Love Makes Fools Of Us All


Ah, love.

Is there anyone alive who hasn’t fallen victim to the whims of love?

When we fall in love, we give up our ability to make sane choices for ourselves. We see our beloved through misty eyes. Every fault is airbrushed out, and we only want more. More time with our beloved. More closeness. More intimacy.

When we truly fall in love, we let go of our own egos. We allow ourselves to make decisions that are not in our best interest. “But it will bring me closer to my beloved,” we tell ourselves. “This is going to be great!” All we want, when we are flushed with love, is to be near our beloved. We want to touch, to kiss and hold and nuzzle and dream.

Ah, love.

You lead us all astray. You take away our ability to do what is truly best for ourselves. When you have stormed our hearts, we care nothing for ourselves.

How do I know this, you ask? Ah, I have a confession for you all.

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Who, me? Ruin your sleep?

When we lost our beloved Wolf King last month, Paul and I found ourselves with a big, huge hole in our hearts. To say we miss the old fool would be the understatement of the century. Paul, in particular, was absolutely bereft without his best buddy sleeping on the dog mattress on his side of our bed.

So.

I invited Lennie to come and sleep with us.

See, up until that point, Lennie had been sleeping (all alone) in the living room. That just seemed too sad to me. So I got out some doggie treats and coaxed him into our room, and onto the newly abandoned dog bed.

He wouldn’t stay.

So.

Um.

I coaxed him up onto our bed. With doggie treats. It took some time and some effort, but….I was falling in love with my puppy! I needed him! I wanted him nearby!

The mists of love covered my eyes, and I got the (not so) little guy to stretch out on the bed between us.

He liked it!

And there he has stayed. Every night. Stretching his full length with his head on my hip and his butt on Paul’s shoulder. Or vice versa.

We now attempt to sleep in a queen sized bed where a 50 pound dog has half the mattress and the humans have about a quarter each.

On a good night.

This is not the best situation for aging humans who need our rest. It is not best for our creaky backs or our stiff spines.

But we won’t be changing it any time soon.

Love hurts.

What can I say?

Love makes fools of us all.

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It’s all so random


I’m finding it very hard to write these days.

First of all, I just can’t face the news anymore. I can’t stand the helplessness that I feel about guns, in particular. I dreamed the other night that I was shooting up Congress. I’m not kidding.

And I have never even touched a gun in my life.

Rage is so exhausting.

I’m also struggling with putting myself out there in my writing. I’ll be the first person to admit that I am a blogger, not a “writer.” I’ve never had a piece of fiction published, although I’ve sent a few things off.

It takes some internal courage to keep typing up this chatty little blog. It’s pretty personal, and its my limited attempt to keep myself feeling at least a little bit creative. It’s scary every time I hit the “publish” button, knowing that every typo will be out there. Every trite sentence will be read. People will read and react, and some will think it’s lame.

I recently had some very snarky, mean spirited comments posted about me and about this blog. Posted by someone I love and thought I could trust. It hurt more than it probably should have, and it shook me to the core.

But I need to get back on the bike, if you will. I can’t let someone else take this away from me.

I like writing. I like having this place to express myself. I thoroughly enjoy reading other blogs and being part of this community.

So here I am. I hope that those who find this blog silly, annoying, pointless or boring will do me the courtesy of just not reading it any more.

In light of all the negativity in the world right now, from the insanity of our President to the insanity of the NRA, I think I’ll write about the random nature of life.

I will write about my tomatoes.

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I picked these beauties in about 5 minutes yesterday. Aren’t they lovely? Don’t they look like a gardener actually planted them and took care of them and, you know, grew them on purpose?

Yeah.

But no.

I did plant some tomatoes last May. Right in my actual garden! Right in the soil that I had enhanced with manure and in a deep hole with the right additions. I staked them and I pruned them and I watered them. All 8 plants.

I harvested (ahem, cough, cough) a grand total of 4 cherry tomatoes.

Then I took a walk around the back of my house. You see, we had three huge pine trees cut down last fall. All kinds of new growth has sprung up where they used to cast their shade.

