Monday, December 5, 2011

The Joys of Insomnia

The joys of insomnia............................... there are none.

Insomnia is like this, there are two sides on a raging river. From the awake side of the bridge, you can see the peaceful land of sleep. The clouds are fluffy is a blue sky, deer and bunnies frolic in the tall grass; that you know is as soft as a down filled bed, the good kind with no feathers, only down. It is a peaceful land with wildflowers and beauty that smells like fresh baked bread and honey. In my world, it IS the promised land! You know that when you get there your night is going to be sweet, satisfying and deliciously refreshing.

The side of the bridge that you currently reside on is bedtime land. It too is a sweet land filled with goodnight kisses from your spouse, a light nighttime snack, a soothing read and peaceful darkness. Ahhhh...

Then you try to cross the bridge into happy sleep land. You are minding your own business as you confidently walk towards the bridge. People do this every night, how hard can it be. You are at peace in your knowledge that soon you will be there, happy and blissfully asleep. You spot the newel posts that frame the lovely entrance to the bridge. Oddly, one of the newels comes off in your hand like the one George struggles with in It's a Wonderful Life. Hmmmm... that's not good... You go to place your foot on the sweet wooden bridge and stop dead. There is no bridge! Your foot dangles over a precipice that is suddenly a seemingly endless drop into a rushing brutal torrent of whitewater crashing between the two sides of your night. You yank your foot back - whew! That was close!

As you are congratulating yourself on your narrow escape from doom, you suddenly realize that you are still on the awake side. The sleep side is beckoning you, everything in you yearns to answer the call. But you are still here. Ah, therein lies the eternal problem. Bridge out. No sleep for you! You don't panic, after all you have done this a million times before, you just need to not panic. Okay, it took my husband 10 full seconds to fall asleep. If he did it, you can. Suddenly you notice that there is a clock ticking. It is a metaphorical clock, but the universe wants you to be certain that you hear the click of every passing second. No problem, You got this.You can overcome the ticking, the blackness, the knowledge that you are alone in the universe and no one is going to keep you company for the next eight hours. No big deal... you relax on your comfy pillow and await bridge repairs...

The second hour your comfy pillow has now become those little sticker thingys that you used to step on barefoot in the summer and they clung to your foot and jeans like a limpet and take you 20 minutes of precious summer time to pull off. The cozy dark now has your neighbors motion activated light being turned on once every five minutes by a rabbit whose trying to break into show business and is practicing its bows by the spot light from the neighbors garage. You are suddenly keenly aware that your husbands breathing sounds like the sleestak in the original Land of the Lost series. And the blankets are hot and heavy... no, too cold and light... wait... no... hot... much whatever you need them to be, they are not.

By the fourth hour you have turned into a mewling babe. You stand on your yucky side of the bridge and gaze longingly at Happy Sleep Side, while whimpering in the dark. You have become pathetic. If you had your childhood blankey and a baby pacifier you stole from a passing baby, you would use them.

At four and a half hours, you have this momentary lapse in your awakeness. You think you might have fallen asleep! You are so excited you wake yourself up to tell your self the wondrous news! Oh Crap!

By hour five you realize it is hopeless and you decide to read a book. Any book that is within reach, because it doesn't really matter what it is, you are only faking reading it. Your brain knows that you are only trying to stave off panic.

As you start dis-associative rocking, you listen to the clock ticking, tick...tick...tick...tick...tick...tick...tick...tick...timing your whimpers to the metaphorical clock almost sounds like music...okay...maybe not...the fetal position isn't so bad really...yup, you are pretty much hosed.

Only two more hours of this torture and you can get up and go to work so everyone can comment on how tired you look and you can spend the day reminding yourself that you liked your co-workers yesterday and yesterday they didn't look like extras from the Orks in Lord of the Rings. You realize your perception may be skewed.

Tonight you get to try for the bridge crossing all over again...yippee...

Written at 4:42am...sigh...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remodeling the House - A survival guide

How to live through a house remodeling project.

Step one. Flee the house.

If step one is not possible, gird yourself for pain. Not just regular pain, but unrelenting, seemingly unending pain.

You go into it absolutely certain you know what to expect. Sure, you innocently think, they are going to put up some new walls, knock into my old ones and join the two in a new and harmonious space.  Riiiiiight.

The first clue that this might be a bit more than you expected is when they dig a giant pit and it rains. I didn’t make room in my brain for a swimming pool, but I had one. Thankfully all the ground in Blaine is sandy soil and the water drained away. Remind yourself not to think about the dumb guy in the Bible who built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. Then they pour concrete into the hole and make it pretty. And the rains come tumbling down. Now I have a concrete pool. No really, I don’t want a pool. So we wait out the water, depending on evaporation to rescue us. Days pass. We now have a floor on top of the newly dry concrete hole. And the rains come – we are starting to feel Noah-ish. Our wonderful contractor had come back on his own time to put the world’s biggest tarp over our semi dry new floor to protect it. However, the rain overcame the tarp and made it into a giant plastic funnel that was neatly slanted to run the water into the now covered concrete hole AND our basement. We now have water in our dryer vent and in the cat litter. I gotta say, scoopable cat litter is only a boon when there is not a flood in your house. One possible use for wet scoopable cat litter is to cement the ark we are now trying to convert the house into. Seriously, has the Army Corps of Engineers looked into this stuff?!?!?! It’s like some kind of super-material.

We have the world’s best contractor, so please note that the things that happened were not his fault, but rather the capricious nature of remodeling.

