Thank God it’s Monday…

nowOnce known for my catlike reflexes, I stumbled into this past weekend on crutches, clanking and clattering—dropping F-bombs. Or so Darling Daughter claimed.

My first meniscus surgery was 5 years ago. My second was last Thursday. Same knee. A little more banged up than the last time, but it went well.  My knee swelled like a balloon on Friday, and there was no getting comfortable, but I figured I’d relax over the weekend.  Not sure what I was thinking.

This isn’t a quiet place, especially on weekends.

Ever the optimist, I went to bed early on Saturday night; heard my Son come in, quietly turn on the oven for his late night snack and let the dogs out. Son and Darling Daughter chatted in hushed tones and I drifted back to sleep.

BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP.

As the smoke detector in the kitchen sounded, Grace (my mutt), dove under the blankets near my head. I patted her, blocked it out.

Son mumbled something to his sister about pepperoni dropped in the oven. He opened windows, cranked the ceiling fans, ventilated the downstairs. We live in a Cape Cod home and my master bedroom is (unfortunately) downstairs; the other bedrooms are upstairs. Ugh! The kitchen, bathroom and back door are just outside of my bedroom.

BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP. Smoke alarm started up again…

The Red Dog (Rocky) desperately wanted in bed. Surrounded by 150 pounds of trembling, terrified dogs, I was officially awake. Son peeked into my room.

SON: Can I put the ceiling fan on?

ME: Why not?

SON: Want me to crack a window in here? It’s really smoky…

ME:  How cold is it out?

SON: Cold.

He cracked a window and I burrowed under the blankets.

BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP.

The smoke alarm just over my bed joined the party. Darling Daughter was not happy. Son (laughing by then) tried to get a handle on the situation…

The Red Dog was in panic mode. He stood up, swung himself around—and knocked Grace off the bed. It was hysterical. He burrowed under my pillow. Grace quickly scrambled back into bed.  And I shook—with laughter.

I grabbed my metal crutches, headed out of the bedroom. Our tiniest dog, Little Lola, was hiding under the bed. Busy protecting my injured knee as the bigger dogs danced around the bed, I hadn’t noticed.

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The Dachshund was undeterred.

He stayed in the kitchen, kept an eye on the oven, waited for the French bread pizza to emerge. He held firm in a plume of smoke, in position to grab crumbs–or maybe he was short enough to not notice?  The animal has focus. Knows his priorities.  Which is probably why Dash is a sturdy little wiener dog.

I rounded the corner to the living room, smacking things with my crutches and there was Darling Daughter, burrowed into the couch under a heap of blankets. With the ceiling fans on full speed, front dogs couchdoor and windows open, it was cold. Her sweatshirt hood was over her head, drawstring pulled tight so that her face was hidden.

And I got it. She couldn’t breathe in the haze of smoke. It was like an indoor bonfire—with no fire, just smoke from the pepperoni sizzling at the bottom of the oven.

The dogs, kids and I gathered in the living room and talked while the house aired out. Son ate his snack.  Darling Daughter and I went to bed at around 2:30 am.

Sleeping in isn’t an option anymore.

Not since last spring when the neighbors got 12 chickens. The rooster did his thing on Sunday morning and the hens started laying eggs shortly afterwards. I had no idea hens were so vocal when laying eggs. But they seem like good chickens, right on schedule every day at the crack of dawn.

Not wanting to get out of bed, I settled in for a Flea Market Flip marathon—until Darling Daughter got under the covers. Son rolled the computer chair over, rested his legs on my bed, wound the dogs up, switched the channel, and turned the TV on and off. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I sent him off with my debit card to get breakfast.

As we gathered around the dining room table, he played with his sisters’ tea paraphernalia; popped open lids, tasted tea leaves, took the top off of her fancy, brand new $200 cast iron teapot. He’s the only person who could get away with that. When they’re together, they delight in winding me up. A college student on an engineering co-op, she’s home on weekends this semester–meaning they tease and torture me every weekend.

