Archive for the ‘LJ & Mr. J's Story’ Category

Going Out with a Bang! (Or so I thought….Keep reading)

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Year end, typically when people reflect upon what they’ve accomplished, what they didn’t, and looking forward to what they want to do differently next year.

On the accomplishment front: I wrote a first draft of a novel in 9 months. Then wrote ½ of a first draft of a novel in 30 days. Hmmmm….Something doesn’t seem quite right about that timing thing does it? Certainly the one that was written in 9 months is probably a better draft. But pumping out 55K words with my writing partner tells me that I might need to ratchet up the speed in which the ‘writing’ occurs. Novel Outline

In the month of November my partner and I basically lived together on weekends, while working our day jobs throughout the week. Luckily we both have very understanding and supportive significant others who were there to feed us, clean up dishes afterward and to keep the wine flowing when we’d about written ourselves silly. Mr J is a fantastic Cabana Boy….Or so I thought. Keep reading.

What else under the accomplishment umbrella? For a major birthday of Mr J’s I took him to London and Cardiff. We had the best time being geeky Doctor Who & Sherlock fans. IMG_2304

While in England, I reunited with an girlfriend I’d lived with in London twenty plus years ago. Seeing her again was so amazing: it was if we’d never been apart! Oddly enough, the more we talked, the more we could see our lives have run on parallel tracks.

All in all, we loved our time overseas.

What I’d give to be able to move back to the UK.

Sorry? What was that you say? Oh. Actually complete a novel, make big bucks and you can live wherever you want, you say? Well, a girl can dream.

Lastly, and to me a very important accomplishment: my sister and I threw my parents an amazing 50th Anniversary Party. Well, the real accomplishment, of course, is that they’ve been married to one another for 50 years. But nevertheless, the party was everything I could have wished it to be. The venue was amazing. Stokely Event Center

The BBQ and two (yes I mean two) wedding cakes were magnificent.

At the party, as a gift for our father, my sister and I surprised everyone by singing a capella. We haven’t sung together in 20 years and we sounded pretty darn good. People came up afterward and said, “We didn’t know you guys sang!” We didn’t either. And no one should get used to it. We’re like a one-trick pony and that one song was the trick.

What about next year? What is on my agenda?

Perhaps doing a better job of updating this blog. I’ve had several people express interest in seeing it appear more regularly. Thank you for your kind words.

Also in my near future is learning how to edit a first draft of a novel. I can (apparently) write first drafts all day long. But that alone will not get them published.

The last “To Do” is one that is in no way unique. Like most people: I need to eat better, get back into a regular exercise routine, and lose some weight.

On that note, allow me to leave you with a little sketch of real life in our household:
For background: at my parent’s 50th Anniversary party, my sister spoke eloquently of how our parents’ affection and love for each other shaped our own relationships. My father has a daily ritual of saying to my mother: “You haven’t kissed me today!” And then promptly swooping in for a kiss, which both my sister and I have incorporated into our own homes with our spouses.

Early this afternoon I turned to Mr. J and said: “Why haven’t you kissed me today?” Then it occurred to me that I’d had to run him down yesterday for a kiss too. “What is going on with you?” I demanded, in mock outrage. “Why have I had to chase you down all weekend for a kiss?”

By now he was moving in, kiss at the ready, I’m sure.

But I kept talking: “You don’t love me anymore because I’m fat. That’s not my fault!” He chuckled. I continued, “Oh wait a minute. That is my fault.”

He was now laughing but still trying to kiss me. I was still talking (imagine that). “You don’t love me anymore because my hair is thinning. That is not my fault!”

By then he was actually kissing me but he was also still LAUGHING.

I began blessing him out (while we’re both kissing) asking him “Why are you laughing when you’re kissing me?! What’s the matter with you?!”

He broke away, laughing so hard he was almost choking. “How can you be kissing me while you’re reading me the riot act??”

I blinked once. “It’s a gift!”

So…..out with a bang for 2012? Not if he doesn’t stop laughing during the kissing!

Happy New Year to everyone!

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Out with a BANG (AKA: The Ghetto-fication of the Jones Household)

Friday, January 6th, 2012

As I review the last 4 weeks of 2011 I gotta tell you: I’m not sorry to see it go.

You might recall from my last update that I’ve been in 24/7 pain since the end of September. When I make it to my chiropractor about the pain he says, “Your sacral-whatcha-ma-call-it is all locked up. You’ve been sitting too much. Too many plane rides, car rides, sitting all day. Stop sitting so much.”

