Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas day I was sick.

I woke in the morning feeling a little funny in the tummy. Not too off, though. We FaceTimed my daughter and her husband in Florida and the three of us here in South Dakota sat down with the two of them in Florida and opened gifts together. We had a fun time.

Afterwards we started to gather our things together to leave for Sioux Falls to spend the day with my brother and his family. We'd be picking my mother up on the way.

I was feeling a little punkier all the time and finally decided not to go. Tim, of course, didn't think that was a good idea. He suggested I could sit in the back seat of the car and sleep on the way to my brother's home, which is a two hour drive. I declined. I knew this was not that kind of not feeling well.

I'm glad I chose to stay home.

I slept all day. In bed, getting up only to use the toilet. Three times. That's it. No food. A occasional sip of water. I knew I should be drinking more - knew that I would be dehydrated, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Every muscle, every joint in my body screamed in pain.

I ignored all noises from my phone until about 5:00 pm when it rang incessantly. It was Tim. They'd hit a deer about 45 minutes from home, on the way home. Everyone was fine. Good. I went back to sleep.

He called again. Gave me the details. Nice. Of course, being sick as a dog, I was happy they were all okay, and that's all I cared about. I could tell that Tim was very shook up. He said that our daughter Katrina was taking care of the details, so I knew all would be fine. He didn't need me. I wanted to go back to sleep.

The next morning at 8:30 I get a phone call from my loving husband. "How are you feeling?" he wants to know.

"Ok," I respond. Better, but not exactly okay, is the real answer. He continues, "I know you're sick, but I will feel better when you've called the insurance company and done a follow up with them and the sheriff's office and the body shop. Then I will know that everything is being handled. You'll have to get another car for us to use, too and find out if ours is actually totaled and if it is start the process of getting another car."

Seriously? Can't I just die in peace?

Apparently not.

After an hour or so, I do manage to get out of bed, shower and dress. I do manage to make a few phone calls and get another car lined up for us to use. And yes, our dear little Poppy is totaled and so I start the process of finding another one, which, fortunately, the salesman was able to locate. Poppy, Jr. She'll be here in about a week.

I'm just so thankful that my husband is so considerate when I am sick. (Please note the sarcasm.) I used to think I wanted to die before him, so that I wouldn't have to clean out his storage sheds. Now I'm not so sure. Number one, he no longer has the sheds and number two, I don't think I want to die still having to take care of all the details of our life together.

I think I'll let him die first. That was when my time comes, I might be able to die in peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

More to this Story?

I don’t believe I will ever get this figured out. 

Last week my dear husband came home from work and told me that a man we know, Fred so and so, wasn’t doing very well. 

I knew that he had been sick for quite some time, with cancer. However, he has still been working - I’d just seen him at work the day before. So my response to Tim’s comment was, “Is that right?. He was at work yesterday, cheerful as ever.”

Tim acknowledged that he, too, had seen him at work that week. And that was the end of the subject. 

A few days later we were eating supper and Tim said, “I guess Fred is home now.”

Since this comment was totally out of the blue and unrelated to anything else and didn’t contain a last name, I asked, “Fred who?”

He filled me in with the last name.

“What do you mean, he’s ‘home’ now?” 

That’s when I found out that the week previous, when Tim had told me he wasn’t doing very well, that he had been taken to the hospital in the Twin Cities, had been told that there wasn’t much they could do for him, and now he was in Hospice and back in his hometown. 


We went from “Fred’s not doing very well” to “Fred’s on his deathbed” in four days and you knew this all along, but just didn’t tell me? You led me to believe that he was still working and was just struggling a bit more than usual? You knew that he’d been taken to the hospital in the Twin Cities and didn’t pass that information along? 

I was shocked and more than a little displeased. Tim didn’t seem to think he had messed anything up. I just shook my head. How oh how does this world manage to function with men in charge? It certainly explains why everything is so messed up, that’s all I can say.

Of course, Tim contends that I didn’t ask the right questions. Because if I had asked questions, he would have told me the details. 

And I say that anyone with any sense would have filled in a few details right off the bat. Like saying, “Fred was taken to the hospital.” Then my response would have been one of surprise,

“Really? Wow! I just saw him at work yesterday! He was so cheerful!” 

I mean, seriously, the entire conversation would have gone differently and I would have gotten the information that Tim was actually trying to convey to me. 

