Good-bye

I woke up from a sound sleep. I had to come downstairs and start writing. I am haunted by the death of another dream.

The time has come and my parents are in the process of selling their summer home. The plan was that I would take it over when they were ready to let go but here is where the death of this particular dream comes in. I used to make enough money but this is no longer true. My life took a different path. And don’t get me wrong, I have made adjustments. I am not unhappy.

But this Maine thing is killing me a piece of me. There is something about this place, this little rustic, quaint, crowded, hole-in-the-wall camp – this is what they call cottages in Maine – that makes me feel like losing it will pull my guts out through my mouth and I will feel it start in the bottom of my feet. I am sick in my heart and my stomach and my head.

I have known this was coming for a while. I do not talk about it. I cannot stand it.

I want to retire and be there every day that I can. Every day that I can keep myself warm with wood and the pipes won’t freeze. I want to sit in my spot and read my book with my dog and my diet coke and a little bowl of those chubby pretzels with peanut butter centers. I want to set my book down and look up at the lake – sometimes smooth, sometimes choppy, sometimes sparkly like diamonds. I want to wave at whatever friend is going by in their boat. I want to cook on the little gas stove with the old black, well-seasoned cast iron pans. I want to wash dishes in the sink, one by one. I want to take a nap on the old iron day bed on the porch, the bed my grandparents slept on when they got married in 1935. I want to go to sleep in my little back bedroom with the roof right above my head and the rain pouring down so hard that the pounding puts me into a drooling trance. I want to walk to the end of the dock in the dark and look up and see every star in the sky. Every single one of them. You can do that there. I want to build a fire outside in the hole my nephew dug and surrounded with rocks. I want to float on hot summer days. I want to take the boat out to a deep spot and drop the anchor and do cannonballs and hoot and holler and laugh. I want to play cards on the front porch.

There is something about this place that gives me strength and recharges the peaceful center of my being. I feel it flowing through the middle of me when I am there. Gets me ready for whatever comes next. It is the peaceful spot in my head. When something stressful happens in my everyday life, I close my eyes and picture myself there. Looking at the water. Breathing. Slow, cool, deep, clean breaths.

So. My parents have a buyer. This will all be over by the end of August. When I think of talking out loud about it, I feel my throat tighten and restrict. I feel despair. It is an unfamiliar feeling for me but that is what it is.

I am driving to Maine in a couple of days. Other family members are coming up this week. The last hurrah. I am so looking forward to this. I am sick about this.

I have not written a blog for a long time. And here it is. Sad. No pictures. Just my queasy self typing away when I should be sleeping.

I will be in Maine on Thursday night. I will try to write another blog next week. One that is happy and full of good memories – both old ones and the ones we will make. That last ones. I will be there until July 12. Then I will leave and drive home.

A New Chapter

On February 7, 2014, I celebrated an anniversary.  On that day, I had not had a full-time job for two years.

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Those who know me already know this about me – I like not working every day.  I don’t like thinking about from where my next dollar will come, but I no longer place any value on myself in reference to my work status.  I used to.  After I was fired from Mintz & Hoke in 2003, I learned not to.  I figured if they could fire me after all I had done while working there, I needed to rethink who I was.  There is a party game.  It goes like this.  What are you?  Name three things.  The most true thing first.  For years and years, I was

1.  A production manager

2.  A wife

3.  A friend

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Two and three varied, but for 20 years, I was a production manager first and always.  A cruel lesson I had to learn, but like many tough experiences in life – I am so much better for it.  Cancer – better for it.  Battered woman – better for it.  Infertile – better for it.  All true.

Now this sound like it could be a depressing blog but I tell you, it is not and will not end up that way.

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I am selling my condo that I have owned for the last 10 years.  I can no longer afford to live here.  It is my favorite place I have ever lived.   I suppose I could find two lousy-paying full-time jobs but I don’t want to.  And lucky for me, I have another option.  I am moving in with my parents. (Plus a huge shout-out to the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare.)

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And this is what this blog is really about.  Me, moving back to my childhood home.

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You read about this all the time.  You are reading about this now.  We are living in a strange world.  This economy is in an uproar.  I always did the right thing.  I saved money.  I supported myself.  I owned my own home.  Three times I bought a home.  I started at the bottom and made my way up to a spot where I could do what I wanted.  Within reason.  I remember buying my first house in 1985 and when we came out of the closing, we had about $100 left.  But we made a comeback.  We were careful and frugal.  And later on we, and then I, went on nice vacations.  I drove a relatively new car.  I picked up the tab.  If I wanted something new, I bought it.  New Nikes.  A prime rib to feed my friends at dinner.  Sushi once a week.  A mani/pedi.  A book.  Flowers for the dining room table.  A pizza delivered.  A massage.  Just regular stuff.  Nothing too extravagant.  What everyone wants to make life nice.  I don’t buy any of these things now.

