Category Archives: pets

Yawns

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It’s been quite a month of travel for me.  I’ve had exciting adventures and slept in many different beds, so how wonderful it felt to get back to my own bed this weekend.  I slept like the dead–until about 7am when my ears were accosted by the sound of tweeting birds, which is very unusual at our house. These birds were serious about their songs; they did not let up, and after an hour, when (half asleep and half awake) I weighed plans about getting ridding of them (BB gun pellets? Sharp bird pest strips planted on the roof?).  I woke up enough to realize it was Hubby’s alarm clock that we both had slept through. ON A SUNDAY MORNING. I seriously wanted to punch him.  I told him he needs to go back to the old-fashioned BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm or else I will be slumbering in a different room.

Hubby is gone for a week to Georgia on a business trip so his alarm clock will not be disturbing me, but I still haven’t slept well for days.  The last night I was in Illinois, I sustained 60 mosquito bites–45 on my left leg and 15 on my right.  These were not the pesky little mozzies we have here in Tempe whose bites disappear after an hour.  These big-ass Midwestern mosquitos left some sort of toxin in my skin, causing each bite to swell to the size of big red nickels . . . and they are so itchy it’s hard to keep my fingernails off them.  It’s been a week and they show no signs of healing.  If they aren’t better by Monday, I will seek medical attention.  I keep wishing I’d used the bug repellant spray offered but nooooooo, I didn’t want the chemicals on me.  UGH.

Then last night Ruby the Wonder Spaniel got me up FOUR TIMES to go out and do her business between 2am and 5am.  She’d eaten so many cicadas before bed that her tummy was literally buzzing.  She does this every year, and while watching her leap about the yard for her summer snacks is Youtube-worthy, those crunchy treats always give her a case of the runs.  I gave her a Tums that she licked at loudly for a good 15 minutes, but then we were back outside soon after that.  Complicating the situation is that I’d taken a Benadryl to try to calm the itch from the bug bites and couldn’t figure out which way the door was!   Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve woken up in the dark thinking Hubby and I are still in our fabulous British hotel room with the magical view of the Tower of London.

Next week school starts and I will be back to an “early to bed and early to rise” schedule. It will be a difficult transition after a summer of staying up past midnight either reading or watching Netflix, waking up with no alarm clock, then napping mid afternoon.  But I am excited to meet the new staff members, new parents, and most of all our students . . . and be living a useful life again after the long, restorative summer break.

Cheers,

Mary

 

Peaks and Valleys

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One hot morning last week I took a walk past our old house, which is (quite ridiculously) on the SAME street we currently live on, but about a half mile to the east.  It was very quiet and as I walked the path leading down to the small playground, my mind was flooded with memories of the five years we lived there.  There were children everywhere on bikes, on skateboards, playing basketball, running through sprinklers. Our friends on the street left for most of each summer, traveling to California, to the Midwest, or to their cabins up north, and yet there I was with our three kids and no swimming pool.  I hated to ask favors, but looking back I think how silly I was to not ask one of them if we could use their pool while they were gone (and how ungenerous for them not to offer).  I remember waking up every summer day simply wishing that something would happen.  Anything!  Oh sure, we had fun at Zoo Camp, at pizza lunches at Costco, playing board games, and swimming at Grandma’s house a few times a week, but for the most part, those summers were very dull for me.

Looking back I’m amazed at how uncomplicated our lives were and how naive and innocent I was in my thirties.  I was always wishing for something to happen, because yes, I longed for excitement.  But now I know there is a balance. I know that so many things are out of our control.  I’ve learned that instead of working as hard as I can to solve a problem, so many times a situation calls for one to do nothing at all.  Doing nothing is the hardest thing for me.  I always want to offer suggestions, make strategies, list pros and cons, make phone calls, gather info, etc.

