Home, to You

We chose our first dance song because we loved how it represented us.

The first verse was Jeff. The fourth verse was me. Everything in the middle, was us.

The song was a reflection of our daily mutual amazement that we found each other. It was true every day, especially for me.

When we were dating, Jeff was the light at the end of my week.

When we commuted together, Jeff was the light at the end of my workday.

When he was on disability, Jeff was the light at the end of my commute. He was my home, in every sense.

I’ll be honest with you. Every evening, driving (or being driven) home from Ann Arbor to Adrian, the same thought would cross my mind. I terrified myself wondering; will today be the day that I get home and find him dead?

I would pull into the driveway frightened. I would walk into our home frightened, only to be soothed by Jeff’s voice ringing out or reassured by sonic-size snoring.

Coming home, though, meant more to me than that. Spending evenings with Jeff were what I lived for. We didn’t do that much exciting stuff, anymore, but we never lacked for conversation.

We’d talk about the news, recipes, sports, tv shows. We’d talk about the store, about the book or magazine Jeff was reading, my job or some random fascinating fact that he had just discovered.

Jeff loved the ‘who-done-it’s. Shows like Dr G Medical Examiner, the First 48 and 24. He was loyal to mystery books and tv series, such as Stephen King and House. He loved some reality and ‘reveal’ shows. American Idol, Extreme Makeover, This Old House; but had no taste for Big Brother or The Bachelor. Oh, and cooking shows!

There wasn’t a cooking show Jeff hadn’t seen at least once. Iron Chef, Alton Brown, Paula Deen, and reruns of Two Fat Ladies were a few favorites. Almost fitting into the foodie category, competitive eating and shows about farming, ranked up there, too.

It was impossible not to learn something new every day. It also wasn’t premeditated, meaning that he didn’t set out to find an interesting topic to share. All topics were interesting.

It was fun to listen to Jeff while he was on the phone with my brother, Greg. Their conversation always seemed to turn into a fact-fest in a “one thing leads to another” way, which they both enjoyed. It was also amusing that Jeff could out-talk my brother, as Greg would initiate the conversation’s end with, “Ok, well, it was nice talking to you… I’m gonna go now.”

Jeff was my home and my haven, my teacher and my mentor, my everything for such a short while. For a bit, I’d been envious of those who had him for longer; the ones with longer lists of memories than I.

I’ve come to understand time in a different way, though. It isn’t the amount of time we have, or the memories we have to hold on to.  It isn’t about how many. It’s about the important ones; it’s about the memories that hold on to us.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 12 It isn’t the amount of time we have jakorte

Listen to:  Home To You

 

 

 

Carded

Remember how I’ve mentioned, more than a few times, the key to a good relationship is notes?

I mean, love notes, silly notes, random unexpected notes.

We both loved notes: handwritten, typed, sticky, email, text, added to a homemade or store-bought card. On a scrap of paper, a bank deposit slip – in any way or shape or form. A few words, a smiley face; maybe just a heart. Little reminders that we were part of a wonderful “We.”

I have a lot of “first” cards. First card ever. First Valentine’s Day.

My first birthday. A card Jeff gave to me the first time I shared his birthday with him.

First Valentine’s Day and birthday as “Wife.”

All these little sweet and silly stories hold a wealth of history and such huge feelings.

Quote for the Week: (contributed by my editor. ;-))

“Even though post-it notes are removable and can be moved from place to place, somehow, the post-it notes written by loved ones stick forever.”

2019 01 22 carded 3 jakorte2019 01 22 carded 2 jakorte

2019 01 22 carded jakorte

 

The Way the Crinkle Crumbles

Back to the Crinkles:

The first issue, was that I proceeded to try and puncture the cookie with the toothy strength needed to break through our family tradition of over-caramelized undersides and dry snappy hardness.

As a result, I overly chomped right through the softness and took a mini-chunk out of the inside of my bottom lip. Reflexively, I attempted to shout like hurt people do, “Oh, ow!” Instead, on the inhale, I vacuumed some of the powdery topping (which, being unfamiliar with Crinkles, I didn’t realize was powdered) into my mouth and throat and very upper bronchials.

I spewed forth a spattering cloud of exhaled wheezing, followed by immediate tears; continuing with a deep barking coughing spell that seemed like it was never going to end. Jeff handed me a cup of presumably water, which turned out to be milk. Not fond of straight-up milk, I unhappily expectorated it before it got too far. Jeff’s eyes bugged wide, eyebrows rising toward his hairline in astonishment.

