Category Archives: Love

Alphabet Soup Challenge: M is for Marriage

Next Tuesday will be our 30th wedding anniversary.

Obviously, with the Covid-19 pandemic and recently rolled out “Safer at Home” orders, Hubs and I will not be getting out of dodge to celebrate, like we typically do. I’m guessing the most I can count on is an invigorating hike and a picnic. Which is fine by me.

It’s fine by me because our marriage is bigger than that.

Our pairing began as a summer fling. Hubs seduced me one night by giving me what was the only foot rub I ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I was 21 and he was 18. I was taking summer courses at college to ensure I would graduate in 4 years. I was bored and starting to come to terms with the notion that I may not find someone to marry in college after all.

The truth is, I entered my freshman year of college as a romantic. While I was determined to obtain my degree in that 4 years, I was equally determined to meet my future husband during that time.

I was such a silly girl back then.

The romantic relationships I had up until that point were lopsided. Either I was more into him or he was more into me. It never felt equal.

But with the Hubs, it was different. Our conversations flowed. He made me laugh. He made me feel good about myself. He encouraged me in my studies. He was thoughtful and mature beyond his years (I actually thought he was at least a couple of years older the first couple of times I met him because of this).

Over the course of that summer, we fell in love.

Hubs proposed to me in the basement of my sorority house one evening. It was November and starting to get chilly out. He presented me with a new pair of gloves and requested, with a big grin on his dimpled face, that I try them on. Inside the left glove there was an engagement ring.

I did not hesitate for a second, responding with a resounding “Yes!”.

I graduated with my BS in Social Work that spring. Hubs and I moved into our first apartment in the summer, where we slept on a mattress donated by his parents, sans boxspring and frame. I spent the next year working in a customer service job while he continued working and going to school. During this year, my mom and I planned our wedding.

We got married in the church I grew up in one year to the day after I graduated from college. It was Pastor Reppe’s last wedding before he retired.

Wedding party 5/26/90

Years later, while milling about with friends and family at that same church following my Godfather’s funeral, Hubs found himself in a conversation with Pastor Reppe. The good pastor had of course been retired for a number of years by then and he asked Hubs how the two of us were faring. Hubs gave him a solemn look and said “We actually didn’t make it. Haven’t been married to that woman for a few years now”. Hubs recounted that the look of shock and sadness on Pastor Reppe’s face was priceless. Then Hubs let out his hearty, loud laugh and told him he was teasing; we actually were still together. Still happy and busy working full time and parenting our two kids.

Now, as with any long term marriage, we’ve gone through a lot together. Raised our two kids, adopted a few dogs, moved 6 times, laid both of my parents to rest, enjoyed a few epic vacations (with and without kids), changed jobs, mourned the loss of friends and family members, became grandparents, and much more. Good and bad. Happy and sad.

I wouldn’t change a damn thing. And I’m eager to see what the next 30 years might bring.

Happy Anniversary to B&B

Last Friday was my parent’s 62nd wedding anniversary. Remembering this brought on a feeling of sadness that I haven’t felt since they passed on from this life.

My dad, Babe, passed almost two years ago now. My mom, Bonnie, followed suit one year, one week, and one day after that.

None of us can claim with any scientific certainty that heaven exists. But I believe there is another dimension where our souls land once our earthly bodies cease to be.

It gives me comfort to envision my parents together in this dimension.

I like to think that Mom is not in any pain whatsoever. That she can walk and move with ease. That Dad’s mind is all there. That he doesn’t feel angry or confused or frustrated with himself. That in this other dimension he exists as the person he was prior to the fall where he hit his head. The hard hit to his noggin that eventually led to a diagnosis of dementia.

He wouldn’t be holding Mom’s purse, because she doesn’t need one anymore.

That was one of the things about these two, Bonnie and Babe: he accepted her shopaholic tendencies while holding her purse from store to store.

Bonnie and Babe made an impression on people wherever they went. In many ways, they were opposites. In some ways, they were two of a kind.

They were social creatures. They loved to have other people around to “BS” with. To feed. To take care of. To travel with. To celebrate with. I’m grateful for that aspect of marriage they modeled for me and Hubs.

