Celebrating Birthdays and More

Once again it is time to reflect on the moments of celebration from the past seven days. Today I am prepared as I’ve started jotting quick notes in a notebook. I must confess, I am not an intentional writer in a notebook. Hopefully this practice will help me to remember and notice more celebrations.

First: My father-in-law turned 84 on Monday. That in itself is a celebration, but the day before produced a celebration of its own. On Sunday my husband, Mike, was driving up to be with his father for his birthday. As he was moving down the interstate, he noticed a car with windows open (it was chilly out), so this alerted him to pay attention. Mike thought this was the driver’s way to wake himself up. He kept watching as the car moved from side to side. Finally the car veered off into the median and the jolt woke the driver who was able to control the car and bring it to a stop. Mike stopped to check and see if the man was okay. He was, but he was badly shaken by the near miss of an accident. He was a soldier headed back to Ft. Leonard Wood. I celebrate that no one was injured and that Mike was able to check on the soldier.

Second: The 84th birthday celebration was a success. The father and son spent a enjoyable day together which involved a movie, Thai food, and ice cream.

Third: I also celebrated a friend’s birthday this week. Dinner out with the girls to toast friendship and birthdays.

Fourth: The weather gets a shout out from me, because it did not interfere with my working this week. Although it was cold, there was no snow or ice to make driving hazardous.

Fifth: I celebrate my OLW (sweet). All of a sudden this word is present in conversations I’ve had this week. That has made me stop and jot notes related to its usage. It will be interesting see where and when this word pops up this year.

I’m looking forward to discovering more celebrations next week. Are you?

 

It Wasn’t Easy

It was time. Time to say farewell to my car. This car served us well. It was the car bought during my last year of teaching, so it was to be a retirement car. Not our usual sort of car, but one bought because it would be fun. It was a  two-door convertible, not the most practical car, but a fun one. After 130,000 + miles, we decided it was time to let the convertible go.

Two years ago, we bought a Scion IQ to run around town, which would let the convertible rest. However, after one trip of forty miles, a problem was discovered. My husband has arthritis in his knee which became inflamed due to the height and depth of the seat. He would be unable to drive this little car. I knew it had to go, we don’t need a car that will cause pain when driving.

So now the search is on. My husband LOVES cars. He can read about cars all day long on the internet. He spends Sundays wandering around car lots peering into cars, studying the posted sticker, hoping the dealer left one open so he can explore the interior. (In our state car lots are closed on Sunday, so you don’t have sales people chasing you down.)

He is the person friends and family turn to when they want to buy a car. He can tell you the pros/cons, price you should pay, options you should consider, reliability of this vehicle, and those thoughts only scratch the surface of what he knows. However, when it comes to purchasing a vehicle for us, he has so many facets to weigh, it becomes a nightmare.

Just to give you a hint these are some of the items that must be considered:

  • Safety, how did the car do in all the insurance crash tests?
  • Reliability, how reliable is this car, does it break down often?
  • Does this car have high ownership satisfaction on surveys?
  • What is the cost of ownership? This takes into consideration cost of insurance, gas, depreciation, repairs, cost of injuries from a crash.

If the car passes those tests, he gets down to personal preferences, such as:

  • Heated seats (for me, hotter is better)
  • Cup holders must be able to hold two 32 ounce drink cups and not rub
  • Will the storage area be tall enough for a rolling crate?
  • Does the storage have hidden out of sight capabilities?
  • It must have a sun roof (bigger is better).
  • Is it comfortable after a few hours?
  • Does it pass the knee test or does his knee begin hurting in a short period of time?
  • Is it fun to drive?

So now he has lots of boxes to tick when he begins the search. He lusts for a German made car, but deep in his heart he knows he can’t buy one. They are too expensive and they are costly to fix. No BMW or Audi or Mercedes for us. We won’t buy a car if there is no dealer in town. So that eliminates Volvo and Mini Cooper.

He has done his research and now he heads out to test drive. This is the only way he can determine if it passes the knee test. Car after car is eliminated due to the knee test. Only a few options remain. What car will it be?

He does all the legwork, so when it is getting close to a decision my input is requested or should I say required?  All along I give feedback as it is needed, but I’m not truly invested in any car search. A car is a car is a car. What matters to me is if he is happy with the decision. He can usually bribe me to look at cars with a promise of a meal out. 🙂

A decision is almost made. A car has moved to the top of the list, but it has a dent in the trunk lid. No dents allowed! However, he will be in St. Louis for a day. Maybe they will have the car. He spends the day looking at various dealers. Now we are weighing between two cars.