Well that is a fantastic idea. Shame about the desk job. It kind of requires SITTING.

Shame about that scrapbooking promise. It kind of requires SITTING.

Nothing helped: not pain killers: over the counter or prescription.

Exercise was out of the question…..too painful.

I finally understood, I mean really, really understood emotional eating. The only time I wasn’t in pain was after one too many glasses of wine or when I was eating. Obviously being hung over on a school night isn’t a good plan, so I dove straight into a carton of Haagen Dazs’ dulce de leche Or a vat of all natural almond butter. Spoon anyone?

As long as I was eating: the creamy caramel-vanilla sweetness of ice cream melting on my tongue and then sliding down my throat, or the smell of roasted almond butter, creamy as well, but with a completely different mouth feel, I didn’t feel the pain.

It’s no secret that my relationship with food is troubled. I share it openly…..and unfortunately, the pain, the inability to exercise, and the only ‘painkiller’ that eased the brutal pain in my lower back and hip caused me to pack on so many pounds I found myself back in the Plus Size section of the local department store. Seriously not my favorite.

Fast forward to mid December….because it’s gotta get better, right?

One of the chilliest weeks we’ve had all season rolls around and for the first time since early Spring I feel a real bite in the air in the mornings and evenings as I walk to and from the parking lot into my work.

But luck is smiling on me.

One of the executives having a reserved underground parking spot at work was working remotely that week. He emailed me and offered up his parking spot.

“Now it’s a little tight,” he warns.

I think to myself, “Mister, I was born in a tight spot! I can wiggle my way of out anything.”

The first day in the warm, heated, cozy….yes, it was a small parking spot, my car slid into the stall and then out of at the end of my work day. No Problem.

The second day, as I’m backing out to head home, I hear a strange, grating sound. I hit the brakes! Sure enough: I’ve misjudged the 3 foot in diameter column and have just scraped my driver’s side mirror. Dangit!

The third day, I contemplated not parking in the spot. But a bevy of tired, slightly patronizing motivational quotes rolled through my head:

“Feel the fear and do it anyway”
“Get back in the saddle”
“You must do the thing you think you cannot”
“Never never never quit”

So I did. Or didn’t, as the case might be.

Within seconds I’m wedged into the stall quasi-sideways. Somehow wrapped catawampus around the concrete pole with no way in. Or out.

How could this happen, you might be wondering. “What do you mean you can’t get out? You did yesterday? I mean you got in, right?? You must be able to get out!”

Well dear readers, I was thinking all of this and much, much more.

Even better: It is 8am.

Picture this: here I am, wedged into a parking spot with no room to maneuver. Every inch I try to move: back up – scrape. Pull forward – scrape. Back up – plastic crunching. Once again the column extracts its pound of flesh from my car. (I will step away from the easy smart a$$ comment re: wishing the pound of flesh had come from elsewhere, like my behind. Okay. Okay. I just couldn’t leave it alone!).

I am in such a pickle I can’t even physically get out of the car: not on the driver’s side or the passenger’s side. Front or back.

Did I mention this was the EXECUTIVE parking lot? At 8am?? And for the plebe’s (like me) to get into the building you have to walk through the – wait for it – executive parking lot. The elevator is right next to my crammed in sideways car!

I try to remain calm. I say all the things I’m sure you’re thinking. I consider calling someone, but whom? And besides, I’m basically in a concrete bunker so I don’t even have cell coverage.

At this point I can see only two options: ram the car into the front wall and shatter the bumper, affording me enough space to maneuver. Or scrape the living hell out of the driver’s side as I back out, taking my best shot at the 3-foot concrete pole.

A few years ago I was hit in the bumper and it cost over $1,000 to fix the damage. Taking that into consideration I decide perhaps the most economical thing to do is scrape the paint off of the driver’s side. I mean how much can a little paint cost??

Here are a couple of shots of the damage.
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Mr. J called it the ghetto-mobile and said he wasn’t going to be seen in it. (Okay, that wasn’t him. It was me. I drove his car until I could get mine in the shop.)

Just so you know: I chose the wrong option. The damage to the driver’s side cost $2,000. The bumper would have been $750-$1000.

Luckily for me, I was traveling out of state for the rest of the week. I was able to get the car into the shop to be repaired while I was gone. Fantastic! Now I can lie like a dog if someone asks me at work, “Hey, did you hurt your car when you were stuck?” I’ll point toward my better than new car and say, “Heck no!”