I suppose I should know this by now. I suppose after 36 years of wedding bliss (???) and a couple of years of courtship, I should have this figured out, and should know that pretty much everything Tim says is superficial and needs to be probed. Right? Wouldn’t you think I’d have that figured out? 

I guess I need to train myself to start asking, “Is there more to this story?” That is maybe all it would take. A simple question. 

Hmmm. New Years is approaching. That could be my resolution. A pretty simple one that I might actually be able to achieve. “Is there more to this story?”

Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Terri Practical Weber

I had a conversation with my younger daughter the other day that gave me a bit of pause.

She called me on the telly telling me she had a question for me. A rather vague question, she said, but she needed to ask it. 

And then she popped the question. “So, I am thinking about getting you a Christmas gift that is not exactly practical.”

My heart leapt. 

She continued, “I mean, it could be, depending upon how you choose to use it. But really, it’s not terribly practical. And I don’t know….”

I interrupted her, all excited, “Well, Alex,” I said, with more than a bit of sarcasm in my tone, “My middle name is not exactly Practical.”

OH MY GOSH! This was such exciting news to me! I might actually get a fun, dumb, exciting, not expected, surprise for Christmas. That would be so wonderful.

She totally missed my excitement and sarcasm. In fact, I don’t think she was even listening to me. So then she started to back off. “Well maybe it’s not the best idea. I really think you’d like it, and like I said, it could be practical, I think, but I’m not sure you’d see it that way.”

I quickly clarified that I would absolutely love to get a non-practical gift.

But I gotta wonder, where oh where in the world did she ever get the idea that I ever wanted a practical gift at Christmas or at any other time?

I am the kid in this family, for goodness sakes. I am the one who refuses to grow up! I am the one who buys practical things as I need them. I certainly don’t want them for Christmas or for birthdays. 

Now I know I married into a family of practical gift giving. I know that the tradition is to go shopping together and everybody picks out what they want and then someone else buys it, wraps it up and gives it to them at Christmas time. Or at the very least, we make out lists of the exact items we desire and give that to those who will be buying for us and then they buy from that list. 

This completely goes against my grain. In my opinion, there is no point in even giving gifts if we’re going to do it that way. 

Christmas are supposed to be like when we were kids. Or at least like when I was a child. On Christmas Eve my family would crowd around the tree, piled high with beautifully wrapped gifts for everybody. I never knew what was in them. 

Well, that’s not strictly true. One year when I was about eight or so, I peeked and found all my gifts before Mom got them wrapped. I tell ya what, that was the most disappointing Christmas ever, so I never did that again. I am definitely a quick learner. 

So, we’d all four kids dig into that pile of presents and about 3.2 seconds later we’d emerge from the pile of wrapping paper all aglow with the exertion of unwrapping packages and then we’d sit and sort through all the treasures and actually figure out what we’d gotten. It was totally glorious. 
Unfortunately, I also learned from my new family that the proper way to open gifts is one person at a time, one gift at a time, so I never let my kids just dig in and have at it. I totally regret that now. Bad, bad parenting on my part. If we are ever all together for Christmas again, we are going to have a present-fest. I will make sure there are dozens of gifts for each of them, even if it’s just a rock or something like that in each box, just so they can have the thrill of tearing through them at breakneck speed and be all winded and rosy-cheeked when they are done. So that they have to find their ways out of the deep pile of wrapping paper, and emerge covers with bows and pretty ribbon. That’s what Christmas gift opening should be like. Not this one present at a time, oh wait, we need to throw that gift wrap away and make room so we can see the next person open their present crap. 

Anyway, so this year, I think I might be getting a fun gift. Not an electric toothbrush or screwdriver or book or slippers. All gifts that I truly love, I truly do, but I think I might be getting something fun and silly and worthless and something that is just, well, non-practical. 

I’m already happy just thinking about it. 

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who Am I Kidding?

Who am I kidding?

That’s what I want to know.

For the past three years I have been dreaming about reopening a little shop. I’ve continued to do some custom framing on the side - after closing my framing and gift shop in 2004 I kept all the equipment for custom framing - and have done a little here and there for myself and for others. But I haven’t had a supplier for product. Which meant that once my inventory of mat boards and length moulding was used up, I was pretty much out of business.

So then I contacted my old supplier, who is still one of the leading wholesalers in the industry. They have pretty strict standards on who they sell to and I wasn’t even sure that I would qualify - not having a real storefront with real business hours. But they agreed to take me on and so I decided it was time to get back into the retail world. 

