Category Archives: Marriage

Weekend Wedding in Monterey, California

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I was vastly appreciative to my niece for choosing to have her wedding in Monterey, California.

Mr. and Mrs.!

Mr. and Mrs!

While I doubt my wishes were high on her list in decision making, I was nonetheless both thrilled to able to share this day with her and enjoy such a picturesque place. While this was not my first time in Monterey (Mini Break in Monterey), it was my first time in the fall and with my family.  We were blessed with the perfect Monterey weekend.

Cannery Row

Cannery Row The Aquarium, Cannery Row

The Murals

Beaches and murals, Monterey, ca

The Foggy Mornings

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Being Tourists

Dippin dots on Cannery Row, Monterey

Cannery row, Monterey, california

Never pass up a weekend in Seaside Northern Californa!

FOR MORE SWEET SPOT TRAVELS: Sweet Spot travels

 

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Fall and the Drive-By Photo Op

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Being a native of California, I scientifically lack the gene required to flourish in a cold climate – cold being, anything under 60 degrees.  Seriously, it’s true. There is a grant-able study in there somewhere, I am sure of it!

Therefore, having chosen to live in the Midwest (and by choose, I mean going all pioneer woman and falling in love with a country boy – True Love By Way of Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse), I have had to rely on instincts from my ancient ancestors, ugly shoes and, at times, the cat’s pooper scooper (A California Girl’s Rural Winter Survival Guide) in order to survive.

However, there is a bright spot to living in a place where all vegetation turns into standing firewood for months on end each year.  Just prior to becoming winter skeletons, the trees and bushes turn, if only for a brief time, into the most amazing parade of yellows, oranges and reds.  It is truly beautiful.

This fall season has been particularly stunning where I live.  So of course, I spent the whole of the Fall season running around trying to get “the perfect photo” to share with Sweet Spot visitors.

Some of the most amazing displays are along the main highway I traverse on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, I quickly discovered, on my 60+ stretch of frequented highway, there is virtually no place to safely pull over for Vista Views and Photo Ops.  I suppose this is to keep the foreigners (i.e. people from Kansas) from stopping until well across our state.   Anyway, since I did not desire my epitaph to read “died in pursuit of a pretty picture of trees” and the “drive-by” photo always looked exactly like what it was, a crazy lady trying to drive and take pictures on a highspeed interstate highway at the same time,

Crazy Lady Photo Drive-By

Crazy Lady Highway Photo Drive-By

I ditched the effort.

Thus, I resorted to skulking around back roads, byways and onto peoples’ private property – which can be precarious in a place where the guns outnumber the residents 2 to 1 – to take photos.

In the end, the one Utopian Fall Photo I was so desperately in search of eluded me. But maybe this collection of my favorite photos (and one stolen from a friend), make their own kind of perfection:

Fall in the MidwestFall in the MidwestFall in MidwestFall in MidwestPhoto by: Nollie Moore

Fall in MIdwestFall in Midwest

If you want to see the most beautiful fall display, I guess you will have to someday come and drive our Midwest highway yourself…just don’t plan on stopping.

The Hippie: What’s Your Idea of a Good Time?

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There is this guy who lives in my house.  He has been around for a long time.  Point of fact, I married the guy 17 years ago this week.

He has some special skills:  he can fix most anything, never panics and makes me laugh on a regular basis.

He is fond of sending me notes like this – Destroy This Note After Reading, and this No Joke Left Behind.  And he is never one to shun a gratuitous laugh.

Every once is a while, when he has exhausted his home audience, he takes his “act” on the road…or rather, down the street to our local theatre, where he is sure to find  a fresh group of listeners (victims?) for his humor.

To celebrate my anniversary, I wanted to share the laughter with Sweet Spot readers in the form of a recent performance of his character,  The Hippie.

Gratuitous? probably…Funny? definitely.  In fact,  I can promise you some laughs. The wig alone, should get you started.

