SPOUSAL COMMUNICATION 101

Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in husband, my day, personal | 0 comments

Latest oil attempt

Decades old question cleared up!!  Understanding achieved.  New tactic implemented!

I walk into the room, the news is on.  My husband says something along the lines of, “They say that his budget will cause taxes to increase X percent on them.”  Ah, conversation, and I’m included.  I want to respond intelligently but am feeling a bit behind.  I ask, “Who is “they”?”  My husband, a bit huffily I think, explains who “they” are.  Ok, got that part.  Looking for more clarification,  I venture, “Who is he?”  My husband, a tiny bit testy now answers.  Well, I’ve gone that far, “Who’s “them?” I ask.  I’ve really pushed it now.  Husband is defiantly huffy and does not bother to answer.  He snorts with annoyance.

This pattern has repeated itself for decades.  Finally, after years of going silent until the huffiness blows over, I venture the big question.  Why does he get irritated when I ask for clarification on an issue about which he has been vague?  The answer is obvious he replies.  He is annoyed because I am not using my head!

Ah ha!  Of course!  When he is being obtuse and using generalities I am to “use my head” to understand what he is trying to say.  Why for heaven’s sake would I be so annoying as to ask when I can simply “use my head.”  I’m only asking, of course, to do just that; annoy him.  I am being intentionally obtuse.  No wonder he is annoyed.  This reminds me of my Mother’s saying; “Don’t listen to what I say, listen to what I mean, but I digress.

After several hours of admittedly huffy behavior on my part in response to this rebuke, I have hit upon a new tactic.  This tactic is sure to minimize my annoying behavior and restore harmony.  Instead of asking for clarification I will now answer:

A. Uh huh

B.  Really?

C.  How interesting!

D. Wow!!

I think I’ll keep the explanation points.  It shows enthusiasm and sincerity, don’t you think?

 

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ON BEING NEEDY

Posted by on Jun 23, 2012 in family, husband, kids, my day, personal, pets, short story | 1 comment

Author’s note:  I was reading the following passage to my husband.  I’d written this a few years ago and was presenting this as prideful evidence that in the last few years, I’d improved dramatically.  “I am so much more well adjusted,” I bragged.  Husband number one cocked an eyebrow, “Um hum,” he said,  choking back a laugh and ending in a fit of coughing.  As I said, husband number one….

 

I think I may qualify as “needy.”  That is a psychological term I’ve been aware of for several years now.  We’re not talking “needy” as in, without assets, but “needy,” as in need of validation, reassurance and self esteem.  I’d never thought of myself as particularly “needy,” until last week.  Now, I am considering therapy.

It had been a particularly trying day.  I had made five trips, 17 miles each way, into town, twice completely, as it turned out, unnecessary.  My efforts to please, to be a good Mom, good daughter, good wife, good dog….whatever (still looking for the right word, “owner” doesn’t work), had been met by complete indifference.  It was one of those days when every time I turned around, someone needed something.  Right now!  Even the boys (ok, the dogs) were unhappy because we hadn’t walked.  I’d not met a single expectation.  No one cared about how hard I had tried.  No one!!!

Mom was in the hospital.  I had met with the doctors and talked to the nurses.  I had been to see Dad, fixed his lunch and done my best to soothe his anxiety about Mom.  Headed back into town from Dad’s house, I encountered my vagabond dog jogging up the road, where he had no business.  He was, evidently, fed up with waiting for his walk and going it on his own.  I returned him home, chastised him and left him, surly and truculent on the porch.  After all, he pointed out; it was my fault he had gone AWOL.  If I had met my responsibility, he would not have been walking on his own.  He was correct.  Obviously, I was unreasonable too.

I’d been to the grocery store, pharmacist, dry cleaners.  I’d bought food, prepared food; I’d picked up everything on everyone’s list.  I’d moved ungrateful children from point A to point B, and then back again; without a thank you.  The day was almost over.  I had not had a walk, the sure sign of a failed day.  Daughter #1 was angry because I protested at her request to be driven home after school and returned to town an hour later (five trips already, twenty  minutes each way, times five, equals… plus one more equals….)   This, to save her boy friend the inconvenience of driving ALL the way to our house to pick her up, and ALL the way back.  You must understand when I drive ALL the way back and forth it is not an inconvenience, it is a privilege.  Anyway, I’d knocked myself out getting everyone’s errands done, missed my walk, failed as a parent and as a daughter and I was running out of gas.  I hate getting gas.

