Sweet dreams

The dog is exhausted.  This is very good news.

Lilly the Easter Beagle spent the weekend trying to keep up.  With the kids home, her not-very-long-at-all legs ran up and down the stairs between the family room and kitchen so many times in two days that by Sunday afternoon, I saw her sitting on the lower landing wearily looking up like she couldn’t do it one more time today.

Being a small beagle girl is hard work. All those interesting dinner smells in the kitchen to investigate and new toys to chew on and two new young people to fall madly in love with. As I write this, she is curled up nose to tail, snoring. Lilly is a beagle bagel tonight, and it isn’t even her bedtime.

It is still possible, in some places, to buy dyed chicks and bunnies at this time of year. For the sake of small, naturally hued critters everywhere, I was really hoping this wasn’t still a thing. I’m pretty sure that the joy of taking care of a baby anything fades pretty fast for kids who receive live chicks and bunnies instead of chocolate ones in their baskets on Easter Sunday. Maybe the lucky ones end up on someone’s farm instead of in a shoe box in some hyper little kid’s bedroom. One can hope, I suppose.

Around here, no small animals were given as gifts this Easter unless you can count the very tired little tri-colored pup at my side who is twitching and yipping in her sleep, visions of big kids and bunnies dancing in her head.




Old habits

Keep looking up. That’s the secret of life.


I have heard that it takes 21 days for a habit to be formed or broken. Three full weeks.

We are testing that theory because we’ve adopted a little beagle named Lilly who has a few, um…habits… that need some tweaking. God, in Her infinite wisdom, created beagles to be absolutely adorable. This is so sane, rational, women like me who swore that they’d NEVER have another beagle would get sucked into the Cute Beagle Vortex AGAIN. I’m also pretty sure this is so that beagles don’t get hung from the highest branch for their beagle shenanigans by sane, rational, women like me.

I’m no stranger to the breed. We had two different ones when I was growing up and Lilly makes three in my adulthood. She is a typical beagle, and by “typical” I mean highly food motivated. There is no OFF switch on a beagle’s stomach. If she isn’t eating or snuffling around for crumbs, she is sleeping with one eye open on the off chance that one of us just might walk into the kitchen where all those yummy food smells live. It must be a terrible burden to have a sense of smell about eighty times stronger than a human’s. I thought I kept a pretty clean house until last week. Her biggest find so far? A strawberry scented lip balm that’s probably been under the family room sofa for a year. Lilly’s rule? Finders keepers. Mom’s rule? Nope. Drop it right now, Small Dog. We are working on this.

She would have made a great federal employee in airport security. I guess it’s nice to know that she can get a job without a college degree if she ever needs one.

Right now, we are watching her as closely as she’s watching us. And let me tell you, this is a full time job. Yesterday, against all my better dog-rearing instincts, I let my guard down and discovered that she is still a tad fuzzy on where her bathroom is. She got busted and she’ll be under strict house arrest until I know that THAT habit of hers is broken. Oy vey. Beagles. So. much. work.

But we have survived Week 1 without a beagle in a tree around here. Two more to go, according to the experts. Both of us need your prayers.

It’s the strangest thing, isn’t it? You spend one lifetime raising kids (and the pets they beg you for) and then when you can finally (finally!) sit back and take it easy, you have a moment of sheer madness and you’re right back in parenting mode- setting boundaries, making schedules, and trying really hard not to damage anyone’s self-esteem. Maybe you never truly stop missing being followed around and needed when you’re a mom. Maybe it’s having a warm, sleepy, little being in your lap who waits for the last bite of your toast every morning. Maybe it’s nothing more complicated than needing more noise and joy than peace in a too-still and too-empty house.

All I know for sure right now is that we have an Easter Beagle around here. Our adult kids will be home to meet her for the first time this weekend. Our home will be messy and noisy and our hearts will be full.

I hope you can say the same about your home and your heart.  Happy Easter!


I have a little sunburn.  In March. Is there anything more wonderful than that?

