Tag Archives: Marriage

The value of rings

Yesterday the rainy weather held off long enough for us to get in a few outdoor projects.  My husband winterized the pool.   I dug up the dead green bean plants, the wilty lemon cucumber plants and mountains of weeds that had taken residence all around our yard.   I filled our composter.  I filled our yard debris can.   I gloried in the clean and trim flower beds.     I went inside.  I washed my hands.   I had a panic attack.     One of my rings was not on my finger.   It was dark outside and my ring was somewhere out in the yard.  Or in the composter.  Or in the yard debris can.

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This ring is 42 years old.   My father bought it in New Mexico as a gift for my mother on their 1st anniversary.   My mother wore it for years.   I remember what her hand looked like with this ring.  About ten years ago she gave it to me.  My hand looks the same.  I wear it because I love my parents, and long marriages, and my husband, and my daughters.   I wear it because people ask about it all the time and I love to tell a good love story.   I always said that someday, I’d pass the ring on to one of my girls.   Now its out in the mud somewhere.

Last night I called my mom and I told her I lost her ring.   She said “Oh honey, I’m so glad it wasn’t your wedding ring.   I have another ring you can have.   Don’t worry.  It’s just a ring”.    The fact that she is so gracious makes me want to find it more.    I know this band of silver and turquoise is just a thing.  But it does happen to be one of my favorite things.   Lesson from my mama though is simple.    People matter.   Things don’t.

I spent an hour today in the rain wandering around my yard.   I dug through the compost bin.  (Ewwww).   I emptied and sorted through the yard debris bin.  (Twice).   I got wet.  and muddy.   and a tad sad.    So I gave up.   I grabbed a few green tomatoes off my plants and went and found my eldest daughter.     She’s always up for cooking something.   Frequently she saves me from great disaster.  The resident chef is training her well.

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This time though I had a plan.   I followed a recipe and I didn’t try to substitute any ingredients.   We chopped and dipped and chatted and took pictures.    She liked how messy our fingers were.

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I liked the smell of the egg and corn meal frying.   She liked the little tomatoes.   I like the taste of the biggest circles.     Fried Green Tomatoes are some pretty amazing rings.   The first time I had Fried Green Tomatoes I was in Atlanta, Georgia.  Great little cafe.   Good ribs.  Good tomatoes.     The second time I had Fried Green Tomatoes was at book club.   Enough said. Anything at book club is divine.

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These turned out nicely.   Crispy on the outside, tart and juicy on the inside.    My daughter and I plan on making them every year.   My baby will be old enough to help next year.    I love how food entertwines us and circles the year.

I’m not giving up on my mama’s ring.   A friend promises to bring his metal detector over and he’s going to comb through my grass.   I hope we find it.   If not, its okay.    I have lots of rings.    My life is circled by love.

 

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Risk the View

My husband and I celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary today.   He’s a great guy.  I’m blessed.   I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately.   About marriages that fail and marriages that succeed;  why I got married and why I stay married.   What I didn’t know and what I still don’t understand. About what I hope my kids’ marriages look like.    About grace and commitment and friendship and passion and comfort.

For our tenth anniversary we went to Ireland.   Everything in Ireland was fierce.  Blustery weather, dark clouds, brilliant rainbows, the heady scent of burning peet, rough wool sweaters, spray painted sheep.

Scalding hot food and blistering cold showers.   Hot tea, homemade butter, oatmeal, cream and vegetable soup and blood pudding.    Churches, cemeteries and castles.  Guinness and dancing.

One day we took a ferry out to Inish Mor.  Its an island off the coast of the Connemara region.  The island is home to the 2000 year old fort Dun Aengus and to my absolute favorite place on earth.

The cliffs of Inish Mor.

It occurred to me as we stood by those cliffs that in the USA this would never happen.   We’d have warning signs and fences and legal disclaimers and nets.  We have too many rules.   Maybe its too many attorney’s.    I think in Ireland they figure if you fall off the edge of the cliff its your own fault.   Why wreck the view for everyone else?

Standing on the edge of the cliff with my spouse might be the most alive I’ve ever felt.   Terrified but exhilarated.   It was so worth the risk for the view.

Ireland is a beautiful, dramatic, heartbreaking and soul-searching country.   Its cheerful and playful and majestic.   It is  not a place for the weak at heart.     It’s a little like a good marriage.

I love you Aaron.  Happy Anniversary.   Wanna go back to Ireland with me?

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The value of a date.

My husband and I had our twelfth anniversary on Sunday.   We almost skipped celebrating.   He spent the whole weekend as a Roman Soldier and I had enough of chasing after child actors.   We were exhausted and crashing on the couch and ignoring the event seemed reasonable.   

Tempting but against the rules.     

