Last week, the police came a-knock knock knocking at my door. That’s not something that has ever happened before, I must say. And, because it was after, okay, let’s say 7:00 pm and live with it, I was in my jammies. Not an elegant peignoir, who do you think I am? I was in my usual three times too big baggy pj bottoms, with a stretched out tee that said “Fiesta then Siesta.” Plus mismatched fuzzy socks and slippers. Do you have it pictured in your head now? I was a veritable vision of loveliness. Or, woman living alone, not expecting any witnesses.
So why had the po-po come calling? Well, it gets even weirder. But first a little background. You see, in Framingham, MA, where I live, we seem to be experiencing a deficit in reliable lawn care services. When I bought my place three years ago, one of the first services I shopped for was for gardeners. I have a fairly large property, too big for me maintain by myself without help. I got references and shopped around and hired a crew that had excellent referrals. And for a few months, they were awesome.
Then they just stopped showing up and wouldn’t return emails, texts, calls or carrier pigeon notes. I finally gave up and sent them an email terminating their service. That one, they received, because they sent me a not so nice, and not apologetic response, saying they had just gotten “too busy” to service all their customers. Great business ethics, right?
So, I hired another service, this one recommended by someone I know personally. Again, nice guys, started strong, faltered a bit, rebounded…and then stopped showing up, answering calls, texts, you know the drill.
Maybe you’re thinking it’s me? Kerry laughingly suggested there was a network of local lawn services and that I had somehow been blackballed. But, I am a delightful client! I pay on time, and make few demands, other than, please show up. But I can’t maintain my property myself, I need help. After the crew abandoned me this year, I had to hire a sixth grader named Elton to do my fall leaf pickup. True story, he was an industrious local lad looking to make some money. Don’t get me wrong, Elton did a fantastic job, but I had to pay $10 extra because his mom had to drive him, which probably isn’t a sustainable model for a regular service. Plus, he’s not allowed to use a driving mower yet, which would be a hardship.
So, I hired another crew last week. Terminated crew number 2 by email, and after a week, they finally got back to me, told me I was a “joy” to work with and apologized for letting me down. So that felt better but I still wasn’t hiring them back. New crew seems promising; they were here for hours last week, doing a big spring cleanup necessitated by all the neglect from crews 1 and 2.
Hopefully, third time is the charm. However, last week they left a gas can on the property. I saw it in the late afternoon, after I had taken my shower and put on my fetching evening ensemble so I figured I would pick it up in the morning. No big whoop, right?
Well, apparently, big ole can of whoop to someone. Because the reason the man was at my door was that one of my neighbors had called the police about the gas can! What???
I cannot imagine what their thought process was. First of all, the can was there for maybe three or four hours. What were they concerned about? And why wouldn’t they just come knock on the door and ask if they were concerned? I’m on pretty good terms with my neighbors, except one couple who has moved in fairly recently, so I can’t help thinking it was them. But still, we live on a nice, quiet street, filled with nice people, why would your first instinct be to call the police?
These are all rhetorical questions, I can’t answer them, but even the policeman, who was very nice, was shaking his head over the whole thing. In fact he was so nice that seeing I wasn’t dressed for outdoors, he moved the offending gas can to the other side of the property where no one would be upset by it.
This happened a week ago, but I still wonder about it. I wish we lived in a world where I could go knock on the suspected neighbor’s door and have a nice, friendly chat about what happened. But given their opening volley, I’m not sure I want to do that, and will simply keep a polite distance until the opportunity comes up to introduce myself in a benign, neighborly way. It’s what a good neighbor would do.
The end, for now
I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, but my intention for 2019 was to make a genuine effort to worry less. Why? Because it’s a filthy habit, and an unhealthy one, and I worry that it has been affecting my health, my sleep and my overall mood (see what I did there).
Here’s an example. I have spent the last 36 hours fretting about the weather. Specifically, a storm still a few days away, that might or might not affect my ability to comfortably and safely be somewhere that I absolutely have to be.
Just to be clear, it’s not like worry paralyzes me. I’m an excellent multitasker, so while worrying about the weather, I’ve also worked, run multiple errands, cleaned the house, watched movies, taken a walk, played with the cat, had some soup, yelled at the cat, you know, lived a life. But that looming concern has kept me from experiencing total joy while doing all of the above and it has made me stressed and cranky and not the happy person I want and try to be. And, this may come as a surprise to you, but I actually have no control over the weather.
