At Ease

Jeff was at ease, in almost every aspect of his life. He believed in good and trust, was happiness contagious and willing to try anything anyone else liked.

He was also open about who he was. The antonym of pretentiousness, he lived his life way open. Arms, heart, head; experimental tendencies (mostly) without hesitation.  If there was any, it was pushed aside in favor of a try.

Easing Jeff into my immediate family was a two part process.

We all visualize that one person we are sure we will someday meet. Captured on VHS in a University project, he would be a tall, thin, long dark haired, musician. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but pre-brunch at my brother’s, I warned him. He’s not the best looking guy ever, and he’s really huge, just so you know.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought he was beyond adorable, and absolutely attractive, to me. It’s just that he was very different from anyone else in my world, or my family’s world. He was also the first guy I’d ever brought around for a ‘formal’ introduction.  Based on his attire, I’m pretty sure I was more nervous than he was about how this was gonna go.

Jeff first impressioning wardrobe consisted of his best blue jeans, least muddy boots, multiple earrings, a necklace and a bracelet, a Dale Earnhardt ring and an off-white, waffle-weave, long-sleeve pullover featuring an embroidered Tigger sitting atop a reclining Pooh’s tummy. Truth.

I don’t know how to explain this, but I’ll try. Jeff never didn’t know anyone within more than a minute of meeting them. He picked up on topics, asked questions, and possessed a completely unaffected ability to make other people feel happy.

Most families and cultures have a ‘best’ menu they offer. Whether it’s the bringing a boyfriend home for dinner, hosting the clergy, or holiday fare, my family had one, too. Brunch, no matter who hosted, always included a variety of bagels, at least two types of cream cheese, lox, sliced onion and tomato.

Sometimes, eggs or an egg casserole, a quiche or French toast would find their way to the table. Sometimes, chopped liver, creamed herring, donuts or fruit, showed up, too. It never occurred to any of us that these were culture specific foods.

Jeff took one look at the orangey, fishy-looking stuff, and spoke right up. “I’ve never had that before. What exactly is ‘lox’?”

The answer of ‘smoked salmon’ brought a nod, and he matter-of-factly speared some to his plate. Following our lead, he layered the traditional accouterments mentioned above, and took a bite.

Quote for the Week:

2015 12 28 refusal to be afraid jakorte

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I wasn’t actually asked to attend the wedding, it was just sort of included in the “See you next week, and the wedding is outdoors, so wear comfortable shoes, and plan to stay over,” departing after-kiss usual mutual, “I’m going to miss you,” speeches.

I showed up in Tecumseh with an overnight bag and surprisingly low jitters. Surprising, because I am an uncomfortable person. I like meeting new people, individually. Not a gaggle at a time; not as an outsider to a closely knit group.

Jeff’s family unintentionally broke it down for me. From his sister including me with in her pre-wedding events with her bridesmaids even though we had barely met an hour ago , to his mother introducing me and assigning me to her best friend who’d come all the way from California, it was easy.

And it was fun because it was busy and there were tables to set up and decorations to work on, and I love production work – of any kind

I don’t remember how we got to the park, but soon after arriving, I had an assignment. In a summery dress and self-made custom floral sneakers to match, I found myself a little off to the side of the location preparations on “Stay here with Nannee,” watch.

As she sat in the shade fanning herself, I figured out that Nannee was a lot like Jeff. She could talk to anyone about anything. So, we talked.  A young couple standing a little aside on a paved path caught my eye and Nannee’s, too. She flagged them down and beckoned, and as Jeff stopped to check on how I was doing, I was introduced to Lori and Steve.

Like everyone else I’d met in Jeff’s world, they were easy to be around, kind, funny and caring. Significantly, they were a “they,” so obviously one unit, and in an instant, recognized them as us.

In a second, I realized that I was no longer just me. I was also now Jeff.

Less than 2 months in, we were already Jeff and Jodi, or Jodi and Jeff.

I had stumbled into a previously unbelievable, mythical-match where 1 + 1 equaled a much larger type of 2, and I fell even deeper in love with “us.”

Quote for the Week:

2015 12 22 When people talk about how a second changes everything  jakorte

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How do I know?

Sort of:

Glad I never saw this aka the internet wasn’t what it is now:

Trying Fries

It can be a little awkward when the guy-you’ve-been-seeing’s Mom asks you to come to a family function. If that seems like an awkward way to put it, that’s because it was.

We hadn’t used the official terms, boyfriend or girlfriend, yet. We’d been 48 hour dating for about a month, which factored into normal 4 hour date blocks meant we were approaching 192 hours of togetherness, or 48 four-hour dates, or 1 date a week for 12 months.

I don’t think that was because we weren’t there, yet, because there was no there to get to. From date one we were together, without definition. We were just… we.

Startled, I recovered enough to quickly joke back that I didn’t know because I hadn’t been asked, adding, “I don’t even know when it is. I’d have to check my calendar, anyway.”

Turning to Jeff, to ask if he was ready to go, I almost laughed out loud. Brows drawn, eyes a bit wide considering the wedding possibility, hand in mid-air as if he was going to say something , instead, he just said, “Yep.”

We were already backed out of the driveway, and headed to the Tecumseh Antique Mall, when I let him off the hook. “You don’t have to ask me to the wedding, you know,” I said. “OK,” he answered.

And that was that. We went shopping, spending hand-in-hand time, exploring nooks and crannies, scouting my obsession: salt chickens, candy-dish chickens, tureen chickens, and canister chickens.

