Messy today, empty tomorrow

Today my house is messy and happy. We just returned from vacation, so there are suitcases everywhere, mounds of laundry, mail spilling off the entry table. Plus the packing activities of my youngest son, who leaves for his second year of college tomorrow morning. And my oldest, who leaves tonight with his bride. My daughter was here for a few weeks, but she left nearly a month ago. Our house reflects a summer of coming and going, living in the moment, not concerning myself with clutter. But tomorrow they’ll be gone. The house will be empty. There will be time to clean, but I will be sad.

messy today empty tomorrow 1

When does it get easier to say goodbye to my kids? One or more of them has been leaving for six years now. Their lives are lived elsewhere. While they come back to share themselves with us from time to time, our home will never again be the center of their world. I know this is how it should be, how I want it to be. But I hate it all the same.

Tomorrow I’ll start to clean up the remains of a summer where I relaxed and enjoyed my family’s company. It’s actually easier now, since I no longer have to mediate children’s squabbles, remind them to do their homework, or drive to their innumerable activities. Tomorrow, while I clean, my footsteps will echo through the house. My husband will go to the office. Only the dog will hear my quiet crying.

For one more day, I’ll live in the mess and be happy. Cleaning can wait until tomorrow.

messy today empty tomorrow 2

Nike+ FuelBand: real stats or just marketing?

The Nike+ FuelBand is a high-priced, high-tech toy you wear on your wrist to collect data about energy, or “fuel,” that you burn throughout the day. It’s about output, pure and simple — not what you’re eating or how you’re expending energy. While FuelBand data may be imperfect, the concept fits perfectly with the company’s “Just Do It” mantra.

You wear the FuelBand on your wrist.  It has a unisex, sporty look that works with casual attire — although I’ll admit, it’s not the best fashion combination with the bracelets I always wear on my other wrist.  The FuelBand’s clasp is a USB plug, which is how you charge its battery, and also how you sync it to your computer.  If you have an iPhone, you can  sync wirelessly so you are always within reach of your FuelBand data.

One hundred white and twenty red, yellow and green LEDs communicate your progress throughout the day. You press a button on the band to toggle through its settings: Fuel, Calories, Steps, Time. Time is time of day, so the FuelBand replaces your need for a watch. Steps — that’s obvious. Calories are an approximate measure of calories burned through physical activity.

NikeFuel is a proprietary calculation based on Nike’s “sport-tested accelerometer,” whose algorithms translate your movement into “fuel points.” You set your own goal — 2000 for an “average day,” 3000+ for days with greater levels of activity.

In my first three weeks of wearing the band, I’ve found the NikeFuel calculations associated with different activities to be rather misleading. Here’s a sample from my own experience (“fps” = “fuel points”):

  • Ride stationary bike (at target heart rate) 30 min: 145 fps
  • Walk from bedroom to kitchen, feed dog, make coffee, eat fried egg and homemade doughnut: 242 fps
  • Fold 3 baskets laundry 45 min: 400 fps
  • Make and serve dinner 1 hr: 750 fps
  • Walk dog 1 hr: 800 fp
  • Play doubles tennis 2 hrs: 1800 fps
  • Play singles tennis 1.75 hr: 2800 fps
  • Hike 1 hr 45 min at brisk pace: 3000 fps
  • Sex: my husband wanted to collect data here, but sorry, this is a G-rated blog . . .

The band awards more points for moving forward through space than it does for things like riding a stationary bike. If I were to live according to my FuelBand’s data, though, I would spend more time folding laundry, making dinner and eating doughnuts than I do at present.

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Object of Desire?

Last night I found a half-eaten bag of Blue Bottle coffee beans on the Oriental carpet I received from my aunt. This is my dog’s favorite place to take his treasures.  That fact, plus slobber and teeth marks on the bag, led me to conclude that Dezi had eaten a quarter-pound of fancy coffee.  Amazingly, he was no more hyper last night than usual.  But that’s not saying much.

Dezi, or The Dez, or just plain Dez (all nicknames for “Desidério,” “Desired One,” a Spanish-Portuguese name befitting his pedigreed status as a Portuguese Water Dog), is actually our second PWD.  We owned this breed before Bo Obama made it famous.   But alas, Dezi doesn’t have the trainers, groomers and handlers that Bo most likely does have — meaning simply that our PWD’s breed-worthy deviousness has not been reined in with appropriate training.  Oh, he KNOWS his commands, but he exercises his option to disregard them.  Sometimes he uses them as opportunities to train his people to give him treats.

Yesterday he went to the groomer.  To settle him down, I gave him 3 droppers of Rescue Remedy before leaving home.  Maybe I should have taken some myself — it’s a homeopathic stress-reducer for people as well as pets, after all.  I wonder if there’s some truth to the adage that people select pets like themselves, or turn their pets into mini-versions of themselves.  This dog is intelligent, but he’s “in your face” about most things.  I’m sure my kids would have something to say on that subject.

Anyway, Dezi looked beautiful when he came home from the groomer.  Hard to believe this was the same dog who awoke me in the middle of the night, polishing off the freshly-baked banana bread I had left cooling by the stove.  Or who waited until we left the house, then sampled a cantaloupe — it was, after all, an organic melon from the farmer’s market.  The Dez sniffs out only the best.









Now everyone has taken to closing his or her bedroom door when leaving the house.  If we forget to do this, we find interesting items under the coffee table: mint chewing gum, vanilla-flavored chapstick, tooth-marked mascara tubes, plastic bags whose prior contents are no longer identifiable.  Last week I discovered the packaging to an entire box of Girl Scout Thin Mints.  Not sure when Dezi consumed them, or who left them out in the first place, but it looks like the chocolate didn’t kill him — didn’t even make him sick. [Read more…]