Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Stages of Grief

Grief hits in the oddest moments. 

I have been dealing with the loss of my dad in a strangely calm and unemotional manner. This is very unlike me, as I’m the sort of person who cries at the merest suggestion of sappiness. A puppy frolicking in the sun? An old couple holding hands? A hangnail? Yes, yes, and yes. (Well, the last one is a given as I’m not a big fan of pain.)

I’m guessing I haven’t cried too much because I have a lot to do, including making sure mom is okay at the memory care unit where we had to place her, which is close by me, and handling dad’s financial paperwork. I’m cancelling newspapers and cable services and I’m trying to clear out their house, which isn’t easy to do since I’m a couple hours away and U-Haul trucks have had to be involved.

And while I cried many times when dad was in the hospital after his fall in early June, particularly once we knew he wasn’t going to survive the head injury he sustained, I haven’t cried as much since then as I thought I would.

It’s the little things that make me sad and I’ll have brief moments where the tears will fall. Like the weekly reminder that pops up on my phone every Monday to call Mom and Dad – and I realize I won’t ever hear my dad say, “Hellooo, Jane…” again.

Or when his birthday arrived last weekend when I couldn’t wish him a happy 90th and get him his favorite Boston Cream Pie to celebrate.

But the other day I really felt the loss – and it was in the oddest moment. When I called the tree and shrub people to cancel the service for dad’s property, I could barely contain myself while talking to the company representative. And all she said was she was sorry for my loss and that my dad had been one of their longest customers – he predated their conversion to a computerized system more than nineteen years ago.

Fortunately, I was able to finish the conversation without wailing into the phone…but once I hung up, I had myself a good, cathartic cry.

It helped, sure, except that the bags under my eyes now have little weekender bags, too.  Yeesh.

So then today, as I was sifting through the ever-increasing piles of paperwork, I ran across a folder that held information about my parents’ house. The one I grew up in. The one they built back in the 60s when they were a young-ish couple with four children and were building their very first home.

I marveled at their confident signatures on the agreement with the builder and on the bank loan paperwork (my dad’s signature was legible back then; my mom’s looked strikingly similar to the way she signs her name even now).

I laughed when I realized that there was only a one-page document for the loan.  There were no reams of papers that people these days are required to sign in order to purchase a house.

A few years ago, I spent a lot of time scanning all the slides my dad had at the house. Many were so blurry, it seemed almost a waste of time to scan them, but I did anyway.  And now I’m glad I did.

Because after I looked at the paperwork for their new home build, I looked through my digital images of that long-ago time. And found several blurry photos that had been taken in front of our new home when there wasn’t a single bush or tree planted yet and there was only straw on the ground protecting the grass seed instead of the lush, green lawn my dad took so much pride in later on.

I was seven years old and – as evidenced by the photo – had apparently lost my two front teeth.  (Nor did I try hard enough to hide behind my brother!) And there was another slide with my grandparents, who must have driven from Massachusetts to Ohio to see the new home their daughter and husband had built.

I smiled looking at those blurry images, but then – no big surprise – I started to cry again. I cried over the loss of my dad. For the man who signed that loan document so his children could grow up in a nice neighborhood in the small northeastern Ohio town they settled in.

For the man who taught us what it meant to be good, upstanding citizens – not just by his words, but by his actions.

I cried for the man who showed us what true love was by his faithfulness and his love for his wife of almost 64 years. Even though his health was getting precarious as he headed into his 90s, he took the brunt of the daily workload (laundry, bills, meal preparations) because mom was mired in dementia.

And I cried because I can no longer thank him for being such a good dad or tell him that I love him just one more time.

But Dad knew I loved him. And I think he knew how much I appreciated all that he and mom did for us.

I just wish I could call him Monday morning and hear him say, “Hellooo, Jane…”

Just one more time.



Monday, May 30, 2016

My New Motto: Plan for the Unexpected. (And Always Carry a Tube of Mascara in Your Purse.)

Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up planning to accomplish certain things…but your day ends up nothing like you planned? 

Well, that was my day on Saturday.

My friend Karen and I planned to go to a garden center to pick out some perennials to add to my flowerbeds and then I planned to come home, do some work around the house and then take the dog for a long walk.  And then I was even planning to make an actual meal from scratch for my husband for dinner.  It was one of those “Tasty” recipes I saw on Facebook that not only looked tasty, but actually looked do-able.

The plan was to meet Karen at a centrally located Bob Evans parking lot so we could carpool to a garden center about 10 miles farther north. I thought we were to meet at 11:00; Karen, on the other hand, distinctly heard me agree to meet at 10:00.

Oops. My bad.

Now, there are moments when I’d absolutely believe that I was right, but in this case I acquiesced immediately.  Why?  Because when we finalized our plans, I was swirling in chaos.  I had my phone in one hand and Maggie pulling on the leash that was tethered to my other hand – and a neighbor was standing outside next to me waiting to talk.  It’s a wonder I managed to remember the day and location we were to meet, never mind the exact time. 

So on Saturday morning as I started applying mascara, I had this niggling little concern that I didn’t have my facts straight, so I sent Karen a text confirming the time.  She replied that she was already there waiting on me. 

Ack.  This is the precise moment when you realize you can move much faster than you think you can.  I immediately dropped the mascara, pulled my freshly washed hair in a wet ponytail, grabbed my purse, tossed the dog in her crate with an air kiss and flew out the door.

It was only much, much later when I looked in a mirror and realized I never actually managed to apply mascara to my left eye, so I spent the day walking around looking slightly deranged.

And this is the not the worst I would look all day either – but more on that in a moment.

Fortunately, Karen is a good friend and she didn’t take one look at me and ask, “WHAT is WRONG with your face?”  She may have thought it – but didn’t say it.  Probably because she knows me well enough to know I didn’t have a spare tube of mascara in my purse with which to correct the error. Plus, she probably didn’t want me taking a detour to the nearest CVS to pick up an emergency tube of mascara. I was already late.

Anyway, we agreed to meet at the plant store so she didn’t have to hang around the Bob Evans parking lot, and I broke every speed limit getting there so I wouldn’t be far behind…er, I mean, I drove precisely the speed limit and yet still managed to arrive only a few minutes behind Karen.

We then wandered around the grounds oohing and aahing over pretty flowers, many of which I knew not to even try to plant in my flower beds as they would immediately shrivel up and die under my care.  If the label said either “Hardy” or “Jane-Resistant” in my cart it went.

I ended up buying a selection of perennials that Karen recommended. While I may purchase a few annuals, I have never really understood how people can spend so much time planting flowers in the dirt only to dig them out again 3-4 months later after they die. And then repeat the process all over again the following year.

If I could get away with it, I’d be the crazy lady on the block who sticks plastic flowers in her garden. Fortunately, I have Vince to stop me from taking that drastic step.  Well, it’s either Vince – or the threat of receiving a letter from our Homeowner’s Association rescinding my membership.

And, yeah, yeah – I hear ya. Digging in the dirt is “therapy” – right?  It relaxes you – right?  Not me. Whenever I dig in the dirt, I feel sweaty, sunburned and am desperately seeking a bubble bath after a mere 10 minutes. And then I’ll see bugs and worms and maybe even snakes. When that happens, the trowel goes flying one way, the gardening gloves go flying another and I immediately retreat to the indoors where the worst thing I have to deal with is breaking up a squabble between the dog and the cats.

But, anyway, back to my story.

Despite my misgivings, I also bought a beautiful pink hibiscus tree. And, yeah, it didn’t say “Jane-Resistant” so I’ll probably need to hire a horticulturist to keep it looking beautiful – and alive.  

At any rate, we paid for our purchases and a kindly gentleman helped me load everything into my car.

