Sweet Pea

I’ve always had a little trouble remembering Jeff’s birth date. I always got April, but I’d get confused about whether it was the 24th or 25th. Pretty much every year, I would pride myself on getting it right, and end up getting it wrong again.

I’d give him his card first thing in the morning, or maybe stealthily add it to his lunch bag. And then he’d look at me or text me, “Thank you. My birthday is tomorrow.” “I know,” I’d respond. “I just wanted to be the first.” Of course, Jeff knew better, but he never embarrassed me by saying so. I’d just make sure to run out for another card for the next morning.

In 2012, I did something that I felt required notifying Jeff’s family. It was after the fact, but still important so I broke the ice with a short email. “Thinking of you and Jeff today,” I wrote. The response I received was graciously humorous and something to the effect of, “I’m sure Jeff will be having lunch with Dale Earnhardt in heaven, tomorrow.”

Early on in our relationship, I started calling Jeff ‘Sweet Pea.’ Always privately, mostly on the phone and mostly at the end of our week night conversations. I’d say, “Goodnight sweet pea, love you.” He’d say, “Goodnight, I love you, too.”

If you think that would sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth, it did. And, it came out with an accidentally adapted light pseudo-southern/Nashvillian accent to boot.

I never thought much about how he’d feel about it. But, he never objected or said anything about it, either.

About two years into Michigan, Jeff pointed out to me my accent wasn’t as bad. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Your accent,” he repeated.  “I don’t speak any differently than I ever did,” I protested.

“Uh, huh,” Jeff nodded, retrieving his cell phone from his pocket.  He dialed emphatically, and handed it to me. “Just listen…” he advised.

And there I was listening to a two-year prior version of me deeply twanging my way through a typical voicemail greeting.

At a Flea Market one afternoon, I noticed an oversized cup with a flowery design and the words ‘Sweet Pea’ in an equally flowery font.

“I think I’ll buy you this cup for your birthday,” I teased. Jeff laughed, “Well, it is my birth flower.”

“Your what?” I asked. “My birth flower – it’s the sweet pea – it’s the April flower.”

“Really?” I countered. “I didn’t know that!”  He laughed again, but stopped short a few steps later.

“Wait,” he said as he turned to face me. “Why did you call me that then?

“I don’t know,” I said. “It just … popped out. Must have been that southern influence…”

“Well, I like it,” He confessed sincerely with his usual wide grin.

I smiled, too. I’m still smiling, actually.

Even as I say out loud tonight, “Happy Birthday in Heaven, Sweet Pea.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 25 the greatest gift you can give someone jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

There’s a flower for that: Actually, there are 2

Don’t Eat Them: Truly

Beautiful:  But, finicky

Peeps – The Kiss First Clause

I may have mentioned this before, but it’s still Peeps season.

As far as I’m concerned, it will remain Peeps season until all of the Peeps are gone.

I’m talking about the coveted and cabineted ones. Even with the holiday in my rearview, there’s still time to increase the stash. I’ll be ‘Peep Seeking’ a little while longer in the likely vain hope of a misplaced carton or even sleeve.

I admittedly will not give up until it becomes clear I will not find this year’s coveted flavor. I sadly started the search too late, and was left standing forlornly in Target staring at the empty box labeled “Vanilla Caramel Brownie Peeps.”

I also admit that I might not have believed that was a true special occasion creation, but, as I said, I saw the empty box for myself. In retrospect, I should have photographed it. It would have made a social media plea for them an illustration of frustration and perhaps I would have been flooded with good-willed Vanilla Caramel Brownie Peeps. Sigh.

Sometimes the very thing that makes me happy, makes me sad, and then makes me laugh.

My husband, Jeff, was a man who would not even slightly hesitate to insert his entire arm into a cow’s uterus.

So, how a cute little squishy marshmallow chick could cause him to cringe, shake and gag was always beyond me.

Physically. He’d watch me bite into one, and pull his head back like he wanted to turtle into his own shoulders. He’d wave his hands at waist-level, muttering “yuck” and shivering into goosebumps.

