Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Live, finally

I got into work early. Waiting for me was an email from the IT help desk questioning the name of Henry's website. In response, I asked my computer a profanely worded rhetorical question, then forwarded the email to Henry because he had the documentation they wanted. He has a warm, personal way of writing. I've never known him to be terse in an email, and he never pulls rank. Today he did both. And within 30 minutes the website was live.

While my day was good, Eve's was terrible. "Let's walk," she stated. "I need to blow off steam before I blow off heads." I pushed my chair away from the desk and followed.

She was promised something a year and a half ago but it still hasn't come to fruition. This morning she was told she was being put off again. At this point it's less about the issue and all about the lack of support she's getting. By the end of the day, a compromise was reached and yet another promise made. I feel badly for her. I'd like to do something special for her but I'm not sure what.

Read More

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


The super secret meeting lasted three hours and yet amounted to nothing. The purpose, as explained Friday, was to rewrite a position description and decide how to move work to support it, but that didn’t occur. Instead, there was a lot of disjointed conversation about a number of topics. Afterward, I asked Eve if I had missed something because I was lost as to what was accomplished. She didn’t know either. Other meetings are supposed to follow. Maybe clarity will follow, too.

Henry’s website still isn’t live, and I don’t know who to contact next. One person who may be able to help is out the rest of this week. When I spoke to Henry at the end of the day he said he would try contacting someone in that office, which I suspect means some vice president is going to get a phone call.

Blaine would like to invite Kim and John to have dinner with us this weekend. It will be different to be with them without Eve and Paul there too. I’ve come to think of them as one big unit.

It seems like there’s a shift going on with Blaine. I don’t mind except I generally prefer that the sands under my feet don’t shift.

I feel I need something different to occupy my mind for awhile, and I keep thinking about the conversation at the cemetery yesterday. I went into my files and looked up everything I have on Al (his real first name), then I checked Ancestry to see if anything new turned up in a search. I did find a few pages of family history written by a family member but she doesn’t have much about him. Interestingly, she mentions that someone left a comment on her Flickr account that said he died in the ‘20s but she hadn’t found an obit to confirm it. That someone was me. I had left my email address and offered to send her what I had on him, but she didn’t contact me so I couldn’t do it. The reason she didn’t find it is the newspaper misspelled his first name. And she must not have looked very hard for it.

I have a lot of questions. He’d been ill and was only 56 when he died so I’d like to know the cause of death. He and his wife divorced. I’d like to know why. Their daughter went to live with the mother and their son stayed with him. I trailed his ex-wife and daughter for a little while, but I’ve never found anything about his son. I wonder what happened to him. The estate was split between the two children. An executor was named but the actual name wasn’t provided in what I can access. I wonder if that person’s identity sheds light on why Al’s resting place is marked with a rough piece of concrete and only gives his first and middle initials and his last name. Maybe Al wanted it that way--a cheap headstone so there would be more money for his children, both minors. Or maybe there was bad blood and this was a final slight. I hate mysteries. And I love digging into them.

Talk to me, Al.
Read More

Monday, May 28, 2018

Long, long weekend

Blaine left his tie here Friday night. I happened to see it on the floor next to the couch the next morning and dropped it off on the way to my brother’s. He said he had set it on the side table when he took it off. It must have slid off. The explanation of how the tie had come off and fallen to the floor disappointed Mica but not as much as when I explained its return was why I was leaving Blaine’s Saturday morning.

I had called her after I left his house. I wanted to find out how the little white dog was doing. She said there had been a huge improvement and she was going to try leaving the cone off.

I was headed to my brother’s because every Memorial Day weekend he and I use Saturday to take flowers to the cemeteries where we have family members. It’s six cemeteries spread over three counties. Round-trip it’s 200 miles and takes around six hours. It’s always a long day but this time it was particularly so because the temperature was 100 degrees. I was sunburned and way too hot by the end.

Blaine had sent a text in the afternoon asking if I wanted to have dinner with Eve and Paul. I said I did if I’d have time for a cold shower first. By the time I was ready for Blaine to pick me up (he prefers that to meeting places), I was so sleepy I wasn’t sure I’d make it through dinner. Many glasses of ice water and two fruit cups (in lieu of an entree) later, I felt good again. The company helped perk me up too.

I stayed in bed yesterday until Eve sent a text asking if I wanted to check out nurseries with her and Allison. It took me a moment to think flowers rather than babies. Once I had that straightened, I said sure.

We met at Eve’s. When I arrived, they were counting planters and exchanging phones to show each other arrangements they’d saved on Pinterest. As they did that, I focused on keeping my balance while Izzy figure-eighted through my legs. “It’s because I let you do this that you have to go to boot camp,” I told her. I’m not the best influence on dogs or kids.

“What do you think we should do for Dad this year?” Allison asked. I glanced at Eve before realizing she was asking me.

I had no idea. “Red and white?” College football colors.

It seems that’s his preference every year.

It turns out that visiting three nurseries, picking out enough plants and bags of soil for 31 pots and planters, and then going to three houses to fill and place all of them is as exhausting in 100 degree heat as visiting cemeteries. It was more fun though. Eve and I always have a ball together, and Allison is equally fun. Under other circumstances I could see us becoming friends. I suppose that could happen under current circumstances but it's seems strange.

Blaine was surprised to see that I was part of the planting brigade but was pleased. When I talked to him later that night he said he would like Allison and I to get to know one another. I’m taking that to mean so far, so good for he and I.

And that brings me to today, the final day of a long and exhausting weekend.

Earlier I went to my hometown cemetery where my parents are buried. My brother told me he’d seen a sign about purchasing a flag to be flown on Memorial Day in honor of someone. I want to do that for our parents but needed a mailing address to send a check to. On Memorial Day someone from the cemetery board is there all day.

As the board president wrote down his address for me, I noticed he had the original cemetery ledger with him. I asked if there was any information in it about one of the markers, which is just a slab of concrete with a name scrawled on it.

One of my pet projects is researching the history of my hometown, and part of that has been to learn about early residents. The marker I asked about belongs to a man who ran the general store for a long time and served as constable, either officially or unofficially, for awhile. His parents and a few sibling are buried there too, all with nice headstones. I wondered if this simple concrete marker had replaced a nicer original one. The cemetery register doesn’t contain that information. It also doesn’t contain any mention of the man. If going only by the official record, he isn’t buried there at all. My mind is going to spin that into a dozen plotlines before I let go of it.