Because Karen and I planned to drive down the street for lunch, I cracked open the car windows as well as the sunroof so my plants wouldn’t wither up and perish before I even made it out of the parking lot of the garden center.

We took her car to the restaurant since the hibiscus took up pretty much the entire passenger side of my car and I figured Karen would prefer not having to straddle a tree.

So we enjoyed a leisurely lunch and chatted about many things and, after the check was paid, she looked outside and said, “Oh, look at the rain,” which was coming down in veritable sheets.

We sat there for about 10 seconds listening to the soothing sounds of running water.  And then just as suddenly looked at each other and cried out simultaneously, “THE CAR WINDOWS!”

Despite our mad dash to her car, we were completely soaked.  My hair was dripping wet and my glasses had so much rainwater on them, I couldn’t see. It felt as though I’d just gotten out of the shower completely clothed. Ick.

We arrived back at the garden center and I made another mad dash to my car, which was just plain silly as I couldn’t have gotten any more drenched. Besides, there was a little lake forming on the inside of my car by that point and it would have been futile to wipe off my car seat before I slid in. 

Fortunately, I had some napkins in my purse as well as a single towel, so I wiped as much of the rainwater off my glasses first (so I could see to drive) and then the dashboard and seats. 

(Cuter than an actual drowned rat!)
When I looked in the rear view mirror, it was then I realized I not only looked like a drowned rat, but a deranged drowned rat with one mascaraed eye and the other, well, not mascaraed.

Yeesh.

This is when I should’ve made the decision to go straight home.  But did I? Noooo.

My other friend Sue called just then to tell me she was at the car dealership and was at that very moment waiting for my husband in the finance office to finalize her deal. She said she would have to wait a while as it was a busy Saturday – but she was so excited about her new vehicle.  Her excitement caught on and I told her I was one exit away and would drive there and keep her company.

You should always look like a deranged drowned rat when you visit your husband’s place of employment – right?

Nevertheless, I did. By this point, the sun was shining and it was, once again, a beautiful, sunny day.  Go figure.

But I met some of Vince’s new coworkers (who probably looked at me and then at the photo he has of me on his desk from a wedding we went to and thought, Photoshopped. Has to be.

Not me - but you get the idea...
I wanted to say, “But…but…both eyes that day had mascara. And…I wasn’t caught in a downpour. And…

Well, it didn’t matter. First impressions and all.

I hugged Vince and then my friend Sue and wished them both well as they needed to get down to business – and then I asked if I could get my car washed.  I know – it had just been through a downpour, right?  But it was still dirty.

So Sue’s salesperson took me over to the car wash bay and the car-washer-guy said he’d work on it and I should wait in the comfy chairs in the waiting room. 

When he came and got me about 20 minutes later, he didn’t comment on why I had a hibiscus tree strapped to my passenger seat. Nor did he comment on my still damp clothes and ratty-looking hair or on my half-mascaraed eyes. 

After I explained the plant store/open windows/flooded car story, he DID, however, admit that he took a selfie inside my car with his new best friend, the pink flowered tree. And he DID tell me he thought he must have left one of my windows down when he ran the car through the carwash, which is why there was so much water in the backseat and which he then frantically wiped out lest he get in trouble.

So I had to laugh. And later I realized he did a far better job of wiping down the backseat of my car than I would have.

My car looked perfect as I rolled away from the dealership – but then I looked up – and the sky was darkening again.  Uh oh, I thought, I wonder if I can get home before it starts raining again?

The answer would be no.

Well, perhaps I could have made it home before the rain once again started – if only I hadn’t taken the wrong exit.

Sigh.  When I finally arrived home, I unloaded the plants and the tree in the pouring rain and then trudged inside once again dripping more water from my clothes. I was totally worn out from my unexpected day and too tired to take off the mascara on my right eye.

And don’t even ask me how the “Tasty” recipe was for dinner that night.

It’s a story for another day.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Does Mothering a Puppy Count?

