Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Not that cold

A coworker appeared at my door this morning. "Hey, I heard the office is going to be closed tomorrow because of the cold." It is going to be cold tomorrow. High of 4 degrees and a windchill well below that. But it's winter and this kind of cold snap happens every year. Sounding overly hopeful, he asked, "Is it true?"

I'm always amazed by the information people think I am privy to. "No idea, but I'm all for it."

"If it turns out to be true, you'll let me know?"

His name is on the mailing list so his chances seemed good.

I'm cranky this week because I'm busy but can't seem to accomplish anything. "I promise."

A couple of hours later I had a routine meeting with my boss who is the top dog of our little world. In the middle of talking about the website and the work I have to do before I put it into the new template that the mother office created, he interrupted. "Hey, have you heard anything about the offices being closed tomorrow?"

I told him who had stopped by my office and asked the same thing. "That's all I've heard about it." I didn't say it would be a sign of doom if I received the information before he did.

At the end of the day, which was 7 p.m. for me, nothing had arrived telling us to stay home and stay warm.

The post office, however, cancelled mail delivery for tomorrow.

I’m starting to think I’m missing something.

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Cliff diving

On Wednesday it took most of the morning to sort out who was going to the conference. What became clear was the other two lost interest in making an effort to go for the three days once they realized that Eve and I had already made our arrangements. We didn’t fight it but we’re tired of being the people who pick up the slack.

We drove out that afternoon--a couple of hours on the road--and set up the booth. The next day was long. Eve is a natural at starting conversations with strangers, and she’s approachable in a way I wish I was. I did my best but she had to shoulder the bulk of the interactions. By the end of the day every introverted cell in my body was screaming to be left alone for awhile. We went back to our rooms and agreed to take an hour and a half before meeting for the hotel’s complimentary happy hour.

I poured a glass of Diet Coke, shed my clothes and climbed under the covers. I was pretty happy when I found some figure skating championships to watch but then… Then I scanned further on the program guide and saw two words I didn’t think I’d ever see again: cliff diving.

Cliff diving!

Back in the days of three television channels, I watched “Wild World of Sports” on the weekend. Ski jumping was good. So was figure skating. And the lumberjack games were a rare treat. But the best was cliff diving. Part of the appeal was the beautiful locations. All that bright sunshine and blue water crashing against jagged cliff walls. Mostly, the appeal was the craziness of the divers who thought it was a good idea to balance by their toes before jumping off a cliff backward and landing in frothy water almost a hundred feet below. Oh man, I've missed it.

That night we had dinner with one of Eve’s cousins who lives nearby. Eve talks about family a lot so I’ve learned a lot of names and become familiar with a lot of stories. It was easy to follow their conversation. This summer they are having a cousins reunion. “Put the date down and come along,” her cousin told me. “You’re an honorary cousin now.” That was nice of her. Unfortunately I already have plans that weekend--to take care of Izzy.

The other two from the office drove out on Friday. They arrived before the exhibition hall opened to the public. We didn’t even let them take their coats off before we started telling them where everything was, including their lunch tickets and where the complimentary sodas were kept.

“You two really want to get out of here,” one commented.

Not only that, we never want to have to do this again, I didn’t say.

When we arrived back at the office, Eve and I tried to figure out how to submit our expense report. It’s done electronically and it’s a nightmare. We couldn’t figure it out. We’ll try again Monday.

I went to Mica’s after work and picked up a new computer monitor I ordered a couple of weeks ago. I had it shipped to her house because she could be there to sign for it. I stayed a little while. Caught up on the news and gossip, and took the little white dog for a walk.

After I dropped off everything at home, I went to Blaine’s. He proved his interest in me is still strong by watching all the cliff diving videos I could find on YouTube.

I slept an unheard of 12 hours. Usually I’m lucky if I can sleep half that a night. I told Blaine I needed fresh air and movement. It was sunny and a reasonable temperature but there’s too much snow on the ground for walking trails. He suggested we go to the winery we weren’t able to visit earlier this month, the one where we had our first date.

Evidently everyone in this part of the state had the same idea. We could barely make it into the main building. To help with the overflow, they had opened the building they use for wedding receptions. It was pretty in a rustic way, and the view across the fields was pretty but it’s an open space and it was too noisy to be enjoyable. We had a glass of wine and left.

We went back to Blaine’s where he opened a bottle of the wine I like so well and found a soothing playlist on Spotify. It introduced me to the Ray Charles and Diana Krall version of “You Don’t Know Me.” I can't stop listening to it.