Pride and pocketbook: they both hurt. A lot.

The following morning, because I was flying out, and cowering like a…well, cowering thing, I decided to work from home. I get ready to jump in the shower and boom: there is no water!

Huh??

“Mr. J!” I yell, “I was about to get in the shower but there is no water.”

“There is too. I just brushed my teeth.”

“In the shower?” I ask, confused.

“No. In the sink.”

I turn the faucet in the tub again. Nothing. “I can’t take a shower in the sink, darling!”

“Do I look like a plumber?”

The conversation devolved from there.

For the first time in the 10 years we’ve been in our home our pipes were frozen.

We don’t know what to do. We’re not from this far North.

And why the heck have they never frozen before? What the heck changed? And it is the beginning of the season: so trust me when I say: they will freeze A LOT.

We call a plumber. He recommends we open all doors in the house ‘for circulation’ and turn up the thermostat. He’ll be along as soon as he can get there. After turning up the heat so high that we strip down to shorts and t-shirts (hastily dug out from being packed away in September), we figure out the frozen culprit are the pipes around the jet/Jacuzzi tub we have in the master bathroom.

Mr. Plumber gets there, strips off his coveralls, wipes the sweat from his brow, looks around, and charges us $150 after telling us we have a construction problem, not a plumbing problem. “And oh by the way: you should leave the intake door open around those pipes while it is still arctic outside.”

Did I mention we have cats? Let’s leave the intake door open and encourage the cats to crawl under the floor in our house?? Uhm. No. From the moment we had opened the intake door for the plumber we’d had to lock up two cats who were bound and determined to get inside the new cool place they’ve never been before.

What were our options?

Leave the door closed and risk burst pipes until we can get someone out about the apparently vanished insulation? Or risk losing a cat to the underbelly of our house?

How about a compromise?

We do what any redneck would do: we MacGyver an apparatus designed to:
1. Let warm air flow to the pipes
2. Keep the cats from disappearing forever down the rabbit hole beneath our house

The Ghetto-fication of our household is complete:

IMG_0374

Please, please, please, 2012 – do me better than this!

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Maine-ly Disappointed

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

vacationland-signRecently Mr. J and I traveled to the state of Maine for the first time. As we crossed the bridge from New Hampshire into Maine (via turnpike) we were met with a sign, “Maine – Vacationland:

Then we went past a steady stream of “Don’t’s”

Don’t drink and drive

Buckle Up or get a ticket

Don’t text and drive

Don’t park or stop your vehicle in any traffic lane or bridge

U-Turns at any point are prohibited

Pedestrians are not permitted

Hitchhikers are not permitted

After about a dozen signs of what wasn’t permitted I wasn’t feeling to Vacation-y at all.

Laughing at the crazy anal nature of their warning signs we continued on to our destination, Portland. It was the final destination of our 10-day sojourn of Vermont, New Hampshire and, now into Maine.

The temperature in Portland that day was 110 degrees: horribly out of season for Maine. As we drove into Portland, the historical district was a wonderful display of cute shops in brownstone form with narrow cobble stone streets.

As we came to our first T-junction into the historic port district I slammed on the brakes, mouth dropped open in disbelief. There, passing in front of our rental car, was a woman.

Topless.

Now, I get that it was hot. Seriously I do. But allow me to assure you that she was doing herself no favors being topless.

After making sure I hadn’t hit Ms. Boobsy-McBoobs, I turned to Mr. J and said, “Did you see that?”

“How could I miss it?” he replied. “I think my corneas have just burned out.”

I mean – seriously: this girl would have been better served to pull her boobs up and tie them around her neck like a halter top….yes, I mean a halter top – behind her NECK.

And she wasn’t old, mind you. She was way the heck younger than me. (See previous blog on my sad aging saga.)

“Should we follow her?” I asked.

“What on earth for?” Mr. J. asked.

“Because I know you’re a boob man,” I responded.

I won’t relay what he said next.

So…………let me get this saggy. I mean, straight: I can’t make a U-turn, drink and drive, text and drive or stop on the road but I can walk around Maine topless??

Of course, I do what any 45-year-old female would do (Here would be the place to stop reading if you get squeamish):

I go back to the hotel and strip off to the waist. I turn: left to right, right to left. Yep. As I thought: my boobs are way-the-hell less droopy than hers were.

