That Looks Easy….

Jeff’s penchant for home improvement shows came in handy, sort of.

If you watch enough of them, you’ll absorb some basic knowledge. Most of that will need to be supplemented by online videos, step-by-step instructions or just jumping into the deep end to see how it goes.

Basic knowledge was enough to get me through numerous post Hurricane Katrina rebuilding missions with a construction based Michigan team, and various issues at home alone, later.

If Jeff was still here, he’d be telling humorous stories about some of our least successful attempts at home repair and renovation. We’d always start out thinking, “That looks easy enough.” We’d always end up bickering, and then, laughing at our bickering.

In mid-September, we finished an attempt to ‘easily’ replace the gate at the top of the back deck stairs. We needed one that  our dog, Sadie, wouldn’t be able to plow through, wiggle through or accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) open. She’d managed to escape a few times, in all those ways.

The installation, actually, went pretty well. We had it done in a little under an hour, and tested our work. That’s when we realized we’d installed it to open the wrong way, by setting it in place upside-down.

“I thought that seemed a little harder than normal,” Jeff commented. Also, more difficult than ‘normal,’ the hardware wasn’t easily removed. Parts of screws broke off or were stripped, nuts fell between the cracks and tumbled down our long flight of stairs.

A lot of banging, two trips to the hardware store and four hours later, we were finished. To celebrate, Jeff suggested we fire up our newly repaired grill and cook-out.

The grill had been another frustrating fiasco. A 15-minute fix turned into two-hours of gentle Jeff cussing while installing a new lighter thingy.

I was inside cutting tomatoes and onions and gathering impromptu picnic supplies, when I heard Jeff shout.

“What the?”

“WHAT the?”

“Hey!”

“HEY!”

“Come here, YOU!”

As I ran to the slider, his voice volume was over-excitedly escalating.

“HEY!”

“Ouch!”

“Come HERE!”

“OUCH!”

Stupefied, I watched him pull and throw chucks of sizzling beef over the 5-foot drop at the back of our deck.

“Jeff!” Alarmingly concerned about his mental state, I slammed the screen door open. Suspecting he was having some sort of serious negative medication reaction, I blurted out, “I’m right here! What are you doing?”

Startled, he turned quickly, giving me a incredulous look, like I was the weirdo in this situation.

His stop-arm reaction time was a bit slower than his body turning time. Set in motion for an airborne release, he lobbed a glob of barely cooked ground in my direction.

I watched it wobble in a somewhat graceful arc, my mental slow-mo calculating: no – that’s not gonna happen.

It happened. Direct hit to my face.

Quote for the Week:2019 03 19 Nothing is ever fool proof jakorte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cards, Stacked

There were obviously more cards from Jeff, but those were the ones I kept.

There were obviously cards going the other way, too – from me to Jeff.  Two at a time. Always, one funny and one serious.

When it came time to move out of our home, I pared down. I waded through our shared stacks. I discarded most of the me-to-him. My thought process was that he would never be reading them again, so there was no point in keeping them. However, I found two of them in the card box, amongst the him-to-me.

For our first anniversary, I handmade the serious one. It was just one simple sheet of plain red cardstock, plainly folded in half. The only embellishment added was a left-over gold foil, double-heart seal we’d used on our wedding invitations.

I wanted the message to stand on its own. The outside read, “I meant it when I said….” On the inside, I’d re-printed the vocal vows I made to Jeff on our wedding day.

I do not know which anniversary the second card was for. We only celebrated four of those, so it was either the second or the third or the fourth. Store-bought, it reminds me of the snowman card; same subject. Another way to answer to Jeff’s rote retort, “I don’t know why.”

The last two cards I saved from Jeff were life lessons for me. The subjects aren’t all that happy.

The first one came from an incident where I was once again harping about his health and bad habits and chewing tobacco. Jeff stood on one side of the bed; I was on the other side. “You must not love me very much,” I’d snarked.  “I’m trying,” he mumbled back. I shouted, “Stop TRYING and just do it!”

” I’M … TRYING…” he snapped back at ramped up volume. Stomping his feet and throwing his arms wide for exclamation, his eyes filled with frustration and failure.

That look broke my heart. He wasn’t a failure. He was just unfairly up against some highly stacked odds.  I knew no matter how much I nagged, Jeff quiting the killing tobacco wasn’t going to make him ‘get better.’

I just couldn’t understand why he’d choose to exacerbate and accelerate with vile chew. Hindsight, I know now it wouldn’t have mattered. We’d have argued a lot less if I’d realized that, then.

