Underwear? Under there?

This is what I love about girlfriends: You can ask them things that in polite conversation would probably cause raised eyebrows.For instance, in polite conversation, you can’t just ask someone if they’re in the habit of wearing underwear or not. But in girlfriend-conversation, you can ask, and they’ll answer honestly and not even think you’re strange for asking.

I went to the gym this morning for Step Aerobics and Body Works classes, as has become my Saturday morning routine. Upon entering the room, I spied my friend, Lori. We chatted a bit, talking about weekend plans. She’s having people over tonight. This being my loner weekend when the husband works all night and sleeps all day, my plans are a bit more low-key. I’m going to start watching the DVDs Lori loaned me – Mad Men Season 1 – so I can participate in the Mad Men conversations that happen during lunch break. Because clearly I do not watch enough t.v. to keep up with the lunchtime conversations.

Soon enough, the class began. We stepped and kicked and mamboed for an hour.  (Yes, we did the mambo! That was fun!) And we sweated our butts off.

After Step Aerobics, there was a fifteen minute break before Body Works began. Lori and I grabbed some hand weights and waited for the class to fill up. While we waited, Lori looked around at the others in the room and remarked that we were all wearing Easter colors. For some reason that reminded me of a gym-wardrobe question that had been plaguing me.

I asked Lori, “See everyone wearing the yoga style pants and capris like mine?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you supposed to wear underwear under those?”

For the record, this is NOT my butt.

Lori didn’t bat an eye. She looked at me and said, “I wear underwear when I have a looser style on. But when I wear those kind, I don’t. I think a lot of people go without when they wear yoga pants. But I think it’s a matter of personal preference. Why?”

“Well, I was noticing at home that if someone were to look at my butt, they could probably see the outline of my bikinis underneath. When I look at my butt in the mirror, I can see the outline.”

Not that I was studying my own butt. Okay, so maybe I was. I’ve been working hard. I might have wanted to see if it was getting toned. This is when the underwear line dilemma was discovered. I’ve also been known to do that body-builder pose in front of the mirror to see if all this work has had any sculpting effects on my arms and shoulders. It has, but it’s only really noticeable so far if I flex. Oh well.

Lori shrugged, signalling that I was worrying needlessly about underwear.

“You’re probably right, I said. “Not that anyone is probably looking at my butt while we’re busy working out, anyway,” I  was trying to make myself feel better. It didn’t work because clearly I was checking out other ladies’ butts to see if I could see the outline of their undies. And believe me, in many cases, I could not find one!

“Well, I don’t look at your butt,” Lori laughed, swatting me playfully on the arm! “But I’m gonna now!”

And then Body Works began and I was almost too busy lunging and lifting my weights to worry about whether or not the outline of my underwear was visible to others. So there’s one worry I can check off the list of many. And I can relax now that I know that going commando is an acceptable practice at the gym.

In my Mom’s Kitchen

I love my mom’s kitchen. Not because it’s a fabulous kitchen. It’s pretty basic as far as kitchen’s go. It’s not that big either. You know how whenever you have company, it seems like everyone ends up in the kitchen? I’ve spent many a holiday at my parents’ house, helping prepare the meal while shooing nieces and nephews out to the living room and pushing my big little brothers out of the way. There’s barely room for Mom and her two daughters to work together, much less having to trip over the big feet of the big little brothers.

There’s a pantry in my mom’s kitchen. It’s not much of a pantry. It’s just a closet with some shelves in it. Inside, brown paper grocery bags are stacked on the floor and one paper bag stands open, stuffed with plastic bags. There are boxes of crackers and bags of chips. And there are recipes. My grandma’s recipe boxes are in there and so is the old Betty Crocker cook book that’s been around, probably since before I was born.

In the cupboard, there are liquid measuring cups. They’ve been around since my childhood too and they’ve seen better days. One is plastic – Tupperware. You can see the raised numbers marking the measurements on the side of the cup and if you look closely under good lighting, you can read the numbers. The markings used to be red but the paint has long since worn off. There’s a metal measuring cup too, just like the ones my grandma used to have in her kitchen. I’ve never had a metal measuring cup. They’d come out with those new-fangled Pyrex ones by the time I’d begun to stock my own kitchen.