Bonnie and Babe; separate, yet together, circa 1970 or thereabouts

I didn’t know it till I was 14 that Mom and Dad met when my brother was just a toddler. I loved that my Dad had love in his heart for a boy who was not his own. He married Mom in 1958 and legally adopted Craig shortly thereafter. I suspect that he faced judgement about it from my Grandma Pearl, but ironically she grew to love and depend on my Mom more than probably anyone else in our family.

I love that Bonnie and Babe were hard workers. They always had so much energy and together they created so much for the enjoyment of so many.

I love that they were spontaneous. One day, out of the blue from my perspective, they decided to start a business. Despite working full time and then some, Dad agreed to Mom’s proposition that they buy out our small town’s women’s clothing store. It had been a bar years before. They decided to call it “Bonnie’s Clothes Bar”.

With Dad taking care of the books and Mom doing running the store for several years, I was able to attend college without any of us taking on any debt. That is something they were very proud of.

Bonnie and Babe were always very physically affectionate with each other. I remember cringing as a pre-teen while Dad would lovingly call Mom “Mama Buns” (she had an ample ass for much of her adult life). They held hands on the regular.

I remember a story they told about their first trip to Europe. It was an extremely hot and humid day in England (or France? I wasn’t present). They were waiting outside for a ride to take them to a museum or something. Dad spied an ice cream truck and made a bee-line for it. Came back to Mom and sat down on a bench next to her.

Dad was savoring the sweet cold deliciousness and Mom asked for a lick. He obliged. Within two seconds she was asking for another lick. He again obliged. A few more seconds pass and she’s asking again. He said something to the effect of “Why don’t you get your own” to which she responded with “Now Babe, I just wanted one more lick”, then proceeded to berate him for his complaint.

This pushed Dad over the edge. He took the remainder of that ice cream cone and smashed it on her chest, creating a cold, sticky mess all over her top. I wish I could have seen the look on her face. The face she made just before the two of them erupted into laughter.

My Mom and Dad’s song. They have gone down in history when we want to see how true love should be.

Soundtrack for 2020

As a writer, I’m perpetually searching for fodder. Music is the sort of fodder that I’m naturally drawn to on a daily basis.

It’s the stuff that fuels me. It inspires me. It soothes me. It motivates me. It nurtures me in a way nothing else really can.

That is why I’ve decided to create a bold new playlist for just me, myself, and I. It will be chock full of tracks that will keep me focused on my own self improvement path. Songs that contain the messages I need to hear.

So indulge me while I play “DJ” for a minute (a job I’ve always wanted to sample) and share with you the “must have” songs for me in 2020:

  • “Shower the People” by James Taylor. The lyric “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel; things are gonna get so much better if you only will” is….just well, “IT” for how I aim to interact with others on the daily this year.
  • “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. Not only does this song prompt me to break out in a happy dance, but it instantly improves my outlook. I like to think of it as a song that God inspired Stevie Wonder to write as a love letter to his beloved children. At it’s heart, it’s a song about faith.
  • “Everybody’s Cup of Tea” by Kasey Musgraves. I’m going to include a clip of this one because I don’t think it’s terribly well known, though it should be. I need to keep it on my soundtrack because I know that with my blogging and writing, not to mention my actual personal life, there’s going to always be people who don’t appreciate me. To stay strong and keep plowing ahead, I need to embrace that fact.
  • “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner-Overdrive. It’s the lyric, “Taking care of business, every day, taking care of business, every way”, that gets my motor going. It motivates me to stay on top of shit. To not get so sucked into social media, binge-watching Netflix, or even blogging that I’m not fully taking care of important business. Like keeping our home in good order. Getting to work on time each day and completing each task that presents itself to me. Self-care in all it’s varied forms.
  • “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. This song will be on my 2020 soundtrack because it’s important to me this year to make friendships, old and new, a bigger priority than in years past. To appreciate all the friends I have and nurture those relationships.
  • “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. This song is a very important one as I move forward in 2020. On account of my squirrel brain (which almost always has multiple tabs open simultaneously), I relate to the lyric “And I wonder if I’m really with you now, or just chasing after some finer day”. It stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be present. To focus on the “right now” instead of the “what’s next”. Because tomorrow is not a given.
  • “Take that Step” from “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix documentary, do yourself a favor and watch it. Unless you don’t want to feel joy or be uplifted this year. The lyric “find that path others missed, life is better with a twist” is particularly inspiring to me as a writer with ambition!
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m sure you all know this song. It’s a universal musical “pick me up”, don’t you think? The reason it’s going on my 2020 soundtrack is because 2019 was a hell of a year. A lot of not-so-great things happened; however towards the end of the year things started to really look up again. On top of that, this song represents what I’m seeking most in 2020: Clarity.