Now life is full of so many little emergencies that I find myself longing for those old boring days.  This week alone I had to deal with so much stuff. I think there’s something wrong with our oldest cat because he’s lost weight and seems to sleep too much.  Ruby the Wonder Spaniel’s had diarrhea for four days now, and I have NO idea what she got into.  What I do know is she made four large stinky puddles in Patrick’s room when I was at school one day.  I had to pick it out of the carpet with my fingers (eeeuuuwww–I pretended it was play doh but still gagged several times). Ruby seems better.  Today we woke up to find William’s debit card had fraudulent charges on it and had talk to the bank for 30 minutes.  And worst of all, yesterday my Eve had to leave her mountain job working with the wildlife fire fighters because she could not pass the arduous pack test due to a bad case of bronchitis.  My heart breaks for her—she was so excited about her summer in Happy Jack, AZ.  She has a great attitude and swears she’ll go back next summer and pass that test.  My oldest son and his best gal are stressed out trying to find an affordable venue for their wedding next year.  I sure wish I had a big enough house to host it here.  On top of all that, I have a large pimple on my nose.

First World Problems, all, and I might say, well, next week will be better, but lately it just feels like one problem after another.  I remind myself that life is full of peaks and valleys. I gave myself a stern talking to:  Keep breathing.  Keep smiling.   Make gratitude lists. Take pleasure in simple joys (a good cup of coffee, or meeting a friend for lunch).  Take a walk and listen to the birds.  Watch every sunset.

Cheers,

Mary

 

Mercury in Retrograde

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What a crazy week it’s been!  Facebook friends advised, “Be kind to yourself because Mercury is in retrograde,” and wow, that is advice I certainly needed this week.

This is going to sound untrue, but I swear with my hand on a stack of Bastille albums: Monday night was the first time I’ve ever slept alone in our house.  REALLY!  Hubby is on a business trip to San Luis Potisi, Mexico and having a grand time being wined and dined by the locals (and also doing some business during the day, I presume).  He’s certainly gone on business trips before, but I always had our kids here with me.  This week William is at college, Eve is on vacation in Spain, and Patrick is in Tucson on business. It’s been very peaceful, and I’ve been happy to get those last steps on my step counter (I’ve been aiming for 15K each day) dancing to loud music in the kitchen without anyone raising an eyebrow to the noise or my terrible form.

I’m not really alone:  We’ve adopted Eve’s cat for the next six months while Eve is away for an out-of-town job, so I have four cats and one dog for company.  So much easier to live with pets than children, though their Spring Shedding certainly has caused much sneezing and vacuuming.  They are adorable, and the initial hissing and chasing has calmed down.  It’s only been a week; soon they will be BFF’s.

I took Ruby in for a teeth cleaning on Tuesday and got a call mid-day from the vet explaining that the bill would be doubled because she had two rotten teeth needing extracting.  She was a sad mess the first night, but after 24 hours, she was doing very well. I’m eager to look in her mouth, but I like having fingers so have not tried to peek (she is very growly when I want to examine her).  Why do we always end up with such expensive pets???  Ruby is such a good girl; she is worth every penny.

I had two fun days subbing at my school with lovely young teachers who never make me feel old and are always so welcoming.  The kids are adorable, hilarious, hate nap time, and wake up all warm and snuggly.  Best job ever.

Back to Mercury being in retrograde:  Each day I’ve forced myself to drive the 20 minutes north to our house near ASU which we are prepping for sale.  All renters and Eve have moved out, yet they left behind a full household of belongings.  It’s overwhelming.  We’ve had ten different people live there over the course of 7 years, and each person left a little something or other that now I have to find a place for.  The walls need painting.  We need new carpet.  Tomorrow I will fill my car with paint cans and other haz mat items and take them to the Tempe Recycling Center.  I’m hoping students in the neighborhood will be happy to get free old couches and bookcases and chairs and a kitchen table, and OMG, I’m trying so hard to remain calm.  FIRST WORLD PROBLEM has been my mantra this past week.  Each day I’ve filled my car with boxes of stuff I think our daughter will still be able to use (pots and pans and silverware and room fans and lamps and her bed etc., etc.) because to buy all new is pricey.  Our garage is filled to the brim, as is Eve’s old room upstairs at our house.  I’m placing no blame on anyone, and I have no regrets. Stowing our college-aged kids away from our own home was good for them and for us. Out of sight and out of mind is one of my favorite mottos.  Please send me positive energy since I have a lot to do there before we can list our charming little built-in-1955 house for sale . . . and hopefully we will find a new owner who will love this house as much as we have.

