Gardens Wild and Still

I’m not a huge fan of gardening. I’ll plant a few low-maintenance flowers in pots around the yard every spring and I do manage to keep them reasonably hydrated and alive for the most part until fall. As for the vegetable gardens, I enjoy the produce, but the planting and maintenance is usually Mark’s thing. Except for this year.

When we came home from our long weekend at the lake earlier this week, I noticed the gardens out back were out of control. I think it was all the rain we had earlier this summer, combined with a lack of attention on our part that did it. We didn’t mean to completely neglect the gardens. It was just that we’ve been … SO busy!

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The tomato plants had grown so tall and wide that they were bent over and fighting each other for space. The pepper plants too were tangled up with each other and falling over from the weight of their size. And the weeds! Ugh.

2015-07-30aI had taken one extra day off to spend at home before returning to work after our vacation. And the first thing I did that Wednesday morning was find some gloves and head out to the back yard. First things first – Mark had planted some sunflower seeds and they had taken off. He remembered out loud that the seeds had been a giant variety. No kidding!

Before doing anything else, I asked Mark if we had any string or rope. He disappeared into the shed and resurfaced again with a cord of rope. I made my way in among the sunflowers that were stretching out into the grass, the leaves and weeds scratching against my arms and legs. I pulled the sunflower stalks upright and Mark cut lengths of rope for me. Then I tied the stalks up to the fence so they stood tall again like they’re supposed to.

Next we pulled weeds. We pulled and pulled and pulled until we had mountains of weeds piled up in the grass. Mark went back to the shed and came out this time with wooden stakes. We bolstered the tomato cages and I did my best to redistribute the weight of the plants so they didn’t choke each other out. Then I looked at the pepper plants and realized they needed support too. We’ve never had to stake the pepper plants before, but this clearly hasn’t been a typical year for our vegetable gardens!

Hopefully, we’ve managed to save most of the plants. Both the regular and cherry tomatoes are starting to turn red and the pepper plants are looking pretty fruitful. I think the cucumbers are a lost cause, but we’ll see if they rally back. The sunflowers are looking happy again. I went out this morning after my walk with Lucy to look around and as I stood beneath one of the giant flowers, was startled to see a Goldfinch perched on one of them, right above me. He didn’t seem concerned with me and proceeded to hop to and fro between the big, round faces of the flowers, plucking little seeds in his beak as I observed. I was just marveling at how comfortable he seemed to be with my presence when I noticed other birds singing, warbling and chirping. I strolled slowly beneath the nearby branches of our white pine and looked up to see a flock of chickadees flitting among the branches directly over my head. They too seemed unconcerned with my close proximity. It occurred to me that not so long ago, I wouldn’t even have bothered to notice, much less appreciate the plants, the colors, the birds, or the sounds of a lazy Saturday morning.

While by no means do I feel old, I do appreciate that as I grow older, I have an increasing ability to slow down and be still, to recognize beauty in the world that I hadn’t seen before. And I might just become inclined to spend more time in the gardens from now on!

Car Wash

“Come on,” Mark said to me yesterday afternoon.

“Where we goin’?”

“The Downtowner,” he said.

“Ugh. Really? We have so much to do and it’ll be a zoo there. It’s beautiful outside. Everyone and their brother we’ll be waiting in line for a car wash.”

“Actually,” he said “I’m betting it won’t be crowded because it’s so nice outside. Who wants to wait in the car wash line when it’s such a perfect day?”

Turns out we were both half right, but the wait wasn’t bad. The Downtowner is one of those pro-style car washes where an entire crew of people works together to make your car spic and span. Mark gives the Downtowner his business quite frequently. Me? I never go there. It’s in the old neighborhood in St. Paul, too far out of my way, and I never feel as if I have time for that kind of car luxury. I take my car through the drive-thru wash at the gas station a few times a month. Lucky for me, half of Mark’s trips to the Downtowner are with my car.

I’ve driven past the Downtowner a hundred times in recent years, but I can’t remember ever being inside. It was kind of fascinating to watch the car wash process. There are a couple of workers right up front to spray off the wheels before each car enters the wash tunnel. Inside, there was a full convenience store and plenty of room for customers to sit as they wait for their cars to be finished. I sat on a stool watching through the windows as cars moved through the wash. Mark pointed out the squirt guns, where kids could sit inside and aim streams of water at the passing cars on the other side. I noticed the shoe-shine station at the back of the waiting area. It had two seats positioned high up, just like I’ve seen in the movies.

“Have you ever seen anyone working at the shoe-shine area?” I asked Mark.

“Yeah, once in a while.”

“How many people even wear shoes that require shining these days?” I wondered. Although, as soon as I asked it, I guessed being as close to downtown as we were, I could see how someone might make a go of their shoe-shine business there.

As the cars exited the wash tunnel, another crew of workers moved each vehicle to one of several finishing bays. They worked furiously to dry and shine each car, inside and out. Above each bay, there was a sign that would light up to let the owner know that his or her car is done. Mark led me out into Bay 3 as a crew of four people put the finishing touches on my car. It looked gorgeous!

