Apologetic Delay

Certain times a year, the regrets really pile up. Lately, I’m practically buried.

So many things went wrong. Small things became disproportionate disasters. Mostly, due to my stubbornness, but always with help from Jeff.

I’m being stubborn again, all by myself. Memories are flying in from all directions and I want to accurately order them. Actually, I feel I have to accurately order them. I so want to skip over the regrets. I do want to include them, too. Our story’s weave will be weak without them.

Apologizing to people who may not have known they were slighted won’t make me feel better. Probably won’t make them feel any better, either.

I’m also a bit uninspired from having to sort through some rather uninspiring parts of my recent life. It would be nice to be self-inspired, but that’s not working so well.

Pushing a stalled car may get you somewhere, but it’s still going to be stalled when you get there. I’m trying but I could use a little outside inspiration… and a magic wand.

In the meantime, while I’m unrealistically waiting for my thoughts to spring from my being onto paper or into my computer, I’ll tell you about the start of something. But first, let me tell you about the start of the start of our most important journey.

About Nannee, Mary Vincze was a strong woman with a strong faith. She buried her husband young and lost her only child, her daughter Sally. They were close and I do believe that she struggled, although she would never admit it. Nannee was a smart woman, worldly wise, I’d say. She’d seen much in her lifetime; poverty and boons, war and peace, births and deaths.

She never hesitated to put a positive spin on any situation, often quoting condensed bible verses. When Jeff and I would take her to church, she’d always advise me that I could indeed take communion because it was “open to anyone.”  I’d just smile politely and shake my head, “No.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 09 if regrets really were a dime a dozen jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

 

 

Lilacs

Every April, I remember the lilacs and the other significant April things….

Jeff’s mother’s house bordered a field. Jeff had planted, nurtured and raised a hedgerow of thick, bushy lilacs. The first time I saw them, all in purple bloom, was magnificent.

When my younger brother was born, my parents planted a lilac tree. It sat almost in the center of our lawn surrounded by mulch and a rough rock border. The bane of my summers was weekly weeding that non-lawn island.

I would pull lawn creepers with my head tucked under the beautiful pastel branches. I always came away from the plant with a monstrous headache. We hadn’t figured out the flower allergy thing, yet.

But, I loved that bush; a little more so that my own honor planting of a red oak with its dramatic scarlet autumn show.  I drove by our old house as part of my 30th high school reunion trip. It was a little more surprising than it should have been to see my thin-ish elegant oak had morphed into a thick-trunked, house-high tree. Slowly, it dawned on me that the darn tree was 48 years old.

My older brother’s birth started the tree tradition with a weeping willow that eventually destroyed our septic tank and was replaced by a pine. Planted near the end of the driveway, that pine was replaced with another pine closer to the house after the first one got run over a few times by my mother.

Anyway, about the lilac; I’d lobbied to take it with us when we moved, but it got left behind. After Jeff’s mom passed, I had hoped to get a cutting from her grove, but that never happened. Even if it had, we would have planted it at the house in Adrian, and I would have had to leave it there when I moved into an Ann Arbor apartment.

Apparently, April almost ten years ago to the day – was significantly warmer than the current one. It had only been 7 months since Jeff had passed and I was sorting through my first April without him.

April 06, 2007

Lilacs

amid lilacs and hats
wasps buzz, breezes blow
the sun matters now
and I am trying to be peaceful
but my heart gets in the way
it wants you here,
but it loves you gone, too.
now, both in our own little heaven
me for each moment I can manage,
you for eternity.

I carry so many pieces of you with me
to take the place of the pieces that went with you
and they’re almost a perfect match, but
when the wind blows through the little gaps,
they might as well be canyons, whistling
deep flutes, running and jumping
carrying your deep purple scented laughter,
warming like a smile, blowing tears to my cheeks

I know I need to
lift my chin
and believe with all I have, that
even as years go by, I can remember being
amid the lilacs, and I can count on your memory
always being there

Quote for the Week:

2017 04 04 Lilacs poem 2007 jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

 

 

Lilacs: Farmer’s Almanac

Lilacs: Symbolism

Lilacs: Color?

 

 

Shady

The next purchase we tackled opened my eyes a little. I’d like to say it changed me; and it did – for a moment and then left me with a reluctant memory.

The gifted dark wood bedroom set also came with two bedside tables and two bedside lamps sans shades. Compared to the other acquirements, it was a small gnat of a chore. It’d skipped our minds most of the summer, but following the fall time change we’d go to bed and rise up to blinding bare lightbulbs and the annoying retina ‘burn’ spots that go with them. We finally set out to take care of that.

Another Lowe’s Saturday morning found us standing in the lighting section, clutching our measurements, which didn’t tell us much and certainly not what we needed to know. The lamps were over 2 foot tall, but having that information was rather uninformative.

