Author Archives: DonniT

Emptying That Nest Again!

After the longest summer vacation ever, the kidlings of the world are back to school, and that includes Singer Girl.

One last stick throw for her dog!

We packed a dozen suitcases and flew her back to Michigan a few weeks ago. If you recall, she attended a different university her freshman year, and quickly decided that was not her place. she attended a different university. Last year, she transferred to this school and started over. Now, as a Junior, she was ready for a year of really getting into her education, and enjoying all the normal experiences of college.

Frickin’ COVID.

She was supposed to move into an apartment with her two best Wolverine friends, but one decided that the distance learning was not worth paying for housing, and chose to virtually commute. So the remaining two were put in an apartment with two strangers. It was kind of like starting over for the third time for my baby.

No in person classes, unless you count 3 times a semester for one class. No sorority formals or fraternity parties. No a Capella competitions. No football games.

She considered staying home, and taking everything online. But the apartment contract was signed, and we were gonna pay for it no matter what. And I told her that attending zoom-college in an apartment with other kids, in a college town, was way more of a college experience than logging in from her parents’ basement.

It’s not a normal college experience, buti t is HER college expereince.

Her 4 bed, 4 bath partemnt is super cute. It’s in a hge highrise complex, with a freaking amazing pool area in the middle (all teh aprtaments overlook the space, whch has grills and big screen tvs and lots of place to gather, hopefully safely).

She is getting along fine with her new roommates. She is cooking healthy meals (I’ve seen the instacart receipts and I feel ashamed when I compare her grocery lists to mine).

While we were still in Ann Arbor, we did some shopping for her place and helped her set up. We hit the farmer’s market, took her out for meals, and even got a date night in.

We sadly have no plans to visit. Originally we were going to attend the Michigan-Wisconsin game later this month, and I was way stoked about that. SIGH. Maybe next year…

As for HWSNBN and me, we are doing okay. The house is quieter, and clearner. I am way more prodctve with no puppies or kids around, and HWSNBN even goes into the office on most days.

I miss my girlie, of course, EVERY SINGLE DAY. If the pandemic had any silver lining, it was the amazing evolution of the relationship we have with our now-adult daughter. We sent more quality time together in the past 6 months than we have in the past 6 years (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it is huge). It made it a little bit more painful to say goodbye this time, but it’s only 3 months.

I got this.

Massively Mastiffs

Da babies grew up and became da toddlers — and now they became someone else’s dream dogs!

Alice and Thimble went home to their forever families last week, When they left me, the once one-pound struggling critters were 19 and 22 pounds each — at 10 weeks old. Gonna be HUGE!

Thimble’s adopters contact me all the time with pics and videos. She is now named Nora, and is a total daddy’s girl. She also has four human sisters — two sets of twins! She also has cat and dog siblings, so no worries about her being lonely.

Both dogs have continued their character traits at their new homes. Thimble likes to sleep (a lot) and sleeps under things as much as possible. At my house, her fave space was under my desk. Her adopters report she likes to squeeze into quiet corners for some shuteye. If that doesn’t work, she has been known to crawl under a pillow and snooze! Thimble lumbers about like a happy, over-served bar patron. Her squat legs don’t quite seem up to the task of holding her girth upright. And her wrinkles are getting jowlier, and the drooling has commenced. (Can dogs wear bibs?)

Alice is now Matilda, and just as sassy as ever! Some of the staff at Secondhand Hounds nicknamed her Karen due to her insistence to tell them her opinions about everything!). She has a big ole mastiff brother named Walter, and her parents adore her. Walter thinks she’s cool, too, but wants her to hurry up and grow so they can play together more safely. Be careful what you wish for, Walter! She is pretty brave, and jumps right into the middle of the action, whether it is meeting new people or greeting much bigger dogs.

When they were living with me still, we worked hard at Dogging 101. During the day, I played YouTube desensitization clips, and it seemed to help. They sleep through storms, and don’t seem phased by barking dogs. I took them out to socialize on walks and to events. They made their first bar appearance, where, of course, they were crowd favorites at the Excelsior Brewing Company! They and two siblings were the star attractions at an event at The Vine Room in Hopkins, where folks cuddled them up while supporting a great local business.

