Tag Archives: marriage

A Window of Opportunity

I climb out of the truck and reach for the house key on my key chain.  Which now has only one key, the truck key.  Oops.  I removed the house keys from both our key chains yesterday.

One of my jobs was sorting all of the keys, separating and labeling them for the new owner and it dawns on me that in the excitement of the Title Company’s call — “The papers are ready to sign!”


— I’d grabbed only my truck key as had the Bearded One.  We are, for the first time since moving here seven years ago, locked out of the house.

“Call Kathi,” the Bearded One says, taking charge.  “I’ll look for an open window.”

“Roger,” I say.  I leave a harebrained message for Kathi the Realtor.  Her electronic realtor gizmo can open the official realtor box with a key inside.  Maybe she’s nearby.


We hardly ever leave, I think, but for one reason or another we’ve left the house every day this week.  Garfield knows something’s up, possibly even that we’re all leaving soon.  He walks around the living room regularly inspecting his own cat carrier and luggage (he’s being adopted by my niece and her husband and 18 month old daughter) as well as the fascinating 4’x4’x4′ cube of stuff (mainly our tools) we are shipping to Hawaii.

stuff to Hawaii 003

The Bearded One circles back around the house to report he’s found an open window, the downstairs bathroom, and he’s going to fetch a ladder from the barn.


Kathi calls back and I explain and thank her for her willingness to come all the way from Tacoma (half hour) with the key to the key box, but we will get in, no problemo.

Meanwhile, the Bearded One is determined to save the day.  He props the ladder against the house, and heads up to climb in through the teeny window.


“I am so much better than you at wiggling through tight places,” I say, and he takes this is as a challenge.  Yeah, right, his expression says.  We have a wee argument as I hold the ladder.

He carefully removes the screen and hands it down to me.  Then he slides open the window, examining the 9″x20″ opening and the toilet below.

I steady the ladder and watch as he leans sideways, angling his head and arms and chest through.  Then he drops his head down toward the toilet and all he has to do is get his hips through, and they will not go.

A sad state of affairs, and I am truly concerned that he not hurt himself, but, dang it, he was so insistent, and now….oh my lord….he is kicking his feet wildly, trying for purchase against empty space, stuck in the bathroom window 10 feet off the ground.


I don’t make near enough effort to stifle my laughter.  The Bearded One is mad, but also contrite.  This apparently is a bit less humorous to him right at the moment.

We have helped each other in every way we can these past busy weeks, holding each other tenderly when we are both exhausted and a bit scared (me) and talking things through when we’re (me) grumpy with new computer stresses and playing out little disaster scenes in my head, and we are together and he is my heart and soul.

And here I am laughing at him.  I apologize.  He’s fine.  He grins.

“I thought I was skinnier than that window,” he says.

I wiggle through the window in seconds, drop down head first with one arm extended.  I couldn’t have done it without the toilet right there below the window, I explain later, modestly, after having saved the day.


I crawl down the toilet onto the floor, slowly kneel then stand up, brush myself off and trot through the house to open the door.  “We’re in!” I say — if only for a few more days.

The Invitation

Somewhere in the dark hollows of my disoriented sleepy brain, I hear a car door slam.  My eyes adjust to the dim room and I take out my earplugs. What was that?  What time is it?


Another slam, and my eyes are wide open.  It’s 5:23pm.  Dusk.  Someone is in the driveway.  Well, okay.  We’re not expecting anyone, but this happens even out in the country.  Deliveries, politicians, clean-cut-polite-young Mormons.  How do they find us?  The Bearded One is downstairs in the deep end of his own late-afternoon autumn nap after working on the road all morning, filling the first potholes of the year.


I’ll just peek out the window.  No need to sound the alarm, but I need to check.

I squint through the branches of the cedar tree that hides our bedroom window.  It’s a silver minivan parked at the end of the driveway.  Our old neighbors!  I see Batman circling the van, urging his parents out.