Mica and I went to supper tonight, the only thing we had time to do together this weekend. Right now I’m trying to catch up on laundry but I’m going to give up as soon as I have done enough to see me through the week. Here’s hoping I sleep through the night so I’ll be bright-eyed for the super secret meeting tomorrow.

Read More

Friday, May 25, 2018


I was having a good day until I got to work.

Someone who is afraid of losing their job is pulling together a group of people to brainstorm ways to reinvent their position into one that can be better protected. The reinvention could affect mine by taking over some things I do, so imagine how pleased I am. I was asked by a superior to be part of this group, and I suppose it’s best to be on the inside when intrigue is afoot. For some reason the meeting is taking place offsite to keep others from knowing it’s happening. All will be revealed in time, I suppose. If there’s good news it’s that Eve is part of the group too.

I finished editing the photos I’ve been working on this week and distributed them as needed. And I emailed IT (an offsite group) about Henry’s website. I haven’t heard back. I didn’t expect to given how difficult it was to track down an email address within the group. He sounded let down when I told him at the end of the day that we were still waiting.

At least I was able to leave all this fun behind earlier than normal. I used a little vacation time so I could go home, change clothes, redo my makeup (eye shadow and lipstick even, ooh) and get to Blaine’s office before 5:00. He didn’t like that I was using vacation to accommodate him but I didn’t consider it a big deal.

As requested, I sent him a text from the lobby of his office building just before getting onto the elevator. When I pulled open the door to his firm’s office he was there, leaning against the reception desk and talking to the receptionist. I immediately noticed his suit was dark gray and thought the color of my dress would look nice next to it. Then I thought OK, I’m getting used to seeing him in a suit but then he stood straight and his jacket adjusted into place, the perfect amount of shirt cuff showing, an art deco design on his tie—and there it was, that feeling that corkscrews through me and makes me want to both stare and touch. I did neither.

Blaine introduced me to the receptionist (Tricia) and his assistant (Shelley). He showed me his office, and I checked out the view from the windows that run the width of it (a rooftop, sky and in the distance a beautiful church steeple). He came and stood beside me, leaned against my arm. “You look especially pretty today.”

He’s definitely worth a couple hours of vacation.

We walked the few blocks to the building where the reception was being held. Under other circumstances I would have looked forward to seeing the venue—a private club that’s a big deal among those in positions where being known and seen are important. Under these circumstances, I wanted the next couple of hours to pass quickly and benignly.

A weird thing about me is if I’m among total strangers where there’s no expectation of social interaction, I can be chatty and quite comfortable. But, put me in a room where the expectation is to mingle, and I’ll shut down. Go blank.

Oh, I was in a fine state of mind when we stepped off the elevator and into a crowd of people working their way into the lounge where the reception was being held. As Blaine introduced me to the guest of honor, his wife and their children who were part of the receiving line, he kept his hand on my back, a gesture I always find comforting.

Once inside there was room to spread out. I accepted a glass of wine and declined hors d'oeuvres. Some were being circulated by waiters and others were available at different stations around the room. The room was beautiful, full of polished woodwork and large banks of windows on two sides.

Plenty of people approached Blaine. He always introduced me and I noticed he would point out a potential connection if he could, either through the type of work I do, my alma mater, my interest in local history, etc. It was always enough to give me something to say beyond Hello. After awhile I noticed that Blaine didn’t seek out anyone to speak to, and after people moved off he would draw in a small breath and let it go, as if to relax. Once I caught on to that I asked him if he liked this sort of thing. He tilted his head in the way that means the same as a shrug. “Not really.”

We were approached again but this time by someone who knew me. I hadn’t expected to see her but wasn’t nearly as surprised as she was seeing me there among some local elite. Her husband is highly regarded in governmental circles so this sort of event, or at least this sort of crowd, is typical of her social life. I know her through my last job. In fact, she’s the one who put me in touch with Henry when she found out he wanted to hire a communicator. That came up after I introduced her to Blaine and we exchanged how-we-know-one-another stories.

Blaine was pulled away to be in some pictures. I decided I had earned some non-social time. I went to the memento table and pretended to be engrossed in the pictures and awards and other mementos of a long legal career and, more recently, local political service. It’s the sort of thing that makes me feel I’ve wasted my life. Without a family, I certainly had the time to devote to my career but for many reasons that wasn’t going to be my path. I don’t mind. But if I ever retire a clipboard can serve as my memento table.

When Blaine found me again, he had two plates of hors d'oeuvres. “I didn’t know what you’d like so I took a chance on tequila lime shrimp, spinach stuffed mushrooms, and that thing.” He used a cocktail sword (probably not what they’re really called) to point at tiny eggroll. “I asked if they had anything with Brussels sprouts; they don’t.”

“Then what are we still doing here?” I cracked.

“A plate of desserts and then let’s get out,” he said conspiratorially.

And that’s how it went down.

Read More

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A watched pot won't go live

The little white dog is single handedly improving the profitability of being a veterinarian in this city.

Mica took him in this morning because of swelling above the eye. The vet’s best guess is a sting of some sort. She sent home eye drops and a steroid (I think) and recommended he begin taking allergy medicine. I think the allergy meds are unrelated to the eye. I was busier telling him he’s a love bug and will feel better soon than listening to Mica as she explained it. She called a little while ago and said the swelling is much better already.

Eve was back in the office today after being out most of the week to help her mom. Boy, the days go faster when she’s around.

Henry, bless his impatient heart, stopped by my office before 9:00 to find out if the website was live yet (no), came back at 1:00 (still no) and at 4:45. “I’m not here for that,” he said and held out an envelope. His neighbor gave him a pair of VIP passes to a jazz concert series that starts next week. When Henry accepted them he didn’t realize the concerts are on Tuesdays, his and Julia’s bridge night. He offered them to me. “Consider these a bribe,” he said before letting go of the envelope. “Get IT to make the website live this week.”

