April is for Showers

Tonight the rain is tapping on the windows, but the weatherman predicts that it will soon turn to snow. All of this strange weather doesn’t bother Lila at all. On Saturday, she greeted the snow by rubbing both sides of her face in the white stuff, and then she got down and rolled over on her back and wiggled around in an unusual dance. It looked as if she was embracing the snow.

When she chased the tennis ball, some of the piles of snow at the park looked to be solid, but underneath were hidden puddles. Though her sturdy paws fell through, it didn’t scare Lila one bit. She just crunched through them and ran into other puddles as big as ponds. Even though the rain has melted some of the snow, the new snow will make it even harder for spring to appear.

I wonder if Lila misses the smells of spring like I do. Maybe Lila noticed little shoots of green grass that are trying to poke through the ground. Maybe she can smell the nests of rabbits if she tried. I miss the sight of daffodils that should be blooming and swaying in the wind and the shock of purple crocuses that we only see for a short time before rabbits eat them gone. The clouds keep greeting us day after day still sputtering snowflakes our way.

If only I could think like a dog when I see whatever the day has to offer and embrace it all no matter what. With each new day a dog still plays.

It makes me wonder if Mother Nature forgot that April is for showers of rain, not of snow.

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. ~Kin Hubbard


State of Embarrassment

Eleanor was a lady who was about the age I am now when I met her. Both of us typed away our days on electric typewriters. Carbon paper smudges could be found on our hands and desks. The faster Eleanor typed, the more askew her black wig became, and sometimes small unruly gray hairs escaped around the edges. Eleanor pounded that keyboard and flew through it all creating words on heavy bond paper. I kept up to speed and switched out my paper just when she did.

Since it was just the two of us who had to keep the place running and stocked with supplies, I soon learned that it would be my job to go get all these things. Luckily there was an office supply store right around the corner from our building. We looked through the small cabinet which seemed to be full while Eleanor made a list of items.

I didn’t mind going off to run errands since it got me outside. That day was bright with a blue sky, and the sun made long shadows of the buildings. My high heels clicked on the pavement while the breeze swished at the skirt of my dress. I held that list firmly in my hand.

When I entered the store, a helpful salesman greeted me and kindly showed me about the place. We gathered up the supplies which included folders. The folders were a good place to balance the 20 boxes of staples that Eleanor said we needed. I thanked the gentleman for helping me, left the store, and again clicked my heels on the pavement. All the while I held steady the piles of boxes of staples on top of the folders. As I rounded the corner, I was happy about my balancing act. Just as I approached the revolving doors, my clicking heels got off beat, and all the boxes of staples went crashing down to the hard pavement. Some boxes stayed intact, but many did not. Not only were some boxes all kittywampus, but there were many staples that had broken apart from their neatly arranged rows. I stooped over to pick the mess up and knew that my face matched the color of my dress. Little rivets of perspiration made a path down my spine. I could feel the stares of the passersby as I tried to move to hide my blushing face.

As I tried to pinch the lone staples between my fingers, a nice young man came to help. I don’t think I was even brave enough to look him in the eyes, but I know I thanked him over and over again. I even told him that I was okay, and that he didn’t need to help me, but he wouldn’t listen and stayed. We weren’t able to pick up every single staple because I could only stay in that state of embarrassment for so long. I gathered up what we pinched up, thanked him again and went through the revolving doors.

When I got back to the cupboard I noticed that there were plenty of staples there already. I told Eleanor through clenched teeth that I dropped the boxes. She shrugged and suggested that I stack the new ones as best I could with the intact boxes on the bottom, and the unorganized ones on top. She thought it would be best if we used up the mixed up ones first.

I could never figure out why Eleanor thought we needed so many staples. Inside I felt she was just playing a dastardly trick on me. When I left that job two and a half years later, some of the lopsided boxes were still in the cupboard. I wasn’t disappointed that I never got to see all those mixed up staples get used.

Even though I was in a state of embarrassment that day, it was still nice to receive help from a stranger.

Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.  ~Author Unknown

Waiting a Long Time Already!

“Mom,” she said, with her breath sucking in as if she were in shock. “You’re not really going to wear that are you?” Katie looked seriously concerned. Those words still echo in my head even though it was at least 10 years ago when I felt scolded for wearing a raincoat that had gone out of style years before then. All the other moms at Katie’s school were wearing the fashionably fit, shorter-length raincoats that showed off their trim figures. My raincoat is just the opposite of that.

The other day, I pulled it on one sleeve at a time, and I welcomed the puffiness of it all. My black raincoat goes down way passed my knees, doesn’t have a belt and makes a swishy sound when I walk. The zipper that attaches the liner can still be pulled along without a hitch, and I have never needed to replace one button.

