Friday, July 22, 2011

Opposites Attract

They say that opposites attract. I never really believed that, because Kerry and I are very much alike. There were some differences, but we were always more alike than different.

Not any more. We couldn't be any more opposite if we had to be. We'll have to see if our marriage (32 wonderful and happy years) can withstand it. You see, I'm in Hyderabad, India, and Kerry is in Lake City, Colorado.

She's at 107 degrees west longitude. I'm at 78 degrees east longitude. Not exactly directly opposite sides of the world, but pretty darn close. Right now it's actually closer for us to go through Asia than through Europe.

She's in the mountains; I'm near sea level. Her temperatures are on the 50s to the 80s; my temperatures are in the 80s to the 100s. She's rafting on beautiful cold rivers; I'm in an arid region where the monsoons aren't here yet. She is surrounded by modern America; I'm surrounded by ancient India.

Seriously, I am so blessed to have been married to Kerry for 32 years. She has made me a better person, a better Christian, and I hope I've been a good husband to her. My parents were married for 68 years before my father died. I would like nothing better than to break their record.

Thanks for letting me guest post on your blog, Kerry. If you would like to read about my Indian exploits, check out my blog


Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

I have a new post all ready to put up, but it requires illustration. The laptop was out of juice, so after plugging it in, I started the camera download while puttering around the room. About ten minutes later, I realized the camera is dead.

Looking around our room for the camera battery charger, it dawns on me that my bedroom is only a slightly more tasteful version of one of the rooms in Disney's "Carousel of Progress." If you've been there, you will recall the room that models the introduction of electricity to the average home - the tangles of electrical cords strung from a couple of wall plugs to every fixture and appliance in the room - the ceiling light, floor fan, icebox, radio,  lamps, coffee pot, oven....

In our bedroom, which triples as Ricky's office and our living room away from the kids, I count sixteen items (and the camera battery charger) that stay plugged in, plus the surge protectors they're plugged into. When you add in all the gadgets that then have to be connected to each other, the snake's nests of cords are mind boggling.

Have we made progress? I'm not sure. My boggled mind is skeptical.

UPDATE: I guess it could look like this, though.

Friday, July 8, 2011

7 Quick Takes - Frayed at the edges

Here are 7 Quick Takes - what's happening at home while my husband  is half a world away, finishing his first of four weeks studying economic development in India. Don't forget to follow his adventures!

1.  Heat

This is where Ricky is right now, with cool nights and expected highs of 93 degrees.

Yelagiri Hills in southern India
While running errands this afternoon, my car thermometer, generally accurate, didn't go below 107.

2.  Hairballs

Last night I brushed my teeth, turned out the lights and headed back into the bedroom. My foot came down on something squishy. The sludge made it up between my toes. Ewwww... . lights on, I still didn't know what I had stepped in since, without contacts, anything closer than six feet is blurry.  Correction - I just didn't know from which end one of our five animals had exploded. I cleaned off my foot, the gag reflex kicking in enough for me to apologetically ask my son to clean up the mess. He found it, cleaned it up and laughed at me in a nice kind of way and said I didn't need to explain. The good news is that it was feline regurgitation and not canine defacation. The other good news is that my son's future wife will appreciate how well I have trained him for her.

If Ricky had been here, he would seen the hairball and cleaned it up even before I miraculously missed it going into the bathroom.

3.  Lightbulbs

In the past week, I think at least one light bulb in every room has gone out, most of which are some sort of fluorescent and are supposed to last for years. Don't believe a word of it.

4.  Tools

I bought a shelf for an awkward location and have the perfect tool, a Christmas present new B&D power screwdriver that bends in the middle. The screwdriver is out of charge. I am out of charger. Only Ricky knows where the charger is and he is in the mountains of India incommunicado.

5.  Cash

Ricky likes to go to the bank. He is my ATM machine, my personal debit card. Down to $3, will I remember to go to the bank Saturday before it closes? We're going to the baseball game Saturday night. Parking is more than $3.

6.  Dogs

Did I say it was hot? As in over 100 degrees until late in the evening hot? Our high energy shiba inus need more indoor play and more short walks than usual. They miss another adult in the room.

