Sunday, September 30, 2018

It rained, then rained more for a long time

The weather wasn’t on our side this weekend.

We left from my house after work on Friday. It had been deeply cloudy and rainy all day and the temperature stuck in the low 50s, but it didn’t matter because all we were going to do was drive an hour, have dinner and relax.

We stayed at a sprawling hotel that’s nestled among acres and acres of trees. The inside is gorgeous, all soaring wood ceilings supported by huge douglas fir columns and beams.There’s a three-story stone fireplace, windows overlooking the acreages and plenty of comfortable leather club chairs all over the place.

We ended up in a couple of those chairs while we waited for a table to open in the dining room. Although we had reservations, they were busy and one table of people were too busy talking to leave. The hostess was apologetic and offered us a complimentary appetizer in the bar. Neither of us was in the mood for the bar atmosphere. We opted to wait in an out-of-the-way corner not far from the dining room.

After dinner we stepped out on the terrace, hoping to go for a walk. Heavy mist, nearly drizzle, forced us into a dry spot beneath the roof overhang. Blaine, normally a roll-with-it sort of guy, seemed unsettled, a bit tense. I wasn’t sure why but guessed it was because the rain was going to spoil all of the plans.

“I have a crazy idea,” I said, from my spot huddled against him.

“Tell me.”

“Let’s change clothes, put on our rain jackets and take a walk.” I felt a breath of a chuckle in chest.

“It could get pretty wet.”

“We’ll dry.” Although I didn’t add it, I thought it wouldn’t matter if our clothes were still damp in the morning because there was no chance it would be dry enough to take the trails.

Wearing jeans, hiking boots (him)/shoes (me), a couple of layers and rainproof jackets, we followed a boardwalk that connects the hotel with several other buildings on the property. We didn’t take it to the end because we decided to detour onto a wood-chip path through a planted forest. (Guess whose idea that was.) Those paths weren’t illuminated and it became too dark to see if we were about to trip over a tree root. I reluctantly admitted we should turn back. And we did, although we didn’t start walking right away.

The next morning we were ready to go early, just as we had planned when we thought we had a chance of getting to the park and finishing one of the short trails before the rain set in. There was zero hope of that. It was already raining steadily, and heavier rain wasn’t far away. Blaine wanted to go to the park anyway, an idea I fully supported.

While we waited at the registration desk to check out, Blaine suddenly turned toward me. “Want to spend another night?”

Well, yeah.

Luck finally came over to our side when the desk clerk said they were not yet fully booked.

I know the area relatively well because all of my extended family lives in that direction. Since it no longer mattered when we arrived at the park, I had Blaine turn onto a lightly traveled two-lane highway that is hilly and windy and cuts passes by small fields, mostly corn this year. It’s one of the prettiest stretches of highway I’ve come across. Blaine slowed to well below the speed limit and cracked the window.

“Smelling the corn?” I asked. He smiled, nodded. It’s something my brother does and my dad, uncles and cousin always did. Something about harvest time that’s special.

“Do you like it?” he glanced at me.

It isn’t a scent I can even pinpoint. Usually all I smell is dust. “I’m more an early summer sweet clover girl.”

His smile broadened. “That’s good too.”

By the time we arrived at the park, the yellow portion of the rain shown on radar had reached us. Blaine pulled into a parking area along the river. We hadn’t seen any other cars outside those in the camping areas so Blaine took the liberty of creating a parking space that faced a break in the trees so we had a decent view of the river. The rain pounded the car.

Blaine relaxed against the headrest and looked over at me. “Thinking about how much fun you’re having?”

I nodded toward the bit of river we could see through the trees. “I was thinking about all the dead stuff that’s flowing past us right now.” When I was a kid we would occasionally come to the river, and I swear there was always at least one bloated cow floating with the fast current as if it had somewhere to get to before it exploded.

It took a second but Blaine laughed. I reached over and took his hand. We both leaned toward the middle until our shoulders touched. That’s pretty much how we stayed for next couple of hours. Finding things to talk about has never been a problem. Silences have become comfortable.

When the rain finally backed off to a mist, we put our hoods up and went for a walk along the asphalt road. When we’d had enough of the damp and felt thoroughly chilled, we turned back. “At least we made it this far,” I said, gesturing to the park. “Next time we will make it onto a trail.”

“Our luck suggests we’ll come across a bunch of bobcats.”

I slipped my hands around his arm. “Or we might only see one mountain lion. Keep the faith!”

“If we’re really lucky it will be feeding on a deer and won’t need to kill us.”

“That would be a huge improvement to our luck!” I bumped my shoulder into his. “And you thought I was morbid to wonder about dead things in the river.”

When we had wrung all the fun we could out of the endless rain, we left the park. We found a tavern in a tiny town. It wasn’t busy--only three other people--when we walked in. They let me watch the Cubs game until the football game started. I took some ribbing for liking baseball. Someone suggested I was a bandwagon fan. Blaine cleared that up on my behalf, which I thought was sweet.