No idea why I expected to nurse my knee over a weekend.

ME (to Son): Please stop talking.

SON: I haven’t stopped talking.

DARLING DAUGHTER (to her brother): I’m so entertained.  This makes me very happy. I miss you.

The conversation continued, as Darling Daughter and Son looked over his Common App for college; he had asked her to review it.

DARLING DAUGHTER: When was your divorce final? Month and Year?

ME: No idea. I can look it up…

SON: Yes, when was our family destroyed? (And they were off, laughing, utterly amused…)

DARLING DAUGHTER: What’s your occupation?

SON: I always struggle with that question…

DARLING DAUGHTER: Should we put mom as a semi-skilled worker?

DARLING DAUGHTER (to me): Let’s not oversell you.

They continued on, mostly like I wasn’t there—having a great time.

By then I was desperate to leave. Decided to run errands. Loaded up my crutches and got the hell out…

And on this beautiful Monday, I’m enjoying peace and quiet. Finally.

Of course, it all ends between 5:30 and 6:00 pm each day–but I’ll take what I can get.

And truly, I’ve learned to love Monday.


Click here for my latest “She in the CLE” blog post. 

What is She in the CLE?

“A blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.”

Haven’t checked it out? I encourage you to do so…

My Life by the Numbers

I rarely posted to my blog in 2013. Sort of wimped out–I never stopped writing my thoughts, just stopped posting themnumbers.

Why?

There was too much upheaval, change and transition…

By the numbers:

ONE child graduated from high school and packed off to college. Big milestones for both parents, children and family. There’s final games, final concerts, the college decision, graduation festivities, parties and finally shopping/packing for college.

ONE child finished his freshman year in high school and started his sophomore year. He adapted to being the only child at home.  Also eventful, this child played three sports, earned a varsity letter as a freshmen starter in football and was a state qualifier in pole vault. He got his driver’s license in June, 2013. Exciting stuff!

TWO houses. We started 2013 in the white ranch house that I rented just after filing for divorce in 2009. Me moved to The School House in the summer of 2013. The move was traumatic because the kids and I created many happy memories in the white ranch house. Plus moving is a whole lot of work!! But it was time to move on. And The School House has already begun to have its own memories.

THREE jobs. Sigh. ..yes, I was employed by three different companies last year. I begun 2013 a marketing manager, then wrote obits for our local newspaper and finally landed my current position. Job change is stressful. It means new people, new routines, new computer systems, processes and going back to the beginning in some ways.

FOUR dogs. We had two dogs; Grace the mutt and Rocky the golden retriever. With the move came two more dogs. The School House’s owners are out of the country on a work assignment, so we kept their dogs. We now have a long-haired dappled dachshund and a tiny sprite named Lola.

ZERO marriages. I remain a single parent. (I haven’t remarried.) Which means its all on me to maintain a home, raise the children, mow the yard, pay the bills, etc.

ZERO vacations. I could really, really use a few days off work. The kids and I are looking forward to that happening in July, 2014. We’ll spend a week in Hilton Head, S.C.

I’D RATHER NOT COUNT trips made back and forth to daughters college, how few walks I took during the fall and winter, pounds gained from stress and lack of exercise,  time spent packing and unpacking and the number of dog hairs vacuumed.

The constant chaos kept me too busy to put my thoughts out there. Often, I had no idea what (if anything) I was thinking!

However, I miss posting to this blog, miss connecting with others—because I’ve formed some wonderful friendships through writing this blog. I plan to post regularly again.  

And I’m changing it up for 2014. After five years as a single parent, I’m ready to tackle issues I’ve steered away from in the past. Playing with Perfect  has always been light, relaxed, playful and positive. It still will be, because that’s my nature—who I am.

But I’ll also be writing about deeper issues that I’ve gotten increasingly passionate about in the past five years.

