Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 12: Five-year itch

Me: Hmm. This article says that to spice up our love life, we should [wxyz] in the guest room.

SH: That's nuts.

Me: Yep. We'd have to clear all your junk off the bed--

SH: I'm not ready to move that yet!

Me: and then put sheets on. It's just not worth it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 126: How we eat


What we have been eating on vacation:

Steak from the butcher in my mom and dad's hometown - we buy a freezer full of meat from them every year. The butcher shop is housed in the building that my grandfather and great-uncle built for their first garage. The butcher business was started by my uncle Denny's high-school friend.
Bratwurst from my uncle
Lettuce from my garden
Fish from the small grocery on the island

How it would be described on a restaurant menu:

Grass-fed, free-range beef, artisanal hand-cut Porterhouse steak, al carbon
Artisanal bratwurst made with free-range, organic venison, with fourth-generation German recipes, served with house-made whole-grain mustard
Organic greens dressed with housemade ranch dressing
Organic greens sauteed lightly in bacon grease
Wild-caught Lake Superior whitefish, al carbon


Friday, July 26, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 742: Going off the grid


The idea was simple: a week at a cottage without cellphone or internet access.

Then SH got the wireless code for the house across the street.

Which meant he spent the first three days of our vacation working.

Which is better than last year, when he spent the first three days of our vacation at the island library working. If one must work on vacation, it's better work while sitting on the porch and listening to the waves lap against the shore than to drive ten miles into town to sit in the library, which does not have air conditioning, which would normally not be an issue in a place where in the winter, one drives across the ice to get to the mainland, but we have had three hot summers in a row now and air conditioning would be nice in a building designed to preserve heat.

But. I am not going to complain about the lack of a/c in a facility I have not even paid for.

So anyway. SH spent the first three days working - what happened to the days when being on vacation meant you didn't work? - and then said he would start reading his book, the McCullough (did I spell that right? I am too lazy to get up and look for the book to check) biography of John Adams.

I did not spend the first three days working. I am trying very hard not to think about that place where I go for money.

I am reading. Above, you see the stack of books I have completed (on the left) and then the yet to reads. The stack on the right are books that are due next week; the books in the middle are due in two weeks.

The political book belongs to SH. Reading something like that would be too much like work.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wisconsin 101: The local talent show

We love it up here at the cottage. One of the reasons we love it is because there is not much to do so we don't feel guilty for doing nothing.

Actually, there are things to do, but there are not things to do for free.

1. We can rent a bicycle for $10 an hour.
2. We can rent a moped for $36 an hour.
3. We can rent a kayak for something.
4. We can buy pottery for $170 a small plate.
5. We can buy paintings for $7,000 a painting.

Or we can

1. Play tennis for free.
2. Sit on the screened porch of our cottage and watch the waves of Lake Superior crash against the shore.

We choose tennis and sitting.

But - an entire week of tennis and sitting, great as it is, can get monotonous. So when we saw that the town's annual talent show would take place in the elementary school gym last night, we decided to go. It was also a fundraiser for the library and I am a big supporter of public libraries. Libraries have been very very good to me.

We drove into town in time to get to the pre-show picnic, which was also a fundraiser. We bought a hot dog plate, which consisted of a hot dog, a bun, as many potato chips as we wanted and as many (local) strawberries (which are selling for $5 a box at one of the two small groceries on the island) as we wanted. They were charging $7 for the plate, but the lady taking the money said that was too much and asked for five instead.

We also got a brownie (homemade) with ice cream for $2.

We sat on the grass outside of the school gym and ate, then went inside for the show. All the seats were taken, so we sat on the side of the gym on a deconstructed bleacher.

These were the talent acts.