Then, we drove around Tecumseh’s important landmarks; the Carnegie Library, down Main Street to look at the houses and shops, out to Hayden Mills Community Center, by the Historical Society, and even to the plant – Tecumseh Products. Touring with Jeff was cool. He knew history and anecdotes and it was amazing to see the fierce pride and enthusiasm he held for his hometown.

We stopped for a bite to eat at Boomer’s – a favorite local, non-franchised, old-town hamburger-by-the-sack joint that had hodge-podge seating for maybe 30.  He told me how, when he’d been working on the farm, he would drive into town to cash his paycheck, and head back with a sack of the best burgers, ever.

So, I took his advice and we ordered burgers and milk shakes and chili-cheese fries, which I’d never had or even heard of, and as it turns out, didn’t particularly care for. The burger was awesome, the shake was hand-dipped.

The whole day was a fun, unique experience. I didn’t go home with any chickens from that trip.

I did go home with a great kiss, the memory of a great day, and the promise of more great days to come.

Quote for the Week:

2015 12 15 From the beginning my most successful relationship jakorte

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Where we were;,_Michigan

@ the Carnegie:

the Products:



People to Meet

Then, it was my turn to travel; pre-wide-spread free online maps or personal GPS, sans cell phone.

Armed with written directions and an old-fashioned fold-up map, I made my way down 127, to where the highway temporarily ends turning into Business 127. I wound my way through the city, following-up on M50 and driving for what seemed like forever through 30 mph and 55 mph and unmarked back-roads where I was passed. Frequently.

Soundly directionally impaired, I arrived on time only because I’d left remarkably early to counter-act potential problems. Even with no wrong turns, it took me 2 hours to travel the distance Jeff said would take about an hour and a half.

After missing it a time (or two), I pulled into the slightly steep gravel drive, parked and hoped I was actually in the right place. I surmised I wasn’t because I knocked and rang the bell and no one answered.

I was turning to leave the front porch when a man came out of the car-barn wiping his hands on a chamois rag and curiously asked if he could help me.

“Uh,” I stammered. “I’m not sure I’m in the right place… I’m looking for Jeff?”

“Yep. S’ probably in the basement. Who should I tell him is here?”

I was standing there for a kind of uncomfortable bit, when Jeff came out to greet me looking a little sleepy. “Sorry. Just woke up,” he said, “need a few minutes.” I told him not to worry, I’d just wait in the car, but he insisted I come inside.

I knew he lived at home. I don’t know why it never occurred to me, but it just never registered in my newly love-preoccupied mind on long my anticipatory way to Tecumseh that there would be people to meet. And, there were.

I totally wasn’t expecting to meet Jeff’s mom, but there she was camped out in the living room at a folding table surrounded by artificial flowers, glue guns, vases, baskets, blocks of green floral foam, and mini-piles of floral tape.

Sally’s welcoming excitement and the fact that I am attracted to (and easily distracted by) craft supplies instantly blew away my knee-jerk nervousness of being presented without warning.

As she prepared centerpieces for her daughter’s upcoming wedding, she started talking and I started talking. Within five minutes, we were craftily experimenting with different ideas and quietly Jeff disappeared.

I’d say it was a good and very good half-hour later when he reappeared, freshly shaved and showered and ready to head out on our first Tecumseh-based date.

On our way out the back door, Sally waved and sort of yelled/commented after us that she was looking forward to seeing me again in a few weeks at the wedding.

I must have looked as surprised as I was, because she put her hand to her heart and earnestly asked, “You are coming to the wedding, aren’t you?”

Quote for the Week:

2015 12 08 Some of the most wonderful introductions have come jakorte

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The Third 48

After 48 hours you actually know someone pretty well. You’ve been through two evenings, two mornings, two afternoons, six meals and perhaps some snacks, going out, doing things. You’ve gotten to the point of just hanging around which is ok, and even that is wonderfully fun.

On our weekend dates we’d go food shopping, doing some cooking. Maybe go to a movie, or antique shopping, maybe just watch tv and talk. I learned about NASCAR. He learned about my chicken obsession.

Our third date started out the same as the others, with Jeff coming straight from work on Friday night. I don’t know for sure what we did Saturday morning, but when we got back to my apartment, my mother called to tell me that her mother, my grandmother, had passed away.

I remember sitting down beside Jeff on the couch with the phone still in my hand. My tears fell on his shoulder, and neither of us said anything for quite a while.

When I finally started to talk, I repeated the things I’d been told. She lived a good life. She missed my grandfather for years. She wasn’t in pain. The things that people always said, and still always say, when someone has lived a long time and has succumbed to illness.

I gathered myself together, sighed, and started to go in search of tissues. I turned as I put my feet on the floor, just to say “thank you” for letting me have my moment, but as I met Jeff’s eyes I saw something I did not expect to see. Tears.

Jeff never met my grandmother. I’d spoken to her a few days earlier, and I’d talked to her about him and I’d told her how special he was. Jeff’s tears were for me and for him. It greatly saddened him that someday he would be in the same spot, mourning. Jeff loved his deeply, and wasn’t afraid to show or share it.

We talked about losing our grandfathers, whom we both admired. We talked about my grandmothers and how I was now grand-parentless. We talked about his grandmothers, Grandma and Nannee.

We talked about our families and our family history.

We sat on the couch for hours; until it got dark and decided we would order a pizza.

Then, we spent the evening just doing what we’d been doing.

Talking, holding hands, laughing, learning, and falling in love.

Quote for the Week:

2015 12 01 love is the thing that brings us close enough jakorte

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In 48 Hours:

Empathy of Romance:

Thru It: