Saturday, August 28, 2010


We were both working full time jobs. We were dealing with Scott's mom's cancer and I had just had my second miscarriage. I thought that a new puppy might fill a void I was feeling. Call me crazy. We went to the breeder. We saw the perfect puppy. He was messy and seemed shy. On the way home he threw up in the car. Carsickness plagued him for a few years after that.

He was so sweet, so fuzzy. We loved him and Chester mothered him. He was a bit delayed in the training chapter of his life. He would come bounding out of an empty room with a little tell-tale trot. We knew what surprise was left for us behind door number one. So we walked and we walked. And we walked some more. Finally, one day the message seemed to make a connect for him. He had the funniest habit of leaning up against a tree when he did his duty. I figured it out. This wasn't for support, it was for privacy. Even a small tree would provide him with what he deemed enough shelter to hide behind and do his job.

When he was four he had a terrible health scare. A wonderful vet had the time and patience, and yes, our money to figure it out. A few months after this we anxiously awaited the arrival of Gracie. Winston was curled up on my lap one day. What was left of it. He snuggled up close to my big belly and all of the sudden Gracie let out a huge kick. I felt it. He felt it. Winston jumped off of my lap with a look on his face that said, "did you feel that and what the heck was it?" As new parents we wanted to facilitate the best way to have Chester and Winston meet Gracie. Scott brought home the little hat she wore for them to smell and process. The day we brought her home, Chester checked her out and moved on. Winston on the other hand made this statement, "this baby is mine!"

He would let us know if she was awake in her crib before she would cry. He would curl up around her on the floor. He was so loving towards her. Then Gracie turned one and became mobile. That was enough for him and this is where Chester took over and has ever since. Winston tolerated her, but not as deeply as he had in her first year.

Last year things began to change. Mood swings, not eating and more trips outside. Our poor boy. We knew something was very wrong. Our vet said we could do lots of tests, but the answer would probably be the same no matter how much money we spent. We made him comfortable. Those sweet eyes became very sad eyes. We had to take stock of the situation. For all of the times that Winston made us feel loved and wagged that tail in happiness to greet us. For all of his loyalty. For all of his shyness and quirky little habits. It was time for us to give him the gift that he needed most from us. We made the appointment. We touched him and held him as he died. We thanked him over and over for all that he had been for us. I have never cried so hard in my life. I'm crying right now.

Winston died just a couple of weeks before his 15th birthday. Chester misses him and so do we. We appreciate the simple gifts he gave us. The feeling of being happy to see someone and the ability to love unconditionally. It's been a year since he died. We're glad he's no longer suffering. He was the best shy, happy to see you, loyal, baby loving dog a family could have asked for.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Simple Priorities

When Scott and I were first married times were lean. And no, I don't mean we were skinnier. Even though we were. I mean lean as in money was tight. We owned a construction company. We had employees and we paid their health insurance. So each week we paid the bills. Lumber companies, subcontractors, our workers. Monthly we paid the mortgage, insurance and basic utilities. Many times there wasn't much if anything left over. Suddenly paper towels and Kleenex were not so important. You can always blow your nose in toilet tissue and tear up some old tshirts for rags. I became the master at food creations with cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups. Don't even get me started on what I can do with Ramen Noodles.

We tried to not turn the heat on until the end of October. And when it was turned on we tried to keep the temperature as low as possible. An extra sweater, an afghan, cuddle time---it was all good. We never turned down our parent's invitations to come over for dinner. And somehow our moms always sent us home with wonderful leftovers. We made homemade candles in jam jars and tied a little bit of twine around them for gifts at Christmastime. We held a few back for ourselves and were able to keep the lights on in the house to a minimum. We still managed to entertain. My godfather had sent us two cases of wine for our wedding. One red and one white. We kept a change jar in the kitchen and would cash it in when it was full. I took the money and bought blocks of cheese, paper plates, napkins and cups. We had a bunch of sausage in the freezer. Ta da! We had a wine and cheese party for thirty people. And we still had wine to spare.

Eating out wasn't an option. At least not often. We bought 75 cent shampoo and reused coffee grounds. We would make a full pot of coffee in the morning. Later we would add a couple of scoops to the used ones and get a pot of coffee that would taste just as good. Cable t.v.? No way. Movie rentals on the two for a dollar night. I rigged up a clothes line in the basement and Scott hooked one up for me outside for nice weather days. We took our cans in for cash. Rummage sales. You bet. Had them and shopped them.

Times were lean. They were also good. We had a clear set of priorities. We didn't waste. We rarely wanted. We had shelter, food and other basic necessities. More importantly we had each other. We had our family. We had our health. Time has passed. We have more money. And yes, we have more things. Not too many, though. But we still have our priorities. We still have our family. Sometimes it's good to remind ourselves of the lean times. It's a great way to remember that life was good then and that it is still good. And remembering some of the cost cutting tips, that's helpful, too.

©2010 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Simply Avoiding the Inevitable...

It's a gorgeous day. I have had the windows open for two days straight. The air smells great. I need to wash out my tubs and the bathroom floors. I think I'll talk and giggle with my daughter for a while first. Then we play with my new iPad. Download a few apps. I decide that's enough and onto hanging some pictures in the new house. Better mow the lawn. Gracie helps. I handle the trimmer. Okay, that was done way too fast. I guess it's lunch time. Heat up some sloppy joes. We eat. Again, done way too fast. I vacuum the first floor. My dog barks at the vacuum. He's kind of lazy today, so all I really get from him is a "mmrrff," instead of a strong "ruff." I say, hey there fella, bark like you mean it! He lays his weary head down and I swear he said, "you bark like you mean it. And by the way aren't you supposed to be cleaning the bathrooms?"

Yuck. I hate cleaning the bathrooms. Especially since I just did it three days ago. You see, after I was done my husband made a valiant effort to kill these little bugs that we have had for a few weeks. He thinks they are called springtails. I think they are disgusting. Please do whatever it takes to eradicate! He made a trip to the hardware store in an absolute downpour and picked up the magical poison to springtails. What he didn't tell me is that the chemical needed to stay on the floors and not be cleaned up for a few days. Ugh! I just washed the floors. Now they are sticky with springtail killer! As I step out of the shower I feel the sticky stuff. Yuck again.

Well, the date has arrived that is acceptable to clean up. But here's the thing, I don't want to anymore. I feel that I have cleaned my bathrooms already. And I am doing everything in my power to avoid this cleaning again. I actually picked up my daughter's guitar and started strumming a little song for her and making up words to the tune as I went. No, I do not play the guitar. I am actually one of these gifted people that can just pick up an instrument and play it. Okay, I'm joking. And now I'm done playing the guitar because Gracie is trying to videotape me playing and I'm afraid it may end up on YouTube. That would be a nightmare.

Time to grow up, Ann. Just go clean the bathrooms. I tell myself, after it's over it never seems as bad as you thought it would be. We'll see...yuck.
©2010 Ann M. De Broux