That’s the thing. How much time do I, or you, if you’re reading along, spend worrying about things that we have absolutely no control over? I think the answer is, anything more than about 30 seconds is too much.
When I was unemployed, and then underemployed for that painful stretch a few years ago, I told myself if I ever got a job, I would never have anything to worry about again. I even wrote a post about worrying way back in 2014. At that time I was trying to regularly remind myself that everything always works out as it should eventually, something I truly believe to this day. And when I first moved to Massachusetts, for a long time, I think everything was so new and different and life was changing so fast I didn’t have too much time to sit and think, let alone pander to useless agita.
Now, I am firmly settled. And I have a great job. But for the last year I have been deeply immersed in a very challenging project that has not gone as smoothly as one might have hoped. Every day, there are new problems and issues and conversations and debates. And it’s all fine, but it’s hard. Really hard. I know we will get there, even now I can see the light shining at the end of the tunnel. But in the meantime I think maybe all the real and valid concerns attached to the project helped open that worry drawer that I have been trying so hard to keep firmly shut.
Lately I find myself focusing on things I can’t control, like the weather, or our horrible political climate, or if my sister is dressing warmly enough (love you, Nessy). On top of legit concerns like health and money and whether or not my cat has too many toys, or not enough. Important things like that.
Even as I’m writing this, I worry that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing again about this issue. Maybe people will think less of me after reading it. But, in spite of the highly curated version of ourselves we typically share on social media, the truth is, we’re all flawed. I own my faults, just as I own my strengths. And maybe I’m not alone in being a worrier. Maybe reading about my challenges will make someone else feel better, or less alone.
What’s to be done? There’s no point to owning a fault or flaw without trying to do something to improve it. My new approach is to try to think, will this be a problem in a year? Or a week? If the answer is no, move on. If the answer is yes, try to think of a solution, or a way to mitigate what you can’t control. So, this morning I called my plow guy, and asked him if, for an additional fee of course, he could come by extra early Wednesday morning if needed, and not just do a quick plow, but shovel away all the mess so all I have to do is get in my car and drive. And he said he would. Problem solved. Much, if not all worry, alleviated, if not banished completely. Now on to Muggins’ toy box.
The end, for now
Today is a beautiful autumn day in New England, with cold crisp air, and leaves on the ground. I’m so happy and grateful to be home, to have some time to rest and regroup. I’ve been on what seems like an endless road show for the last seven weeks, traveling for business to Nashville, Cluj, Romania, and Minneapolis. I find travel both exhilarating and exhausting, I love meeting new people and seeing new sights, but my chronic insomnia kicks into high gear away from my sweet bed, so I’m always running on fumes on the road. I really do love to travel, but I love coming home even more, like Dorothy taught us, there’s no place like it.
As I write this, fires are burning across my beloved California, affecting millions of people, including many that I hold dear. My heart is with all of you, and I pray that things get under control today, so that no more devastating loss is experienced. I heard a report this morning from the principal of Paradise High School, a town in Northern California that has been completely leveled by fire. It’s so hard to grasp the totality of destruction, but also so moving to hear his concern and caring for others in spite of the fact that his home is gone. We hear so much bad news these days; let us not forget the beauty and compassion that the human spirit is capable of.
Today is Veteran’s Day, so I also want to take a moment to honor those who have fought for our country. I saw a very elderly man at the grocery store, collecting for veterans and handing out poppy pins, a lovely tradition I’ve seen regularly since moving east. I asked him where he had served, which was Korea, and thanked him for his service. In spite of our county’s current environment of dissent, let us not forget our servicemen and women, who fight not for party or politician, but for the safety and freedom we all enjoy.
Unfortunately I can’t say too much about Nashville. It “seems” like a super cool place to visit, but this was one of those trips, for a conference, where I barely left the hotel the entire time I was there. The hotel itself was a trip, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel (right next door to the Grand Ole Opry). It is the largest non-casino hotel in America! There was a lake inside of it, with a boat! It felt a lot like a non-Disney Disneyland, with vast crowds, lines for everything and a 15 minute walk to anything you needed to get to. Not exactly my cup of tea but it was something to see. They start decorating for Christmas July 1st, and I understand families travel there each year as part of their holiday tradition.
