Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Believe me!

I'm not saying that I'm an expert or anything, but I have been in the counseling business for almost two decades. I think I've learned a few things over the years about human psychology and behavior, and I have a few thoughts on the subject, for what they're worth:

1. Anyone who deflects any sort of attention away from his own bad, or suspicious, or unethical, or flat-out disgusting behavior by covering things up or inventing stories about other people or blaming others for his own a con artist.

2. Anyone who has to constantly tell people how much better he is than everybody else, even inventing "facts" (and possibly actually believing them) to make himself look both incredibly insecure and narcissistic.

3. Anyone who has to say "Believe me!" forcefully, at the end of almost every one of his manipulative and dishonest and power-hungry.

4. And, anyone who "utters falsehoods," makes up "alternative facts," and "shouldn't really be taken literally" when he makes explosive and untrue statements... LYING!   LYING!   LYING!

Can we please cut the crap, stop tiptoeing around this, and start calling him what he is -- A LIAR! 

Decent and intelligent people everywhere, from every political party and every media outlet  -- PLEASE stop couching the atrocious, despicable actions and behaviors of this weak and dangerous man in softer, less-confrontational terms. We must speak the truth, because he, and his cronies, sure as hell aren't!

How much longer is this going to be allowed to continue???


Sunday, February 26, 2017

I'm having an affair with Oscar!

I LOVE THE ACADEMY AWARDS! I do. I know that spending any amount of time gawking at celebrities and hearing "Dahling, you look mahvelous! Who are you wearing?" gushed over and over and over again by sugary-sweet, ass-kissing celebrity reporters is most likely killing brain cells and lowering my IQ. But, I care not! I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT, I LOVE IT!!! I have a whole Oscar day routine. I stock up on Nacho Cheese Flavor Doritos (the best chip ever invented, and no one will ever be able to convince me differently, so don't even try), as well as a bottle of diet coke, a package of red vines, jelly beans, and, most importantly -- CHAMPAGNE! Not real champagne, of course, because only the celebrities I'm watching can actually afford the real stuff. But, Barefoot Bubbly Pinot Gris is delicious and budget-friendly, so I can get TWO bottles. Anyway, just before the red carpet starts, I banish my husband and boys from my bedroom, light up the cinnamon potpourri, take a hot bath or a shower and have my first glass of champagne. Then, I put on my silky pajamas, rub my feet and toes with luxurious lotion, slam a diet coke, open up the Doritos and red vines (saving the jelly beans for later in the show), and pour my second glass of champagne. I quickly text my friends, who know how much I LOVE Oscar Sunday and text me throughout the show ("Can you believe that dress?" "Did he really just say that?" etc., etc...), and then I snuggle into bed to watch the red carpet. The red vines and the first bottle of champagne are usually gone by the time the actual show starts, if I'm on track!

Now, if this sounds fun to you, and you're thinking you may want to join in on this fabulous yearly tradition, I have a few tips for you: 

TIP #1
It's essential that you get your significant other and/or children their OWN SNACKS. That way, they don't bug you for some of your treats during the show AND they totally support your alone-time every year, because they know that they are also going to benefit from your  Oscar bedroom vacation. (I also make sure to give my kids a small bowl of my Doritos and a couple of red vines, and I pour my hubby one glass of champagne -- It never hurts to be generous, eh? And, it seems to guarantee that they'll leave me alone during the show.) 

TIP #2
During the red carpet, if you switch back and forth between the Canadian channel AND the U.S. channel, you can miss almost all of the commercials and maybe get a little more celebrity action. 

TIP #3
Eat light the day before and the day of the event. Otherwise, the junk food and liquor could leave you feeling guilty the next day. And, it's important to hydrate on the commercials, so you're not nursing a hangover on Monday morning at work. 

You can always work up to your Oscar routine by warming up with a Golden Globe Awards bedroom vacation earlier in the year. I highly recommend it. 



Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Can You Actually DIE from Cabin Fever?

