Monday, April 30, 2018

Game 1

According to a helpful website I found, this is the view (give or take a few seats to the right or left) Mica and I will have at the Cubs game in June. We went to a game once before and managed to get tickets behind one of the posts on the third base side. This will be better. I didn't buy tickets to a second game yet. Mica and I need to figure out what else we're doing so I can plan accordingly.

Here's hoping the weather is dry and pleasant that day, and most of all that both Bryant and Rizzo are playing. So far this season Rizzo has missed several games because of strained back and Bryant had to sit out a few after a ball hit him in the head (no concussion, fortunately). My luck is such that they'll both get food poisoning the day before. 

The ivy will be green by June, too! Can't wait.

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Back to the '80s

Mica and I went to "The Princess Bride" at the movie theater. Every week a "classic" is shown, and we've loved that movie since we first saw it in college. I thought the theater would be packed with fans who knew all the memorable lines and might say them aloud. Instead, it was a quiet group. I suspect the people who laughed the loudest in all the right spots were seeing it for the first time or hadn't seen it enough to remember everything.

This time through, I appreciated how tight the script is and how good all of the actors were. I miss the type of movies that were out in the '80s and '90s.

Since we were downtown (an area we once spent time in every weekend but never go to now), we had a late lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant. It's had an ownership change, and the food isn't quite as good but it's still the best pad thai we can find around here.

We finally committed and booked a trip to Chicago in June. I need to order the baseball tickets. Mica is going to one game but I may go to a second one my own. Haven't decided. I need to figure it out soon. I didn't spend time on it today because I had to go into work for a few hours. I'm a bit tired of sitting in front of a computer screen.

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

The more the merrier

There’s a restaurant brewery built on top of a piece of local history—a large natural cave. I can’t imagine walking into the cave with just a torch or flashlight and a lot of nerve, but its walls are marked by the names of those who did, dating back to the 1870s.

In my lifetime the cave was a party spot. The city blocked off the entrance when the partying got out of hand and to stop other illicit activities. Access to the cave reopened once the brewery took over the property. I toured it a couple of years ago with a group from work. It’s very cool, but I did avoid sticking my head into the chamber where bats congregate during the day.

Blaine chose this brewery for his birthday get-together. Apparently he has some memories of it from his college days but he wouldn't give up the details.Yet. I plan to get them.

The weather today was sunny and calm, perfect for sitting on the large covered patio for several hours, which is what we did. We arrived early to try to save a few tables but were asked not to. We could do it inside, but they didn’t like for people to take over the outdoor space. I sent a text to Eve and to Mica asking if they could come early, and they did, each sitting at a table. We fooled no one, but no one challenged us. It wasn’t long before others arrived and filled those tables plus a couple of others.

Having met Blaine last Sunday, Mica was more comfortable coming tonight. I was glad I could finally introduce her to Eve and Paul, and she met Kim and John too, all people I’ve talked about.

The group was similar to the one that gathered on St. Patrick’s Day. There were a few additions from the tailgate group and Blaine’s office. I met one of Blaine’s oldest friends, a guy he went to law school with. And I met another guy, too...

Since we weren’t supposed to move tables, our group was clustered but separated. I was feeling social, a rarity, and tried to speak to everyone. On my way back from the restroom, I stopped at a table where a guy was sitting alone, his chair angled toward the group. He was following the conversations but wasn’t participating. I introduced myself, sat down, asked how he was doing. Boy, did he told me. His boss is an idiot, a real asshole, and this week was particularly bad. He spared few details. I decided between all he had on his mind and all of the beer he’d obviously consumed that he was more in the mood to brood than socialize with everyone. I tried to reassure him life would suck less in the morning, and when I could I used needing to use the restroom as an excuse to get away. He needed a friend, not me. I thought I could get one of the others to keep him company.

I walked inside and took a long route through the restaurant so I could get to the patio from another door. I had a chair next to Blaine and sat down. I leaned over and asked him who the guy—Doug I had learned—was. Blaine leaned forward so he could see who I was talking about. He gave a little shrug, told me he didn’t know. I started to tell him where the guy worked in case that jogged his memory but the realization that I had just sat down uninvited and introduced myself to a stranger began to sink in. I broke out in a grin, laughed a little bit.

Blaine smiled. “What happened?”

I noticed Doug—since we were pals now—was standing to leave, and I waited until he’d gone inside before I told Blaine (and all in earshot) what I’d done. Mica and Eve dissolved into laughter, an instant bond forming over their shared knowledge of what kind of situations I can get myself into. Kim, always kind, said I was a good person. Blaine seemed to agree with the whole assessment.

Blaine had a good night with everyone. Afterward, he and I went to his house. We tried sitting on the deck but it had become too chilly. We settled on the couch, a slight breeze coming in from the screened patio door that Blaine had left open.

“Next weekend,” he said, “let’s plan to do something that’s just two of us.” A flutter of Yes corkscrewed through me. But I had to tell him I have a family birthday to go to next Saturday and for some reason it isn’t starting until 5:00. I also may be at Eve and Paul’s if they decide not to take Izzy with them when they visit their daughter. “Let’s plan to do something that’s just the two of us and a collie then.” Sounds good to me.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Proper supervision

Susannah, Eve and I had lunch. I wouldn't be surprised if a new city ordinance pop ups prohibiting the three of us from gathering without proper supervision. All of us were punchy, me because of the small amount of sleep I've gotten all week, Eve because she's had a lot going on the last couple of weeks, and Susannah because a couple of coworkers have been extra annoying. "They're dead to me," she declared after venting.

