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The Other Side of Retirement

Truman has become obsessed with Critical Care, the Ensure-like nutrition supplement for guinea pigs.  The second he smells it, he starts wheeking and looking around frantically.  If he dribbles a drop, we need to pause while he licks it from the bedding (and then eats the piece of bedding for good measure).  His weight has mostly been holding, but since he has lost so much weight overall, I’ve been letting him have a few meals of Critical Care between his vegetables and pellets.

I get the Critical Care from the vet, but when we started to run low over the weekend, I called the pet store to see if they had it in stock.  They did, so we drove down to pick it up.

The moment I walked into the store, everything felt… wrong.  It’s usually pretty cramped, and there was suddenly room to maneuver around.  But I chalked it up to better display arrangements and went directly to the small mammal section.

The owner’s helper came over to talk about vitamin tablets and new treats, and she wistfully told me that the store would be closing this fall.  After 30+ years, the owner wanted to retire, and without a buyer stepping forward, it was time to close the store permanently.

I felt dizzy.  I still feel dizzy writing that.  I’ve been going to this pet store since I was 15.  The owner is my anchor.  She was the first person I called when Cozy’s eyes were coming out of his head.  The person I called after we had to put him to sleep.

The person I called to say Truman is sneezing, Truman has decided he doesn’t like his bedding, Truman isn’t wheeking.  She trims his nails, she cleans out his ears, she supplies me with new ideas for treats.  We clearly have a vet (or, really, at this point, two vets), but she has always been my source for information and reassurance.

Sure, I want her to retire and enjoy life.  She was beaming when she spoke about her retirement while we were checking out.  But… what about me?  Okay, I know, selfish.  But this is my blog and not her blog, so… what about me?

I am admittedly not good with change at all.  But she operates the only independent small mammal pet store in my area.  My only options now are big chain stores that usually don’t carry the high-end food  or Amazon.

But… it loses something, you know?  It’s the one errand the kids love to go on because while I’m shopping, they’re checking out all the guinea pigs and chinchillas and hamsters for sale.  The twins are nearing the age I was when I first started going there.  It feels like the end of an era, and I am so damn sad about it.

After the store, we stopped off for water ice, and I think I freaked out the woman at the counter when I asked her if her store was considering shuttering, too.  If the owner was ever going to retire and shut down the store between now and the time that I die, I needed to know now.  She reassured me that he’s not considering closing the store any time soon.  (Soon?  Soon?  Did you hear me?  I need to know EVER.)

When friends or co-workers retire, I continue to keep in touch.  But I don’t have that sort of relationship with the store owner.  She is somewhere between a human-nequin and advice-giver; not quite friendly enough for me to suggest that we should grab lunch from time to time, but more than someone playing a nameless background role of Store Owner #5.  I am going to miss her tremendously.

Some people roll with change and love change and look forward to change and try to create change.  But I have kept the same haircut since childhood, shop at the same stores, eat the same foods.  Like Bilbo Baggins, I like my cozy, little life.

And just as I imagine Bilbo would respond if Gandalf suddenly announced that he was retiring from magic, I am sort of freaking out about losing our pet store.

If I ruled the world, good stores would never be allowed to close.

July 27, 2016   7 Comments

2016 Summer Olympics Printable Schedule

I make a printable television schedule every Olympics so my family can keep track of the events we don’t want to miss.  News sites create convoluted schedules that require a lot of clicking.  I need to see it all written out in a simple manner, so I create these printable television Olympic schedules for myself and put them online in case someone else wants it too.

After the 2012 Summer Olympics, someone contacted me and told me that a link to my printable schedule was being passed around the blind community because the format works well with a screen reader.  Which is just so damn cool.  I love the idea of the world coming together over these games.  So a special hello to anyone who is hearing this from a screen reader.

I’ll be keeping the printable schedule up-to-date in case anything changes.  I had to make it as a page, or every time I added to it, it would reset the permalink and you wouldn’t be able to find it again.

You can access the schedule here.  If you want to help spread word, you can post this link on Twitter or Facebook: http://www.stirrup-queens.com/summer-olympics-2016-schedule/.

Which event are you most excited to see in the 2016 Olympics?

July 26, 2016   2 Comments

Terry Gross, Infertility and Choice

I just started listening to Earwolf’s podcast, The Longest Shortest Time.  When they state they are a parenting podcast for everyone, they literally mean everyone, even people who aren’t parenting.  Which makes sense because we all have opinions or thoughts or ideas to contribute to conversations.

A case in point: I started with the April 20th episode featuring an interview with Terry Gross from NPR.  She does not have kids by choice, and she takes the episode to explain how she came to that decision, why she stuck to that decision, and whether she’d make that same decision again.  It was the most interesting thing I listened to all week.

