Tied to my routines.


Its funny.  When I am in the middle of a school year, all I can dream about is the freedom that will come when I am not longer a slave to my daily routines.

I imagine blissfully uninterrupted sleep, with no fear of the impending alarm.  I fantasize about lazy mornings where I can choose to either complete or ignore the list of chores on the whiteboard.  I dream, with a deep sense of longing, of afternoons spent strolling along the streets of town, obedient dogs at my heels.  I dream of freedom.

I am clearly delusional.

I will never be free of routine. Ever.

First of all, by the end of my first week of summer vacation, I invariably find myself making careful lists of “things to do”.  I cross each one off as soon as it is completed, no matter how simple it may seem. “Take shower”. Check.  “Make coffee”. Check.  “Drink coffee”.  Check, check.

On those sultry summer days, I won’t let myself relax into the Adirondack chair until I have swept up the dog hair, done some laundry and weeded the tomato garden.

I am a slave to routine.

But the thing is, even if I could manage to free myself from the chains of daily expectations, I would be hounded into following a daily routine anyway.  Literally hounded.

By this guy:SONY DSC

For reasons which completely elude me, this “not quite Mensa material” hound dog is able to recall and demand a daily routine as rigid as that of the best boot camp commander.

He wakes up when I do. He stretches, yawns, then lies down outside the bathroom door as I shower.  When I come out, he races down the hall toward the dining room, where he whines and woofs until I open the doggy door.  And then, rain or shine, ice or no ice, this aging, arthritic old boy goes charging out the door into the morning. He barks with gusto, announcing his presence to every passing squirrel.  He flings himself down the deck stairs, barking all the way, then races around the perimeter of the fence, and only pauses to do his morning business.

By that time, I have made my coffee and popped down my toast.  He runs back inside, and hurls himself at my legs, his long pink tongue lolling from his mouth with joy. Its as if this was his very first morning adventure, and he is overcome with delight.  He has done the same thing every morning for the past nine years.

When I come home from work, he and his “sister” greet me with howls and moans and yips of joy.  They bound down the stairs, rub their big warm heads against my legs, and wiggle their entire bodies with delight.

The beauty of dogs is that every homecoming is greeted as if I’d been away for five years.  The unexpected joy of seeing my return!!! The magical surprise of seeing me come home at the exact same time that I’ve come home for years!! Hoorah!! My dogs make me feel like a warrior returning from battle.

And yet.

Although they act as if my return home is a surprise and a delight, as soon as I have finished my dinner and put the dishes in the sink, they return to the routine that guides our lives.

As soon as Paul sits down to do paperwork, and I begin my preparations for the next day’s lessons, my big old hound dog begins to whine.  He lies down on the living room floor, his chin at rest on his paws. His warm brown eyes are fixed firmly on my face. He licks his lips in anticipation.

It doesn’t matter to him, or to my other dog, that I have a lot to do to get ready for tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that I’m tired. It doesn’t even matter that it’s raining, or thundering, or icing or that we are in the middle of a hurricane.

It is now “after dinner”, and that means, “Time to soak in the hot tub”.

The dogs don’t actually come into the hot tub, of course.  But they rush out onto the deck when they see me in my robe.  They bark and jump and rush around for one minute.  Then they sit down silently, until I have soaked away all of my pains.

And we come inside.  Where they are rewarded with a nice big delicious “Dentastix” to chomp.

This is the routine.  They are bound forever to it.  And through them, so am I.

I will never be free of routine.

And I guess that’s OK. As long as it comes with some doggy delight and those wonderful tongue lolling hugs.

Old Dog Trey


Actually, the old dog is named Tucker.

So old. I can hardly walk.

So old. I can hardly walk.

He has a bad back.  And an arthritic neck.  We have to use a special leash to walk him, because we can’t use anything that will pull on his spine.

We take him for acupuncture once a month.

Every morning, he gets a glucosamine/chondroitin tablet wrapped in American cheese. At night, there is a dose of fish oil in his kibble.

