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.


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.