I won’t include a picture of what happened next.

Let’s just say I embraced my Maine-dom. It was freeing!

The thing I know for sure: I was much less droopy than the girl. Given the surface mass her droopiness must have covered in the 100+ degrees and probably 85% humidity, that girl should have kept her top on!

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Umbrella Anyone?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Why is it that when I travel on my own dime, i.e. not for work, every possible thing goes wrong? And maybe because it is my own money it drives me even crazier than normal. For brevity sake I will keep this to the most unbelievable leg of four of my journey: the very last one.

This picture my friends, shows what we were confronted with when we stepped onto the plane, which of course, was over an hour late.

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“What the heck?!” You might be asking yourself. “Are they really flying on Ghetto-Flights-Are-Us?”

Actually, I don’t like to name names, (::cough:: AirTran) but as we boarded we couldn’t quite figure out why the airplane cabin had what looked like toilet paper stuffed in every conceivable crevice.

But it didn’t take us long to find out.

As we taxied out and took off, water ran down from the ceiling and into our faces. Our faces!

Now I get condensation, really I do. But I’ve never had water spitting into my eyes from an airline bulkhead before!

Have you?!!

While I know it might shock you (or not), as soon as I had a spare five minutes I sent a complaint in to the aforementioned airline asking them to confirm what the heck it was running into MY EYES. And how was I to know if it was a health risk or not??

The answer was: Here is $25 for your trouble. Condensation is normal. Sorry you got wet.

$25 barely, barely, barely covers my baggage fee….and while I’m on that topic, I was asked to put my laptop bag under the seat in front of me in order to accommodate more roller bags.

I (mostly) politely told the stewardess that I’d be happy to put my small laptop bag under my feet so someone else could put up their HUGE roller bag in the overhead bin….as soon as they handed me my $25 back….in cash, no checks. But if they wanted to give me their credit card number and mother’s maiden name maybe we could make a deal.

But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes: the ridiculous: ”Condensation = normal. Sucks to be you.” email.

Hmmmm…..I generally fly once a month. I have never had water in my eyes. And did they answer my concerns about un-sterile condensation falling in my eyes??

Heck no.

I almost wish I’d have gotten pink eye so I could have sued them! Then I could have changed the airline name to AirRain!

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Bumpity-Bump-Bump

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

The bed creaked under us; bare skin slipped noiselessly between clean cotton sheets.

Our heads touched pillows only for a brief second before groans filled the air.

“Oh my,” I cried out, overcome with emotion.

“Yes,” he moaned, answering me in kind. “How long has it been?” he asked.

“Years,” I say, breathless from the pleasure.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks his voice husky in my ear.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry….I had no idea it would be so good.”

“How old were you?” he persists, desperate to understand how I could keep something like this from him.

“Fifteen,” I say. “In my parent’s house.” I turn my head away. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”

“I tried asking you about it….” he lets his words hang between us, too overcome by the heaven we are feeling at this moment.

“I know. I know,” guilt overwhelms me now. “All of these years…all of these wasted years.”

While his head is cradled, childlike on the pillow his voice is strong, accusatory: “Jeez, Lara. If you’d only told me about heated mattress pads sooner it would have made all of these horribly cold winters in the North that much more bearable! I wouldn’t have been freezing my a$$ off like Frosty the Snowman!”

How many times can a girl apologize????

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Again: Fact is Stranger than Fiction

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

I will not guarantee that this post is going to be “G” rated. PG-13, maybe.

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As Mr. J headed north for a day trip on our Anniversary we ran first into the “We Do Cows” sign. Pulling off the highway I just had to take a picture to share with my readers.

I’ll leave to your imagination what sort of comments we made as we yucked it up back on the interstate.
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Once we were at our destination we couldn’t help but see the Viking statute “Big Ole” standing at 28 foot tall. He had recently undergone a makeover and was no longer grey headed & bearded. Now a blond, Big Ole looks remarkably like the 4th season blond half of Starsky and Hutch!

I turned to Mr. J and said, “Now he could do cows!”

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Muskrat Love: Glad Someone is Getting Some…

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Dining RoomPeonies

Our three day weekend started out lovely enough.

We’ve been calling our newly redecorated home: The Jones Bed & Breakfast.

Mr. J got up and made omelet’s w/his proprietary recipe of special ingredients and we sat down in our gorgeous dining room….for the first time in our married life we actually have a dining room table and chairs….drinking my favorite Caribou Coffee: Mahogany.

