Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Not as planned


After a night of Halloween-like dreams that woke me up three times, I wasn’t in a great mood at work. It didn’t help that within an hour of arriving at my office I had a headache and felt off in that way you sometimes do when you’re about to come down with something. I took a couple of Tylenol and set aside a newly poured glass of Diet Coke for a glass of ice water. Turning off the overhead light and working with only the task lights above the desk helped some.

Eve encouraged me to go home but I couldn’t because I had plans with Mica tonight. “Go home, get some rest and then go out with Mica,” Eve said gently as if this was one of those times I was unable to see the obvious. I suppose it was in a way. I still adhere to the rule of if you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to play.

I made it through the day, but Mica had to cancel our plans because of work. I went home and burrowed under the covers. I hadn’t bought any candy so I ended up looking like one of the crabby people who doesn’t do Halloween.

I exchanged a few texts with Eve. She and Paul were at a car dealership buying a new pickup because the van Paul put 200,000 miles on decided it had done enough and was ready to retire...on the side of the highway about a half hour outside the city.

Blaine and I touched base, too. Eli stuck with the dinosaur costume. Besides him, seven other trick-or-treaters came to his door. He’s used to having closer to 100 so he has a lot of chocolate on his hands. He thinks the drop is due to the construction on his street. They are building houses across the street and have all the trucks and other equipment parked along there. There are also new townhouses at the end of the block that haven’t sold yet so it’s dark at that end. In my day dark and spooky was exactly what you looked for.

I'm watching something on Netflix about the '70s. The episode I'm on is about serial killers and cults. That should help improve the dreams I have tonight.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018



I went by Blaine’s after work. We made spaghetti then went for a short walk through his neighborhood and looked at the Halloween decorations.

He is planning to hand out candy tomorrow. I’m planning to do something with Mica so I won’t be there when Allison brings Eli by. When I was at Allison’s helping with the tree, Eli told me he was going to be a giraffe, which I thought was an awesome idea. Blaine said the latest was he wants to be a dinosaur because he can make its tail move. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Maybe a giraffe head and a dinosaur tail.

I asked Blaine what his favorite Halloween costume was when he was a kid. He tapped his chest. “Farm kid. We didn’t trick-or-treat.”

“That may be the only downside to not having neighbors,” I said. “Did you dress up for a school party or anything?”

“Not that I remember.”


“It’s OK,” he reassured. “My grandma always made me and my sister popcorn balls with candy corn in them and pumpkin shaped sugar cookies.”

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Monday, October 29, 2018


Paul stopped in at the office this afternoon. Instead of turning into Eve’s office, he came to mine. “You’re just the person I need to see.”

Hearing his voice, Eve looked across the hall where her husband was standing in my doorway. “Whaaaat?”

He gave me a smile before he turned toward her. “I need to get a hold of Henry.”

“Well, I know Henry too,” she reminded.

“Do you want to ask him to call me if he’s still interested in hunting pheasant with Blaine and me?”

I’d forgotten about that.

Eve waved her hand. “No. You’ll get a faster response this way.”

“I’m not the Henry whisperer,” I said. I opened an email, ready to type in the information. At the end of the hallway the outside door opened and I heard Henry’s voice. “Or maybe I am.”

Henry does want to go with them. They’re planning to hunt on land owned by Blaine’s brother-in-law. They want to go on a Saturday before Thanksgiving. They will select a date as soon as Blaine is able to talk to his brother-in-law.

Eve and I might ask Julia to do something that day, once we know what it is.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Good luck

Sophie, Mica and I took a road trip to do some shopping and have a nice lunch to celebrate Sophie’s birthday.

I looked for a dress appropriate for one of the Christmas parties. After looking through a couple of racks, I said to Sophie, “What is with the sequins?”

I didn’t realize the salesperson was lurking behind me until she said, “Don’t you want to stand out when you walk into the room?”

“I really don’t,” I answered, laughing lightly.

She tried to find something for me before sending me off with, “Good luck.”

Is it unreasonable to want sleeves for a December party when you live in the Midwest?

I went to my brother’s when we got back. The USB port in his car isn’t working correctly. He had it replaced and it worked better at first but is still stopping for no reason sometimes. There wasn’t anything I could do but it seemed to make him feel better that I tried to figure it out. The year and model of his car has a history of trouble with the radio so he’ll probably be out of luck. I was able to teach him how to move photos from his phone to the computer and how to move music from the computer to his phone, and I brought him dessert from where we had lunch. That’s the extent of my ability to help.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Any mud hole

Today was the perfect fall day--sunny, warm, a breeze only heavy enough to encourage leaves to fall. To take advantage, Blaine and I skipped the tailgate, blew off the football game and went to the state park for a hike. Finally!

