Domer, Meet the Iron

Domer was home over Thanksgiving, and we used that as an opportune time for a refresher course in Ironing.

Now, before you protest, let me admit up front that I’ve never believed “chores” are gender-specific. Meaning, being female doesn’t make me uniquely qualified, for instance, to do laundry, cooking, and cleaning.

Conversely, being male doesn’t let Domer off the hook for that sort of thing.

Now that he’s up to his ears in “suit-up occasions” — things like job interviews, social events, etc. — he recognizes the need for clean, pressed shirts. Ties and business suits, too.

So he brought home a duffle bag filled with dirty long-sleeved dress shirts and insisted I teach him again.

I say again because I did the instructing once before.

When he was in middle school (seventh or eighth grade, I think), part of his Health curriculum included a segment on Laundry.

The kids — boys as well as girls — had to do laundry for a couple of weeks. For a grade.

I remember helping him measure out the detergent, read the instructions on the washing machine, choose the settings. Once they finished, we transferred the clean clothes to the dryer and followed a similar procedure. We also pulled out the ironing board and tackled wrinkles.

He got an “A.”

But things we do briefly rarely stick with us for the long haul.

I refreshed his memory when he went off to college, and he’s handled his laundry duties admirably. Or so I hope — he tells me he changes the sheets and washes his things, and I have to believe him.

But ironing still had him stumped. And a couple of job interviews in one week made it imperative he remedy that.


During one moderately frantic phone conversation, I tried to tell him again how to iron a dress shirt. The order of pressing. And I reminded him that he could just do front, collar, and cuffs if he was short on time. Or patience.

But afterward, he told me he’d managed, though not very well. He wasn’t pleased with the “look.”

So we used an hour or so of his vacation time to learn again.

This time, by George, I believe he’s got it!

Traveling in a Pack

I think Chicago emptied out on Sunday afternoon.

The reason I say this is that the highways were excessively crowded then, just when I was trying to get back home.

You see, My Favorite Domer insisted he had to be back on campus by 1 p.m.

‘When they ask you specifically to be in the pep band for a soccer game,’ he told me, ‘well, you can’t say No.’


So I crawled out of bed at 5 o’clock — yes, Virginia, there’s such a thing as 5 in the morning! — got dressed, ate, and helped him load the car for our return to ND.

Campus was strangely quiet. Even the students who had to stick around over the Thanksgiving holiday were nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps they were sleeping late. Or watching TV or visiting in friends’ rooms.

After a quick lunch, I hugged Domer and got back in my car.

But I was far from lonely. Or alone.

The toll road was packed. So was I-65 in Indiana (read: parking lot!). So was I-57 in Illinois.

Everybody going somewhere.

Many of my fellow travelers were students. You could tell by the way they were traveling in packs, two or more to a vehicle, suitcases piled to the rooftop, college stickers affixed to their back windows.

And they were in a hurry. Sure, the state police were out in droves, pulling over traffic violators and writing tickets as fast as they could.

But these kids didn’t seem to care. They’d see an officer, slow down and act all nonchalant, then speed up again.

They were whipping from lane to lane, jockeying for position. They’d roar up behind me, cling to my rear bumper a while, then gun their motor and fly around me like I was standing still.

Frightening? Yes, definitely.

I found myself praying for them, that they’d reach their destination safely.

I’d want somebody praying for my son if he drove like that.

Which he doesn’t. Thankfully.

And maybe my prayers helped. I didn’t hear of any fiery crashes along the roads I was on yesterday, so I have to assume all is well.

But somebody really should be teaching these kids to drive more safely!

Black Friday

I blame years of newspaper reporting over my distaste of Black Friday.

After all, it’s the media that whole-hardheartedly embraces any excuse for advertising revenue. And who can blame them? Money is how their business stays afloat.

Listen to the ads on TV, all urging you to part with your money. Look how fat the newspaper is getting with sales fliers as the holidays near.

My e-mail boxes have been stuffed with promotional copy for weeks.

Merchants want me to go to the mall, or Wal-Mart, or one of the tech stores. And spend my money.

Buying early Christmas presents. Treating myself, too.