The cupboards also hold a matching pair of stone wear soup mugs with a chestnut brown finish. The word soup in a darker brown is printed in various sizes and fonts all over each mug. They bring back memories of the kitchen table in the house where I grew up. I loved to fill one of those mugs with steaming tomato soup. There was usually a toasty grilled cheese sandwich right beside that mug.

My sister and I bought kitchen things for Mom at Christmas time. Some of her stuff was well past its prime. I think the old hand-held cheese grater was actually beginning to rust. Mom appreciated the new things. She said having nice kitchen equipment made cooking more enjoyable. But so much of the old stuff still remains.

Mom must have had a burst of energy this week. She invited Mark and I to come have dinner with her and Dad tonight. When my kids were little and Mark was working evenings, Mom would often invite me to come with the kids and have dinner with them. It’s been a lot of years since we’ve done that. It was nice to sit at the table and enjoy a meal in my parents’ kitchen again. Of course, there are holidays when we’re all there – sister, brothers, in-laws, nieces and nephews. It’s been a long time since it was just us, and it was nice.

I helped Mom put the finishing touches on the meal. She’d prepared a pork roast in the crock pot and there were white potatoes boiling on the stove. I offered to mash them, and Mom handed me the electric hand mixer and the small metal mixing bowl. It’s the baby of a set of three and has been the setting for many a homemade icing or sauce or some other concoction over the years. I realized that the hand masher Mom used for potatoes when I was growing up was either no longer around, or had simply been shunned in favor of the electric mixer. I kind of miss the hand-mashed potatoes. I kind of liked a few lumps in my potatoes.

When the asparagus was done cooking, Mom and I  put everything on the table and called the guys in from the living room where they were watching Wheel of Fortune and talking. We sat together, the four of us. We said grace before we ate. The food was delicious and I was full by the time I’d cleaned my plate. After dinner, Mom asked who wanted pie. She’d baked one of those frozen deals on an ancient round baking sheet sort of thing. The years have blackened it, but mom still uses it. She just covers it with aluminum foil before putting any food on it.

I tend to go through my own kitchen cupboards every few years. Cheap, old stuff gets purged as I replace it with newer and better. But maybe I should think twice next time. Maybe I should start working on making my kitchen “vintage” like my mom has done. After all, my kids will soon have kitchens of their own. And when they come back to mine, I want to serve up fond memories, just like my mom does.

Getting Old Doesn’t Always Suck

Getting old sucks. I hear the phrase all the time and even say it myself now and then. But never has it felt more true than this weekend. For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been working out almost daily. I’ve found a couple of fitness classes that I just love, Step Aerobics and Body Works. Both include ab work and I feel so good after I’ve finished a good workout. My muscles have ached more than ever in the past month, but in a hurts so good sort of way.

And then came yesterday. I had plans to go to the gym at 8:30 a.m. for Step Aerobics and then stay for the 9:45 Body Works class. While getting ready to go, I was reaching up and behind my head, pulling my hair into a pony tail. In the process of doing so, I felt a sudden pull and then a burning pain in my neck and right shoulder. It wasn’t a completely unfamiliar pain. I’ve had my share of pulled muscles in my neck and back over the years. I seem to be susceptible. But normally, I experience this particular pain for a good reason, like physical labor. But brushing my hair? Seriously? Who pulls a muscle while brushing their hair? Getting old sucks!

Regardless of the muscle pull, I went to the gym. I figured that exercising might do my neck muscles some good. I made it through both classes, but skipped s few of the exercises in the Body Works class when I knew I’d be putting undo strain on the aching muscle. Then I went home and found the Advil!

Last night we had our couples bowling league and I blame my lame muscle pull for the way I bowled, which is to say, not good. I only bowled over my average in one game! But I had fun anyway. We always have fun with our bowling buddies. It’s become routine to meet for dinner with five or six of the other couples before we have to be at the bowling alley. We take turns picking the restaurant. Once we’ve all gathered, we’re usually the biggest, loudest group in the restaurant. So we’ve made it a habit to choose sports bar/restaurant type places that tend to be a bit on the loud side anyway.