He sleeps on an orthopedic dog bed. When he seems particularly achy, we put a hot pack on his lower back.

You get the idea.

Poor old dog.

Sigh.

The other day, I was out walking both of my old dogs.  We were coming along the street, slowly, sniffing and peeing (well, I wasn’t sniffing and peeing; the dogs were).  Suddenly, they both stopped, standing stiff legged in the grass.  They were both peering along the street, back the way we had come.

Oh, oh.  Was it a deer? A bear?  A flock of stupid turkeys?

Nope.  My neighbor’s puppy had gotten out of the yard, and stood at attention at the end of his driveway.

Now this little guy is Tucker’s absolute twin, only 8 years younger.  They both came from the same rescue shelter.  Both are hound dog mutts from Virginia.  The little guy, Ruger, was quivering with delight at the thought of meeting his big neighbors.

My neighbor, Ruger’s Mommy, came running up the driveway, and we spent a pleasant few minutes letting the dog’s growl and bark and sniff each other’s butts.  Then I had to go, because I was late for work.

But this morning we made a puppy play date, and took all three dogs for a nice walk.  Ruger pranced and danced and pulled his owner along with enthusiasm.  My old dogs walked sedately and slowly.  By the time we covered the entire block, Ruger was still dancing and full of energy, but Tucker and Sadie had their heads down and their tongues out.  We came back to our house, and let all three dogs into our fenced-in yard.  The humans sat down for a cup of coffee, and we let the dogs have at it.

Holy rejuvenation!  Ruger was absolutely 100% determined to play, to goad the old folks into chasing him. He ran up the deck steps, down the deck steps, in the doggie door, out the doggie door, around the yard, under the bushes and back up the deck steps.  To my total amazement, old Tucker kept right up, barking the whole time.

I haven’t seen my gimpy old guy run full speed for two years, but today, he raced around like a kid.  He barked, he lunged, he chased, he jumped. He pushed the puppy down, then ran away while the puppy chased him.  He tussled with Sadie, and they both chased the puppy up and down the stairs.

Finally, after about an hour of full-out play, my old guys started to get grumpy.  They began to growl when Ruger approached.  The tried to hide under the table, only to have him find them there.  They went inside, and I closed the screen to keep the puppy out. They clearly needed a rest and a chance to recuperate.

But guess what?  Within a minute, Tucker was at the door, whining to come back out.  I opened the door, and he went right after Ruger. And of course the puppy pounced, ready to play.  Tucker barked once, hard, bared his teeth, and tried to push the pup  away.  The humans all decided that it was time to end the visit, and Ruger and his Mommy headed home.

The messages from Tuck were both mixed and clear.  “I love being around you, youngster! You bring out my most energetic and youthful self!  Whooo-hooo! Let’s play!” and “Give me a break! I’m exhausted! You kids just don’t know when to settle down and give it a rest!”

I understood him completely.

I feel exactly the same way about going back to school.

New Lessons From an Old Dog


The culprit at work.

Oh, my aching back.

Sometimes we get our life lessons in really unexpected places, don’t you think?

Our old dog, Tucker, has been having back problems lately.  He takes an anti-inflammatory every day, but that upsets his stomach, so he has to eat some yogurt with probiotics.  He has pain pills, but we try not to give them to him very often, because they make him groggy and cranky.  He goes for acupuncture about once every two weeks.

Tucker is getting on in years.  His fur is getting gray. He sleeps a lot and he doesn’t show the same interest in chasing things that he used to show.

He is kind of like us.  Well, actually, he’s exactly like me, but that’s part of the story.

You see, I have begun to think of all of us, Paul, Tucker, Sadie and me, as a group of old folks.  Our backs hurt. We don’t hear as well as we used to, and our eyesight is troublesome.

