I had planned my whole day Easter Sunday, from the time I dropped Mitch off at work to dinner. I was going to take the dogs hiking just after sunrise, yard work in the afternoon and for dinner; I was going to grill a rack of lamb. I had been looking forward to my early morning hike all weekend. The weather forecast for Sunday was perfect, sunny, lows in the morning high forties with a high in the sixties. Perfect for an early morning hike, not too hot or too cold. Well as usual things didn’t go as planned.
I dropped Mitch off at work and drove home, pulling into the driveway. I got out of the car, let Orso out, he always rides along, headed to the house to get ready to go hiking. That’s when everything went horribly wrong. I’m not really sure exactly how it happened, but I know how it ended up.
Our house sits on the side of a hill with the garage above the house and concrete steps down to the house. There are two concrete retaining walls lining the steps growing taller as you walk down to the house. The two retaining walls end up about four and half feet high at the base with a three foot concrete walk from the door to the side of the house and winds around to the front of the house.
Orso was standing on the landing at the top of the steps waiting for me. I took a couple of steps toward him and for some reason I was going to bump a solar light that had a dragonfly on the top, one of those that turn different colors in the dark. Very pretty, super cheap, only cost me $3.97, also very fragile. I bought one a year ago and bumped one of the wings with a shovel and broke it right off. I knew that if I hit the light, I would probably break it, so I did the only logical thing I could do under the circumstances, I stepped around it. As I stepped around the solar light, I saw that my foot was going right for the Autumn Joy Sedum planted along the edge of the landing. I couldn’t step on the Sedum, that wouldn’t do at all, so I planted my right foot past it in the dirt below the Sedum and the solar light, completely throwing my whole body off balance. I tried to right myself with my left foot by stepping wide left and down two steps, bad idea.
That threw my balance and momentum to the left and since I was heading down at the same time, gravity and physics took over. I stepped down missing the next step hitting the step below it with my right foot and gaining speed scraped two fingers on my left hand on the top edge of the retaining wall, leaving skin behind. I twisted to the right a bit and swung my left foot forward still hoping for a recovery missed the next step and whacked my right forearm on the retaining wall. That’s when I spun around as I hit the bottom of the steps and slammed into the side of the house with my back.
I sat there at the base of the steps up against the house, trying really hard not to cry, assessing the damage. My right arm felt like it was on fire, I was pretty sure I was bleeding and hoped I hadn’t broken it. I drew in a couple of breaths to check for broken ribs. I didn’t think I had broken any but wasn’t sure if I had cracked or separated any. I moved around a bit to make sure I hadn’t broken anything else, like my back or hip. At least I didn’t hit my head this time.
I looked up at Orso who was still standing at the top of the landing watching me, not moving. He wanted no part of the carnage below. I called him down so that he could see I wasn’t dead. I very slowly twisted around and got up to a standing position quite surprised that I was still holding my keys. I went in the house to inspect the damage to my body.
Surprisingly, there was no blood, I was so sure that there would be bleeding and gushing wounds, but no just a big honkin bruise that was already forming on my forearm. I decided that I hadn’t broken any bones in my arm or any ribs, I just hurt like hell. Any movement was iffy and painful; there went the plans for the day. No hiking, no yard work, no fun.
On the bright side I saved the $3.97 dragonfly solar light.
A few photos of Spring and not a day too soon!
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I have learned that being a painter is not an employment option. In fact I suck at painting. The funny part about it is that I actually enjoy painting. Nothing brightens or freshens up a room better than a fresh coat of paint. Paint is also a fairly inexpensive way to update a room or house. The caveat is only if the only thing that gets painted is the walls and ceiling.
My problem is that when I paint I get paint everywhere, the walls, ceiling, floor and me. I’m really good at getting paint on me, every part of my body. I always start off with the best intentions, I am so careful; I remove all of the switch plate covers for the outlets and light switches. I tape the window, door and floor trims. I cover the floor with plastic and newspaper and still get paint on window trim, doors and door trim, and oh how I get paint on the floors. Mitch says, “It’s a gift. You definitely have a gift.” He says that after I cut myself, fall off something, like maybe a ladder or get paint in places that any other normal person would never slop paint on.