Enjoy

The Hippie

How we met:  True Love By Way of a Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse

Other stuff: Til Death Do Us Part, Which May Be Sooner Than You Think

 

No Joke Left Behind

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I have known my husband for about 18 years now.  There is one thing I know about the guy…he has never met a joke he didn’t like. (Destroy this Note After Reading)

He believes there is something good to be found in any joke.  There is no bad joke, only bad timing,  He is the friend to even the most meek and lowly joke,  the champion of the completely pathetic joke,  and a hero to the forgotten joke. The depths he will stoop to in order to lift up the most puny of jokes knows no bounds.  And a joke lucky enough to bask in the glory of his repertoire does not just have one day in the sun, but enjoys the warmth again…and again…and again.

As it happens, an event happened last week that  poetically illustrates my point ever so perfectly.

Last week, my husband had an accident while jumping off a piece of farm equipment.  Well, actually, it was a mower… ok, well not the actual mower but rather a dirt grader being dragged behind the mower (but man, that one foot down was a long way).  Anyway, in the process of jumping off said equipment, his foot got caught and twisted his leg in a way it was not really meant to go (either that or the muscles just don’t bend and stretch the way they used to).  Either way, the end result was his leg hurt, and hurt bad – bad enough for him to take himself off to the Doctor to have it checked out.

Later, when I arrived home, as my husband lay with his leg up and cocooned in ice, I went in search of the diagnosis and recovery paper from the Doctor –  as he knew I would!

As I rounded the kitchen door, I saw the medical paper conveniently displayed  for my discovery (I should have sensed a trap right then and there):

"Here I am, look at me!!!"

“Here I am, look at me!!!”

On closer inspection – and with some very directive arrow sticky notes attached to the paper to make sure I read the intended passage on the paper, I discovered this:

Doctor's notes

Whether he bribed the Doctor to be a party to his joke plot or surreptitiously somehow added the Doctor’s notes himself remains a mystery.

What is not a mystery, is that one of my husband’s favorite one liners now lives on,  forever  immortalized in medical history.

…and I will continue to perform my wifely duty of  laughing at them.

A job I don’t really mind a bit.

Irreconcilable Differences – A Marriage Made in Heaven

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Feet Untucked

Wouldn’t you want to hide those feet?

My husband and I have irreconcilable differences.  We do.  I have always known it to be true.  I suppose for a time, I thought there were reconcilable solutions (i.e. he quits being stupid and sees the light of my way).  But after several years of marriage, I have finally given up the notion.

For 17 years, my husband and I have had a cold war standoff over differences of great import such as where his muddy shoes should go, how big a pile of dirty laundry can get before going into the hamper (big enough to lose the dog?), the necessity of closing a door if you are going right back through it (personally, I don’t see the point), and whose job it is to clean up the trash after the dog has strewn it all over the yard. But, the deal breaker to, I fear,  finally bring down our wall is the pivotal “tucked” or “untucked” issue.

You see, my husband subscribes to the sheet and blanket “untucked” – free to be you and me – feet flapping in the breeze philosophy while I, on the other hand, am a sheet and blanket “tucked” –  fully covered  – feet tightly bound & gagged – extremist of the most radical kind.

I mean, really, when you take this difference into consideration,  how did we ever get together, anyway?  The reality is, when you are dating everything is all “schnukems” and “peanut wuvs monkey” – so who cares if your feet freeze (me) or can’t move (him).  But when the honeymoon is over – i.e. once you have washed his dirty underwear for the umpteenth time and he has cleaned up everyone’s puke after stomach flew (including the dog’s) – these issues begin to take on a whole new level of importance.

And thus, the cold war began.

