March 4, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My husband and I finished ahead of our daughter in last week’s Fitbit step challenge. Although she craftily contrived to start with a day’s lead, as I mentioned here, I was able to get ahead of her on Friday because that was her travel day, while my husband and I were the dog-walkers. I couldn’t quite manage to catch up to our son-in-law, though, mainly because he was sneaky enough not to sync his Fitbit all day, so I didn’t know how far ahead he was. Of course, my husband totally crushed the rest of us because he is the most disciplined about regular workouts, so I came in third.

The weather has been wintery here, so we’ve been walking the dogs in the snow while their owners enjoy a warm, sunny Florida vacation. I have to confess to a bit of jealousy; but going for a walk is healthy even in the snow, and—as the dogs evidently know—there’s always plenty of time to laze around on the couch.

Two dogs looking comfy on the couch with blankets and pillows.

More doggie lessons about being happy in the moment—life is good with regular walks and a comfy couch!

February 26, 2019 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

On Friday evening, my husband challenged our daughter and son-in-law to a weekend Fitbit step competition. The weather wasn’t good enough to do anything outdoors, not only because it was cold, but also because we had strong winds most of the weekend. So we worked out at our local Rec Center both days. Of course, my husband’s manly pride required him to get many more steps than me, so he also went to the Y early in the morning. I decided that I would rather enjoy my sleep.

Fitbit with small purple band.

We both got more steps than the young’uns, and our daughter complained that it wasn’t fair because she had homework for her nurse practitioner program. So she got revenge by inviting us to a workweek challenge, but not until late Monday evening, after she already had enough steps to start in the lead. By then I had gone to bed, so I found out about it this morning. Of course, I didn’t see that coming and just sat around on Monday resting my feet, so they were all far ahead of me before I knew what was going on.

I went for a walk this afternoon and got some fresh air before the sun went down, but it was chilly enough that I didn’t stay out for more than half an hour. Then I swept the kitchen floor and some other areas, which didn’t count for a lot of steps, but needed to be done anyway. Meanwhile, I’m sure they were all at the gym feeling confident they had left me in the dust. Overconfident maybe? We’ll see.

February 5, 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Sunday afternoon was unusually warm for early February, so my husband turned on the self-cleaning cycle on the oven because we could open the windows enough to air out the house. While he was opening windows, I noticed that the wood blinds in the great room were dusty. This time of year, I like seeing the brighter morning sun through the blinds as the days grow longer. So I cleaned them while my husband went to the Y to work out on a rowing machine.

Wood blinds with sunlight behind the windows.

Although it would’ve been nice to get in some real rowing, last week was so cold that even though Sunday afternoon felt like spring, the river still had some ice and was not at all rowable. That was okay, though, because we spent some family time together anyway, when the cleaning got done, and we’re not far from spring now. On Saturday there was so much snow and fog, it’s no wonder the groundhog didn’t see his shadow; just getting out of his burrow must have taken some effort!

My daughter and her husband came to visit for a friend’s gender reveal party. The friend has two daughters and was kind of hoping for a boy. As the designated revealer, my daughter picked up the ultrasound photo from the doctor’s office and was the only one to know until the party a few hours later (which was at a pizza restaurant yesterday).

Although I’d heard of such parties, I had no idea how they went, so it was fun to watch. My daughter decorated a clipboard with cute drawings, and everyone voted on it with tally marks for “girl” or “boy.” Then the reveal was done by putting a little toy duck into a bowl of water; it had a chemical that made the water change color. The ducks are sold online in packs of two, with a “boy” duck that turns the water blue and a “girl” duck that turns it pink. The revealer brings the appropriate one to the party after taking off the identifying sticker.

The water turned pink, so there will be a third girl, much to the delight of her sisters. My mother-in-law came to the party too; she adores the little girls. We had a good time, except for getting sideswiped by a careless driver on the way to the restaurant, which left my husband with the unwanted chore of buffing the scraped fender and applying touch-up paint. Could have been worse, though.

This morning my daughter, her husband, and their dogs packed up and left, and the house seemed very quiet again. After an unseasonably warm day, it had gotten much colder overnight, with snow flurries and howling winds. I put this image of a lonely canyon on my digital art display.

Dry, lonely canyon under an orange sunset.