When my alarm went off this morning I was completely oblivious and would’ve slept straight through if Vince hadn’t poked me in the shoulder to shut it off.

I loathe being poked in the shoulder about as much as Vince loathes listening to an unheeded cell phone alarm. But I was in such a deep state of sleep that I wouldn’t have heard a tornado siren if it had been set off inches from my ear.

Nevertheless, with the vestiges of a really weird dream still echoing in my subconscious, I blearily got up and struggled into my tennis shoes. I’ve taken to wearing socks to bed so I don’t have to add that task first thing in the morning.  If I could, I’d also sleep in the jacket in which plastic bags are conveniently stashed in the pockets so I wouldn’t even have to think before taking Maggie Minx out for her first nature call of the day.

Thinking is not my strong point first thing in the morning. Ask Vince.

But as we stumbled out the front door and Maggie made a mad dash for the grass to do her business, it occurred to me that I could probably use a Hallmark card this Sunday.  Do they even make, “Happy Mother’s Day from the Dog” cards?

If not, they should.  At least while said dog is a puppy. 

Note that I have never ever thought I needed a “Happy Mother’s Day from the Cat” card.  Even after cleaning up endless piles of cat yak and scooping countless clumps of kitty litter through the years. 

Cats are just not as needy as dogs. 

If I walk out of the room to take a shower, the cats have never meowed loudly to get my attention as if to ask why,  oh, why have I forsaken them?

When I leave the house to run a quick errand or to head to work or to do a little grocery shopping, the cats have never rebuked me for leaving them alone. In fact, they relish their uninterrupted nap time and Twinks probably yaks on the carpet on purpose forcing me out of the house to buy more carpet cleaning spray.

But dogs?  Well, dogs are something else entirely.  Sure, they give you lots of attention and act all excited when you walk in the door after being gone a mere 2.3 seconds to drop a bag of trash in the bin outside.

And puppies are in a category all of their own.  My house is a wreck; my carpets are a mess and I’ve spent more time outside without makeup greeting neighbors as I walk Maggie than I’ve ever been outside without makeup before. In my life.

Oh well. Such is the way of new additions, I suppose.  At least I don’t have to get up for 2 am feedings.  Or potty breaks. 

And it will be all too soon, I imagine, that I’ll be wishing for the days when Maggie was but a little puppy. 

So I guess I will try to relax and enjoy it.  And ignore the messy carpet and our less-than-pristine house. 

And, hey, the neighbors have all seen me now without makeup – so who am I tryin’ to kid? Those dark eyelashes are clearly the work of Maybelline.  And – surprise – my lips are not naturally tinted Perpetual Plum.

Like I fooled anyone before anyway.

But – like mothers of puppies everywhere, I know that I am stumbling outside without makeup first thing in the morning to walk her because I love her – not because I’m expecting a card. And when she looks at me with her big brown eyes and her little nub of a tail wags madly when she sees me, well, that says “I love you” right there.



And that’s good enough for me.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

I Second That Emotion

In the past week or so I have been, by turns, happy, sad, bemused, frustrated, silly, upset – and, well, a bunch of other adjectives I could add to the list to capture my emotions.

Lest you think I have some sort of personality disorder, let me assure you that these are merely the moments that make up our lives. 

Or at least I tell myself that I’m completely normal. I mean, we all go through different stuff every day – don’t we?

Like, for instance, one moment you could be happy you received an income tax refund this year and the next moment you could be upset that your cracked tooth is going to set you back a couple thou in dental bills.

Or you could laugh at a photo one of your best college friends texted and the next moment be frustrated because you can’t get Netflix to work.

BTD (that’s Before the Dog) I was pretty even-keeled.  Right now, being the owner of a puppy is a learning experience for me and I am going through some growing pains. 

For instance, I was upset for about five minutes (at least) the other night when Twinks and Maggie Minx got into a hissing/barking match and it upset Maggie so much she piddled on the carpet.  That was not a happy moment for me, and I’m wondering how long it will be before our cats and our dog can be in the same room without mayhem ensuing.