With Hubby out of town, I’ve not cooked at all. He’s leaving Mexico at 4am tomorrow and arriving here at noon.  He’ll likely be hungry.  I always have leftovers or cold cuts and right now . . . nada!  I planned tonight to make a favorite recipe, chicken with red pepper cream sauce with pasta, but ACCKKKK, what I thought was an almost-full jar of marinated red peppers in the fridge was actually a jar of maraschino cherries.  I honestly considered it for a moment—sort of like sweet and sour chicken (?)–but YUCK.  I can’t let the poor guy arrive home with nothing in the fridge but approximately 100 bottles of condiments and no real food.  Eggs are always good, right?

It’s all good: I’m smiling after a fun happy hour with good friends this afternoon after work and am now listening to the soothing music of Brandi Carlile.  Tomorrow Hubby will be back from his business trip, and William will be home from Flagstaff to take his best girl to Prom.  Life is good.

Cheers,

Mary

Winning

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Big news:  I’m a winner!

That’s right—for the first time in my whole life, I’ve won an election.  I guess it’s not that amazing if you consider the fact that I’ve only ever “run” for something once before, and that was for 5th grade class treasurer.  I was new to Rural Elementary that year, having just moved from Illinois, so I’m thinking it must’ve been my mother’s idea.  I remember making posters decorated with tin-foil coins and buttons I made classmates wear that read, “Keep it rockin’—vote for Mary Koppen.”  It was not a surprise when Mary Ann Hendrickson won—I mean, she’d gone to school with those kids since Kindergarten . . . and in all honesty, I was a bit relieved.

This week’s election was for the Warner Ranch Phase II HOA Board.  My competition was a lovely neighbor who has served on the board for years, and a cranky woman I’ve never met who ran on the platform of breaking up “the old boys club” who didn’t even bother to attend the annual meeting!  I was a shoo-in, but still, I came home from the meeting feeling special about my glamorous new appointment.  (I’ve threatened to run for years.) My (hidden) agenda is to try to convince the board we really don’t need to call the attorneys every time somebody leaves their car on the street overnight.  I’m all about saving us some cash, yo.

In other news, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is having a health concern.  Suddenly her breath is terrible, and when I say terrible, when we drove by the dairy farm in Maricopa last weekend on our way to Mexico, our car smelled BETTER with the windows down to allow her stink OUT, and allowing the cow small IN.  Her breath is so terrible the cats back up with their ears down and run away when she attempts to kiss them.  It’s so terrible that my car still smells like her death breath a week after our road trip, even though I’ve been driving around all week with the windows open.  Ruby has a teeth cleaning scheduled in two weeks, so hopefully it’s something as simple as a rotten tooth that needs pulling.  Her teeth have rarely been brushed since we are very selfish and value the existence of having ten fingers over Ruby having healthy, clean teeth.

This next week is HUGE.  You may want to sit down to hear this news.  Are you sitting? BASTILLE IS COMING TO TOWN!!!! My favorite band is coming to town on Tuesday, and on Friday, Hubby and I are driving to Vegas to see them a second time.  I’m giddy.  More than giddy, I’m nervous something will go wrong and I won’t get to go to the concerts. A sick child, a car accident, the loss of a finger when brushing a dog’s teeth.  I know I’m being ridiculous.  I’m THAT excited.  This morning I hugged Hubby and said, “You are the sweetest husband in the whole world to take me to both Bastille concerts this week!!!”  I think he’d forgotten because he looked stricken . . . and now I’m looking for a sub for him on Tuesday.  I think our daughter will go with me.

