Thursday, November 29, 2018

Uncertainty and appetizers

Mica and I met at Greg’s restaurant for lunch. We still go every week, as we’ve done since discovering the place a month after they opened. Mica had arrived ahead of me, and I caught the two of them canoodling a couple of doors down. He said he was showing her the extra space he was taking over so he can expand the event/banquet space. I know what I saw, however.

I’ve always liked Greg and admired his approach to launching the restaurant. It took me awhile to see him as a good fit for Mica. He brings her out of her comfort zone in good ways. She seems to be able to encourage him and rein him when his ideas begin zinging around like an out of control pinball.

Near the end of the day she sent me a text about some changes that are occurring with the team she works with. She’s worried what this will mean for her job. Her job is frequently in jeopardy due to the structure of her workplace. There isn’t anything she can do but wait it out and see what happens.

We decided the best way to face stressful uncertainty is with a trip to Trader Joe’s to stock up on appetizers and interesting sounding cookies. We always do this in preparation of an all-appetizer game night with Sophie and our typical New Year’s Eve “celebration,” which amounts to telling the dog how cute he is while binging on whatever TV series we’re behind on.

With our arms full, we suddenly looked at one another. “Won’t you do something with Greg this year?”

“You'll definitely be with Blaine.”

We considered our filled cart. And decided to buy everything anyway.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

All-time weird


Eve came into my office and dropped into the visitor’s chair. “My life has sunk to an all-time weird. [Coworker] just asked me to take close-up photographs of his ears.”
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Monday, November 26, 2018

Dreaded errands


When they began talking snow a week ago, I requested a vacation day so I wouldn’t have to worry about the streets and dumb drivers. Glad I did.

I stayed in bed longer than necessary but eventually got up and left the house to take care of three dreaded errands:
  1. Renew my driver license.
  2. Replace the windshield wipers on my car.
  3. Pick up clothes from alterations.
  4. Buy new tires.
Before I returned home I had:
  1. Renewed my driver license.
  2. Replaced the windshield wipers on my car (and let tell you, based on the difference the new ones made, I had gotten every cent I could out of the old ones).
  3. Picked up the dress and skirt I’d had altered.
  4. Returned the comforter Blaine bought for the basement bedroom and, since he had paid cash, turned the refund into a mattress pad and set of nice sheets (all done with his permission, of course).
  5. Went to two stores to find something my brother wants for Christmas (no joy).
  6. Wondered if my brother would use a GoPro and whether I want to take on the hassle of helping him learn video editing (probably not but still undecided).
  7. Had lunch with Mica.
  8. Stopped at her house to give the little white dog hugs and kisses.
Cleverly avoided:
  1. Buying tires.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Snow day, no cookies


As snow storms that turn into blizzard warnings go, this one wasn’t so bad. The heaviest snow hit further south. I had a couple of inches to shovel, and I only had to do the back patio and the steps down to the sidewalk. My next door neighbor borrowed another neighbor’s snowblower and cleared the drive. Another neighbor had gone through and cleared everyone’s front walk.

I did laundry, took a nap, watched a season of “The Great British Baking Show” and talked to Blaine a couple of times. He also did laundry but watched football all day and snacked on the Christmas cookies they made yesterday.

Now I’m craving Christmas cookies.
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Lock swap


Lainey’s birthday is next week but her party was today. Last year she received a pony. This year the theme of her party is horses, which is why they planned to have the party in the barn at their farm.

The first text of the day came from Tessa just after 7 a.m. Cody wasn’t able to finish the office space in the barn so they were moving the meal and present-opening to the house and then we would go to the farm to have ice cream and the birthday cookie, and the kids could ride the horses.

The second text came a couple of hours later. The party was starting at noon instead of 3 p.m. so family from out of town could get home before the weather turned.

All week the meteorologists warned there would be snow this weekend. The amounts have inched upward until the forecast this morning was for 4-7 inches and heavy winds. Rain was supposed to start in the afternoon but now it looks like it will start round midnight.