“Come sit with me,” I said. We sat on our bed, and held onto each other. “I don’t want you to die,” I whispered. “You wouldn’t be so lucky,” he teased, with quiet laugh. “I’m gonna live ’til I’m 80. You’ll see – I’m gonna be a grumpy ol’ man, just like my Dad.”

As unusual as it was for Jeff to have the last word in an argument, that was the end of that. He’d emphatically expressed he was trying, so I backed-off and let it drop.

Three days later, he handed me a card.

Quote for the Week:

2019 01 29 if someone says it better than you jakorte

That time when someone said it better; perfectly.

2019 01 29 if someone says it better than you slide 2 jakorte 01 28 2019

 

 

Tah Dah! (and other love notes)

We weren’t lighting the world, the state or even the city up, but the Michigan Hot Sauce Club was our baby. If we sold one or two of something, we’d order one or two more, plus a new product or two until we’d reach free shipping status. Jeff had long and real conversations with our suppliers. I came across many of them while going through his email after he passed away.

I also have a good number of interesting and humorous exchanges between us. At first, I held onto them accidentally. Clearing out email wasn’t even something I’d ever considered doing, for which I am thankful. I’ve held onto them for a long time, now, considering most of them are 12-15 years old. I haven’t shared them before, but now seems like a good time.  So, keeping in mind we were married in 2001, went through deaths of multiple family members and Jeff’s health was failing, here comes a small sampling of some of the best support we offered each other.

05/06/2004 Re; hello?

Me: I love you!

Jeff: wooo hooo!!!! can ya see me do the snoopy dance? ? ? you love me!!! and I love you!!!

05/10/2004 Re: ok… so…

Me: I love you more than the never-ending blue sky that is always around when you are. kisses. me.

Jeff: I think you just made my day … my week… my month… my life… I love youuuuuuuu

09/16/2004 Re: Christmas cards

Me: We have blank card stock, so we need envelopes, but here is my idea [for MHSC]…. Happy Jala-Days!

Jeff: sometimes I think I would like to crawl inside your head, just to see how you think up all your great ideas.

01/05/2005

Jeff: I can’t remember if I told you that I loved you this morning… so just to make sure…. I LOVE YOU! Jeff

01/19/2005 Re: American Idol

Jeff: Well shoot. We missed American Idol last night. But I really enjoyed snuggling up together and reading last night. I love you. Bubba

02/09/2005 Re: nothing but trouble

Jeff: You are the GREATEST wife in the world. I don’t know what I would be doing without you. Probably be locked in the basement at Gary & Mom’s is my guess. I’m so glad you came into my life. I hate it when I get short and grumpy at you. I feel like such a heel when I let myself do that. I think for Lent I will give up arguing with you. Oh, did I tell you lately that I love you? Well, just in case I haven’t…. I LOVE YOUUUUU!! If I could get up on the roof of OUR house, I would shout it from the rooftops for all to know and hear! Will you be my Valentine??

03/07/2005

Jeff: We can get schmaltz from the mustard guy

07/01/2005

Me: Almost quitting time. Looking forward to our long weekend! Do you know when the fireworks start?

Jeff: I’m hoping tonight when you get home. 😉

02/14/2006

Jeff: Gappy Valentine’s Day! oxoxox. I LOVE YOU!! TAH DAH! (He was missing a front tooth.)

06/27/2006

Jeff: it’s raining cats & dogs. I just stepped in a poodle!

08/31/2006

Jeff: I LOVE YOU!! TAH DAH!

09/22/2006

Jeff: Seasonings Affective Disorder = the need 2 kick things up a notch when they taste fine the way they are.

Quote for the Week:

2018 04 10 the secret to any good relationship sticky notes jakorte 04 10 2018

I Wish You Could Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Link:

Unfortunately, I’ve spent about an hour and a half searching for the source of our “Tah Dah!” It came from a TV program Jeff and I watched one night featuring a humorous inspirational blonde woman speaker; I believe from Australia. Her two key phrases and matching gestures were “Get Over It!” and “Tah Dah!”

Tah Dah.

Keto Parking

So, I didn’t fall off the wagon. I wasn’t involuntary tossed. I didn’t jump for fun. I simply parked my luge along the trail and wandered off believing I’d be keto-back shortly.

By now, a snowfall of sugar in various forms has covered up my tracks. I haven’t slid far enough away to lose sight, though. Which is one of those blessing-curse situations. It turned out to be a comfortable sleigh as far as rides go. I guess you could say I didn’t realize the smooth way an adaptive lifestyle works.

