Thursday, February 19, 2015


As I watched the snow swirl outside the 3rd floor window, I said to my coworker, "I hate February.  It's only a couple of days past the halfway mark of a short month and it has already gone on for too long.  It needs to go away."

"Oh spring will be here before you know it," he said, and implied that I was a drama queen which is sometimes true.  Or usually.

After weeks of celebrating the holidays, January is almost a relief.  Organize your house, get your paperwork in order, settle into bed early with a good book.  The hors d'oeuvres and wine and interesting conversation are over.  It is needed rest for the weary.

But after a month of that comes February and what are you supposed to do with all twenty-eight days of that? 

The stores are filled with spring clothes in colors that are too cheery to even consider.  The home improvement centers have started stacking the mulch and wheeling out the grills while the remaining ice melt and shovels keep each other company in a forgotten pile in the corner.

It is Groundhog Day over and over.  Same coat, salt-stained boots, the 10th pair of cheap gloves because you have left nine pairs at the grocery store, in the parking lot, and God Knows Where. 

I told Mark my writing well was frozen solid.  "Not one single thing of interest has happened to me in weeks."  Then I read a blog post about being present and there were all kinds of comments as if this was the most fascinating thing to consider.  "Mark.....can you even?  I think I read about being present ten times a day and somebody writes about it AGAIN and everyone raves about it like they've never heard it before.  This kind of stuff is making me bitter."

"Just that?" he asked.

"Well, maybe everything."

We celebrated Valentine's Day.  He got me a mug for left-handers.  I got him a Lego Zamboni, and if you ever asked him he'd tell you about back in the day when he got to work the coolest thing at the ice rink.

I sip from my new mug and complain that maybe the coffee maker isn't working right because it's just not hot enough.

I wear something black.  Again.  I scrape the windows and kick gray snow off the wheel wells.   I go to Target and try to find wool socks on clearance because my only pair has disappeared.  I have no luck but bikinis are plentiful.  I shake my flaky, dry hands at the gray skies that have settled over the slushy parking lot and my mood.  Then I go home and look at my husband, who is many things including an experienced Zamboni operator, and try for his sake to not say aloud every whiny thought that crosses my mind. 

It is the hardest thing I do in an already hard month.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fast Forward

A soon-to-be-new colleague of Mark's came into town with a friend to scout out the housing and daycare situation for he and his family.  He asked Mark and I to join them.  Mark gets excited about this kind of stuff.  Me?  Not so much.  As the only non-scientist, the thought of sitting with three guys talking proteins and molecules for a couple of hours over dinner seems as miserable as going to look at tool rentals.

But I had no better offer on a Saturday night in the Cow Town.

We met at a barbecue restaurant.  The friend was there on a fact-finding mission himself - entertaining the idea of moving to Kansas City as well.  It took about five minutes for me to figure out that this was not going to be one of those kinds of dinner.

Both of them hammered us with questions about the area.  Where to live?  Our neck of the woods if you know what's good for you.  Housing prices?  Shockingly low compared to the east coast.  Job market for teachers?  Just offered early retirement to three hundred teachers in our school district so tell your wife to check out this website.  Traffic?  Well, people here think there's a bit of it but if you've lived anywhere else you will be delighted.

It was a conversation that was so very reminiscent of us when we moved across the country.   Excited and scared of what lie ahead with a five-year-old and a toddler in tow.  Housing, schools, banks, grocery stores and babysitters all to figure out.  It was our grandest adventure.  In it together long before cell phones, debit cards or GPS we held hands and jumped into the deep end of our new life here.  It has worked out but there have been plenty of times when we wondered if we did the right thing, when as a stay-at-home mom I was lonely for friends and family for far longer than I would have thought.  The years Mark has swam against a tide that believes that only the best science comes from the coasts. We overcame the obstacles and made a life, and we shared our stories with two professionals trying to do what's best for their careers, their spouses and the babies that are already on the way.

When Mark and his colleague became engrossed in a conversation about the university, the friend looked at me and said, "So are you guys looking forward to being grandparents?"

I stared blankly.


In the nostalgia of our conversation I had forgotten that more than twenty years had passed by.  That the house got bought, the bank and schools settled on, the friends made.  That the kids long ago outgrew babysitters and bedrooms and we'd gotten older.