In all our newlywed brilliance, we decided to tackle the porch remodel this year as well. Because we are idiots. Well okay, it actually turned out okay, thanks to the brilliant work of my husband’s brother and  a week’s worth of back-breaking labor. We now have a mostly done porch connected to our mostly done remodeled house. Mostly done.

There were three weeks of brutal temperatures this summer. The first was during the porch remodel.  You know, the one we decided to do ourselves. If you have not read my rant against the ravages of summertime, please do so now. We will wait… now you understand how I feel about that lovely season (bleck). The second wave of disgustingly hot weather was the two weeks we were without air conditioning. Now for most people this is just something you endure and then you move on to the cooler days of autumn. I am not most people. I tried, I really did. I tried not to sweat like a glass of ice tea in the noonday sun, I was not successful. It was the closest I have come to wanting to murder the chipper contractor guys that came to the house every day. They seemed not to understand the nature of the atrocity they were perpetrating on me… I digress. We eventually got our air back and I moved back home from hiding out in cool dark places like Golum in Lord of the Rings.

The next overly dramatic moment comes when you realize that they really meant it when they said they were going to unhook your appliances… All of them.  No running water on the main floor and no stove. We moved all the food and the refrigerator into the office. We have been living in there for three months. At the beginning, it all seems worth it because you know what is coming; a lovely home. Two weeks into microwave cooking and eating the garbage they serve at fast food restaurants, you begin to have strange dreams. I had several that involved me in a gingham apron with a spatula in hand, flipping burgers over a hot stove…and this was NOT a nightmare. I actually WANTED the apron and I would have worn it if I could have had my stove back. Betty Crocker fantasies aside, I never want to eat out again. At least not at any restaurant that is a bargain. 

There was of course one near tragedy, I think these are a prerequisite for remodeling. Our house was created in 1961, apparently it was a good year for house building because our house has “good bones”. One of those bones is a truss that runs lengthwise across the house and because of previous codes, it is a very long truss. My husband and I were sitting in our half done, soon to be kitchen, and we happened to look up at the truss – you know, the one holding the whole house up? And there, beautifully spaced, were 3 perfect holes drilled into our main truss in a vertical line. It was basically a perforation in the truss, so it would know where to collapse the house. Sort of a “tear along the dotted line” kinda thing.

We sent a text photo to our contractor with the picture of the holes and inquired if this was some new pressure relieving technique, or was it possible that giant, junky, mutant woodpeckers had been in the house. After our contractor regained consciousness, he considered the fact that he might need to take apart the entire house (the newly remodeled part) and start over to correct the damage. We were thrilled…it would only add another couple months to the drama, opps, I mean remodel…

At this point I thought it would be fun to describe some of the more…interesting subcontractors that we have met.

Exhibit A is the electrician. For some unknown reason most of the electricians I have met are rather eccentric. Perhaps because they live on the edge of electrocution they have developed some sort of cloak of crazy. Ours was a tall blond guy who periodically popped into the house, and waving a drill around, started putting mysterious holes everywhere. I, of course, had to know. Why is my favorite question. I’m a bit like a two year old that way. Apparently the holes were used to string all the electrical through the various joists. So the next day when he came again, and again started with the holes, I was beginning to wonder if he was an escaped extra from the movie “Holes”. This time it was because the first time wasn’t good enough. Hmmmm… All this leads back to what we like to call the “perforation”. It was not giant, junky, mutant woodpeckers, it was a half- crazed, hole fetish electrician! Fortunately our magical contractor was able to fix the perforation without dismantling the entire addition. This was after several calls to the truss engineers…who knew there were truss engineers?!?

Exhibit B is the Concrete Guy. I’m not sure what it is about concrete that automatically makes these guys into curmudgeons, but if you look up the definition of curmudgeon, one of the Concrete Guys is going to be there.

First, they talk as if there is an invisible cigar poking out of one side of their mouths at all times. A toothpick is too small to be worthy of the visual. Second, for some reason they appear to have stock in Carhartt - in endless varieties. Thirdly, even if they just won the lottery, they talk to you as if someone just stole their wife, shot their dog and ate their deer limit, in other words they are crabby! This is not your ordinary crabby, this is stewed over, slow cooked, masticated, crabby.

Our particular curmudgeon wanted to know what we wanted to do with the dirt. Now this is not a question I get asked everyday, so I, of course replied, “what dirt” – did you feel the earth tremble at the thought of my gaff?  Apparently any idjit knows that there is a vast quantity of dirt that has to be done away with when the Concrete Guy gets there. Who knows where dirt goes? I certainly don’t. When I innocently and smartly said “dirt heaven?” I felt a chill go down my spine. The look he gave me made me hear that song from Redemption - the one from Appalachia. By the way, your life really does flash before your eyes when someone is going to bury you UNDER the concrete.

Exhibit C is my favorite. He is our contractor’s co-laborer. One morning I awoke to the entire house swaying as a titanic boom was repeated over and over. Naturally curious as to why our house was moving, I went downstairs and peeked around the forbidden plastic barrier. One note about this barrier. There were large swaths of plastic sheeting hanging from our ceiling at various places. It was rather fun-house-ish. There was something magical about those barriers, mystical stuff was going on back there and mysterious noises were issuing forth. Anyway, I peeked in and saw one of the young guys with a sledgehammer joyfully pounding away on some piece of the house. When I say joyfully, I mean grinning, whole body dancing, all out glee! When he paused for a moment I said “you really like your job don’t you?” He responded with “I LOVE MY JOB!” and cheerfully went back to pounding away. He was like that the whole time. Ebullient.