We knew they might drop by sometime this week from an errand they had close by.  We invited them.

“They’re here!” I shriek to the Bearded One, but it comes out garbled.  I take the little nightguard out of my mouth, wipe my sleepy spit, and quietly shout “They’re coming up the driveway!”  I slip out of my warm bed and hobble to the bathroom.  I clip my wild hair into a ponytail, and look into the dim mirror. What day is this?


The Bearded One moans.  “Whaaaa?”

I bump into the bathroom doorway to holler down to him.  “Hansel, Gretel, and Batman!”


“Honey, get up!”

The Bearded One mutters something, but I can tell he is up now because I can hear his belt buckle jangling.


I find my socks and slippers, and yank them on as I peek out the window.  “All five of them are in the driveway!” I call out.

We love these kids — ages 9, 7, and 5 — and have missed them since they moved away this past June.  We saw them for the first time in 4 months last week — was that just last week?  They stopped by after Batman’s dentist appointment, and we took them up the trail to Jake and Ruby’s grave.

Trail 2 002

Trail 2 004

Trail 2 009

They marveled at the dark autumn forest, the branches and logs they had earlier hauled to line the edge of the trail, artifacts from ancient times.

I hear the toilet flush downstairs and I know that the Bearded One is functional.  Garfield looks at me from the bed as if I’ve gone insane.


That’s when I wonder why I haven’t heard a stampede up the front deck steps, or even voices.  I decide to check their progress one last time before going downstairs.  I look out the window.

No van.  No people.  The driveway is completely empty.  I heard nothing.  This is impossible.

They must have decided we were napping, I think.  One of us is usually outside or in the kitchen and greets them, and they are very thoughtful and know I sometimes take naps, but wow.  It’s like I imagined the whole thing.  I was pretty deep in sleep.

“Sweetheart?”  I’m at the top of the stairs now, staring down at my half-awake husband.  He has one boot on and has just tucked his own wild hair into his hat to greet our friends.

“I’m sooooo sorry,” I say.  “They left.”


“But they were here!” I say.

“A dream?” he says and smiles a little.

He will milk this for days….


It’s All About the Tree

Fifteen minutes and I have to leave for the courthouse.  I have on my purple hippy skirt and the turquoise necklace and earrings that The Bride, our older daughter, gave me to wear at her wedding last month.  And I’m trying to keep hay off of my sweater.

I’ve already opened the aviary and fed the hens oatmeal leftovers and bread crumbs.  I’ve removed the broody Kimber from a nest box, raked the poop under the roost into the peat moss, and added some cracked corn to the feeder, and I’m still relatively pristine.


Now I pour one cup of dry cob grain into each of the three goats’ bowls, and stuff handfuls of orchard hay, at arms’ length, into the two feeders.  Morning chores.


The early morning sky is mottled gray and looks swollen to the south.  The grass is wet as I cross the backyard in my waterproof boots.  I pull up my skirt as I stomp up the new deck steps.  The four-foot diameter cedar tree, which is just five feet off of our house, is encircled by new deck, designed by His Majesty who is back in college in Colorado where torrential rain and floods are making national news.

circle of deck 002

I let Garfield out of the hut.  He stretches and trots off to the bean, zucchini and cucumber garden, which I must harvest this week.

Deck and garden 011

Autumn has arrived.  We had thunder and lightning yesterday, alder leaves rained down, and the Bearded One is in a mad dash to get this new deck finished.


Today he’s staying home and working on the railings, including a cut-out to allow for easy tree hugging.  Friday he went with me to Port Orchard and Bremerton where we figured out the truth — our marriage certificate isn’t the proper official one and is too old to quality for name changing purposes anyway — so we got the forms and the court date instructions.  I’m off to Port Orchard, fifteen minutes northwest, for a real deal hearing before a judge.


*  *  *

George Washington’s face peeks out from the draping Washington State flag in the front right corner of the windowless courtroom where I sit waiting.

