Friday, March 30, 2012

I Don't Want To Win Megamillions

It has been a long time since I bought a lottery ticket.

With the hoopla over Megamillions, I thought about it. 640 million dollars.

And I hear people saying they would buy a nice house, or stop work or set their family up... People! that is a uh, wheelbarrow full of money. You can set up your family for life until your family runs out 200 years from now. What are you gonna do with the rest of the money?

I've had at least my dollar's worth of fun imagining what I would do with 10 million. Even 20. But 640? That much money owns you, not the other way around.
That kind of money takes a whole lot of work. And energy. And meetings with committees and financial advisors and attorneys. That kind of money means you can't live in a little house in a friendly neighborhood, because you aren't human anymore to many people and you need protection. And that amount--there are damn few people you can trust.

Oh, it's fun to think about how I could found a foundation, and think about what it would do and who would be on it. Or a business I could start on the lines of Costco, with ethical profit margins, employees having a share, and I would add, green.

At this point in life, though, I really like simple. I don't think I would win, but why risk it? I think $640 million might well ruin a perfectly fine life and family.
I didn't buy a ticket. I hope it goes either to some entrepreneur who know what to do with it without rape and pillage, or to a bunch of people who will have a goodly amount, but more manageable.

If I were the winner, I know one thing: I know some good business people with which to start. And I would ask for an under the radar interview with Warren Buffet. He lives pretty simply, and he's a billionaire. I bet he would have good advice. I bet, if I won $640 million, he would advise me.

It will be fascinating to see what the winner or winners do. I wish I wasn't suspenseful, but celebratory. But I sit on the edge of my seat, so it is good drama: Will it make or destroy their lives? Somewhere in-between?

A friend of mine and I talk and smile about our "sweet sufficiency". She has a one bedroom cottage, mine is two.Both are under 1,000 feet. We have our lives, our family, our gardens, our church and satisfying work within and withall. Good friends, some shared, some not.

Oh, both of us would welcome some extra money, but not so much. We want time for friends, for family for pets and garden. A lot of money tends to erode some of that.
Don't misunderstand. I would love to be comfortably middle class, except I don't want a large tv or even a second one. I could go ahead and refinish the wood floors, but I don't want to spend the money. I could get a new car, but the one I have is well maintained and serviceable. I would spend the money on other things.
More to PBS. I already give to my church. I also make food pantry donations, and help send kids to camp. Travel a little more, for sure. See more concerts.
Buy a perennial hibiscus.

I think a huge lottery like this gives a chance to reevaluate. Sure, I want more. I don't want THAT much more.

Maybe I'll buy another Texas lottery ticket sometime soon. $3 million? I could work with that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hated Tasks Completed Can Be Glorious

I washed the dogs. Same day as I posted I wouldn't. Humidity is high, and it's been six hours. They still smell like (clean) wet dogs.

I revise productive procrastination to add whining...Productive Procrastinatin and Whining. The whining did the trick, and suddenly, I couldn't stand it anymore. The floor, the dogs, myself, my clothes and three towels are now cleaner or in process.

Or maybe? Maybe all these tasks triggered the dreaded "Cleaning Switch" where in my youth I would end up cleaning for 8-10 hours straight and toothbrushing the grout. This always has been unusual behavior for me, but especially predictable in spring.

So I left wet dogs, picked up my granddaughter, came home, planted my veggies in the back yard, watered, swept the front porch for the first time in ages, put two sacks of clutter in the trash bin,swept detritus off my walk, tried to comb two wiggly dogs, and rearranged said porch. Towels and my clothes are still drying.

What's the point, you say? This is abnormal behavior for me for years now. Why? Because between my calcified knees and my back, I flat couldn't do it. Oh yeah. I could do some of this activity over a week. One day? And yet, for most readers, this is so ordinary. Is this my new ordinary? I hope so.

I cheated. Used the kitchen sink with the handheld spray. Got it doggie warm and both dogs tolerated with much splashing. This means my upper body strength has returned to picking up 30-plus pounds of squirmy dog. Oh. When I showered, I mopped the bathroom anyway since I had thought I would have to. And I sanitized the kitchen sink. Repotted the fern over the sink Gracie somehow (ha) dislodged.

Forgot those parts.

Was it the explosion of activity to avoid a hated task that set off all this productivity? Possibly. I got a good night's sleep last night. Maybe I just felt up to it. Maybe both. Maybe my hidden regimen of vitamins and continued exercise. Right now, I'm pretty much letting the gardening take care of that.

Oh! I feel sore. and productive. and hopeful about the outcome of what I am producing. Flowers to smile at. Vegetables to eat. Two dogs to reward for their ever increasing politeness as I learn how to bring it forth. Continued amity with my family.