I stepped outside to our flower bed and carefully snipped off a few peonies: magenta and light pink, making sure the ants which are vital to opening up the blooms are nowhere to be seen; I settled into my favorite chair and contemplated what we should do for the day.

We decided to take a drive downtown to the Farmer’s market. We have an awesome outdoor market: over the years we’ve taken stunning pictures there of the flora, veggies and fruit available with just a little kitsch thrown in for good measure. My dad loves to go there and pick up leather work gloves for $10 a pair. I try to look the other way, afraid they have fallen off the back of a truck somewhere.

On the way downtown we saw two little critters sitting on the side of the road.

Ever since I was a child, when my father would point out wildlife to us during road trips, I always keep my eyes peeled for animals. Today we saw two little guys, who after some searching on the internet we decided were young muskrats. I doubled back and we sat and looked at each other from the car: us at them, them at us. They were so darn cute. I wanted to get out of the car, snatch one up and give them a cuddle but Mr. J put the kibosh on that plan.

Anywho – downtown we went. In and around the Farmer’s Market was a madhouse. No park to be had. After circling for fifteen minutes I gave up, discouraged and then missed my turn and ended up in Interstate Exchange Hell. I swear we “looped” the dang city five times before I managed to get us on the right road, headed back to the ‘burbs where I was going to stop at Trader Joes for some awesome chocolate “Expresso Pillows.”

If I’m drinking wine (which I plan to be doing this weekend) I want a little chocolate with it. These aren’t too bad calorie wise and they taste like sin!

Without too much hassle at TJ we went to my local Co-op where I found out they’ve discontinued my favorite line of Raw Food. What?? That is why I joined that silly Co-op to begin with!

Then to Target. I love and hate Target at the same time. Today mostly hate.

I fill my prescriptions there using their Target credit card: after every 10th prescription I get a 10% off coupon to be used all day at Target. Love that. Today, I go to the pharmacy to pick up my monthly prescriptions…seems like the quantity of those grow the older I get: go figure.

I swipe my card to pay for today’s haul of prescription drugs. The card declines. Or so the wet-behind-the-ears young man tells me. Funny: the electronic keypad in front of me says, “Sales Complete.” He has me swipe it again. And again. Finally he takes the card from me and swipes it himself, behind the counter.

I’m getting suspicious now and begin to wonder if I’m going to find that I’ve paid for my drugs like, oh, I don’t know: six times??

I finally give up and use my debit card. Miffed, I stalk up to the Guest Services counter and demand they tell me what the heck is going on.

“We have no information on your Target Credit Card.”

Of course you don’t.

“You can use our phone if you’d like to call them.”

“I have my own phone,” I say, barely civil at this point. The ineptitude of this place amazes me!

After another annoying five minutes wading through telephone Voice Recognition Unit hell, I finally hit “zero” so many times there is no choice to but “Get me to an agent”.

“What the HECK is going on with my card?” I bark into the receiver.

“We haven’t received your May payment. Your account is closed until such a time that we receive your payment.”

What?

“We didn’t receive your May payment. It was due May 20th.”

Dear God! Could it be that I’ve made a mistake??

I slink off back to Mr. J and tell him my sad tale of woe. Being in the banking field he assures me that since I’m only 10 days past due, my credit rating should not be damaged.

I spend the rest of the Target visit muttering to myself about how I can’t do anything right: can’t even pay my !!#$$%#$ credit card bill. I do all of my banking online through one financial institution. The Target credit card is the only one that I cannot seem to keep on top of and that is because it isn’t issued by my primary bank.

ARRGGHHH.

Just so you know: I did go back and apologize to the Pharmacy Clerk whose ears I’d pinned back 15 minutes prior. Clearly my karma has already taken enough hits for the day.

Then we were off to Costco. Costco on a holiday weekend should be empty, right?

Wrong.

Talk about total chaos! They had more food giveaways and more clearly starving people than were probably at the overcrowded lakes this opening weekend of the summer season here in the United States.

Every where you looked there were stations of food giveaways: marbled Colby cheese, golden pineapple, strawberries, sausage, crab dip, taquitos, chips and salsa, chocolate “protein” bars.

We picked up our standard fare:
• Avocados
• Tomatoes
• Gluten Free Crackers
• Orange, Yellow and Red Peppers

Once home, well after 2pm, we worked on fixing a quick lunch.