This evening I connected the new monitor. Let’s pretend that wasn’t a confusing mess of an experience. Although it’s smaller than my previous monitor, the colors are bright, crisp and true. It will make it easier to work from home when I need to.

That’s pretty much everything. Oh, I’m testing out Wordpress to see if I can post from my iPad or phone. If I can, I’ll move the journal over there. Maybe I won’t fall so far behind if I can post when I’m not home.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Ice, snow, cold

View from my porch this afternoon.

I knew freezing rain was supposed to start falling during morning rush hour so I got out of bed as soon as my alarm went off and rushed through the getting ready routine. I was starting my car with the remote when I heard my cell phone ring. I didn't recognize the number but since it was unusually early for a phone call I answered anyway.

It was my boss. He wanted to know if I could get an email out to everyone from home. They had decided to make driving to work optional. Those who could work from home were welcome to do so. Everyone else had the option of going into work or using a sick day or day of vacation.

I turned off the car and sent the message, then I sent a text to Eve to make sure she knew not to leave the house. This has never happened before but I'm glad they chose today to do it. The freezing drizzle had already started and the radio was reporting traffic accidents all over the place. Around noon it started to snow. I don't know how much as fallen. Four inches maybe. Since my driveway-sharing neighbors are out of town, I can leave it for as long as I want, and I'd rather do it in the morning. I'll regret it when I leave a warm bed to go out in 19 degree air, I'm sure.

Since I don't bring my laptop home, all I could work on was the closed captioning for Henry's videos because I can access everything through the Internet. By noon I couldn't handle any more of that. I made a small pot of chicken noodle soup and watched an episode of "Victoria." After lunch I started figuring out what Eve and I need to gather in the morning so we can leave for the conference right after lunch.

As I was doing that, an email from one of the people who was supposed to go landed in my inbox. He was asking if the new person and a slightly less-new person should go. He needed the conference schedule and details about transportation and the hotel.

It's a bit late to make plans now. Eve and I would be happy to stay put and let the other two go, but I don't know if it will be possible logistically. I sent him what he asked for but also pushed it up the food chain since someone is going to have to authorize the changes.

Eve and I had to pack as if we're going, but we won't know until sometime in the morning if we're really going. I hope we aren't but I suspect we are.

Icicles hanging off my back porch. The longest is about 18 inches long.

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Monday, January 21, 2019

Winter ennui

The only reason I have for not posting last week is lack of gumption.

It's been cold and occasionally snowy or icy here. It's weather that keeps me inside watching Netflix and being unproductive.

I did finish sorting Charles' letters. I'm guessing only one-third (or slightly more) were written by or to Charles. Most were sent or received by his younger brother Earl. There are a fair number written by their dad to their mom. (Their dad worked and lived in the city during the week because he worked at the state penitentiary.)

I've started reading them. The bulk of them begin in August 1936. Charles and his dad, Fritz, both have apartments in the city. Charles is living downtown with a roommate while Fritz is in a neighborhood a mile or so south of downtown. It's a brutally hot and no one can sleep more than a couple hours a night because the apartments only "cool" to the low 90s. Charles has gotten a job working at coffee shop in one of the hotels. He started as a busboy but moved up to waiting tables and routinely makes as much as 55 cents a day in tips. His dad is proud he is doing so well and believes the money he's able to save along with a regents scholarship will make his first year of college much easier. Charles is considering joining a fraternity but is waiting until after rush to make a decision.

I have to watch the time when I'm reading the letters so that it isn't suddenly two hours past when I normally go to bed.

Last Friday Eve and I were asked to attend a conference later this week. We'll be exhibitors rather than participants. This is something that the coworker who died last year normally did. That position was recently filled but for some reason the new person isn't going. I suppose it's because she hasn't had time to learn what's what. The thing is neither Eve nor I work in that area so we don't know any more. Still, we're the ones going.

We spent today hunting for the display and all the associated materials we'll have to take. We also had to go through the hoops we're required to navigate before we can travel on the company's dime.

Just checked the forecast. Freezing drizzle through tonight and again tomorrow night. What fun.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Seeking loophole


I was on the iPad looking up the history of Troutdale in the Pines because Charles sent a bunch of letters on its letterhead. Blaine was on his iPad reading a book. Or that’s what I thought he was doing until he said, “We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day.” I couldn’t tell if it was a statement or question.

“You would like to.” I matched his tone to make it sound like a statement or a question.