It couldn't have been lovelier. We went for broke and chose the longest, most challenging trail. Once we were on it, we didn't see another person until we were off the bluff again.

We didn't try to make time. On the narrow paths we kept our pace up but through every clearing we slowed or stopped if we found a log or a lean-to with a view. The whole outdoor was a view, what with the orange, yellow and red leaves and the grasses turning a burnt reddish brown.

We had a lot of time to talk. I told him about sliding down the bank of a river and into the water during a high school event that had nothing to do with going near a river. He told me about getting his first car stuck in the mud so badly his dad took one look at it and wished him luck, then left him with it and drove off (returning later with a tractor and winch). Lots of little stories. Why I never learned how to swim. How he got the scar behind his ear.

Things turned serious for a short time. Last night it came out that Maggie isn't adjusting to my presence very well. Eve explained that Maggie always wanted the close friendship with Blaine's late wife that Eve had with her but they had never clicked in the same way. After Blaine's wife died, Maggie wanted to have that easy kind of friendship with Eve, but I came along and Eve and I clicked, and once again Maggie feels set aside. Just as bad, maybe worse, Blaine started dating me. Today, Blaine asked about it. Long conversation short, I'm glad I understand the problem now. I'll always be friendly with the hope that she'll adjust but I'm not going to try very hard with her.

Last night, after the Maggie conversation, Paul began reminiscing about Blaine's wife. He and Eve told several stories about her and the four of them. Not surprisingly, all were funny. It made me wish there was some way to bring her back to them. On the selfish side I'm glad that can't happen because I would hate to have this past year erased from my life.

Blaine wanted to know if the walk down memory lane had bothered me and apologized for not changing the subject. When it's from Eve, Paul or Allison, I don't mind hearing the stories at all. But it did make me wonder, again, what he sees in me. Sometimes I wonder if my biggest appeal is that I have been able to slip into a comfortable slot because of my friendship with Eve. There's a foursome once again. A rather big conversation followed and went well. He seems hell-bent on having me in his life. I can live with that.

What I almost couldn't live through was the descent down one part of the trail. We both had trouble, but I struggled more to find a way to stay upright. I finally had to sort of lurch down and use some young trees to slow me down. Once safely down I told Blaine I was glad I hadn't ended up inside a giant ball of mud, leaves and sticks rolling toward the river.

"At least you have experience falling into rivers."

"And you could winch me out."

"Anytime, anywhere, any mud hole."

"Aww, you're making me misty."

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Friday, October 26, 2018

How do I look?

Parking was nearly gone by the time I arrived at the place Eve selected for our Friday night gathering. I snagged the last space in an adjacent parking lot. As I walked toward the building I passed Blaine’s SUV and saw Paul and Eve’s so I knew who to look for once inside.

It was busy. I checked the high-top tables near the bar for familiar faces and stepped carefully through the maze of seated and standing people. Beyond the bar was table and booth seating. I spotted Eve’s hair first, then I saw Blaine seated opposite. He noticed me a moment later and stood. I smiled, as I always do. He had his jaw set to Not Going to Smile and maintained eye contact with me. I wondered what he was up to. He gave his shoulders a shrug and touched the button on his suit jacket as if he were going to close it. He touched the knot a his throat and slid his hand down the length of the tie. I caught on then to what he was doing and paused. He turned his palms outward as if asking Well, how do I look?

I looked. Slowly. From head to toe, back again. It was meant to be playfully scrutinizing but that only lasted until my brain engaged, or disengaged maybe, and I took a breath and let it out slowly. He smiled then. He’d gotten me.

As I slid into the booth. Eve said, “I don’t know what that was about, but I did see it.”
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Thursday, October 25, 2018


I went to Mica's after work. Needed to visit the little white dog (who has front paws, I assure). She and I grabbed takeout and watched an episode of "Poldark." We talked about Greg a little bit. She's not as interested as she was at first. Still, she likes him and thinks she'll give it a bit of time, maybe gradually downgrade to a friendship. She asked if Blaine and I wanted to go out to dinner with them sometime. I'll ask Blaine if he wants to. Can't imagine he'll say no.

We took the little white dog outside before I left. I was surprised to see that he avoided walking on the landscape fabric we put down. Maybe the grass will have a chance to grow before he can wear down another trench along the fence.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Seriously irritated

"I talked to Cody today," my brother told me when he called tonight, his third call this week. "He asked me about that guy you brought to April's birthday party. What's his name?"