Except that a full year went by and I still didn’t have an actual retail space set up.

I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to convert one bedroom in our house to a retail studio. I wanted to set up an area for people to be able to come to select mats and frames for their artwork and such. I also wanted to display my handcrafted items in this same space. I would be open by appointment and by chance, as well as having actual store hours a couple of days a week. 

The problem was that I could never quite get things into order to accomplish this goal. For one thing, I was never home long enough to do it. For another, we’ve been doing this house remodel that is dragging on for what seems like centuries and everything is in shambles. Who wants people walking through their home when it looks like a cyclone has just gone through? Even I don’t relish that thought.

A few weeks ago, however, I received an email from a potential customer - a new customer. Someone who didn’t know me, who was not familiar with my work from the 18 years I had a business in town. She had questions about my experience. She wanted to see my studio. So, with more than a little trepidation, I bit the bullet and set a date to officially open. 

After all, there’s that old adage that one is never financially ready to have a baby, right? I figured this was kind of the same thing.

And then Tim and I set about getting things into order. We contacted the carpenter to see if we could get things moving along. And Tim and I actually got motivated to work at a much faster pace on the remodeling things that we could be doing. 

Which is awesome! Except that in the process of doing more carpentry/remodeling work, we made an even bigger mess. Seriously. I don’t think my house has ever looked this bad. 

And so my first day of being open the new framing customers showed up. And so did some drop in customers. All went well, I had a very successful first day, but oh my gosh, it was so embarrassing. Incredibly embarrassing. 

And I don’t embarrass easily, so that is saying a lot.

But the worst is over, and the house is still a mess. But we are actually making progress and my goal of having it done by Christmas may be realized. Of course, the goal was for Christmas of last year, but beggars can’t be choosers, now can they?
All in all, what this brings to mind is the new saying that is rapidly becoming very popular: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” 

Seriously, I think it was written just for me.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Solitary Helper

One thing I have discovered about myself is that I prefer to work alone.

This tends to surprise most people, as I am a rather social person. And a very chatty individual. But when I am working on a project, I am quiet and focused and I don’t like interruption. 

When I was in high school we were expected to be silent and attentive to the teacher during our classes. If we were given a reading or study assignment, we were to read or study soundlessly, not disturbing others, using our minds and not our mouths. 

I struggled with this. Sitting still and studying was not something I did well. In fact, remaining mute while the teacher lectured was also not something I did well. I preferred to be otherwise occupied, either chatting with one of my classmates, reading a novel or writing in a journal. Listening to the instructor was just, like, well, so boring. 

Except during art class. During art class we listening to the instructor, which was interesting, and then we were to set about our art project. And we were allowed to visit in hushed tones while we worked. 

Art was the one class that I seldom talked in. Because when I am busy working on art, I have to hold my tongue in such a fashion that talking is not possible. 

But really, when I am entranced in an art project, I don’t talk. I don’t hear. I pretty much zone out the entire world. So I prefer to be by myself. I’ve tried listening to audio books, but I don’t hear most of what they are saying, so that doesn’t work. If someone wants to tell me something, I have to stop whatever it is I’m doing and seriously focus on them in order to pay attention to them.

And when I am asked to assist someone else with a project, well, I can’t do that either. The other day the carpenter was at our house to install some built in bookcases. I needed to be there to answer questions about how I wanted the project done. I spent an hour with the man, who is a wonderful, delightful, talented carpenter. It took every bit of my will power to stay there with him, to stay focused and to not run off and find something else to do. 

Mostly I just stood there while he talked (to himself, I think, since I wasn’t really paying attention) about distances, measurements, widths, and such. Periodically I would hear what sounded like a question, so I would tune in and figure out what he needed to know and give him an answer. Then I’d move off into dreamland again while he continued to discuss with himself what he needed to do. 

This is agonizing work for me. After he left I called my hubby and said, “I just spent the most horrible hour trying to pay attention to the carpenter.” Tim just laughed - he knows exactly how hard this is for me, because with him I am not so self-disciplined. When I am “helping” Tim, I always wander off to find something else to do and he has to come find me. This exasperates him. And it makes all of our projects take twice as long to do. But it helps me keep what’s left of my sanity, so I think it’s worth it. 

I suspect Tim would question the whole sanity statement, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.