"I was dead to you once," I reminded. "It was actually a peaceful few days." She gave me the stink eye.

The office was quiet in the afternoon. Several people in our corridor must have taken the day off. I put my headphones on and listened to George Ezra while I edited a bunch of pictures in PhotoShop. Eve banged on my door, causing me to jump. Paul was behind her. He had taken the day off too. Later I found out he had stopped by to get something out of Eve's car. "Hey, let's go out tonight," Paul said. I must say there is no better way to end the week than by going out with them.

"Call that guy you like," Eve said. "Get him to meet us at 5:30."

"Done." Why argue anymore?

We went to their other favorite after-work place. The food is better than at [sports bar] but the beer selection isn't great. The fact that I've noted that indicates how much my life has changed since Thanksgiving.

Eve and I were still in a mood. We always laugh together but today was something else. After a notable bout of jocularity, I caught Blaine and Paul exchanging a look that mixed amusement and something like mutual agreement or approval.

This was the first night it felt like we were two couples, all friends. Nice feeling, that.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018


The only bad thing about working with Henry is his impatience once he becomes excited about an idea. We hit that point today. He announced to me that he wants to go public with his new thing next week. I can't see that happening but I'll do my best to get everything he wants done. The trouble is I have a long to-do list from the rest of my job and I'm tired of people thinking I'm not doing anything because everything I do is for someone else. I'll work this weekend as I can but my free time is limited. I have two things scheduled Saturday and one thing Sunday. I'm not canceling any of it.

At the end of the meeting with Henry, as I was packing up my laptop and notes, he leaned back in his chair. That's the sign that he wants to chit-chat. He filled me in on the latest puppy news. Their dog is slightly younger than Izzy and they're having trouble housebreaking her. There is intrigue afoot in of our departments (when isn't there?). He's going to take some days off because he has just about maxed out his vacation time (know that situation well). When he finished catching me up he asked, as he always does, "What's new with you?" In the three years I've worked with him, I've rarely had anything new to report. I didn't even think about Blaine, but Henry had met him at the banquet so he asked about him and whether we're "an item." Henry said he and Julia had liked Blaine and had hoped there was something happening between us.

It was nearly 5:00 when I got back to my office. I just locked the door and walked out. In the parking lot I ran into a coworker who recently lost her husband under some tough circumstances. I hadn't seen her since she had returned to work but had been thinking about her. I don't know her well but always enjoy talking to her when our paths cross. She seemed to want to talk, so I stayed and listened. I always wish I had the power to fast forward people past the grieving period. It's such an excruciating time.

I drove straight to Eve's to let Izzy out. She and Paul had something going on that will keep them away until late. I only stayed a few hours, long enough to feed, walk and play with her until she was fairly worn out.

I'm fairly worn out too. I keep waking in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep but am too tired to get up and do anything productive. 

Edited to add:

On Facebook, a professional group I belong to posted this graphic to promote their next event. Sure looks like something I could get enthusiastic about.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Last moment

I think something is up with Susannah. She rarely leaves for lunch, and today she IM'd me just before noon asking if I felt like grabbing a burger at a bar/restaurant close to work. I had planned to work through the lunch hour because I'm still working on Henry's stuff, but I had a feeling she needed out of the office. Marianne (the office manager) went too. Susannah seemed fine through lunch. If anything is up, she'll probably talk about it Friday when she, Eve and I go out.

The rescue that took the Westie sent me an email to let me know she has a family interested in her. If the home check works out, they'll take her this weekend. Their dog died around the holidays. He was 14 years old. They said as hard as it was, they were glad he was dearly loved up to the last moment. That's why they -- parents and two teens -- agreed they wanted to adopt a senior dog and give it a chance to be loved for the rest of its life. I have my fingers crossed that it works out. It sounds like it will.

An entry for Sunday went up. I may start a two-day rule. If I can't find the words within two days, I let it go.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

My mi mi mi mind

I sat down to write about today and decided I needed music. I brought up Spotify and suddenly wanted to listen some Pogues, which for some reason reminded me that it has been ages since I listened to Wolfgang Press, and that reminded me of a guy named Kyle that I met on a dating site forever ago. He lived in Chicago so it was never going to go anywhere but he was wicked smart and quick-witted and we spent many evenings in chat and eventually on the phone trying to out-clever one another.

We had nothing in common other than the ability to converse about anything. The one thing we always agreed on was that we were totally wrong for each other. One night he asked what kind of music I liked. I had just bought a Wolfgang Press CD and when I mentioned it, he changed. He liked punk and the fact that I'd heard of Wolfgang Press gave him hope that we could find common ground. I lost interest as he gained it. I liked the chat and the challenge he provided, but I had no intention of taking it further. It fizzled quickly after that. But I still think of him fondly whenever I hear Wolfgang Press.

George Ezra popped into my mind next. I've had "Paradise" on repeat long enough that I've nearly learned it. I really like this guy's voice.

But I've frittered my writing time away.

Little happened today anyway. I finished one more thing for Henry but still have a lot to do before we meet again on Thursday.

Eve was back in the office for a couple of hours. She has been out since early last week, and boy does that cut into the fun I'm able to have.

