Hey, baby!

In general, i don’t like babies. Never have been one to fuss and flutter when a swaddle-load of fresh human showed up in a room. Don’t get me wrong – i appreciate babies. Some of the best people i know were once babies, so they are pretty important in the grand scheme of things… i just don’t have an overpowering desire to hold them, make goo-goo eyes, and spew the babytalkin’ words.

A little over a year ago, i wrote of an unexpected adventure – visiting my son, his Serious Girlfriend, and her son while my daughter and her husband were visiting the U.S. Over the course of the next few months, Serious Girlfriend became Wife. They bought a house and settled into a new life together.

Those of you who have been along with The Trailer Park from the early days may remember some of the challenges i experienced with The Boy during his youth. It wasn’t pretty, and i developed a mantra – ‘keep him alive until he’s 25’, hoping that he would level out.  Testosterone is known to retard brain development in males, and by the age of 25, men have caught up with women in maturity. i just wasn’t sure he’d make it that far.  The Army captured his interests at the age of 24 – and he did coast through the 25th birthday unscathed.

If you had told me then that The Boy would be a strong husband, loving father, and dedicated homeowner before his 29th birthday, i’d have probably laughed myself to tears. Not the sweet, gentle tears that slip delicately down the cheek and leave a tiny wet drop on a blouse… but ugly, snotty, out-of-control sobbing tears. “That’s just cruel! That can’t possibly ever happen!”

Because i was that scared…

But here we are… and here he is. Smart, fierce wife – a woman so remarkable that she has Tamed The Wild Man. Sweet, giggly two year old son, Max.  A home. Life as an Army Sergeant. They spent time this spring building a garden, and a chicken coop for future chickens… and became pregnant – with a due date in mid-September!

Surprised he didn’t get whiplash from the sudden change in his lifestyle!

To lend a hand, Studley and i went out a few days early to assist with projects, and get Max used to having us around. He is king of the backyard domain, and it was fun watching him organize a rescue mission with his fire truck collection. After a dinner out, and settling Max in for the night, The Boy and his wife headed to the hospital on Thursday night.

backyard

By early Saturday morning, Ellie made her appearance – both Mom and baby healthy! We took Max to visit. Two years old is pretty young to really understand the arrival of a sibling, but he was a champ – happy to see Mom and Dad, and curious and gentle with the tiny person sleeping on Mom.

Max meets Ellie

After they returned home, we covered basics – food, dishes, laundry – and general entertainment for an energetic 2 year old. We poked at projects, took morning hikes, and watched kids so they had a ‘date night. Wisely, they chose a ‘date matinee’, knowing they would likely enjoy lunch and a movie more than dinner and a movie, given their general state of sleep deprivation.

As i mentioned at the start of this post – in general, i don’t like babies. But holding Ellie sent me tumbling back through all of the memories of the early days with The Girl and The Boy when they were fresh… Seeing the perfect round face, long fingers. The tiny toes that try to grip a nearby finger. The Moro Reflex – watching the remnants of our evolution in a startled baby.

It was natural to flashback to delivering my own two spawn onto the planet, but this time there was something far better – watching my adult son as he starts this adventure. Knowing his pride, joy and fears. I’ve enjoyed seeing him with Max – who was part of the package deal that came with his wife. He has become a great father – and now has another tiny little face that is counting on him to grow her into a good human.

so damn tiny

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Advertisements

Poof!

For the past five years, i’ve had a spreadsheet (compliments of the ever-enterprising Excel-pert, Studley). A spreadsheet that can be poked, prodded and tweaked in all sorts of ways, playing with expenses and income. It was my retirement planning tool.

Through a combination of planning, luck, early breeding and conservative financial management, i was surprised to find myself in a position to comfortably retire with a pension, after working for the same entity from the age of 19. i just had to wait until my 55th birthday to pull the chain.

i didn’t believe it. i worked and re-worked those numbers. Studley included important expense categories such as “entertainment” and “booze”* and most importantly travel. Even throwing in a ridiculous budget for such luxuries, it was still manageable.

i turned 55 in early June. i cleaned out my office and walked out the door and have no intention of ever working again.

Poof.

Just like that, i was no longer employed.  From the age of 16, i’ve always had a job with income. Self-sufficiency required that, and i worked my way through university through a combination of a co-operative engineering job, and admin/teaching assistant positions. i have always worked – driven by the need to be self-sufficient.

And now that comes without the need to work.

