Friday, October 30, 2015

Take the Long Way Home

It's Halloween. Time to admit what scares me: nighttime driving on the gravel road directly south of my dad's farm. Here's the reason.

I was in the backseat dozing after a Sunday evening in town with Mom and Dad. We'd often go in to visit relatives or to hear my sister Priscilla sing in "The Power and Light," a Christian singing group from the Huron Mission Church that performed in the Lewis Drug parking lot. 

I heard footsteps on gravel and Dad asking someone if he needed help. The voice grunted a reply.

Dad returned to the car with a report. "He's lost, but he said to leave him alone. Doesn't want any help."

Our car lights shined on a lug wrench in the middle of the road and an open trunk as Dad drove on the shoulder to get by the vehicle. It was dark already, so I didn't see the man.

But I sure did that night in my dreams and every time I woke up because I had heard Dad say the fella's name and that the guy was drunk.

This man lived a few miles from our place, and he was obviously confused, so my pre-teen brain imagined him getting passed our dog and mistaking our house for his and yelling his daughter's name up the stairway to me. And when I wouldn't come, he'd drag me down thinking I was his disobedient daughter and beat me up.

I never dreamed or imagined my parents intervening, or our dog taking care of him. A child's imagination and fears are not rational to adults.

But this adult still refuses to drive down that road at night. I go the long way around.

What incident stands out as a scary memory that impacts your behavior now? Do your child's fears change your routine?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

9 years with my man

To recognize nine years of marriage this past October 21, I reflect on what's made my first-married-at-forty marriage work.

Do simple things together. Take a walk. Share a hobby. Go shopping. Eat meals together. We pick a series on Netflix or on television and watch it faithfully. It's a free date if you're at home and your hubby likes your cooking, but don't talk too much during the show. I tend to do that. Chris figures stuff out and gives it away. He's got bruises on his arm from his daughter Brittany for doing that.

Make desserts for no reason. My mom only made cakes for special events, so I don't know how I figured out this one. My husband and I both have a sweet tooth.

Let him have his money and you have yours. I know, very non-Dave Ramsey. But when two people get married at 40, this is one thing you don't want to argue about.

Early in our marriage, I got Chris to agree that if we spent more than $200 on anything other than food or clothing, that the other person should be consulted first. This came about after he walked out of Best Buy and told me that my birthday present to him would be to pay for half of a camera that he just bought. I did it, but that didn't go over too well with me, thus came the rule.

Each spouse needs and deserves a hobby that doesn't involve the other person. You can support each other and agree to help finance it, but let the person enjoy it. Making one feel guilty about it will only lead to resentment.

I learned this the hard way when I accused Chris of loving landscaping more than spending time with me. I'm so over that. And now I have a nice backyard to enjoy. A hobby makes life better and makes work time more enjoyable because you've gotten to do something fun during the off-hours.

I enjoy going with Chris on his photo shoots once in awhile, but I don't like to go every time. In return, he's hauled me to a writing event in Kansas City and will do so again soon. View the hobby as that person's outletnot as a way to be away from you.

Have a sense of humor. This is why I fell in love with Chris to begin with. He made me laugh. He can usually get me out of a funk when I'm a grump.

Keep short accounts. Say I'm sorry but more importantly, ask for forgiveness. And say it again. Even if you think the other person never says it. I know, it's hard not to keep track.

Ask first when doing something out of the ordinary regarding your hobby. Sometimes your spouse can point out a concern you don't see. It's not to hurt you. It's to protect you.

Attend each others' family events. Know that the time together won't be like the time at your family's. At my brother Elliott's place, we always play table games and get competitive. At my mother-in-law's, we visit, eat, read, watch television, and play on our devices. That's just the way it is, and it doesn't bother a soul. The point is that we are with Mom. It took me a couple Thanksgivings to understand this is how the Harris clan operates.