I look at my old doggie, and I feel so sad that he is sore. I sit beside him on the couch, and I kiss his silky furry head and I say, “I love you, old boy.”  I bring him treats when his tummy seems off, and I carefully stir good Greek yogurt into his kibble every night.

Our children are all grown up now, and Tucker and Sadie have sort of become our babies. We make sure that there is cold water in their dishes every summer night, and we put one of those dishes in our bedroom now that Tuck’s fading eyesight has made him afraid to walk the length of the hall to the kitchen.

And herein lies the lesson.  We have started to think of ourselves as four old folks, living together.

The dogs, though, don’t seem to be on board with that interpretation.  Dogs don’t seem to sit around taking count of their various aches and pains.  And here is how I know.

Last night, the four of us went to sleep in our bedroom.  The humans were on our Posturepedic mattress, under our clean sheet.  The dogs were each on their special orthopedic dog beds, Sadie on my side, Tucker on Paul’s.  The water dishes and water bottles were filled and there were tissues nearby.  We all fell asleep together at around ten.

And then, at sometime between 2 and 3 in the morning, Paul and I awoke to the sound of both dogs, growling softly.  As I came slowly awake, I could hear the distant chorus of a pack of coyotes, deep in the woods.  Both of our dogs rose up at the same time, and moved quickly down the hall, all thoughts of poor eyesight forgotten.  We lay awake, waiting to see what they would do, hearing the sound of their clicking paws on the floor. Suddenly, Tucker began to growl, and then he let our one sharp bark.  Before either of us could react, both dogs began to howl, in perfect harmony.  The eerie sound rose and fell, her higher notes winding around his deep, primitive howls.  They were singing in the night, not like aging pets, but like the wild animals that they still are, deep in their hearts.

I sat up, and I listened. We both told them sternly to “hush” and “lie down”, but in all honesty, I didn’t really mean it. I loved the scary sound of the big, bold animals who live in my house.

In that dark, wild moment of the night, I was so happy that my old dogs were able to simply lift their heads and give a voice to the wildness that still resides so deep inside them.

I learned a lesson, don’t you think?

Logic is so overrated


 

My baby and her baby.

My baby and her baby.

Sometimes I think it is really important to ignore logic. Sometimes it is just absolutely necessary to let go of what makes sense and to embrace what makes our hearts sing.

I am a person who has spent way way way too much time doing what is expected and what seems like the “right” thing.  I never check out a new library book until I have returned all of the old ones.  I never, ever open a new box of cereal if the old one still had a few pieces of stale wheat flakes in it.

I don’t think of dessert unless I have eaten my vegetables and whole grains.  I separate my whites and my darks when I do the laundry.

I have never once, as far as I can remember, ever done something that most people would call “foolish” or “crazy” or even “silly”.

But I am delighted to tell you that my daughter is a freer soul than I am.  She is deeply in love, and about to be married.  She and her honey have been planning a wedding that will be fun and happy and filled with laughs.  They are SO not worried about having the napkins match the flowers.

They have been together for a little more than two years, and they have blended the families of her cat and his dog.

In the past few months, they have shopped for, found and purchased their first house.  It’s an amazing, beautiful place, but it is O. L. D.  It was built sometime before 1900, and it has been abandoned after foreclosure for more than three years.  They moved in this week, and the place is full of boxes, bereft of furniture and definitely dirty. It needs tons of work!  Our Sam will be able to fix it up and make it a gem, but right now, it is not exactly in prime shape.

A logical, predictable “good girl” would put off getting a puppy, no matter how much she and her fiance wanted a new little someone to love, to cement the “ours” in their new life together. A dependable “good girl” would push away her yearning, and her boyfriend’s pleas, and would be sure to paint the upstairs bedroom before getting a little doggie to add to the household.

And this is why I am delighted to announce that my daughter is NOT one of those “do what you’re told” women.  She bought her big old house.  She dumped all of her stuff inside, and she immediately listened to her heart.