I sent Blaine a text about the tickets. We had already talked about going to one or two of the concerts. They are held outdoors on the university campus, and they’re free so if you want to find a spot to spread a blanket or set up lawn chairs, you have to get there a couple of hours before. The VIP tickets guarantee a spot near the stage. His all-cap reply with two exclamation points suggested I’d been wise to accept them.

I’ve never been because I hear “outside” and “June” and think “sweaty” and “bugs.” I’m happy to go since it’s something Blaine wants to do. It seems like we usually do what I want.

Read More

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


I spent the day editing photos in PhotoShop. In other words, a tedious, long day. I didn’t finish.  Something to look forward to tomorrow.

This evening after reheating a supper I didn’t feel like eating, I drove over to the park with the lake and walked the loop once. I ran into Henry and Julia who were there with their puppy. She’s the same age as Izzy but, oh, is she ever a handful.

When I got home I noticed a Zappos box was on the front porch. I’m still looking for a pair of shoes to wear with the dress I bought a couple of months back, or whenever it was. There’s one pair out of the three I ordered this round that might work. Or, I might stick with a basic pair of slingback pumps I already have. Frankly, I’m not thrilled with any piece of the outfit, but my wardrobe is limited when it comes to dressing up. I went a whole lot of years without needing to dress up for anything but funerals.

I think I mentioned that Blaine asked me to go with him to a retirement reception on Friday. It’s a two-hour cocktail and hors d'oeuvre affair that will be held at a private club downtown. The dress I’m wearing is plum colored with embroidery at the waist. It’s a better dress for fall than spring, but the material is lightweight and it’s three-quarter sleeved so I’m choosing to believe it’s fine.
Read More

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Good morning

I was early to the tire place. A guy took down my information and saw a note that said they would deliver the car when it was finished. He glanced up at me. “You must be a friend of Tom’s.” A friend of a friend, I told him.

That friend arrived shortly after. I saw him park, watched him get out and button his jacket as he walked toward the building. He was unable to see me taking it all in thanks to a perforated window decal across the front windows. If a remote control existed for this particular watching experience, I would have rewound a couple of times.

Blaine opened the door and walked in like it was just another earlier than normal morning. He smiled, “Good morning.” And getting better by the second. When we went outside, Blaine walked with me and opened the passenger door, a little thing I don’t look for but appreciate. The wind had kicked up from the south where a thunderstorm was crossing that part of the county. The breeze stirred the scents of soap and cologne into something not unlike a potion. I’d have clicked “pause” on the remote until the batteries died. I inhaled discreetly and ignored that he was close enough to reach and grab and pull toward me.

On the way to my office, Blaine turned onto an unexpected street. Two more turns landed us in the drive-thru lane of my favorite place for pop. As the window rolled down he asked if I wanted the super giant Diet Coke with easy ice. I did indeed. He ordered two. “I’m glad you don’t make me drink alone,” I said.

“I was raised right.”

“You’re very thoughtful.” I believe the tone was more sincere than he was expecting. He looked over. “Making the appointment for me, driving me to work. And looking out for my caffeine needs. Seriously, Blaine, thank you.”

It’s the first time I’ve been glad this particular location has terribly slow service in the mornings.

Just before noon a guy dropped my car off. He let me know it’s time to think about replacing the tires. I suspected as much given how much trouble I had on snow this winter. I’ll likely put it off until the end of summer.

I did consider how I prioritize my decisions when I bought a ticket to a second Cubs game and paid about the same as I will for one good tire. Procrastination bit me badly; the tickets went up since the date is getting closer. I really do think this will be the last time I get there for a long time so I’m doing some splurging.

In news unrelated to cars and guys…

I submitted a request to IT to make Henry’s website live. They said they would have that done within 48 hours. When Henry is ready for something to happen he has the patience of a kid in front of a Christmas stocking filled with candy and puppies, so that reality is killing him. In the meantime, I’m trying to catch up on things I’ve let slide.
Read More

Monday, May 21, 2018

Nailed it

At 5:00 I was in the middle of resizing a photo for Henry's website, so I finished that and uploaded it. At 5:15 (all times approximate), I saw a note about adding anchor links to a page, so I did that quickly. At 5:25, I looked through the new information I'd added today and decided I could improve the design of a new page if I moved some information to a sidebar. At 6:05 I drafted an email to Henry to alert him to the changes and ask for his approval. If no changes are needed, I'll make the website live tomorrow. A 6:10 I wandered off to the restroom. By 6:30 I had answered an email, logged off the computer, gathered my stuff and left the building. My car was the last in the parking lot. And the left rear tire was flat.

I haven't had to change a tire since college when I noticed the telltale keflunk as I was leaving work at the radio station late one night. At least this time it was daylight.

After unearthing the lug wrench, jack and the compact spare--

And right here I'd like to state for the record there was a time when I owned and hauled around a proper lug wrench, jack and full-size spare. A combination of never using them, the discovery of Fix-A-Flat (shush) and a trend toward cell phones and vehicular laziness, stopped me from properly stocking my trunk.

The first trouble I had was figuring out how to un-origami the jack from the frame it sits in on top of the spare tire. The second piece of trouble was an inability to loosen two of the lug nuts. Both were toward the bottom and I couldn't get a good angle. One finally budged. The last one was pissing me off. I was nearly ready to give up and call my brother when I gave the thing one last kick and saw it move a bit. After that things went better, although I needed the owner's manual to figure out how to position the jack. I had the spare on and was working on tightening the lug nuts when a guy from one of the other buildings in the office park walked over and offered to help. Frankly, I was grateful because I'm not confident in any of my pit stop skills. He said it looked good and gave all the lug nuts an extra pull to further tighten them. I realize he may not know any more than I do about changing a tire, but fools love company. In times of trouble it's always nice to know you don't suck alone.

He lifted the flat tire into the trunk, wished me a better night, and we parted, connected only by the same tire dust smeared onto our pants.

So I arrived home without any tires flying off, and I called Mica. My plan was to drive to work tomorrow and call the service station near her house when it opens at 8 a.m. to make an appointment to have the tire fixed (it's a nail--I saw it when I pulled the tire off). She said she could meet me there, take me to work and then reverse all that at 5:00.

Then Blaine called to talk about Friday. I'm going with him to a retirement reception that starts at the convenient time of 5:00. More about all that when it becomes relevant.

