here I am, again, again, again…writing my anger, my sorrow, my feeling of complete helplessness.

Here I am, again. Writing about guns. Again.

Writing because another innocent baby was slaughtered by a guy with a gun. And I can’t stand it any more.

I know people who own, use, carry, store guns. Some of them are people I love dearly. Many are people I respect and admire.

But I believe, with every single molecule of my being, that they are morally wrong to own guns.

Some of them tell me, “Oh, but I have used guns my whole life, and I have never shot anyone!”  To them I say, “So what?” Does your lack of suicide, murder, accident, psychotic break erase the thousands of deaths caused by guns? No.

Until you can assure me that humans can be miraculously made perfect, then guns are too great a risk for us to endure.

Others tell me that they need protection, in case someone breaks in to their home. Again, I say, please look at the real statistics. Your chances of being killed by an armed intruder are less than your risk of being killed by lightning. And you know what? Your odds of being killed by an intruder are far, far, far less than the risk that one of your kids will be killed by that gun you love so much.

And finally, there is the group of responsible gun owners, (and they truly are!!!), who tell me that they simply enjoy the sport of shooting.

This is the argument that angers me the most.

Because you know what? We live in the United States of America. There are literally millions of ways that we can entertain ourselves. As someone who has never in my life laid a finger on a gun, I can assure that life can be full and beautiful and joyous without ever pulling a trigger.

Take up golf, for God’s sake. Go hiking. Learn to paint. Volunteer in your local pediatric unit.

Play a nice safe video game and shoot whatever you want.

Then there is the famous “Right to bear arms.”

The poorly written, murky, confusing Second Amendment to our Constitution was only very very, VERY recently interpreted to mean that individuals have a “right” to carry a gun.

Before 2008, that wasn’t what it meant, legally. It meant what it said: “A WELL REGULATED MILITIA.”

Sorry. My rage is rising again.

But even if you honestly believe that somehow you have the “right” to own your gun, I want you to look at these faces.

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Look at this little face:

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And now that you’ve looked at those innocent, blameless babies, you tell me that you truly believe your right to “bear arms” is more sacred, more valued, more critical than the right of these babies to go to school in safety. You tell me that your “right” to shoot for fun, or to feel less scared of the big, bad world, is more holy and more valuable than the right of those little ones to get in Grammie’s car to go for a ride.

I don’t want to hear that you think you know what James Madison was thinking. I don’t want to hear that “taking away the guns will never happen.” And don’t DARE to tell me, without guns, they’d find another way.

I’m not trying to end all death. I am not God.

I AM trying to get my fellow Americans to realize that the purposeless death of ONE child is too much.

Step back. Look at the “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Look at your babies. Look at the babies in the store, at the park, sitting on Santa’s knee.

Then please, please, please. Put down your weapons.

And tell the NRA to go FUCK THEMSELVES.

 

A Puppy, A Baby and a Sleepy Old Nonni


One of the many pleasures of being a ‘stay at home Nonni’ is that I get to nap when Ellie does.

I have always loved naps. Always.

My dad was a wonderful napper. He could close his eyes and sleep for 15 minutes and wake up completely refreshed.

I get this talent from him.

When Ellie was very small, we used to nap together in the recliner. I’d hold her in my arms and we’d both drift off.

Now she’s too big for that to be safe, so now we lie down together on my bed. She goes to sleep, and I read or write. Sometimes (OK, pretty much every day) I fall asleep , too.

Today was one of those challenging days, when you’re not sure you can make it all work. It was snowing hard when the puppy woke me up at 6. I stayed awake checking the school closings. Would Kate have to drive to school? Would she be able to go in late?

I finally realized that her school schedule was unchanged, which meant that mine was, too. I made the coffee and headed out into the icy snow/rain mix to get my granddaughter.

It was a long, slow, slog to her house and back, a round trip of about 10 miles. At least we turned into our driveway, and I gave the old Colonial America cheer, “Huzzah!”  To my joy and pleasure, Ellie yelled it right back at me.

