Category Archives: Love

Let’s talk characters

When you think about it, all of our lives are filled with characters. Humans with personalities, opinions, and quirks. These characters can energize us, amuse us, and teach us things we otherwise would never have learned. 

To me, the best kind of entertainment, whether it be on the stage, the big screen in a dark movie theater, on the good old boob tube, or within the pages of a novel, incorporates interesting characters. Characters that intrigue us, make us laugh,  and make us wish they were real people in our own very real lives. 

As I ponder publishing the little bit of fiction I began a few months ago, I find it unavoidable to not consider characters I love or have loved, both in real life and in the media.

Those characters that speak to my heart and compel me to write about them. I just can’t imagine coming up with completely original fictional characters without infusing them with at least some pieces of the non-fictional characters I have known.

So let me tell you about a few characters I’ve known. Those who are long gone from this earth who impacted my life in ways they likely never knew.

For instance, the man who taught me how to swim. He was full of life and always had a good joke (some of them quite inappropriate) to tell us. He loved my mom’s cooking and I believe that is one of the main things that endeared him to her. I remember him leading a pack of kids (his grandkids, my nephews) in the “Macarena” dance at my parent’s cabin in the early 90’s. He was a husband, father, teacher, swim coach, and an artist. I have a beautiful piece of his artwork hanging in my guest bedroom in fact. In his spare time, which it doesn’t seem he could possibly had too much of, he did some clowning around with the Shriners. He lived for those times when he could don his wacky rainbow wig and cherry colored nose and delight the children (young and old) in small town parades in the summertime. His funeral was epic, as was the party for his closest family and friends that was held afterwards. He was my godfather.

Then there’s the woman who always had yellow cake, from a box, with chocolate frosting on top sitting in her pantry, waiting for us to devour it when we came to visit. She was terribly hard of hearing and once called Hubs “Cobb” because she thought he was my old boyfriend “Todd”. She loved playing cards and always had the latest National Enquirers and TV guide magazines sitting in racks next to her plastic covered “davenport”. She was a massive fan of wigs, as she found it fun to be able to change her look whenever she damn well pleased. She kept these wigs perched on styrofoam heads on the top shelves of her walk in closet. As a kid, that always scared the shit out of me. She enjoyed herself a cocktail or two and as a result, my cousins christened with the nickname “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl”. She was my grandma.

And finally, there was woman who always had a wonderful rapport with the children she loved, but for reasons only known to her always believed she would not make a good mother, so she remained childless. She had a silly sense of humor as well as a way with the wisecracks. She always said she would have made an excellent boy scout, which everyone who knew her agreed with. She was always prepared, often anticipating the needs of others. She made an awesome Pillsbury dough-boy costume she wore for Halloween. She was a take-charge-but-in-a-kind and loving way sort of person. She paid attention to people and had the very biggest heart. Some of her favorite songs were “Werewolves in London” by Warren Zevon and “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. Every time I hear either of those songs the corners of my mouth do an automatic upturn. She was my (non-biological) sister, my guardian angel, and my best friend.

Tell me, big-hearted readers, who are the characters in your life that have shaped you and informed you as a writer?

 

 

 

My first Dream house

Hubs and I just got back from spending the better part of a week in the house I grew up in.

Because my mom died.

The last good picture of me and Mom (July 2018)

I’m going to be processing this fact for a good long while.

But for now, let me tell you a little about this special house.

It’s a small house that was filled with a lot of love. It’s very old but well maintained, because of my dad’s abilities with carpentry, plumbing, and virtually everything else.

As the story goes, my grandfather (whom I never met), at the age of 58, had a massive heart attack and died while standing in the archway between the tiny kitchen and the dining area of this house.

Both of my parents had experiences with his presence in that house over the years. It never scared them at all. I think they found it comforting.

This is also the house my father grew up in. He bought it from my grandmother. Between about 1960 and 1985, he and mom raised me, and my older sister and brother in this house.

