Just Another Day

About a third of the way through my to do list for the day I realized that there is no way I will get it done in a day.  Now, I like for my plans to pan out.  I put a lot of effort into reaching my goals and when I set unlikely, probably impossible, goals for myself I am on the road to disappointment.  Nobody to blame but me, but that is not how I handle it.  When reality sets in I blame everybody and everything else and, low and behold, frustration sets in and I become bitchy.

So it is almost time for lunch and I am still dealing with the breakfast dishes and the dryer just stopped, so I have to fold some clothes and the dog is sitting by the door with his “I have to pee” face on.  Okay.  Toss the clothes on top of the dryer, grab the leash and my coat, open the door and the phone rings.  Down the drive I go with the dog pulling on the leash in one hand and the cell phone in the other, my coat blowing open in the breeze.  I tell the caller I have no money for political campaigns, stuff the phone in my pocket and button up my coat.  Talking to myself I say I need to just calm down.  The walk is good for me and the dog can’t help it that he has to go.  I can speed up when we get back.  Instead of the labor intensive salad and soup I had in mind for lunch we will just have a quick grilled cheese then I will fold the clothes and leave the other load until tomorrow. I should be done with the bills in plenty of time to watch the game and bake the cookies my husband asked for after that.  Got it!

I am close to home with the dog when I notice a car in my drive.  It’s a friend delivering make up I ordered and we begin to chat.  We get into the conversation, sit down and before I know it half an hour is gone.  It is time for the game, so I fold the laundry, decide to pay the bills tomorrow.  I open a bag of chips and get out some cold drinks.  We can just have grilled cheese at dinner time.  My husband reminds me that I promised cookies and my grandson wants to know if I have seen some paperwork he needs.

Another adjustment to make.  I leave my boys (husband, grandson and friend, the dog) watching the game and go upstairs to locate the missing paperwork.  I rummage through the freezer until I find a box of girl scout cookies then I return downstairs where I hand the grandson his papers and give my husband the cookies.  Half time.  So I go turn off the computer and empty the dishwasher.  We finished off the chips and the cookies are still frozen so I fix a plate of cheese and crackers and go back to watch the rest of the game.  My team lost.

It seems this day is a bust, so I give up.  Everything else I was going to do can wait.  I decide to give myself a break and I stretch out in my recliner with a book, hoping to relax an hour or so. A couple of paragraphs later my husband wants to know can I help him move a table.  Sure I can.  Then I notice that I tracked mud in when I brought my friend in the house so I sweep that up and go ahead and tidy up the mess from our game snacks. Then a phone call from my daughter and my grandson needs to know which shirt looks best and the sun is going down which means the dog will want food and his last walk of the day and my husband asks what I plan for dinner and I AM GOING TO SCREAM!

It’s really all about attitude, isn’t it.  All of the things I have done today for all the people I did them for give me such pleasure.  When I put them on a to do list I make chores out of joys.  My family is my world. I couldn’t love them more than I do and taking care of them is what I enjoy most in life.  What a shame that I took the joy of the day away from myself and grumbled and gripped that they were stealing it from me when they did no such thing.  Chances are I will do the same thing again, but I hope not soon.  I like me better when I am happily bustling about my home and just hanging out with the family.  So for now my to do list is very short.  Be happy.

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Just Another Day

Dogs

+On rainy days like this one I put on my raincoat, floppy hat, gloves and boots and then hook up the harness and leash on ninety-five pounds of big black dog and walk around the block, juggling an umbrella in my free hand while trying my best not to be dragged into the ditch.  We do this about five times.  Can you tell that in our house dogs are not just part of the family, they are as precious as the people.

The first dog I had was a present for my third birthday.  She was a cocker spaniel and we named her Lilly Belle.  I am told that was my choice, but I barely remember her.  I am also told that she bit one of my grandfather’s visitors so he shot her.  He was like that, but that really is a whole other story.

My other grandparents lived on a small farm a short drive from our house in town. They were still farming in the fifties the same as their parents had in the thirties.  There was a corn field plowed with a horse, a chicken coop, a pig lot, a creek running along behind the meadow where the cows grazed and a barn.  On Grandma’s and Grandpa’s farm everybody worked.  Even my six year old self, when I stayed, had to gather eggs and feed the dog.  I hated the chickens but loved the dog.  Rusty, a collie.  Rusty worked just like everybody else bringing home the cows, chasing rabbits and announcing visitors.  And, entertaining grandchildren, of which there were many.  Rusty would fetch a stick as long as you were willing to keep throwing it.  He put an end to several games of tag when Grandma came out of the house demanding that we let that poor old dog rest.  He was great for snuggling behind the couch listening in on the grown ups or warming cold feet curled up at the bottom of the bed.  He finally grew old and died not long before Grandma and Grandma got too old for the farm and had to let it go.