My husband and I are both first-born, type A people.   We get a lot done.  We forget sometimes to have fun.   So we have a guideline to remind us.   Don’t skip holidays and go on frequent dates.

One of the things I love the most about being married to my spouse is that he knows how to throw a party, plan a feast, buy gifts that please and generally make a huge fuss over any success.      

I forgot this recently.    I was out-of-town on St. Patrick’s Day so I missed the annual Corned Beef and Cabbage and Soda Bread.   Then on Dr.Suess’ birthday I was at work and didn’t partake in Green Eggs and Ham.     I can’t believe I almost talked him into skipping anniversary dinner.     

Dinner Sunday night was at a great little Italian restaurant.     Somewhere after mozzarella, tomato and basil I felt revived.  After salad and some conversation with the guy I spend my life with I was smiling.   By the time we’d worked our way through Spaghetti, Cheesecake and Apple crisp we’d covered just about every neglected topic of conversation.    The food was wonderful.  The company was better.

In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare.  Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.  ~ Robert Sexton

I tend to take for granted things of great value simply because I have them in abundance.   Do you?

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Who wants to go to the chain?

My husband and I have two very different ways of looking at the world.   He’s a fan of things done right.  I love the underdog still trying to figure things out.

He should be a product design consultant, or a professional shopper or a movie critic.  He has a great eye and recognizes quality.   I should be a small business coach encouraging entrepreneurs not to give up.   I’m willing to overlook giant flaws if the heart is right.   I love that God put us together.

The two of us spent the weekend at a marriage retreat at the beach sponsored by our church.  We arrived early Friday night and went out to eat.   We ended up at a family owned restaurant.  Great location, close to the beach, good parking, nice log cabin. Looked promising to the critic in my husband and the camp counselor in me.    The front lobby was decorated to match the log cabin motif.  There were also large neon blackboard signs that were on the fritz.  They didn’t match and they mostly didn’t stay on.  This worried my spouse and made me grin.

It took a while to be seated.   When we were shown to our seat by the greeter/busboy/second cousin to the owner/waiter my husband’s eye started to twitch. My grin got bigger.

We were seated next to the gas fireplace and had plenty of time to peruse the menu and check out the decor.   Above the fireplace hung an enormous brass crab.  Perfectly normal at the beach.   What didn’t fit were the two raffia geese on the mantle beside the crab.   Taped to the mantle below the geese were four paper notices regarding the specials and desserts.   The extra special touch was the bit of fancy cutting at the bottom of the notices.  Someone at home scrapbooks.

I was positive by this point we were in for an excellent meal.   I figured we’d have spotty service and quite possibly the bill might be wrong but I was confident I would be treated to a superb dinner.  Funky places don’t stay open unless the food is divine.

I do have a few tips for truly enjoying the world of independent restaurants.

1. If you are at an ethnic restaurant stick with the ethnic cuisine. Do not order spaghetti at a place called Thai Lovely.   Order the yellow curry or the Pra Ram (veggies and peanut sauce).   You’ll be much happier.

2.   If you aren’t sure what to order, ask the waiter/janitor/entertainment/owner what the best item on the menu is and order that.   It’ll be good.

One of my favorite things about my spouse is that quite frequently he humors me.   He’ll go to the new Mexican restaurant around the corner even though he’d prefer Chevy’s.   He points out the oversized Pepsi sign in the corner, the too small water glasses and the stack of magazines toppling to the floor by the lone high chair.   But he goes along and I grin.

He’ll even admit that his blue cheese burger and hand cut fries were good.   My meat loaf sandwich was perfect.  Thick meat loaf, pickles and lots of mayonnaise.  Best I ever had. Score one for the little guy.

 

 

 

 

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The mountain is calling.

One of the songs in church this morning was Come Thou Fount.   A lyric caught my attention; “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy unchanging Love”.  I have a thing for mountains.   I can tell you the exact moment it happened.  I was in Kindergarten and it was recess.  I was probably the only kid who was happier in class than at recess.  It had something to do with the fact that I was slightly a klutz and would much prefer reading a book than running anywhere.  This is still basically true.   So one day at recess I was standing by my teacher watching the other crazy children yelling and hanging upside down from the monkey bars.  My teacher shook her head, looked up at Mt. Hood and said “the mountain is calling to me”.     That statement rang true in my five year old ears and I’ve looked to mountains ever since.

We went to visit family in Nebraska one time.   I didn’t like it.  Nebraska may have some wonderful traits but she does not have mountains.  In fact, an aunt said she’d drive us out to “their mountain” and we could look at the view.  I was not impressed. Growing up in the Pacific NW I was used to being surrounded by foothills and seeing the unchanging and impressive views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and the out of town beauties of Rainier, Bachelor, Adams and Jefferson.