For almost 30 years I had a compost pile back there, in the area around those pines. But when they were cut, their limbs covered the spot, so I have started to compost indoors.

Welp. Lo and behold, while I was ignoring my backyard and letting it go wild, what looks like a veritable forest of tomato plants has taken over the old compost pile. Mixed in with black eyed susans and a lot of crab grass there are at least ten different tomato plants, and they are LOADED with fruit, of all sizes and shapes. All growing on the ground, all tangled in a heap, all overgrown.

Isn’t life random? So much for my illlusions of control.

 

Boomerfest


 

I have a wicked good idea.

My husband and I just came home from a three day bluegrass and roots music festival in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of North Adams, Massachusetts. It was so much fun!

We were surrounded by an incredible amount of talent performing on four stages and in various spots around the MassMoca art museum. We danced more than we have in what feels like forever! There was also a ton of delicious and varied foods, from pizza to maple donuts to vegan tacos and gourmet grilled cheese.

And so much good beer, wine and all that mood altering deliciousness.

Wow.

This means, of course, that I am writing this blog at 8 pm on Sunday from under the covers of my bed. My sore legs and feet are propped up, there’s an ice pack on my knee, and I’ve taken my Tums and my ibuprofin. My 61 year old body feels like I’ve been in a prize fight.

Music festivals are not for sissies.

So I was thinking.

Given the fact that the original rock and roll generation is getting pretty long in the tooth, maybe these festivals should be geared more for older patrons. I mean, extra spicy bloody Marys are all well and good for all the millennials in the crowd at the Fresh Grass Festival, but what about the rest of us?

So I’ve been thinking. I have decided to put on my own music festival just for us mature types. I shall call it “BOOMERFEST”.

These are my plans so far.

Food:

Last night I got hungry for a little nosh, and I went to one of the food courts. I thought my blood sugar might have been a little low, you know? Just needed a little something to take the edge off and give me energy.

I ended up with an entire plate of sweet potato fries.

At Boomerfest, we’ll still have the pizza, the home made ice cream and the dumplings, but we’ll also offer nice fresh choices. Just to lower the likelihood of one of us keeling over from a heart attack.

Boomerfest will feature an entire food court devoted to fruits, veggies and whole grains! Of course, all the vegetables will be cooked. Raw veggies give us gas.

We’ll have a Tea Truck, too. Some of us like a little mid afternoon pick-me-up. Maybe some nice decaf tea with those little arrowroot cookies. Or some seltzer and a few crackers.

Drink:

We are keeping the Bloody Marys, the mango Mimosas and all the local beers and great wines. We are old, but we are not stupid. Why do you think they call it a “festival”?

So while we’ll have plenty of high quality hooch, we’ll also offer healthier options. I haven’t perfected the prune juice martini yet, but I think it has potential.

Health/First Aide

This is an important topic. Fresh Grass had a big first aid tent and I’m sure it had lots of logical supplies like bandages and ice packs and Narcan, but our place will be a little different.

In addition to the usual supplies, we’re going to stock antacids, laxatives (we’re away from home), denture adhesives and those little pads you can stick on your corns and bunions. We don’t need anything to get in the way of us dancing till we fall over!

Patrons will be encouraged to come in and take a few breaths if they’ve they’ve gotten too close to the stage and all those hot young musicians. Can’t be too careful.

Finally, you know how festivals often set up a fan in front of a hose, so you can get sprayed and cooled off as you go buy? Well, I’m going to set up a device that sprays sun screen down on people from above.

Older women often have thinner hair than they realize. I have had first-hand experience forgetting about my old-lady head on a sunny day and waking up the next morning to Scorched Scalp Syndrome.

And need I mention the older guys who hear one riff of an electric guitars and suddenly forget they aren’t 20 any more? The ones wearing hats won’t even notice the sunscreen spray, but it will save the baldys with the scraggly gray ponytails a boatload of pain on Monday morning.

What do you think?

Anyone want to come to my festival next summer? In the comments below, please leave your suggestions for how to make Boomerfest a safe and exciting time for everyone.