My family moved from a house in Kentucky across the river to Illinois to live in my maternal grandfather’s house because he was ill and needed to be cared for.  Not long after we moved in my dad thought getting a puppy would be good for us, so off we went to the pound to look for a puppy.  That didn’t work out exactly as planned.  We came home with a grown female collie.  She was a little broad across the rear, but dad said that was probably because she had been spayed.  Well, not exactly.  She had six puppies that we had to find homes for.  After that Lady was spayed and became a constant companion to my sister.  The two of them played together in the sand box and walked around the block.  They were often invited up on the porches of the widows who lived on either side of us. I even recall Michele sharing her ice cream cone with Lady.  A bite for me and a bite for you. After a few years Lady developed heart worms.  She fell into the gold fish pond and then died from heart failure.  I was twelve years old by then and understood death better than I cared to.  Lady was never coming back and that broke my heart.

When my son was three and his sister still in a cradle our next door neighbors gave him a collie pup.  Daisy was a beautiful animal of the Lassie variety.  She decided my children were her puppies and guarded them from all manner of trouble.  Daisy was more my dog than my son’s.  We took the children to the park together and she kept me company late evenings when everyone else was sleeping.  With Daisy I could cry or cuss or throw a hissy fit and she was still there for me.  I held her head and whispered good girl to her when she had to be put down.

Then there was Midnight.  When my son was about nine I came home from work one day to find him and his best friend sitting on my front porch steps with this large, black mixed breed dog.  The dog was laying down with his head on his paws and both boys were crying.  When I asked what was the matter, they tearfully stated that we were going to have to shoot Midnight.  What! Surely not. Well it seems the friend’s family had to move from their home and could not take the dog with them, so his stepfather said they would just have to shoot him.  So, Midnight came to live with us.  That dog followed my son every where.  He went to little league games, followed little boys on bicycles all over town, waited impatiently by the door whenever we made him stay home.  One day my son came home, but Midnight didn’t.  We don’t know what happened, but he left an empty place behind him.

Then there was Gunner.  Gunner, a boxer, was my husband’s dog and best friend and big baby. He was a gift from Jerry’s brother.  When Gunner came to us as a puppy he went to work with my husband and slept under his desk until he was too big.  My children’s friends were all in love with Gunner.  They bought him cheeseburgers and always greeted Gunner first when coming to our house.  He was playful and gentle.  When the grandchildren came along Gunner became their guardian and playmate.  He slept at the foot of our bed, took his bath in the shower with my husband and lay at his feet during dinner. We had him for about ten years and when he left us I wanted no part of another pet.  The ends hurt too much and they took up to much time, too much energy, too much money and too big a piece of my heart.  For a few years there was no dog.

Now, there’s Tyson.  Tyson is a lab mix who weighs in at ninety-five pounds.  He is special needs in that he has colitis and needs a special  diet.  I was determined not to like Tyson when my grandson came to live with us and hoped we could find somewhere else for him to go. But, he sat by my chair looking up with those soulful brown eyes and offering me his paw.  He is so well behaved, mostly, and he is devoted to Curtis.  And, the darn dog seems to love me.  What can I do?  My grandson has to work and I don’t, so Tyson hangs out with Jerry and me.  He is stretched out on the loveseat snoring softly as I write.  When I get up from my chair to go to bed he will follow me and sit by the bed staring at me until I tell him to come on up here.  Tomorrow  we will walk around the block, several times. We will play keep away with his chew toys and he will keep me company whatever I do.  Then after a few days my grandson will get back home and Tyson will be his dog until he has to be gone for work again.  Then Tyson will settle for granddad and me.

Chances are there will always be a dog in my world.  Damn dogs take up so much time. They drop hair all over the house.  They fart.  They have to be fed when I have other things to do and just as sure as I want to have a down day the dog needs to go to the vet or gets into something nasty and has to have a bath.  I love dogs.  I like them more than a lot of people.

Dogs

Politics as Unusual

Man oh man have things ever changed since I voted in my first presidential election.  Back in the sixties, even with the country in so much turmoil, those running for office had to at least insult each other politely.  We expected at the very least for our leaders to have basic social skills and to be free of scandal, or to at least pretend to be.  Not so anymore.

What passes for debate today is not much more than a contest to see who can be nastiest and throw the most mud.  Watching the republicans recently I was reminded of junior high school bullies; the guys who were flunking but calling everyone else dumbasses, always smacking around someone smaller or weaker, but never challenging their equals.  Anyone of the six mentally challenged candidates now in the race for this party being president actually scares me.

It’s no secret that my politics most nearly fit the democratic party but even the democrats are more power hungry than I would like.  Senator Sanders looks more like a real public servant to me than anyone else.  The problem for me is I don’t trust information from the media, social or otherwise, and watching the candidates in debate is disappointing when they appear to be following the direction of political advisors who are still campaigning as they were twenty years ago.  i.e. — negative works.  Here’s an idea!  Trust the voters to hear and understand the truth about what a candidate wants and is likely to do.

I recall a time when I did not actually know which political party friends and acquaintances were a part of.  We were more interested in raising our families, making a living, having a good time together.  Now, it seems every interaction becomes a conflict either over politics, religion, race, etc., etc.  I like to be a live and let live kind of gal, but so often I come upon people who only want to be agreed with and have no interest in diverse thoughts or opinions.

I can’t think about it anymore right now without making myself crazy.