My next trip was to Cluj, Romania, to visit our office. I manage several teams with employees there, and it was absolutely awesome to be able to meet the people, who are incredibly warm, welcoming and just lovely. I was super nervous about the trip, having heard from coworkers that it was challenging, not because of the people but because of the travel itself. We flew overnight, transferring in Munich and arriving in Cluj after about 12 hours of travel, in the middle of the afternoon. We were picked up at the airport by the office managers and whisked away to a long lunch, where I felt dazed and confused from jetlag that never really went away during the three days we were there. We were in Transylvania (yes it’s a real place), where I have ancestral roots, but I didn’t have too much opportunity to explore. I do expect to go back at least annually, so hopefully next time there will be a chance to get out and see the country. My overwhelming impression was that it was an interesting juxtaposition of cold war bleak and modern technology and business, but of course, there is so much more to explore and learn.
This last week I was in Minneapolis. First time there, again, sensing a theme, you never have too much time to sightsee when you’re working, but we did get out a few nights. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, and I was impressed by the way everything is connected by skyways. This becomes crucial during the long, brutal winters; we were amazed to see that you could basically go for weeks without having to battle the elements. It was already snowing when we left, so I don’t envy the residents the coming season, but they seemed well equipped to deal with it.
While I was in Minneapolis, I crossed an item off my bucket list. I’m not sure how the idea formed in my head, but when I heard the Mall of America had a zip line I started joking that I was going to try it. I’ve always wanted to do this, ideally across a beautiful jungle or beach, but hey, the mall was where we were meeting for dinner, the price was right, and my coworkers were laughingly encouraging me. I’m not sure they thought I would go through with it, but I did. It was a total hoot and I’m glad I did it. However, I still want to try it against a picturesque background someday, as opposed to America’s largest mall.
So that’s my story. I have one more trip to come to finish this busy travel cycle, but this one is the prize, home for Thanksgiving and my dad’s 85th birthday party. It will be a quick trip and I won’t get to see everyone I would like to, but I’ll be with my entire family at one time for the first time in several years, and I will also get to spend some precious time with some of my best people. I can’t wait. In the meantime, a little time to breathe, catch up with life, snuggle with the cat, and get ready for whatever comes next.
The end, for now
I have recently reentered the world of online dating, and let me be perfectly clear. It sucks. Big time. Here’s an example. I just got an alert that “Imtheone4u” had commented on my picture. Exciting, right? So I clicked on the “see your comment” button and here’s what it said: “whoops, sorry, clicked on you by mistake, but nope. Good luck.” Seriously???
You may wonder why I embark on this exercise if I find it so painful. So do I. But about once a year or so, I get frustrated with my single status. As independent as I am, I would truthfully love to find a lovely gentleman to share my life with. And that’s hard. Even back in California, my dating life wasn’t exactly active. So imagine the challenge in Massachusetts, where I probably know less than 100 people collectively, and most of them are people I work with. The dating pool is tiny, and then add age, shape, my preferences, their preferences, and the chance that we will meet by fate or accident or at the hardware store and recognize our kindred spirits. It ain’t happening. And I’ll say it. I’m lonely, not just for any old companion, but for the right companion, that elusive unicorn of a person who can get me, and who I get.
And while online dating is, well, awful, it is where people today are meeting each other. I have several friends who have met their spouse, or their longtime partner, online. I even have close friends who met each other on Craigslist! And while no one would ever predict this would be the source of landing a quality relationship, these two wonderful people are perfectly matched, married and now with an adorable child to boot. It works. For some.
Like I said, about once a year I give it a whirl. I’ve tried J-Date (too Jewish), EHarmony (too complicated), OK Cupid (too scummy) and now I’m back on Match. I’ve connected with a few guys to the point of exchanging calls and texts. One time I actually made a real life date with an online prince, only to have him never show up at our meeting spot (unless, as I’ve always feared, he did show up, saw me, and left).
I’m not a man hater or basher by any means. I love guys! I have lovely older brothers, for instance, so I know there are great guys out there. Some of my best friends are men! But I am puzzled by the behavior of these online dudes. For starters, there’s the whole picture issue. I have 4 pictures of myself posted, all recent, all very fair representations of exactly what I look like, for good or bad. Guys seem to go two ways with this. Either they have one unfocused fuzzy long shot of themselves, where you can barely see them, or they have upwards of ten pics, several including other women, at least one by their car, frequently there seems to be a sailboat involved. I’m thinking they see this as their opportunity to chronicle their lifestyle, rather than just showing us what they look like.
