Monday, June 29, 2009

Me and Heather and a Dead Mouse

Last night, when I was so tired from my lack of sleep, I was looking forward to bedtime. David and Joe went to see Hangover, and I was home with Heather (age 21). It suddenly started to pour, and I quickly opened the door to let Bing the Cat in, and then I ran upstairs to close the windows.

As I was coming down the stairs, I saw a dead mouse in the hall. I assume Bing brought it in to proudly show us what he had been doing outside.

Me: (screaming) "HEATHER!!!"
Heather: "WHAT?"
Me: "There's a dead mouse in the front hall!!!"
Heather: "So what do you want me to do?"
Me: "KILL IT!"
Heather: "NO - you kill it!"
Me: "I can't."

I did venture a little closer to make sure it was dead. Today I was discussing with a co-worker whether it's better to find a dead mouse or a live mouse, and we agreed it would be better to find a dead one. I thought ok, maybe I can pick it up with an oven mitt. But that was just too gross for me to handle. So I moved the garbage can into the hall and got a broom and a dustpan.

Heather (annoyed): "WHAT?"
Me: "Come and help me."

Amazingly, Heather appeared. I handed her the dust pan.

Heather: "You're giving me a dustpan?"
Me: "yes. I'll sweep it in and you hold the dustpan."

Amazingly, she took the dust pan. I took that broom and swung like it was a golf club. We both screamed. It landed in the dust pan.

Me: "Throw it in the trash!"

She did.

Me: "Help me close the trash."

She did.

I grabbed the trash bag, screamed, and ran outside with it.

We are such wusses.

Another Night of No Sleeping

I have found that Sunday nights are usually my worst, in terms of not being able to sleep. But last night was really ridiculous.

For some reason, I felt the need to worry about anything and everything.

My son lost his wallet. Who took it? Why? Did we need to worry about identity theft? Could it be lost in his car? How much money did he lose?

I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for this morning. Would I have gained weight? What is the lightest thing I could wear to the appointment?

I needed to get more exercise. Would I have enough energy to get up before my doctor's appointment and take a walk? If I did, would I be able to stop sweating after my shower? I didn't want to subject my doctor to my sweating body.

Over the weekend, I had read twice about the 10/10/10 rule. That rule suggests that with every complicated decision you make, you should consider how it will affect your life in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Well, let's face it - most worries will continue to be a worry 10 minutes from now. But 10 months or 10 years? Hell, there will be new things to worry about then!

This started at 3:00 AM. I stayed in bed for a while, trying to convince myself that nothing would matter in 10 years. It didn't work. I came downstairs at 4:15 AM. I let old Pepper the dog out. As I opened the door, I saw a car driving very slowly down our quiet street. Who could that be? What was that car doing? I finally realized it was the lady who delivers our paper, come rain or shine. I had no idea she arrived so early every day.

I read emails. I don't know why I subscribe to the New York Times via email. It comes way too often! I never have time to read it! And the only email waiting for me in the middle of the night is usually from my sister Laurie, who keeps bizarre hours.

At 4:30, I finally went back up to bed and turned on my lamp to read. I then noticed a fly that was buzzing around the lamp shade. I watched and listened to it for a while, and it became increasingly more annoying. I finally banged my book against the lamp shade. Well, that did 3 things. It woke David up; it caused tons of dust to fly thru the air – it’s one of those pleated shades that collects dust; and it caused Milo the cat to come racing over to see what was going on. Milo immediately made it his goal to kill the damn fly, which I missed when I banged the lamp shade. Milo got inside the shade and started pawing it, and the fly flew below my nightstand, as did Milo, and then Milo emerged, seemingly victorious, and climbed on David to sleep.
Mission accomplished. Easy for Milo to then relax; he's a cat. He doesn't have to get up in the morning!

I finally fell asleep at 6:30, only to be woken by the alarm at 6:45. I actually was glad the alarm went off, because that meant this awful night had come to an end!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marty's garden

Marty's Garden (created in memory of my wonderful father-in-law Marty, who passed away 3 years ago) has gained a new addition: an official sign. My son Joe created the plaque in ceramics class a few years ago (it's hard to read, but it says "In Loving Memory of Martin Luther Krauss"), and our friend Jim created the official sign holder to hold the plaque.