I went to Mica’s after the party. She was taking care of Chloe for the day, and we took her and the little white dog to the dog park. It was in the fifties all day and I was wearing a sweatshirt without a jacket. It didn’t take long to regret that. As soon as the sun dipped, the wind came up and the temperature dropped. I was icy by the time the dogs were out of energy.

I stayed at Mica’s only long enough to annoy the little white dog with kisses on his ears. A quick stop at the grocery store for something to eat with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (my I-won’t-starve-if-the-power-goes-out plan) and then home to hunker down.

It was a good plan too, if only the lock on my back door hadn’t decided I had procrastinated long enough and it was ready to retire now. It has been wonky for over a year. I bought a replacement and replaced the deadbolt part but had never had the courage to replace the lock itself.

I let myself in through the front door, found the new lock in the bottom of a drawer and got busy. If I had known how easy it would be to swap out locks, I would have done it long ago.

I just realized that it was after Lainey’s birthday party last year that I met Blaine. Her party was on December 3 last year, so on this day last year I was still living my normal life--watching a lot of British TV shows, trying to find more romance authors I liked and helping Eve figure out how to convince Paul to let her get a collie puppy.

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Friday, November 23, 2018

The football season ends


I don’t know what day it is. Today feels like Saturday because there was a football game. In fact, when the invitation went out to meet the usuals at a sports bar, I replied that I may need to leave early because of Lainey’s party. Eve and Blaine both brought me back to the correct day.

The game didn’t get interesting until the fourth quarter. There was plenty of time before then to chat with Eve and Paul’s daughter. She has a cool science-y job where she gets to do things like hang from a harness. Sometimes she does things that require snake-proof chaps.

I got in on a conversation Eve was having with Kim about appetizer recipes popular in the ‘50s. Kim has been looking for ideas for their Christmas party. She said she bought an issue of Kitchen Klatter from the early sixties from an antique store and now is obsessed with them. (Think of them as an early blog in printed form. The woman behind it wrote about her family, garden, crafts and whatever she was making in the kitchen.)

I didn’t let on that I knew anything about them because now I have the perfect hostess gift. Years ago I bought a big box of the publications at an estate sale. I paid $5 for the box. At the time, one issue sold for $7-12 on Ebay, and I thought I might sell them that way. I never pursued selling on Ebay, and the box has been sitting in a closet since. The issues I have are mostly from the ‘50s. In fact, I have two full sets from the same year--1954, maybe. I’ll give her a set.

Eli was with his grandma for the day so Allison and Ty came to watch the game with everyone. At halftime, Allison pulled me aside. She was feeling bad that I wasn’t being included in their Christmas decorating tradition. I reassured her that I understood and wasn’t bothered by it. There is no part of what she’s feeling that I can’t relate to. I told her it’s a family tradition and should stay a family tradition.

The football team lost in the final seconds. I find I’m looking forward to next season. I don’t recognize myself anymore.

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Thursday, November 22, 2018



 My brother and I went to Cody and Tessa’s for Thanksgiving. Her family wasn’t there and Jenny was with Andrew’s family, so it was a small group. It was nice to have time with the girls and to actually have a conversation with Cody, Tessa and Vicki. April was in good spirits (it’s hit and miss these days).

Before we left, they took us over to their farm so the girls could introduce us to their horses. Lainey’s birthday party will be there on Saturday. Cody is turning part of the barn into an office for his business, and that’s where the cake and ice cream will be served if he can finish it before 3 p.m. Saturday.

I dropped my brother at home and drove to Mica’s. She spent the day at her brother’s and needed me to let out the little white dog and Chloe, his guest for the day. I hung out with them until it was time to go to Blaine’s to meet his sister and brother-in-law.

It was a pleasant few hours of conversation. One nice thing about initial meetings is there is plenty of ground to cover. Annie and Cal are easy to be around, much like everyone I’ve met through Blaine.

Blaine served the pie we made last night. He took some ribbing from Annie and Cal about him participating in baking. (“I had no idea you knew the stove could do that.” “I can’t taste the hickory. You might want to have your grill looked at.”)