We're about to begin our 4th snow day from school, and I think I'm in serious danger of losing my mind. That's four days, in a row, (six, if you count the weekend) trapped at home in a teeny little house with an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old. Boys! If you've never lived with two boys of this particular age and stage of development, then you may be thinking, "What's she griping about? Cute little boys? How much trouble could they possibly be?" Perhaps you envision them playing nicely together, as I kick back and enjoy the peace and quiet whilst sipping a hot cup of tea and reading a good book...Yeah, you're delusional. At this age, it's true that they can still resemble those sweet little boys you may be picturing. But, then, a wave of pubescent hormones hits and turns them into obnoxious, sarcastic, ungrateful little monsters! And, back and forth it goes...Totally unpredictable, too, so you can't really prepare yourself for the puberty punch. It just happens.

Day one really wasn't too bad. We stayed in our pajamas, watched too much T.V., played kitchen table ping-pong, and everybody got along reasonably well, with only minimal griping and arguing. The biggest issue for me on day one was just the sheer volume of noise produced by my beloved sons. In a house this small, there's no escape from every little sound. And, when you're trapped inside by snow and ice, all that noise is amplified. Two boys giggling or wrestling or arguing sound more like ten! And, by mid-way through the second day, they had run through every game, every toy, every activity they wanted to do and were starting to bicker over every little thing! My nerves were frayed, I was ready to snap, and I stared longingly out at my car, buried beneath the snow and ice... So, after sending them out to play in the frigid weather for a while, I hypnotized them with pizza and more T.V. (Please don't weren't here, feeling my pain!) In spite of pizza and T.V., by this time, they were starting to deliberately push buttons and get even more snarky with each other, and with me. I mean, imagine the gall of me asking them to pick up after themselves after they've had almost two full days of lying around doing nothing! How could I be so demanding and unreasonable??? What a terrible mother! Based on the amount of eye-rolling, whining, and just-under-the-breath muttered comments, you'd think I was physically torturing them! By the time hubby got home from work, I was already in my pajamas, half-way through my second glass of wine, and hiding in my bedroom trying to pretend I didn't have children at all! Picture then, the third snow day. All three of us, infected with cabin fever and ready to climb the walls, trapped in the house yet again. I actually ignored the T.V. news people urging us all to stay in our houses and avoid the roads, dug my car out from under the snow, and braved the hazardous streets to take us all out to lunch and a movie. The fresh air and change of scenery worked wonders. We were almost back to our pre-blizzard selves, and I naively thought that we might be OK and avoid actually killing one another. Until we got back in the house, the cabin fever took over again, the boys started arguing, and we got the call that school is canceled again tomorrow.

Breathe, girl. Just, breathe... 


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Are we really THIS stupid?

First of all -- My sincere apologies.

I know I just said that I was going to strive to be more Leslie Knope-ish. More optimistic and positive and all that... But, then I see the latest Donald moves (and tweets) and watch his people awkwardly and blatantly deflect and say things like, "Well, we know he said THIS and did THIS, but what he REALLY means is ________" and, in spite of my best intentions to be more positive -- I JUST CAN'T STAND IT!!! HOW CAN ANY SEMI-INTELLIGENT, DECENT HUMAN BEING STAND ANY OF THIS?!!! 

“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice." That's a Trump quote from his inaugural speech, which he insists he wrote himself, so... Pence literally JUST restated that quote to George Stephanopolous, as a way of defending his friend Donald's most recent executive orders and tweets. I know Pence said it, because I was watching it happen. So, no "alternative facts" here...How can Pence bring up that quote with a straight face, after the sheer volume of sexist, racist, xenophobic comments Donald has made from the very start, plus his "wall", and the ban on Muslims he had promised during his campaign and just ordered last week? (I mean, seriously people. Xenophobia literally means fear or hatred towards people from foreign countries and cultures, which Donald's actions and comments clearly demonstrate! Mr. Pence, how is that not "prejudice?" And, since any idiot can see that it absolutely is  -- How can King Donald be a patriot? By his own definition, he can't be, as his heart clearly has PLENTY of room for prejudice.)

How does Pence keep from bursting into hysterical giggles as he hears himself lamely defending Donald's bullying and bigotry and erratic, immature behavior with deflection and justification and re-interpretation of his tweets and the constant replaying of campaign soundbites? I can only imagine Pence finishes these interviews and goes home to drink heavily and pray for forgiveness from his christian god (which is, apparently, the only legitimate one anyone in our country should be allowed to worship).