I know I should be embarrassed to be so excited about a musical group at my advanced age, but answer me this:  Why is it okay to be gaga over classical music, but not progressive music?  I went to hear Gustav Holsts’ The Planets a few years ago and there were PLENTY of old people there who were clearly exhilarated to hear this performance, yet when I mention going to a rock concert, I feel the quiet mocking.  And let me tell you, Bastille concerts are 100% more interesting than the Phoenix Symphony playing Holst (it was quite the snooze fest).

Last but not least, I was happy to see a new sculpture installed in the lobby of Phoenix Art Museum.  I’m a big Yayoi Kusama fan, and her large-scale aluminum pumpkin with holes cut out of it is whimsical and charming.  Come check it out!

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

Chivalry is Not Dead

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I am in Mexico.

Hubby and I are having a very relaxing, quiet weekend at the beach reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and taking long walks on the beach with Ruby the Wonder Spaniel. Hubby is always so pleasant to spend time with and is such a gentleman. He doesn’t mind if I fill his pockets with seashells on our walks, insists I share bites of his mango bought from the beach mango man, and today during our walk asked me, “May I hold your bag of hot dog shit?”  I tell ya, chivalry is not dead.

Today I did something I haven’t done since college!  (Nope–nothing illegal.)  I lay out in the sun in my swimsuit.  GASP!  (So politically incorrect! Forty lashes with a wet noodle!) The wind was cool, my skin was pale, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  The chaise lounge was so comfy, and I immediately felt my bones go to jelly.  I felt so warm (but not too warm) and felt so in the moment.  I was almost dozing off when I began to notice the weird noises being made by all the patio umbrellas:  tap-tap, tippety-tap, tap-tap, tippety-tap.  I focused again on being in the moment, but that’s when Ruby came over to lay beside me.  Her wet dog smell wafted over me in what must have been a visible cloud . . .  and then she began to lick my legs.  ARRRGGGGG!  When I heard the nice vendor man asking me if I’d like to buy some “yewelry,” I knew it was time to give up.

Thinking back through the years (and looking down at my wrinkly hands), I’m pretty sure I kept up that sun worshipping hobby through my twenties.  Please remember it WAS THE STYLE then (think Miami Vice and Baywatch)!!!  My goal in college was to be the tannest girl at ASU—and I think I pretty much was.  So that’s why now my skin is leathery and spotted and well, would I have listened if anyone had tried to tell me what lay ahead? Probably not. Being tan made my teeth look whiter, my eyes look brighter, and my hair look blonder.  In 1984, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips.

Last week I also did something I hadn’t done since college:  I met with four old friends whom I was close friends with in high school and college.  These guys were the sweetest, goofiest, smartest bunch . . . though not the coolest boys in school.  Somehow we lost touch, and life went on, but I always hoped their lives were going well.  Last week, I was invited to happy hour last minute by my friend Gail, because two of the guys were visiting from out of town.  I was really nervous, but I think it went well.  We’ve all changed tremendously in 35 years, but we laughed remembering our high school shenanigans and all those summer tubing trips down the Salt River.  I’d always avoided school reunions, and most of that was due to the fact that the only thing I’d accomplished since high school was creating and raising my three beautiful children. So many people from my class have done so well, being doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs (ha) and well, my CV is not very impressive.  Last Tuesday at happy hour, none of that seemed to matter, and it was great to see their faces again.  I enjoyed our time together and hope we can make it a regular thing.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this latest installment of Cheers Darling in which we’ve learned: Don’t worship the sun or your skin will get leathery when you are old, beauty is fleeting, good friends don’t care if you’re Important in the World . . . and if you’re on a walk and your husband offers to carry the plastic bag of hot dog poop . . . always say YES!

Cheers,

Mary

Waiting for the Mango Man

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I’m in Mexico.

All day I’ve been watching for the mango man.  He wears a huge straw hat and pulls a small cart through the sand. In his cart are ripe, juicy mangoes, which for only $3 he carves into a flower and hands it to you with a smile.  This treat is so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it . . . but you do, and soon your hands and chin are dripping with mango juice and sweet tamarind syrup.

Hubby and I had a smooth drive down to Puerto Penasco yesterday with only a short wait to enter Mexico.  We got the green light so got to drive on through without having our car searched or Ruby’s dog papers examined.  This was a HUGE relief, since I’d worked myself into a minor frenzy after reading tourists’ bad border experiences on FB pages devoted to tourism in Puerto Penasco.  I was believing every car was being searched from top to bottom.  I believed the line to get in was always two hours long, and that they were harassing people with dogs.  I heard the border guards were taking all meat, fruit, and vegetables.  I emptied a corn flakes box and stowed my tomatoes, oranges, and limes in it, then put the plastic sleeve with the cereal back on top.  I asked Hubby to pretend he was searching the car.  He picked up the now three-pound box and said, “Dios Mios, what heavy cornflakes!”  I’d frozen our deli meat and hidden it under the carpet in the trunk, along with Ruby’s prescription dog food.  The reason the Mexican people are not as welcoming to the American tourists as of late is quite obvious and will not be given any explanation here except to say these three words,  “Build a wall.”

So here we are, on a practically deserted stretch of beach, with the sun shining above us, a light breeze blowing over the blue ocean waves.  It is 75 degrees on our patio–just right not to be too cold or too hot in our swimsuits.  I’m reading the witty Lauren Graham’s book called Talking as Fast As I Can which, being a huge Gilmore Girls fan, is very enjoyable, but if you aren’t a Gilmore Girls fan, I can’t imagine finding it appealing.  I’ll be ready by tomorrow to finish Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole.  I’m reading it for my art book group, and I’m not yet seeing the connection to art.  Because the author is black, there may be a tie in with the Kehinde Wiley paintings we have at Phoenix Art Museum.  It’s a collection of 50 essays on politics, photography, travel, history, and while some of them are interesting, I’m glossing over some of the more ponderous essays.

But where is the mango man?  A few minutes ago I heard the tingaling of a bell and grabbed a of handful of pesos, but alas, it was only the helado guy.  I honestly don’t know how they pull that heavy cart through the sand.  I am not a popsicle person, though now I’m remembering the joy of hearing the ice cream truck when I was a young girl in Illinois.  A shiny dime could buy you almost anything on that little truck, and I always asked for a banana popsicle.

I packed for carefully for this three-day trip, which I usually don’t have time to do.  I brought cute hats and swim suit cover ups and actually held my swimsuits up to the light to make sure I didn’t pack any that had the derriere portion dissolved by pool chlorine–NOBODY wants to see that!  But there is nobody here except Hubby and me, so I’m still wearing leggings with a pair of Hubby’s socks and an old tshirt that used to be Patrick’s and is very soft for sleeping in which has these words on the front:

They lied to us.
This was supposed to be the future.
Where is my jetpack,
Where is my robotic companion
Where is my dinner in pill form, where is my hydrogen fueled automobile
Where is my nuclear powered house
Where is my cure for this disease?

Pretty dark right? (I love it.)  I look a mess.  I’d better change into my cute beach attire. Because the mango man might be here any minute.

Cheers,

Mary

Skeeter Hawks

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Summer has come early to our town in the desert.  We’re ten degrees over the norm, which means temps in the 90s.  Ugh. When you live in a place where it’s pretty much unbearable to be outdoors for six months of the year, this early summer is terrible news. We’re sadly pulling from our gardens lettuces that have too quickly gone to seed, spinach that has turned bitter, and every day I’m picking nasturtium bouquets to leave at friends’ doors because the high temps makes them crumpled and brown and I don’t want them to go to waste.  We’re also experiencing an invasion of “skeeter hawks” which, though harmless, float about the bright lights in the kitchen and whip our house cats into a frenzy.  I find their long legs and slow flight graceful in a weird sort of way.