As true love often does, I willingly made small sacrifices for Jeff, and Jeff willingly made small sacrifices for me. One of the sweetest involved the seasonal search and appropriate pre-consumption seasoning of Peeps.

Religiously poking holes in their cellophane habitats, Jeff would clandestinely hide my favorite treats somewhere I was sure never to look. You know, that almost useless over-the-stove cabinet that only tall giant-sized people ever consider an actual place to store things.

He went to all this trouble for two very good reasons.

The first was so that the adorable, delicious candy creatures would be ever-so-slightly crunchy-stale when he ceremoniously presented them to me on whatever holiday it was we were celebrating.

The second was for the kiss he knew he would get after I finished squealing in delight.

The kiss had conditions, though: it had to occur after presentation, before ingestion. I tried it once the other way and Jeff objected.

“Ew,” he’d said. “Don’t ever kiss me after you eat one of those!”

After that, he always insisted on that order, sometimes going as far as keeping them way above me with his outstretched arm.  “Kiss first!” he’d grin. And I would happily oblige.

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 18 Sometimes the very thing that makes me happy jakorte

4 Hour Assembly, Required

If you’ve ever put together a do-it-yourself anything, you’ll know it’s never as easy as it seems.

Our new to-be wardrobe-turned-cabinet was no exception. Assembly began in the living room. We’d agreed that the laundry room would be too tight to try it there, and we might damage the linoleum or the cabinet finish. Working on the carpet, did us no favors, though. It was hard to even off the sections and perfectly align the frame.

With the intention of continuing to work in the kitchen, I lay down a top sheet while Jeff moved all the unattached parts.  Back in the living room, we stood what we’d put together upright to keep its integrity together. Then, we ran into a minor obstacle.

The cabinet was taller than the door frame between the dining room, the off-shoot kitchen and the hallway to the den. My many moving experiences came in handy just then. We just needed to angle it down a few degrees to pass below the threshold. It went through easily.

Getting ready to move. “Wait a minute. Wait a miiiinute,” Jeff said setting his side down. I followed suit. Jeff peered around me into the kitchen. Then peered into the hallway, and said, “We’re gonna have the same problem gettin’ it in there.”  ‘In there’ meant the laundry room.

“That’s ok,” I answered, “we’ll just angle it again.”

“Well…” Jeff stalled, scratching his beard. “Yeah, I think that door way is narrower and after puttin’ it together, it’s gonna be really heavy and hard to tilt.”

“Oh,” I said, immediately envisioned us tilting too much, dropping it on the floor and ruining the cabinet before we ever used it.

“Yeah,” he answered. “We’re gonna have to build it in there.” I didn’t think it was going to be possible for both of us to get in there with the darn thing and work on it.

“Well… Jeff shrugged. “We gotta try it….” So, we slid the flimsy shell down the short hall, angled it once again and set it upright where we thought it might go best. Unfortunately, leaving it there would mean never being able to open the side door fully.

Jeff thought that would be alright. I didn’t. I worried about damaging the door, damaging the cabinet and how we’d even move it if we had to bring something through that side door. “How about over there?” I suggested.

Jeff sighed and nodded. He pushed, I pulled and we kept it together enough to place it closer to the laundry room entrance. There was more of a corner wall to be tucked in nicely, which also kept the door from banging the front. It was a good spot. We lowered the framed structure down to the floor again, which again, sounds easier than it was.

The very tight fit left only room for one. Since Jeff was on the far end of the cabinet, he was more-or-less stuck in the laundry room. He wouldn’t be able to get out without stepping onto the thin backboard or leaving the house entirely through the side door and come in the front door.

Jeff took a floor seat and undid some of the work he had already done in order to square it up, re-tighten bolts and ensure the construction was as solid as it could be. I transported all of the parts from the kitchen to the hallway.  That left me in charge of relaying the instructions after I identified which part was which and what went next. That led to a few tense moments.