The kitchen is quite small. I’m always amazed that despite not having more than 5 feet of counter space to work with, my mom always churned out delicious, homemade meals for us each and every night. The woman had a knack for using small spaces as efficiently as possible. It’s too bad she never got an opportunity to visit Ikea, with their mock up small spaces that have cleverly placed nooks and crannies for housing all the necessities for day to day living.

This is the house in which my two teenaged siblings threw a wild party at, in about 1974, while our parents were on a Las Vegas vacation. The party where 7 year old me was slathered with attention and plied with sandwiches and other treats in an attempt to ensure my silence. I, of course, being the bratty little sister, immediately told on them once our parents got home.

This is the house where my dad, fully immersed in his Alzheimer’s fog 2 years ago, gestured towards the corner of the living room, and relived, for me and mom, the delight he experienced in that very space where 75 years prior, his father sat with him and read stories.

This is the house where, back in the 80’s, my best friend burned a hole with her cigarette on the handmade-by-mom quilt that covered my 4 poster bead while my parents were out of town for the weekend. I lived in fear from that day on that mom would notice that little burn hole. But, surprisingly, she never did. 

Yes, the quilt (as our bright 5 year old grandson said: that sounds like it starts with the letter “Q”!) came back home to Colorado with us.

This is the house where people gathered to celebrate. From mom’s bridge club nights to family/friends steak fries during the summer in the backyard to high school graduation parties to wedding present openings.

This is the house where my writing dreams began.

*This post was in response to a prompt from lovely Lorna from Gin & Lemonade: “Dream House”. And in response to the emotions involved in the passing of my one-of-a-kind mother. https://ginlemonade.com/2019/02/13/house-hunting-as-a-wheelchair-user-other-stories/

Keeping the Love Alive

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Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

 

It’s Valentine’s Day this week people! Are you psyched? Do you have plans with your beloved? Or is this just another day for you? 

While our plans have not exactly been fleshed out yet, Hubs and I will most certainly take the time to celebrate this holiday in one way or another. It’s tradition for us. At the very least, Valentine cards will be exchanged, and a dinner not made by us will be enjoyed. Nothing too fancy or exciting, but it certainly isn’t going to be just another, regular, uneventful day for us. 

I can safely say that I’ve got some experience when it comes to romantic love. Hubs and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage this coming May. I’d say that qualifies me for sharing the best long term romantic relationship advice I can shell out, correct?

FB_IMG_1529931654530Me and Hubs in beautiful Colorado, 2018 

I could say things like “Never go to bed angry” (yes, solid advice but we have all heard it before). Or “Have weekly date nights” (easier said than done, am I right?). 

But I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to share with you what I have found works for Hubs and I. The things we’ve discovered along the way that keep us together. Keep us satisfied. Keep us interested in staying married. 

  • Celebrate every chance you get. Revel in the mundane. This might mean an impromptu dinner date with your beloved just because it’s Friday and you both made it through the week unscathed. Or maybe a meeting got canceled for one of you, leaving you unexpected time and space to spend together, so you decide to uncork that bottle of wine you bought on vacation two years ago that has only been serving as a dust collector that whole time.

  • Engage in activities together which you both enjoy in equal measure. I think it’s safe to say that every long term couple out there has got at least one activity they both enjoy doing. Do it together! Maybe it’s cooking. Or hiking. Or antiquing. Or collecting bobble-head dolls. Whatever it is, enjoy it together as often as you possibly can. Some serious bonding and great memories are to be had if you do.

  • Give each other a break. Be kind always. If your partner comes home cranky and bone-tired at the end of the day, give them a hug. Have a plan B if the original plan was to go out and socialize with others. Be okay with that. Trust me on this one, it took me years to get to the point where I could do this without any resentment. And it’s given me much peace. 

  • Make your relationship a priority. If you have kids, don’t hyper focus on them.  Don’t let your entire world revolve around them all of the time. They will only be in your day to day lives for so long. Remember that the time will come, and quicker than you think, where it’s just the two of you again, like it was in the beginning.

  • Make time on a regular basis to talk about your future together. The hopes and dreams you have. The perceived obstacles to achieving your dreams. Problem solve together. Put it all out there. This gives you a path. Things to look forward to, a north star for your relationship. Don’t allow yourselves to simply slug through every day like bots, focusing solely on the present. 

