swallowing one's pride, required for any relationship

Yesterday, Rhiannon and I ran a few errands after supper.  We went in to the trip with differing concepts of how many stops we would be making and how long we were planning on being out. This created a little tension between the two of us as we realized that we weren’t on the same page and neither of us was happy about it. One of us may have said a few things in a rude tone and the other of us may have not talked very much after that (and you know that it isn’t me you’d worry about not talking much).

As we walked past the sliced cheese and fresh pasta that I’ve been meaning to get for sometime at the grocery store and headed over to our favorite section, the doughnuts, Rhiannon started to let out a large sigh.  Over the years we’ve been married, and even before then, Rhiannon has shown a slight tendency to injure herself in the course of daily activity, like a rolled ankle or a quick fall down the stairs; nothing life-threatening, but enough to make me concerned.

I asked her what the sigh was for, worried she might be hurt in some way.

“That was me, letting it go.  At least until you interrupted me.”

“By all means, continue with the letting as much as needed.”

“Nope, too late.  It all got sucked back in.  I’m still not talking to you.”

“This might not be a bad situation.”

“… You’re not doing yourself any favors.”

For all the talking I don’t do, you’d think I’d know when not to say anything.  But I don’t.  That’s what makes life so interesting.  And the fact that I’m writing about the situation should be enough to let you know that we worked it out like any good married couple does – we went home, ate some sugar cookies from Target, and I fixed the French tip on one of Rhiannon’s toenails that had chipped since the wedding last weekend.

It’s these situations that I refer to as “The time that Rhiannon holds a grudge longer than necessary” and she refers to as “The times she eventually lets things go rather than smothering me in my sleep”.

I think we have a nice arrangement between the two of us.

it's starting to get to us

As of today, Denver has had daily highs of at least 90 degrees for the past 15 days.  If the trend continues (and is forecasted to), then we will experience the longest recorded streak of 90+ degree highs in recorded history later this week. We like to get outside, but at some point, we wave the white flag and admit that the weather is just a little more than we want to deal with.  Yesterday morning, we were cleaning up a bit and house started to feel warm and stuffy, so we turned on the air conditioner.

Later, Rhiannon was sitting on the couch doing some work and she asked me to hand her a blanket.

“Are you cold?”

“Yes, that’s why I want a blanket.”

“It’s over 90 degrees outside, we have the air running, and you want to cover up?”

“Yes, I’m sitting by an air vent that’s blowing cold air.”

“Why don’t you move?”

“I’m comfortable where I am and I’d get warm if I got up.”

“Oh, well, I guess that makes sense then.”

Looking back, it doesn’t make any sense at all.  I think the heat is affecting both of our brains.

have you seen our rug? it’s GINORMOUS!

One of the main reasons I haven’t wrote about our bamboo floor install in more detail was that we had ordered an area rug to go in the bedroom and I wanted to wait for it to arrive and get a picture of everything completed. Well, it came.

We ordered the rug off of an outlet version of a store we like. It was a big rug for substantially less than we had ever seen anywhere else and it seemed too good to pass up. What could be wrong with that?

If you ever order a large rug without actually seeing in it person, there might be a few steps to take first.

Step one: Measure the room the rug will go in. Is the room actually bigger than the rug itself? This is kind of important, and even though we didn’t do this, we got it right.

Step two: Consider the purpose of the rug. Are you trying to completely cover the floor, like hiding a stained carpet, or are you merely trying to add some color and interest in an accenting type fashion? In our case, we just spent good time and money on the floor and we’re really pleased with the result so far, so we aren’t looking to hide everything we just did.

Step three: With everything else in place in the room, lay out the actual dimensions and space your rug will occupy. If you are ordering it with someone else, maybe the two of you should discuss what your expectations of actual floor coverage are. We didn’t do this either – at the time we were ordering, our furniture was piled in a guest room and there was a half finished floor in the bedroom. We skipped step one and were fine, how bad could it be?

Step four: If you just asked “How bad could it be?” at the end of step three and have exhibited a shocking lack of common sense, prepare yourself for a shocking result upon the delivery of the rug in question.

I think of the steps listed above, the odd numbered ones are the ones to concentrate on. Step three kind of takes care of step two and prevents step four. Luckily, we skipped the odd steps and concentrated on the evens.

I mention a lack of common sense because our bedroom is roughly 15 x 12 feet. The rug we ordered is 12 x 9 feet.