Introducing the “as-yet-unnamed puppy” that has just entered my life.  He is a rescue dog, a beautiful baby boy.  He is loved and wanted by his mommy and daddy, and his “Puppy Nonni” can’t wait to meet him.

Here’s to the women who shrug off the rules and to the Mommas who raised them.

Perro Negro. Or Sambra. Or Ragazzo Or Guilt Free Indulgence. You pick the name!

Perro Negro.
Or Sambra.
Or Ragazzo
Or Guilt Free Indulgence.
You pick the name!

Falling in love again


My Granddog, Izzy.

My Granddog, Izzy.

Oh, man.  Its happening again.

I am like one of those women in a bad romance novel.  I go into the relationship reluctantly, determined to maintain my distance.  The first few interactions are difficult, to say the least.  There are fights, tears, one misunderstanding after another.   I become utterly convinced that this will never work out.

Then it happens, just like in those Harlequin books.  There are unexpected tender moments, a brief cuddle, a kiss on the cheek.  There comes a moment, when I least expect it, when I find the two of us side by side, gazing into each other’s eyes in a house that is suddenly empty and quiet.

And I fall in love.  Even thought I told myself I wouldn’t do it.

I am so weak.  Such a pushover.

Sigh.

The object of my affection moved into our house about a week ago with her owners, my daughter and her fiance. They also came with a cat, but that is a story for another post. My focus now is on my granddog, Izzy.

We have met Izzy before, of course.  The kids brought her one afternoon for a visit, which took place through the flying fur of two old home-protective dogs meeting one young interloper.  It wasn’t pretty.

They all came back and spent the night here at Christmas.  We managed.  Barely.  Kate and I kept the peace by acting like two of the meanest recess ladies ever; we basically stood in the middle of the living room all day, and every time one of the dogs so much as twitched a whisker, we pointed at the offender and made the famous Cesar Milan “TSCHHH” sound.  All was quiet, but no one relaxed.

So when they all needed to move in with us last week, I was pretty anxious. I knew I’d be fine with the humans; my daughter and I are ridiculously compatible, and having her come home is easy and fun and welcome.  Sam is newer to us, but is a big warm teddy bear who stepped right in and became Paul’s instant sports buddy.  The human relationships are fine, truly.

Its the dogs that have been the challenge.

My big dog, Tucker, is mostly just a sweet old dope.  He never fights and never growls. He is a pacifist.  Sadie, on the other hand, is determined to protect the homestead.  She and little Izzy have fought from their first meeting.  It was a girl-girl throwdown, with snarls and teeth-baring and attempts to rip off ears.

That first week with everyone together was tough.  There was the unexpected outbreak of war when Izzy wandered into the room where Tucker was asleep; we barely managed to pull them apart.   Then there was the moment when I stupidly tried to feed all three at once.  I had barely opened the food bin when all three were gnashing teeth and barking in rage.  If Sam hadn’t been there to haul them back, at least one would be earless now.

So I wasn’t feeling all that kindly toward Izzy for a while.  She just wasn’t my type, you know?  Kind of pushy, strutting around with her little black nails tapping on my floor. Sadie and I agreed that she was just a little too cocky, too perky, too in-your-face.  We agreed that she had to go.

But then it started, slowly.  The morning when she greeted me with a big slurpy cheek kiss, then laid her head on my foot.  My cold heart melted just a tiny bit.  And she knew it, too, she knew she was reeling me in.  She started to sit beside me while I was working; I’d look up from my math papers, and she’d be gazing at me with those big brown eyes.    I noticed her trying to ingratiate herself with my dogs, too.  Oh, she was subtle, but she knew exactly what she was doing.  She started to sniff Tucker in all the right places, and he began to trust her.  Then it was walking side by side with my Sadie, trotting along like they were the best of friends.