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When I was a kid, I moved to Florida.  It was 1977.  I answered an ad for a job with “Kelly Girls” to work at a printer as a secretary/receptionist.  Voila!  The rest is history – I went into printing – remember drinks around the table – what are you – I am a production manager.  I was made for that job.  I had never heard of a production manager when I was growing up and all at once, I was one.  And I was good at it.  But print is dying a slow and painful death.  It won’t die all the way.  It will reincarnate as a smaller type of business.  PDF and the internet took care of that.  And I’m OK with progress.  I love the internet.  I was a library freak when I was a kid and I’m an internet freak now.  I love looking stuff up.  I used to keep a dictionary by my bed.  I read in bed.  Every night.  I liked to open an encyclopedia to any page and read about what I landed on.  Encyclopedias are gone.  Now we have Wikipedia.  And I like Wikipedia too.  And Google.

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So I was laid off two years ago and I looked for a job.  But I had been working in printing since 1977.  This is 2014.  I am 58 years old.  It is hard enough to get a job at my age, but I’m a one-trick pony to employers.  I know what I am.  I know I am not a one-trick pony.  I’m smart and funny and patient and passionate and flexible and fast and a very good student.  But I have given up on convincing anyone new of that.  And I no longer worry about it.

I have done some volunteer work at the daycare at the Y.  That led to a job as a sub Pre-K teacher.  I helped a friend with an older relative.  That led to respite care.  And work through Care.com.  I’ve done some editing for a university alumni magazine.  Now I’m driving escort cars.  With the oversize load sign on top?  And the flashing lights?  And a CB radio and orange flags?  And I have to say, I love it.  And it pays quite well.  Not much going on in the winter but it’s good.  No politics.  No crap.  No fighting.  And if there is, I pay no attention.  I go where they tell me.  I do what they tell me.  Then I go home.  I am going to try to support myself for a long time doing this.  My “friends” say I am a paid escort.  I love them too.

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So back to moving.  I like my parents.  They like me.  Dare I say, it might be love?

C&V

At the end of last summer and early fall, I let a friend stay in my condo.  I spent most of that time with my parents, in both Maine and Connecticut.  I had been considering moving in with them and in the back of my mind, I was afraid we might drive each other nuts and I wanted to test the waters.  And you know what?  I dove right in and the water was fine.  I kept asking my mother, “Am I driving you nuts?”  And she kept saying, “No.  Are we driving you nuts?”  And the answer was no from my end too.  When I finally came back to my condo, my mother called me and said, “Come back.  I don’t want to do my own laundry.”

maine laundry

Another thing to know about me.  In addition to being Self-Appointed Hair Critic to the World, I am the Queen of Laundry.  Believe it.  I separate.  I do the hot, warm, cold loads.  Every single time.  I use bleach as needed.  Every single time.  Yes.  No short cuts.  I’m a good production manager.  Probably why I was able to stay in my condo for two years without a real job.  I sold my Wii, my grandmothers crocks and kitchen antiques, my china and crystal, my jewelry, my jewelry armoire, designer clothes, and many more things that I cannot recall right now.  And I will sell lots more before I am through.  Because I am moving.

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I am heading toward a new chapter in my life.  I will live with my parents.  It will be good for me.  It will be good for them.  I won’t have to work ever again in a full-time job about which I do not care. I will do for them the things that become more difficult as they age.  And they will make my life easier.  We will take turns cooking.  My father and I want a big garden.  I love yard work.  I will do dishes and laundry.  I will run up and down the stairs.  I can watch their dog if they want to go somewhere and they can watch Dante for me.  I will drive my escort vehicles.  I will be busy in the nice seasons and slow in the winter.

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I will enter a new phase of my life.  I will peel down another layer and explore the person who is there – someone different yet the same in many ways.   As I have done many times before.  I look forward to it.  I embrace it.  My life is good.  It was good and will continue to be.

I am at a party. I am playing the game.  I am

1.  A daughter

2.  A dog mother

3.  A friend

daughters dante friend

I another few years, I may be someone else.

But for now – with my family, my friends and my dog, I’m happy.

