Enough Nothing

I’ve had enough of the “blissful nothing” I was so looking forward to this weekend. Nothing is overrated, especially when the rest of the family and everyone else I know are off doing lots of somethings.

The nothing was great on Saturday. Probably because there wasn’t a lot of nothing. I cleaned and did laundry until the house was sparkling. I sat back and admired it.

And then I got bored.

The family members were all off either working (Mark) or spending time with friends (the kids). Friends were all busy with their own family weekend holiday festivities. I didn’t know what to do with myself. And it rained. Thank god for the Law & Order SVU marathon! I went to bed at 9:30 Sunday night. 9:30, people! At least I’ve had plenty of sleep.

Today the sun is back out. I had a great run this morning. I was supposed to take my dad bowling, but that fell through because his back hurts too much to bowl. I am now in the midst of wrangling up some fun with Gina. I need activity and fun! Enough nothing! I’ve had my fill of nothing. Someone kick me in the head the next time I say I need some nothing. It’s guess it’s not really nothing that I need. It’s a lack of too many commitments and the opportunity to go with whatever something comes along that I really need.

I have way too much energy for all this nothing!

All he had to do was ask!

So, it occurs to me that my dad wants me to take him bowling.

Really, it hasn’t so much occurred to me as the information has finally penetrated my brain. I’m pretty sure my mom has said to me on approximately three different occasions lately, Your dad would like to go bowling again. The last time she said this was on Thursday when I went over to visit them. At that time, I realized this wasn’t the first time my mom had said those words to me lately. I had heard them before, but forgotten them just as quickly. This time they stuck and now I’ve got a case of the guilts because I haven’t offered to take my dad bowling before now.

I wonder why she didn’t just add the words, Why don’t you ask him? Or Do you think you could make some time to do this? It would make him really happy. My mom has known me my whole life. Doesn’t she know I’m kind of dense sometimes?

And wouldn’t this be so much easier if my dad would just look at me and say, “I’d like to go bowling with you. Do you want to go sometime? Let’s set a date.”

Wouldn’t that just make sense?

But no. See, my family doesn’t operate that way. And as much as it’s been proven over the years that in spite of our best efforts, none of us is going to read one another’s minds, we just keep trying. We toss hints out there, hoping someone will catch on, but it doesn’t work. Never has. I’m kind of black and white in this regard. If my dad wants to go bowling with me, he should just ask and I will say yes and we’ll go bowl and live happily ever after.

Whatever. It’s taken a while but I’ve finally got it in my head that my dad wants to bowl and so I’m going to ask him if he wants to go tomorrow. With his vision, limited strength and arthritis, I doubt he’ll be able to bowl more than a game or maybe two. I don’t care. That’s fine.

I was just thinking that no matter how few games we play, we might be there a while. My dad doesn’t move quickly. Also, he doesn’t speak quickly. If he’s got something to tell you… if there’s a story in the works…it’s not gonna be a short story. (And you’ve always wondered where I get it from. Now you know!) Oh gosh, I just had an awful flashback to my youth. When I misbehaved, the worst punishment I could ask for would be a lecture from dad. He’d make me stand in the kitchen while he sat in his chair and talked on and on. And on. For HOURS. (It seemed like hours anyway.) I would stand there and roll my eyes, saying, “I know. I know! I KNOW! You SAID that already.” It’s a wonder the man didn’t haul off and smack my face.

I digress. Anyway… I guess I’ll give my dad a call and see if he wants to go bowling tomorrow. I could sit here and try to telepathically let him know I’d like to go bowling with him, but I think I’ll give this direct communication thing a shot.

Life is Good – May 28, 2010

I’m so glad to have reached the end of this week. There’s a long holiday weekend ahead. The other night at dinner, Brad asked what I had planned for Memorial Day weekend. I replied, “Blissfully nothing.” Of course, he being young and eager to embrace life, and not so thrilled with the prospect of “nothing” asked, “Then do you mind if I blissfully go to Justin’s cabin for the weekend?” I couldn’t refuse him. He’s been working hard around the house this week and next week he becomes a full-time working man for the summer. So, go Brad. Enjoy a weekend at the lake with your friend!

I plan to catch up on chores around the house, the usual weekend fare. I also plan to do some bowling. I need to practice. I am really stinking up the lanes in my summer league. We bowl on oil patterns in this league, and it’s really throwing me off. I need to get this figured out if I want to have any hopes of earning some points this summer! Jake will bowl with me. He can’t refuse an offer of bowling when mom pays and will probably buy him lunch and all the pop he can drink too.