1. A five-year-old girl reading a poem out loud while her dad held the microphone in front of her.
2. Two adult women singing.
3. One adult woman who sang "Dancing in the Dark." She could sing.
4. A nine-year-old boy who sang some rappy kids' song to the accompaniment that his grandfather had prepared on a CD.
5. A 11-year-old girl who played the first 45 seconds of "When the Saints Come Marching In" on the French horn.
6. A six-year-old girl who did some cartwheels and handstands.
7. Two little boys who demonstrated some taekwondo moves, announcing each move with a deadpan voice. "Front kick:" followed by a listless kick.
8. A teenage boy who had just run in, having just gotten off work at the pizza stand, who, to the tune of "Here Comes the Sun," spun a basketball on his fingertip and moved it behind himself and under himself and kept it spinning while he did a somersault. He was amazing.
9. A 12-year-old girl who sang very well.
10. Two girls who did cartwheels, walkovers, backbends, and the splits.
11. One very bored-looking teenage girl who walked on stage, did a back flip, and walked off.
12. A 12-year-old boy who told a joke.
13. A family that sang a new version of "Close to You" that started with the words, "Why do guys suddenly appear every time beer is near?"

There was a couple next to us with a little girl who was about 14 months old - walking and with two teeth. She had something to say about everyone who performed and was clearly happy to be there. As was everyone else.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 23: How we pack, or, This is what they should discuss in pre-marital counseling


This is how SH and I get ready for a week-long trip to the cottage on Madeline Island, where we take all our own food, as there are only two small grocery stores on the island and they have island prices, which is fine. Someone has gone through the trouble of loading stuff on a truck, putting it on the ferry, paying the $50 round-trip fare, and bringing it to the island. Of course there will be a premium.

But we can get food where we live and we can take our own, so we do so.

Here is how I pack:

1. T minus two weeks: Pull up the spreadsheet I made two years ago of our menu and what we take to the cottage. Spreadsheet was updated last year after our week here. Make revisions as necessary - we don't have my uncle's venison breakfast sausage to take this year because we won't be seeing him on our way up. What do we take instead? How much bacon? Discuss meal planning with SH.

2. T minus one week: Make cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese and put it in the freezer. Make hummus and put it in the freezer. Ask SH to pick the wine to take to the cottage and the wine to give to my aunt and uncle as a hostess gift. (We will be staying with a non-sausage aunt and uncle on our way up. I am blessed with an abundance of aunts and uncles, several of whom live halfway between our house and Madeline Island. It makes a really nice trip to be able to spend a night with them on the way up and visit. It was odd for SH the first time we stayed with Aunt Aggie and Uncle Denny - he had never slept in a room with a gun cabinet before - but he survived and it was good for him.)

3. T minus three days: Put out "hold mail" card for postman. Deliver housekey to catsitter. Ask very nice neighbor to water my flowers and vegetable garden while we are gone. Ask SH to put hold on newspaper. Ask SH again to get out the wine for the trip. And maybe even get out the wine that we will be giving as a wedding present the week after we return from the cottage.

4. T minus two days: Harvest lettuce to take to work for co-worker. Stage the dry goods, i.e., the spices, the olive oil, the plastic bags, the tin foil, the beach towels, the Good Knives - anything we are taking that does not require refrigeration. Call the Gourmet Garage pie lady to order an apple pie. Do laundry. Get suitcase out of attic. Go to the library and stock up. Go to the grocery store for potatoes and garlic and jalapenos. No jalapenos. Change kitty litter with SH. Stage refrigerator items on bottom shelf. Ask SH to get the wine out for the trip.

5. T minus one day: Harvest more lettuce and put in fridge. That lettuce will go with us. Pack clothes.

6. Day of departure: Get up at 7:30 a.m. Go to the farmers market for knob onions (great grilled) and new potatoes.Go to Vietnamese grocery store for jalapenos. Get coolers out of basement. Take a shower. Get dressed. Be ready to go at 1 p.m. as originally planned.

Here's how SH packs:

Day of departure:

1. Get up late.

2. Make coffee.

3. Check email and facebook. Start a political argument with someone on facebook.

4. Pick wine for trip.

5. Pick beer for trip.

6. Change watchband - a process that takes about ten minutes because the proper going on vacation watchband takes a while to select.

7. Play with the cats.

8. Put up "out of office" message on email.

9. Create "out of office" message for phone.

10. Dawdle.

11. Make wife insane.

12. Leave 84 minutes later than planned.

13. Still get to Medford on time.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 21: When you're gone

Me: The woman in this book has been a widow for two years. She's my age and she's putting herself on match.com so she can date.

SH: So?

Me: My question is, "Why?"