I didn’t realize what was happening at first.  I hardly noticed what I was feeling.   But this morning, it hit me.  And it hit me hard. Paul had taken our dogs for a hike, and Kate and Sam were still asleep. It was just me and Miss Izzy.  And we went for a walk.  She trotted beside me all around the neighborhood, and she kept glancing up with her goofy doggy grin.  When we got back home, I gave her a cold drink, and a little doggy treat.  I sat on the floor, with my back to the sofa.  Izzy settled right beside me, her chin on my knee, her left leg draped over my thigh.  She gave a big sigh, rolled that brown eye my way, and went to sleep.

Dammit.

I’m in love.

Facebook, oh, Facebook…….!


SONY DSCMany years ago, when my first child was a freshman in college (2004, in case you were wondering…..), I learned about a cool new technology called “Facebook”.  At the time, it was limited to college students, who used it to connect with classmates.   And to find out what was missed when said student accidentally slept through a class.

After a few years, Facebook became a site for high school students, then junior high students, and finally, a place for lonely parents to stalk their almost adult kids.

So I signed up.

What fun!  At first I loved having the ability to post my every thought. (“What a long week!!”) I enjoyed sharing every important event in my life. (“Cleaned the bathroom this morning, then made some bread!”)  I was privy to every single detail of every single friend.  It was so incredibly….intimate.

Most importantly, I was able to silently monitor the social, academic and personal lives of all three of my kids. (“In a relationship” and “Single” were the key posts, but I read everything.)

After a while, I sort of settled into the wonderful world of Facebook, learning to disregard the claims that someone had just won a Pulitzer Prize, laughing at the jokes, and quickly scanning the posts about people’s head colds.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed my time on FB.  I’m back in touch with a whole bunch of people from my past, and that is invaluable.  I can chat with my old High School friends, and even the kids from elementary school. In spite of my fear of the NSA, I’ve been back in touch with friends in Tunisia, and have been able to learn about the events of the “Arab Spring” and all that has followed.  That is amazing and awe inspiring; I get to ask about what is happening from people who are marching in the streets of Tunis.    That experience can’t be matched, and I owe it all to Facebook.

But there are a couple of problems with this wonderful social media site.  First of all, of course, is the horrible stalking by real and fake advertisers. I mean, seriously? I wrote once before about those horrific Dr. Oz ads (if you want to, you can read that here), but there are zillions of other ads to complain about.  Shoes, bags, Masters Degrees, cremation (!), weight loss, jewelry, cosmetic surgery. You name it, I have been its target.

Second of all, those awful posts that appear on my…page? timeline? wall? thingy?….advertising a restaurant or a game or a TV show.  Yuck. I don’t like the fact that I have to unlike it, then I have to explain WHY I unliked it. I just want it to go away!

But the main reason why I am kind of all done with the foolishness of FB?

Well, about 4 years ago, one of Kate’s friends wanted to win a contest on Facebook.  She needed lots of people to vote for her.  Kate talked me into setting up some Facebook accounts for people who weren’t real.  So I made a page for my dog, Tucker.

Huhuhuh!  How funny is this?  I uploaded his picture, made up some information (you know, like “occupation: pet”, “age: 42 in dog years”).  I thought I was hilarious.  I got him his page, and voted for Kate’s friend, and promptly forgot all about it.

But here’s the problem.

Every single day, for the past three months, I have been getting an email from Facebook. It says, “Tucker, 10 people are waiting to meet you!”  or “You have 15 friend requests, Tucker!”

And I want to scream, “No he doesn’t! He’s a damn dog!!! He has no friend requests!”

But no one would hear me, obviously. All I can do is delete the messages.  Every day. Every single day. Over and over and over.

I tried to deactivate his account, but wouldn’t you know…….

I forget his password.

 

 

Dad was right


Many years ago, after we had lived in our first home for a few years, my parents came for Sunday dinner. I don’t remember any of the details of the day; it wasn’t unusual for the folks to visit, so I don’t think that there was any big event or anything.