Over the lunch hour I had to attend a function to take pictures. Susannah slipped into the room and handed me a pink telephone message as if something important needed my immediate attention. On it she had written, "Need a group lunch. Can you go Friday?" I nodded in a discrete professional way. She's such a goof sometimes.
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Monday, April 23, 2018

At least one was a right and one was a left

Today I put on two different shoes, went to work, and didn't notice until a little while ago when I got around to kicking them off.

It's been that kind of day.

I had to work through most of the weekend. I do want to write about yesterday but I just finished writing something for work and am out of words. Tomorrow should be better.
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Around for awhile

Waking Up
The landline rang just past 9:30 this morning. I was still deep asleep and had that moment of panic that occurs when the phone rings in the middle of the night. Mica’s matter-of-fact proposal of brunch followed by a trip to dog park tipped me off that it was morning whether or not I wanted it to be.

I was weighing the pros (a delicious bacon enhanced breakfast) against the cons (shower, dress, etc.) when my cell phone rang. I checked the screen. “It’s Blaine,” I told Mica. “Hang on a second.”

I answered Blaine’s call. “Good morning!” I said, wondering if inflection alone was enough to hide the fact that I hadn’t yet lifted my head off the pillow.

“Good morning.” I think I detected a smile. I definitely heard a deep, gravelly haven’t-spoken-yet tone that was appealing. Also surprising since he’s usually out the door early on Sundays.

“Is this the voice of someone who cheered too long and too loudly yesterday?” He went to a college football game, the spring scrimmage, and then out with the tailgate group. As a result, I didn’t see him. My taking care of Izzy had something to do with it too. Eve and Paul returned much later than planned.

Blaine tried but couldn’t manage a chuckle. Maybe that noise was a chortle. “I slept through the alarm.” He cleared his throat. “Have you had breakfast?”

“Not yet. Hang on a second, OK?”

“I’ll be here.”

I slipped the cell under the pillow and picked up the landline. “Still there?” I spoke softly.


“Blaine is asking about breakfast. How do you feel about meeting him today if he’s up to it?” After our haircuts yesterday Mica and I had lunch. I told her about the invitation to his birthday celebration. She was lukewarm about the idea of being surrounded by a bunch of people she doesn’t know.


I fished the cell phone out from the beneath the pillow. I explained the situation and asked if he wanted to join us. “I’d like that.”

By the time the details were sorted and everyone had disconnected, I felt like taking a nap.

Since we were going to the dog park after, I drove to Mica’s, said a quick hello to the little white dog, and she drove us to the restaurant.

There was a short wait for a table. Blaine arrived in time for introductions before we were seated. He said hello, bending down to kiss me near my ear, a spot he’s found I like.

I made the introductions, and as they exchanged hellos and nice-to-meet-yous and heard-many-nice-things, I took a step back and thought This will go well. How could it not? They are truly two of most likeable people I’ve ever known. Stress I didn’t realize I was carrying drifted away.

A waitress led us to a table near the bar. Eight TVs lined the wall above it. Four were showing MLB highlights on ESPN and the other four were showing a different set of baseball highlights on Fox Sports. I stole a few-second glance before sitting down. Blaine followed my gaze. “We’ve lost her.”

“Wait until she starts talking to the TV,” Mica said.

He perked up. “Does she get pretty excited during games?”

“She scares the dog.” They both laughed.

“I can still hear you when I’m not looking at you,” I said. But really, my only role was to listen and occasionally clarify my side of a story.

They covered our college years -- how we became friends, majors, shenanigans -- that sort of thing. Blaine asked about Mica’s work, and he didn’t understand her explanation any better than I ever have. I offered, “In a nutshell, she is assigned projects no one can do and she figures out how to do them perfectly.” I held up a finger to her. “Yes, you do.” She shook her head, rolled her eyes, busied herself with a slice of pineapple.

Blaine was amused. “You two respond to compliments the same way.” I’d never noticed but after being friends for so long, it isn’t surprising we have similar habits and mannerisms.

Blaine gave her the essentials of his background and job, interests, the usual. He told her about Allison and Eli. Mica’s great nephew isn’t quite a year older than Eli so they exchanged preschool-kid anecdotes. “Eli’s pretty cute,” I confirmed.

“He liked you,” Blaine said. “So did Allison.” It’s the first time this has come up. I hadn’t wanted to make a big deal out of meeting her since it seemed to happen in an unplanned way.

“I liked her too.” She was easygoing like Blaine and fun in a way different from Blaine. I suspect she has more of her mom’s personality. “Is she comfortable with you…” I wobbled my head. “”

Blaine nodded. “She is.” Then a slow forming grin. “More so than you,” he winked. Mica laughed at that. He asked her if I’d told her about my “confusion” over whether we were dating. She said I had.

I sighed. “It was only the first time we went out that was ambiguous.”

Mica said, “It isn’t a bad thing to want things made clear.”

“No, it isn’t a bad thing,” Blaine said.

The air seemed to change. I searched for a way to change the subject, preferably one that didn’t involve me shouting Who wants more bacon?

“I wanted to meet you,” Blaine told Mica, “because I hope I’ll be around for awhile.” He looked at me. “You have first refusal of that idea, of course.”

“I’m good with it,” I said.

“Then I am too,” Mica said, adding, “but the only opinion that really matters to her is [little white dog’s], so you still have to meet him.”

Whew, that restored some oxygen to the air.

