Wednesday, July 27, 2011
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Good Idea: Let’s move to Seattle. It’s lovely and green and has a better summer than we have.
Background: We lived in the Monterey Peninsula area of California for over 30 years. I never quite got California. Not enough deciduous trees to suit my Michigan soul. And where we lived should not be confused with sunny Southern California. The weather on the Monterey Peninsula is very much the same as San Francisco of which Mark Twain may or may not have said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” If you have ever stood out on the street in San Francisco in July waiting for a bus, you know what he means. So we became used to foggy, chilly Junes, Julys and Augusts. So, I reasoned, yes, it rains in Seattle. That’s why it’s green. Yes, it’s gray in Seattle, but I like gloom. And darn it, for two months a year there is warmth and sun.
Reality Check: As I write this, it’s cold, it rained yesterday and July is almost over. If summer is defined as those minutes when the temperature is 80 or more we have had 351 minutes of summer. When you can define your summer in minutes, you know you are in trouble. So people out there, it really does rain in Seattle, it’s dark by 4pm when the time changes in the fall and now you can’t even count on the summer. But hey, it’s green.
Good Idea: Let’s get a third dog. Better yet, let’s make it a collie.
Background: We started out with Freddy, a miniature poodle, and Gemma, a German Shepherd. Freddy provided the one-on-one companionship poodles are so good at and Gemma did the fetching and protecting. But when Gemma died unexpectedly, Freddy was left alone. I wanted another dog so Freddy wouldn’t be lonely when we went to work, so along came Tarquin, a toy poodle. All of that was a good idea.
But then I had another idea. We need a big dog to take Gemma’s role. I feel better with a big dog around. So along came Mildred Pierce, the collie. I got this brilliant idea, because I had grown up with a beautiful collie who looked just like Lassie. Remember, “What’s the matter, girl? Is Timmy in trouble?” Anyway, the collie I grew up with, Echo, was a wonderful dog who roamed the neighborhood and did good deeds, just like Lassie (which dogs were able to do in the olden days).
Reality Check: That was then. This is now. And Mildred, you are no Lassie, you are no Echo.
I know, cute, isn’t she?
If you only knew. One thing about collies. They shed. Yes, I know that German Shepherds also shed, but not like collies. There is long collie hair everywhere she roams. You just need to hang an article of clothing in the closet, shut the door and within minutes it is covered with dog hair. I know she plots her whereabouts depending on when I am getting ready to leave for work and whether or not I am wearing black pants. As soon as I come downstairs, she suddenly appears and is all over me like a cheap suit. When I walk out the door I look like one of her relatives.
And she barks. Not like Gemma who barked to alert us to intruders. She barks just for the sheer joy of hearing herself. And let me tell you, the neighbors do not share the joy. So now, even though the poodles don’t bark, they all must be kept inside when we are gone.
I don’t mean to belabor this, but I have to add that collies have long aristocratic noses and pea brains. That little lump on top of their heads is the brain, I think. When I found out that the breed originated from a cross between a Border Collie and a Borzoi, all became clear. Yes, the Borzoi gives the collie a “noble head,” but not much room for what should be inside it. And Borzois aren’t known for their smarts either.
But Mildred’s breed notwithstanding, two dogs are companions for each other. Three dogs are a pack. She barks, they all bark. And when the pack mentality kicks in, don’t be making your way down the stairs in heels holding something in each hand.
This is what a pack of dogs looks like.
Good idea: I want a Miata.
Background: Now that doesn’t seem like a bad idea on the surface, until you realize that when I said that, I had two small children and my husband worked an hour and a half away. So I would be doing most of the carting of the kids around – in a two-seater.
Reality Check: You get the picture.
Good Idea: We should spend our summer vacation taking our son on a tour of Eastern colleges.
Background: He wanted to go to school in the East. He certainly had the academic chops for it and all kinds of other 17-year-old credentials. Why shouldn’t those highly rated schools be just waiting to meet him?