During the last few weeks with me, I had to travel a few times, so they experienced life in other homes. For a few days they slept over with some siblings, on another occasion they lived in a kid-filled house, and on a third they hung out with a big dog named Rosie. Alice loved Rosie from the get go, but Thimble was a bit cautious. By the end of the weekend, however, they were best pals.

Here are some other fun shots from their last weeks with us. I miss them already! (But not the pee. Or the poop. Or the drool…)

Ain’t no Mountain High Enough, Ain’t no Water Blue Enough

I’m a Minnesotan by choice, but I was raised a California girl. I don’t miss much about the Golden State, besides the people I left behind, as there’s not much there I can’t find here. Except for one thing: mountains.

I recently flew back west to enjoy a girls’ weekend with some high school classmates. One of them has a stunning house in Truckee, so we headed up there for some sun, fun, wine and lip syncing! Not much I’m gonna say about all that (what happens in Tahoe, stays in Tahoe), but I do want to share some of the gorgeous scenery. If you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, you really should put it on your bucket list.

Enjoy!

The drive up to Truckee

The next day we went boating — thanks Chip for being our Captain, and Shabi, the dog, for being the bestest mascot!

No social distancing on the beaches!

Lake Tahoe’s water is famously stunning!

We boated by the Thunderbird Lodge, which I’d ever heard fo before. So beautiful, and evidently lots of history.

The next day we hiked around before lunch and driving back to the Bay Area. The other girls were after exercise — I just wanted to play tourist and soak up a few last moments. It had been at least 12 years since i had last been in the mountains, and I have no idea when I will be luck y enough to go back!

Big Dogs in Progress

Ah, puppies.

We are back to fostering after an almost 4 month break. Pre-COVID, there weren’t enough fosters, and animals were languishing in shelters and rescues all over the country. But when folks realized they had lots of time on their hands, fosters and adopters came out of the proverbial woodwork, so I stepped back. I thought I’d let some of the new fosters have a shot at dogs, as we simply couldn’t keep up with demand.

But last month Secondhand Hounds received word of a couple of dogs in Kentucky who needed help — and one was heavily pregnant. Popeye, the daddy, is a one year old Neapolitan Mastiff.

Mama Olive Oyl is a two year old Neo Mastiff.

Mama went into labor before she could get up here to Minnesota, and now, instead of one foster for dad and one for mama and her brood, we needed many more fosters, as Olive Oyl decided her job was done and elected not to nurse the babies. So: fosters experienced in bottle or tube feed itty bitties were needed, and since I had experience from last year (remember the yellow lab puppies I had?), I was asked to help out.

Mama gave birth to 14 pups: 4 were stllborn, and 4 passed before we received them. So that left 6 babies, divided among 3 fosters. I got Thimble and Alice when they were just 11 days old, eyes and ears still closed. They weighed barely over a pound each!

Every 2-3 hours I bottle fed them formula. We use a very interesting formula recipe, which includes goat’s milk, whole Greek yogurt, whole ayo, karo syrup and egg yolks. So every few days I whipped up that mixure in the blender. The pups liked the formula,but hated the bottle. I swear I must’ve tried 5 different types of bottles and nipples. The feedings were taking about 45 minutes each time, and I was pretty wiped. I was spending about eight hours a day total feeding them! So at night I decide to tube feed them, so that cut the feedings to about 20 minutes total. But during the day I wanted to keep them on bottles, because they seem to need the sucking.

When they were 19 days old, Thimble got really, really sick. I consulted many times with fellow fosters and our vet, and we all decided she needed help. Her breathing was labored and she was so, so limp and lethargic. Before I handed her off to the emergency vet, I actually said my good byes. The vet confirmed aspiration pneumonia. I wasn’t surprised, given that they just fought and struggled with their bottles.

She came home and both puppies promptly moved into an oxygen chamber that took up half my kitchen counter.

We started antibiotics, and switched from bottles to syringe feeding. They loved that. Just sucked the formula down! We also started adding canned food to their diet, a little at a time. I had a feeling they’d be happier when they got real food, and they were.

They were also a mess!

Soon they were gaining weight, breathing better, and scooting around! Every day we try to make the food little thicker. Now I am taking dry kibble and soaking it in formula to mix with the canned food. As their teeth grow in, I will start making the much dryer and crunchier.

