Friday, February 27, 2009

Welcome to My Blog, I'm Married

Mr. Lucky came in from walking the dogs and said we had a New Neighbor, a chatty woman moving into a house down the street. He didn’t even have to inquire, “Is there a Mr. New Neighbor?” She eagerly volunteered the fact that she was divorced, and he was bewildered by her alacrity in doing so.

I had a ready explanation for that. “She’s letting you know she’s available. Remember what happened the last time some woman told you she was available? It was only twenty-one years, three kids, and two mortgages ago.” He, for his part, never got around to telling Ms. New Neighbor he was already leg-shackled; he’s not one to offer his CV to every stranger he meets.

I explained how she must have assumed he’s a lonely bachelor with no one for love and companionship except two beagles. He never wears his wedding ring because he keeps losing it, so there’s no telltale tan line on his finger. The ring is safe in my jewelry box, and lest any of you scandalmongers out there think he keeps losing it because of some subconscious desire to be a bachelor again, remind me to blog someday about Mr. Lucky’s penchant for losing (or “misplacing” as he likes to sugarcoat it) anything of value. He doesn’t even own a watch for this very reason, but I digress. Ms. New Neighbor will learn the ghastly truth soon enough.

But I confess I’m just as perplexed, and even alarmed by women—like my own mother—who volunteer such personal information to strangers.

My parents divorced when I was sixteen. About a week after the divorce was final, the water heater sprang a leak, and my mother called a repairman who’d never been to the house before. This stranger had barely reached the bottom of the basement stairs when Mother—a notorious extrovert—told him she was recently divorced.

Now what in the name of
Marvin Mitchelson did that have to do with the leaky water heater? I couldn’t have been more shocked than if she’d turned to me and my siblings and said, “Kids, say hello to your new stepdaddy!” (Which, thank heavens, never happened.) Even more baffling, over the previous year our parents’ divorce was The Big Secret: We weren’t allowed to say a peep about it to anyone, not even the grandparents—who I remain convinced to this day were the last people on the planet to know. And now here she was singing the whole opera to some strange man in our basement!

During that same time period, I’d just received my driver’s license and was very interested in buying a car. Scanning the classified ads, I noticed many of those placed by women included the word divorce. They had to sell the cars because they were going through a divorce. I didn’t understand—and still don’t—why any woman would include that information, unless she was also on the prowl for a new guy. Ads were sold by the word, so mentioning a divorce had to cost extra money. Maybe trumpeting her new availability while hawking the used car saved money on buying a separate ad under the personals. Still, there must be a better, safer way to meet a new Prince Charming.

Call me paranoid (it won’t be the first time), but there are lots of wackos out there, and for all Ms. New Neighbor or even my mother knew, Mr. Lucky and the water heater repairman could have been Exhibits A and B.

To his credit, Mr. Lucky didn’t come away from this encounter with the smug feeling he’s “still got it.” He said she was about my age, but he thinks I look younger and better.

Sounds like someone wants cake and ice cream for dessert!

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Got My Chocolate, So What More Do I Want?

Every year, around the first of February, Mr. Lucky points out that Valentine’s Day is coming up. “What do you want?” he always asks.

And my response is always, “A big heart-shaped box of chocolate—that I can have all to myself!”

I have to add those last seven words, or he’ll break into the box before I do and devour two-thirds of the contents before leaving the rest for me. Usually he’ll buy an extra box for himself.

Then last Thursday, Mr. Lucky and I got into a terrible, screaming argument, so awful that we didn’t speak to each other for nearly a week. Depending on whose side you’re on, the fight was either about my total lack of patience or his failure to show up at the time I specified.

Suffice it to say I’m a stickler for punctuality, while outside of work he basks in his very own time zone. This has been a never ending source of conflict during twenty-one years of marriage, more than the sex, money, or dirty socks touted by the women’s magazines. I doubt we will ever find common ground on this issue. It wasn’t the first skirmish in this volatile territory, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

But the timing of this particular fight—only two days before Valentine’s Day—left me with the cold, sickening realization that I’d probably just screwed myself out of any goodies the following Saturday.