I thought the things I missed the most were good summer fare. Fruits and vegetables way too loaded with sugars and conversion complexity. I ate a pear one week; I bought 3 bananas the next. I added an apple, after that. As silly as it seems, initially, those things are truly cheats.

I can’t say I’m cheating, now. I can only say I’ll walk right by any piece of meat if there is an available cookie. Because, cookies are temporary. At least, they should be. Yeah, they are, actually, but not until I run out. The beauty of running out is non-replenishment. Unless, of course, you’ve got another oven ready round.

Then, it’s decision time. I’ve learned this much: if it’s there and easily available, whatever it is, it will be eaten. So, here’s how it’s going to go. What’s going to go down is all about what’s going to go down my gullet.

I was absolutely resolution-less last year. On purpose. I mean, I made an effort to come up with the resolution to just not resolve. I won’t be doing that again. 2018 will be my vague resolution year.

I don’t know that it absolutely necessary to buy into time/action/result formalities. Mostly because they haven’t helped all that much. Setting even a realistic goal, then realizing despite full-out effort from the outset, you’re not going to reach it too easily degrades to disincentive. Knowing where I want to be is pressure enough without adding a finite end.

Besides, an end isn’t the goal. The goal is just beginning. I don’t doubt I’ll make it back to the place I left it all waiting. Sometime soon. After New Year’s, of course.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 26 It is absolutely easier to resist temptation jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Food Spend:  Increases After Holidays

Detox without Gimmicks: Naturally, Seriously

The Cycle of Carbs: Processed and Processing

Club?

(First, an embarrassing tidbit. So, I’ve mistakenly miss-remembered a crucial detail about our store. It was not 10 x 10. All of the newspaper article clippings I’ve saved clearly say that the space was even ridiculously smaller at only 8 x 8.  This makes me laugh. As do the many news articles, which I’ll share coming up.)

Jeff got to thinking… maybe having ‘Tecumseh’ in our name was too specific, too limiting. “Maybe we’ll want to open another store, someday, in another town.” he adorably, optimistically supposed.

I told him I liked the way he was thinking, and got to thinking, myself, too. I threw out, “Michigan Hot Sauce Company,” but that still seemed plain. And, then, from nowhere, I surprised myself and Jeff, too, by stating, “Michigan. Hot Sauce. Club.”

“Club?” Jeff wondered aloud in my direction, “but, we can’t call it a club if we’re not a club…”

“Well,” I started, “technically… we could be.” Looking at our dream blueprint, I pointed out that we were halfway there. We were already planning a monthly newsletter mailing; we already were planning on a ‘club’ type frequent buyer card.

All that was missing was meetings.

“We’re gonna having meetings? About what?” Jeff wanted to know.

“Well, maybe not ‘meetings’ exactly.” I explained. “I’m thinking special club member invitation only taste tests. Cooking demos. You love hot sauce and know so much about it. Do you think we could ask our members share recipes and make a cookbook out of that?”

Jeff’s big grin split and lit up his face. “You’re a genius,” he said. “I love the way you think!”

With a wonderful name on our lips, a license number to provide, we went into fast action. By this time, we only had two and a half weeks left in our promise to be open in three weeks. Timing was important because we wanted to be ready by the big ‘Grand Opening’ announcing the newest stores in the mall on September 23rd, 2004, and to be sure we still enough time to get our name out there before the Christmas and gift giving season.

We split up to divide and conquer and briefed each other throughout the day and every evening on our progress.

I had: décor, licensing, marketing, banking, budgeting.

Jeff had: fixtures, locating a manufacturer for our salsa (because we didn’t have and couldn’t afford a commercial kitchen), and the important cornerstone of hot sauce.

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 17 its embarrassing to have to fact check your own life jakorte 10 17 2017

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

About That: Memory

Fact Checking: Memories

Broadway Cat and: Memories

 

Dream-Talk

In the few days before lease signing, we checked to see if there was another hot sauce store anywhere in our vicinity. There wasn’t. That was good.

We needed a license, but first we needed a name. I thought there was an advantage to having a Tecumseh store address and that Tecumseh should part of the name.

Tecumseh Hot Sauce Company and Tecumseh Hot House were contenders, but boring. We tried to find something that rhymed with our last name and made sense with what we would be trying to sell. That didn’t go well. It was impossible.