SH: Wouldn't you want to date if I died?

Me: No way. I'm never getting married again. Not dating. One and done.

SH: What about [wxyz]?

Me: Don't care. I'll learn to do without.

SH: Because it could never be the same after me or because it's not worth the trouble of a relationship?

Me [long pause]: Option one, of course.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 621: Airing the dirty laundry

SH: You're cleaning the tub! You're still doing chores!

Me: I know. It needs to be done.

SH: Do you wish I would do more around the house?

Me: Yes. I would prefer an equitable division of household chores.

SH: But I am doing more than I used to!

Me: So am I.

SH: But my job hasn't gotten any easier. And I'm doing more housework.

Me: And I'm gone from the house 55 hours a week now.

SH:  But I hate cleaning the tub! I'd rather clean the tub than have a disgustingly dirty tub but I'd rather have a moderately dirty tub than go through the trouble of cleaning the tub.

Me: You could start doing the laundry.

SH: But that's complicated! When I was in the apartment, the washer and dryer were right next to my bedroom.

Me: And now they're in the basement. And I'm 13 miles away during the day. You're here.

SH: It's so hard with your stuff! Your gym clothes can't go in the dryer. And there are whites. Before we got married, I never bought anything white because I didn't want to deal with washing it. Then there's the dilemma do I as a good liberal hang the clothes on the line outside or just throw them in the dryer?

Me: It is hard to be you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 723: It's in the tone

Me: Do we have any decaf coffee pods?*

SH: Yes, I think so.

Me: Good. I want more coffee.

SH: You've already had a cup. You should have made more yesterday.**

Me: I want more.

Ten minutes later.

Me: Hey! Are you going to get that pod for me?***

SH: What do you mean?

Me: I mean, are you going to get it? I would like another cup of coffee!

SH: I didn't know you wanted me to get it.

Me: What do you mean you didn't know? What did you think I wanted when I asked if there was any decaf?

SH: You didn't specifically ask me to get it.




* SH has a pod coffee maker that he got as an award at work or from woot or something. It makes one cup of coffee at a time.

** Because I don't drink much caffeine any more - I discovered that caffeine triggers a lot of my headaches (and, ironically, can also get rid of them), SH and I have to alternate making coffee in the big coffee pot. I'll make two days' worth on Monday, he'll make two days' worth on Tuesday, etc. One of us is always drinking day-old coffee, which is not pleasant, but if you put enough half and half in your coffee, you hardly notice.

*** The pods are in a very high cabinet that SH can reach without dragging out the ladder but I cannot. So he is the designated coffee pod getter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 64: You're on your own

Me: I don't think I would be as nice a mom as Julie [a friend of ours] is.

SH: What do you mean?

Me: She asks her kids if they are hungry and then offers to make them food. I am more Darwinian.

SH: Why aren't you asking me what I want for breakfast?

Me: Because I don't care.

SH: Why aren't you making my breakfast?

Me: Because I don't care if you eat.

SH: But it's my day off!

Me: Oh! I didn't realize that meant I was on duty to prepare your breakfast!

SH: I'm hungry.

Me: Feed yourself.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 621: How we count

As SH and I are teaching his friend Pete, whose surprise birthday party we flew to Pittsburgh to attend, how to play Bananagrams, which we got Pete as a birthday present (along with a card about farting, which is how men who have been best friends since college express affection).

Me: So we each take 15 tiles.

SH: No. When there are three people, you each take 21.

So. We each take 21 tiles.

SH: Hey! When it's 21, you don't count by twos! You should count by threes! That way, it comes out even.

Me: OK Sheldon.

SH: Well, you have five fingers. It works.

Me: It's easier to count by twos.

SH: It's when you want to count by fours that it becomes a challenge.

Me: It's easier to count by twos.

Monday, July 08, 2013

The working world: Getting advice on your resume

Now that you are all back from your long weekend and getting back to work - I myself am not back from a long weekend. I am back from a regular weekend. Yes, I had Thursday off but I did not have Friday off and I am bitter about that. I have never worked for a place in my professional life that didn't give us that bridge day as a holiday. I knew I worked for a thrifty (I am being nice, as it is not generally considered bad to be thrifty) organization, but man, I had no idea they would stoop this low. We are not retail. We are not entertainment. We are not health care. We are not essential services in any way and nobody would have raised an eyebrow had we been closed on Friday.

