Remember when I used to write here regularly? I can’t decide if my life is less interesting now or if I just finally realized my life is not nearly as interesting as I once believed. It’s probably best not to dwell on it.
Today we are trying to Return To Normal Life, only that’s working about as well as you might imagine when my entire family returned on Saturday, over-stimulated and under-rested. Otto is a pretty good sport, as you know—plus when he’s tired he’s not mean, because he is a fully evolved human—but the kids spent most of Saturday in bed and then grumbled around for a while on Sunday and this morning they’re both sick. Because of course they are. (In fairness, Monkey told me he wasn’t feeling well on Saturday, I was just trying to wish it away because that’s a thing that’s worked so well in the past. HAHA. Kid made it 15 minutes at school today before I had to pick him up. Now he’s home with an ear infection and a lot of guilt-inducing comments about how he TOLD me he was sick!)
Chickadee is at school, though, because (quiz time):
A) She is a conscientious student.
B) She is paranoid about falling behind in her AP classes (read: all of her classes).
C) She wants to see her friends.
D) She fears I will give her a hard time for staying home.
E) She’s doing me a solid because she knows Monkey is sicker.
F) Some combination of the above.
This was all a fitting end to my few days of solitude, I guess.
You see, while the rest of my family was traveling hours and hours on a bus, I was here at home with the dogs (one of whom, coincidentally, also has an ear infection…) and work and relative silence. On the down side, I had to make my own coffee. On the up side, there were several days where the dogs and I had long, philosophical conversations and no one was here to look at me funny.
Bear in mind that I am usually the pied piper to the mutts; they follow me around the house and then—like the magnanimous beasts they are—they hold down the floor or couch wherever I am. On nice days I open my office door to the porch and they might go soak up some sun out there for a bit, but they always come back to make sure I haven’t abandoned them. This was especially important last week, because there had been SUITCASES and then EVERYONE DISAPPEARED and both dogs were a little stressed. (Being a dog is stressful, yo.) Wherever I went, there they were.
On Friday, however, I pretty much worked alllllllll day with very few breaks, and at some point I noticed that Duncan was missing. That was… odd. I went wandering around looking for him, and just as I rounded the corner out of the (empty) family room, he came darting out of the master bedroom looking guilty. (It’s hard to tell, though, because Duncan always looks kind of guilty. That’s how it is when you have a smushed-up face.) I poked my head into the bedroom expecting to see a… uhhh… present left behind for me, but there was nothing.
Here I have to back up a minute. Imagine, if you will, a house covered in really gross carpet. We have slooooowly been redoing the floors, first putting hardwood through the family and dining rooms a few years ago, and then some laminate in my office this summer. When you install things like wood or laminate, you end up with extra pieces, and you want to save those pieces for any future repairs. But (here’s the fun part!) those flooring pieces tend to be LARGE and in BIG LONG BOXES, but they have to be stored somewhere temperature-controlled, because if you put that stuff in your garage or attic in Georgia it will get hot and humid and swell and combust (one assumes). Where did we end up storing our spare flooring? Under our bed, because it’s a king (read: big) and all that dead space is perfect for flooring boxes.
That’s been fine for a long time, but a few weeks ago we realized that Duncan was sneaking underneath the bed in our room with some regularity. At first we thought he was just trying to co-opt it as his latest cave, but then several times Otto came in at bedtime and turned out the light and promptly tripped over a flooring box corner in the dark—Duncan had been pushing on the boxes under the bed, causing them to pivot outwards, causing my mild-mannered husband to invent some creative new words after bashing his toes on them repeatedly. (Otto’s side of the bed is on the far side of the room, so none of this would be apparent unless you walked around the bed to look.)
Well, after about a week of pushing the boxes back and laughing about how after ALL THIS TIME Duncan is being such a little stinker, one day I went into the bedroom and not only was a box protruding from under the bed, the cardboard was all chewed up, and one of the floor boards was rife with tiny tooth marks, as well. We’d thought he was just burrowing under the bed, but in fact he was EATING THE BOXES.
We pulled out what was left of the tattered boxes, stacked the flooring elsewhere, and made stern eyebrows at the dog. He took it all very seriously and licked our feet in remorse.
Duncan only went under the bed a couple of times after that; finding nothing good to chew, he gave it up.
Back to Friday: He’d disappeared, I went looking, he skulked out of the bedroom and I looked for signs of Dog Jerkitude and found none, and went back to my office. I did NOT look by the far side of the bed, because I knew there was nothing left there to chew. HAHAHA.
A couple of hours later I went back to the bedroom and walked around the bed. Displeased with the lack of flooring and boxes to snack on, one assumes, Duncan had helped himself to a magazine on the low shelf of Otto’s nightstand, and ripped it to smithereens. We’ve had this dog for two years and he has never chewed a shoe or anything, but after he got a taste for destruction he couldn’t stop, I guess.
We had a stern conversation about the magazine, wherein he refused to look at me and I tried really, really hard not to laugh. (First rule of Dog Club: If you don’t make eye contact, it didn’t happen.)
I put what was left of the magazine back on the shelf because I’m a moron, and the next day he dragged it all the way into the family room and commenced tearing it with glee until I walked into the room and he immediately dropped it and ran out. Later that day I gave him a new toy and let him know the message has been received. He is still deciding whether or not to eat part of that toy and barf it up in the middle of the night.
I had Thanksgiving dinner with some dear friends and it was delightful. On Wednesday I went out to check the mail and there was none—which was odd, but not impossible, I guess, as I suspect our rural route is sometimes subject to the whims of a carrier who plays a little fast and loose with the regular rotation—and then I went out AGAIN on Thanksgiving to check, not because I thought there was mail on Thanksgiving, but because I figured there was a chance that the mail had been delivered later on the previous day than I’d supposed. But nothing.
Mind you, since the rest of the family departed on Tuesday, I’d been outside with the dogs half-a-dozen times a day, I’d checked the mail, and then on Thanksgiving itself I walked outside with a cake in tow, got into my car, and drove off for dinner. Then I returned, and the NEXT day, lo and behold, there was mail. (For those playing along at home: Chickie’s second college acceptance packet arrived on Friday, but when I sent her a picture she was disappointed, because her chosen school included a pair of sunglasses in their packet, and this one was just, I dunno, congratulations and other boring paperwork.) (Keep focusing on the important stuff, kid!)
Later in the day on Friday, UPS showed up, and I did my customary open-the-door, hold-back-the-dogs, try-to-grab-the-box-while-wrangling-dogs thing. “Thank you!” I hollered, as the UPS guy ran away from me as fast as he could. He waved and hopped back into his truck. I tossed my package inside, reminded the dogs that UPS guys hardly ever come after families with hatchets, and went back to my office.
And then the doorbell rang, again. Back to the door I went! I figured the UPS guy had realized I had a second package, but no, it was a neighbor with an armload of mail.
“I didn’t know you were home!” she said, breathless, having clearly run over after seeing me deal with the UPS delivery. “I figured you were gone, so I was getting your mail!”
You know the videos of puppies, where someone is asking them things like, “Do you want to go outside? Do you want a cookie? Are you CURIOUS? Wanna go for a walk?” and their heads just tilt adorably to one side and then the other, while their tiny brains try to process this input? That was me, only a lot less adorable, I’m sure. My head tilted and she kept talking (“I thought you went on the trip with the kids!”) and it would tilt the other way (“And did you know someone broke into the house across the way??”) and then tilt back to the first side (“I just didn’t want anyone to think you weren’t home!”) and I was at a loss for words. (As you may—correctly—surmise, that doesn’t happen all that often.)
“Well, no, I’m here,” I finally managed. She launched right back into everything she’d just said, again, and I added, “That was… very kind of you to be concerned… thank you.” I did NOT say “That was kind of you but also sort of creepy,” because 1) I’m a grownup and 2) I’m sure she meant well even if it was kind of creepy.
Eventually she handed over my mail, which was a relief, because my head was getting tired from all that tilting. Also: Thank goodness I got it, because all of those catalogs and offers of car loans and credit cards weren’t going to throw themselves away!
Before I picked up the family on Saturday, I went to the grocery store and bought two turkeys. I had promised a belated Thanksgiving dinner for next weekend, and then of course the turkeys were on sale and I figured we’d want one for Christmas. I tucked my insulated grocery bag of frozen birds into the corner of the car’s trunk and went to pick up my darling beloveds. They arrived after a night of bus travel just as fresh and well-rested as you might expect.
“Look out for the turkeys,” I said, as they began loaded their luggage into the trunk. All three of them were aghast. Why had I brought turkeys? What hadn’t I brought the truck? Did I not realize how much luggage they had? Was it all even going to FIT in my little car? What was I thinking??
By that time I was thinking that with a frozen turkey in each hand, I could probably do a quick spin and knock all three of them out in under a second, but whatever. I didn’t do that.
We made it home. The luggage and turkeys were unpacked, and feeling VERY VIRTUOUS, I even managed to unpack and set up our holiday candle lamps while most of the family snoozed. Of course, Chickadee then had a small conniption because it’s NOVEMBER, MOM, which means it’s TOO EARLY for ALL OF THAT. And then of course later, Monkey told me his ear was REALLY HURTING, and I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d spent a little more time tending to him and a little less time trying to be merry and festive… well, whatever.
Everyone is home, and everyone is cranky, and I can’t promise there will be a turkey this weekend (to eat, anyway; we have plenty of turkeys living here), and no, I cannot remember where I was going with this. Maybe something about absence making the heart grow fonder? Something about rotten dogs? I’m sure there was a fine moral to this story we’re all better for it. That’s totally how it works.