We watched the Cubs lose and then we watched the football team lose.

At least the rain had stopped by the time we left. When we got back to the hotel, we hit the boardwalk again, this time going all the way to the end, which is the best part for there is an apple orchard that sells all things apple, including one of my favorites--cider slushies. Blaine passed on the slushie (although he had several tastes of mine), getting a large hot cider instead. All of the apple went to our heads because we walked away carrying a small basket of apples, too. Because we’re going to make apple pie. Sure.

On the drive home today we agreed it had been a good weekend, maybe even better than we had planned.
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Thursday, September 27, 2018


I brought home a box of catalogs that the printer I work with sent me. Each one is filled with options for promotional items. The catalogs are almost better than the old Sears Christmas Wish Book. So far I’m most charmed by the custom-shaped fly swatters but I probably spent the most time in the pet sections.

Blaine came over for supper and we watched a little TV. I’ve introduced him to Mayans M.C., the spinoff of Sons of Anarchy, which I liked but he’s never seen. He says he doesn’t like Mayans much, yet he has watched all four episodes with me. I think the storyline and characters may be sucking him in spite of the violence and language. I’m hoping he’ll become desensitized so I can eventually get him to watch one of my all-time favorite TV shows, the poetically profane and violent Deadwood.

After we finished watching that on Sling, I switched over to the antenna so he could watch Thursday night football. That’s when I grabbed the catalogs and flipped through each one, page by glorious page. Henry wants mugs, caps, pens and pocket notebooks. He also wants two brochures and new display panels. Unfortunately he has a budget. It will be a juggle to get everything he wants. Tonight I flagged a few possibilities. Tomorrow I’ll face the math.

Speaking of tomorrow...and the tomorrow after that. The forecast isn’t in our favor. It will probably be rainy Saturday afternoon. Everything I’ve read about the trails says to avoid them if it’s muddy. Most are hilly and steep and traction is hard to come by. I walked one a number of years ago, and they’re not kidding about how steep it can get. It was bone dry when I did it, and I had a lot of trouble getting down in one spot. If it had been muddy and slippery, I’d never have made it down safely.

We’re still going to go tomorrow night as planned and decide on Saturday whether to go to the park or find something else to do with the day.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On board

I went to Blaine’s to see the new furniture for the guest room. It looks nice, not too overwhelming for the space. He needs bedding, and eventually he’ll need lamps and other decoration. I asked if he wanted to get bedding this weekend.

He doesn’t.

He also doesn’t want to go out with the usuals Friday night (to a winery to hear a tribute band) or to the tailgate on Saturday. He asked if I'd be disappointed if we didn't do one or both. I told him I didn't mind at all. The truth, which I haven't shared with him yet, is that while I enjoy the things we do with his friends, it's a lot of social activity for me. It drains me. Since football season started I've noticed I'm dragged down on Mondays and Tuesdays, and I think it's because I'm recovering from being around people so much of the weekend.

What he does want to do this weekend is pick me up Friday after work and drive an hour to a rather swanky place for dinner then spend the night so the next morning we can drive a short distance and spend the day traipsing all over the state park we’ve been trying to get to all summer.

I'm so on board with that plan.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Mica had a good time with Greg on their date. It sounds like there will be a second date.

I asked how [Little White Dog] reacted to him, because in the end it’s his opinion that matters most. She said he approached Greg right away, sniffed, wagged his tail and, as is his usual behavior with new people, stepped back when Greg attempted to pet him. Once Greg sat down, though, Little White Dog went over and let him pet his back. Mica doesn’t think Greg is a dog person but she’s going to give him a chance to become one.

I went ahead and registered for the alumni dinner. It is on a night I’ll be taking care of Izzy. With travel time we’ll be gone a good part of the evening. Blaine is going to ask Allison if she can let Izzy out once that evening so we won’t have to watch the clock. Blaine's enthusiasm for this is becoming contagious.
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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fresh morning air

Last night Paul and Blaine decided they wanted to do the charity walk with us. It was an idea that Blaine regretted when his day started earlier than usual, especially after a late night. Still, by the time we made it to the venue--the zoo--he was his usual laid back, pleasant self. We met up with Eve and Paul outside the entrance. Paul, an early riser by default, looked ready for the day. Eve, dressed in an orange sweatshirt, jeans and orange tennis shoes, looked brighter than she felt. Blaine put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her toward him. “Let’s do the route twice, Eve,” he suggested.

“OK, Blaine! I’ll be right behind you.”

As it turned out, we easily could have completed it twice. It was a very short route through only part of the zoo. I haven’t been to the zoo since college and was eager to walk through it. There is a lot of construction going on to prepare for new animals that are arriving in the spring. Perhaps that’s why the route was disappointingly short. It took longer to get through the registration line than it did to complete the walk. All that aside, it was a good experience. The team we walked for was a hoot, as were a couple of the other teams. This amount of money raised this year set a record, too.