This soundtrack of mine, much like this blog, is a WIP. Throughout 2020, behind the scenes, I will be ISO more songs that will guide me through the year with a sense of purpose, love for myself and others, and the mindset and energy level I need to accomplish the goals I’m setting for myself.

Do you, fellow music lovers, have any songs in mind for your own 2020 soundtrack? Please share in the comments ūüôā

Embracing Americana Music

Per Wikipedia and paraphrased by me:

Americana (also known as American roots music) is a genre of music that represents the spirit of the United States. It is a contemporary mashup of folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and gospel. It features a distinctive roots-oriented sound that exists apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it draws. It is often performed acoustically but at times includes a full electric band.

Americana music is my current jam, people. I’m at the point in my life where my musical tastes are more eclectic. In high school, I was all about Classic Rock and Top 100 Pop Hits. I listened to Kasey Kasem’s show on the regular. In my mid-twenties, when I was a mom to two toddlers, I went through a “New Country” phase (think Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Faith Hill). I was an avid viewer of CMT.

What has always stuck with me, however, was an appreciation for classic country and bluegrass artists, like Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Reba McIntyre, Dolly Parton,¬† Allison Krauss, and Garth Brooks. I’ve enjoyed their music since forever. These artists and more have no doubt ushered in the Americana genre.

What I love about the Americana genre of music is the storytelling aspect, much like the iconic country songs of yesterday. I love the bluesy, swampy melodies. I love the harmonies often found in these songs. And I love that these songs are uniquely American.

So it seems fitting to me as a creative writer, card carrying AARP member, and music lover in the current “upside down” political and social culture that is our United States to highlight the talents of today’s Americana musical artists that I enjoy and appreciate.

Here’s a sampling of songs that fall under the Americana umbrella that I find especially special:

Side note: Hubs and I saw Logan play live at the last John Hiatt concert we attended (I’ve written about John Hiatt in previous posts, but this post¬†is the most comprehensive one). Logan¬†opened for Hiatt, and after he did his set, the audience was invited for a “meet and greet” with him. I took this opportunity to tell him I thought he was an amazing performer and that I looked forward to watching him win his Grammys. Yes, I am a dork. But I’m also right on this one. “Mark my words” as my Mom used to say. If you chose to skip clicking on the link I provided above, you won’t know what I’m talking about. Just sayin’.

True confession: as I was putting this post together, I got myself thoroughly lost in Americana. I wanted to add songs from Drive-by-Truckers, Todd Snider, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams…

But instead I’m going to have a little faith that you, my music loving readers (Americana or otherwise), will treat yourself by checking out some of these artists and songs. Tell me what you think of them. Maybe turn me on to some new artists yourselves.

Here’s something special from the King (to me) of Americana music for your listening enjoyment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Radar Diaries

Well, you all knew when Hubs and I adopted Radar, you were going to hear all about it, right?

We’ve had him now for almost 3 months and so far, so good. Mostly.

On the bright side, he has brought us a lot of joy. Ironically, the wonderful dog trainer who we see every Sunday is also named Joy. I like to think that is no coincidence. Radar is a happy-go-lucky, people loving pup. Just a little rough around the edges.

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A brief respite among his shedded fur after some crazy random running around as I was writing this post.

Radar is also the most distractible dog I’ve ever seen. For now, I think that can be blamed on him still being a puppy (the initial guess was he was 18 months old when we adopted him, and according to Hubs, German Shepherds do not fully mature until they are 2 or even 3). Pre-Radar I took great delight in seeing the bunnies when I was out walking around the hood. Now they are my nemesis. On account of the fact that Radar either wants to play with them or wants to eat them. He demonstrates this desire by pulling as hard as he can on the leash that I’m holding so tight my fingernails are making imprints into my palms. The upside to this is that he has increased the speed of my reflexes, as I’m usually able to tell him “leave it!” and yank him to the other side where the bunny is no longer in his line of sight. Of course, he isn’t dumb and he is very obsessive, so there’s usually a few quick turns back so he can give that bunny the evil eye. Then we carry on, at least until the next bunny appears. Fucking stupid bunnies.