Our remodel just finished yesterday. The guys have all gone and I felt like I was losing part of my family as they drove away. We have lived with them for months and somehow they became part of the landscape, almost as though they built themselves into the addition and now we were less without them. I confess I’m okay that the concrete guy is not sitting on my mantel, but some of the others I would have kept.

The contractor was amazing and I highly recommend him for any project you have. Our house is Shangri-La, and the artistry put into the simplest things is incredible. Even when the project got “interesting” our guy was willing to go all the way back to square one if necessary to make it right. Integrity, It is a rare quality.

My new husband and I survived a porch remodel (ours) and a house remodel, all in the first year of marriage. Hmmmm…maybe we are idjits…

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Off the beaten path this time. I have a need to talk about summer and the sun. This is not just a need like “I need a diet coke” this is a need like “I need oxygen”. I am afraid that if I do not give in to this compulsion, I will go splat against the wall as my brain explodes like a june-bug when you step on them because something that freaky looking ought not be.

First let me begin by saying that my husband and I have an agreement. I get to whine all summer and he gets to whine all winter. Seems fair…on the surface. You see I am convinced that my seasonal hatred is much more arduous than his. These are the things I compare. In winter I do not have to be afraid to cuddle up to my hubby. It is, in fact, a pleasurable experience because he has a little furnace in his body called a working metabolism, I do not. So cuddling up is wonderful and cozy. In summer there is a distinct possibility that our skin will actually meld together from the insane heat and the parting of our two bodies may do lasting and irreparable damage. Plus, the added heat from his internal furnace may just be enough to cause my eyeballs to melt. Only in summer do I have to risk my life to snuggle up to him.  

Then there is this little factoid. In winter, one can always put on another layer of clothing. In fact, I can keep going until I look like the long lost daughter of the stay-puft man. In summer you can only take off just so much before becoming illegal (in public). Although if the shorts on these little girls get any shorter, we may have to arrest them all.  So if your internal temperature is as delicate as Scarlet O’Hara in the early years, then you are just out of luck. You are going to melt just by putting on your eyeglasses.

Then there is the evil orb. Most people call it the sun. I prefer to refer to it as the scorching, moisture sucking, eye-blinding, temperature pushing, evil round thing in the sky. In winter, this orb is much more reasonable. It gilds the snow with diamonds, sparkles on the frost covered limbs of the trees, changes ordinary landscapes into a pristine fairyland. In summer a horror-fest is unleashed upon hapless mankind. Suddenly the sun is right on top of you. You walk out the door and it pounces on you like a stalking cat. It seeps into your pores instantly heating your skin, until you feel like you’ve been spitted and are slowly roasting over the universe’s fire. Your eye’s automatically close as they are assaulted by light so bright one expects to hear a voice demanding to know where you were last Tuesday night. Forget breathing, that ain’t gonna happen. In fact there is the very real threat of charring your lungs into some sort of carbon simply by taking too deep a breath. Then there is the actual burning. Because it is not content to simply make your skin FEEL like it is burning, oh no, it is going to ACTUALLY try to burn the skin right off your body. Those of us with pale, delicate skin attempt to foil this evil design by wearing spf that could protect a suitless astronaut standing directly on the surface of said orb, however, even this is not enough to spare us the spread of unwanted freckles and painful redness. Not nice.

Let’s talk about sweat. Some of us are blessed with the ability to daintily perspire, a gentle glow, a sweet flushing…and some of us are not. I am not. I sweat like a farmhand. Now that is just what you want your new husband to think of when he sees you. Instead of standing there in a gentle glowing aura channeling Scarlet in that pretty white dress, my beloved sees a hairy knuckle, shirtless, overall wearing, chaw-chewing, sweat-stained, sticky, farmhand with sweat pouring down like a waterfall…charming.

You may now have the idea that I hate summer and pretty much everything about it. You are incorrect. I loathe it, I abhor it with every fiber of my being. There is only one thing I like about it and that is between 70 and 75 degrees and the song made famous by Ella. Everything else is icky.

Whew, there I feel better! Now I have officially declared war on the icky sticky of summer!

Happy air conditioning!

Your mildly opinionated host. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marriage the First Year - The Lawn

The Lawn – I have spent my adulthood living in Townhouses. As a single girl, I saw no reason why I should mow and shovel. I do not have the putter with the lawn gene, so purchasing a single family home seemed counter-intuitive. Because of this decision, I have missed one very important fact.

You people are crazy about your lawns! Seriously!

There is an old movie called the Stepford Wives, it is about this community where the women are programmed to be perfect wives. I have further stretched this concept to include those freaky-deaky little neighborhoods where a builder came in and spit up 18 identical homes, including identical landscaping. My situation is a little more subtle. As you drive through the neighborhood, a trend appears out of the mist. Each and every lawn is perfect. Now I’m not talking a rough approximation of a golf-course, I am talking weirdly, utterly, perfect. I keep expecting to see Willy Wonka walking towards me, telling me that each blade of grass has been manufactured and lovingly tended to by its very own Ommpaloompa. This scares me. The only variation in these sparkling emerald lawns is the shade of emerald. It is as if each homeowner had a personal consultation with a color specialist at the Home Depot. “No I don’t like the Emerald Isles, I’ll take the Pea Puree Green.”

As you progress through a 3 block stretch, you will notice that ALL the lawns look like this. Until…(insert ominous movie music here) all this sylvan splendor comes to a screeching halt, not a mild stand on your brakes halt, but a roadrunner and Wylie Coyote kind of cliff halt. Now in front of you is a lawn that looks like it has been tended to by a demented flock of sheep. While there looks to be some form of mowing done, one would posit that either the sheep or a scythe was used. As you may have guessed, this verdant mass is my lawn.

