Monday, March 28, 2016


The title to today's post was also the title of yesterday's sermon. It took me a few seconds to figure out that this wasn't just a result of the preacher falling asleep as he prepared his notes and hitting the keyboard with his forehead. No, this was a divine proclamation by the Maker of the Universe:

God: "I snow here!" 

Oh, I know the REAL answer was a sermon point on how adding spacing to the smushed-together letters takes it from being a Good Friday observation (God is nowhere.) to an Easter morning revelation (God is now here!) but my answer was correct, too, if you add punctuation as well as spaces.

For the first time I can ever remember (and I go back a long, long way) we had measurable snow on Easter morning. I did a terrible job of documenting this fact, seeing that I was already late for music practice and the heavy, wet snow was making my hair un-curl, but my Facebook feed was crammed full of people's white lawns and snow-covered decks. My favorite was the shot of Easter snowman dappled in pastel food coloring.

Of course, because we are Kansans, this wasn't really a shock. On one day last week, the forecast called for 80-degree temperatures in Small Town, blizzard warnings in the northern part of the state where my father lives, wildfire warnings around Boy#3's hometown, and gale wind predictions in Much Older Sister's stompin' grounds.

Oh, Kansas, how we love thee.

So Sunday, when I was trying to photograph our snow, my father watched the sunrise in 37-degree chill, Three's wildfire was dampened by slushy rain, and Much Older Sister bundled her grandkids up for egg hunting. It was normal. Routine, even.

By the afternoon the temperature had hit 53, the snow was gone, and the spring flowers were once more basking in spring sunshine.

God is now here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On the Verge of Crankiness

This picture makes me laugh heartily, out loud. 
Many years ago the brilliant Dave Barry wrote a column about what a man should do if asked by his wife whether her pants make her butt look big. Google is failing me in my attempt to find the exact wording of that column, but Barry said there was only one possible response to this question: The man must immediately fake a seizure.

This morning I mentioned to Husband that I might have been a little cranky in the past few days, and I could see the questions running through his head. "What are the symptoms of seizure? How do I fake those? Do I actually have to fall down or can I just stagger a little?"

Fine. I admit it. I have been the Boy#2 of the birthday revelers in today's illustration. Good things were happening all around him, but dang it, he was not going to smile for that picture. Between the paint fumes and the construction in other parts of the house that has meant there have been PEOPLE AROUND ME DURING MY LUNCH HOUR (the horror), I'm not my usual sunshiny self. And there have been other items harshing my buzz this week, namely the following:

1. The use of "genius" in internet click bait. "He mixed blue and red paint together--what resulted was genius!" (Or, purple. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.) ""This easy weeknight casserole is genius!" I do not think this word means what you think it means, genius.

2. The paint guy at the local hardware store, who treated me like I don't know how to paint. Which, in fairness, I don't. I am a terrible, terrible painter, but being unwilling to use your magic matcher to find the outdated color that is on my back door and then acting like I was the one being unreasonable? Not cool, man. Also, not good business, since I took my ineptitude to the hardware store in the next town, where they could match my outdated color, and I bought paint there. A lot of paint. Extra paint, even, just to spite the local paint guy who wasn't even aware of this spiteful action. ("It's genius!)

3. The new Facebook reaction emojis. Too many choices! Too much pressure! Do I just like this, or do I love it? Does it make me cry? Or laugh? Oh, how I miss you, single thumbs up button.

All in all, I'm out of sorts, in desperate need of a nap, and more than ready to be done with my home improvement project. But on the plus side, I changed my own windshield wipers this week. I may be cranky, but I'm adulting like nobody's business.

Maybe Husband won't have to fake a seizure after all.

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Spring Break, Illustrated

Well, here we go with the painting again. You can't say you weren't warned.

