Love is Blind

Bob, me, and Dena 1983

When we were in our first decade or so of marriage, we had to be creative with our date nights. Inflation was out of control (raising four children is the very definition of inflation). Funds were always tight. Sometimes Bob and I would go to the mall and walk around, get ice cream, or go to the bookstore. Not too exciting, but it got us some time together out of the house, and we enjoyed it.

I am one who believes that you can make your own entertainment if you just put your imagination to use. That is why Bob didn’t care too much for walking around the mall with me.

During these walks, sometimes I would challenge him by acting like I was blind. This was especially fun when he would walk a few feet away from me and I would act panicked with my hands outstretched grabbing at the air while calling his name. Sometimes I’d even add, “please don’t leave me alone again,” just for effect.

Bob loved this game as much as you can imagine he did. I often marvel that our marriage is going strong after 44 years!

Of course, I thought I was hysterical. Poor Bob! The thing is, since that time we have watched both of our fathers lose their eyesight. Yep, it doesn’t seem quite as funny anymore, except when I think about my sweet husband navigating marriage through the Altamonte Mall while I was acting like he had navigated himself away from me, I can’t help but chuckle. Even Bob will smile at that memory.

I made the mistake of telling this story to Dena (my daughter). She loved the dark humor and suggested I post it on Halloween. Personally, I wasn’t sure I wanted you to know about this weird side of me, but since I came up empty in the idea department, I relented.

I have matured since those early days. Now I would never act like I’m blind – that’s a little too close to home. I am in my sixties though, and I can tell you that this aging thing is quite interesting. If you want to be scared on Halloween, think about that. My father-in-law once told me that being old was the hardest thing he had ever done, and he was a WWII vet.

Today, I might act like I can’t remember some things – like cooking or cleaning or how to defrag my computer. But there is a method to that madness.

Boom, There It is (x 3)

Sometimes forgetting something is the best, and so it was the night of June 24. SpaceX was due to launch another of its Falcon Heavy Rockets at 11:30 PM. More accurately, that was when the launch window would open. Launch windows are tricky and no two seem to be alike. Sometimes there is no window, they must launch exactly at that moment or wait until another day. That is rare, though, usually they have a span of a couple of hours.

I don’t live on the Space Coast. I live 45.24 miles from the Kennedy Space Center as the crow flies (thanks, Alexa). Our living room faces east, so I only have to step outside and I can see the rocket’s red and yellow glare above the tree line seconds after lift-off. It’s a great view and if a launch gets scrubbed, I just go back inside.

No photo description available.

Photo Credit: Fox35 WOFL

I really wanted to watch the June 24 launch. It has been unbelievably hot down here but the humidity hasn’t been too bad, so clear skies were expected. But I forgot all about it and was asleep before 11. At approximately 2:45 AM, Bob and I were jolted awake by the familiar sonic booms – only unlike the space shuttle’s double booms, this time there were three.

falcon heavy launch

Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

I jumped out of bed and ran to the front door as Bob reminded me that, by the time we hear the booms, the event is over. Not to be deterred and also not fully awake, I maneuvered through the dark (why didn’t I turn on a light?) and beheld a great view of a very dark sky.

At this point I was fully awake and experienced a mixed bag of thankfulness and regret that I didn’t stay up waiting for the 2:30 AM launch as several of our friends did. After all, some of us (Bob) have to work the next day, and that is precisely why I didn’t engage Bob in conversation as we tried to get back to sleep.

My obstacle was that the house was making weird, creaking noises, which I verified with Bob before I let him off the hook of getting to the why of those noises. I’m nice like that. Why are house sounds so loud in the still of the night?

We live in a 35-year-old wood-frame house. I have noticed it creaks more than our former block home did. This is especially evident on colder nights, but this wasn’t a cold night – far from it. Perhaps some dynamic process is at work changing our house by degrees. I’m assuming that kind of dynamic is thermal.

