Finding Delight in Sheltering at Home

On Wednesday, March 25, Governor Little ordered Idahoans to shelter in place in a effort to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus for 21 days. Our family currently at home consists of my husband, a physician who goes into the hospital daily and myself and our pets, two dogs and a cat. When my husband heads out early to do rounds, I am essentially sheltering alone. I have marked off my calendar with the days that the order holds. I’m treating it like an advent calendar. Assuming Idaho is able to bring the virus under control, we will be able to return to some sense of normalcy by April 14. I check off each day, another grand adventure at home. If we are successful at reducing the spread, the time in shelter will be worth it.

Pete and I on our 30th anniversary this summer in our backyard. We have a ski chair from Bogus Basin as a swing

At the moment I feel lucky because my son, Scott, lives in Seattle, a virus hot-spot and has been staying home since March 1 so almost a month longer than my husband and I. Since Seattle hasn’t managed to turn the curve yet, he may be staying home even longer. So far Scott who works for the Starbucks Corporate Office has been very fortunate to be able to continue his work from home. Every day we read about more layoffs. The ability to work from home is a true blessing. I am retired so my office floats around the house. I have a lot of electrical equipment to conduct my retired affairs including an I-Phone, I-Pad, portable computer, desk top etc. I am practically computer illiterate so I feel lucky every day I am able to write a coherent sentence on equipment that is smarter than me.

Here are my lists of delights since we have moved to sheltering:

1. Walking a couple miles a day around our neighborhood. We have a mansion going in up the street from us. I remain amazed at how many workers this project has entailed. The work has continued even with the shelter order. Maybe a home for a multi-millionaire is an essential project or at least keeping a large workforce going is essential. On the nature front, flowers are bursting from the ground and budding on the trees. We have gorgeous colors all around us, pink, red, yellow. We have no tulips because the deer snap off the tops as soon as they bloom. I have to assume to deer tulips are similar to aphrodisiacs to humans. Idaho has lots of newcomers. Someone posted on our neighborhood blog that her tulips had been stolen during the night and who could be so mean. Sometimes, our wild friends are not so accommodating.

2. Sitting on my front porch enjoying the sun. The weather this weekend was so warm we could all be outside playing but that was before the Governor’s order. Now we can exercise but we are suppose to keep close to our houses. We have a gorgeous front porch. The weather has turned a little cooler but I spent all morning yesterday outside wearing a parka and covered with a blanket sipping a mug of coffee and catching up on emails. Sun is good for the soul and should be sought out whenever possible.

We spend lots of time outdoors. Here my husband demonstrates his bug-a-salt to a neighbor. Our neighbors can’t join us right now but the porch still calls.

3. Meditation and prayer. Our minister has suggested as a lead up to Easter we pray five times a day (when we get up, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and when we go to bed). I also try to take time to close my eyes and chase away the whirling thoughts and focus on my breathing.

4. Playing with and enjoying my pets. I have an entourage where ever I move through the house. All the animals go with me. They like to be petted, chase balls and in general I find them amusing.

5. Keeping in touch with family and friends. I text my two children and my sister every morning so they know I’m still around. I try to call my sister who lives in Colorado daily. I chat with my kids weekly but send them many strange messages by text throughout the day. I have a friend in Wyoming who writes long esoteric essays on the meaning of life that I look forward to reading and responding to, and much to my amazement I have found Facebook to be a place of much humor and little politics.

My son, Scott, and daughter, Kayla. Scott lives in Seattle and Kayla lives with us but is attending Montana State University in Bozeman and isn’t home right now. She could be since all school is online. But her boyfriend and friends are in Bozeman.

6. Watching movies and reading. When I’m done with my contacts with the outside world, I turn to reading and watching movies. Much of my reading involves newspapers. We get three every day. I love old movies and with Netflix and Amazon Prime there seems to be an endless supply of things to watch.

In summary, I find my days in shelter to be generally delightful. I could view them differently as boring or a hardship. But I prefer to focus on the loveliness of the world in which we live and opportunity to experience something new each day. My blessing to you today is, may you stay healthy and find joy in the moment. And your home be a sanctuary in times of trouble.