Mark got in the driver’s seat and I took the passenger side. Before I could sit, I had to move a Sunday paper out of my way.

“Why’d you bring the paper with?” I asked.

“I didn’t.”

“Then where’d this come from?”

“They give it to you. It’s all part of the service. And you get this too,” he said, pointing to a card that had been tucked into one of the cup holders. It was a guarantee. If it rained anytime that day, I could come back the next day for a free wash.

My car looked and smelled fabulous. I can now see why Mark is such a fan of this place. Their customer service is beyond over-the-top. My Terrain sparkled in the bright, Sunday afternoon sun as we drove home and I couldn’t help but admire it. Back at home, Mark parked it in the garage, and when we went to the grocery store he said, “It’s supposed to rain. Let’s keep your car clean and take my truck.”

Good thing too! Because I didn’t think I had time to take it back for another wash, as fun as the first time around had been. And just as we were driving home from the grocery store, big drops of rain began to splatter the windshield of the truck. By the time we’d hauled all the bags of food into the house, the skies let loose.

So I didn’t have to use my next-day guarantee. And today was another beautiful, sunny, warm day. As I approached my car after work today, I thought about how lucky I am to have a car, to have this particular car. I’ve been very happy with it and hope to have it for a lot of years to come. And I appreciated the opportunity to see it sitting there waiting for me, the paint all sparkling black and glimmering in the sun. I took a good look at it and reminded myself to enjoy it in all it’s glory, because for the rest of the week? Rain!

Oh well. I guess we need it!

This Weekend

2015-05-03What a beautiful weekend it’s been! Sunshine. Temperatures in the eighties. The air sweet with the scent of flowering trees. Windows open. Birds singing. A late Sunday afternoon thunderstorm that left a rainbow behind. Spring is here, and I for one, am happy!

The weekend has been full. I started it off by picking up my new glasses yesterday. I had my vision checked a few weeks ago after noticing that my eyes frequently feel tired and achy at the end of my work days. The doctor confirmed that my eyes were behaving pretty normally … for a person of my age, *ahem* … and that it made sense to get some corrective lenses. He prescribed something suitable for long hours in front of dual computer monitors.

I was pretty excited to be getting something more accommodating for my eyes than the cheap, drugstore readers I’ve been using. When I came home with the real glasses, I asked Jake what he thought.

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Urkel called,” he said. “He wants his glasses back.”

I was momentarily offended, but I had to give it to him. That was a good one! Almost like he’d been rehearsing it or something! I wasn’t really all that offended anyway. I like my new frames and I don’t normally take fashion advice from my son. So why start now? Besides, what’s really important is that I can see!

Lucy Pie seemed to enjoy the weekend weather as much as her people did. Mark let her hang around with him while he cleaned out the garage yesterday and at one point after putting her back in the house, she managed to let herself out again to go visit a neighbor dog. Einstein was walking down the street in front of our house with his people when Lucy caught sight of him. The main door to the house had been left open, with only a screen door to serve as a barrier, and it was all too easy for Lucy to push through it. Luckily, Einstein’s dad caught Lucy by her collar until I could catch up to her and take her from him. We now know better than to trust the screen door. Lucy got a good scolding and seemed remorseful, so all is now forgiven.

Hey! Remember the Chickadee family that was making their home in the birdhouse on our deck? As of this morning, they’re gone. :-( The carnage was all over the deck, remnants of a nest and broken eggs. Mark thinks the sparrows are to blame.

Last night, Mark and I attended the season-end banquet for our Saturday bowling league. It was held at a locally famous steak house. The food was good, I got re-elected as league vice president, and earned a pin for my high game of 246. All in all, an evening well spent.

Today I was back at my parents’ house, doing a few more chores in preparation for getting their home on the market. They are busy searching for a single level townhouse in the near vicinity. I’m happy they are planning to stay close by my sister and me, but I still wish they’d agree to consider a less independent style of living. For now, they’re not, although this is a step in the right direction.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve cleaned, organized, purged and donated some of the things they’ve accumulated during their years of married life. And while they whittle down their belongings to those which are truly necessary, I’m busy adding stuff to my own house, which is counterproductive to my usual purpose! There are just some things I can’t bear to see let go. I’m now the proud owner of a deep, heavy frying pan with a domed lid. It’s old and it looks it. But they don’t make ’em like that anymore and I know I’ll use it. And? It was my grandpa’s once upon a time, so I’m keeping it.

2015-05-02bI also came into possession of this thing, which was destined for the Goodwill because even though it had been in my parents’ kitchen utensil drawer for years, it had never been used and no one knew what it was. All my mom knew was that it also had come from my grandparents’ kitchen. My curiosity got the best of me. Before tossing it into the Goodwill bag, I posted it on FaceB00k to see if anyone could identify it. I’ve since learned that it’s either a cake slicer, cheese slicer, or cake decorating comb. I can’t understand how this thing slices anything, so I’m going with decorating tool. Also? It’s antique. So I’m keeping it. And if I manage to actually decorate a cake with this thing, you’ll be the first to know.

Don’t hold your breath!

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!