From start to finish, moving and moving and moving it, unassembling and reassembling, and a few step-aside moments, took about 3 hours. By the time we stood the behemoth up, anchored it to the wall, attached the doors and crankily debated the proper shelf spacing, another hour had gone by.

Standing back to admire our handiwork, I thoughtfully considered our success. “You know…” I offered, “We could really  go get another one and put it right next to this one…”

“The only thing we’re gonna to get tonight is a pizza,” Jeff replied picking up the phone. “And,” he added, continuing to search  speed dial for The Pizza Bucket, “We’ve got enough cabinets. We’ve got more than enough cabinets. We’re never gonna need another cabinet…. ever.”

Bringing the phone to his ear, he said “Hi … I’d like to place an order…”

Quote for the Week:

2017 03 21 For a long time, I_ve suspected pizza collusion jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Pizza Delivery:  All You Need to Know

Pizza Crust:  Make Your Own

Sauder: Assembly Required

 

 

Good Measure

When I picture our couples decision-making conversations, I realize I did a lot of pulling.

Carpet Outlet Plus was just down the road from our new home. We’d first gone in to look at possibly replacing the blood red carpet. Realizing it wasn’t going to be immediately affordable, Jeff was still convinced I’d grow out of my dislike.

Jeff got sidetracked in the carpet-tile section by an enter-to-win opportunity. He never missed an opportunity to enter a raffle.  If there was a box to put your name in, he’d put his name in. “You can’t win if you don’t enter,” he’d say. He’d also happily field the predictable sales calls that usually followed.

We wandered around a little on the way out just to be sure we hadn’t missed something, and we had. A small section of the warehouse displayed a few all assembly required Sauder line samples.

I had been thinking maybe a book shelf or two would solve the laundry room’s no-cabinets dilemma. There weren’t any book cases, but there was an armoire that seemed even better because it had doors to hide the supplies behind. We knew it would be a discount flooring warehouse with

Picturing it, I immediately had my heart set on a white one. Jeff preferred the wood faux-finish. Of course, there were only light and dark wooden finishes in the size I thought would fit. “It just looks nicer,” he said, politely trying to sway me. “Oh,” I responded, bluntly. “I think the fake stuff looks cheap.” “Oh.” he said. “Hmmm.”

Around the next bend there was a much larger, white double cabinet.  “Hey, look! It’s white!” Jeff smiled, assuring me that it would fit where it needed to fit. I didn’t think so. I argued that it would stick out too far into the doorway and crowd the space. We realized we’d have to go home to measure.

On the way out, my chicken radar activated. My swiveling eyes locked on a chicken clock. It was a rather large, regular round clock with a chicken feed motif, metal movements and an antique finish. It was $52 dollars, though, which was about half the cost of the large cabinet.  We considered that, then, left empty-handed with a “maybe someday” agreement.

Off we went to Lowe’s. They didn’t have what we wanted, either. But, as long as we were there, we went in search of lampshades for the bedside lamps that came along with the bedroom suite. It’s funny now that we didn’t know we’d need to know what size shade we needed. We didn’t have a clue, so we gave up shopping, went home and measured for both items.

The following week, Jeff received a call from the carpet store, informing him that he had the won the weekly drawing. The prize was a gift certificate. We took our measurements with us and came to the conclusion that the larger cabinet would fit nicely, giving us more storage space.

As we were completing the sale at the cashier desk, I pointed out to Jeff that the chicken clock was no longer where it had been.  “The chicken clock?” the woman behind the desk asked. “Yes,” I said. “It was hanging in that space right behind you.”

“Oh,” she pointed. “You mean that chicken clock over there? That’s the last one and it’s been marked down.”  Jeff asked me if I wanted it. I replied, “I don’t know…” “Well, how much is it?” he asked. It was $28 dollars.

Jeff nodded his head and told the lady we’d take it. “We will?” I squeaked. “Yeah.” He went on to  adamantly explain, “We were gonna buy a cabinet anyway, so we’ll just use the gift certificate for it. It’s like a little bonus!”