We are socializing now too. I invite folks over all the time to play with them, as I want the pups to love everyone. Thimble is definietly the more easy-going of the two, while Alice s a bit of a diva. Thimble is also MUCH bigger, and looks like she will be jowlier than Alice.

I’m about to go on a trip, so they will stay with another foster for 5 days, and I am eager to see how big they get by then. Thimble grew by almost 60% this past week, Alice by 25%. Pretty sure I won’t recognize them when I return!

I’ll keep ya posted!

Summer is for The Dogs

You’ve heard it said before: our pets are loving quarantine. The only thing Stevie Nicks likes better than us staying home with her, is her going on vacation with us.

For the fourth of July weekend, we travelled up north to one of our fave places, Madeline Island, WI.

It was a different trip than usual: no dining inside restaurants, no bar hopping, no hanging by the pool. So it was take the dogs to beaches, day after day.

They loved it.

This was Stevie’s second trip to the island, but it was the first for her friend Lyle, and the umpteenth for old man Monte. At first Stevie was swimming laps around Lye-Lyle corocdile, butt after a day or so Lyle was kicking her doodle butt at stick fetching!

Lyle, the black doodle above, has a neat trick: he likes to dive for rocks. We didn’t understand at first, but as you’ll see in the following slideshow, he likes to sort through the rocks underwater with his paws, and pull one where he can get it, then sticks his head underwater!

Monte is the handsomest boy, but he has never been a big stick chaser. He’d rather catch water in the air, or the occasional rock. He’s 14 now, and fighting cancer, so we were happy to see him enjoy himself!

Lyle and Monte are brothers, and they tried to play together a bit, but Lyle is a puppy and his crazy speed revs a bit higher than Monte’s.

Oh yes: there were humans on the trip as well!

Goof balls. They managed it, but man they looked silly!

We head back up in a month or so. I think the dogs are already in the car, waiting to go!

Baby Steps Back

It seems the world is slowly waking from its COVID-coma, taking tentative steps into the light. I am not sure if it’s wholly a good thing, but I will be totally honest: I do like having more freedom.

We have been to restaurants — one dinner outside, one inside. We went to a brewery. We even had friends over for an INDOOR dinner party.

I got my nails done, and then, the following week, my hair.

I’ve had in person meetings, not just Zoom ones.

As a rule, we are a family of mask wearers. I hate going into a store or office and seeing people with bare faces. I have chosen to not continue patronizing a few places when I have seen the people working there without masks, and seeing the clientele without them. I have never told someone to put a mask on, but I have definitely felt aggression towards me from those who don’t wear them. I don’t get it.

But then, we have been guilty ourselves of breaking some COVID rules. We sadly attended a funeral wake last week, and not only did we not wear masks, we even hugged some people.

My daughter is socializing again, mostly with the same people. But I did allow her to go camping with these friends and several other new people. I felt massive guilt about it. I know that means I should have said no. That’s what I tell my kids: if you feel wrong about doing something, you shouldn’t do it. But I did.

Today I got to do something I haven’t done since February: see my Dad. In case you didn’t know, Dad has Alzheimer’s and lives in a care facility. His incredible home locked that shit down at the first sign of trouble — earlier than most — and has not had a single COVID case. Great in some ways, dreadful in others. Residents lived in their rooms, away from other residents and all group activities, for 4 months. Last week, they satrted allowing socially-distanced meetings: masks n, no touching, temperarure checks and hand sanitizer for all.

Because of her camping trip, Singer Girl did not come. Too risky.

But Mom and I did.

He looked the same — which isn’t great, but not worse. He didn’t fuss with his mask, but frankly I don’t think he was too cognizant of it.

I’m so glad we got to go — evn if it was tough hearing Mom apologize to Dad for not coming sooner, and trying to explain about this wretched virus.

We will definitely hop on the old Sign Up Genius to schedule another visit. As we left I told mom That when things shut down In March I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again. She agreed, and commented it was good that we got another memory. He even smiled and laughed for us at the end.

And that is a gift.

Feeling Helpless?

I’ve held it together pretty well during pandemic shelter in place, grimly confident that while it was bad, I would come out okay. While I still feel that way to some extent, I actually feel guilt about how OK I will probably be (see previous blog post about privilege).