Greet with a kiss and leave with a kiss. A little peck will do just fine. When departing, always say I love you. Let your children see and hear this. I saw my parents kiss only a couple of times in my life. Different generation, I guess. It warms my heart when I hear and see my step-daughter Brittany do this with her husband Nathaniel.

Closing Thoughts
I know my friends thought I was nuts to get engaged to a guy I only knew for two weeks—let alone a guy I met on the Internet, and I wouldn't advise it for younger people. Ironically, my family never questioned me once—at least not to my face. But I think everyone that knows Chris would agree that I done good. 

Took me long enough, but I done good.

What makes your relationships or friendships last? How do you manage the give and take? Anything you've learned the hard way?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sentimental Shirts Reveal Relationships

I was destined to be a Tabor College Bluejay. This picture of me from the '70s proves it. That shirt ended up in the rag drawer after I wore it out. It cleaned glass and mirrors.

Another favorite childhood top was one of those "happiness is" t-shirts that bore my dog's name. I was already in high school when Hitchcock Boy became my puppy, but Mom and Dad ordered a toddler sized shirt, so I never got to wear it. I know, Hitchcock Boy is a long name for a dog.

My sister and her husband Rick lived near Bridgewatersome two hours away. Their dog, Rambunctious—yes, another long name, had puppies.

Pris picked a puppy out of the litter for me and dubbed him Hitchcock Boy since that's where he'd be living. I was a Hitchcock Bluejay, living on the family farm 12 miles east of the town. Hmm, I see a pattern here with bluejays. And I don't even like birds! Read about that fear here, here, and here.

I do own another bluejay shirt. The coveted Tabor College Intramural Champ T-shirt. Earning one of these in the '80s was a big deal. Maybe this post will find its way to a current TC student and I'll find out if that's still the case.

I couldn't have earned one of these my freshman year because I played, or should I say warmed the bench, on the women's team, so I wasn't eligible to play intramural basketball. But one of the following years, my team won. I remember Maura Janzen and maybe Darcie Wilkins being on my team.

Back in those days, Maurice's was my clothing store of choice, and I still fit into a loose top from there. I think Mom paid $15 for the sleeveless, two-pocket, curvy collared shirt. It's super short on me now and shows my belly button, but it sure is comfy.

I use an old Florida sailboat T-shirt in the same way. Got that from my sister Brenda after one of her trips there with her first husband John. She knew I had a thing for sailboats. I collected figurines and enjoyed pictures of them. A strange interest for a landlocked girl who's never been on a sailboat.

The last shirt of value to me is now my painting shirt. It was a graduation present from my high school friend Bruce Pageler. It's of Garfield saying, "I'm not just another pretty face." Bruce, two years my senior, was the first guy who ever referred to me as pretty. That shirt will never end up in the rag drawer.

Any sentimental clothing in your drawers? What made you keep it? Can you fit in it? Do you own a t-shirt quilt displaying all the teams you've been a member of?

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Creative Soul Who Cleaned My Classroom

We honored our maintenance staff at work this week, only one of them wasn’t there. 

My friend, Robert Gillett. He died February 2014 after a battle with cancer. Robert and I shared two common interests. Writing and politics.

He wrote prolifically. Poems. Essays. Letters to the Editor. Letters to elected officials. Emails to radio talk show personalities.

It seemed to just pour out of him. He’d often ask me to proofread, and I gladly did so. It served as a refreshing change of pace for this teacher of middle school students.

Some days I’d return to school to find a poem on my desk.

I miss that.

Other days I'd find a short story or a quote about one more thing he wanted to say in our discussion about politics or religion.

I miss those too.

And now during this political season, I really miss my friend. He’d be having a ball since the three GOP candidates leading in the polls are non-career politicians.

So today, National School Custodian Day, I honor Robert. He was my co-worker, but most of all, my friend.

I miss him.

Do you have a memory of your school's maintenance crew? For those that knew Robert, share a memory of him.