Examples:

  • The realities of divorce, single parenting, its impact on children and families.
  • The working poor, the difficulties of going from homemaker into the workplace, the shortage of jobs and the challenges of establishing a job/career that can support a family.
  • Medical insurance, navigating Marketplace and Healthcare.gov and other options for getting health insurance. It’s common for employers to use part-time staff and not offer insurance. I’ll soon be without health insurance and I’ve been weighing my options.

Millions are dealing with similar challenges; it isn’t just me. I’ve noticed that many people don’t speak of them, are embarrassed, plagued by fear and/or a profound sense of failure at how off track their lives have gotten. And yet, talking about it eases the burden.

My writing style is my writing style. I tend to tackle the heavy stuff with humor. And please (continue to) excuse my incomplete thoughts, occasional grammatical errors and other imperfections. I’d love to be more Perfect–but in reality, that isn’t going to happen!

For now, I’m going to post at the beginning of each week.

I’d like to post more–but will begin with a manageable goal.

Welcome 2014!!

What Was I Thinking ???

Gallery

This gallery contains 4 photos.

It’s Friday…. And Friday is my day off work. I still work, but often at home and at a more relaxed pace. Because the day was gorgeous, a walk on the beach with The Little Black Dog seemed the Perfect way to … Continue reading

BMW’s, Bathing Suits, Barn Sales and Broken Vans…

In Loudoun County, Virginia there are NO Dodge Grand Caravans.

At least I didn’ t see any.  (And I looked!) BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Volvo—these are the brands that clog the roads and highways in this neck of the woods.

Further, there is NO rust on cars. And really, there isn’t a recession down here.

My green van was an anomaly…(was being the operative word.)

Per the US Census of 2010, Loudoun County was ranked #1 in the USA for Highest Median Income.

My aunt lives in Leesburg, Virginia. And Leesburg is part of Loudoun County.

When I drove past a “Barn Sale” sign, I HAD to check it out. I know what I’ll find at a Barn Sale in Perry, Ohio. But a Loudoun County Barn Sale? I had to check it out.

THIS WAS THE BARN ….

It was a beautiful barn. On a gorgeous piece of property.

And I should have expected such a barn, after rolling down this long driveway. Then a quaint little, wood bridge.

If the Stunning property didn’t do it, surely one of the houses on the property (there were several…) should have been a clue.

Or the shiny, black BMW I passed on my way down the lane. Also, I parked by a scattering of very nice vehicles in a grassy field.

The Barn Sale?

Not much under $50. The furniture and antique items upwards of $500. I could understand if things were truly unique, but there wasn’t anything THAT special.

And there certainly weren’t any $1 items!!

Of course, I had just spent the previous day at the Luckett’s Spring Market that was nearby. Maybe that threw me off. Because the Spring Market was packed with stunning finds. It would be tough to compete with what I saw there.

Still…it seems that ‘Barn Sales’ are just different down here.

I didn’t buy anything. But I had the BEST time checking out the sale. People watching. Checking out the cars. Taking in the scene. Listening to conversations…

MORE AMUSING ANECDOTES from the Never-Ending trip.

The trip that isn’t over yet. After nearly two weeks, I’m still in Virginia.

FLIP-FLOPS:

Aunt Kate accidentally slipped on my sparkly, black flip-flops. And I heard her mumbling about how awful and uncomfortable they were. Next thing I knew, she bellowed up the steps…

Aunt Kate: I’m throwing your black flip-flops out.

And she did.

THE DOGS:

There were three dogs in the townhouse the past couple of weeks. We tried hard to keep it clean. Kept vacuuming couches.

But the Bailey the Beige Dog constantly slept on the Red couch. Leaving cream color hair all over the dark red couch.

Wouldn’t be so bad to vacuum the red couch.

But the The Little Black  neurotic Dog was constantly on the creamy beige suede couch. Leaving black hair ALL over it.

Really?

They could have at least snoozed on the couches that matched their fur.

TALK OF BATHING SUITS:

Aunt Kate was thinking out loud while tapping away on her iPad. I was tapping away on my laptop. We were both distracted. (No surprise there…)

Aunt Kate: I’m going to need a new bathing suit.

Me: Hmmm… (I made as noise as I continued to type…)

Aunt Kate: That goes down to my knees…

Now she had my attention.

Aunt Kate: And down to my elbows.

We both chuckled. (She pointed to knees that aren’t quite what they used to be…)

Aunt Kate: You know like they used to wear in the old days…

Me: Actually, they might have had something there. With their modest bathing suits, long full length, sleeved cover-ups. Jaunty straw hats with the wide brims. Huge, dark sunglasses.

Like Audrey Hepburn…

Or this photo and the mood it sets…

 

 

Do we really need to see some of what we see at the beach??? It isn’t always as attractive as people think it is…
THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE:

I accompanied Aunt Kate to her doctor’s appointment today. They ushered us into a room, I sat down and this sign was on the wall. Couldn’t miss it.

I concede that there was a bad snow ‘incident’ down in Virginia a couple of years ago.

But how much’ inclement weather’  IS there? Yes. They close cities down when there is an inch of snow. But how often do they get an inch?

Further it is May 25th.

Probably, they NEVER needed this sign. And they certainly don’t the snowflake and snowman sign now. Swimming pools are already open down here.

THE GREEN DODGE GRAND CARAVAN:

I can report that there are still NO Dodge Grand Caravan’s driving around in Loudoun County, Virginia. My van was MIA soon after my arrival. It was only on the road once during my visit. Mixed in with all the ‘fancy’ cars, trucks, SUV’s and vans.

I did recoup a little bit of cash when it died, before it got towed away.

When I return home in a car that isn’t mine, I’ll be borrowing my Dad (and his wife’s) car. But only for a couple of weeks…

I’ll soon be on the hunt for another vehicle.

When I get home, that is.

A NOTE ABOUT MY LAST BLOG… Had technical difficulties when I posted it. Then had to take it down. Then put it back up. My apologies to those directed to a page NOT there. Feel free to scroll back and take a look if you like. It is there now.

Goodbye Trusty Honda. Hello minivan.

“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”    ~Keith Urban

Most people are only too happy to let go of their old cars…

I have never been like most people.

Last Friday, I sold my Trusty Honda Accord. And it was difficult. Still is.

Once I agreed to the deal, I spent several hours wiping tears from my cheeks. Even took the old car for a final drive to the beach to walk my dogs, just before its new owner arrived to pick it up.

My car was old—yet solid. If I was mechanically inclined, I would NOT have let it go. Could have kept it running for quite a few more years. But I am not.

So it needed to go.  And still, it took me months to take action. I really, really loved that car. Which is crazy. It was a 1999 with over 220,000 miles on it.

What tipped my hand? Why last Friday?

I HAD to get to Virginia on Sunday. Monday at the latest.

(That’s a story for another day…)

And it seemed a bad idea to take my Trusty Honda. I needed space for hauling. And I was taking BOTH dogs. The jig was up. There simply wasn’t a choice.

Prior to Friday, I had several offers on my old car. And I would have gotten a better price had I sold to one of them. But they were as mechanically inclined as I am. (Not very!)

I was determined to sell the car to a mechanic or somebody who could keep it running. It was the only way I could feel okay selling such an old vehicle. That person turned up on the exact day that I was ready (forced?) to move on.

Thought I didn’t get as much as I could have for the Honda, I got enough to purchase the minivan I found at auction on Thursday. I agreed to buy it Friday night, sight unseen.

Really, I wasn’t in the deal to make money, just to make my trip to Virginia happen. And I wanted the situation to be win/win for everybody.

Ironically, my new van is a Dark Green Dodge Grand Caravan. Nearly the EXACT van I drove when my children were younger. Even the same color.

Full circle.

