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Thunder Storm

T with T and tea

Yesterday we had another huge thunder storm, so huge that for about seven minutes Trouble and I were huddled on the floor in the middle of this beautiful glass house wondering if the wind was going to blow all the windows in. I call this house a “glass house” because most of the walls are windows. I love that about the house, love that no matter which room I’m in the woods and lake are all around me, but in the middle of a fierce thunder storm, with rain pounding the glass and the trees bent by the wind, it’s a little terrifying. Mike took the picture above on his BlackBerry moments before the rain started, when the rolling thunder had first made itself known. Twenty minutes later all the power went out. The wind didn’t blow the house down, but it did blow over several trees, which knocked several power lines across the roads, which meant that we couldn’t leave the house, which meant I wasn’t going to make it back to the train station in Poughkeepsie, which meant I’d be spending another night in Esopus. Which was fine with me!

However, the downed power lines also meant we couldn’t turn on any lights or watch TV or get online or flush the toilets or wash our hands.  The water for this house comes from a well and is pumped through the pipes with electric pumps, so when the power goes out, so does the water. We had about a dozen gallons of bottled water in the basement, a bottle of wine, a lot of food, and a grill, so we decided the rest of the night would be kind of like camping in a super luxurious three-story tent.

We grilled meat and vegetables on the outdoor grill, in the rain, and we drank wine and when the sun started to set we lit candles and curled up with the dogs and whispered about the TV we would be watching if we could turn on the TV. And it was all fine and dandy until the sun completely set and the house was pitch-dark and suddenly I couldn’t relax. I was totally on edge.

“What was that?”

“What was what?”

“That sound.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“I think there’s someone upstairs.”

“There’s no one upstairs.”

“THAT! You didn’t hear that? That scraping sound?”

“It was probably one of the dogs.”

“Shhhh. Listen.”

“… …. …. …. … …”

“Ok, so it stopped. But I definitely heard something.”

I’m always afraid that with the loss of electricity will come the loss of civilization and before you know it, we’ll be attacked on all sides by brain-hungry zombies with gnashing teeth and rotting flesh. Even while Mike was roasting marshmallows for s’mores I was a nervous wreck. Even with chocolate and graham cracker crumbs dribbling down my chin, my hands were shaking.

Around ten o’clock we put all the dogs to bed and crawled in ourselves, a flashlight between us so we could both read. I was too jumpy to sleep, too jumpy to lay in the dark, but burying myself in a nice fictional romance was just the ticket. Then, at ten forty-five, I heard a strange sound. I froze, held my breath to listen. It was a low buzzing sound, so low it was barely audible. Was it a swarm of flies? The sound of a car coming up the road? When you’re in a glass house on the middle of eighty acres, the last thing you want to hear late at night during a power outage is a car coming up the road. I sat up and looked over at Mike, who’d fallen asleep with his face in his book. I was about to shake him awake when I realized what I was hearing: the gentle hum of central air. I reached over and flicked a light switch and the unnatural, gorgeous glow of electric light filled the room. I shook Mike awake anyway.

“Wha–what??”

I turned the light off. Turned it on again.

“The lights are on! Great! Now will you turn them off and go to sleep?”

He smiled at me and pet my hair and I felt like I could breathe again. So we turned off all the lights, made the house pitch-dark again, and I fell fast asleep. I do love my first-world trimmings.

And speaking of first-world trimmings, I suggest you head over to Kim’s Kitchen Sink and enter to win a $30 CSN gift certificate giveaway!

Yesterday — This and That

We started packing this weekend. Not Michael and I, Adam and I. Michael is taking care of eight Alaskan Malamutes who live on eighty acres of land in Esopus, New York, and so Adam and I spent Saturday in Central Park, then we went to SoHo to do a little shopping, and then we went back to my apartment and started packing. I didn’t want to. We’d shared an idyllic New York afternoon and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin it by packing my home into cardboard boxes. I hemmed and hawed and insisted on cooking a three course meal, which is laughable considering I only starting learning how to cook within this last year, I was obviously just procrastinating. However, Adam is the kind of guy who organizes his underpants by color and cut because he thinks it’s fun, so by the time I had the first course on the table, he’d all ready packed up several boxes of stuff. And I was relieved. It was little like ripping a band-aid off a wound, but once the book shelves are empty, what’s the point in putting off the rest? So we packed and we packed, until we ran out of boxes and only then did I realize how much crap Mike and I have. Seriously. Adam and I packed twenty boxes of stuff from the living room and the only reason you can tell is because now there is a huge stack of packed and labeled boxes along one wall. Mike and I have really got our work cut out for us.

