Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Summer Olympics Random Thoughts

Seems like this is a really, really good time for an Olympics – our country could stand to rally around something. We’re so divided… Thankfully, I think we can agree that cheering for world-class athletes is a good thing.

Is “world-class politicians” an oxymoron? But I digress...

I’m playing a little game with myself as I watch the gymnasts – how far into their routines can I actually see myself doing what they’re doing? For the floor routine, I’m generally done at first pose. For the uneven bars, as soon as they grab on, I’m out. For the vault, I’m pretty sure I could run up to it and jump on the trampoline-thingy and that’s it. But for the beam I’ve got nothing. That looks like the hardest thing in the entire Olympics, if not the world. How do those people walk on that thing, much less jump around and flip on it?

I’m not a participation trophy proponent, but I think anyone who finishes the beam routine should get a giant trophy, bouquet of flowers and a lifetime supply of chiropractic treatment.

There’s a 41-year-old woman competing in the gymnastics events. Forty-one. She’s only five years younger than I am! Which led me to wonder what could I do now, at 46? Is there something I could train for and compete at such a level? Race Walking? Badminton? Table Tennis? Nope. Nothing. But it’s fun to dream!

(That’s the thing about the Olympics – they feed dreams. Sometimes dumb dreams, but dreams nonetheless.)

The Summer Olympics bring back such great memories of the time the Games were in Atlanta. It was blazing hot and I was a million months pregnant with Amy but we soaked up the international vibes and felt so proud that our city was hosting such an amazing event.

That summer our TV was tuned to the Olympics non-stop. Michael was 2 and loved watching all the events, but was especially fond of Bob Costas. We didn’t realize the connection he had with Costas until we took him to Centennial Olympic Park, where there were giant screens broadcasting the TV feed. When they switched to Costas, his giant head appeared much larger than life and Michael screamed, “It's BOB!”

Now we yell, “BOB!” every time we see Costas. Every. Time.

Here's to twelve more days of Olympic madness. And just for kicks, yell, "BOB!" when you see him. Trust me; it's fun.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Random Thoughts: Summer Style

Amy drove with me to get Rebecca and we got to see
Abby, too! Great morning all around.
Rebecca is home from camp! No more couch for me - I slept like a rock last night in my own little bed!

We haven’t told her yet that she’s not allowed to leave again. Ever.

Dakota was very happy to see her. He followed her around yesterday, apparently forgetting the LAST THREE WEEKS when I fed him and threw his duck for him and slept on the couch for him.

Having a dog is not terribly unlike having a baby…

I find myself telling Rebecca what we did with the dog. I feel like a babysitter checking back in with the parent. So far it does not appear that we did anything terribly wrong.

Amy is also home after her time in CMU’s touring company. It’s good to have her home. And by, “have her home,” I mean, “sleep here.” She is one busy girl.

But now that she's home, I'm getting after-dinner concerts as Sean accompanies her while she sings. I'm happy to clean the kitchen with that kind of entertainment happening in the next room!

She's working on a particular song and she's told me the show it's from, oh, a million times. And even as I sit here typing I cannot remember what it is! I'm sure she'll love being asked again.

Michael is off on a business trip. My baby is on a business trip with a rental car and hotel room and expense account. Dang.

The most important part of the trip for him is, of course, the car rental. He and Sean spent a good deal of time talking about what he should try to rent. And if he ends up with a non-GM product, Sean said, “We’ll call it Competitive Vehicle Evaluation.”

As soon as he got the car yesterday, he sent these pictures:
I experienced Duffy Shame when I called it the wrong car. Oh my word. After 28 years with this family, how could I possible get this wrong? But just like his Dad has modeled over the years, Michael was gracious in my car-naming defeat:
In my defense, it looks a little like the Countryman... 

I was going to post a picture of the Countryman, but I just looked at it again and can see it barely resembles it. My shame grows.

I'm sure Sean and Michael will see this as a perfect opportunity to say we need to spend more time in dealerships. 

Guess I know what I'm doing the rest of my summer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dakota and my sleepless nights: a true story.