I decided to paint the living room to brighten it up and make it look very fresh. I bought two gallons of ceiling paint and two gallons of wall paint just to make sure I had enough. The first mishap happened when I was painting the ceiling the paint roller slipped and whacked the ceiling fan. I had to quickly climb the ladder rag in hand to wipe off the paint before it left a big white smear across the fan blades. After the ceiling was done I cleaned up the roller and paint tray.
The walls came next and that is when true disaster after disaster happened. I thought that if I cut in the top of the walls, window and door trim and the base of the wall close to the floor all the way around the room I would save time moving the ladder around. I still had to go back and start over moving the ladder around the room to get the roller up high on the walls. At first I was doing well, no paint slops, I started to relax a bit and that is when it happened. I climbed up the ladder, lost my balance and fell backwards off the ladder knocking the ladder one way and I went the other way paint roller in hand and across the couch and onto the floor. Luckily the couch was covered in a plastic drop cloth. But in true Susan fashion, I ended up with a nice bruise on my hip.
After that it was all downhill, I bumped the roller against the ceiling, which means I have to go back with a brush and ceiling paint to correct all of the paint splatters. The roller would drip and a paint blob fall across the window trim or the door trim. Paint droplets would mysteriously appear on the floor where a second ago the floor was covered in newspaper. It was like a gust of wind had magically whipped through the room just across the floor moving the newspaper away exposing bare bamboo. I ended up looking like I’d been dipped in a paint can. I had paint on my hands, my jeans and shirt, and even in my hair. I didn’t just have paint down the front of my jeans I also had paint on my butt. I have this ability to bend over to paint low and back into the wall I just painted. I guess it truly is a gift.
It’s not like I’m totally graceless nor have no other skills, painting is just not one of them. The funny part about this is that Mitch hates painting, but is exceptionally neat when painting. He never gets paint anywhere but on the walls that he wants to paint. I’ve even tried bribery but it doesn’t work. There is nothing he wants that will entice him to paint with or for me. I think I hate him.
Our little berg has finally hit the big time in the political arena. High stakes mudslinging and political intrigue has come in our election year. Our city government consists of four aldermen, a city clerk, city treasurer and the mayor. The lake is divided so that two aldermen represent one side of the lake and two other aldermen represent the other side. We hold elections every two years, voting for two of the aldermen, one on each side of the lake, and the mayor. The elections are usually very sedate, the aldermen and mayor usually run unopposed, because about the only way to have more than one candidate for each position is for the incumbent to retire, move away or die. We’re a pretty boring unassuming little town.
But not this year. This year we have it all, mudslinging, accusations and political intrigue. We even have political signs. That is a first here. Everyone knows who each of the candidates are, so why the signs? What’s even more interesting is that the one candidate for mayor has had signs out and around for months. That was pretty entertaining when walking the dogs, we could see who was supporting the candidate. The incumbent finally decided to put out some signs too. That’s when the political intrigue came into play. No sooner had he placed his signs around to a few homes when that very same night someone or someones stole almost every sign.
Now I don’t know about you, but all I can do is just shake my head. How dumb. This is not the way to win an election. Making absurd statements, accusations and theft does not warm my heart. If you want to get my vote then let’s focus on some positives. Tell me what you will do for the community and more importantly me.
I think one of the candidates should offer to do something better for the community like make Tuesday Ice Cream Day. Everybody gets a scoop of ice cream. Then the other candidate could up the ante to Two Scoop Tuesday. Everybody would get two scoops. Who doesn’t like ice cream? An even better idea would be Wine Wednesday. One candidate could make a campaign promise to provide a glass of wine to all legal voting residents. The other candidate could come back with a promise of chocolate and wine. That would definitely get my attention.
The candidate that makes the best offer wins. Then the mayor would supply a glass or two to all residents (of legal age, of course). That would certainly make the community a better place, who isn’t happier after a glass or two of wine? I know I’m certainly happier after two glasses of wine.