And in keeping with the theme of the day the quart of grape tomatoes we’d just purchased decided to jump out of the refrigerator and play 52-card pick up: spilling and rolling everywhere: under the refrigerator, into the pantry, under the cabinets. The cats were in heaven: soccer balls!

We are trying to corral tomatoes and cats, both bent on getting away from us and wreaking havoc to my otherwise spotless kitchen.

I kept taking long, deep breathes and trying not to scream. Mr. J had the decency to look away as he chuckled. Smart man.

Even still: I decided he could round up the wayward tomatoes himself. After all I had a delinquent Target credit card bill to take care of.

I tried logging on to their website to pay my bill. And tried logging on. And tried logging on: guessing (poorly) as to what my login and password might be until I had locked myself out of my Target account completely.

Really? Really?

Having had enough we decided to take a nap. I mean: surely it would all be better after some sleep. Kind of a level setting of the day: resetting expectations, etc.

Four hours later found us prepping dinner. I was slicing up pepper rings to grill on the brand spanking new George Foreman (with detachable plates) when I felt the knife slip and cut deep into my right pointer finger.

OUCH.

This is the reason my mother could never stand to see me with a knife in my hand! My left handedness sometimes makes for clumsy cutting….or at least: bloody cutting.

Who knew that cooking dinner was such a blood sport??

After a yummy dinner courtesy of Mr. J grilling everything that couldn’t get away from us, I glanced over at him, my eyes dropping suggestively.

Every couple has a short-handed way of asking if their partner would like to mix it up between the sheets.

I spoke our code word to Mr. J.

He promptly burst out laughing.

WTH?

“No way,” he said. “Not given the day you’ve had.”

“Not even if I promise not to take the knife to bed?” I wheedled.

“No chance,” he said. “That is equipment I can’t afford to gamble with.”

Loser.

I am sure Sunday and Monday will be better.

Really.

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The Noise of a Lightning Strike

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

This week finds Mr. J and me together at our condo on a large lake miles and miles from either of our homes. We’re trying out something new: he is on vacation and I am working remotely. We brought the cats who absolutely love the screened in deck. We are literally over the water, the back of our condo lining up with the granite edge of the shoreline: no sandy beaches here.

We come here every year for Mother’s Day. My parents join us. It is the little things we do in life, such as always meeting on a certain day, at a certain place, eating at the same restaurants that create the history between people, isn’t it?

It is the remembered snippets of conversation and silly inconsequential things that we laugh about years later: the crazy house on the lake with more garden statues than trees!

Every year when we come back to the lake we eagerly await passing the house up the road from our condo because they’ve added some new whack-a-do outdoor décor: first it was mustangs, reared up. Then 12 foot pelicans which dwarfed the mustangs. Now they’ve added some interesting brick structure in-the-round reminiscent of something you would see on the road to Jerusalem during the crusades. Apropos I guess. I mean, we are smack in the middle of the Bible belt, don’t you know?

Since I’m actually working, I wasn’t really expecting to have the absolute best time of my life this week, but I was hoping it would be somewhat restful and rejuvenating. It started off well enough:

Day 1 – Saturday, we: Mr. J and I, our cats, my parents and two cases of wine arrived at our retreat at about 6pm. We had a little wine and a little nosh for dinner, catching up with one another and enjoying watching the cats nose around everything, noses on ‘high alert’ as they took in all of the smells and nuances of the lake condo. We watched a funny movie: “Along Came Polly.” I’m not sure it would have been so funny had we not had the wine, but who knows.

Day 2 – Mother’s Day dawns. Mr. J made his famous omelets for breakfast. We go “topside” which is a 15 mile jaunt on windy roads amidst tall, tall pine trees into town to run a few errands and pick up the makings of a BBQ cookout on the grill. It is cold and I have to keep reminding myself I’m 500 miles south of my home in the Snowbelt. I mistakenly purchase Beer Brats (Beer has gluten, so no brats for Lara) and beef burgers.

After dinner we watched another movie, “Time Traveler’s Wife” and a documentary called “King Corn”.

The premise behind the documentary is: “Behind America’s dollar hamburgers and 72-ounce sodas is a key ingredient that quietly fuels our fast-food nation: corn.” It starts out with the film students doing a hair analysis which shows that most people will test positive for a high degree of corn in their system.

Maybe we should have watched the documentary BEFORE we ate the burgers.