Do looks matter? Yes. They do to me. I’m not saying it’s the only factor, of course not, but when you’re catalog shopping, as it were, the visual counts. I read the profiles, to be sure, every word, but if there’s only one picture and it’s so blurry I can’t make out the facial features, you’re out. And if in one of your ten pictures you’re shirtless and another one you’re standing next to your Beemer or Camaro with a smug look on your face, out!
The profiles are dicey too. Too short and I assume they just don’t really care. Too long, and they start revealing some crazy shit you don’t really want to know about another person, unless and until, you are really committed. For instance, your online profile may not be the place to share you are still hung up on your ex-wife but super horny (truth!), or that you want to be treated like a little boy (more truth and really, just ugh).
Maybe I’m too picky? Maybe this online thing just isn’t for me. I’m giving myself three months this time, and we’ll see. Maybe (keeping optimistic) two months from now I’ll be writing about falling in love. Because I’m hopefully optimistic. But I’m even more hopefully optimistic that I’ll have met him at the hardware store, my beautiful unicorn of a man, and we will live and love happily ever after.
The end, for now
First of all, let’s talk about Summer. Right now, we’re just about halfway through. 48 days until Fall (I googled it). And I…freaking…cannot…wait. I HATE summer. Hate it. Hate the heat. Hate the humidity. Hate waking up every morning, already, and this is super gross, already damp. Like, from sweat. DISGUSTING. And do not, do not even get me started on my hair. Or what used to be my hair and is now just a frizzy appendage sprouting from my damp face.
Here in the great Northeast, we have been experiencing an extended period of high heat and humidity. I feel as if I have not been physically comfortable for a month. My theory is that I suffer more than most in this area. I don’t think you can take a physical system accustomed as it were for a half century to dry arid heat and plop them into the never ending humidity vortex and not expect a full blown literal, figurative, physical and psychological meltdown. I have melted.
And I think it has a detrimental impact on my personality. Just last night I was watching Frozen, for about the 94th time. And that annoying snowman Olaf was singing his big number “In Summer.” And the thought came fleetingly into my mind that if Olaf was in the room at that moment, I would punch him in the face so hard, his carrot nose would come out the other side.
Okay, lament, whine, complaint, snowmanicidal violence, over. You get it. I shall never speak of it again. Or at least not for a few minutes. But, bright side, 48 days away is the best season of them all! Fall! And I’ve got a front row, adorable sweater clad, pumpkin tea spiced, seat at the most glorious leaf changing show around. So, there’s that to look forward to.
Here’s another reason this summer in particular has sucked. My sweet Daisy Petals crossed the rainbow bridge. In other words, she died. It’s astounding that a tiny little dog can leave such a vast cavern of emptiness in her wake. I keep walking in to rooms expecting her to be there. And it’s not like it was completely unexpected. She was 15 years old. That’s 105 years in people years. But it was sudden and it was shocking and it hurt like a bullet to my soul. And in spite of being a passionate and possibly dramatic type, I also come from that line of “suck it up and walk it off” people, so I just sort of stuck a bandage on the gaping hole in my heart and went about my business and that may or may not have been the best way to process grief. But it was the only way I knew.
And so, there’ve been challenges. But before you get too concerned and send worried messages, let me remind you who you’re dealing with here. You can never keep me down for too long, I would just so much rather be happy than unhappy. So when life gets hot and hard, or frankly stays hot and hard, I look to the things that bring me joy. Like a stolen day at the beach. A “ladies who lunch brunch” with a friend. Finally finding reasonably decent Mexican food nearby. Laughing, and laughing and laughing with my forever friends and family. It’s not all and always good, but it’s pretty damn good, and I’ll take it.
I guess my point is, we don’t always have easy lives. Not me, not you. Hard things happen. Sad things happen. And everyone has their own way of coping. Or not. But in general, life goes on. And we have a choice, or at least I believe we have a choice, and I choose to exercise it. So I’m going to try like hell to stay cool and happy and focus on the good, not the bad. Like Fall. It’s only 48 days away.