I think this is a time when women again will have to work hard for rights which to me seem to be assailed again. According to what I've read, it happens every other generation. So, peace. I really did have to push for my job in the 1960's. And I was lucky. Five months out of college, I found a job for 14 years. I hope so for the future, for my bright and independent granddaughters who have so much to offer....

What a todo I am making out of washing two knee-high dogs,and the work around it.

But isn't it nice to have a day you are satisfied with?

Whole Civilizations Depend on This

It is noon. So far today I have prepared my tax records for the accountant, done a load of wash, thoroughly cleaned the clutter from two rooms, and done some constructive play with the dogs. I've looked up a couple of big breakfast casseroles I might make for the Easter brunch between services at church.

What I have not done, planned to do, dreaded to do, and ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT DO TODAY, is wash the dogs. They need it. They smell like dirty dogs.I know that if I wash even one of them in the bathroom with a large shower and no bathtub, I will need a bucket of warm water to augment the shower. They will not like it. If I am lucky, I will get at least one dog rinsed of soap with clean warm water before he or she lunges seriously enough to knock the bucket over. They are Corgis, which means I may be successful if I close the door and take plenty of dog treats.

I know that will mean mopping furiously and cleaning the floor which, after all, can use it. I am working hard on not cussing. This will test my vocabulary severely. I just, absolutely don't want to wash those dogs. Today.

What do I call my efforts so far today?

Well, I've decided it is Productive Procrastination.

I have been productive while avoiding the one task I don't want to do. So--productive procrastination.

Procrastination means at some point I have to do it. Hmm. I've been planning to clean out the dresser drawers for months now. (I haven't done so in years, but it just recently caught my attention.) That would take another day, combined with meetings and gardening and such.

It's such a lovely thought. But the dogs really do need those baths.

I'll think about that tomorrow.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dogs as children

What is it about being with the "master"?

I let the dogs out early today, it is warm (currently 75; then about 58).Left them there. Before I let them in, I peeked out the kitchen window. They both were literally lolling on the deck. Gazing. Tongues lolling.

I opened the door. You would think they were waiting for "Hungry Games" tickets. They attacked, sniffed me over for treats then sprang again for the kitchen and water. (Their outside bowl was full.) They began to play. Rugs went awry. Beds moved.Nails clicked on the hardwood.

If they had that much energy, why were they lolling on the deck?

I don't know.

Like all good children, they will be nowhere near as I plant, unless they are in the absolutely most inconvenient spot. Then I will see my dogs, Scout's honor.:)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fitting a Second Dog into the Family

First week complete with two dogs, one socialized, one not. Both high energy. Both used to being the only. And the unsocialized also was not well housebroken but was the older.

Brody supposedly is half Corgi and half dachshund, so why are his legs longer than my obvious fullbred Corgi? He is bigger and heavier. More narrow. I think Gracie is going to be rather a small Corgi, though I find her beautiful with her golden, heavy coat and shawl of white hair. Brody shares a white chest as if he is wearing a jacket with the tie on backwards--he has an exclamation point of white at the neck and is a golden brown.

I've read, but I've also listened to the dogs. I am Alpha Mama I. Lord, when I change rooms, all three of us move along. In four days, although Brody had always slept on the bed with his master, the dog had learned to stay off the bed and sleep in his own. This is without any restraints. He's smart. I am suspicious he takes naps on my bed when I am out of the house, but can't prove it.

He is such a sweet, total hound. I had trouble at first because Gracie performs certain tasks for treats, and Brody only got the idea:treats! and lunged for them like a reveler for a Mardi Gras necklace. Gracie and I both kind of stumbled under the onslaught. I've been working a little with him on sit-stay-come, and he's starting to get his own treats. He is now more tolerant of hers.

I just took a break and sent both outside--both with treats for going. Brody no longer tries--very hard, at least--to get Gracie's. Usually I rotate it so they are together about 1/3 time, and each is alone with me 1/3 time when I am home. Sometimes when I am gone I leave one out, one in. Brody hasn't pooped in the house in six days, but I will be grateful when he learns it's not the deck but the grass we are aiming for. Still. He grew up with outside being a concrete patio. He's doing marvelously.

Youngest granddaughter took both for runs on leashes today. She rode her scooter and the dogs pulled. Boy, they all had fun!. She took the dogs separately. Brody still needs some skills, but he's gaining fast.

While I was out and both dogs were in recently, I came home to find all the rugs askew, and also that Brody and Gracie had learned to play tug with her rope.