Now to be fair, there are reasons. Yes, they are mostly lame excuses, but here they are none-the-less. 1. There is a patch of totally untended, unmowed weeds by our patio. We call this the game preserve. There is a fearless baby bunny living there who loves to sit under the screened patio windows and look my cats dead in the eye while enjoying dandelion leaves. Now honestly, if you had the cutest baby bunny living in your weed patch and thoroughly enjoying the wild salad that has been spared the blade, would you cut it down? I think not…I hope not…maybe?  2. My youngest son has inherited the mowing duties this year. Our lawn is large, so we do one side of the house each week. Since my boy is a genius, he has figured out how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that week into almost two. This means that the lawn fights back when he mows it. Now is it fair to fault him for the weird tufts that get missed between each row? He precisely lines up the lawnmower, not the blades of the lawnmower, just the lawnmower. We are correcting the difficulty, but that means the lawn has a trendy multiple mohawk look at the moment. Then there is the need to not hit the tree roots at the base of the trees, so they all sport a foot high skirt of what passes for lawn at my house. Strangely, the root circumference seems to grow each week. In only a few more weeks, he won’t need to mow at all.

Then there is the slight problem of not really having a lawn at all. While my neighbors could all passably be in a great lawn spread of Better Homes and Gardens, ours is not really grass, it is a lovely viney substance called creeping Charlie. Believe me when I say that Charlie is a creep. Then there is the clover, the violets, the stalky stemmy things that look like prairie grass. Basically, we are the botanical garden of weeds. Unfortunately, I have a hard time summoning up the desire to care that our lawn should be condemned, or possibly torched, or perhaps the earth should be salted and not grow anything for the next 100 years. Instead I have this weird fatalism about it. I drive through the pristine neighborhood and pull into my driveway and survey the land before me. Then I snort. Not a ladylike titter, no a rip roaring snort while saying “Wow, that’s a really bad lawn!” Is it wrong to take pride in being the best of the worst? I feel so deliciously anti-establishment…hmmm…perhaps I should have stayed in the townhouse.

My biggest problem is that I have a reoccurring nightmare that the neighbors will rise up, gather their pitchforks and torches and come after us for lawn abuse…it could happen…after all, it is the suburbs…

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The ART of Mommy Hood

When I was a little girl I would proudly bring home my art projects to be displayed on the refrigerator until they were mysteriously eaten by the cat and disappeared, now why the cat wanted to eat my artwork I never did quite understand. To be fair, my mom still has my attempt at an elephant from 2nd or 3rd grade. The elephant’s nose never quite worked out, so it became a squashy-legged dog instead. When I reached high school my most creative endeavors were neatly stored in a folio.

Now I know that times change and things progress, but I must protest some of the progress! As a newly minted mother of three boys, (my new sons, by my new marriage) I must ask you, what has possessed our school system? Really! I have about 8 vase thingies of varying sizes, shapes and colors. I’m not sure if you can actually put water in them, or even if they are really vases. Perhaps they are the mysterious vessels for some sort of teenage ritual I know nothing about. How would I know, I’m new at this. Then there are the short pottery thingies … what on earth is a pinch bowl?!? And what is it for!?!

Today, I became the proud recipient of a life-size plate of a paper mache rueben, complete with potato wedges. No, seriously! The plate is better than my own dishware and the reuben could feed a small third world nation. What am I supposed to do with this? Am I now required, under some mommy oath that I never got to hear about until it was too late, to keep said paper mache sandwich until….oh my gosh, how long am I required to keep this?!  I’m now looking at a ceramic life-sized piece of strawberry cake that I know was made by one of the older boys and it’s still here! Is there a statute of limitations somewhere? Is this stuff written down? Why didn’t I know about this?!

Okay, I’m back - short break for breathing into a paper bag.

A short word about the incredible creativity of my boys. I am enthralled by their ability to make these amazing projects. Shoot, when I was in school we considered ourselves near genius if we could draw a life-like tree! The scope of their creativity is astounding. Any project they are asked to do is done with excellence, and I am proud of them! 

The problem is that this whole situation kicks in my conspiracy theory gene. Is this the art teacher’s way of sticking it to the world on behalf of teachers everywhere? I voted for the referendum for gosh sakes, I know you are underpaid and overworked. Really, I know! Please don’t send home anymore ceramic heads that would do a witchdoctor in Bora-Bora proud. I now have to stare at those unblinking eyes FOREVER! I’m sorry! Whatever I did, I’ll make it up to you! Please, I’m begging you, let me take you out to lunch, let me pay for your next pair of shoes, I’ll do anything if you’ll just stop sending home wire jellyfish!

The worst part is that I know there is more coming. There is a mysterious Cardboard Project that has yet to make an appearance. I’m afraid. Really. Seriously. Afraid. And next year is Ceramics 3! Am I a bad mommy if the cats eat a few of these projects…OH, THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED TO MY ARTWORK! Bless you mommy, I now understand! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The First Year of Marriage - Part 3