Contemplating my next purchase…

Then he can’t see those dumb bunnies!

I won’t even go into the trauma I experienced the other night, whilst taking the little shit¬†best dog ever out to take a shit. Bottom line, two smaller dogs¬†invaded his space¬† came into our shared front “yard” (we live in a townhome community, people) with their owner and he couldn’t resist bolting toward them, tail wagging, ready to mix it up (undetermined if that was in a good way or not, it’s all a blur to me now). I acquired a banged up knee and a bruised dog mommy ego. Tears were shed.

I may have to take my neighbor, Robin, up on her offer of a dab of CBD infused peanut butter for Radar’s Kong toy. She said it works wonders for her two doggies. Though Hubs¬† refers to it as “snake oil”, so that may be a hard sell.

Radar has gifted me with flashbacks to when our spawn were toddlers as well.

Examples:

Just like when my kids were little, I can be made to feel bad about my parenting skills. Like when Radar got himself kicked out of the group beginner obedience training at PetSmart. It was our second time there, and while we had high hopes that the furry devil was going to be at least somewhat calmer this time, that is not how it went down. He pulled Hubs and I around. He barked in his loud and scary (to those not used to it) way, which echoes in the store. He was a very distracted distraction for the other canine participants. So that was a bust, causing me to feel that “mommy guilt” that I had shed 10+ years ago.

We are now doing one on one training and this has been quite helpful as well as enlightening. Thank the good Lord for Joy!

When our spawn were toddlers, pooping in the approved receptacle (that would be the toilet, if you wondered), Hubs and I get so excited when this dog poops in the proper receptacle (that would be outside, people). We have figured out that within 7 minutes of chowing down his food, he must have a bowel movement. If we foolishly miss the opportunity to take him out, he will evacuate his bowels on the floor. Lucky for us, he now only does this on the tile floor directly in front of our front door, so clean up is easy! Not like we want to clean up poop of course. But at least it’s not on the carpet. We take our wins when we can.

How about the rest of you dog ‘rents? Trying out some new lingo here based on Spawn #2’s millenial vernacular. How are things going? Please share pics of your furry companions in the comments!

P.S. Funny story that I remembered after watching this sweet music video….when grandson Christopher was about 2, we would ask him “What does the doggy say”? His response: heavy panting. Ha ha!!

It’s your day, Gorgeous Grandmas!

Today is the holiday you didn’t even know existed, ladies! It is Gorgeous Grandmother’s Day!

While searching the interwebs for writing fodder (aka for shits and giggles) a couple of months back, I decided to search for national holidays to see what came up. Once I saw that 7/23 was Gorgeous Grandmother’s Day, I put it on my calendar to remind myself of it.

You’re welcome!

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As any of you who have been following my blog likely knows, I am a grandmother. My  my very first post, in fact, was inspired by this fact.

And like any legit Grandma, I am sharing pics of my beautiful, smart, and witty grandson with you all.

 

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Newborn Christopher on his first visit to Grandma’s house

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Christopher and I, a few years later on a visit to see Grandma in Colorado

How Gorgeous Grandma’s Day came to be (I did the research, man): In the early 80’s, a 50 year old recent graduate (woo hoo!) from Wellesley College decided that there needed to be a special day honoring Grandmothers. She felt that for many people, the title “Grandma” evoked an image of elderly women who had little to contribute to society. She was thinking about grandmothers over 50 who don’t conform to that image, so she decided to flip the script. She recognized that grandmothers can be not just wise, but also sassy, ambitious, and energetic.

In honor of Gorgeous Grandma’s Day , and because as you all know, I like to share, here’s some anecdotes from interactions I have had with Christopher.

Recently during one of our weekly video chats, Christopher happily declared that he’s going to first grade, “after I finish Kindergarten!”

Then there was his 4th birthday celebration here with us in Colorado. At the end of a busy day checking out the Denver aquarium and having a special lunch, while awaiting his birthday cake, Hubs looked across the dining room table and said with a chuckle in his voice, “Well, I know that some of us are going to sleep really well tonight”. Christopher’s response? “And that would be me”. Ha ha!

