TWO-LANE LIFE - Where Did the Time Go? - By Lisa Hayes-Minney

I write this column on weekends, typically on a quiet Sunday afternoon. My goal, when I started, was to write once a week. Then, I had to adjust to a goal of bi-weekly. Now, I realize more than a month has passed since my last installment. I just have not had many lazy Sunday afternoons since we flipped the calendar to 2021.

We lost our beloved Daisy Dewdrop, our 14-year-old beagle, in January. She died on a Saturday, and on Sunday, we held our own little goodbye ceremony, and Frank buried her in our pet cemetery up on the hill. The problem with furry children is that they just don’t live long enough. Over the past 20 years, our pet cemetery has expanded more than I ever imagined, a collection of stones from the forest, marking the plots of dear loved ones we have lost.

Dandelion, our cat, is quite content filling the void left in the absence of our Daisy. She always played second fiddle to our precious princess, and now she is the one who demands treats and asks to go outside. Still, it’s just not the same. Cats don’t adore humans the way dogs do, and cats, when they love you, often give bites and scratches, not nose licks. Dandelion doesn’t like to cuddle or be held, and she no longer has to be jealous of the attention Daisy received. She doesn’t like “people food,” and could care less if we’re in the kitchen cooking or if we’re eating. In other words, as a cat, she just can’t fully fill the void. She expects us to adore her – though she doesn’t exactly adore us. Dogs are like small children, cats are more like teenagers.

My family did not gather for the Christmas holiday, so I also needed to make a trip to Ohio to visit my Mother. She does quite well for her age, living alone, but laundry and grocery shopping are challenging for her after her back surgery in early 2019. I had not been to visit since Thanksgiving, and so her inventory was quite low.

Not thinking, we got to the grocery store on Sunday, right around 12:30, and the store, of course, was packed. In November when I visited, about half the grocery shoppers were wearing masks. This time, of the multitudes shopping after church, only two men were maskless, shopping together in their MAGA hats. To keep our distance, Mother and I chose a longer checkout line, even though she was in pain and tired from the endeavor. It just goes to show, you never know what the people next to you in line are going through.

The beginning of 2021 has also brought along some unpleasant surprises, like a broken toilet seat, a leaking hot water tank, a clogged sewer pipe, and a pack of rats moving into the chicken coop. I also have a set of lights on my car dashboard that appear and stay lit for several days, then magically disappear when I have an appointment with a mechanic. Sometimes, it seems that inanimate things collaborate, knowing when you have spare time or when those stimulus checks arrive.

Also, winter has become the season for trainings in the work world, the logic being that winter is a “slow time of year.” However, training, and self-education, have been magnified by the recent need for online endeavors in education, programming, and communication. Zoom, Schoology, Blackboard, MSTeams, ReadSquared, video, audio, website design, social media marketing and algorithms, passive programming, the difference between the teaching methods needed online as compared to an in-person classroom setting. With all this training and learning, I have been challenged to get any actual work done. And then we had an eleven-hour power outage last week here at home, during which time the phones also went down. So, I didn’t do much catching up that day.

No, we have not had a lazy Sunday afternoon in quite a while, and today (Sunday) we are now preparing for a pending nasty ice storm. This was not on my crowded to-do list, and I see all my New Year resolutions slipping lower and lower on that list as more priorities appear above them. I have more appointments this coming week than I have had in a year, and very likely, at least half of them will be canceled due to this coming storm.

I feel as though I may never get caught up.

Normally, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I would take a break and lie on the floor and cuddle with Daisy or invite her out to take a walk together. But today I look around and realize, I don’t have any idea where the cat is. Dandelion might be sleeping under one of the beds, she might be outside hunting or laying wait around a corner to jump out and bite my toes.

For now, I guess I’ll just have to take a walk by myself, passing all the spots where Daisy liked to stop and sniff. I haven’t yet told Frank or Dandelion, and it might be low on the current priority list, but I see a puppy in our future.

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