Blankets – I have always been someone who did not want to share her bed. Ever. With anything. No stuffed animals, no cats, no dogs, no sisters, no friends on a road trip trying to save money on a cheap hotel – no one. My path in life was a much harder one to trod. To date I have shared my bed with a squashy tootsie roll pillow, 3 cats, a 125 pound Great Dane, my sister and various friends at various times. I have not enjoyed it. I did not find it comforting to have another being beside me. I did not want to be touched while sleeping; leave me blissfully and unconsciously alone. The closest I came to having a husband in bed was the Great Dane. It went something like this. “Okay Katie, bedtime, get in your kennel” to which my dog obediently plopped in her kennel, gave me a soulful look as though I were torturing her and sighed as only a Great Dane can sigh. Around 2 hours later, when I was at my most vulnerable and droozy with sleep there would suddenly be this full force compression on my chest as my clumsy Dane puppy plopped her 125 pounds on me. It was like a nightly practice for CPR, only I was the test dummy. I really was the dummy, because we repeated this pattern every night for months; yet somehow I was always surprised. Slooooooow learner. Trying to move a Great Dane when they have decided to stay is akin to trying to move the Great Pyramid of Giza with those furniture slider thingys  – not going to happen… The next morning I would awake clinging to the vertical side of my bed by my fingernails and sheer cussed stubbornness, while the Great Dane was ecstatically, fully stretched out with her head on my pillow. Sigh…

These experiences gave me little hope for peaceful slumber in my married life. I fully expected to give up sleeping as the price for marital bliss. Imagine my surprise to find that not only do I like sleeping in the same bed as my husband, but I actually can’t go to sleep without being in my “spot” curled on up his shoulder. Shocking! That spot is like finding out the mirage shimmering in the distance really is water in the middle of an oasis. In my opinion, every night, of every year spent without that spot was a thirsty desert experience.

There is only one teensy, tiny, itsy, bitsy, little problem. I hardly think it worth mentioning, but without it, there would be nothing to blog about [grin]. Blankets. My husband steals them. Actually, I think steals might be too strong a word, perhaps cocoons into them would be better. My husband has no body fat. Like none. I work very hard not to break that "Thou shalt not covet" commandment over that one, but it’s really hard. It makes me feel like I’m living in a Jack Sprat poem. Because of this one terrible flaw of his, he seeks warmth like a missile. Usually this means I wake up shivering and having to go to the bathroom. Now, one does not necessarily lead to the other, but the bathroom trip is inevitable.

I need to note, that there are few things in life more miserable than waking up in the middle of the night freezing cold AND having to go to the bathroom.

After the necessary trip to the necessary, I am faced with a dilemma. What once was my long, lean, stretched out husband has become this tight, squished up ball of Beloved and blankets. The first time this scenario played itself out, I did what any loving wife would do and I unrolled the bundle and took my side of the blankets back. Then the most horrifying thing happened! My husband, in his sleep emitted the saddest sounding  whispered  “Brrrrrrrrrrr” and lay  there unconsciously shivering until the cold half of the blankets warmed up. I felt like I kicked a puppy and pulled the cat's tail all in the same night. Nobody warned me about this! I thought all these blanket stealers were hardened criminals, capable of the most heinous criminal acts like leaving one’s new bride out in the cold. But no, I find that they, or at least mine, are simply skinny popsicles in need of a defrost cycle. So now, I lie there thinking, should I or shouldn’t I unroll the husband burrito? Warmth or love, now there’s a real dilemma! Perhaps I should just wriggle my way into that burrito!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Year of Marriage - Part 2

Doilies - I have a passionate fear of doilies. I am convinced that were I to put one doily under one object, that I would not be able to stop. Then I would be THAT house. You know the one that looks like a permanent blizzard of lace has iced every available surface?  However, this also plays a part in my most heinously evil newly married fantasy. We have this room in the basement. Its unfortunate nomenclature is The Man Cave. I’ll give you a moment to picture it. Are you frightened yet? Cowering in terror and clutching your loved one who secretly wants his own Man Cave? Okay, my fantasy is to sneak down there in the middle of the night and put doilies everywhere. I mean everywhere. The arms and backs of the furniture, under every forsaken dish, cup and plate, sandwiched between every xbox game and wrapped around every remote and joystick thingy. Then, as the final piece of skullduggery, I will run through the room every 20 minutes or so waving doilies and singing I Enjoy Being A Girl at the top of my lungs!

Really I am completely unaffected by the testosterone gas in my male filled house…really…

Towels – I worked in the medical field for 10 years as a medical assistant/lab tech in various facilities and on various projects. This is part of how they train you to be a lab tech. They have you swab (swab should be said swwwwaaaabbb, to get the full effect) things... I mean everything... There are some things the human mind holds onto like a vacuum cleaner with the edge of your fringed rug. I now know with indelible certainty what grows on things.

“I know what you are covered with doorknob, and you, you foul telephone, I KNOW…”

And yet somehow you are supposed to go out into the world after graduation as if you are not permanently scarred by this knowledge. I was not so fortunate. I secretly struggle not to become the world’s biggest germaphobe. You see, most germaphobes SUSPECT what’s out there… I KNOW! Yet I valiantly walk around pretending not too. However, there is one area I simply cannot bring myself to forget. Skin cells, moisture and towels. This frothy stew is beyond my ability to endure.

When I moved into the house and found that the guys follow the common practice of using a towel more than once, I applauded their economy, until I realized that they were a bit caaaasual about which towel was the repeat. After I regained consciousness, I quickly forsook THAT idea. And now I live comfortably with my new towel. One leeetle problem. I forgot about the laundry. There have been times that I am convinced that one of my men is playing a trick on me and buying new towels at Target everyday on the way home. It is not possible for there to be this many dirty towels. Who even OWNS this many towels? Since showering is by no means a favorite activity, what are they doing to generate this many towels? Perhaps one for each toe? One for the upper half and one for the lower? One daintily wrapped about the hair and each arm? I am at a loss. I will, however, gladly bear the endless Sorcerer's Apprentice type loads of towels for the sheer joy of knowing that mine is clean, sweet and unused.