Sometimes Mitch can be such a whiner! I mean really, come on. Saturday morning is our weekly errand day, Sam’s Club, grocery store, Walmart, Petco, etc. Plus I wanted to get five or six bags of garden soil to add to one of my raised beds so I could get my potatoes planted. We started off on our errand run with the first stop Sam’s Club.
Sam’s Club is for detergent, paper towels, supersize bottle of olive oil, etc. The grocery store for regular stuff, eggs, dairy, fresh produce, etc. that’s how our Saturday mornings go, exciting huh?
Mitch grabbed a cart and as we headed into the store I saw a large pallet of forty pound bags of garden soil for less than six dollars a bag, bargain! I walked over to the stack of bags and told Mitch that I wanted to get the dirt here. He looked at me like I was speaking in tongues or something. He repeated back at me, “You want to buy it here?”
I said, “Yes it’s a great buy!”
“How many were you planning on getting?” He looked at me with an irritated expression.
“I don’t know, maybe four or five,” I reduced the number after getting “The Look”.
He reached up and grabbed a bag off the top about five feet high and turned around to the cart and put the bag in the cart. He turned back and grabbed another bag, still giving me “The Look”. After he placed the fourth bag in the cart I said, “That’s enough, I think four will be good.” Again with “The Look”. I was starting to get a complex.
We finished up at Sam’s, paid and headed to the car to unload the cart. When we started unloading the bags of dirt from the cart Mitch had to bend over to reach into the cart to lift the bags out of the cart then place each bag in the back of the station wagon. Again I got “The Look” as he lifted each bag out of the cart and into the car. I thought, boy this is going to be a long morning. As we drove away headed toward the grocery store I tried to make conversation.
I said, “I think four bags of dirt will be enough.”
He turned to look at me and said, “It’s never enough. I know better, it’s never enough. I couldn’t believe you wanted me to put those bags in the cart, a grocery cart, not the flat push cart perfect for forty pound bags of dirt, not a grocery cart. One that I had to lift up and over and down into, a regular grocery cart.”
“Well I didn’t plan on getting the dirt there, it just happened to be there and cheap, so I thought why not. You should have said something; I would have gone and gotten you a big boy cart.” That’s when I really got “The Look”.
What a whiner, four bags forty pounds each, that’s one hundred sixty pounds, but it’s not like he had to lift all one hundred sixty pounds at once. One hundred sixty pounds into the cart, one hundred sixty pounds out of the cart and into the car, one hundred sixty pounds out of the car and carried to the backyard. It was only forty pounds times four into the cart, forty pounds times four out of the cart and into the car, forty pounds times four trips out of the car and carried into the backyard. He-man wouldn’t have a problem.
The only reason I was forgiven was that the dirt was for potatoes and I only plant potatoes for Mitch. It was all for him, really.
Let me preface this story first with a little background. Everyone knows our work schedule and routine is a little wacky. Mitch gets up to go to work very early in the morning and in order to spend more time together I take him to work then pick him up on my lunch hour to take him home, I then go back to work and finish my work day. When things at work are crazy as they seem to be these days and I can’t take him home, I’ll have him drop me back off at work then Mitch will come back and pick me up at 4pm. He brings the dogs and lets them run around in the field next to the building before I get off.
This week has been super crazy so Mitch has been picking me up after work every day. The dogs are always so excited when they see me walking across the parking lot that they come running full bore to meet me. I’m always watchful for any unsuspecting coworker coming out at the same time in order to not let the dogs terrorize anyone else. Orso is always especially excited and will run around me in circles standing up and barking to let me know just how awesome his day has been.
Yesterday he came running up to me excited as usual and I played it up encouraging him a bit by starting to run with him to the car. Orso thought that this was a great new game and began running along with me barking and raising up on his back legs. That should have been my first clue. Things were about to go horribly wrong. He then turned toward me and bit my left thigh. I could not believe he did that. I stopped and looked at him then looked at my pants searching for the hole because as much as it hurt I figured his teeth had to have gone through the pants.
I walked up to Mitch and said, “He bit me. He just turned in and bit my thigh!”
Mitch started laughing and said, “No he just grabbed you. He’s happy to see you.”
“When a mouth opens and teeth come together in a firm manner that’s called a bite! He didn’t grab me he bit me!” To which Mitch just laughed more. I wanted to reach over and bite him.