The end, for now
Here’s a confession. When I uprooted my life and moved to Massachusetts in 2015, one of my assumptions was that everything I needed to change in my life would automatically change. I would be thinner, smarter, more outgoing. I would not repeat past mistakes, I would learn how to manage finances better, every fault would somehow “magically” course correct, because for the first time in my entire life, at the late great age of “fifty something” I was moving out of my area code, my comfort circle, my known world.
After all, I had long been a believer in the theory that if you shift just one jewel on the kaleidoscope, everything else would shift along with it. I really believed that with all my heart. I espoused it to other people. I even had it on a magnet on my office door. So, you know I meant it, right?
But the reality is different. There’s a French phrase, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which means, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
There was so much I wanted to change. It’s not that I didn’t have a happy life. I did then, and I do now. But I also struggle, like many people, especially I think, women, from that feeling of not being good enough, of somehow being remiss. Of not being a good enough daughter, sister, friend, boss. And life has a funny way of reminding you not to get too confident. It feels like whenever there is a triumph, quick as a wink, there is a corresponding mishap, or even failure, to make sure your hubris is kept well in check.
Also, and I hate to talk about this, but maybe it’s time, I still struggle from an incident that happened ten years ago. That was when a person I loved, respected and trusted with all of my heart, basically told me I was a fat, ugly, untalented waste of a person, who had done nothing with their life. And completely walked out of my life. And I know that’s not all true, I swear I do. And it had more to do with, well let’s call it, him, than me. But, there were enough shards of truth in there to devastate. And a decade later, it still hurts; try as I might to forever erase that event from my mind.
Why am I writing about this? Well, for one thing, I’m struggling with self-image. Always, and again. And I don’t think I’m alone. And I think it’s important to own who we are, and how we feel. If you encounter me, at work or play, you might see a confident and cheerful woman. And that’s absolutely true, I am generally cheerful, and I can be confident, sometimes even overconfident. But as I said above, I also struggle, both with feeling inadequate and also anger at myself for not doing more about it. If I feel unattractive, why aren’t I dieting and exercising and wearing makeup and doing whatever it takes to feel better? If I don’t want to repeat past mistakes, why am I behaving exactly as I have done in the past?
At the end of the day, we have to love ourselves. But even more importantly, we have to be as kind and as forgiving as we would be to anyone else we love. And while I believe it is very important to own our faults and to take responsibility for them, we can also own our strengths and merits. I know I am far from perfect, who would even want perfection? And while I can always improve, I am a good daughter. A good sister. A very good friend. And probably, a pretty good boss. I need to lose weight, but I’m far from hideous, children do not run from my presence.
So, I need to stop. Stop listening to the unkind voices, the ones in my head, my ears and my memory. And I hope those of you who might relate to all of this will join me. Let’s love ourselves and be good to ourselves and each other. Even if every single thing doesn’t magically change overnight, we can turn that kaleidoscope just a teeny bit and see the jewels in ourselves start to shift.
The end, for now
Well, just as one might reasonably expect, spring has finally arrived in New England, and it’s beautiful! I swear, last week it was snowing (slight hyperbole, but it has sleeted in the last two weeks). Now every morning when I go outside it seems as if something else has blossomed resplendently, virtually overnight. And interesting things too, like these rogue hyacinths that have been popping up randomly all over my property. I didn’t plant them, and they weren’t there last year. My theory that a crazed squirrel somehow dug up bulbs, ate them, and then had gastric distress all over my yard has been debunked by horticulturists. Or Kerry. Whatever. You explain it.
Before I wax any more rhapsodies about spring, however, let’s take a moment to talk about winter. Man, it was harsh! The first winter I was here was relatively mild, a few good storms but “only” 39 inches of snow. It was considered an easy season. Last year, not horrible. More storms, 53 inches of snow total, but the biggest one time storm was “only” 11 inches (listen to me, “only” what has happened to me???). This year, we got slammed! 78 inches of snow! Three storms in 11 days in March, with one of them totaling 23 inches of snow in 24 hours! And that was only a few days after the first storm, a Nor’easter that didn’t bring that much snow, but instead brought driving rain and wind that tore down tree branches and power lines all across the state and flooded coastal towns. The damage was immense and power outages widespread and lasting up to a week (and into the next storm). I was pretty fortunate, lots of tree damage on my property, two broken windows that smashed in on the sun porch, parts of the wooden fence down that had been so painstakingly repaired last year. Minor basement flooding. And unstable power for about a week, but the longest outage was just a few hours, as opposed to the several days that others in my community experienced. Like I said, fortunate!