It seems that these gatherings start earlier each subsequent time we get together. Bowling starts at 6:30. And initially, we’d choose a place near the bowling alley and meet around 5:00. These days, we’re gathering by 4:00 and we have such a good time eating, drinking and socializing, that by the time we have to leave for bowling, someone inevitably asks, “Why don’t we just skip bowling?”

But as much as I enjoy the social time with our friends, I also really enjoy bowling. So I’m glad we go.

The group didn’t want to part ways after bowling was done last night, so we stayed. We talked. We joked. We laughed. And we made plans for the summer when we won’t have our bi-monthly bowling night to keep us getting together. Last August, one of the couples invited the rest of the group to their family cabin for a weekend at the lake. Mark and I missed out on the weekend as we had a wedding to attend and boy, we never heard the end of it as to what a good time we missed out on! There was plenty of food and plenty of drink. There was plenty of sun, warm temperatures, boat rides on the lake and swimming off the dock. There was music and laughter. There were card games and games of bean bag toss.

Now that the bowling season is winding down, plans are being made for summer fun and another weekend at the lake is in the works. And am I ever looking forward to joining the gang this time around! While we hung out last night, plans began to take shape for the second annual event. The drinks continued to flow for some of the group. The more drinks consumed, the bigger the plans became. What started out as “a weekend,” soon turned to “a long weekend.” Someone proposed we all take off Friday that weekend and make it three days. Then a Thursday start was proposed.

The group continued to reminisce about last year even as plans for this year were taking shape. I wondered if any event to come could possibly live up to the fun and laughter that was remembered from last year. But I’m sure willing to give it a try!

Mark and I limited our drinking last night. He was driving and I simply didn’t want to overdo it. We had hoped to leave for home at a fairly early hour, but we were responsible for driving some of the others home and it seemed each time we were ready to call it a night, someone came back to the table with more drinks. Finally, near midnight, we said we were heading out, ready or not. The others readily finished up their drinks and we all piled in the car where talk of last year’s party weekend continued. The stories shared, even though they were now being repeated from tales told earlier in the evening, seemed funnier than ever and laughter filled the car.

Someone suggested we start this year’s “weekend” on Wednesday and end it on Monday.

It was comical to watch our friends as they exited the car upon arriving at each of their homes. Clearly, some of them had had a little too much to drink. I doubt that today anyone is still thinking it’s a good idea to have our party “weekend” start on Wednesday and go until Monday. I’m pretty sure that a few people are realizing today that they are not as young as they used to be and that if such a long party weekend were to take place, most of us would “poop out” well before the weekend was over. But whether it ends up being just a regular weekend or an extended weekend, I am sure looking forward to spending some extended time with our friends. I love those guys! They keep me feeling young, even as my age insists on creeping up on me!

Getting old does suck sometimes, but it has its benefits. Our kids are old enough to take care of themselves for a few days while we get away. We’ve earned the ability to spend time with adults again and enjoy it without feeling guilty. I guess getting old isn’t always so bad.

Lucy Pie’s First Birthday

It’s Lucy Pie’s first birthday today! At least we think it is. We’re not entirely sure of her age, since the rescue group told me she was four months old when we got her last September, but some of her paperwork listed a birth date of March 21st. The vet was inclined to think the March birth date was more realistic, so we’re going with that.

It’s hard to know what to buy for the dog who has everything. Lucy has a basket full of tug-ropes and Kongs …

KONG Extreme Dog Toys for Strong Chewers - PetSmart

She’s got several “Babies” in various colors, stripes and even camoflage …

ToyShoppe® Loofa Dog Toy - PetSmart

She’s got nyla-bones and real bones and various other toys too. We actually didn’t get her a birthday present. We’ve never been in the habit of celebrating our pets’ birthdays. I don’t think Lucy will notice, anyway. She’s spoiled every day of her life. In fact, it’s a pretty good bet that the next time one of us is at Target, we’ll swing by the dog supply aisle and pick out something for our little diva doggy.

And since it is Lucy’s special day, I thought I’d honor her with her own dog post, which she probably also will not notice, since she really can’t read and pays no attention to this blog. (Photos courtesy of Kacey and my camera, with special thanks to spring break and nothing better to do.)