So now, when I make the bed, I wrap the sheet and blanket tightly, all the way around to underneath the mattress.  When he makes the bed, he leaves the sheet and blanket untucked, and then surreptitiously hides the evidence with the bedspread.  Upon going to sleep at night, I will secretly check all bedding to make sure they are securely tucked.  However he, in the middle of the night, will dislodge the bedding with a hefty kick of his feet. When I am awoken by the disconcerting feeling of my cold and flapping-in-the-breeze feet I, while resisting the urge to clobber him with the bedside lamp, get up and securely re-tuck all bedding.

And so it goes – which makes me crazy and not a little bit pissed off.  The thing is, I know now beyond a shadow of a doubt, for the whole of our life together this tucked vs. untucked Cold War will continue.  Neither of us will ever raise the white flag (nor well, sheet) of surrender.  It is an issue that cannot be reconciled, ever.

But on the other hand, he does take out the trash…and can fix most anything…and never complains when I spend money…

And the truth is, I just kinda love the guy (and doubt anyone else would put up with me)

So, tucked or untucked, I guess I will keep him.

But, he might want to learn to duck in his sleep…

Destroy This Note After Reading

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I try to be home when my kids get home from school.  It is a time I enjoy, hearing about their day, getting the skinny on happenings at school and any drama ensuing.  But, on this particular occasion last week, I knew I would not be home until a few hours past when they had arrived home.  Therefore, being the responsible, sweet and awesome Mom I am (hey, somebody has to say it), I left them a few instructions for when they arrived home and a special after school snack.

Apparently, my husband felt my note needed a few additions.  He is just lucky I love a good laugh!

‘Til Death Do Us Part, Which May Be Sooner Than You Think

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Yesterday was my 16th wedding anniversary.  Yesterday, I wanted to strangle my husband. Ok, hold on, don’t send for “the Po Po” just yet (and for those of you who don’t speak 10 year old – “the Police”). Contrary to what you might be thinking, it is not because he had not gotten me a gift (which he hadn’t) or card (again, nope) but because he promised a favor.

You see, my husband is one of those good guys.  Therefore when our elderly neighbor asked my husband to drive her 2 hours to the airport to meet and pick up her adult son and then drive them the 2 hours back, he, of course, agreed.  However, at the moment of acquiescing, he did not realize two things.  One, the day in question was our anniversary and two, he would be called to one of those can’t-miss-on-penalty-of-death type meetings.

So, I guess you are thinking I was ready to commit husband strangulation because he forgot our anniversary.  But, the truth is, I forgot too.  No, what got my undies all in a bundle was the fact that now, in light of the meeting, his saintly gesture to our neighbor now fell to me to execute and well, I am just not that saintly.  Nonetheless, execute I did!

Really, I am not as big a twirp as I sound.  At the time agreed, I met my neighbor with a smile, assured her it was no big deal when she thanked me on the outset of our trip and declared me over-the-top neighborly (ha, if she only knew).

At first, we played telephone on the long drive to the airport,

“Did you have dinner?”

“Who did you say was thinner?”

“No, I asked, DID YOU HAVE DINNER?”

“Oh, I am not much of a singer.”

Then, we opted for silence.

We arrived right on schedule… 40 min before the flight arrived.

We parked and waited at the gate for arrival.

With my neighbors son in tow, we slowly walked to baggage claim, waited,  and then slowly back to the parked car.  I paused for them at the crosswalk while a pair of turtles hurried past (ok, she has an excuse – at 90 you are allowed to walk any speed you want and I guess he was just tired).

On the 2 hour eternity ride home, we played more telephone. But after my best sorority-girl conversation starters fell like a drunk man off a roof, we rode in awkward silence.  That is until out of nowhere, like we were about to be in a 10 car pile up, my elderly neighbor’s son shouted “THERE IT IS” pointing out our approaching exit (like I didn’t know that since I had been counting the mile markers for about the last 35 miles).

Finally, we arrived back.  I wished them a good visit and went home.

