What's Not to Laugh?

Almost everything about aging–except grave illness and death–can be funny as well as disturbing. I try to find the funny and help us all get through it!

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Wanted a dog. Got a cat.

When a young(er) woman starts to worry about having children before she gets too old, people say that her biological clock is ticking. So what’s the phrase to describe someone who wants to get a pet before she’s too old and arthritic to lift the jumbo bag of Purina? Whatever it’s called, I’ve been going through it for at least a year.

Despite the fact that we live in a town home with no grassy yard, I felt that if so many of my neighbors in the same situation can have dogs, why not us? In the winter, I can recognize these neighbors only by knowing who owns which dog because they have their parka hoods up and scarves wrapped around their necks to keep out the cold as they watch the little darlings do their business in back of our development. But I also thought about how much exercise I’d get…and fresh air. And wouldn’t it be nice to come home and be greeted by a creature that’s excited to see me? To be fair, my husband serves that purpose now. I’m blessed.

And speaking of that husband, as much as he wants me to be happy, he wasn’t sold on the idea of a dog. A cat? That was different. He’s had lots of experience with cats and loves them, so he warmed to the idea of adopting one, maybe. I’d had a cat in the ’70s, and it wasn’t a great experience. As one daughter puts it, “He was the worst pet ever!” I wouldn’t go that far, but he was demanding, he sprayed around our living room, causing us to pull up the carpeting to remove the smell, and he insisted we let him outside. “Who’s the boss?” you might ask. When a cat is nipping at your ankles and trying to trip you while you’re getting ready for work if you don’t let him out, he’s the alpha.

Nevertheless, I started looking at web pages for shelters that had cats for adoption. But I still wanted a dog. Then my daughter and son-in-law took jobs in the San Francisco area and rented a house there. When they learned they could bring only two Maude_for_blogof their three cats, I got a phone call. “Mom. I have to ask a favor of you. A big favor.” I was about to ask “How much cash do you need?” but decided to wait and see what she actually wanted. You know where this is going. We were asked to take Maude, one of their three 12-year-old cats. She chose Maude because this cat didn’t play with the other two, even though the male cat was her litter mate. Maude is more timid than the others and prefers to find a hiding place by herself.

We talked it over and agreed to take her. On Monday, April 8, Maude arrived at our house. We made sure we had the litter and food she was used to, as there were so many other adjustments she had to make. She purred when we petted her and seemed pretty content. Then there was bedtime. We got into bed, and she found a nice dark hiding space in our master closet. We all fell asleep. A couple of hours later, the meowing and mrrowwing began. She made so many different sounds, I swear one of them was “Uh-oh.” Probably not, but in my middle-of-the-night stupor, it sure sounded like that. I felt bad for Maude, who was searching for either her former owners, her former feline roommates, even though she didn’t have much to do with them, or her old surroundings.

Thankfully, this was a one-night experience. the next night, she was curled up on our bed, although she still preferred her closet space for serious sleeping. Now, 22 days later, she seems content. She’d sleep with us all night, every night, if I were not such a restless sleeper. One bout of tossing and turning from me and she bolts off the bed. Sorry, Maude. I’m too old to change my nighttime habits.

Maude_nappingSo Maude’s settled in…although we’re still hoping to figure out what she’s trying to tell us with her many vocalizations. My husband says she’s just talking to us. I say she’s kvetching.

My reaction during Maude’s first week in her new home was, “Did we need this? Do I need another family member to worry about?” I even worried about staying away from home for too many hours, lest the little darling miss us or wonder where we went. Even reminding myself that my daughter and son-in-law both worked full-time, so there were long stretches of time that Maude had to be without human contact. But…she had two other cats in the house, whether she cared to socialize with them or not. The truth is that Maude, at 12 years old and a with a sedentary nature, sleeps almost all day. I bet she doesn’t know we’re gone most of the time because when we return, we find her curled up on our bed right where we left her.

Even better? Maude adores us—or at least trusts us. I know this because she’s purrs loudly when we pet her, head bumps us often, and even falls asleep with her front paw resting on one of our arms or legs.

As for wanting a dog…I think I’ve changed my mind. On her first night, when Maude was making homesick noises and keeping us awake, I said to my husband, “If she were a dog, we’d have to put some clothes on, get the leash, and take her outside.” In my dog-wanting days, I remember vowing that I’d be willing to do that, but thinking about it now when I’m half-asleep, I’m not so sure. For now, I’ll be content with just having to empty the litter box (we bought a Litter Genie!) and providing fresh food and water…and lots and lots of love.


