A Barking Cat? Men in Shorts? Spring is Here.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf- Column from the March 31 edition of the Albert Lea Tribune.

I know it is a sure sign of spring when my cat Natasha starts barking.natasha3

Yes, you heard me right, my cat started barking. I didn’t know she had that ability until recently.

Natasha has always been a little on the unusual side. She is part Siamese so that may explain it. My other cat Boris is big, lunky and lovable, too, but he does not have Natasha’s technique. When Boris decides to investigate something or sneak somewhere, it doesn’t usually work out without my knowing about it.

He weighs 15 pounds and is very large and tall. He isn’t overweight, just big. Boris is like a bull in a china shop when he is snooping. He is not graceful. Things fall when Boris investigates.

Natasha on the other hand, lives up to her name as she is named after Natasha in the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons. She is slinky and graceful and cunning. She slips into a closet or through a cupboard door with grace and quietness. You do not realize the trouble she is in until you look for her. She doesn’t realize she is in trouble because she is having too much fun being in trouble.

However, as I was sitting at the desk in my office the other morning with the inside door open so you could see out the glass door to the outdoors, I started hearing soft barking. I was puzzled. I didn’t have a dog. I thought perhaps it was coming from outside since it was a quiet bark. I decided I needed to investigate. I walked around a filing cabinet to the door and there was Natasha watching a red ribbon blowing in the wind that was on the wreath outside my door. I still had not taken my fake Christmas wreath off of the side of my house.

I was worried that she had swallowed something and was choking, but, no, she was barking. She is very quiet, doesn’t meow or make her presence known by making sounds, but there she was barking. I picked her up, took her outside so she could see the wreath. She promptly started meowing. I took her back inside and set her down by the door. Again she was watching the wreath and barking. Finally I closed the inside door so she would settle down.

It definitely was a strange occurrence. Since she was adopted at a young age perhaps she had puppies or dogs where she was. Maybe she was the only cat so she thought she was a dog and now she was remembering her past. Who knows?

I decided to believe that this was the first time she saw the wreath without it being laden down in snow. Or perhaps she was protesting the fact that the sun was shining, the weather was warmer and I still have a wreath in my house.

I do know since the weather has changed she has more perk to her perkiness and so does my loveable lunky Borris.

We are waking up to the signs of spring. The sun is higher in the sky and it stays light out longer.  Smiles seem to come easier to people with the weather warming up. My grandchildren have taken to their roller skates and their rip sticks. People have started jogging by my house. Golf clubs are being cleaned, fishing poles are ready and spring decorations are showing up on houses and in yards.

Facebook is alive with pictures of birds people are seeing at their feeders and the garden stores are starting to be busy. At our house we are busy planning our summer home improvements. The hope of spring is on people’s minds and hearts. They are ever hopeful that the winter is behind us although there are no leaves on the trees yet and snow is still on the ground in places.

There must be people like me who walk past my flower beds and dream of the moments when I see the first little sprinkles of plants sprouting up through the ground.

I must admit my plants in my house are still a little confused by  the weather. My poinsettia is blooming and blooming. It too is hopeful but I suspect it is hopeful that the winter weather stays since Christmas is long past. It may be longing for the season with the reason.

We put a lot of spin on New Year’s resolutions, but I have heard more resolutions now  being made because hopes of spring are in people’s hearts.

“I am going to walk more.”

“I am going to take time to smell the flowers.”

“I am going to learn to golf.”

“I am going fishing more often.”

These are a few of the comments I have heard.

Yet, I don’t recall hearing the words, “I can’t wait to mow the lawn.” Most of what I hear is the fun stuff that revives us after a long hard winter.

Is it time to find out if my last year’s summer clothes fit me? Is it time to dig out the shorts? Is it time to get out my flip flops and flip flop outside? I have to wait for a sign. That sign usually walks up my sidewalk.

I won’t believe spring is here until I see my letter carrier and my UPS driver in their shorts. For me that is the true sign spring is coming.

When they walk up the steps in their spring and summer attire I will know it’s time, time to wake up from hibernation, get out my flip-flops, think about wearing shorts this summer (I usually don’t) and put my dreams about warmer weather into action. How about you?

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.” — Doug Larson

Who Cleans The Toilets

Toilet Master

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf from November 4 Week of Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel

I recently did an unscientific poll on Facebook. This is what I asked: “OK, ladies fess up. How many of you are the toilet bowl cleaner in the family? What would happen if you didn’t clean it? Would it stay grubby forever?”

I got many answers, all from women, none from men, but to be fair, I didn’t ask the men. I expected a few needles from the men. Here are a few of the women’s comments:

• You got that right!

• Yes, yes it would.

• Yes, it would. I was gone for a week, came home and cleaned toilets.

• Yes, I am. If I’m gone long enough, it does get cleaned.

• Eventually some new life form would emerge from mine.

• Mmmm, grubby doesn’t even describe the algae forest I found in bachelor’s pre-husband toilet.

There were more comments, but because they named names I thought it best for those names not to be broadcast to the world for the sake of world peace.

I did the poll because I wondered if toilet cleaning at home always became what used to be called “women’s work.” There were many things that were deemed women’s work when I first got married many, many years ago.

I remember being baffled the first time we had a holiday with my new spouse’s family. The men sat down to be served and the women waited until they were done to eat. That wasn’t the way it was done in my family. I was rather crabby back then, so let me tell you, that particular tradition didn’t last much longer when I was around.

In those days the women were in charge of the household. That meant, even if they worked, they were in charge of the kids, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning and whatever else came along with the house and, of course, toilet cleaning.

When a friend of mine died of cancer, her husband had no idea how to turn on the wash machine or the oven. That is when things started changing in my household. Because I was brought up to believe in women’s work, I hadn’t educated my husband and family in the workings of a household. My husband could fix anything. He could repair anything, and that was his job. I realized that if something happened to me, his job would change and he would be like my neighbor, lost, unless of course he could call his mother.

I became stubborn and he became a better house cleaner, laundry person and cook. Although one of the challenges wasn’t him, it was me. I always micro-managed what he did because he didn’t do it like I did. I cringed when my new Colorado T-shirt now fit my 4-year-old. It was also easier at times to do it myself because I didn’t like the results. “Were you wearing your glasses when you dusted that corner?”

Many years have passed, and he washes his own clothes (now I don’t do it good enough for him), he cooks much better than I do, he does floors, but in all these years he doesn’t do toilets. He could very well survive with me, and the house would be picked up better than the way I keep it. It would be a little dustier (must be the eyes) and the toilets? I don’t want to guess.

As I watch my sons and son-in-law help their wives and take care of their houses, I don’t see the mentality of women’s work anymore except maybe when it comes to toilets. They seem to share their duties and in all fairness to their wives; occasionally they need to be reminded of certain tasks if they are trying to do the man thing with the television remote.

It is a different time in 2013 than when I and my friends were first married. There is more negotiation between couples and the chores that are needed to be done in a family. That doesn’t mean the older generation of men were lazy or not caring. It means that they lived by what society was back then and what was expected of both men and women was different.

If you are a man in 2013 and you do toilets, make it known because in my poll, toilets still seem to be women’s work. I am not sure what message that is giving to us and to our children and does it matter?

Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/sprinklednotes.