Sunday, September 28, 2014

Going to Church

The Captain gets full points this week, not just for being a great life partner, but for being a good dad, too. Don't get me wrong. He's still not perfect but I would never, for example, hit him in the head with a shovel and then eat his body so I wouldn't go to jail. (More on that later.)

So first, Alison was a little stressed out last week. She has a lot on her plate. She's part of the 7-8 Football cheer squad which has two practices and one game a week; 8th grade basketball, two practices a week but the season has yet to start; she tutors twice a week and has acting every Saturday. 

This week has had a couple of major tests and she was fretting about how to find time to study. I told her I'd be happy to make some time to study with her. "No offense, Mom. But you always give me the answers. Dad is harder on me."

Some wives/mothers would hoard this kind of information and perhaps question their value in the homework department. I, however, passed it on. Jeff went home early from work twice to help her study.

We hosted an impromptu dinner party in the middle of the week as if we had no responsibilities at all. It was so much fun we hope to do it again even though we were having so much fun we almost forgot to get Ali to basketball practice. 

Thursday comes and it's finally the day for us to go see Eric Church. The show is in Louisville, so Alison is beside herself thrilled that she has the evening to herself. I called from work to check on her and make sure she was OK with being home alone so long.

"Now we'll be home," I started.

"Home? You're coming home?" she wailed.

"Well, yes," I said, meaning we'd be home before morning.

"Mom. I can totally do this. I will be all right. I'm just going to study," she said.

I explained that we weren't coming home before heading south to Louisville. Just that we'd not be spending the night in Kentucky. "Why are you so excited to have the night to yourself," I asked, thinking that some kids might be a little leery of so much time on their own.

"Well I'm going to be in charge of myself!" she said. "I'm going to eat when I want, what I want and where I want."

So we go to the show. As I've reminded you all many times, Jeff isn't a country music fan. I'd told him that Eric Church isn't your typical country artist. I don't think he believed me. Plus, Dwight Yokam was the opening act. Terrible traffic kept us from the first act.
Dwight Yokam was just what you'd expect -- great, but vintage country. He stood, he twisted about in his painted on jeans and peered out at you from beneath the lowered brim of his white cowboy hat. When Eric Church hit the stage, it was a different sound altogether. 

While I soaked in the sound and live appearance of an artist I've really liked for a long time, Jeff kept talking about arpeggio runs and power chords and dueling lead guitars and yammering about how many guitars were in play. He kept shaking his head and saying, "That's not a country band." Appreciatively.

I don't know much about power chords and arpeggio runs, but it was a great show. Well worth the four-hours of driving to get to it. On his own, Jeff wouldn't drive across the street for a country show. This was totally a gift to me. Seeing him enjoy it was just icing on the cake. 

We both took Friday off work. He got Ali to school (and her tests) and I woke up at 11. Research man discovered Eric Church's lead guitarist used to be the lead guitar player for the Black Crowes. Whoever they are.

Jeff played poker Friday night while I chaperoned at the Chatard High School football game. I was prepared to read a book in the car but Lisa Vielee saved me by letting me join her group.  Saturday, Ali and I finished up three cakes we'd made to help celebrate Aunt Shirley and Uncle Larry's 50th wedding anniversary while Jeff put the finishing touches on a playlist for background music.

It was a four-hour event. Jeff found 18.5 hours of music that might be appropriate. He didn't want to miss anything. We like these people a lot and were excited to see them.  Ali had acting, so she and Jeff came down later while I went early to help set up.

We got to spend time with Allyssa, who we treat as a niece even though she's really a cousin. She's a newlywed living in California where she serves in the Coast Guard. That didn't stop Ali and me from beating her and husband Ryan at euchre.

It was fun to see them not just with family, but also with the friends, some of whom they've known even longer than they've been married. 

Today started with Alison making cupcakes for a football game, driving to a country school with the top down on fall day that couldn't have been nicer. We scrammed back home in time to get Ali to a basketball scrimmage. Jeff and I had used our day off to get most of the chores done so besides carting Alison around it's been a lazy day.

Which is good because I'm seriously worn out. Oh! That thing about killing and eating your spouse.  I had Ali at the library last week and we took longer to get the book she needed for school and I ran out of time to get my own stuff. So I grabbed a few books that were out on display and I ended up with a book called, "Season to Taste" by Natalie Young.

