Category: Wife

Lord and Master

August 25th, 2012 — 1:10pm


We have a demonstration garden in our community which is managed by Master Gardeners. It’s near a library and is connected to a lovely park. I’ve walked through that garden for years, imagining my gardener husband puttering there. This year my vision came true.

Bill started gardening classes in January. Weekly lessons, testing, and lots of volunteer time with Master Gardeners, taught Bill tons. Organic fruits and vegetables from our home garden are beautiful, as is the produce from Bill’s patch at the demonstration garden.

After a volunteer session in the county extension office this week (a rookie gardener and a Master Gardener answer phone-in or walk-in questions), Bill came home and calmly placed his Master Gardener certificate on the table, where I was eating lunch. I couldn’t believe it? The announcement seemed a bit anti-climatic after almost eight months of really hard work.

It’s been a great eight months for Bill. He’s contributed at least six times the 50 volunteer hours he was required to donate, all with a smile on his face. When I joked that he was finally a “Master,” he replied that I could refer to him as “Lord and Master.” Uh, that’s not happening, but it’s good seeing Bill spending time on his passion, after years of working so hard at something he liked less. Eating his fruits and vegetables is awfully nice too. Congratulations, Billy!


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Grandpa Bill Turns 60!

March 17th, 2011 — 10:18am
What better way to say Happy Birthday - a birthday cake with a fireworks display.Bill’s birthday cake and fireworks display.

There was another milestone birthday during the first two months of 2011 in our family. Grandpa Bill turned 60 on February 13th. We gathered at Black Butte Ranch near Sisters, Oregon, for the weekend. Bill loves that place, so it was a perfect location to step into a new decade.

Heard the bike ride was a killer, but Grandpa and Auntie Em still managed to smile for the camera.

Heard the bike ride was a killer, but Grandpa and Auntie Em still managed to smile for the camera.

The hustle and bustle of packing and driving to the resort requires a commitment; travel times for everyone varied from three to five hours. However, as soon as you arrive, preparation efforts are forgotten and relaxation and rejuvenation begin. I always wonder why we don’t visit the ranch more often.

Verbena loved the six adults to one toddler ratio of the weekend!

Verbena enjoyed the six-adults-to-one-toddler ratio of the weekend.

We walked and walked – all of us – altogether. Some biked, some swam, some napped, some read, some watched Elmo DVDs. We dined at the lodge on the “birth” day and freaked Grandpa out with his sparkler topped birthday cake. A darn good trip that felt like it ended too soon.

One of our walks. Grandpa is taking the photo.

Grandpa captured one of our walks.

Grandpa Bill . . . we love you and we love the way you chose to celebrate!

The mountain the night of Grandpa's birthday

Bill's birthday view.

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Old Wife Tricks

October 1st, 2010 — 12:50pm
My swatch collection.

My swatch collection.

Perhaps some of you remember that we redid a bathroom recently. During that remodel, our contractor encouraged me to pick the wall color before the granite and lighting went in. I will never do that again. When the counter went in and the new lights were up, the walls changed to a hue that didn’t compliment. I’ve tried to ignore this snafu, but using that room several times a day, it’s been impossible. I had two huge problems. 1) I didn’t know what new color to paint the walls, and 2) I knew getting Grandpa Bill to favor repainting would take some sweet talking.

Thus began my covert painting-swatch adventure. “No need to stress out grandpa until I had made a firm decision on the color,” I thought. But, I didn’t know how I would accomplish this? The swatches had to be applied near the granite and under the new lighting.  Grandpa uses the bathroom all the time, he’d see them? I came up with a plan to test samples during the day in the area where my hand towel hangs. By the time grandpa got home from work, my towel would be up and he wouldn’t be the wiser. A wife’s gotta do what a wife’s gotta do!

At first my plan worked p e r f e c t l y.  I’d paint a small swatch or two, let them dry, hang my towel and everything was fine. However, picking a paint color proved way more difficult than I had anticipated. The swatches began to encroach outside the shadow of the towel. Stupidly, I became more confident – your basic criminal mindset. Assuring myself that grandpa Bill really wasn’t that observant, I still planned to hold out until I had found the perfect color and then I’d break the news to him.

My attempt to hid the evidence.

My attempt to hide the evidence. Brilliant!

It wasn’t our most fun morning when Bill noticed that my hand towel area looked a little odd. Knowing me very well, he guessed what I was planning. He expressed shock and disbelief in raised tones saying something like “We just paid a contractor to paint that room, are you crazy?” And on and on . . . I knew better than to say anything – the writing was “on the wall,” so to speak. By dinner time, grandpa had recovered from the shock and was calmer. I admitted that I understood his frustration and tried to explain my reasoning. Then, I used a tried-and-true spouse phrase, “I’m asking you to support me in this?”