Out our back door. Robins are gathering. Makes me smile.

A Long Weekend in Tuscon

The Wednesday night before the United States became crazy about their toilet paper because of the Coronavirus, we boarded a Southwest flight to wing our way south to Phoenix where we planned to rent a car and drive to Tucson for a four day weekend. Our plane was full with kids going to baseball tournaments and adults wanting to see spring ball. By the next day spring ball and all the kids tournaments were cancelled. We continued on with our plans to go to Tucson. We had no clear agenda from the beginning. The weather in Tucson is so inviting in the spring, it is easy to stay outdoors and away from others.

Thursday, my husband picked up the rental car from the Phoenix airport. Rentals are expensive (or were when we started because this is high season). We chose the “managers special” to save money. That means you get whatever car is available. We got a new Jeep Compass which was a great car for touring the countryside. On our way out of Phoenix, we stopped by the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. The Casa Grande site is a tribute to more than 650 years of irrigation in the desert. Archeologists are not sure of the purpose of the site but the monument houses the remains of the largest earthen building in North America. Civilization in this location lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E. The location was abandoned. Without written word the people responsible for an elaborate irrigation, farming, and trading culture remain a mystery.

When we arrived in Tucson we checked into the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort. The Wyndham is located in the Sonoran Desert. When looking for a hotel in Arizona make sure to pick one with outdoor pools, and places to sit. The sunsets in Tucson are gorgeous and free. There’s nothing like sitting on your balcony after an afternoon soak in the pool with a glass of wine and watching the sun set in a colorful sky.

Friday we headed to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. The drive took us through the Saguaro National Park. Named for the large saguaro cactus, native to the area, we had our lunch sitting on a rock looking at the grand landscape. The afternoon we toured the museum which is actually an outdoor adventure showcasing native desert plants and animals. I particularly enjoyed the hummingbird exhibit. If you have kids with you, plan your trip to see the raptor flyover scheduled once a day right now.

Saturday we headed to the Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. There are 30 miles of trails in the recreation area. Once again we took a picnic lunch to eat outdoors. We had bought tickets to go on the tram which proved to be an open air crawler. Because of recent rain in the area, we were only able to get to the dams and see the flooding, rushing river. In dryer seasons, the crawler takes you all the way up to two glorious waterfalls.

Sunday we met friends. But by Sunday, the country was awash with alarm over the Coronavirus and things were starting to shut down. We were literally one of about 10 people on the usually bustling University of Arizona campus. If you were traveling during more usual times, I would recommend you plan Sunday to drive to Tubac about 40 minutes south of Tucson. Established in 1752, Tubac is a charming artist colony with gorgeous colors and eclectic items in all their stores. On the way down or back stop at the Mission San Xavier del Bac, meaning White Dove of the Desert. The Mission was built by Spanish Franciscans in the 18th century and sits on the Xavier Indian Reservations. You can’t miss it’s rising dome as you drive by on the highway.

Monday we headed back to Phoenix and an amazingly uneventful flight home. The plane was packed. As we walked through an empty Boise airport, we saw 6 or 7 people waiting for a plane to San Fransisco, one of the hot zones for the virus.

At some point, life in the US will return to normal. Americans love to travel abroad as witnessed by the lines at the 13 funnel airports this weekend. But we have wonderful sites here in the states. If we have to stay in our country’s boundaries for while so be it. We live in a glorious, mysterious place.

Flight of the Snow Bird:Tucson in Winter

We just spent the past few days with long-term Wyoming friends in Tucson. Our friends used to escape Wyoming’s long hard winters in Tucson but now they have sold their Wyoming home and moved permanently to Arizona. They live in a Robson community for 55 plus seniors called Quail Creek near Green Valley, Arizona. The advertising says, “Living here is like being on vacation every day.”

Desert Beauty is all around one in Tucson

We spent our mornings drinking coffee on the veranda, swimming in the heated outdoor pool, and going for walks. We spent our afternoons exploring the gorgeous desert landscape and viewing Native American and cowboy art. We ate wonderful food at exotic restaurants ranging from a five course Valentines dinner to a lunch on the patio of the resort used to film the movie, “Tin Cup”. We spent an afternoon in the quaint community of Tubac. We saw kitschy art and gorgeous Native American Art. We were stopped by American soldiers driving back, checking for drugs coming into the country. One afternoon we attended a lecture on “Asylum”. The politics of the wall and border are very salient in an area less than an hour from the border.

The temperatures hovered in the low seventies during the day but dropped drastically at night to the 50’s requiring jackets.

I go every year to visit my friend who I have known for thirty years. I would visit her if she lived in Alaska. But over time, I have come to welcome this break from Idaho’s winter. We enjoy the sunshine but we enjoy each other’s company more. As I age, I have come to appreciate the joy of shared memories. We laugh spontaneously over silly things we did in our youth. It’s great to be in vacation land but it’s better to be in vacation land with our very good friends.

Good friends make every trip more fun

McCall Winter Carnival: The Happiest Place in Winter

Snow Sculptures at McCall 2020 Winter Carnival

Friday, January 24 was the start of McCall, Idaho annual Winter Carnival. This family centri event is bound to please all the snow hounds in your household with everything from gorgeous snow sculptures to fireworks, parade, dog sledding and mongrel racing. Of course there are all the snow events; downhill skiing, skating, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and sledding. We go almost every year and I am always amazed by the local creativity and work that goes into the sculptures.

We go every year. I remember the kids finding the big piles of snow to crawl on better than the sculptures. Their dad is still delighted by snow. He likes to knock it off our cabin roof. He loves to chop wood and fill the wood stove to make our cabin really cozy. The Winter Carnival offers something for everyone, a place to make family memories of good times in snowy weather.

Are we having fun yet?

“Happiness is there for the taking–and making “ Oprah

When was the last time you did something just because it was fun?   I was out to dinner last weekend with my husband, long-term friends and a new couple (guests of our friends).  The female newcomer was also recently retired. She shared with us that she was giving  up bocce ball because she was too competitive. She couldn’t sleep worrying about matches. Her angst over games  had started interfering with her marriage. The bocce team she and her husband participated on won the city championship this year.  They brought home a gold medal to join a room of gold medals from previous years.  In other words,  bocce was a shared activity at which both she and her husband excelled but her competitive spirit had taken away the fun. Unable to harness her competitive ways, she chose to quit the sport.

Also, this week I  received an email from a disgruntled parent about my daughter’s coed soccer team. The parent didn’t feel our volunteer coach was providing adequate guidance and we weren’t winning enough games.  To be accurate, I don’t think the team has won any games.  I was astonished to receive this email because I feel fortunate to have a “volunteer” coach. The team can’t play without a regular coach and the rest of us are either too old, too unschooled at soccer, or too busy with work to volunteer. Independent of the notion of complaining about a volunteer when the rest of us hid in corners when asked to help out, co-ed soccer is to be played for “fun”.  Unlike club or school soccer, co-ed is intended to provide an opportunity for young men and women to interact on the field and learn to play nicely together.  My daughter has been attending practices regularly, even though she can’t play because of a major injury last spring.  She goes because she has fun.

Many years ago on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were driving from Disney Land to Sacramento for a traditional family celebration.  We had driven for four hours with two little kids in the backseat whining all the way and we hadn’t even inched half-way across Los Angeles because of the holiday traffic.  My husband, Pete, looked at me and said, “Are we having fun yet?” The answer was a clear, “No!” But we were certainly trying hard to get to “Yes!”

We all have the human capacity to pursue fun for the pure joy of emotional escape. We know the heady feeling of spontaneous laughter and the calming quiet of rest after an exhilarating day. But we seldom ask ourselves are we having fun?     We execute our careers successfully moving towards clear goals.  We strategize about which people to meet and  network with to get ahead.  We  watch and play games to win.  We make bucket lists of what we want to accomplish before we die.  We carefully plot out expensive trips to foriegn locales. But we infrequently say to each other let’s just be silly.  Let’s have fun.