I’ll wait while the dimensions sink in.

Yep, you just figured out what we completely missed. That gives us around a foot and a half around the edge of the room, a foot and a half that is covered by a bed, dresser, armoire, and night stands. So, the rug would have pretty much covered the entire floor we just spent all that time putting in. We missed it when we looked online, when we discussed how nice it would look, and even up to the point where we had it unwrapped and unrolled sitting in the bedroom. Right around the time we started discussing how to get the rug underneath furniture I finally realized that it was going to go under every piece of furniture in the room.

As the enormity of the situation became apparent, Rhiannon asked “Where did we go wrong?”

I’d say it was about the time we clicked “Add to cart” on the website. It turns out Rhiannon has no sense of size (she guessed our bed to be eight feet wide) and I never paid enough attention to the actual dimensions to reach any logical conclusion about the outcome.

We haven’t quite decided what we’re going to do with the thing. It looks good – we’re happy with the color and quality. It’s just the size that’s a little off.

Magic Carpet... for 20

Yep, just a little off.  Unfortunately, it's hard to show exactly how big this thing is in a photo, so I've included people for scale.

I’m glad we can provide comic relief for Sarah and Mike.

Marriage v3.0

Today is our third anniversary.  Two years ago we were in the process of moving into our house.  We were painting, moving boxes, and generally in a state of chaos. This year, we have been working on sprinkler systems and flooring.  We have been living in a guest room, moving boxes, and generally existing in a state of chaos.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

I do want to say that one thing changed this year.

For the past two year on our anniversary, we had corn dogs, curly fries, and orange pop, compliments of our local frozen foods section in the grocery store.  The first year, it was a dinner mostly out of convenience – we didn’t have any kitchen items available to make a decent meal and neither one of us was in any state to go out.  Last year, it was a cute “might be a tradition” type of meal, maybe we’ll continue it, maybe we won’t sort of thing.  We at least figured if not corn dogs, we’d be moving up on the scale.

Well…  tonight, we’re having leftovers.

I know.  Divorce papers would be in the process of drafting right now if it wasn’t for the fact that the leftovers are from the lunch we went out for today.  Rhiannon is off from school for her summer break, so I took a little break from work today and we went out for a nice meal together during the day.  Nobody needs as much food as a restaurant will serve you all at once (especially when you get tiramisu for dessert like we did), so we have a little extra saved for tonight as well.

That, and the fact we are heading down to Colorado Springs tonight to pick up Mike and Sarah as they finish up their band trip.  They will be staying with us for the next week and then we are all going out to the east coast for vacation.  I’m excited about the vacation, but seriously – picking them up on our anniversary?  I guess they really know how to ruin “the mood”.

Happy anniversary, Rhiannon.

neat and tidy

It most likely will come as no surprise to the people who know me, but I really don’t enjoy cleaning.  I like living in a clean house.  I like when things are neat, tidy, and organized.  I’ll even make a decent effort at keeping things clean, but I always seem to reach the tipping point where things progress through the  “clean up in 15 minutes or less” to “clean up in 20 minutes” to “you’re taking a week of from work, right?” stages pretty quickly. I know there are people out there that are worse than me about it.  I don’t have any hidden closets of dirty dishes or rotting food.  My version of dirty is more overly cluttered than disgusting.  Still, I will admit I have gone for three weeks without folding clean clothes (thank goodness for an unused guest bed to through them on) and I can take a full stack of “to-be-filed” papers, “file” them in a drawer, and not have a second thought about it until we are actually looking for something that came in the mail sometime in the past three months.

I don’t know where this behavior came from.  Maybe I’m lazy.  Maybe if physical cleaning was as easy as organizing file structures on a computer, I’d be more apt to do it a little more regularly.  I can remember, as a child, trying to vacuum badly enough that I wouldn’t be asked to do it again.  The sheer genius of the notion made absolute logical sense to me at the time, and I still remember the quiet rage I experienced when my masterful planning was ruined by the phrase “Do it again, and do it right this time.”

I’ve found in the past, I do have a breaking point where I admit that my surroundings have reached critical mass.  I have, on occasion, dumped out perfectly organized drawers of stuff just to motivate myself to finally put in the requisite time to get to the nice and tidy place again.  We currently have an on-again off-again Clean Kitchen Project, where we clean up the kitchen in 15 minutes or less every night and don’t let it get to the hour long project stage.  Our goal is to slowly expand this to the rest of the house.