Even with hanging out afterward to chat with the other team members we were done by mid-morning. Paul wanted to go to breakfast to kill time before the football game. We met them at a really good diner. Blaine and I had both had something for breakfast but that didn’t stop us from splitting a homemade cinnamon roll that was ridiculously large (and scrumptious). He had more coffee, and I indulged in more Diet Coke than I needed.

It wasn’t until we were paying the bill that it dawned on us that our next stop was a football party where there would be plenty of food. Eve, standing next to me, dropped her head against my shoulder and muttered something how too much fresh air in the morning isn’t good for any of us.

They went home to tend to Izzy, and Blaine and I went on over to the party at Steve and Jan’s. They live in a rambling ranch house built in the early sixties and designed for parties. Large rooms, a fairly open floor plan long before that was popular, and multiple patio doors leading to the back yard. Oh, how I yearned to wander around and see more of the layout. It pushed all of my house-envy buttons.

They had invited quite a number of people, including family and neighbors and all the regulars. They had moved the largest television out to the covered part of the patio. There was a second TV on inside if someone didn’t want to be outside. A third TV was on in the kitchen where the food was laid out. That’s the one I ended up watching most of the game on. I had gone in to fill my glass with ice water and found Jan and Kim talking. They welcomed me into the conversation. Eve joined shortly after. The four of us chatted happily until someone came in and chastised us for not being with the rest of the group.

Outside, Blaine and Paul were sitting on an outdoor sofa. When he saw me, Paul jumped up and moved so I could sit next to Blaine. Normally I would have told him to stay put, but today I not only let him, I sat a closer to Blaine was than necessary, all because I knew it would irritate someone. I was having a rare moment of I’m-with-him-so-deal-with-it. To my (petty) satisfaction, Blaine put his arm across the back of the sofa and told me to scoot in if I was cold. I wasn’t, but I scooted anyway.

The game was a blowout. Pretty much everyone there thought we would lose but no expected it to be as brutal as it was. One nice thing about this group is they are good fans. There is no anger or ranting about the coaching when the team loses.

We stayed for a little while after the game but did have to leave in order to make it to the art festival.

There was an area blocked off for sponsors. Blaine had a card that got us into it. Inside that tent were the tables where the silent auction items were displayed. Every vendor had contributed something so there was a lot to look at. Blaine bid on two items. One was a painting of a barn in autumn that he said reminded him of where his grandparents had lived, and the other was a black and white drawing of aspen trees along a stream with a single swipe of yellow across the trees. I’m hoping he wins that one.

He asked if anything caught my attention. I didn’t want him to bid on anything for me so I said no, but there was a necklace that I liked. We came across the vendor when we were looking around, and I checked out a similar pendant. It wasn’t terribly expensive but I rarely wear necklaces so I decided against buying it.

We didn’t go to a movie. There wasn’t anything out that we both wanted to see. Instead, we went to Blaine’s. We left the cell phones on the dining room table, Blaine turned down the lights and we cozied up on the couch and watched a movie on Prime. Our Saturday date night streak continues.

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Friday, September 21, 2018


Blaine asked me to go with him tonight to visit his friend from law school. His friend doesn’t have a lot of energy these days and talking is draining but he’s still eager for company. Blaine thought the two of us could carry the conversation. His friend likes to reminisce about their time in college, so I asked questions and Blaine told their stories.

Afterward we stopped for a bite to eat. A quick appetizer and a beer. We talked about how tomorrow is going to work. First thing in the morning Eve and I are doing the charity walk. The football game starts at 11. Everyone is invited to a watching party at the house of the couple who previously canceled a party because it conflicted with a tailgate (tomorrow’s away game doesn’t conflict). There’s also an art festival going on tomorrow. Blaine’s firm is one of the sponsors, and he feels he should go at least long enough to put a bid on something in the silent auction.

“And then it’s Saturday night,” Blaine said brightly but he sounded tired. “I hope we have a date.”

Some time ago--when I was in Chicago and we Facetimed on Saturday night--we realized there were only one or two Saturdays this year when we haven’t had a date--the two of us. It has become a thing now to make sure we don’t miss another Saturday this year.


“What would you like to do?”

The words “turn off the phones, the lights and invade your personal space” fed through a re-phraser as they traveled from brain to mouth. “How about a movie?”

As for the rest of tonight…

As we were leaving, our phones alerted us to a text from Eve. She and Paul wanted to know if we were up to having a drink with them.

We turned around and reclaimed the table we had just left.

Before they arrived, we agreed to make it an early evening. But the conversation flowed and the laughter started and all of us lost track of time. It ended up being the best way to rebound from everything.
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Thursday, September 20, 2018


Mica and Greg are going out this weekend. I went over after work to do my duty as best friend and help her find the perfect outfit. The little white dog and I stretched out on her new adjustable bed and played with the settings while she sorted through possibilities.

