Loungin’ at the Lake

We love our friends from the Saturday night bowling league. They are such generous, kind, welcoming and fun people! And we miss each other over the summer months when we don’t see one another so often. So it was decided there should be a “weekend.” This weekend was to take place at Paul and Megan’s family cabin, which is “up north.” (Everything more than an hour north of the Twin Cities is considered “up north.” The cabin is about two hours north, which makes for a good weekend get-a-way.)

There were five couples able to make it to “the weekend.” Three of them arrived Friday evening. I, being in desperate need of a change of scenery, really wanted to go on Friday, but Mark and I just couldn’t make it work. Word has it that the Friday night couples stayed up all night long. I’m not such a night owl. Maybe it was best that we got a good night’s sleep and arrived fresh and energized on Saturday morning.

We arrived in the late morning, just as the all-nighters were coming back to life. Jodi wasn’t looking so lively. She was sitting quietly in a lawn chair in her sweats and a sweatshirt, looking like she could use another few hours of sleep. The rest of them were dressed in their bathing suits and before I could set my purse down, there was a Bloody Mary in my hand. Mmmmm, it was good! I really must learn to make a good Bloody Mary. Before I finished my drink, I went inside to put my suit on too. Then we all convened around the picnic table and Bonnie insisted that everyone must have a tattoo. They were fake and glittery tattoos and everyone ended up with several. I was informed that no pictures were allowed during the weekend, but I managed to snap a few that no one could be opposed to being published here.

Mark never cooperates for pictures. Can you see his tattoo on his face? Can you find Dori’s tattoo?

After everyone was sufficiently tattooed, we piled onto the pontoon boat for a cruise around the lakes. We brought plenty of food and drink and the sun was gracious enough to shine for the majority of our cruise. The moon was spotted a time or two as well! ;-) We crossed paths with many other boaters, always asking the fishermen and women how many they caught. There were other boats full of families and friends out enjoying a fine day as well. We were a friendly bunch and shared many laughs with many other “lake people.”

After our boat cruise, it was back to the cabin for some yard games, more drinks and some music. Sorry, but I’ve been forbidden to post pictures of us dancing on the picnic table to ABBA’s Mamma Mia! Suffice it to say that everyone was feeling pretty good by this time. Can ya tell?

Pauly, feelin’ good!

Some of us prepared dinner while others played cards in the gazebo or played bean bags out in the yard. Then together we enjoyed a delicious meal of hot beef sandwiches, tortellini salad, sweet corn and an assortment of other side dishes. Afterwards, we were so full we could barely move. The guys congregated outside while the girls relaxed on the porch. Bonnie insisted on giving all of the girls a foot rub. And let me just say, I would pay good money to have one again!

Mike, enjoying a cigar!

Someone had made sure there was a good bonfire burning and after dark, we all circled around it, talking, telling jokes and stories, playing games and laughing until our stomach muscles ached. Somewhere near midnight, the all-nighters began to lose steam, which was fine with me. Being the early riser that I am, I don’t make a very good night owl.

I slept like a baby on what was described as “the marshmallow bed.” I guess the beds in your typical lake cabin don’t tend to be of the highest quality, but it made little difference to me. I was tired and didn’t get up the next morning until after nine o’clock. Sunday morning was overcast and cooler, but perfect for a leisurely breakfast and coffee out on the deck. We all lounged around until well after lunch time, leisurely packing up this and that and preparing to head home again. Everyone seemed reluctant to break up the party.

“We need more time,” they said.

“I wish we had an extra day,” they said.

“I have a hangover,” someone said.

“Can’t wait to do it again next year,” someone said.

Like all good things, it was over too soon. But I have a feeling the stories will live on for years to come.

Motor Boatin’

Heather, Brad and Me

I had a house full of “kids” this weekend. I love a house full of kids! It had been about two months since Brad’s last visit, so it was high time he came home for a while. He, Heather and Dacotah Dog arrived Thursday night and I was SO happy. Lucy was happy too. She thinks that Brad and Heather belong to her and she takes full possession of their attention every chance she gets. And she was ecstatic to have another dog to play with for a few days. Good thing Brad is a dog lover. When he’s home, he gets to sleep sandwiched between two dogs.

It was a great weekend. Saturday brought sunshine and blue skies and plenty of heat. And as luck would have it, our good friends, Bill and Tammy invited us out for a day on their boat on the St. Croix River. We packed a cooler and put on our suits and sunscreen. Bill took us up the river, north of Stillwater where there was less boat traffic. The day was calm and the scenery so peaceful and after we’d gone quite a ways, he turned off the engine and just drifted back downriver slowly. Brad and Bill took turns climbing on to the roof of the boat and jumping in the water. Afterwards, the rest of us took turns floating behind the boat, lounging in the sun and talking about everything and anything.