But for now twenty boxes will have to be enough, because on Sunday morning I hopped a train to Poughkeepsie and Mike picked me up at the station and drove me to Esopus, and now I am sitting on a deck with my feet up, laptop perched on my knees, a cup of peppermint tea at my elbow, and I am looking at this:

My View

I don’t know if you can tell from the crappy photo I took with my computer (I forgot the cord that connects my camera to the laptop, so had to use Photo Booth instead) but there is a lake beyond those trees. A perfectly lovely shimmering lake, full of fish to fish if you like to fish, and snapping turtles, and frogs, and all kinds of other wonderful things. There is space for the doglets to run around, so long as I keep them separated from the herd Malamutes, who, friendly as they are, see ten pound dachshunds and fifteen pound chihuahua mutts as snack foods. Of course, if I did let them mingle, we wouldn’t have to worry about driving cross-country with two dogs.

Sunday afternoon it was very hot and so I put our doglets in the air-conditioned, furnished basement and spent my afternoon like this:

P and Ish.

That’s Printer, and he probably weighs about a hundred pounds. He likes to rest his head on your knee for a scratch behind the ears, and if you don’t comply, he will take one of his giant paws, and he will place it gently on your shoulder and push a little. And then huff an exasperated sigh, as if to say, “I ask so little of you, human. PET ME ALL READY.”

This place is heaven. The space, the green, the crickets, the humming birds, the dragon flies, the wind in the trees, it’s all absolutely heaven. It’s a perfect reprieve from our impending move.

Malamute Footrest

Malamutes make good footrests.

T and TT

When Trouble wants to sit in your lap, you let her. All ninety-five pounds of her.

EDIT: This is my 100th post at A Serious Girl! (Just felt like I had to mention it.)

I love you, but

Me: Do these need to go in the laundry?

Him: I don’t know.  Sniff ’em.

Me: … I love you, but I’m not going to sniff your shorts.

Him: You know you want to.

Me: If you wanted me to want to you’d have married a gal with one of those fetishes.

Overheard at our table

Me: If I had a blood clot in my leg, would it hurt really bad?

Him: It would be the worst pain you’d ever felt in your entire life.

Me: Really?

Him: Take the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your life, and multiply it by ten.

Me: Because I’m having this little shooting pain in my leg and I was worried it was a blood clot.

Him: It’s not a blood clot.

Me: You’re handy to have around.  I think I’ll keep you.

*kiss*

On our favorite Thai place in Thai Town, Hollywood

Him: If I can’t see the little old Thai ladies cooking in the kitchen, we’re leaving.

Me: Ok.

Him: And the only reason I won’t hate you for dragging me away from them, all the way to New York where all the Thai food is heinously Americanized, is because they’d started the renovations before we moved.

Me: Wait … what?

Him: I’m just saying, it’s grounds for retroactive resentment.

A Serious Weekend

On our way to wonder at William Kentridge.

*love in an elevator*

*how to commute*

*how to commute*

Ladies Home Journal

*a perfect table in a perfect dining room for a perfect party*

birdling

*from the devil's gaping maw*

washing windows

*then the one on the left waved at me and I died from embarrassment*

*all photos courtesy of my Verizon Wireless Satan Owns My Soul BlackBerry

White Devils and Stolen Dogs

Monday afternoon was sunny and gorgeous and because we knew rain was predicted for the rest of the week, Mike and I decided to take the dogs to the off-leash park.  We stuffed our pockets with treats and poop bags and tennis balls and were on our way.  A few blocks from home, while Valentine was crouched to do her business, a homeless man with a long grey beard walked up and reached out for her.  Thinking the man was trying to pet Valentine, who does not like to be touched by strangers, Mike leapt between them, laughing and warning to be careful because the little yellow one bites.