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Pretty cute, isn’t she?

Pouring

The weatherman said it was going to rain today. For most of the day, I forgot to look up from my computer and check out the window. But usually, if there’s weather to be noticed, someone clues me in. No one did. The rain didn’t come today. It was hazy and cloudy. Windy too. But no rain. As I was driving home, I thought, “Hey, it was supposed to rain today!”

And then a song on the radio caught my attention and I busied myself with singing along.

It was bowling night tonight. I did well and I was happy. For the past four weeks, I’ve not bowled well and I’ve been frustrated. I’d bowl one really good game (maybe) and two less than stellar games (guaranteed.) Tonight I bowled over average all three games. Consistency is good.

We finished early because we had a bye tonight. (We only had to bowl against ourselves.) I knew we were going to be done early and I hadn’t planned to have that last beer, but Teresa, our waitress just brought it. After our games were done, I finished my beer. The pull-tab guy waved me over and asked, “You going to brave the rain?”

“It’s raining,” I asked?

“Ho- boy! It sure is,” he said. “It’s been down-pouring for a while.”

To pass some time, he told me about his vacation in Mexico and his wife’s adventures at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. (He had to go play sober cab for his wife and friends. They had had too much fun.)

Finally, I decided I was going home. I picked up the box of Girl Scout cookies I’d bought from Alishea’s Girl Scout troop. I slung my purse over my shoulder and wheeled my bowling bag behind me. When I reached the doors of the bowling alley, I saw that it was not done raining. Not by a long shot. It was coming down hard. I tried to tuck my box of cookies under my arm and I heard the guy from the bowling desk behind me say, “Whoa.”

I looked back at him as he stared out into the rainy night. I took a deep breath and said, “This should be fun!”

I opened the door and made a run for it. Thank god for flip-flops. Wet socks are gross. The rain was coming down in sheets. My car was only about twenty-feet away, but by the time I got there, flung open the passenger door and tossed in the box of cookies and my purse, I was drenched. My hair was dripping. My bowling shirt was soaked. My jeans were sticking to my legs, and my flip-flops were under water. No sense hurrying anymore, I popped the trunk and heaved my bowling bag inside. By the time I sat down in the driver’s seat, I was waterlogged.

The drive home was an adventure. The windshield wipers were on full-force. The lines in the road were blurred. There was a slightly scary, interminable moment where I could be heard uttering, “Oh sh*t, oh sh*t, oh sh*t…” as the car hydroplaned. I came out of it okay and took it very slow for the rest of the ride home. I could barely recognize the normal scenery. The rain was so heavy, everything was blurred. I was glad to get home where my puppy was very glad to see me. This was her first thunderstorm since she’s been with us and she wasn’t so sure she liked it.

And to think if this were a normal winter, that rain storm might have been a snow storm!

Unseasonable

The air is warm this weekend. Every time I stop to think about it, I am amazed all over again. I keep reminding myself that it’s only mid-March! Brad was born in March. The biggest snow storm of that year came the night he was born. After nearly twenty-four hours of labor, when our beautiful, healthy newborn son had safely arrived and was settled with me, Mark drove home to get some sleep. His truck got stuck in the mountains of snow in the driveway when he tried to pull in. He had to roll down his window and crawl through it to get out of the truck and get into the house. That was twenty-three years and two weeks ago. Today I’m sitting in my living room with the windows cranked open and a warm breeze blowing the window valance to and fro. I’m wearing shorts and my feet are bare. My toenails have been polished for the first time in months, a necessary preparation so that I could wear my flip-flops today. Lucy has discovered bare legs and toes and thinks they are hers for licking.

Kacey is home on spring break. She and her friends have spent most of the daylight hours at “the park.” It’s a favorite hang-out for the gang. They all gather together and the boys play football or basketball. The girls? I’m not sure. I guess they play football or basketball too. Or, like yesterday, they sit and make ankle bracelets in the sun, while the boys play football or basketball.

Yesterday morning, and again today, I got up and headed to the gym to take a fitness class. Timing is strategic. I need to be early enough to be able to find a spot that suits my liking – somewhere near the back. (I’m not seasoned enough to be in front of others just yet.) Both days, I was the first one there. Today, there was a grand total of seven of us in the class, as opposed to the normally twenty or so participants. It’s not hard to figure out where everyone went.