7.  Space shuttle launch

I was late to a meeting today so I could watch "live" the last space shuttle launch. Wish Ricky had been here to see it, too. He participated in an intense six week astronomy program the summer before his high school graduation and has always had a passion for the stars. The United States' space exploration program is about as old as we are and the shuttle program has been around about as long as we've been married. I will miss that vicarious thrill of going where no man has gone before.

So many things taken for granted.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

While the cat's away.........

Do you like moving? Not the jumping up and down kind, but the get another house and start over kind? I do.

The only time my house is consistently clean and orderly is when it's for sale and must be "show ready" at a moment's notice. Glorious living for those few months as we all work together to defeat the enemy clutter.

We have lived here for over twelve years, the longest I've ever lived in one place.

I have the itch. I want to move. (Actually, I want a bomb to go off after the strategic removal of a few items so that I can collect the insurance and build the current version of my dream house.)

Chained here for at least a couple more years, I'm doing the next best thing. Operation House Reclamation has started, one room at a time.

Today's project - the boy cave, a.k.a. The Den.  I will spare you the "before" picture. And thankfully, boy odor doesn't transmit over the internet so you are spared that as well.

We are cleaning out cabinets and bookshelves and actually hanging the pictures left shelved after the last paint job (three years ago.) Ricky would do a more thorough job if he were here, but his slash and burn style of attacking the mess doesn't allow me sufficient time to agonize over decisions.

In the trash go crayons, old school supplies, broken games, dozens of National Geographics saved for the next, long past, elementary school project. I did rescue a son's discard of Ricky's grade school chess set, in perfect condition and still holding sentimental value (I think.)

The boys helped a lot, especially if you ignore their attempt to bribe my office assistant to "lose" the feather duster. Brian was moving Ricky's album collection to a better location and noticed this one:

(And no, those are not my hands.)

Whatcha' think? Further proof we are the world's nerdiest family? Who else owns a two album set of the dramatic highlights of congressional investigations, with one whole album, both sides, devoted to the McCarthy hearings? Must be fascinating. Keep or toss? Not mine to say.

We have umpteen sets of dominos, I'm embarassed to admit the true number. There are double nines and double twelves for playing "Chicken Foot" or "Train." The rest are double sixes for playing straight dominos or my favorite game of all time, "42," which has just been legally declared the State Game of Texas. Seriously.

So should I throw away the extra red or some of the ivory sets, the dominos personalized with our name or the set decorated with the name of our alma mater? Should I toss the dominos given to and inherited back from my father-in-law decorated with pictures of bass? Ricky can ponder those decisions as he travels across India on Friday.

I will still stash my tubs of beanie babies back into the cabinets, too, planning to dole them out as bribes to future grandchildren.

But still, a couple of trash bags now on the street. I'm finally moving!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Decorations of Independence

There is a flag flying on the front porch. As they do every year, neighborhood volunteers, up at the crack of dawn, lined our streets with flags. The flag adorns businessess, shirts, the hood of another neighbor's antique car. My next door neighbor displays red, white and blue bunting on his driveway gate from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

I love this American tradition, this United States of American tradition, of celebrating our demand for freedom. In our community, the fireworks, the picnics, the carnivals are small exclamation points to the years' displays of patriotism. In our schools we say the Pledge of Allegiance. In our town, businesses fly the flag. At our games we sing the Star Spangled Banner. In our city, the orchestra plays and the audience sings the National Anthem at the start of each concert. 

Our church has a patriotic service each year. We sing the Battle Hymn, America the Beautiful, My Country 'Tis of Thee, the Star Spangled Banner. Uniformed veterans walk in their branch's flag as the choir performs the Salute to the Armed Forces. For the past several years I have particularly enjoyed the World War II Navy veteran, tall, still slim in his khakis, jauntily marching in and saluting his flag. We shed tears at the pictures, videos and "freedom displays" of active duty and veteran congregants.

Our pastor preaches on appreciation, responsibility and respect - on the interweaving of faith and government. We must honor our defenders. We must vote our convictions. We must pray for our government's leaders.