But even feeling lucky to have survived relatively unscathed, now that the sun has finally come out, I am like a mole rising out of the hole for the first time. What is this golden orb that shines so brightly from the sky? How is it I can expose skin to the elements and not feel the burn of frost upon my delicate limbs? It’s as if I’ve never been outside before, everything is fresh and new and verdant and bright. The bunnies are scampering about again, birds are singing merrily, and Daisy is willing to go outdoors again without being shoved. It’s a new day, a fresh season!
I realized I never truly appreciated the changing of the seasons, living in California. Let’s face it, the weather is awesome about 85% of the time. Then there’s the 10% (ish) of days that are unbearably hot, and the 5% (ish) of crazy rainy days where everyone loses their collective minds, and should really just shelter in place, but instead they take to the roads as if it were their first day of driving, EVER! But, typically, the days are warm, clear and basically, perfect. Now I live in a land where there are four true seasons, and the change is palpable. Spring and fall are truly magnificent, so beautiful I wish every person reading this (all five of you) could come and experience it. The whole New England leaf season is every bit as wonderful as you have heard, breathtakingly magnificent. Put it on your bucket list if you have one, and if you’re nice and easy going, I have a guest room! (If you’re high maintenance or mean, there’s no room at the inn).
And springtime, it’s just lovely. It’s hard not to be in awe of it, there really are pops of color opening up everywhere you look, and suddenly the sky that was a sullen grey for the last five months, it’s an azure blue so strong and bright that it’s hard to feel anything but happy. I want to dance and sing and caper about, in open toed shoes and short sleeves and damnit, Capris! And I plan to enjoy every moment of this short, delightful season. Because as I said, two weeks ago, it was winter, and next week, there are days predicted to be in the 80s. All too soon it will be summer again, a season of sticky humidity and thunderstorms and stifling heat, and I’ll be back to seeking shelter and grumbling about the weather. But for today, and most likely tomorrow, spring has sprung. And it’s freaking glorious!
The end, for now
As I have mentioned previously, before I moved east, one of my biggest concerns was about dealing with winter weather. I worried about it a lot. But then I moved and the first winter here was fairly mild. I learned to shovel the snow off my little patio (at the time I was living in a townhouse community, with a full maintenance staff, so they took care of the grounds). It was an inconvenience but it wasn’t a big deal.
Last year I was in my house, and the winter weather was stronger and colder but it was manageable. And since I was sick and homebound through part of January and all of February, it didn’t impact me too much, although shoveling my driveway with a 103 fever was not my idea of the greatest fun.
I have a feeling all bets are off for this winter. It’s still very early in the season but we’ve already endured a cold snap that broke 100 year old records, with the weather less than 10 degrees for more than 7 days in a row. If you had ever asked me if I could live and thrive in 10 degree weather, I would have said emphatically, no, but truth, even that isn’t as horrible as you might think. You just have to dress for it, and be smart about it. It’s not like I would volunteer to take a long walk in 5 degree weather, but you can certainly go about your general business, and we all do.
What’s difficult is when we have large storms. I got a little miffed yesterday, during a text exchange with a friend from home. I was describing the 17 inches of snow we had received the day before. I wasn’t complaining about it, but when she started waxing rhapsodic over how pretty it was and how much fun it must be, I felt frustrated and misunderstood. Granted, snow is beautiful while it’s happening. If you don’t have to go out, it can be nice and cozy, I’ll agree. But for the benefit of my west coast friends who may have never had to encounter living in harsh weather, here are a few things I have learned.
First of all, snow is messy! The first day, it’s white and beautiful and clean. After that, it starts to turn grey and gross, and the piles from the plows mount up and become increasingly dirty and depressing. They will likely be there until spring, growing dirtier and grosser each day. Additionally, the salt and sand used to make the ground less slippery weaves into your boots and makes your floors filthy. I’m a neatnik, and I am literally cleaning floors at least once a day because of all the wet, salty, silty footprints I am tracking in.