What kind of Grandma am I? A Gen X one for certain, who likes to focus on the future:

Like watching the movie “Ugly Dolls” with him and having a discussion about it; seeing how he feels about people who are different than him. How they are treated and should be treated.

The kind who can’t wait to see him play with Radar. I suspect they will be best friends.

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The one who hopes to be present when he earns his first belt in Tae Kwon Do. Or plays in his first organized sporting event, such as baseball or soccer.

My wonderful mother in law, who is seriously the best grandma any two kids could have, has been known to say “If I knew how much fun it was to be a grandma, I would have done that first!” While of course technically impossible, I get the gist. And I really appreciate it.

Fellow grandma’s, how are you going to celebrate this special day, now that you are aware of its existence?¬† Please share pics of your gorgeous selves and/or anecdotes of your gorgeous grandchildren in the comments!

 

This darn dog

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In my most recent post, I introduced you to this guy. His name is Radar and I am in love with him.

He’s approximately 18 months old (no way to verify as he was rescued as a stray in Houston, Texas this past April). He’s a German Shepherd mix, and we suspect part of that mix is black lab (which to me is a very very good thing as I’ve always thought they were the best breeds ever. Besides Bichon Frises of course: RIP Homer. He passed just before Christmas 2013).

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I can only surmise this photo was taken prior to bathtime. Or else he was embarrassed because he needed a grooming!

Now, if you have been following my blog for a while, you may recall this post, nearly a year ago, where I whined about how I was yearning for something new in my life. I was mostly referring to my wish to adopt a dog.

It took more time than expected for Hubs to truly come around to the idea of becoming dog owners again, but I am grateful that it did.¬† If we had rushed into it, say 3 or 6 months ago, we wouldn’t have wound up with this pup.

Let me tell you the story of how he came to be ours.

We stalked petfinder.com for a couple of weeks. We discussed the type of dog we both wanted: medium sized, on the younger side but not a puppy; friendly, smart, and trainable. We thought we were going to adopt a similar looking dog named Kodiak; alas, he was adopted by another family before we got a chance to meet him.

But then! An email appeared from the foster mom telling us there was a chance that Kodiak would be relinquished due to the child in the family possibly having allergies to him. After a couple of days and no updates, we decided to resume our search and found another GSD mix named Finn who we thought would be a perfect fit.

On 6/1 (coincidentally, eldest spawn’s 27th birthday), we drove out to the mountains to meet Finn. It turned out that there were two other dogs up for adoption at this same home for us to meet. We visited with the foster parents for a good long while, the whole time Finn checking us out from afar but never getting very close. While handsome, healthy, and playful, he was quite the skittish pup.

Then the foster mom brought out “Leroy”. He was also a German Shepherd mix, but with much more prominent “radar” ears (you do know where this is going, right?). He ran up to us immediately, tail wagging. He gave us kisses then ran off to play with the other two dogs.

It was abundantly clear that we had found our canine match.

So we brought “Leroy” home that same day. His foster parents told us that the folks at the shelter he was at named him “Leroy”. On the drive home (of course with a trip to PetSmart first for a crate-which was nylon and is already destroyed¬†but that’s another story),¬†we pondered changing his name. We didn’t settle on anything really, and figured we would just go with “Leroy”. But after about 24 hours and my MIL stating he didn’t look like a “Leroy” and the fact that the old song “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown” was stuck in my head, which felt like a bad omen to me, we decided “Ringo” was going to be his name.

You know, after my favorite Beatle (only sorta-what right minded Beatles fan could pick just one favorite?)

So the following Monday we took “Ringo” to his first vet appointment (where he barked so loud, tail wagging mind you, that we had to be placed in an exam room as to not scare the other dogs and people any longer). We presented him as “Ringo” though the vet tech referred to him as “Boogaloo” (which truly endeared me to her).

Then we came home. Hubs started tossing around the idea of re-naming him once again. After all, he hadn’t had enough time to get his doggy self accustomed to any one particular name by this point in time. Hubs suggested “Doppler”. Seriously. Did I mention he was a meteorologist? I countered with “Radar”. We agreed with those awesome ears, which point in opposite directions at times when there are new sounds to process, this was a fitting name. So we are sticking with it.

Now we just need to call the vet’s office to let them know we are big ‘ol flakes who tried out three different names for their new dog.

 

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