(By the way, you can download and subscribe to the podcast, as I did, or you can listen to the episode online as well as read the transcript if you scroll down the page and click on podcast transcript.)

The thought that gave me chills (and made me wish my drive to camp pick up was a little bit longer so I could have marinated on this a bit longer):

I think the main thing we want as women is we want the choice. And the choice only has meaning if there is a choice. It’s great to be a parent when you’re not forced to be – when society isn’t demanding it, when they’re not making it an obligation. And in order to no longer be an obligation, I think some people had to choose to not have children and rewrite the rules a little bit.

Someone had to take the other option — to not have kids — to make the choice to have kids truly a choice.  I was thinking about it in terms of infertility.  We need people to choose all the options in order for there to truly be options.  We need people willing to build their families through treatments, donor gametes, surrogacy, or adoption in order to really be making a choice vs. fulfilling an obligation.  We need people to choose to resolve their infertility by being child-free after infertility.  Again, without some people choosing that option, the people who don’t choose that option aren’t really making a choice.  Does that make sense?

So, thank you, to everyone who has made every choice that has allowed me to also get to make a choice.  We don’t need to choose the same thing, but we do need to support each other’s choices because other people’s choices directly impact whether or not we have a choice.

July 26, 2016   6 Comments

#Microblog Mondays 100: Milestones and Commitments

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


If you read my blog years ago, you might remember that the twins had outlined several ways a person could die back when they were first learning about death.  Those ways were not eating, not holding your mother’s hand while crossing the street and getting hit by a car, and turning 100.

Um… Microblog Mondays just turned 100, y’all.

But no worries, it’s not dropping over dead.  To ensure that, I already jotted down an idea for the 101st Microblog Monday.  So, yeah, that’s happening next week.  But 100 feels like such a big number.  How did it get so important?  I mean, why did we all declare that 100 would be a milestone, but 97 would not?

The point of Microblog Monday will also remain the same: To stop giving over your best thoughts to other social media outlets and instead record them on your blog, where you’ll be able to re-read them in years to come.

So go do that.  The best way to ensure that Microblog Monday is around 100 posts from now is to participate.  Make the commitment to write one small thing on your blog every Monday for the next 100 weeks.

Are you in?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. Raven 13. Cristy 25. Delenn
2. Danielle Dayney 14. Accio Babies 26. Just Heather
3. Karen (River Run Dry) 15. Lori@ Laughing IS Conceivable 27. Kasey
4. Different Shores 16. Traci York, Writer 28. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled)
5. Anamika Agnihotri 17. Isabelle 29. Birds, Bees, and Medicine
6. Mali (No Kidding in NZ) 18. IF Pom 30. Good families do – Jenn
7. Mali (A Separate Life) 19. Journeywoman 31. articulation
8. Lori Lavender Luz 20. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 32. Mary Francis
9. Infertile Girl 21. Failing at Haiku 33. swatibassi
10. Shail 22. Cyn K
11. the OCD infertile 23. Junebug
12. Jess 24. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)


July 25, 2016   21 Comments

That Woman

In addition to driving myself mad whenever I misplace something in the house, I am equally bothered by being unable to name songs (thank you, Shazam, even if you don’t help with humming tunes out) or place people.

The placing people thing really gets under my skin because solving the question means talking to the person and admitting that I’m trying to figure out how we know each other.  Or… more often than not… not really know each other because we’ve never actually met.  They’re just random people I’ve seen waiting for the bus on a daily basis or seen across the aisle at shul.  Anyway, sometimes the people are too far away to strike up a conversation, so I’m left staring at the back of their head and running through lists of possibilities.  It bothers me to be that close and that far away at the same time.

We went to see Evita, and a woman I couldn’t place was sitting two rows ahead of me.  I stared at the side of her face on and off throughout the show trying to jog my memory.  Where would I know her from?  Their old preschool?  Was she someone’s grandmother?

I left without figuring it out or getting to speak to her.  It bothered me all night.

The next morning, the ChickieNob and I went to get our hair cut, and THE WOMAN was sitting in my hairdresser’s chair, getting her hair styled.  It felt like the universe stuck her in my path again just so I could ask how I knew her.  When she went to pay, I admitted that I had sat behind her at the theater the night before and was trying to figure out how I knew her.

“The library,” she told me.  “I used to be a librarian.”

Mystery solved.  Huge sigh of relief.

The ChickieNob told me that she thought it was very brave that I would choose to look that weird in front of a stranger.  But… it isn’t weird to ask someone how you know them (right?) AND it bothers me a lot when I can’t place someone.

Doesn’t it bother you enough to ask?

July 24, 2016   13 Comments

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