All I remember is that as they were leaving, my Dad was talking to Paul about some home repair item.  My Dad could build, fix, create, take apart and reassemble anything on earth.  Literally anything.  So Paul always asked his advice about household problems. I guess Paul and I had failed to notice whatever issue it was that Dad was talking about that day, because he said to me, “It’s OK, honey. I know you guys just aren’t house people.”

The phrase really struck me, because not only had it never occurred to me that I wasn’t a “house person”, it had never occurred to me that there were “house people”.  What was a “house person”, and how could I become one?

I wasn’t sure whether or not I felt a little hurt by the comment, but I sure did spend some time ruminating about it.

You see, I grew up in a house where everything was neat and clean and the colors generally matched. My Mom is a natural decorator. She once completely redecorated the upstairs of our house after winning a huge oil painting at a church fair. (It was a giant orange and gold Conquistador. Seriously. Hey, it was the 70’s).

And my mother is a supremely organized housecleaner, too.  You could actually sit down and eat off her kitchen floor. Her windows have never had a smudge.  When we were kids, she made us strip and remake our beds every Thursday, whether we had peed in them or not.  Saturday mornings were for vacuuming, dusting and cleaning the bathrooms. Like clockwork. She washed the kitchen floor every single week.

Now I have inherited many of my parent’s traits and qualities.  I am a good cook like my Momma. Like her, I am good with words.  I inherited her math phobia, her emotional nature and her complete lack of anything resembling a sense of direction. From my Dad I got big brown eyes, a round chin and a strong sense of fair play.

But I guess I didn’t get the “house person” gene.

As the years have gone by, I guess I have become a little better at home decorating. I started using a table cloth a while ago, and my curtains don’t actually clash with the walls anymore.  I’m pretty good about keeping the bathrooms clean, and I wash the floors whenever people start to stick to them. Sometimes I change the sheets.

But I found out today, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Dad was right.

I am so not a house person.

The culprit at work.

The culprit at work.

It all started when I decided to clean my leather sofa.  It’s mud season here in Massachusetts, and my two big dogs are bringing in all kinds of goop and gunk.  I grabbed some leather wipes and set to work trying to erase the dirt print of Sadie’s body from the sofa cushions.  As I scrubbed, I reached down behind the cushion, trying to get all the dirt off.

My hand slipped into the corner, where the cushion meets the sofa arm and back.  I pulled out what can only be described as a bulging blob of dog hair.  Yikes!  Somehow, it hadn’t been part of my cleaning routine to dig the fur out of the sofa cushions.   Maybe I should try to get it out right now!

So I started digging, and scraping and yanking. Pretty soon I had a pile of fur that was bigger than my 90 pound pups. I kept digging, the fur kept piling up. As I got lower down into the crevasse, I started coming up with little pebbles, a couple of twigs and even a beer bottle cap.

Holy Dirt Ball, Batman, this was BAD!!  If only the cushions could be removed, I mused, If only I could somehow actually see back there………

My fingers suddenly found a small metal clip, attached to an elastic band.  A band that connected the sofa cushion to the sofa back.

Oh!  Hey, look at that…..if you unclip the little clip, you can actually remove the cushions! Who knew?

So I unclipped, lifted off and recoiled in absolute horror.

There was enough soil in there to plant tomatoes.

There was enough dust, hair and dog fur to fill a mattress.  This was no mere dust bunny, my friends; this was a dust Chupacabra.  A dust, dirt, hair Yeti.  A filthy Bigfoot.

This was roughly 14 years worth of accumulated crap, staring me in the face, telling me in no uncertain terms, “You are just not a house person.”

I spent the next three hours with a canister vac, a fur roller, a wet cloth, two trash bags and a whole container of leather wipes.

I found a comb, two pens, an iPad stylus, a sock, a petrified jelly bean and a penny. I pulled muscles in my hand, shoulder and lower back.

I heard the sound of my Dad, laughing as only he could laugh.

I pushed the sofa back where it belongs, and noticed that it’s a whole lot lighter than it was this morning.