She doesn’t, actually, but she is an unpredictable little dog and while most days she’d froth at the mouth and lunge at anyone trying to pet her, that day she just squatted by the tree, doing her business.  She didn’t seem at all bothered when the homeless man began chanting and petting the tree under which she pooped, but I was not pleased and neither was Mike.  We couldn’t wait for her to finish and when she was done we couldn’t walk away fast enough.  Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw that he was following us.

I wanted to believe he was just headed in the same direction, but it was a little disconcerting that he insisted on walking so close to us.  When he started chanting about white devils and stolen dogs I got a little nervous.  I looked over at Mike and he grinned and suggested that when we get to the market, I give him the dogs and go inside, and let him talk to “our friend”.  So I stayed calm, because my husband had a plan, and it was a good plan.  The market was less than a block away and I could all ready see the usual crowd gathered in front.  I was sure that once we were surrounded by people the whole thing would dissipate and Mike wouldn’t even need to address the guy.

For the next part of the story to make sense, I need to explain that our neighborhood market is not like those sprawling, glittering Mecca’s of rare wines and organic canned soup you find in suburbia.  Our market is a tiny, dingy market with aisles so narrow you can’t fit a cart through them.  It’s so small it could fit in the deli section of most suburban super markets.  It’s so small that when I stand at the checkout paying for my groceries, my butt rubs against the butt of the cashier at the checkout behind me.

So when I got inside the store and realized the man had followed me in, I kind of freaked out.  I ducked into the cereal aisle, walking so fast I was practically running.  I looked over my shoulder and he was there.  I started feeling claustrophobic.  My heart was racing, my breath quickened and my limbs tingled.  I turned into the canned food aisle and the man followed me.  The next time I looked over my shoulder he waved his hands in the air, bared his teeth and growled.

To be continued…

I had a dream last night

The other night I dreamt that Mike and I were hiking the JMT, something he did with his brother in real life last summer, and that we’re planning to do together summer after next.  In the dream we are crossing a narrow, wobbly bridge, the kind of bridge that seems to be suspended from heaven, that looks like it will evaporate if you stare at it too hard.  The bridge hangs over a ravine, so high up there’s nothing below us but sky.  We’ve made it all the way from one end to the next and now have the arduous task of climbing from the foot of the bridge to the lip of a cliff.

A soft wind blows and the bridge sways.  Clouds lick at our ankles, whisper a warning: Don’t look down!  The end of the bridge is at least three feet from the lip of the cliff; we’ll have to lean forward as we reach up, over our heads, grab hold of the ledge and pull our bodies up and through a small crack in the granite.   The land ahead of us is green, flowering, pristine, exquisite.  We are bathed in dappled pools of sunlight, but the threat of danger cannot be shaken, the risk of losing grip, a slight misstep, a fall to our death.

I close my eyes.  I know I can do this with his help.  I know that as long as he’s there I will be safe.  He tells me where to place my hands in the rocks, how far to lean, which way to stretch.  I listen carefully, let his words guide me.  In a moment my feet leave the bridge and I am suspended, clinging spider-like to the side of the mountain, eyes squeezed shut, Mike’s voice in my ear.  My body feels weightless, the breeze plays with my hair, the sun shines warm on my face.  And then I am there, standing in a field of wild flowers, and Mike is laughing.  We did it.

I woke up thinking, “That is what marriage is like.”

I keep trying to put my finger on that impulse, the half-conscious realization, “that is what marriage is like.”  But I’m not sure what I meant.  In An Open Life, Joseph Campbell says, “Marriage is an ordeal.  It means yielding time and again.  That’s why it’s a sacrament.  You give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship, and when you are giving, you are not giving to the other person, you are giving to the relationship.  And if you realize that you are in the relationship just as the other person is, then it becomes life-building; a life fostering and enriching experience, not an impoverishment, because you are giving to somebody else.  This is the challenge of a marriage.  What a beautiful thing is a life together; is growing personalities.  Each helping the other to flower, rather than just moving into the standard archetype.  It’s a wonderful moment when people can make the decision to be quite astonishing and unexpected, rather than to become cookie-mold products.  Failure to recognize that is the main reason for the high divorce rate that we experience today.”

