Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Time with family trumps cleaning

Time with family trumps cleaning

Published 08/22/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 08/19/2013 04:21 PM

Years ago I remember driving home from my grandmother's house in New Jersey and listening to a discussion between my mom and dad about how Nana wasn't keeping her house as pristine as she used to.
Back and forth they went about her diminishing cleaning habits, until they finally came to the consensus that she either needed new glasses or she was just too old to care about maintaining a spotless home. She was 10 years younger than I am now.
I don't think age or eyesight had anything to do with her new lived-in look, it was about finally letting go of preconceived female obligation.
To me a sink full of dishes is not that important unless you run out of something to place your food on; isn't that what paper plates are for? I'd rather play gin rummy with my daughter than vacuum, and go for a ride with my husband instead of scrubbing the microwave.
When our daughters were little if they wanted to read a book, play a board game or share time with me, the dishes sat, the laundry piled up and dog hair tumbleweeds gathered in the corner. Spending time with family trumped cleaning for two reasons: I was a perfect mother and I didn't care if I had to vault over the pile of shoes in the front hall as long as I could open the door.
When our oldest was a toddler she woke up one night upset because she believed monsters could get in through her bedroom window. Explaining that no one was coming in her window because it was on the second floor did not allay her fears. So I told her I had sprinkled special fairy dust on the window sills which would keep the monsters out.
"Oh no you deh-ent," she said in that way little kids speak when they think you are lying to them.
"Oh yes, I did." She ran her hand along the sill, palm coated in dust, she smiled.
"It's everywhere," I whispered. She went back to bed.
The next day she checked every window sill and never feared monsters again.
There were times when the detritus of everyday life became so overwhelming I would rant and rave and play drill-sergeant until the house shone. Those moments were a direct result of hormone levels which at my current age no longer drive the need to elicit control.
With our empty nest temporarily very full I am amazed how relaxed I am with the exercise bike and camping gear in the upstairs hallway. That our spare bedroom/office is stacked with my daughter's still boxed wedding gifts does not faze me. Living with stuff out of place is about as upsetting to me as raking leaves - if they don't kill the lawn I'm fine with them.
I did recently replace my 10-year-old mop. It was one of those attach-a-cleaning pad and spray models. It didn't wear out, the cleaning solution was discontinued ... three years ago.
It's not like we live knee-deep in a hoarder's paradise, it's just that cleaning has always been low on my life-list along with sky diving, motorcycles and lima beans. A spotless home isn't lived in, messy homes are an anthem to activity.
When our daughters were away at college, graduated and living elsewhere, our house stayed clean. Was it nice? Yes. Was it quiet? Yes. But it was way too quiet - I'll have eternity for quiet. Now I opt for camping gear, dog hair and a pile of shoes in the hall, which though formidable, still allows me to open the door.
Bookmark and ShareEnough said.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A coon, a cat and a couple of Footlongs (original title)

A coon, a cat and a couple of Footlongs

Published 08/01/2013 12:00 AM

All we wanted to do was take a couple of Footlongs to the town beach, sit in the car, look at Long Island Sound and eat dinner. Funny, how best made plans always seem to shift on the tide.
Because our familial tenants, my daughter and her husband, were taking their 16-foot aluminum boat, which used to be my father's, then my husband's and now my son-in-law's, to Rogers Lake after work, I decided not to cook.

We live in the woods and when we left, my husband spotted a black cat with a white flea collar, lying at the edge of our driveway. At first we thought it was not alive but when we checked, the chest moved up and down, barely, and it's head moved slightly. It let out a tiny meow and my heart melted.
It was late afternoon, all the local vets were closed and the nearest emergency veterinarian hospital was 45 minutes away. We simply didn't know what to do.

My first thought, our neighbor has a black cat. We drove next door and banged on the front door, no answer. We walked around back and as we did movement caught my eye. A Cujo-sized raccoon raised its head. Raccoon, still light out, we quickly retreated to our car. Back we drove to the cat convinced that its distress had been caused by a possibly rabid raccoon. Interpretation: don't touch the cat. So I did what any right-minded wife, trapped in a car with an indecisive husband would do, I called 911.

Sharing our cat-in-distress dilemma with a 911 operator may seem a bit extreme but I figured they could transfer me to the local police and animal control officer, which was exactly what they did. We were asked to wait until someone showed up to care for the cat and deal with Cujo-raccoon.
My husband's cellphone rang.

Our daughter and son-in-law were stranded in the middle of Rogers Lake. The boat engine had died, they couldn't restart it and had resorted to a pair of collapsible oars to get them to shore. My husband explained our cat and raccoon dilemma - surprise, they weren't interested.

Within a few minutes a very nice policeman arrived. He walked around the neighbor's yard with a device which looked like one of those HurryCanes as advertised on TV, which I assumed packed quite a jolt if overtaken by Cujo-raccoon. The animal was gone. The officer offered to wait for animal control if we had somewhere to go, we did - the beach.

My husband's cellphone rang.

The kids had made it to shore and were trailering the boat.
Long Island Sound was calm, the weather was perfect and as we relaxed and unwrapped our subs. The cell phone rang - again. The wheel bearings on the boat trailer had seized and my daughter, her husband, the car and trailer with boat, plus her car, were now stranded alongside the south-bound on-ramp to the Baldwin Bridge.

I never knew that a boat that size could actually fit in the back of my husband's pick-up. On his second trip I was amazed to learn that the trailer fit as well. The outboard motor made it home in the back of my son-in-law's jeep.

We didn't get to finish our Footlongs until quite late. I learned that the cat had not been touched by the raccoon and that it perked up when the animal control officer showed up and took it to the emergency vet. Cujo-raccoon has not been seen since and the boat leans against a tree in the back yard while they work on the wheel bearings. Dinner at the beach, I don't think so, enough said.