My husband tells me technology is a good thing. An important thing. Something we need to move forward with. Personally, I think technology is a questionable thing on many levels and a creepy thing on some.
Married friends can be a curious lot. The wife of a couple can be a good friend of mine, but the husband of that couple may not necessarily be a good friend of Cliff’s and vice versa. The dynamics, when friends are only on one end can be somewhat strained for the spouse on the other end. We are fortunate to have quite a few married friends who are good friends on both ends. Last week we hosted George and Theri, two of our very good friends on both ends.
When good friends on both ends come for a visit, it’s always fun and always busy. When fun and busy join forces, people can get tired and when people can get tired they sometimes can forget things. Things that should not be forgotten, as you will soon see, but I digress.
Our time together began on Wednesday night, well, not really. George and Theri arrived on Wednesday night. We were already asleep. We gave them the door code and left the light on in their room. Very good friends can do that, which is part of what makes them very good friends. We were asleep because Thursday was going to be busy. A full day, open to close, at Epcot. Can I tell you that I can’t tell you the last time I was at a Disney park at night in the dark? In fact, I can’t really tell you the last time I was awake at night when it was dark. We were once at a park so early in the morning that it was dark, but I don’t think that counts.
The full day at Epcot was perfect. The weather was beautiful. Epcot was, and still is, hosting their Food & Wine Festival, so we ate and talked our way around the world a couple of times making the day almost fly by. We were waiting for the closing fireworks show that was to start at 9:00. We found our “watching spot” at 8:00. We were ready, we were willing, we were all still vertical and then they announced that the show would begin at 9:45. Since we are all fairly well into our 60’s, we were not really that ready or willing and some of us, okay me, would no longer be vertical at that time; so the men went on one more ride and the ladies went to shop a little and use the restroom one more time. We also stopped for a hard cider flight, hence the need for one more restroom trip, then we all went home.
Friday and Saturday were easier days full of hiking and family and food.
Sunday we fought the Halloween crowds at St. Augustine. The most crowded we’ve ever seen it with little kids and adults in all kinds of costumes, some of them deep inside a costume that was blown up around them so they looked like the air-filled ornamentation people put on their lawns. It was kind of weird.
Monday George and Theri were going home. I was beginning to think that I might make it through an entire visit without doing something funky to myself or anyone else. The key word there would be “might”.
They didn’t have to leave until 1:30 or so in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for a game of Scrabble, a nice lunch, and a visit with our youngest daughter and the youngest of her sons. A nice day, a relaxing day; but, I was tired and sensed a cold Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino bottle in the fridge calling my name. It was a call I should never have answered.
I took the bottle from the fridge and decided that I would only drink a little bit of it, enough for a quick pick-me-up. I shook the bottle, loosened the cap, and put it down, temporarily distracted by I don’t know what. I came back to the bottle, post distraction, and that’s when I forgot. I forgot a thing I should not have forgotten and I shook the bottle, again. This time with a loosened cap.
You know how people look when they walk into a room and a bucket of water falls down on them from the door frame drenching them from head-to-toe? Picture that with a cold Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino. It was in my hair, on my face, covering my glasses so I couldn’t see, on my shirt, dripping down my chest, and on both of my arms. It was on the floor, on the wall, and on the pantry door. It was everywhere. I stood in a state of shock trying my best to fathom how and what I had just done. Theri was in hysterics laughing, almost to the point of tears. I joined her and then changed my clothes. We mopped up the mess together. And there it was. The joyful, hysterical, culmination of a very good friends on both ends visit! There was even a little bit of Starbucks left in the bottle for my quick pick-me-up.
Very good friends on both ends, they’re a Very Big Deal!
Though I have always considered myself more of a “dog” person, and aside from the fact that we have never in all of our 42 married years owned a cat before, I have owned cats before. In fact, we both have. Cliff had outdoor cats that lived in a little “cat house” in the backyard that they would heat in the winter. One cat was name Shnooky, which they thought was a boy; but then Shnooky had kittens. They were named…Butterball, Snoopy, Porkchop, and other names that are long since forgotten. Perhaps that’s for the best.
I also had two cats as a teenager. Pippi Longstocking who was actually given the entire Pippi Longstocking name of Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking. Yes, I was a book nerd even then. We called her Pippi for short, that is until we found out she was a he. Then I named him Pepe Le Pew after the debonair cartoon skunk.