Apparently corn fed beef isn’t good for the cattle or for us. Who knew? Since no one really knows what’s in brats anyway (besides beer) I’m not even going to worry about eating those. Brats are known ‘eat at your own risk’ food, right?

I made scones and fruit salad before going to bed so I can feed my parents breakfast before they take off for home and I settle into work on Monday morning.

Day 3 – Monday night – Tornadoes develop all across the plains area where my family lives and where we happen to be located. On pins and needles we spend hours glued to weather radars, first watching them bypass my family, and then closing in on us, feeling like sitting ducks exposed as we are out on the water. Luckily around midnight all calms down and everyone seems to be all good.

Day 4 – Tuesday – Mr. J walks down to the pool area, trips and falls onto cement walk way tearing up his knees, hands, and hurting his back. I’m on a conference call when he returns and in between hashing out business requirements for a project, I’m cleaning him up and applying Neosporin and bandages. I get all bossy (which I know will come as a shock to most of you) when things like this happen: “Get into bed. Elevate that knee. Hold the ice pack here! Don’t move. I’ll get it.”

Day 5 – Wednesday. 12:42 am – A storm hits. I have never been so close to lightening in my life. Again, our condo is out literally over the lake. Howling winds, pummeling rains, and the most frightening sound I’ve ever heard: a lightning strike. I’ve heard the crackle before thunder splits your eardrums before but this was 100 times scarier.

This sound was like hitting sheet metal with a mallet causing it to reverberate with a high enough pitch that you feel it in your teeth and jaw. You wince while simultaneously slamming your hands ineffectively over your ears. The second time I heard it: I screamed and dove beneath the covers, reverting to being a scared six-year-old who thinks the blankets will protect her.

2:54am – Round two of storms. But these are so tame compared to the last two rounds I barely even notice it past the initial clap of thunder which, of course, wakes me up.

5:28 am – One of the cats is sick. I hear the telltale signs of his gagging: the beginning of him throwing up. I wearily crawl out of bed, headed for the bathroom sink, fumbling for a wash cloth to wipe up the sick.

7:45 am – Staggering from bed, knowing I have to be signed on at 8am, I walk to the kitchen to find two very disturbing facts:

First, we didn’t pre-set or pre-fill the coffee pot:
No coffee + no sleep =no bueno.

Second, the bar area is teeming with my favorite nemeses: ants. Really???
Didn’t I kill all of those little !@@#$%! at home?? Mr. J pointed out, “Where did you expect them to go given the biblical proportions of that storm last night?”

With no caffeine and no sleep under my belt I didn’t even have a single snappy comment in reserve for him. I just glared.

2pm – Migraine. I could spend an entire post ranting about migraines and how much of my life has been sidelined because of them, and maybe one day I will.

At this point I’m beginning to think the week at the condo is cursed.

10pm – We’ve killed another couple of bottles out of the cases of wine and enjoyed some awesome smoked turkey and burnt ends from our favorite local BBQ joint, so things are more mellow. So far, there are no signs of storms in our night sky.

Here is hoping that the last half of the week goes much better for Mr. J and me. And even more importantly here’s hoping that all of my readers are safe from the prolific lightening and thunderstorms and rounds of tornadoes that have fired up every night this week!

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Packrat? Hoarder?

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

One of the main differences between my commuter hubby and me revolves around cable television: I don’t have cable. I think it is ridiculously expensive and frankly I’d rather spend my discretionary income on high speed internet and “presents” from my favorite home shopping network.

However, Mr. J, being very much of the male persuasion, has every cable channel imaginable in his apartment. When I’m ‘in residence” at his pad I admit to ‘jonesing’ (pun intended) for a few channels: A&E is one of them. In January A&E started a new season of “Hoarders.” In case you aren’t familiar with it, the name is pretty explanatory.

Each episode showcases two separate people whose inability to let go of things is so out of control that they are headed toward disaster: the house is unsafe and they might lose their children (‘lose’ as in: taken away from them, not ‘lose’ as in they can no longer find them in the mountains of junk); a loved one has fallen down stairs, breaking bones, and is now threatening to leave them unless the clutter is cleared. The show considers hoarding a disease and cleaning out the house is only the beginning step to change the person’s life.

After watching two episodes in February I turned to Mr. J and said, “We are about 2.5 steps from being hoarders.”

Now I might have been exaggerating just a little (and I hope anyone who has ever seen my house is nodding their head in agreement right now) but I am serious in my concern.