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Sure, these two are young. I gave birth to both of them.

 

The Day I Just Plain Sucked


Have you ever had a day where, from the moment you open your gritty eyeballs, you just can’t get anything right?

Have you ever had the kind of day where every god, goddess and bad guy in the universe is seemingly engaged in a conspiracy to prove that you are a total waste of molecular energy? The kind of day where, if you could just quiet the roaring of your overflowing toilet, you’d actually hear the sound of distant maniacal laughter?

No?

Welp. I have.

In fact, as you have probably already surmised, I had one of those days today. And, yep, you’re right. You’re going to hear about it.

Let me just set the stage first, alright?

Today was the last full day in the life of my beautiful old hound dog, Tucker the Wonder Puppy. Also known as “The Wolf King.” At the age of 12 and a half, Tucker has walked his last walk, chased his last frisbee, eaten his last beef bone. He is losing his vision, and can barely get himself up or down the stairs, even with lots of loving human support.

It’s time.

The call has been made, the appointment is set. Today is his last full day on this lovely green earth.

So of course, last night Paul and I were up at 3 AM easing him down the stairs and out the front door to poop. We were up again bright and early this morning doing the same thing. We are sad, tired, nostalgic, sick at heart.

We are not at our peppy best.

And this is the first full week of school, which means that it is Nonni’s first week of trying to juggle a three month old and a two year old, both of whom miss their Mommy all day long.

All of that would have probably been more or less OK, except that it was also pouring and pelting buckets of rain all day. And I somehow messed up the bottles so that the wrong nipple was on the wrong bottle and poor baby Johnny could barely get a drop of milk all day.

Oh, and I invited my granddaughter’s best best friend and her Momma to come over to visit today. Because…why not?

So.

There I was.

New company at my door. Rain pouring down. Old dog whining on the rug. Puppy yipping, jumping and relentlessly trying to mate with the young woman who came to visit. Baby Johnny desperately trying to get milk, to no avail. Two year old Ellie and her bestie, Hazel, trying to work out the fine points of sharing while Ellie shrieked “ELLIE’S TOYS!” at about 95 decibels.

I was trying to bake a gingerbread cake, but it was in process when our guests arrived, because I had spent an hour sobbing over my old dog and I was behind schedule. I was trying to control the puppy, but I have honestly never seen him so determined to fuse himself with a human while yelping and yipping nonstop and shedding at the same time. I was trying to help Ellie with her sharing while simultaneously trying to get her to stop screaming at the top of her tiny little lungs.

I wanted our new friends to look at me and think, “Wow! Nonni sure is on top of things! What a lovely nurturing figure she’d be in our lives!”

I failed.

I failed wicked.

Instead of looking calm, serene and loving, I looked insane, sweaty, tearful and overwhelmed.

I mean. Jesus. This is NOT my first rodeo. I swear; I really can host lunch for a mommy and her adorable, sweet little girl! I CAN!

Except that today, I couldn’t.

Get this.

I offered them lunch, saying that I had lots of cold cuts and peanut butter and jelly. “Sure!” said lovely young Mommy. “We love peanut butter and jelly!”

So I went to get it out. And I discovered that…….

…..I had no bread.

None.

So I served peanut butter and jelly on graham crackers while the baby cried and the puppy howled and the old dog moaned and the wind blew and the rain poured down.

I. Absolutely. Sucked. Today.

My only hope at this point is that lovely young mommy and sweet little best friend will give us another chance. Maybe when old dog is gone, puppy is calm, the weather is good, and I’ve remembered to shop.

Sigh.

I guess you can’t win ’em all.

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Please!!! Please can I lick your face off????!!! 

 

 

When I Get Very Old


When I get very old, if I’m lucky enough to reach that milestone, I will give up my struggles to be perfect. I will eat brownies for breakfast and have ice cream for dinner, if that’s what I really want.

I’ll stop trying to be thinner or stronger or smarter or more accomplished.

When I get very old, I’ll lounge around all day in my pajamas and read trashy novels while eating a bag of chips.

