Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday's Words for June 26, 2019

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the house is blessedly quiet. In all fairness, the house has been pretty quiet even after the move-in last week. Most of the time, one wouldn’t know that this is now a house that boasts more than one dog. Actually, we have my daughter’s four small chihuahuas and our Mr. Tuffy. Five. Five dogs. This isn’t the first time the Ashbury’s have had five dogs at one time. That other time was when we lived out in the rural environs of the community into which I was born. I’m thinking, around 40 years ago.

At this moment, Mr. Tuffy is with his daddy, at the park. That morning scooter ride and walk is their private time. The others show no jealousy, and only bark when they first see their grandpa in his scooter. He brings it down from the upper back yard on his own, and then he comes in and gets the dog, loading up on the sidewalk in front of the house.

I asked David if his reason for doing it that way now was because Tuffy recalls vividly the last time daddy put him in the basket in the backyard. That time ended up in David’s dumping the scooter with the puppy in the basket. It was a very gradual “dump” and David protected the dog. Neither was hurt, of course, unless you count Mr. Ashbury’s pride. I don’t believe he answered the question.

But I digress.

The first two to three days, move and post-move, were exhausting for Tuffy. One of my daughter’s dogs had just finished her heat a couple days prior to the event. So Tuffy’s interest in her was, shall we say, heightened. That’s a good word because for the most part, it describes Tuffy’s challenge with um…intimacy. He’s lacking the sufficient height in his legs to get to the good part. So, except for one time when my daughter wanted this particular dog of hers to have puppies with Tuffy as the daddy, he’s never quite managed to fulfill nature’s urge. (That one time she kind of helped by facilitating the event with a clever placement of stools.)

By Sunday afternoon our poor dog was exhausted, the female dog in question was resigned, and life more or less returned to normal—whatever that is.

The dogs have free reign of the house except at nighttime, and otherwise except for one other thing. I will not allow any other dogs on my desk, between my monitor and tower. That’s Tuffy’s private spot and is to be honored because this was his home first. He’s happy to come to bed with us each night again (he didn’t want to do that the first few nights), and the only difference there is that he wants out of our room on his own at some point in the wee hours. I’m not quite sure why that is, because the others are upstairs in the newly renovated bed-sitting room, behind a closed door. Oh, and we close our door at night, too, because my daughter gets up very early, and her dogs don’t need help to jump up on our bed.

We’re all still finding our balance in this new expanded household. David isn’t fond of having more than one dog—his own—wanting to sleep on him while he’s in his recliner, relaxing and watching television. I don’t mind it so much. In a way, it’s nice, because Tuffy doesn’t like my chair and so won’t sit with me. There’s a space between the foot panel and the seat. There is strong upholstery there, so he wouldn’t fall through, but he doesn’t like it. The other dogs do settle down, and they are actually a lot better trained than our dog is. So yes, part of my job now is to be a puppy bed for at least three of my daughter’s dogs. They don’t weigh much. But they are fairly well trained.

Yesterday was a case in point. I was right here, at my keyboard, working away on my manuscript. David was on the porch, the front door was open, and all the dogs were with him. They all love being out on the front porch, as long as there’s a chair for them to sit on. Apparently, the cement is too whatever for them. The chihuahuas are trained that when the “squirt bottle” appears, they stop barking.

Predictably, when a person walking their dog appeared, the dogs all started yipping and my husband grabbed up that squirt bottle and asked, “Do you want me to use this?”

Well, the dogs did shut up immediately with the exception of the oldest one. It was enough to break my author-concentration. I called out, asking David, “which one of those little guys just said ‘no’?” I’d heard it, plain as day.

Surprise? Yes. Shock? Maybe not so much as we had a cat once who learned how to say ‘no’. In response, my husband cut to the real issue, and did it adroitly.

His reply: “It was Bella (the oldest). Let’s hope that’s the only thing she says no to.”

Here’s hoping, indeed.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wednesday's Words for June 19, 2019

What do you mean it’s Wednesday? We just had a Wednesday! Yesterday, wasn’t it? What’s going on here? 

Does that refrain sound familiar to you? It’s one that’s echoed silently in my mind, by now featuring every single day of the darn week at one time or another. Of course, I never said anything out loud, in case people thought I was already losing what few marbles I have left.

And then Mr. Ashbury, just last week, said those words to me. It was a Tuesday. He was genuinely perplexed. Then he smiled at me and shrugged. And he said, a real confession, that he doesn’t pay attention to the days of the week because since he’s retired, it doesn’t really matter what day it is.

I think it’s because I’m more than a little anal that I’ve always kept track of the days. They fly by, but for the most part, I do keep track of them. They really do just zoom past so darn fast; I sometimes feel that we just had a Wednesday, and here we are again, so soon!