I pulled into the gas station. I filled the car and entered the building to pay.  The cashier was a tall, burley kid with tattoos, a pony tail and several piercings.  Making change, he laconically asked, “How’s yur day?”  My eyes welled up with tears.  Oh my GOD!  Someone cared!!  I told him.  In a torrent of words, I poured out my fatigue, my disappointment, my concern about my mother.  In the warmth of that dear man’s tender concern, I almost cried in relief.  Here was a caring human being, someone who asked about me, about MY life, my day, someone who cared about ME.  I thanked him for his tender concern, his compassion, his warmth.   “Thank you for asking, thank you for caring,” I sniffed gratefully.  About that point, he interrupted to say, “Wow, Lady!  Most people just say, “fine.”

Shoot, now I have to find a new place to buy gas.  I can never, NEVER go back to that station!

 

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A MOUNTAIN LOVE AFFAIR; CHAPTER 6 SEASONS

Posted by on Jun 12, 2012 in a mountain love affair, family, husband, jackson hole, kids, personal | 0 comments

 

 

 

By the end of October, hiking at elevation gives way to watching the snow fall.  Another winter stalks in quietly from the North.  Out come the skis, we wax, we wait and hope for a good base.  We plan. Life in Jackson Hole is ruled by the month, by the weather.  Our lives change with the season, with the temperature, with the snow pack, with the day.

Spring in the Tetons is mud season.  It is good to get out of Dodge.  Not enough snow to play on, too much snow for hiking.  We flee to the sun.  We go to Hawaii or camping in Mexico.  We often run into someone from JH. at these spots of refuge. One year, camping by the gulf In Mexico, we see a couple of kids in flip flops climbing a scree covered mountain.  “Only someone from a place like Jackson would do that,” my husband remarked with a laugh.  He was right.  They were the Ottos from Otto Brother’s Brewery in Wilson.  The boys had been surfing in Mexico and one of them had been injured so they were heading back home.  The small scree covered hill was nothing to a kid from Wyoming, even an injured kid.

In Hawaii, we stop in a small interior village on the Big Island for an impromptu dinner after touring around the island for the day.  Some friends from Jackson are sitting in a dark, cozy corner booth.   I did not know they would be in Hawaii.  Jackson Hole is a small world.

One spring I went with friends for a 3 week walking tour of Provence, France and a few years later to Tuscany.  We take the girls on a three week tour and sailing trip with friends in Greece and Turkey.  It is good to be gone in the spring.  When we return, the world of the Tetons is no longer black and white.  Color is returning and migrating birds are winging in with raucous cries.  In a couple more months we will be able to get to elevation, to our canyons, to our lakes.  We wait. We hike the lower trails and plan.

When youngest daughter was a senior in high school, my husband bought another sail boat.   At 37 feet she is a few feet longer than the sailboat we built in the 70’s and a foot shorter than the one we built in the 80’s.  It is much easier to buy a sailboat than it is to build.  “Fidgity Feet” lived in Florida.  For the next many years, just as the first snowflake fell, my snow phobic husband  would announce, “There is a lot of work to be done on the boat before we can take her to the Bahamas.”  By the middle of October, he would be on the boat caring for her needs.  I was home caring for the teenager, while she was still at home, and my ailing parents.  The first year, Daughter #2 went with us to the Bahamas for three weeks during spring break.  She somehow managed to wrangle an extra week of vacation.  Once during college, she joined us again this time, earning eight credits for her trip.  She is a gifted negotiator.