Currently, we’re at the Clean Kitchen plus 1 phase, which means the kitchen plus anything within 1 foot of the kitchen gets cleaned each night.  This is up from last week’s Clean Kitchen plus 6 phase, which was 6 inches.

I’ve been told that slow and steady wins the race.  By next month, I anticipate being up to a full yard, and we should have the whole house clean sometime around the time I become eligible for Social Security.

Basically, I’m trying to tell you I don’t get excited about the prospect of cleaning.  I enjoy washing cars and that is about it.

Our Finish the Garage project has been about half complete since last fall and we let assorted garage type items pile up over the past several months, including a shop-vac.  I got the shop vac as a Christmas present from Tricia this past year.  I admit it was pretty cool to have one of the biggest wrapped boxes around the tree, I had reservations about the present itself.  While power-type tool = cool, cleaning appliance = not-so-much.  And so, the vacuum has say patiently in the box in the front of the garage, waiting and biding its time.

Until last night.

Rhiannon was gone at a teacher-type function of some sort and figured while her car was out of the garage, I would try to get some of the dirt off of the floor so I could detail tires without dust this summer.  Normally, I sweep out our garage onto the driveway.  The driveway is rather severely sloped so it doesn’t take too much work to the get the dirt the rest of way down to the gutter.  Last night, however, there was a stiff breeze blowing into the garage door and I didn’t feel like fighting dust flying back into my face.

Hey, a shop vac should pick up dirt just like saw dust, right?

You bet, and then some.  I got out the vacuum, assembled it with only minor physical injury to myself, and started to suck up some dirt that the cars tracked in over the winter.  With a 7 foot hose, two wand extensions, and a nozzle, a 5hp motor built solely to suck stuff up makes quick work of dirt.  And it was fun.

Enough fun that I started cleaning the garage and putting things away just to get to more of the floor so I could vacuum it.  I vacuumed dirt from potting a plant last November.  I vacuumed scrap insulation from wire stripping last October.  I vacuumed dirt in the joints of the garage floor that has probably been there since before we moved in.  I vacuumed up the massive ant hills that continually reappear underneath the side door, and when the ants started to poor out onto the floor to see where their front porch went, I vaccumed them up too.

Rhiannon was happy that the garage is neat and organized again.  We can see the top of our work bench once more and we’re feeling much more motivated to actually complete the work we started last year.  Now I’m just trying to figure out how to activate the “cook dinner and do the laundry” setting on it.  Something that cool has got to have one, right?

they have skills

Volleyball Stop Motion.

I'll make a deal with you. If you will choose to overlook the fact that this video is made from pictures from July, 2007, making it almost 10 months old and the fact I just finally got around to finishing it, I will choose not to tell you about the technical details of stop motion and resist my urges to make a video showing a spoon and fork slide across a table.

At least I will resist the urge to put it on the internet. I understand that is the kind of thing that no one really wants to see, even if I think the making of such a video would be incredibly exciting.

It's kind of like how if I had a 30 second video clip of 4 people playing volleyball in a backyard, I would think it was boring and not worth the time, but if I had a whole bunch of pictures of people playing volleyball in the backyard and I could somehow make those pictures into a 30 second video clip, that would be about the awesomest thing I have done since I managed not to completely scrape up my face when falling off a bike three days before our wedding.

Which was pretty awesome, so that's saying something.

Somedays I really wonder why Rhiannon is still with me. I hope you enjoyed it...

a tale of two cheeses

Both Rhiannon and I grew up with moms who did the majority of the day-to-day food preparation in our houses, and we both grew up in households that ate home cooked meals together as a family more often than not. This a tradition we have done our best to carry over to our own life together and something we plan to do when we have children of our own.

(This may require that we actually sit at our table instead of on the couch in front of the TV, but hey, everyone makes sacrifices.)

On Saturday, Rhiannon and I invited Tyler over for supper. We made a raspberry vinagerette, apple, cashew, and craisin salad, some pan-fried seasoned chicken, and macaroni and cheese from a recipe we found online.

Macaroni and cheese is one of those comfort foods that a lot of people have childhood memories about. In Rhiannon’s house, it was macaroni with Velveeta melted over the top. For her, a helping of noodles with the almost-blindingly bright yellow artificial cheese substance dripping over the top mean a warm meal and a nap on the couch.