You might wonder what has inspired me to accept the blessings of very old age.

Well, it was the Wolf King that did it.

I’ll let him explain in his own words.

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Only a week ago, I still needed my leash.

As soon as I woke up today, I knew that something unusual was going on. Man Who Walks Me was climbing up and down the stairs, bringing chairs and tables out into the yard. Woman Who Feeds Me was rushing around, cleaning the kitchen.

Puppy Lennie was barking and squeaking and being a general pain in the rear, as usual, even when I woofed at him to cut it out. By mid-morning, I had a headache.

I also had an idea.

I have seen this kind of rushing about many times in my long years. It always means that a lot of humans will be at our house, talking loudly and eating for hours. It always means dropped cheese and other delicious delicacies.

I was excited. At my age I show my enthusiasm by plodding around the living room and slowly laying myself in whatever spot is most likely to be in the way of the bustling humans.

I am the Wolf King. I will not be overlooked.

Today the bustling and preparing went on for quite a while, and slowly more humans arrived. I knew most of the early visitors. There was the Young Woman Who Used To Hold Me, and her newest tiny poopy human. There was the Young Man Who Used To Chase Me and his friends who always call me “Good Boy.”

I greeted them with some royal woofing, then flopped in front of their feet.

After some time, all of the humans went outside of the house and onto the lawn. Puppy Lennie still shrieked in his ear-spitting way, but he had been banished into the back fence.  I remained alone inside.

I woofed once. Softly.

I whined, a little bit louder.

Why wasn’t I outside, where the cheese would be? I wanted to be with my humans, who regularly drop food, and whom I love. But I would not beg.

Settling my chin on my royal paws, I commenced moaning pitifully with each breath.

Finally, Woman Who Feeds Me came into the house. She called my name, and I raised my wise old head to see what was up.

“Come!” I heard her say cheerily. “Come outside!”

I carefully pushed myself up on my elbows, raising my shoulders and finally balancing on my front paws. I was breathing a little fast, but it might have been the thought of cheese that had my heart rate up.

Slowly, carefully, I managed to get my back end off the floor, and I tottered toward my mistress. She called me to the front door, so I hobbled down the stairs. I prepared to have my leash clipped on, and lifted my head with regal dignity.

Nothing.

No clip, no leash.

Just Woman Who Walks Me, telling me to “Come outside.”

I looked at her in surprise. What was she asking me to do?

She stood there, right in front of me, and it was as if every dream of the past 12 1/2 years had suddenly come true.

She was holding the front door wide open.

Cautiously, I stepped toward the door. Act cool, I told myself. Pretend nothing strange is going on.

I took one step over the threshold, trying to look completely calm. Nothing to see here, folks, just the Wolf King, stepping out the front door with NO LEASH.

If I could have whistled, I would have.

As I got out onto the porch, and looked at the crowd of humans with food in their hands, I picked up a little speed.

“So long, suckers!”

I meant to run. In the old days, if I managed to get my nose out the door without a leash, I took off like a hound out of hell. I’d hit the woods, race around the house, bark at every human who dared to approach.

Man. Those were the days. Chasing squirrels, howling at the moon, rolling in dead stuff. And only coming home when I was good and ready.

I remember those days. My goal was always to go a little farther, stay out a little longer, bark a little louder.

So I tried to take off as I passed Woman Who Feeds Me. I shuffled with as much speed as I could muster, but my back end just wouldn’t keeping up.

I made my way across the grass, then chose the perfect spot to rest my royal self on the grass. I picked a spot as close to the cheese and pepperoni eaters as I could. I lowered my butt and carefully let my front end follow it down.

I allowed the peasants to approach, and to pat me as often as they liked. Many of them dropped cheese.

It was a peaceful day. My favorite small human came to bring me popcorn and crackers and to pat my royal head. Man Who Walks Me gave me extra love. Also cheese.

I am very old. I am ready to give up my quest to be the Royal Runaway, to travel farther and stay out longer. I am ready to go outside without a leash and stay in one place. I will let myself sleep in the sun while the human drop bits of tasty food all around me.