I am not insane.

Holding hands - It is amazing how quickly we as human beings adapt. I went for 45 years without holding onto anything while I navigated the world. I did not need the balancing metric of another arm to hold me up. Now, however, I find it difficult to walk across the kitchen without my beloved’s hand in mine. In fact, I have become so accustomed to having it that I actually reach for the hand of whomever I happen to be near. Fair warning, people.

 There is something amazing about that connection. Knowing that when you reach across the void, there is a hand waiting to catch yours. Compelling. Comforting. Connected. My gratitude for this simple act is boundless. The warmth of this contact, flesh meeting flesh, is beyond a simple grasp. It is a symbol of everything that is wrapped up in loving someone. It is “I am here for you,” it is “I have chosen you,” it is “I will catch you when you fall.”   

There is so much I have learned about God from that handclasp. When I reach across the void of time, space and life, He is there. Always. And now I understand more of what that means. While there are some funny things to navigate this first year of marriage, I am profoundly changed and deeply grateful.

 I may be drowning in an endless load of towels, but I treasure each nasty, damp, balled up lump, because of what comes with it - an endless stream of love. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Marriage the First Year - Part One

I am in the 7th month of my first year of marriage. These are some of the unexpected things that I have experienced in this first year.

Black socks. I have a theory. I fully believe that if I wash the same 20 black socks over and over again, enough times, that they will eventually find their mates. Please note I said 20 black socks, NOT 10 pairs. Where do all these black socks come from!! How do I make them go away? I will occasionally find a match for one of them and you would think I was celebrating the winning of the elusive Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. I dance around the room waving them in a gleeful paean of praise to the sock-matching-god.

As for the rest of them, as a newly married, late in life bride, I can’t help throwing the rest of them back in the wash in the faint hope their one true love match is floating around in the dryer. So far a love match is as rare as a summer day in Minnesota this year.

Boys and housekeeping. Keep in mind that I am coming from living by myself in my pristine townhome to a house full of men. It is not quite a 7 Brides for 7 Brothers moment, but there are days... You know that scene in a movie where the guy is sitting on the couch and lifts his feet so that they can be vacuumed under? It happened to me. No, really! I gave the offending man-child the stare of death; he remained either unmoved or oblivious. I fear it is oblivious. Because this I now know. Oblivious is an honest state of being…and they live there. The landscape of Oblivious is littered with invisible things, such as half eaten chip bags, miscellaneous cups, used paper plates and socks, lots and lots of socks. These socks are of the used to be white variety, so alas, no match for the black ones. Strangely, they only emerge from Oblivious when a necessity to the welfare of the town is breached. Such as the half eaten bag of chips mysteriously becomes a wholly eaten bag. Then they emerge blinking, wide-eyed and perplexed, holding the previously invisible bag up for your inspection and wondering when the empty state is going to be reconciled.

The bathroom. I was going to do a chapter on the bathroom, but I started to black-out at the mere thought, so I’ll just skip that part…for now…

The joys. Lest I leave you with the thought that there is only trauma in the first year, let me regale you with some of the wonderful things. I used to joke that I would get married just to have my back scratched at night. Now, I no longer joke about such a sacred subject. I am fairly certain that eternity somehow resonates with the feeling of having your back scratched when it’s itchy. Honestly, every time I feel cheated that I can’t purr like my cats. That is the only proper response.

Coming home has new meaning to me. I used to be greeted at the door by the cats inquiring when their next visit to the food bowl was scheduled. Now I come home to someone whose eyes light up at the sight of me. I have new understanding of the word awe. I did not know that one person could have that powerful an effect on another. I am humbled. 

Cooking together. I love the old standards. Those of you who were at my wedding know my love of Always by Frank, At Last by Etta, Unforgettable by Nat, Summertime, Fever and all the other wonderful songs of bygone eras. My new husband and I cook our dinners while listening to them. Is it really our fault if dinner burns as we dance around the kitchen making googly eyes at each other? I mean really…

To Be Continued...

Monday, May 16, 2011


Psalm 42 is a psalm of longing. It says As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee, and many other beautiful words of longing.

One thing to note is that the longing is not something that needs to be worked up or sought after, it simply is. So it is with our longing after God. Our souls yearn for him, even when we are not in tune with that yearning.

Our lives are incredibly busy. My husband and I talk almost every day about when our lives will be simpler. After Christmas we said, well no, but after our first big Valentines day it will get simpler, or maybe not, but surely after Holy Week things will slow down. Well not really, maybe after Josh’s graduation, no, but really after Jubilee it will all be better…except then there’s…fill in the blank for yourself…

Our lives are not simple and frankly I don’t think they are going to be simple. Ever…

I say this not to discourage you, but to say that sometimes life has to be lived in the “in betweens” I think we have to stop looking to the horizon for a return to the idyllic. Our lives are not days of labor that end neatly at five o’clock and evenings spent on the porch watching the sun set, feeling the wafting breeze and talking with passing neighbors after a leisurely dinner. Instead, our lives are seemingly endless rounds of surrender to the tyranny of the urgent.

There is however, a respite. The moments in the “in between.”  For my devotional, we are going to live in one of those moments.

I am going to lead you in a meditation. Funny word meditation, it has so many negative connotations, but can really be quite powerful if you get beyond the stereotype. So take this as a moment of rest and peace.

So, first we will start with some music. Something instrumental so your thoughts are not drawn away. Get comfortable. Lay your head back and close your eyes. Take a deep breath, hold it for a second and let it out all the way down to your toes. Feel all of that breath leave you. Good. Now breath deeply, but normally. 

