Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ode to Friendship

September 11, 1976, was one of the luckiest days of my life.  I had my first baby that day AND I met a lifelong friend.

As they were wheeling me down the hallway after my surgery, Margaret Large was sending a fervent prayer to GOD that the raucous lady on the stretcher would NOT be deposited in the empty bed next to hers.  God, in his infinite wisdom, ignored her.  That's how we ended up laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt.  We've laughed a lot during our friendship.  And cried some, too.  Life is like that.  

Margaret is the reason that I became a vegetarian.  She gave me a book called The Supermarket Handbook and that did it for me.  She never quite made the switch but that didn't stop me from trying.  She's also the reason that I eat spaghetti, but that's a story too gross to tell...

Because of Margaret, I own my very favorite jacket, a boiled wool classic that has seen years of use, with no end in sight.  "It's too expensive!" I lamented.  "It's classy.  Buy it." she said.  So I did.  Everyone needs a sensible friend like that.

Because our friendship spans decades, the stories go on, on and on.  We never lived near each other, but back in the day, our families would both go to her parents' house in North Vernon and spend weekends together there. It was a quieter life there than we led, and the people worked a lot harder too.  A trip to the Suhre farm meant lots of laughter and lots of great food!  Our visits always were mentioned in the grapevine section of the local paper which was a huge thrill for the kids.

An avid quilter, Margaret would say, "If I could just get you to try it, I know you'd love it as much as I do!"  The day came when she arrived for a visit, bringing two sewing machines and demanding that we make my first quilt together.  I consented to make a lap quilt and she told me I'd regret not making it big enough to put on a bed. You know what?  She was right.  It's so beautiful; I treasure it!  When we were finished though, we both knew that would be my only quilt.  She gave it the old college try though!

Meanwhile, Bob, her big, huggable teddy bear of a husband sat on my deck and cheerfully read novels.  That was Bob, quiet and steady - he and Margaret had been in love since grade school.   

We stayed in touch year after year, through happy and sad - and there were some big happies and some really big sads.  That's what friends do.  Margaret and her husband Bob were our friends.  The really, really best kind. My life has been better because of our friendship. 

"When God wants me, there is no man who can stand in his way." (I think that was said by Beth in one of the film versions of Little Women.)  Yesterday, God wanted my dear friends Bob and Margaret.  I would have stood in his way if I could have.  I'm not alone, either.  

 There are no words to express the sadness that everyone who knew them feels.
Jerry only dances with close male friends


PS  To the idiot reporter who covered their car accident, 66 IS NOT ELDERLY!!!

Feeling the Heat

Jerry and I are walking around downtown Salt Lake City and it feels hotter than yesterday - and yesterday it was 103 degrees.  Then, we pass a woman who's wearing black jeans and - this is no lie - a bulky black sweater.  Later we saw another gal in blue jeans and a sweatshirt wearing the hood up.  Wow. 

Downtown we saw so many men wearing suits that we got bored taking pictures.


We may be hicks living in the deep south, but at least we know how to dress for hot weather.  

There is only one possible explanation.  They're aliens.  From. Another. Planet.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

From the Archives

Last evening my daughter Kate was visiting Jerry and me and somehow the conversation took an ugly turn.  By that I mean that one of them inadvertently discovered that I have 1,358 emails in my account.  What??  I swear I didn't get the point until they both stopped laughing long enough to disclose that neither of them have any emails saved.  Zero.  Really?

After they were finished pouncing on me and I'd completed licking my emotional wounds, I realized that a whole new area of potential stress had just been introduced.  Like anybody really needs that!  Am I'm supposed to take time from shoveling out my physical world to address this virtual clutter?  Why should I even care?  Let these hundreds of messages float around in the cloud for all eternity, I just can't whip up the enthusiasm to address this.

Instead of correcting this obvious flaw in my character by initiating a frenzy of deletion, I decided to change my perspective.  I checked with a friend who revealed that every email I've ever sent has been put in a special file devoted just to my messages so they can be reread and laughed at anytime the spirit inspires.  So it's not just me then.  Some of us use our emails as virtual diaries!  It's not a vice, it's a virtue.  

Here is one of my oldest email threads, coauthored by my husband and his friend Jack. It's dated January, 2010 - right after I opened my gmail account. (Not only do I save my own emails, I save ones where I was only a passive observer.)  The addresses have been xxxx'd out to protect the innocent.


From: Jerry@vonxxx.com[mailto:jerry@vonxxx.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 16, 2010 6:59 PM
To: scxxxxxx@kami.comjcxxxxxx@gmail.com
Subject: Contact Information

Beginning at 11:47 AM EDST today I will be known as Lord Edward FitzGerald.
 ------------------------------
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2010 12:23 AM
Tojerry@vonxxxxxxx.com
Subject: RE: Contact Information

Yes, your Ugliness. I live to serve.  Did you check to see if 
IamADufus.com was available? 
Actually, I'm jealous as hell.