This is a reality check to show that my world is not all made up of Cinderella's bluebirds flying around our heads as Husband and I walk hand-in-hand through life. No, my days also include blue tape, disposable non-latex gloves, five (count 'em, five) tiny cans of sample paint because I seem to be incapable of getting the exact shade of brown that is in my mind for the steps, antique doorknobs removed for clean-up, and brushes and rollers sitting on the kitchen island to dry.

And right there among the detritus of my "spring break,"* a French press.

Because what is life without coffee?

*Although I work at a college, I am an administrator. Unlike the students and faculty, administrators do not get spring break, so if you want to see my eyes spin completely around in their sockets, ask me how my spring break is going. I will not deny, though, that there has been some March Madness streaming on the auxiliary monitor as I go about my work. Go Shocks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marriage: A Perspective

My dearest M.,

Oh, sweetie. Your wedding was so beautiful. I loved every single thing about it. I loved the video your friend posted on Facebook that morning, the one she shot after your first date with your new husband, when you admitted "I think I like him" then pulled a blanket over your head.  I loved that you cried during the entire ceremony and still looked radiant. I loved the song you chose to symbolize this ceremony; it made me cry right along with you. I loved seeing your parents, our dear friends, who have been such wonderful parents and role models--I have felt that internal seismic shift of joy that comes with placing my child's hand into another family's child's hand. I loved the joy that was rising from all of us--so many of us who have loved you for so long and have wanted this moment for you.

Would you like to know how Husband and I spent the hours that bracketed your ceremony, while you were busy pinning your veil under your braids and snapping pictures of your new ring nestled in your bouquet?

We'd both been busy that morning (I was painting and Husband was at the office) and we hadn't seen each other much. We left home a little later than I had hoped, and I worried that we wouldn't get to Big City in time for the processional. Maybe that's why I tried to pick a fight as we walked from the car to the sanctuary.

"Want to go in that door and stop at the restroom first?" Husband asked me as we walked through the parking lot.

"No, let's just go straight in," I told him.

"Are you sure?"

And for some unknown reason those words lit a fuse.

"Why do you do that? Why do you always ask my opinion, then when I give my opinion, you try to talk me out of it? Fine! We can go in that door!"

He looked over at me, but didn't say much as we went into the church.

As I mentioned, I loved your wedding. I loved every single thing about it--except the little patch of dry rot that was hanging around from my sharp words. I also loved the reception and I'm going to eat my cupcakes the right way from now on. But still...a tiny bit of sadness that I had trashed a piece of joy from the day.

So we started home.

But on the way home, forty minutes from the reception and twenty minutes from the House on the Corner, we stopped at a rest stop so that Husband could make a business call. That's where we realized that some time during your special day, a very important paper had disappeared from the back seat. It had been there when we left home, it had been there before we reached the church, it was not there now.

It was a windy day--could it have blown out when we opened the door at the church? Or maybe when we stopped for a Coke at the fast-food restaurant, wasting a little time between the ceremony and the reception? Where else had we opened the car doors?

This was bad. Not end-of-the-earth bad (identity theft wasn't at risk), but bad enough.

Husband looked at me, and before he even said a word, I knew we had to retrace our steps. The odds of us finding that paper were next to zero. It was so, so windy, a little bit rainy, plus at every place we'd been people were constantly cleaning up.

Still we had to try, so instead of going home where my comfy robe and slippers were waiting, we turned around and headed back for the city. We got to the church and drove slowly around the parking lots, checking the lawns and bushes and most likely setting off some concern in the rooms where security cameras were monitored. The fast-food restaurant lot was clean, and the paper wasn't in the top of the trash can (we were in agreement that pawing through the trash was a terrible idea).

The reception parking lot was our final hope. By now it was almost full dark, and spitting rain. All of your friends and family had left long ago and the venue was deserted, We drove into the grassy area where cars had been parked and started to circle the perimeter when I saw a shadow in the headlights' glare. Suddenly I was clawing at my seat belt and grabbing the door lock.

"There it is!"