For me, it was the blue-box, powder-out-of-the-packet, mix-with-milk goodness of Kraft. My own dad didn’t think highly of this culinary treat and so it was reserved for occasions when he was out of town or had a dinner meeting. I remember using my plate with high edges because the mac and cheese was just runny enough that I would end up scraping it off the edges of a normal plate. With a hearty coating of pepper, it’s still a great meal in my memory.

Our macaroni and cheese we made this weekend was a little different than what either one of us grew up with. It involved making a rue from melted butter and flour, tearing bread into crouton sized pieces for a crispy topping, baking in an oven, and using over one and half pounds of cheese to coat a pound of macaroni.

We used two different types of cheeses, one of which I don’t know how to pronounce, can’t remember the name of, and a half of pound cost the same as a 6-pack of Kraft blue boxes.

It was good. It was really good. It was thick and gooey and cheesy and crunchy all at the same time.

And yet, given the choice between this “gourmet” style macaroni and cheese and the Kraft (or Velveeta) recipes of our youth, I think we would have to stop and consider the options. Because even though the simple dishes may not have the flavor and complexity of our latest recipe, they have meaning.

They mean home. And that’s something that no $15-per-pound dairy product can reproduce.

Thanks Mom, for creating a place for me to grow up in that I can remember like that.

Happy Mother’s day.

but it's a dry heat

It turns out that Mexico, specifically Mexico along the gulf coast, is a little more humid than Denver. And I mean a little in the way that I would prefer some sort of caramel cheesecake a little more than I would like to have day old bread (which if you know anything of my weakness for caramel means it was really damp in Mexico and bone dry back home). I’ve never lived in a really humid area of the country and I’ve been in Colorado for almost 8 years now, so it isn’t like I’m used to things being damp. When we got to the resort, we did think it smelled musty, and the fact that paper always felt a little wet and our gum had a horrible time.

I’m used to gum being borderline crisp when unwrapped to the point that you can almost snap it rather than bend it. Along the coast, the gum was borderline mushy instead – it kind of reminded me of chewing on some rather thick mucus, kind of like you just blew your nose into your mouth, only mint flavored.

And no, mint flavored snot still doesn’t sound good.

My hair got a little curlier even though it was pretty short and Rhiannon’s hair went pretty much completely straight. My skin got really clear and we didn’t use hardly any lotion at all. Rhiannon has since realized the major drawback to not needing lotion on her feet is that she would actually have to ask me to rub them with no pretenses. Currently, she can say “My feet are dry, would rub lotion on them?” rather than “I have no need of lotion but will you rub my feet anyway?” Honestly, I still would, but it does sound better the first way.

While I did enjoy the humidity, I wouldn’t want to live in quite that extreme. I already sweat pretty easily, but any time I perspire walking down a flight of stairs, I begin to question what type of cardiovascular shape I’m in. Also, I don’t like still feeling damp from a shower two hours after I attempted to dry off.

I guess for now I’ll stick with Denver and its dripping 10% relative humidity today.

Oh How The Days Go By

Two years ago, this afternoon, we were married. We spent one more day around town, and then drove to Colorado. At the time, both of us were fresh out of school with no working experience. Rhiannon had work lined up for the summer at the same day camp she had spent the last three summers at and not a clue where she would wind up after that.

Rhiannon moved into the apartment I had been in during my last year of college. We had neighbors downstairs that smoked too much and neighbors through the wall that played their music too much and partied late at night. We had raccoons claimed the apartment dumpsters as their late night hang out and community pool that turned green a few times and had to be emptied.

Rhiannon found a full-time teaching job a day after school started. It was a one year contract and there wasn’t a position at the same school again, the following spring, she was once again gainfully unemployed.

We’ve played in a community band, a community pop orchestra, and a pit orchestra for an amateur production of The Sound of Music. We’ve outfitted Rhiannon’s car to play an iPod through the stereo and probably harmed both of our hearing by turning up the volume a little too loud.

We’ve become a little too dependent on our TV to watch our shows. I’ve never had “shows” that I watch before. Neither has Rhiannon. We’re up to four.

Last spring, we went house shopping and bought our first home. At the closing, everyone was really happy and told us how exciting it was to see a young couple with good jobs and decent credit buying their first home together. At the time, Rhiannon didn’t have a job and we didn’t know how long we would be able to pay for the wonderful new home we just purchased.