When I arrived at my house, I was ready to tell my husband all about my eventful “good deed” – the pain, the suffering, the agonizing silence, the rousing games of telephone. But, no one was home.  My husband still at his meeting, kids still at their assigned places.  Then, on the table, I saw this:

What is it they say, no good deed goes unpunished?  That may be true, but  it wasn’t all bad. Flowers, presents, and a happy elderly neighbor… yeah, I suppose I came out alright, possibly even ahead.

10 Reasons I Forgot Your Birthday

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Today is my husbands birthday.  Last year, I (and my kids) completely forgot his birthday.  That’s right, no gift, no cruddy store bought card, no drawn picture, no recognition whatsoever – not even a gag gift.  Honestly, he wasn’t even that up-in-arms about it…which, of course, made us feel even more guilty.  He loves to laugh.  Therefore, we decided salvation from our  faux pas  was through humor.

We made him a list.  A very special list.  A list explaining how we, in our  individual ways, had very logical reasons excuses as to why his birthday had been forgotten.

Top 10 Reasons I/We Forgot Your Birthday

10.  I was abducted by aliens and they mind wiped one day from my memory… so, I will remember tomorrow.

9.  I have selective amnesia: also known as Spoucitus or Parentaphobia.

8.  It’s not my fault; I got my brain from you!

7.  What!!! I was doing you a favor by forgetting.

6.  Mama needed a new pair of shoes…dress…shirt… well, you get the idea.

5.  The devil made me do it.

4.  My underwear was too tight.

3.  Pick up shirts from the dry cleaners… (oops, wrong list).

2.  I was busy documenting a Big Foot sighting (which, unfortunately, turned out to be just a really hairy guy from down the street).

And the number one reason  your birthday was forgotten…

1.  I would have remembered if I didn’t have diarrhea.

This year for my husbands birthday, we bought him a tie.  Actually, this year for his birthday we are taking him on a trip – which will be memorable and fun.  However, I have a feeling he may stand by his sentiment expressed after reading our pitiful excuses for forgetting last years birthday.

“That was the best birthday present you could have given me”.

Sometimes, it is just that simple.

True Love By Way of a Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse

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Over the years I have been encouraged to tell the serendipitous story of how my husband, Jim, and I found each other. Valentine’s Day seemed like a good time.  Honestly, I tried to keep it short, but it just isn’t that kind of tale.

I was 23, touring as a performer in the National IV tour of CATS.  He was 25, working at his family owned hotel in New Orleans, LA –  which is where the story begins.  The tour stopped in New Orleans for  2 weeks of performances and some of us ‘Kitty’s’ were thrilled to find and stay at his quaint, historic hotel.  Our first meeting occurred over a broken stove. I called the front desk to have someone come repair the stove in my room (this was when cooking actually seemed fun) and he showed up at my door. Over that hot and steamy repair job (kidding!) the attraction was immediate. We spent those 2 weeks together, getting to know each other.

After those two weeks, though, on I went with the tour to the next city.

Over the next several months we stayed in contact by letters (you know the handwritten thing that goes on paper).  We kept in touch while I finished the tour and went back to Los Angeles to continue my performance career and he cruised around South America starting an export business (the legal type – Alpaca sweaters) and around the US on the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) circuit as a Bull and Bronc rider (all true, I swear).

Finally, an agreement was made; he would come to LA to visit me.  However, not long after his arrival in LA, I informed him “I do not see this relationship going anywhere”.  In truth, I do not recall saying it in just this way (as he relayed to me some time later), but my Mom ratted me out by saying it sounded “exactly like something I used to say in those days”. (There went her Christmas present that year!).

Anyway, off he went, back to New Orleans. That was the last time we spoke.

7 years went by (yep, 7 years!).

In that time he continued with his export business, riding the Pro-rodeo PRCA circuit, and attending to the hotel.  I kicked around LA doing commercials & videos, singing in bands, marketing music artists, and doing what all aspiring performers do in LA –bartend, waitress and do odd jobs.