Even though it’s not a real window, changing the landscape to match the feeling of a particular day seems to improve my mood by making clear how quickly everything changes. Just like the image on the display, a lonely house and the winter blues won’t stay too long.

Friday morning was unusually warm for midwinter, so my husband and I went rowing in our double scull. We had the boathouse and the river all to ourselves. When the sun came out, it felt like a pleasant early spring day. Although we weren’t rowing fast, my hands got a little blistered because my calluses go away quickly when the rowing season ends. My husband, who has tougher hands, was fine.

The blisters didn’t really bother me because we had such a good time getting outdoors in the lovely weather. Of course, it did not last long. Soon after we returned home, the temperature started to drop, and by evening we were back to ordinary winter weather.

I spent the afternoon playing a computer game with my husband and then re-reading The Princess Bride on my Kindle. Nothing came to mind that had to be done. That left me with an odd feeling, as if the mainspring on some kind of mental machinery had gotten close to winding down, like a mechanical toy or music box with a winding key. This wasn’t the same as my lack of energy before Christmas vacation—I had gotten plenty of sleep all week, and rowing had not left me physically tired.

Wind-up toy with a large key at the top.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Rather than spend any time pondering this oddity, I decided that whatever tasks might need to be done could wait a day or two. Surely I would think of them in the morning. In the meanwhile, this seemed like a good night to stay in and watch one of the movies that my husband had just bought. I went to bed afterward and slept well.

When I woke up, there was no doubt something had changed. In the mental space where the imaginary wind-up machinery had been, there was only silence. After a minute or two, I realized what had happened—my internal to-do generator had shut down. You know, the one that switches itself on sometime in the teenage years, or perhaps even sooner, and chugs along continuously forever.

How could this be? I’d had vacations for a week or two before—plenty of them, in fact—but the to-do list never had spontaneously evaporated like this. Was it even possible for a modern-day adult to function without having a long list of tasks automatically load itself into the brain at boot-up?

Most likely, it would come back sometime later in the morning, I decided. Kind of like a brief power outage. No reason to worry. So I got my breakfast and opened my Kindle to the page where I’d left off yesterday. There was certainly nothing wrong with a nice relaxing morning while on vacation.

Afternoon came and I still didn’t have anything in mind to do. That was when I began seriously wondering what the heck was going on. Maybe I was coming down with some strange new disease. I hadn’t noticed any changes in my health this week, though, so I didn’t rate that as likely. As far as I could tell, I was generally healthy—about the same as always, but for the mysterious disappearance of the to-do list.

Meanwhile, my husband was sitting at the computer writing programs, which he likes to do when he’s on vacation to keep his skills sharp. Ordinarily when he does this, I’ll spend some time writing stories and blog posts, or maybe work on some other creative project. When that thought came to mind, it left me worrying—what if the disappearing to-do list might be a variation on the dreaded Writer’s Block? What if all my creative energy had drained away, too?

That, at least, could be tested. I got a notepad and pen, sat down on the couch, and started writing the first draft of this blog entry. I didn’t have any problems getting my thoughts organized on the page, which was a relief. Once I took a break when I wasn’t sure how to end a sentence, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. Apparently, my brain is still functioning much the same as before, except that the day is almost over and I still haven’t seen hide nor hair of the vanishing to-dos. Maybe they decided to take a vacation too.

December 26, 2018 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

This year we had Christmas dinner at our house, for the first time. My husband’s parents always hosted it before now. Although everyone liked their home-cooked meals, this year our daughter offered to do the cooking to give them a break. (She actually bought the macaroni and cheese from Sam’s Club and the green beans and pie from Bob Evans, but it was all pretty good and I didn’t have to cook, so I’m not complaining.)

One advantage of having everyone come here was more space. Because my in-laws couldn’t fit all the Christmas dinner guests in the same room, one group would sit in the dining room, while the others sat around the kitchen table. Our son always got relegated to the living room recliner with his dinner on a TV tray. He didn’t object to that, but obviously it was not the ideal situation.

Our house has more space because the great room always was left empty, with the exception of a rocking chair in the corner (as shown in this post), which we relocate every year when we set up the Christmas tree. Truth be told, our first few years in this house, we simply couldn’t figure out a good way to furnish the room. Then we decided it made a good place for parties and get-togethers as it was, bare and minimalist—with plenty of room to set up temporary tables.