Just because I’m an old wife, doesn’t mean I’m a wise wife. We’ll look back on this little episode and laugh someday. For now, however, we’re just repainting the bathroom.

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September 13th

September 13th, 2010 — 7:48pm
Grandpa Bill and Grandma Susie on their wedding day - May 29th 1976.

Grandpa Bill and Grandma Susie on their wedding day - May 29th 1976.

I met grandpa Bill thirty-six years ago today. It’s a cute story about what can happen when we have few expectations and just be ourselves. I hope that you’ll read on.

I worked at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and on most Fridays, several coworkers and I met at Fort Meyer Officer’s Club after work. This Friday the 13th, I went reluctantly.  It had been a tough work week and I was headed home, but a friend talked me into a quick visit to “the Club” and I relented.

The crescent-moon shaped parking lot was filled with late model sports cars when I arrived. Not all, but many of the young military officers who frequented Fort Meyer drove powerful little vehicles. At the time, government personnel like myself, were allowed onto the “Fort” which housed military serving at Arlington Cemetery. I pulled my Buick Opal (the four-door economy model) into a space and caught up to my friend, Cathy, already walking into the basement music club. We both spied a bicycle locked up to a tree near the entrance, and had a little fun discussing who would come to “the Club” on a pedal bike. We were so cool and mature!

I noticed this cute guy instantly upon entering the place. He stood out because he wasn’t wearing the usual three-piece suit or military uniform like the others. In cords and a plaid shirt, I remember thinking, “There’s a regular-looking guy.” Cathy and I joined friends already seated at a table and, as was the custom, we added more tiny round bar tables and chairs to accommodate new arrivals. I would have totally forgotten about that guy in the cords and plaid shirt, except that he was sitting on the pathway to the restroom, which I traveled to several times that evening. He was alone and looked kind of lonely, so on one trip, I invited him to join our group.

As soon as I opened my mouth to invite him, it occurred to me that he was most likely waiting for someone. To give him an easy out and probably to save my ego, I asked him if he was waiting for a friend? I don’t remember if he shook his head no, or actually said it, but he wasn’t. He stood up, we exchanged names, he gathered belongings, and happily followed me. Amongst his belongings was a strap-on flashlight, so I figured that I’d solved the mystery of that bike out front. I had.

The guy’s name was Bill. My brain wasn’t wired for meeting someone that evening – a great gift. On top of being very tired and hoping to be headed home soon, the only other expectation I had for this encounter was to watch this Bill guy fall for my girlfriend, Cathy, as every guy did. (Didn’t we all have friends like that?)  We talked for an hour or so and he didn’t pay any attention to Cathy. Weird. I talked a little about what I did, and he shared about what he was doing in DC, which should have impressed me, but since I was not in the “girl-meets-boy” mode, it slipped by.

About 10 PM, I decided to leave (much earlier than usual). I said my goodbyes to everyone and told Bill it had been nice meeting him. Bill offered to walk me to my car. The darkness outside and cool night air made me think about Bill’s long ride home on a bicycle. I happened to have a bike rack in my trunk. I mulled over the risk of driving him. “What were the chances of someone coming to the Officers Club on a bike in the first place, and then what were the chances of someone he meets actually having a bike rack in their car?” Offering him a ride just seemed like the right thing to do.

I opened my trunk to get the bike rack, and exposed an array of athletic equipment. In addition to bike stuff, I had a tennis racket, tennis balls, and softball equipment like bats, balls, gloves, etc. I looked like Miss America! In reality, I only really knew how to use a bike and the bike rack. I’d had about four tennis lessons at that point, and the softball equipment was in my car because my roommate and I were coaching a little girls’ softball team. My roommate was the real athlete. The little girls I was supposed to be coaching played better than I did. Bill’s eyes opened wide when he saw all that “stuff.” The evening was playing out like a movie script.

We secured the bike rack on the car and loaded the bike. I remember thinking “My dad would kill me if he knew I was doing this.” I needn’t have been concerned, Bill spent the entire ride to his apartment staring out my rear window. He was afraid his bike (his only means of transportation) would fall off my pitiful bumper.  Buick Opal bumpers were about 2.5 inches wide and I used a block of wood to provide the thickness needed for the rack. Very precarious!

We had a date the next day and the day after that. Bill quickly learned I couldn’t play tennis or softball, so we rode bikes. This Bill showed up at every event he said he was going to, including many boring Pentagon parties. He even made it to New England that Christmas of 1974 to meet my family. I couldn’t get rid of the guy  - thank goodness.

So what’s the moral of this story? Probably for the first time in my life, I had no expectations for a relationship. An accidental meeting on a day when I wasn’t focused on whether “this was THE one” allowed me to be myself and encouraged a friendship to grow first. Of course the other lesson is that I could never tell my girls that bars weren’t good places to meet men.

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