When I got home from the gym yesterday, I had a text from Megan asking, “Is it too nice to spend the day downtown?”

I called her up and said, yes, it was. I’m glad we skipped the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was windy and humid and I heard stories about downtown being so crowded that people had to park miles away and walk in. I’m all for a good time, but not so much for massive crowds.

Lucy is in seventh heaven this weekend, partially due to the weather and partially due to the fact that Kacey is home. Kacey being home means visitors. Lucy loves visitors and Kacey’s friends love Lucy. After the park, they all gathered here. Kacey made cookies in the kitchen while her friends played Wii and fought for Lucy’s attention. Amanda was mad. Lucy wanted nothing to do with her. She cuddled up next to Denver instead and soaked up his attention.

Since we skipped the parade yesterday, I cleaned house and did laundry. I rearranged the living room. There used to be a chair in front of the bow-window. Lucy thought it was okay to sit on the back of the chair and watch the goings on out the front window. I was tired of cleaning her slobber marks off the windows. And the last straw was on Friday when after a meeting at work, I saw the message light lit up on my phone. It was my mom, laughing, letting me know she had just driven by and thought I should know that my dog was happily perched in the front window with her nose up against the glass.

With the chores mostly done, today was a day for relaxing. Kacey and I did a little shopping. Connor tagged along. We didn’t waste a whole lot of time in the stores. The weather was just too beautiful.We returned home for some lunch and then the two went off to hang out at the park with friends again. Me? I hung out in the back yard with Lucy. She sunbathed a bit in a nice dry spot between the shed and the big pine tree.

I watched Lucy from the deck steps, sitting with my camera, soaking up some sunlight of my own, letting the wind blow through my hair. It was a rare chance to just sit and do nothing. The wind was blowing the branches of the pine tree back and forth and I thought I noticed something in the tree.

Do you see it?

I’ve seen Woodpeckers out in the yard on several occasions. Usually I sit quietly and watch, marveling at how pretty they are before they fly off again. It never occurred to me they were damaging the tree. Not that I like that tree very much anyway. It’s big and misshapen and drops a lot of little pine cones in the grass below. They get buried in the grass and make for a not-so-pleasant surprise when I’m wandering barefoot in the yard. Still, that tree has been there since Mark planted it in the spring after we moved in. As much as I often wish there was a nice tall, leafy tree there, this one holds some sentimental value.

Those Woodpeckers have been busy!

But maybe if Lucy keeps hanging out under the tree, the Woodpeckers will stay away.

It’s eighty degrees right now. Lucy is woofing at voices she hears coming from the path behind the back yard. We’re going to go enjoy it while it lasts. Tomorrow calls for thunderstorms. Might as well go back to work, I guess.

Watch Dog

The weather these last few days has been gorgeous! It’s hard to believe that according to the calendar, it’s actually still winter. Temps are heading for the upper seventies today. You’ll find me downtown, enjoying the St. Patrick’s day parade with some of our bowling friends. I might even try some green beer.

Lucy is doing better than she was last weekend. Every  morning, I give her an anti-inflammatory pill. They taste good and she eats them straight up. This is the plan until we decide what further measures to take for her Hip Displasia.

I took her for a walk last night. She’s definitely slower and more careful than she was just a few months ago when she couldn’t explore fast enough. She used to love to run, and I’m sure she still would if I encouraged her but that probably wouldn’t be so good for her.

Lucy is such a sweet dog but she’s got a few bad habits. She digs. The back yard looks like a war zone. I’m not sure what she’s looking for, but I hope she finds it soon. She barks too. No dog or person is allowed to walk the path behind our yard without Lucy letting them know who is in charge of this area. And it’s fine during the day. But Lucy gets up when I do, often before five o’clock. The family on one side of us has a toddler. On the other side, there is a baby. I can’t have my dog howling and barking at night and during the early morning hours like she does. We’re considering a bark collar, much as I hate the thought.