He picks me up from school and we begin the three hour ride home. He tells me all of the information he has discovered on his day in the city. We talk, we discuss pros and cons. I know a decision has been made. Now the question is will the dealer in town match the price of the St. Louis dealer?

Saturday my husband heads to the dealer. They match the price, a deal is made. Hallelujah the search is over! It wasn’t easy to find the car that meets our wants. So what did we get?

A Subaru Outback! I know we will have fun with the places it will take us :-)

A Subaru Outback! I know we will have fun with the places it will take us 🙂

What Does This Mean?#26

Mikesmine

Can you spot the differences in the pictures above? The one on the left was waiting, on the island in the kitchen, for my husband when he got up  February 14. The one on the right was also on the island when I got up. Hmmm. . . what does this mean?

You will notice it is the same bottle of wine in each photo. This is the first time we have ever bought each other a bottle of wine. My cousin spoiled our palates with this wine last fall. (Rombauer Winery, cabernet sauvignon) It was so smooth and buttery, we loved it! Then we found out how much it cost. Yikes! That is way above what we usually spend on a bottle of wine. (You can tell we are not wine aficionados, but we do enjoy a nice glass once and a while.) However, the idea was filed away in my mind that this might be something special to get some time. Apparently, my husband filed the same thought away.

One day as I was shopping, I saw the dark chocolate mint flavored M & Ms and knew that would be something my husband would love. He went to a small patisserie and bought hand-made dark truffles for me. Obviously, he wins on that point. Finally, we each had a card in a red envelope.

I burst out laughing when I saw the items on the island. We’ve been married thirty-five years. Are we morphing into the same person? This was too funny but yet a bit scary.

The truffles were delicious!

The truffles were delicious!

Disappointment or Relief

“The garage sale has been cancelled,” my husband said in a disappointed voice. My heart soared with joy as these words were uttered. Two totally different reactions to the same sentence.

He was eagerly anticipating the fall neighborhood garage sale. This would be the time he could unload the attic of items that we no longer use. This was going to be a purging of the accumulated items in the attic. He has become a minimalist. Use it or lose it is his thinking.

I was dreading the sifting and sorting that lay ahead to prepare for this sale. I knew I would look at each item and think of possible uses for it. Then I would lay it aside, not ready to let it go to a new home. I tend to hang on to things. You know, I might need it (someday).

The days of the garage sale were cool and very wet, not the best weather for a sale. I was grateful I didn’t have to sit in the garage all day.

“Well, I guess I can wait and we can join in on the spring sale,” my husband announced. It’s seven months away. I guess I’d better start preparing.

Stoplights

Sometimes things happen that make you sit back, pause, and assess. I had such a moment Saturday at approximately 5:06.

“Do you want to go to Sybil’s for dinner Saturday?” my husband asked me on Thursday. Sybil’s is a restaurant about 130 miles from our home. We had only been there once, but my meal was so delicious the taste lingered in my mind. There were several things on the menu I was itching to try. Our anniversary was on Monday and I had mentioned I’d like to go there, but they are closed on Monday. “Then we could drive on over to dad’s and spend  Sunday in St. Louis,” he continued to explain as I turned these thoughts over in my mind.

It didn’t take me long to agree to this trip. We’ve been home for about two weeks, so we were ready for a quick overnight trip. We made reservations for 5:30 at Sybil’s. We left home at 3:30. I read, my husband drove, Pandora played. It was a pleasant trip. We exited the highway at about 5:05. “I guess it only takes us an hour and a half instead of two,” I say to my husband. “I hope they don’t mind we are a bit early.” I don’t mind, since my stomach is rumbling as I anticipate the meal to come.

There is a stoplight at the end of the exit. It is red. We sit and wait for the green light because we need to turn left. The light turns. We sit. I open my mouth  to say something to my husband, when a minivan drives through the intersection. I see a man and a small boy in the front seat as they zoom past us. I can’t believe this man ran the red light! If my husband hadn’t paused for that instant we would have been in a serious accident. I am having a hard time catching my breath as I realize how close we came to being crushed by a bigger vehicle (we were in the convertible). Even now as I write about it and visualize the scene, my stomach drops.

I won’t be in such a hurry when I am the first person at a stoplight. I will take the extra second to check oncoming traffic and verify that they did indeed stop. Life can change in an instant.