I took it to the gym Friday. And when I clambored up on the elliptical machine, I had nothing to keep me there but the book. Which is a about a British woman who kills her husband and proceeds to carve him up so as to get rid of the evidence.  I had a long workout planned because I'd gotten busy at work and was behind.

It's a TERRIBLE book. Will likely cause the opposite effect of my sex-charged vampire books. Which is a terrible thing to do to a guy who took me to a country show and was so good to my daughter.

I'm about half-way through (it was a long workout) and now I need to know if she was crazy before she smacked the guy in the head or if she had a psychotic break after. And does she get caught? She's leaving a diary that's part recipe and part how to get away with murder, which is a really bad idea if you're going to get away with it. 

You'd think I would skip to the end, but that's against the rules. 

Jeff and I are closing in on 17 years together and it's not all been as lovely as this week. Some have even been better, but there have been days when neither of us were all that happy to be in the other's air space. Now, I've never actually seen my aunt and uncle have a bad interaction, but she is my mother's sister and he is my father's brother. They have it in them. And if some of those stories were true....

But if my Aunt Shirley can make it 50 years without killing and eating my Uncle Larry, I think Jeff and I will be OK.  He's way taller than me so doing him in with a shovel would only bruise his shins. Plus, I'm not a very good cook even when the ingredients are pre-packaged.

If I thought I could trust all my Book Club friends,  might have to pick that book when I host next...

Saturday, September 27, 2014


We were down at the neighborhood park the other day for a gathering.  As is her wont, Alison ended up on the playground.

She was likely skulking for babysitting gigs, but there's a pull from that place that I think will always be there. She loved that little collection of plastic slides and ladders and tubes. She scared the life out of me a hundred times by jumping from a platform to a pole or going up the slide backwards when she still testing out those chubby legs.
I was chattering away with someone when I glanced over to see her stretched out on the tube that connects the little kid slide to the big kid slide. Right next to her was a little kid perched at the top of big kid slide looking like he regretted being there.

And I flashed back to Grammie Reed and Jeff putting her up there in that same spot, letting her go down on her own. They were delighted. She was beside herself with her swhoosh of independent flight.

When I saw the pictures, I was outraged.  "You let her do what?! She could have flipped over and fallen off the side!"

Marian just smiled. Jeff grinned. Had she been able to form a sentence, Ali would have likely said, "Chilll out, Mom. I got this."  At the time, she probably screamed with delight and demanded, "Again, Grammie. Again!"

But last week, she was stretched out the length of the tube that she used to crawl through, stopping in the middle and giggling because we couldn't reach her. Too big to play but not so big she didn't feel the need to stake her claim.

It just goes so freaking fast...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sins of omission or just good marital relations? You decide

So here's a marital/partnership riddle for you:  If Party A does a dumbass thing but rectifies it without damage and only slight financial effect, Does Party B need to know?

Before I tell you that I believe, with my whole heart and wallet, that the answer is "No," let me give you an example. Hypothetical, of course.

Let's say Party A was distracted. Lot of stuff on her mind when she went to pick up Chinese take-out for her daughter. Not only was her routine out of whack because she had the pick-up time wrong for an after school activity and was running late, but someone else had parked in her normal spot at the restaurant.

Also, this restaurant borders a very busy street and if you're used to where the curb cut is from your million times pulling out of the place, it's only natural to assume it's still there when you pull out this time, right?

Somehow, in this hypothetical situation, Party A might have pulled out into traffic when her muscle car did what muscle cars do: it jumped right over the curb heading to the street and got stuck on its frame, teetring its front half over the sidewalk three feet down and its back half on the parking lot three feet up.

Gulp.  Initially Party A would have sat there contemplating options and wondering how long it would be before Party B pulled through the intersection on his way home where the spectacle of a cobalt convertible suspended over space would likely catch his eye. And if it didn't, the people pointing and gawking might have tipped him off.

I would imagine Party A would get out of the car, crawl around a little bit on the asphalt looking for a way out. Backing up would scrape the frame. Pushing forward would surely scrape off the exhaust system and probably fracture the bumper.

About this time, I'd imagine a passerby would stroll over to help assess the situation. He might even shake his head and wish Party A luck with her situation as he walked away, stifling his laughter until he was not quite out of earshot.  

