Tag Archives: Relationships

Ah, ’tis the season for racing fans (and the ones who love them)

In honor of attending my first race night of the season at the local stock car racing track, I’m sharing the post I wrote at the end of the season when my Beloved and his brother raced every weekend (and I cheered in the dirt-covered stands)…

9 things I learned by watching stock car races every weekend and 1 thing I still don’t understand

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Grandma’s simple act of writing about her day becomes a 25-year record

When Grandma moved to a senior living community earlier this year, a box of the journals she kept for two and half decades made their way to me.

Grandmas journals

I wrote not long ago about sets of Grandma’s china and flatware that came my way, but these journals were the real treasures.

She wrote about the weather, her walks, visitors and especially good meals in her journals almost every day from 1985 to 2009 (I’m missing a few years, but I assume she was writing her thoughts in those years, too). This means she was recording her retirement years in her 70s, 80s and part of her 90s (she turned 100 in March). Very few of the entries I’ve read are very earth-shattering or particularly private (sound like any bloggers you know?), but the sheer volume of her records are impressive.

As I was inventory the cache, I looked up a few dates with particular importance to me. For instance, on the occasion of my first wedding, she wrote, “It was a very nice wedding and a very good dinner at Pine Cove” without mentioning either my name or the groom’s. It made me laugh. But understand, Grandma wasn’t writing these entries for anyone but herself. I can imagine they were helpful in reminding her the last time she visited the eye doctor or how she celebrated someone’s birthday the previous year.

Still, there are some insightful bits. Here’s what she wrote on Sept. 11, 2001:

Just when the van was ready to come, Jim [her son] came and told me a High Rise Bldg in New York was hit by 2 planes. The highjackers were piloting. It spoiled my whole day. I hate war. … All on TV was about the terrorists. Makes me nervous.

Grandma was 86 in 2001, so she’d seen more than her fair share of American conflicts and, more than a lot of people, could make a judgment about war.

In order to pinpoint some of the more valuable entries and to ask questions, I created a group on Facebook to share and discuss the entries with my aunts and cousins. I anticipate learning more about Grandma but also more about the rest of my extended family, which will be the ultimate gift of these diaries.

Taking to water like a couple of ducks

It’s not secret I’m a big fan of water. I mean there’s the whole hydration aspect of it, and you can’t beat it for getting you clean.

But I was born in the land of sky-blue waters (hello! Minnesota has been the Land of 10,000 Lakes on its license plates as long as Missouri has been the Show-Me State), and I spent many-an afternoon as a junior high schooler getting pruney and water-logged at the Wadena pool.

Despite swimming the crawl at the speed of a crawl, I became a lifeguard and spent two summers teaching 5-year-olds how to swim (thanks, Shannon Whateveryournamewas for assigning me to the role no one else wanted but has served for excellent blog fodder in my golden years).

But as I’ve aged and gotten increasingly protective of my artificially colored hair, I’ve spent a lot less time in the chlorinated waters of a pool.

Until recently.

NOT me and my Beloved. But you get the picture.

NOT me and my Beloved. But you get the picture.

My Beloved and I joined a new gym (goodbye, Snap Fitness, you served me well), and I’ve spent a number of mornings getting my groove on in the pool during water aerobics classes.

Why?

Well, it’s not because I’m a fan of green hair (and I’m really hoping I can avoid the inevitability by keeping my ponytail dry — well, dryish).

My Beloved appreciates the lower impact exercise opportunities afforded by a pool of warm water, so I’ve been joining him and the grannies so we can exercise together.

Only here’s the thing: It’s not just grannies. And it’s not a bad workout.

I’ve been walking around all day today fully aware I worked out in the pool this morning. It’s not the same kind of sore as lifting bar bells that were too heavy, but I know I put my arms and legs and heart to work.

Another plus on the pro-and-con list: No one looks sweaty. We’re all just … wet.

Hey, today’s song list even had us underwater grapevining along to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.” Oh, wait a minute. I suppose teenagers who were amazed by “Thriller” are grandparents now. But whatever. We weren’t dancing to the oldies. OK, the really old oldies.

It’s not like a summer run as the sun rises over the horizon, but water aerobics are pretty fun.

And splashing around the pool with my sweetie is better than icing on the cake. Because I’m burning calories instead of consuming them.

Birthday kudos to the woman responsible

Today we celebrate a man and the woman who gave him life. After all, shouldn’t we pay our  due to the person responsible for putting the “birth” in “birthday”?