We also do not get Christmas Eve off.

And of course last year, I was on a plane the day after Thanksgiving. Middle seat, coach, in between a nice guy and a seat hog who kept screaming into his phone - while we were still at the gate, "F--- you, Renee!"

So. Now that the rest of you are back at work and your time away has given you some perspective and you realize that man, you have got to find a new job, may I recommend the resume services of Kim Stiens? I found her via one of my favorite blogs, Ask A Manager. Kim is (for now) building a portfolio of resumes she has reviewed and improved and is willing to do resume review gratis.

I thought I was pretty good at resumes and you might think the same thing, but it never hurts to have someone else take a look. Kim noticed things that never would have occurred to me and made some great suggestions. My resume is definitely better because of her feedback.

If you are looking for a new job, avail yourself of this opportunity. It's free and it's useful.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Wisconsin 101: Where being on time is late

I got home the other day and our neighbor, Keith, who had agreed to feed the cats while we were out of town, was waiting for me in the kitchen while SH shaved in the bathroom.

Let me recount the conversation I had with Keith:

Me: That's great that you can feed the cats! Our regular catfeeder has a volleyball tournament. I thought I was safe that he wasn't in band, but volleyball is turning out to be way worse.

Keith: No, that's fine. I don't mind. Maybe I should come over so you can show me where everything is?

Me: Sure. I get home at 5:30, so why don't you come over at quarter of six? That will give me time to change clothes and put my things away.

But - when I got home at 5:30, Keith was already there. SH was laughing, saying, "He said you said 5:30!"

I shook my head. "Nope. I said 5:45."

But no big deal. I showed Keith where the cat food is and explained that it is necessary to wait until Shirley is done eating to keep Laverne from pushing her away and taking her food. "No longer than two minutes, though," I said. "You don't have all night. If she's hungry, she can eat at her next meal."

When Keith left, SH and I had this conversation:

SH: You didn't tell me he was coming over!

Me: That's because he wasn't supposed to be here until I was home.

SH: He didn't hear the 5:45 part. He only heard 5:30. And then he still showed up early!

Me: That's how people in Wisconsin roll.

SH: You should have told me.

Me: Why? He wasn't supposed to come until I was home and so what that he was early?

SH: But what if I didn't know what to do?

Me: But you did know what to do.

SH: But what if your bus had been delayed and you weren't going to be home at 5:45? THEN WHAT?

Me: Then I would have called you and told you that Keith was coming over and to show him where the cat food is. Sheldon.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 126: Literary deconstruction

Me: Oh man. My friend Steph wrote another long facebook post. She is such a nice person, but she writes long posts and I always lose interest before the end.

SH: I write long posts.

Me: Yes. And they're boring. Your posts are way too long.

SH: It's hard to say anything in 140 characters.

Me: No it's not. Haven't you ever heard the short story, "For sale, baby shoes, never worn?" I've heard that Hemingway wrote it.

SH: OK.

Me: Six words. An entire story. A sad story. The baby died.

SH: You don't know that.

Me: What do you mean I don't know that? That's the story!

SH: It could have been a baby born without feet.

Me: Yes, I hadn't considered that.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Tree, apple, Part the Third

Me: So these friends of SH's came for dinner and as SH is turning the steak on the grill - this was the second night they were eating with us, the friend asks SH, "Do you have any kid-friendly food?"

SH: He said that his kids wouldn't eat steak!

Me: Which I hadn't wanted to feed to them anyhow. Who wastes steak on kids?

SH: I pointed out to him that we don't have kids, so no, we didn't have kid-friendly food.

Me: I had tried to convince SH that we should get something besides steak for the kids, but he had thought it would be rude.

My sister: Wait. SH wanted to feed steak to kids?

Me: Yes.

My sister: But that's nuts. Nobody gives steak to kids.

Me: Nope. Why waste something that costs almost ten dollars a pound on someone who thinks that Kraft macaroni and cheese or Spaghettios is good food?

SH: Well, I didn't want to give them steak, either, but I didn't want to be impolite.