We stood in the parking lot a moment shaking and scratching our heads. Somehow, we stuffed the flat-boxed armoire and the chicken clock into the Neon, and headed home.

Quote for the Week:

2017 03 14 lucky enough to enter jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Furniture:  Good Measure

Carpet :  Good Measure

Carpet Outlet Plus:  A Very Good Measure

 

 

Furnished, Part 3.

The house in Adrian, was our first test of wills… as in “will we or won’t we?”

I said “yes” to Jeff a lot. I also said “no,” a lot. I said yes to some strange things and no to some very normal others. That was my young marriage my version of “give and take.”

Three bedrooms became an obvious master, a guest room and an office. Jeff preferred to turn the room closest to the guest bath into the office. I said, “No.” Explaining that the guest bedroom was situated in a small alcove and the bathroom was in that alcove, as well. Therefore, it made more sense to do it my way.

Jeff just shrugged and started lugging boxes to the right rooms. Truly, he didn’t really care which room would be what. Once the office was set-up he noted that the now office was really a bit bigger than the other room, received more natural light and said with a smile, “You were right.”

We were generously gifted a slightly used dark wood bedroom suite: bed base, bureau and mirrored dresser, which we loved.

My travelling bed, (the simple metal frame, box spring and mattress my parents made me buy), landed in the guest room

There was den on the backside of the house, and an awkward formal or semi-formal living room space inside the front door. The reclining couch went to the den. The slate tile tables originally went there, as well, but we quickly got tired of heaving the heavy rock coffee table out of the way each time we wanted to put our feet up.

For a while, our living room oddly consisted only of a coffee table and two end tables.

Prefab houses come pre-decorated. With the exception of the kitchen and what became the guest bathroom, the entire thing was carpeted in a shade of red that reminded me of the congealed mess after the first “Don’t be alarmed,” vein popping experience.

We chuckled that was our good fortune should there be any future incidences, but I really disliked it. I also disliked the maroon and various shades of blue wall papering, chair rails and curtains, and the only slightly matching pinkish and light-blue linoleum in the kitchen and the guest bathroom. The master bath was also wall-to-wall carpeted; same color.

I swore I would dislike that color scheme, forever. “Nah,” Jeff said. “You’ll get used to it, and then you won’t even notice anymore.” I was predictably skeptical.

Quote for the Week:

2017 03 07 decor disasters you will get used to it jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Bathrooms: Carpet, No

Noticing: Or, Not

Color: What Goes

Furnished, Part 2

There have various points in my life when I did not own a bed. I’m not opposed to beds. I just didn’t happen to have one for a few different whiles. As much as that bothered other people, is as much as it did not bother me.

“Suppose you meet someone?” my mother once asked.

To which I logically replied, “If I meet someone, Mom, I’m pretty sure he’ll have a bed.”

Still, my parents insisted I own a bed. So, a mattress, box spring and metal frame moved with me when I did.

When Jeff and I moved into the townhouse, the bed had already been moved 3x. After that, it moved another 2x. We also moved a futon into the townhouse, along with my rocking chair, converta-table and 2 repurposed wooden-armed rolling chairs I purchased from an old fixture sale at newly remodeled Lansing Denny’s. My old orange and brown plaid couch met a crittered stuffing-out mice-in fate in Nannee’s garage.  So, that’s how we decided that our first major purchase together would be a couch.

True to Jeff’s nature, we went loyal and local and only as far as Martin’s in downtown Tecumseh. I’d been in there a few times, but this was my first foray into furniture. Jeff was set on a reclining sofa, which was fine with me. The one he liked came in that standard reclining couch smoky blue. The multi-flecked beige corded material I preferred was only shown in bench style.

As we stood there debating, style vs style, an employee asked if we had any questions. I explained the dilemma and the sales person happily informed us that we could order the recliner Jeff wanted with the fabric I preferred. Just like that, we were done, easy.