"Do you know of any place that fixes tires and opens before 8:00?" I asked, then filled him in on the exciting saga.

"I do," he said. He gave me the name of a tire business and the person I should talk to. "I have his number. Let me try to get him. I'll call you back." When he did, he had an appointment time for me. If I have my car there by 7:30, they'll deliver it to my office by noon.

"Seriously?" I was in awe.

"Any chance you can be there a bit earlier, say 7:15? I'll meet you and as soon as things are squared away I'll take you to work."

I was about to say Mica would do that, and she would, or that I'd use the business' shuttle service, but I quickly factored in that a 7:15 on-his-way-to-work Blaine meant a freshly showered, freshly cologned Blaine in a suit.

"That would be great."

Read More

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Observation tower

Blaine and I were going to spend the afternoon at a state park exploring a few walking trails. Thunderstorms overnight and on-and-off rain all day today spoiled that. I was extremely disappointed. Maybe it's because the park we were going to is in the area where my parents grew up, and although I've been there a lot, Blaine has never seen it. I was looking forward to showing it to him. Probably, the more significant reason is I wanted to spend a good part of the day alone with him.

For a little while I didn't think we would get together until evening for dinner. He called back though and proposed we visit a different park, one where the trails are through the park rather than the steep river bluffs and where there are plenty of picnic shelters if we needed to duck out of a shower. I wasn't entirely certain he was ready to see my hair after it's been in and out of rain, but I jumped at it.

Last week when Eve and I went to the birthday party -- at this same park, in fact -- I paid for the park pass and had gone ahead and bought one good for the season. Since I have the permit, we took my car.

When I picked Blaine up, he slid into my car like he...well, like he was being crammed into a tin can, but once he found out how to put the seat back, he rubbed his hands together excitedly. "Let's see what you have on the rad-i-o," he goofed.

I blocked his hand from the buttons. "Let me explain--"

"No, no. I did not get the opportunity to explain anything. Let your choices speak for themselves."

I started the car. Blaine hit the power button. Lately all I listen to is the George Ezra albums I have downloaded to my phone, so the radio was tuned to the station I listen to on the way to work. It's a local AM station (also broadcast on FM because it is the 21 century) that provides excellent local news.

"Ah, a traditional choice," Blaine commented. He read through the other stations on that tier. "Symphony? You told me you didn't care for the symphony."

"As a rule, not a lot, but I listen when I'm stressed out."

"Hmm, OK. The '70s on 7," he wobbled his head to suggest he'd give me the benefit of the doubt.

"As you will see later--" He held up his hand to stop me from finishing my explanation.

"'80s on 8."

"High school and --" He snapped his fingers at me.

"Now this surprises me." He had reached the last two buttons -- '40s Junction and Radio Classics.

I grabbed his hand and spoke quickly. "I am a fan of Big Band music, it's true. And The Jack Benny Show is still laugh-out-loud funny all these years later. Also, the radio version of Gunsmoke blows the TV show out of the water."

I punched a button to show the second list of stored stations. "These are my primary music stations. Three fulfill my lifelong craving for England Dan and John Ford Coley." With my hand still holding his, I pointed at him with his own finger. "Don't judge." He chuckled. "Hair Nation is also for stress relief, although at a much higher decibel than the symphony channel. And Prime Country because I still love Clint Black, Randy Travis and The Judds." The next tier of favorites are primarily classic rock stations. I still like the music but have grown tired of hearing the same thing all the time.

"You can pick whatever you like." I tapped the menu button so he could scroll through the stations.

He pressed the favorites button and found his way back to the trio of soft rock stations. "Let's give this a try."

At the park we left the car outside the lodge and used the map to get us onto a trail that zig-zagged through the park, mostly sticking to the center where the points of interest included the water park, a playground, a small building where they hold concerts and melodramas in the summer, horse stables and all the various camping areas. It wasn't terribly satisfying from a scenery standpoint but it was quiet, thanks to the intermittent rain that kept almost everyone inside their campers or cabins.

Before going back to the lodge, we sidetracked toward the river. This is the same river we walked along a couple months back but this park is several miles from that one. There's an observation tower at this park that provides a really nice view of the river. I have not been to the top in more years than I can figure out. I'm not comfortable with heights but I usually ignore that. I knew that my best bet for climbing the structure was to go fast without stopping or looking anywhere but up.

I beat Blaine to the top. When he stepped onto the platform, he asked, "Are you training for something?"

"Heights," I was a bit out of breath. "Best to ignore them." He walked over and put his arm around my shoulders. We stood there in the center of the platform for a minute. I moved toward the railing. Once there, I was a little shaky but it passed quickly. Blaine stayed beside me.

"Tell me something," he said, "about this England Dan thing." I laughed a little bit. "I know the name but not the music."

"'I'd Really Love to See You Tonight'," I said. "Forever my favorite song."

"It sounds vaguely familiar."

I took a step away from the railing and pulled the cell phone out of my jeans pocket. To my surprise I had a cell signal. I opened the YouTube app and found the song. Blaine came around to see the screen, and I leaned into him. He put his arm around me while we watched a clip of them performing the song on Midnight Special.

"Oh I remember this," he said softly, listening. At the end he said, "How old were you when this was out?"

"Probably 9 or 10." I could feel his chuckle, and I smiled. "You were in high school. You probably danced to this at a homecoming," I tilted my head back and looked up at him.

He shrugged, "It's possible but I don't remember it." I tried to picture him dancing in a small school gym on a still-warm fall night. He would have had a date. I shut down the imagination quickly. He asked, "What is it about this song that you like so much?"

"Back then I thought it was the epitome of what dating and romance would be like."

"Go on."

"As I've gotten older I appreciate the lyrics. They evoke a physical place and an emotional space, and together create a perfect mood. I mean 'There's a warm wind blowing the stars around, and I'd really like to see you tonight' still gets me every time."

"Play it again." I found it on the phone, and we listened to a little more than half of it, then I tapped the pause button.

"Mica is certain he just wants to sleep with her that night and then walk away. I choose to believe he's acknowledging she doesn't feel the same things for him anymore but he misses her so much he's willing to accept a drive along the beach."

 "I like your interpretation," he said close to my ear. I like when he does that. He took the phone and restarted the song, then stepped in front of me as if we were going to dance.

