Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mr. Husband in Prose.

It is New Year’s Eve in The Villages, Florida. So far, we’ve survived my family Christmas and are about to survive an evening out with my two brothers, my sister-in-law, and our cousin Derek from Detroit. Big family fun. I haven’t seen Derek in four years. Mr. Husband met Derek last year during his Detroit vacation when he went to visit Mr. Older Brother. You guessed it, Mr. Husband played video games with Mr. Cousin. They know each other. They know the others’ gaming habits. They know how to massacre each other Mortal Kombat style. Is there anything else to know?

Mr. Husband and I have survived seven people living in a retirement village in a house that is built for retirement and not for entertaining. There are about 1700 very small square feet for us to move about on each others’ nerves. There is a very small shower for Mr. Husband to duck beneath and sprinkle his giant body. There are golf carts in which we can skirt away from family for a glass of wine someplace else. There is the forever blinding Florida sun and my parents walking on eggshells around their daughter who could erupt at any moment and often does. Be careful you don’t set her off. She is highly flammable and he simmers under the surface. We are barely surviving. Mr. Husband better than me, for he escapes daily and nightly into Left 4 Dead and Fable 2 while I suffer with my Hardy. Mr. Husband and Mr. Twin Brother are living it up in the magic world. I sit in the real world reading and trying to block out my father’s oxygen machine that runs at night to fill his blood with O2.

In order to minimize the damage, Mr. Husband and I stole away to the wine bar
yesterday afternoon for a leisurely glass of wine and some poetry. Our poetry. The fun stuff. I write a line, he writes a line, I write a line, he writes a line … we go on. We write and amuse ourselves. It is free entertainment. It is my escape that I get while my Mr. Husband pulls me lovingly by the hand and shakes away my not being quite as comfortable as I’d like to be at this time of the year.

From Urban Flats Wine Bar, December 30th, 2008

A glass of Merlot in the afternoon
Village wine in the village sun,
September vine come home to rest
We drink! We drink!
They laugh! They laugh!
Schedules damned to a normal life,
Then, the tablecloth washed, folded, and put away
What kind of wine are we? Red? White?
The glass remains empty as decision fails
We sit drinking, loving, looking at the liquid tannins galore
Life is here and now and will be forever there and here and more


That’s what we make when we sit and write together. Not so bad. Not so good, either. I can't figure out how to format the poem right and the capitalization is off and unruly. The grammar is hideous. We are making people cry with our attempt at a written craft. But it is the fact that the two of us can sit and be merry with very little and calm each other to bring a smile to each others’ faces. Mr. Husband has done many different things this trip to make me smile. He cares for me and even golfs with me. Yes, the man who swore never to golf again amused Mr. Twin Brother and I with his golf finesse. He did well. He got air. Mr. Husband isn’t all video games and poetry.
He’s got so much more in his pocket. I think 2009 is going to see a whole lot fall out of his pocket. Spill all over me. I don’t need a napkin.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fibulous Christmas!

It is the kind of day that we like best. Mr. Husband and Mrs. Wife got up around 9:30 to make ourselves a little bit Wii Fitter and then we settle down, he at his Xbox (Fable2) and me at my book (Thomas Hardy) with dictionary on lap. The two cats, Bonita Banana and Oliver Pants, play at our feet with their new Christmas mice and the cat tree we bought them for super-cat-all-the-time-climb-on-me enjoyment. Our in-law Christmas is over and still warm in our heads. We had a big old-fashioned family Christmas with the Stewarts, good drama included.

Before we get to the big old-fashioned family Christmas, we had a homecoming and Christmas miracle as Moser visited us on Sunday evening for wine, dinner, and lots and lots of programming speak. Moser is the one who is lost to us but found in Wine Country—our San Francisco buddy who I miss for the gossip and the wild stories and Jeff misses for the constant talk about geek stuff. He always brings cheer and walked in the door this year with three bottles of Napa Valley happiness. Cheery us!
So we fed him. He was excited to see the world from the blog—the world he reads about (or, actually, just looks at the photos)—and he was part of that world for about five hours. I made a pasta dinner and we drank a bottle of good wine and then sat before a crowd of liquor bottles, testing our little Mikasa cordial glasses (thank you Maja and Petar). We think we found the proper liquor in Grand Marnier. If not, we sure did laugh a lot and often and some more. Love my perfect little glasses for every occasion and any liquid.