You have to suit up every time you go out. Every time. I mean, to take the trash out, pick up the paper, and let the dog out. Scarf, boots, jacket. In the beginning I was cavalier about this, but I’ve learned my lesson. I have boots and a jacket at the back door, because during storms I have to keep shoveling paths for Daisy. I have boots, gloves, scarf, and a jacket at the front door. Before entering or leaving the house, I have to do a set of contortions in my teeny mud room to either dress or undress as appropriate. It gets old.
And then there’s the whole shoveling thing. I now have a plow service, which means for storms that have more than 3 inches of snow, a nice man shows up in my driveway and plows it. Which is awesome in some ways, although in a bad winter, it could get very expensive. Still, I consider it an essential expense. But even with that help, there’s plenty of shoveling left to do. The plow pushes the snow against my garage and front door, so those both have to be shoveled out. There’s plenty of perimeter shoveling to do, to make it safe to go up and down the drive. Plus I have to keep an area clear in the back of the house, Daisy has been awesome about adjusting to the weather, but bless her, she won’t poop or pee on snow and I can’t blame her. Shoveling is hard work! I’m fairly convinced I don’t do it right, because after about 5 minutes I usually want to die, and my back definitely hasn’t acclimated to it, oh how it aches. But it has to be done.
All of this isn’t meant to be an endless complaining lament. It is what it is, and it’s still a beautiful place to live. But all of these things are still new and novel to me, and I thought it might possibly be of interest to my fellow west coasters to learn a little more about what it’s actually like. Now when you see the news of bad weather on the east, and think how pretty it all looks, you’ll also have a bit more understanding of what the day to day is actually like. And then hopefully, you’ll go stand outside in the sunshine and be happy and grateful for what you have.
The end, for now
Tomorrow marks my two year Massiversary. It’s weird! The last week or so has been stacked with memories, like “two years ago today I moved out of my house,” or “two years ago today I ended up in the hospital with an ulcer.” That, by the way, is something I try not to forget, in my ardent attempt to never have it happen again. It came completely without warning, the week of my move, and was dramatic and scary as hell and painful. And of course, stress was a major contributor, so my constant goal is to do a better job of managing that so that my body doesn’t attack me again.
I haven’t written much this year. The truth is, this year has been stressful. I think more stressful than last year, where everything had the tinge of excitement and newness providing a shiny glow. Even buying the house and moving into the house, while hard, was exciting. I felt proud of my accomplishments; I had actually moved across the country by myself and established a new life. I had done it! But what happens next?
2017 has sort of been a “take no prisoners” kind of year. My job changed drastically. A new boss, extreme pressure from customers and business partners, increased travel. Working with people across the globe, the workplace has become a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week venture. I need to do a much better job of balancing it, and making sure I’m taking the time to better round out my life.
I’ve also struggled with illness this year. First the whole mono-strep thing that took me down this winter. Then a terrible flu this summer that knocked me out for a few weeks, and then an awful cold over Labor Day. All while trying to work and not miss a step. Challenging!
And, my house seems mad at me, even though I spent all of my tax return pennies on sprucing it up! Not only were the yellow shutters and doors replaced with a more traditional black and red combo, I also had someone rebuild the fence that was a real eyesore on the property. Plus the sun porch got painted. Not furnished yet, that tax return could only support so much.
In spite of this pampering, the house fought back. Who can forget the “trapped in the closet” incident, where the doorknob came off in my hand as I shut the door behind me? Or the mysterious flood in the basement? Or the huge tree limb that just came crashing down? What the hell?
And then, there’s Muggins. Let’s be clear. I love him. But it has been rough, and for the first couple of months, I wasn’t sure it was going to work out. You see, he terrorizes my sweet Daisy Petals, who at the ripe age of 14 really just wants to be left in peace. I really believe Muggins is trying to engage her in play, but his version of play is to body slam Daisy, while biting her. They can’t be left together. I feel tremendous guilt over this, because Daisy deserves to have a peaceful life. I even tried to send Muggs to a good friend’s farm in the early days. I’m glad that didn’t work out, but if I had to go back in time, I’m not sure I would adopt a kitten at this stage again.
So, it’s all grim, right? No, of course not! This is why I haven’t written much lately, I truly don’t like to complain, and basically life is good. My job is hard, but thank the Lord I have one, and it’s a good one too. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the blessing of employment. And I’m healthy today, another blessing. And even though as I write this, Muggins is attacking my ankles, he makes me laugh every day, and snuggling with him as he purrs with love is a great joy.