Rebecca has been gone for two weeks. Yes, that sounds like a long time and yes, it actually is a long time and yes, we miss her lots. But you want to know who really misses her? Like, so, so much?
Her dog. Her dog misses her so, so much.

Sean and I are doing our best to fill in the gaps for the poor, sad puppy. Each morning, I toss around his favorite toy duck for him to chase. Each evening, Sean and I take the dog for a long walk, where we end up carrying around a bag full of poop. I guess cleaning up our children’s poop just wasn’t enough; now we get to clean up the poop of one of our children’s pets…

As much as I detest carrying around that nasty little poop bag, there is something that is even worse that I have to do when Rebecca is gone: get up in the night with the dog. See, when Rebecca is home, the dog sleeps in his little crate in her room. Turns out, he won’t sleep in her room without her. So I put him in our room, thinking that would work. Two problems: first, he likes to see someone in the room as he's going to sleep, and he won’t sleep unless he is certain someone is in the room with him. Our bed is taller than Rebecca’s, so he can’t see that we’re there. Second, because he can't tell if someone is in the room, he roots around all night, straining to see if he can make out a human in his vicinity. He makes so much noise throughout the night that he wakes and keeps us up.

So I have resorted to putting his crate in our family room, facing the couch. And I then sleep on the couch.

Yes, people. I am sleeping on the couch so that the dog and Sean can get some sleep.

I have not been this tired since Rebecca was born and I was up in the night with her. A human child. Which was understandable. But now, I'm up in the night with a dog...

Am I counting down the days until Rebecca returns? Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Six more nights and I can finally get back to my own bed.

New Duffy rule: Rebecca may no longer leave the house for more than 16 hours. Ever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

For the ‘rents

I originally started this blog to keep family in the South updated on our adventures up north. The blog has morphed a bit into other topics over the years, but sometimes you gotta get back to your roots. With that in mind, I bring you, “What We Did Over the Weekend with Amy!”

The CMU Summer Theatre tour made its way to Beaver Island, a quaint place off the west coast of the Mitten. At the last minute, Sean got Friday off, so we quickly planned an overnight to see Amy and the rest of the company. In addition to getting a surprise day off, Sean got a surprise car to drive for the weekend, and even bought me a hat to go with it:
I have never in all my life worn a baseball hat. But it served the purpose and I must say, I enjoyed not having to worry about my hair!

There are only two ways to access Beaver Island: ferry or plane. The ferry takes 2 ½ hours. The plane? Fifteen minutes. I will make any excuse to fly any day, so we opted for Island Airways. I booked our tickets via email and had to give our weight… that almost pushed me to the ferry, but I was assured it was a secure connection and the information wouldn’t be published anywhere so we forged ahead with the plane.

Now, the only other time I had to give my weight to fly was in Africa, so I knew this wasn’t some jumbo jet we’d be taking. I didn’t however, expect to sit quite so close to the pilot: 
After a successful and incredibly short flight, we landed on Beaver Island and hailed a taxi. To be clear, we hailed the ONLY taxi on Beaver Island. She drove us to the Beaver Island Lodge, our home away from home for the night. Can’t recommend the Lodge highly enough. It is right on Lake Michigan. We listened to the waves all night long! The décor is stuck in the 80’s but we weren’t there for the décor - we were there to see the girl. We were a four-block walk from the theater, so we set out to find it and her.

Since we were a little early to meet her (shocking, I know), we stopped to rent two bikes. There wasn’t a lot of time we could spend with Amy so we thought we’d ride around the island and see what we could see in-between her breaks. The first thing we saw was rain. Rain on us, rain on our bikes, rain, rain, rain. But as quickly as it came it passed over and we saw sunshine and blue skies the rest of our stay.