Should there be this intermingling of church and "state?" Of course! Each promotes the stability of the other. The following is a quote from Benjamin Franklin, eighty-one years old, as he addressed the delegates at the Constitutional Convention, struggling to agree on a founding document:

In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. -- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.
I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move -- that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

The Assembly agreed with Mr. Franklin's request, and the rest is History.

May God Bless America!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The tortoise and the hares

The boys and I played golf this morning, starting the holiday weekend early. I kept my cell phone handy and, sure enough, about half way through the round Ricky called from India to report a successful arrival at his New Delhi hotel. I didn't want to waste my good tee shot and passed the phone to Wiley while I hit from the fairway. There wasn't a whole lot of news to share since he'd been traveling for eighteen hours while we'd been sleeping and hanging out.

We're trying to get back into some semblance of a golf habit. Ricky and I played quite a bit when our first three kids were little. I got fancy new clubs about the same time I became very unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child. Then our golf came to a screeching halt as we spent the next fifteen years shepherding teens with a precocious younger one trailing behind.

This spring we all got new clubs and are determined to get back in the swing of things. I'm not any good, but I enjoy playing, as long as it's not slow. At the first hole today, I switched my clubs from the electric cart to the hand cart. So the boys shared a cart while I walked the course.

The course marshall commented on it to me about the twelfth hole - "Kinda' funny you're walking while those boys are riding." "Yeah," I said, "but they zig and they zag their long shots and have to hunt balls while I hit my four iron down the middle. It works." A couple of holes later, he crossed paths with me again - "I see what you mean."

We finished the round in under four hours, a pretty good morning. Lots of fun. Right now, I'm playing golf with my hybrid four iron, a seven, a wedge and a putter. Every now and then I throw in an extra club. On vacation my hybrid six worked well several times. Today it was my eight.

We spent the first part of our Florida vacation playing golf with Ricky's sister and brother-in-law in Port St. Lucie. They have a time share week at the PGA resort there. We played one of our rounds on a Pete Dye designed links style course. One hole has about fifty yards of marsh grasses between the tee and the edge of the fairway. Sherry, having watched her husband and sons play the course several times over the years, commented quite out loud that someone always lost a ball in the grass here. Dennis, a consistently good golfer, fussed at her for jinxing one of us. Then he proceeded to hit not one, but two balls into the grass. Didn't even make it past the ladies' tee. Hee, hee. Thanks for taking one for the team, Dennis!

Golf is such a head game. Your opponent is yourself. Can you play better than you did last time? Can you play better than you did last hole? Can you ignore your last bad shot and focus on this one?

I wish there was a way for all young men to have to play "Ground Hog Day" golf. A boy would play golf over and over and over, three rounds a day, rain or shine, cold or hot, until he learned how to have an even demeanor, whether playing awesome or ugly.

Ricky played a lot of golf while in high school. Now he can go years without playing and still score in the eighties. He can play a little bit and consistently score in the low eighties. I started playing golf as a way to share his hobby. With limited playing opportunities, he expected to score as well as he used to. I was happy if I didn't whiff. (Whiffs usually gave me two whiplashes - first from the miss and then from trying to see who had noticed.) I couldn't understand how he could get so upset - slamming clubs, tossing clubs, muttering "stuff," stomping off, when I would have been thrilled to trade places. He's a talented athlete. I'm a slogger.

Watching him sulk, golf's appeal diminished for me. But you know what? He figured it out, developed some personal discipline, and we have had a great time playing together over the years. (Right, sweetie?)

I listen to my sons' golf stories and watch them when we play together. It's a tricky thing, knowing when to compliment a shot or how to comment without annoying. Two years ago, Brian played generally ugly, cringe-inducing-to-a-mom golf, and I'm not talking about his scores. He and Ricky played more together last summer while I was laid up, a dad taking the opportunity to demonstrate patience, to walk the talk.

While in Florida and again today, Brian played awesome golf. Wiley, modeling his dad's and brother's behaviours, played awesome, too. Like father, like sons.

When's our next tee time?