Eating something other than leftovers for lunch or dinner. Or both.

But I’m holding out.

It’s far too early to think about Christmas. My soul’s not ready.

Shoot, when did we decide to go from Halloween right into Christmas anyway?

Especially when there’s something called “Thanksgiving” in between. The day we’re supposed to give thanks, relax with family and friends, eat ourselves into a stupor. Succumb to the L-tryptophan in turkey and take a nap.

Not go shopping.

When I was working as a newspaper journalist, every year I’d head out early on Black Friday. I’d go to the mall (why traipse all over town when the mall was where the shoppers were?)

I’d survey the landscape a while, then pick some unsuspecting “victim” to drill:

  • How long did you have to wait in line?
  • What are you buying that you couldn’t get some other time?
  • Do you do this every year?
  • What do you like best about Black Friday?

That sort of thing.

Most interviewees were pretty agreeable, as I recall. They were tickled at being picked, eager to see their names in print, and helpful in pointing out other people I should talk to.

But mingling with the masses wasn’t where I wanted to be. I wanted to be home with my family. Playing board games or cards. Sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows. Sampling the leftovers. Watching football on TV.

There are folks who enjoy the bustle of Black Friday. The crowds. The sales.

Some, I suppose, get it ALL done on that day, and that must be an incredible feeling.

Still, I won’t be joining them this year.

Call me jaded, but I feel sure a month is enough time for me to carefully pick out Christmas presents, rather than grabbing stuff just because I see someone else wants it.

To leisurely shop when it’s convenient for me, rather than when the stores tell me I should arrive.

To get into the proper frame of mind for giving. And receiving.

How about you? Do you do Black Friday?

Note: Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Life’s Brevity

Despite the human qualities we’ve managed to breed into our dogs, there’s one thing we’ve not been able to change:

Dogs’ lives are shorter than man’s.

That means most of us who love dogs will share our lives with several beloved pets.

It also means that we’ll have to “man up” and end the lives of some — the ones who are in pain, the ones facing incurable illness.

As Dallas’s breeder has reminded me several times since I purchased him, that’s a contract between us and the pet, and it must not be broken.

Now before anybody starts worrying, this is NOT about Dallas. He’s fine, thank you very much; he’s young and healthy and plans to be here for a long time!

But as we were taking our walk this morning, we came across a lady and her Husky.

I imagine this was a beautiful dog — once.

I imagine it was young. And healthy. And strong.

But I never knew it then. All I’ve ever seen is the old dog. The one barely able to drag its hind legs. The one who typically crumples to the ground every time it tries to potty. The one who “dribbles” long before exiting the house because it can’t hold it any longer, despite having parents who regularly are home to tend to its needs. The one whose eyes seem to indicate he’s straddling two worlds now.

‘How’s he getting along?’ I asked her.

‘My dad says we need to put him down before the ground freezes, or we’ll have to have him cremated,’ she tells me. ‘But we just can’t. Not yet.’

On one hand, I empathize with her. I’ve been there. I, too, had a dog that begged to be put to sleep. A dog whose soulful eyes followed me as he lay in pain on the sofa. A dog who often soiled my apartment and fell over when trying to lift his leg outside.

I, too, didn’t want to make that choice. But it was the right thing to do and somehow I managed.

She will, too. At least she has a husband and they can heal together. I was young and single, so I wept alone.

Putting a pet down is one of the harder things I’ve had to do. Pets become members of our family, providing companionship and unfailing loyalty. They call forth our best traits, enabling us to give unselfishly, prompting us to exercise, and calming us with wet kisses. They’re babies who never become mouthy pre-teens, model children who never ask to borrow the car or increase their allowance; they’re happy just to be near us, even if we’re not rich and famous. Or “cool.”

Chances are, I’ll outlive Dallas. While I’d prefer he simply pass away peacefully in his sleep, I know that might not happen. I pray I’ll have the courage to do that one final kindness for him, when the time comes.

Just don’t expect me to do it dry-eyed.

Motivation for Writing

I’ve been re-reading Bill O’Hanlon’s book “Write is a Verb,” and found that Chapter 2 really shouted at me.