And it was. Crumpled and damp, the very important paper had caught in some grass at the edge of the field. I grabbed the paper, smoothing it as I did a happy dance right there in the parking area where anyone could have seen. And then we went home.

At this point, my dear M., you are wondering why I am telling you this long, convoluted story, and what it has to do with your beautiful wedding day. It's just this:

You are going to be the best wife in the world. You are going to love your groom unconditionally. You are going to support your husband even when the cause seems hopeless, and you are going to go to whatever lengths it takes to be by his side, giving him confidence and helping him fulfill his potential.

Except when you are a terrible wife. You will be cranky and snappish, and you will KNOW you're being cranky and snappish, and you'll pick a fight, then you'll hate that little spot of dry rot that being cranky and snappish creates.

But this is worth it.

This commitment, this marriage, this new stage of life, is worth putting up with the times either one of you is cranky and snappish, because getting to the times when you are working together toward a common goal with the person you love and have pledged your life, especially when the odds are against you--it's so, so worth the work. This is the anti-dry rot that will keep your relationship healthy.

Many blessings to you and yours, M. May the dry rot be minimal and may the joy of your common purpose fuel your love now and forevermore.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Lesser of Two Evils

I do not often ask Husband's opinion on this blog, mostly because I seem to be impervious to my relatives' preferences when it comes to this corner of the internet. (See also: Birth Stories, my Boys' definition of TMI.)

But today I had three thought clouds swirling around and couldn't decide which would rain today, so I asked the wise one what he thought. My email to him:
Okay, what should I write a blog about?
1.       Reactions of someone married 30+ years to going to a wedding.
2.       We are the horrified Germans who let Hitler take over.
3.       Painting the back steps.
The wise one has a few things on his mind (Did you know corporate tax deadline is today? It is.) but he responded almost immediately:
I’d skip #2, which I assume refers to Donald Trump.  I get enough Donald Trump material, probably read the Wall Street Journal too much, and I’d rather read something inspiring or amusing.  Of course, I read every blog you write regardless.
Is this a smart guy or what? Obviously he did not earn his stripes as the wise one by being stupid. We all get enough of Donald Trump, don't we? And if you are writing this, you know my opinions of Donald Trump so I needn't bore you, my favorite reader(s), with blah blah blah.

So this is the first installation of a series in which I write about painting the back steps. This series will be interminable, and will detail decisions you don't even know had to be made when it comes to painting steps. How am I going to get to my car, for example? This certainly wasn't a consideration taken into account by the guy currently finishing painting the living room, which prompted my reaction of "Well, it certainly couldn't smell any more paint-fumey than it does now" and moved along the painting of the back steps.

Also moving along the painting of the back steps: See today's picture. I shot a dozen or so before I started to paint so that I could remind myself of what it looked like before it entered rehab.

Oh. My. Gosh. This picture is the LEAST disgusting of the befores. In my defense, I had already sanded down the black door frames (thank you, previous house owners who painted every single piece of trim in the house black) and scuffed up the high gloss gray steps. But the walls show the effect of having four boys and a pop can recycling bin that's located at the bottom of the steps going down into the basement. I could not possibly post that before until I had a beautiful after with which to wash out your eyes.

(I'm assuming you missed the detail in the last paragraph in which I admitted that I haven't painted this area since we moved into the house, and that was 29 years ago. I have no shame.)

So to sum up: The back stairs of the House on the Corner are disgusting but Husband would rather have me write about Diet Pepsi-stained walls than vent my spleen concerning Donald Trump.

Hmmmm. He really is a wise one.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Slapping and Shoveling

Ah, spring, when the daffodils are blooming, the sky is its deepest shade of blue, the wheat fields are bright green, and the overwhelming smell of paint fumes are in the air. At least that overwhelming smell is heralding spring in the House on the Corner.

We don't do a lot of painting around here, but in a few weeks we're having special house guests and it would be nice to look a little less like Broken Acres and a little more as if we cared where we live.