We hurried ourselves down the road on Wednesday evening to the Candlelight service at church and then straight to the Stewarts in Riverchase for a proper family gathering. Mrs. Mother-in-Law prepared a fabulous spread of ham, biscuits, hummus, cheese, and Mr. Husband’s favorite peanut butter fudge. All seven of us settled down around midnight for our Christmas Eve nap. All of us—so we thought. Out on the driveway, youngest brother Chris stepped out for a smoke around 2:00 am. Slippery was the driveway and steep under his feet. He toppled and cracked his fibula and was rushed to the ER by my goodly and ever caring Mr. Father-in-Law. When the other siblings awoke on Christmas morning, we found a very hurt little brother Chris with his leg in a cast and drowsiness upon him. Poor Chris. We didn’t sing any songs this year, but we did watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Tradition lives. Mr. Husband is happy and Mr. Little Brother tries hard to smile. Fibulous Christmas for all of us!

The family still rang in the day with good cheer, mimosas, and gift upon gift upon gift upon gift. We were spoiled and flooded with things that we like and love. My Mrs. Mother-in-Law has a great knack for finishing off the most important part in our home—my reading nook. Last year, she gave us my reading table. This year, she completed the space with the perfect reading lamp. It was hard for me to move from my ideal space to write today. I have sanctuary. I have books, and now I have light. The little bit of light looks over my shoulder and beckons me to read. Calm. Light. Good.

All seven of us Stewarts sat around in our pajamas with a mountain of presents before us. We all drank coffee out of Christmas mugs, which is a Stewart family tradition. We opened gifts one at a time, everyone watching the others as we took turns. This is one of my most favorite traditions. I love watching everyone else open their gifts—I love seeing the surprise and the mystery revealed. It was wonderful with all of us being together. Chris’s broken leg didn’t ruin the day (not for us, at least), and we now have a story to tell for years and years. It was warm and wonderful.

And now we are off to Florida on Saturday evening to make Christmas happen at the Klusendorf’s in The Villages. I miss my own family—my ever laughing parents, the wine, my brothers, the wine, my sister-in-law, the cats, and the wine. We’ll see you soon, Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What the Dickens! It's Mr. Husband.

I was married once before. A terrible mistake that was revealed to me at every turn. Very short. Only nine months did I stay; shorter it would have been were I the woman I am today. Today I have a voice. Then, I did not. It’s good to grow up and discover oneself. My Mr. Husband likes to be the explorer who discovers me time and again—the one who knows me and strives to keep knowing me and helps me continue to realize and know me. The ex did not. I remember our only Christmas together when I opened my gift from the ex to find that he’d attempted to purchase Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for me but ended up purchasing a children’s book instead. A comic of some low sorts. (Not graphic fiction. A child’s book in truth.) I was so disappointed and the realization slapped me on both sides of the face—he doesn’t know me and does not wish to know me.

Knowing someone is so very important. Hearing the other person speak about their hopes and aspirations. It’s important to listen and be listened to. So very. My Mr. Husband listens, knows, and understands me.

Today, we celebrated our Christmas together before we venture to the in-law’s for our Big Family Christmas. My Mr. Husband always picks out super sweet and sentimental gifts. He is a thinker, so it is fitting that he thinks hard about gifts. He purchases gifts that have meaning and sentimental value like the wooden popcorn bowl he had personalized with the phrase, “make me popcorn”—my phrase. But, the most sentimental and touching gift that he gives me every year is a book. He listens to me and finds the most beautifully bound books with good sturdy paper and dark black ink. The font is most readable and there is always a ribbon for marking my place. This year was no exception.

Last year, he gave me a beautifully bound copy of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. We often laugh about how I sat down to read both Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary in the first year of my marriage. Well, I laugh and he just kind of looks uncomfortable. Anyhow, the book is what I wanted and he accompanied it with a lovely collection of Shakespeare’s Sonnets with the inscribed message, “To Sensibility from Sense.” We often laugh about how we are so not alike. We do a lot of "often laughing" when no one is looking. You see, while I feel, he thinks—we mimic a Jane Austen novel but we’re not sisters and we’re totally not wearing dresses all the time or looking for husbands. Anyhow, I digress. It’s funny. Really. It is. Trust me.

Oh, come and often laugh with us. It feels good. Throw your head back. Do it. Laugh. Be often laughing always.

This year, my dear husband spoiled me with lovely leather-bound Dickens: I unwrapped Bleak House and A Tale of Two Cities to my screaming excitement. (Or, A Sale of Two Titties … for Monty Python fans.) The paper is so very fine and yet sturdy. The ink dark as dark needed and the binding is classic with a splash of leather to show off the title and announce to the neighbors that Dickens is here for dinner.
I will feel luxurious while reading my Dickens—novels that I’ve never before delved into. I will dive and feel good and read good and be happy. My Mr. Husband did a fantastic job.