And, speaking of "hearts"...This morning, when challenged about Donald's comments and actions, Chris Christie said, "But, I know the president's heart.' How nice for you, Chris. Maybe you can find that heart you insist you know so well, have it repaired, and somehow get past the three-headed Cerberus known as Bannon/Kushner/Priebus to put it back in King Donald's chest cavity. It's clearly badly damaged, because, in spite of his assurances that he is the president "for all americans", it seems to only beat for his own children, anyone around the world who can further his friends' and family's business empires, and any white, wealthy, straight, male christians.

By the way, we all noticed how his people kept Kellyanne Conway away from the media after her very public "alternative facts" and "Bowling Green massacre" blunders. That's been a breath of fresh air, at least. Watching her talk in circles and squirm under the pressure of having to defend the orange-hued demagogue she worships, all while rigidly keeping that odd, creepy smile on her face, has been truly painful and pushes my blood pressure into dangerously unhealthy territory. I appreciate the break from having to watch that particular train wreck.

Oh, I shudder to think how many people adamantly refuse to see what's happening right in front of their eyes and are actually buying into this total, steaming, pile of crap! 



Thursday, February 2, 2017

I want to be Leslie Knope!!!

If you haven't seen "Parks and Recreation" then, in my humble opinion, you've missed out on one of the most amazing, positive, inspiring, lovable characters ever created. Leslie Knope -- The courageous, passionate, wide-eyed optimist who doesn't take "NO" for an answer, fights tirelessly for what she believes in, and wraps the people she loves in unconditional sappy love, whether they want it or not. I want to drink wine with her, go to Vegas with her, sing songs with her in the car, have a pajama party with her, and basically just be her best friend.

Unfortunately, Leslie Knope doesn't really exist, so I can't be her BFF. But, maybe I can aspire to be more like her. Maybe I can keep the idea of her in my heart and try harder to beat back hatred and anger with acceptance and love. Maybe I can try harder to keep pushing through when the odds are stacked against me. Maybe I can put a little more effort into being positive and optimistic when people around me are drowning in negativity and pessimism. Maybe I can try, every single day, to make the world a little friendlier, a little happier, a little better, even when I feel weary and scared and beaten down and and just want to snuggle my kids, kiss my hubby, and curl up in bed with a giant chalice of red wine.

So, as I lie here in bed (with a chalice of red wine right next to me, I admit), I pledge to be more like Leslie. I will strive to channel her indomitable spirit, her positive outlook, her never-ending faith that things can work out if you believe and are willing to work hard to make it happen, and her fierce, undying love for her friends and family.

These days, with all of the hatred and intolerance in the world, we all need a little more Leslie Knope in our lives.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

I had this really awful dream about America...

So, I had this totally wacky dream... I dreamed that my country, through a variety of unbelievable events that could only really be true in the movies, including Russian election tampering and sketchy behavior by the head of the FBI, somehow elected a classic "bully" as president! I know, so weird, right? Not only that, but the guy they elected, got elected in spite of a campaign rife with lying and denial and manipulation and posturing and name-calling, combined with attacks on women, minorities, people with disabilities, women again, anyone of the Muslim faith, environmentalists and scientists, and more...In this crazy dream of mine, this guy actually got elected president, even though he was enthusiastically endorsed by the KKK for his views on minorities, caught on tape saying that it was perfectly fine to sexually assault women as long as you are rich and famous, said that climate change is a hoax started by China, espoused family and Christian values while simultaneously disparaging women, parading around his third (trophy?) wife, and promising to ban all Muslims from our country, refused to release his tax returns, and was repeatedly caught on video and tape and twitter making inflammatory, racist, sexist, ignorant comments he later denied or blamed on lies and unfair treatment by the "liberal media elite" even when his own words and behavior were right there for all to see and hear! I even dreamed that family members and friends around the world have been torn apart, because of the deeply personal and profound divisions that were revealed through the ugly process of electing this hate-spewing, thin-skinned, petty, bullying, racist, sexist, billionaire narcissist into office. Insane dream, right? What a nightmare!