This weekend I’ve been lower than I’ve been in a very long time.

The chaos on the streets of the Twin Cities has been gut wrenching. Politics has yet again come to bear. Who is at fault? Who is in the right? Watching the news is like watching the waves crashing on the beach: information rushing forward, new revelations as the water recedes, then another rush of information moments later. It’s dizzying.

Meanwhile, on a personal note, Sailor Boy is going through a crisis and I can’t help him. He can’t help himself. He feels all alone. By the end of the day today someone will essentially decide the course of his future. No, he hasn’t done anything wrong, so it’s not like he’s being punished exactly, although it feels that way to him.

So whether I look outside my home at my community, or within my home at my family, I feel helpless and out of control.

On Saturday I was able to do two small things which made me feel like I could make a small difference.

HWSNBN and I donated blood in the morning, and I did a 4 hour round trip drive to help save some dogs.

In the grand scheme of things neither was a big deal. But as the technician placed the bandage on my arm at the blood bank, he thanked me and said “you just saved three lives.”

And when those 7 dogs stared at me from the back of the transport van, I knew I had played a role in saving their lives.

So while I cannot put out fires on Lake Street, or can’t change the systemic injustice that sparked them, and I can’t tell the admiral to let my son have his hard-earned transfer, I can do something.

We can all do something.

Sorrowfully Privileged

Dear friends and family not in Minnesota: we are, I am somewhat embarrassed to say, safe.

I woke up this morning forgetting for a few minutes what was going on 20 minutes from my home. This white woman, who, all her life, has been middle to upper middle class, was safe in her suburban home, worried more about whether she was going to get control of the weeds in her garden today than anything else.

Then I remembered the horror the Twin Cities is going through right now. Which in turn made me remember the horror peoples of color have endured for hundreds of years.

And I was ashamed on so, so many levels.

I was horrified and outraged when I heard the news and subsequently watched the footage of George Floyd being murdered. I turned to my husband and said “This is going to be bad.”

Clearly I understated things.

I also should’ve reminded myself at that moment that it had been bad before, even in a city and state that prides itself on being open, accepting, liberal.

I pride myself to have the same qualities, but I find myself wondering if I have ever done anything to perpetuate this injustice, even inadvertently? What can I do other than continue to be aware, and to point out when I see people acting wrongly. But in my desire to do the right thing, I find myself afraid to ask questions and state opinions.

Today I replied with much hesitation to a Facebook post made by an African American friend , Adrian Walton, who used to live in Minnesota. I must have typed and deleted and retyped my remarks a half-dozen times. I wanted to express how I felt, but was afraid I would come off as not understanding.

I wrote, “I can’t even look at the news. And I don’t know how to say anything — as a white, upper-class woman, I have no right to be angry or sad or outraged. Everything I say is wrong somehow. I know that the officers who filled Mr. Floyd are heinous individuals that should be jailed forever. I know that the protests were righteous. I can’t get behind the riots — and for that, I am told to check my privilege. I feel for the employees, the patrons, the small business owners, the people whose low-income housing is now gone. Somehow that makes me on the wrong side. I ask myself over and over — what can I do to help this never happen again? I try to be an open-minded person. I don’t like the idea of being blind to race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. I want to SEE it all for the beauty everyone’s unique diversity brings to the world around me. ”

Adrian graciously responded: “the best thing I would suggest is speak up against what you see is wrong and don’t conform to the rhetoric of staying quiet. What hurts me more is seeing my white friends quiet or mute on this issue yet they vocally speak against everything else. I believe, well I know others feel the same. The only way to help in this problem is buck the norm. I get killed when I speak out against blacks doing wrong… but I’m going to always speak what I believe and think is right or wrong. You may lose some friends but if they are your real friends then they know where you stand ethically and morally anyway. This situation won’t stop until more people of other races feel like you yet speak out against it and correct it when it’s wrong.”

I thanked him for his response, and cotinued:  I do feel…that …I am walking on eggshells when I speak in favor of a group I feel is being wronged, whether POCs, LGBTQ, Muslims, etc. Often there is eye-rolling, or you don’t understand, type comments. Of course, I don’t understand! But it doesn’t mean I don’t grieve or feel empathy or want change… I will continue to smile at everyone, be kind, courteous and respectful, not change to the other side of the street, or grab my purse tighter, or make assumptions about someone based on their appearance. If you ever see me doing something that needs “checking,” please let me know, AD!”