Strange little creature that he is, the little white dog belly crawled to the foot of the bed and “rode” it as I raised it to its highest point. He was flat and still except for his wagging tail. He cracks me up. My laughter got him going and he pounced on me between play bows.

We were useless to Mica, but we had a much needed play session.

I did manage to help Mica select two outfits, one more casual than the other but both striking and date worthy. “I forgot how much I hate this part,” she said. “When does it become fun?”

“It’s all fun. Enjoy that you like each other, he pursued you and now you have a chance to get to know him." I turned toward the little white dog, who raised a leg so I could slip my hand in and rub his belly. “Of course if this one doesn’t like him, he’s out immediately.”

“True that.”

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tiny puddle

A small thunderstorm blew through this afternoon and dropped the temperature 20 degrees, prompting me to invite Blaine to go for a walk after work.

I had hoped to walk at the lake, but it flooded early in the month when almost 9 inches of rain fell in three days and there’s still a lot of mud on the paths. Instead, we walked over to a bike trail that runs along the edge of his neighborhood. There’s a “secret” way that residents can get to it from the neighborhood (follow the correct golf cart path until you reach a wood chip trail leading into and through a stand of trees, step across a foot bridge built over a ditch, and go up an incline to the path--DON’T TELL).

Blaine filled me in on a couple of things and then said, “Tell me something good. What’s good with you?”


He smiled. “What else you got?” He bent down near my ear. “Although I’m glad to be on that list.”

I told him about an email I received from my alma mater earlier in the week. The lit magazine is producing a special edition of “the best” 50 stories and poems published since the founding of the magazine. Something of mine will be included.

Fussing commenced. I would have put a stop to it but it included a big, tight hug so...waited until that ended. I asked him not to tell anyone because it isn’t a big deal. It’s nice for me, certainly, but we’re hardly talking The New Yorker. Overall, it’s embarrassing. He attempted to talk me out of keeping silent but in the end agreed to keep it between us.

“I will require more information if I’m to keep your secret.”


“Because I want to know more about this and you’ve given me the leverage I need to obtain the details.”

I stopped walking. When he did too, I said, “That’s disturbingly criminal-like for a lawyer.”

He shrugged, all too pleased with himself.  “Is yours a story or poem?”

I stalled with a series of eye rolls, head wobbles and general hand waving.

“Answer the question, please.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “At one time I thought it was cool to know someone involved with the legal system. I don’t feel that way anymore.”

He allowed a slight grin. “It’s a simple question. The answer, please.”

“One story, one poem.”

“Two? I’m impressed.”

I shook my head. “Big fish, tiny puddle.”

“What are they about?”

“The email didn’t provide titles. They’re holding that information until the magazine is released. I only wrote one poem in my life and all you need to know about that is I was 19 years old.” He waited, all blue-eyed focus on me. “I was 19! It was about a guy! But it read like it was about other stuff so it received favorable attention.”

“Are you getting a copy of the magazine?”

“They’ll mail it.” I attempted a blank, innocent expression. Didn’t work.

“Are you with withholding information?”

“That’s such a cold, untrusting expression, don’t you think?”

“And accurate.”

I told him they were presenting the magazine at an alumni dinner Homecoming weekend. He wants me to go. Although I love my college, I’ve only been back once for an event -- my five-year reunion. But this...

“Maybe,” I allowed. “You’ll be my plus one?”


“Maybe yes then.”

Maybe. It's just so embarrassing.

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Monday, September 17, 2018


Sometimes when people are talking about all the cute things their young kids or grandkids, whom I have never met, have done, I pretend they’re talking about their dogs so I can keep my attention from wandering.
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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Every week

In my excitement to attend my first tailgate last weekend, I somehow overlooked the fact these occur every weekend that there’s a home game. I was reminded when Blaine and Paul began texting last night about what time they were going downtown to help John get set up. They only do this for games that start before noon because there are fewer people willing to be down there by 7 a.m.

I panicked because I hadn’t thought about what to take, and it was late. Blaine always contributes beverages and ice so he was ready. He said, “You’re with me. You’re covered by the drinks,” he said.

Of course he was wrong. That’s not the way it works. “We’re Midwesterners,” I reminded. “We show up at social gatherings with food or we don’t show up.” I grabbed my phone and sent a text to Eve.

“They’re taking wings,” I told Blaine as I typed Should I bring something breakfasty?

“‘They’re’ taking wings. Not Paul is taking wings and Eve is taking a dip.”

“Point taken.” I opened Pinterest.

“And ignored?”

I smiled. “Yes. I’m still new. I have a good impression to make.”

And that’s why I was up early this morning making sausage and cheese mini muffins with ingredients I’d shopped for even earlier.

Blaine picked Paul up while I was at the grocery store. Eve picked me up a couple of hours later. When we arrived, the three guys were sitting side by side on the literal tailgate drinking Bloody Marys and eating Chex mix.