I often listen to and appreciate my daughters’ advice on current fashion trends, but there’s something about this raincoat that cannot be replaced. I’ve gone looking for other raincoats off and on for years. Those newer raincoats look sharp and neat, but they make me wonder. Yes, they look grand on the ladies, but the length bothers me. I thought raincoats are meant to be worn in the rain. Rain does not always fall perfectly straight down from the sky. Sometimes wind accompanies rain. Wind makes rain go sideways. This causes pants to get wet. When I wear my old black raincoat, my pants legs do not get wet! Plus, I can count the number of times during the year on either one or two hands of when I need to wear my raincoat in Minnesota. If it rains when it’s warm, I have an umbrella, and when it’s warm, I don’t mind getting wet!

“I bet that raincoat really keeps you dry,” said one of the moms when I walked through the hallway of Katie’s school that day many years ago. I smiled and said, “Yes, it does.”

Now I can’t help but wonder when my old raincoat is going to come back in style. I’ve been waiting a long time already!

Do you have an old piece of clothing that you can’t seem to get rid of?

People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile. ~Lee Mildon

The Mosh Pit

Lila Watching Over the Neighborhood
During the Beginning of the Mosh Pit

When we first got Lila just a year ago, we learned that she was a bit of a digger.  When we gave her certain treats that looked like bones, she held them tightly in her mouth and pranced about the house. She whined and demonstrated to us that she had to go outside with her “bone.” It was probably bad that we showed her that we thought it was cute when she dug, carefully placed the bone in the hole and pushed the dirt back into place with her nose.

Today, Lila has not been allowed to sit in her favorite place. It’s a place we like to call the “Mosh Pit.” Passersby probably would not even notice her lying there. The only times she barks is when she sees a black dog, wants some company or sees a stranger getting too close.  When she first started sitting by the front steps, she rested her back up against the side of the step and stretched out her body along the length of it. We thought that was great, but then she somehow got the urge to make a hole.

Mosh Pit at Its Early Stage

During Lila’s little pit stops at the front steps, we noticed that little by little, dirt started to get dug up where once beautiful green grass grew. Some days the dirt would be strewn about the sidewalk leading up to our front door. Even though I sometimes sat with her and told her not to dig, the minute I was gone, the process would begin.  The kids and I would take turns hiding the evidence by making sure that the dirt was swept back into the hole before Dad got home. Some days we didn’t get to that chore, and Dad discovered that dirt had been thrown by the dog that sits in the mosh pit.  Dad was not happy to see this.

A Cool Nap

At the beginning of the formation of the mosh pit, I thought that all would be okay. Lila seemed happy and cool, and the pit didn’t bother me too much. I thought, “She will grow out of wanting to dig holes eventually.”   Then the hole got bigger and bigger, and now the once-even sidewalk is tilting a smidge. The rocks are covered with dirt, and I noticed that when she gets out of the hole, she looks like Pig Pen. A cloud of dirt dust can be seen floating off her fur. Gritty little pieces of dirt can be felt on the floors of the entryway, living room and kitchen. While trying to sweep the dirt away, the little cloud of dirt dust can be seen flying about. I was not happy to see this.

Pig Pen
Image courtesy of Yayaro

We thought that it might be a good idea to remove the loose dirt from the sidewalk instead of sweeping it back into the hole. We are now collecting the dirt in a bucket to put back in place in the fall and top it off with a nice slab of green sod. Now we have a bucket full of dirt, and the hole is getting even bigger. Removing that loose dirt did not stop Lila from digging!  If any passersby looked very closely they could see our dog buried in a hole with just her head sticking up!  Yes, she rested her head on the outskirts of the mosh pit!

A big rain storm turned this into a mud pit!

Lila is a dog that likes to be outside, and we know it’s her way to dig. Today, we are keeping her inside. Sorry, girl, but we are getting tired of the Mosh Pit!

The Evolution of a Coupon Clipper

Have you ever seen the TV show where people have enormous amounts of coupons and end up getting money back from the cashier when they are finished with their grocery shopping?  This show baffles me.  Friends and family see this and wonder why we actually have to pay for our groceries.  I tell them that show is not really real, even though I really do not know if it is really real or not.  I made up this explanation to defend my evolving lack of talent when it comes to coupon clipping.

When I first began clipping coupons, I looked through the Sunday newspapers.  I used to make a pile of coupon booklets and diligently go through each page and cut out all the coupons I thought I would need.  I did this even if it wasn’t right before I was going to the grocery store.  Imagine how organized I was.  I then arranged those coupons in my coupon box.  Some people have their coupons organized in categories, like produce, dairy, cereal, etc.  Okay, I used to do that a very long time ago, because I had little dividers, but I don’t anymore because the dividers ended up getting lost on purpose somewhere.