I took a small step back and moved my head to say no. "I really can't dance, Blaine."

He stepped forward. "As I recall from those Homecoming dances, all you have to do is sway."

There on top of an observation tower on a deeply gray day with mist on our faces, Blaine gave me something I didn't think I'd ever experience: the epitome of romance, '70s style.

Read More

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Shouldn't say anything

I have not been good about using my words here this week.

Henry’s website should go live early next week. So much has changed since I started it, I need to go back through every page and make sure the information that was added early is still accurate, and I need to catch inconsistencies. There are other i’s to dot but much of that is behind the scenes (I have some CSS to clean up). And I still have to make arrangements with the group that handles our e-commerce needs.

As much as I’d like to be finished with this project for awhile, the website is only the start. Marketing and promotion will follow.

My moments of relaxation have largely come from the audiobook I’ve been listening to all week (finished it this morning). It’s “A Higher Loyalty,” written (and read) by former FBI director James Comey. His observations on effective leadership are spot on, plus I laughed out loud many times. I suspect I’ll listen to it again at some point. There’s no doubt it’s strategically self-promoting. There’s still much to grab hold of when it comes to lessons on leadership. Comey landed on my radar when he testified before Congress. I don’t remember why but I decided to listen to the testimony live and before long was mesmerized.

I had lunch with Mica and Sophie. I rarely see Sophie anymore so it was really nice to get together.

Mica’s mom, who lives out of state, told her last night she wants to visit the week before we go to Chicago and then stay and take care of the little white dog so Sophie doesn’t have to. Not my circus, not my circus. I kept my mouth shut for several reasons, one of which is my opinion doesn’t matter because the little white dog doesn’t belong to me even though he occupies all the space in my heart. Both Sophie and Mica’s mom will keep him safe. I’d prefer Sophie, though. She understands him and his routine. And she isn’t Mica’s mom.

As if that wasn’t enough ideas from Mica’s mom, Mica said slyly, “Oh, and she’d like to meet Blaine.”

Yeah? She isn’t going to. She shouldn’t even know about him. I didn't say anything. Mica and I will discuss it soon.

Not sure this was the best day to use my words.
Read More

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Since Saturday I’ve been waking from stress dreams in the middle of the night and then am awake for long stretches. They aren’t the normal recurring ones either. In one I kept hearing reports that a big storm was coming and knew I needed to get to the grocery store fast or be prepared to live on one can of tuna and a couple of cans of black olives for several days (this is a fair representation of my pantry). In another one, Matthew Perry made me miss my flight to Chicago. (I had to Google to think of his last name, so no, I have no idea why he was in my dream.)

Speaking of Chicago, the Cubs tickets arrived. I still haven’t ordered a ticket to a second game but if I do I’ll set up the app first and get an electronic ticket. Join the 21st century. Except I just used “electronic” ticket.

I had a long meeting with Henry today. His website is close to launching. We disagreed on the best way to host the videos. My way is best for four reasons (provided to him in bulleted form), but he wants me to do it another way so that’s what I’m going to do. He’s the boss. I have the (superior) Plan B if trouble arises.

For the second part of the meeting another person joined us. He helps us get video footage. We reviewed the latest videos and talked about what he and Henry need from them. I added it to my to-do list. I was gathering my laptop and notes so I could get back to my office. I thought I could add a page to the website before the end of the day. Henry stopped me. He was in the mood to shoot the breeze, so the three of us sat talked about our favorite podcasts for an hour. I discovered it’s a great way to learn about someone. I would never have guessed that the video guy was interested in the intersection of the spiritual and scientific.

On the walk back to my office I checked my phone. I had missed a call from Blaine. It’s unusual for him to call during the day. If he gets in touch it’s by text, and that happens sporadically. I called him back and was surprised that he was able to pick up.

“I’d like your company. Do you feel like grabbing dinner?”

“I have to go vote,” I said with disappointment.

With exaggerated understanding, he replied, “I understand how that could cause you to lose your appetite.”

I nearly turned down his offer because I am truly running on fumes. Instead, I suggested a restaurant in my neighborhood. Once settled in a booth, I asked if he had voted. He reached into his front pant pocket and pulled out the sticker verifying he’s a good citizen. He had stopped before work. “What are the chances we share political views?” he asked.

Oh, boy. Here we go. “Not very good?” I guessed. “Do you align pretty closely with Eve and Paul’s views?”

His head bobbed. “Fairly close.”

“I’m far enough apart to feel a draft. On some things I’m the small speck way over there.”

Our dinner conversation was all about political issues. There is common ground but we don’t completely agree on much. There are bound to be times when we will step on toes. Time will have to sort out how it goes.

While we waited for the waiter to bring the check back, I brought up one thing that I feel strongly about and asked him if he’d respect that. Exercise the Golden Rule. He promised he would.

On the way out to the car, he slipped his arm around me and gave me a squeeze. “I am surprised to find out George isn’t your favorite president.”
Read More

Saturday, May 12, 2018


There’s a small town of just a few thousand people about 45 miles from here that has an art museum devoted to agrarian art. The bulk of its permanent collection is by an artist who grew up there and whose paintings of rural settings is reminiscent of Grant Wood. I like the style and the vibrant colors he used, and I love seeing the depictions of traditional farmsteads. It’s what farms looked like when I was a kid. Almost none are left. Barns were replaced by metal machine sheds. Other outbuildings—brooder houses, corncribs—are no longer needed.  

The last time I visited the museum I bought a book about the featured exhibits. Blaine saw it during one of his explorations of my bookshelves. He was interested in seeing the museum, so this afternoon we did that.

The drive is pretty, cutting through an area locally known as the “Bohemian Alps” because it was settled by Polish immigrants. The rolling farmland is still brown and rough, but the trees have leafed out. I didn’t grow up on a farm or in the country, but my tiny hometown coupled with spending time with my aunt and cousin on their farm must have been enough to instill a need for open spaces. I mentioned to Blaine that I feel better when I get far enough away from the city and beyond the acreages to be in the true country. He said he does too but rarely thinks to make it happen. Perhaps we can make it happen a few times over the summer. (Typical disclaimers.)

The museum is in an old brick building on Main Street. This is one of those main streets where there’s angled parking in front of the buildings and parallel parking down the center.