Mica said, “We’re going to the dog park after this. If you want to meet us, you’re welcome.” Whether he realized it, that was her stamp of approval.

Since he’s never been to the new park we go to, I rode with him to provide directions while Mica went home to get the little white dog. She would take me back to my car after dog park.

Dog Park
We arrived at the park ahead of Mica. She was probably going to be another 20 minutes. On the drive across town we talked in generalities -- how he had liked Mica and that I was certain she had liked him, how the restaurant needed better bunsen burners under the chafing dishes because the biscuits were cold.

Once we were parked in the lot at the dog park, I thought about the thing on Facebook I had seen that said it’s a choice to take a chance in order to make a change. Taking a chance with Blaine requires letting go of a lot of defenses. While the only one that ever worked  -- the decision to not date again -- is already gone, I still have a death grip on the rest.

“I hope I’ll be around for awhile too,” I told him, looking across the parking lot into the big-dog side where a dozen or so dogs we’re running around. “I worry I’ll push you away even though it’s the last thing I want to do.” I turned in the seat to face him, knowing I needed to look at him for this. “Sometimes I do that by pretending someone isn’t as important to me as they are. Sometimes, I retreat. Sometimes I try denial — If we’re hanging out rather than dating then nothing much can come from it, and my expectations remain in check.” Right then I wished I hadn’t started this. Change is probably overrated. “I’m a bit of work.”

“You have been the opposite of work. You’re very easy to be with.”

“Give me time.”

“That’s the plan.”

The Important Introduction
I for one needed fresh air. We walked over to the big dog side and let ourselves in through the double gates. There was a woman I recognized as a regular standing near the entrance. She has a standard poodle and they’re both kind of crabby. I noticed she was looking at us pretty closely. “We have a dog coming,” I assured her.

We wandered, occasionally getting to pet a dog who decided to use our legs as Home Base, the safe spot to catch their breath before running off again.

I saw Mica bring the little white dog inside. He sat to wait until Mica removed the leash, but I could see he was vibrating with anticipation. As soon as she told him to go play, he raced off, running all out toward a group of dogs. As he sped by, I called his name. He barely glanced toward me but it was enough to get his attention, and he came over to jump on me and lick the air near my face.

Blaine reached out, properly presenting his hand for sniffing. The little white dog sniffed his fingers, licked the back of his hand, even allowed one almost-full wag (high endorsement coming from him), then he ran off again. I heard Blaine mutter “uh oh” as he stood.

“Hey!” Mica approached us. “He liked you! He usually doesn’t allow men to touch him.”

“I’m in then?” Blaine asked. We assured him he was.
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Friday, April 20, 2018


I had lunch with Blaine. He took the afternoon off and chose to begin it with me and a sandwich at a bagel place not far from work.

I told him what happened yesterday because last weekend he said he wants to know about work things. He lost his cool a little bit, which surprised me because he’s always even keeled.

Every so often when we’re together I’ll suddenly rewind to December when we first blipped onto one another’s radar but kept our distance. I never thought we would go beyond courtesy dates. Now we’re settling into a comfortableness that’s nice.

I miss nervous, formal Blaine though. I still see embarrassed Blaine occasionally but less often. I used to worry the crazy flares of embarrassment were a sign he was excessively old-fashioned, but I think he was self-conscious about the process of dating and perhaps hyper-aware of the potential to offend. I’m not easily offended. I'm somewhat more prone to offending.

“Are you thinking about how handsome I am?” He wiped his mouth with a paper napkin but it didn’t remove the smirk.

I had been openly staring, it’s true. How different from not long ago when I used reflections in windows to sneak longer looks at him. “That obvious, huh?”

“It will come to an end soon enough.”

“Why? Getting a neck tattoo?”

He laughed. “Having a birthday.”

“You are? When?”

“The second.”

“Do birthdays have gifts attached to them like anniversaries do? Will this be your precious-tin year?”

“More like ear hair year.”

“That’s a tongue twister. Well done!”

“The tongue is the last thing to go.” He eyes blinked several times.

Ah, welcome back embarrassed Blaine.

“Good to know,” I laughed.

He continued. “The custom is to have the usual group meet for drinks and a bite to eat. Nothing formal. It will be the Saturday before. Do you think Mica would like to come? Or would it be better to meet her under other circumstances?”

While she and I have talked about the two of them meeting, I’ve never brought it up with Blaine. It surprised me he was thinking about it.  “Let me ask her.” We began putting our plates back on the tray to carry to the counter. “I don’t get a formal invitation?”

He leaned forward. “Will you be my date for my birthday shindig?”

“Only because you’re handsome.”

He smiled.

“It’s the ear hair.”

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sadistic story problem

The organization I work for has a central communications department that’s at another location. I don’t work for or with them. Some of my coworkers understand this but most don’t.

Today, an email about budget reductions went out. Departments were named and total savings by department provided. It stated whether positions would be lost in each department but not how many. This created a frenzy of trying to figure out individual salaries to calculate how many people would equal the amount saved. It became a sadistic story problem.

I was working with my headphones on so I hadn’t heard all the hallway chatter. I only became aware of it after someone pushed my mostly closed door wide open and stepped up to my desk to let me have it for communicating absolutely nothing and to let me know that I’m the one who should go.

So that was fun.

I handle conflict about as well as any introvert. Fortunately, my communications degree has served me well and I’m good at de-escalating heated situations. It took awhile, but the person calmed down. No apology for me but getting the person out of my office was good enough.