Real-Life Men Of Science Who Made

Real Scientists Who’ve Been on The Big Bang Theory, Photo Credit: http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_bang_theory/photos/page/9/

All I’ve learned about thermal dynamics could be contained in a very tiny book. I’ve picked up a few things by osmosis because my hubby is a mechanical engineer and also because I like to watch The Big Bang Theory. It’s a very educational show. Or is it? If you don’t know for sure, then it could be classified as Schrodinger’s TV show. It could be a good show or a bad one, but until you turn it on and see for yourself, it must be classified as both – or neither. (I learned all about Schrodinger’s Cat from the Big Bang Theory. It has proved to be valuable information. Or has it?)

You can now understand how kind and merciful I was to my husband by not starting up this type of conversation with him at 3 o’clock in the morning. After dinner, no such mercy was extended. We had a stimulating conversation about whether or not the sonic booms from the 2 side boosters and the center core booster, which crashed, could have been responsible for the increase in creakiness of our house that night.

I wondered if sound waves could have gone out in concentric circles and had an effect on our house. Could this be related to the sonic booms? Also, the more we talked about it, the more my mind wandered to Sonic Drive-In Restaurants, even though I have never been to one. I kind of got in the mood for a milkshake but it was too late so I settled for a dish of ice cream and an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Bob, tired from the night before, just went to bed.

Tong in Cheek

When I’m not traipsing around the country and hovering over canyons, my life is pretty normal. And who says that normal isn’t exciting? Just this week I added some spice to our life with the purchase of new grilling tongs. We had quite the stimulating conversation after that purchase!

Summer brings with it the need for multiple pairs of tongs. It also brings the question – why is it a pair of tongs when they are a single unit? It’s like a pair of pants. I just don’t get it. Plural in form but singular in use – kind of confusing, and nobody says they put their pant on one leg at a time. If they did, they might be panting from the strain of holding them together.

Strain – Since we’re talking about kitchen tools – what’s the difference between a strainer and a colander? Can I “coland” myself if I work too hard? Crazy English language! My mom always called that thing a strainer, and its main use was as a drainer of liquid. I understand colanders have larger holes and strainers tend towards mesh or screen to facilitate the drain, but the words are frequently used interchangeably. I think colander sounds like it requires less work – a little classier.

But this post is about tongs and the plethora of things that are better served with the proper tongs. There’s corn on the cob, hot dogs, chicken on the grill, ice, pinching your husband. All of these have tongs that are appropriate and specific for the activity involved. Of this I am convinced. Bob is not.

I showed him our lovely new grilling tongs. He said we didn’t need them because our other tongs worked great. Oh contraire! The other ones were shorter and had silicon on the pinching end. I couldn’t be sure, but if I had the original packaging, it probably did not mention grill use.

I pointed this out to Bob who said that once I cut the tag off of the new tongs, there would be no proof that they were meant for the grill. That is why I’m going to frame this picture and hang it in the kitchen.

Our conversation kept its momentum (weak as it was) through dinner. We were eating corn on the cob. I cooked it on the stove and, of course, used the proper tongs to remove it from the hot water. I decided not to mention that to Bob for fear he would feel antagonized or, even worse, that he would think I was going off the deep end.

While enjoying our corn, which is at the pinnacle of its season, I mentioned that I thought I could eat corn every night. It’s so amazing right now.

Bob added that they use corn to fatten cows.

That’s pretty much where the conversation stopped, but I have plans to use those new tongs the next time his back is turned.

 

Is this some kind of a hint?

I think I’ve gotten myself into some trouble from yesterday’s post about movie pairings. Somehow Bob took this as a sign that I planned to cook or at least assemble dinner for the two of us.

After having family stay with us for the last six weeks, I assured him that my intentions were nothing more than to provide ideas which someone, maybe even him, could put in place.

His next move was to leave me a hint courtesy of last Thursday’s Orlando Sentinel.

 

I know better than to assume the entire news story is above the fold.

 

I countered his move by stopping at the grocery store for balsamic vinegar.

“Well played,” he responded as he put the steaks on the grill. “Well played.”

 

This is Post #29 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

The Great Garbage Can Controversy

We made a very unexciting purchase recently – a purchase that we didn’t exactly agree on. It’s not like there was a huge discussion though. We bought a new a garbage can.