On Saturday morning, I rose early to pick up the van. I handed over the cash. Found a notary. Changed over my auto insurance (using my cell phone) while picking up flowers and running Daughter to her hair appointment—she had prom later in the day. Then slid into the title bureau for temporary tags—with about 7 minutes to spare before it closed. Saturday was chaotic.

My new green van has half the miles on it that my Trusty Honda had. And a new transmission. It doesn’t make the funky grinding noises that my old green van made, or catch when it switches gears. It is a smooth riding vehicle. Mechanically sound. I knew it would get me where I needed to go. Or at least I hoped so…

The downside?

My van isn’t ‘pretty.’ The former owner was a contractor. Meaning it was a utility vehicle, used to haul tools and such to job sites.

The exterior has rust spots. The inside isn’t clean.There is a small tear in the dashboard. A missing armrest. And it smells–like dirt, dust and the like…

Yet it was my BEST option. When it comes to vehicles, I will always choose mechanically sound over ‘pretty.’

I sang its praises to my father and the family—Again, I was getting where I was going. Nobody was stepping in my path.

And on Monday morning, I loaded the van.

I got an E-Check (required on Ohio), then had my new set of wheels titled into my name. I was NOT making the trip without a clear title coming along with me. I might find a van I like better while in Virginia.

Aunt Kate: Where are you?

Me: Just leaving.

Aunt Kate: Just be careful. It’s pouring rain down here…

Me: Oh…then I’m going to get wet.

I ran back into the house for my raincoat.

Aunt Kate: Huh?

Me: I’ll be driving with the windows open.

Aunt Kate: Doesn’t the van have air conditioning?

Me: Yeah. But it smells…And putting the AC on blows those smells directly into my face.

Aunt Kate: Oh…

As I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed that along with the exhaust running a tad loud, there was another funny little sound.

My solution?

Music. I cranked up the volume. And rode the six hours to Virginia singing all the way. Motown, country, easy listening, hip hop…

There was no need to keep the music low, to hear the directions from my GPS. Either my cord wasn’t working or the van outlet doesn’t work. Not sure which.

Anyways, I know the way to my aunt and uncles house in Virginia. I just like to drive on autopilot, “up ahead…get in the right lane.”  Or “take the exit left.” The GPS keeps me on track, in case I lose focus.

Early in the trip, I remember feeling lucky that I am so happy. That I’m blessed with the resilience necessary to roll along with life.  Even when it is not at all easy. That my crazy weekend and stinky, old van didn’t faze me…

The one living being on the trip not keen on the van? Flippity-Gidget.

That’s my nickname for the Little Black, neurotic Dog. She won’t walk on the floor of the van. She enters by hopping directly onto a seat. Once inside, she leaps from seat to seat—even up over the middle bench to get to the far back seat.

It’s odd. But then, she is odd.

The Red Dog? He’s always content. And the new van gave him a choice of two ‘couches’ (bench seats) to snooze on. He counted sugar plums all the way to Virginia…

Probably, there is a 50/50 chance I will be driving the van back home.

It’s possible I’ll sell it while I’m down in Virginia.

Because my aunt and uncle have lots of cars—three, actually. For two drivers.

Which gives me an opportunity that I don’t have at home. I can be without a vehicle and take the time to look for something I like. And I haven’t yet formed an attachment to this van…

The lines are often quite blurry when it is time to move on. From people. Jobs. Relationships. Our living situations. Our homes. Even cars, clothing and smaller possessions.

Letting go can be excruciating. It is always easier to hang onto the known, even when it no longer fits our needs. We cannot find our future if we hold onto our past. The only way to get to the future, or the ‘good’ stuff is to let go.

The Trusty Honda was ONLY a car. I know that.

It was time to move on. I know that, too. What we know in our head doesn’t always line up with what is in our hearts.

And so I’m amusing (consoling?) myself wondering what I’ll be driving when I eventually turn up in Cleveland. With me, you never know…