They hopped up to help us with the slow cookers, and Paul drove their car over to the parking lot so Eve wouldn’t have to walk back.

Kim had a morning appointment and arrived in the first quarter of the game, which was already hard to watch. The team didn’t play well at all. Still, our group remained positive unlike those at the tailgates around us. Not nearly as many people came to this morning’s gathering. The early games are never as well attended, I was told. By the end of the game there were only eight of us, the other couple being Terry and Maggie (who tends to introduce me as the dogsitter).

I suspect I need to make a special effort with Maggie, but I’m not sure how to do that.
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Friday, September 14, 2018

Real-life you

To avoid crossing town an extra time—and because of Blaine’s aversion to driving separately and meeting places—he picked me up at home this morning, delivered me to work and then came back at noon to get me so we could go furniture shopping. Blaine in the morning is one of my favorite things so I didn’t fuss. At least not until I saw him.

“You’re very casual,” I said casually. There’s nothing wrong with the way he looks in jeans and a button-up shirt, but… “No suit today?” I asked. “Isn’t that a disbarrable offense?” It should be.

“Nah, I’m not meeting with anyone this morning.” He scanned my jeans and filmy navy paisley v-neck top. Fair point. I, too, had dressed for the afternoon rather than for work.

We had a great afternoon even though the shopping was almost a bust. The two best furniture stores are in different towns. We went to the closer one first, and it didn’t take long to rule out all of the living room furniture. A salesperson asked what “our” style was when she caught us standing in a sea of gray living room sets, differing only by throw pillow patterns. Blaine looked at me. “Can you answer that?” I took a second to catalog his living room and the fact that I had liked it instantly.


“Well, you found it!” She opened her arms and swept them around enthusiastically. I nearly looked to see if someone was sliding in a carousel of appliances as the next part of our Showcase Showdown.

Blaine told her we’d like to look around for awhile. Once she moved away, he asked what transitional meant and if anything we could see fit into it. All I could see was variations on Mid-Century modern, all in the blahist shade of gray I’ve ever seen. “Which of these appeal to you?” I asked and was relieved when he said none of them did. We sat on a few and didn’t like them better after.

We moved on to the bedroom furniture. “I hope you like upholstered headboards,” I said upon entering that gallery. He didn’t particularly. He sort of liked a couple of the wood headboards but they were large and commanding, not something he wanted for a guest room. What did appeal to him was a wood and metal headboard. The trouble was it wasn’t real wood and looked cheap.

On the way out we stopped up front where they have an old popcorn maker that makes outstanding popcorn. Free bags are offered to everyone, and we grabbed two. The popcorn fiend I was with, however, sweet talked a third bag from the retired woman who was serving it.

In the car, Blaine put all the windows down and we enjoyed the mild temperature and light breeze while munching popcorn and discussing the layout of his basement. The stairs lead into an open space. There are windows along the back wall that allow a view of the patio beneath the deck. There are also three doorways, one leading to a hallway that goes to the bathroom and to Eli’s room, one that goes to another bedroom, and one that opens to a windowless room. The other end of the room, along the stairs is a strange shape because the wall juts out where something--pipes probably--have been boxed in. “Do you want a TV down there?” I asked, trying to visualize how the room might be set up.

He shook the tall, narrow popcorn bag so the kernels slid toward the opening, his hand too big to fit deeply into the paper bag. “Do you?”

“Do I?”

“You’re spending more time with me at home now.” He looked at me. “A practice that I hope continues. Maybe you’ll want your own spot sometimes. To read or watch those British shows.”

I don’t know, it struck me as very sweet. I had to stop myself from making a smart comment since going for a joke is what I always do. Not so deep down though I was touched that he had thought about a time when I would be less like a guest and more like a...resident.

Suddenly Susannah popped into my mind. She can never learn of this conversation.

“Well, a TV is a good idea." I reached over and gave his had a quick squeeze. And then I couldn't help myself. "A big one so Poldark is practically life-size. You can watch your basketball games on the puny one upstairs.” The one that’s as wide as the fireplace.

The crinkles at the corners of his eyes always give away that he’s about to smile. I turned a bit in my seat and watched him finish the popcorn. He's something special.

He rubbed his hands together to knock of the salt. "I don't know what a Poldark is but I'm starting to reconsider the wisdom of giving you access to a life-size view."

I laughed. "A real-life you is better than Poldark in any form."

We drove nearly an hour to the other furniture store, a huge one that’s pretty much the last word in home furnishings. Blaine picked out a beautiful bedroom set with a wood and metal headboard for the guest room.

The living room remains unfurnished. It’s unclear whether a couch and loveseat or a sectional will work best in the odd space. We found an option for both and Blaine will do some measuring. Hopefully the math will decide it.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Simple shopping

The last iPhone update seemed to change how my phone charges when connected to a dock or my car.