It’s always in the last place you look

Thanks to all of you who have responded to my earlier post about my lost pair of jeans. it was kind of you to weigh in on such a trivial―yet relatable―matter. I found my jeans…in the last place I looked. No, that’s incorrect. it was a place I looked through many times but missed seeing what I was seeking. I don’t know how to explain this without sounding stubborn, lazy, and idiotic, but this is what happened:

When I looked way in the back of the rack that held tops, not jeans, I saw a pair of jeans folded over a hanger. Since they were hanging on a different rack from my wearable pants, I assumed these were the pair I had bought and washed and then discovered were too short. Dorky short. Frumpy short. Mom jeans short.

Feeling guilty, I kept them instead of admitting I was never going to feel good wearing them. Since I had another, similar pair that were the right length, I moved the bad pair to another rack. But at some point I overcame the guilt and gave them to Goodwill. And then that memory vanished.

So every time I searched for the good pair and saw a pair of  jeans hanging where jeans should not be, I thought, “Those are the short ones.”  Each time, I knew I should have pulled them out and tried them on to make sure, but I was, as mentioned above, “stubborn, lazy, and idiotic.”

And then I wrote the earlier blog post and got lots of sympathy. Feeling guilty again (it’s what I do and where I come from), I thought I’d give that out-of-place pair a closer look. I tried them on. They were not too short, not dorky, not frumpy, not mom-like. My missing jeans!

One mystery solved, but another to ponder: How did the good jeans end up on the wrong rack? I decided to let that one go. There are more important questions to ponder, such as, Will I outlive my retirement funds?

But here’s one thing I know: Sometimes, when we desperately want to find something, we convince ourselves that what we’re looking at can’t possibly be it. We don’t recognize it. We can be holding the item we seek in one hand while rifling through a drawer with the other, grumbling and asking, “Where the heck is it?”

And it’s not just for those in my age group. I had a similar experience with Lyric opera tickets about 20 years ago. Fortunately, Lyric was able to issue us replacement tickets at the door. When we returned home, I looked in my nightstand drawer for the sixth time. The tickets were in an unmarked envelope in plain sight. I must have picked up the envelope and rejected it each time I burrowed through the drawer. I suppose I was expecting it to scream “O P E R A” in big red letters.

So, it’s happened before and will happen again―maybe with more frequency since I can’t remember today what I had for dinner last night, let alone where I stashed something.

Looking for (my) jeans in all the wrong places

I’ve misplaced a favorite pair of jeans. I’ve looked in all the logical places—my closet, my second closet, my laundry basket—and it was in none of these locations. I then started on the less logical places—my husband’s half of the closet, the laundry room laundry basket (where towels, sheets, and blankets languish until one of us decides that the pile of household items is about to topple), and in the half-filled Goodwill box in case I absent-mindedly tossed them among the too-small pants and too-ugly sweaters I’m donating. No luck.

I’ve even looked down at my legs to make sure I wasn’t wearing them. This is the sort of thing you see when someone’s looking for her sunglasses and they’re sitting on top of her head.

I’m about to start looking in the illogical places. But what would those be? I can’t believe my jeans would be found outside of our home. I’m sure I wouldn’t have left the house with jeans on and come home without pants. However…if you ever find me in that situation, wandering the neighborhood in my high-cut brief undies, please note that I have long-term care insurance and would prefer an at-home caregiver to a nursing home.

So…where to look? Where would I go if I were a size 2 (that’s Chico’s sizing, so don’t congratulate me for shedding those extra pounds) pair of dark-wash bootleg jeans? Silly question. I’d go to Hawaii, Italy, San Francisco, or anywhere my wearer would take me. But this wearer hasn’t traveled since October, and I’ve washed and worn those jeans since then.

The front seat of my car? I have never—ever—changed clothes in my car. At least that I can remember. The back seat? Seriously? At my age?

I won’t give up looking and I won’t go shopping for another pair. (It’s a matter of those extra pounds I mentioned earlier. I’m waiting for a weight-loss miracle.) I suppose I’ll have to make do with the other four pairs of jeans hanging in my recently decluttered closet. And people all over the world who are living in shelters, wearing rags, or foraging for food are rolling their eyes.

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