My daughter helps me be more aware every day, navigating the world of non-binary pronouns and helping me identify ways that may inadvertently come off as insensitive. So I continue to try. In talking with her today, she pointed out that being shocked or surprised about what happened to Mr Floyd is a form of privilege. The African American community is wearily not shocked anymore. It’s expected — every day — to be a suspect. To be looked at furtively. To be wondered about.

Think of that wretched white woman in Central park, who called the police on the African American man who was reminding her of the leash laws. While she essentially strangles her dog, she tells police he is threatening her, when he CLEARLY is not. She and he both know how the police could respond to the woman’s pleas — and he bravely stands his ground. How easily Christian Cooper could’ve been the next dead black man., had the police not recognized the shameful situation for what it was.

That, my friends, is white privilege. Using race as an indication of good vs evil, right vs wrong. Luckily, rightfully, she ended up the villain, and he was the hero.

I’m not saying that George Floyd was a hero. I’m just saying that he was a human who deserved to be respected by and protected by the police, not treated like vermin to be stepped on in the street.

Don’t we all just want to be respected? And to feel safe?

I am also not going to blanketly blame law enforcement. If we say all cops are bad, that’s just like saying every person at the protest looted and burned and destroyed. OK — wait — that’s gonna piss someone off. I know it’s not the same. But is it so different that we can’t at least take a breath and talk about it? So let’s not say “the cops.” Let’s say “THOSE cops.” Yes: it is a systemic issue that must be forever and radically changed. But please: don’t assume that all police officers would’ve acted that way. We know they wouldn’t. But yes: it clearly happens so frequently that the headlines are saying “again” and “another” POC killed by cops.

We also need to be careful about others who are being blamed. The owner of the Cup Foods, where the incident with Mr. Floyd originated, spoke publicly about the situation. He said usually when counterfeit money changes hands, the person handing it over has no idea the bill is counterfeit. Usually, the police arrive and just ask the individual where they obtained the false currency, and let them go. Obviously this did not happen in this instance. The store is appalled that their call resulted in this catastrophe. The clerk is devastated. The owner has offered to not only pay all funeral expenses, but wants to help the community heal however he can. I do hope that this small, minority-owned neighborhood business does not suffer. We don’t need that in a time when small businesses are failing daily due to the current health crisis.

The COVID-19 situation crossed my mind on the first day of the chaos: if it weren’t for the boredom of a pandemic, would the rioting and looting be as bad? I mean, I was a reporter once. I know the media is grateful for any non-pandemic news right now. And people are bored, and cooped up. Quickly I quashed that thought — and chastised myself for what was clearly a train of thought which diminished the complexity and severity for the situation.

Ironically, today I read an enlightening op-ed piece in the New York Times by writer Keeanga-Yamhatta Taylor. Ms Taylor, an associate professor at Princeton, eloquently gave some background on why, right now in particular, Mr Floyd’s murder is so incendiary. She actually mentions COVID-19, and that yes: it does play a role. But not how I thought.

Ms Taylor talks about how COVID-19 has disproportionately ravaged the black community “highlighting and accelerating the ingrained social inequities that have made African-Americans the most vulnerable to the disease.” Secondly, she talks about how the response to the pandemic is skewed “It’s not just the higher rates of death that fuel this anger, but also publicized cases where African-Americans have been denied health care because nurses or doctors didn’t believe their complaints about their symptoms. Just as maddening is the assumption that African-Americans bear personal responsibility for dying in disproportionate numbers.”

She also talks about something that has been mentioned repeatedly on social media: why are white protesters, heavily armed, allowed to walk into the Michigan state capitol and other areas, and scream in the face of police, without repercussions? In fact, our President praised them as “very good people,” whereas he called the protesters in Minnesota “THUGS” (his caps, not mine).

Even my candidate for President, Joe Biden, screwed up by saying “you ain’t black” if African Americans consider voting for Trump in the fall. Dude, you are a rich white man. You have no right to say something like that. I’ll vote for you, because we gotta get rid of the current abomination, but I’ll be honest: you were not my top choice.