Mark and Captain Bill

Sara and Brad

Scenery

It was a perfect day and it felt so good to just kick back and relax with family and friends. We were home by mid-afternoon and the girls and I did some shopping. I scored the deal of the day – sixteen place settings of Rachel Ray dinnerware for 75% off! (Thank you, Gordman’s!) When I brought all the boxes of dinner plates, salad plates, cereal bowls and coffee mugs in, Mark looked at me and said, “What did you do? How much did all this cost?”

“Under seventy bucks,” I said.

“No way,” he said!

“Way!” I said.

Needless to say, he was proud of my bargain hunting skills and I was happy to have finally found a new set of stoneware for our kitchen.

Everyone was sleepy by late afternoon after all of that sun and water and shopping. We lounged in the living room watching movies and napping and then squeezed in a visit to Grandma and Grandpa before having a late dinner of grilled fish and steaks, grilled asparagus, and a colorful garden salad. Dinner was topped off with blonde brownies, fresh from the oven, courtesy of Kacey. Yum!

Sunday came too soon. Brad and Heather left before noon, planning to make a stop at Heather’s parents’ house before going back to Fargo. It always feels too quiet after they’re gone. It’s happy chaos when the house is full and I find I don’t mind the mess and clutter so much. I made them promise to try to come back at least once more before the summer is over. Just a few more months until Brad graduates and then hopefully they’ll be moving closer to home again!

Good Weekend

I had a good weekend. I had a nice, contented feeling that’s been lacking in recent weeks. This weekend wasn’t particularly special, but it was busy. And Mark and Jake were actually around some. I get in a rut when no one is home and there’s nothing in particular to do.

I attempted running again on Saturday morning, and that turned out pretty nicely.

After my run, Mark and I attended a funeral for the mother of a friend. Her death wasn’t entirely unexpected, but still understandably difficult for our friend.

After the funeral, we started in on the normal weekend chores – cleaning, laundry and such. I can’t say as I have ever enjoyed such chores, but I used to feel some satisfaction at completing them. Lately, I just don’t seem to care as much. I still always do my chores, but lately it’s been with a definite sense of drudgery. This weekend, my motivation returned. I turned on some music and tackled the to-do list.

It certainly wasn’t the weather that boosted my mood. I’m usually energized by the sun, but there was little of it the past two days. And there was rain! Lots of it! While I was doing chores on Saturday afternoon, I would periodically take a break in the living room to watch Friday Night Lights with Jake. (I’ve seen the movie plenty of times, but it’s one that I can watch over and over.) During one such break, Jake and I were watching the movie and Lucy was busy on the living room floor, chomping on a new bone I’d bought for her. The skies had grown very dark and suddenly there was  blinding flash of light followed by a deafening boom that sounded like it happened right outside the windows. Lucy bolted upright and started barking. She was trying to be brave, but within seconds she was plastered between my legs, gazing warily out the windows. And then the rain came down… big, heavy drops of rain in showers so heavy it made the world outside the window go out of focus. The worst of it let up within a half hour or so, but rain continued to fall off and on all weekend long.

Saturday evening brought some fun! It was the end-of-season banquet for our Saturday bowling league. We met up early with several of our bowling friends at the restaurant and ordered drinks. Then we went to the banquet room and had a great meal. I was reelected as vice president of the league, which only means that I’ll be responsible for planning fun night again, a job that I really enjoy. I earned several awards for various bowling accomplishments, which means that in spite of the ups and downs of my bowling abilities, I’ve improved over the last year.

After the banquet, we went back out to the bar and lounge where a local band was playing. They played a lot of music from the sixties and seventies. Most of the guys weren’t too interested in dancing, as guys tend not to be. But a few of them were not only willing, but very able to dance. Those guys took turns hauling each of us women out onto the dance floor and in spite of some of the music and dance styles being not quite my speed, I had a great time! We didn’t get home until well after midnight.

Sunday morning, I was “gently” awakened by Lucy. She decided to cozy up right in the middle of the bed between Mark and me. I love that my dog does such cute, loving things, but I wasn’t ready to be awake. Still, there was no falling back to sleep at that point.

Sunday turned out to be a mellow day. I was in a fog, feeling my age after a night out “partying” and feeling some previously unused muscles protesting after an unexpected run the day before. I finished up a few chores, did some grocery shopping and otherwise allowed myself to relax and do nothing. At one point, Mark caught me curled up in the recliner under my fleece blanket, watching Gilmore Girls

“Really,” he asked? “Is this what you’re doing with your day?”

“Shut up,” I teased. “Yes it is. It’s my weekend and I can do nothing if I want to.”

I don’t like too much nothing, but sometimes nothing is just what I need. And nothing was just the perfect wind-down to this weekend.

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!