Pepe enjoyed the simple things in life, like attacking my sister’s feet and lying in the middle of the street daring cars to hit him. And then one did. I was devastated. My sister, not so much.
The second cat we owned was named Smoky. Not a very imaginative name and he wasn’t grey, so I don’t know why. He was black and white, what they now call a tuxedo cat. He ran away one day. He didn’t return for quite some time. When he finally did return he looked kind of chubby and after awhile he had five kittens in our basement. If you haven’t guessed by now, determining the sex of cats was not either of our family’s strong suit. The kittens were adorable. Adorable and covered in fleas. We went to the basement to see the kittens in our cute little white socks and came out of the basement with socks that were brown…and moving. It was pretty horrible and our house had to be flea bombed. After that, we mostly had dogs with nice big flea collars.
Lots of years and at least 6 dogs later, we have Charlie. Of all the cats either of us has ever owned, Charlie is the best. He’s clean, he’s calm, he’s entertaining, and he and Phoebe get along just fine. Mostly. Phoebe at 45 pounds and not the sharpest tool in the shed, seems to think that Charlie is an odd looking dog. In her defense, the only other dog she ever lived with was a chihuahua, so it is kind of understandable. Charlie at 5.25 pounds, is not having it. Fortunately, Charlie is much faster and can easily take the high ground, which Phoebe can’t reach.
Charlie also inspires songs in us. Really! He does! I’m dating myself here, but remember the “Choo Choo Charlie” song? It goes like this…ahem…
“Choo Choo Charlie was an engineer
Choo Choo Charlie was his name we hear
He had a little engine and he sure had fun
He used Good and Plenty candies to make his train run
Charlie says, “Love my Good and Plentys”
Charlie says, “Really rings the bell!” (Ding, ding)
Charlie says, “Love my Good and Plentys”
“There’s not any other candy that I love so well!””
There you have it. And that’s what we sing. Both of us. It’s weird, but kind of fun!
So far, all of having Charlie is kind of fun! Watching him jump after a feather that is attached to a wiry thing. Having him attack our feet in our bed. Cleaning counter tops and the table because you can’t really stop him from walking on them. Paying exorbitant vet bills for an animal that weighs less than ten pounds. Cleaning litter boxes more than once a week…The things we do for love!
There has been one problem that Cliff and I have both had to deal with. There are very few things in life where our thinking is alike, but we both have this innate idea that cats are girls and dogs are boys. Since our animals are the opposite, this has posed a problem of sorts. We are constantly referring to Phoebe as “he” and Charlie as “she”. Before Charlie, we never had a problem referring to Phoebe as a girl. But now, we call her “him”. Maybe someday we’ll get it straight. But then, in the light of all eternity, it’s really not that big a deal!
That’s how long we’ve been married and in all of those 42 years we have been blessed to have raised 3 children and seen them married. They then blessed us with 7 grandchildren, all of them living within a 30 minute drive of our home.
We have owned two homes, one in New Jersey where we lived with family we love and now one in Florida. We have owned 6 dogs Jake, Ralph, Buffy, Stella, Haven, and now Phoebe. We have also owned two miniature hamsters, both named George, and a fish named Fred. But, never have we ever owned a cat, until now.
“Why did we suddenly decide to be cat owners this late in the game?” you might ask. And, I might tell you. It’s because of the dog, Phoebe. Of all of the dogs, in all the world that we’ve owned, only two have suffered from separation anxiety, both of them hounds. Ralph, our German Shepherd-Beagle mix and now Phoebe, our Lab-Walker Coonhound mix, which makes me wonder about the psyche of hounds. But, I digress.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about our dog Phoebe. In that post, I shared that Phoebe was a “reactive dog”. Reactive meaning, that while on a walk if Phoebe happened to see another dog, pretty much any other dog, she would go berserk. She would lunge and pull, whine and howl, and make a very embarrassing display of a dog that has not been properly trained. We would apologize to the neighbors and move on as quickly as we could. It was bad.
All of the above prompted me to do some research with the all-knowing, Google. I found some videos that shared a few tips and steps, which we tried. Step one was to carry treats that Phoebe loves, which wasn’t difficult since she loves treats, and every single time she acknowledged me by looking at me, I was to give her a treat and say, “Good Girl”. Since there was food involved, she caught on to this very quickly. Step two was a little more “invasive”.