We do care! Honestly, we do! But have you ever noticed that you don't really see the decrepitude that is building up all around you until you see it through the eyes of potential special house guests? It took a few weeks but I've climbed back from the original ledge I scurried onto when we heard these guests were coming ("Hey, guess what, Husband? We have four weeks to burn this place to the ground and find a different house!") and we're slapping on paint and shoveling out accumulations dating back 30 years.

But because it's tax season, we are not actually doing the slapping and shoveling ourselves. We are hiring it done! Please add six more exclamation points after that last sentence, because were there ever more glorious words in the English language? With the possible exception of "Here's your free pedicure," of course.

Anyway, this week the painter was ready to start on the living room, the color of which was the fuse that lit the worst fight Husband and I have had in our 32 years of marriage. We do not do colors well. So rather than having to pick a new living room color, we wisely resolved to use the same color that resulted from that epic fight.

"The living room needs to be Celadon Green," I told the paint guy proudly, because after that whopper of a fight I had brilliantly written the color name on a note on the inside of the kitchen cupboard where I keep the big stockpot and the Band-Aids and and the light bulbs and all the other things you need in a kitchen but not every day.

Let me say that again, because I'm sure you didn't catch the importance of that statement: I WROTE THE COLOR DOWN. And then I knew where to find where I'd written it. This is unprecedented efficiency, people.

"Sounds great," the painter said. "Too bad that company isn't making paint any more."

And even though I had brilliantly kept the paint chips for the dining room and the sun room and the downstairs bathroom and the kitchen (even though I hate and despite the color of this kitchen and cannot wait to get it repainted), I did not seem to have the paint chips for Celadon Green.

Gloom and despair.

But wait! Look what I found behind the stockpot and Band-Aids and lightbulbs:

Wooohoooo! Paint chips for the colors I had hand-written on my note. Now the painter could take the one marked L. Room to the paint store and using fancy-dancy modern technology, could uncover the secret formula of Celadon Green.

And he did, and he painted, and the room looks beautiful.

Paint-slapping completed. On to the shoveling.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Cheerio! You're All Winners!

I know! What an odd picture for me to choose to head today's judgment of Sunday's Downton Abbey finale. With thousands of shots available that featured weddings and armpit-length gloves and sparkly headbands (not to mention plain old masculine beauty in every form of evening wear), why would I pick this one that features the children of the three Crawley girls?


Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hit you over the head with that message, but Julian Fellowes (the writer of the series) had no such hesitation, so we'll just get it out of the way. The times are changing, and George, Sybbie, and Marigold are going to be the ones who look for the Gutenberg Bible and order around the servant(s).

The rest of us, though, care more about what is happening before the times change. Did we end up with a happy ending? Were my predictions correct?

To the first question: A resounding yes. And to the second: No, not so much.

Bless his heart, Mr. Fellowes not only tied up every story line neatly, he tied them up with satin ribbons and ran around behind the various story lines throwing rose petals and confetti into the air and shouting "YOU are a winner! and YOU are a winner! and YOU are a winner!" a la Oprah.

Thomas not only survived his farewell-cruel-world moment, his downward slide ended in a swimming pool full of cream as he waltzed into the head butler's role when Mr. Carson developed (non-lethal) tremors in his hands that ended Carson's wine-pouring days. It's a win for everyone, as this forced retirement will let Mrs. Hughes have a few hours of peace and quiet at work before she has to go home and face Carson's complaining about her cooking.

Also a win for everyone: The ability of Edith's future mother-in-law to give up her insistence on Bertie marrying Snow White instead of Edith. This flexibility brought to you by "It's His House After All" and by "You Mean I'm Not In Charge? What Am I? A Woman?" Edith is happy, which is evidenced by the tremor in her whiny voice. (Oh, stop it. I'm a big fan of Edith, except for that voice.)

Mary and Henry Talbot were in the win column as he suddenly realized he HATED CAR RACING! Now that's an unexpected turn into Opposite Land.