But wait, there's more... So, my nutty dream continued with this guy getting elected and doing all kinds of ridiculous or dangerous things, such as throwing an infantile temper tantrum about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and, through his spokeswoman, espousing "alternative facts" (which, I think intelligent people everywhere just call "lies" don't we?), appointing billionaires and far-far-far-right religious conservatives, at least one white-supremacist, his own son-in-law (nepotism, anyone?) and sycophants into key positions of power in government, "divesting" himself from his business holdings by turning them over to his own children (fooling only those people who choose to remain blissfully ignorant into thinking that his actions are even close to ethical or that he's somehow not using his new position to increase his personal and familial wealth), restarting oil pipeline projects while simultaneously freezing or removing regulations that would help to protect our environment, signing an executive order barring U.S. support to any pro-choice country, using twitter to mock and chide thousands of americans who exercised their constitutional right to peacefully protest by taking part in the Women's March for equal rights, but following that up by heaping praise upon those anti-abortion advocates who rallied against a woman's right to choose, closing America's doors to all refugees, and banning all immigrants from Muslim nations (except, apparently, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- Muslim countries in which he has business holdings. Hmmm....), spouting isolationist rhetoric and telling the rest of the world that we will only be thinking of ourselves from this point forward, prioritizing business interests and military might ahead of morality, unity, education, human rights, and the environment...and my dream just went on and on and on.

I don't know what I must have been drinking to have such an inconceivable and alarming nightmare. I'm so glad it was just a crazy dream. Whew!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom,

Since I can't pick up the phone and hear your voice, or get one of your cards in the mail, written in  that unique handwriting I always struggled to read, with paper-clipped coupons attached, I'm just going to send the words I would say to you out into the universe. Why not? 

Every morning, when I come out to the living room, I look at your picture and say, "Good morning, Mom! I miss you." You know the one of you at your 80th birthday party, looking up at someone and smiling with such joy that you look like you're glowing? Next to it is one I took of you at Birch Bay -- you're wearing that soft, lumpy gray sweater you liked so much; the one with the pockets, where you always kept wads of kleenex that could be whipped out at a moment's notice -- your transition lenses are as dark as sunglasses, the water is blue behind you, and you are wearing a grin which makes me think that Foster was probably making rabbit ears behind my head when I was taking the picture. Nothing could make you grin quite as much as your mischievous, loving, complicated youngest grandson, eh? Just so you know, he still talks about you all the time. You had such an influence on him -- You let him know he was loved, completely, even when his behavior wasn't always so lovable, and he was struggling to figure out how to get along in the world. You were so worried that the boys would forget you, but there's not a chance of that, Mom. Every night, we clink our glasses and toast you. The "How Tall Am I" tapestry you and Dad made still hangs on the door of our kitchen, even though Spencer has reached all the way to the title, so we can't really measure his height from it anymore. Pictures of you hang all over our house, and we still say "Pengwich!" when people sneeze, instead of "Gezundheit!" This morning, Spencer made hot chocolate in one of the speckled blue mugs you and Dad kept here for your visits. You are everywhere.

Right now, I've got the card table you and Dad gave me set up in the living room, and we're working on a puzzle. That, too, reminds me of you and of growing up. We work a puzzle the way you and Dad did -- I start with all of the edge pieces, and I can't do any of the rest until the border is complete. John, on the other hand, immediately starts grouping pieces together, randomly. Guess that makes us a great team... Fos will get caught up in it and sit for a long time. Spence comes in and does his one or two pieces, then he's off to his room to create starships, planets, wonderful inventions, and entire adventures with that amazing, imaginative brain of his.

The boys are doing so well this year, Mom. Fos joined the running club, and he's loving it! He's got a lot of natural athletic ability, but he works hard at it, too, so he really excels. It's so nice to see him brimming with confidence. He looped up with the same teacher, so he didn't need to go through that rocky stage of re-establishing a relationship with another adult, testing the boundaries, etc. It's been such a smooth start to the year. He does well, academically, but he doesn't work as hard at it as he could, so he's not getting the results he's truly capable of. But, no major issues with other kids anymore. He seems to have finally learned how to ignore people who are pushing his buttons, instead of reacting. Whew! (Of course, that doesn't apply to his brother!) Spence is SO tall and skinny. His last year of elementary school! How did that happen so fast? He's scientific, writes amazing fiction, is obsessed with both Star Trek and cars, and he's got a nice little bunch of peers who are also a little on the fringe of 5th grade society. But, he notices the "popular" kids, and it affects him, which makes me sad. Other kids have made fun of him, called him "geek" and "nerd," and it hurts him deeply. He doesn't yet know how amazing he is. He'll come in, late at night, and ask me to snuggle with him. That's when he talks about it, and I never feel like I have the right words to say. Kids sure can be cruel, but I know that both of my boys are going to learn tough lessons that will help them be stronger men, someday. I guess that I just need to love them through it all and to be their safe harbor when the storms come...Just like you and Dad have always done for me.