I would meet my husband  in Florida or in the Bahamas depending on how my parents were doing and then, after Dad died, on how Mom was doing.  It was difficult to divide myself between children, parents and husband.  All of them needed me with them.  Even when the girls were in college, and away, it was still too long a distance.  I now tell my friends, who find themselves embarking on caring for aging parents, to be ready.  From that time on, they will always, always feel they are disappointing someone, even if it is only themselves.   There is the eternal push and pull for women.  Husbands, parents, children, everyone needing time, care and love in their own way.  It is impossible to fulfill every need, and therefore we fail.  Not in everyone’s eyes, but in our own.  Dad died the day before I returned home from the Bahamas one year.  My husband  had to stay with the boat.  Dealing alone with the grief of losing my father, my guilt at not being there when he passed, my mother’s anguish, my children’s sadness and relentless, constant decisions was brutal.

The boat had its delights.  Sailing in Florida is far different than sailing in the Pacific.  The shallow water surrounding the islands is tricky to navigate and we were thankful for the GPS unit we had on board.  This kind of navigation is a far cry from the sextant and charts we used in the 70s.  At times one of us had to be stationed on the bow, watching for coral and sandbars.  The consequences of hitting one would be far reaching.

We explored Miami and the East coast of Florida and we explored the islands of the Bahamas.  Beautiful weather, fabulous water, wonderful diving, the months on Fidgity were fun.   When I had to be home in Jackson while my husband  was on the boat, I skied and played in the snow.  I did my best to shovel the snow and keep the drive clear with the snow blower.  One year, after a particularly deep snow, I pulled out the snow blower, and mumbling under my breath, tried to get the darn thing started.  The snow was four feet deep and the drive a quarter mile long.  A snow shovel was not going to make it.  However, this was my husbands job and I was feeling quiet petulant about being left alone to deal, while the boat was getting all his attention.  I got the darn machine going and tackled the drive only to have it sputter to a halt.  Damn, out of gas.  I slogged through deep snow to the garage.   Red gas can, got it.  Funny thing though, the snow blower did not seem to like the gas at all.  The truculent beast refused to move.  Finally, I reached my husband on his cell phone.  He was basking in 80 degree weather but found time to listen to my complaint and offer advice.  In the course of the conversation we realized, instead of filling the gas tank with gasoline, I had filled it with kerosene.  The engine was not happy.  My patient guy sighed deeply and suggested I park the snow blower in the garage and he would care for it in the Spring.  Meanwhile, I still had a driveway covered in four feet of snow.  Such is life in the mountains.

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MOTHER’S DAY STROLL

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in family, husband, my day, personal, short story | 0 comments

ON THE BUTTE

Mother’s Day Stroll

On Mother’s Day I asked Dougie if he would like to accompany me on a walk.  I ask at least once a week to make sure he knows I love him and am concerned about his health.  Predictably when I ask, Doug suddenly realizes that he has to bring in the mail or take out the trash. He has a busy schedule and there is simply no time for frivolous activity like walking.  Yesterday, he said, yes!  Wow!  How romantic!  I was touched.  I suggested walking up onto a butte where there is a grand view of the next valley and some interesting rocks. Doug likes rocks.   He likes snakes too.  Doug grabbed his snake catching pole in case he came upon an interesting specimen to add to the rattle snake who lives in one of our rock piles.  I think he was hoping for a gopher snake.

Happily, I grabbed my small sling backpack and offered one to Doug.  I have backpacks like other women have shoulder bags.  I have shoulder bags like other women have backpacks, by which I mean, few.   I really don’t need a purse because I have backpacks.  Doug did not need a backpack.  I slipped a water bottle into my pack and asked Doug if he wanted some water.  He didn’t.  I slipped another bottle of water into my pack.  I’ve hiked with the guy before.  He tends to forget he does not need water and drinks mine.

A couple miles down the road our conversation was interrupted by two very muddy, barking dogs chasing up on our heels.  The male was a chunky white lab/pit bull mix, the female was a more slender white lab/mutt mix.  Dogs love Doug.  He and they chatted a bit and the two decided to join us.  The female had a pretty face with eyes that said I love you, I love you, whoever you are, I love you.  I take adoration where I can find it, so agreed they could come.  The male had a collar which identified him as “Champ.” So Champ, The Girlfriend, Dougie and I set off, we were now a pack.

