Vindication

I’ve been telling Mom and Dad for years that rain and storms are dangerous, but they wouldn’t believe me.  They think they know better, just because I’m a dog.  Whenever I felt the atmosphere begin to change (and like most dogs, I can sense that well before the first raindrop appears), I’d whine, shake and pace anxiously to warn them of the impending danger.  When that didn’t work, I’d jump up on the couch next to them, or even on the table if that’s where they were sitting, in an effort to get their attention.  All that got me was a sharp, “Get down!” while they pushed me off.

Even when the storms actually hit, they’d pretend everything was okay.  It could be pouring rain outside, with the sky lit up with lightening and deafening booms of thunder, and Mom and Dad would basically just go about their business, ignoring it all.  Even worse, they wanted ME to ignore it!  “You’ll be fine, Finn,” they’d say.  “It’s nothing but a little rain and thunder.”  Now I know that my parents are mostly smart people, but when it comes to bad weather, they have absolutely no clue.

So I have to admit that I feel just a little bit vindicated after the past week.  We had THREE bad storms in the past seven days, and all of them resulted in some rather serious flooding in our area.  Unlike many others, our house escaped damage, so we were lucky.  But our driveway turned into a raging river with several inches of rain pouring down it, and we even had white caps where it meets the street.  Trash cans floated by and disappeared behind a neighbor’s house, and all the while the water crept closer and closer to us.

Mom says we’re lucky that our house sits up high, but even that didn’t help last night, when fifty-mile an hour winds drove the rain right against our house and the upstairs bathroom window started leaking all over the floor.  Mom seemed very unhappy about that, but not nearly as unhappy as she was later, when Dad used her best towels to stuff into the window to keep more water from coming in.  And today there are many streets in our neighborhood that are still closed because of the flooding damage and the trees that blew down in the high winds.

“See?” I want to tell my parents. “I was right!  Storms are VERY dangerous!”  I’d like to believe that when the next storm comes, they’ll be a bit more sympathetic to my fear.  And then maybe they’ll join me when I take precautionary measures, like going to high ground in case of flooding.  (The dining room table is ideal for that, and there’s room for all three of us on it.)  I know perfectly well that being frightened out of your wits and trying to find a safe place is the only logical response to bad weather, and maybe, just maybe, Mom and Dad have figured that out now too.

But I guess only time will tell if they’ll react appropriately when the next storm hits.  And the one thing that all  of us agree on is that we don’t want the chance to find that out for a long, long time.

Love, Finn

Travel Plans

I had such high hopes for this Summer.  Last year’s Summer was a bit of a dud, what with my husband spending most of it recovering from two surgeries.  The weather had been good and the Covid numbers down, but we simply couldn’t take advantage of it.  I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m just explaining why my expectations for this year were so high.  I wanted to truly enjoy this Summer, spending as much time as possible outside and taking several trips to exciting new destinations.  I wanted to make up for everything we missed out on last year, and then some.

But that isn’t what happened.  It’s not fun to be outside when the temperatures creep above 100 degrees, especially when that’s coupled with high humidity.  Sometimes it cools down enough that we can be outside later in the evening, but it’s often rather brutal during the day .  And while we did schedule a few trips, none of them are to places I haven’t already been.

At first I was a little put out when I realized that this wasn’t going to be the Summer I finally got to explore the Pacific Northwest, visit the Grand Canyon, or discover some charming New England coastal towns.  I really wanted to go to all those places, and more, but by the time we had scheduled our trips to Iowa, Kansas and Indianapolis, our schedule was full.  I’ll admit that I had a, “what the heck happened to my plans?” moment when I realized our travel calendar had filled up without including any new destinations.  But then I thought about it some more and realized that we had some very good reasons for our choices.

We were not going anywhere new or exciting, but our destinations were still important.  We went to Iowa to visit my husband’s family, and it have been over two years since we’d been there, what with Covid and health issues.  We spent time with almost all of our relatives there, and few things are more important than spending time with family.  Then we went to Kansas to visit dear friends and I was also able to reconnect with old classmates in the small town where I went to Middle School and High School.  After the challenges of the last two years, catching up with old friends and classmates just felt right.