And I am left with two burning questions:

What the hell else am I failing to do that I never figured out I am supposed to be doing?

And would a “house person” reward herself for an afternoon like this with a nice cold martini?

Thoughts on Nemo


In a few months, this will be my veggie patch.

In a few months, this will be my veggie patch.

Sitting by the fire, nursing my aching back, legs and shoulders.  Watching the endless coverage of what the TV is calling “The Blizzard of 2013”.  I guess they couldn’t get themselves to talk about “Nemo” without giggling.

Here’s what I think of this winter wonderland.

Now that I know that my kids are safe and that all three have power, I’m ready for a nap!  I couldn’t sleep last night, because I felt guilty being warm while they were cold!

Now that I know that my Mom has power and has been plowed and shoveled out by her wonderful, incredible neighbors, I am ready for a good long nap.  After I fretted about my kids at midnight, I fretted about Mom at 2AM!

Now that I know that my brothers and sisters and their spouses and kids have power and heat and light, I am ready for a nap.  You can guess who I was worried about from 3-4 AM…….

Having a big soft couch right next to the roaring wood stove is the BEST.  Maybe I’ll nap here.

Knowing how much snow there is to shovel, I spent two hours this morning digging this out:

I have my priorities.

I have my priorities.

Right after my nap, I intend to get in there and soak.  Maybe with a glass of wine in hand.

Its a good thing I baked that incredible chocolate cake yesterday; I need the sugar boost to finish the shoveling!

And you know what else I think?

I liked “hunker day” better than “shovel day”.

It will be OK with me if we don’t see the front walk until June.  I’m perfectly happy to use the garage door as my main entrance!

And finally, I really love my dogs.  They constantly remind me that there is joy to be found in every situation.

Be warm, be safe, and happy hunkering to everyone who has experienced the wrath of Nemo!

SONY DSC

Just thinking…..


SONY DSC

 

Its one of those rare days.  Long weekend, cold wind, warm fire.  Been reading a good book, catching up on some corrections, watching mindless TV, even knitting a little.  Paul had to go out for a bit, so it was just me and my doggies, snuggling on the couch.

Tucker spent a good half hour with his head on my knee, looking remarkably relaxed and serene.  As I looked into his big, chocolate eyes, and listened to his steady breathing, I felt myself relaxing and drifting off; almost, but not quite, falling into a dream.

Why is it that just as we begin to drift away and let go of the tangible world around us, our thoughts become so disjointed and crazy and interesting?  I wish I had a way to record those swirling ideas as I fall asleep.  If I tune in enough to notice them, I pop back into consciousness, and they stop floating past like gauzy scarves riding the wind.

If I listen to one of those fascinating snippets, my brain clicks back into the “on” position, and I measure the thought, weigh its clarity or its accuracy or its practicality, and then file it away in one or another of my mind’s many drawers and cupboards.

I wish I could let them go and somehow have them magically transcribed, so that I could let them flourish without my interference, but still remember them later.

I bet they would make riveting blog posts!  Maybe one or two would even prove to be the germinating seed of a story.

Of course, it’s just as likely that one or two would land me on the psychiatrist’s couch, but still!  What’s life without a little risk, right?

So here are a few of the tiny threads that floated by as I almost fell asleep with Tucker’s nose as my focal point.

Little unexpected pleasures are better than long awaited big pleasures.  Last night we had dinner with some friends and my very favorite dish, at any restaurant anywhere, was on the specials menu. I’m still smilin’.

There’s no reason why I shouldn’t try to bake a chocolate cake from scratch today. In spite of the fact that I don’t have the right ingredients, and the fact that the last thing Paul and I need to be eating is an entire cake.  And the fact that I’m lazy.

Is it creepy for me to be picturing the kids in my class and wondering what they’re doing?  Pathetic.  Gotta get me a grandchild.  Soon.

