Print Edition

Print Edition
Pick up a copy of Lake County Journal!

Off The Deep End: A mind is a terrible thing to waster, or is it?

It came to me while I was posting comments on a dog’s blog. This is not just any dog; this one blogs about ecology, so he is an earth-caring pooch, certainly one worth corresponding with. Still, I WAS WRITING TO A DOG. That can’t be all that brain stimulating, well not for me, even if reading blog posts is pretty darn smart for a dog.

Upon further examination, I’ve concluded that writing to a domestic animal could be just one indication that things are going downhill in my head. Case in point – prior to posting on the dog’s site, I’d stood facing my open refrigerator for five minutes trying to recall why I’d gone there. Oh yes, I was looking for my purse.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to keep my brain stimulated. I have embarked upon mind-enhancing pursuits. The first was an area writers’ group. Excited, I looked forward to tips on how to improve my work.

Instead, the group was commandeered by an ancient woman who read us her life story. Slowly. By the time she recited, “To paraphrase Longfellow, I have entered the arctic region of my life,” I had made as many words as I could out of “egocentric.” I never returned.

I then joined a newly formed, local women’s group whose main objective seemed to be eating out. Obviously, this wasn’t a mind-enhancing pursuit, but it would acquaint me with the eateries of far northern Lake County. As a person who screams, “You’re stupid and deranged!” at her GPS, any activity near home sounded good.

They picked a restaurant in Schaumburg. Then, Elgin. I quit.

I’ve tried cards, book clubs, and mah-jongg. All that resonated through my mind during each session was, “When will we have cake?”

So, my mind-challenging pursuits did not work, leading me to again think about an alternate way of spending my time – volunteerism. But then I remembered my last foray into that world. A day-care center advertised, “Grandmas wanted to rock babies.” I was a grandma. I could rock. So, I applied. After being background checked, fingerprinted and strip-searched, I began life as an unpaid nanny. A baby cried in its crib. I picked it up. I rocked it.

A young tattooed and pierced employee took the babe from my arms. “We prefer they learn to fall asleep on their own,” she said.

“Then what do you want me to do?” I asked, as this same girl plopped her baby-less self in the rocker and left me standing empty handed.

“I dunno,” she said. “Maybe pick up the toys?”

After a few weeks of standing and staring at babies, I told the pierced girl I was going on vacation. That was 12 years ago. As far she knows (or cares), I’m still on that trip.

I’m not sure that e-mailing a dog is such a mind-wasting pursuit after all. We’ve arranged a date to play mah-jongg. He’s bringing cake.

(If you wish to leave a comment for an ecology minded dog, see

• Judi Veoukas is a columnist for the Lake County Journal. Contact her at

Loading more