We got to the theater which also serves as the hangout place for the island. They have free Wi-Fi and a computer for public use. They also have the island’s radio station, WVBI, and I thought if I ever wanted to resurrect my radio career this might be the place I could start.
Two giant banners hung in the windows of the community center: Welcome Birders! If only we had Rebecca, our bird-lover with us! Apparently Beaver Island is a hotbed of bird activity. People head to the community center to log bird sightings:
We finally found the girl, took her for a quick dinner, then she was off to work again. We had an hour to kill before the show, so we rode around the island. Got back in time to see the show in the most adorable 100-seat theater. Which made for a lively conversation that continues to this day: How can we build a theater?!
Anyway, the show was great, we got to hug Amy’s neck quickly after, then she went back to work and we went back to our room.
Saturday she wasn't available until lunchtime so we took to our bikes again. There are so many bike paths – all you outdoorsy people would love it. We met up with Amy at lunch, took her to Daddy Franks, which is just as adorable as it sounds, and she was off again.
We couldn’t stay to see Saturday’s show because we had to get back for Sunday morning's church service since Sean was scheduled to play piano. Those who go to church with us will feel our pain, because as soon as we landed on the mainland we got word that church was cancelled due to downed trees and power lines… We tried to get back but we’d missed the last flight and the ferry wouldn’t get us there in time. So we headed home in the Camaro.

At my friend Carissa’s suggestion, we made one last stop on the way home: Cops & Doughnuts. Good thing that place isn’t around the corner – those doughnuts were insane.
I’m so glad we decided to go see her! Great to catch up, even for a bit. And we love seeing her work, on and off stage.

Those considering a trip to Beaver Island should definitely go – it’s a charming little place. It’s rustic and perfectly suited for those who love water sports and biking and being outdoors. And, of course, for those who love theater!

The view from our seat on the way back.

Here's a view of our takeoff. As we were still in the air, I sent this to my Dad, a former Delta pilot, and his first reaction was, "That's real flying! I didn't know they could take passengers with only one pilot." I didn't even think about that! But for the rest of the flight I was trying to figure out if I could land that sucker...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dust bunnies from heaven

God works in mysterious ways. He uses people, songs, scripture. And sometimes he uses dust. Great big, gigantic dust bunnies.

Our oldest graduated from college the first of May and began moving into his new apartment shortly thereafter. It was a gradual process, so gradual I could almost pretend wasn’t happening. But when the moving truck pulled up to take his bedroom furniture and all the boxes that had been piling up in said child’s room, the process hit me right between the eyes.

Pretty hard to ignore your kid is moving out when two young guys from a moving company are hauling out all his possessions, including the bed we gave him for his second birthday:
As the tears began to flow, (you're all shocked, I'm sure) I went up to the now-empty bedroom to vacuum. It's my thing - I love to vacuum. It's weird. I know, but the lines in the carpet are quite satisfying. And at that moment, I needed something to take my mind off reality.

As soon as I entered his room, a new kind of reality hit me: the kind that says, “You may say you like to vacuum but you aren’t very good at it!” Because the dust where the bed used to be was at least an inch thick:

Taking the bed down which exposes...
all this dust.
My tears immediately dried up as I faced the horror of my terrible housekeeping. I spent the next 30 minutes vacuuming. And in that time, I got my act together and had a good laugh at how gross the carpet was. And that translated into more good laughs throughout the day.

We got him moved out and settled in and shortly thereafter he started his Big Boy Job. And in the weeks since the move, I've been dry-eyed and pleased as punch for my first-born.

Who knew dust bunnies would help get me over the crying jag I've been on for, oh, four years?

I am thankful for the dust bunnies. I'm thankful for the way God used them to bring humor to the day I'd been dreading. But I think that little bit of reality calls for some serious spring cleaning because while it was comical at the time, I am so so totally grossed out that I can barely stand it. Watch out dust bunnies: I'm coming for you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Feds for the Win

To say I’m no fan of government is an understatement. Huge understatement. Massive. But two weeks ago, our federal government came through for me in a big way and I must give credit where it’s due.

Last week I put Rebecca on a plane, waved goodbye and tried really hard not to be jealous that she was going to Paris with my mom and my sister’s family. But a funny thing happened on the way: her passport vanished. And no one realized it until she was at the gate, trying to check in for the international flight.

At the top of the Eiffel Tower
My sister called to tell me the news. And as soon as we hung up, I placed a phone call to Senator Gary Peters’ office. I started with the Lansing office, but the kind gentleman there directed me to the Detroit office, where they handle passport issues. I was immediately connected with Michael Tash, a Constituent Service Representative who helps people with issues related to federal agencies. Since my issue was with the Department of State, Mr. Tash was my guy.