And then when my thoughts drifted back I looked at him, smiled and said, "Oh yes.  You can only imagine how lovely the thought of it seems."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Love The Bitter Nights

I have been feeling kind of pookie of late.  All weekend I lounged around with little energy except to scream at the Seahawks for not running the ball at the one-yard line.  The. One. Yard. Line.  I had to eat three cookies and half a can of chocolate covered almonds to deal with my super emotions.

The Big Daddy and I dejectedly went to bed and I took some drugs to ward off my body aches.  I woke up Monday morning and started getting ready for work but did an about-face midway through.  I was staying home and taking care of me.  I rarely miss work but on this day I was happy to be staying in a warm bed and not dealing with the cold, dreary day.  The Big Daddy's choice for warmth was to fly to San Francisco.

I was chilled to the bone all day so I made some chicken soup and finally warmed up enough to sleep for a few hours.  When I woke I went downstairs and looked at the thermostat.  It had yet to reach sixty degrees.  All day the heat was running and not warming up the house and that's when I finally figured out that there was something wrong with the furnace.

This led to a Google search and a call to the neighbor for the name of her heating and AC guy.  "Maybe your pilot light is out," she said.  "I don't think Steve knows how to light one but I bet one of the other guys have done it.  Call one of them and ask them to come over and check."

I called Neighbor Mark The Woodworker who can make anything.  "There's still furnaces with pilot lights," he asked.  Maybe I should have asked him to carve me a furnace instead of lighting one.  "Ask Walt.  He used to be a heating & ac guy."  By now it was 9:00 and I didn't feel comfortable knocking on Walt's door so late.  Will (who was toasty in bed with a space heater and watching movies on his laptop) and I were going to have to tough it out.

We found all the heavy blankets, long underwear and wool socks.  I was bundled in bed when the phone rang.  It was The Big Daddy.  I told him my tale of woe.  "It's so cold in here," I whined. 

"Well, why don't you make a fire," he asked.

"A fire?  But I'm in bed.  What good is that going to do when I'm upstairs and the fireplace that we haven't used in ten years is downstairs?"

"It would heat up the house.  That's what fires usually do."

I didn't care for his attitude. 

"Really?  Am I supposed to go out looking for wood at 10:00 at night then start a fire?  You know you're not being the least bit helpful."

"Be like a Scout.  It's called indoor camping."

Rule #1 for husbands who get to go anywhere warmish in the winter:  Don't say anything from the comfort of a hotel room except "I'm sorry for everything bad that has ever happened to you."

I cranked up my heating pad, turned off the lights and started thinking.....

*I wonder if I'm going to get carbon monoxide poisoning and be dead in the morning.

*Why don't I ever get to go anywhere?

*Is tomorrow a shampoo day or a skip day?

*I should pee.  (four times)

*Shivering must burn some calories.

*Did I floss?

*What if the nobody can fix the furnace tomorrow?  I'll go to a hotel.  In Florida.

*Is that chirping sound the carbon monoxide detector?

*Maybe Neighbor Mark the Woodworker can make me a new staircase. 

*If I quit my job how long could I go without spending any money?  (a week, maybe)

*The painter hasn't been back since October.  Maybe he's not returning my calls because he's in jail.

*Who killed Jon Benet?

*Do I have a headache?  Is that how carbon monoxide poisoning starts?  I should Google that in the morning if I'm not dead.

*We should get a new lawnmower this year.

*Taxes.  Meh.

*I bet the dog has Asperger's.

*Somehow this is The Big Daddy's fault even though I can't figure out how.  Yet.

*I need to get baking soda.

*I'll get new tires on the car on President's Day.  That would be a fun thing to do on my day off.

*They say carbon monoxide is the silent killer.

*I should start walking every day like I used to.

*Natalie Wood on that boat.  Sheesh..... she didn't fall off on her own.

I slept for two hours.  The house was 51 degrees when I woke up.  I called the heating guy at 7:15 and he said he'd be over by nine.

At 8:30 my neighbor called.  "I walked by and your paper was still out.  I thought you got carbon monoxide poisoning and were dead so I'm calling to check.".

Thank you Jesus for sending me people who understand.

The Big Daddy called and I told him about my long, sleepless night.  "Carbon monoxide poisoning," he said.  "Heck, the damn thing wasn't even heating up.  You couldn't get that.  I could have told you that."

Oh sure.  After it was all over and done I find out he could have saved me from my night of torment with his Bill Nye science brain. 

But what about Natalie Wood I wanted to ask the Smartypants.