But, on the whole, I’ve been in a pretty decent mood.  Some things made me smile. And some things even made me laugh out loud.

The other day I brought Maggie into our bathroom while I took a shower. Believe me, it’s easier than listening to her pitiful barks from the kitchen as if she has been utterly and forever abandoned.  I was praying she wouldn’t think the room was her personal potty (unless she somehow miraculously learned to use the commode). But as I was rinsing off, I looked down and with my extremely myopic vision, managed to spot a little red tongue licking the water that had accumulated under the edge of the shower door.  I burst out laughing, which scared the dog – and made me laugh harder.

Guess it’s the little things, eh?

I also had to smile when I opened Facebook and saw a photo my sister posted of her new Mini Cooper. She has wanted one of those cars for a while now and I was really happy that she finally got it.

But the thing that made me laugh the hardest happened just yesterday.  Well, first I was frustrated – but then I laughed. 

Not our actual dog.
Vince and I decided to give Maggie a bath in the kitchen sink – the first one we’ve given her.  (She was bathed when we took her to be groomed, but since I didn’t have to do the bathing, it doesn’t count.)  She was not, as you can imagine, thrilled with this activity.

When we were rinsing her off she was squirming and wriggling around trying to escape, and we apparently pulled the sprayer hose a little too far out from its socket, which disconnected something from under the sink. 

This meant that every time we turned on the water, there was a waterfall inside the cabinet under the sink. Consequently, we had to pull everything out from inside the cabinet and mop up all the excess water. I opted for the simple solution and grabbed some rags, but Vince went for the big guns – our wet/dry shop vac. 

Not our actual Shop Vac.
First, he sucked up all the water and then he ran the blower to dry out the cabinet.  Maggie, of course, was barking ferociously at the alien-like creature that was making horrendously loud noises in our kitchen.

The din from both the machine and the canine was deafening and I’m sure our neighbors were thrilled with our efforts at livening up their peaceful Sunday afternoon.

Maggie continued to bark while I tried to shush her and calm her at the same time.  Yeah, like that worked. 

Suddenly, Vince walked toward Maggie holding the blower from the shop vac – and blew air at her.  She looked just like the pictures I’ve seen of dogs with their faces out of an open car window.  It was a funny sight – and, plus, it shut her up. Not to mention dried her off after her bath pretty much instantly. Some blow dryer, huh? 

And then, because I was experiencing a hot flash after all that commotion, told Vince to aim the blower at me.  Ahhh. Instant relief!  As we were laughing about it, I said, “We just might need to keep this thing out all summer…” Simultaneously, we looked at each other, then down at Maggie Minx and then back up at each other again and said in unison, “…or maybe not.”  

And then we started laughing even harder.

Maybe we were just a tad hysterical by that point, I don’t know. But it broke up the tension we were both feeling over yet another calamitous afternoon.

Yep, I do believe it IS the little things that make those frustrating or upsetting moments bearable. And I’m glad I have someone by my side who can make me laugh even when things are not going according to plan. 


And, no, I’m not talking about the dog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Day “Off." Well, Sorta.

So, today I had the day off. No work commitments, no meetings, no lunch plans, no appointments, no nothin’.

Well, except for laundry, and dishes, and bill-paying, and bill-filing, and general clean-up around the house. 

Oh, and puppy duty, which is a constant these days. 

It’s all about timing.  Some days, I think I’m a genius at the timing thing.  Maggie Minx almost always piddles when we go out for a walk.  Several times.  Like she’s leaving doggie email for the other dogs to read that “Maggie. Was. Here.”

And when I triumphantly carry home a tiny little bag of poo, I think, Whew…hopefully, we won’t have any messes in the house today.

Most days, we don’t have any problems in the poo department.  But the piddle department? Well, that’s still a work in progress.  Sadly, those are the days I realize I’m far from genius.