Jeff tracked down an associate, and I explained our problem. The bottom line was there were no real fast rules, but there were standard sizes which left us with three basic choices requiring three more decisions. The first part of the deciding process was to choose between awkward sized standard shades. One version seemed too small, the other seemed too big.

Our easy solution was to buy a set of each, and return whichever didn’t look worse than the other. The next hurdle was shade shape. There were plenty of the normal cone-shaped covers. There were also plenty of degrees of varying steepness to the dimensions, tall ones, short ones, barrels versus sloped versus hourglass.

We agreed on the steeper narrower style, and then had one more agreement to reach. White or Off-white? I thought I was being daring by throwing blue into the mix to match the blue/maroon theme we were stuck with. I was scouring for blue shades to match our criteria, Jeff was wandering around one aisle over.

“Hey,” he called through the shelving, “Come here and look at these!”

I suppose part of my shock was that I was expecting to see a shade in some sort of shade of blue, but Jeff was pointing to an upper shelf, smiling from ear to ear. “I want to get these!” he declared as my eyes followed his movements. He turned back around with a 2-stack of leopard print lampshades.

“Those? ” I replied, “We can’t get those. They don’t match.”  “Match what?” he asked. “The blue and maroon,” I explained. “Who says they have to match?” he looked at me quizzically. “I just don’t think leopard print will look good,” I went on. “When people come to our house it’ll just look silly!”

“They’ll be in our bedroom!” Jeff exclaimed, “Who’s going to see our bedroom?!”  I shook my head and apparently gave him a look that said, “We’re not getting those.” He exasperatedly returned them to the shelf, throwing up his arms once they were empty.

“Why do you ask me?” he wanted to know, “When we’re just going to do what you want anyway!”

Jeff eyes showed his dejection. “Well, because…it… matters,” I stuttererd as my eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry,” I apologized. “You’re right. I do usually get my way.”  He stared at me incredulously.  “Well, don’t cry about it!” he exclaimed. “They’re only light shades!”

“I’m sorry,” I apologized, again. “If you want them, we’ll get them. Let’s get them. They’ll be fun and you’re right! Who’s gonna see our bedroom, anyway?”

I took them off the shelf again to emphasize my willingness.  Jeff took them from my hands and put them back.

“It’s ok.” he said. “These are kinda expensive, anyway. Let’s just get normal ones… so… white or off-white?”

“You’re sure?” I asked, giving him a watery smile. “You decide.”

He rolled his eyes. “It’s…  just…  light… shades.”

“I know, but I love you,” I sniffed. “I just want to make you happy.”

Jeff stuck his hands in his front pockets, rocked back a bit on his heels, looked at me like I was loon and seriously replied, “You always make me happy.”

“Apparently, not always,” I shot back.

“Geez,” he lamented, shaking his head. “Light shades…”

“Lamp shades,” I corrected him as we moved toward check-out. “Light bulbs, lamp shades.”

He chortled and smiled and then declared, “I’m pickin’ lunch.”

I’m sure wherever we went was wonderful, but I’d rather have the leopard light shades, now.

Quote for the Week:

2017 03 27 same side of the see saw jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Say:  See-Saw

Reduplication:  See-Saw

‘The Death of Common Sense’ See-Saw

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

2 Fries Short

My first encounter with a treadmill was 2001. Jeff and I purchased one mainly for him. His diabetes was starting to swing high and he was logically advised to lose weight.

As recommended, we went to a one-on-one meeting with a nutritionist. After discussing Jeff’s eating habits and work schedule, it was suggested that he continue to go through whatever drive-thru he would like. My eyebrows began to draw together.

The remedy was to downsize from large to medium. I squinted a little.

The last instruction was to leave 2-3 fries uneaten. Then, throw them away. I was not amused. The experience created another descriptive Jeffism;  a few fries short of a full bag.

Joining a gym didn’t make any sense with his unpredictable work schedule. So, we bought a piece of equipment just a few months before we moved from the Tecumseh townhouse to Adrian. We each used it a few times, and then it became a cliché coat rack.

Hindsight is interesting. I’m not going with that 20/20 thing, but I will admit now, there was a bit of merit to the advice Jeff was given. I was more than extremely unhappy when Jeff passed, a bit before that, too. When it finally hit me, 5 years after the fact, I needed assistance. I told the therapist I really wanted to take advantage of the gym that came with my Ann Arbor apartment. It seemed monumentally impossible, though.

The solution offered was to start by placing my sneakers at the apartment door. Then maybe in a week or so, I could put the shoes in a bag, add some socks…..  At some point, I would actually put a shoe on and tie it. Then in a few days, maybe I’d be able to put two shoes on.

That’s where I scoffed and interrupted and said that was ridiculous. If I’m going to put one shoe on, I’m also going to put the other one on.  As soon as I heard myself say that my frown turned into a teary smile. I got the point. It was French fries, again.