I think it was ten years ago when my daughter gave me a mother/daughter trip to Indianapolis for my birthday gift, and while I was there, I realized my husband would enjoy the attractions of downtown Indianapolis very much.  I gave him a coupon for a couple’s weekend there several Christmases ago, but we never found the time for it.  So that’s where we’re going next month, because we’ve put it off long enough. It will be a new destination for him, and a relaxing weekend for both of us.

I still have a huge list of places I want to visit.  But sometimes, it’s more important to use our vacation days traveling to spend time with the people, both family and friends, who mean the most to us.  And it’s especially important after two years when getting together with those people has been almost impossible.  Of course I still want to visit all the fun destinations on my list, but I also know that when it comes right down to it, people are more important than places….and I know we made the right choice.

Try Again…

My mother turned 90 two years ago, but we never did have the big party we’d planned to celebrate. We were going to invite all her family and friends, because we believed that reaching 90 years of age was a big deal, and should be celebrated in a big way.  But then Covid showed up, and Mom’s birthday celebration was added to the long list of things the pandemic ruined.  We thought we’d just wait a year and throw her a big 91st birthday party instead.  But that didn’t happen either, because my husband was in the hospital on her birthday, and for many days afterwards.

Sadly, Mom has now reached the point where the big celebration we had hoped to throw would just overwhelm her.  So last Sunday,  I was going to host a birthday party for immediate family and a few close friends.  But then a family member was exposed to Covid, and we knew that having the party as scheduled was not a good idea.  Mom settled for dinner with two of her daughters and son-in-laws, and she seemed fine with that.

Yesterday, I was planning to go to a metro book fair that I hadn’t been to in three years.  It’s an excellent source for good books at very reasonable prices.  But as I was pulling out of our driveway I noticed that our dog was outside in our yard.  At first I wasn’t worried, since my husband was home and I figured he’d let Finn back inside soon.  But it was 102 degrees outside, and our yard doesn’t have much shade.  The further I got from home, the more I worried, so I finally pulled over and called my husband, just to be sure he’d brought Finn in.  My husband didn’t answer, not that time or the five other times I called. I even called some neighbors, but no one was home.

I know my husband is very responsible, and I really wanted to go to this book fair.  But I was also worried about my dog.  By the time I got to the book fair, I knew I couldn’t stay, so I simply drove back home.  The dog, of course, was inside the house, sleeping peacefully.  I almost decided to just stay home and forget the whole thing, but I didn’t.  I drove all the way back to the fair, and spent a very pleasant afternoon browsing through the books.

It’s hard to plan things these days and, it can sometimes seem almost pointless to count on anything happening when we want it to.  It can be tempting to simply stop trying.  But that’s no way to live.  Sometimes we need to be both stubborn and flexible, willing to reschedule and be patient in order to get what we want.  Sometimes, persistence really is the key.

We have a new date set for Mom’s birthday party, but if we have to, we’ll reschedule again, until it happens.  And it took a lot of time and effort to get to the book fair this year, but it was worth it.  I had fun, and came home with a big bag of new books to read.  As the old saying goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again……”

Success!

Every once a in a while, something happens to restore my faith in human nature.  Usually, something rather simple, like an unexpected act of kindness.  Rarely does it have anything to do with the internet, which usually frustrates me, or social media, which far too many people use as an excuse to let their inner bully come out to play.  But much to my surprise, this time what gave me a much-needed burst of optimism was the combination of the internet and social media that is the WordPress community.

A couple of weeks ago, I began having trouble commenting on other blogger’s posts.  Then last weekend, I found I could no longer reply to comments on my own post without logging in again (complete with password) each time.  I exchanged tons of emails with the Word Press help staff as we tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to fix the problem.  When I discovered I could still write a post, I wrote two short posts just to let my readers know what was going on.  I did that partly because I wasn’t at all sure I could keep blogging and didn’t want to simply disappear without letting anyone know why.  But if I’m honest, I was also hoping that maybe one of my fellow bloggers had suffered from a similar problem and was willing to share the solution.  I thought it was a long shot, but worth the try.