I thought our garbage cans were acceptable. I even asked the guy on the truck and he said he’d seen a worse. But Bob likes to replace things before they disintegrate, so he decided a new one was in order.

I really do appreciate Bob not waiting until things are dilapidated before replacing them. That was the same reasoning he used when he bought me my car, so I should just shut up about it. But I knew he would go off to work with a view of our garbage cans in his rear-view mirror, and I would be faced with the question: How does one throw away a garbage can?

It’s not like I could put one inside of the other. I already had the word from the garbage collectors, who are experts at such things, that ours was not necessarily garbage material. Even though the very name garbage can could be interpreted as such, but I digress.

So, I decided to listen and wait for the sound of the truck coming down the street. They usually collect around 10 in the morning, I’d just rush out and meet them. Of course, that day they came at 4 in the afternoon, so I spent most of my day jumping up and running to the door to see if they were coming. It was like I was a kid waiting for the ice-cream man. Finally, they came and the disposal of our trusty, old can was complete.

Shiny New Garbage Can – Isn’t it pretty?

But that opened up an entirely new situation. Every time I’d take the garbage out, I would put it in the remaining old can, the lesser of the two evils, which Bob kept. The new one was so nice and shiny. It didn’t even smell like garbage. It seemed wrong to treat it like it was any old garbage can. I wanted to keep it nice for as long as possible. I didn’t realize how weird this was until I went to throw garbage out and saw that Bob had placed the new can to the front and he had put garbage in it. Can you imagine a person doing such a thing? He had reduced the older, beat-up can to back-up.

I stood there staring. How could I let him throw trash in it? To treat it like garbage? I could not. I reached down and switched the bag to the old can. This went on for over a week until I finally confronted Bob about it. “Why are you putting garbage in that beautiful new can?”

“What are you saving it for? It’s a garbage can,” he said.

And it was. He filled it with too much garbage for me to switch to the other can. It was over. The garbage smell had arrived. Try as I may, I couldn’t save it.

I looked at him and said, “I just can’t keep anything nice around here.”

 

This is Day 4 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge

Things My Husband Shouldn’t Say to Me

Sunday was a beautiful day – the perfect day for my husband to take a well-deserved rest by the pool. (We live in Florida.) I was happy watching him soak up the sun while reading a book. Well, I was happy until he came in. Let me recount our conversation for you.

Bob looking in the mirror at his chest after spending two hours by the pool – “Oh, I guess I did get a little sun out there today.”

Me, realizing I have to go to the dermatologist on Tuesday for my semi-annual humiliation, I mean skin check – “You are a little red. You need to be careful.”

Bob – “Don’t worry. It’ll be brown in a day. I think it’s already turning brown.”

Me throwing my hands up in frustration – “Brag, brag, brag! Do you know how long it would take me to go from red to brown? Hum? Or to get anything that resembles a tan? No, of course you don’t. Nobody knows! It’s like the mystery of how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie pop.”

End scene.

Say, “bees!”

Just so you know, today I did go to the dermatologist and it was a very good day for this pasty-white girl. A good day means 21 freezes of pre-skin-cancer areas and 1 small biopsy. Boom!

This is what I looked like afterwards. Warning, no make-up. Now you, Bob, and my dermatologist are the only ones who get to see me like this. Feel privileged and always use a good sunscreen of 50 SPF or above. If they had that when I was a kid maybe I wouldn’t come out of the dermatologist’s office every six months looking like I was attacked by a swarm of bees.

 

 

 

 

This is Post #3 of the April Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Don’t Give Me That Look

I am a responsible adult. That means that I get the oil changed in my car regularly. Though regularly may be up for interpretation, I shoot for every 5,000 miles. My car turned over 50,000 miles and even with my mathematical limitations, I knew it was time.

As I type this, I’m taken back to the time, lo those many years ago, when I first drove by myself to get my oil changed at a quick-service center. Driving over a large hole with a person waiting in said hole was a little nerve-wracking. The guy waving me in like I was driving a 747 seemed unaffected by the potential disaster that my car careening into that hole would cause. To his credit, his confidence in me was not misplaced.  I tried to act nonchalant, but it was a proud moment. Just another day.