We are making a dog/human family. Do Gracie and I relish our alone time together? Yes. Is he a lot of trouble and am I doing a lot of work I didn't plan to do? Indubitably. Is it exhausting? Yes.

Would I do it again?

Oh, yeh.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Upscale raw cabbage mix makes delicious "slaw"

Today I ate a superb dish I had never eaten before. The cook is always blowing me away with her great dishes. I not only brought home the recipe, but an extra helping to eat later. She won't mind. I learned she and her husband have been married 62 years, which means I was six when they married. She's a petite, striking woman.

She calls this cole slaw. Don't be fooled. It rather resembles tabouli in appearance.


1 medium head of cabbage
3 regular carrots
4 celery ribs

Chop all in the food processor.

2 cups dried cranberries
2 cups chopped walnuts
16 oz. cottage cheese
2T balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Vidalia Onion Vinegrette (Sams has it)

Lordy this is good.

My church has a monthly lunch group for anyone over 50, so the ages range widely. We get together, visit, have a five-minute program and bless the food, and eat and laugh and get to know one another. A lot of oldtimers, but also some new folks. I'm kind of in the middle.

This month's buffet was salads and desserts, of course. I made dill potato salad, we had pasta salad, tossed salad, mandarin orange salad, pea salad, a mango puree, tuna salad, fresh fruit, lotsa crackers of different kinds ( I love the Blue Diamond ones with ground nuts) and Mississippi Mud Cake, coconut cream pie, pineapple upside down cake and cookies...oh, and chocolate brownies.

They were all good, but this "cole slaw" stood out. Bet you can be a hit with it at the next large gathering/family reunion. Take copies. People will ask.

I asked Jaya if she would make this for me once in a while and she laughed. She thought I was kidding. Hope mine turns out as well.

This is a keeper. MMMMmm-MMM!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'll tell you where I'm going when I get there

Living in an aging body is sometimes like driving someone else's car--the machinery is pretty much the same, but the vehicle has unexpected quirks.

With two new knees, I find myself underestimating, then overestimating, just what I can do. Years ago I worked deligently to keep fairly strong, with a normal amount of stamina. The intensity of the exercise dropped off as the knees worsened; walking was no longer a pleasant pasttime. While I continued to exercise, I couldn't do most of the really good cardiovascular exercises. No stationary bikes. No treadmills. And as my knees worsened, posture changed, which meant my lower back was affected. No situps. No crunches.

A couple of times in physical therapy, I have started to tell the therapist that because of my knees I couldn't do the next exercise he or she has required. Then, Oh! and I remember: new knees. I can do that.

I know it will take much longer to regain strength and some stamina, and I only know to go on. I have no idea where I'll end up. None of the professionals do, either, so they prophesy no limits. And we all know that some other aging and sometimes misused part of my body may fail next, affecting the outcome.

Living with my calcifying knees has had one happy ouutcome: I really know how to conpensate. I don't have to get the task done the way everyone else does. Usually I can find a way to do most things when I want to. It just takes longer.

I have some lovely mounds of dirt to spread in three beds, one of them raised, and I have some onion sets. Time was, that would have been an afternoon's work. From the soreness in my muscles after a bare half-hour's work, I think this is going to take a bit. And some thinking to see if I can figure some different ways to get it done.

It is lovely to be out in the dirt and smelling the plants, feeling sun on my back from time to time. And oh, gardening has found muscles the physical therapists have not yet begun to reach.

As I write, the two dogs are asleep at my feet. They have begun to play. I have learned it is best to keep one in, one out and rotate for about half each day. That way they both get one on one time with me. Brody isn't into toys. Gracie is. For the last two days, she and I have been playing tug on her rope again while Brody is elsewhere. He gets talking and petting and belly scratching for his turn, and every now and then, a glimpse of a toy. I think he will learn.

When I'm not quite so sore, I've got to start walk training again with both. Separately for now. Brody needs self-confidence for socializing. Gracie just needs to keep her delighted paws and grinning, lolling tongue to herself. Coming from both ends of the spectrum, you see, to a center of doggie decorum.

Where will we all end? I don't know. I've never been here before. I've always loved to explore. Looks like I'll be doing that for a good while.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One and a Half Corgis on My Agenda for Now

I'm sure I will live in a house again. I am sure.

At present I live in a dog kennel.

My younger son moved yesterday, from an apartment where he could keep his dog to an apartment where he can keep his dog when he saves up the deposit.

So Brody is mine for the nonce. Or longer.

He is half-Corgi and the inspiration for my finding Gracie. His half-Corginess means he doesn't have a solid inch of fur like she does which means he doesn't shed as much. My younger son is an introvert and Corgi dogs are extroverts, so Brody is fine with Gracie and me and the yard and meeting my nextdoor neighbor and his dog, Sandals....but I think he is a bit whelmed.