For Christmas dinner we set up the folding tables in an L-shape around the tree, and our daughter cheerfully decorated them with holiday tablecloths and placemats from the dollar store. The photo below was taken while she was still experimenting—the tablecloths ended up being in a different arrangement.

Tables pushed together, with holiday tablecloths, around the Christmas tree.

The chairs were totally mismatched because they came from the dining room set, the kitchen table set, other random chairs that we had around the house, and one that we borrowed for the occasion. Everyone had a comfortable place, though, and that was the main point.

After all the plates had been cleared away, we could easily open the gifts while still gathered at the table around the tree. My husband got me one present that was too big and heavy to lift up to the table, so it had to be opened on the floor. (I’ll post a photo of it another time.)

Overall, the holiday dinner went well, and it was very good to see our daughter’s thoughtfulness in offering to make Christmas easier for her grandparents. We are proud of how well she has grown up!

December 27, 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

This was another year when our daughter couldn’t be home on Christmas because she had to work, as the low nurse on the totem pole. So my husband and I decided to go visit her instead, at her house in Cleveland. We drove up there with our son and all the family’s presents, which went under our daughter’s tree.

Brightly lit Christmas tree with presents

After we opened them all (there was nothing really big this year, but everyone enjoyed them), we sat on the rug next to the tree and played games for a while. Our daughter’s little dog jumped up on the couch and watched us sleepily, looking so contented to see the family all together in one place.

We didn’t stay the night, and it got kind of late driving back after dinner; but it was definitely worth it to get everyone together at Christmas. We had a great time, and all was well with the world!

September 12, 2017 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My daughter’s wedding is planned for January. She got her dress a while ago, but I have to admit that by last weekend I still hadn’t yet gotten around to shopping for a mother of the bride dress. Although her fiancé is a great guy and we have no complaints, it’s still hard for both my husband and me to wrap our minds around the idea of giving away our little girl.

So she sent me a text message on Sunday telling me T.J.Maxx had a good sale and including a few links to dresses that she thought would look pretty on me. I suppose that at some point in her youth, I must have given her useful motherly lessons in how to nag people effectively without it being too obvious! I ended up buying this one, as shown on the store’s order page:

Model wearing a lace mother of the bride dress.

I thought it looked like the dress was on a mannequin rather than a model. That got me thinking about Barbie dolls in wedding dresses and how quickly little girls grow up. It’s probably going to be a while longer before I can get used to seeing myself as the mother of the bride…

March 15, 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

My daughter’s dog, called Diva in this blog because she will sometimes sit by the front door wailing like a tragic opera singer when my daughter goes out without her, will soon be three years old. Yesterday my husband mentioned that he likes to get presents for the dog on her birthday and Christmas, even though pets have no concept of celebrating special days, just because the dog is part of the family.

We gift-wrapped a dog biscuit and some chew toys, along with the other presents under the tree, when our daughter (who is currently a student in a nurse practitioner program in Cleveland) came home for Christmas. Diva Dog definitely got into the spirit of the occasion in tearing off the wrapping paper!

Small dog trying to open a Christmas present.

That conversation with my husband yesterday got me wondering just how common it is to gift-wrap presents for the family dog. Readers, do you have any interesting stories about doggie presents? If so, feel free to post them—I’m curious!

October 25, 2016 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

When I mopped the kitchen today, I decided that it was time to put away everything in the corner where the dog’s chew toys, food, and other things had been kept. My daughter moved to Cleveland a year ago, along with her little dog. Here’s a photo taken during a visit in May, showing the dog in the kitchen:

Small black and white spotted dog eating her breakfast.

With no pets living here now, it wasn’t necessary to leave everything in the corner for occasional visits; but putting it all away seemed like a sad empty-nest moment, so that never got done. Finally, while I was putting away some flip-flops that had been left next to the kitchen door during the warm weather, I couldn’t avoid the fact that the dog items needed to go down to the basement too.

Empty corner of my kitchen, with bare walls and vertical blinds.

I suppose I’ll get used to seeing the empty corner, and both daughter and dog will be here for a visit at Thanksgiving; but for now it looks awfully bare.