Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Thursday, June 22, 2023

House Messes and Hello to Singapore Readers

Rex naps curled up in the desk chair next to mine. Two long toenails extrude from his front paws, little half moons winking out at me from between the pads. My daughter is the only soul brave enough to trim Rex's nails, but he's wise to her efforts and heroically refrains from napping during the evenings that she's with us. She currently sleeps here a few nights a week to cut down on the commute to work, and when she's sitting on the couch with us Rex keeps one eye open. So far, she's been cunning enough to cut 8 nails, which leaves slightly more than half to go.

The cat's urine corner has provoked much interest from my readership, particularly from Singapore, and I'm curious to know why the cat travails spread so far and wide? Is cleaning up after pets (and children) a universal theme? Is lack of success also universal? For we have done two carpet cleanings, one oxy application, a baking soda dosage and numerous vacuuming and that corner still issues ammonia fumes. Aden rode the exercise bike near the infamous pee square and - after finishing a heated workout - sprinted from the house to get a few inhalations of fresh air. The door slammed so loud I thought the zombie apocalypse was upon us.

In today's issue of "house challenges" we have a new air conditioning unit being installed on the east side of the house. I cringe at the banging, drilling and dropping of heavy objects, but now in the quiet stillness of what must be lunch time, I also worry that the highly-touted, far-more-efficient unit will not be done as promised this afternoon. Though I feel fortunate to live in a house, 2023 has been a hard on the repair and replacing budget. I wish I could curl up and sleep with the cat, but I have to go clean up all the messes.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

It Never Rains but it Pours

It's almost the solstice and Coloradans have barely seen the sun, though in an age of permanent drought and climate change, we try hard not to complain about six weeks of rain. Despite our gratitude at full reservoirs, reduced watering costs, and the lack of forest fires, it's getting a bit tedious to find mushrooms supplanting the xeriscaping, weeds growing as high as my thigh, and open water swimming cold enough to purple my fingers.

At the gravel pond this morning, where I swim with the Colorado Wild Women triathletes, the water was 12 feet higher than normal and a chilly 63 degrees. With an air temperature of 49, we were reluctant to enter the murky waters, and after 48 minutes of swimming in a sleeveless wetsuit my whole body was shaking. Summer swim teams register similar shock in umbrella-festooned social media posts.

I blame the recent shocking humidity for residual smells around the house. Rex's pee-corner has been attacked multiple times now with the heroic carpet cleaner, and we can almost sense (smell) victory. Rob and I enjoy the new device so much that we embarked on a program of cleaning Aden's room and the upstairs hallway, too. Daniel strangely declined our services from his bed, when we woke him up at 11 am. 

In other news, I purchased Olympic Trials tickets for swimming. Watch out, Indianapolis, I will descend upon you for three days of super swim fandom (a year from now - which should serve as enough warning). My family kindly agreed to accompany me when I offered to buy the tickets and pay for the hotel, so I have backup support. Fortunately for the swimmers, the events will be held indoors and the water temperature will be an appropriate 78 - 80 degrees. Barring another pandemic, we'll be ready to roll.

It's possible that my next entry will register sunny activities such as biking or sunbathing, mowing the mile-high lawn or not-watering the flowers. Stay tuned!


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Living Room Urinal

From exotic European locales to the acrid scent emanating from my living room - how the pre-summer season has turned! 

We woke up yesterday to a horrible smell that seemed to originate in the litter box and we immediately moved both outside to clean both the litter and the plastic receptacle. Did that work? We returned to sniff and decided... definitely not. My nose led me to a corner of the living room, near the exercise bike, which apparently had been turned into a private urinal by one of our two cats - I suspect the older, buff individual of often sour temper.

My nose burned and I gagged when I found the source on the (previously white) carpet / couch / fireplace. Such a befoulment has never occurred in the 8 years of owning pets. The cat wanted to punish us, that was clear, but what was the family crime? Perhaps leaving for 10 days, or being late to breakfast?

I am, admittedly, OCD about odors and cleanliness of our floors, perhaps because I was in charge of sweeping and washing the kitchen floors as a young person. I grew to love (no, practice intensely) that job until growth and bad joint alignment made floor washing on my knees painful. If memory serves, the job then went to my brother (but I'm horribly afraid that I'm whitewashing the memory and my poor mother actually took that over for me - at least until we got a mop).

Yesterday I scrubbed and cleaned to no avail. Texts went to friends who had carpet cleaners, until Rob got tired of my moaning and just bought one. We carpet cleaned and scrubbed and put the air purifier in the living room. This morning, I cautiously emerged from the bedroom and decided... better but not gone.  I never wanted pets! Oh for the dolorous begging of children that lead me down dark paths.

Another weekend day to scrub and clean and attempt to purify the house before I use it as my office all week. I'm off to buy peroxide and white vinegar, more detergent and stronger carpet cleaning solution. Wish me (and the errant cat) good luck. If the scent doesn't improve in Colorado's strangely humid June, the cat might be in hot water!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Legos and Lingerie

The Copenhagen airport welcomes international travelers with the requisite well-stocked duty free shop and scores of recognizable stores. Legos originated in Denmark and the flagship airport represents the brand well. Adjacent to the Legos store was Lingerie, a juxtaposition that delighted my children. "Legos and lingerie, Mom! Do we have any extra kronors?"

The title and visual stuck in my head, but what the stores embodied was the evolution of a Europe I saw as extremely different from the United States back in my first trip (1992) to one that maintains many striking similarities with this country in 2023. While the native citizens of the countries we traveled to could usually peg us as Americans within 5 seconds of our opening our mouths, we occasionally were greeted in Swedish or Danish by someone who couldn't tell we were tourists (yay! victory). 

In Stockholm, an ironworker artist spoke to me in Swedish for several minutes while I smiled and nodded away. My daughter finally intervened and told him we only spoke English (well, Spanish too, but that was irrelevant); she asked me later why I didn't say anything and I explained that I was so delighted to be perceived as a native that I hadn't the heart to stop him. (In Iceland, they knew immediately who we were and never expected to communicate in Icelandic). 

When I went around Europe as a college junior, our teeth and tennis shoes gave us away. Now everyone wears New Balance, Brooks, Nike, or Hoka, and good teeth flashed from smiles everywhere. For the true world traveler, Europe was never so different from the United States and it's quite possible that 30 years of experience has just given me new eyes to see and appreciate this, but I also believe the global community has grown more similar - whether due to capitalism and big brands, converging national interests or pressing global problems I couldn't say, exactly. 

What I do know: traveling with our children tells them that the world is big and beautiful and that people have much in common wherever we go. They now know that they can move through most areas of the world with some degree of familiarity and are not afraid of embracing bigger and better travel adventures. 

Personally, viewing the gorgeous coastline of Norway for the first time - with its fjords and inland mountains - made the ticket from Copenhagen to Reykjavik completely worthwhile. And then while traveling from Reykjavik to Denver, viewing the stark and extremely high mountains of Greenland emerging through scattered clouds into a deep blue sky made my heart soar. Seeing completely new vistas, learning new things, recognizing profound similarities and bonds with citizens of the world, all make travel the best adventure I know.