Getting back to Ms. Taylor, who eloquently summed things up: “The convergence of these tragic events — a pandemic disproportionately killing black people, the failure of the state to protect black people and the preying on black people by the police — has confirmed what most of us already know: If we and those who stand with us do not mobilize in our own defense, then no official entity ever will. Young black people must endure the contusions caused by rubber bullets or the acrid burn of tear gas because government has abandoned us. Black Lives Matter only because we will make it so.” I urge you to read her piece in its entirety.

Back in the Twin Cities, everyone is agreeing it is time for real change. In today’s press conference, Governor Tim Walz gave an impassioned speech insisting that real change would come, but first the neighborhoods had to be set to rights. Kind of a clean up the broken glass before we can fix the foundations thing. I get that, appreciate it, and support it. He and the other elected officials seem to be truly committed to change. I hope so.

It might help that business leaders are vowing to help.

Dr. Marc Gorelick, president and CEO of Children’s Minnesota, released a statement today co-signed by 28 corporate leaders, from companies as diverse as General Mills, Best Buy, the Minnesota Wild, US Bank and Ernst and Young and Medtronic (full disclosure: HWSNBN works for one of the signed companies). It read, in part:

“As business leaders in Minnesota committed to the principles of greater equity, diversity and inclusion in our companies and in our community, we are deeply saddened and horrified by the recent death of Mr. George Floyd… His death … reflects deeply ingrained, long-standing injustice within our society. .. The repeated occurrence of racially charged events of this nature are contrary to the close-knit employment and residential communities we desire to have in Minnesota. We are committed to taking steps to eliminate the repeat of events like this in our society and committed to investing in substantive change in our organizations and the communities we serve to address racial inequities and social justice. Change has to start today, and it needs to start with us.” (read the full text here).

This is admirable. But will they make measurable change? What will they do? Today an African American CNN reporter was arrested for doing his job reporting on the riots. His white counterpart was not. Will these respected business leaders change that?

Let me pose this scenario. It is 10:30 at night, and the African American CEO of a company comes home, and his wife asks him to run back out to grab a gallon of milk for the kids’ breakfast. He has a choice to make: can he stay in the workout clothes he wore home from the gym, or should he change into khakis and a polo so he won’t be racially profiled?

When I run errands in my grubbies, I laugh and nervously hope I don’t run into anyone I know looking like that. If I were black, I would be worried I would be arrested or worse.

But, as I sit here, a white woman in my suburban home, I am not afraid to die.

And for that, I am privileged.

Below is a piece done today by my brilliant artist friend, Melissa Moore, another suburban white woman who found herself overcome with emotion today. This was her outlet.

The Mother of All Days

I just wanted to give my fam a shout out for a stellar Mother’s Day.

Typically we brunch at a local restaurant with another family. It’s always fun, but the day can be a bit of a let down other than that. I sometimes finagle a walk out of my crew, who do so grudgingly. Sometimes there is a card from someone and usually flowers from my husband. But this year felt really special.

I was worried about it, as, while I am a mom, I am a daughter first, and we were throwing quarantine caution to the wind by inviting my Mamacita to join us. I sent my husband a takeout suggestion several days in advance. I said that I was willing to help, as i wanted to make sure her day was special. She had been basically alone for months, and I felt she needed a special day more than I did.

Unfortunately, HWSNBN wanted too long and was unable to get a dinner reservation from my fist choice. But he assured me it would be handled, and got frankly irritated when I again voiced my willingness to help. So, I dropped it.

The night before, he started cooking!

I am a sucker for a great breakfast, but I am super challenging at restaurants as I hate eggs. So he did his research and started prepping food on Saturday (and it smelled so good!).

Breakfast was not in bed, as I got up first, but it was served on the couch while I watched Bravo shows without his complaints. He made an amazing sauteed potato and peppers dish and made a croissant mini=cupcake of sorts stuffed with cheddar cheese and Serrano ham. Fresh fruit and a blueberry muffin rounded out the spread! Unfortunately, I polished off the potatoes before I could grab a pic, but I swear they were there!

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For the next several hours, he cleaned the house, while I read, watched Tiger King (again, with no snide comments from the peanut gallery), and blogged. Singer Girl got busy in the kitchen, making an amazing cake from scratch. It featured Earl Gray tea and blackberries — wow!