  • Encourage each other’s personal hobbies. I think we have more to bring to the table in our relationships when we take time to do things on our own. For instance, Hubs decided when he turned 48 last year that he wanted to teach himself a musical instrument. He told me that he wanted to engage the left (or is it the right?) side of his brain, since so much of his work time as an IT project leader relies heavily on the right (or is it the left?) side. So he bought himself a ukulele. He practices it regularly, with my encouragement and blessing. I’ve noticed a change in his life outlook and that his sense of playfulness has increased since taking up this fun hobby. For his part, he is highly supportive of me and my blogging. So much so, that (as I mentioned here), he bought me my very own Chromebook specifically for blogging. I think by encouraging each other’s individual hobbies we are showing respect for each other’s autonomy. If we each have pursuits that provide enjoyment to us, it’s only natural that those good vibes will affect our relationships in a positive way. 

  • One thing I can’t stress enough when it comes to long term couplings such as ours is the importance of being a good roommate. Peace and harmony become the norm as opposed to the exception in the day to day when both partners choose to share their living space thoughtfully. Little things go a long way. Such as taking care of the laundry before the pile gets too big and without having to be asked. Cleaning up the dishes you dirtied while playing your video game in the home office. Asking your partner if they would mind if you turn on your music, before turning on said music.  I’m not talking about catering to your partner and constantly putting their needs and preferences first; I’m talking about giving the consideration to your partner that you want to receive from them. 

  • And since I’m giving long term romantic relationship advice here, I would be remiss to not mention a key element in any successful long term pairing: Sex. I mean, when you think about it, it’s what brought you together in the first place. Not that you and your beloved hopped in the sack the minute you first locked eyes (not that there would necessarily be anything wrong with that), but honestly, would one really make the choice to embark on a long term relationship without being sexually attracted to their partner? I think not. So make time for it. Keep your expectations realistic. It’s not always going to be knock-your-socks-off orgasmic bliss. And that is ok. It is normal, in fact. Enjoy the skin to skin contact. The eye to eye contact. The intimate pillow talk, expressing how you feel about each other and the life you’ve created together. Plan for this on a regular basis. Savor this time together. 

 

What do you have to be thankful for?

I was going to resist the urge to be “basic” and write a post expressing what I am thankful for on this Thanksgiving season. I mean, it’s kind of a no brainer really, and my hunch is that there will be multitudes of other bloggers penning their own posts about what they are thankful for.

In my last blog post, I shared those things that delight me, those simple pleasures of life. After publishing that, I figured it wouldn’t be terribly original for me to write about what I am grateful for.

But, alas, I have changed my mind. I seem to do that a lot.

Thing is, I genuinely have so very much for which I am thankful and it feels good and right for me to share this with now, with Thanksgiving upon us.

I am thankful for recent visits with our adult spawn and the now 4 year old boy who owns my heart. It was so gratifying to spend quality time earlier this month talking about life, laughing about their childhood shenanigans, playing umpteen games of “Hungry Hungry Hippo”, and sharing some great meals with them.

I am thankful for the blessings of November. By happenstance, each job I’ve had in the last 17 years started in November. And each of these jobs have suited me very well and taught me so much about people, including myself.

I am thankful for my best girlfriends. The one who I’ve known for the majority of my adult life, who accepts and appreciates me in spite of my flaws. The one I have here in Colorado who’s always up for showing this Minnesota girl what makes Colorado colorful. The one who passed away 6 years ago who always had my back.

I am thankful for this guy, my sweet Hubs. I truly hit the jackpot when I found him 30 years ago.

I am thankful for the community we are building here in Colorado. From our church family, to my fellow volunteers at the food bank, to the owner and staff of our favorite brew pub. After moving to the north Denver metro over two years ago, not knowing a soul here, we have slowly but surely developed lasting friendships here. What a blessing this has been.

Thankful readers, I wish you the best Thanksgiving holiday. I hope it’s filled with good conversation, laughter, fun, and plenty of delicious food!

How do you do Community?