O me of little faith! After he left for work early Saturday morning, I got out of bed and went into the kitchen to find a heart-shaped box of chocolates sitting on the counter. It was very plain, with no lace or bows or plastic roses. At least it wasn’t the one I’d seen at Walgreens earlier in the week, that boasted a sepia picture of a scowling old grouch with the snarling inscription, “Here are your chocolates—what more do you want?”

Mr. Lucky left no note with the chocolates. No mushy card. No teddy bear. No flowers. No balloons. No jewelry. No faux Faberge eggs. No fishing tackle, golf clubs, or the Bowflex Ultimate X-Treme Deluxe Digital Family Gym for Home, Office, or Still in Its Original Box Under the Bed. (“Fine, Karen. If you don’t want them, then I can always find a use for them.”) And—thank heavens—no weird lingerie for me to string and lace and hook around my body. It’s not that I have anything against sexy lingerie. I just happen to know other, more dignified ways to make him fall to the floor laughing.

One of my TARA sisters, upon hearing the gorier details of this sordid tale, said I should have told him where to put the chocolates.

Good advice and very tempting, but in the end (ahem) I couldn’t do it. For one thing, if I didn’t eat them—HE would have! And he wouldn’t have felt the least bit guilty about it, either. Why, he would have considered himself the victor then and there. For all I know, he was even hoping I would reject the chocolates, just so he could have them all to himself.

And for another thing, I can’t possibly turn my back on chocolate. Not on any principle or for any cause. Besides, I’d earned them. So I ate them.

The important thing is we’re speaking again—oh, and that I still got the chocolate.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What My Candy Heart Says

Your Candy Heart Says "Hug Me"

A total sweetheart, you always have a lot of love to give out.

Your heart is open to where ever love takes you!

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a surprise romantic evening that you've planned out

Your flirting style: lots of listening and talking

What turns you off: fighting and conflict

Why you're hot: you're fearless about falling in love

Friday, February 6, 2009

When Dogs Attack Window Blinds

When Mr. Lucky and I came home from shopping yesterday, this was what we saw in our front window:
This was obviously the work of our beagles, who attack the blinds in this way only when a stranger comes to the door.

We don't know how many times the stranger rang the bell, but it wasn't the postman, as no packages were left behind, nor did we find any notices in the mailbox.

It wasn't one of those people who hang advertisements on the doorknob, because nothing hung there, nor did anything hang from the neighbors' doorknobs.

Most likely it was one of those pesky salespeople who thought the better of leaving his or her card for fear I'd track them down and make them pay for new blinds. Especially since I probably won't be kindly disposed toward buying their vacuum cleaner with 64 attachments, all of which will end up at the bottom of Baby Bear's toybox.

It may even have been that red-headed woman from some carpet cleaning company who shows up every few months, asking which room of our house gets the most traffic. I keep telling her "the whole house" but she insists I pick a room and she'll clean it for free--after which I should be so amazed by the results that I simply can't let her leave the premises until I sign a contract agreeing to let her do the rest of the house for as much as we're paying on the mortgage.

I took both these photos. The first one is crooked because--well, sheesh! YOU try finding a picture in that LCD screen when the sun is glaring directly behind you! Mr. Lucky might have done better with it, since he's a photographer by profession, but alas, he tends to take after the cobbler with the barefoot children.

By the same token, I didn't think the interior shot was much better. He told me afterward that I should have used a flash (I thought I did); still, the artistic side of him said he liked this shot because of what he called the play of light (call me an Impressionist photographer) spilling through the blinds:

Mind you, we used to keep these blinds raised above the six bottom panes for the sole purpose of allowing the dogs to bark at passers-by and callers without destroying them (the blinds, not the callers). But recently the cord broke and we could no longer raise them.

The dogs left these in such a tangled mess of destruction that Mr. Lucky took scissors and cut off the bottom half of the blinds.

"But now I can't lower the blinds when it gets dark out," I told him. "And I won't be able to sit in my reading chair in the evenings, unless you don't mind people looking through the window at my legs."

