Month: September 2015

Dog Vacation

My dog is on vacation. The house we moved him away from a month ago is the Ritz Carleton for dogs: miles of uninterrupted land to roam, ponds to jump in when he’s hot, neighbors who feed him, various small animals to eat chase. The house we moved him into freaks him out. He can dash through it – end to end – before he is even properly panting. Instead of feeding him, the neighbors drive terrifying cars at ludicrous speeds – an event that causes him to sprint into any nearby bush and cower. The worst part of his new residence, by far, is the fence. It is the new bane of his existence. Its unwavering power to confine him to his grassy cell sent him into a depressed slumber that no amount of peppy talking could raise him from for three days. His world has been reduced, and he’s suddenly too big for his surroundings. He’s like Chris Farley wearing a coat.

Old house
Old house
New house
New house

So, when Mike had to make a trip back to Des Moines, he took Arrow with him. For two days now Arrow has been terrorizing the chicken owners in our former neighborhood, gathering cockleburs in his fur, and destroying tidy landscaping.

I, however, have been calling him to come eat his food, returning home to an annoyingly clean house, and patting the empty space next to me on the couch in vain. I think I hate dog vacations.

Oh, and I miss my husband too.

List of Problems

“Let’s make a list of all our problems,” Mike suggested as we waited for our meal at Famous Dave’s. Our kids were busy for the evening, and we had seized the opportunity for a spontaneous date.

“You sure know how to romance a girl,” I told him.

“Well, my mind is spinning, and I won’t be able to focus on anything until I have it down on paper.”

“Okay,” I sighed, resigning myself to the depressing task.

Pulling a legal pad from thin air, Mike began a list of all the messy details in our life. The list was long. me and mike antique finishThe meal was delivered and we were still adding to the list – that’s how long it was. I didn’t feel like eating. But I suffered through and ate anyway. I’m a trooper.

Once Mike felt satisfied that all our problems were included in the list, he sighed, pulled at his hair, looked at me and said, “You know what?”

“This is why we don’t go on dates very often?”

“These are not our problems.” Then, at the top of the list, he wrote in capital letters GOD’S PROBLEMS. He then drew a line down the center of the paper and created a column on the opposite side which he labeled OUR SOLUTIONS. We stared at each other and, with our eyes, had a long conversation that basically said both of us were fresh out of possible solutions. We finished the meal in silence. After the last bite, Mike looked at me and raised his eyebrow. I slumped a little forward and blinked. He picked up the pen and wrote two words in the solutions column:

  1. Wait
  2. Pray

When we returned home, we shoved the legal pad in a kitchen drawer hoping some magical phenomenon would occur to solve the problems. Or just destroy the paper. Either way, we didn’t want to look at it for a while.

“Wait a minute,” Drake said a few days later. He held the legal pad out for us to see and said, “Am I understanding this right? We have all these problems and our only solutions are to wait and pray?”

We nodded.

“Do we feel good about this plan?”

“Yep,” we said in unison.

“Looks like I’d better step up my prayer game,” Drake mumbled, shook his head, and walked slowly away.

Family Pow Wow

The thing about melt-downs is they come upon you unexpectedly. Mine hit when I was mundanely checking chores off my to-do list. I gathered the unclaimed articles of clean laundry and began my hike through the house to deliver the assorted items to the correct locations. I opened Josiah’s bedroom door while balancing the stack of t-shirts he did not want to take to college, and then the earth skidded and quaked. Tears erupted Old Faithful-like from my eyes and obscured the sight of the hollow, empty space where Josiah’s drum set wasn’t. Not tending to the folding precision I had delivered earlier, I dropped the stack of t-shirts and laid fetal-position in the drum set space. Thankful that we had sound proofed the room (because:  drums) I let the melt-down have its way.

“Mom,” Emery’s wobbly voice reached me mid-bawl. “Are you okay?” Suspecting that I had just ensuredJosiah drumming on a parking garage my youngest daughter would have a long counseling journey ahead of her, I tried to answer calmly.

“What are you doing here? This room is sound proof. Nobody is supposed to hear me!” Imagine how that would have come out if I had not been trying to sound calm.

“I just wanted to feel close to Josiah, so I brought a book to read.” She sat down beside me in the drum set space and we rubbed each others arms, sniffled, held hands and sighed.

“What are you guys doing here,” Drake’s voice permeated our cloud of sadness.

“You guys are all here? Mike interrupted as he walked into the room nearly on Drake’s heels.

Turns out, an empty drum set space is a pretty good location for an impromptu family Pow-Wow. We sat in a circle and remembered how Josiah had slept on floors and couches for over a year while he waited patiently for his bedroom to be built. We remembered the bands he had started, the jam sessions, the PVC pipe gun wars, the bonfires, the fireworks that got shut down by the police, and the sleep-overs that invariably turned into full volume musical experiments.

I’m not sure how long we sat there, but I felt better when we stood up. I felt rich in a new way – maybe rich enough to go buy another drum set.