Both Mr. J and I are packrats. We tend to keep everything: books, plastic containers, electronics that are completely outdated, clothes from the 1990s and my personal bugaboo: paper.

Paper breeds in my house, multiplying like bunnies. Paper slays me: I don’t know what to do with it and I can’t let it go.

To piggyback on the problem of being a packrat partial to paper, I struggle with organization as well. Historically my bosses have complained about my desk being piled high with folders, industry magazines (an occasional copy of Oprah! thrown in as well, but they couldn’t see it, now could they?) and paper.

Yet, if anyone needed something I could lay my hands on it immediately. Eventually, tired of the comments, I’d give in and clean my work area. Of course, the minute I’d either tossed or filed something I needed it within days.

Like everyone who has been through any sort of time management course, you know the number one mantra: “only touch paperwork one time.” You are supposed to: Deal with it. File it. Trash it. All at the same time. Unfortunately for me, once it is filed it is lost to me forever, like a black hole: I have no idea where it is.

Just to pile on: I also have a family history of clutter: my parents’ house has been known (occasionally) to have a tiny, tiny bit of clutter. My grandparents who lived through the depression tended to stockpile non-perishable goods: coffee, aluminum foil, soap, etc.

With those two and one-half strikes against me (not even I would be so negative as to claim three strikes):
Predilection to hang onto everything
No innate sense of organization
Maternal (thus the one-half) family history of hanging onto or hoarding “stuff”

I felt justified in my comment to my hubby: we are about 2.5 steps from being hoarders.

We might not be hoarders today, but where would we be 5 years from now?

It was time for an intervention!

Stay tuned as my friend Cyndee first comes into our house and we begin to declutter what should have been an innocuous room: the mostly unused upstairs bathroom.

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In the Shelter of His Eyes

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I spent the first three weeks of the year in my husband’s tiny, tiny apartment. As I was working at home, I rarely left the apartment. I was cocooned in this warm safe “nest” with a full-length window out into the courtyard where daily I watched the snow pile up higher than the rails that should have led down to the complex’s swimming pool.

It was a wonderful way to start off the New Year. It allowed me to ground myself as I made some additional changes into my daily routine. I hesitate to call them New Year’s Resolutions as most resolutions are destined for failure.

I added yoga or Kettlenetics (modified version of working out with a Kettle bell) into my daily exercise routine. I also made additional modifications to my diet because the gluten free made me pack on pounds.

There is something funny about living with someone after you’ve been apart for two years. One day I almost had to chase Mr. J down after work: “Are you going to kiss me or what? Do I have to move back home for a week and then come back to get you to notice me?”

He had a few choice words for me, which I won’t repeat here. But it is interesting how quickly we fell back into taking each other for granted.

In all fairness I should point out that I wasn’t exactly model perfect when I was demanding a kiss. Sweatpants, no make-up, hair barely combed…..suppose that had something to do with it??

After the first few days of living with one another, our interactions quickly fell into those of an “old married couple.” While it wasn’t exactly “familiarity breeds contempt” I am here to say that “absence (really does) make the heart grow fonder.”

On the other hand, there is something to be said about having a warm body next to you in the middle of winter, about limbs brushing under the covers as you turn over half asleep, secure in the knowledge that someone is right there beside you: someone who loves you and whom you love in return.

I grew accustomed to long days spent on the computer and on conference calls, to quiet evenings of simple dinners and watching Criminal Minds or playing games together on the computer.

I enjoyed the stark winter scene outside our patio window, evoking the photography of Ansel Adams. For the first time since moving to the Snow Belt I appreciated the beauty of winter: the sheer unadulterated stillness of nature in repose was there whether I was working on projects for work or working on my Tree Pose during yoga.

As the time came closer for me to return home, I had mixed emotions. I was returning home because I had two new hires starting and I needed to be there to walk them through the onboarding process with our company. Yet, I knew that living “in the real world” wouldn’t be as comfortable as living in the sheltered world of my husband’s home.

I took the title of my blog today from a Don Williams’ song that my father used to play when I was a child. I hope Mr. Williams forgives any copyright infringement as I post a couple of stanzas of those lyrics here: For Mr. J.

“In the shelter of your eyes
I have finally learned the song
It took so long to realize
I just can’t make it all alone

And I’m, gonna stay,
right here ’cause I’m
In rhythm with your mind
Tune out the world
and rest my head
‘Neath the shelter of your eyes”

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