Start with this picture. Think back to a time you spent by a lake. Its early morning and it doesn’t even hurt that you are up at the crack of dawn. You put on your favorite hoodie sweatshirt, grab a warm cup of your favorite beverage and head out to the dock. You sneak out the door so that you don’t disturb the family. You are completely alone in the silence. The morning fog chases your feet as you walk. The loons cry somehow adds to the stillness instead of taking it away. Your steps on the old dock creek as only old, worn wood can.  Your fingers are warming around your cup. The sip warms your insides and you feel it all the way down, warmth spreads through you. You sit at the end of dock and your tennies nearly brush the surface of the water. The new sun shines on your face, it is so real in the stillness, you feel it like a caress on your cheek. As you sit there, stillness fills your whole being…and you hear these words.

I have loved you with an everlasting love.

I have called you by name and you are mine.

The deepest places in me, call out to the deepest places in you.

I am with you

I will be your light, when all around you is darkness

Put your hope in me when despair plagues your steps

I am loving

I am faithful

I am your strength when your own strength fails

I will comfort you when life betrays you

I will be your shelter when you are alone

I knit you together and put myself in the very fabric of your being. You are made like me… You are made by me… and you are made for me… and I love you.

Your eyes open to the light of the full dawn. You don’t even know when they closed. You sigh and listen to the last lingering notes of the music you didn’t know you were hearing.

Your soul is filled. The longing is stilled.

You have lived in the moment “in between” and God has met you there.

One of the things that inspired this devotional was a quick conversation I heard between Jon and Pastor Carl. They were talking about how hard it is to still your mind enough to “Be still and know that he is God.” And I wanted to share with you one of the ways that I use to find that stillness in the brief moments that life allows us. I hope you found a moment. 


I was at a fascinating restaurant the other day, it was called Brasa.
It was as simple as it gets; metal tables in a semi-sweltering room,
open to the outside at every available crevice, a beautiful but teeny
patio with umbrellas and a cool breeze, and an hour long wait. The food
was reported to be delicious and worth the wait.

The hostess was a little girl, well, she looked like a little girl to me, but I’m
fairly certain I have lost all sense of age. She was probably in her
very late teens or early twenties. She had hot pink canvas tennies with
one tongue cut out over a new tattoo and reddish curly hair bunched up
in a band on the top of her head. She was that scary skinny that most
teens seem to be these days. As a table opened, she bussed and wiped
each one while watching the door for new customers. Then she would run
around to each person on her extensive waiting list and ask if they
wanted a table indoors or if they were going to wait for the patio. She
continued the process until she found someone who was willing to sit
inside. She repeated this pattern as the occupants of each table
finished their dinner.

During the long wait and into our leisurely dinner, she became increasingly stressed. 
She had several tables to bus and one demanding, waiting, patron who was doing the
restaurant equivalent of “are we there yet” and repeatedly asking her
how soon until they were seated. She still treated everyone with
respect, but you could see the tension ratcheting up with each passing
moment. We were commenting on how huge her job was and how exhausted
she must be at the end of the night, when my brother (in-law) called
her over. Her thoughts showed on her face and you could tell she
thought John was going to give her grief about something. He looked her
in the eyes and said, “You are doing a great job, but you need to
stop…take a deep breath…and relax for one second. Then you can go back
to work.” As he spoke and she paused to breathe, you could see the
tension roll off her shoulders and a peace steal over her. She went
right back at it, but was more serene and not so driven.

I wonder how often God wants to say the same to us as we run around in
our crazy busy lives, forgetting to breathe, forgetting to love,
forgetting to live. Imagine the Father saying to you, “you are doing a
great job, but you need to stop…take a deep breath…and relax for one
second.” Something in us immediately jumps to the “but I’m not doing a
great job, look at me, I’m so busy I can’t even keep my days straight,
much less work on a vibrant, growing relationship with God!”

Stop. Breathe. Relax.

The Bible talks about our “well done,” it comes from somewhere else. Romans
3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. You are doing a great

The pace of our lives seems to grow on a daily basis. Once
upon a time, you got up, ate breakfast together, went to work or school
and came home to dinner together. Now it seems we can barely remember
the names of the people we live with and love. We are ships passing in
the night, and that is only our private lives. In the world, we have a
very fast moving government, a slow moving economy and uncertainty
every time we hear the news. Stop. Breathe. Relax. The Bible says it
this way. John 16:33 (BBE) I have said all these things to you so that
in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble: but take
heart! I have overcome the world.

Just like that young girl at the restaurant, take a moment to hear. 
“You are doing a great job, but you need to stop…take a deep breath…
and relax for one second.” Take a moment to just breathe for a second 
and then go on about your day and
the many things you do in life, with His peace and His rest on your
shoulders. Remember, Jesus is here, and he asks you to

By the way, the food really WAS worth the wait!
777 Grand Avenue
Hours:St. Paul, MN. 55105
11am - 10 pm 7 days a week
651-224-1302 info / private parties 651-224-1628 take out

Let's Revisit the Pedestrian Rant

This is a revisit of an earlier post. And it deserves another look because IT KEEPS HAPPENING!

Okay, I am finally going to do it. My first “remember when” rant; this is the final nail in the oh crap I am not 20 anymore coffin. So here goes. 

Remember when pedestrian just meant a person who was trying to stay out of your way while going from point A to point B? When did these creatures turn into out of control monsters who sole purpose in life is to make sure I am shaking and terrified spitless every time I leave a parking lot? 