This is a room of judgment.  It is white and solemn, serious and formal.  There are forms and strategy and winners and losers, good and evil, love and power.  I think of Adam and Eve and the Bearded One and me, and the judge walks in.  “All rise!” the bailiff shouts.

A middle-aged woman named Cindy enters in a black robe.  She has shoulder-length brownish graying hair, parted on the side.  She is tall, and she doesn’t wear glasses.  “Good morning,” she says and smiles briefly.  “Thank you.  Please sit.”  She is Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Judgment, and I am called first.  I walk to the podium, which is beside the state flag with the cherry-tree chopping George, here to remind us that we are not supposed to lie.


The judge asks me to raise my right hand and promise to tell the truth.  I do this, and am aware that no Bible is involved.  Not that I want one, actually, but I’m struck that she is willing to take my word without involving any gods.

She asks me about Item Number Three on the name-change petition.  A double negative involving fraud that instantly scrambles in my brain, I don’t know if my answer is yes or no, so I dig deep for words.  It seems to be asking if I’m a con artist.

“I. Have. ”  I gesture.  She looks at me, actually takes my measure, and I think of two more words.  “I. Have. No. Ill…” Then I’m chasing the last word out of the depths — “Intent.”

The judge laughs out loud, as does the whole room.  I am asked to state my case, which I do at length, and then I am dismissed to the clerk for paperwork.

*   *   *

The Bearded One greets me on the new deck with a long kiss.  He smells good.  He calls me Christi Glover, and we kiss again.


And then he tells me that His Majesty called.  “He’s fine,” says the Bearded One.  “He says they’re calling it a 100-year-flood, and that Boulder Creek, which runs through campus, is a river.”  The cross-walk bridges that normally rise 15 feet over the water are now completely submerged.  Classes are cancelled.

“He wanted to talk about the deck and the pictures we sent.  He really likes the railings.  All the weird joints we rigged.”

Deck and garden 008

“I do, too.”  I’m walking up the steps now to the top level.  Whale-bone sized cedar branches curve down low, and shelter the deck from the rain.  I turn onto the top walkway, which is narrow like a ship’s bow.  The railing is cut to accommodate the ancient tree, home to birds and raccoons and chipmunks.

My sandals are sticky with sap, and I look back down at my sweetheart.  I feel like we’re brand new, starting in Eden.  The first man and the first woman.

The Bearded One smiles back and says, “It’s all about the tree.”

Tree in deck 005

Love, Lover, Glover — What’s in a Name?

Garfield crouches on the finished part of the new deck where he can see into the living room.  He watches me on the couch as I practice my four lines for our daughter’s wedding.

“Rumi was a much beloved 13th century Persian poet,” I say.  “Here are his words from 700 years ago.”  Lines one and two flawlessly delivered.


The cat gives me an eye squeeze.  He’s all about love these days, with his dog pal Ruby dead two weeks now.  I look out past the cat at the sweet pea teepee which is going to seed.

Its deep purple blossoms, the same color as my party skirt, catch my attention.

Seed saving 001

I blank on the third line, which is the actual quote.  Dangit.

*   *   *

My long purple hippie skirt sways as I walk our dirt road a quarter mile to a neighbor’s backyard party.  It rained the end of last week, so the dust is minimized. My feet stay nicely pebble-free in my sandals.  The Bearded One wears his Hawaiian shirt and clean picnic baseball cap.  He takes my hand.


In my other hand I carry a gift bag for a 22-year-old headed to Marine boot camp in North Carolina tomorrow.  She can’t take anything with her except white underwear and a sports bra, so the jam and book (Transitions by William Bridges) are really for her parents.  Everyone on our road is in transition, it seems, so I ordered an extra book when I bought Momma Goose her copy.


“I’m going to introduce myself today as Christi Glover,” I say to the Bearded One Glover, my husband since 1997, and smile big.  I made the decision to change my name this week, but no one but close family knows yet.