Jim is actually the one who gave me the idea for creating the memory garden. It has been his tradition to plant items in memory of friends who have passed away. It is a wonderful way to honor and remember a loved one.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our House Guest

Is this the cutest thing ever?

David's friend Jeff has been on a long road trip. He lives in FL and has been working his way up to our cottage in Michigan. En route, he stopped in Cleveland to stay for a few days. And he brought his little friend Ducky.

I worried about how my old dog Pepper might respond to Ducky, because Pepper is a border collie mix and I read once that border collies are a jealous breed. And we have certainly seen that. If we are seen petting or holding one of the cats, Pepper is immediately by our side, saying "give ME all your attention!"

Well, amazingly, Pepper loved this little shih tsu. She followed her around, with her tail wagging more than I've seen it wag in years. It's like she thought Ducky was a little toy.

Jeff lives alone and Ducky is a wonderful friend to him. He is clearly devoted to him. When Jeff wanted to take a walk, he had to sneak out. And when he returned, Ducky greeted him like he had been gone for months.

It was a fun 2 days.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Dinner at the folks tonight. It can be comical, and tonight was one of those nights.

I was driving home from work today wondering what I was gonna do for dinner. David went up to the cottage in Michigan. Heather went down to Athens to move from one house to another. And Joe is never around. I loved that I was going to have an evening where I wasn't expected to prepare dinner. So I got home and my dad had left a message on my machine: "We have leftovers from a tray from Corky's. You must come for dinner. Call when you get this."

Corky and Lenny's is a well known deli in Cleveland. My dad was in a fraternity in college and at age 86, he still gets together with his fraternity brothers. The guys and their wives spend New Years Eve together and gather for dinners throughout the year. There have been deaths, illnesses and remarriages, and they are all going strong.

I will also add that my mother has the same "disease" that my sister and I have. It gets worse as we get older. The disease is that we always use the wrong word when we are telling a story. Our families are used to it, and they usually know what we mean.

So I called my dad back and said it's only me, but I'll come. I asked what time. He said I don't know - it's just 3 of us - you decide. I said ok, 5:45. He said 5:46. I said ok.

And I arrived at 5:46, cause that's how I was raised.

The table was set for 3 - me, dad (Art) and mom (Lenore). We all sat down and my mother looked at the tray and this is how the conversation went:

Lenore: "Oh look, there are sweet potatoes on the tray!"
Me: thinking, but not saying "huh?"
Art: "What do you mean there are sweet potatoes on the tray?"
Lenore: "What are you talking about? I never said there were sweet potatoes on the tray."
Art: "Bonnie, did she just say there were sweet potatoes on the tray?"
Me: (laughing) "yes."
Lenore: "Well I can't believe I said that."

So I went to help my dad, who can't see, with his sandwich.
Me: "What do you want on your sandwich?"
Art: "Steak pastrami."
Me: (looking at the tray with similar looking meats) "Which is the steak pastrami?"
Art: "What, have you become a goy? It looks different than the corned beef!"
Me: "OK, what else?"
Art: "Mustard."
I put some mustard on the bread.
Art: "That is not enough mustard! Even I can see that there's not enough mustard!"
Me: (looking at the tray) "Oh, I see sweet pickles. That must be what mom meant by sweet potatoes.*
Art: "You didn't know that? Of course that's what she meant. You think I could be married to her for 63 years and not know what she meant?"

Lenore: "Have some fruit. I cut up some fresh fruit today."
Art: "I'll have fruit."
Lenore dishes out a few pieces of cantaloupe.
Art: "That's enough."
Lenore keeps dishing out more fruit. Art and Lenore start talking to each other. Lenore keeps dishing out more fruit. Art keeps eating more fruit.

Me: "What are you gonna do with all this meat?"
Lenore: "Sam's coming for lunch tomorrow. I think I'll freeze the rest."
Me: "I don't think cold cuts freeze very well."
Art: "We don't want to freeze it. Call Bernice and invite her over for dinner tomorrow. We won't tell her we got the tray today."