The response was more than I could have possibly hoped for.  The tips and suggestions were plentiful and very helpful.  For the first time, I began to believe that my blog really would be fixed, which was a huge relief.  But what really lifted my spirits was seeing how many people I know only through my blog were willing to take the time to try to help me get my blog back on track.  Some offered repeated suggestions, even providing helpful links.  One woman (thank you, Margy!) even chatted with a Word Press tech on my behalf and reported back the answer.  I was amazed at how generously people gave  their time and knowledge to help, without expecting anything in return.

Sometimes blogging seems to demand too much of my time, and every once in a while, it feels like a chore.  But I’ve always stuck with it because I valued the creative outlet writing my blog provides, and I also valued the relationships I’ve developed with other bloggers from all over the world.  And now I know for sure that blogging is worth the effort, because it shows me, repeatedly, just how most good people really are.

The last email I received from the Word Press techs (aka “Happiness Engineers,” but it’s hard to say that with a straight face) provided the answer I needed to get my blog up and running properly again.  Thank you, Paulo.  It has something to do with enabling cross tracking, which I didn’t completely understand but my son did, and he explained it to me.  I’m sure that I’ll eventually encounter other problems, but that’s okay.  Because I’m part of the Word Press community, and we have each other’s backs.

Thanks and an Update

I’m sorry to clutter your readers and inboxes, but I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to let me know they could see my published “test” post.  For some reason, I am logged into my stats page and can write a new post, but once it is published, I am no longer recognized as the administrator of my blog, so I can’t like your comments or answer them without logging in as a guest (including password) each and every time.

I’ve exchanged 29 emails with Word Press “Happiness Engineers” over this issue, but none have identified or solved the problem, and to say I am frustrated would be an understatement.  My son, who works in IT, checked out my browser and assured me that’s not the problem.  He suggested I log out of my blog completely and log back in and see if that helps.  The reason for this post is I’m afraid that after I do that, I may not even be able to write posts anymore and didn’t want to just disappear without explaining that I really wasn’t planning to end my blog right now.

So, hopefully the problem will be resolved and I’ll continue blogging.  But if it’s not, please know that I have appreciated each and every person who read, liked, and/or commented on my posts more than you’ll ever know.  And (if Word Press allows it) I’ll still be following and commenting on your blogs.

Thanks again for all the advice!  It is a gift I will always treasure.  You gave hope and cheer when it was desperately needed, which is one of the many things I’ve loved about being part of the Word Press community!

Testing

I’m having major problems with my blog, so I’m just testing to see if this post is actually published.  If you see it, at least that’s one less problem!

But if you comment and I don’t respond, please know that I can’t respond.  Word Press is allowing me to post, but not recognizing me as the author of my own blog.  Does anyone else use the Word Press app to blog?  Their techs as suggesting the problem is my browser and telling me to use that.  Any advice would be appreciated, even if it is not recognized (only because I can’t respond!)

Thanks so much!!!

Vital Connections

DSC03900The last of my tomatoes is gone, and I didn’t get to eat any of them.  I absolutely love the taste of home-grown tomatoes, so over the past several years I’ve made several attempts to grow them myself.  Sadly, all that work and effort produced only one bumper crop of cherry tomatoes.  I was happy and proud, but it only happened once.  Some years I grew enormous tomato plants that didn’t actually produce tomatoes, other years my plants were infected with “white flies” which meant the tomatoes never ripened, and one year something ate my entire tomato plant.  All that was left was a sad little gnawed-off stump.

Hope springs eternal, so this Spring when I saw a healthy little plant that was labeled as an “early producer,” I thought I would give it a try.  I was heartened to see five tomatoes growing shortly after I planted it, and since there was no sign of the dreaded white flies, I thought this was going to be my year, tomato-wise.  But then the tomatoes began disappearing, one by one.  I asked my husband to surround the plant with a protective barrier.  That worked for three days, but this morning, all that was left of my tomato crop was a single tomato with a huge bite taken out of it.  I know when I’m beat, so I left it on the ground so some critter could finish its meal.

I think the time has come for me to admit that growing my own tomatoes is not in my skill set.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy home-grown tomatoes, it just means I have to eat tomatoes that other people have grown.  For now, I buy them at the local farmer’s market.  Later this Summer, my friends and family who can successfully grow tomatoes will most likely share their extras with me.  And I’ve decided that I’m okay with that.