Although the space is quite small, it’s easy to spend a couple of hours if you take the time to read the descriptions that accompany the artwork and talk to the volunteer who is there to enthusiastically offer information.

Halfway back home we detoured to visit a state rec area with a lake. It’s a place that’s best for camping and boating, but we might try a day trip with Eve and Paul if they’re interested.

In the area are a lot of organic farms. Some produce artisan cheeses and other products. Most sell through farmers markets and CSAs only but some have small shops at their farms. We stopped at two, one for cheese and another for meat—steaks. Both became part of our supper at Blaine’s.
Read More

Friday, May 11, 2018


A coworker is turning 60 this weekend. To celebrate she rented a large cabin on a river and is having a three-day open house. Eve and I decided to go together. Because it's Mother's Day weekend and Eve's sister is coming into town, the only time Eve could go was tonight. I used a little vacation time so we could leave at Eve's usual time.

We were rapid-fire talking, as usual, and cruised right past the exit, only noticing after the river had been in the rearview mirror for five minutes. We did manage to get off at the next exit only to find lane closures that forced us to drive about a mile and turn around so we could get back onto the Interstate.

Once off the Interstate we had no trouble finding the correct turn, the right road and, finally, the correct cabin. "Any trouble finding us?" our coworker asked.

"No!" we lied in unison.

The cabin is lovely and the setting breathtaking. I would love to rent a smaller cabin for a week in the fall and spend the days walking the trails, sitting on the back deck or front porch and watching deer gather, reading, napping and doing nothing else. It sounds like a lovely unplugged sort of vacation. It's out of my budget, but it's a lovely daydream.

Read More

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Never too tired for a burger

I didn’t have allergies until I was an adult. At first it was a runny nose for one month in the spring when everyone mowed for the first couple of times. Slowly, the symptoms have worsened. Now it’s a runny nose and watery eyes throughout the spring and every so often during the summer. This week has been particularly bothersome.

Last night I went to Mica’s to visit the little white dog. She went to the gym and I stayed to walk and feed him, and to cover his ears with kisses until he grumped, hopped off the couch and settled into his bed on the corner of the rug. He’s 9 11/12 old; he knows kisses and hugs are the price he pays for being so dearly loved and spoiled. I stayed a few hours, and when I got home I watched an hour of TV while I used tissue after tissue, then went to bed.

This week Blaine has been sending text messages when he gets up in the morning. I don’t want to get used to them, but I’ve already started looking forward to checking the phone. The messages are variations of good morning and have a good day. Today his text was an invitation to go over for dinner. I wasn’t sure I’d have enough energy left by the end of the day but I didn’t want to miss out, so I accepted. As it turned out, the change of scenery and the company perked me up.

He grilled burgers. On the stove he had a pan of doctored sauerkraut on a slow simmer. He’d added some salad dressing that’s made locally. It’s most similar to French dressing but is sweeter and peppery. It’s purpose was to reduce the “saur” and add tang. He likes to top burgers with this. I didn’t dislike it, but when it comes to home-grilled burgers, I like it simple -- a squirt of ketchup. Heinz. I have standards. Once they’re in season, I like a thick tomato slice too, but I cannot stand grocery store tomatoes.

We ate at the patio table on the deck. It’s on the north side so we weren’t in direct sunlight but it was still warm. I regretted not stopping at home to change and finally removed the suit jacket I’d worn to work. Fortunately Blaine was wearing sunglasses so the glare off my sunlight deprived shoulders and arms didn’t cause lasting damage..

I helped him clean up, then we took our drinks out to the deck. It’s L-shaped, narrow across the length of the house and wide where it extends toward the golf course. The grill and table are on the wide part. There are two cushy chairs with a small table between on the narrow arm, and that’s where we settled. One part of the house extends out, providing privacy on that side. I noticed there was a door and asked where it led. From the main part of the house the only way out is through patio doors off the dining room.

“The bedroom,” he told me. I considered that, guessed it made sense from a safety standpoint. “That is a sensible conclusion,” he said. “Others might have had more romantic ideas,” he teased.

I looked at him, looked out onto the golf course that is his backyard and at the houses on the other side, all of which are covered with huge windows, and then looked back at him. He laughed. “Point taken.”

After the drinks were gone, I had to give up and admit I needed to go home while I could stay awake long enough to get there.

We’re taking a road trip to a museum on Saturday, and in a couple of weeks I’m going with him to a retirement reception for someone he works with. One of these does not make me as happy as the other.

Read More

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ordinary things

When I first started searching for romances I might like, I was surprised by how many sexual preferences were catered to, and I wondered if there were really that many people who were into all these different things. Watching the news lately answers that question.

The Cubs tickets haven’t arrived yet. I’m concerned they’ve landed in someone else’s mailbox because I’ve been getting a lot of my neighbors mail lately. USPS delivery is not what it used to be. Before I ordered the tickets, I didn’t research how it worked so I didn’t find out about the option to have the tickets delivered electronically to an app until I was into the process with only a minute left to complete the order. Definitely regretting that now.

Eve was back at work this afternoon. She asked what Blaine and I did this weekend and how mowing their lawn figured into it. I told her. “That’s a lot of time to spend together.” She sounded proud.

I liked the ordinariness of the weekend, especially Sunday. It felt comfortable and satisfying in the same way it used to when I could spend an entire day at my aunt’s house, drinking iced tea at her kitchen table and talking about ordinary things. I miss that sort of day so much.
Read More

Monday, May 7, 2018

Number of times

More about last night
The number of innings of the Cubs game that Blaine and I watched last night: 6

The number of rain delays we sat through during those six innings: 2

The number of times I scared the dog during those six innings: 2

The number of times Izzy bronco bucked across the room following unexpected clapping and arm waving: 1

The number of times Izzy dropped her toy and skedaddled down the hallway at a sudden wailing “noooooo!”: 1

The number of times Blaine pulled the 54-pound dog onto his lap to soothe her: 1

The number of drinks Blaine spilled because he pulled the 54-pound dog, including her big bushy tail, onto his lap: 1

And about today
Eve and Paul were delayed so I went over after work to feed and hang out with Izzy until they could get home. She was unusually calm and quiet. We played tug-of-war for a little while, then she hopped up on the couch beside me, set her toy on my leg and chewed on it while I rubbed her belly. I hope I get to see this behavior again.