San Diego just might be the most perfect city ever, weather-wise. With sun and an average temperature of 72 degrees for 350 days a year, rain is apparently kind of a big deal in southern California.  It was breaking news on every channel last Monday, the first day of our trip. Luckily, the rain stopped. By Tuesday, the Girl and I were enjoying a week of blue skies and ocean breezes during our spring break adventure.

And what an adventure it was. Here’s what I know for sure. I would be a much nicer person if I lived in San Diego. Because really, how could anyone possibly be crabby in March in a place where tropical flowers bloom year ’round and the avocados are always perfectly ripe? Where the grass is green and the ocean is blue and everyone is just so darn pleased with life? Heck. Even the dogs and sea lions were smiling in San Diego.

Our hotel was a block from the beach. Every morning, I walked over to stand and watch the surfers who must have been there at dawn to catch the first waves of the day. Homeless folks who’d spent the night sleeping on the beach under the stars rubbed the sleep from their eyes and rolled up sleeping bags before peddling down the boardwalk on rusty bikes. As I watched this daily occurrence, I was reminded of the scores of homeless individuals we saw in parks in downtown Chicago, bracing themselves against the wind howling off Lake Michigan last October when we were there. Location is everything, isn’t it?

We flew back to the Twin Cities on Friday. Springtime is happening here ahead of schedule, even here in the woods. It will be weeks before we see green grass or any purple mayflowers, but it is good to see the last, gravelly piles of snow melting and black ice on the lakes.  Rain is forecast here this week, too, so that will help things along. This morning, I met Handyman Pete up at the lake to plan summer projects. A new deck, along with dozens of other small jobs are on the list. It will be a busy summer of sawing and hammering at our spot next to the river where mallards, not seagulls, are the norm.  Soon, enormous white pelicans will be back for another summer of early morning fishing and we will celebrate seventy degrees and sunshine. I can wait. I’m nice enough most days, anyway.

We begin as tiny human tadpoles floating in the womb. I wonder if that’s the draw we feel to bodies of water for the rest of our lives.  Oceans. Lakes. Rivers.

The water always calls us back home.




On the inside

I’m off on an adventure with the Girl.

We have been watching the extended weather forecast in San Diego for over two weeks. It looks like we can expect beach-y sunshine and highs in the 70’s for three of the five days we plan to be there. On the other two? We’ll see! There has been some discussion surrounding a visit to the pandas at the zoo, or maybe a day trip into Tijuana before that HUGE, beautiful, wall gets built and the Mexicans stop letting us in.

My college friend, Mary, plans to take us to two of her favorite restaurants while we’re in San Diego. We both lived on the third floor of Middlebrook Hall a LONG time ago. Back then, she was blonde, beautiful, and smart, with a handsome hockey player for a boyfriend. She is still blonde, beautiful, and smart. The boyfriend? A memory. She has two grand babies which just doesn’t seem possible when we are together and the decades we’ve known each other melt away.  My grandmother said many times in her later years that when she looked in the mirror, she was always surprised by the old woman staring back at her. She went to her grave feeling eighteen on the inside. Maybe all the lucky ones do.

In other news, I have been using drug store self-tanning lotion on my sun-starved Nordic legs for the past week so as not to blind the Californians the first time I put on the one swimsuit I own and emerge from my hotel room into the sunlight. In an effort to keep from resembling too closely the presidential candidate who most reminds me of a demented, Ginger raccoon, I have been careful not to apply any of the self-tanner to my face. You would think that with all that money, a guy like him could have someone in his life who would tell him the truth about the white eye rings, wouldn’t you? Suggest a little self-tanner there, perhaps? But I digress.

My perpetually brown daughter does not need a fake tan and looks better in a swimsuit than I ever did, tan or not. She plans to wear a bikini and paddle board in the sea. Right now, my plan is to sit on the beach, read, and let the sun work its magic. Because there’s nothing like the real thing, is there?

It is good to be eighteen on the inside, white legs and all. With “young” old friends and a sweet, brown-skinned daughter who invites her pale Mama to take trips so that she can get a little sun on her legs and make more memories. But mostly, in March, it is good, so good, just to not have to be very impressive at all.

California, here we come!