I feel like we should have one of those big neon signs like they post in factories. You know the ones? It would read, “We Have Had No Accidents Here in X Number of Days.”  

The only problem is we haven’t even made it out of the single digits yet.

This, despite my carefully timed walks when I think she should go. And she does.  But apparently she still has some left, which is hard to believe in that miniscule body of hers.  And apparently, I haven’t quite broken the “Maggie code.” 

One of these days, she’ll be able to signal that she needs to use the, er, facilities and I’ll calmly put on her leash and we’ll saunter outside where she’ll do her business. And life will be good.

As it is, she makes these frantic whining noises and I think, “Oh, she has to go!” So we’d hurry outdoors, but all the stinker really wanted to do was roll around in the grass and see if any of her doggie friends were out and about.

Some of my neighbors, who are experts in the doggie arena, have well-behaved little canines who signal that they need to go out by gently tapping the bells that are affixed to the front door.

I thought that was genius…but I didn’t have anything around here that would work.

So off to the craft store I went. I bought some burlap and some jingle bells, and some decorations to spruce up my little banners so I wouldn’t object to seeing them affixed to the front and side doors.

This was a couple weeks ago and I was worried I wasted money on crafty supplies for a project that would never get made.  But, finally, today, I found the time to unholster my hot glue gun.  

Maggie cooperated by napping in her little bed beside me while I snipped and sewed and glued.  And, in the end, I had two pretty darn cute jingly banners. 

Now we just have to hope that Pavlov’s theory actually works. 

With Maggie Minx, there are no guarantees.


 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Meet Maggie Minx

I haven’t written for a while because I was busy.  Or so I thought. 

Now, I’m way busier and am only taking the time to write because it’s nap time.

No, silly.  We did not steal a stray baby.  Instead, we got a puppy.  A 4-month-old Yorkshire Terrier we’ve named Maggie Minx. 

And now I know what “busy” is. 

Yeah, yeah, I know.  Parents of real humans of the diapered or toddler variety are scoffing at that remark.

But I haven’t washed my hair in three days. I haven’t finished an actual cup of coffee in nearly a week. And a task that used to take me twenty minutes to accomplish now takes at least an hour because I’m constantly untangling her leash from chair legs and table legs and Jane legs.  And I’m taking her outside mid-task to make sure she, well, “makes.”

I guess it’s a good thing I never had any little humans of my own, eh?

Nah. In truth, I think I probably would’ve been a pretty good mom, but there’s a reason they say that parenthood is best left to the young.  Probably aching backs and arthritic fingers have something to do with it.

So why a puppy now?

‘Cause we’re insane.

Haha.  I jest.  But, no, really, we must be insane to want to deal with potty trips outside in the cold and the dark and the rain.  And we must be insane to want nipped fingers and accidents on the kitchen floor and nearly as much tracked-in mulch inside as there is outside in the flower beds. Let the fun times begin!

But we’re insanely in love with this little face and wriggly little body with its wagging nub of a tail and big, fuzzy ears that stand at attention.  And we melt when we look into her big brown eyes that peek out from behind a mane of hair that, were she human, I’d recommend a trip to the hair stylist for a trim and dye job, stat. Her coloring could best be described as “ombre.” But she loves it when we brush and pet that ombre hair and we wouldn’t change a thing.

Well, except for the nipping and the accidents on the kitchen floor part.

Most people I know are surprised (to say the least) that I consented to having a dog around the house.  I’ve never had a dog before and never really wanted to deal with the mess and the daily walks and collecting and carrying dog poop around in little bags. Cleaning out cat litter boxes was enough grunge work for me, I thought.

Clearly, there are dog people. And there are cat people.  And, while many people have both, I was always a faithful, card-carrying member of the Cat People Only Club.
               
But who says a set-in-her-ways kinda person can’t change her mind every once in a while?

