Tag Archives: daughters

After 20 years, the Queen takes her leave

Yesterday when I got home from work, I was greeted by two four-footed creatures. One was overjoyed to see me; the other was, well, simply glad that someone had responded to her imperious calls.  Because as far as Peaches was concerned, she was THE QUEEN. She presumed that it was she for whom the rest of the family toiled.

It’s been that way since the day she showed up on our doorstep more than 20 years ago. She fooled an 8-year-old into pouring her a saucer of milk and that was that. She was there to stay.

That was the only time I’ve been grateful for allergies, because my pronouncement that she could stay but had to live outdoors was met with loud objections. But hey, if Mom’s gotta breathe, kitty’s gotta do her breathing outside. That lasted for about four months…until the cold of winter set in. We settled on a deal that she could come in when it was REALLY cold  and/or REALLY wet. But she had to be in the basement. This worked most of the time, except when Anne sneaked her into her bed. Which she did a few weeks ago.

The funny thing was, after about 12 hours of indoor life, she was ready to go back outside. She’d sit in front of the door and meow. In later years, she’d howl. We’d let her out and off she would go to do her daily hunting and gathering. Any small rodent was fair game. In fact, large rodents weren’t necessarily off her radar. It became her habit to present these to us as gifts, gazing up at us in that condescending way of hers. And waiting. For praise. Which, by the way, she did NOT receive.

We probably should have kept track of her catches, but after the baby bunny on the doorstep, we lost interest. That was the day that the girls and I had to summon Dad home to dispose of the little guy. Peaches watched Fred with disgust as he performed a bunny burial.

Oh, but she could be charming. She could purr as loud as the rest of the cats, begging for a scratch behind the ears or a belly rub. Not from me, of course. She and I had an understanding. There was to be no rubbing of a furry body on the legs. In turn, she expected me to slip her a snitch of tuna or salmon periodically.

Peaches was a walker. She often joined us on long walks. If she got tired or bored, she’d return home and wait for us on the porch, bellowing her disgust. About five years ago, she quit following us. She’d walk about halfway down the block, whining the whole way, then give up and go home to wait.

Her worst nightmare was the day I adopted Ike. She’d tolerated every other dog, but none of them were interested in her. Ike was. He would dance in circles around her, eager to play. Finally, she’d stick out a paw, claws extended, and take a swipe. He never learned.

In recent years, we could tell that she was losing her hearing she wouldn’t come when called. Her howling reached decibels of discomfort. A trip to the vet 3 years ago revealed that she was in excellent health, with the exception of some signs of dementia. A couple of rounds of “kitty Prozac” and she was humming a happier tune. The trick was getting those little pink pills down her throat without losing a finger. Even Lindsay, who could get a lemon down a dog’s throat if she had to, finally gave up. Forget trying to hide it in her food. She was on to us. She’d eat everything and spit out a mangled pill, then fix us with a withering stare.

Every time the girls would visit, they’d give her an extra hug before leaving, “just in case”. We knew 20 years was pretty unusual in a cat — especially one that spent her days roaming the neighborhood. Knowing that didn’t mean we were ready for it when it came.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I put her out to soak up some sun. When she hadn’t returned by 9 p.m., I was getting a little worried. At 2 a.m., I checked the front porch. No Peaches. Not a sound. When my running partner showed up this morning, I told her we were on a Peaches search. If there was a lump in the road, she would have to check it out. Not me. Couldn’t do it.

When I returned an hour later, I fully expected her to be on the porch. But as I walked up the driveway, I saw her, lying on her side in the grass. Even from a distance, I knew she was gone. I wrapped her in a towel and placed her on the patio, then called Fred and told him the first order of business when he returned from his conference would be a burial. He sounded as sad as I felt.

In an odd turn of events, the girls have had to console me this time. “She was OLD, Mom.” But it was Lindsay’s Eric, who put it in perspective for me.

“Peaches has joined Fritz (another cat) in what Native Americans call ‘the great rift in the sky'”.

“Twas three days before Christmas…

‘Twas three days before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring ‘cept Ma and her dog. One child and two cats were nestled snug on the couch, when Ma and her Ike tiptoed into the room. From out of the dark, there rose such a howling, the quiet household shuddered and woke with a start.