After they left, Blaine hoped we could spend the rest of the evening relaxing quietly. I had to disappoint him. At lunch I noticed Lainie was wearing the same the bracelet I has bought her for her birthday so I needed to find something else. Kohl's had opened for whatever they call these Thanksgiving Day sales, and since there was one near Blaine's, I thought I'd try there. I didn't expect Blaine to go with me, but he offered. Standing in a 30-minute line would be more fun with him so I didn't talk him out of it. It was his first, and likely last, Black...Thursday experience.

I picked out a pair of sparkly kid earrings for Lainey. The 70% off sale made them affordable. I talked Blaine into buying a quilt for the basement bedroom because I don't like the comforter we picked out. Out of the bag and in a normal sized room it was too much. He's OK with it, but the quilt is simpler and better and a much better deal given the sale. It's blue, not quite the navy I hoped for, but it will work. Since we were going to stand in line for that (I'd been able to pay for the earrings at the jewelry counter), he went to the toys an found a couple of things Eli wants.

"Want to stay up all night and shop?" I asked as we left the store.

"If you're willing to drop 'and shop,' we'll talk."

I was having trouble staying awake on the way back to his house so nothing about that deal worked out.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mocked cinnamon


“Did you bring your cinnamon?” Blaine asked.

“It’s in my purse.”

“Wrapped in cotton? Protected by bubble wrap? Booby trapped?”

“Snarky is a side of you I haven't seen before.”

“I’d argue those are fair questions based on observed behavior and attitude.”

“You shouldn’t mock my spices.”

“You shouldn’t mock my spices,” he said in a sing-song way.

It was a long, enjoyable night of baking.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018



Here’s a new twist to my job. I have to find someone who can translate materials into Spanish.

“Unless you are fluent in Spanish,” Henry joked.

“As fluent as any kid who grew up watching Sesame Street.” I’m solid on agua and hola.

This is going to be a pain in the nalgas.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Ho. Ho. Ho.


“You’re dead to me.”

I’ve been dead to Susannah so many times, the announcement didn’t even interrupt my typing. I gave her a slight shrug. “My life is more serene when I’m dead to you.”

Susannah and I have the same boss. Last Friday he asked me to help organize an in-office holiday party, and then he asked Susannah. I said, “Your name was already on his list.”

“Uh huh.” It came out as a knowing growl.

“Since this thing is supposed to be fun, I volunteered Eve. Your name didn’t even pop into my mind.” She laughed. I told her, “We do need you. You’re the triangle to our squiggles.”

One time Eve told us about a book she read that described personality types. She and I are squiggles--approach things from a different angle than everyone else, lots of ideas and enthusiasm but hard to keep on track. Susannah is a triangle, which is someone comfortable in a leadership position, wants to get things done and move on.

Three others were asked to be part of this party planning group, but only one responded and that was with, “Just tell me what you want me to do.”

The group here used to be a lot more engaged. Last year, the year of impending layoffs, really changed attitudes. This little shindig isn’t going to change them back, but we’ll try.

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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Eli's debut


Blaine picked me up just after 8:00 this morning for church. I had told him to stick to his normal routine, and that meant going early and having a cup of coffee in the social hall.

It’s a newer church, more modern than the old, traditional church I grew up attending. I’ll always miss soaring stained glass windows and beautiful light fixtures hanging down from the ceiling, but there is something to be said for new cushioned pews.

It was a children’s Sunday, meaning the kids contributed to the duties usually fulfilled by adults. The younger kids helped usher prior to the service. The older kids helped with communion and provided the readings. All sang

Eli looked scared to death standing in the front row in front of everyone. He kept his arms plastered against his body, his little hands in fists, but he kept his attention on the choir director and he sang, which is more than some of the younger ones were able to do. Each age group had a couple of lines that they sung on their own. Those little voices are the sweetest. So earnest and loud.