My parents celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary today.  That’s a bit of an impressive mountain too.  I look at their marriage and I’m grateful for the steady and impressive view.  Our culture is hard on marriages today.  Its an institution that Hollywood ridicules, politicians fight over and many in my generation don’t value.  We went out to breakfast yesterday and our waiter was loudly talking to the people at the next booth all about his new plan.  He and his girlfriend decided it was significantly better to stay single for the tax advantage and what was the point of getting married anyway?   Too many marriages end in divorce so why bother?    I sighed.

That day in May of 1980, my dad and I stood on an overpass and watched Mt. St. Helens erupt.   I still have a jar of ash in my closet.  We wore the masks and were thankful the mountain blew away from most of civilization.    We’ve all seen divorces.   They are a bit like a volcano.   Terribly painful, sometimes unavoidable.   Gotta tell you though,  Mt. St. Helens is still a gorgeous mountain even after the eruption.  I’d rather people take the risk and get married.   I’d rather we have marriages to point to as success stories.  I’d rather live among volcanoes and mountains than in the flatlands in Nebraska.

I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from?   My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.   Psalm 121:1

I am so very grateful for the love of God and for the mountains He made that call to me.

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True Confessions

Despite all the loud public discussion exuding from radio talk shows, magazines, Oprah, and even our pre-marital counseling book about the virtue and importance of sharing the domestic chores evenly, my husband has refused to comply.  He has strong opinions about everything, but most stubbornly about gender roles in our household.   Yes, at our house one partner does all the cooking, laundry, grocery shopping and the majority of the child care.   Before you rush out and find all the feminist sisters to take on my husband, you should probably know that the domestic partner in this household is not me.   I am a content and well-fed wife.

My mother has asked that I tell you that she did try to teach me how to cook.  I do know how to successfully pull off  Thanksgiving dinner and I make an awesome Strawberry Shortcake.  That’s about it though. People frequently tell me that I really could learn to cook if I wanted.  I’m not entirely sure this is true.   Let me tell you a story…

One time my husband needed to make Gelatin for his pre-school class in the morning and had an evening meeting.  What ran through my head when I heard Gelatin was “Jell-O, easy, that’s hot water, cold water, ice and fridge.  I can’t even mess that up”.   What I said was “Sure, Honey, Everyone knows how to make Jell-O”.   This should have been the first point that I noticed something was wrong.    For future reference….Gelatin and Jell-O do not necessarily refer to the same thing.

Jello has a very friendly advertising campaign and really truly only requires hot water, cold water, ice and a fridge.   “Knox Type A Unflavored Gelatin for Food Service Professionals Only” requires cold water, a PhD, VERY hot water, burn ointment, the largest bowls in your kitchen (actually the ones I had that were big enough actually lived in the basement), really thick surgeon’s gloves (I didn’t have any but they are required), a nose-plug and an industrial fridge.

I honestly didn’t know that 16 quarts was that much.   Jell-O comes in a little box and it makes a nice size bowl of something you can smile about as you feed it to your child.  Knox makes three humongous bowls of the worst smelling stuff that looks like you scraped it out of your radiator.    I remember thinking that my husband is insane.  Not only did he quite foolishly leave me alone in the kitchen but he was also planning on having his pre-school class play with nuclear waste.   Lovely.

Another time I tried to make the Impossible Hamburger Pie off the side of the Bisquick box.   Did you know that even though mayonnaise is made out of eggs you can not use it as a subsititue for eggs in a recipe?   Yes, you probably knew that.    This is why every marriage has to figure out a plan that makes their home work.    This is why I do not cook.

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My Chair

When I got married, my spouse owned a tan armchair. I thought it was ugly. He’d had it for years already, it was handed down to him from his father. We were poor newlyweds and so all of our furniture was used but I was not certain that this particular piece could have a spot in our house.

I argued against the chair.

I lost.

Over the past eleven years, I’ve sat in that chair hundreds of times. Early on, I’d get home from work and stretch out there and take a nap with the dog and cat. I’ve read countless novels sitting there listening to the river. I rocked my newborn baby in that chair.

We’re trying to sell our house right now. Our realtor informed us that the house needed more space and the chair had to go. My husband had no problem with this fact. The chair is threadbare, has a hole in the seat and slightly sags. Okay. More than slightly.

I argued for the chair.

I lost.

I realize that someday if we sell our house and move that we can buy a new armchair. I dutifully helped load the chair up and drove it to Goodwill. The lady at Goodwill had the good grace not to laugh at my chair. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I looked in my rearview mirror at my pitiful chair. I left it there but felt sad. This was a few days ago. I wonder if I brought it home if I’d win that argument. I might have to go shopping at Goodwill tonight.

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