Politics as Unusual

Surrounded by “faith”

Where I live I am often confronted by someone hoping to save me from myself by taking me to church.  It can be annoying, even if I understand why they do that. Generally I simply decline the invitation and go on my merry way.  But, sometimes one has to explain matters in terms that cannot be misunderstood.

A few months ago I was out walking the dog, as I am a few times every day, when I am greeted by a man coming down the street from the other direction.  It goes something like this:

Good morning. That sure is a big dog.  Is he friendly?

Not really. ( he is but I am getting a bad vibe and do not want to encourage the guy to engage in conversation; it doesn’t work)

Maybe if I just let him sniff my hand we can be buddies.  How about it big boy, want to be buddies.

Don’t put your hand out.  He might bite you.  I really have to get home now.

My church is holding a revival this week and I would like to invite you.  The  speaker is an awesome man.  He has saved many souls.

No thank you. (pulling the dog along) Have a nice day.

Don’t you go to church? (he has changed direction and is walking along too close for my comfort).

No I don’t.  (keeping it short and trying to move away)

What about your soul?  Aren’t you afraid of hell?

Look, I am not interested in your church and I an not interested in talking to you about it.

I am just concerned about where you will spend eternity.  I just want you to know god loves you, but you will burn in hell if you don’t accept Jesus as your savior.

Well, now I am pissed, uncomfortable and a little afraid.  So I turn to face him, holding tightly to the leash because the dog senses fear and has begun to growl and lay his ears back. So, I shout “Get the hell away from me, you hear!!  If you get any closer I am letting this  dog have you and I am calling the police!”

He stops, stands very still as I begin to move away.  His parting words are “I hope you find Jesus.”

There are many things I could have said, but why bother?  If the man believes what he was saying then he will not change his mind and I am not interested in discussing anything with him.  If, as I suspect, he is just a creep trying to annoy me, or worse, then getting as far away from him as possible is my best option.  I pulled out my cell phone and called the local police and asked if an office could drive by my street because a strange man is following me and I am very uncomfortable.  A squad car appeared shortly coming toward me and the officer rolled down his window and asked me if I am okay.  I told him a short version of what had happened and thanked him for coming.  He said he would talk to the man, who was out of sight by now, if he found him and that would probably be enough to get rid of him.  I thanked him again and proceed the short distance to my home.

I am not a religious person and that is fairly uncommon where I live.  Most of the people in my small town profess to be some variety of Christian and many attend church at least some of  the time.  Most folks around here are good people who make an effort to be kind and do not meddle in the affairs of others.  I like those people.  There are however zealots who are determined to make everyone do as they think they should and those people make me crazy.

You see, I understand why they do that because I grew up in church.  I remember dressing up in a starched dress with lace on the collar, a sash tied into a big bow on the back, black paten leather shoes, and white cotton gloves with a dime tucked inside for the collection and going off to Sunday School and church with the family almost every Sunday. We sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and “Amazing Grace”.

There is a photo of my small self in the family album where I am kneeling by my bed saying my nightly prayers. “Jesus tender shepherd hear me, bless this little child tonight. Through the darkness be thou near me, keep me safe ’til morning light . . . ” with a long list of people to bless at the end.  I believed with all my heart that God loved me.

Then I grew up.  Took my children to church, taught bible school, volunteered for children’s church, the whole nine yards.  And I studied; read the bible and prayed.  But I also read a lot and lived a little and traveled some.  I met people different from me and learned of other cultures and learned of other people of different faiths and no faith at all and I came to believe that I had been misled.  Not on purpose, just parents, teachers and neighbors passing along what they had been taught without ever questioning any of it. I question everything now and learn and grow doing that.

So I became the happy heathen I am today and I like it! I can’t rely on a god to fix everything so I have to take care of it myself as best as I can. I don’t know what happens after death and neither do you.   Time will tell.  Until then I will just live each day the best I can and I hope everyone else does too, but I won’t try to make anyone do anything. We all have to make our own choices.

 

Surrounded by “faith”

Crazy world

There is much wrong with the world that needs changing; I would if I could.  The biggest and most dangerous problem, that could probably change but most likely won’t, is that there are too many of us.  Humans I mean.  We are procreating ourselves out of existence.  The earth will survive without us, but then who will appreciate it?

It seems obvious to me that there limited resources and we just keep making more humans to use them up without realizing that someday there just won’t be enough to sustain the number of humans on this planet.  There have always been natural ways to control population; wars, famine, disease, genocide, etc. but even though we are killing each other in more and more heinous ways there are still too many people for the earth to sustain.

What to do?  We should be having fewer babies but that is not likely when most believe every child is a gift from a god.  We could die younger to make room for others but I’m not volunteering to go first and I don’t know anyone else who will.

Then again, maybe nature has already started to thin the herd without relying on human beings to take care of it.  Floods and earthquakes take out a fair number of people as do droughts and hurricanes.  In the past war has been temporarily effective by removing large numbers of young males during their most productive years.  Time will tell.  I won’t be around long enough to know how it works out, but it should be interesting for those who survive, or maybe for the next species to occupy this space.

Crazy world