Speaking of bowling, don’t let the fact that I suck lead you to believe I’m not having fun. This week was especially fun because Dan (who needs a good nick-name like Preacher Dave has) couldn’t bowl, and we got Gina to sub for him. It was just like old times! She was fun. She was loud. She had everyone laughing, especially when she tried to motivate Dave and me by loudly offering to buy a new pair of panties for us if we made our shot. “There’s a pair of panties on the line” could be heard throughout the bowling alley. We bowled one of the Asian teams and one of the guys was named “Legend.” I asked him if it was his real name or just a nick-name. He replied in a very Eeyore-like voice, “It’s my real name. My dad named me that.” (I think he’s been asked that question a time or two.) Anyway, I thought it was cool and told him so. They were fun to bowl. They were very encouraging and always high-fived us no matter whether we closed our frame or not.

On the home-front, things are coming together in the kitchen. Mark put both boys to work this week since they were both out of school and they finished the trim-work, thresholds and finished tiling the back-splash. It’s gorgeous! I love it. It makes the kitchen feel so warm! Now I just need to paint a couple of walls, pick out some lights and Mark needs to get the crown molding installed. It’s almost done!

And finally, the weather has been GORGEOUS here! Early in the week it was in the nineties and humid. The last few days, it cooled down to the eighties and the humidity was gone. This is my kind of weather. PERFECT! So I got out in the back yard with my camera yesterday and snapped some pictures in the back garden, (formerly known as the garden-of-death because nothing would grow there. It has decided to be cooperative and actually looks kind of decent now!) So I guess I’ll stop calling it the garden-of-death now. Just “garden” works, I guess.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The East Side

I’ve been avoiding the freeway on my drive home lately because of road construction and major delays. Instead, I’ve been taking another route home through the east side of St. Paul. That neighborhood holds a lot of memories for me. I grew up on what was considered the outskirts of the east side. My grandparents lived all their lives in the heart of the east side.

I have great memories, especially of my grandparents’ neighborhood in St. Paul. It was a very Polish community back in the day. The church my grandparents attended all of their lives is still there, St. Casimir’s Catholic Church. My parents were married in that church. I attended an aunt and uncle’s wedding there and the funerals of my grandparents.

The Polish American Club is still there. Federowski’s service station is long gone. Town homes have taken its place. The grocery store where my grandma once shopped is now a Hmong grocery store. My doctor’s office is still there, and I still receive care in the same office I did all the years of my life.

The street on which I drive home from work is a couple of miles south of my grandma’s old neighborhood, but it is still very familiar. 7th Street has always been a main thoroughfare, and many of the buildings along it are still there, though the faces have mostly changed. Every day, I drive past the hospital where I was born, except now it’s not a hospital. It’s a university. When I was 13, the hospital was still a hospital and I volunteered there as a candy striper. Just a few blocks east is the place I worked in my late high school years (for pay, by that time.) It used to be a video rental store. Now it’s an abandoned building.

That particular part of the neighborhood many years ago used to be called Swede Hollow. There’s a small cafe in one of the old buildings called the Swede Hollow Cafe. I love that. I love that someone is making sure that the old days aren’t forgotten.

Going further east still, there is a long stretch of land where I still see the long buildings that were a roofing company. I can still smell the tar from when they were making shingles. But I’m probably one of the few who still see those buildings because they’re not actually there anymore. There is green grass where the hot and dirty buildings used to stand. I can still see the workers, standing in the wide open doorways, smoking cigarettes, taking a break from the hot stuffy air inside the factory. All the activity of the past is long gone now. It actually brings a cleaner look to that stretch of 7th street. The homes directly across from where the roofing company used to stand don’t seem as run down as they did when it was still there. They look homier, cleaner, more welcoming. I wonder why?

On the corner across from the old roofing company is a bar that’s been there forever. At one time it was called Thaddeus Cooper’s. Later, it was called Michaels. At one time recently, it was The Noose. The sign then said, “A great place to hang.” The neighbors took offense and that tag line was removed. Today it’s called something else. I can’t even remember the newest name even though I just drove past it this afternoon.

There’s the lumber company which closed down just a few years ago, the funeral home, still going strong. I guess a funeral home will never go out of business. There’s a gas station/convenience store that stands where one has always stood. But this one is newer and prettier than the one that used to stand there.