"Blaine," I answered flatly.

"Yeah. Is he your boyfriend or something?"

Good Lord.


"Oh. Well, Cody asked me about him and I didn't know."

Not because I've never told him. Not because he's never met him, for God's sake.

"What did Cody want to know?"

"I don't know. If you were still dating him, I guess. Oh, one of the girls is having a birthday soon. I don't know which one."


"Yeah, that's right. When is that?"

"Right after Thanksgiving." He's been to her birthday party every year since she turned one. You would think it would stick by now.

"Are you bringing that guy to Thanksgiving?"

"Blaine." It irritates me that he deliberately won't use names. It's "that guy" and "that dog of Mica's." It's like he looks for ways to minimize things important to me. It's all instinct though--he isn't self-aware enough for it to be a strategy. Making me feel unimportant has been his life's work, though.


"He'll have Thanksgiving with his family." Blaine and I haven't talked about it, but it seems obvious.

"What does he have for family?"

"He has a daughter, son-in-law and grandson. He has a sister and brother-in-law and nieces and nephews. Probably great nieces and nephews too." There's also family on his wife's side but I haven't heard too much about them.

"What happened to his wife?"

"She died a number of years ago."

"Oh." He drew out the word as if he were letting that sink in, but clearly nothing sinks in if it's about my life. "How do you know this guy?"

"My friend Eve introduced us. They're friends."

"Eve is the one with the dog you take care of?"

"Yes." Izzy. No reason why he shouldn't know her name by now. I post a picture or two of her on my Facebook page every time I stay with her because my dog-loving friends have fallen in love with her.

Another pause. "Well, Cody said you can bring him to Thanksgiving or to the birthday party if you want."


"Cody asked me if this thing with him is serious. I told him I didn't know."

"You can tell him it is."

"I see."

Unlikely. And I took a liberty there because he was making me mad and I knew that bit of news would quickly shut him up. Things are serious but on the gauge of seriousness the needle is past green and into the orange with red a ways off.

"Nicki was back at work today--" And then it was forty minutes of life at work, the latest problem with his home laptop and an update on something I couldn't care less about but have heard every detail of for the last three years.

Some nights I shouldn't answer the phone.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Feels like Monday


It isn’t Monday. I thought it was until I was on my way to work and noticed when a DJ said it was Tuesday. This matters because I didn’t put the garbage out this morning and will have to wait another week.

While I was gone--probably the day it snowed--the electricity went out. I don’t know how long it was out so I have to toss everything that was in the refrigerator. Since it isn’t cold enough yet to do that and leave it in the trash can for a week, I'll have to leave everything in the refrigerator and freezer until next Monday. Lovely.

At work I found two emails and two voicemails from Henry, all letting me know he needed changes made to his website before Wednesday, if that was possible. Henry seems to think making a change to a website requires rebuilding the computer and sacrificing a goat every time. All he wanted was a caption on a picture changed. I did it while talking to him. “You did? Already? Excellent. You really know what you’re doing!” Let’s go with that.

I spoke to Blaine a little while ago. He’s driving home from his late friend’s hometown. His friend was laid to rest today. Blaine said the service was nicely personalized and a good reflection of who his friend was. Blaine had time to visit the family members he knew and saw a couple of others he had gone to law school with. He sounded tired but lighter than he has.

Although my neglected house looks as though the Munsters decorated it, I’m going to crawl into bed early so I can read longer. I’m finishing up the third book in Anne Bishop’s The Others series. Still enjoying them a lot, but they are nothing like I expected. Mica has read them now (she’s a freaky fast alien-like reader). We’ve talked a little bit about how, so far anyway, there isn’t a traditional romance, the action isn’t intense and in this world the vampires and shapeshifters do not behave as you would expect. It's low key but compelling. I’m anxious to see where it goes.

I've also decided to listen to Bob Woodward's book while I'm in the car. It's going to be interesting and probably scary. Just in time for Halloween.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Impulse control


Today, my last day of vacation, is the first day I’ve accomplished anything. I bought toothpaste and took my car to the mechanic.

I'll pause until the oohs and ahhs quiet.

During my week at Eve’s the engine light in my car came on. I made an appointment to have it checked out and to have the oil changed. I dropped it off this morning, and Mica picked me up so I wouldn’t have to spend hours waiting for them to figure out what was wrong.

She had both dogs with her because they had a grooming appointment at 11:00. To kill the extra time, we took them to dog park first. No other dogs in the small dog side, but they could still run and chase one another.

A dog on the big dog side came up to the fence to check them out. The little white dog met him and they sniffed noses. Chloe, little bad ass that she is, charged the fence barking, and the big dog cowered. It was one of those times I’m glad we don’t know what they’re saying.