Step two involved something called a head collar. A head collar is a contraption that goes around the dog’s nose and clips behind its head. The dog can breath, pant, eat, drink, and play and Phoebe would wear it and do all of those things…inside. When I tried to take her outside, even in the backyard, she planted herself and refused to move. Evidently, Phoebe is very self-conscious about what the neighbors might think. In my own weird way, I can relate.
When I was a little girl of 9, I had an abundance of adult teeth and an itty-bitty mouth in which to house them. Needless to say, my mouth was a mess. And so, I began wearing braces on just my top teeth at the ripe old age of 9. They weren’t nice, clear braces like they are now. Back then they were all metal. Hard metal. Metal bands that dug into your gums and metal wires that ripped up your cheeks. It was fun. Adding to all of that fun, it was decided that I needed to wear a lovely little torture device called “head gear”.
Now, head gear wouldn’t have been so bad if I could have just worn it to bed. I probably wouldn’t have minded that, too much. But, wearing it to school, well, that was something else entirely. As you can see in the picture, head gear is exactly that. It has bands that go around your head and behind your neck that attach with a metal rod that is plugged into your teeth. It wasn’t very attractive. Not that I thought much about it at the time, but looking back…
Picture a toddler-size 9 year old with a head full of short wild auburn hair, my mother refused to let it grow because it was wavy and hard to control, and a face full of freckles that floated on the whitest skin you can imagine. Now picture all of that with head gear. It was an awkward time for me. I was oblivious for the most part, but still. Obviously, this is not a picture of me. Fortunately, I have no pictures of myself in my head gear. Moving on…
When I continued to see Phoebe looking dejected whenever I put on her head gear, it brought back memories and I really could relate. I began to question whether or not this was a good idea for Phoebe. I’m sure it might work for other dogs, but, strange as it may sound, I’ve always treated my dogs like the individuals they are. I am not looking for a dog that walks slightly behind my left heel. Nor do I want a dog that plops her bottom down the minute I stop moving. I want Phoebe. A weirdo dog that lives for her walk and the opportunity to smell anything and everything in her path. A slight disclaimer: She does walk on my left side and is not allowed to cross back and forth in front of me, but that is for safety sake. Her owner is a klutz. However, I have no problem with her having her nose to the ground in anticipation of finding the next perfect smell of the day.
So, we were back to Step 1 and the treats and though she was doing well with this step, the frenetic behavior remained.
Enter the Dog Whisperer and his mantra that it is not always the dog that needs training. Cliff saw it first. A couple on Cesar Milan’s show sharing about their dog that was very reactive with other dogs. Whenever the couple would walk their dog and see other dogs they would tighten up on the dog’s leash and wait for the inevitable. This was the first thing Cesar addressed and his words were life-changing.
If a dog owner seeing other dogs tightens up on their dogs leash, their dog perceives danger and reacts accordingly to protect its owner. Wait. What??? I not only tightened up on Phoebe’s leash, I wrapped it around my hand and held it with a death grip against my chest waiting for the onslaught. I was telling my poor girl that there was danger with every single dog we saw, large or small, near or far. I was the one making her crazy. The advice given was to relax the hand that holds the leash and walk calmly by. I was skeptical, but we tried.
On our next walk when we saw another dog, I let my leash toting arm hang relaxed at my side. She started to whine. I remained calm. She started to pull. I called her name. She looked at me. I gave her a treat and told her she was a “Good Girl”. The other dog moved on and Phoebe went back to her smells. The beginnings of success!
And so, I am now fully trained and have given Phoebe a new “leash” on life. It’s a good life but in the light of all eternity, it’s really not that big a deal.
For the past 36 years, in one form or another, I have been a teacher. I began this journey when our now soon-to-be 40 year old son was 4 years old and carried on from there to our two daughters, various nieces and nephews, and culminated with my working as an English and History teacher at The Regent Academy for more than a decade. I retired from TRA last year, kind of. I am now teaching a class consisting of three of our seven grandchildren. It is wonderful!
Classes here in Florida begin in August. I don’t know why. Here, like most everywhere else, August is the hottest month of the year. In New Jersey, we at least waited until the beginning of September, right after Labor Day. September makes more sense, but when in Rome or in this case Orlando…And so, this past July I was asked by a former fellow TRA teacher and friend if I would consider substitute teaching four of her classes on August 17th. My first thought is not always very practical and I tend to think things will be fun because I don’t really “think” much. Always being one who enjoys helping out, I said “Sure”!