The day was fine, but by the time I saw Ellie rubbing her eyes at about 2 o’clock, I was ready and willing to rest. I had already cooked, served and cleaned up both breakfast and lunch. I had wrestled Lennie for possession of 4 boots, 6 socks, a mitten, 43 toys and one winter coat.

I was more than ready to bring Ellie into my bedroom for a nice nap. The problem was that Lennie was NOT in nap mode.

He was running in circles around us, grabbing at the blankets, my book, the pillow…..

I tried offering a treat. “Good boy, Lennie, good dog. Lie down!”  No good.

I tried putting down a nice warm blanket. “Lennie, time to rest!”  No good at all; he tried to eat it.

Finally, I had had it. Ellie was whining, wanting a book. My back was aching. It was snowing outside and I wanted to LIE THE HELL DOWN.

So I turned to the puppy and snarled, “LIE THE HELL DOWN!”

To my shock, he did.

Ellie and I settled in, read “Good night Moon” and she fell asleep. I wrote an article for LiberalAmerica, and then I went to sleep, too.

And when I woke up, Ellie was still snoozing, her soft curly hair moving with her gentle breaths.

I looked over the side of the bed.

There was my baby Lennie, curled into the shape of a snail. And right beside him, curled up in the exact same shape, only three times larger, was my old dog, Tucker. Side by side on one doggie bed.

I lay back down, listening to the combined sounds of two sleeping dogs and one sleeping baby girl.

Life can be so unexpectedly perfect, you know?

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A Puppy, A Baby, And A Nonni On The Brink


Oh, sure. It all sounded so easy.

Of course I could handle a baby and puppy. Pffft.  I used to teach fifth grade! How hard could this be?

See, I pride myself on being a nurturing, loving, patient Grandmother. When I picture myself (you know, when no one is around, and the house is all clean and quiet), I see a chubby, gray haired, smiling woman in an apron. Her wrinkles all match her smiles; there’s nary a frown line to be found on her sweet face. The house smells like delicious food and the floors are immaculate.

Birds are singing, the sky is blue.

You get the picture.

I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect reality to live up to the image.

So. We got a puppy.

We got little puppy Lennie on a Saturday morning. He was sweet, cuddly, full of puppy kisses.

He also peed every 60 seconds, indoors and out. The pee was nasty and bloody.

We spent his first afternoon at the local animal hospital emergency room. Puppy Lennie had come to us with a raging urinary tract infection.

We got through Saturday night and Sunday with 79 loads of wash and 65 floor washings.

Then in was Monday and our best beloved little one year old Ellie arrived. And the sweet, smiling Nonni in the apron turned into a raging lunatic old woman in a hoodie.

See, when you have a puppy, you have train said puppy. Which means that you have to reward said puppy literally every time you say “come” or “sit” or “drop it” or “get the hell off the bed, you stupid mutt!”

Which means that you have to walk around with a pocket full of tiny doggy treats. Hence the hoodie with its handy front pocket.

The raging lunatic part happened at about noon.

Poor Ellie was cutting four molars, and her digestive system was not at its best. It had been a long morning full of, “Lennie, drop Ellie’s sock!” and “Down! Down!” and “Let go of her hair, you menace!”

Ellie was overwrought. Nonni was exhausted. Lennie was having the time of his life.

Then Ellie pooped. She pooped a lot. She pooped as only a teething baby with an uncannily omnivorous appetite can poop.

I laid her on the couch and peeled off her diaper to find a massive smear of disgusting orange human waste and a butt so raw that there were blisters. Poor baby girl!

I grabbed a handful of baby wipes, trying to get off the worst of the mess without hurting her any more as the poor little kid sobbed her heart out. I carelessly plopped the poopy diaper on the coffee table beside me. I figured I could wrap it up and throw it out in a few minutes.

Yep. You called it.