I looked at him. He looked back at me. Dueling small smiles.

“On three?” I suggested.

It was a unanimous “yeah.”

“How about this?” He passed his iPad to me. The hotel we stayed at for a couple of nights last fall has a one night plus dinner Valentine’s Day package. He booked it for the 14th and we’ll take the next day off to make it a long weekend.

The best part of this is having time to look forward to it. I do like a bit of anticipation.

“No flowers, OK? It’s already extravagant.”

He went back to his book. “You can’t add conditions after the deal is done.”

I have a month to find a loophole.
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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Winter nothings

By the end of the day Friday, Eve was feeling cooped up and stir crazy. She invited Blaine and me over for drinks and snacks. As so often happens with the four of us, time flew and we stayed through dinner and well after.

Eve received mixed news about her knee. The first thing that has to happen is a sprain needs to heal. She'll wear a brace for a couple of weeks to help that happen. The brace helps her get around and she'll be able to go to work on Monday. Once the sprain is better, they'll figure out what to do next. She isn't a candidate for an arthroscopic procedure so cortisone shots and physical therapy may be her best bet for the time being.

The cold and snow-loving Izzy kept asking to go out. We monitored the weather by how much snow she brought in on her coat. The forecast was for rain turning to snow after midnight, but when we left just before then, there were three inches on the car. By the time it stopped Saturday afternoon, there were eight inches of very wet, heavy snow.

Blaine helped me shovel the driveway and walks. Once we found a rhythm...

"Rhythm"...Do you think it had been a long day in the Department of How to Spell New Words and someone thought screw it, it doesn't need a proper vowel?

...Once we found a rhythm, the driveway went pretty fast. We did have to stop and catch our breath once we finished the slope. Throwing snow over your shoulder is tiring.

We watched the two NFL playoff games. I watched the first one--Kansas City and Indianapolis--with him. Even though it wasn't a close game, it was fun to watch. The KC quarterback is something. He reminds me of Joe Montana in the effortless way he throws so accurately, but I suspect he's even better than Montana was.

During the second game--Cowboys and Rams--I texted with Eve and sorted letters. Those letters are endless. I'm finally into the second box but there's a long way to go yet.

Eli and Ty are both sick now. Since they weren't going to be at church, Blaine decided to miss this week. There is still a lot of flu and other viruses going around and the thought of being around a lot of people doesn't appeal. I tried to get him to go to brunch with the usuals but he wasn't interested. We did go out to supper tonight, but we went to a small restaurant near my house.

As we were talking about what we might do next weekend to get us out of the house, we checked the the long-range forecast. More snow, possibly more than fell this week. I don't know if I can take another weekend inside.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pet names


I call the little white dog many affectionate names and do it without thinking. Doodle bug, love bug, baby dog and honey bun/ny are my favorites.

Regrettably, the one that automatically rolled off my tongue tonight when addressing Blaine was baby dog.

Could be a while before he tires of trying out different pet names for me.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

If I'd had a hammer and nails


 I went to work today. Eve didn’t, however, because she tore the meniscus in one of her knees and needed an MRI.

Since there wasn’t going to be any fun on the agenda, it seemed like an appropriate time to tackle an assignment I’ve had for a month or so.

THE boss was given two portraits, lithographs from the the turn of the 19th century. They’re of two men, eminent in their field and household names if you work in their areas of expertise, as our people do. I was asked to figure out a way to display them somewhere.

If I had been smart, I would have found a hammer and a couple of nails and a blank spot on a hallway wall. Done.

Instead, I’ve been trying to find a solid connection between them and our organization. I finally found something today. One of our founders worked with one of the men for a year. I also found that the men in the portraits worked together but not until a year after our founder left. Perhaps I can spin that into enough relevance.

Next is to figure out where they should be displayed. We have a few empty offices, maybe I can turn one of them into the Museum of It's a Stretch.
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Monday, January 7, 2019


Looking through a church cookbook today (published in 1985), I came across this little gem.


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Sunday, January 6, 2019

New week, new virus


My vacation ended and I returned to work last Wednesday. It was a quiet day. Eve was out recovering from the stomach flu that she came down with on New Year’s Day. A lot of other people were still out, some using vacation and others sick. I stayed close to my office with the headphones on working on the closed captioning for Henry’s videos.