But things work out. Rhiannon found a job that has since turned into a full time position in a school she likes. I am still working on the same job that I started on out of college. We have a wonderful house that we have too many plans for one day and a desire to sell and get something with more land the next. We’ve done some traveling and we’ve wasted too much time on the weekends doing nothing. A person needs to do that sometimes too.

We’ve played sand volleyball and softball. We’ve started biking and made a point to get outside a little more this year.

We’ve spent time curled up together on a couch watching movies. We’ve talked about good books we’ve read. I’ve learned that sometimes it really is better to keep my mouth shut.

Sometimes we think that it feels like were just married a few months ago. More often, if feels like we’ve been married for ten years. And we can say that it isn’t a bad feeling.

I know two years isn’t a really long time to be married. I know that most of the things I’ve listed above seem pretty general and maybe not that incredible. I know I don’t tell her enough how much I really enjoy spending time with her.

I do know that there isn’t anyone else I’d rather share a website name with. (And a life, for that matter.)

I love you, honey. Here’s hoping we have many more years together.

How To Clean Good, And Have It Stay That Way

Rhiannon and I have finally figured out how to avoid having a messy house in just 7 simple steps. 1: Look around in messy house. 2: Feel depressed about state of messiness that is clinging to you like a needy two-year old. 3: Eat some ice cream cake. 4: Think that you may be becoming lactose intolerant because ice cream cake makes you feel bad every time you it. 5: Have some more ice cream cake. It’s SOOO good. 6: Clean your house. 7: Don’t live at home. Find other stuff to do, like work, or classes, or orchestra rehearsal. Use your home as more of a shelter that you sleep at every night but don’t really reside in.

If you can manage to spend just one or two waking hours in your home per day, it is actually hard to make the place too messy very fast. This of course assumes you can follow the simple step six, which only took us about nine months to figure out.

The Perfect Set Up

Last night, when Rhiannon and I were sitting down to eat a nutritious dinner of Oreos, ice cream, chocolate, and some crumbs we found in the corner on the floor, she asked me what seemed to be a perfectly innocent question. "Do you think my shirt is too low?"

"No. I think it's fine."

So she asked how low it actually was to a person not looking directly down from above. I told her, not thinking anything about it.

"Dang. I should really think about getting some different tank tops that don't go down so far."

"What is the problem? I think that shirt looks good."

"Of course you do. You're my husband. You're supposed to like a lower cut shirt on me. Now, imagine that you're 40 and your child's teacher is some 24 year old just out of college with her chest half hanging out in front of you. Are you going to like it then?"


"Oh, grow up already. I meant would it be appropriate, not if you'd like looking at young women when you're 40. You're sick, you know that?"

I think I was set up. And very well, too.

The Feeling That Something Was Missing Was Almost Unbearable

This past weekend, something was different in our house. Something that hasn’t happened since, I’m not sure exactly, but sometime last summer. We had a weekend without football.

And the strangest thing happened – we did things together. We talked. We went for a walk in the sub-freezing outdoors. We cleaned the house. We read books. We worked on crosswords. We went shopping just to look at things without really intending to buy anything (see Rhiannon, it can be done, and it’s even fun in a way).

Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, I thought about what we did on Sunday alone. Rhiannon prepared for her week at school. We went grocery shopping and prepared food for the week. We washed, dried, folded, and put away four loads of laundry and some clean clothes that were still lying around from last week. We vacuumed carpet and cleaned the kitchen. We still had time to watch a movie and saw a little golf on TV.

I think we accomplished a lot and spent some good time together. Even Rhiannon, who is beginning to suffer from a head cold, thought we had a productive weekend.

We’re planning on watching the Superbowl next weekend, but after that…

Nevermind, after the Superbowl, Arena League football starts. Whew, that was scary, because, I mean, I really like football, and this touchy feeling housework stuff was really starting to threaten my masculinity.

And too much of a good thing is… well, it seems it would be really good, but apparently it isn’t, so football it is.

A Reason To Go Home At Night

Rhiannon isn’t actively working right now. Instead she is enjoying the last full week of what will be a five-week winter vacation for her. I must admit – I am a little jealous. I realize that this vacation time is time she doesn’t have over summer. Teaching in the year-round schools doesn’t give the full 3-month summer break I normally associate with the profession. She’ll be teaching all through summer with a similar break somewhere in there.

I still doesn’t make getting up by myself in the morning much easier, especially when we stay up a little later than we would if we were both working. (I will admit that last night, it was me who wanted to watch one more episode of Grey’s Anatomy and Rhiannon who said it would be fine if we went to bed.)