----------------------------------

Date: January 17, 2010 at 9:30:16 AM EST
Cc: Chris
Subject: RE: Contact Information
Reply-To: jerry@vonxxxx.com

Mr. and Mrs. Chxxxx;

1. Why? I had no choice
 
2. Made up name? This name was conferred upon me by the universe. 
3. New development: At 9:20 this morning Chris informed me that she would like to be referred to as Lady Grace. 
4. Myfriendsucksatmakingupnames.com: This link does not exist.


Lord Edward FitzGerald
---------------------------------------

I sent these emails to Kate and Jerry and they laughed.  They couldn't have done that without me, because they've deleted all the fun right out of their email boxes.


Fondly submitted,

Lady Grace FitzGerald   

















www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Preferences

I've been married almost four decades.  That's eons in dog years and a fairly long time even for humans.  Still, I find out new things about my significant other every day.

Recently, for example, I realized that it drives Jerry cah-ray-zee that I leave the stickers on the avocado skins when I pitch them into the compost bin.  At least that one's an easy fix.  Done.  Check that one off my list.

Just this past Monday, Jer mentioned to me that he really doesn't like wearing undershirts with v-necks.  Again, interesting but not earth shattering.  He has always bought his own unmentionables, so that's why this tidbit has never come to light before now.  

Also, turns out that my husband likes matchy-matchy furniture. Who knew? Nobody, nobody who ever set foot in our house would have guessed that.   

But it gets worse.  Jerry recently admitted that he does not like antiques.  He thinks of them as just "old."  He specifically dislikes antique dressers.  "The drawers stick," he said.
   
How Chris feels about the dresser
How Jerry feels

Jerry admitted he prefers something more modern, not "used junk."  Something made of pressed cardboard, sawdust and feathers instead of real wood, perhaps?

For eighteen years we lived in historic homes and guess how they were furnished?  We brought that same furniture with us here so my husband has apparently suffered in silence for longer than it takes a baby to reach the age of maturity.   

Oddly enough, under our beautiful, antique, hand-carved double bed from the 1800s, was a queen size bed from IKEA that we are storing for our daughter. You don't get much more modern than that.

Since we also were storing the matching dresser and bookshelf in our garage, it was easy to decide to take the high road and change the bedroom furniture. (But, as is evidenced by this blog, the altitude was not high enough that I'm not whining about it.  In truth, I guess I took the middle road.)  After a lot of carrying furniture from one floor to another (by Jerry, of course), we now have an IKEA bedroom suite, all matching, all finished in the same black/brown espresso color.  

Although the stuff is technically still "used," Jerry is very pleased.  Whenever I open the door though, I feel like I'm stepping into a Motel Six.

(He's soooo worth it.)




www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shoes

While I was on my recent vacation up north, my sister and I were cruising through the store everybody shops at but nobody admits going to. (Don't pretend you don't know where I was.  If I hadn't been out of town, I probably would have run into you there.) 

When we got to the children's section, there was an aisle display of tiny shoes with heels on them.  As an adult, I am appalled that they sell these to children. They are not being sold as "dress up," they are being marketed as shoes - and by a manufacturer that I used to buy baby shoes from.  It horrifies me. 


As a child, my reaction would have been different. I'm certain I would have thrown a tantrum worthy of prime-time television right on the floor in front of that display in an effort to secure a pair of these babies for my very own.  (It might have just worked, too.)  

Decades ago, I recall begging my mother to buy little high heels for me that were sold with the cheap toys in the grocery store.  They had high black heels, silver soles and black elastic over the top.  When I was lucky enough to finally score a pair, the heel broke off the first time that I put weight on it.  That was not enough to keep me from coveting a new pair next time, but it was enough to keep my mother from buying me them.  

My mother had an entire closet devoted to shoes alone, so I come by my love of footwear honestly.  (Yes, Kate, I am aware that I wore only Crocs for a decade, but that was because I broke my foot and only Crocs were comfortable.)

When I was a preschooler, Mom took me to get a new pair of summer shoes. We went all over town trying on different pairs, and each time I told her that they hurt my feet.  Mom drove to a neighboring town and experienced more of the same results, a crabby Chris with sore feet.  After I'd complained bitterly over and over that all the shoes I'd tried on hurt, we arrived at the final store and the clerk brought out one last pair for me to try on.

When I saw him approaching me, I couldn't contain my delight.  "That's what I wanted," I exclaimed, "RED shoes!" 


I'd be wearing these today if only they were my size!


www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com