Turns out, this is a pretty serious transition – even though i absolutely recognize the privilege that comes with this particular transition. Unlike divorce, a cancer diagnosis or becoming an empty-nester, this one is without question a GOOD TRANSITION. Not only that, i had ample time to prepare for this one.

i’ve been asking retired people the same question for the past few years – “what was your biggest surprise after retirement?” The answers were all over the map… “How expensive health care costs are” to “How busy I am! How did I ever manage to do all this with a full time job?” One response that stuck with me was “How important the calendar becomes.”

i’ve always been pretty tight with my work calendar. It also had personal appointments and extracurricular activities on it, but the work day was the foundation. When every day feels like Saturday how do you know what day it is? How do you know that the Tuesday night patio party at your favorite venue is happening if you don’t realize it’s Tuesday?

Only two months in, here are a few other observations –

Getting dressed? Different. i don’t put on make up in the morning. Morning lingers longer than it used to. One day i had a volunteer meeting at 0800. The dog even glared at me as i walked him at 0700 – “what is this shit? why are we out of bed? why are you dressed?” Clothes off of a hangar, not out of the laundry bin after a sniff. Hair brushed, and not stuffed under a baseball cap…

Speaking of hair…

i’ve been having mine painted for 20 years. Thanks to genetics, my hair would have turned shock white by the time i was forty without chemical intervention. A couple of years ago, i started playing with that white – i let a chunk underneath go white, then hit it with some funky color. It’s been blue for about a year, and while i like it, i don’t like the maintenance. So i’m working through a process to let my hair revert to its natural color.

Brain function? A bit befuddled – more forgetful than usual, not able to find words, and carrying a general fog every now and then. Still carrying five different volunteer jobs, i have responsibilities that require thought. We are continuing to push the envelope on life skills and experiences, in part to keep the brains working…

But those are details for a future post… i’ve exceeded my word count for today! Time to go pack a suitcase!

huey suitcase

* i like to throw parties. My friends appreciate good food and good booze, as do i. That shit ain’t cheap…

Tanked

Losing Mr. Pickles wasn’t my first dead pet rodeo. i’ve had canine companionship my entire life – losing Slightly and Rupert dropped some darkness in my heart. They were the dogs my ex-husband and i had before we started breeding, and they were the first pets for my children.

Rupert died first. Shortly after we buried Slightly my husband and kids began lobbying for another dog. i wasn’t ready right away, but they started the marketing campaign within a month. It was three months later before i succumbed to pressure, and we stumbled upon Turbo the Wonder Dog.

Mr. Pickles came to us a couple of years later as a companion for her – eventually becoming my canine life partner as my husband claimed Turbo as his road dog when he moved to our place up north.

When Mr. Pickles died last August, i had no plan to get another pup – some combination of shattered heart and lifestyle. Too much travel to commit to a dog. It wasn’t until late November that i noticed something happening. The feeling of missing A Specific Dog was still there, but there was another feeling. The sense of missing having A Dog.

The lifestyle issue remained – so much travel, and hating having to rely on a pet sitter to take care of a dog. i reached out to a friend who works in rescue, and let her know that i could probably foster an old dog, or a hospice dog, for a few months. Within a day things went into motion…

An urgent need for placement of a big doggie, about 5 years old. His owner had a terminal illness and was no longer able to care for him.

“Can you manage a big pit bull mix? He’s a low-energy sweetheart, good with other animals, who likes to sleep and ride in the car! Really need a foster – he’s a big boy and would likely end up as a bait dog if he goes into a shelter”

“Ummm…. sure?”

In December, Tank arrived – delivered by the dog rescue network, and his owner – man with cancer who wanted to meet me in person before handing over this dog. i took one look at A Very Large Dog With A Head the Size Of An Anvil and said “i will do right by this dog” as i shook his hand – even though i had no idea what i was doing…

Tank arriving

When a smallyappydog has a bad day and bites you? It’s an annoyance. Looking at Tank, and getting a sense for his strength, i realized quickly the responsibility of such a powerful creature. If he has a bad day? It’s more than an annoyance… This dog could eat my face.

Within a couple of days, Huey the cat was sleeping next to him in bed. A sweet, resilient and easy dog, Tank got comfortable. At first neighbors were crossing the street as we went about our daily walks, but over the first few weeks, a few came up to meet him – and he charmed them all.

Huey and Tank

Pet Sitter was also immediately charmed – and asked if there was any possible way he could adopt this goofy dog. So nine months later, this short-term foster dog is still part of my life. Pet Sitter is working on getting his own place, and will take full custody in a few months, but in the meantime is happy to take The Tanker out on play dates, and stay at my place with the manimals when i’m on the road.

wigglebutt

My life is better with a dog in it – this particular dog. The most important thing i’ve learned after this episode of “I’m Never Having Another Dog Because I Can’t Take the Heartbreak When It Dies”? So many good dogs out there. So many… the best way to honor a beloved rescue dog is to find a way to rescue another one…

Tank smile