So much for a quiet start to the day. And so much for my attempts at poetic license. I knew that there would be an extra cat in the house, but I’d been assured that Peaches the Queen and the visiting Casio, would “just ignore each other”. What we didn’t plan on was the rude awakening of said cats and child by one wriggling, tail-wagging miniature Schnauzer, eager to join the sleeping trio.

Ten minutes later, one cat had been relegated to the outdoors and the other one to the basement. Ike, the innocent instigator, was upstairs in bed with the other child and Harvey, the calmest dog on earth.

Phew. Quiet reigned again…for a few minutes anyway. I took that as a sign that I could take a shower. Halfway through that, daughter number 1 pops her head in the door to say that “I was trying to find an outlet for the coffeepot, and I unplugged your bread machine. Does that matter?” Matter? Why would it matter that a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread had been unplugged mid-cycle? A little deep breathing reminded me “not to sweat the small stuff”. Lo and behold, she’d plugged it right back in and the bread kept baking. Huh. Must have some sort of surge protection on it.

30 minutes later, I headed off to work. As I walked out the door, I heard two hoots of laughter from daughters number 1 and 2, watching something on the Internet. Which reminds me. All cat- and dog-fights aside, it’s good to have my family home.

 

 

They shopped, they conquered

See...even here they're trying not to snicker at us

So…our daughters like to make fun of us when we don’t know how to do things they consider common knowledge. This became all too obvious recently while shopping with one of them. We approached the checkout lanes, all of which had lines basically as long as the water ride at Cedar Point on a 90-degree day. Except for the self-checkout lanes. They were empty.

Here’s how the conversation went:

“Mom, let’s go through the self-check lane.”
“Ummmm….I don’t know how to do that.”
“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????? C’mon. You’re kidding, right? It’s SO easy.”
“Fine. You do it. I’ll watch.”
Big eyeroll and bigger sigh.
Ultimately, she did the deed and explained it to me. Part of the explanation stuck with me.

Several months later, we (the husband and me), two measly items in hand, approached the checkout lanes once again. All were full — of course. It never fails. After standing in line for 10 minutes, I suggested we try the self-check lanes. Here’s how that conversation went:

Me: Let’s try the self-check lanes.
Him: Uh…are you sure? I don’t know how. Do you?
Me: (Lying) Sure.
Him: Okay. What happens if we screw up?
Me: They put you in jail. You’re the guy.

So off we went to the self-checkout lanes, where a very stern young woman stood guard from her post, making sure no one cheated. Okay, really she was there to help out when the newbies got stuck. As it turned out, my first attempt was successful, much to the husband’s surprise. We were out of the store before our previous line had moved more than two inches forward. WE were smiling….THEY weren’t.

Feeling foolishly, goofily proud of ourselves, we headed off to find our car. Which, by the way, is never a simple matter. Now if someone can just explain to us how to locate our car without walking up and down every aisle, our shopping trips will be much more efficient. Just don’t tell our daughters. It’ll just give them more fuel for laughter.

Risky business pays off

In the nearly 30 years that we’ve been married, we haven’t taken many risks, except for buying three houses and having two children. For the most part, we’re cautious — probably overcautious — he more than I. Blame that on the fact that I’m the only girl in a family of four older brothers — they taught me to do things that our parents never knew about until after the fact.

Then, a little more than a year ago, we faced a risky situation that put us both into a little tizzy. For the first time in our married life, we were facing life on a single income — except for some freelance income that helped to pad our panicky selves. We were no different from all those others who had been laid off or fired from jobs, except maybe for the fact that we’d always been cautious. Cheap. Thrifty might be a better word.

In our conversations following the incident that set us back to one income (mine), we talked about what options we had. There were, of course, the usual unemployment checks that would boost things for awhile. But those would eventually end. So we began to brainstorm about how we could combine our skills to start our own business. In the beginning, we saw it as a way for us to avoid the dangers of unemployment — the depression, the fears, the anger, the tension.

In a way, it was almost more of a therapeutic plan but as it began to take shape, we consulted with experts on small business and slowly began to realize that it just might work. With the help of Ryan Lowry, our technology guru, we set about designing a website that would allow us to do exactly what we love — community journalism. Small-town stuff. No national news. A few false starts and we were on our way to going live.