This September Cliff and I will celebrate 42 years of marriage. We have been blessed with a wonderfully happy marriage and for that I am extremely grateful. For 31 of those blissful years we have owned at least one dog. This has not been Cliff’s preference, but he’s an easy going man and though he doesn’t “love” dogs, like I do, he has “liked” most of them well enough.
I believe the Lord has blessed Cliff for his many years of dog tolerance. First, the dog he liked the best, Stinky Stella, the chihuahua, lived the longest, 17 years! About 6 years ago, after my big beluga white boxer, Haven, passed away; I told Cliff I felt like I had at least one more dog in me. In fact, I promised that this dog would be my last dog. (Disclaimer: As horribly morbid as this may sound, I made this promise with the idea that if Cliff dies before me, since he is 6 years older, I would get another dog. I told Cliff my plan and he’s okay with it, so it’s not completely horribly morbid. Right?) You may have heard some of what I’m about to share before, but hang in there. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel!
I know a lot of people that are going through difficult times right now. All of us have been there in some form or another. Whenever I feel like life is overwhelming, I like to remember what the Lord has done for me already and realize He is capable of so much more…
This is one of those stories, it is an old post. I have not changed it. I hope you enjoy it. I hope it boosts your faith. Thank you for reading my blog…I appreciate every one of you!
Grandma Moon lived with us for all of my growing-up years. In fact, I never remember a time when she didn’t live with us. Gram was the only grandmother, really the only grandparent, I had. I remember her clearly and fondly and often. Gram loved to read and be read to. She loved watching Merv Griffin at night and she always had a stash of Vanilla Wafer cookies hidden in her room that my siblings and I would, occasionally, loot. She helped me learn how to sew, her mother had been a seamstress. She shared my love for fabric and we’d go on outings to the fabric store that would thrill nobody but us. She taught me how to crochet and tried to teach me how to knit. When I dropped more stitches than I knit, she’s the one who told me plainly, “Roxanne, I love you. You cannot knit.” Grandma and I shared a lot things…Continue reading
Contrary to the title, this is not a dyslexic commercial for Rice Krispies Cereal. This is the story of cauliflower, a microwave, a couch cushion, and a very patient man. Fun fact, the word “cauliflower” derives its name from the Italian word cavolfiore , which means cabbage flower; it is also listed in Ancestry.com as a last name. Aren’t you grateful that you weren’t born into the Cauliflower family? If you aren’t grateful, maybe you should be because in this story the cauliflower is kind of the bad guy.
It was a Sunday morning and, like almost every morning, I asked Cliff what we were doing for lunch-supper. I’m very food oriented. We had decided to cook a simple meal of marinated flank steak, roasted potatoes, and cauliflower. Cliff would take care of the meat. He enjoys cooking now and comes up with some pretty tasty recipes. This marinade was one of his best! I would take care of the roasted potatoes and cauliflower, because how much harm can someone do with an air fryer and a microwave. How much indeed.
I tossed the potatoes with a little olive oil and some spices and dumped them in the air fryer. No problem. I placed the frozen cauliflower in a bowl with a little water and placed it in the microwave. No sooner did I turn the machine on than we heard a loud “POP” and then everything went black. Our 13 year old microwave had crossed the magnetron bridge and was no more. The cauliflower had killed it. We don’t know how. Maybe it was the freezer burn or the lack of a plastic wrap cover? Whatever it was, it was a quick death and for that we are grateful. It took me a few minutes to remember how to cook vegetables in a pot, but eventually it all came back to me. We ate our lupper and contemplated our plan of action.
The next morning, we went shopping to Home Depot and Lowes and Home Depot again, because they had the microwave in stock and we had a 10% off coupon. Cliff was confident that he could install the microwave himself. He’d done it before with couch cushions stacked on the stove and felt he could, successfully, do it again. What he forgot was that I didn’t help him last time and that would be our undoing.
We came home and Cliff prepared for the “install”. We cleared out the kitchen, he removed the deceased microwave, and placed it in the garage. He retrieved the sturdy couch seat cushions from our somewhat decrepit, but still usable if covered sleeper sofa stored upstairs in a room nobody sees. He strategically stacked them on top of our stove and he was on his way. At least, that’s what we thought. I asked if he needed my help. He didn’t so I retreated to the adjoining dining room to work on a puzzle. I did periodically check on his progress and ask if he needed my help. At one point, when trying to place the seemingly gargantuan sized new microwave on the itty-bitty clips that were on a metal strip that he’d attached to the wall, he said yes. And so, I did my part. I got my step stool, because well, you know, and I leaned into the cushions to hold up the microwave and tilt it onto the clips. I thought I was doing a great job until I smelled something weird and heard a “CRACKLE” sound. I jumped off my stool and we pulled off the cushions.