I’ve had two stressful weeks trying to clean up our rental house near ASU where our daughter lives with two friends. (I wrote angry posts about this, but deleted them.)  For the past few years, we’ve been busy with our own lives and also cognizant of giving the kids their space, so the list of stuff that needs cleaning and fixing over there is long.  Hubby would say to me on a Sunday morning, “I think I’ll go over to Eve’s and do some work,” and I would say, “I’m sure they are sleeping in and do not want you there.”  So the place is a mess.  We crunched the numbers and (hip hip hooray) have decided to sell this sweet house built in 1952.  After the tenants leave in late April, we likely have a month’s worth of work to do.  I hope someone will be thrilled to have this charming little house so close to campus.  Our family has sentimental attachments to this house which we’ve owned for seven years, but our goal is to make sure we sell to someone who will love it as much as we have. (The only thing I absolutely hate about the house is bright red, plastic-fronted kitchen cabinets from IKEA, which were installed by the architect who owned the place before we did.)

About four weeks ago, I told you the house next door would be going up for sale due to divorce.  I hesitate to talk it up too much to anyone I know because we may not be the best neighbors.  Hubby’s method of relaxing after a long day of work is to watch tv; mine is to dance or sing to music in the backyard.  I swear I never play music very loudly, but hay fever has adjusted my voice to a definitely nasal tone.  Add in the bouts of sneezing that can last up to 15 minutes, which sometimes causes Ruby the Wonder Spaniel to bark incessantly, and Cosmo our Elderly Siamese to yowl.  In the big picture, I firmly believe dancing in the back yard is better than taking a daily mood-enhancing pill, something I’ve never done.  Plus the dancing is good exercise.

Excuse me for a moment.  I must go look at the sunset.

FIVE MINUTES LATER:

Oh my word–that was amazing.  The clouds looked like a long swath of fuzzy pink cotton candy . . . and then the colors deepened and it looked more like a scarlet wool blanket. Now I can see thought the front window that it is violet/gray overhead, with scarlet down at the horizon.  Well done, Mother Nature. Well done.

Life is strange.  For the first time in many years, I find myself with too much free time.  I thought of the word “tumbling” the other day, and it’s an appropriate word to describe my days in which I find myself wandering from room to room, finding something to clean or put away, then responding to my phone or emails, then tumbling upstairs for laundry, then tumbling outside to run an errand or two.  For awhile I had friends lined up to walk with most days, but lately people have been busy with Spring Break vacations, and I feel a bit neglected.  I use the word tumbling because I feel a profound sense of being off-center, with maybe a bit of dizziness;  a definite blurriness of focus.  Close your eyes and remember being a child doing a somersault.  Yes, that’s it.  Tumbling.

I’ve been reading too much (most recently Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, then Vivan Howard’s ten-pound tribute to her hometown in NC with lots of recipes, Deep Run Roots), and watching too much tv (Rectify‘s amazing latest season on Netflix, and rewatching for the millionth time the first few seasons of Gilmore Girls), and cooking too much (I made this carrot cake recipe in muffin form for breakfast and for dinner, and we enjoyed the Creamy Mustard Chicken recipe from the New  York Times, which I can’t access now because I’ve used up my freebies for the month.).

Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and sister-in-law.  They are good listeners, but Paul always says, “Mary, you need more stimulation than anyone I’ve ever met.” I know I’m not good at being alone.  I know I’m a bit spastic.  I’m trying so hard to relax into early retirement or a break from working–whatever we want to call it–to find peace in the quiet of my world.  Now that I think about it, I’m much like those early summer skeeter hawks, floating about without much purpose, simply enjoying family, books, garden, pets, and the fabulous desert sunsets.

Cheers,

Mary