Other Slice of Life stories can be found at http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/ Check them out!

Good Idea?

“You want to ride the trail tonight?” my friend Tina says on Monday morning.

“I suppose we could,” I respond slowly, desperately searching my brain for any possible excuse. Unable to present a valid excuse we make tentative plans for meeting up on the bike trail later.

When I tell my husband of the plans, he is delighted. He rides regularly. Me, not so much. In fact I haven’t ridden for about two years (really, it’s been that long?)

As I am preparing our dinner, he is out in the garage attaching the bike carrier to the car, airing up tires, and gathering helmets and such. My back tire won’t air up. It appears that the valve stem is bent. We can’t locate the spare tubes, so I will have to ride his road bike (he has two bikes). Not a big deal (I think) because his bike is similar to mine. That is not the case I later realize.

Finally, we are off and ready to meet up with Tina. Some adjustments must be made to the seat height before setting off. My husband’s bike has cages on the pedals, I do not like them. They are difficult for me to get my feet into them. His seat is not comfortable. This does not bode well for a fun time for me. I am a little wobbly at first, but I push and pull on the gear levers trying to find a good gear. My husband and Tina ride ahead of me as I try to get comfortable with the bike.

Pedal, pedal, pedal. Sweat begins to drip down my face as the temperature rises. The trail is stifling hot. My butt hurts and I want this misery to end. Pedal, pedal, pedal. We continue on and on. Finally, we stop for a moment.

“How much farther to the end? I ask.

“Probably about another mile,” is the response. My heart drops. I can’t go another mile. Tina and I turn around to begin the journey back. My husband will ride on and catch up with us.

Pedal, pedal, pedal, ring! Tina’s phone rings, “Where are you?” her husband, Matt asks. “Are you getting wet? It’s pouring here.”

Uh-oh! This is not the news I want to hear, because the top of the convertible is down! There were no clouds in the sky or prediction of rain when we left an hour before.

We are not getting rained on at this moment. Five minutes later, there are a few sprinkles hitting us. They feel good on my sizzling hot skin. Ring! It’s Matt again, he’s coming to pick us up. Yes, this is great news to me! My husband has caught up with us and when we told him of the rain he shot off like a rocket.

Matt is my savior! He appears not on a white horse, but in a white truck to pick us up. We head to Tina’s house to collect towels to dry out the car. My husband has made it to the car by the time we arrive with the towels. Fortunately, there wasn’t  anything in the car to get wet (other than the seats and floor mats. We wipe down the insides of the car with the towels.

1/4 inch of water in my door handle

Once we are home, the top of the car is suspended in air to allow not only the top to dry, but also the insides. The next day the car sits in the sun to dry out the interior.

So, was this a good idea? I’ll let you be the judge.

The sky on our return to home. Can you see the isolated rain?

PS: We rode again on Friday evening and Sunday morning. I have my bike back and that makes all the difference in the world! Slowly I am beginning the journey of biking again. I know there will be biking stories in the future.

Happy Husband

Tonight I will not home, in fact, I will not be home until Friday evening. This is not what makes my husband happy. 🙂

Food is very important to my husband, but he does not like to prepare food. He likes to consume it, not prepare it. That becomes a problem when I have to be out of town for several days. To prepare for those days alone, I try to fix meals so there will be leftovers. He is a master at microwaving meals.

Every night (when I am home) he has a tossed lettuce salad with his dinner. The ingredients are fairly constant. Every night I chop up a few leaves of  red leaf lettuce, pull some shredded carrots from the bag, slice celery, red pepper, and green onion. A quarter of an avocado is placed on top followed by a sprinkling of feta cheese. This is a fairly basic tossed salad, right? Easily replicated, right? Apparently this is not the case. I have been told that when he has to make the salad it doesn’t taste as good as when I make it. Really, how can this be? There are no secret ingredients in this salad. He tells me he has covertly watched me make the salad to to make sure I am not adding something that he does not know about. Really?

So tonight there will be a salad waiting for him in the refrigerator. He will heat the roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, AND a tossed salad ready and waiting for him. He will be a happy husband (for one night).

Kalamata olives replace avocado tonight

Finally! Snow!

Would you think about buying a snow blower in August? Probably not, but then you’d miss out on having one. Home Depot does not stock snow blowers during the winter months in our area. Actually the manager of the department had to beg corporate to send some to our store. Apparently the home office does not think we get enough snow during a year to warrant stocking snow blowers. The machines were sold out in a matter of a few weeks. One of them found a very comfortable spot in our garage.