Weekend Contentment

I love waking up slowly, no alarm clock shaking me from a sound sleep. I don’t have to open my eyes right away if I don’t want to. I can allow myself to fall back asleep. And I did. I was having a nice dream about our friends, the Jacksons. We haven’t seen them in a long time, since the girls started high school in different places.  They are such good people with such good kids; Kacey’s friends. In the dream I told them how much we’ve missed them. I felt a little bit sad to realize it was just a dream. Kacey says we should call them. We should.

I feel the chill of the winter morning air as I’m waking up and the warmth of my puppy-girl curled behind my knees. She won’t leave the bed until I do, unless of course, the cat starts howling for his treats. Then the chase is on.

I open the door to let Lucy outside after a long night inside. She hasn’t had an accident since those first weeks after she arrived, but I’m still not sure I trust her to wait. There is frost on the deck and a wave of cold air hits us through the open door. I stand above her while she contemplates her willingness to go out. I give her a little nudge and she tiptoes out into the morning with a sigh, her body scrunching up like an accordion as she acclimates to the drastic change in temperature. And we haven’t even had a “real” Minnesota snow yet this winter!

I love the luxury of sitting in my warm flannel pajama pants and the bulky sweatshirt I tossed on the previous night when I was shivering. I sit in the comfy living room chair, with a cup of coffee and my favorite hazelnut creamer mixed in. I read a few blogs and think, “I should go shower.” Then I decide it’s the weekend and I’ve got nowhere to go just yet. I’ll sit a while longer.

I love the quiet of the morning and puttering around the house while everyone else sleeps. I love being here when they finally decide to greet the day, sometime close to noon. Late work nights and winter break from college make me a little more forgiving of their lazy habits.

I get chores done around the house, run errands, do some cooking. Unlike those five other days of the week, I barely give a second thought to the clock. There is time to see my kids and talk with them. I give them a few chores to do. Kacey just says, “Okay” and does what I ask. Jake pretends not to hear me the first time.

There is coming and going. Mark and Jake leave for their jobs. Kacey’s friends come to hang out. It’s a quiet night, socially and they go searching in the game cupboard. They seem embarrassed to be staying home playing board games, telling me they are “losers” and explaining how, as college students, they should be doing more exciting things. I hear the Jenga tower fall and listen to their shouting and laughter. I tell them I love having them here. It’s too quiet when they’re away.

"Bored" games

I love weekends like this!

This Saturday Morning

It’s quiet in the house this morning. It will be a quiet weekend. No kids coming home from college. Mark working the night shift, sleeping days. Jake worked late last night. He’ll sleep until noon and go back to work again late this afternoon.

I woke up while it was still dark outside and let Lucy out into the back yard to do her thing. The overnight cold was still hanging on. I turned on the back light and could see a sparkling layer of frost on the deck. There’s still a ground-cover of snow. She was reluctant to go outside. I had to give her a nudge. Freeze baby. I’ll have to get her a doggie sweater or something. Maybe some doggie booties! :-)

She came back inside quickly and I fed her, then played with her on the living room floor with only the Christmas tree lights on. She’s still got a lot of puppy in her and we romped for a good while, fighting for possession of a stuffed, fuzzy, red bone shaped toy. When I thought she’d grown bored of playing, I decided to do some push-ups. She decided my hair was a plaything and while I attempted to do my exercises, she crouched in front of me and bit at my hanging hair, over and over.

I pushed her away playfully and moved on to sit-ups. Lucy grabbed her toy and decided it was necessary to cross the room by way of my stomach, stepping on me with each one of her four paws and all forty-some pounds of her.

Exercises done, I made a cup of coffee in one of the Christmas mugs and stirred in my favorite hazelnut creamer. I settled into one of the cozy living room chairs to read blogs and enjoy my coffee. I noticed the outside sound of an occasional car or truck driving by here and there, but otherwise it was hushed.

Lucy thought she should climb up in my lap but I realized she only wanted to chew on the wrist brace I wear when my carpal tunnel symptoms flare up. I told her to go find her own chair, then remembered I don’t allow her on the upstairs furniture. She had chosen the navy blue love seat that will showcase her chestnut colored fur if I allowed her to stay there for any length of time. I lifted her down and she looked at me as if to say, “Darn!”

Mark came home from work and headed off to bed for the day. Lucy followed along and has climbed into bed with him. (She’s not allowed on the living room furniture. She is allowed on the bed.) She won’t stay very long. She just wants to cuddle for a while.

My day stretches ahead. There are chores to do and a lot of Christmas shopping to be done. I’m not feeling the Christmas panic  yet even though I’ve done little in the line of shopping. I’m cutting myself some slack this year. There are fewer decorations around the house than usual, but it still looks beautiful and feels festive. I’ve decided I’m not sending Christmas cards for the first time in all of my married life. And I’m on the fence as to how much baking I’ll do. I’m enjoying my relaxed attitude. It lets me enjoy mornings like this, just cozy in the Christmas spirit without a sense of rush.

But I do need to get some shopping done. Guess I better get to it. I’ll relax and unrush again later!

Happy Saturday!