We all got dressed in real clothes — like buttons on the pants, accessories, and even an underwire bra. Well, for me. I didn’t ask about my husband.

There were two family Zoom calls that day, which was awesome. First up was with his family, and it was so great seeing each other and chatting. I really think we need to continue these after the world goes back to normal. It has been great to laugh!

At some point in the day, a dozen white roses landed on the table for me.

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When Mom came over, she and I logged onto a Zoom call with my brother and his wife. Again: shelter in place has been a great inspiration for family connectedness! We told stories and remembered things and chatted about what we hoped we would do in the week ahead. We try to do a Zoom every Friday evening, and I love it.

HWSNBN had picked up a terrific dinner from Ike’s and he was setting that up while we talked. Meanwhile, he supplied us with fancy cocktails made of raspberry Gelato and champagne!

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After the call we gorged ourselves, then my mom pulled out photo album she’d brought over and she and I sat with Singer Girl and looked at pics from the past 60 years. she also had a few older things — her wedding announcement in the paper, photos of my grandparents from WW2, and even a photo of my Great-Great-Great grandfather who served as a chaplain for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

She knows I love history and genealogy, and it was wonderful sharing these memories with my daughter!

Of course, Sailor Boy is on a ship in an ocean somewhere, so he couldn’t be with us. But he called from the aircraft carrier, and we all were able to say hi to him before he was cut off. He also sent me chocolate covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries (his go-to!), so I knew he was thinking of me. There were no other cards or paper wrapped gifts for me, but somehow I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

After Mom went home, Singer Girl declared I got to pick the movie that night. I chose wisely — Terms of Endearment. HWSNBN groaned, but I knew there would be no arguing. So the day ended with an ugly cry.

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I hope you all had wonderful Mother’s Day — whether you were being celebrated, or doing the celebrating! Now I have to work on Father’s Day…

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Staying at Home

So… how you doin’?

I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, it’s not like I’ve been out and about, seeing and being seen. I can’t work, as I am “fur”-loughed (no puppy parties, although I personally consider puppy breath essential). No date nights, unless you call side-by-side weeding quality time. No fancy dinners (but lots of takeout). No travel (and no, the grocery store does not count).

But we are still healthy, and no one in our family has gotten sick, so I don’t want to complain too loudly.

So what HAVE we been up to?

We finished the Marvel Universe Infinity Stone movie saga. While watching it we had family movie night almost every day — which was great (although the wine and popcorn diet was not good for the waistline). Now that it is done, we need to find something else, as we have started drifting to opposite corners of the house again and I miss the time with Singer Girl.

Singer Girl has officially finished her first year as a Michigan Wolverine. Officially, her grades say “Passed — COVID,” but she will petition to have the letter grades appear on her transcript as she killed it. She has been working on arranging songs for her a Capella group as she was chosen to be a co-music director for the organization. She has also been writing music and practicing so she can (hopefully) record and perform later this summer. I am loving all this time. I get to enjoy her singing (although we are supposed to pretend we can’t hear her. Don’t ask. It’s a thing.) We chat all the time about school. When she is away, she never hides things from me. But she has other folks to chat with, so she doesn’t need to share every detail with me.

She is getting antsy now, and it doesn’t help that her Macbook crashed. I allowed her to have a girlfriend over to hang out the other night. I felt like such a bad person, as that is still verboten in our neck of the woods. I guess slowly but surely we will have to start dipping our toes into the pool of society. Today we are being risky again. I invited my mom over for dinner for Mother’s Day. I just couldn’t stand the idea of her being alone for yet another event. I’m torn: is that selfish, selfless, or a combo of the two? I gave her the choice — but really I knew she’d come over. She was so sweet to promise she hadn’t been anywhere. I reminded her that I am more concerned about us getting her sick than the opposite. Hopefully, I won’t regret this!

I haven’t signed up for any new fosters since Secondhand Hounds has so many new fosters we can’t keep up with dog demand. But I miss being around new dogs, so I reached out to a fellow foster and borrowed her three German Shepherd puppies for a 24-hour playdate.