Mike and I will soon celebrate our four-year wedding anniversary.  We haven’t been married very long, in the grand scheme of things, but we have learned a lot in our four years of marriage.  One of the things I’ve learned is how little people in general value marriage.  How quick they are to judge, turn their noses up, crack jokes about tuna casserole and joint bank accounts.  I’ve learned not to tell anyone when Mike and I have an argument because people are too quick to jump to conclusions, suggest other fish in the sea.  I’ve learned to ignore the rolling of eyes when I say I’ll check with Mike before making plans, or when I decline a second round of drinks because my husband is waiting at home.  I’ve learned to ignore the looks of pity, turn my back to the whispers of lost independence, pretend not to notice the comments about how fun I “used to be”.

Being married isn’t about falling in love and having a fancy wedding and then going about life as usual.  Marriage changes everything.  It’s not about me anymore; it’s not about what I want or what’s best for me or what makes me happy.  I’m married now.  It’s about us; it’s about what we want, what’s best for us as a family, what makes us happy.  I promised to love him and honor him though richer, though poorer, through sickness, through health, until my death parts us.  They’ll tell you that about kids – that once you have kids you have to put them before yourself, you have to think about their needs before you think of your own.  That’s true for marriage too.  No, I won’t have that second drink because the man I promised to devote my life to is waiting at home and honestly?  There isn’t anywhere on Earth I’d rather be than curled up in his arms.  I don’t care if you think I used to be more fun because when shit hits the fan and the world starts spinning out of control, he’s the one who’s going to take my hand and help me through it.  He’s the one who promised to love me and honor me and cherish me.  He’s the one.

Marriage is an ordeal.  It’s a union to be valued, treasured, respected and cared for.  It can be difficult and frightening, there is always the risk of failure, a slight misstep, a fall to our death.  But we’re bathed in dappled pools of sunlight, the wind in our hair and a laugh on our lips.  Marriage may not be right for everyone, but it’s perfect for me.

wedding

Humphf.

Me: We should rent that new movie about Darwin  You’ll love it.  Your girlfriend’s in it.
Him: My girlfriend?
Me: That actress you’re so in love with.
Him: Cate Blanchett?
Me: Wait.  I thought you had a thing for Jennifer Connelly?
Him: Yeah. I’d marry ’em both.
Me: Fine.  Whatever.  I’ll still be the youngest.

Inspired by that kid in the red striped t-shirt.

Last night Mike helped me make one of my dreams come true.

P2160007

Mike grew up in Michigan so he knows a thing or two about snow.

That’s right.  One of my dreams was to build a monster out of snow.  Call me crazy, I won’t deny it.  I grew up in California, the land of perpetual sunshine.  Before I moved to the City I could count the number of times I’d seen snow on one hand and still have fingers left over.  As a child I was a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes and I always believed that if I had been lucky enough to live in a place with snow, I’d be the kid building wild snow scenes in the yard every day after school.

Then we moved to the City and it was three years before we got enough snow, enough sticky snow, to build anything.  I started small and with the help of three little girls who’d never built a snowman before:

Photo9502

The abominable snow lump.


A few days later, Adam and I got a little more advanced.  But then, Adam has a lot of snowman-making experience:

P2140031

Frosty the snowman and his trusty sidekick, Freezy the snowdog.

Last night I got home from work around five and dragged Michael from his warm nest in front of the computer to the park around the corner.  It was perfect snowman-making weather and I was determined to take advantage of it.

P2160014

Snowzilla tramples everything in his wake!


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Snowzilla has trampled a car and the people, mouths agape, run screaming. But ah ha! A tank is on it's way to shoot missiles at the monster!


P2160017

Let your imagination run wild...

Warm, still, calm, quiet.  Just Mike and I, mittens full of snow, snow up to our knees, throwing ideas around like snowballs.  “How about a tank?”  “Ah! His tail looks great!  How’d you do that?”  “What if he’s tromping a car under his toes?”  “Here, try this for the arms.”  The sun went down and it started snowing again.  People walking by pointed and exclaimed, snapped photos.  It was a perfectly perfect evening.

Tips for Happy Couples, #2

Cultivate common interests After the passion settles down, it’s common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don’t minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.

Mark Goulston, Ph.D.