Take yesterday for example. Little did I know that my trip to Target was going to turn into psychological warfare. I did my usual going in for toothpaste, which costs $3 and coming out with bags of stuff that costs $50 instead, and I was ready to leave the parking lot. would think. 

I carefully and responsibly packed my bags in the truck, rather than in the rearview window, because I am a conscientious driver and wanted clear lines of site – noble of me I thought. I got in the car, started the engine and didn’t even turn on the radio because I haven’t had one in 7 years, my new car has one, and I wanted to be silent in respect for the backing out procedure. I put the car in reverse, which I know engages the little white lights that mean “Hey, I’m backing out here!” I even checked later after the trauma to make sure they work – they do. I carefully checked both directions, remembering, it’s motorcycle season, then I proceeded to back. Then BAM! suddenly there are two people walking directly behind my car, completely oblivious to me, and chatting up a storm. I slam on the breaks and think bad thoughts. Then I attempt the maneuver again. This time it’s a woman and her stroller. “Really lady? Not only are you going to walk behind a moving car, but you’re pushing your progeny into the path first?” I made it about six inches that time. 

Now I am about 10 inches into the lane, it is quite obvious that I am backing out my car. By this time I am afraid to move. I am still between the two SUVs, because ITS ALWAYS SUVs!, and I can’t see. Now comes the faith in God part, because now I’m praying like this. “Lord, I just want to go home without maiming someone or bumping my new car on something and apparently I need divine intervention to do so - HELP!” 

I continue backing; a car streaks behind my half backed up car because apparently the apocalypse will come if he is not out of the lot before I finish backing up. Never knew I had such cosmic might. Now I can see about 2 inches of true viewing from my windows, you know the ones WAY UP FRONT, one more time I check both ways and finally, shattered, shaken and speed dialing a therapist, I am free! 

In the good old days before some bureaucrat gave pedestrians the right-of-way, people were a little more genteel about it. They would cross the lane to walk behind the opposite cars when they saw the little white lights, not difficult, but kind, to the poor frazzled car-backer. They also would not saunter across, they would MOVE! I miss that. In my darker moments, I envy the European countries that get to run over their miscreant pedestrians – but only in my darkest hours (insert ominous movie music here). 

Ah well, be safe out there people, was something we only had to say to the police and firemen, but now, I say it to you. “Be safe out there people, and watch out for pedestrians; and yes, they ARE out to get you!”

This is how Rumors Get Started

Under the heading of “This is how rumors get started.”

Let me begin with an understatement. I am NOT a morning person. Thankfully, my poor morning person husband finds my inability to articulate words or remember anything before 10am, delightfully funny (please God let that last the next 50 years).

To continue the story, Sunday mornings begin really early for me. Me+5:30am=ugly.

So I pulled on this pair of black pants that have always been a bit snug. To add insult to injury (5:30am did I mention that?) they were a little snugger-er…sigh. I’m leaning heavily on my First Year of Marriage and all the stuff you get to get away with. One of them being that you get to gain some weight; I hear it’s like 10 whole pounds! I have not gained that much, or those pants would have laughed at me. I know they would have, because in my weakened morning state, I think I might actually hallucinate. So far, they have only giggled.

I report on the pants to say that I am already going to church with a bit of sensitivity about my current weight. At the 8am service, people were happily wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and I was enjoying it. At 9:15am everything changed. One dear woman said the words that sent me and my tight pants spinning. She said “Congratulations, I was excited to hear.” I said, “Hear what?” “That you have a baby on the way.” Now honestly my first thought was that my cats are all spayed, so there were no kittens on the way that I knew of. No, seriously! Those were my first thoughts. I could not think of any other possible way that there could be a baby on the way for me. No, I do not need sex education, I said it was morning AND before 10am. I was not running on all cylinders.

Then it hit me! It’s those darn 5 pounds! I look pregnant in these pants! Oh my gosh I still have hours before I can go home and burn them!! All this went through my head in a split second. When she added “When are you due,” I actually looked down at my stomach as if expecting a 9 month old baby to be emerging from it. I was imagining something like the Alien flicks where there really is something emerging from her stomach and goo everywhere. Thankfully, my pudgy little tummy appeared no worse for wear.

After quickly noting that I was not expecting; kittens or otherwise, I did what every brave 5 pound gaining women would do and I hid in the tech booth. Fortunately, I was running sound so I had a reason to be there. Unfortunately, the nature of my job does not leave room for much hiding. After the second person congratulated me on my impending obstetrical encounter, I swore off eating and was pretty much over the whole day (until some woman handed me a flyer with peanut M&M’s attached. Who does that!! Can’t you see I’m hanging by a thread here?!?! Are you TRYING to make me look pregnant???) After my delicious M&M break I felt much better (no emotional eating here!) and started to see the funny side of this…ummm…sort of…

The third person finally added the words that saved my sanity and my black pants. “I saw on Facebook that this is your first Mothers Day, congratulations, when are you due?” You know that scene in Lord of the Rings when everyone is surrounded by Orcs and all hope is lost and Gandalf rides over the hill with light streaming behind him and pouring from his staff? I have lived that moment. “OH!” I cried! That’s why everyone thinks I’m pregnant! Oh thank you God! Its not because I’m getting fat, it’s because I started my own rumor!!

So, to clear up the rumor, may I calmly say thank you for all the well wishes, however, I am not pregnant. My beloved (and widowed) husband came equipped with children. I have three wonderful boys that I gained with no labor, no pushing and no diaper changing and I like it like that! They are 23, 21 and 16 years old and they gave me a great Mother’s Day!

It was my first, ya know!