This was both a good and bad idea. Good, because I got a fix. Bad, because, like all junkies, I am craving another hit. So I have told other whelping fosters that I am available for more one night stands if they need a break or if their dogs need a little extra socializing. This could be habit-forming.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am obsessed with books. So many have been read, my husband has had whiplash. The other night I sat on the couch, closed a book, and declared it done. About an hour later, he saw me propped up in bed. Reading.

“Didn’t you just FINISH a book?”

“Yes. So I had to start another one.”

He looked at me like I had a sickness. Maybe I do.

Apparently, I have a couple of them.

I also get great satisfaction from purging and organizing. COVID has made this both easier and harder. Easier, because I have the time. Harder, because my garage is packed with giveaways that I can’t get rid of. Which means my projects are logjammed. I rearranged all my costumes into bins and want to put them in the attic.

But I can’t get them into the attic because the attic access is in the garage and there is no room in the garage because of all the giveaways I can’t give away.  And I need to move stuff out of the attic to make room for new attic stuff, but, well, no room in the garage. It’s a circle of hell Dante forgot to write about.

My garage is also crammed with plants awaiting new homes in the yard. I had a Scarlet O’Hara moment sanding in my weed-plagued yard, surrounded by creeping charlie and garlic mustard and declared that, as God is my witness, I will never have a yard this overgrown again. COVID gave us lots of extra time, and spring has been mercifully dry and mild, so I am logging untold hours hacking at weeds. I know the only way to successfully control the weed invasion is not only to eradicate but to build a fortress against future insurrections by planting new stuff. So I asked on Nextdoor for extra plants folks were getting rid of or splitting, and I have battalions of hostas, ferns, Achillea, lilies, and more just waiting to be called into action. Unfortunately, the weather has taken a frigid turn. It looks like we will have several days of near-freezing items at night, so planting is on hold. I am hoping to get back out tomorrow to do more weeding, even if I can’t plant.

We will win this war! (If I wear jodhpurs and carry a riding crop while warring against the weeds, will my neighbors find me wacko?)

We remain committed to getting takeout from local restaurants. Every day I check the paper to see if we have lost any more great establishments! Easter dinner came courtesy of 6Smith in Wayzata.

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Food was amazing — but they were unprepared for the demand. HWSNBN had to wait more than an hour for our order! We have encountered this a couple of times — like when we did Cinco de Mayo takeout from Baja Haus in Wayzata. Again: food was good (especially the margarita mix!), but waiting more than an hour is maddening. These poor restaurants!

Want something cool? Order from Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale. Their takeout comes with instructions on how to put t all together so it is fresh and hot and ready to eat (and the accompanying videos are delightful).

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Another huge win: biscuits from Betty and Earl’s. I have been wanting to try this place since local media master Jason Matheson opened it up, but have been too lazy to go try it. So when they announced they would do satellite delivery stations, I leapt at the chance. And now I am addicted. Damnit.

 

Not to worry — we’ve been cooking as well! Chinese food, Mexican, grilling, Italian, etc. And yes: there have been wine and popcorn nights, as previously mentioned. Don’t judge.

You know you’ve been home a lot when there is nothing left in your DVR. I know television and movie studios are panicking as they can’t make new content. But know I have o excuse not to watch things I’ve meant to, whether old movies or a new series. Singer Girl has actually decided to try to see all the best movies of each decade as proclaimed by her fave youtube channel, WatchMojo. I want to watch with her, but she has admitted that I am not the best movie companion, as I like to guess what is going t happen. I promised to do better — and pay her for every time I interrupt film, kind of like a swear job. I guess we all need to use our stay at home time to better ourselves!

One way I am now slacking on the “bettering me” front? I have stopped working out daily. Mainly, it’s because the yard work is kicking my butt! But I gave myself a firm talking to about the snacking and extraneous alcohol consumption, and I feel that is compensating. My goal now is to re-enter society one pound lighter than I went into isolation. Not a lofty goal, but again: lots of takeout, wine, and popcorn have made me a bit squishy.

According to the last announcement, Minnesota may get a few restrictions lifted on May 18th. I am not expecting full freedoms, but I am excited for a little bit more. Scared, though, as numbers everywhere are going up, not down. I know the goal isn’t to NEVER get COVID, but to make sure we don’t all get it at once. Like everyone else, I am ready to start planning again  — travel, dinners out, hugs. In the meantime, I think I’ll go get something done.

Or not.

 

 

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