I recently noticed that since I have been clipping coupons for a while now, that I have changed my clipping routine.  Sunday is no longer designated coupon clipping day.  Any day I go to the store, I might dig through accumulating piles of newspapers just before I head out.  I grab the coupon booklets and rapidly page through them to see if there are any worthwhile coupons.  I clip some or else I just leave the booklets in the pile for me to look through next time, hopefully before their expiration dates. 

Sometimes I find coupons that are so valuable that they end up being admitted to the coupon box for future use.  Nowadays my coupons are categorized in reverse chronological order.  New coupons to be admitted to the box get to have their place in the very front.  Even as I am trying to search for new coupons, I do look through the precious box in case I find a treasure there.

Recently I have noticed that coupons are mostly for worthless stuff.  I feel lucky if I find a coupon that I can actually use.  The fact that I am not having much luck finding coupons should discourage me from even looking.  But it hasn’t.  If I did not search for coupons, I would wonder if I was missing my chance of finding a really good deal.  Yet, deep down I wonder if trying to find coupons is a waste of time.  Is the actual 25 cent coupon really worth the time spent trying to find it?  Plus all this accumulation of coupons makes it necessary to take on the task of tossing away the expired ones.

Honestly, the thing that makes me a coupon clipper is seeing how much money was saved after each trip.  I instantly look at the bottom of the receipt.  I need to know how much money was saved and what the percentage of savings was.  Even though my coupon clipping talent has not evolved to the Internet or even gotten any better over the years, putting these helpful facts on the bottom of the receipt will forever keep me clipping.

Making Friends at the Dog Park

When I opened the door to the van to let Lila out, she almost got away from me.  I managed to grab her leash as she ran off to greet the other newcomers to the park.  I was thankful that my arm did not get dislocated as Lila pulled me along.  Lila greeted two leashed dogs as she circled around them and their mom managing to get her leash wrapped around the legs of the mom who was standing just outside of the gate.  

“Sorry,” I said, as I tried to untangle Lila’s leash from the lady’s legs.  Sometimes having a dog can put us in embarrassing situations, and this time I felt I was breaking the boundaries of closeness between humans.  I figured out that it would be best if I grabbed onto Lila’s collar.  I unfastened and refastened the leash and got it untangled without knocking anyone over.  The lady and her dogs were free to go into the park, and so were we. 

Thankfully, dogs can go off leash after entering the park.  Lila ran off to see the other dogs and humans.  Lila is often attracted to people who have a Chuckit Ball Launcher.  People pretend that they are not irritated by Lila retrieving the balls that belong to their dogs.   One time a man wanted to play Chuckit with his dog.  The man did fake throws to two labs.  Yes, Lila was one of them.  The labs did get faked out and ran for the non-existent ball that was nowhere to be found.  While they were happily running side by side in search of the ball, the man chuckled while he threw the real ball in the other direction to his dog.  The man did three fake throws before the labs realized what was going on. 

Chuckit Ball Launcher

Since I was slightly embarrassed by Lila running off and playing with others who had a Chuckit, I decided to buy one.  I thought we would have a lot of fun playing fetch together.  At first, Lila was very excited and she did a great job of playing.  Then the novelty wore off.

“Drop, drop,” I said to Lila as she firmly held the ball on one side of her mouth while her tongue hung out the other side.  She continued to walk around me, her eyes on mine, not dropping the ball.  I held the Chuckit Ball Launcher in my hand waiting to scoop up the ball.  I waited for her to drop that ball so that I could chuck it, but off she ran to greet a human who was walking along the path on the other side of the park. 

“Hi, Buddy,” the lady said in a very high voice as she petted the top of Lila’s head.  This is when Lila dropped the ball for that lady.  The lady bent over, picked up the ball and threw it in the center of the park without even using a Chuckit Ball Launcher.

“Jeez,” I thought to myself.  “I am the one who buys her food, buys her treats, makes sure she gets fed on time, lets her outside, takes her for long walks, takes her to the dog park with a brand new Chuckit Ball Launcher, and what does she do?  She goes off and plays with some other lady.  What about me?  Is she forgetting about the own members of her pack?  The ones who love and take care of her?”

Lila ran off to chase the ball and brought it back to the lady.  I decided to walk along the path too, my hands in my pockets, shoulders slumped, face to the ground, making sure not to step into any droppings, and feeling a little unloved.

Lila found me and pranced around as if reminding me that she did not forget about me, as she firmly clutched the ball, still not willing to drop it for me.  

As we walked along the path coming back towards the entrance, I met the lady who called Lila “Buddy.”

“My dog went over to you with the ball.  I can’t believe that she…”  I said, without saying hello first.