I am still the Wolf King.

 

Taming The Devil Dog


We find ourselves in a difficult place these days, in terms of our doggie parenting. Our old Tucker, the Wolf King, is winding down in his last days. He slowly wanders into the edge of the woods when we take him for his very short walks. He stands in the ferns, looking out into the places where he used to run. He breathes deeply, lifting his old white nose toward the sky.  He closes his eyes, sighs, then turns to look back at us.

“Remember?”  His brown eyes shine for a moment with the memory of freedom and youth. He sighs again, and turns slowly back toward the house.

We go inside. He lies down. We pat his head, and sit beside him.

But at the very same time, we are faced with the youthful exuberance of our puppy, Lennie the Devil Dog.

Lennie is joy in the form of a mutt. He wakes up every morning with the overwhelming desire to lick our faces free of every sleepy molecule. His next best wish is to have his back scratched and his ears rubbed, hopefully at the same time.

He wiggles hi entire body, from his nose to his tail, waiting for one of us to stand up. He is overjoyed when we do.

He runs. He jumps. He tries to lick our chins. He whines. He dances. He begs to go out. He begs to chase the birds.

He bites the leash, digs in the yard, whirls in circles, pounces on his doggie pals.

Lennie is….

Youth.

He is energy overpowering self-control. Excitement over contentment. He is competitive wrestling instead of walking in the woods.

So how do we tame him? How do we make some peace between our wild child and our brave old man?

One of our strategies is to take him with us on trips.

So today Lennie the Devil Dog came with me on a two hour trip to Western Massachusetts, to the gritty working class town of North Adams. I handed him off to my son and his lady, and went to get some work done.

When I came back two hours later, Lennie had been to the dog park. He had walked around the city. He had met new people and new dogs, and had sniffed his way from one side of town to the other.

He was hot. He was tired. He was thirsty.

Lennie had spent some quality time with other young souls, and he had found his place. Lennie was supremely and gloriously happy.

Tonight I am sitting in my living room. Old Man Tucker is resting on the deck, his noble gray nose on his paws.

Lennie the Devil dog is passed out on the rug beside me, his twitching paws and muffled yips a testament to the excitement of the day.

Ah, youth.

There’s nothing like it.

And it’s exhausting.

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Nonni, the Wolf King, and Matching Ouchies


Oh, boy.

The poor old Wolf King is really getting creaky in his old age.

And poor old Nonni is getting pretty creaky herself.

Usually we’re able to cope with our stiffness, our sore knees, our achy backs. He takes regular anti-inflammatories. I take wine in the hot tub. We both use ice and heat. And we try our best to more or less take it easy.

Today was the third rainy, misty, cool day in a row, and the morning was pretty sleepy for me, the Wolf King and even for Puppy Lennie (aka: ‘The Devildog”). There was some reading and writing (Nonni), some repetitive chewing on a plastic bone (Devildog) and some sleeping with chin on paws (The Wolf King.)

But after lunch, I started to feel guilty about not accomplishing anything today. This is a common Nonni theme, and its actually a good trait. It has prevented me from becoming a complete blob of useless goo with roots from my butt into my couch cushions.

So the guilt struck, and I got up. I put Devildog on his leash and we took our usual walk around the block, which took about 20 minutes. Then we wandered about in the back woods for a bit, until my arm started to throb from all the pulling on the “no pull” leash.

I put Devildog back inside the fenced yard, and decided to do some gardening. I forgot that the gate that leads from our deck into the fenced backyard was open. I heard Devildog barking, calling to me, but I ignored him as I pruned and dug up some overgrown perennials.

Then his voice changed, and I heard the unmistakable woof-woofing of the old Wolf King.

Crap!

This meant that the old guy had made his way slowly down the deck steps and was attempting to drop his royal doody in the backyard. He was annoyed, to say the least, by the Devildog who was dancing around him and trying to nip his butt and his ears.