Mr. Ashbury on the other hand was being completely honest about not caring what day it is. He really doesn’t. Usually at least once a week he will ask me what day it is. When he tells me that he can never remember, I do tell him all he has to do is open his cell phone. Right there, on his menu screen, is the calendar icon that has the name of the day, and its position in the month.

His response to that was to tell me it’s easier to just ask me.

We’re continuing to get ready for our daughter and her dogs to move in. Her half of the upstairs, an area that is really very big (16 feet by 25 feet), is now complete, walls, ceiling and flooring. The drywall is up, mudded, sanded, and painted—both primer and finish coats. The flooring—laminate flooring in a shade of grey—is installed. They finished it yesterday. Now all that remains is for them to tidy up the debris of construction.

Our daughter decided that on moving day, which is Friday (yes, two days away), she’ll bring her dogs here with the first load. Since I’m not able to help with the move in, I will have the hounds—all of them—enclosed with me here in my office. It will be the first practical use of my two brand new office doors. I have not yet needed to close them so I can work, but I can if I have to and that, my friends, is awesome.

It shouldn’t take too long for our grandson and his friend to move her furniture in; there isn’t a lot she’s bringing with her. Just what goes in her bedroom, along with one sofa—a sectional—her television, her computer, a couple of bookshelves and a faux fireplace that she loves. That piece is heavy, but the upstairs is well fortified.

There are going to have to be some adjustments made by all of us, human and canine alike. I do believe in time that everything will be fine. Normal is, after all, just what you get used to. Her dogs know us, and the house, and the current canine-in-chief. Our daughter’s workday has never been standard since she began to work in home health care. As a Personal Service Worker, she visits clients in the community, and therefore everyday for her is a split-shift day. She begins usually at six a.m. and may have several clients close together and be done by mid-morning or very early afternoon. At that point she might be done for the day, or she may have to resume client visits at about six in the evening, until, sometimes, ten at night.

In the past, when she’s only had about an hour or so between client visits, she would stop in here, and stretch out on one of our recliners. She didn’t like to go home to her dogs that had been alone, only to have to go out again a short time later, leaving them alone again. That problem will be solved, because except for the odd appointment time, and grocery shopping times when we go out, her dogs won’t be alone at all.

They’ll have grandparents to crawl all over, and sleep on.

Looking at it all that way? The dogs really are going to be getting the sweetest part of this deal. Huh, I guess it really is a dog’s life.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wednesday's Words for June 12, 2019

First, a flower update: I discovered just this past Saturday that the lilies-of-the-valley planted in the back yard are blooming later than the ones in the front of the house and at the base of the lilacs. I would guess that’s because the ones in the back yard are mostly in shade throughout the day. Of course, that meant that while my lilacs did burst into bloom on Sunday, it was too late for me to get the natural combination of fragrances, because those lilies-of-the-valley were done.

Enter Mr. Ashbury, who clipped a sprig of lilac and then went into the back yard and pulled out a sprig of the lilies. He put them in a vase and set them beside me on my desk. I inhaled deeply and…ah, heaven. I was still inhaling that bit of heaven last night, and for that, I’m grateful. Springtime flower quest, met.

My husband and my daughter have been working together on our upstairs area. I may have mentioned that renovations were underway here in 2006, and that my husband didn’t have the heart to continue after our son died, as it was a project they were working on, together. Since David has been retired, however, he’s come to understand that a house with an unfinished upstairs, and cosmetic repairs left uncompleted has considerably less value than it could. This building, such as it is, is our major savings account for the future. It’s been fully paid for, and we need it to be in as saleable a condition as possible for that time in the future when we’ll possibly need to enter a nursing home.

The upstairs has served us in the past as “bedrooms” for two of our grandchildren, when they needed to be with us while their mother, our Sonja, was working nights. The kids didn’t seem to mind the unfinished look. However, it really was past time to get some drywall up there and something other than area rugs over the sub-flooring. So daughter and daddy have been working on that. David has managed to get the dry wall up, and even on the ceiling, thanks to the drywall lift he purchased. Daughter is in charge of the “taping and mudding” half of the renovations, a process that is now underway.

They plan to do the painting together, beginning this coming weekend. And there is a deadline for them, as our daughter will be moving in with us in just under two weeks’ time.

Sadly, she recently had it brought home that when you rent a house without a lease, then you run the risk of having the owner of the house decide to sell it out from under you. Real estate values have increased in this area, and it’s hard to fault the man’s desire to capitalize on that reality. Our daughter has been renting from him for several years, and she was quite devastated to have him suddenly show up one day and ask her to move out.

