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Monday, August 23, 2010

Now Playing

Theme dinner anyone?

For me, cooking is a less than desirable chore at the end of the work day.  Thus, weekday dinners tend to fall into one of three categories:  cheap eat-outs, frozen, or quick mix.  In the fall and winter I'm more likely to whip up a soup or try my hand at something with a few more ingredients and steps during the week, but I burn out quickly.  Weekends, then?  Restaurants.  Failing that, cereal.  Cold cereal.  Sometimes an antipasto platter or bread with pesto and cheeses if I'm feeling really daring.

Last school year, though, I got my gumption up and tried to plan for more home cooked (thank you, Sandra-Lee Semi-Homemade) weeknight dinners and even some at-home date night suppers for the weekend.  I can be creative when I want to be and one of my favorites was the Verona Night - a theme dinner.  I spent snatches of time online all week looking up the traditional foods of Verona and planned a not-too-complicated menu including a traditional dessert of Juliet's Kisses (again, semi-homemade).  We supped by candlelight and then went out to see Letters to Juliet.  It was fun.  I wanted to try it again.

A couple of months passed and Bruce's birthday was on the horizon.  A local business supporter and semi-green person, he likes the challenge of shopping for all of our gifts locally.  We have fun doing Christmas at flea markets and used bookstores.  He had mentioned wanting to reread some of M.C. Beaton's Hammish Macbeth books.  I found a few at the used bookstores and supplemented with a couple of new copies, wrapped them in green and blue plaid fabric and tied them with a green satin ribbon.  I purchased a c.d. of bagpipe music (yes, I really did) and planned a Highland breakfast.  Scotch Eggs (using vegetarian sausage), oat scones, carandash (I think that's how it was spelled - layers of real whipped cream with brandy - or in my case brandy extract - raspberries and toasted oats), and Scottish breakfast tea.  It was so yummy and so very fun.  I want to try it again.

As the school year gets started, I'm looking forward to the entertainments of the season:  high school football games, school dances, ice hockey, band concerts, theatre, and the return of all the best autumn has to offer by way of cuddling opportunities with one's Honey.  I'm also thinking that another Theme dinner might be on the menu soon.  So, I'll be perusing the offerings at our local independent movie theater, the stage plays coming up, and all the free things our nearby university has to offer (thank you, Missouri State!), and even dvds we haven't watched in so long I've forgotten we have them.  With a little invention, a little investigation, and a little investment of time and effort, our table will be set with a thematic flair once again.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out Fraulein Maria!

These are a few of my favorite things:

Holding hands with my honey while we stroll around the neighborhood.

Strolling around the neighborhood with my honey and liking that he notices that when I walk I tend to be looking up and around while he tends to look down and around - I keep him from missing gorgeous cloud formations or the first colored leaf on the block; he keeps me from tripping on the uneven sidewalk or stepping on a caterpillar.

He always makes sure he has a quarter in his pocket when we go to the mall because he knows I'm a bubble gum junkie.

He sings a lot.  Sometimes I know the song.  Many times I don't.  I've learned some silly songs from him that are mine now, too.  And, sometimes when he sings I join in and he stops and says:  "Did I say this was a duet?"  Silly man.

He will watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with me in the middle of summer if I ask him to.

We can be in different parts of a store and both zero in on a stupid song lyric playing overhead.  When we meet up again, we almost inevitably ask, "Did you hear that song?"

He is a genius at making up jokes.  I mean a real genius.  I almost always know when he's setting one up, but it's not very often I figure it out.  I groan LOUDLY when he tells me the punchline and he laughs that he can still "get" me.

Dancing in the living room.

Dancing in the kitchen.

Including the dog in a "group hug".

He tells me I look pretty and I believe he thinks I do.

He knows I'm going to cry at the same parts of the same old movies and he waits for it.  He also knows when I'm going to cry in a movie we've not seen before and I catch him glancing at me in the dark theatre to see if he's right.  He doesn't cry, but he doesn't make me feel funny about the fact that I do.

He likes that I'm tenderhearted.

He believes that if I had to I could survive without him, but he still does things for me that I could do myself just out of niceness.  I don't remember the last time I pumped gas myself, but I do remember how.

He never lets me open my own car door.  Never.

He stacks the clean towels so that he gets the rattier ones.

He makes the bed.

People who know us expect us to be together.  When they see one of us in public they look around to find the other.  Usually, they succeed.

We can go to the Library on a weekend night and joke about what losers we are.  We don't really believe it, though.  Well, not for that reason anyway.

He likes how I've decorated our home.  He says it's our sanctuary.  When he arrives home from work, he says, "Welcome to civility."  I can't think of a higher compliment he could give me.

He lets me say, "I love you," to him a hundred times a day.

He tells me he loves me, too.

Thanks, Bruce.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Witness to Your Life

One of my favorite movies is Shall We Dance with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon.  It is the story of a middle-aged man who has become a bit bored with his routines.  There are many things I like about the story, the first being that infidelity does not enter into it.  The man loves his wife and family and he doesn't betray them. However, in his secret pursuit of dance, his wife has reason to become suspicious.  She hires a private investigator to follow her husband.  When ultimately she decides that he is not pursuing an extramarital affair, she terminates the investigation.  Her conversation with the much-enamored PI leads to the question of why do people marry.  His answer is the obvious one:  for love.  She refutes that and says rather it is because we all want a witness to our lives.  In marrying, in making that commitment, we promise to notice.  I like that.

The reason I thought of it tonight is that I was engaged in one of my favorite weekly routines with my husband:  Sunday evening at Mudhouse with a bottomless and a book.  I've been shamefully unable to engage with a book all summer.  Inexplicably unable to engage.  However, I picked up a memoir I purchased several weeks ago with a gift certificate given me by a couple of teachers in congratulations and goodbyes as I moved to a new school.  It is called Here If You Need Me and it is the story of Kate Braestrup.  I've never heard of Kate Braestrup.  What made me pick up the book in the first place was the gorgeous cover.  A tree branch all alight with autumn colors stretched over a lake reflecting a colorful hillside, an abandoned canoe at the shore and a single unoccupied Adirondack chair facing out toward the water and the distant shore on which you can  see the white trunks of birch.  I had to pick it up.  Had to.  When I discovered the true story was set in Maine, I was sold.

I started reading the memoir several weeks ago when I first purchased it.  Unfortunately, the first time I picked it up was in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.  Not really the time to start reading a memoir.  (More the time for reading The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog  - see a December post.)  I was too tired to focus and lay it aside, forgetting it until today.  I'm glad I remembered it.

Half-way through it now, I am considering the fortitude of this woman who, because of her conviction that genuine love means you take care of your family even in death, determined to honor her husband by taking care of his corpse herself.  He was an officer killed in a car crash.  She asked that he not be embalmed and that she personally take care of bathing and dressing him.  She also asked to be present at his cremation from start to finish (which, according to what she was told by the funeral home would take four to five hours or more for a young and fit man such as he was).  Her courage is unfathomable to me.  She writes:

"I wanted to do it not because it would help me heal - healing was both indefinable and unimaginable - but because it was the authoritative command of an authentic love."  The idea of caring for the bodies of your deceased loved ones is described as an "intimate privilege" that has been taken away from us by professionals.

I don't share these things out of horrified fascination or morbidity.  I don't say this is anything I would even consider or be able to do myself.  I'm not that strong and don't really want to be.  But, I do find the depth of commitment extraordinary and remarkable.  There's so much to be considered in regard to the link between physical and spiritual realms, the expressions of love, God's love, that is evident in creation, in emotion, and in spirit.  How far reaching His love is.  How far could my own reach if I would stretch it?