Reality Check: Let me just say that I have this problem – when I get an idea I think I am the only one who thought of it. So naturally I am surprised and sometimes horrified by the number of other people who thought it would be fun to tour houses in Magnolia or attend the greased pig races or whatever cockamamie thing I think is an original idea. I now know that if I get an idea, it’s one that everyone else gets too, except possibly coming to my garage sale.
So when the counselor at Dartmouth asked what number they were, I intelligently replied, “Huh?” He rephrased his question. “How many other colleges have you been to on your tour?” Tour? Like he knew that we were going to seven schools? You mean, other families are spending their summer visiting the highly rated colleges of the East too? Oh. And then we saw them. The other hopeful mothers and fathers, their freshly scrubbed potential freshmen and the little brothes or sisters who have been dragged along, whining. It was like a cattle call to try out for a Broadway show.
I replied to the counselor, “You’re the first.” He didn’t hear me. He had already moved on to another family.
Good Idea: I am going to cut my hair very short.
Background: When I was young, I was an actress.
Reality Check: My short, trendy hair worked out fine when I played “The Kid” in "Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd." Not so good when I played Miranda in the Shakespearean play "The Tempest." I had to wear a wig and looked more like Mary Todd Lincoln than a Renaissance ingénue.
Good Idea: I need a TIVO.
Background: I know that I watch too much TV. It started when I was about four, when I stood on a neighbor’s porch watching the only television in the neighborhood through their front window. When I was five, my Dad bought our first TV and I was hooked. So being aware of my addiction and wanting to take steps to combat it, I reasoned, that if I had a TIVO I wouldn’t watch so much TV, because I wouldn’t be a slave to the clock. I could watch it when I wanted to, instead of when the TV schedule dictated.
Reality Check: My TIVOs are like monkeys on my back. Sigh. Yes, that’s right. I have two. I am not proud of it. And when I turn them on and see all of the programs my Season Pass has recorded, it’s like my inbox in my email. I feel I have to do something about every one of them and get them out of that inbox before I can relax. And that doesn’t count the amount of time I spend rearranging my Season Passes, perusing my To Do list and searching for even more shows to add to my lists. So if you are looking for me, you know where I am.
So those are some things that seemed like good ideas at the time and turned out to be “What was I thinking?” moments.
But here are some really good ideas…I promise.
Really Good Idea: Take your kids to the library and sign them up for summer reading.
Reality Check: Studies show that when children do not read over the summer, they lose months of reading, vocabulary and other literacy skills.
Really Good Idea: Walk with us in the Tour de Terrace Parade on Friday, July 29. Pre-parade party starts at 5pm.
Reality Check: Participating in library events as a family promotes family togetherness.
Really Good Idea: Point your teen to our regular teen events at the library.
Reality Check: The community library provides many of the 40 Developmental Assets adolescents need to thrive, such as the perception that adults value youth, service to others and safety. At the Mountlake Terrace Library we provide regular teen programming from 4pm-6pm every Wednesday as well as special events. Teens can come to the library and participate in gaming, watch movies and do community service, all in a safe engaging environment.
Really Good Idea: Join a book club at the library. Or help your Friends of the Library group raise funds for library programming.
Reality Check: As per Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone people are isolating themselves more and more, not socializing like they once did or even going on as many picnics. Our community bonds are deteriorating. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t come to yours.” Gathering at the library for community events is a fun and interesting way to stay connected to your community.
Really Good Idea: Participate in National Night Out.
Reality Check: We'll be there. Stop by our booth Tuesday August 2 between 6pm and 9pm at the Evergreen Playfield. Find out more about all of the free services and events available at the libary. Book giveaways and activities for children will be provided as well as safety information. When the community gathers outside library walls, your community library stays connected.
And the next time you get one of those “good ideas,” check it out at the library first. We can save you a lot of grief.
Want to share your bright ideas?