Alarm. Uhg. We don’t like the alarm, but really, who does. It actually doesn’t even matter when it’s set for. It could be 5:30 AM or 10:00 in the morning. It’s the idea of having to get up. Being told to so to speak. If we don’t set the alarm, but wake up at 6:30 that’s fine. We’re good. Just don’t tell us what to do.
Wander in to get the water going, the coffee ground, and the french press ready. This step is vital. Coffee before almost anything else. This includes opening the doggie door, poor dogs. Unless of course we already opened the doggie door some time in the early morning and just left it open. Our pups are pretty good about sleeping as long as we do, but occasionally they feel the need to get up and go out during the night. This disturbs and upsets us, but it’s part of the life of being people owned by dogs. They rule. Let’s not kid ourselves.
After coffee comes the waking of the computers, the checking of emails, the brief glance at Facebook, etc. Gearing up for the day by checking into the world outside of our humble abode. Sometimes things need to be attended to immediately, work to do, bills to pay, important emails to send. Sometimes there are no things emergent and the coffee, and we, go to the back deck, weather permitting, to enjoy a few sips while looking at and enjoying our garden, as the Brits say. I like that term, instead of yard. So much nicer really. I’m adopting it.
Garden viewing and email sending aside, at some point these girls have to eat. We are slow to wake, me more than K, so breakfast usually happens first for her, later for me. She’s an oatmeal girl, I prefer cold cereal. We’re trying to be healthy, trying to eat well, so the oatmeal works great for her and I’m currently munching on something akin to cardboard in an attempt to find a healthy cereal I actually enjoy. There have been recent hits, but currently we’re on a miss. I can’t throw anything out so I’m trying to convince myself it’s not that bad. Plus I’m only eating 3/4 a cup a day so it’s only a few bites. At this rate I can move on to a new box in about two weeks. Yay.
At some point in the day we may actually shower, if it’s a shower day, or not. We don’t hold to the shower every day principal. We don’t see the need. I used to be like that, but now it’s a miracle if I get a shower three or four times a week. Yes, if I can tell I stink, I shower, but unless we go for a bike ride or a long walk in the humidity, or we’ve made a trip to the gym, showering is unnecessary unless it’s necessary. This makes perfect sense to me. Maybe we don’t shower or bathe every day because this is a place in our lives that was better before Illinois. A few years ago we put a bathroom addition on our Scappoose house. This addition wasn’t just any addition. It was 300 square feet of bathroom deliciousness. A shower fit for a locker room. Huge, two heads, no door, walk in. And a pedestal soaking tub set in a bay window looking out at the forest. We had no window coverings. We didn’t need them. It’s really the only thing, other than the setting and the enormous shop, we miss about our former house. Our washrooms in our Illinois house could both fit inside that longed for Scappoose bathroom, with room to spare. Taking a shower or a bath here feels a little low rent compared to the bathroom we built there, the washroom we waited for a saved for seven years to build. We did get to enjoy it for a while though, and enjoy it we did. Perhaps we don’t shower or bathe here as often because it makes us a tad sad, a little reminder of things left behind.
Walk the dogs. At some point during the day the dogs get a walk. Usually. This is a change from our former life in Oregon. Where we lived in Oregon was not conducive to going out, directly from our house, for a walk with the pups. Too dangerous. Hilly, windy road, no sidewalks, fast-moving cars, etc. Not safe for the dogs and not safe for their people either. We had to drive them to walk them. The consequence of this was that they didn’t get walked all the time. Sometimes we went for days or weeks without walking them. Here in Illinois we walk. A lot. We would say that their life, because of the move here, has improved tremendously. They have a better backyard, as they have a larger fenced in area to roam at will, chase squirrels, chase an often thrown ball, lay on the chaise under the umbrellas, and generally bark at any dog that happens to wander by. They also get walks here, nearly every day. They get so many walks that if they don’t get one the boy gets antsy. He sometimes stares at us and barks. We then obey, we go for a walk. Again, they rule.