Happy

More Haiku

Haiku 又又

I have the best friends
I cannot thank them enough
For all their support

My dog is barking
I would like to whack him one
But I won’t do it

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Chocolate is good
Makes me happy and fat too
Should stop eating it

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Thanksgiving was here
Girly week at my condo
We did have a blast

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It’s been forty years
Since high school graduation
But I think I’m young

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No real job two years
Worried about my future
But I’m still happy

I love my condo
My favorite place to live
More than my big house

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Did not ever think
This is where I would be now
But I’ve adjusted

Supper Club was born
At a parent’s funeral
You can do it too

ImageSupper3

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Fix a kitchen shelf?
I don’t care if he’s eighty
Daddy will do it

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I miss my dog Mike
His smell and his big brown eyes
Won’t forget him soon

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All of my new blogs
Will be about getting old
Arthritis not sex

My last haiku sucked
I look in the damn mirror
I am thirty-six

Now we are cooking
I’m bitching and complaining
Please keep reading – thanks

Want to be better
At keeping my house cleaner
I hate vacuuming

Writing this haiku
Trying to figure out life
Please put up with me

My original goal
Was to write two blogs a week
Two years in the past

Very cold outside
February is awful
Enough is enough

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Furnace is running
Money right up the chimney
I will block my ears

One day I will live
In Florida once again
It is sunny there

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The Story of Dante

Someone asked me about the story of how I got Dante.  Those of you who are sick of my dog stories may skip right over this.  The dog people – please continue.

The last time I took Mike to the vet, I met a woman there named Daryl and we struck up a conversation about poodles.  Come to find out, she ran Connecticut Poodle Rescue.  We had a very nice conversation about our favorite breed of dog and I left there with her card in my pocket.  Little did I know I’d be looking for it in less than three months.

So then I lost my Mikey.  And I felt that I wanted to wait for a while before I got another dog.  But pretty soon after that, I came to a firm realization.  I am a woman who lives with a dog.

My old friend Cindy dropped me a note and said you should fill out the application for a rescue poodle so when you’re ready, the paperwork will be done.  So I went on line, found the app, and filled it out.  Then I sent a separate e-mail to Daryl and told her about Mike.  She sent me a nice note and I sat back to see how I would feel.

Then at the beginning of my fourth week without Mike, my mother asked me if I was going to Maine and I started to cry.  And I told her I couldn’t go to Maine without my dog in the back seat.  In addition to our multiple trips to Lake Ebeemee, Mikey and I had traveled all over the country:  Baltimore, Tennessee, Texas, New Orleans and Florida.  If he was in the back seat, I was never alone.  And if he was in my condo, I was never alone here either.  At that moment, I knew it was time.

So Wednesday night, May 22, I went to http://www.poodlerescuect.org/ and saw a couple of standard poodles that had not been there two weeks before.  And I sent Daryl another e-mail.  My phone rang 2 minutes later and I had an appointment to see her the next afternoon to meet Dante.

I called my mother and asked her to come with me as she had been my poodle good luck charm because I had gotten my first poodle from her – a toy named Dave, and she had been with me when I went to get Mikey.  And I wanted to make sure Dante got along with Barkley, my parents’ poodle, because we spend a lot of time together.  So the three of us – me, Mom and Barkley – headed out to Naugatuck to meet Dante.

The meeting between Barkley and Dante went very well.  Barkley sometimes lacks manners and peed on Daryl’s deck.  She wasn’t one bit fazed as she has seven dogs – and yes they are poodles – all size and shapes and colors.

So I brought Dante home.  And the first night, I wondered what I had done.  He seemed so unhappy.  But he had had one helluva week.

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Dante’s mother had to give him up because she was forced by financial circumstances to sell her home and she could only have one dog where she was moving.  And she had another poodle that was 12 years old and she kept her.  What an awful choice to have to make.  But I am telling you, I am very lucky she did.

From Dante’s original home to Daryl’s to his foster home to the vet  and then had a grooming and then back to his foster home and then picked up again and home with me.  It was raining Thursday night but I took Dante out at least 6 times before midnight.  He did not pee, he did not poop, he did not eat.  He did not get on furniture.  He hardly made eye contact with me.  I was supposed to go out to dinner with my girls but I canceled.  I couldn’t leave him alone right away.

I took him upstairs with me to go to bed.  I was picking up my room, there were shoes all over and I was neatening up a little and he sat and looked at me.  I folded up a nice, clean, thick quilt next to my bed.  When I sat on my bed, Dante became instantly airborne, and landed on the bed, lay down and went to sleep.  OK.  This was good.  He slept all night right next to me.  When we woke up in the morning, he seemed happy to see me.  He was making eye contact, and he wanted to go outside for a walk.