After dropping them off at the groomer, we went to lunch and ran errands that Mica needed to do. By then the dogs were ready to be picked up. We dropped them off at Mica’s, and she took me to pick up my car.

They told me there were two things that might be causing the engine light to come on. One is covered by warranty and one isn’t. They changed the part that is covered and said it seemed to do the trick. I hope it does because I’d like to buy tires before winter and would rather have only one major car expense at a time.

Once I had my car back, I went to Sam’s and bought toothpaste. They’ve switched to almost all self-checkout lanes. I saw a meme on Facebook a while ago directed at Walmart that said if I wanted to check myself out, I’d stay at home and shop on Amazon. That’s how I feel about the trend toward eliminating cashiers. I bought more than toothpaste and kept hold of the receipt. I’m going to check Amazon and see how the prices differ. I wouldn't mind having most things delivered to my door.

After that, I went to Mica’s to help her seed grass in newly added dirt and cover it with some landscape fabric that is supposed to protect the seed until it can germinate. We are not gardeners. We also suck at measuring and cutting. It looks like a mess. The dirt was needed to fill in a trench worn by the little white dog who follows the same route every time he goes outside. The real problem is how to keep him from displacing the new dirt before grass can anchor it. I think Mica needs some kind of temporary fence. She believes the little white dog will observe the fabric and choose now to exercise impulse control.

“Have you met him?” I asked.

She squirted me with the hose.

Back to work tomorrow.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018



Last Sunday it snowed. A few inches of heavy fluff stuck to the leaves on the trees, weighing down the branches and breaking some. Neither Eve and Paul nor Mica had any significant breaks, but a tree in Allison and Ty’s back yard took a hit. One large limb ripped off and dropped into the yard. It didn’t damage any property but the canopy fell across part of Eli’s playset, making it off limits. All week. Forever for a 4 year old.

Ty decided to handle the removal himself rather than have a tree trimming company come in, but it was a busy week and he didn’t get to it. It has been the source of increasing frustration for Allison.

This afternoon Blaine went over to help clean it up. I asked if I could help, too. It has been a lazy week, and I knew fresh air and putting effort into something would be good.

When I arrived, Blaine was using the large chainsaw to trim off the main branches and Ty was using a smaller one to strip those pieces of branches with leaves. Allison and I used loppers to cut the small stuff up so it would fit into paper garden bags. With four of us working, it took a little over four hours to get it cleaned up. Allison and Ty wanted to take us out to dinner. I declined because I needed to get back to Chloe, and I still had to pack and load my car before Mica got home.

Blaine walked me out to my car. He smelled like sunshine and was covered in sawdust. I brushed a bit off his shirt. “This lumberjack look is a close second to suits.” As it was coming out of my mouth, I knew I had just blown it.

I don’t know if he smiled at what I said or the Oh, crap expression I likely had on my face. “You like how I look in a suit?”

“Of course!” Doesn’t everyone? What a silly question. Ha ha…  Be cool. And suddenly I was a dog who just spotted a tennis ball, and it was all over. He took full advantage.

“This is new information.”

“No it isn’t. I’ve told you how nice you look on numerous occasions when you’ve been wearing a suit.”


“And I remember using “handsome” to describe you, too.”

“You have, yes, and I appreciate that.” Head tilted down, he watched me, a playful smirk letting me know he was going to have a little fun. “Any other adjectives come to mind?”

“For you? Right at this moment? Uh huh.” My tone was dry, my cheeks hot.

He laughed. “We’ll revisit this the next time I’m dressed appropriately.”

“Can’t wait.” And, really, I can’t, but he doesn’t need to know that.

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

The win


Blaine and I went to the tailgate. The atmosphere all over Tailgate Village (as I now think of downtown on game days) was optimistic and enthusiastic in spite of the team having lost every game so far.

As we were walking from the parking lot, we were behind some of our fans and some of the opposing team’s fans. One of the visitors tried to stir up something with a comment about our team’s new record of most consecutive losses in a season. I braced, unsure how it was going to go. Fortunately, our fans shrugged it off, saying it has been tough but the team is working hard and things will turn. The visitor who had made the remark clapped the guy on the back and said it’s been hard to see the program suffer as it has and he wished them luck...after today’s game.

Fortunately, the luck came in time for today’s game and we won. It was a lot of fun to watch it surrounded by thousands of excited tailgaters. At one point the cheering from blocks in every direction was so loud it felt like a vibration.