We knew we didn’t want this to cost our readers.  We wanted to keep them out of the financial equation. With two daughters of 20-something ages, and with some students and interns-to-be who are connected at the hip to the Internet, this product had to easily accessible and interesting to all ages.

That’s what led us to the name. As has been our habit for the past 30 years, we talk. A lot. In the car, over dinner, on walks, with our kids, without our kids, with our siblings. In fact, we were in the car driving somewhere, when the perfect name came up. Fred was listing the various names that friends and family had suggested. None sounded quite right. I suddenly realized there was a computer-related word that was perfect. Icon.

Thus the name was born. The Bluffton Icon. Perfect. Short and easy to spell. Its simplicity reeked of technology.

And so, we began The Bluffton Icon. Slowly, Fred and Ryan worked through the technical stuff until we were ready to go live. The date was September 22, 2009. We had seven viewers and while we don’t know who they were, we have our suspicions. I have four siblings, he has two, and there’s that guy out in Reston, VA., who is probably our most loyal supporter, next to our two daughters, Lindsay and Anne. Oh, that’s nine.

Like Jack’s Beanstalk, the Icon grew and grew to today’s version. We owe so much to our advertisers who believed in what we proposed to them. Then there are our readers, our constant supporters. It’s a thrill to overhear someone say they read it on the Icon. We’re heading averaging 500 views a day and we compute that to be about 1,200 unique individuals over the period of a month. 50 states. Viewer on every continent except Antarctica and we’d love to talk with someone there.

It’s difficult to express our thanks to our supporters, but we’re going to try. We’ve planned a one-year celebration from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, at Common Grounds, 121 S. Main St., Bluffton. We’ll have Bluffton Icon coffee (courtesy of Common Grounds), Bluffton Icon popcorn from Shirley’s, and cake and cupcakes from Little Black Apron. Even giveaways. And lots of conversation.

Hope to see you there!

Random thoughts about raising daughters

Oh my. It occurred to me this morning while walking with my oldest daughter, that she’ll turn 28 on her next birthday. We’ve had countless discussions during our walks over those 28 years. Our walks have morphed from the early practice of taking along a bag in which to carry the treasures she found along the way, to cautioning her to stop at the next intersection and not cross the street until I caught up, to our present-day routines of walking as fast as possible.

The important thing, though, is the conversation. Which, as I understand, is something many parents don’t do often enough with their children. Maybe they don’t have the time, or don’t take the time,  or think they have nothing to talk about. An old friend once told me he hoped he would someday have the same kind of relationship with his daughters than I have with mine. I just wanted to say to him that it’s all about respecting his daughters and encouraging them to be individuals. If they make choices that differ from what he wants them to make, he shouldn’t criticize them. Don’t expect perfection. Let them make mistakes and allow them to learn from them. And tell them how much he loves them and is proud of whatever they do. I don’t think I said any of that. I’m not sure he’d have gotten it.

My friend, JP, and her daughter were weeding my garden recently, when she came into the house to tell me how much fun she was having. It wasn’t about the weeding. It was about the conversation that the two of themf had; she didn’t give any details but simply said how much she had learned from her college-age daughter while they worked side by side.

This is something I learned long ago. If I want to really engage in a conversation with one of my daughters, I have to find some alone time with her. The interesting stuff really comes out when you’re doing something together like walking or gardening. Don’t interrupt. Just let them talk. Don’t laugh at them, but laugh with them. If they say things that shock you, let them keep talking…keep the criticism to yourself.

Admit your own mistakes. Come on, you made them. You know you did. As they grow into adulthood, you have to treat them as such. They’ll appreciate knowing you weren’t perfect and did some silly things along the way. Do things with them even if you have other plans.

Here’s an example. A few years ago, my husband’s office pool of OSU games produced for him the tickets of the decade: the OSU-Michigan game when they were 1 and 2. I was finally going to go with him — he’d always taken the girls to those games. We were in the car with our youngest daughter when she asked if he still wanted to go to the Doo-Wop show of some of their favorites (i.e., The Drifters), and then named a date. Same date as the game. Suffice to say that he sold the game tickets at a hefty profit. We went to the concert.

Moral of the story: Listen to your kids. Really listen.