I dropped my garden tools and opened the gate into the fence area. After I fought off the ecstatic jumps and yips of the deliriously happy Devildog, I grabbed the Wolf King by the collar.

Shit. No leash.

I didn’t want to leave the two of them fighting and jumping while I took the time to walk all the way around the yard and into the front door to take down his leash and bring it all the way back.

“Well,” I thought. “He’s too old and achy to run away like he used to. I’ll just let him out the gate and into the open front yard.”

So I did. I called him. I held the gate open.

The Wolf King looked at me, and tilted his old head. I could read his thoughts as clearly as if he’d spoken.

“Are you KIDDING ME? You are opening the gate to freedom, and letting the mighty Wolf King into the wild world?” He shook his head and shoulders, I swear, like a fighter getting ready to take on his next bout.

He shuffled toward me, stopped at the open gate, and shot me a “so long, sucker!” grin. And out the gate he went.

I’m sure he thought he was running. His front legs were moving forward with some regularity, but those weak back legs sort of stumbled along as if the connection from his spine to his hips was no longer secure.

Even so, he looked like a dog determined to escape and live on the run.

He made it about 30 feet from me. He got as far as my rock garden, where he turned to look at me again.

“Isn’t this ridiculous?” was the thought I read in his cloudy eyes. He gently laid himself down on the grass and waited for me to come get him.

I took hold of his collar, more for old times sake than out of necessity, and we walked slowly toward the front door.

“You got away, you sneaky hound, you,” I said to him. “You sure outsmarted me.” He knew I was making it up, but he was smiling as we reached the front door.

The Wolf King made it up the two front steps, and into the hall. Then he took a big breath, and looked up at the six steps that would take him onto the main floor of our split level house.

I did what I’ve been doing for the past few months. I took hold of his collar, and put one hand on his backside. “One, two, three,” I said, “Up we go.”

Alas. I had forgotten that the Devildog was back inside. As the Wolf King was taking his shaky, achy steps up, the little guy was wiggling with joy that we had come home. Lennie jumped down two steps, where he met the old man on the way up.

And the Wolf King slipped.

His back end simply let go, and he fell back one step. I caught him, but he is a BIG boy, and my back gave a shriek as his full 95 pounds landed on my midsection.

Before I knew it, I had lost my footing, too. I was able to stop myself from falling, but I did a completely ungraceful slow motion descent onto my big old Nonni butt, right in the front hall.

I hit the floor, but managed to hold onto the fluffy haunches of my beloved Wolf King, who found himself in the ignominious position of sitting on his mistress. We both made some “holy crap” sounds, and we both stayed perfectly still for a minute.

While Devildog ran up and down the stairs next to us, barking something that sounded mysteriously like “This is so much FUN!! Whatarewedoing??? I love it!!!”

At last, slowly, I was able to lower the back end of the Wolf King to the floor and to ease his big front end off of the stairs and onto the floor beside him. He rested his head on my chest for a second, and we both caught our breath.

Then I stood up, achy and creaky myself, and put the Devildog outside for a minute. I slowly went back down to Tucker, kissed his puppy-soft head, and asked him, “Do you want to try again?”

Brave soul that he is, he stood up, his back legs splayed and shaking. I put a hand on his collar and a hand on his backside.

“One, two, three,” I said through tears. And up we went. Slowly and carefully.

We made it.

And now we sit, recovering. The Devildog is back to his bone. The Wolf King has some ice on his hips, and has had his painkiller.

Nonni has some ice on her back, and is sipping her own pain killer.

Getting old sucks.

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Devildog truly loves The Wolf King

You Know You’re Getting Old When…


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When you go to a funeral and take notes, that’s a sign that you’re on the downhill slope. Open casket? Um,no. Big gathering with food and songs? Yes, please!

When you look at your puppy and wonder if you’ll have time for another one. That’s a sign, too.

If you turn on a major news channel and the financial expert looks like he’s in fifth grade, you’re old.

You can also tell that you’re getting on in years when you wake up with sore legs and aching butt muscles because last night you danced to (count ’em) two songs at your brother’s birthday party.