After awhile I considered going to my boss, not to tell him what happened—I don’t do that—but to alert him to the stress people are under and that there's a lot of anger there too. He can’t do anything about the messaging, but he’s in a position to take it those who can. Plus, he can at least try to do something to shore up morale in our office. Three times I walked out of my office only to turn around and go back in. I decided to let it go.

An hour later I sent Henry the file I’d been working on for him. A few minutes later he called. “Outstanding job. This is really superb.” That’s just Henry. There’s never a morale problem around him.

Of course the part of today I can’t shake is the part where the coworker said I should be the one to go.

After this day, I needed a visit to my personal therapist. Fortunately he was in and accepts walk-ins as long as a w-a-l-k is part of the payment. I hadn’t seen the little white dog in over a week, an eternity for both. If things don’t improve at work soon I’m going to have to resume our daily lunch sessions.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Around the entire block

Running toward me, seconds from barking a complaint for not throwing a toy that I do not possess because she left it in the other room.

Look who I have for company tonight!

Eve and Paul had to make a quick trip out of town today. Eve sent a text toward the end of the work day asking if I could go over and hang out with Izzy.

Since I last took care of her she has decided she doesn't trust me to give her a treat. What a nut. I wonder if they've started something new with her and she's trying to tell me I'm doing it wrong. It wouldn't be the first time she's given me that message.

I took her for a walk earlier. We made it around the entire block. The only hiccup was when someone from the neighborhood recognized her but not me. "Is that your dog?" I was asked. As if I look like a dognapper. I guess I was wearing my spring trench coat...

We straightened it out quickly enough. It's endearing that the neighborhood knows her and is looking out for her.

Tonight we've played fetch with the ball, a favorite from my last stay. Blue Dog, the toy that saved my sanity and hands the first time I stayed with her back in December, is back in rotation having had an internal injury stitched up. 

I'll be back with her on Friday for an overnight stay.

The foul mood lifted finally. This morning's commute nearly brought it back, but I was fine once I arrived at work. It didn't hurt that the two meetings I had scheduled were cancelled.
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Foul mood

I'm on the second day of a foul mood that has me hating everything. No need to write again until I can do so without using the caps lock.
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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Meeting work folk

Yesterday, 75 degrees. Today, windchill and snow. Spring is fun.

I shoveled slush off the patio and the part of the driveway where Blaine parks shortly before he arrived, then quickly changed into the dress I decided to wear in spite of the cold, for I have been made weather tough by the Great Plains. Also, I only had to be outside long enough to walk from my back door to Blaine’s warm car and from the hotel parking garage to the entrance by the elevators.

We arrived partway through the cocktail hour. There were coat racks set up in a room adjacent to the entrance to the reception room. Blaine slipped my coat over a hanger before removing his own. He wore a darker gray suit with an almost-navy shirt open at the neck, and I still felt a small flip inside. We exchanged attire-related compliments. Susannah’s voice came from behind and startled me enough that she noticed my shoulders jump.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Her voice sounded so sincere but I knew better. “Did I interrupt a moment?”

Ignoring that, I reintroduced her and Eric to Blaine, and they chatted briefly. She had official duties as a soiree committee member and had to go do important things. Before she and Eric walked away, she handed us drink tickets and let us know Eve and Paul were around somewhere.

So were Henry and his wife, Julia, whom we crossed paths with on our way to the bar. I introduced Blaine using name only because saying “boyfriend” was too awkward. I explained to Blaine who Henry was using as a reference point that time I thought I’d lost a day’s worth of changes to his proposal. It seemed to hit Henry then that Blaine and I were together together.

We spoke a while longer. I hadn’t seen Julia in months, and she caught me up on the things we always talk about. I don’t know her well but my history with Henry has connected us in a small way.

While in line for the bar, I introduced Blaine to a couple of others. I also did my best to avoid making eye contact with my boss who was moving around the room. After I’d shuffled my position the second time, Blaine leaned down toward my ear and asked who I was avoiding. I smiled and asked if he had been a private detective before pursuing a legitimate career. “‘Rockford File’ reruns,” he said. I laughed, then whispered an answer to his question, adding, “It’s been a bit of a week.” My avoidance was purely because I didn’t want to stir up a bunch of stress.

Drinks in hand, finally, we looked around for Eve and Paul. They were talking to Eve’s boss and her husband. As we approached them, I saw that my boss and his wife were nearby. I know neither of them enjoy these sort of events and since they weren’t talking to anyone I decided to say hello. Quick introductions and a bit of small talk followed. Eve and Paul joined us, and my boss broke away, saying they were going to pick out a good table.

Susannah had already staked out a table for the six of us. Marianne, the office manager, and her husband, both fun and chatty, took the other two open seats. It was a nice mix of people, and dinner hummed along with everyone behaving themselves.

During dessert, the award presentations began. There are only a handful and it doesn’t take long to get through them. Eve’s was presented in the middle. As they read the introduction and it became obvious who they were talking about she turned toward me and asked if I had done it. I told her she was responsible. Paul was so pleased for her, and Blaine, too. Blaine offered to take her out for a celebratory drink but Izzy needed to be let out.