Normally, I get home from work a little before she does. I get a little time to unwind from work. For the past couple weeks, I haven’t had that time. Rhiannon has been home and waiting for me to arrive. She hasn’t talked to many people during the day. She wants some company, and I almost feel resentful, like she is taking up my time. She gets to sleep in. She gets to be lazy and watch TV if she wants. Let me have my time. My personal time.

But then I realize I haven’t had to worry about what we are eating each night. I haven’t had to clean all the dishes because she is doing schoolwork and doesn’t have time. She isn’t doing schoolwork at night. Neither of us has homework. We just get to spend time together. We talk. We help each other clean up after supper. We watch Grey’s Anatomy. Last week we went to the rec center and played basketball.

There isn’t an underlying sense of urgency in everything. There is no feeling that the time we spend together could be better spent doing something else, something we are going to be regretting putting off later.

In short, this is the probably the longest time since a winter break in college that we haven’t had things to worry about. We’ve laughed more together in the past few weeks than we have in a long time. It’s weeks like these past few that make me remember how great it is to have my best friend as my wife. It's nights like these that make me want to get home as fast as possible.

So I’m a little sappy today. I’m nearing 25 years old. Pretty much over the hill in my book. I think the retirement party is next month sometime.

Something That Works As Advertised

On Saturday, Rhiannon and I played in our final Christmas concert of the season. The concert was at 7:30. Warm-up was at 6:15. It was a Saturday, meaning there was no work and traffic should be light. We also wanted to stop by Rhiannon’s school, which was on the way to the concert. Easy, right? After doing whatever it is we do to manage to lose the better part of a day on the weekend, our conversation turned to the schedule of events that was to come. Around 2 pm, our proposed schedule looked a little something like this:

4:00: Start to get ready for the concert 4:30: While Rhiannon finished preparing, Chris can prepare a hearty and nutritious supper. 5:00: Eat supper. 5:20: Leave the house. 5:50: Stop by school. 6:05: Arrive at the concert and assume places for warm-up.

Here’s how the afternoon really went down.

3:15: The following conversation takes place:

“What should I wear tonight?” “I’m wearing the same suit I wore last night.” “You are no help and you’re not funny. Hey, remember that outfit that I saw in the JCPenny’s flier that was on sale and the shoes that went with it?” [Has no clue what outfit she is referring to.] “Yes.” “Do you think I could go get that and wear it tonight? And then I could also wear it for a Christmas outfit this year. Would you want to go to mall with me right now and get it?” [Has been watching some sporting event on TV and not listening to his wife.] “Yes.” “Ok, let’s go.” “Wait, what did I just agree to?”

3:30: We arrive at the mall. We realize that this will not be a quick trip. It is in fact a Saturday afternoon at a shopping mall in December. This is most likely the worst combination of time and place ever created. We park approximately three blocks from our house and hire a group of sherpas to guide us the rest of the way in.

3:45: We make it to the store (which was on the opposite side of mall from where we parked).

“Do remember what the skirt looks like so you can help me look? It was black and lacey with the cream underneath?” [Still has no clue what outfit she is talking about.] “Yes.”

3:50: Rhiannon locates the clothes she was looking for. It turns out I probably walked by them without ever knowing it. I refer to this as “Securing the Area”, which is a vital part of any operation.

4:00: The clothes are tried on and approved. Onto the shoes. [Note: I’ve been shoe shopping with Rhiannon. I do not have high hopes for this being at all quick.]

4:10: Shoes are picked out, tried on, selected, and paid for. Rhiannon helps me up off the floor after I fainted and we trek back to the car.

4:13: We stop to look at some home audio systems that we have no intention of buying. But they look really cool…

4:15: Head for home. It takes about as long to get out of the parking lot as it does to drive the rest of the way to our house.

4:30: “You have 50 minutes to get ready. Can you do it?” “It’s just like every school morning, only now I’m actually awake. Of course I can.” “Good, we’ll plan on leaving the house at 5:20 after we eat some sandwiches.”

5:20: Rhiannon is still upstairs, apparently painting her toenails (which no one will see since she sits in the back of the orchestra, but it’s the principle of the thing).

5:21: I load the car with our instruments.

5:26: I make two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for supper (nutritious!) and eat one of them.

5:29: I fill our water bottles.