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Community is the glue that keeps our society together. I’ve been blessed in my life to have been a part of a variety of different communities. These experiences with community have shaped me. They have inspired me. They have taught me so very much. They have most certainly been a source of joy.

Like the community of church folks who came together back in Wisconsin a few years ago to fix up a single mom’s beautiful old house to get it ready to be sold. This was a days long process involving probably 24 of us. We painted. We put up curtains. Some of us did some electrical work and plumbing. While working on these tasks, we also got to know each other better. We ended with a shared experience that benefited not just the single mom and her kids, but all of us.

Like the community of friends, many of whom hadn’t officially met before, who came together to make a home accessible for a friend’s spouse who in her 30’s suffered a stroke while vacationing out of the country and was soon coming out of rehab. We organized closets, we built an accessible ramp, we updated the bathroom and re-arranged the bedroom to accommodate the spouse’s new way of moving through their day to day world.

Like the community at our local brew pub, 3 miles down the road from our townhome here in Colorado. If ever there was a “Cheers”  in real life, this would be that place. The owners and bartenders know our names. The owners regularly schedule events that build community.

And this sign is prominently featured, which I very much appreciate. This one hangs in the ladies’ restroom.

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Then there’s our current church community. Our major fundraiser each year is a lawn mower clinic, held in May. Hubs and I, along with probably 2-3 dozen other church folks came together on three Saturdays this past May to check the oil, change spark plugs, and clean those well used, clunky machines up so they would be in good working condition for their owners when the time came to get back to mowing their lawns again. Each of these Saturdays were nasty, weather-wise. Snow. Rain. Cloudy, cold, and breezy. From my perspective, only experiencing 2 years in Colorado, this weather was a-typical for the time of year. But yet we all bundled up, drank a lot of hot coffee, and got things done as a community.

The Facebook blogging community I’ve recently become a part of is another example of how I like to “do” community in my life. In this group, bloggers often lift each other up. They turn each other on to new ideas, new tricks to improve their writing and their blogs. They  We support each other as best we can. We seem to understand that while we all have our individual blogs, we’re in it (aka the Blogosphere) together. We all want to succeed at what we’re doing and we all love to write. We respect each other. There does not seem to be a sense of “my blog vs. your blog” competitive b.s. going on in this group. We all seem to engage with this group in an effort to build each other, and ourselves at the same time, up. I’m so glad I decided to join this community.

The bottom line, for me, is that being around others, especially with a clear goal in mind, energizes me. It appeals to my social and socially conscious nature. It opens up my world, teaches me things I didn’t know I needed to learn, both about myself and others. It helps me focus on the positive and reminds me that there is good in the world. That the number of good people in our universe far outweighs the number of bad people. It gives me hope.

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My just in case post

This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.

This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.

Because I have company coming soon.

The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.

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Miss Mary and I on her last visit to Colorado

Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.

Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time. 

Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.

I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.

But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.

Que Sera, Sera

I’ve got an earworm these days. This is thanks to our receptionist at work who continually has the 60’s station playing on Pandora or Spotify or whatever the hell audio service she uses. I commented to her that I remember my mom singing this song to me when I was growing up.

Now, mind you, my mom cannot carry a tune. In fact, I recall a story she often told about her youth. It goes something like this: when she was in high school, back in the early 50’s, she desperately yearned to be a member of the choir. However, she was self aware enough to know she did not possess the ability to carry a tune. So her mother, one of my two Grandma Pearls (ironically enough), despite the fact that she and Grandpa were by all accounts quite poor, attempted to bribe the choir director with cold hard cash to get mom into the choir.
Unfortunately, for my mom, this plan didn’t work. She was still rejected.
As a kid, I couldn’t care less that mom lacked any singing talent. Her voice singing Que Sera, Sera, among other songs I can still vividly recall, was full of love and tenderness for me. That is all that mattered.
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Now, back to the song. The line that especially sticks with me is “Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera”. Repeating this to myself brings on a sense of calm. It compels me to focus not on the future, which none of us have control of, but on the present. On the now.
And in the now, I will be traveling to Minnesota to spend time with my mom.