I became aware of the charging problem when Blaine sent a text before lunch and I noticed the battery icon was glowing red in spite of having been docked all morning. We had to finish our conversation on the office landline. About to wrap up, I told him it was a treat to hear his voice during the day.

“There are going to be kissy sounds in a second."

I glanced toward the door where Eve and Susannah had appeared. “Is that Eve,” Blaine asked.

“It is.”

“I’ll let you go. Pass along a hello."

"I will."

"Hey, am I on speaker?”


A series of kissing sounds followed by the kind of laugh that comes from cracking yourself up.

Susannah and Eve were waiting on me so we could go to lunch. We went to a pizza place that has a fantastic salad bar and garlic bread. I skipped the pizza and filled up on the salads.

Susannah asked me what I was doing tomorrow. “[Vacation approver] said you were taking it off.”

I would have asked how that became Susannah’s information, but she has a way about her that causes people to tell her things.

“I didn’t know you were taking it off,” Eve said.

“I only requested it this morning. Blaine and I are going furniture shopping.”

Dramatically, Susannah dropped her fork onto her plate with an inelegant clang. “Am I going to be a bridesmaid soon?”

I looked at Eve who understood my confusion and shrugged. “I don’t know how it connects either.”

Susannah picked up her fork and resumed separating the limas out of the spoonful of bean salad she had put on her plate. “People don’t shop for furniture unless they’re thinking about moving in together. Fact.”

“Yes they do. Truer fact. Boom!” I laughed because I knew that sounded ridiculous coming out of my mouth.

“That was so wrong. Please don’t try that again,” Susannah told me, laughing.

I explained, “He wants to furnish his basement and asked for my help. He has vacation to use and time in his schedule, so…Tomorrow afternoon we are going shopping. Simple.”

Susannah  looked at Eve. “When did you and Paul shop for furniture together?”

“Just before we were married.”

“That’s when Eric and I did too.” She gestured toward me as if I may want to take notes. “As a bridesmaid I don’t mind sleeveless but I need to be able to move on the dance floor so nothing too form fitting. I’ll need final approval of the color, too.”

Eve added, "I think I should give you away."

“I am never having lunch with you two again.”
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Bulleted review

I'm always behind here these days. So, the easy way.

  • Went to breakfast with Mica at Greg's. It was busy when we arrived but everyone else had left before we finished eating. Greg and his partner hung out in the dining room and talked to us. When the partner stepped out to take a call, I excused myself and hid in the bathroom for as long as I could before it would seem weird. It worked -- Greg asked Mica if she would be interested in getting together outside of his restaurant. Details TBD.
  • Sophie asked us if we would come by and give her a hand. She is vice president of a community group. That office appears to include the duties of everyone else who wants to volunteer for something without having to do any work. She had a meeting to prepare for and couldn't get everything done. I helped her format documents, and Mica whipped up enough snacks to feed everyone for a couple of days. 
  • Sophie wanted to take us out to dinner, and she asked me to invite Blaine. It was last minute, which I hated to do to him but he said he didn't mind. He met us at a Mexican restaurant. We had a good time. 
  •  I have to create the closed captioning for six 30-minute videos. It took over six hours to complete the captioning for one. That's just typing the captions. Next, I have to go through and syncs each one to the video. A more mind numbing task does not exist. 
  • Blaine revealed that he is ready to furnish his basement. He asked if I would help. I love shopping for furniture and decorating, so I'm going to be into that. The trouble is he doesn't know how he wants to use the space. There are two bedrooms (those are easy) and then one largish open space and one smaller open space. I asked if he wanted a man cave (no), a place for parties (eh) or a second living space (maybe). This may prove more difficult than fun.
  • It's September 11, a day that always hits me to some degree. Eve and I visited the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum when we were in New York a few weeks ago. It was a consuming, overwhelming experience, which I think is the way it should be. 
  • Speaking of New York, I haven't found a way to write about it that doesn't end in seven-page posts. For now I'll note that it was a perfect trip, a true gift for Eve at a time when she needed to be reminded that life and love and unexpected good things continue.
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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tailgate at last!

The football game did not go the way I wanted, but it was exciting to watch and fun to be with a big group.

Everything was set up by the time Blaine and I arrived. John's pickup was backed into their reserved space. A large television sat on a platform in the pickup bed up by the cabin. The generator that powered it and a table of slow cookers grumbled in the background. Another long table was holding the food that everyone contributed. Beneath it was row of coolers containing all types of drinks. A small canopy was set up in case there was rain (or sun, I suppose, but we haven’t seen the sun for a couple of weeks).

Blaine contributed a large cooler of mixed beverages (beer, Coke and Diet Coke), and I brought an experiment -- rum balls made with cinnamon flavored whisky instead of rum. This group is nuts for cinnamon whisky, so I thought it would be a novel addition. The balls disappeared quickly because everyone was curious. They were not as tasty as I’d hoped. The cinnamon flavor didn’t come through very strongly. Still, several people requested them again.