The truth is, sometimes we have to rely on other people.  When the shower head in our main bathroom started dripping, my husband and I made several attempts to fix it ourselves, but finally gave up and called a plumber.  The plumber fixed it in less than an hour.  When my dog managed to snag my necklace and I heard a loud “twang,” I thought it was broken.  It wasn’t, but the chain was suddenly several inches longer.  I couldn’t figure out how a sterling silver chain suddenly lengthened, but a friend took one look at it and told me that the chain had “sprung,” which did indeed make it longer.  Sometimes other people know the answers that elude us.

I am, by nature, a somewhat independent person and I don’t apologize for that.  But I also know just how connected I am to other people, and how much we all rely on each other to get through our day-to-day lives.  And I hope I can always remember just how much I need others, even those people who don’t think, vote, believe, or look just like I do.  Because when I can remember how connected we all truly are, it’s a whole lot easier to treat others the way I want them to treat me.  And that results in a better world for everyone…..

Not So Smart

I got a text from a friend this morning, asking if it would be a good time for her to call me.  It was, so I replied, “of course.”  Or at least that was what I intended to reply, so you can imagine my surprise when I checked my answer a bit later and saw that what I had actually replied was, “M. Por ya.” Obviously, auto-correct had struck again, and I can only imagine how much it confused my poor friend.

I had been walking my dog at the time I received the text, so it’s possible that I hit one or two wrong letters when I replied to it.  But there is no language in this universe in which “M. Por ya” makes any sense, so why in the world would auto-correct make that my response?  And “of course” is a common phrase in the English language, so why couldn’t auto-correct recognize it, even if I did miss a letter or two when I typed it?  Auto-correct is supposed to be a part of the new smart technology, but I have my doubts about that.

In fact, I have my doubts about a whole lot of things that are lumped into the “smart technology” category.  My car, for instance, is programed to beep at me relentlessly until all of the passengers are wearing seat belts.  It’s a safety issue and it makes sense….most of the time.  But my car also beeps at me if I put a heavy bag of groceries on the front seat, and it beeps at me when my dog is riding the in front seat too.  The seat belt in question is designed for humans, not groceries or dogs, but I have to insert the buckle in the slot anyway just to get the car to quit beeping at me.  The fact that the seat belt isn’t actually restraining anything is apparently beyond my car’s comprehension.  (And this is the same car that slammed on the emergency brakes when a leafy twig blew across the street in front of it.)  Smart?  I think not.

I’ve known for a long time that my computer is tracking all my online activity and sharing it with all and sundry, and I guess the fact that I can’t get it to stop means it’s at least smarter than me.  (Who isn’t?)  But since it knows what sites I visit, don’t you think it would also know what I’m doing on that site?   So when I browse hotels for an upcoming trip, wouldn’t it also know when I’ve already  booked a room?  Apparently not, because I’ll get adds for hotels in the area I plan to visit for weeks afterwards.

I think it’s time that we stopped assuming that all technology is smart, and wait until a particular device or program has actually earned the title.  That’s the way it works with people.   We don’t just assume a person is smart until they’ve found a way to prove it.  So maybe what we need to do is start classifying our technology a little more accurately.  There can be categories for smart, above-average, average, below average and just plain “dumb as a box of rocks.”  It may not be nice, but at least it would be accurate and we’d know what to expect from our devices.  And I’d feel a little less annoyed the next time auto-correct garbles one of my texts, because I’d know it was just doing the best it could….

Good Old Summertime

I shouldn’t complain, because this is exactly what I had yearned for all Winter long.  I wanted Summer to come, that lovely season when I could go outside without putting on a coat, or even shoes.  I wanted to wake up in the morning when the sun had already risen, and I wanted my yard to be filled with colorful flowers.  I wanted dinner on the patio, long days and short nights, and nightly weather reports that never once mentioned the words “sleet” or “snow.” The problem is, this Summer I got just a bit more than I bargained for.

Yes, I wanted warm weather, but no, I didn’t want the temperatures to climb into the triple digits and stay there.  I didn’t want it to be so hot that when I came home from walking shelter dogs all morning I had to take a cool shower and a two-hour nap.  I didn’t want humidity so high that my sun glasses fog up when I walk outside, and I didn’t want to see my flowers withering in the sun.  And most of all, I didn’t want weather reports that used the words “excessive heat warning” several days in a row.  But sadly, that’s exactly what I got, and I don’t like it one bit.