Chapter 2, “Writing Begets Writing,” points out what should be obvious — sitting down at the computer/legal pad and scratching out words will eventually result in getting your writing done.

But many writers are procrastinators. We excuse ourselves from the task for a variety of reasons — we don’t have a huge block of uninterrupted time, for instance. Or there’s something else — running the kids to lessons, cooking dinner, exercise class — that demands our attention.

Perhaps we fear we’re not “good enough.”

Perhaps real life is interfering. Some of us do have other jobs; most of us have families.

Time is always an issue (sadly, no one has figured out how to squeeze more than 24 hours into a day!)

O’Hanlon says that if you want to be a writer, you will write.

A plumber, he says, doesn’t appear at your house fretting over failure or “plumber’s block.” Neither should writers.

Plumbers don’t wait for a perfectly quiet house in which to work, or spend time and money going to and from a gazillion plumber’s conferences, or read countless books on how to be a plumber.

They dive right in, and so should we.

O’Hanlon advises writers not to give feelings too much attention. Feelings, he says, often are wrong and tell us we can’t write.

“So, thank those feelings for sharing and then tune them out. Get on with it. Don’t wait for the Muse to visit,” he says.

Anything that takes you away from your goal — writing and publishing — can be considered a distraction, no matter how “necessary” or “helpful” it might be. That includes writing exercises (“stop practicing and start producing”), making detailed outlines or doing extensive research, checking and re-checking e-mail, “having” to be in the mood to write or be surrounded by the right music and a scented candle.

O’Hanlon says, “If I had to choose one thing that separates the wheat from the chaff, it would be persistence. It certainly isn’t talent. I’ve coached some people with amazing talents who remain unpublished because they have not persisted.”

The bottom line? Put your bottom in the chair and start writing!

Terrific Tuesday

The switch from Daylight Saving Time back to regular time has my Darling Doggie Dallas a bit confused.

These days, when he first goes outside to greet the morning, it’s not stars and nighttime sky we’re seeing. It’s the beginning of a sunrise.

Even though we’re getting out about the same time as previously.

Monday morning’s edition was a doosy, too.  Just see for yourselves:

Between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m., Nov. 5, 2012

Just a few minutes later, same date

I know red skies in the morning are supposed to signify the approach of bad weather, but who wants to think about that?

Not when there are such beautiful colors, all painted together and offering the promise of a new day.

Maybe we’ll try getting up a wee bit earlier next time, so we can catch the whole show!

Go Vote on Tuesday

Tuesday just can’t come fast enough.

For Tuesday is Presidential Election Day in the United States.

A day we’ll go behind closed doors and vote our preferences, then wait to learn who are the winners and who are the losers.

Regardless of your political affiliations, if you’re at all like me, you’ll be glad to see this whole mess end.

Far too long, we’ve been inundated with ads. With finger-pointing and name-calling.

“He said…”

“No, she said…”

“Well, he meant…”

And so it goes.

While some people have genuinely followed the whole process — listening in on candidates’ forums, watching debates, researching the issues — others made up their minds early and now turn a deaf ear to anything that might be contradictory.

In this country, that’s their right.

I hate to sound like a curmudgeon (and perhaps things have always gotten ugly in election years), but it seems to me that this one has been nastier than others from the past.

More rumors. More lies. More money frittered away when people are hurting.

And fewer places to turn for unbiased, factual reporting.

Most of you know I was trained as a journalist. “Fair” and “impartial” were our bywords long before FOX News adopted them and ran with them.

Sad to say, I wouldn’t fit in with the profession any more, so it’s a good thing I got out when I did.

Journalists used to be proud of being told, “You call ’em like you see ’em.”

Now it’s all about money. Ad revenues. Staying on the good side of those in power.

But I digress.

What’s important is that we still have the privilege of voting. Of being a small part of the electoral process. Of feeling like we matter.

For we do, you know.

Every vote counts. If you doubt that, ask the person who stayed home, only to learn his candidate lost by one vote.

So GO VOTE. Our forefathers fought and lost their lives that we might have that right. Surely they deserve not only our gratitude but also our exercising of the rights they sought to preserve.