5:30: Rhiannon comes downstairs, grabs her sandwich, a paper towel, and heads out the door. We get in the car. I attempt to hand the water bottles to Rhiannon. One of them is open. It spills.

5:31: I get paper towels. The whole roll. Rhiannon attempts to dry herself. We leave.

5:32: Rhiannon realizes she doesn’t have her watch or rings on. She also has jelly on her skirt that was purchased just over an hour ago from trying to not sit in the spilled water. We turn around.

A week or two ago, Rhiannon had bought some of the Tide To Go pens as a gift for a coworker that always seemed to have something on her clothing. We watch as she begins to dab at the jelly spots with the pen. It looks like it is just being spread around. Awesome. This thing doesn’t work anything like they show in commercials, as usual.

But then, something nearly magical begins to happen. The jelly fades, a little like the old Star Trek shows where the crew would be “beamed up”, only without the glitter and blue light and sound effects and Scotty. Ok, it wasn’t anything like Star Trek. But it fades just the same. A few minutes later, the spots are gone.

5:36: Rhiannon throws the rest of her sandwich away and puts on her jewelry. We leave again. She tells me it only takes her 25 minutes to get to school, even during morning rush hour traffic. She licks the last of the jelly off of her arm. We depart.

5:37 – 6:05: We hit every light and slow moving car possible and take nearly 30 minutes. Murphy’s law seems so very real at moments like this.

6:15: We arrive at the concert site and walk in the doors just in time to hear warm-up start.

It turns out it really wasn’t a big deal. The concert went well. There was good food afterward. But the highlight of the evening was the Tide To Go pen*. Seriously – white polyester skirt with purple jelly, and not a spot left on it. No washing. No water. Without it, 6:15 would have been more like 6:30 and no stopping at school.

*I am not being paid to say this (but if someone wants to pay me to say this, I will accept donations). Really, the thing works on jelly. Maybe other stuff too.

I Must Have Done Something Right

To all those who may have known Rhiannon as she used to be, I apologize. I realize that I have may have tried my hardest to unintentionally created a new version of my wife, the likes of which will most likely cause our household to never be quite the same again. Last night, we were watching the Broncos game on TV as we were getting ready to go to bed. The Broncos also started a rookie quarterback and were down by 7 points in the fourth quarter. Their chances to win didn’t look very good – until the rookie quarterback threw a pass to a rookie wide receiver, who proceeded to break 3 tackles and run 60 yards down the field for a touchdown.

I grant it was an exciting play. I’m sure many people in the Denver area or any Broncos fans in general watching on TV may have cheered. Some may have jumped up from their seats and clapped. Rhiannon has never been one of these fans. Rhiannon has never been a huge football fan before this year. Last night, all that changed.

As the receiver crossed the goal line, she was jumping in the living room, shouting things like, “Did you see that?” and “That was unbelievable!” We looked at each other, and she asked my why I wasn’t more excited.

I think the simple answer is that I was stunned. And shocked. And amazed. And pleasantly surprised. She was even interested in how the college games turned out and who would play for the national championship.

I’m not exactly sure who this woman is or what she did with my wife, but I do know that I’m going to keep her.

Vindication – It Feels Good

Last night, I made it a point to sleep waaaaay over on my side of bed. Seriously. Ever seen the movie Cliffhanger? Well, there were no cables or anyone falling long distances to the rocky ground below, but I was close. “Livin’ On The Edge,” as Aerosmith might say. Rhiannon’s reaction this morning? Last night, she was cold.

And you thought I was making the whole thing up about keeping her warm.

(Confused? See yesterday's tragic story of heartbreak and loss for clarification.)

We're Considering Ourselves Warned

Rhiannon and I don’t often have dreams that we remember. Last night, I dreamed that we had a baby that cried all night and kept waking me up – only, I really woke up several times and went back to the same dream each time.

As we were getting ready for work, Rhiannon mentioned that she had dreamed that we had two kids, 10 months apart, still very young.

I think there are a few conclusions that we could draw from this occurrence:

1) We need to keep our dreams to ourselves because, seriously, that was weird and kind of freaked me out.

2) We are going to have kids sometime soon. (Not if we can help it.)

3) Considering neither dream about kids was particularly pleasant, we shouldn’t have kids soon.

4) The oldest child in Rhiannon’s dream was a girl. The baby in my dream was a girl. The only logical thing is that Rhiannon dreams farther out into the future than I do and it was the same child in both of our dreams.

Maybe this says something good about how connected we are.