After we got home, I changed out of my work clothes and into my sweats and checked my thigh, sure enough there was a bruise already popping up. I’m not sure who I want to bite more, Orso or Mitch, because right now it’s a toss up.
I’ve been thinking about life and how much time I have left on this earth a lot lately. Don’t get me wrong, I have no plans on dying any time soon and have no idea when I will die, I’ve just been thinking about the span of time between now and then. I’m at a point in life where I know that death will come in the not too distant future, depending on health and choices I make, maybe in the next forty years give or take.
We all go through different stages in our lives. Stage one when we’re young and know nothing about life and death, when life is long and death is a faraway abstract concept. Life is happy and safe while death is where everyone goes to heaven, even our dogs. Stage two when we’re just starting our adult lives, life is still long and we think about the here and now, with death remaining a faraway end to a life well lived. We start building a life with someone we love and begin making plans for retirement still a long way away. Stage three is when we hit our middle age; children are either grown or close to being adults themselves. This is when we start to consider death as a door around the corner but still faraway, just not as far. Retirement and a life of leisure is more on our minds than death.
Stage four is when we are of an age close to retirement, but not there yet. Depending on our health and career path we may have five to fifteen years before we may retire and ponder what we’ve accomplished and what we have left to accomplish. Stage five is when we are close to the end of life and we take stock of how we’ve lived our lives. There will be regrets and satisfaction of our past deeds.
I think I’m at stage four, I will be sixty this year, I don’t consider that to be old and if you ask Mitch he’ll tell you I certainly don’t act like a sixty year old. He constantly asks me, “How old are you?” Especially after I’ve done something a teenager would do, like drive the car into the puddles of water to make giant splashes. But now I look at what life I have left and wonder how long do I have? I picture my time left in my head as a finite number and try to figure out how long. Weird huh? I’m not trying to be depressing or am depressed I guess I just want an answer to an unanswerable question.
I think in my head that if I know how much time I have left then I will make a decision a certain way that would be different with a different time line. Screwy weird, I know. Yes I know these are the great unknowns of life and the time of death should have no bearing on the way you live your life and the choices you make, but in reality the suggestion or the hint of death plays a very real part of all our choices in life. I have decisions to make and wish I had the answer to the greatest riddle of all in order to make the right decision.
It’s way too cold to outside today so I came up with a bit of fiction for the day. I hope you enjoy it.
The Myth the Legend the Truth
The story goes like this; a long time ago there was a story about this mythological creature. The creature was rumored to wander the streets at night searching for a mate worthy of the creature’s efforts. The creature had a keen sense of smell and could sniff out the slightest hint of fear. The creature was also blessed with the vision of a hawk and could see through the best lies. But most of all, the creature had the ability to touch a man’s soul and change it forever.
One night while on the quest for the perfect mate, the creature came upon a man standing alone at the edge of a cliff looking out over the vast void that dropped down into a deep gorge. The creature spoke to the man and asked three questions.
The first question was, “What has brought you to the void?”
The man looked at the creature, sucked in his breath at the terrifying figure and answered, “I came to search my soul and find forgiveness for my sins.”
The second question was, “Were your sins against another man?”
The man raised his gaze to the creature’s eyes, and with an eyes wide open stare answered, “No my sin was much worse. I lost faith in myself.”
The third and final question was, “How will you restore your faith in yourself?”
The man bowed his head, reached his hand toward the creature and answered, “I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m worthy of a second chance. Who will believe in me if I don’t believe in myself?”
The legend of the story is that the creature reached out and touched the man’s hand and gave him the strength to find forgiveness in himself, so he could become a man worthy of the creature. The truth of the story was much different.
What really happened was that the creature so incensed at the man and his whining she pushed him over the edge into void and watched with a smile on her face as he dropped a thousand feet to be crushed by the rocks below. She then turned and walked away without a hint of remorse. There were many more men to pick from and surely there was one that was worthy of her.