I’ve always been fascinated by the homes lining this busy street. The front yards have steep embankments. Cement stairs climb toward the front doors. Some still have porches. When I was a kid, I wished I could live in one of those houses and see all the cars and people who traveled up and down 7th Street. I imagined the families sitting on their porches, talking with the neighbors as they walked by on the front sidewalk. I looked at their gardens and the little things that made those houses homes. The neighborhood seemed warm then. The houses are so old now, so many of the buildings run down. And sometimes when I drive through the neighborhood, it makes me feel sad. It seems decrepit and depressed. But today, I saw it differently. The sun was shining. People were walking the sidewalks, going somewhere, waiting for buses. It occurred to me that where I live, in the suburbs, there’s not so much of people walking to get somewhere. Oh, they might be walking for exercise, but not really to get anywhere, because here in the suburbs, you’d have to walk too far to get much of anywhere. There’s no corner grocery stores, very few family businesses. Here in the suburbs, if you want to get somewhere, you have to go in your car.

On 7th Street today, I saw people. I saw neighbors. I saw homes and a community. I saw people sitting on their front steps. I saw a man caring for his yard. It wasn’t the same community I remember. The faces were different. The skin color was different. But I realized the neighborhood was still just that – a neighborhood. It is home to someone. It has changed, but everything changes. Nothing can stay exactly the same. It’s not sad. It’s just different.

As I pulled into my own neighborhood, I saw how it has changed in the 22 years since I’ve lived here. It used to be fresh and new and young. But the years are beginning to take their toll. The trees are tall now. Some of the driveways are deteriorating. The home styles are no longer in fashion. This neighborhood is aging too. Someday my kids will look back and see different faces and people of different backgrounds. I hope they won’t look at it and see it as sad and broken and ugly. I hope they’ll remember the life that was here and the character of this place they once called home.

Night Out with the Chiropractor

So, as it turns out, he’s a pretty fun guy. Not that I had any doubt. I figured that much out from the first time I ran into him at the bar playing kissy-face with his wife. He’s also pretty laid back and funny during my visits to his office.  His wife is a blast. I LOVE her! She’s outgoing and silly and fun, fun, fun!

I suppose I should give some background here in case anyone missed the post that explains why I was out with my chiropractor. Mark and I were out with the chiropractor and his wife and with my coworker and her husband. Chiropractor’s Wife is the sister of Coworker’s Husband. So that’s why we had this strange little mix of people out together for an evening of fun. Chiropractor has been asking for months for us to go out with him and his wife socially. So we did. They brought some friends along. My sister ended up joining us. We had quite a fun little group going.

The entertainment was an 80′s themed band called Brat Pack Radio and they were very fun. They dressed, as you can imagine, as our favorite celebrities from the 80′s. One of them was the lead singer from Loverboy. The girl was Molly Ringwald. I’m not quite sure who the rest of the band were supposed to be, but they were talented. I’m not a huge fan of 80′s music, even though my high school years spanned the early 80′s. But they were good. Very entertaining. And all of us women? We danced. A lot. Chiropractor danced too, but Mark and Coworker’s Husband are not the dancing type. They are more the sit-at-the-table-and-watch-the-purses-and-talk-hunting-and-fishing type. And they did so very well, I might add.

However, at one time, I decided that Mark really should experience dancing to the 80′s again. (Because I know he did it before, back in the 80′s, before he got old. I know. I was there.) So I knew that Mark would not join me on the dance floor, but I figured he couldn’t resist the adorable and convincing Chiropractor’s Wife. I suggested to her that maybe she should ask Mark to dance. She did and refused to take no for an answer. All four of us went out on the floor and she showered Mark with attention. (This was fast dancing, no slow dancing. Don’t worry.) However, for me, it was just a little too strange dancing so near Chiropractor, so I shimmied over by Mark, at which point, Chiropractor’s Wife said, “Hey, get away from my dance partner!” And she proceeded to finish the dance with him. He loved it!

We stayed late. The band was still playing at 1:30 when we decided to call it a night and head home. Chiropractor has already asked us to join he and Wife for another fun-filled evening in just a couple of weeks. I guess that means it was a successful night!

‘Cause I Had a Bad Day

It happens.

It’s been a bad day as far as being a parent and a part of this family. I guess it’s nothing that most families don’t face at one time or another. Maybe I got cocky. I often say that I am very lucky to have such good kids. And I do have good kids. But this weekend we all tested one another’s patience.

Personally, I let myself give in to that overwhelmed feeling I often experience. I ended the work week feeling pretty exhausted and somewhat sick, and as a result, Friday night was a loss for me. I got nothing accomplished. Saturday morning started out good. Physically, I felt good. I had a great run. And then I turned to face the household chores. It feels like the house just falls apart between the time the cleaning is done one weekend, until the time we reach the next. And I think the ongoing improvements taking place in the kitchen are beginning to take their toll as well. I just wish it were all done and I weren’t constantly looking at half-finished trim work and missing crown-molding. I’m tired of seeing tools in my kitchen. I want them out.

So the house was a mess on Saturday and the rest of the family had disappeared. Oh, they were all doing productive things to some degree, just nothing that helped out here, in our own home! And I started letting it get to me. Suddenly the unkempt condition of the house grew to epic proportions in my mind. The resentment seeped in. “I work full-time. I’m tired after working too. I would rather be doing something fun. But here am I. Cleaning the house. All by myself.”

Finally, near the end of the day, I vented my feelings by having a nice little yelling-fest with my husband, after which I apologized for blowing a cork and he informed me that I had every right to blow a cork and to which I responded, “Damn straight.” (He lets me get away with a little tantrum now and then. He knows it is cleansing for me.)

So we then had a talk with the kids about contributing around the house and things got back on track to some degree. But some things happened today. And some things came to light. It was nothing life or death, mind you, but just some things that were kind of disheartening and disappointing. I saw a side of my kids that I knew had to be there, but just don’t like to see.  There was selfishness and insensitivity. And there was one issue with some behavior that is somewhat serious. You know how you make mistakes in your life, and you grow up and learn better, then as a parent hope your kids don’t bother with that particular poor choice? Yes, well, hoping isn’t always enough. But we had a serious heart-to-heart and all I can do now is hope that child can see that my disappointment is only so deep because my love for my children is as deep as it is. (Yes, I know this is vague, but I don’t want to hurt that particular child by writing specifically about the situation. I don’t want that child to feel any more beat down than they probably already feel.)

It was hot here today with humidity around 53%. I’m not sure why my husband resisted turning on the air conditioning for most of the day, but the stifling atmosphere just contributed to my feelings of failure and claustrophobia. I ended up hiding out in my bedroom for the evening and am ready to call it quits for this day. I’m looking forward to a new week and a better grip on everything. I know that I need to take control of the things that get to me. There is no reason we can’t maintain some semblance of order around this place. I guess it’s just going to have to be up to me to dictate how that is to be accomplished. I know the whole family does so much better when I make a check list of things that need doing. The check list (and probably a schedule) are the key to maintaining my sanity in this respect. They’re not lazy. But I remember being a kid. Kids don’t see that the floor needs vacuuming. Kids don’t see dust. But they will help with chores if I just tell them what I need. No one is going to read my mind, ever.

And just so you know, the evening out with our chiropractor and friends was a blast. I’ll save that story for another day.

Bratwurst Omelet

I love eggs. They’re so versatile. And there’s nothing I love more than a good omelet on a Saturday morning.

I had a marathon sleep last night. I woke up with a headache yesterday morning and was unable to shake it all day. I came home from work, put my pajamas on and got in bed at 6:00. I slept until 8:30, got up for a while, and then went back for the night. This morning I felt great and went to the gym for a run. The guy at the front desk stopped after swiping my gym pass to look at my key lanyard. “You love bowling,” he asked? (Because my lanyard says, “I love bowling.”)

“I DO,” I replied laughing and went off to find a good treadmill positioned right in front of a great Saturday morning fishing show where a couple of guys were catching huge Muskies on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota. I love fishing. I enjoy fishing shows. The run was good. Just what I needed.

When I came home, I wanted an omelet.

With a house full of young people out of school for the summer, the grocery supply is running low. There were no typical omelet ingredients hanging around in the fridge. Then I spotted the leftover bratwurst from dinner last night.

“Hmmm. Might be good,” I thought.

Guess what? A little chopped bratwurst… a little shredded cheddar…It’s excellent! You should try it. And for those who like it HOT (like me) put a little Sriracha on top. Yum!

Guess I just cancelled out the run, didn’t I?