But, the pertinent part is, during that time, I had the pleasure occasion to kiss a lot of frogs. Cute some may have been, but none of which turned into a handsome prince (although, a few morphed into evil wizards with bad complexions).

Then, it happened.  One day, on the heels of the crown jewels of bad relationships, I was teaching Line Dancing at the trendy Denim & Diamonds Country Music Nightclub in Santa Monica (one of those odd jobs).  I happened to look up at the TV screen with the ever running assortment of ‘all things western’ and there he was; on the screen, in all his Pro-rodeo glory, riding a bucking horse (well, getting bucked off a bucking horse if you must know), in a PRCA rodeo in Texas. Thus began the obsessive thought process that would plague me for days on end:  “He was a really good guy”…”What was I thinking back then (as in, what an idiot I was)”…”man, I really blew that”…”I wonder what he is doing now…married???”

I spent days thinking and thinking about it; until I could not take the cosmic hammering anymore and decided to take action.

At the time, I was performing in a trio that was preparing to open up for Carlene Carter.  As the group was addressing promotional postcards with our picture on it (this is what one did before “social networking”), I addressed one to him at his hotel in New Orleans, which consequently his family still owned, with a small note (and, duh, my phone number) included. (oh, home-wrecker I’m not – one call to chatty desk clerk at hotel confirmed bachelorhood).

Since our final parting 7 years prior had been, ummm, not the best in his memory, he was prepared to possibly discard the greeting.  That is until his English friend (I knew I liked that bloke), in his never beat around the bush way, pointed out that due to the “positive physical attributes” displayed in the picture, perhaps at least a return phone call was in order (praise be the wisdom of guy-logic).

He did call.  Then he called again, many times.  And then we arranged to get together. Gullible Forgiving guy that he is, he, again, came out to see me in LA.  This time, I did not send him home with some stupid edict, but rather with the promise of a reciprocal visit to New Orleans and more.

And despite the fact that I bristled ever so slightly at the statement made by him some months later that if “anyone had ever told me I had already met the girl I was going to marry, I would never have thought of you” and he, annoyed by the fact that I had to slobber all over a bunch of frogs before finally getting it right…

We married a 1 ½ years later.

Well, 7 years and 1 ½ years later.

This year we will celebrate our 16th anniversary. I am thinking all those frogs and bucking livestock were well worth the trouble – which only goes to show that it is a good thing, life is what happens while you are busy making plans!

As author Saul Bellow so eloquently put it:  

“Unexpected intrusions of Beauty.  That’s what life is.”

Happy Valentines Day

A California Girls Rural Winter Survival Guide

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Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For example, why do aliens only abduct sanity-challenged recluse people? What are artificial bacon bits really made of? And, how does a born and bred California girl end up living in rural Missouri?  Rural Missouri, mind you, where roads have letters instead of names, directions are given in reference to so-and-so’s house – whether they still live there or not – and…it snows!

Well, in my case, I was either crazy or in love, or both.  Whatever the case, the predicament of surviving the winters became glaringly apparent upon the first snow; A feat which my California upbringing had just not prepared me for.  Therefore, for those of you who have found or may find yourself in a similar fix, allow me to share 5 of my hard learned survival tips.

1.  Be Prepared: If you are to survive in the harsh environment of cold, ice, and snow, you must have the proper tools. Following are, in my experience, the most important items.

  • Cat Box Pooper Scooper – Oh, sure, you will be told that having an ice scraper is what you need to clear off your car windshield every morning.  But, in my opinion, the everyday cat box pooper scooper makes much more sense to get the job done.  It is always handy, never gets taken by other family members for use and well, has multiple functional purposes (need I elaborate?).
  • Ugly Shoes – Trust me on this one.  Those peep toe pumps will sing a good song, but when push comes to shove (or rather ice comes to driveway) those pretty shoes will leave you flat on your behind.  The ugly shoes, however, will be your friend for life. They will keep you warm, be devoted to your happiness, and never let you go down looking like a flapping dodo (bird, that is).
  • Hair Dryer – You would be surprised how often a good blast of hot air will come in handy for various frozen things and/or body parts.
  • A Hammer – No real function, but it will make you feel like you belong – like one of the natives.