I had no sooner told him my issue than he took my number and said, “I’ll get right on it and call you back.”

My cynical self thought, “Well, that’s the last I’ll hear of him.” I had barely finished the thought than my phone rang. Mr. Tash needed more information from me, which I gave him and he was off to the races again.

Long story short: my sister and her family flew on while my mom and Rebecca stayed in Atlanta. I flew down to Atlanta to go to the passport agency with them the following day since a parent of a minor must be preset to obtain a passport.* (Thank you, Dad, for flying for Delta which made my last-minute trip possible!) But I was not going to the office alone; Mr. Tash was a presence with me. He had called ahead, made an appointment for us, and because of his intervention, instead of waiting hours in line and then hours more for the passport, we waited 90 minutes total and had the passport in hand in time for Rebecca and Mom to catch the flight to France. They were only delayed by 24 hours.

In those 24 hours, Mr. Tash worked miracles. I don’t know how he did what he did but it is because of his hard work on our behalf that Rebecca was able to only miss one day of her European adventure.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Tash. You made a difficult situation so much easier than it rightfully should have been.
Rebecca in front of the statue of Marquis de Lafayette. Man, can that guy rap...

*Thanks also to our Congressman John Moolenaar. While I was calling Senator Peters’ office, my sister was on the phone with Moolennar’s people, who were trying to make it possible for me not to have to fly to Atlanta. It became obvious that my presence would make things easier, so we did not end up needing the help they were offering, but they were more than willing to offer assistance. They even called the next day to make sure things had gotten worked out. Republicans and Democrats working hard for their constituents. Imagine that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

No hugging. Absolutely none.

I have sworn off hugging. Well, not for all time, but certainly for this week.

I’m in Denver with Sean. He’s attending a training conference where he and several co-workers will be learning all about the fascinating world of training and… other stuff. I don’t pretend to know what they’re doing, but I do know that when I meet the co-workers, I will absolutely not hug any of them. I don’t care who they are or who I think they are - I will not go in for a hug. Just to be on the safe side, I may not even hug Sean. Because I am not having a repeat of the last time I went to a conference with Sean. Don’t remember? Here’s a reminder, from May 2014:

faux pas (/foʊˈpɑː/ plural: faux pas /ˌfoʊˈpɑːz/): a socially awkward or tactless act, especially one that violates accepted social norms, standard customs, or the rules of etiquette.

I am trying to recover from a faux pas I committed this morning. Sean and I are in Orlando; he’s on a business trip and I was able to tag along. (When your husband’s business trips are usually to Detroit, you jump at the chance to go to the one in Florida.) A few of his coworkers also brought their wives, a fact important to the aforementioned oops.

This morning, I went to the conference area with Sean to see where he’d be and plan our meeting spot for lunch, which I could attend with his team. That’s when several of his co-workers arrived – there were a few men and one woman. The men all had nametags on, but I didn’t see one on the lady. So as introductions were made, I shook hands with the men, and, assuming the woman was one of the wives, went in for a hug. Until I saw her nametag sticking out from behind her jean jacket. As soon as I spotted the nametag I tried to switch to a handshake, but it was too late. I was hugging the Salaried Safety Supervisor.

Upon realizing my mistake, I quickly got involved with small talk, hoping against hope the hug would go unremembered. And thankfully, the meeting began, so I got out of there as quickly as possible.

What to do now?! I’m supposed to meet up with them for lunch. And again for dinner.  And it’s only the first day – we’ll be together all week! I’m trying to figure out if I need to go hug everyone to make it seem less weird and sexist that I assumed the only woman was a wife or if I should just head back to the airport to make things less awkward for my sweet husband…

Let’s  think this through: on the one hand, I could go with hugging everyone. I am Southern, after all. On the other, I could have Sean tell them I got sick and won’t be joining them for anything. Which wouldn’t be a lie because I do feel pretty nauseous.

This is starting to feel like a Seinfeld episode.

Guess I’ll just suck it up, go meet them for lunch and pretend the whole thing never happened. Perhaps the lecture on Safety in the Workplace will have been so thrilling that they’ll have forgotten everything that happened this morning.

A girl can hope.