“Ya, my dog does that too.  Sometimes I go running after my dog trying to get the ball.  I know that you’re not suppose to do that, but I do,” the lady said.  “Your dog is so sweet and friendly.”

She bent down to pat Lila on the head, and her dog growled showing her jealousy.  I realized that I felt just like that dog!

What else can I do but chalk it up to Lila showing me how to make friends or could it be that she just likes to see me annoyed?

Gumby Handshake

Reader’s Digest recently reported that the first seven years after the onset of menopause, women lose 30 percent of their bone mass.  How on earth is any older woman able to stand up?  All the menopausal women are turning into Gumby as I write this!

This is when I got very concerned about the proper act of handshaking. 

When I was growing up, no one taught me how to shake hands.  Believe it or not, this is not a thing that ladies did.  It is not anyone’s fault that I did not learn how to accomplish this little trick of etiquette and that I had to try to learn how to do this task on my own.  Sometimes we have to try to figure things out by ourselves.

“That is the wimpiest handshake that I ever felt.  It felt like a wet noodle,” a young man said to me quite a while ago, when the trend of shaking hands was becoming more popular.  I didn’t know how to respond to his comment.  I just smiled.  I didn’t want to get into how I didn’t learn how to shake hands and that I was in the process of teaching myself.  This guy probably was not aware that there are no classes being taught on this subject.

Now that I have experienced more handshakes, there are times when a man will shake my hand and their grip is so tight that it seems as if he truly wants to arm wrestle.  When these men’s fathers taught this mannerly deed, I am pretty sure that the Dads wanted their sons to have a nice firm grip, not to scare someone into thinking that they might have to be prepared to arm wrestle.  Well, let me tell the men of America that it is not necessary to shake a woman’s hand in that manner.  If you want to arm wrestle with boys, go find some to arm wrestle with.  If you want to arm wrestle with girls, tell us first, so we are prepared.

I think that I am probably speaking for most of the women in America when I say to please not squeeze our hands too tight, no matter how old we are.  We do not want all our fingers to get stuck together like Gumby’s!  Don’t embarrass yourself by breaking some lady’s hand bones.  We need to hang onto all the bone mass we can.

I Like Your Outfit!

Last winter, I had an encounter with a woman who I never met before who was wearing the exact same style of blouse that as I was.  We both looked at each other in the eyes, then at each other’s blouses, and we slightly turned around and looked at each other like we were going to start a wrestling match.  Thankfully, we broke the trance and silently continued to walk off in opposite directions.

This reminded me of other times when other people noticed that we were wearing a similar item of clothing.  During the late 1970s, when cute dressy clothes were hard to find, I was a guest at a wedding reception in northern Minnesota.  A lady who I never met before approached me wearing a smirk on her face and a very familiar dress, the same dress that I was wearing.  This dress was not very flattering.  The fabric was white with small pastel flowers and a stringy-type belt that did not enhance the waistline.

“I went all the way to Minneapolis to buy this dress.  I didn’t want to see anyone else wearing what I was wearing,” she said to me in a very crabby voice.

“Oh” was about all I could say to her.  What could I say?  That I was glad I did not make a roundtrip for a total of eight hours to buy an ugly dress even though I was wearing it?  What did she want me to do?  Remove my dress?  Thankfully, she walked away while firmly stomping her heels.

Another memorable day that occurred later in the 1980s was when a co-worker commented on the dress that I was wearing.  I liked my dress – it enhanced the waistline.  Apparently my co-worker liked my dress too.  She asked me where I bought it.

“Penney’s,” I said proudly, feeling like I was receiving a very nice compliment.  You can image my surprise when I saw her wearing that dress just two days later at our place of employment.  Do you think I said anything to her?  No, but I bet she was surprised at the look on my face.  I think she thought she was paying me a huge compliment by going out and buying my dress, but I didn’t see it that way.  After she saw my expression, she had that same silly smirk attached to her face – the smirk that was on the Wedding Reception Lady.

Could it be that I might be slightly immune to being shocked at seeing other people wearing the same thing as me because I wore a school uniform for eight years of my life?  From 1st grade to 5th grade, the girls at St. Austin’s wore green and blue plaid jumpers.   A red ribbon tie with a button-hole ensured that our white blouses were buttoned at the very top button.  Blue knee highs adorned our legs.  We eagerly awaited being in 6th through 8th grade because we would no long have to wear jumpers:  We graduated to skirts of the same plaid material.  The skirts could be rolled up at the waistband to show off  a little part of our legs above the knee that had been hiding under jumpers for many years.

I have learned that it helps ease the tension in these types of situations by smiling, approaching the person and saying “I like your outfit!”  It is much better than getting an ugly smirk on your face, stomping your feet and getting mad when you find out that someone else has your good sense of style.