My son, Scott, excels at having a good time.  This summer he entered a pinewood derby race at a local pub “just for fun”.  He brought home the small cardboard  box with a chunk of wood and four wheels the night before the race and transformed it into the “Weenie Wagon” with a few hours effort.

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Scott and the Weenie Wagon

My husband, Scott’s friends, and I all went downtown to see the big event.  When we got there, I learned I could buy a pre-made red car, “Robin Red” for $10.  Scott’s best friend from grade school, Daniel, piloted my vehicle.  Both cars won one heat and then we were up against each other.  The “Weenie Wagon” with it’s outrageous design beat out my more traditionally styled racer (no wonder it was so cheap). The Weenie Wagon went down to defeat in the next heat.  But spending a glorious night in Boise outside racing cars with young men was FUN!  Later, Scott won the award for most creative vehicle name and a $100 gift card much to our delight (Good Karma runs on the male side of our family).

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Robin Red goes against Weenie Wagon on a beautiful night in downtown Boise.

Also, this week I received a picture of Scott’s new hair do.  He moved from a man bun described in a blog this summer to a bird’s nest.  He texted that several freshman have opted for similar hair cuts.  You know the old saying “Birds of a feather flock together.”  When I opened the my son’s text it made me LOL.

In retirement, I am trying out new activities and undertaking lots of silly ventures.  I get asked a lot “Why are you doing THAT?”  My answer is, “For fun”.

I am finding out where my joy resides.  I am taking Robert Louis Stevenson’s advice and giving joy “a voice”. This week I might soak in the sun, smell the coffee, listen to the rain, read a good book, play with pets, visit friends or go to a movie. My one promise to myself is to have fun.

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Balloons rising over Boise at the Boise Balloon Festival. A great way to greet the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Ends

Recently, my sister encouraged me to start streaming a series on Acorn TV entitled “800 Words”. The star of the show, George Turner (played by Erik Turner) is a writer who turns out weekly columns of exactly 800 words. He originally lived in Sydney, Australia.  On a whim, George sells his house, buys a new home sight-unseen in Weld, New Zealand, and moves he and his two teenage children overseas. The rationale behind the move is that in a place he cherished as a child on family vacations maybe he and his children can find solace and eventually heal from the sudden accidental death of his wife.

The show is a human interest comedy so not surprisingly in the first episode his decision, which everyone including himself questions, is fraught with humorous accidental encounters, snarky real estate deals, natural disasters and extreme bullying of his teens  as they try to get acclimated to a new school.  George has unwittingly bought the wrong house in  need of massive repairs without the promised view. The rental car is destroyed by a random piece of art, resulting in a major community event.  George insults the entire village by writing about how Weld is a “dead end”.  George rescues himself only by attending a community gathering and stumbling through a message about his dead wife and how a dead end can serve as a new beginning.

The theme of dead ends providing new directions reminded me of a stickie note, I keep posted on my computer.  “The farthest road to take is the road back to yesterday.” Our antecedents no matter how accomplished, guilt riddenaumatic and/or regretful are behind us never to be recovered.

In this week’s Bible Study, the irretrievably of the past reached out from the Old Testament story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Lot’s wife is ordered not to look back at Sodom as she and Lot escape destruction.  Yet even with a stern warning from God, she can’t comply. Because of her backward glance, Lot’s wife is turned to stone, symbolic retribution, a rock stuck in the proverbial “hard place” unable to choose the future. Part of the human condition  is to cling to traditional patterns and past habits.

Rationally, we know we can’t recreate or return to “Happy Days.” But emotionally, moving forward when faced with life’s challenges may be the hardest calling each of us faces.  Alcoholics are asked to give up drinking and this may mean giving up friends and changing life patterns, such as transitioning from socializing in bars to extreme sports and regular meetings.Women in violent relationships may need to flee their homes in the dark of night with their children and nothing else to a shelter and uncertain future hoping to find safety.  Refugees cram into small boats sailing to  unknown places that promise a better future. The boat may capsize. Too many foreigners may have come before.  The welcoming vision may transform into  a nightmare of fences with barb wire surrounding camps.  Life’s journey is thwart with the possibility of dead ends and the siren call to return to what one knows, no matter how intolerable.

Human progress can be traced to those who are able to see what appears to be a dead end as a culdesac, a bend in the road, an opportunity to move in new untried directions.The miracle of human creativity is our ability to seek new directions when all seems hopeless. We have created a term for this ability, “resiliency”, the ability to overcome adversity and move on. We do not have to remain rooted in one place  emotionally like a stone or spin wildly out of control as if we were clinging to a rubber raft launched on white water without any  oars or life jacket. We can make choices even bad ones and recover. We can’t go back but we can stride forward in an uncertain world with a hopeful heart.

Does this dog look like a criminal to you?

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Shani, the guilty party!

Over Labor Day, my beloved Sheltie, Shani, raided the teenage girls’ bathroom and bedroom at our cabin. While she is usually sweet and shy, when left to her own devices her nose can get her in trouble. In this case, she destroyed a variety of feminine hygiene products. Five teenage girls and one bathroom provided a wild array of new scents and textures to explore.  The pièce de ré·sis·tance of the crime was that when snorting through the bedroom clothing left on the floor, the only underwear Shani chose to destroy was my daughter’s very expensive Victoria Secret panties. My daughter, Kayla, does not like the word “panties” but one must call a spade a spade. In this case, Shani’s panty raid was restricted to her owner. Upon reflection “panty” as a descriptor of the little, tiny swaths of  brightly colored lace, nylon, and spandex Kayla wears is generous.  When I was a teenager, my mother would have described these itty, bitty pieces of fabric as  “obscene” or cut them in half and used them as hankies, no wonder Shani put her nose in it.  Victoria Secret has a new term for them “cheekies or cheeckini” presenting in seductive colors such as “purple rapture,””neon nectar”  and  “Bella Donna Pink.”  Cheeky indeed! in all the many senses of the word.But I digress from the action in order that you might better understand the impulses of the perpetrator, just look at that long, soft nose and inquiring eyes designed to hunt out the single most tasteful, skimpiest,  fragile, exquisitely expensive garment among many.

I was alerted to the crime when we all came home from dinner and I heard screaming and shouting upstairs. Over the balcony, reverberated, “GROSS!” “SHANI!” “Who left the doors open?” This query was from my daughter searching for the co-conspirator so she wouldn’t have to help clean up the mess. I, of course, was Shani’s defender and blamed the entire incident on the girls. Dogs will be dogs. Leaving attractive nuisances available for sniffing, thus enticing a dog’s olfactory lobe is bound to lead to chewing and wanton destruction.

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The accusers

I must admit that Shani once rooted around in my laundry basket. But I wear cheap cotton panties from ShopKo (the Bridget Jones memorialized as big panties, meaning full coverage in Bridget Jones Diary). One bite was all Shani could muster, though there was plenty of material, probably gave her that dry, cotton mouth taste.

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A single bite is all ShopKo panties is worth

I salute Shani for a valiant effort not to make me feel totally without appeal. The single bite suggests that one taste was all it took for her to take my cheap underwear off her list of chewable delights.

My daughter is always talking about how much better her dogs will be trained than ours when she leaves the house and gets a dog of her own. I am sure this is true.

My first dog when I was single was also a Sheltie, named Ginger Rogers because she loved to dance. I participated in a dog training class with my boss at the time, Dr. Cohen, who owned a big red setter. Ginger would prance gaily around the ring, sit, stand, lay and come when called. Dr. Cohen told me he’d never seen a better trained dog. But of course, since I was single, I had lots of time to work with the dog.  We went everywhere together and had a very strong bond.

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Ginger, my first dog and constant companion

I have learned over the years that children change everything including dog training. Our next sheltie was Sparky. We got her when Kayla was little and Scott was in second grade. We all loved Sparky. But I remember eating dinner  at the kitchen counter and saying to Kayla, “We don’t feed the dog at the table.” Kayla said, “Mommy, I don’t feed dog.” Just then Sparky ran under my feet with what looked like a cup of cooked spaghetti on her head. When I asked Kayla how the spaghetti got there. She said, “Fell off spoon. I don’t feed Sparky.”