Puppy Lennie, also affectionately known as “the Poop Hunter”, grabbed the unwrapped diaper in his tiny teeth and took off through the house.

He galloped, the poop flew left, the poop flew right. In his joyous excitement, Mr. UTI peed with every step.

Ellie sobbed, and rubbed her sore bottom with her fist, thereby smearing the poop all over her hand, and right into her hair……

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Flash forward 30 minutes. Ellie was safely seated in a warm bath, Lennie was back in his crate with a rawhide.

Nonni was hurrying back and forth from the bathroom to the rest of the house, vinegar soaked mop in hand.

Eventually, after what felt like a week,  the baby, the puppy, the walls and the floors were all clean again.

Ellie fell asleep on a blanket on the couch. Lennie fell asleep on a rug on the floor.

I collapsed onto the sofa. I looked at my elderly dog, Tucker, sitting at my feet. He looked back at me. Our eyes met. Neither one of us smiled.

I’m not sure about him, but I know I still had poop under my nails. I contemplated changing my clothes, but it seemed kind of pointless.

I reached out my stinky, vinegar and poop scented hand and patted his stoic old head.

“You don’t happen to know how to make a dirty martini, do you?” I asked.

He didn’t.

But I felt better anyway.

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I was sure that the next day, I’d wear an apron and the house would smell like cinnamon and love instead of vinegar and poop.

Stay tuned.

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Who, us? What did we do?

When old folks argue


Yesterday we had an experience that has me thinking.

Thinking in a good way, but also thinking in a kind of serious way.

It was a pretty typical weekend day for us. We had invited some guests to come for dinner and spend the afternoon with us.

Not “guests” as in “people you need to impress” but “guests” as in “family, people who get it, people you just really want to spend your day with.”

All would have been well as we prepared to make dinner for two young couples with little kids if only Nonni here hadn’t come down with a nasty bout of asthmatic bronchitis.

Nonni woke up yesterday feeling (as my mom used to say), “Like something the cat dragged in.” My husband, also known as “the sweetest man in the world,” let me sleep late while he dealt with our old hound and our new puppy. He even took said puppy to the vet.

But when it was time to make dinner, I asked him for help. This is an unusual request from an over functioning, over controlling Italian woman, but I did. I asked for help.

Then company arrived. Our beloved young folks, with babies in arms, arrived as planned. And “Papa” went straight into Grandfather Host mode. He was charming, hugging babies, pouring beer, chatting and laughing.

Meanwhile, Nonni was sauteeing and coughing in the kitchen.

Nonni was NOT amused.

Nonni was, in fact, crabby, cranky and slightly snarling.

Both young women asked how they could help.

All of the men stayed on the couch.

Finally, Nonni growled at Papa.

And here is the point of this post.

When a couple argues during a more than 40 year relationship, this is what it means.

It means that sometimes humans misunderstand each other. Even humans who love each other and want what is best for each other.

I remember, back in about 1980, every argument felt like the end of the relationship. Every time I lost my temper, every time my husband lost his, it felt like the end of the world. I tried so hard to always push down my irritation, swallow my needs, keep the boat from rocking.

But now that my one true love and I have come through graduate school, two separate careers, raising three children, falling head over heels in love with a grandchild, and even living with three different dogs….well.

Now I understand that when I’m mad at Paul, or when he’s mad at me, it means “I’m mad at you.”

It doesn’t mean “I hate your.” or “I want a divorce” or “You are a terrible person.”

What freedom.

The best part of getting older, maybe, is the realization that you can get really annoyed at the person you love, and still love them in the morning.

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My honey and I, back in the day. At Dolly Copp Campground.

The Beauty Of Retirement


Ah, what a day.

OK, so there were those moments where Ellie wanted to sit on the potty, get off the potty, wipe her own bottom, sit back on the potty, get off the potty, wipe her own bottom…..and the puppy wanted to chew the towels, sniff said bottom, chew more towels, sniff again… and the old dog was aghast at such behavior and stood in the doorway to the bathroom saying “woof!” every four seconds…..