We had other gifts exchanged between us, but the books where the gift that made me cry a little. They are the gift that reminds me that, yes, he’s listening and, yes, he knows me. That is more precious than any concrete gift.

In a couple of hours, we head to the in-law’s to enjoy our big family Christmas. The youngest brother, Chris, has been calling me all day to find out if what he’s looking at for this sibling or that is a good idea. He’s so cute. He’s, like, the best shopper in the family, but, yet, he still questions himself. He’s conscientious and cares. It’s nice to have that in a family. The Stewarts are a good bunch. We’ll go to candle-lit service at 7:00 and then play Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. All eight of us with two dogs and a cat will sleep in the same house and wake up tomorrow morning to see what Santa has brought us! It’s excitement. It’s family. And we are so very thankful for this great discovery.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Everyone should have a Harold.

Potatoes. I’m thinking potatoes. Twice baked at that. Tomorrow, we will get to see Grandmother Jean from Nashville. She’s coming to visit and, I will make potatoes and cookies and hope that Mrs. Mother-in-Law fills in the rest. I will cook today since Mr. Husband is lost to me. He’s gone. We’ve had such close, wonderful, loving, laugh-till-you-pee-a-little, fun times lately, that this break is well earned. Yesterday, Mr. Husband stayed home from work. He told me he felt sick a little when we woke up for work. I tried to make him Thera-Flu twice. I scolded him when I left for work at 7:00 am and noticed he was walking around in bare feet. Put some socks on, if you’re sick! Take care of yourself, so I don’t worry!

Later in the day, when I spoke with Mr. Husband around lunch time—a Mr. Husband who did not seem sick at all and was probably still not wearing socks—asked me when I was coming home. He wasn’t asking me because he was lonely and sick. He sounded like an excited little kid. Wait a minute! What was that in his voice? I heard it—the intonation was just enough not-right to make me suspicious. Mr. Husband had to admit that maybe he wasn’t sick and was actually awaiting a delivery. Uh, oh. He mentions Mr. Twin Brother. My Mr. Twin Brother who is lately prone to extravagant gifts. I know what it is. I know that when I go home I’ll see a new TV. I know it immediately.

I have to wait. By the time I leave work, even my boss knows what’s waiting for me. She hears of my excitement and emails Mr. Husband so she can play the I-know-something-you-don’t-know-game that is always an office favorite. I arrive home to find, sure enough, a new 42” LCD TV. Mr. Husband has become a five-year-old kid again, sliding around the house with the stench of happiness reeking from his every pore.
And I am amazed. Harold, Mr. Twin Brother, is now completely forgiven for that time I ran into him in Richfield, Ohio at a Dead show and he wouldn’t give me a measly five bucks for a falafel. Ok, wipe the slate clean. This is better than a falafel.

We are both kids again. We never would have bought a new TV for ourselves. We put our money into our wonderful house and we didn’t care about the TV. But, crazy thing, it makes a huge difference. We are both ravenous about Fable2 on Xbox. We notice, with the upgrade in TV, we can see the minute color changes in our dog’s fur. Fable2 is now more than ever. Wow. There is a difference. We didn’t know. We’d been ignoring it all the time. But we were easily happy in our obnoxiously out-dated TV world. The architects at work laughed at us in our ignorant low-tech TV existence. We shrugged.

So Christmas comes early to our world. We have already hung the outdoor lights and put up the tree (with Mr. Twin Brother via Xbox from Fort Hood). The cats are both snuggly by the fire and glad that we stay home so often during the holiday season. We are in house-mode still until the end of the year, trying to catch up from over-extending ourselves with a new mortgage and an apartment that is still ours until the end of the year. The season is upon us. I have this feeling, when I’m walking around and the thoughts are not pounding on my mind like buckshot, all of the sudden—I realize I am truly happy. I’ve never had that before. This. We are both very fortunate. We have a lot to be thankful for—we have each other and so much more. And now add to that a new TV that we didn’t expect or anticipate. But Mr. Twin Brother apparently couldn’t let us live like that.

While Mr. Husband and Mr. Twin Brother go on a quest, I will make potatoes for tomorrow. The entire Stewart family is going to church tomorrow morning for the Christmas carol service. Grandmother Jean is the star of the family show. Mr. Husband will take a break from dating the new TV, and he’ll hold my hand for a few hours before he comes home to caress the Xbox controller. I take what I can get.

Focus on my potatoes.