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Sparky with Kayla, Scott and I. Training dogs with young children is more difficult.

Dogs are one of the great joys of my life. Unlike teenage girls, they thrive on your attention and don’t push you away.  Shelties are bred to watch sheep, so they love their home and  guard their yards, no demands of freedom from them.  A homebody when Shani gets out of the back yard (infrequently), she runs around to the front door and waits for us to let us in. Unlike my daughter pushing hard to bust free of the confines of home, Shani is contented to stay with us always.

I don’t like to think of a time when I might not be able to care for a pet of my own.  My dogs are not my whole life, but over the years and through a number of dog lives, dogs have certainly helped make my life whole.

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Kayla and Shani.Forgiveness and Reconciliation are words to live by

Rollin’ in the Last, Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer!

Rollout those lazy, crazy days of summer…You’ll wish that summers could always be here (Nat King Cole, 1963)

2016 was my first summer of retirement.  What a glorious time, I have had! Pete and I opened summer with a grand circle tour of the Wyoming and Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Driving from Boise to Jackson Hole, the  Teton’s highlight was biking at twilight along the Snake River. Then on to Buffalo, Wyoming to visit family and enjoy Wyoming’s wonderful summer weather where cool breezes keep the air moving and the need for air conditioning down.  In Cheyenne, Wyoming where I grew up, I am still blessed with many long-term friendships.  These friendships have remained strong  over 20 years of living in different cities with annual visits home.   All but one friend  and my husband beat me to retirement. Some of my friends have had health struggles.  One friend is recovering from a stroke, another a heart condition, another just getting over a knee replacement surgery.  All have new grand children to report on. When I sit down with my Wyoming friends, it feels like yesterday when we left.  Over the years and across the miles, our shared adventures and linking life lines have kept us together.

We finished our roadtrip with our annual visit to a Colorado Rockies game, a must for us and plans to meet Wyoming friends in Arizona next year to watch spring baseball.  Our final stop before heading home was Golden, Colorado where Pete has family and the hops from Coors Brewery fills the air.  Clear Creek runs through town, like the Boise River but much smaller.  These rivers provide the focal point for both communities though their original historical roots are quite different. Golden was a mining town and Boise was the  Lewis and Clark route, the Oregon Trail and home to Fort Boise. Our drive home took us across Utah,  setting of glorious rock formations.  Traveling in Utah always leaves me thinking about Mormon families pushing their hand carts across the vast landscape, a hardy group for sure.

The  friendship/family tour was our only trip this summer.  Boise (consistently ranked as one of the top outdoor cities) is a fabulous place to spend the summer and we also own a cabin in McCall, Idaho welcoming us over the long holidays including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July,  a late July family vacation and most recently Labor Day.  Labor Day trills  the siren call of summer’s end.  The air is starting to turn and Boise hosts the fabulous Boise Balloon Festival.

 Our cabin in McCall is tiny (about 1200 square feet) but it has big arms, welcoming 5 co-ed college students (guests of my son) and Pete and I two weeks ago. Labor Day we hosted Kayla’s 17th birthday extravaganza with  4 of her friends. Kayla’s birthday is September 6th. We celebrate her birthday every Labor Day in McCall. In recent years,  neighbors from Boise have bought a place too. We share or more accurately mooch  dinners and boat rides from them.  Our kids are together in college and they have a daughter from China who is a freshman in high school. The weather never cooperates with our beach and water plans. But somehow we manage to get out on the water. One Labor Day, we were wrapped in blankets on a boat. This year I actually got a brain freeze as I shot across Payette Lake on a jet ski.

So what I have I learned from my first summer of retirement?

  • Family and friends matter  more as one ages, make the time to cultivate and grow existing relationships.
  • Good health is a blessing and shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Exercise regularly, eat right and make time for preventive health visits.
  • Be thankful for every day God  has given me.  Jump out bed and enjoy the day!