We reached the base of the hill and started to ascend the steep, rain rutted trail.  It was not an easy go.  Decomposed granite slipped out from under our feet at every step.  I was anxious that Dougie befall no mishap because that would discourage future romantic outings.  Champ and The Girlfriend, intent upon being good companions, studiously stepped on our heels and stopped directly in front of us to check on our progress and block the path.  Luckily we made it to the top without misfortune, The Girlfriend and Champ walking as close to us as physically possible.  The Girlfriend was looking at Doug with decided adoration.  It was turning into quite a romantic walk.

A cool breeze caressed us, the incredible view enticed.  Hand in hand, devoted dogs at our heels we walked together in a romantic haze…..  Actually I walked, Dougie ambled slowly behind me (Doug does not like to keep up, it just encourages me to go fast) and the dogs panted heavily, walking on top of our feet whenever possible.  I think they were starting to regret their decision to accompany us but were being good sports.

We came to a long, lovely downhill stretch which leads to the most perfect viewing rock. I pointed out my objective and explained to Dougie that the view from down there was incredible.  He considered for a few moments and declared that if we walked down, we would have to walk up.  Yeah, that was the point!  I am accustomed to Dougie logic.  It goes like this.  For most people:  If you are sitting on a sail boat and the wind is incredibly light you put up a lightweight sail to catch what breeze you can, thereby advancing;  advancing slowly, but still advancing.  Dougie logic: If you put up a light sail, you will just have to take it down again in eight hours or so.  You see my problem.

We turned around.  On the way back, I pointed out the interesting rocks.  Doug immediately switched into hunt mode.  The dogs, recognizing the emotional shift, perked up perceptively.   OOOOOh  a hunt!  Rabbits?  I think they were disappointed when instead of pursuing the abundant wildlife, Doug started picking up rocks.  The snake catching pole served well as a digging stick.  Turns out, the interesting rocks contain veins of tourmaline.  Doug was intrigued.  The hunt resulted in the bagging of several large specimens.  Into my backpack they went with my water and Doug’s water.  Pretty soon the pack was filled with rocks.  But, there were more great specimens.  They must not be left behind.  Soon my hands were filled with rocks.

The rock collecting resulted in a dampening of my enthusiasm for walking fast which resulted in Doug, no longer constrained by having to make the point that I walk too fast, picking up his pace.  The dogs, relieved to be heading back, also picked up speed.  I am not competitive (despite what my family says), but I do not like being left in the dust.  Rocks digging into my spine and into the palms of my hands, heavy pack bouncing against my back, I increased my pace.

We dropped the dogs off at their house with promises to, “Do it again,” and continued home where Doug took the backpack from me and emptied out the rocks.  Just as I was about to make a snarky remark about how I’d carried all the rocks and he carried the only a lightweight pole, Dougie looked appreciatively at the dirty pile of captured rocks and expressed his pleasure with the hunt.  My heart swelled.  Ah, he had liked it.  He enjoyed walking with me!  I certainly did not want to discourage him from future romantic ambles.  Next time though, I’m not taking a pack!

 

 

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THE SHOPPING TRIP

Posted by on May 12, 2012 in family, husband, my day, personal, short story | 0 comments

THE SHOPPING TRIP

 

Today my husband offered to go with me to Costco.  We need some wine.  He never likes to leave that purchase to me.  Too risky.  Going to Costco is still a new enough activity to be exciting!  We used to live in Jackson Hole, WY which was a hard three hour drive from the nearest Costco which was in another state.  A three hours drive, in a snow storm, and then a three hour return trip.  Since we have moved to a city, Costco is a mere twenty to thirty minutes away.  Well, I figured it would be nice to have Doug along.  Help is always appreciated and I do love a chauffeur!  We stopped to get a latte on the way.  Fabulous, almost like a date!  I did suggest we stop for lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant, which would have been very date-like, but Doug showed no interest.  Probably not hungry, I thought.