Grandsons on the loose. Well, to be accurate, I should say currently there’s only one grandson old enough to be on the loose. The other is still only seven weeks old so he can’t just run around on his own. That time is coming, and then boy, or should I say boys, are we going to have fun. We see the grandsons almost every day. Yes, there are occasional days when we don’t see them, but we see them often. Yesterday they came over for their Moo Moo’s birthday. Sebastian wanted to know if they were going to bake Moo Moo a cake for her birthday. This hadn’t been planned, but since he asked for it he and Mommy went to the store, bought a cake mix, came back here and made it, and then we all enjoyed a piece or two after. No frosting. Still good. I also spent some time reading to him and telling him stories about where he was driving his truck and trailer, with deer of course. Deer of course meaning there was a little plastic deer on the trailer he was driving around. He likes to drive it around and have me tell him where he’s going… i.e. the desert where it’s hot and sandy brown and you have to wear shorts and flip-flops, or the arctic where it’s cold and white and snowy and you have to wear your parka. He says, as he drives to a new area of the rug, “what does Gamma Tam say?”, and I tell him the story. The grandson rules too.
Realizing we are far down on the totem pole to the dogs and the grandsons we sometimes need time for ourselves. Yes, the dogs are usually with us, but sometimes we go out. We run errands, to pick up stuff for the dogs or grandsons or the house, have lunch at our favorite place to get good salads and eggplant fries (try them before you mock, they are damn good), go for a bike ride to the market or a coffee shop, spend some time with friends when we can, or just wander around at a local festival when they happen.
We make dinner instead of eating out most every night. Sometimes there’s an exception, like last night, K’s birthday, we got wings to go, after having gone to the pet store for stuff for the dogs. See what I mean. When we make dinner it’s usually something healthy. The other night we had stir fry made with chicken from our local farmer/meat guy who we buy all our meat from, sugar snap peas from our mini garden, green onions from our mini garden, mini carrot from our mini garden, and broccoli from a local organic farm that we purchased at the farmer’s market. It was good. Really good. Nothing like noshing on your own veggies. It’s our first year trying a raised bed garden and so far we are enjoying it. We’re going to have more tomatoes (two plants mind you) and potatoes than we can use, we think anyway, but it’s all good. That’s what sharing with your friends and neighbors is all about.
Speaking of neighbors. We really like our neighbors next door to the east of us. They are a little family, sort of non traditional in that they have been together for 17 years or something and never got married. They have two girls. One is about 11 and she likes to come over and swing on our swing. We have one of those cool wooden play sets that’s like a fort with a slide and a swing, etc. It was here when we moved in. Sebastian calls it Moo Moo’s house. No worries, I don’t make her sleep out there. We call it his fort and he loves it. So, as it turns out, does the neighbor girl and her bestie. They hop the fence all the time, with permission of course, and spend time both in and around the fort. The dogs love this as the girls also like to the throw the ball for them and Weston, who is a bit of a ho for attention, also gets loads of pets. They are sweet, which is why we pretty much let them come over whenever they want to. We get along great with them. We can’t say this for all of our neighbors as we also have the evil former librarian behind us who called the police on us a couple of times after we first moved in and wrote a couple of letters, sent in the mail, explaining how she doesn’t like our barky dogs. One… the police and animal control both said our dogs are totally fine, and two, they don’t bark that much really. And the barking they do it totally in acceptable limits in their own yard. Other people have dogs in this neighborhood who bark more. Is it us? We don’t know. We’ve been here for two years now and she seems to either have accepted her fate of living next door to us, our dogs, and our what I’m sure she thinks as noisy grandson. I wonder if she’ll ever call the police on him, you know, for laughing too much and too loudly in the backyard. I picture her standing on the other side of the fence, finger to mouth, as she loudly whispers… SHHHHH!