Daisy and Andy? I refuse to call Daisy a winner, not only because of her total ineptitude in cutting her own hair (I'm pretty sure a chimpanzee with a pair of scissors could have done better) but also because she didn't realize that Andy was thoughtful and considerate and ambitious and kind but only took notice of him when he bared his forearms, at which point (hubba hubba!) he's suddenly good enough for her. Not that she's shallow or anything. SHUT UP, DAISY.

Branson and the magazine editor, Isobel and Lord Merton (Huh. Not the doctor), Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason, Molesly and Baxter, all of these are not quite married, but they're definitely rolling out the special carpet that heads down toward the altar as we anticipate a veritable revolving door of matrimonial ceremonies.

And finally, Lord and Lady Crawley. Ahhhh, the echoing quiet of a British manor house when it has become an empty nest. Well, except for several children, a continuing staff of at least eight or nine, and Violet dropping in for lessons on what exactly is a weekend.

My predictions for Edward and Cora? Eternal happiness, knitting, and finally catching up on Netflix.

Also, a blog.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Party Like It's April 15

All of you Downton Abbey fans, I have not forgotten that I made some predictions, the soundness of which still need examination. However, I wanted to be absolutely sure you had finished watching the final-final episode last night before I dove into the spoilerage.

I mean, who am I to criticize if you had a church meeting or something and could not sit in front of the television for 90 minutes quietly sobbing and wringing out your lace-edged hankie? But there's no excuse if you can't get it watched today. You do have sick leave, do you not? And aren't you just sick that you won't see those beautiful dresses again?

Anyway, while we're waiting for that recap I thought I'd show what true party animals we are in the House on the Corner.

Three of the Boys came home during the weekend to help celebrate Husband's round birthday. It was so much fun to have them around--we braved the unbelievable crowds to caucus on Saturday (and patriotic Boy#1 replaced the Trump sign that firebrand Boy#3 "accidentally" kicked over on the way into the auditorium); we vowed to never voice the abominations that are "granddog" or "grandcat," sticking instead to the much more preferable "grandRoomba" to describe our descendants; we gathered around the conflagration that 60 candles create on a sheetcake and sang "Happy Birthday" to our birthday honoree.

And then, one by one, the Boys pulled out their documents and the birthday honoree did their taxes.

Husband was such a good sport about this add-on to his special day. He always says his favorite clients come in with their receipts stuffed into shoeboxes because he knows those returns will be both complicated and profitable. So what did Three tote in from his car?

A sweater box, for when the shoebox just isn't big enough, and when you know you're getting your taxes done for free.

Oh, it's simply grand to have a CPA in the family.

Happy birthday, Husband, from all of your dependents!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Happy Round Birthday, Cool Dude!

It is now 4:30 in the afternoon and it has been A Day, in a full week of Days. If this were most Days, I'd say the heck with writing a blog post and go get some cinnamon tea or something to celebrate the fact that I hit every appointment on my calendar for March 3.

This is not only A Day, though--it is Husband's birthday, and it is a round birthday, which makes this the most special day I could imagine. As I accompanied high school soloists then attended a funeral this morning, and worked on a community celebration then gave blood (double reds, no less) this afternoon, and then came back to work, I was constantly humming a happy little celebration song for the best husband ever.

I was being thankful that this foxy college guy in the aviator shades and faux silk flowered shirt had waited to meet me; I'm pretty sure no one else would find my special combination of delight in terrible jokes and inability to balance a checkbook especially appealing.

We won't be having any outlandish celebration because a CPA in tax season tends to attend parties with half of his attention on the stack of returns waiting back at the office. Instead, some Boys are coming home this weekend and I'll bake a sheetcake.

But I hope you've had a happy birthday, Husband.even if it hasn't been raucous.Thank you for waiting for me. Also, thank you for not keeping that shirt. It might have been a bridge too far and I have very much enjoyed spending your past 33 birthdays with you.

Let's spend the next 37 together as well, okay?