But this time when I pulled up I encountered someone who had hand signals of his own making. First he did the come straight ahead signal with both hands extended and fingers moving toward his palms. Then he waved me a little to the right. Then briefly back to the first signal. Then he did this thing that was like he was imitating a butterfly with his hands fluttering towards each other and then away. I, of course, stopped. I figured he must be messing with the guy down in the pit or chasing a mosquito. He then yelled for me to pull forward.

When he reached my window, I told him I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted me to do. To that he replied, “First time, huh.”

Because he was going to be fooling around under my car’s hood, I decided to let that one go. I turned off my engine and pulled out my phone. That was a mistake. He said he needed my mileage. I looked at my dark dashboard. I wondered if I turned my car on if I would rip the hands off of the guy under my car.

You know how you can turn your key to the left for battery power? Of course you do. You’re no idiot. The problem for me is that I have a push-button ignition and in the 4.5 years that I’ve owned this car I’ve turned on battery power maybe once. And that was by accident.

So then I had to look at this joker and tell him I didn’t know how to find that information for him without starting my car. He gave me a look like this was my second strike. I was beginning to feel self-conscious so I blurted out, “This really is my car.”

He then very nicely told me what to do. I gave him the exact mileage and he walked away while I tried to figure out how to turn off the battery power without, once again, starting my car and then abruptly turning it off, all the while wondering if I could really hurt somebody (and I’m not talking about the guy who waved me in). I decided that it didn’t matter if it was on. If my battery went dead, somebody there would give me a jump.

The story has a happy ending. Nobody was hurt during my routine oil change. I didn’t fall in the hole. My battery didn’t fail me. I didn’t smack the young man who asked me for my mileage. Plus, when I got home I checked in with my engineer to see if my anxiety about turning my car on was justified. He said I could have hurt somebody if his hand was in the wrong place and I turned on the car. I think he was pretty proud of me for not causing any injuries that day. So proud that he said next time he’d be happy to get my oil changed for me.

 

Seasoned Greetings and Happy 2019!

The holidays are behind us now and that means another of my husband’s office parties is in the books. That makes 39 of them. My guess is that we have only one more to go before retirement.

As I sat at the Capital Grille with engineers the age of our children, I pondered parties gone by. I remembered that first party. Bob, a recent college graduate, was enjoying his first career job. We had a ten-month-old baby. I had quit my job to stay home with him and was where I had longed to be – home with a baby.

What I didn’t realize, though, was how out-of-it I would feel among a group of professionals who were quite a bit older than us.

Here’s another shocking realization: They were about 15 years younger than I am now. That meant they were in their mid-to-upper forties and I was a mere 23. Engineering was a predominantly male dominated career choice, so I was sitting with a bunch of seasoned women who knew each other and knew the company and drank a lot. It was awkward.

Except for one woman. She was so kind. She picked up on my quietness and drew me out of my shell enough for me to almost enjoy the party. She was also my husband’s boss’ wife. I felt like a little kid there, and rightly so, but she assured me that everyone would love to hear about my life as a young wife and new mom. She said they could all relate and never tired of hearing about babies. She was wonderful.

Back to the present, as the oldest woman at the table (and possibly in the room), I felt completely at ease – another perk to getting older. Plus, Bob works with an amazing group of people who seem to have found equally amazing people to bring to the party – be they spouse, child, or once even a good friend who happened to be the kid, now grown, who lived behind us for years and was like an extra son to me. It truly is a small world.

This year, our table was greeted by the Chief Something-or-Another from the home office, who again was young enough to be our son. Anyway, he started up a conversation with the four engineers at the table trying to ascertain who worked on which project. I sat there happily with nothing to add until he asked the spouses some questions and seemed genuinely interested in our opinions of the company. The twenty-something version of me probably would have said freaked out. The current version of me didn’t care how what I said sounded, as long as I didn’t make Bob look stupid.

Once he left, I had a few questions for the young engineer who specializes in AI. He had all the enthusiasm about his project that every engineer I have ever met has. That’s a lot. It also meant he used words that once upon a time I had never heard, but as I said, this wasn’t my first rodeo. Of course, I had heard them. I didn’t know what they meant, but I had heard them.