True, Maggie is a tiny little thing and is smaller than our cats, Twinks and Jinx.  And we’ve heard, “…but that is not even a real dog,” spoken by those people who have big dogs, like Dobermans or Labrador Retrievers. 

But I kind of like the fact that she’s “portable.”  I can carry her around in my arms without my bursitis-riddled shoulders screaming at me to put down my burden.  And she fits into a small carrier that doesn’t require an extra row of seats in our vehicle for potential road trips.

On the other hand, it’s not all fun and games quite yet.  Twinks and Jinx, as you might imagine, are not overly fond of our new addition. They wonder who this interloper is who has caused a wrinkle in their placid little lives and who has disrupted their evening treat-time routine with her ridiculous barking.  They wait until she’s safely tucked away in her bed with the door closed before they venture near for a quick pet and rub behind the ears. They sniff at our clothes and think, Darn, we weren’t imagining that creature…we can smell her scent on you.

(Because, of course my cats think in complete sentences and are capable of complex thoughts.)

The first several times Twinks came within spitting distance of Maggie, she arched her back and hissed at her while Maggie barked as if it were the apocalypse.  

Jinx, our scaredy-cat, has barely come out of hiding for the past five days. The one time she ventured downstairs for her evening treat, she looked at Maggie on my lap, gave me a look of reproach, and turned on her heels and retreated to her under-the-bed hiding place. 

We believe progress is being made, though. This morning when Maggie and Twinks came face-to-face, neither hissing nor barking occurred. They merely looked at each other for a moment and then Twinks walked away. 

So we are keeping our fingers crossed that doggie- and kitty-bonding will occur one day soon.  And we hope we have a peaceful home that integrates both dogs and cats in harmony.
 
Hey, I said we’re keeping our fingers crossed, didn’t I?!

I can’t wait until she’s a little older and accidents on the kitchen floor are a thing of the past and we don’t have to keep her tied on her leash lest she run wild through the house. I’ll be glad when we train her not to constantly nip at our fingers. And I’ll be happy when I get to see Twinks and Jinx again without fearing that I’ll have to make like a referee and break up a major battle.

Well, I suppose this little blog of mine is done for the day.  Why?  Because it appears…

[potty break. Yes, for the dog…]

…as if someone is finished napping.  And now I must sweep up the mulch and grass that we’ve tracked in after our walk.

Let the fun times begin!



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is a Card Gift Enough for Valentine's Day?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and people will be showering loved ones with cards, flowers, boxes of candy shaped like hearts and maybe even jewelry. The lucky ones, that is.

I’m usually one of the lucky ones, but we just came back from a quickie vacation in Florida and I don’t want Vince spending a lot of money on me. Not that I would ever stop the man if he insisted.

But he has given me more sparkly things than I have fingers, necks, earlobes or wrists on which to wear them. True, a girl can never have enough sparkly things – but I’m practicing restraint this year.

This would just look silly.
Yuh huh. I can too practice restraint.  (Okay…sometimes.)

And, truthfully, Vince shows me every day that he loves me by working as hard as he does. And he tells me so when he texts me T-O-Y (thinking of you) during his busy day. And when he surprises me by bringing home a bouquet of flowers on a random Tuesday "just because." So we don't necessarily need that one day out of the year to say "I love you" to each other.  

Rather than going out for an expensive Valentine’s Day dinner where the wait is long or the meal is rushed so the tables can be turned quicker, this year I bought some NY strip steaks and a nice bottle of wine. We’ll have a salad and maybe some roasted redskin potatoes. I might even get ambitious and bake something sweet for dessert.

Maybe.  I sometimes have grandiose ideas that don’t come to fruition.  If I don’t get out the Kitchen-Aid or preheat the oven, Vince could always have an ice cream bar from the freezer.  I could make it all fancy and serve it on a heart-shaped doily.  Yeah, I’m starting to think that’s the way to go.  I’m not sure I want to dirty the Kitchen-Aid today.