When you realize that it’s worth the wait for an entire year just to get to the two weeks of lilac blossoms, you’ve gained the wisdom of age.

And if you plant a baby spruce tree, just a tiny sprout, and hope that someday someone will call it “majestic”, you know that you’re getting older.

When you suddenly move your tongue around to the place where they pulled out your bottom molar years ago, and you instantly understand the meaning of the idiom “long in the tooth,” that means you’re getting on.

And finally, if you look at the newspaper and the arts pages are filled with kids whose names you don’t recognize, you’re officially old.

Come to think of it, if you look at an actual newspaper, the kind that gets dropped on your doorstep, the kind that you fold and read with your morning coffee…well. If you do that, read a newspaper made of actual paper?

You guessed it, you’re old.

What did I leave out?

First World Problems


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I am such a first world, spoiled, entitled old lady.

Truly.

I should just shut up. I should accept the fact that I am truly privileged. Honestly, I have a great life! My complaints are pointless, self-serving, and unworthy of a progressive, open minded woman like me.

But, jeez.

I mean, like, come on.

See, my husband and I saved up for years to buy a hot tub. The first time we had put away enough money, our furnace keeled over and died. There went the money.

So we saved again, slowly, month by month. Our backs hurt, our shoulders were getting achy, our necks were stiff. We really, really wanted a hot tub…..

At last! We had saved enough! Woohooooo!

Then we realized we needed a new roof.

Sigh. No nice steamy soaks before bed for us.

We saved again.

And then it happened. Do you hear angels singing?  Well, I sure as hell did.

We got our hot tub. It was glorious. It was rejuvenating, hypnotizing, enthralling. It was every multisyllabic word I can find.

I love my hot tub with a devotion that I have previously  shown only to my husband and kids. And on an icy night when I’ve been shoveling, I’m pretty sure I’d pick the hot tub over any of them.

Don’t judge.

I work hard every day. I garden, I shop, I cook, I lift a toddler.  I deserve my nightly soak. Right?

I have had my starlit late night soakie pretty much every single night for seven years. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Then. It happened.

Two weeks ago, we sprung a leak. Oh, the horror!!! We called Hottub Man, and shut off the power.

And we waited. And waited. You see, spring is pool season, and the hot tub/pool company is very, very busy. We called. No call back. We waited. We consoled ourselves with hot showers, but it wasn’t the same.

Let me take a little side trip here, and tell you that poor old Nonni has been pruning bushes and trees, burning brush, dividing perennials, tilling, composting, raking, planting. Which means that Nonni’s back hurts. Her knees hurt. Her big old backside hurts. And her right arm is like one big, giant toothache that will not go away.

This is where my first world, entitled self bursts out and smacks me right in the kisser.

I’ve been good for the past two long, painful, sad, hottubless weeks. I haven’t complained. That much. I have had boo-boos and ouchies, but I haven’t had a tantrum.  Not a real, kicking and screaming tantrum.

I have been a brave, brave Nonni. Dealing silently with my pain. Oh, poor me…

Today, at last, Hottub Man came. I groveled a bit, and he fixed the leak. Angels sang, yet again!  Hot Tub! Oh, glorious, pain relieving hot tub! How I love thee!

But the power has been off for two weeks. So Hottub Man turned it on again, took my check and said bye-bye.

And I have spent the last four hours doing this.

Lift the cover and peek into the hot tub. 68 degrees. Sigh.  Wait.

Peek. 70 degrees.

Wait. Drink wine. Wait. Peek. 76 degrees.

Walk around. Grumble. Eat olives and cheese. Drink more wine. Peek. 80 degrees.

It’s almost 7 pm. At this rate, achy old Nonni will have to stay up until midnight just to soak herself in that glorious water.

Now don’t you feel sorry for me?  I mean, yes. This is most definitely a first world problem. But I have OUCHIES and BOO-BOOS!! And I want my hot tub!!!!

Excuse me. I need to peek.

Shit. 73 degrees.

I’ll be up all night if anyone needs me.

Homesteader Nonni


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You know, I really believe in eating local foods.