Yesterday, before the girls got here, John made the boys nachos. Thinking I'd be hilarious, I covered up Foster's chip and said, "Put that down, that's nachos!" (You know, as if I was saying "not yours?") Without skipping a beat, Spence looked up and said, "I don't want to taco 'bout it Mom, it's nacho business." We all cracked up laughing...A nice moment. I pictured you sitting at the table with us, cup of coffee in hand, laughing along.

Mom, you would have LOVED this weekend! I invited the girls to come up and spend the day with us. I try to do that a few times a year, so I can keep our relationship with them strong. Otherwise, I'd only see them once or twice around the holidays, most likely, and that's just not enough. We offer up free babysitting, and Barb and Ken drop them off at our house for a few hours to go hang out with their friends. So, yesterday, we immediately put everybody in our new family car -- a sassy blue Honda Pilot I named Amelia (after Amelia Earhardt, of course). She has HEATED seats! Imagine that! My buns are toasty every morning! -- and off we went to our favorite pumpkin farm.  This place is a wonderland -- Huge pumpkin patch, apple grove, a corn maze you can get lost in for an hour, farm animals, a cozy fire pit, playground, the most amazing fresh apple pie (with ice cream and homemade caramel sauce), tractor rides -- Really a lovely place to spend an afternoon. It was pouring rain first thing in the morning, but the sun came out for our trip, as if it was meant to be. As we drove out into the countryside, the sun lit up the changing leaves and covered the landscape with a blanket of gold. We sang all the way to the farm, and everyone remarked on the beauty all around us. "Look at the leaves!" "Look at the mountain!" "Look at the goats!" "Horses!" All four kids got along famously, and the giggles were nonstop. The boys took turns giving Hailee piggy back rides, and Ella skipped around in little-girl heaven! We saw rabbits and baby chicks, and she did exactly what I used to do when I was little -- She crinkled up her face, clasped her hands to her chest, and said, in that same sort of sad, yet awestruck, tone I used to use, "Ohhhhhh, look at them. They're sooooo cute and little!" John and I both started giggling, because it seemed like she'd pipe in with, "The poor things!" at any second, just like I used to do. She didn't use those words, but, believe me, the tone was the same. You would've cracked up, Mom. The girls are getting so big as well. Hailee reminds me a lot of Fos -- sassy, opinionated, challenging, with a mischievous gleam in her eye! Ella is smart and funny, wants to control everybody around her but is more shy than her little sister, with these big, sensitive blue eyes and a smile that show a depth of feeling below the surface, that I think we'll see a lot more of as she gets older. They're wonderful, and we had such a nice time all together. We were supposed to come home and all make and decorate sugar cookies, but we were having so much fun that we spent the whole time at the farm. I was sad to see them go, although our little home seemed quiet and peaceful with only two kids in it, instead of four...The four of us ended this glorious fall day by making a batch of sugar cookies, cutting them into leaves, pumpkins, and turkeys, (using the cookie cutters you gave me - some of them the exact same ones we used as kids) then cuddling up in the back bedroom to watch an episode of Star Trek before bed. What a wonderful day!

This morning has been so peaceful. I woke up at the crack of dawn, as usual, and came out to the living room to read, snuggling up on the couch. Fos came out and curled up at my feet, playing with cards. Spence was next. He came in, wrapped up like a burrito in his favorite Cars blanket -- the super-soft one Gerry, Austin, and Ali gave him when he was just a little tyke -- and snuggled up on the floor by the couch. We all talked and giggled for a while. Finally, my blurry-eyed, rumpled hubby came down the hall. Now, he and Foster are playing Magic in the kitchen, Spencer is looking through his coin collection, Lucy is sacked out on the floor nearby (her muzzle is gray now, and she's slowing down a lot, but she's still as affectionate as ever...), soft classical music is playing in the background, and the whole house smells like cinnamon and sugar cookies. I am so lucky. Lucky to have been raised by you and Dad. Lucky to have taken the turns in life that brought me to John. Lucky to have these wonderful, growing boys in my life.