So, evidently, while leaning into the cushions to hold up the microwave I turned on the front burner of the stove and cooked my cushion. It wasn’t on fire yet, so that was good! I put it outside because burning foam does not smell good. Since the somewhat decrepit sturdy couch cushions were no longer useful, we decided it was best to pull out the stove and work from the ground. Knowing we needed someone less vertically challenged and much stronger than myself, we called our son-in-law, Thomas, who lives across the street. He said he’d be right over, I told him to wait about half an hour because the house was still smoky and smelled pretty bad since I almost burned it down.
We had been working on this installation for quite some time now. Thomas showed up as promised and eventually, the microwave was tilted and landed on the itty-bitty clips with a “SNAP”. The screws, which had to access the microwave from inside the top cabinet, were another matter entirely and telling their tale completely, would take a small book. Suffice to say the entire install was not done in a “SNAP”. Suffice to say the entire install took 6 hours.
SIX hours and not once did my husband lose his cool. Not once did he seem frustrated with the install or with me, even when I almost burned the house down. Not once. He just kept plodding along, thinking about what he should do next, finding new ways of measuring impossible holes for obstinate 4″ screws, and developing a renewed appreciation for the handyman who does this kind of thing for a living. It was a hard job, but in light of all eternity, it was really not that big a deal!
Remember the old Clairol Loving Care hair color commercial back in 1971? It told women everywhere that if they used hair color they wouldn’t be “getting older” they’d be “getting better.” Obviously women (and men) have to get older, because if we don’t there’s only one alternative and most of us aren’t quite ready for that yet. But personally, I feel like as I’m getting older I’ve gotten bolder and I don’t think it’s because I color my hair.
In fact, I’ve narrowed down my boldness to three adventurous moves for me so far this year…
First and foremost, I retired! Yup.
At 67, Cliff had decided to sell his UPS Store and retire and he wanted me to retire with him so we could do things together. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to retire. I really do love teaching, but he asked me to think about it and pray about it and I did. It wasn’t an easy decision, but once I made it I found myself looking forward to not correcting papers and preparing for class every week. The many cherished memories of “my kids” (my students), many which will never be forgotten, are mine to keep, but laying down the responsibility is kind of nice. And so, since April 27th of this year I am a free woman. Could this be the motivation for my increased boldness? It could! Read on, my friends…
Second on my list of brazen moves…I bought a bright orange purse! How about THAT?!!!
Now, I do realize that this may not be high on everyone’s list for breaking the rules of propriety or anything, but there’s a reason this is a bold move for me. All of my life, I’ve been very aware that I have a “bull-in-a-China-shop” type personality. I am loud and sometimes, I think, I’m a little bit hard to take. Not just my opinion, I’ve been told this a few times.
That being said, I have always been fairly understated in my wardrobe color choices. I figure a loud personality in loud clothing is just way too much. I’m also a pale, freckly, redhead, so my color palette has been kind of limited anyway.
I cannot “wear” bright orange, but I can if it’s a purse! And so, I bought one. It’s actually a little brighter in person and I love it! It’s small, compact and has a place for everything. It’s a small place for everything, but everything has a place.
It’s actually much brighter than this in real life, but I didn’t turn on my flash because I didn’t want to blind you. I’m nice that way. You’re welcome.
On to my third and most daring of bold moves. Brace yourselves…
Yes. That is my pale, freckly arm. Yes. I got a tattoo!
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I have a thing for words. And, though I’m not overly fond of tattoos, I love tattoos that say something, one’s that have special meaning to the person they belong to. Years ago, I asked Cliff about getting a tattoo. He told me to wait until I retired and that would be something memorable to commemorate my retirement. I didn’t really want to wait, but I also didn’t really know what I would want as a tattoo. I’d thought my favorite scripture verse, but I love so many of them I couldn’t pick one. And then, my daughter gave me this idea.
This is my Dad’s favorite saying. If he isn’t telling one of us that he loves us where we are at, he’s telling us we should love others where they are at. In other words, he loves us unconditionally and we should love others that way, too. He wrote it down for me and I brought the paper with his writing to the tattoo parlor. They put it on my arm so I will remember it always. I feel like it’s a way to have my Dad with me forever.
I think it’s a very big deal…