He grabbed a kitchen chair, rolled it over to me and pressed down on my shoulders until I was seated. Firmly patting me on the back, his face mere inches from mine, Jeff alarmedly asked if I was ok. I shook my head ‘no’ at first, but eventually, croaked out that I thought I would be. “Ok.” Jeff bobbed his head, clearing his face of concern. With my hands in his, hope in his eyes, and an adorable earnestness, Jeff took a deep breath, then asked, “So, how’d ya like it?”

He never did make me an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie, but believe me: the ones he made were surely enough. Snickerdoodles and Sour Cream cookies. Buttery Sugar Cookies and melt-in-your-mouth Spritz.

Soft Peanut Butter and rich Scotchies. Potato Chip cookies and Billy Goats. Almond Crescents and Thumbprints. Perfectly spiced Gingerbread, both, soft rounds and firm, but not tooth-breaking, rolled.

Anise Stars, which, without fail, he would purposefully mispronounce, then laugh out loud at his own  joke. No-Bakes, which I firmly argued against calling a cookie.

Later on, and only for us, Jeff spiced cookies with various degrees of heat. Habanero shortbread; dark-chocolate cake-based cayenne. Spicy icing and mini-cheesecakes flavored with an awesome heated line of dessert hot sauces called Toad Sweat. 

Oh, and what turned out to be one of my favorites – Crinkles. I would safely lick most of the sugar off of the pretty tops, before delicately biting to ensure injury-free enjoyment.

Quote for the Week:

2018 12 25 For good measure, the proper ratio of sugar and spice jakorte

Seriousness

The letter led to some good things. Calls from folks Jeff might not have spoken to in a few months, cheered him up greatly. Most of the calls that came when I was home were lengthy, full of laughter, and ended with some sort of promise.

“Yes, I’ll call you.” “Yes, I’m doing ok.” “Yes, I’m going to try harder.”

More people stopped at the store to see him, which he loved. He’d end up with a few new stories to tell me. Keeping current meant he was making new memories.

Jeff spent his time at the store talking to people, too. Other business owners, hot sauce heads, and entourages of brides and grooms – each and every one had a story to tell. Somehow, he always managed to extract them. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this one or twice, but truly, you only ever met Jeff once. After that, he was your friend.

I’m not going to say Jeff and his dad didn’t get along, but they weren’t always close. About the time Jeff and I started dating, Jeff and Roger, began to have more of a relationship. Our dating wasn’t the reason for that. It was just timing, the stars aligning, the universe sending peace, whatever you’d like to call it.

The three Korte men in my immediate life, Jeff, Eric and Roger, were always joking, laughing, guffawing, boisterous and generally loud. The loudness startled me at first, but it didn’t take long to figure out the Korte laugh was a genetic trait.

I enjoyed an abundance of that joyful and wonderful noise that to this day remains with me. I hear it in my head when I see something funny. I feel it in my heart and chest,  reverberating. If I’d have thought to record it, I’d probably have been able to sell it as a starter warm-up for laughter yoga. Or maybe I’d have just made a CD to play when I needed a reason to laugh, or just wanted to not laugh alone.

Also, genetic, I suspect, is the Korte tendency to smile and report all is right with the world, even when it wasn’t. There was only seriousness when there had to be seriousness.

Quote for the Week:

2018 05 01 I_d rather not have to say

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Serious: What it Means

Serious: Try Not to Be So

Serious: Fun

 

The Intersection

This is still not easy for me to accept, but I need to. I keep banging my head against the same brick wall. I am the Queen of the Love Concussion.

I keep flinging my heart against the same rough-hewn timbers, surprised again and again, as it slides and shreds, again and again.

Where parched ground meets life liquid, mud of my own making crawls along seeking holes to sink into.

If you keep watering the flood, it’s never going to dry. I know this.

I need to allow those crevices to solidify; to harden, flush with the surface.

On that note, I guess it’s time to start going where I’ve been meaning to go.

This is where I was headed when ‘A Year of Memories’ was born, September 2015. Except, we’re now 2 plus years in, and finally in the spot.

This is the Intersection.

The most important part of our saga: how we began a too short, but blessedly new and renewed life together.

It’s complex, but the launch was simple:

I answered the phone….

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 16 if we keep watering the flood jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links

Story: Goal

Story: Timing

Story: Write It (even if no one see it but you.)