Party A would likely turn to her trusty cell phone -- nearly out of juice -- to turn to her employer for help in finding a reliable tow truck. Should Party A then discover that she needed to update her Angie"s List app and can't because she hasn't enough power, she might kick some dirt and mutter a few curse words.  She might have had this conversation in her head:

-- I could sit in the car and charge the phone to get the app updated, but it might also tip the car down to the sidewalk and it will take some time and I need to scram before Party B comes through.
-- I could call Party B for help. We ARE partners in life and love. He DID swear to stick around in good times or bad. Damn I should have added a dumbass-actions line in there...
-- I could take a chance and call for a tow without checking reviews first and get home before anyone knows anything is amiss. Well, other than all the people who've already seen me.

My bet is she'd call a tow truck, explain the situation and get them to come right away. She'd probably also shoo away the second random guy who stopped in his pickup offering to just pull her off the curb. Because she's not the kind to leave a tow truck guy hanging after making the emergency call from her traceable cell phone. She'd explain she had it all under control when the Chinese restaurant owners came out to see what was going on in the parking lot.

And when the tow truck guy comes, she'd be relieved that he agreed it was best to lift the car up and roll it back rather than try any other option -- something that only a professional tow truck driver with a lift on his truck could do. She might even start thinking she was pretty smart to have handled the situation so well.

When he said he's done this a time or two in that very spot, she'd feel even less like a total dumbass. When he said he'd do the job for $50 cash she might remember that she HAD extra cash in her wallet because she'd been so thrifty on a work trip the week before.

And when he said, "It's OK. Not too many people even saw you stuck up there," she'd laugh and smile and not kick the truck as it pulled away.

Now, she might think about her actions as she pulled into traffic with the Chinese food still hot and steamy, the car no worse for wear. She might decide she'd handled that just as well as it could be handled and there was no need to tell ANYONE, let alone Party B.

And that's where the story might end had Party A not been among the worst liars in the history of fibbing. Escaping blame is worse than getting away with something scot free. At least for me. I just can't take it.

Beside the hundreds of eye-witnesses who buzzed by the scene of the crime, I (AKA Party A if you somehow hadn't figured this out) had the Chinese food guy to contend with.  Jeff doesn't often pick up food there, but my luck is such that he'd be on the hook next time and I know my pot sticker supplier would take the occasion to revisit the situation.

Plus, I had wine at dinner Friday night @NorthSideSocial.  (Watch out for the Merlot there if you have a secret to keep -- I think it has some truth serum in there...)

I started my confession out with my lame hypothetical. It did not last long. "Are you kidding me? Don't you remember when I pulled some lady off that same curb?"

Crap!. "Uh no," I stuttered.

He looked at me, incredulous. "So when were you going to tell me? When the credit card came in?" 

In justifing "Never," I trotted out a lot of offers. Like, I don't need to know when women hit on him, say, at the overnight utility bar meetings. 

"Honey, you don't have any competition from the utility bar," he said. Then cocked his head, got all dreamy and said, "Except...."
I might have thrown my fork at him. I came up with other examples where Party A doesn't need to know everything about Party B. "Like, let's say you cut the outdoor extension cord with the electric shears. You could replace the cord and no one would know. Or care!"

"You mean like you did? Twice."


"How about the time I let the baby fall off the couch?" he offered up. "No witnesses anywhere and she couldn't talk. But I told YOU!"

It wasn't looking good for me, I have to admit. I mumbled something about Alison possibly suffering brain damage and the car being both an inanimate object and a "no-harm; no foul" kind of situation. 

He mentioned the $50.

"Ha-HA! I still have birthday money from your father!" I crowed. 

He just shook his head. "Sin of omission," he declared.

"Inconsequential incident, " I countered.

We went back and for a while over dinner, which was fabulous, by the way. That damn merlot tricked me intoo a second confession that I'd gone home from work early that day just because when really it was because Alison had called in a panic because she'd locked herself out of the house again. Her phone was running on fumes and I couldn't reach her but I had my neighbor reach out so I knew all was under control.

On the slight chance she'd called Jeff, too, I called him as I raced northward. "Whatcha doin?" I asked. Upon determining she hadn't called him, I was trying to end the call when he asked where I was. I told him I was heading home. He asked why. "Because I can," I said, not wanting to rat her out.