This morning Lucy woke me up at seven. I let her outside and she was quiet just until I stopped watching from the door. Then she began to howl. I marched right out onto the deck to tell her to knock it off, but as my eyes scanned the yard below, I couldn’t see her. When I got closer to the steps, I found out why. She was perched on a step and surveying her kingdom from there. She’s such a goofball.

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I need a POOFER

I need a POOFER. But first I need someone to invent it. My friend and coworker, Denise developed the concept. That’s where her job ends. Now we just need someone to design the prototype.

The concept of the POOFER came about on lunch break when Lori was describing yet another frustrating grocery store experience. It seems at least weekly, this is a topic of conversation. Certain people just don’t get it. They have no grocery store etiquette. I know. I’ve experienced my fair share of these types.

Last Friday morning, for instance, I was navigating the aisles of my local grocery store. I was killing precious vacation time with a day of grocery shopping and other domestic duties. Believe me, I was none too pleased to be spending my vacation hours this way, but it had to be done. Mid-store, I took a left turn into the soup aisle. I needed some Cream of Potato. Just a ways ahead of me, a woman stood intensely studying some soups. Maybe there was going to be a soup test later on. I’m not sure. But her cart was abandoned haphazardly in the middle of the aisle. Diagonally. No one was getting past from either direction, but she seemed oblivious to the fact that, by golly, she was not the only person buying groceries that day. Did she not think other people might visit the soup aisle that morning? Was she really so self-centered that she couldn’t concern herself with other shoppers?

She had to have noticed me coming. I’m kinda tall. Had a big cart full of groceries that was heading her direction. I was doing that not-so-subtle throat clearing thing to try to avoid an awkward moment. She didn’t notice me. I stood for a moment, still unnoticed. Clearly her peripheral vision was impaired.

“SCUSE me,” I announced brightly.

“OH! Sorry,” she said, grabbing her cart with one hand and dragging it out of the way so I could pass. I thanked her.

But really! What is wrong with people? Personally, I believe you have to treat the grocery store like driving on public roads. Vehicles are coming and going in both directions. Stay to the right. You might have to yield sometimes. And for god’s sake, don’t park your vehicle diagonally across the entire thoroughfare! If you wanted to stop and get out of your car in the street, would you just coast to a stop wherever you happened to be and park without regard to the fact that other vehicles might need to get by???

I think not! The DMV tries to make sure people know the basics before issuing drivers licenses. Maybe the grocery store should require that people pass a test and receive a grocery shopping license before being allowed to shop.

This is where a POOFER would come in handy. When I encountered that woman in the grocery store, if I had a POOFER, I could reach into my purse for my handy remote control device. I could point it at anyone who is grocery store etiquette impaired. I push the big red button AND… POOF!

You. Are. Welcome. That person is no longer a grocery store annoyance.

Oh, I wouldn’t disintegrate people or anything. The POOFER would just send offenders to etiquette class and keep them there until they can pass the etiquette test.

This could have all kinds of uses. Coworkers who talk to much. Husbands who annoy you. Phone solicitors from the home exteriors company who call every damn day for months on end trying to get you to agree to a consultation! 

I was walking from the office to my parking ramp this afternoon. The sidewalk was busy with people parking and plugging money into meters. Some were heading to the building from which I’d just come. Others were walking away, like me. I got behind a woman who was doing what I can only describe as meandering. She veered from side to side, increasing and decreasing her speed without warning. Each time I made a move to go around her, she seemed to lunge in the direction I was trying to pass. It got so I was actually laughing at how ridiculous the situation had become. After multiple attempts to get around her, I finally made it.

And I sure wished I’d had a POOFER! 

Things I should probably find inappropriate except I just think they’re funny…

We are hectic at work. Everyone is busy. In fact, everyone is so busy they are nearly overwhelmed. Sometimes you want to pull your hair out, or cry because of it all. But laughing off the stress is way more fun.

We have some employees in our company who often provide us much amusement. One of them is a guy who’s definitely different. He’s an odd character, but he’s smart and gets the job done. Sometimes not on the schedule we’d like, but he gets it done. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call him George.

George makes up his own words for things. He walks around the office in socks sometimes. He forgets to try to be professional sometimes and uses the word frickin’ in meetings. We’re a very small company. He can get away with it internally. His mannerisms and habits very much remind me of a little boy. If I need something from George, it’s a good bet I’ll have to remind him at least once. But we all accept that about George because he sort of has the world on his shoulders. He’s always trying to juggle more than one person can possibly handle at any given time.