The couple who had planned to have a watching party at their house canceled their plans last night and came to the tailgate instead. They were very nice both times I’ve been around them, so I made sure to say hello and reintroduce myself. If there were hard feelings about the party cancellation, I couldn’t tell.

One person in the group that Blaine has brunch with on Sundays always refers to me as “Eve’s dog sitter” when she introduces me. Occasionally she’ll include “and coworker.” This is why I ended up having a long conversation with someone who has a border collie that hates being boarded. She asked if I was taking on new clients. I explained I wasn’t a professional pet sitter. She said that didn’t bother her since we knew people in common. I said I only took care of Izzy because Eve is a friend. She didn’t have a lot of use for me then.

I sought out Blaine after that. We hit the food table. John called out to me to ask how I liked my hot dogs. “Burned beyond recognition,” I called back. No one ever believes me. At John’s insistence that I let him know if it wasn’t right, I rejected the offered hot dog twice before it was properly charred.

Dani (Kim and John’s daughter) and a couple of friends had games going. I successfully avoided those. There was plenty of music coming from the other tailgates and conversations had to take place in fairly tight groups. I hung out with Eve for the most part because the couples seem to separate. It’s the only thing that bugs me. Blaine did come by a couple of times, once to bring me a fresh drink and another time to ask if how I was doing and if I was having fun.

It wasn’t until the pregame broadcast started that John turned on the television and the huge speakers attached to it. Within minutes all the tailgates were tuned to the same broadcast. It reminded me of being a kid and riding my bike around our small town on game day. On every block someone was out working in their garage with their radio tuned to the game and the volume turned up. No matter where you were, you knew the score.

Blaine grabbed the lawn chairs we had brought and set them up for us next to Eve and Paul. There wasn’t much sitting until the opposing team had scored two touchdowns after recovering fumbled balls. It was a close game but we didn't play well.

In the quieter periods, I took some ribbing for having the wrong color lawn chair. Mine was the only one not in the team color. When pressed about why I had bought a blue chair, I said my heart belonged to the Cubs. (In reality it’s the only color there was when I bought it years ago.) Paul called out, “We’ll get her a proper one before next weekend.” At least no one cared that the team t-shirt I wore was about five minutes old.

I was wired afterward and the night air was perfect for a long walk through Blaine’s neighborhood. “This was a fun day,” I told him. “I’m glad we made it to football season,” I joked.

“Once the season starts you have to see it through you know.”

I don’t think it will be a problem.
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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Party planning

Mica’s back home and working again. Her elbow is giving her a lot of trouble--very sore--and making it difficult to use the mouse and keyboard for long stretches. She’s made an appointment with her doctor to make sure she’s doing the right things. The bruising is incredible. It’s amazing she didn’t break anything.

I went over at noon to walk the little white dog. Mica let me know what week she’s going to be away visiting her mom. I’ll stay with the little white dog then. The way it works out, I’ll take care of Izzy for nine days, may have one day at home and then will be with the little white dog for seven days. A year ago all of this would have been a nice break from my normal routine. This year my normal routine is more varied.

I broke the news to Blaine when he came over tonight. I believed there was a good chance he would be put off. October is usually a gorgeous month around here, and we have talked many times about taking advantage of the fall weather and colors to go exploring the trails at a couple of state parks. “[The Little White Dog] won’t be a problem. He can go with us. He’s fine with car rides and he loves walks.” Izzy hates car rides, and I have no idea how she would react on a park trail. She would probably enjoy it, but I’m not comfortable testing it with her.

“We’ll work something out.”


He looked at me. “Did you think it was going to be a problem?”

“It isn’t ideal for us.”

He considered that, finished with a shrug. “For some time now my ideal has been spending time with you. That will still happen. And I like dogs--not like you like dogs,” he chuckled. “We have a more immediate problem anyway.”


He retrieved his phone from his jacket pocket and found a text he wanted me to read. It was from a couple that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before, but who knows. I met them when we celebrated Eve’s birthday, and I liked both quite a bit. I saw them again at Eve’s mom’s funeral. The text was an invitation to a football watching party at their house on Saturday. “Oh my.” I handed the phone back. “Why are they-- Don’t they go to the tailgates?”

And I received the first briefing into the politics of the friendships that make up Blaine’s social circle. When he finished, I observed, “This is why it’s good to be an introvert. When you only have a couple of friends, the complications are kept to a minimum.”

“I hadn’t considered that angle,” he said.

“So what’s it going to be?”

“What’s your preference?”

“I’ve been hearing about these tailgates since before I met you. I really want to go. Plus, this is a good game to watch in that environment.” It’s against a team with fans so odious that all I want is for us to annihilate them. Or win by one. I don’t care how it happens as long as they lose. LOSE.

I may have said much of that out loud. “This is a new side of you.”

“I can get fiery.”

“I like it.”