Her rent was more than I would pay (because of course I am older and recall smaller monthly amounts), but it was less than she’d have any expectation of paying for a new lease. As well, she has her chihuahuas. They’re her children, and there is no way she could, or should be forced to get rid of them. Her dogs and our Mr. Tuffy are best buddies. In fact, they are the only dogs our Mr. Tuffy tolerates, and he loves them.

We convinced our daughter her best option was to move in, take over the upstairs, where she could stay for as long as she wants. It’s a way for her to save up and either eventually buy her own home or take that money she’s saving and finally have a retirement account of her own.

This will be good for her in that regard, and it will be good for us, too. She’s going to help me one day a week, and that will be a blessing. Plus, there will be a peace of mind for us both knowing that she is here.

In this day and age, with expenses rising and salaries stagnant, younger people are finding it more and more difficult to manage, especially if they’re single. One of the information shows I was watching last week stated that the dream of home ownership is becoming harder and harder to attain in these expensive times. For most, it is a dream out of reach.

It used to be a given that the next generation would flourish beyond what the previous one had been able to accomplish. I’ve heard some of the talking heads say that this generation of young people coming up—the millennial's—will not be as well off as their parents.

Personally, I think our expectations need to change. I believe it’s very hard to prepare for a future when the reality of what the future is going to be shifts under your feet, like sand in the grip of a wave.

We have an entire floor above our heads that’s just sitting there, as fancy storage space. We have a fenced in back yard. She’ll be here, safe and sound, and can look forward to having a meal waiting for her at the end of her workday.

I think that’s a win-win-win situation (including the dogs in that equation).


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wednesday's Words for June 5, 2019

I’ve got my fingers crossed. My two lilac trees are somewhat behind the rest of the lilacs in our area. However, there are good buds there, and my fingers are crossed that they will bloom this year, and within the next four to five days.

You see, I still have vibrant lilies of the valley blooming, and I really do want those two scents mingled for my olfactory delight. Yes, it’s a little thing, but I am currently out of big things, and will take my pleasures where I find them, however small they may be.

I’ve managed to excavate my desk, grateful to discover there was indeed an antique oak library desk beneath all the accumulated papers and such I had stacked upon it. I’m thinking this new habit of mine—letting things pile up—is a late-arriving protest after years of working in an office, where one’s desk needed to be tidy and free of “litter” all the time. Except of course, if one was on vacation.

Then there was that one time when I went back to work after a one week vacation; before leaving, I had made a comment that questioned the value of a week off when one returned to a week’s accumulated work and had to then spend a week working twice as hard. The company boss overheard my comment. He told me then and there that he would inform my supervisor that my work was to be covered while I was gone. Of course, when I returned, my desk looked pristine. He came over, beaming, and told me he’d kept an eye on my desk, and wasn’t I pleased? I held his gaze as I opened the drawer and pulled out the more than two hundred documents that had accumulated in my absence: company bills that needed to be paid, many of them within the week.

He was so angry his instructions had not been met, he gave me two more days off with pay as a consolation prize, which just proved to me the man didn’t get it, period.

There might be a bit of that in my latest habit of not stuffing things away until I can deal with them properly; or I could just be getting into that “who cares?” portion of life’s program. I believe I previously noted in one of these essays that I don’t have any rat’s butts left to give. I thought there might be a shipment on route, but sadly, I’ve seen no signs that there is.

More likely, that old adage, “out of sight, out of mind” is at play here, as well. Because now, as never before, that adage is a literal reality for me. So I keep things where I can see them in the faith and hope that I will eventually deal with them.

Regardless of the reasons behind this new habit, I do believe that it’s perfectly okay for my attitude about certain things to change as I get older. It’s not a sign of any mental deficiency, but rather, an acknowledgement on my part that there is a bit more of a physical deficiency than I would like. Each day I think of what my “to-do” list comprises, and each day I realize I need to revisit my thinking. The truth is, I simply don’t have the stamina to do all I would like to do in a day.

I was a bit more graceful in coping with the first wave of physical limitations, the most obvious being: no more work done on the knees. No gardening, and no scrubbing of floors. That second one might sound to some of you like a blessing. But I loved gardening, and I’m sorry, I don’t care what mop you use, the floor simply does not get as clean as it can be if one does not take to one’s knees with a sturdy scrub brush and a bucket of cleanser—followed by one of clear water to rinse with.

When I shared that opinion with a friend, she opined, “you can’t tell me that, able-bodied, you’d still be scrubbing the floors on hands-and-knees if you won the lottery.” And she was right. If I won the lottery I likely would not continue to do so, even if I was physically able.

But you can be certain I would then hire someone else to do it.