"Put on those fishnet stockings I gave you for your birthday, and wear a lampshade," he suggested.

In his dreams and my nightmares. My plan is to replace the sheer curtains--which are more decorative than functional--with more opaque ones.

The same goes for those fishnet stockings.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Don't Mind the Snow, Except . . .

Georgiana usually liked the snow.

She liked how the snowflakes fluttered like bits of lace torn from the gowns of angels amid an odd hush, as if the snow were a thick white blanket muffling the world’s noises.

She liked the way the snow shone through the windows at midday, lighting up the room brighter than any chandelier. And she especially liked it when the sun came out and set the snow all aglitter, sparkling like a frosty fairyland of diamonds.

The above is an excerpt from one of my unpublished Regency historicals. Like Georgiana, those are things I like about the snow. And I like it as long as I don’t have to be in a car, whether as driver or passenger. I also like it as long as the power doesn’t go out. That’s where my heroine and I part company. Georgiana didn’t have electricity, but she still liked the snow—usually.

When I turn on the news in the evening and see what the snow is doing to other parts of the country, I’m glad to live in Florida. I’m glad I don’t have to bundle up Baby Bear like Mrs. Parker did to Randy in A Christmas Story, then worry that he’s going to take everything off once he’s outside. And I’m glad I don’t have to nag Mr. Lucky to shovel the front walk or get the snow tires put on before the first flurries fly.

I have a hang-up about the latter. I grew up in Washington State, where my father owned a service station in my hometown—this was back in the days before they morphed into self-service pumps and convenience stores. At the first flutter of a snowflake, everyone in town would mob my father’s business, wanting their snow tires put on that very day.

I learned from that. After I grew up and was on my own, I never wanted to be caught in the snow without the snow tires on and the engine winterized. When I was in the Air Force stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA, I took my Chevy in to be winterized the first weekend of November, even though there was still no sign of snow, because I wanted to avoid the rush. Indeed, the manager told me that on the first snowfall the previous winter, they were so swamped with customers wanting their snow tires mounted that same day, that the employees didn’t even realize there were local news cameras present, making a story out of the chaos. They didn't know till they went home that night and saw themselves on TV.

I was reminiscing about this the other day when Mr. Lucky looked at me funny and said, “Snow tires?”

Except for the three years he spent in Germany while in the Air Force, my husband has never lived anywhere above 40 degrees latitude north. Apparently he knows about chains, but not snow tires. And that’s not all: I learned the first winter of our marriage (in Germany) that he knew next to nothing about scraping ice off a windshield.

I've made up a lot of stuff about Georgiana, but I swear to you, I am not making this up about Mr. Lucky.

He didn’t scrape--he chipped, one flake of frost at a time. Maybe he thought the scraper would scratch the windshield. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and had never been so annoyed with him before. “For crying out loud, it’s not an ice chipper,” I told him. “It’s an ice scraper. GIMME THAT!” I could scrape the ice off every window of the car in less than three minutes; he was going to take three hours just for the driver’s side of the windshield. But he wouldn’t let me have the scraper. He insisted on doing it in his own way, and ordered me to sit in the car and wait. And sit. And wait. And seethe. And—I popped out of the car again and tackled him. “Give that to me and let me do it!”

Honestly. The way he was doing it, why even bother? Why didn’t we just wait for spring to come and melt everything away? I finally managed to wrest the ice scraper away from him, and I showed him the Northern way of doing it. (I may also have told him this was another reason the South lost, because you can't scrape an icy windshield with cotton and a lot of arrogance--just ask Rhett Butler.)

Mr. Lucky's explanation today for not wanting to let me have the scraper? “It’s a man thing.”

And like my heroine, there’s one last thing I don’t like about the snow:

But Georgiana didn’t like it when it kept people from venturing out of doors. Especially when three days went by before Anthony came calling again. The snow that had fallen upon his first visit had turned into lumpy, grayish-brown slush that reminded her of a bad batch of mashed turnips.

I don’t miss the slush, either.