I left when Eve sent a text that they were back in the city. It was getting late, I was tired. I like staying with Izzy, and this weekend in particular was nice, but I miss by bed.

Read More

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Up early

You know who is not a morning girl? That’s right -- Izzy!

I had to cajole her awake at 5 a.m. When I let her outside, she flopped down onto the deck as soon as her last paw cleared the doorway. She was still there when I checked on her after my shower. I continued to check on her as I got ready. Between makeup and getting dressed she had moved off the deck. After dressing, she was sitting in front of the patio doors staring at the glass as if she believed her gaze could melt it. I let her in and she trotted over to the food and water bowls, pleasantly surprised to discover I’d already filled both. There’s hope for me yet.

Getting up at that insanely early hour — even earlier than I normally get up — was so Blaine and I could be at the university campus by 6:30 to connect with Kim and John and their daughter, Dani, who was running the half marathon. We were going to offer moral support. Or, rather, Blaine was there to offer moral support and I, a stranger to her until this morning, was there to be an unrecognized face in the crowd shouting her name and a few encouraging words as she ran past.

Blaine called when he arrived. I asked him to let himself in. I was ready but needed wipe up some water that Izzy splashe out of her bowl, and I do mean splashed. She gets in moods where she finds it fun to stomp in her water bowl. She also likes to run up to you and press her wet rough against your legs. Blaine experienced that when she greeted him in the hallway.

The advantage of her greeting him first is I get to have a leisurely look before he’s able to notice. Yesterday he wore shorts for the first time, and today was the first time I’ve seen him in a t-shirt with nothing else over it. The look isn’t as natural on him but he pulls it off.

While he erroneously told Izzy she was a good girl, I finished cleaning up her mess, washed my hands, grabbed by phone and some money, and was stopped by his body blocking the hallway. “Good morning,” he said. I mean. I know he’s no longer new but dang I still get butterflies.

We were nearly 15 minutes behind schedule when we pulled out of the driveway. Blaine knew which backstreets to take to avoid the worst of the traffic, and he knew a “secret” place to park that may not have been entirely legal. “I hope you know a good lawyer,” I teased as we walked away.

We met up with Kim, John and a few others near the starting line. After quick introductions, Dani went off to find her group and the rest of us walked until we found a spot near where the runners leave campus and start the route through the city.

After Dani passed, the rest of us split up. Blaine and I went to one spot on the route to wait for her while Kim and John went to another, etc. Most years Eve and Paul and some others attend to cheer her on, but this year the marathon coincided with graduations and other things so Blaine was the only non-family member who could go. He and I continued to hopscotch with Kim and John until we met up again at the finish line, also at the university but this time inside the football stadium.

We stayed until we could congratulate Dani. They invited us back to Kim and John’s but I had to get back to Izzy. I encouraged Blaine to drop me off and go on, but he declined. I invited him to spend the day with me, and he didn’t decline.

We added the leftover salmon to a salad for lunch. For a couple of hours we sat outside and read. Blaine hadn’t brought his book so he borrowed one of Paul’s, one of the Longmire novels (I got Paul hooked on them last year), which he liked well enough to swipe so he can finish it. I had my iPad and finished a romance I started last week.

I knew Blaine would ask what I was reading. Cagily I told him the title. He was onto me instantly and asked for the genre. “Really?” He commented, surprised. “That doesn’t align with what is on your bookshelves.”

“I’ve only been reading them for year and a half so they’re all ebooks.”

“I see. Are they the steamy variety?”

“All the best romances have steamy parts” I answered.

“Agreed.” We looked at each other but neither said anything more. It’s more fun that way.

Blaine checked out the rust on the base of the grill and didn’t think Paul had been serious. There were small spots near the wheels, but nothing worth doing anything about. Blaine decided he could mow the lawn for him.

When he came in, sweaty and disheveled by the wind, with grass clippings created by the weedeater sticking to his legs, he stated it was one chore he did not miss.

He went home to shower but will be back any time now. A Cubs game is actually being televised on a regular network. I cannot wait to finally see them play in HD one a 60-inch screen. Blaine wants to be here to see if I really do scare dogs with my enthusiasm.

In the interest of getting this posted, I don’t have time to take fix the bloated HTML that results when I post from the iPad. If it’s unreadable after, I’ll fix it tomorrow.

Read More

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dinner in

My cousin’s eldest granddaughter’s ninth birthday party was held late this afternoon. She requested a baseball themed party, which meant grilled hot dogs for supper. I moved around between the back deck, front patio and house so everyone would think I had eaten elsewhere. I didn’t want to tell them I had dinner plans in case follow-up questions were asked. As a rule, I prefer that no one knows I’m seeing someone until wedding invitations go out. Keeps things simple.

Granddaughter 2, the fashion loving one, spotted the pink polish (“Aphrodite's Pink Nightie”) on my toes and asked about it. She approved that I had gotten a pedicure this morning but scrunched her nose at the scent of salt scrub I’d chosen (a citrus blend), long since showered off. “You can’t still smell it,” I said, prompting her to drop her nose to my calf.

 “No, but you told me what it is. I don’t like it.”

 “When you have your toes done, which scrub do you choose?”


Of course.

 While I was getting unsolicited advice on my hair color (she likes it lighter), Blaine sent a text letting me know he was at the house with Izzy, the grill was ready to go and I shouldn’t hurry to get back. “Enjoy the kids,” he wrote. He’s under the impression I like little kids after the way I interacted with Eli. I suppose I do, but my kid-loving gene is generally lost under dog fur.

Fearing that granddaughter 2 was about to critique my outfit, I scrambled her to the side yard where there was a game of something going on. It’s possible the superheroes were taking on the princesses in some sort of space rodeo. I scooted past quickly to avoid being called in to serve as an intergalactic barrel-wearing clown. The youngest of the girls yelled, “The bugs in this jar are magical. They’ll eat your faces!” I do get a huge kick out of these girls.

When I arrived back at Eve’s, I let myself in through the garage. I called out a hello when I closed the door into the house, but no one answered either by voice or by four paws dancing on the hardwood floor.