We arrive.   I start towards the pharmacy section but Doug, who has predictably commandeered my cart, veers off course to the right.  Not a good start.  My first reaction is to pursue him and demand he relinquish my cart, but I figure he is probably headed to the wine section.  He needs the cart, he is getting heavy bottles.  I pick up my prescription in record time.  As I start off to the wine section to look for Doug, I pick up some needed razor blades. Oooooh lotion, it is a much better price than at the drug store.  Toothpaste!  We need some.  I add that to the growing pile in my arms.  Crackers!  I forgot to put them on the list.  Better grab a box, if I don’t I’ll forget them.  I am almost to the wine section.  Cute yoga pants.  My size, perfect!  The stack in my arms is getting a bit unwieldy.  By the time I reach the wine section, I have dropped the crackers twice, the yoga pants are slipping out from under my arm.

Whew, made it.  No Dougie!  Well, he has the list; Doug has probably set off to get the items listed. Good, goal oriented behavior!   He is being a BIG help.   I check the dairy room.  No Doug.  The paper towel section?  No Doug.  Since I am now carrying eggs, I decide I should forego paper towels for the moment.  Listing precariously to one side to keep from dropping eggs, razor blades, crackers, lotion, prescription, yoga pants and some glass cleaner, I set off to look for my guy.

Ten minutes later, I spot him far in the distance.  He is languorously tossing a paper wrapper into the trash can next to a stand handing out orange chicken.  A vague, contented smile plays over his distracted face as he turns and pushes my EMPTY cart towards the next food station.  He has sighted lasagna.  I ineffectively call out to catch his attention as I wind my way through the other shoppers, and drop the yoga pants.  An annoyed man runs over the yoga pants and slams his cart into my side.  I almost drop the eggs.  Doug has picked up speed leaning heavily upon the EMPTY cart and is fast approaching a yogurt stand.

I finally catch up to Doug and the, did I mention, EMPTY cart at a coffee stand where Doug is lazily engaged in a friendly discussion with the ladies dispensing a variety of coffees.  I pant awkwardly up to the cart, which is littered with small paper cups, and gracelessly deposit my burdens. I bite off a vicious comment about WHO really needs a cart and how SOMEBODY is a hell of a lot of help, when I see Doug’s dreamy, happy face.  “Did you try the chicken,” Doug purrs, with a Cheshire cat smile. “The sushi is wonderful, you should try some.”  Well, he’s a great chauffer.

 

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OIL PAINTING LESSON

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in family, husband, my day, personal, short story | 0 comments

I am learning how to oil paint which is apropos of nothing except as it relates to the colorful patina which now decorates my hands, arms, easel, faucet, refrigerator handle…..  but, I am having fun and that is all that counts.  I’d clean off the faucet and refrigerator handle if I had the time, but obviously, I don’t.  I am painting.  So far I have accomplished: portraits of a bison, a tiger, my granddaughter’s two wiener dogs and a couple landscapes.  I’ve been asking for an enlarged photo of said granddaughter so I can paint a portrait of her, but none has been forthcoming.  I suppose they are concerned I’d expect them to hang it.

Yesterday, my husband interrupted me at my easel to help him with a “color.”  Frankly, I was a bit put out at the interruption.  I was working on a particularly intricate mountain peak.  But, he is important too.  I was also a bit intrigued, color?  Puzzled, I absently wiped my paint covered hands with a paper towel and trotted back to the office.  “What color? I asked, daubing at a spot of green on my cheek.  Dougie is working on a stamp collection.  Some stamps have closely varying hues and the color of this  particular group of stamps was so close to three examples in the reference book that even Dougie was having trouble discerning which it most closely resembled.

I grabbed the mysterious stamps and compared them to the photo in the book.  This one, I said jabbing my finger at the page.  Mmmm…  my finger was well smudged with paint.  I glanced at the hand holding the stamp.  Very colorful, white, black, green, grey……  I quickly dropped the stamp on the desk. An awful premonition entered my now, focused mind.  “Why,” I asked, “is it important what color it is?”  Dougie, deeply absorbed in the book, absently mumbled that it made the difference of several thousands of dollars in value.

Alarmed, I surreptitiously, slid a piece of paper  over the stamps.  Doug, busy, did not notice.  Maybe he will think he lost them.  I quickly exited the office.  I  wonder, do you think a tiny, little smudge of gray paint would make a difference in the value of the stamps?

 

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