So it’s hot—really hot–outside, and I’m a little cranky. (My husband would probably tell you that I’m a lot cranky, but what does he know?)   And the heat wave is supposed to extend into next week, so there’s not any relief in sight.  Which means I have two choices:  I can hole up inside my air-conditioned house wait it out, or I can put on my “big girl panties” and just accept the nasty weather.

I was leaning toward the first choice, but as so often happens, outside influences pulled me in the other direction, challenging me to live my life as fully as I can even in the midst of a heat wave.  It may be miserable outside, but the dogs living in the shelter where I volunteer still need regular potty breaks.  So I go and help walk them, just for short walk and keeping on the grass as much as possible.  Although I could stand to lose a few pounds, my husband most definitely can’t, so that means regular trips to the grocery store and restaurants are in order.  There are still meetings, chores, errands and all of the usual things that keep us busy no matter what the weather happens to be up to.

IMG_2119 2And sometimes there are those moments when we are lucky enough to move from simply “enduring” to actually “enjoying” our circumstances.  I asked my oldest grandson yesterday if he wanted to help me set up the sprinkler to water the back yard.  He did, and he also wanted to know if he could play in said sprinkler.  Long story short, he put on his swim suit and had a great time jumping through the water, while I stood by and watched him, getting almost as wet as he was even if I didn’t have the good sense to put on my suit.

It was the longest time I had spent in our yard in the afternoon sun in a long time, but I didn’t mind at all.  The water kept me cool and my grandson kept me entertained, and best of all, I finally remembered just exactly why I had been so anxious for Summer to arrive……

Making Good Time

064A2666-4A53-49B9-A8C9-E76F4CF47CC0I love strawberries, and I especially love fresh-picked strawberries.  When our children were young, we used to take them to a “pick your own” fruit farm and come back with buckets of strawberries.  My in-laws also had a strawberry patch behind their house, and for years we made sure we visited when the strawberries were ripe.  My mother-in-law graciously allowed me to help myself to her berries, which were always delicious.  But after my in-laws passed away and our children grew up, I stopped finding the time to go strawberry-picking.

This year, I was intrigued when my daughter-in-law gave me some strawberries that she and my granddaughter picked from a nearby farm.  They were very tasty, and she said the farm was only a twenty-minute drive away.  I’ve been busy lately, and at first I didn’t think I could possibly find the time to go pick strawberries.  But I also remembered all those other years I wanted to go and decided I was too busy, and how much I regretted it afterwards.  The strawberry season is a short one.

73FEBAA1-F39C-4314-8A2D-4E3654B318A2So last Tuesday I put on my oldest pair of tennis shoes, drove myself to the farm and picked a big box full of ripe strawberries. (I would have picked two boxes, but my back told me it was time to stop stooping over.)  I ate a few dozen, shared some with my family, cleaned another bowl-full to keep in the fridge, made a strawberry pie, and froze the rest.  Not a bad result for a quick morning’s work.

Yesterday my grandson spent the afternoon at our house, and his parents were also going to drop his baby brother off at dinnertime so we could watch both of them while they enjoyed a quick date night.  Just when it was time for me to start cooking our dinner, my grandson decided it was time to dance to one of his favorite songs.  I watched him for a few minutes, complimented his moves, and edged toward the kitchen.  “Please play the song again!” he pleaded, then added, “and dance with me!”  I hesitated, knowing that it really was time to get dinner going before the baby arrived.

But just as I was opening my mouth to tell him I didn’t have time to dance right now, I suddenly realized that the time is soon coming when he won’t want to dance to “Baby Shark,” or any other song, with his grandma.  And so I played the song again, took his hands, and we danced.  Or to be more accurate, he danced and I jerked around like someone who’s receiving mild electric shocks.  Dinner was late, but we had fun, and I know I made the right choice.

The truth is that life will always be busy, and there will always be problems demanding our attention.  But sometimes we have to stop being so sensible and serious, and just do what makes us and those we love happy.  The world won’t stop if we indulge our inner child now and then, and who knows?  We might just be a better person for it too.