I had a nice phone conversation with Dad on Friday night. You know how he always makes boats, whenever we're near a body of water? That hasn't changed. He told me that he just made a boat and wrote on the sail, "For Jean." On the other side, he wrote, "In memory." He's going to take the canoe out to the reservoir very early in the morning -- the best time to see beaver -- and launch your boat when the sun comes up... I picture someone days or weeks from now, walking around the reservoir, finding that boat, and wondering who "Jean" could be and who loves her enough to make a boat with that inscription on the sail. Maybe they'll even relaunch it. It's lovely, really. You are still very much a part of his life, and of our lives, and you always will be...

I love you, Mom. 


Monday, September 22, 2014


This Saturday, I found myself doing something I never imagined I'd ever do...Performing a funeral service for a large black beetle. A beetle? Yes, a beetle. And, before you judge us as hard-hearted parents who will only let their precious older boy have a pet insect, rather than something cuter, like a goldfish or a hamster, the beetle came from school. Last year, Spencer came home from school with a live black beetle, roughly 2 1/2 inches long. His teacher gave it to him! Apparently, the class had been studying this type of creature, and the teacher offered one to any student who wanted to take one home to raise as a pet. It came with instructions stating that it is not a native species and is considered a pest. We were cautioned, therefore, not to set it free into the environment. (There was, by the way, no parent permission involved in this "gift" of a beetle. It just came home. Spencer had already named it "Austin" after his cousin. How were we supposed to say "No!"???)

So, Austin the Bess Beetle became part of our family. Thankfully, taking care of him involved giving him an old piece of wood to chew upon and spritzing his plastic tank with water every few days. That's the extent of it. No handling necessary by Mom, thank goodness. Spence did a great job meeting Austin's limited needs, checked on him every day, and thoroughly enjoyed his unique little room pet. 

Until Saturday...

Spence had been gone on a 3-day, 2-night field trip with his 5th grade class. He got home Friday night and went to sleep without checking on Austin. Saturday afternoon, he lifted the piece of wood to check on his little bug buddy, and here's what happened next:

Spence came up to me in the kitchen and whispered, "Mom, can you please come into my room with me? But, please don't tell Dad or Foster. Just come." So I wrapped up what I was doing and followed him in.

Entering his room, I found him curled up on the floor by the side of his bed, clutching his favorite soft blanket, his eyes welling over with big, fat tears, lower lip trembling...

"Sweetie, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"

In a whisper so quiet I could barely make it out, he said, "Austin died while I was gone." And, the floodgates broke. He broke into great wracking sobs and threw himself into my arms. Poor kid.

We snuggled on the floor for awhile, as I reassured him that he had been a great owner for Austin. I pointed out that Bess Beetles are only supposed to live for 10 or 11 months, and Austin had lived to the ripe old age of 14 months. I murmured that he was lucky to have had that much time with Austin, and that Austin was lucky to have had such a wonderful boy taking care of him. We hugged for a long time, while my heartbroken little boy cried his heart out for his dead bug. 

Then, he said, "Please don't tell Dad or Foster."

"You don't want them to know? I think they would want to know and be able to comfort you, don't you? They both love you very much."

Sniff. "Mom, I just can't handle anybody else knowing right now. Just you, OK? I want Dad and Foster to find out on their own and ask me about it when I'm not feeling quite so sad." Sob, sniff. 

Is it wrong that I felt a little thrill knowing that the only person he wanted to pour his little heart out to was me? It's not that I wanted him to feel sad or to experience this loss, but something in me was filled with joy as he snuggled close to me for comfort in his time of need. Perhaps it's the recognition that these precious times are fleeting, and that there will be a time, soon enough, when the person he goes to for comfort is not his Mom...

So, trying to help him find some closure over the loss of Austin, I suggested that we find a nice place in the garden to bury him while Dad was dropping Foster off at a playdate. Spence wrapped him gently in kleenex and chose a spot in the garden. I cut a few flowers, and Spencer picked a couple of pretty rocks to use as a marker. Spencer placed him oh-so-gently in the little grave, and we solemnly covered him with dirt, laying the rocks and flowers on top. Spencer looked up at me with huge eyes, swimming with tears, and said, 

"He was a really good beetle, wasn't he?"

"Yes, sweetie. A very good beetle."

"And, I'd rather have had the time I had with him and lose him, than not ever have him at all."

"I feel the same way, sweetie."

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too."



Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Doodle" This!