Still. It was a lovely, lovely day.

It was pouring out. It was foggy. It was raw.

I wasn’t commuting 37.5 miles to work, as I did for 22 years. I wasn’t dealing with indoor recess. I wasn’t trying to regulate the heat in my classroom by putting wet paper towels on the register to tell it that it was cool, and that we needed it a lot warmer.

Nope.

Today I was in my house. Wearing flannel pj pants ALL day. I had some Christmas lights on, and the pellet stove roaring.

Ellie and puppy Lennie played together. We all danced to our favorite music (except for old dog Tucker, who lay on the floor monitoring our every move.)

Today I was retired.

Ellie took a long nap on my bed, and I sat beside her, reading and answering emails and writing about politics to make a little money.

We had turkey soup for lunch. It was nice and hot.

I didn’t have to scarf down a Luna bar on my way to a meeting.

Come to think of it, I haven’t even been to a meeting in a year and a half.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of retirement. I had the time and the patience to watch my granddaughter climb on and off the potty 500 times. I had time to scroll through two days of tweets from Donald Trump, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

I made myself tea at 2 pm and I let the water come to a full boil.

Retirement is fabulous.

I hope you all get to try it one of these days!

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Listen to Christmas Carols on a rainy day.

Oldies and Youngsters


Now that little Lennie has been here for a week, I have a few observations to make.

1. Puppies Are Energetic

This is how I imagine Lennie’s internal monologue.

“Oh, boy, oh, wow, foodfoodfoodfood….where can I pee? foodfoodfoodfoodfood….A BABY! gonna jump on her!….she smells great…poop! Gonna run, gotta run, think I’ll eat this book…foodfoodfoodfoodfoooooood….I’m tired. Sleep.”

Repeat every 25 seconds.

Phew.

2. A Sleeping Puppy Is As Irresistible As A Sleeping Baby

3. Old Folks Really Benefit From Having Young Folks Around

Today both of my dogs went out the doggie door. Tucker went first, the Wolf King on a stately journey into the back yard to poop. He stepped out carefully, checking his footing on the icy deck.

Lennie went out behind him, leaping through the door in one bound. He jumped down the deck stairs, onto the snowy grass. They both did their business, Tucker with his nose lifted and his eyes closed, considering the meaning of life. Lennie squatted three feet away, grinning up at his big brother, little puffs of frosty air coming from his snout. You could just hear his thoughts.

“This is so cool! Pooping with the Wolf King! Oooh, a bird! I’m done! Now what can we do?”

Usually Tucker makes his way slowly back up the stairs and into the house after depositing his daily doodie. This time, though, I started to hear both dogs barking in the yard. I was inside with Ellie, reading a book. I noticed that the barking had a rhythm to it. One deep “woof” followed by three or four excited “yips.” Over and over again.

I picked up my granddaughter and carried to my bedroom, where we stood looking out the window. And there they were.

The Little Dude was dancing around, chasing his tail, jumping in the air, one ear folded back by the wind he generated as he raced. And the old man, the Wolf King, pretending to be annoyed, but bowing his front legs down to let Lennie nip at his neck. Growling and barking in fake anger, then running, a bit carefully and very stiffly. Chasing Lennie, who shrieked and yipped and ran away while looking over his shoulder the whole time.

The deep rumbling voice of the Wolf King, “I’m coming for you, kid. I’m gonna get you…..”

And Lennie, the baby dude, giggling back, “Nooooo! Don’t catch me!!!”

And it hit me.

It was me and Ellie, played out in the dog world.

She runs, I pretend to chase.

I remember, when I play with her, what it was to jump and twirl and race without aches or pains. I remember being young.

The Wolf King is reliving his youth in the back yard with little Lennie.

I’m reliving mine in the living room with Ellie.

Good for both of us.

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