On the way to my house, Blaine asked what had happened with my boss that had me avoiding him. While explaining I mentioned the budget cuts, forgetting I hadn’t talked to him about it before. I explained that situation too. I was wrapping up when Blaine pulled into my driveway. He turned off the engine. The interior lights dimmed but the neighbor’s motion-sensor light shined in. He relaxed against the seat. I asked if he wanted to come inside. He nodded but didn’t move. “Do you talk to Eve or Mica about these things or do you keep them to yourself?”

“I usually talk to Mica. I can’t tell Eve everything because some things about work have to stay confidential.”

“Have you not confided in me because you’re concerned I’ll reveal something to Eve?” I assured him that wasn’t the case. “Good,” he said, “because I’m actually skilled at keeping information confidential.” I smiled. I'll keep him looped in going forward.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Man logic

Eve and I decided to go out after work since there were a couple of matters we didn’t finish discussing while on our morning walk. She sent a text to Paul to let him know so he wouldn’t wait for her before taking Izzy for a walk. He sent a text back. “I don’t get to go?” She added Blaine to the conversation when she replied.

And that’s how the four of us came to spend all evening sitting at an outdoor table overlooking a golf course and laughing our heads off. It was a perfect night to start -- beautiful 75 degree weather. As the predicted cold front hit, the staff turned on large patio heaters. With a lot going on locally, nationally and personally to cover, conversation flowed easily.

The best bits were the old stories Paul told about dating Eve. It took him six years to ask her out, although they had the same friends and saw each other all the time. He thought he was too old for her. “I knew I’d fall in love with her if we dated, so I did the right thing and didn’t ask her out.”

“Man logic.”  Eve rolled her eyes. Paul laughed.

I love those two. They so enjoy one another after all these years.

We were at the restaurant where we celebrated my birthday, the one in Blaine’s neighborhood. He invited me over after. I wasn’t going to stay long but it was one of those rare nights when everything is perfect and before you know it it’s a couple hours beyond midnight.

No snow yet even though it’s cold enough. The foster had to cancel her travel plans because blizzard conditions closed roads between here and where she was headed, so I won’t have Westie this weekend.
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dog-loving village

I’ve been poking around Pinterest, and I found that Julie James, the romance author I like a lot, has boards for two of her novels. I love this so much. On one board she has pinned a dress that one of her heroines wears to a party. The dress gets a lot of attention in that chapter, and I became a little frustrated that I couldn’t picture it from the description. Seeing it on Pinterest was an ohhhh moment. The pins are primarily of outfits and the interiors of locations she writes about. In one book, a character goes to a bar where there are thousands of wine glasses hanging from the ceiling. I was surprised to see it’s a real place in Chicago. It’s disappointing there isn’t a board for every book.

Speaking of books, I can’t find anything I want to read and it’s making my sleepless nights longer.

I just received a text from the person who is fostering the dog from last week. She hopes to visit out-of-town family this weekend. If she goes out of town, I’ll have the dog (let’s call her Westie since that’s what she is), over the weekend. Her text said plans are up in the air now due to the weather forecast. It’s supposed to be snowy Saturday, and where she’s headed it may be worse, possibly blizzard conditions. This time of year it’s hard to know what you’ll actually get, so she may not decide before Saturday morning. I’d like Westie as early as possible so she can settle in before I have to be gone for several hours Saturday night. Mica said she would come over and dogsit if needed. Sophie is available too. No dog stays lonely in my dog-loving village.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Something different

A few awards will be presented at the banquet Saturday. I receive the award information in advance so I can write introductions for the presenter. The packet came to me today, and I was thrilled to see that Eve will receive the spirit award. It usually goes to those who organize large events—charity drives, golf tournaments, etc.— but the smaller pick-me-up activities that Eve puts together throughout the year do a great deal for morale and team building, and that’s been especially important this year when so many are worried about budget reductions. I’m glad it’s happening this year since Paul will be at the dinner (last year he was working out of town), and Blaine will too.

After work I went to Mica’s. She was in the mood for something different and wanted to try the pizza at a bar that’s in a part of town we usually avoid. Someone told her the Hawaiian pizza there was particularly good...

The place has been around for decades. It’s an old beer joint that caters to pool and dart leagues now. When we arrived “Wheel of Fortune” was on the TVs, there were a couple of guys at the bar and a couple more at a table. After awhile it felt like a sitcom living room with characters coming and going. No one paid any attention to the two strangers who didn’t fit in.

The pizza wasn’t bad. I liked the crust. Neither of us cared for the sauce. Mica didn’t think there was enough pineapple.

Overall, it was a nice change of pace.

As soon as I post this I have to look for a bra that will work with the dress I’d like to wear to the banquet. All of a sudden it’s a good thing I’m a clothing pack rat.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018


It’s easy for me to stay in my office chair most of the day, only leaving it for lunch, to go sit in a conference room or to use the restroom. Staying put has to contribute to why I get so tired during the day, and it certainly feeds feelings of discontent. This morning I decided to start something: go outside for a 10-minute walk at 10 a.m. I invited Eve along because we simply do not talk enough.

Our building is situated among many, many other office buildings, all with sidewalks along them. There are plenty of routes to take, and today we found if we follow a sidewalk to the outer edge, we can go onto a dirt path that cuts through a wooded area. Eventually we came to a deep ditch and had to backtrack. Still, a change of scenery.

 I’m stressed about work due to mixed signals I’m getting from my boss. I called Mica when I got home and talked to her for two hours. Afterward, I went for a walk. Tried music for awhile. Then I called Blaine. My excuse was to let him know that a suit wasn’t required for the banquet. Such a pity.