The facts of life are, the body just doesn’t hold up to a lot of heavy shoveling any more. Therefore, we needed a snow blower. Our neighbors were quite excited, almost to the point of giddiness when the machine was brought home. I know they had visions of snow-free driveways in their future.

So here we are in February and there has not been one snowfall worthy of getting the blower out. Until this day . . . our first (hopefully only) significant snow accumulation!

I am sitting at my desk working when all of a sudden I hear an unfamiliar sound. I look out the window, but there is nothing in my line of vision. I walk through the house noting my husband has disappeared. The sound leads me to the garage. Smoke has filled one end of the garage as I choke and make my way over to the roaring machine (louder than a lawnmower). My husband had a look of excitement and anticipation on his face as he tries to maneuver this new toy.

One trip down the driveway and he is on his way back up but something does not seem right. It’s too hard to push. A quick look at the owner’s manual and he is off again after making some adjustment to the wheels. Moments later, a wheel falls off. That was not the correct adjustment needed. He finds the pin, checks the manual, I offer sage advice, and he’s back down the driveway

My toes are frozen so I head back into the house. I barely get situated at my desk when the distant roar stops. I know he is not that quick, so I go to investigate. He ran out of gas. The tank is refilled and he is back on the mission. Our driveway is clear, so he heads to the neighbor on the right. Up, down, around, and around, done! He heads to the neighbor on the left. Repeat performance, another driveway is cleared.

“I wish I had that before,” he announces. “There are several snowstorms I can think of where that would have helped.” Now we wait for the neighbors to come home to find a clear driveway. They will be celebrating their good fortune tonight.

An hour after the driveways are cleared, a snowplow comes barreling down our street. Zip in and out, he’s long gone leaving behind a barrier between the end of the driveway and the road! Snow blower to the rescue! This marvelous machine makes short work of the mess the plow left behind. This new tool will make snowy weather fun again.

Searching

Have you ever seen a picture or read a review of something and it stuck in your mind like a little seed waiting to sprout? Every now and then you think about it and you want the item, but time passes and you forget that you wanted it . . .  until something comes along to remind you of this thing.

This is the story of the search for a cinnamon roll.

As we are watching the Today show, the rumbling from deep in the stomach begins on a dreary, dark, morning. My husband announces, “I’m hungry. I will go and get cinnamon rolls. I don’t need it but that’s what sounds good right now.”

Sidebar explanation: Recently a local magazine listed the five best cinnamon rolls in town. The number one roll is at a bakery downtown that has very select hours. We have tried to sample their rolls before, but with no luck. This is the seed that has been planted in my husband’s mind. It has been growing and festering ever since he saw that article.

Back to the present: Off he goes to get this elusive cinnamon roll. I continue to watch the Today show, sipping my coffee. Soon my phone is ringing, it’s my husband, “Are you sure this is the place? They don’t open until eight.” (it was 7:55)

“I think you are at the right place, let me check the magazine.” Quickly I find the correct issue and yes, I can verify he is at the right place. “Well, you only have five minutes to wait,” I say encouragingly as I anticipate the giant roll in my future.

8:02 my phone rings again, (I think I may have to decide on a frosting flavor. I will go with vanilla.) “They stopped making cinnamon rolls on the 17th except for special orders,” the disappointed voice says.

“Okay, well let’s try another another one. Elle’s Patisserie is on Cherry Street (not too far from where he is), go there,” I reply.

“I’m going to Artisan Ovens, I know where that one is,” he tells me tossing aside my suggestion. I remind him that bakery is on the other side of town, and Elle’s is closer. No, that is not what he wants to do. So, he is off and heading to Artisan Ovens. I decide this would be a good time to fit in my shower before he arrives home with the goodies. Once I am back on the couch I check my phone and there is a missed call. Guess who. I call back.

“They don’t open until nine (it was 8:30 when he called) so I am on my way to Cherry Street. These had better be good!”

I make more coffee and shortly after nine the car pulls into the garage. The bag is dropped on the counter by someone wearing a frustrated look.

After an hour and a half journey, we warmed the roll and enjoyed it with a cup of fresh coffee. Just what you need on a dreary dark morning.

Sidebar funny: I was in the Artisan Ovens later that morning, and guess what . . . they didn’t have any cinnamon rolls. They only make them on Wednesday and Saturday. 🙂