Top Ten Ways I know My Son is Home From College for the summer

My twenty-two year old son is home from college for the summer.  He has one more semester left before he graduates and is interning at Simplot in Strategic Optimization this summer.  The atmosphere in our house changes when he is home.  The top 10 changes are:

Number 10: The day of arrival the front door and entry hall, approximately 12 feet square, are blocked by a 36 inch smart TV, 30 boxes of size 14 shoes (my son collects Nikes and resells them online) and numerous boxes of assorted sizes filled with who knows what.

Number 9: The second day of arrival the smart TV, playing rap music, can be heard in the entry hall through the  door of my son’s  second-floor room. The entry hall otherwise remains jammed with college gear. The closed bedroom door is marked Scott Kozisek, Please Knock.

Number 8: By the end of the first week home, the entry way is empty except for a large backpack propped against the wall and camel pack, laying on the steps, both will probably remain there all summer.   My son’s possessions are now leaching out of his bedroom filling up the 12 by 12 landing at the top of the stairs and hindering access to the playroom.

Number 7: Household dynamics are slightly off kilter, like falling down the proverbial rabbit hole. My son is a vegetarian, a dozen eggs last three days instead of a week. Grocery shopping is expanded to include tofu, dozens of eggs, chocolate milk,whey protein. Our three car garage is challenged to provide parking for our fleet of four cars, juggling cars and keys is now the norm. Beautiful sound systems up and down stairs  play competing music with jazz, James Taylor, and Carole King dominating downstairs and hip/hop, rap, and electric dance music echoing through the upstairs.

Number 6:  I hear the front door opening and closing at 2:30 or 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Or I don’t hear anything and get a text in the morning about crashing at friends. I have to continually remind myself that my son is an adult and can make his own choices. My tongue aches as I bite it to keep from saying something that I may regret or may damage our relationship.

Number 5: The dogs, Shani and Violet, whine and beg to get out of my office where I am watching TV or working on the computer whenever  their hero, my son, comes in the back door. This adoration for the lost boy is somewhat annoying since I continue to do all the feeding of the pets.

Number 4: I hear shouting at 11 p.m. between my daughter’s and my son’s bedrooms about a large bug that must be removed from my daughter’s ceiling fan. My son’s removal efforts result in random dust explosion and the bug being knocked off the fan onto my daughter’s bed.  More shouting erupts when the bug in a remarkable rebound returns to the fan.  Using my daughter’s belt, the bug is exterminated by my son. Because my daughter is unwilling to touch such an ugly thing, my son must extricate the insect from the down comforter.  Placing the bug in the trash will not do.  It must be flushed down the toilet to ensure the room has been de-bugged. I hear the vacuum turn on. I go upstairs to investigate. My daughter is vacuuming her bed, guaranteeing no other bugs have lived through the dust bowl event and removing the remaining dust mites from her quilt. Interactions of this nature will ensue throughout the summer, when previously the upper floor was silent.

Number 3: The amount and quality of conversation at the dinner table has increased geometrically with the addition of a third adult. We have moved from discussing high school and the weekly schedule ( who is going to be where and when) to discussing politics (no one in our family likes Trump though there is division on which Democrat to support), upcoming music and events in Boise, hit summer movies (who has seen what and who wants to go to what) and weekly schedule (who is going to be where and when).  We managed to coordinate well enough at dinner to allow us all to see Captain America Civil War together the first week it was out.  A good movie for families with kids 13 and up. We have also managed to schedule our Father’s Day Celebration for Wednesday, June 15th attending Alive After Five.  That was the closest date, we could find when we were all in town.  Kayla has a particularly busy summer traveling to camps and mission work all over the country.

Number 2: I have someone to watch streaming of Dare Devil , Season 3 on Netflix late at night.  We are moving on to Jessica Jones. My son is watching the third season of Peaky Blinders, his favorite show. I watched my first episode this week. Peaky Blinders  received a rave review in the Wall Street Journal  as a fabulous period piece. Focused on Irish gangs in London after WWI,  the episode I watched was bloody but haunting. My daughter by comparison and I watch Bones, America’s Got Talent, Kids’ Baking Championship and Chopped.

Number 1: I get regular hugs for making coffee in the morning and for packing lunches to send out the door to work.20160605_141159