We talked for an hour, not a word about work. I knew we would laugh and that would help ease the frantic feeling I’ve got going on. Tomorrow will be better. I just hope it doesn’t start at 3 a.m again.
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List of questions

Usually I take my lunch to a nearby park and eat in the car while I read or listen to a book on tape. It gets me out of the office and is the best way to recharge. Today I stayed in because I was in the middle of creating some CSS for Henry’s website and I wanted to keep at it. At a stopping point, I took a container of soup over to Eve’s office to warm it up. She has a microwave and refrigerator. I’m trying to talk her into a panini press, maybe a waffle maker.

“Hey,” I asked as I punched buttons, “is Paul wearing a suit to the banquet?”

“In Paul’s world if it isn’t Sunday, it isn’t a suit day.”

I laughed. “I’ll let Blaine know he can dress comfortably.” Pity.

Eve’s door opened. Susannah came in with the part of her lunch that needed warmed up. “What’s this about Blaine?” I asked her if Eric was going to wear a suit. “Jacket, no tie.” she answered.


“Speaking of Blaine,” Susannah said.

“We’re done with that now,” I told her.

She continued, “I’m making a list of questions to ask him.” I looked at Eve for help but she was grabbing for a pad of paper and pen.

“Such as?” I asked dryly.

“I’m going to find out if you’re a good kisser.” She looked at Eve. “Since I already know he is.”

Eve spun her chair toward Susannah. “What?” Susannah nodded toward me.

“She asked.” I defended. I shot a look at Susannah.

Eve looked at me. “What else have you told her that you haven’t told me?”

“Nothing. Now, I’m taking my soup and I’m going back to my office, and I don’t want to hear from either of you for the rest of the day.”

Eve asked Susannah what other questions were on the list. “I’m going to ask what his favorite thing about her is.”

I stopped at the door. “No you’re not.”

“And I want to know if she shares information about herself, since she won’t tell me anything.”

“Find out,” Eve said, “how long it took him to convince her they’re dating.”

Susannah lowered her chin and looked at me. “You had to be convinced of that?”

I narrowed my eyes. “No.” I shrugged, “It was just the first time we went out that wasn’t a date. It was a pre-date--an exploratory “date” to see if an actual date was warranted.”

Susannah rolled her eyes. “How many dates before he kissed you?”

I shook my head, quite serious. “That’s his business.”
“Fair enough,” Eve said.

“I agree,” Susannah said. “So I’ll ask him.”

I left the two of them laughing and walked across the building to the break room to reheat the soup that had gone cold.

They like to have their fun with me, but Susannah wouldn’t do anything that might make Blaine uncomfortable. And, I have a feeling he can handle her if she does.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Choice, chance, change

On Facebook (of all places) I read this:  You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.

Might give that a try.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018


I was glad to reach the end of what was a discouraging week, but I can’t say I looked forward to any part of today. I woke up feeling prickly, and that stayed with me.

This morning I took the car in for an oil change, a chore I despise so much you would think I was the one under there pulling the plug and changing the filter. Mica called while I was waiting. Her outdoor faucet froze and she was worried a pipe had burst. When I said a burst pipe would be obvious because of the water pouring out of it, I meant it to be reassuring. She heard it another way. After a little while she texted that she had a plumber coming after lunch and asked me to pick up the little white dog and Chloe, Sophie’s dog, from the groomer. The plumber only stayed 10 minutes and found everything was OK, and the dogs weren’t finished until later than usual so Mica picked them up. I went to the grocery store and Target. Forgot to stop at the bank.

And then there was tonight. After learning that yesterday was the anniversary of Blaine’s wife’s death, I didn’t know what to expect from tonight. All day my thoughts were less than gracious. They were, in fact, self-centered. Recognizing that I’m the least impacted, least important person in the scenario did not help.

An extra long shower didn’t help. Slamming brushes and various hair products around might have helped slightly. Accidentally coming across a Cubs game late in the eighth inning did help. Deciding to wear a sassy outfit, one that inspires a bit of self-confidence didn’t hurt.

And then the doorbell rang, and when I opened the door Blaine was standing there holding the screen door open, and his eyes widened. “I’ve been hoping to see that outfit again.” He stepped inside, I closed the door and he hugged me, as he usually does, and his clothes felt cool from the outdoor air and his skin felt warm and he smelled so good, as he always does, and I didn’t feel as prickly anymore. He remarked, “You’re taller tonight.” Heeled ankle boots.

“When have you seen me wear this?” I’ve avoided it because I thought it would be a little much for his taste.

“You wore it to [the band bar].” Ah. Yes, that’s where I would wear it.

We went to dinner at an Indian restaurant where the muted lighting and discreetly spaced seating whispers romance. It wasn’t chosen for that reason; it is by far the best Indian food here. On another night the atmosphere would have been nice.

The conversation through dinner was light and interesting—the usual for us. After the vegetable samosa appetizer and before the entrees arrived I checked out of the conversation for a minute. I concentrated on Blaine, on how relaxed he is now compared to early on when he always started out rather formal and seemed nervous at the end. I noticed that he seems to see me when he looks at me. He sincerely likes me. I think. Believe it anyway.

Outside the restaurant after dinner, Blaine asked if I wanted to walk to a bar and have a drink. We were in a small shopping center and the bar he suggested was in another block of buildings. As we walked, I decided to tell him what Eve had shared about the anniversary. “Are you OK?” I asked.