So, we’re going to the tailgate but Blaine thinks it would be best to make an appearance at the watching party.

“If it looks like we will win,” I said, “can we go back to the tailgate before the game is over?”

“Are you going to taunt the visitors?”

“Introverts don’t taunt,” I reassured. “We feed taunts to those who do.”


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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A walk to support

In IM earlier today:

Me: I have a feeling I'm going to accidentally end up volunteering to wear the plush mascot costume before I'm done registering.

Eve: You will be cute in the giant lower digestive system costume!
Me: You really can't beat a plush gastrointestinal tract.
In a few weeks Eve and I are participating in a walk to support research for Crohn's Disease.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Figure out how to care

The main communications department rolled out a new branding campaign today via an online meeting. All of us at the various locations need to implement it over the next several months. I was ready to take copious notes about how to do that but the meeting lasted less than a half hour and was about the process that had lead to the new branding. It ended with a video designed to make us stand and cheer.

I’m not the stand and cheer sort unless there are nine men arranged around a diamond of dirt.

After logging out of the meeting, I looked at my nonexistent notes. I jotted down the tagline so I’d remember it. I considered adding “Figure out how to care about new branding” to my to-do list but decided I could remember that on my own.
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Monday, September 3, 2018

Not broken

Mica called early to see if I wanted to get breakfast. Before she could ask I heard loud noises and Mica cry out. She had tripped over the edge of the new carpet protector under her office chair. I heard, “I fell. I thinks it’s broken.” I told her I was on my way, and I was. Izzy barely got a goodbye. I had already fed her and she had been outside twice, although I wasn’t sure she had bothered to do anything since it was raining.

I made good time getting across town. When I arrived, Mica had ice packs on her elbow and knee. She no longer thought anything was broken but agreed to have X-rays. Sophie arrived as we were about to leave. The three of us went to urgent care.

Nothing was broken but everything is bruised badly. Since Mica’s bed is a flight of stairs away she‘s going to stay with Sophie until she can manage them again. I said I could stay with the little white dog because Sophie’s yard isn’t secure enough for him to go out unsupervised. Sophie wanted him to go to her house. I helped load his stuff and him and packed for Mica. All is well and taken care of.

A couple of things were said during all of this that hurt my feelings badly. I should be getting used to it but never will.

I drove back to Izzy. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t have had an accident, but she’d held it. After taking her for a well-deserved walk, I jumped into the shower. I had hair and makeup finished but hadn’t yet dressed when Blaine arrived to pick me up. It only took a few minutes for me to finish, and we weren’t late leaving but I was frazzled. He couldn’t have been less bothered that I hadn’t been ready. It’s exactly what I needed.

Blaine has a friend, someone he’s known since law school, who is terminally ill. I was introduced to him at Blaine’s birthday party. He had mentioned then that we should double date sometime. I don’t think his relationship went the way he hoped, so it didn’t happen. Recently he told Blaine he’d like to meet me—have a chance to talk some. We spent a few hours with him today and had a good time.

Blaine waited with me until Paul and Eve got home. It was a quiet couple of hours. Izzy slept on the couch. We sat on the loveseat and looked out the front window. We talked some but mostly stayed with our thoughts.

Now I’m home and doing laundry. I’ll get just enough done to see me through a couple days of work. I hate to see what this week will bring.

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Sunday, September 2, 2018

No occasion

Blaine invited me to dinner at his place . I walked in to find the lights dimmed, music playing and candles flickering in every room and on the dining room table. Dinner smelled great. The menu included roasted Brussels sprouts. Dessert charmed me—my favorite cake, the classic strawberry Jello whip-n-chill. There was wine. There was dancing. There was no occasion, just too many weekends in a row without much one-on-one time.
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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Quick as lightning

I learned something new about football today. Lightning suspends the game and play won’t resume until 30 minutes have passed following the last strike.

Blaine and I went downtown to meet up with John, Kim, the rest of the usual group and assorted others to watch the game. We were crammed into a bar where a bank of giant television screens above the bar were tuned to different games until it was time for the tunnel walk and all switched to the only game anyone cared about.

The fervor of football fans around here cannot be overstated, and this season opener has been anticipated since a new coach was hired at the end of last season. When the tunnel walk started, the place erupted—whooping, clapping chanting. The tables vibrated. I couldn’t hear Blaine talking into my ear.

On the screens we watched the kickoff, then a clap of thunder loud enough to break through the noise got everyone’s attention. On the television the officials were already at the sidelines waving like traffic cops to get the players and coaches to leave the field. Closed captioning said play was suspended a minimum of 30 minutes due to lightning.

We waited. And waited.

Nearly three hours later it was still pouring and the wind was blowing the rain sideways. Some people who had been at the game made it inside and said everyone had been asked to leave the stadium because the game was going to be called off. A few minutes later a local news app sent a text saying the game would be played in the morning. Not long after, another text said the game was cancelled.

So…football season is here...ish.

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