The dogs are beginning to get along. Brody is a year older. As a puppy of 11 months and used to unchallenged princessdom, Gracie is pretty intimidated. Brody, an insecure but friendly unsocialized dog, is enchanted to rule. That is evening out as they get more acquainted. Their play has fewer challenges.They have learned I have two hands and can pet both at once. At once seems to be key.

And, my neighbor and I learned yesterday, that while his larger dog can leap the fence between our properties, neither Brody nor Gracie can. That is going to save time and quite a few dollars.

So basically, I have two dogs who are used to being primary in their owner's life. Fortunately, both are sweet-natured. I think this is going to work.

My rules are working except in one way--I said absolutely no dog on the bed. Gracie sleeps on the floor. When I woke up this morning, Brody was on the bed. I not only lost that battle, I think I've lost that war.

Too bad the weather is warming up. I am actually qualified for a Two Dog Night.
I'll take just one, thank you. That gives me leg room.

All in all, first night went well.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When the forecast said "take jacket" I listened

Don't you just hate it sometimes when the weather forecast is correct?

We have been having this really nice weather. It was 70 this morning, but, the forecast went, by afternoon it would be down to 50 with 50 mph gusts. Maybe some hail. Intermittent rain.

So when I left about 10:30 am for my doctor's visit to deal with allergies (there are some downsides to this lovely weather so early), I wore a longsleeved shirt and carried a hoodie. The front was nosing in a bit early.

By the time I got outside again, it had rained, the temperature was 50, and here were those pushy wind gusts. I was super grateful for my foresight to bring a jacket. Fierce winds in the spring are good--they finish fraling the trees of dead leaves and twigs and get ready for new growth.

My doctor is thorough--that's why I chose her. She decided to check for strep and a test done in office indicated I have that, too. Not for long, though. I've already taken the antibiotic and will no longer be contagious tomorrow.

Son was off work today and picked up the granddaughter--now we know I'm contagious, no need to expose her further. I'll be safe to resume pickup tomorrow.

We are all crossing our fingers, because the fruit trees are blooming, and March so often lobs one last nasty freeze night at us. Drought and heat killed the fruit last year. We all are ready for some homegrown peaches, blackberries, and more recently, blueberries. They like Texas just fine. Who knew? Not quite as big on average, but fresh, ripe blueberries are a winner every time. We have several pick your own farms around.

Meantime, my neighbor has a peach tree in full bloom with blue iris blooming nearby on emerald green grass. A pretty picture I will remember.

We should get a little more rain out of this. Fill up those lakes a little more. Two-fifths of Texas are still in extreme drought, but around here, for now, life is good.
A little more rain, followed, I hope, by some Parker County peaches come July.

Yessir, I like the sound of that.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Past is Closer Than We Think

An elderly woman died in a small town just down the road last week.

Her obituary caused a lot of comments and smiles.

You see, she had arrived with her family in a covered wagon in that small town almost 100 years ago. All her life she lived in the home her family built there. And when she died, it was in her own bed in that same near-century-old home.

The past can be a lot closer than we think. And when we can reach out and touch a living person who was part of it--well, it becomes real.It makes me realize how young the United States really is.

It makes me want to gather more of these oral histories from our elders before they are lost. When the country celebrated the bicentennial Fourth of July, I found another old woman who was well over 100 years old. She had been five when the first centennial was celebrated. Now she was enjoying the second. I begged to interview her.

"Well, now, I'll have to think about that," she told me. "You know, that's a lot of years to cover. And I don't know that I have the time."

I never did get that interview. She wasn't kidding about being busy--she had a house and garden she tended, and a neighbor told me they had caught her on the roof patching tiles. She pulled a plain red wagon behind her when she walked the half-mile to the grocery store, and she picked up goods for a number of her much younger but more decrepit friends on the block. She recycled and scoured vacant lots for cans and bottles. I guess I've always thought of her as a sort of icon for that bicentennial.

When I was a child in New Mexico, the highway north of El Paso was no highway. It was a mostly two-way dirt road that wound among the sand dunes between the city and Alamogordo, established by the railroad in 1899. When that perfectly straight Highway 54 was built, those responsible were mighty proud. Sand dunes had to be moved for some distance in order to build. Spring winds would shove the sand back in the path of the builders. It was an onerous task.

Here in North Texas, we have homes that have been occupied, often by the same families, for well over a hundred years. I hope the woman who arrived here in a covered wagon has relatives who will continue to live there.

As the kids say, that would be way cool.