As I was leaving work today, I was having one of those end-of-day conversations with a coworker. (Let’s call her Babs.) Babs was explaining how she had been to George’s office trying to get answers for a project she’s been working on.

“And before I left George’s office,” Babs was saying, “I reminded him that you were waiting for something from him too.” (I was!)

I thanked Babs for following up on my behalf and told her I figured I wouldn’t get my answer today. I was explaining that I’d planned to follow up with George tomorrow.

“I have George on my to-do list for tomorrow,” I said.

“You have George on your to-do list?”

“Yeh….” I stopped short, realizing what she was implying… “Doh! That’s gross, Babs!”

She was still laughing as I made my exit from the office. “Can’t believe you want to DO George,” she was saying…

Food is Love

Somewhere in my upbringing, I must have picked up on the belief that food equals love.

This weekend was one to have all of my kids at home, a make-up for two weekends ago when a winter storm kept Brad and Heather away. I took the day off on Friday so that I might prepare for this special weekend. There were things that needed doing, things like cleaning house and picking up my daughter from school. But top priority on my to-do list was grocery shopping. I simply felt that I couldn’t adequately welcome my kids back home without a well-stocked refrigerator and cupboards. I also wanted to have all of the ingredients to make the foods my kids were craving and had requested that I make for them sometime over the weekend.

My day began early on Friday. After a visit to the gym, I showered and dressed and then proceeded to make a grocery list and clip coupons. At the grocery store, I filled a cart to the brim with all the things on my list and then some. I got it all home and put away just in time to go pick up Kacey from school.

It was a beautiful, sunny day on Friday and the drive to and from Kacey’s school was pleasant. I enjoyed having one-on-one mom and daughter time in the car on the way home. And once we were back home, it wasn’t long before Connor arrived and the two of them hung out with me for a while. Kacey helped me out by making the barbecue sauce for the ribs Brad had asked me to make. When the sauce was done, I covered the ribs and wrapped them in foil. They went in the fridge to marinate overnight. Before long, Kacey’s friends, home on spring break, were beckoning her and Connor to come hang out. I agreed that Kacey could go, only because I still wanted to clean house and it would be several hours before Brad and Heather arrived anyway.

It was a quiet afternoon and early evening, but as I did my cleaning and prepared dinner, I thought how the quiet wouldn’t last. Soon Mark would come home from work. Soon kids and dogs would descend upon the tranquility and stir things up good. And they did. We had a late dinner on Friday once all had arrived. The kitchen was a mess as I had been busy preparing baked fish, sauteed zucchini, tossed salad and biscuits for a full table full of people instead of the usual two or three of us. Everyone gathered round the table to eat together and catch up with one another. All of those surfaces I’d spent the day cleaning and decluttering were soon cluttered again with car keys and phones, water bottles and various belongings. And I didn’t even mind. My kids were home. Everyone helped clean up afterwards and afterwards everyone found a place to lounge and wind down for the evening.

Saturday morning came early. Lucy was too excited, wanting to play with her pal Dacotah to bother sleeping in. I let the dogs out in the back yard and prepared to watch the chasing games begin. But they never did. Dacotah was ready to run and play, but she couldn’t get Lucy to engage. Dacotah would try to wrestle with Lucy, and Lucy would just roll over on her back. She would roll around on the ground a bit, but she wouldn’t run.

When the dogs were ready to come back in the house, I noticed that Lucy wasn’t racing up the deck steps, full speed ahead like she normally does. She took the stairs slowly, almost gingerly. She’d been doing this off and on for a few days but I’d thought maybe she’d just pulled a muscle racing around the yard like she always does. Now I was getting worried. If she wasn’t keeping pace with Dacotah, something must be wrong.

Neither Mark nor Brad thought anything serious was wrong and both suggested I wait until Monday to go to the vet, but I was worried. Mark must have been more worried than he let on too. While Heather and I went to a class at the gym, Mark called the vet. They had limited Saturday hours, but had an opening at 11:20 and could see Lucy.