If you look at him just right, sometimes my dog looks like my Grandmother’s stepmother, a woman I haven’t seen in 40 years.  She used to scare me to death.  No explanation for that one……

My class should do a musical this year. They can write it, sing it, perform it. It will be fun.  Ah, yeah.  No.

I smell tanning lotion. Yankee Candle near my head; “Sun n’ Sand”

Just because the government tells me that I can’t speed on public roads, it doesn’t make me worry that they are going to take away my car.  Shit. Back to the gun debate.

That last one woke me up for real, even more than the scary old Italian lady memory of Nanna.

Yep.  Just another relaxing day on the couch.  The mind is a terrible thing to control.

Lessons from a dog walk.


I think I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.   I am a coward.  I am afraid of an entire list of things in this life, including but not limited to: rollercoasters, fat spiders with hairy legs, skinny spiders with long flexible legs, eighteen wheelers on the highway, a strong undertow, flying in turbulence, ebola virus, wasps, piranhas, big crowds and ladders, no matter who is on them.

Now that I have two big, athletic dogs, I have added some new fears to my repertoire. Those fears mostly involve walking the dogs.  You see, at first we only had Tucker.  He was energetic, excitable, but he generally followed along fairly well on his walks.  When he was four, though, we added seven year old Sadie, a big, shaggy lab/shepherd mix.  Off of her leash, she is gentle, affectionate and somewhat submissive.  On the leash, she is a whole nother story.

Shortly after we got her, I took both dogs for a walk around our neighborhood, and we came across a guy with a little yellow lab pup.  I stopped to chat, after getting my two dogs to sit at my side. I was feeling pretty good, pretty “in control”. I kind of felt like a good Mommy, with sweet obedient kids.

Suddenly, both dogs lunged toward the puppy, and I was pulled right off my feet. I landed on the snowy roadway on both knees, my chin and an elbow.  The dogs ran, and I became a human luge, flying along behind them.  Needless to say, this was something of a traumatic event for me, and I became afraid to walk them both by myself.

Gradually, with patience from Paul and lots of short trips with the dogs, I have regained most of my confidence. I am able to control the dogs when we walk past people, cats, turkeys, deer and most other dogs.  Sadie, however, still goes ballistic when we pass that one yellow lab (his name is “Trouble”, does that tell you anything?).  I try to avoid the route that his owner takes, and I almost never walk past their house.  I haven’t been able to get myself over this part of my fear.

Well, yesterday I got a call from our local animal control officer.  She wanted me to know that a completely different dog, a dog who once came silently through his yard and attacked my dogs, has been deemed “dangerous and vicious” and there is going to be a hearing next week because his owner has been unwilling to restrain him. Yikes!

So I got up this morning, and got ready to take my morning walk with the dogs. They need the exercise (oh, OK!  so do I…..), and I didn’t want to shortchange them, but I was really nervous.  If I walked around the block, I would have to pass Trouble’s house. Gulp.   If I went to the left and toward the dirt road, I would be within range of the vicious dog.  The fact that that has been my daily route all summer had my imagination going in overdrive.  One reason, I suspect, for my extreme chickenheartedness, is that I have a very vivid imagination!  I can picture every single horrible possible event in full color, with sound effects. I can scare myself to death without ever leaving my house!

There I stood, on my lawn, filled with uncertainty. And frustration.

I hated the fact that I was letting “what if” control my behavior.  I hated the fact that being afraid was taking away my freedom and my control. I’ve let that happen more than once in the past.

So I thought about Cesar Milan, and the hundreds of episodes of Dog Whisperer that I have seen. I stood up tall, I relaxed my death grip on the leashes. I headed around the block.  I kept my head up, and I pictured myself confidently marching past the yellow lab with Sadie and Tucker right beside me.  Past the spot where I face planted two years ago. Past Trouble’s house, and all the way to the corner of the street where the dangerous bulldog lives.

Once again, my dogs have taught me a valuable lesson.

Now I am off to climb a ladder with a spider on my head before heading down the highway to catch my flight to the roller coaster park.