After the service, Eli came bounding toward where Blaine and I were standing talking to Maggie and Terry. “Grandpa, did you hear me?” Blaine told him he was proud of him. I melted. Those two together are a sweet thing.

We all went out to lunch. Eli chose the restaurant, a sandwich place that serves macaroni and cheese as a side. Apparently Eli is all about creamy, cheesy macaroni.

Blaine dropped me off. I needed a day to catch up on laundry and to do some other cleaning. Nothing gets done anymore. I asked Blaine how he keeps his home dust free and pristine all the time. Cleaning service. Of course.
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Saturday, November 17, 2018

In the mood for pizza


Today was the last home football game. Unfortunately it started at 11 a.m. (again) and I had a hair appointment, so I didn’t watch it with the usuals.

John and Kim cancelled--or never scheduled--a tailgate. The morning ones aren’t well attended and are a hassle because of how early they have to get there to set everything up. This week it’s also cold--12 degrees overnight and only rising into the 20s today. And snow was forecasted. Instead of going downtown, the group gathered at a sports bar. I wasn’t disappointed that I wasn’t there until the fourth quarter when a store I was in had the game on and I realized it had become a close one. Ah well.

Mica and I were shopping for something sparkly and related to horses. Lainey’s seventh birthday is coming up and the party is next weekend. At what age is it OK to give gift cards? I’m looking forward to that age.

Once it began snowing in earnest, the streets became slick quickly. I had trouble getting started at stop lights, and of course getting up the slope of my driveway was a challenge. It helped me decide I do want to get new tires, and soon.

Blaine and I were in the mood for pizza. We didn’t want to make our own and we didn’t want carryout. We wanted to go to a proper pizza joint, sit at a heavy dark wood table scarred by generations of diners and lit by a real candle sitting in the bottom of a red glass holder covered by netting.

We ended up at the only place in the city that still serves simple, really good pizza--a bar in a little neighborhood furthest from where either of us live. No candles, but the lighting was dim. There were old tables but ones covered in laminate. The leather barrel chairs, probably from the last remodel circa 1974 were quite comfortable. And for being a bar on a Saturday night it was surprisingly quiet, probably because people didn’t have to speak over loud music. Some garland and Christmas lights already decorated the bar. It was lovely.

Random pieces of conversation include:
  • One of the things Blaine did before deciding to ask me out was calculate whether I was old enough to be Allison's mother. "But you asked me out anyway?" I said, feeling pretty good about being that captivating. He answered, "No. You are." Turns out she was born the year I graduated from college. Sheesh. I really need to accept I'm older than I feel. 
  • When Blaine showed up at the sports bar alone, someone told him it was good to see him doing things on his own. He replied it wasn't his choice. He seemed chafed by the comment. 
  • Next weekend Allison, Ty and Eli will go to Blaine's in the afternoon. They'll make and decorate sugar cookies, have potato soup and then will decorate for Christmas. It's their family tradition and goes back to before Blaine's wife died. He asked if it would be OK with me if we didn't do anything next Saturday. Absolutely OK, I promised. I value traditions and I understand how important this one is to everyone.

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Friday, November 16, 2018


Blaine and I met Mica and Greg for drinks and an appetizer after work. Since Mica works until 6:00 and lives on the opposite side of town, it was later than normal when we arrived. The place was packed, but the wait was only 35 minutes. We had arrived first. I sent a text to Mica to let her know we were waiting on the bar side.

Blaine ordered a beer and let me have a couple of sips, which is all I was in the mood for. On one of the televisions was a show about the San Francisco 49ers back in the Joe Montana era and specifically the year they beat the Bengals in Superbowl XVI. It has been ages since I’ve seen Montana or Dwight Clark, who was a wide receiver and Montana’s go-to more often than not. Both were interviewed and both are recognizable but many years have certainly passed. Since I never feel like I’m getting older, I’m always surprised to notice that others are.

After noticing my eyes were focused on the televisions, Blaine asked which screen I was watching. I told him and explained why it caught my attention. I was as surprised by how much I remember about those seasons as he was.