“I am.” We continued to walk. “Is this what’s been on your mind tonight?” I couldn’t immediately find a way to deny without lying, so there was an unintelligible sputter of parts of words. He saved me. “You’ve seemed preoccupied.”

“Oh.” Clear. Concise.

“Either preoccupied or about to break up with me.”

I smiled. “The former.”

“Good. If you ever do break up with me, wear something else when you do it. It’d be cruel to look like you do tonight and then walk away.”

And so it went for the rest of the evening.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Things that suck

The dog I mentioned is in the hands of the rescue. The rescue expedited the process because of the threat that the dog could be put down. They also found a foster so the dog will be in a new environment altogether. For now the dog is with the person I spoke to the other day. Once the dog has had a vet check, probably Monday, she’ll go to the foster. The foster has to be out of town next weekend, and I’ll care for the dog then. Weekends are fine for me. It’s weekdays that are problematic.

I had wondered if there would be a change of heart by the relative at the last second, but apparently the biggest concern was that it wouldn’t cost the relative anything. The surrender paperwork was signed last night, and the dog was turned over then.

I feel so sorry for the dog. I know they’re resilient and adjust to new circumstances well, but it still must hurt, be scary, to be taken away from everything familiar.

As the bumper sticker says: People suck.

Among the few people who don’t suck is Eve. She has been melancholy (her word) all week. Monday and Tuesday seemed particularly hard. On Wednesday she asked if I wanted to go with her at noon to see Izzy. As we walked her we talked and laughed, as we tend to do. Yesterday, Eve came into my office frequently for a couple minutes at a time. I asked if everything was OK and she shrugged, said she hadn’t slept well. Today she asked me to help her format something she’s working on. While we worked on it, we joked, as we always do. I laugh more with her than anyone else. Mica and I have a lot of fun and are definitely friend soulmates, but Eve and I are humor soulmates. I commented that I’m glad we work together. She began to agree but was suddenly choked up.

It turns out that today is the anniversary of her best friend’s (also Blaine’s wife) death. I sat down, and we visited awhile about her. Before I met Blaine, I’d heard some of Eve’s stories about her so I knew she was fun loving, someone everyone liked, which is how Eve is too. I’ve seen pictures (Blaine has a few on his bookshelf in the living room, and Eve has some displayed). She has a smile that suggests a love of life.

I don’t know if talking about her helped Eve feel better. So often little does when you are missing someone you loved. An ear was all I could offer, and I was glad I could at least do that.

Is there a bumper sticker that says “Life sucks”? If not, there should be. People suck. Life sucks. Suckatude abounds.

And that’s why there are dogs.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Someone at work came to me and asked if I wanted a dog. The person’s relative no longer wants the dog and threatened to have it put down if my coworker didn’t take it. I’d have the relative put down if it were up to me. Keeping that suggestion to myself, I offered to get them in touch with a rescue.

I contacted someone I know at a small-dog rescue, and she agreed to take the dog but preferred it stay with the owner until adoption since foster homes are hard to come by. The coworker agreed to that. When I called the rescue back I said I would be a backup foster for this one. Since it’s a senior dog, it may take awhile to find a home and I’m afraid talk of putting it down will come up again.

I absolutely do not understand how someone can be cold hearted enough to put down a pet for the sake of convenience. Hours later, I’m still steamed about it.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Easter was snowed out. Here the weather wasn’t too bad but an hour away, where my brother and I were headed to our cousin’s, there was heavy snowfall and the highways were snowpacked and slick. I didn’t mind staying home. I binge watched “The Americans” and ate green beans.

Green beans fixed the old fashioned way was going to be my contribution to the Easter meal. I’m not sure how well a straight vegetable would have gone over in a family that loves cheese-enriched casseroles, but when I saw the fresh green beans in the produce section of the grocery store, I had a sudden craving. I suspect the two pounds that are sitting in the refrigerator should take care of that.

Today was the last day to RSVP to the office’s spring banquet. (Instead of a holiday dinner in December, we have a company-wide dinner in the spring.) Employees and their plus-ones are invited. Since I’m more of a minus-one, I dread it every year even though I always sit at a table with Susannah and Eric, and Eve and Paul.

It did occur to me that this year I have access to a potential guest, but I hesitated to ask Blaine because there’s little that’s worse than having to attend someone else’s work event.

I talked to Mica about it on Saturday when we were at the dog park. “You’re crazy if you don’t ask him,” she said. “What’s the dress code? Will he have to wear a suit?” I smiled.

Last night I dialed Blaine’s number. I think it’s the first time I’ve called him out of the blue. He sounded surprised, pleased. We covered the how-are-you basics. “So,” I started in slowly. “I have a dilemma.”

“Can I help?”

I explained the spring banquet. “I want to invite you but I feel it’s one of the worst things to ask of someone.”

He laughed. “Count me in.”

“Really?” Had he misheard? “You’re sure? There’s no harm done if you say you would rather not go.”

“I’m glad to hear that. I’m sure I like spending time with you. The circumstances aren’t important.”

“Paul will be there too.”

“Not as big of a draw but good to know.”

Today, I told Susannah, who’s on the organizing committee, that I would be bringing a guest. I held up a finger before she could speak. “You better behave.”

Her laughter at my back wasn’t encouraging.

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