We left as soon as the game ended because I had already left Chloe longer than is wise. As we drove across town we heard boom...boom...boom from fireworks being set off to celebrate the win. It’s usually the type of celebration that follows championship games.

Eve and Paul weren’t at the tailgate because they had another event to attend. They really need to get back into a routine that benefits me.

I talked to Kim quite a bit. She told me they bought a mid-century ranch last fall and have spent this year restoring it. I immediately pictured a pink tile bathroom with matching sink and toilet. Surely not. I hope. I’ve never been drawn to the mid-century modern look so my ability to appreciate some of the styles of that time is limited. Kim said they are going to throw a ‘50s themed Christmas party to celebrate the completion.

She said she’s been going to estate sales every week to find period glassware for the party. I asked if she was looking for the atomic amoeba boomerang pattern. She clenched my arm. “Are you a mid-centurist?” Is that a real thing, I wondered. Either way, I’m not. I told her my favorite aunt had a set of old-fashioned and highball glasses with that pattern in black and gold, and my fondness for the pattern comes from the memories it brings back. She and John are collecting the pattern in gold and turquoise. They’re trying to find them at estate sales and auctions rather than antique stores or Ebay where the prices are higher. They've also been picking up period Christmas decorations. We talked a long time about that. If there’s one thing I know it’s vintage Christmas decorations and, in my opinion, the best come from the ‘50s. I'm looking forward to the party.

On the way to Mica's I mentioned the Christmas party to Blaine. That segued into what our social calendars look like around the holidays. Mine is a blank slate. His isn’t. There are two parties that he always attends--the firm’s office party and one thrown by a partner. For the first time I hoped he wouldn’t include me in his plans.

“Be my date for them?” he asked.

Well, damn. I looked over at him, considering. “Promise to get me into Kim and John’s party?” I asked.

He smiled. “I promise.”

“All right then.”

How am I going to find two appropriate Christmassy outfits by December?

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Come by


My laptop has been offline several days. Sunday night I moved from Paul and Eve’s house to Mica’s, and I didn’t realize I had never connected the laptop to her Wi-Fi. I had to wait until she could give me the password.

I’m on vacation this week and haven’t done much until today when I went downtown to have lunch with Blaine. We walked from his office to a place that makes good gyros and then over to a public space with benches where we ate in relative privacy.

Blaine’s friend who has been sick died during the night. It wasn’t unexpected but it’s still hard to get that call. We avoided talking about it for obvious reasons. I invited Blaine over for dinner and company but he preferred to go home, which was understandable.

Sophie dropped her dog Chloe off this afternoon. There was a death in Sophie’s family and she’s traveling out of state to attend the funeral. Chloe will stay with me at Mica’s through Sunday. Chloe lived with Mica for almost eight months when Sophie had knee surgery and then a follow-up surgery when the new knee had to be replaced. Her rehab had a lot of ups and downs so it was a long time before she was able to have Chloe home. In that time, Chloe and the little white dog got used to living with one another. She is the only dog the little white dog doesn’t mind having around for extended periods. Only this time he’s not very happy. When he’s upset he takes it out on his favorite toy--an alligator with a Christmas hat that I gave him many years ago. We call it the zombie gator now because every appendage is hanging on by threads. Tonight, one of the legs finally came off. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, so the piece that was the leg is now sitting in a decorative bowl by the front door. A place of honor.

Blaine called after supper and asked if he could come by. I let him know the answer to that question will always be yes.

After the two crazies greeted him and provided a floor show with the working title “Whirling, Growling Dervishes,” we left them with a treat a for each and went for a walk. Afterward, we sat on the patio while the dogs ran around the back yard. Chloe tired and approached Blaine. She put her paws on his leg and whined. He picked her up. She rolled in his arms so her belly was exposed, and he scritched it gently. After awhile the little white dog came over and settled between Blaine’s feet. Blaine reached down and rubbed his head. It’s unusual for the little white dog to want to be petted by someone he doesn’t know. Maybe he sensed Blaine was having a tough day, or maybe he just likes him. Either way, it did everyone good.
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Getting lost


After the football game ended, Blaine and I took Izzy for a walk. A long walk. And perhaps, yes, it was such a long walk because we got lost and it took a while to backtrack until we knew where we were. We could have consulted Google maps but agreed it was a perfect day for getting lost – sunny, warm, bright blue sky and leaves of every shade of fall on the trees. So we kept wandering until something looked familiar.

“See?” I said to Blaine when we first realized we had gotten trapped in the neighborhood’s curvy streets, long blocks, short streets and endless cul-de-sacs. “I’m not the only one whose natural navigation gets confused by these ridiculous street layouts.”