My trip down memory sidelines was interrupted when Mica and Greg arrived. Mica hates football. She tolerates to sort-of-likes baseball, largely because she’s a good, supportive friend. Other sports, not so much, and football not at all. So it was unfortunate that Greg brought up college football as soon as we sat down. I didn’t participate, hoping he and Blaine would wind it down so Mica wouldn’t be left out and bored beyond comprehension. It took the arrival of appetizers to change the topic. The topic became food, and it was me who checked out of the conversation. Being friends with Mica has certainly expanded my appreciation of different foods, but I cannot get into a discussion about preparation or other minutia.

I’m not sure if it was that the conversation never found a comfortable groove or that I’ve been feeling stress more easily this week, but I was glad when it was time for Blaine and me to leave. Mica and Greg stayed for dinner; we left to catch a movie and share a giant tub of popcorn.

We saw A Star is Born, which has been recommended to us by almost everyone we know. Blaine wasn’t very interested until Paul said he liked it enough to see it again. Now that I’ve seen it, I understand why he would say that. It’s outstanding, but wow...

“That was so good,” I said as we left the theater, “but I feel like I’ve been kicked.”

Blaine nodded. “Repeatedly.”

It did nothing to ease the hum of stress I’ve been carrying. Since the temperature was mild, I asked if we could walk for a bit. We strolled around the outdoor mall where the theater is located. We checked out the huge Christmas tree in the center that has flood lights illuminating it but won’t have the Christmas lights on until the tree lighting, whenever that is. We looked at store windows and agreed that stores should bring back the extravagant setups we remember from when we were kids.

Blaine surmised that something was bothering me when I kept us walking long after we had covered the whole place. I couldn’t tell him the source of my antsiness because I don’t know where it’s coming from. I would have blamed the movie, and there was truth in that, but this is something I’ve carried around all week.

“Anything to do with us?” Blaine asked. My heart squeezed a bit that he would ask that, and I slowed to a stop. I promised it wasn’t anything about us.

We were along the side of one building near where there’s construction going on. There was no other foot traffic along there. Blaine’s jacket was open, so I did one of my favorite things. I slipped my arms inside and around his waist and relaxed against him. His arms immediately encircled and squeezed. So many things happened at that moment. Multiple feelings of comfort and security, and there were words, not voiced, not written but suddenly there in my head somehow but not from me. Trust this. And an inner calmness followed. I pulled back enough to look up at Blaine, wondering if he’d had a moment too. It didn’t seem so. He looked at me as he always does, but for the first time I think I got it, allowed his affection to cross the distance I always maintain.

“I’m better now,” I told him.

“Good.” I began to pull back so we could continue walking. Blaine’s arms held me in place. “I’m good too,” he said, “but let’s just stay here another minute and see if we can turn that into great.”

I laughed. “As many minutes as you want.”
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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Write, post, sleep...hope it makes sense

As soon as I arrived at work this morning, I submitted a request to take this afternoon off. I didn't think I would make through the day otherwise.

I'm having several days of extreme tiredness. It should end soon. It's horrible right now though.

Before I went home, I drove to an outlet mall where I hoped to by a plate and a bowl from the Corning store. Why? Because the dishes are unbreakable and that's what I need when I'm staying at Eve's. The first time I dog sat Izzy, I broke one of Eve's stoneware plates when it slipped out of my hands and hit the bottom of the sink. Since then I've taken paper plates and bowls to use. I've sworn Blaine to secrecy about that.

During my last stay it occurred to me that all I need is something practical. The Corning store sells everything individually so I could get one of whatever I wanted and be golden.

Of course that's the store that is no longer there.

Since I rarely go to the outlets, I decided it was worth checking out a few stores for Christmas dresses. I found one, and I like it pretty well even though it has some sparkly stuff on the neckline. I took it straight to the seamstress so she can raise the hemline and shorten the sleeves. I asked if she could remove the sparkle and she said no. It wasn't clear whether she couldn't or wouldn't. She doesn't always approve of my fashion choices.