Maybe I should move into the guest room for a little while.

I'm Just A Big Softy At Heart

On Sunday night I picked Rhiannon up from the airport. She had been gone for the better part of nine days (since the previous Saturday morning), and this was the longest period of time that we had been apart since we finished college and got married a little over a year ago. While she was gone, I discovered a few interesting things. I had two weekends at home alone. It was like college all over again, only without homework to feel bad about not doing (or just not caring about in general). I watched some football on TV. I watched some cartoons and movies. I read all kinds of different sites on the internet about world news and geeky things like reviews of new auto-focusing camera lenses (that are made for a camera I don’t own). I just thought the physics of light and how a camera lens focuses at different light levels was interesting. I ate the same things for supper for three consecutive nights. I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I talked with Rhiannon on the phone at night for a little bit. I had the whole bed to myself. I should have been wonderful.

I also managed to get a little lonely.

I didn’t have any problems hearing noises or getting nervous about being alone. I wasn’t calling my friends and asking to hang out just so I could see someone. It wasn’t a lack of seeing people on a day-to-day basis. I saw other people every day, be it at work or out shopping or working out.

I really missed Rhiannon.

We spent the majority of five years of college apart, going for a few months at a time without seeing each other as recently as a year and a half ago. By the time I picked her up on Sunday night, I was really excited to see her again. I haven’t had that feeling since that last spring break when I went to visit.

It’s good to know that we still care about each other enough that we’d rather be together than apart.

Although I could use a little more time to read nerdy things on the internet once in a while.

And I said I didn’t hear any noises at night – it was a little hard to hear much of anything over the racket the cheerleaders throwing the kegger in the backyard were making. Really, a guy invites a few people over one night when the wife is out of town and it turns into a week-long party.

Is Someone Tired?

Actual conversation as Rhiannon and I were going to sleep last night: “Rhiannon, do you want to put your mask on?” [meaning her eye mask to block out light] “No, I was just hoping it would miraculously fall down.” “Fall down from where?” “Geez, stop bothering me already!” “I’m bothering you?””

She wakes up.

“No. What?” “Nothing. Here, put your mask on.” “Thanks.”

Are You Ready For Some Football

Perhaps some of you who live in a deep dark cave with no electricity and a pet musk ox named Clarence (but you only call him Clarence when he’s been bad, other than that it’s Clancy) missed the fact this past weekend (or period of five days, which is really closer to a week) was the opening weekend of NFL football. I happen to be a bit of a fan (which is like saying that Mount Everest happens to be a decent sized hill (which is like saying that I’m a really big fan of the NFL)) so I watched some of the games (all of the games) that were on when I was in the room (the couch is permanently indented from me sitting there for 5 days).

Without too many apologies to baseball, football is America’s pastime (and by football, I mean American football, not soccer). I follow baseball. I know how teams are doing. I don’t have 3 hours everyday to sit and watch a baseball game. I also will not go to 81 home games in a season. (Apparently I do have time to spend almost 11 hours on a Sunday watching 3 full football games, and then highlights of the other games I didn’t watch.)

I think football season is a time of year that many wives (with no offense meant to women who like to watch football or men who don’t) both look forward to and dread at the same time – the men in the house are too preoccupied with watching football that they really don’t care what anyone else is doing, like shopping, and the men in the house are too preoccupied with watching football that they really don’t care what anyone else in the house wants them to do like yard work, or cleaning, or changing clothes.

I’ve found that there are in fact lots of things that can be done on a weekend with football on.

-Sorting clothes, in the living room -Folding clothes, in the living room -Putting clothes in the washing machine or the dryer, during commercial breaks -Picking lint off the carpet, in the living room. -Eating meals, on the couch. -Dusting the end tables in the living room.

Rhiannon claims that she is starting to like watching sports with me. We only have one TV in our house, so it works out well if we are both watching TV and can agree on something to watch together. She watches tennis, some baseball, beach volleyball, football and even golf.

She appreciates competitive games, which I agree with. She likes to watch Tiger Woods play golf, which I also enjoy. She agrees that tennis could do without all the grunting. She is a decent athlete herself, so she can appreciate the effort that goes into playing sports at the professional level.

Everything seems to be wonderful. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop to hear what all this will earn her. (Trip to Europe, landscaping in the yard, diamond necklace, finally having me agree that maybe Clancy the Musk Ox could find somewhere other than our bed to sleep at night…)