“Acknowledged. My neighborhood is easier than this, though.”

I poked him.

There are three ways into his neighborhood. The only one that doesn’t feed me into an impossible web of switchbacks and cul-de-sacs is the entrance that leads directly to his house. If I enter or leave another way, I’ll always miss a turn and drive in circles until someone in the homeowners association is alerted of a problem and swipes something in an app that allows my escape. Or something.

Izzy’s nose did nothing to help us. She didn’t care if we ever found our way back. I let her have more leash than normal when we were on quiet streets with no kids or dogs around so she could run ahead and feel like she was setting the course. She had so much fun zig-zagging and tromping all over.

Operating a retractable leash is second nature. I’m a quick draw when it comes to pressing the button that stops the leash from extending further and flicking the other button that locks it down. Blaine was impressed by the quickness of my thumb, and he liked the way I reeled her in like a fish when I wanted to shorten the leash. This is the first time I’ve trusted her and my ability to anticipate her movements well enough to use the retractable leash. It worked well.

Every so often Izzy would trot back to me as if checking in. She would nose my hand until I rubbed her neck, then she would prance away, bushy tail swaying. She’s finally seeing me as a friend, I think. Until this stay she seemed to associate me with making her family go away.

After we found our way back, Blaine went home to shower and change, and I did the same. He returned to pick me up for dinner, our date. We went to the Indian restaurant we like, the one so beautifully decorated and lit that romance seems inevitable. Maybe it is.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Make like a slug



Every day, rain or shine: 

Izzy and I have had a good week overall. Rainy and chilly every day but yesterday, but what can be done about the weather?

I've been exhausted by the change in routine--up and out the door by 5:30 a.m. for the first walk of the day, then getting myself ready for work and Izzy ready to face the day. It takes longer to drive to work, and I come back at lunch for a walk. I have to grab something to eat in the car. I went from trying to eat at the house to taking cereal and yogurt to work and eating at my desk.

I decided to take today off--extend my week off by a day--because I couldn't face another day of the work routine. To be clear, it isn't keeping Izzy's schedule that's the source of the problem. Work has been a drag on me for awhile. I struggle to find enthusiasm for anything I do. The exception is the work I do for Henry because Henry is Henry--he's supportive, collaborative and genuine. My goal for the week off is to slug out and recharge but to also give a some thought to how I can reset. I want my old attitude back.

Blaine has helped by letting me talk it through and providing insights more than advice. I find more reasons to like him all the time. Sometimes that is scary to me and I want to pull back but I can't anymore. When this ends, it's going to hurt worse than anything else has, yet as I'm living it, it seems well worth it.

He has been coming over in the evenings to watch TV and play with Izzy. He likes to get her so riled up with a squeaky toy that she takes off racing down the hall, back to the loft, on the couch, off the couch, down the stairs, back up the stairs...She can keep it up for about five minutes.

I'm also teaching him how to TV binge. We discovered he likes "Man in the High Castle." I must say he's taken to binging better than I expected. We've been watching three episodes a night. I'm itching to get to the latest season (I've already seen the first two) and may jump ahead of him.

Since mid-summer we've been hanging out on weeknights more and more. Usually, it's two or three nights a week when I'm at Paul and Eve's he comes over every night. I suspect this is neutral territory for us. He's comfortable here and is used to a lot of coming and going, and since I essentially move in every time I'm here, it is becoming a home away from home. Here, neither of us thinks twice about going to the kitchen for refills or opening cabinets to look for a cooking utensil.

As for tonight, we're staying in. Last night Blaine asked if I wanted to go out with anyone after work tonight. I told him my preference was to skip it. His, too, he said. "I don't enjoy it as much without Eve and Paul," I admitted. He agreed that the four of us are much more fun than any other combination. We're going to make a point of going out with them next Friday if they're schedule allows.

We're not doing anything for the football game tomorrow either. I'm relieved. It's an away game so there's no tailgate. No one has said they're having a watching party. Blaine said what usually happens is someone will decide to go to one of the sports bars to watch and people will gather at the last minute or not. He said we don't have to, and I'm holding him to it. Probably. I don't mind hanging out with the usuals, but the thought of a slug-like Saturday appeals more.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Symphony channel

When I stay at Eve’s, I come and go through the garage. This morning I used the remote to raise the garage door. When I stepped onto the driveway I pressed the button to lower the door and...nothing. For 10 minutes nothing and then for no reason the button worked again. Rather than risk a repeat, I went inside and picked up the key for the front door that they left for me.

