Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Goodbye, Colton

It's been over a month since my little buddy, Colton, left me and I still miss the heck out of him.  He was almost 15 years old but, with little gray on his chin, still looked like he was in his prime.  Looks can be deceiving. Inside, he was riddled with the effects of old age...a wonky heart, a rapidly growing tumor that might have been cancer, slowly decreasing eye sight, complete deafness and, saddest of all, a little touch of senility.  I had never had a dog that lived to be that old, so I completely missed the first signs of his frailty, and only realized he was losing ground when he became increasingly confused by the world around him.

Colton and I went thru so much together.  Road trips, he was good at those. All I had to do was get out my suitcase and he was ready.  I'd load up the car, throw some quilts and pillows in the back seat and he'd curl up and sleep until we stopped at a rest stop where he would run around on the grass, do his business, get a drink of water and a treat, then hop back into the car for another nap. When we stopped for the night I always got a room with two beds so he could stretch out on one of his own. He hated thunderstorms. When I lived in Austin, thunderstorm central, I'd make a nest for both of us in my walk in closet, close the door and read while he slept the noise and flash away.  He and I moved 6 times and he couldn't wait to run around the new neighborhoods, sniffing and snuffling enthusiastically, looking up at me as if to say "Dogs are here, Mom! Dogs, dogs, dogs!".  He loved to get into small spaces, under low tables, in corners, behind chairs.  I once accidentally shut him in the linen closet where he had curled up to take a nap. He loved long walks even in the snow and rain, especially in the snow and rain. He'd hop over puddles because, you know, wet feet, but bury his head in snow banks. He waited politely while I ate, because he knew I saved the last bite for him.  He was a great plate licker.  My dishwasher never had to work hard to clean up after him. He loved to lay on a rug at the edge of my kitchen while I cooked. Anything I dropped he would dash in and grab, like the kids at tennis matches who retrieve the balls.  He could stand on his hind legs for the longest time, often doing so to get a look inside a drawer I might have opened.  One evening I heard a noise in the kitchen and found him standing up on his hind legs gazing down into the trash can, which he had somehow managed to open by pressing the foot bar. To this day I don't know if he opened it by accident or on purpose.

Because I worked at home, we were rarely apart.  And after so many lovely years with him, I still find myself saving that last bite, not bothering to pick up a dropped piece of food because surely he will be there to grab it, making sure food is back far enough on the counter so he can't stand on his back legs and snatch it. Even though he lived a good, long just wasn't quite long enough.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of my friend. 



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dating shoes

At a family dinner hosted by me last week in my new apartment, my grand niece thought it was great fun to play in my closet. At 3 1/2, a closet full of shoes she had never seen before was irresistible.  I pulled them all off the shelves and left her happily trying on everything from flip flops to my new Supergas. A while later we all laughed when she came dancing into the living room wearing a pair of red heels, then laughed again as she insisted her mom also try them on. "Those are date shoes," someone  remarked.  Hmmm, I thought, yes they are, or I should say, they were supposed to be. I bought them years ago while I was living in Texas. At the time they seemed to me to be the perfect date shoe.  Since I had recently filled out a profile on, I had bought them with high hopes that I would meet someone for whom I would suffer thru the pain of wearing high heels for the first time in forever. As it turned out most of my dates were not the red shoe type, but much, much more casual. And while none of them were particularly memorable, some of them were pretty funny.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the lowlights of my Adventures in Dating After Fifty.

First there was the guy whose online photos showed an attractive man with dark brown hair and smiling eyes.  As it turned out, he was not only (as his profile stated) over 50, it was entirely possible he was over 80. I met him for lunch at a restaurant about 30 miles from me he said was one of his favorite place.  My thought when I walked into the restaurant was how can this be anyone's favorite? It was a seen-better-days place, remodeled in the 40s. He probably went to prom at the restaurant during its heyday. He spent the entire meal talking about himself and the good old days.  I spent much of it wondering if the coal black hair he sported was just a bad dye job or an equally bad hairpiece.

Then there was a very nice man who turned out to be very unemployed and living in a mobile home he had bought on Ebay for $50. He was hoping to get the toilet working soon. I paid for breakfast. He was followed by a man who said he wasn't depressed about losing his job since it now meant he could volunteer full time at his church, and a man who spent most of the evening talking about the ex wife who bled him dry, while checking his cell phone.  As it turned out he, too, was 'between jobs' but refused my offer to pay half because he didn't think women should have to pay for anything. Since he had ordered a glass of wine for me that he was just sure I would love, my inner snarky self wondered if he also thought women shouldn't vote.

The best of the worst, though, was the guy, who on paper was a great match for me.  He loved football, I love football.  He liked to explore out of the way places, me, too.  He once drove 3 hours to see the sunset, I once drove 3 hours for lunch in Solvang. He was 6' tall, I am 5'8", plenty of room for the red heels. He picked me up in a truck that was the same make and model as mine, albeit a different color. Mine was red, his a sedate gray. My first clue that this was not going to go well, was when he had to move a week's worth of stuff off the passenger seat so that I could occupy it. Bear in mind, this guy just drove 50 miles...wasn't there time during that drive to do a little housekeeping? Then I spotted a change of clothes hanging in the back seat. Probably not going to need those, I thought. He asked me if I had a favorite brunch spot. No, but there was one in town I had always wanted to try.  "We'll try that one some other time", he said and he got on the highway and headed West. 65 miles later we pulled into a little Texas town he claimed was a site to see at Christmas time. We were only 5 months too early. We walked around in the hot dust for about 30 minutes, during which time I found out that he thought art was a waste of money, then ate at the lunch counter in the town's Christmas store. He looked around at the decor and said he just didn't get it. Apparently his ex wife, who no doubt bled him dry, loved Christmas and collected those little Dickens themed buildings. He said when they broke up he thought about lining them all up for target practice.  Check, please! "Hey," he said happily as he paid for our sandwiches, "you're a cheap date." Definitely not going to need that change of clothes. The best part?  I don't know what yardstick by which he measured himself, but common sense told me as a 6 footer, I shouldn't have had to look down to meet his eyes.  After an awkward 65 mile drive back to my house, he pulled into the drive, left the truck running and said "Well, you have my number."  Yes, I thought, I really do.