Before I got to the house, she'd calmed down, retraced her steps to find where she'd dropped her key and was having a snack at the counter.  No harm, no foul, right?

"Sin of omission," intones the Captain in what I expect could be a mantra I'm treated to for a while.

I think we need arbitration. And if it helps you side with me, I'll bring over a bottle of that merlot.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Music City

I spent a few days in Nashville, Tennessee last week and I am deeply saddened to report that I had no personal encounters with any of my current country music favorites. I even wore my Billy Currington tee-shirt. Sigh.

That's what happens when you take a work trip and don't spend any time plotting ways to set yourself up for a personal encounter with a country music star.  We did go to the Grand Ole Opry, though, which was like stepping back in time. 

In a good way, but man was it wholesome. My friend Jodie accompanied me and I bored her silly with stories of my brother-in-law Jim Bradbury whose 8-track tape collection would have been right at home with us on the church pews. 

Bill Anderson and Jim Ed Brown hosted half-hours of the Opry, along with a cowboy band that I'm sure were middle-aged when the Opry operated downtown. One of them even yodeled! Oh! And the Hee Haw Honeys sang back-up for a couple of numbers. My parents would have loved it. I'd heard of The Grascals from my friends Jim, Deb and Kevin on WFMS, and they were great! Restless Heart (Why Does it Have to Be Wrong or Right) played too. I'd set out with a goal to make Jodie and Diana (my co-workers/friends) into country music fans. I'm not sure I succeeded but I'm sure I didn't damage my plan, either. It would have helped to have had a current top 40 singer at the Opry, though...

We went downtown one night to the Wildhorse Saloon and the band did a great job covering a ton of the current top 40 hits, along with some of their own songs. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't gawking along the way, looking for that chance glimpse of Miranda Lambert or Eric Church or Tim McGraw. It's possible that they'd need gas or groceries on a Thursday night, right?

Apparently not. 

But like I said, it was a work trip and the work end of things went just fine. Back home, Alison taught Uncle Jeph a few new tricks. Card tricks, that is. I don't think I want to be around when she's teaching him any other sort of tricks, or vice versa.

Jeff, Lynda and Amer were all at their own conference down in Southern Indiana and somehow I've yet to hear any stories of late night drinks, dancing or other revelry that could get anyone in trouble. I'm sure that will change.

When he got home, Jeff convinced Ali to try Yat's, a Cajun fast-food place within walking distance. When she was smaller, she didn't like it at all. But to Jeff's delight, she's a convert. Yat's is across the street from another Jeff-Ali favorite: Fat Dan's Deli.  Fabulous places for them when I'm out of commission. It's not that I don't like the food. It's that if you're stuck at the stoplight at that intersection and the top is down on your car, you'll gain 5 pounds just breathing.

As I've alluded to earlier, I've been a little off track diet-wise for the past couple of months. The work trip didn't help, though all three of us worked out every day. The hotel was one of those elaborate designs with waterfalls and rain forests -- so much of that in Tennessee, right? -- and so ginormous that we all routinely got lost just going to the bathroom. 

It wasn't just us -- everyone at the conference talked about their wanderings. The staff couldn't even keep things straight. A concessionaire over at the Opry confessed that she'd worked at the hotel for two years and never once figured it out.

It's a good thing there was decent signage or we'd never have escaped the United Methodist conference down the way. Between the gym, which had the "you will sweat" setting up to 11, and all the "where the hell am I now" walking, though we may have worked off a bit of the beer and cocktail party treats.

When I got back home, I told Jeff I was cutting out alcohol for a while and embarking on a strict watermelon and zero-point soup diet. But then I found him making simple syrup and decided I could have a little one if he was making one already.  Upon delivery and my agreement that he'd done well, he walked away saying, "It might be a double."

Jeff and I did hit the Fall Creek Trail this morning on the bikes, and I'd eaten well within my Weight Watcher limits all day. We spent the afternoon watching Ali cheer on the Christ the King Tigers 8th grade football team. Sadly, they lost with three seconds to go. But like my diet plans, it's early. Plenty of time to recover.

And it was a gorgeous fall day. So go team, I say. Whatever team you're on.