Start small, or start micro small, but start somewhere.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-17-two-less-fries-start-small-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Leave a Little:  Food on the Plate

Healthiest Fast Food:  If You Must

Beginner Walking:  10 minutes

Unresigned

To be quite honest, what absolutely attracted me to Jeff later irked me.

No matter what, he continued to believe in the best, in the future.

He cooked, he cleaned and I was happy just to come home to him. It was true on our wedding day, the days leading up to our wedding and for our shared life, always. The lyrics of our first dance said it best: You are my best friend, and you are where my heart is, and I know at the day’s end, I get to come home to you.

So, the part I couldn’t deal with was his acceptance of his situation. I was angry. I was hurt. I was terrified.

Jeff was not. He’d shrug and say, “There’s no point in worrying about what you can’t change.”

It’s taken me an awfully long time to figure out that I have not accepted that or much of anything, ever. My stance has always been, “If you don’t worry, you don’t care.”

To some extent we must be accepting of situations that are out of our control, and when appropriate, we must be averse to acceptance, as well.  Acceptance is an action, not an emotion. It need not be unhappy.

I am, however, currently admittedly resigned.

That happens when I find myself in a situation I do not like but am self-required to balance the spreadsheet that is my life. I really shouldn’t shuffle formulas or apply new variables. I can’t afford radical change, anymore.

That sort of change won out a few times in favor of fresh starts, great experiences. NYC, Nashville, MI – all the moving around and job changing would gently push me into a surface type of hope. After a while, a new unpleasantness would rise from my utopian vision, dragging me back into complacencies.

The latest unknown looming on the horizon, a river’s uproar, has sucked me back in. I am holding  just above eye level. 90% submerged, taking in big gulps of air on a down swell.

It’s good to know yourself. I know I tend to head toward the negative connotations of complacency. I over buy into the acceptance of this isn’t what I want (or like or need) but it’s too scary, too much effort too alienating to change.

Not wanting to go through the cycle again, I slide into resignation.

My New Year’s resolution isn’t tangible. It’s not measurable, calculable or quantitative.

It won’t change where I’m floating in life. There won’t be a “new year, new me.”

I plan to properly remove my emotion from my acceptance.

My resolution is to be unresigned.

Quote for the Week:

2016-12-27-my-news-years-resolution-unresigned-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Acceptance vs Resignation: Secular Buddhism

Accepting That:  Be Choice Making

When to Accept:  … or Reject

Pebble

 

Our travels took us to Sault Ste. Marie, where we found ourselves on another misty water experience: sailing through the Soo Locks.  In case you haven’t noticed, Michigan has a way of changing the spelling of a place. Mackinac; Mackinaw. Sault; Soo.

Anyway, we rode the locks, and it was fascinating. Mostly, because Jeff was fascinating. his pride in Michigan was deep. True, he’d lived here all his life, but I’ve been here 18 years and I don’t know the detailed history of towns, cities, parks, farms. He did, and he was happy to share that.

Jeff would fill in little parts that weren’t mentioned over tour radios. Folks who overheard would end up gravitating towards him, asking questions and being questioned in return. By the time we were done with whatever it was we were doing, we’d know a lot about a person. Where they were from, where they were going, what they did for a living, who their favorite NASCAR driver was.

At Tahquamenon Falls, Jeff explained the water’s amber hue, the impact of logging and impressively mentioned Longfellow. On the sunniest day of our journey, we stood overlooking the falls having unintentionally timed this stop a breath past peak fall color. As wonderfully as the cheap camera pictures came out, they don’t do it justice. I was posing at the rail of a scenic pier when a stranger offered to take our picture together. As strange as it seems, this might be the only picture of Jeff and I together on our honeymoon. I haven’t come across any others, yet.

Our second to last stop was Sleeping Bear Dunes. We thought about renting a Jeep to drive ourselves around the dunes, but decided a half-hour of driving time wasn’t that exciting. Instead, we opted for the guided tandem open-car tour. We learned about the environmental and erosion problems facing the area. Coming down from a huge mound of hilly sand, the tour glided to rest beside the lapping shore of Lake Michigan.

I was surprised by the number of tourists in our group who quickly shed their shoes in order to wade in. I didn’t. I did, however, dip my fingers into the chilly water, bringing up a small stone memento. Later, Jeff chided me for that, siting erosion. “It’s just one little pebble,” I argued. ‘Yes,” he said matter-of-factly, “but, if everyone who ever went there took a rock from the beach, that’d be millions of missing rocks!”

Then he launched another Jeff-ism:

“Nothing is ever a just pebble.”

 

Quote for the Week:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Lock Engineering: animation

Animated Falls:  Tahquamenon

Bonus Photos:

2016-11-29-nothing-is-ever-just-a-pebble-tahquamenon-falls-jakorte