There were other dates during that summer of the promising red shoes, and other guys I met and talked with on the phone or by email.  But I never once had the inclination to trot out the heels. I could have worn them for a dance I was invited to. But the man my age in the online photo I thought was going to be my date turned out to be his son, and when I mentioned that I didn't know how to ball room dance and really didn't think I wanted to learn, he got downright snippy and said I was narrow minded.

After my grand niece had made her mom try on the red heels, she then thrust them at me.  "Ok," she directed, "now run around."  Only for you, little one, only for you.

Friday, August 7, 2015

What's in box number 50?

Moving to a new city always fills me with excitement.  Even if I am just returning to a place where I have already lived, I always think there are endless possibilities.  I freely admit it, I like to move.  I think I would have been a good military person.  Packing up and leaving with little notice holds no fear for me. Finding new places to shop, eat, visit has always been fun. Driving down a road I have never been on just to see what is down there is even more fun and now with Uncle GoogleMaps to guide me, easier than ever before. But nothing is more fun, more exciting than moving into a brand new space.

I go thru stages in my moves. The first stage is when I take possession of my new place, in this case a spacious 1 bedroom in a newer apartment complex with lush landscaping and a great patio. I arrived before my things, in fact it would be almost 2 weeks before they wound their way thru the Pacific Northwest then across the desert to find me waiting for them. I had only what I had been able to pack into my SUV around me and my dog, along with a couple of chairs I had stored with my mom. With very little in it, the apartment seemed huge!  Nothing but empty, albeit nicely painted, walls and roomy closets. I will never fill up this space, I thought, and maybe I don't want to. Maybe I will embrace the minimalist style and live a stripped down life. No big TV, no bookcases that I would have to dust, no dishes beyond 2 plates, 2 coffee cups, 2 spoons, forks and knives, and a stack of brightly colored Solo cups. Just me and my dog living the simple life. I ate sitting on the floor, using an ottoman for a table. Worked sitting on the same ottoman with my computer on a little built-in desk. Drank wine out of an orange plastic cup sitting on a chair on my patio, my feet up on the box my new coffee pot came in. I slept on an inflatable bed in an otherwise empty bedroom with the same coffee pot box dragged in and used as an end table. After about 5 days, any minimalist urges I had died a complete and resounding death and I couldn't wait...COULDN'T WAIT...until my things arrived.  Which, on a happy Thursday last week, they did.

Stage 2. Furniture!  Lovely, loved furniture! My leather chair, my bookcases, my desk and trunk and dresser and buffet and boxes...boxes and boxes and boxes. So many boxes the very nice movers ran out of walls to line them along and started stacking them in the garage. I couldn't wait until the  movers had finished their task and left me alone with all the lovely boxes. Which box should I open first?  Dishes? Clothes? Books? Office? Bathroom? Dining Room? Now I am a careful and meticulous packer.  First I assemble the, paper, little squares of foam material, bubble wrap, paper plates, packing tape, Sharpie, plus a little movable table to set the box on. Then, and only then, do I begin. I am proud to say that with this careful (some might say anal) system in place, in 20 years of moving I have lost exactly one item to breakage...a pink Depression Glass plate that I knew I should have put into another box instead of trying to fit it into the one that was already too full.  Unpacking, however, is a whole other thing. I find it impossible to confine myself to opening just one box at a time. Instead, giddy with delight over see things I hadn't seen in days and DAYS, I attack the boxes with my trusty utility knife, ripping open one after another, taking out one or two items, before moving on to other boxes until I have opened all of the ones on the top layer of boxes. Then it's decision time.  Do I finish unpacking these boxes, putting their contents neatly away, disposing of the packing materials, breaking down the box itself, or...shift those boxes to the side and open up more! My mom came over to help on Saturday, took one look at the chaos, sat down in my rocking chair and declared "I think I'll just sit and watch for awhile."

Stage 3. I finally settle down with the willy-nilly slitting of boxtops and begin to slowly but thoughtfully put away each and every piece I unwrap. Plates here, glasses there, my purses on this shelf, my jewelry making supplies on another, candles and books and chachkies and silverware all find happy new homes. I place furniture around the rooms and the previously enormous spaces fill up quickly.  I hang art work and photographs and it begins to take shape as not just another nice apartment but as my home. During this phase there is a sharp decline in my desire to open any more boxes which leads directly to:

Stage 4. I am done. There can't possibly be anything left in those still taped up boxes in my garage that I could possibly need and really, can't I just buy anything I am missing?  I refuse to believe that I could have 3 more boxes that say 'Bathroom', it's not like my previous bathroom was the size of Minnesota. Ditto the box that says 'Office'. I have been working in my office since two days after I moved here and I am quite confidant that I have all the things I need to continue to do so.

So I will leave the boxes for awhile.  I'll put away the box of tools and the utility knife, stack the now flat empty boxes neatly in the garage beside their still-filled sisters (including one that says "everything else"...I'm saving that one because I am pretty sure it was from a previous move and remained unopened in my closet for at least 4 years) and see how it goes.  I know just what will happen. I have been here before. I will wake up in the middle of the night wondering where that thing is that I always had there, go out to the garage and starting ripping thru the boxes, desperate to find that thing.  Maybe I'll invite my mom over so she can sit and watch.