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.

Dog Training

03FF4508-3450-4F62-A4A1-53B29F66B001I’ve been living with my human family for over three years now, and I have to say that things are going pretty well.  I’m still not allowed up on the furniture (when my parents are around to see it) and they still insist on feeding me dry dog kibble when all I really want is a plate of the same food they’re eating, but overall, I’ve got them pretty well trained. The trick with humans, I’ve discovered, is to let them think they’re training you, when in reality, you’re training them.

Take walks, for instance.  Like all dogs, I love a good walk. Sauntering around the neighborhood with my human in tow is great fun, and I especially like stopping to sniff all the enticing odors along the way.  The first few times Mom took me for a walk, she insisted on keeping up a brisk pace, and seemed irritated when I’d stop to sniff every few feet.  She didn’t understand that investigating all the scents we encounter is how I learn what’s going on in our neighborhood.  How am I supposed to know that the beagle up the street passed stopped by this very same bush if I’m not allowed to smell it thoroughly?  And don’t get me started on all the interesting scents coming from the storm sewer….the stories I could tell!

So I had to teach Mom the importance of letting me stop and sniff on our walks.  It took quite a while, with me pointedly ignoring her tugging on the leash and repeated cries of, “Come on!” before she figured it out.  She still doesn’t let me stop and sniff every single scent, but now she waits patiently when I discover something particularly intriguing, which happens a couple of times per outing.  I heard her bragging to Dad about how she’s taught me to mostly keep moving, and of course I let her believe it.  But the truth is, I’ve taught her to let me stop and sniff.

And while my parents still fill my supper dish with kibble, I’ve taught them to also share their (far superior, in my opinion) food with me.  Again, it took time and lots of patience on my part, but now they both know that whenever they eat something, they have to save a bite of it for me.  And since both of them are fond of their food, I get quite a few “bites” of food every day.  My nickname is Bubbles (due to my bubbly personality) and they actually refer to the tidbits they give me as the “Bubble tax.”  I don’t care what they call it, as long as they pay it.

I’m not sharing this to brag on my success, even though I’ve done a pretty good job of training my parents.  I’m sharing it to give hope to all the other dogs who have just joined their human family and might be a feeling a little frustrated by how slow their new parents are on the uptake.  I want them to know that it takes time and patience to train your humans, but if you stick with it, the rewards are worth it.  Trust me on this…..

Love, Finn

Up and Down

If I ever had any doubts about the truth of the saying, “Life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs,” the events of the past couple of weeks have put them to rest.  Approximately four weeks ago, I was sitting in my favorite restaurant, celebrating an early birthday dinner with my immediate family.  I distinctly remember sitting with my oldest two grandchildren on my lap, looking over at the baby and thinking, “I am so blessed.”

IMG_1923The reason we were celebrating my birthday early was that my husband and I were going to be on Sanibel Island for my actual birthday, and Florida’s Sanibel Island is one of my very favorite places.  Even better, the trip was all I had hoped it would be:  we had great weather, were joined for a few days by good friends, found some fun shells and even had the chance to get up close and personal with manatees.  It was, honestly, the highlight of my year so far.

But what goes up must come down, as we all know.  Early last week, I started to feel a bit sick.  I figured it was my usual allergic reaction to the green tree pollen that’s coating everything here, but I took a Covid test and got a negative result.  I stayed home even so, resting and drinking lots of water.  After a couple of days I felt much better, but decided to take another Covid test before I ventured out in public, just to be sure.  And it was positive.

I know I still have lots to be thankful for.  My symptoms were extremely mild, and my husband was out of town on business while I got sick, and he tested negative when he returned.  Unfortunately, the difference in our Covid status means we can’t share living space, so I’m upstairs in the primary bedroom of our story-and-a-half house while my husband is staying downstairs and sleeping in the guest room.  And as nice as our primary suite is, it was designed for sleeping, not living in 24/7.  Especially not in the heat we’ve been enduring this past week, because our upstairs depends on the additional cooling provided by the window AC unit my husband would install if he were allowed to be in the same space as me.

Sometimes as I’m sitting on my bed, watching yet another HGTV rerun or reading yet another book and trying not to sweat on the pages, I can’t help but feel just a little bit sorry for myself.  Boredom and loneliness aren’t fun companions.  It’s a little off-putting when I don my N95 mask and go downstairs to replenish my ice water, and my husband gives me a horrified look and quickly darts into another room.  He’s being sensible, I know, but it still takes getting used to.  And it didn’t help when, safely back upstairs, the strap broke as I was removing the mask, snapping me sharply just below the left eye.  You know you’re in an unlucky phase when you get attacked by your face mask.

But I know that this, too, shall pass.  My husband continues to test negative, and every day brings me closer to the end of my isolation period.  I know the time will come when all I remember about this time is how grateful I am that it wasn’t much, much worse.  And meanwhile, I’ll just sit tight and dream about the next time I get to visit Sanibel…….

In With The New

5648D17B-10C5-49D3-8139-2BF17A237E0DThere’s a lot to love about Spring.  The warmer temperatures, the bright colors on the trees as they sprout new buds, and the gorgeous array of flowers are all welcome signs that Winter is finally over.  Spring is a time of hope, when nature seems to reawaken and we venture outside without bundling up first.  It’s easy to understand why many people call it their favorite season, and I’m certainly always happy to see it arrive.

But Spring has its downside as well, and not just for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies.  (Though the runny nose, sore throat, itchy eyes and sneezing isn’t any picnic to live with, especially these days when every single allergy symptom is also on the list of Covid symptoms.)  The problem with Spring, for me anyway, is that it involves a whole lot of work.

Spring cleaning my house is simply the beginning.  Once I’ve given everything a thorough cleaning and airing, including painting touch-ups, I help my husband with the yard.  We set up our patio furniture, rake the last of our neighbor’s leaves off our grass, haul out our flower pots to refill, trim bushes and plants, and spread the newly-delivered mulch.  The big box-store commercials make preparing our yards for Spring look like so much fun, but after a few  hours of steady work, trust me, the thrill wears off.

And then there’s the worst job of all: my annual “shifting of the wardrobe.”  This involves removing all the Winter/Fall clothes from my closet and dresser and replacing them with my warm-weather clothes.  It sounds easy, I know, but I struggle with this job each year.  Spring’s fluctuating temperatures makes deciding what I should pack away and what I should leave out for another few weeks rather difficult.  Then there’s the whole question of what I should do with a sweater that I bought (on sale, from a high-end store) three years ago and haven’t worn once.  Or the blouse that I’ve worn many times, because I’ve been wearing it for twelve years.  Just how long is too long to hang on to a blouse?  These are not decisions that I make easily.

I know my life would be simpler if I lived in a house that had a closet big enough to store all my clothes year-round.  But as hard as it is for me to sort through everything two or three times a year, I also know it’s actually a good thing.  It forces me to evaluate my clothes and make a conscious decision on exactly what I want to keep, and helps me recognize when the time has come to get rid of a sweater I once loved but has long since lost its shape and no longer fits.  It’s sort of a  “fashion renewal.”

I still love Spring, despite my allergies and all the work it brings.  Sprucing up our yard, buying new flowers to plant, and weeding out my wardrobe is worth the effort, because discarding what no longer works and actively making room for new things gives me hope.  And the hope that comes from renewal is the very best part of Spring.