The Cucumbers are Multiplying

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The air has a chill to it this morning and the sun has yet to break through the darkness of night.  Fall is coming, slow and gentle, like it does every year to ease us into the misery of winter.  Soon it will be time to put away tank tops and shorts, swimsuits and flip flops in exchange for corduroys, sweaters and waterproof boots.

It is a problem that Midwesterners understand all too well, how to maintain two totally different wardrobes with only undergarments being seasonally interchangeable.  Residents of Hawaii, California and Florida, you have no idea what you are missing out on.  Unless of course, you escaped the weather of your home state after declaring to anyone who will listen, “This life of grey skies, chapped hands, and constant scarf wearing is no longer tolerable.”

I am nearing that state as my tolerance diminishes with each year.

Yet, I stay and dream of escape and an ocean breeze to cool my sun-kissed face, not ready for the change that a move would require.  And I work, like the rest of the sheeple that I know.  I work to pay utility bills and a mortgage, to buy food for my cats, husband, and self, and sometimes, I work just to get through to another season with the promise of better days.

As an offshoot of this working, I recently found myself as a defacto dog-sitter.

It started out as a one-time only situation, out of sheer necessity, and has since turned into a routine as natural as picking up the mail from the mailbox after work or taking out the trash on a Thursday night.  Whenever the owner of the hound leaves, he stops by the office with a leash and a bag of snacks.

“These are just in case she gets hungry.”

Gee, I thought they were a present for me.  I nod and wave the man off, I know the deal.  Take her out for a walk when she whines at the door, give her treat whenever she asks for one.  Easy.

The dog entrusted to my care is a mixture between Rottweiler and German shepherd and woe to the fool who messes with her.  Actually, she can’t be left alone without howling and trying to escape by hurling all seventy pounds or so repeatedly against the door which is how I ended up as her temporary custodian.  In summary, she is an emotionally dependent, fatty girl with missing teeth and bad breath, loyal to bacon strips and strangers who might be carriers of her beloved bacon strips.

Not that I mind her company.  After she gets dropped off, she flops herself down at my feet and patiently waits for a treat or for her owner to return.   The former always occurs before the latter.  When her owner does finally return for the beast, it is always with a generous payment in hand and gratitude.

Lately, I have been paid in cucumbers. Extraordinarily large, garden fresh cucumbers.

A worthy payment for services rendered and in the customary Hoosier spirit, he has given me more than I could ever eat.

Generosity: it’s one of the good problems that Midwesterners are all too familiar with, right after mastering the fine art of small talk about the weather.
Learning

Wishful Thinking

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As the snow continues to fall, I can’t help but to feel giddy at the prospect of a snow day. 

I have been alternating between peering out the window and checking my phone for a notification that my workplace is closed.  A snow day may mean two days worth of work on Thursday and a mess for the city workers to clean up, but it also means a day off in the middle of the week.  Unexpected and unplanned, a day to myself to read, write and maybe even build a snowwoman. 

Let’s see, a carrot for the nose, sticks for the arms, and my husband’s ratty old baseball cap for her otherwise bald head should complete her look. 

Any day to drink hot chocolate and sleep in, when I should be typing away in a grungy cubicle or gathering up paperwork for a home visit, is worth the hassle later in the week.

Please, declare a snow day, I beg of you, my generous non-profit employer-who-offers-few-other-benefits-aside-from-free-parking-and-coffee. It’s clear that the Universe wants us to take a break from our busy lives by delivering inch after inch of snow and not enough snow-plows to clear it. 

The Universe is sending a clear message, or really a cold and white one, to stay home for the day.

Why fight it?

All this and more

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They won. The fear mongers won.

Sunday was spent waiting for the epic storm that never arrived.

The mega-storm was predicted on Friday, with hype continuing to build through the weekend.  Ridiculously good looking weather forecasters excitedly projected the storm’s path, guessed at wind speeds, and called for large hail.  On all the stations, they agreed that the possibility for tornadoes was too great to ignore.  It was going to be bad for the Midwest, just how bad was yet to be seen.

“Stay inside and stay tuned,” they begged and pleaded to be taken seriously.

To prove their point of fear, the forecasters flashed images of entire communities destroyed by tornadoes in previous storms and panned down to the damage done to single homes.  They took live calls from the field, interviewed experts, and showed video footage from storm chasers.

“All this and more could be coming within hours,” they threatened with serious faces and perfect hair.

Meanwhile, I paced back and forth in front of the sliding glass door watching the wind blow the few remaining leaves from the trees.  I expected to see a massive funnel cloud reach down from the grey sky and rip into our apartment.  A few drops of rain fell and the sky looked heavy, promising more to come later.

I texted my friends and family to seek shelter and stay inside just like the fear mongers recommended.  Admittedly, I felt a bit of the thrill that the forecasters must experience in spreading the word of dangerous conditions.  It was empowering and also brought me dangerously close to becoming an amateur fear monger until my very calm husband said “Just relax” and patted a spot on the couch next to him.

Still, I wore my boots all day, anticipating the need to run for cover.  I assumed that I would soon be exposed to the elements when the apartment roof was lifted off of the building and the rain and hail started.  I kept an eye on the cat in case I needed to grab her in my frantic sprint for safety.

However, now it is nearly 10:00 pm and the forecasters have disappeared from the television without so much as an apology for terrifying the viewing public all day myself included.

The fear mongers may have gotten a day out of me, but it was not a day wasted; rather it was one well spent.  I got to do the things I wanted to at home without feeling the need to leave.  My husband and I snuggled on the couch and prepared for the worst, once I stopped pacing and stressing.

All this and more may not have been possible without the insistence of the fear mongering weather forecasters.  So thanks for keeping us in and keeping us safe, sort of.