Through the patio doors I saw Blaine sitting at the table with his back to the door. Izzy was sprawled on the deck beside him chewing on something. When I slid open the door, he let his book close and looked back at me, smiling. Izzy scrambled up and gave me a thorough sniffing while she paced figure eights through and around my legs. “I don’t see any singed fur,” I said to her. “You’ve been a good girl!”

Blaine stood and we said hello with Izzy slipping between us to keep things proper. “This is nice,” he said nodding toward my attempt to pretty up the table. Just wait until I turn on the party lights, I thought.

Dinner came together pretty quickly. I made lemon mashed potatoes while Blaine grilled salmon and asparagus. It was a beautiful night to be outside: warm, an occasional wisp of breeze, a few flies to keep Izzy entertained but no other bugs. Izzy is a perfectly behaved dog when she’s in the yard. Tonight she entertained herself around the yard and napped, never barking or whining.

We rewarded her with a long walk after dinner. She did great. Maybe the key is to wait until after dark when the neighborhood is quiet. She still wanted to play when we got back but tired fairly quickly. We stayed downstairs where she tends to be calmer. Izzy soon hopped on the couch and fell asleep, while we settled on the other and didn’t.

Read More

Friday, May 4, 2018

Winter grime on warm evening

It’s me and Izzy again. We spent a good chunk of tonight on the deck. She explored her favorite spots in the yard while I washed the winter grime off the patio furniture. It took longer than it should have because I’m not quite at 100 percent, but I feel a lot better than yesterday. Low stamina or not, it was nice to be in the fresh air on a warm evening.

The cleaning is in preparation for tomorrow night. Blaine and I are going to stay in and make dinner here. Nothing like taking over someone else’s house! I did mention it to Eve this morning with an “if you have no objections” clause. Not surprisingly, she didn’t. She sent a text to Paul asking if the grill was ready to go. His reply said the propane tank might need to be replaced. Then he said Blaine could take care of the rust on the base and repaint it while he was there. A laughing emoji followed. I said I’d pass that along.

While I was sweeping off the deck I noticed the plug to a string of multicolor party lights they have running along roofline on the inside. I spotted an outlet and plugged them in. It’s a pleasant effect. Now I’m thinking about going home to get a clear glass bowl/candle holder to use as a centerpiece on the table. Look at me getting all fancy and romantic-ish.
Read More

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Short day, shorter entry

During a meeting this morning I suddenly became so cold I was shivering. I stepped out long enough to grab a jacket from my office. When it didn’t help and I began to feel ill, I had to leave. I thought it might pass without having to leave work so I closed the office door and turned off the overhead light which was too bright just then. I finally decided to drive home before I felt worse.

I went straight to bed. Once I warmed up, I slept four hours and felt a lot better. Low on energy though. I had to take breaks to pack a bag for the weekend at Eve’s. More sleep and I should be OK for tomorrow.
Read More

Birthday and cake

6:04 a.m.
After I showered this morning I grabbed my phone and sent a happy birthday text to Blaine.

It woke him up.

He called right away and as soon as I heard his voice I knew what I’d done. “Oh no,” I said softly. “Surprise?”

It sounded like he moved, stretched. “Yes, and thank you.”

“I’m very sorry. I didn’t think about the volume being up on your phone. I thought you would see it when you woke up.”

“I did,” he said in a way that made me think he might be smiling a little bit.

“Go back to sleep. OK? Bye.”

He made a sound that seemed to mean nuh uh. “I don’t mind that you thought of me first thing this morning,” he said. “Do you always get up this early?”

“Yeah. I go in early as often as I can manage. It makes up for the time Eve and I lose during the day. For future reference, what time does your alarm go off?”


“How can you--” I didn’t finish because the answer was simply that he’s a man. “Never mind. I’m sorry I woke you but I’m glad I get to wish you a happy birthday. I hope you have a wonderful day.”

“You’ve made that a certainty. Thank you.”

8:11 p.m.
Skipping “hello,” I answered the phone with, “Happy birthday, you!”

“Thanks again. Hey, I have extra cake and I want to share it with you. Can I come over?”


Allison made dinner for Blaine, as is their tradition on his birthday. She sent home the remaining cake, a classic whip and chill. I may have appeared more excited to see it than Blaine. Only for a moment.

I haven’t had that particular piece of deliciousness in years and I’ve missed it. My favorite aunt made it a lot during the summer, and I associate it with Sunday visits to her house. I crave it every spring. Sometimes I’ll go as far as to buy a cake mix and box of Jello but then never make it. A whole cake is a lot of cake to have around. One piece, however, is bliss.

“Mmmmm,” I sighed after the first bite of strawberry and whipped cream hit my taste buds.

Blaine’s eyebrows and the corners of his mouth rose. “This cake and Brussels sprouts. I’m an entree away from knowing how to wrap you around my finger.” He’s closer than that, but I didn’t let on.
Read More

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Come fall

The wind has been terrible here the last couple of days. Since it’s dry too, there has been a lot of dust in the air especially around farmland. Both Sunday and yesterday dust clouds limited visibility and caused chain reaction accidents on the interstate. Here in the city the biggest problem is dodging the garbage cans and planters that have tumbled onto the streets.

Tonight it’s stormy but the severe weather is staying south of the city. Good thing. The only cover I plan to take is when I crawl under the sheet on my bed.

Eve told me Kim and John told her and Blaine to let me know I’m invited to the tailgates this fall. From what I gather that’s an invitation many want but not all receive. I don’t know if space is a limiting factor or if it has to do with providing enough food and beverages for everyone. Last year Eve told me she could probably get me in if I’d go. I declined because I was avoiding meeting Blaine. Now, if all is going well come fall, I’m looking forward to it.

I met Mica and Sophie for lunch. I haven’t seen Sophie in ages. She’s going to stay with the little white dog when Mica and I go to Chicago. To prep her, Mica created an eight-page “Care and Feeding” document. Seriously. Sophie laughed when she saw it. “The first time I stayed with him,” I told her, “she left emergency numbers on the whiteboard on the refrigerator, and she included 911.”

Mica tried to put up a defense. “When you’re panicked you may not remember!”

Thunder is getting closer. Time to unplug the computer.
Read More

Search This Blog

Powered by Blogger.