I do!

So when I found myself in my local grocery store, looking at $3.99 a pound dandelion greens, I was kind of amazed.

Amazed, as in, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

Now, I grew up in a first generation Italian American family. We ate greens. Lots of greens. Including dandelion greens.

At no time in my life, ever, did anyone pay four bucks for a bunch of weeds.

So I went home from the store. I put away my “not a weed” foods and I had a quiet night.

The next day, though, I was out in my yard. My big, wild, just-one-step-shy-of-a-forest yard. What grass there is was populated by many, MANY dandelions. With big green leaves.

Suddenly, my inner homesteader emerged. My inner old Italian Nonni came out. I grabbed my weeding tool and I pulled up a HUGE bunch of weeds.

Weeds that are no doubt healthy, high in vitamin C and iron, and probably…maybe…delicious.

I was SO proud of my old Nonni self.

“Nonni,” I said to me, “If the grid goes down because of a storm, or a hack by the North Koreans or the Russians or the angry men in Anonymous, I’ll be ready!”

Sure. So, yeah. Not totally ready, but still. Wouldn’t it be so cool if Nonni could feed the family by cooking lawn weeds!

So I brought my big pile of dandelion greens into the kitchen. I was feeling pretty cool as I put them into a colander and started to wash them.  I’m pretty sure I was humming an Italian love song, like “O, Mio Babbino Caro“.

I rinsed the big pile of greens.

Then I saw that there was….ewww….a lot of dirt, clinging to the roots that I pulled out.

OK, no problem, Homesteader Nonni. You just put the whole pile into a pot of cold water, and you pull out each bunch and cut off the roots.

Then I noticed….uuuuuuh……what is that? A pine needle? A giant pile of pine needles?

Do not panic. A pioneer woman like me can pull out the pine needles. One at a time. Even when there are more than 10,000 pine needles.

So two hours after I started to clean my dandelion greens (Local! Organic! Sustainable! Available even in a Zombie apocalypse!), I found myself faced with a big colander filled with mostly dandelion greens.

I kept picking through them.

“CRAP!!!!! Is that a spider????!!!????”

Screeech! Panic! Run!

Come back slowly…peek at the blob with the legs….

Oh, haha!!!

It’s a dandelion bud. With little green spikes around its dandelion head. Cool!

I kept cleaning. I pulled out each skinny, wet, limp leaf. I washed off the dirt. And the pine needles.

Every nice clean piece went into a bowl. All was well….Until.

HOLY SHIT!!!!

THAT’S A SLUG!!!! UGH! EWWWWWWWW!

I dropped the leaf, jumped back 12 feet, turned in a circle, made a series of old Nonni gagging noises…..

A SLUG!

What if I ATE it? What if I cooked it? And didn’t know it and I ate it and it went into my stomach and I got super sick and nobody could figure out what was wrong and I got sicker and sicker and I ended up on “Mystery Diagnosis”and they never did figure it out and I died of eating a SLUG and my family never knew what killed me and I’d never get to see my grandson or watch my sons get married…..

After about 15 minutes and a quick glass of wine, I slowly approached the counter and the weeds delicious dandelion greens. I used a very long chopstick to poke the slug…..

Oh, haha! Look at that! It’s actually just a tiny curled up flower bud!  Silly me…..

Eventually, after several panic attacks and a lot of screeches, I had a clean bowl of dandelion greens.

I had saved myself 4 whole dollars as I single handedly managed a pile of weeds. I put them in a bowl, poured on some olive oil and salt, then I microwaved the bowl.

I sat down to eat my dinner of roasted chicken and fresh dandelion greens.

Gulp.

Sip the wine. Taste the chicken. Take a tiny bite of greens…..

Whoah!

Delicious. Fresh, bitter and sweet, salty, delicious.

And free.

So. If the Zombie apocalypse hits us during the growing season, come on by. I’ll make a wonderful, healthy, slug free dish of dandelion greens.

Just do NOT ask me to deal with fiddlehead ferns.

Ewwwwwww!