At noon I came to take Izzy for a walk. It was raining steadily. It has been raining every day for two weeks. I was sick to death of it after Blaine and I tried to go hiking. Now, having to walk the slowest, most easily distracted dog in all the world, I’m truly at the end of my patience. By the time I got her back in the house, my shoes were soaked and I was running behind. I grabbed yogurt and some cereal for lunch and ate when I got back to the office.

Tonight was another wet walk but she was less stubborn and it all was fine.

“How was your day?” Blaine asked I called to say hello.

“Well,” I exhaled, “I listened to the symphony channel on the way home.”

“Oh, I am sorry to hear that.”

I need a vacation, one of those where the only point is to nap, read and repeat as needed. fact, starting Friday.

"But rainwater keeps my coat especially beautiful."
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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Back at college

“Look how nice you two look! Go stand on the stairs so I can take a picture.” Allison had a bit of fun treating us like we were headed to prom. Thankfully no dancing would be required; we were going to the alumni banquet at my college.

We did look nice. I wore the navy dress I wore on our date to the symphony, and Blaine went with a classic navy suit, white shirt and paisley tie in blues and grays that did nice things for his eyes. It will never get old.

The whole evening was very nice. The college gets fancy for alumni. There was a reception held in a part of the student center that was added soon after I graduated. One side of the room is glass. In my day the view would have been of a gravel service road and maintenance buildings; now it overlooks a terrace and lawn.

In the reception area there was a wine bar. A string quartet, presumably music majors, provided background music. There were large arrangements of flowers and subtle lighting bright enough to allow people to read name tags but soft enough to help keep the older alumni from looking their age.

The part of the evening I’ll remember best is when I gave our names at the registration table and the person crossing names off the attendee list looked up. “Oh, you’re the one Dr. Moran asked about. He asked us to find him when you checked in.”

Moran, as I always called him, is an English lit professor with whom Mica and I had a special rapport. In his spare time he tried to turn us into proper scholars, and we attempted to broaden his thinking by introducing him to pop culture, specifically the “hair bands” that were popular then. I only took two of his classes, one being senior seminar. I double majored so I was researching and writing two theses that semester. Since I didn’t consider English my primary major, I put less effort into it especially during periods when I felt particularly burned out. Moran was sympathetic and stuck with me, challenging and cajoling until I finally finished.

One of the students on hand to help where needed was sent to find Moran in the crowd and bring him over. “There you are,” he said warmly and as if he had been searching for me for the past umpteen years. We talked for quite awhile. He was the first, but not last, to ask if I was still writing and to scold me when I answered.

During the reception, I spoke to another faculty member from the English department. I was surprised he remembered me since I had only had him for one class, but then he said he had helped organize this special edition of the lit magazine. He said the members of the selection committee were from outside the college, most faculty at other institutions and a few published authors or poets. He introduced me to the professor who currently teaches the fiction classes. He was familiar with me through the professor who had taught those classes when I was there (she retired a few years ago). None of this was bad for the ego.

When Blaine and I were on our own again, I told him I suddenly felt like I had followed the wrong road.

Other than faculty, I saw one person I recognized as being from my class, and I did my best to keep out of her line of sight. She was a lot to take when we were college. She may have mellowed over the years but I wasn’t willing to chance it. I also didn’t want to go through the are-you-married, any-kids, oh-that’s-too-bad drilling she was sure to give me.

I said hello to someone I had gone to high school then college with. We were never more than acquaintances along the way but he’s always enthusiastic when our paths cross. After that, a woman approached me. I recognized her maiden name but couldn’t really place how she knew me. From classes, obviously, but no idea which ones. I’m thrown when people remember me, probably because I've spent much of my life hoping to blend into the background where I could go unnoticed.

The dinner was long. There were many awards presented to notable alumni and some of them had more than a few words to say. The seating chart had landed us at a table with others formerly involved with the lit magazine. The man next to me had graduated 12 years before I did. He was chatty and happy to be back. With a laugh, he said some were having all the “authors” (quotation marks mine) sign their pieces. He held out a pen and a copy of the magazine, which I hadn’t yet seen. I checked the Table of Contents to figure out which pages to turn to. I signed the pages quickly and passed the magazine back. I could feel Blaine looking at me. When I glanced at him, he smiled. I leaned toward him. “Please never speak of this.”

The ceremony included recognition of the magazine. Two of us had both fiction and poetry selected and we were recognized individually. Had to stand. Could have lived without that. I was mentioned once more because I had been the first recipient to receive a particular writing award. The family who endowed it were receiving one of the most prestigious awards given to alumni.

As we left the banquet room after dinner, there was a table with the magazines displayed where the quartet had been. I picked up two (Mica wanted one) and Blaine reached for a copy. “May I?” he asked. I nodded.

Being back on campus made me nostalgic. I wanted to go to a couple of spots I always visit when I’m there. Blaine was game even though it was chilly and intermittently misty. We didn’t go far. Down the hill toward the pond and along one of the paths I walked every day to get to the building where most of my classes were held. The other spot was inside that building. It was while we were standing inside the door of a side entrance and I was explaining why that’s all the further I needed to go that I had a feeling of this is right; trust this. I paused just a second to look at Blaine, as if it had been something he could have heard or felt too. Of course he was standing there as he had been. I finished what I was saying and we left.

Allison and Eli had gone by the time we arrived at Eve and Paul’s. Izzy, properly worn out by Eli, hadn’t even gotten off the couch when she heard the garage door. She was sprawled out with her head over the arm of the couch. Only the thumping of her tail showed she cared we were back.

Blaine went to the wine chiller and pulled out a bottle. “I had Allison bring it so it would be a surprise.” It was the wine I had liked so much the last time we went out with Kim and John.  "We’re going to celebrate you.” Probably anticipating an objection, he held up a finger. “You’re going to have to come to terms with it.” He winked. I love those winks.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Back with Izzy

Hello from Izzy’s! I’ve missed this silly girl.

Blaine and I met Maggie and Terry for drinks after work. As Friday gatherings go this wasn’t a long one. Blaine wanted to get home to finish preparing something for work, and I had a collie to pet and squeeze and kiss on her furry head.

Blaine called a bit ago. He would like me to proofread what he's working on. I’m waiting for the email and for Izzy to decide if she’s going out or staying in.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Every day this week

Since I last wrote...

The Cubs lost their spot in the playoffs. I have to hand it to them for achieving all of the end-of-season losses that made that happen. I mean they led the division the entire last half of the season. The division title was theirs to lose, and they really pulled it off!

As I told Blaine after the game (watched at his house because he has ESPN), it was easier being a Cubs fan when you expected them to lose.

I received an out-of-the-blue email from the family that adopted the last foster dog I took care of. They had come across my email address and wanted to let me know that four years later they were still crazy in love with him. I’m so glad. He was one of my favorites and I’ve often wondered how he was getting along. The email said he’s still energetic, still loves hanging out with their cat and makes everyone laugh every day.

I’ll begin taking care of Izzy tomorrow night instead of Saturday. Eve and Paul won’t leave until after work on Friday, so I can keep my plans to go out after work with Blaine, Maggie and Terry.

When the weather turns distinctly fall-like, I crave two things: Van Morrison music and urban fantasy novels. As far as I know the two are unrelated.

Although it’s stretching the boundaries of urban fantasy, I downloaded the ebook Written in Red by Anne Bishop. This is an example of the cover art selling the book. The description of the story made me wary, but a few months ago I read the sample pages and decided I would give it a try as soon as the weather was right.

Once I started it, I didn’t want to put it down. I borrowed the audiobook as well so I could listen to it while driving. I’ve just bought the next book in the series.

On Monday, Blaine sent flowers to my office, a beautiful collection of roses. They arrived in a long box, packed in such a way to keep the stems wet. I didn’t have a vase so I went to Susannah who has a stash of them because Eric is the king of flower giving.

She helped me trim the stems and arrange the flowers (revealing that we’re equally matched when it comes to this task...which is to say we stink at it). When finished, I took a picture and sent it in a text to Blaine, thanking him. It wasn’t long before he called me. After the opening niceties were out of the way, he gently asked where the rest of the arrangement was.

It took a couple of minutes of confusion, some Googling and a phone call to the florist to solve the mystery. He had placed the order online and had selected an arrangement that showed the roses in a tall cylindrical vase, beautifully arranged with bits of ferny greenery (obviously I’m not a plant person). But he had not checked the box that said he wanted to include the vase so the default was to send just the flowers.

“It’s been so long since I’ve sent flowers,” he said, sounding embarrassed. “I assumed I was ordering what was in the picture.” With extra misery, he said, “I didn’t read the choices carefully enough. I saw ‘Add a balloon’ and skipped the rest.”

I assured him it made no difference and did not lessen how happy they had made me. It’s the thoughtfulness and the sentiment behind the gesture that matters to me.

We talked a short time. Before hanging up, he laughed a little. “I should have known by the price. I thought they were running an unadvertised sale.” I had to laugh.

I wasn’t going to mention the flowers here since they weren’t what he wanted them to be, but they’ve made me smile every day this week and that’s worth mentioning.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

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