Someone said my family is like a Seinfeld episode. Too bad the show went off the air. I would have plenty of material to submit.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Life Lessons

Today was a day for thinking about life lessons. I attended the high school graduation of Linda. She is the last of our group to finish high school. This time, since I wasn't thinking ahead to the giving of the diplomas, I was able to listen to each speech, and they were not bad. Then I came home and read the paper. Our local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, had re-published columnist Regina Brett's 50 life lessons. They are all worth considering:

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here's an update:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don't ask, you don't get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thoughts on a Marriage

When I was young, I wondered about marriage. The thought occurred to me that once you make that decision, you are planning to be with that person the rest of your life. It was an overwhelming prospect to me. I am someone who needs alone time and when I spend too much time with anyone in close proximity, I feel - well - overwhelmed.

But I made that decision in 1985, and I have had no regrets.

What is amusing to me lately is how two people with different temperaments can successfully live together.

D is very calm. He ended one of his famous humorous newsletters with "what me, worry?" and I thought yep that's him. I, on the other hand, worry about everything. If anything can possibly go wrong, I've envisioned it in my head. That old anxiety gets worse as I get older. I used to think I would get calmer as I aged, but the opposite seems to be true.

I am also a person who tends to rush through things, including, sadly, life in general. While I don't plan to view life this way, it's like there's never enough time for me.

In the past few years, I've discovered that gardening can slow me down. I can putter around and it's ok. But there's still that part of me that's urging me to come on, hurry up, get this done.

And maybe this whole gardening thing is a way to look at our life together.

My brother owns a flower and vegetable seed company. He asked me what kind of seeds I wanted and I told him pole beans. I knew nothing about pole beans. I did a little internet research and learned they grow tall and need something tall like a pole (hence the name, I guess), for the plant to wind itself around. So I got my seeds in the mail. There were no instructions, because my brother's company sends to professional growers (I do not fit into that category). So after waiting weeks to find a guy who would actually show up to rototill the garden (another topic for another day), we were ready to plant. I was ready to just dig in the garden and plant the seeds. D, on the other hand, had to approach this in his slow, methodical way. He got on the internet and told me there was conflicting information. Some sites said the beans need sun; some said the beans need shade. He was standing there telling me about this dilemma and I just said "plant the damn things already." And thinking about our exchange later, with a smile, I realized how different our temperaments are.

The other night at dinner we decided to go to a nursery to get a few more vegetable plants. We weren't sure when the nursery closed, but we guessed 8:00. So after dinner, I was ready, but D was doing his usual "stuff." My son describes it as "dad's gotta do his rituals." He has to find his eyedrops, which is usually a 5 minute search. Then his wallet. Then he always tends to find a million things to do when it's time to leave. So this night, D started his rituals. It fills me with anxiety to wait for him, so I sat down at the computer to kill some time. Time went by. I waited. Finally at 7:35, I said "uh, I think we need to get moving" and he said "I've been waiting for you!" and I said "I've been waiting for you!" And if I could count how many times we have exchanged these very words, it would be a very large number.

We arrived at the nursery at 7:55. There were only 2 cars in the lot. We walked in and asked the three guys standing there, clearly anxious to leave, when they closed. "8:00" said the older one. I think the younger ones would have said "we're closed" had the older guy not been there. I said "we can do this in 5 minutes." It was a challenge. We had to get our bodies past the rows of racks of flowers they had pulled together in anticipation of closing. We each picked out a vegetable plant. We just needed one more thing - mulch. I said to D "grab a bag of mulch." Which is what I would have done. Well, there were about 20 varieties of mulch. And D stood there in front of those bags and said "I don't know what to pick." I stood there tapping my foot, knowing the guys who worked there were ready to kill us. D asked the older guy "what works best on vegetables?" and the older guy responded "they will all do fine on vegetables." OK, that would have been the time when I would have checked the prices and grabbed the cheapest bag. Not D. He stood there, looking at each bag.

We finally got out of there. It took more than the 5 minutes; I had prided myself on meeting that deadline.

And then there's the other thing that they say is the number one cause of conflict with couples: finances. If I had my way, we would save every penny. If D had his way, we would spend every penny. Somehow, some way, we have reached a medium that is probably where we should be. If D had to say the words heard most from me during our life together, it would have to be "I don't know how you think we have money for this." Well the ultimate irony happened the other day - we had moved a loan from one bank to another, and the new bank did a credit check and sent us their results. And would you believe D's credit score was higher than mine? The frivolous one gets the better grade?!!! Geez.