She asked me if I had lots of parties to go to this year, and I told her I did. I do not recognize my life anymore.

So, I should be set for the parties. I guess I haven't figured out what to wear to Kim and John's retro party, but I have an idea. They aren't asking people to dress the part; I just think it would be fun.

A little while ago I fell asleep on the couch. I could crawl into bed right now--6:53--and be quite happy until at least 4 a.m. I'm expecting a call from Peggy so I have to stay awake until then.

I see that registration for Holidailies is open. I'm debating signing up for it. Not sure I can post daily for that long, but it would be a clean way to wrap up the year.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Allison's birthday


“My dad?” Allison’s hand was suspended mid air, not quite reaching the drink in front of her. “Baked a pie?”

Blaine appeared to be working hard at not reacting. Knowing what I do about him, the reaction would be more amusement than annoyance, although it was the latter he was trying for.

Today is Allison’s birthday and Blaine took the family out to dinner. As is becoming the custom, I was included. She asked if I could join them for Thanksgiving. I won’t because my family is also having a noon dinner, but I will see Blaine that evening. His sister, Annie, asked to meet me. (She learned about me when she asked Henry how he knew Blaine and Paul.) We’re going to gather at Blaine’s for dessert at whatever time ends up working.

“Making more pies, Dad?” Allison asked him.

“I might,” he answered. Under the table his leg bumped against mine in what I assumed was a Thanks a lot for bringing that up but then he let it rest there and I interpreted it as something else.

Allison collects a line of figurines. Her mom asked Blaine to continue the tradition of giving her a new one for her birthday, which he’s done. When he passed that gift bag to Allison, he told her, “From Mom, with lots of love.” I nearly dissolved. That’s a lovely tradition.

Eli is making his church singing debut on Sunday. The preschoolers are joining the children’s choir for one song before the service and another during communion. The first one will be in front of the congregation, while the other will be from the choir loft. He’s psyched about getting to be up above everyone. He invited me to come, and Allison did too, and Blaine said I would be welcome. So, going to church on Sunday.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pick up in checkout four

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work. The cashier was a high school guy with olive-tone skin and large dark eyes. He was notably well dressed, efficient and personable. The girl bagging the groceries was a bit nondescript but relaxed and with a presence that promised she knew she was capable of more than you might think. While I was punching in my pin number, she told him she had a question for him. “Can I ask it?” She didn’t take her eyes off him.

He said sure but paid attention to what he needed to do to complete my transaction.

“I want to talk to you,” she stated, “away from here. Alone. I’m going to call you. Is that OK with you?”

I had asked for cash back but when the drawer opened he tore off the receipt and stuffed it under the cash tray. He caught himself before closing the drawer and pulled the receipt and a bill out. “Sure,” he said to her. He gave me an apologetic look. I smiled, hopefully in a way that was understanding and encouraging.

She picked her moment well.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Great Pheasant Feast


I’m experiencing the age-old blogging problem of being too busy to write. As a consolation, I’m busy doing the same thing over and over again, so not much of a loss.

Going back to Tuesday, election day (or day of disappointing outcomes), I stopped on my way home to vote. Blaine and I made dinner at my house and watched the returns. Not one race or ballot measure turned out the way I wanted. Blaine and I don’t align all that well politically so he had a less disappointing night. When one race was called for someone I consider especially horrible at their job, I shook my head, disappointed and appalled but not surprised. I always vote for the best qualified candidate even if I don’t particularly like them, but in this case I would have voted for the opponent even if it was roadkill. Given the way it turned out, I wish I had gone with a write-in candidate: Flat Racoon or R-h-o-d-e K. Racoon.”

On Wednesday it snowed and on Thursday the wind blew it around and made the highways and Interstate slick. On Friday the temperature dropped to winter coat, gloves and scarf levels. For most of the day Blaine, Paul and Henry sent texts back and forth (with Eve, Julia and I included) as they decided if they still wanted to go hunting this weekend or push it back to December. By the time the six of us met for drinks and dinner after work, they had decided to go.

They left Saturday morning before 5:00 and returned around 10 p.m. with 11 dressed birds, which  wasn’t a lot by their expectations. On the way home they decided the six of us would gather and feast at Blaine’s on Sunday evening.

While the men were hunting, I busied myself with gathering. Mica and I shopped for Christmas party outfits. I’m running out of time and optimism. I bought a wool skirt in winter white that I don’t like but might be improved with alterations. I don’t have anything in my closet to go with it but I think a simple cashmere sweater will work, and I can order that. With heels and accessorizing, it should be appropriate for Blaine’s office party. The other party, the one thrown by one of the partners, is tougher. I need to ask Blaine what he will wear. If he wears a suit, I’ll need a dress. That party will stress me out every which way.

Yesterday--Sunday--Mica and I met for brunch where I crushed my finger between the seat, which was loose, and the chair frame. After, we took the little white dog to the dog park where he met an indifferent min pin and a cranky rough coated jack russell.

I went to Blaine’s afterward to help him get things sorted for the Great Pheasant Feast. He had already been to the grocery store to buy what he needed for his contribution.

Oh, I didn’t explain what they decided to do. Three men, three pheasants, three preparations. This came about because Blaine likes to brine and roast, Paul prefers a smoked pheasant and Henry does some fancy thing with a deboned bird and wild rice.

Blaine and I decided this was a good time to make an apple pie using the apples we bought at the orchard. I had forgotten about them. Fortunately he had stashed them in a cool, dry place (a utility closet that shares a wall with the garage).

“I’m going to run home and get cinnamon,” I said, reaching for my coat. “Do you have a rolling pin?”

He was at the counter on the kitchen side and leaned on his hands when he heard my question. With a tone of measured patience that I suspect Allison has heard a time or two, he said, “Not only do I have a rolling pin, I have cinnamon.”

“You do not have this cinnamon.”

“I’m intrigued.”

I walked behind him to get to the garage door since that’s the way I enter and exit now. “Do you have a pie plate?” I teased. “Hot pad holders?” I felt one of those hit my back.

The cinnamon that’s good enough to make a special trip for is from Indonesia via a spice store in Chicago. It has a deep flavor that isn’t bitter. I really do believe it’s noticeably better than other cinnamon.

While I was home, Blaine sent a text: Could you pick up ice cream on your way back? Yes, I have bowls.

The pie turned out pretty well. The filling was good and the apples tender but not mushy. We need to practice the crust because it was a bit dry. Ice cream helps hide crust sins, though.

I liked the pheasant just fine. We also roasted carrots, onions and fennel, and separately I roasted a pan of Brussels sprouts because I had a package at home that I needed to use. Paul and Eve brought mashed potatoes. Everyone brought wine.

Now there’s talk of doing something like this again. A dinner club of sorts, perhaps monthly through the winter. I couldn’t tell how much of the buy-in was because of the good food and company or the amount of wine that was poured.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Quills up


I concede I may be extra prickly because I’m super busy at work, and perhaps I shouldn’t have gotten my quills up when I received an email about some incorrect information on the website. But there’s a right way to request a change and there’s a wrong way.

The wrong way is to throw me under bus and not delete that part of the email string that you send to me.

It took two minutes to make the correction. It took another 15 to search through the inbox until I found the original email that shows the person who threw me under the bus had given me the incorrect information. Normally I would suck it up--and by that I mean fume silently at my desk--and make the change without saying anything more about it. Today, though, I included the incorrect email in my breezy, friendly reply-all response that said the website had been updated and here’s how it happened “(see attached).” I assume “you warthog-faced buffoon” was understood.

Yeah, still prickly.

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Sleep on it


It was Blaine’s idea to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond to select bedding for the bed he bought for the basement bedroom. (Give me a second to see if I can figure out more ways to add some form of “bed” to that sentence.)

As I told Mica later, it was like I was taking him to the vet. The closer we got to the bedding section, the slower he walked, the more he wanted to stop and study every little thing.

Standing, at last, in the middle of the model beds, I asked, “What grabs your eye?” Given his pained expression you would have thought I meant that literally.