This young engineer and I had a connection. He had recently taken his kids to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, which I had seen with my grandchildren. When I asked him about the scene from that movie where Ralph and Vanellope take a trip down a wi-fi router and find themselves at the google help desk, he lit up like a Christmas tree. He loved this scene, too, and said it should be required watching for everyone as it was a great description of AI and how it’s used by google. Would it stretch things to say that it turned this Disney movie into an educational film? Probably, but it gave me the “in” I needed.

That’s my journey from young mother to grandmother. It’s all about confidence and relaxing in the situation. It’s all about talking to people. It’s all about making good use of the cartoons you watch. They’ve always been a significant part of my education.

That’s all folks!

 

Morally Degenerate, Ambiguous Meatballs

Whoever came up with happy hour $5 appetizers is a genius. Bob and I visited our local Seasons 52 recently and totally enjoyed picking out a few of these along with a glass of wine. It’s a quick, relaxing date. An opportunity to reconnect over a light meal. Plus if I choose the wrong thing, which equates to anything I don’t like, it was only five bucks.

I am not a culinary guru. I can’t taste something and dissect the flavors on my palate, but I know what I like and even more what I don’t like. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I might really like what I claim not to like. Perhaps I’ve just not given it enough of a chance. Maybe my tastes have changed. Maybe I’m evolving into a foodie. Maybe, but probably not.

So after enjoying our flatbread and grilled chicken yakitori skewers and finding ourselves not quite there yet in the contented department, we decided to order one more appetizer. I really wanted another grilled chicken yakitori skewer. I still had the taste of the caramelized pineapple, slivered scallions, and toasted sesame bathed chicken on my lips. (Of course, I would have had no idea exactly what those flavors were except they were printed on the menu.)

But Bob loves variety, so we ordered the wood grilled meatballs with roasted tomatoes and Parmesan. One bite was more than enough for me to know that I didn’t like these, so I took another bite and then one more. With each bite I tried to figure out what was in with these funky tasting meatballs that Bob was enjoying. I struggled to discern the weird taste. Finally I came up with it – metal. Possibly iron. Or maybe some of the burnt wood which they grilled them on. In an effort to get that terrible taste out of my mouth, I finished off Bob’s glass of wine, which he offered in payment for me hating his food choice. He made the exchange happily as he polished off the meatballs.

Finally, when the server came by, I mentioned the meatballs reminded me of some of the heavy metal bands of the 80s, and I didn’t care much for them either. “Oh,” he replied. “It’s the shiitake mushrooms. They are rather earthy.”

Earthy was putting it mildly. That ingredient should have been listed on the menu. Please!

But, that explained a lot. I hate mushrooms, so this was good news. I had begun to doubt my mushroom hatred. I wondered if I had given them a fair shake or maybe I was just used to saying I hate them. Nope. I hate them. You can hide that fleshy fungus deep inside of an otherwise pleasant-looking meatball, and I still will turn my nose up at it.

I guess it’s true what they say – it’s what’s inside that counts. Evidently that goes for people and meatballs.

On the bright side, they were only five bucks. Plus, Bob did let me finish his wine. Most of all, I felt justified in my long-held mushroom disdain. That was worth $5 all by itself.

Honest, Abe, I love $5 appetizers (most of the time).

Traveling with My Engineer

Travel. Bob and I are known for traveling a lot. Sometimes family or friends have traveled with us. That has resulted in a reputation that leaves some scared to do so. We are what you would say… aggressive. We make a plan that is so detailed that we have to write in time for rest. Seriously. This is what happens when you are married to an engineer, or at least it’s what happens with my engineer. We figure that there will likely be time for trips that are heavy on relaxing in our future (God willing). So, for now, let’s see how much we can cram into a vacation.

This last trip began because Bob became concerned about my state of mind. Excessive sighing, staring at the wall (of pictures), wandering through the toy aisle at Target. These were tell-tale signs that I was missing my grandkids and kids. I had not seen the Michigan group since Christmas. So, before I was reduced to weeping and gnashing of teeth, Bob scheduled time off from work and the plan began. (more…)