And, after all, nothin’ says true love like a dark chocolate almond Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar

Plus, I bought him a nice card. I got it a few weeks ago when the Valentine’s card selection was at its peak.

Yesterday I went to the store and the pickins were pretty slim. I couldn’t even find one that wished both a mother and a father Happy Valentine’s Day in one card – so I’m just going to have to call them. My parents will probably appreciate a call even more than a card anyway, so it’s all good.

I did find a generic Valentine’s card that I could have sent, but it wasn’t very impressive. And when I turned the card over and saw that it was $4.99, I was horrified. I mean, I’ll pay $4.99 for a nice card, but c’mon. A red heart on the front and the inside reads: “Happy Valentine’s Day!”?  Sheesh. That’s worth maybe a buck and a quarter – tops.  That Hallmark card writer must’ve lost his creative mojo that day. Either that, or he had recently broken up with someone and wasn’t feeling the love just then.

But if the price of greeting cards goes up much higher, I may start taking after Vince’s Aunt Betty.  When we saw her in Florida earlier this week, she told us a story about taking her granddaughter shopping once upon a time.  While they were at the store, Aunt Betty started perusing the birthday cards.  An elderly lady was standing next to Aunt Betty also looking through the rack of cards. 

Finally, Aunt Betty picks one out and calls her granddaughter over to her.  She says, “Here – read this!”  Her granddaughter reads the card and compliments Aunt Betty on the lovely choice and the perfect sentiment.  And then Aunt Betty plucked the card out of her granddaughter’s hand and put it back in the rack.  She said, “There – that was your birthday card!” And they both laughed.

But the lady standing next to Aunt Betty had a look of utter astonishment on her face, which only made Aunt Betty and her granddaughter laugh harder. 

But my guess is that the lady probably thought to herself, What a great idea! I wish I had thought of that myself.

Of course, the flaw in Aunt Betty’s plan is that we don’t always have our loved ones at the store with us while we’re shopping for whatever occasion it is that requires a greeting card.

I once knew someone who opened the birthday card I bought him, read it quickly, said “thanks” and then tossed it immediately in the trash.  Talk about wearing a look of utter astonishment.  I mean, you’d think he could’ve at least waited to throw the thing out until after I’d left.  But I made it a point to never again buy that person a card. I could have just as easily taken the cash and thrown it directly into the garbage can. No thought required.  

Conversely, I’m one of those people who treasures cards that I receive.  To me, it means that someone has taken the time to select a card and either mail it to me – or has actually delivered it in person.  You can’t beat that.

I still have cards from when I was a kid.  And, okay, so I haven’t saved every single card I was ever given – by this age, I’d need a separate storage facility to store them all in. But I do have a great many of them and when I see them, I’m reminded of that time in my life or the person who cared enough to send the very best.  (Oops. Another Hallmark reference. And, no, I don’t have stock in the company.)

Some people think occasions like Valentine’s Day are simply a way for greeting card companies, florists, chocolatiers and jewelers to get people to part with their hard-earned cash.  And there may be some truth to that statement given the amount of advertising they do.  But the holiday has been around for a bunch of centuries and who are we to disparage it? 

I like it when someone tells me they care – and it doesn’t just have to be my Vince, either. I cherished the Valentine’s Day cards I received in the mail from my Nanna when I was younger. She’s gone now – and I miss hearing from her. I’d even be okay if we could go shopping together and she showed me the perfect card she selected just for me – and then put it back in the rack!

So Happy Valentine’s Day, Aunt Betty. Thanks for the story. And this, by the way, is your card! 

And Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. I hope you have a sweet day. And even if you don’t have anyone special to celebrate it with, know that there are lots of people in your life who love and care about you.

Heck, take the time and do something nice for yourself. After all, you’re worth it. It could be sparkly. It could be some pretty flowers.  

Or maybe just have one of those dark chocolate almond Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars. No heart-shaped doily required.