Have you noticed how many people now have "Labradoodles?" I'm probably spelling it wrong, but it's a half-labrador/half-poodle, and they're everywhere. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a dog-lover from way back. (Although I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of chihuahuas. In my opinion, chihuahuas don't actually qualify as "dogs." To me, they fall more into the category of say, a guinea pig, or a pet rabbit.)

It didn't start out this way, but the Labradoodle craze has really taken off, and the way it's going sort of cracks me up. They're really great dogs -- Sweet, smart, loyal, good with kids, don't shed very much, blah, blah, blah. I totally get that. I have a friend who bought a Labradoodle, because her son suffers from severe allergies, and he's been a wonderful addition to the family, for all of the right reasons! But, the part that kills me, is how many people are starting to get snooty about having one. I hear it at the dog park, on walks, all over the place. It's like the "cool kids" are the ones with the Labradoodles. High School cliques revisited, only with big, fluffy dogs, instead of name-brand jeans:

"My friend's Labradoodle had a litter, so my Spin Cycle class all decided to buy one of the puppies at the same time. They are SO cute! They cost $800 each! We named them Duffy, Muffy, Buffy, Fluffy, Scruffy, and Snuffy. We leave the kids with the nannies, put on our yoga pants, and all get together to take the puppies out on walks after our morning latte. They have matching bandanas! Isn't that precious? Everyone stops and stares! Only Shelly didn't want to buy one, because she wanted a mutt from the Humane Society. She says that mutts make the best pets. A mutt! Can you believe it?!!! We're thinking of booting her from our group. She doesn't really fit in with the rest of us anyway."

Um....Two different breeds mixed together resulting in a puppy that's a blend of both...Doesn't that make a Labradoodle just a very expensive "mutt"? And, didn't breeders choose those two breeds, because mutts really do make the best pets?  Hmmm...

There are so many wonderful mutts (not to mention cats, horses, and other animals) in Humane Societies all over the country, just waiting for homes and families to love. I hope that, someday, the really cool thing to do is to adopt dogs from there, with bragging rights going to the people who have absolutely NO idea which breeds blended together to result in their unique mutt..."Even our vet can't tell WHAT sort of dog Sparky is. Not a clue. Maybe Rhodesian Ridgeback, with a mix of Beagle and German Shepherd? Who knows? Isn't that great?"

By the way, for the Labradoodle owners who may have chosen that particular dog just to jump on the "cool kids" bus....I was informed by a man at the dog park last weekend, in a very hoity toity manner, that "Goldendoodles" (half golden retriever/half poodle) are far superior.


As I write this post, my old mutt, Lucy, who is some blend of black lab and who-knows-what-else, is lying on the floor next to me, paws twitching away as she dreams a doggy dream...She's a great dog and has been a wonderful member of our family for almost 14 years. And, to all of the other wonderful Humane Society mutts who've been in my life since I was a baby -- Heather, Duchess, Max, Sam, Lady, and my sweet little Cosmo -- Thanks for the unconditional love and for all of the happiness you've brought into my life. I'll love you forever!

Now, everybody go pet your dog!  (Or cat, or bunny, or iguana, or...)



Monday, July 21, 2014

If I believed in the Devil, his name would be "Technology"...

I would like, first, to admit that the title of this blog sounds completely inappropriate considering that I'm, y'know, "blogging" right now, which would be using technology to share my thoughts with those I love, as well as any strangers who may happen upon my little technological ranting site...Kinda makes me hypocritical, don't you think, calling technology "The Devil" and all??? I don't give a rip. Call me a hypocrite. The issue isn't really "technology" anyway. The issue is people. Humans. Flawed. Easily distracted. Clueless. Selfish. Idiotic. Discourteous. (I sound like a Star Trek episode, don't I? Some alien species describing the human race...Well, I'm not gonna lie. These days, I feel like the human race is not always something I"d LIKE to be part of!)

Anyway, as usual, I digress. See "easily distracted", above. 