Dante was uncivilized on a leash and was busy pulling my shoulder out of its socket.  As the day went on he seemed better and more interested in his surroundings.  He was coming out of his slump but he still did not eat.  Friday night I had a bowl of chicken soup and he was very interested in that so I gave him some.  He gobbled it up – the first thing to cross his lips except water since I had brought him home the day before.

On Saturday morning before I got up, I was lying in bed thinking about what would make him eat and all at once it occurred to me what he wanted, and that was canned dog food.  I had a couple of cans and opened one up.  He inhaled it.

Things went steadily uphill from there.  I took him with me when I went to Petco and bought his name tags, one for home and one for Maine.  He was pulling me all over the store and one of the salespeople saw him and introduced us to PetSafe Easy Walk harness.  Problem over – I kid you not.  Just like that.  That made me happy because I was wondering how I would be able to teach this old dog (he’s 5 1/2) a new trick.

Today is five weeks since I lost my Mikey.  I will miss him and his happy party-boy personality.  He was my guy.  Dante is more serious, not a rowdy dog, gentler.  Today is our tenth day together.  And I can tell you, we love each other.  We are getting to know each other.  He is different.  He squishes himself into little places.  He doesn’t sprawl on the couch.  He likes to go behind my chair and make himself small.  He likes food but he is not the food whore that his predecessor was.

But it’s all good.  Different, but good.  Dante and I – we are working it out.  We spend a lot of time walking around the neighborhood.  Dante gets along well with other dogs.  He has no desire to be the alpha boy.  He has adjusted and is obviously happy to be here with me.   I am happy too.  I am not lonely.  I am a woman who lives with a dog.

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R.I.P. my Mikey Boy

R.I.P. Mike Dog Bunn – 12/5/2001 to 4/28/2013

Today was a very bad day for me.  When I woke up this morning, I did not think I would end my Sunday without my boy Mikey.

Mike has not always been well.  He has had epilepsy for 9 years.  That has not been easy but we made it through.  And he had hypothyroidism and the hair fell out of his back.  It wasn’t always very pretty.  And he took meds to counteract the liver damage he was getting from taking phenobarbital since 2004.  He had seizures still but he was OK as soon as they were over.  So we carried on.

Tonight before he left me, I reviewed with him all the things he had done over the years.  He ate about 12 pairs of shoes, an antique Victorian brocade love seat, the leg of my dining room chair, part of a lighted loupe and the plastic case surrounding it which lodged in his intestine and had to be surgically removed.  He had of late, taken up removing dirty laundry from the basket and eating that.  He also ate the single most expensive piece of clothing I had ever bought – a black sweater from Chico.  Last winter, he ate a whole batch of oatmeal cookies that my mother had just baked for my father.  He left about 5.  My father said he thought Mike might have licked them but he ate them anyway.  He got in a fight with my sister’s dog through a window, managed to break the glass and it jabbed into Scooter’s nose and created copious blood loss.  I did love my trouble-maker.  I like bad boys.  Ask anyone who knows me.

Mike was a drinker.  He hasn’t had much of a chance to do that lately since I’ve been on the wagon, but Mike had a past.  He was very sneaky.  He loved beer.  One time when he was a pup, he drank a whole Black Russian.  He was not a rowdy drunk.  The night of the Black Russian thievery, he hopped up on the bed and went to sleep.  I checked to see if he had a hangover in the morning and it appeared he did not.

Mike loved to go fishing.  We throw our fish in a bucket on the boat.  He stuck his head in the bucket and stared at the fish.  We called that “Dog Television”.

fish in a bucket He loved to walk up to the fence separating us from our neighbors and watch them.  We called that “Peeping Mike”.peeper

Mike took a long road-trip with me in 2005.  We drove from here to Baltimore, on to Tennessee, Austin, New Orleans, Florida and back home again.  He was a good traveler – loved the car.  He understood the word and started bouncing when I said it.  He was with me for endless trips to Maine.  I loved having him in the back seat – my constant companion.boat

I feel like I’m having a bad dream from which I need to wake up.  But I know that is not true.

No one will steal my coffee anymore.

I have spent over 11 years with Mike and I didn’t want to be the one to leave him.  Tonight, when it was his time, we lay down on a blanket.  He was weak.  I wrapped my arms around him.  And I whispered in his ear.  I loved him and he loved me and I wanted the last thing he heard to be my voice.

Mikey.  You are the best boy anyone could ever have.  You are my very good boy.  Mama loves you.  Good Boy.  Good Boy.  There you go.  Easy my good boy.  Mama loves.

And he was gone.  Just like that.  But he will never be gone from my heart.  Never.

Mike boat