Yesterday morning we woke up to about two inches of snow, nothing like the people in the north eastern part of the country have gotten and are still getting. Just enough snow to cause multiple car crashes and traffic problems. Surprisingly the morning walk was pretty uneventful, with Orso only acting like a puppy at the end of our walk. I let him off the leash and he took off like a rocket butt down running around in great big circles coming back to bash Charlie, so I let Charlie off the leash to retaliate. For once Charlie got into the spirit and ran around jinxing and jagging keeping Orso at bay. That lasted for about five minutes before Charlie got cold and decided it was time to go back inside and get his carrot.
The drive to work was slow, with most streets still snow packed. By the drive home though the main roads had been cleared and most of the side streets weren’t quite as bad. In our little berg, the mayor usually plows the roads and does a very good job of it giving most of us that false sense of security that all the roads are in as good condition as ours are. Surprise, when we leave the city to venture out on the major roads and highways, the conditions are abysmal at best sometimes. You could say we are quite spoiled.
This morning the roads were still in pretty good shape except for the patchy slick spots where the snow had melted and re-froze overnight. Those sneaky little patches always get me, even though I know they’re there lurking waiting for me, I try so hard to watch for them, but I get caught every time. I think they move.
The dogs and I started off on the walk this morning with no problems, surprisingly the roads were dry, no slick spots. We rounded the curve and walked up the hill and still had not encountered any icy patches and I did what I always do, I started relaxing and let my guard down. We topped the hill and started down the hill when I noticed the deer standing in the neighbor’s yard watching us. The dogs hadn’t seen or smelled him yet and just kept walking down the hill. The deer showed no intention of moving off just stood there watching and waiting for us to come closer. I should have stopped right then and there and turned around before the dogs realized what was at the bottom of the hill, but no I didn’t do that. It was like I was watching a train wreck about to happen and did nothing to change destiny.
I even spoke out loud to the deer and said, “Bud you can’t be there.” He still didn’t move. Halfway down the hill the dogs saw the deer, jerked on the leashes to let him know they knew he was there and I found the slick spot in the road. I went down so quickly and hard landing on my rear end. I sat there in the road with my legs straight out in front of me and the dogs looking at me wondering what I was doing sitting there when there was a walk to finish.
I really need to move to a warmer place.
I really have to get Mitch out more. That in itself is a challenge, because Mitch is a man of routine. I mean serious routine. His day consists of, get up go to work, come home eat lunch, do whatever chores he does, like laundry or ironing, feed and walk the dogs, eat dinner and go to bed. He is also antisocial for the most part, a hermit, he is perfectly happy sequestered in the house never talking to another soul as long as he can. As a severe form of torture, I make him to go the grocery store with me on Saturday morning. I talk to everyone, store employees and total strangers alike, eliciting comments from Mitch like, “Is there anyone you don’t know or won’t talk to?” To which I just smile back at him with an evil look and say hello to someone else. To make matters worse, since I have taken him with me for so long, now the store employees now talk to him too. Even the former store manager would ask where my partner in crime was on the rare occasion he didn’t go with me.
Every time we go to the store I always ask him if there is anything he would like to eat for the week, and I always get the same response.
“No I’m good.”
Can you imagine how frustrating is to buy good food and a variety too, when I always get, “No I’m good.”? It makes me want to pull my hair out. I finally got him to admit he wanted Milky Way fun size candy bars to snack on during day and that only took three years. He treats himself like he doesn’t deserve anything special. You would think he had taken a vow of poverty. This morning at the grocery store there was a sale on Keebler/Kelloggs offering all of their cookies and crackers for sale at half price. I asked Mitch if he would like something different from what we normally buy since everything was on sale. He stood there staring at all of the choices with a blank look on his face. I picked up a couple of boxes of crackers that I wanted to try and looked back at him to see what he wanted. He just stood there.
I asked what was wrong and he said, “Back in the day there was only Saltines and if you wanted something exotic you bought Ritz and you were happy. There weren’t all of these choices then.”
To which I laughed out loud and said, “You also had toilets out back and not in the house, back in the day, but isn’t it much better today?”
That’s when he got indignant and said, “That’s a totally different genre, not the same at all.”
I just shook my head and looked at him waiting for him to choose something; he finally acquiesced and picked a box of flatbread crackers. This is one of the reasons I drink.