Living in a neighborhood, as opposed to on very private property, is a daily difference for us, but one we’ve found we like. There are, of course, ups and downs to it. The downs… no privacy and not as much room to stretch out on the property. We have a corner lot and neighbors all around. They know when we come and go, who visits, when we take the dogs out, they say hi to us on the street, or avoid us all together, they know our business. Not long ago we had friends over for a little chiminea fire and s’mores in the backyard. We were enjoying good conversation and some wine around the fire when we heard a terrible howling sort of sound. Which doesn’t describe it at all. It sounded like an animal in pain. It was an animal in pain. We went into the house, grabbed flashlights, and set off in search of the sound. If we could find the animal or help in any way we were going to do it. We weren’t the only ones. Some of our neighbors also came out with flashlights and as a group we wandered the streets searching. A corner was turned and there was another neighborhood person who said he saw the whole thing. There were foxes fighting with each other in someone’s garden. They must’ve come over from the arboretum, which isn’t far, or nearby farmland, also not far. They had a disagreement and those were the sounds we heard. After discovering what made the racket we all turned on our heels and walked back toward our respective homes, chatting about this and that as we went. A neighborhood… this is what it’s like. That and all the baked goods delivered to us right after we moved in. Astonishing.
Living sustainably. We’ve always considered ourselves a pretty green pair. We recycle, love the land, love to spend time in nature, try to buy local, eat organic as much as possible, etc., etc. We’ve always espoused this, but honestly we didn’t always live that way before we moved to Illinois. This is a case of getting a bit of a reset. Before we moved I started researching. We knew the reputation of the midwest. It’s consumer central. Or so we thought. Before getting here I found a co-op not far from our new house. We joined when we arrived and since then it’s doubled in size. It’s an awesome place filled with local produce, organics, meats, etc. We also found our new town had a weekly farmer’s market. At that farmer’s market we found there were local farmer’s who sold meat they grew, direct farm to table kind of stuff. We joined a farmer’s meat club and since then have purchased our meat directly from a local farmer. It’s amazing tasting, high quality, and doesn’t have any crap in it. We also favor a few vendors at the farmer’s market who now know us and so we have witty repartee with them when we see them. Same goes for the co-op, where we buy all the produce we don’t buy at the farmer’s market and where we also get breads from a local bakery. We try to avoid shopping at big box stores and instead opt, when we can, for smaller locally owned shops. Same goes for restaurants we choose to eat in most of the time. Yes, these things don’t always hold true, but we do a much better job here than we did in Oregon. Maybe because we had to look for things and spent the time doing it. We took things for granted there, and here we don’t.
A little snapshot of our lives. What a day looks like. Similar, I’m sure, to the days of people all over the world. We get up, we love each other, we love our dogs, our grandsons, the kids, our families, our friends. We try to have fun and joy in most everything we do. We make little adventures for ourselves, exploring our newish town and surrounding areas. We did this in Portland too, taking what we called neighborhood walks in neighborhoods we hadn’t explored, taking photos, grabbing a bite to eat somewhere new, seeing what we could find. We’ve had this attitude, K and I, since we met, and I think separately, even before we met. Every day, even the most mundane of things, can be made fun or interesting. We seek it out. People have said to us that we lead a fun and interesting life, that we are always doing stuff. When I think about people we know I think they are always doing stuff too. Going out for coffee or a walk or a hike, cooking a new recipe, playing with their pets or grandchildren or children, looking at sunsets with wonder, and feeling the rain or the wind or the sun on their faces. Life is rich and layered. Life is always there, waiting. It’s waiting for us to notice, to experience, to grab. It’s waiting for us to pay attention to the details. It’s the details that matter. The look from one of our pups, the way our grandson smiled, the smell of some flowers in our backyard, a dance break in our living room, the fun of getting on our bikes and going for a ride, the beauty all around us. Life is waiting for us to not take ourselves so seriously and to realize what’s always right there. Life is so very sweet.
This day, today, we did most of this stuff. Got up, made coffee, pet the dogs, ate breakfast, worked, showered, and looked at our beautiful garden. Later we’ll go to the store and pick up some stuff for the barbecue we’ll have at the kid’s house tomorrow for the fourth. We’re also going to try to watch some fireworks tomorrow night with the kid’s and our son in law’s parents who are here visiting from England. We’ll eat and play and laugh and chat. We’ll love on the grandsons and I’ll take loads of photos I’m sure. We don’t always take big trips, though we sometimes do, and we don’t always go to big events, and in fact we mostly don’t. Usually, like today, we just live our lives. Most days, like today, I look out this window and try to type some stuff, and K works and has meetings and the dogs bark and interrupt her. Most days we chat and smile and make food and watch TV. This is our life. This is our amazing life. This is our daily life, and it is beautiful.