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My Beloved commemorates another day on this earth today, and that means I get to party with him all day–singing, opening presents, eating–it’s non-stop celebration around here because, well, every day is a gift. I’ve written about why my Beloved is beloved before, so I won’t bother to reprint here, but to be honest, he deserves a whole book, not just a blog post (or 10).

No, today I write about the woman who gave birth to him many long years ago. My mother-in-law is a great mother-in-law, but first, she’s a great mom. When my Beloved’s dad died 30-something years ago, his mom was the only parent he had, and she lived up to the challenge. She’s a tough cookie–have I mentioned she changed careers midlife to become a registered nurse? She perseveres like that. She has loved my husband–and us now–though all kinds of clear sailing and storms. I can’t tell you how many times she’s lent her creativity and elbow grease in acts of service like painting my Adored stepson’s room, making couch pillows and bed shams, sewing my wedding gown (and more than one of my Beloved’s Halloween costumes), making dog coats and rugs, and probably two dozen other projects I’ve taken for granted. Did you know she lived with us for 10 weeks in a 1983 RV one winter? She was fun, a great cook and I loved getting to know her better. And she’s cleaned my refrigerator more than once. That’s love.

My Beloved’s birthday horoscope from Holiday Mathis seems to echo this sentiment, that a good relationship with Mom is worth more than gold:

What you put your money into is the least of your investments in 2016. You’ll attract support from those who understand that relationships are the true wealth in your life. When your time and attention help your personal life grow in satisfying directions, you’ll be on top of the world.

Happy Birthday, my Beloved! And thanks to my mother-in-law for bringing him into the world!

How is Valentine’s Day like a day at the beach?

sandy heart

Both are pretty sweet. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The upside of dirty laundry

When I returned to the community laundry room, I discovered I had 80 minutes left on my dryer.

Something was not right. It had already been running 40 minutes, and I know I only inserted enough quarters to send the dryer spinning for an hour, not two.

What kind of soaking wet clothes would require two hours of tumble?

A kindly older gentleman was tending to clothing in several washers.

“Hey, I’m never going to use all this time left on the dryer,” I said to him. “Somebody must have fed some quarters into it by mistake. You can throw your clothes into it if you want.”

Thus began a conversation I might never have otherwise with a 70-year-old man washing his clothes.

He was no laundry expert, he admitted. In fact, this was only the third time he’d done laundry after having someone else take care of it for 40 years.

“It’s a lot of work, those household chores,” he said. “I can see why women complain about it.”

Turns out, he was recently divorced.

“Oh, I never know if I should say, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘congratulations,'” I said, my face making a polite grimace.

“Oh, it’s OK,” he said. “I’m getting by. We got married when she was 23 and I was 30. I told he then our age difference might be a factor someday, but she dismissed me. I guess she changed her mind.”

“So you got divorced after being married 40 years?” I asked, incredulous.

“Yup,” he said without a hint of sorrow or bitterness. “She sat me down in November and said, ‘I’m not happy. I want a divorce.’ We sold everything off, and that was that.”

Something was not right.

What kind of woman married 40 years asks for a divorce?

“She was never really happy,” he said. “I mean I tried to help her. We talked about it. But sometimes she would just burst out crying for no reason.”

I didn’t know this man 15 minutes earlier. Maybe he was a perfectly fine husband, and his wife was just sad. It sure didn’t seem like he was airing dirty laundry. He was simply telling it like it is.

“Did she have a boyfriend?” I asked (yes, I asked).

“Oh, probably,” he shrugged. “I don’t really know. We still get along, though. In fact, I talked to her for 45 minutes today. No use being angry or bitter.”

Nope. No good in that.

“Unbelievable,” I said, shaking my head. “Forty years.”

We talked a bit more. I gathered up my warm, dry clothes, ready to depart. The washers he was using finished their job.

“Oh! Don’t forget the dryer — throw your clothes in that one,” I said. “Use up that time someone else paid for.”

“Yup, I will,” he said. “Somebody else’s loss is my gain.”

Priorities

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Off to the supermarket we went to provision ourselves in our new home sweet home. I picked up extra virgin olive oil and yellow mustard and eggs and hamburger. My Beloved stocked up on beer. And fresh flowers.

“Fresh flowers … are like a bundle of sunshine, a gift from nature that glows with good cheer.”

~ Martha Stewart