Jeff suggested Jeff & Jodi’s Joint. I debated whether or not that could be misconstrued for a bar or a head-shop. It also didn’t say anything about what we were trying to sell. For example, The Chocolate Vault in Tecumseh obviously sold chocolate. They sold other stuff too, of course, but at least it was specific enough.

We decided to keep working on the name game, after dinner. Over Jeff’s homemade tomato sauce and pasta, we dream-talked about what would make our store wonderful. A frequent buyer card, taste testing, grand opening mailing list, a good variety of product.

It was also important to get a solid idea of what kind of up-front cash we would need.

In retrospect, I don’t suppose it matters what type of retail space you have, if it’s only 10 x 10.

There are many advantages to limited size: cheap rent, not a lot of room for fixtures, limited stock space, and one person can cover the whole store by themselves. I know some of these don’t seem like good things, but when you have small, your expenses are small.

Sure, only 2-3 other people could fit in there at a time, but that was good for conversation, which Jeff was very good at. Because I’d worked in retail in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York City, I happily declared that this would prevent shop-lifting stock loss.

“But,” Jeff tsk-ed.,“…this… is… Tecumseh…” he finished with obvious hometown pride.

Clearing the table, I pitched another possible store name. “Hey, how about Jeff & Jodi’s Hot Spot?” I proposed. “Boy,” he exclaimed on a burst of laughter, “I don’t think of hot sauce when I hear that …. sounds like you’re talkin’ ’bout your lady parts!”

“Eek!” I giggled. “Fine,” I volleyed back. “How about just Jeff’s Hot Spot, then?”

“Nah,” Jeff said. “I don’t like that. We’re doing this together.”

Quote for the Week:

2017 10 10 where you come from effects how you feel about where you are

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Choosing a Business Name: Don’t

Choosing a Business Name: Do

Choosing a Business Name: Licensing

 

 

 

In Decision

The medications weren’t really helping, so his doctors decided to try alternative measures. TENS units, TED hose and PT were added to Jeff’s mix. None were working as well as hoped. When a sleep study proved he had alarming apnea, an oxygen concentrator and a PAP machine arrived in our home.

After our dog excursion, Jeff mentioned the puppies a few times. I shook my head each time. I thought we had enough troubles.

More than two weeks had passed and I couldn’t get the pups off my mind. Jeff was bored and lonely and, according to his doctors, beginning to show signs of depression.

As far as I could tell, Jeff was still Jeff. Still, I began thinking maybe a dog wasn’t such a bad idea. It’d keep him busy, provide companionship.  I was a little worried about what a puppy would put Miss Fred through, but then again, it was a big house. Freddie wasn’t fazed by much. She wasn’t a constant attention grabber or a snuggler. With the exception of drive-by leg-bumping, she wouldn’t get that close. She’d sit near you – maybe close enough for a pet, maybe not, and definitely not often. 

On my way out the door to work each morning, I left Jeff his daily list of to-do tasks jointly devised as a way to keep him occupied and helpful. We’d talk about it the night before and hand note what was needed on a pre-printed form I created. On Thursday night we wrote: make a grocery list, make dinner, wash bedding. Friday morning, finally in decision mode, I added an extra line item: call to see if any puppies are left. 

Within hours, he found out there were only two puppies left. On our weekend way back to the farm, Jeff of the Big Heart said, “You know… I’ve been thinking… maybe we should take them both, because they’re the last ones, and then one wouldn’t have to be lonely.”

I said, “I’m not even sure about one. I don’t think two is a good idea.”

“Well, how will I decide?” he asked. “You’ll just have to,” was my answer.

There was no commotion in the kennel, this time. Inside the barn, two babies slept peacefully in a hay-lined, low-sided wooden crib. Jeff lifted one in each hand, and set them both down both in the morning sun. While their tiny eyes adjusted into squints, I decided I’d try the ‘Kelsey’ test and plopped myself down on the ground to see what would happen. The next thing I know, I was playfully attacked by a little black and white streak. He ran around me in circles, jumping in and out of my lap and zealously yapping. Continually, and quite normal for a Jack.

The other simply one laid down near Jeff’s feet. The yapper bumped into her a few times, so Jeff picked her up to get her out of the way.

“Is she sick? Could she be contagious?” I asked, comparing her docile demeanor to her energetic brother. “I don’t think so,” Jeff answered. Because I was me, I adamantly encouraged him to ask. Because he was Jeff, he handed her off to me and set out for the house.

Quote for the Week:

2017 08 01 Comparing apples to apples isn_t always fair judgement jakorte 07 31 2017

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Apple: Facts

Apples: Applause

Puppy Diseases: To Watch For