Waiting for paperwork, we wandered around a bit more and came up with a two-sized lamp set. A floor lamp and a table lamp featuring scrolled footwork in a rust-over-gunmetal finish. That was easy, too.

Then, we saw it…

A gunmetal iron-work coffee table seated with slate tiles of varying greys, dappled browns and earthy burnt oranges, warm colors we both loved. It was a quite bit fancier than the couch called for and quite a bit over budget. We longingly decided it was prefect for us, unique and worth it.

The real dilemma, though, was the on-the-way-out accidental discovery of two matching side tables we absolutely had no room for, in any room or closet. We debated the likelihood of ever future-matching a pair of side tables. There was lip biting and arm crossing as matching pitted against funding. We turned back to track down the salesman. Another 20 minutes later, we left the store on a compromise of matching and somewhat reasonableness. One side table completed our purchase.

Two days later, uncomfortably crammed onto our soon to be replaced by couch delivery futon, I sort of sighed, looked at Jeff and said, “We should have bought them both…”

“That’s exactly what I was thinkin’!” he replied.

Quote for the Week:

2017-02-21-furniture-commitment-jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Where We Went: Martin’s Home Center

Amazingly, the Style is Still in Style: Antigo (with more options!)

Décor Strategy: Know What You Like

The String Thing, 2

So, about the string thing….

There was this woman with a worthy JLo booty, and she changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but that one little piece of information made a big impact.

The infomercial shot cut away from the widely demographic group of this-is-for-everybody dancers back to the spokesperson. She offered an explanation followed by a demonstration on how to imagine a string coming from the top of your head.

The idea was to make sure you were holding your head in alignment with your body.  I stood up and tried it, and felt a difference. She also talked about the importance of working stomach muscles, again demonstrating some moves.

I didn’t buy the CD-set. Money was still questionable after closing the store and losing Jeff’s portion of our income. I kept thinking about it, though. Walking with the string thing gave me a different point of view. I tended to look down for sure footing. The string thing kept tugging my head back up.

I tried the string thing on the treadmill, and realized I was nowhere near balanced. It made the walk so much harder, I had to walk slower. Even setting myself back to 30 minutes, I would sweat rivulets. I used some of the dance moves in an awkward self-devised cool down, once I was back on the den floor.

A few steadier months in, I was bored and decided to spice up my life by executing those moves on the moving treadmill. I could do it, and I loved it! I would dance myself up and down the length, in perfect posture while belting out off-tune tunes. For variety , some nights I’d switch on the TV, usually already on the International Music Channel. The timing was such that I most often ran into a portion of the Bollywood hour on IMF. I have no idea how to properly belly-dance.Miss Fred probably thought I looked like a loon, but the dancing I was doing felt good.

Before I moved to Ann Arbor, I routinely treadmill danced 45 minutes to an hour almost every night. The result was 118 pounds lost and confidence in my movements gained.

The move, not being allowed to use my treadmill in a second floor apartment, changing positions at my job, the 5th anniversary of Jeff’s passing, and two surgeries set me back. One was the removal of my gall bladder, the other was repair of a hernia I gave myself on an elliptical.

I felt I wasn’t getting enough of a core workout, so I tried pedaling in a downhill skier stance. If I hadn’t had the first surgery, it might have been ok, but the weakened stomach muscles gave.

I never recovered my intense treadmill habit. I’d swim in the summer, walk outside in nice weather. I’d struggle to get the workout room, and then give up when it got too cold or snowy or icy or I just didn’t feel like it.

I’ve been battling the same 25 pound regain for 5 years, now. That’s 25 pounds more I have to lose to reach my BMI goal, totaling a 40 pound goal. January 2nd, 2017 I recommitted.  All fired up with an eclectic and eccentric playlist, I’m working my way back to treadmill dancing and more of the story of us.

Quote for the Week:2017-02-07-never-under-estimate-the-power-of-a-good-workout-mix-jakorte

Playlisting:

Pandora

Slacker

Fitness Magazine 100 Best Workout Songs