“Oh, I don’t know.” He jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

“There is no wrong answer,” I promised.

Except there was. It was in the form of a solid red one that looked like it had been rejected by the Discount Puff Jacket Company out of Decatur.

I rolled my lips inward to prevent myself from saying that out loud.

It’s his house, his guest room, his decision.


“No?” he asked.

I didn’t dare look at him if I stood any chance of selling this. “It would look great in Eli’s room. Do you need a comforter for his bed?”

Speaking slowly, he answered, “I don’t know. Do I?”

“It would be nice,” I said, “to provide your grandson with covers. Maybe a pillow.”

“As long as I don’t have to get rid of the straw mattress.”

While I tried to free myself of the giggles, we moved to the more sophisticated sets. That’s when I noticed Blaine had pointed out a couple that were different patterns and colors but both had a touch of yellow in them. That made me think of the drawing of the aspens he had bid on but didn’t win at the art show some weeks back. And that gave me an idea for a Christmas gift.

He was clearly not having fun and wanted me to make it easier. Now that I needed the final selection to contain yellow, I narrowed the choices down to one. It’s primarily tannish gray with some yellow pleating across the center panel and in some embroidery in another panel. The card attached to the display said other colors were available online. I looked while we were there and there’s a predominantly brown one with red pleating that’s pretty too. Blaine liked the one with yellow better.

“If it doesn’t work with the wall color, we can return it and order the other,” I said.

“Or learn to live with it,” he offered.

“Or repaint the walls.”

“Oh, God.”

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Push through


Because I’m still not feeling 100 percent I let Blaine know I needed a slow morning and would meet him and the rest of the usuals wherever they ended up to watch the game. It was another 11 a.m. kickoff, which is an annoying starting time. I could have skipped the game altogether but I had errands that had to be accomplished by noon and thought I might as well go and have lunch with everyone.

I arrived a couple of minutes into the first quarter. Blaine stood to say hello with a quick hug. His face brushed mine. He stood back and asked if I felt OK because I was warm. I was only tired, I fibbed. I felt icky but I didn’t want our evening plans to change so I was determined to push through the day.

The Diet Coke I ordered tasted good. I wasn’t interested in the assortment of appetizers getting passed around the table, and nothing on the menu appealed. Blaine offered a couple of bites cut from his patty melt, and that was enough to satisfy my appetite.

At halftime I offered apologies and good-byes and came home to nap. I set an alarm and slept until it went off nearly four hours later. I have no idea what kind of bug I have. It lacks symptoms other than tiredness, lack of appetite and a general feeling of not being well. Before I showered I took a sinus tablet because over the last couple of days it’s the only thing that’s helped for any length of time.

I had perked up by the time Blaine arrived. He checked my forehead with the back of his hand and said, “You’re not hot.”

I scrunched my nose. “You could have put that another way.”

We met Mica and Greg for dinner to celebrate her birthday, which was earlier in the week. She chose the French American restaurant that Blaine and I like. It was an interesting evening. Mica seemed nervous throughout. Greg was talkative with the focus on business and food. I tried to steer the conversation away from food to find out more about him. Blaine asked Mica how her mom was doing after shoulder surgery and how her great niece’s birthday party went (the reasons Mica went out of town and I stayed with the little white dog).

After dinner, we went separate ways. In the car, Blaine asked if Greg was Mica’s type. The question suggested he didn’t, which made me smile. I told him I didn’t think so but that they share an interest in cooking, food and small business, which seems to be enough for now.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

The crane


Eve slipped off the high stool into an open space between tables. She straightened her spine, bent at the waist 90 degrees, raised her right elbow perpendicular to her body with her fingers pointed at the floor. The other arm was bent like a wing, hand tucked against her side.

Our waitress approached. “What do we have going on here?”

“It’s called the crane,” Eve told her, staying in position. “It’s my pitching stance. I’m hoping to get into the major leagues.”

Paul smiled, genuinely tickled by his wife.
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