Hopefully my house and I are in a stage of détente, and it won’t pull any more little tricks on me for a month or two. And, it’s my two year Massiversary, something to be acknowledged and celebrated. I love it here, my mischievous house, my devilish kitten and sweet old dog, my job, my friends, the beauty of New England. My life. Happy Massiversary, to me.
The end, for now
My neighborhood has been overtaken by bunnies of late. Wild bunnies, everywhere you look. Not an exaggeration, looking out the window right now, I see five bunnies, grazing on the grass in my front yard. They don’t bother me, I have a large yard and there’s plenty of grass and clover for all to share. I’m fairly sure they have built a Watership Down sized apartment under my shed, where I often see them disappearing under. In my imagination, it goes about seven “floors” deep and there is a sophisticated social structure and hierarchy governing them all.
As I said, they don’t bother me, but I do have concerns for their safety. There are other predators around the ‘hood. A few weeks ago, there were coyote sightings, and we’ve seen foxes. In the grass rotary that serves as the central dog walking spot and meeting (and gossiping) hub of our neighborhood, we saw evidence of a successful hunt. What are you going to do? It’s the circle of life, right?
But I certainly don’t want to personally contribute to it! So imagine my great distress, when I came home a couple of weeks ago to what appeared to be the Great Bunny Massacre of 2017. In my fenced-in backyard! I don’t want to gross you out with the graphic details. Let’s just say I was picking up baby bunny pieces for a few days, gagging and crying as I did so. I did a little research and discovered that rabbits have their babies in very shallow nests in the ground, which they cover with grass. It didn’t take Hercule Poirot to put together the clues of the crime. My lawn service had been there the day before, and had obviously, and quite unknowingly, mowed over a nest of babies and scattered their little baby parts all over the yard. The horror! I wish I could unsee it.
I was still traumatized when a few days after the tragedy, I saw a determined looking rabbit who appeared to be digging a hole in my backyard. I chased it away, but a few minutes later, it was back. For about an hour we played this game, Rabbit taking a stand and Kathi chasing it away. I did NOT want another incident. And really, the fenced off portion of my yard is small, just a frame around the back of the house so Daisy can safely be let outside to do her business. The rest of the property has many other birthing/nesting options. Why go where “man” lurks? But the mother bunny was freaking determined. It started pouring rain and still she sat out there. I ended up throwing sticks from my porch, not at her, but towards her to finally get her to leave.
Crisis averted! I did see little babies scampering and frolicking about a couple of weeks later and assumed Mama B had found a safer haven for her maternal activities. The yard service returned and no more bunny corpses were uncovered. Sure, there were some flashbacks, but in general, life went on.
Until last night. When I happened to glance outside from the upstairs window, and damn me, if that bunny (or perhaps another bunny, it’s not like they’re wearing collars and tags), was sitting in the exact same place as the aforementioned hole. I yelled from the window and then ran like the dickens downstairs and outside, yelling and waving my arms. The rabbit did not move. I got closer, still yelling. The rabbit did not move. I got about two inches away from the rabbit, and glaring at me (really, you should have been there), the rabbit moved aside just a tiny bit…to reveal three tiny baby rabbits underneath her.
I backed off! I cried! I really wanted to throw up, but I didn’t. I ran inside and called my sister, who as always remained calm and steady during my crisis (just as I remain calm and steady during hers, we’re awesome like that!). I googled baby bunny nests and read the advice that you are to leave them alone. I debated building a protective structure and also made a note to self to call the lawn service and tell them to avoid the back yard for a few weeks. I fretted mightily about Daisy going out, but the truth is, she is old and sedentary and really only ambles a couple of feet from the door to do her business and then comes back. When I took her out early this morning I looked for the nest, which is well camouflaged but I’m pretty sure I know where it is, so I just sort of blocked that part of the yard off from her.
Apparently it takes about three weeks for babies to leave the nest, and I’m fairly sure I witnessed their actual birth, so we have a ways to go on this. I’ll do what I can to protect them, within reason, but after that, it’s up to their mother and the Gods. The circle of life, right? But please don’t let that circle end in my backyard!
The end, for now