I showered after the gym, then went with Mark and Lucy to the vet. We explained why we thought something was wrong. She’d gone from being fast and fearless to slow and careful. We explained the biggest red flag being the fact that she wouldn’t play with our son’s dog. Mark explained how Lucy has a habit of sleeping, curled up so tight in a ball that she must be stiff and sore when she awakens. He described her ability to lay flat on her belly with her front legs straight out in front of her, and her hind legs stretched out straight back. Maybe these were reasons for whatever was ailing her.

“I’ve never seen a dog do that before,” Mark said.

The doctor checked out Lucy’s feet and toes. He studied and felt her legs and knees. She never once whined or yelped. Finally he said, “I don’t believe there’s anything wrong in her feet or legs. Her knees are fine.” He hesitated then before saying, “I think it’s her hip.”

I felt a mild panic when he said that. I heard the words Hip Displasia in my head. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but had heard enough about it to know it wasn’t good. I assured myself, though that I was overreacting and doing so too soon. And then the vet said those words. He said, “Not all dogs who can stretch out as you’ve described have Hip Displasia, but most dogs who have Hip Displasia are able to stretch out that way.

“I’m going to take Lucy for an x-ray,” the vet said.

While my dog willing followed him out of the room, I googled Hip Displasia on my iPhone and learned that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Lucy had it and that there were several forms of treatment including surgery. Still, I was keeping my fingers crossed that it wasn’t that.

Unfortunately, the finger crossing didn’t do much good. The vet and Lucy came back and it was confirmed that she has Hip Displasia. This condition, according to Wikipedia, is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.

I could feel tears beginning to sting my eyes. I know there are some who might say she’s just a dog. But she’s not just a dog to me. She’s the one who is always there for me. When I come home, she greets me as if I’m the greatest person in the world. She snuggles me when I need snuggling and she keeps me from feeling alone and lonely during those times when none of my people are around. She makes me laugh and she loves me. I love her. It makes me sad to think of her in such pain. And she was in obvious pain.

So, we were given options for treatment. Some of them are expensive. We have some thinking to do, but I’m thinking it won’t be a tough decision. We’ll figure out a way to make our puppy-girl feel better. The vet gave her some anti-inflammatory medication and said she should be feeling better in a day. She’ll need to take the meds every day, at least until we decide what course of treatment to go with.

When we came home we told the kids what was wrong. Of course they wanted to know what Lucy’s options were. As we talked about it, Mark made a comment that made me think he’d prefer to take the least expensive route, which means Lucy will eventually suffer more than she is now. With that thought in mind, tears threatened to come again. I escaped to the lower level of the house before anyone could notice. But I didn’t go unnoticed. Brad came downstairs behind me and wrapped me in a hug, saying, “Don’t cry, Mom. She’ll be okay. It’s not like you’re losing her.”

“I know,” I said. “But I’m worried that Dad doesn’t want to spend the money to help her. I can tell she’s in pain and I feel so bad. Everywhere she goes in this house, even to get to the yard, she has to travel up and down steps.”

“You guys will do what she needs,” Brad said. “I know you will.”

I didn’t know, but I felt a little better.

Brad said the ribs I’d made for him for lunch were delicious. I didn’t notice. I felt like the vet’s news had put a damper on the day.

This morning, Mark said to me, “So we need to figure out the best way to pay for Lucy’s surgery, if that’s what we decide to do.”

I felt way better then!

Brad and Heather were the earliest risers this morning. While they pampered the dogs in the living room, I prepared the biggest breakfast possible. I made bacon, scrambled eggs and hash browns. There was cinnamon toast too. We sat at the table enjoying the kind of breakfast I rarely allow myself to enjoy. Jake and Kacey slept through it all. I knew they’d rather sleep than eat.

Besides, by the time Kacey finally greeted the day, I was already on my way to making the Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder she had requested. It was done cooking just in time for her to have some for lunch.

Too soon, it was time for everyone to go back to school again. That’s always the hardest part of a visit. But Dacotah going home meant Lucy would settle down for some much-needed rest. And Kacey returned to school, only for a week. Spring break is next week, so she’ll be home again soon.

I’d better make sure I get that refrigerator stocked up again!