I hate Facebook! Sorry, Facebook. I know you went public and all, but you suck. There might have been a time when I could have come to love Facebook, if someone could have taught me how to get ONLY the information I really want to see from it, instead of pages and pages and pages of bullshit, which is most of what I used to see on there when I had an account. Which I shut down, after going on a computer-free diet for a little while and realizing how much time I was wasting in cyberspace...Surveys, what people had for dinner, changes to people's "status", and other crap that is truly of no interest to anyone other than the person posting it. I liked some of it....I liked the pictures of people's families, but most of it was just garbage. I don't want to spend my time scrolling through the garbage to get to the good stuff. If there is truly "good stuff" and the person posting it is an important person in my life, then I should already know about it. I shouldn't have to hear about it when the rest of the world does, by randomly checking my Facebook page!!!

So, if you have ever read any of my blog, you know that my social life consists of occasional nights out with the girls, rare dates with my husband, and....yeah, that's the extent of it. (Does "work" count as a "social life"??? No? Yeah, that's the extent of it, then.) But, last week, I spontaneously invited a couple of old friends I hardly ever see over for wine on my back porch. Miraculously, they both came! One showed up first, and here's (roughly) how the conversation went:

"You weren't at so-and-so's fundraiser."
"I wasn't invited."
"Oh, it was on Facebook." 
"I'm not on Facebook." 
"Oh. Do you know what's going on with her business?"
"No, I haven't heard from her." 
"Oh my gosh, there is so much going on....."

This turned into a long conversation about the incredible challenges that had been going on in my friend's work life...NONE of which I knew about, because it's all been posted on Facebook!

There. That's the problem, in a nutshell. I understand, if you're doing a fundraiser for your business, you might want to put it on Facebook to get lots and lots of folks at your event. BUT, if its important to you that your friends attend, you MIGHT want to invite them, personally, via a phone call, or email, or even a text. That's a helluva lot more personal than just posting it on Facebook and calling it good. Why is it that, who-knows-how-many-people know about the intimate details of the struggles my friend is having, but I haven't heard a word? 

This sparked a conversation about Facebook, in which my friend (a wonderful, creative, intelligent woman, who is in NO WAY being disparaged here -- Just a difference in opinion, and quite a few years in age difference, which might have something to do with it...She incorporates technology in a whole different way than I do) said that you basically just need to embrace it, if you want to be connected, 'cuz that's the way the world is. Hmmmm...

All due respect, I 100% disagree! (Which could be the reason I don't have much of a social life, but so be it.) Because, here's the thing. Having lost my Mom to a horrible battle with pancreatic cancer what feels like yesterday, but is actually over a year, my priorities are very different than they used to be. I don't want to spend time with people just to kill time and be around "people", y'know? I want to spend the limited time I have with people who really matter to me. AND, I want to spend time with people to whom I matter, as well. So, if you care enough about me to want me at your event -- I should get a phone call or a text or an email, personally inviting me, and you can expect the same from me. If you just throw it out into Facebook cyberspace and cross your fingers that I'll get the message -- I'm not important enough to you. That's how I see it. I think that Facebook has created a culture of laziness. A culture in which people don't take the time to make that truly personal connection with someone who's important. There are multiple times I have missed fairly major events in "friends" lives, because I didn't happen to check their Facebook page. Sorry, but that's a load of crap. I shouldn't have to spend 2 hours online, scrolling through Facebook pages, to find out that someone I thought was a "friend" got divorced, or married, or had a 15th wedding anniversary, or got diagnosed with breast cancer, or was throwing a party... If I'm important enough to you, you'll take the time to let me know. If I'm not...then it's a cold, harsh dose of reality for me, and a humbling message that I'm not nearly as important to you as I thought I was. But, I'm not willing to accept this new reality so many people have enthusiastically adopted...People have said, "Well, if you really cared about staying in touch with your friends, you'd get on Facebook." That's just more crap!!! It's not healthy, it's not personal, it's not the way I want to live my life...

That's how I see it. So, my message to my boys is this...Stay connected with the people you care about. In person. Take the short amount of extra time it takes to let people know they mean more to you than their 200 other Facebook "friends." At least send a personal email or a text. Better yet, make the time to call them and hear their voice, or stop by to let them know you care. Because the future I see is a grim one. A future in which people don't really take the time to personally connect with anyone. They'll just put all their business out into cyberspace and consider that good. Friends who are truly just strangers on the other end of a computer network. Not a future I want for my precious boys. Not a future I want for myself. And, if I am the ostrich hiding my head in the sand, then call me an ostrich!

Ultimately, I may miss out on lots of social opportunities. But, if I wasn't important enough to invite in person, than I probably shouldn't have been there anyway.