Gingerbread (Hot House)

I can’t place the timing, which always irks me. I wouldn’t even be questioning the timing, if there hadn’t been that recent ‘50 years ago’ today newspaper story. That startled me into a memory, too.

I know what happened, but I’m not always sure how or why what happened, happened. So, on that note, I confess: I’m not at all sure how I got to the beginning point of the story I’m about to tell you. Obviously, some things had to have happened first.

Like the conversation, Jeff and I had. That’s easy enough to recall, because… Wait, wait. It could have been something that came up in a BNI meeting, but it would have had to occur at the end of September 2006. I can’t help thinking that would have been pretty far in advance. I suppose, though, as area business were looking ahead to the holiday season, it might not have been unreasonable announce plans for an open-house and contest.

It’s something Jeff and I talked about, were excited about and planned to do: enter a gingerbread house contest at a local, main street yarn store. I’m sure they carried more than yarn, but the first time I entered the shop wasn’t to shop. I was there to drop off our creation. Near tears, I didn’t linger.

Physically, it was only my creation, assembled in the weeks following Jeff’s death. I didn’t have much time, and I’d never made a gingerbread house, before. The ideas and enthusiasm were just as much shared as everything in our lives was.

Jeff started it, so I expected Jeff would be making it, too. But, there I was, a few weeks into widowhood, thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together. Perhaps, well probably, I was still in a sort of shock. Functioning and trying to keep moving along. I decided to keep the plan, and set out into the internet world of gingerbread and patterns and royal icing.

My edges weren’t straight, my technique was terrible. My royal icing either didn’t harden fast enough or hardened too fast to use. Eventually, I baked and sugar-solder assembled on a plain cardboard base something that happily looked like a lot house. I stared at the pile of decorations I’d amassed and the naked shell for a while wondering, “Now, what?”

I decided to let the structural bones set-up overnight and dragged out the top of our Tupperware cake carrier to protect it.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 01 02 A good overnight set could either make a lot jakorte

Bonus Photo & Story:

Tecumseh Herald Gingerbread House Jeff and Eric 1967

 

 

believers & broken snow globes & christmas ferrets

I love Christmas. In a completely different way than ever before. Before Jeff, I mean. And before after Jeff, too. Especially, in the middle.

I wish I could have spent a believer’s Christmas with Sally and Nannee. It’s only being a believer that makes it ok now. Well, more than Ok. My Christmas’s now are Thankful.

Oh, it’s still about the presents, but with a difference. I enjoy being the Christmas ferret. I’m sure I’m not the one out there trying to find something that will mean something more than just a gift. I listen all year in a kleptomaniac sort of way, hiding away personal tidbits. I suppose you could say I hoard memories.

One of which came to mind while I was drafting this week’s entry. The only thing that broke on our move from the townhouse was a Christmas gift we had purchased for Sally. I discovered it while my mother was helping us unpack in our new home. I didn’t grow up with snow globes. I know it sounds silly, but I didn’t know they could easily break.

It was irreparably broken. Another thing I didn’t know about real snow globes – the bottoms don’t twist off and globes aren’t always replaceable. I immediately burst into tears, and Jeff immediately promised we’d get another. It wouldn’t be hers but it would still remind me of her.

We made the trek to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth. It wasn’t winter but it never even crossed either of our minds that we wouldn’t find one there. Or that the particular one we were looking for would be discontinued. Still, we were well into the days of internet, so Jeff consoled me with the backup promise of finding it on line. He scoured, I scoured.

We both came up empty; just like the place in my heart I was sure would never mend from losing this piece of Sally.

In fact, it still bothers me so much that I interrupted my story myself just now, opened a new tab, and searched. My heart did a funny flip-flop as the very first image to pop up was my missing treasure. He was perfect. Just as I remembered. Even came with the original box. I couldn’t wait to buy him, my mind already jumping ahead: I’ll put it in my cart and then I’ll go get my wallet. I clicked on the image and a whole lot of other items came up. I carefully scrolled through and reviewed all 2 pages, twice. My shoulders slumped. Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.

But then again, it was. Just that easy to remember how much I thought it looked like her spirit. Easy to remember how her eyes lit up. Easy to remember her laugh. Just that easy to remember, it’s the memories that matter, not the matter of the memories.

Quote for the Week:

2017 12 12 Its not the matter of your memories jakorte 12 12 2017
Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Why We Hold On: Sentimental Items

Snow Globes: All About

And Just Because: Frosty the Snowman