Eve was back at work on Thursday, and we had lunch together at the office. We decided we needed to do something to bring people together to try to improve morale. We found out just before Christmas that one group had decided not to go to the holiday party, then one did because he felt guilted by the second invitation that went out. That’s a whole lot of WTF, Eve and I agreed. Still, we think there’s room to improve overall morale before next Christmas, and we plan to do it through lunch. We haven’t worked out the details…

Blaine came over Thursday night. We had dinner and spent a couple of hours sorting the boxes of letters. I want to put everything in chronological order before we start reading.

For a lawyer, Blaine is surprisingly impatient and easily distracted when it comes to methodical work. “I’ll just read this one…” he kept saying, snatching random letters.

I’d point at the shoebox I’ve turned into a filing system. “File it.”

After awhile he became interested in a box of newspapers and spent quite a bit of time reading me the WWII news of the day. That was interesting, especially a few articles about the failure of the battle for Monte Cassino. My dad was part of that. His letters home only confirm it was bad.

Even with Blaine’s help (and he was as helpful as distracting), it took a long time to sort through a small number of letters. The family had a habit of writing across the postmarks the date they responded, and I’ve never seen so many smudged, blurry postmarks. That’s saying something because I have a couple hundred family letters that I’ve done this for. At least my family dated their letters; this family uses “Friday evening” and whatnot to head the letters.

Blaine and I planned to work on this over the weekend. That plan changed on Friday when I started feeling crummy at work and decided to go home early. I let Blaine know and told him I’d send a text after I’d had a nap.

The next time he heard from me: Stomach flu. Save yourself.

His response: May be too late.

And that has been our weekend.

Allison, bless her thoughtfulness, dropped off care packages at both of our houses. Gatorade, really good chicken noodle soup and, brilliantly, a package of toothbrushes. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to include toothbrushes, but talk about something that should be discarded frequently at a time like this.

We’re both doing much better today. Our appetites aren’t back yet but images of food on TV no longer disgust us. I’m staying home until I’m 1,000 percent better, and I don’t care how many days it takes. I’m tired of catching every germ that passes.

On this day one year ago, Blaine and I had our first date. (I have decided it was indeed a date and am going to go with it as if there were never a question.) To celebrate it, Blaine had arranged to surprise me with an afternoon visit to the winery we went to last year. He’d created some kind of romantic package that was to include wine and dinner and an over-the-top chocolate dessert. When he told me this over the phone today, he added, “There were going to be flowers.”

That poor man and flowers. It never goes right for him.

It is the first time a man in my life has gone to the trouble to remember an anniversary of any kind, let alone plan a surprise. It is the thought, the effort and the affection behind the plan that means the world to me.

Also, it was nice not to have to change out of stretchy pants and an old tissue-soft flannel shirt. I didn’t tell him this part, only the first part.

Besides, we had a wonderful New Year’s Eve. We dressed up and went to dinner at a pretty restaurant. There were drinks beforehand and flirting that was helped along by the fact that it takes long legs to sit comfortably in a dress on a bar stool and my short legs necessitated inelegant shifting. I kept bumping Blaine’s legs with my knees. He let his hand drop onto my leg and opened a then-and-now conversation. Then being this time a year ago. Then, I didn’t show up to Eve and Paul’s New Year’s Eve party which thwarted Blaine’s plan to ask me out (a fact I didn’t know). Now… Well, obviously I no longer avoid him.

Dinner was delicious and unrushed. After, we decided we should stop at Maggie and Terry’s for a little while. We arrived at Blaine’s well before midnight. He turned on the Christmas tree lights and some music, and we danced in the open space between the dining room and living room.

We’ve been dancing like this fairly regularly since John and Kim first encouraged us to take lessons. I can’t envision my left feet doing such a thing, but I haven’t minded Blaine trying to teach me. At some point we gave up on teaching/learning and just do what we can. I’ve actually gotten much better at following his lead. Mostly, I’m in it for the feel of Blaine’s hands on my back, his shirt against my cheek, his warmth through the fabric and the scent of cologne and soap that may always cause my head to fill with sparks.

We have come a long way in a year. It has been fun, interesting, beautiful and occasionally scary. It has been effortless in the sense that everything has moved us closer together, but some of those things have been individually tough. I’ve had to work through a lot of insecurities about men and relationships and Blaine has had his own journey to go through.

Neither of us knew what would happen. Early on we hoped it would last another week and then it became something we wanted to go on and on, and finally there was a point of no return that neither of us spoke of until we were dancing to midnight.

So, healthy may not describe the way 2018 ended and 2019 started but happy, very happy fits.

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