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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Louis Three-Hearts

Louis (as in St. Louis) is a teddy bear who sits atop the throw pillows on our guest bed.  Louis has presided over various rooms in our home since some of the earliest days of our marriage.  Louis has three hearts and that makes him one special bear.  

Bruce and I met when I was 28 and he was 38.  Our first home was one he'd established with his son.  My being there full-time was quite a transition for all of us.  Louis is our "love child" - the three of us.  He reminds me of all the hopes I had for our lives.  He reminds me that Bruce and Lucas each had their own hopes as well.  How many of their private wishes were realized or how many were squashed along our rocky way I don't know.  I don't allow myself to keep records of that sort and hope they don't either.  We are all three much better people now than we were then and have far better hopes and dreams for our futures than we could possibly have imagined then because we know why we love each other now, not just that we do.

You can't really force intimacy, though if other step-families are like ours, it's almost a compulsion to try.  Louis was one such attempt on our part.  Imagine a 13-year-old boy, his nearing 40 father and new stepmother standing in line to build a bear.  I'm sure the high school-aged girl working that day had no idea when she held out her basket of little heart-shaped pillows to us and told us we could each put one in that she was helping us make not just a bear, but a reminder of our promises to each other.  

I don't really think about Louis very often, though I notice that he sits there and I'm glad of it.  Yet, when I do take time to consider what he means and to take into account the fact that other lives besides my own are bound up in the heart(s) of him, he becomes quite precious to me.  

As I said, I don't allow myself to keep records of things lost along the way; but I do keep records of things gained. Blessings.  I could count forever, I think, and never finish.  But right at the top would be Bruce and Lucas.  They helped me become who I am and, painful though it was at times, I'm very grateful.  Life as I imagined it for the us might have been prettier, but it certainly wouldn't have produced as much character in any of us.  Like Louis, we each had to make a place for three hearts and that gave room for a whole lot of love to grow.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

from Guest Blogger, Bruce Foltz

     When my nephew was little, he would describe large amounts by using a measurement he could understand. He would explain size by how many bathtubs it would contain, such as it was 16 bathtubs big. He would also use this same measurement to show affection as  in "I love you 100 bathtubs full." I'm sure that now, as a PhD and professor at a Tennessee university, he has moved on to different, perhaps more precise measurements. But at the time it was his way of expressing an amount that would otherwise be beyond his understanding.
     I still sometimes think that way about love. It can be so powerful and overwhelming that I'm at a loss for words without falling into trite cliches or catch phrases. But the other night I experienced a perfect, for me, remedy for my tongue-tied muteness. Please let me share.
    It was the first game of the new NFL season and my Vikings were playing. I don't watch a lot of football but this one I wanted to see. Shellie is not a football fan. Hockey yes, but not much else. She planned our dinner around the game and prepared treats to fit the occasion. Since we both watch our weight, we're very careful about some delicacies and often share to save the calories. But on this night, my wife carefully planned the menu to include a WHOLE chocolate covered glazed donut! It was a little taste of heaven in my mouth. What made it sweeter still, as if it needed help, was the fact she arranged it for me, as a surprise, without causing any guilt over exceeding my caloric goal. Not a small task, but one performed with much love.
     So now when I need to express an amount of love beyond simple understanding, I'll use this heart-felt expression of endearment, " I love you a chocolate covered glazed donut, or maybe even two."
                                                                                           Who Loves Ya, Baby?        Bruce

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I've been waiting for today.  Just to say, "It is September" is a relief.  Though we would be fooling ourselves to say it is fall now, it is fall enough for now.  After all, it is September.

September is poetry and it is soup in crockery bowls; it is dog-eared novels we've read so many times the edges of the pages are thick and it is homemade bread.  September is a bouquet of bliss and blessings, a bundle of bright hopes tied with the ribbons of sentimentality.  September is being in the moment, standing in the sun and breathing in deep.  It is sneaking in a tiny thought of the holidays that are coming and then hurrying back to today before you're lost in tomorrow.

September is a time for love and romance.  If you haven't anyone to woo in your life, then by all means, let September woo you!  Give in to it.  It feels great.  There's no guilt in the guilty pleasures of September.  Set the table with real dishes, lay a cloth napkin in your lap, light a candle on your table and invite Cyrus Chestnut, Vince Guaraldi, Michael Franks, or even Garrison Keillor to dine with you.  I can promise you will feel warmed on the inside for having been in their company.  There's simply no excuse for not being in love in September.