2.  Be Wary:  Never trust ice – it is the enemy and yes, it is out to get you.  It will freeze your pipes as soon as you stop dripping them in order to head to the mall.  It will freeze the Frappuccino you left in the car overnight. And, if you have a change of heart (i.e. panic attack) about driving on it, it will promptly and not very graciously, introduce you to the side road ditch.

3.  Be Audacious:  When that fluffy white stuff starts pouring out of the sky, get in your car and just go for it.  And when I say, ‘go for it’, I mean, when your husband tells you to drive fast to get over snow drifts growing in the road – DO IT! Otherwise you might find yourself stuck on top of one of those pretty drifts like a whale bellied up on the beach (which is, fyi, not near as much fun as bellying up to the bar). And, it may take every relative and friend within a 20 mile radius to come and dig you off.

4.  Be Mindful:  As in all things, there are pitfalls to watch out for during the long winter season.

  • Do NOT discover online shopping.
  • Do NOT, under any circumstances, decide the inside of your house needs to be painted all colors of the rainbow. (You may not be fortunate for to spring to arrive moments before project commencement).
  • Do NOT try to eat your weight in chocolate.

However, DO, have as many snowball fights as possible, roast marshmallows over a candle, and treat yourself to every  ‘icure come spring.

5.  Be Canny: Sooner or later you will be faced with a suspicious random occurrence that can only be experienced in the rural wilds of winter.  Therefore, when you, for example, find a several foot long shed snake skin in a storage area behind your bed where said snake clearly hibernated the winter with you, don’t, whatever you do, tell your snakephobic husband.

Goodbye and Good luck.

Baby You Can Drive My Car

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My husband’s truck gives new meaning to the word “clunker”.  On more than one occasion I have suggested (begged, pleaded, demanded) he make a one way trip to the junkyard (for the truck, of course).

The body is not only rusting, it is rusting away.  I swear I have seen a bird nesting inside one of the cavernous orifices opened up by the decay.  At some point, repairs were done to hold the rim above the tires together… those plastic electrical cable ties and duct tapes really seem to be doing the trick.  The rear view mirror is, well, gone – no-one seems to know where.  The antenna, which some time back resided in its proper place outside, has now taken up residence inside the truck with its end jammed into an earthquake like crack that runs the length of the dashboard. The license plate is permanently bent into the shape of a taco, held on firmly with a wire hanger. And in order to start up the old timer, you must pump the gas not once, not twice, but three times and no more. I think the radio still works. Which is a good thing so you have something to listen to while you are freezing into an icicle or sweating into a puddle.

The other day, I walked out my door ready to drive my son and his friend to a birthday party.  It suddenly occurred to me that earlier in the day, in the wake of loaning his car to a friend, my husband had then borrowed my car leaving me with, yep you guessed it, the clunker. But, get to the party we must.  So in we three climbed.   Just a short distance, how bad could it be? Well, the answer to that quickly came when one of the doors began to randomly open of its own accord as if to be saying “get out while you still can”; which would have been a fairly safe jump considering the general 10 mile an hour maximum possible speed as we went up hills…with the pedal floored. And despite the rattling of the vehicle which threatened to bring doubt to my faith in those cable ties and giving up trying to solve the mystery of the dashboard antenna, we finally arrived at our destination.  Basically, in one piece.

Upon arriving back home in my driveway I had but one thought… I will NEVER in a million years get rid of that truck!  You see, for the entirety of our few mile trip that took, oh, 20 minutes or more, the three of us laughed until the tears were streaming down our faces.

You can’t buy joy like that, and you certainly don’t send it to the junkyard.