I kept Killien not only because the kids were young and we wanted them to have the same last name as their mom, but also for my children’s book writing career.  Now the kids are grown and getting married, and what I’m creating is different, so I’m marking it all with the third name of my life.  I was born Christi Marie Overturf, changed to Christi Overturf Killien in 1980, and now until the end, I think, I’m Christi Marie Glover.  I love the “lover” in the name.  It feels right.


I’m nervous.  And excited.  And a bit giddy.  This feels like such a huge deal.  The Bearded One squeezes my hand again and again as we walk.  He kisses my palm.


We stay at the party for an hour.  There are just a few people I don’t know, but I don’t get to use my new last name at all.  In fact, even though I’m still glowing, to the rest of humanity I can see that it’s really no big deal.  Which, I decide, is another good thing.

*   *   *

Now I remember the quote part.  I get up from the couch and clear my throat.  The cat listens intently.

“Let yourself be silently drawn,

by the strange pull

of what you really love.

It will not lead you astray.”


Boards and Bags


“Mighty fine-lookin’ bean bags you got there,” says the Bearded One.  I’m sitting in the hut at my 1980 Singer sewing machine scowling at the Instruction Manual and trying to complete the simplest project — 8 regulation 6″x6″ Cornhole bags.  I look up.

Ever since the Bearded One proposed last week, he’s been flirting shamelessly — he calls it sinuendo — and I smile, because I’m not really irritated.  “Ha!” I say, and then he tromps up the half-finished new deck stairs into the house and I return to my bobbin problem.

Cornhole bags 001

We’ve got a new project — construction of a horseshoe-esque lawn game called Cornhole, including 2 outdoor game boards and 8 bean bags, for our daughter’s wedding reception in less than two weeks.  Neither of us had ever heard of it before, and thought the name a bit sketchy, but it’s actually a real game and there’s even an American Cornhole Association, and we’ve been asked to make a set for use at the picnic reception.


The Bearded One’s doing the boards and I’m doing the bags.  And even though I’m wrestling with this machine, it’s truly a minor glitch.  For some reason, we both have seized upon this project and thrown all else — deck construction, gardening, chain-sawing — to the wind.


Garfield walks past the open hut door to get my attention.  Then he sits on the deck and looks out at the backyard, clearly thinking about Ruby, our late dog, who he would most certainly be pestering right now if she weren’t still dead.


He returns to the hut doorway.  “Meeee — Owwwww?”  I keep explaining this to him.  Dead means gone forever.  Things are different, or at least more different than usual.  As if he can’t tell.  Ruby was his only other “animal” companion.  Gone.

I’m moving things around.  Like this sewing machine, which I haven’t used in eons.  I set it up out here, where all the deck action has been, around this 4-foot-diameter cedar tree which has a little lagoon between roots and where the hose waters it for hours.  It sounds like a fountain.


I bought the machine brand new in 1981 and I’ve sewed curtains, window shades, Princess Diana-style 1980s skirts and jackets, and lots of children’s Halloween costumes including a buckskin suit and the famous Batman ensemble.


Four of the Cornhole bags are cut from leftover buckskin scraps — polyester ultrasuade — and now I’m remembering how hard it was to sew this plushy stuff.  I have to wrestle it under the presser foot so that the little metal table beneath it rocks.  I made the buckskin suit in a little rental house 17 years ago.

The other four bags are denim from the hem of a forgotten skirt.  The officially correct cracked corn I’m filling them with is from our barn,


where the Bearded One has cut and sanded and stained the two Cornhole boards, the same dark stain as the deck.

cornhole boards progress 001

“She’s dead,” I say, “and you are a sweet, sweet kitty.”  He licks his paw then walks away, down the deck steps and out across the dry lawn to inspect the lawn chairs the Bearded One set up for us to watch the meteor shower.  If it’s not cloudy.  Which it probably will be.  But maybe not.

Rhubarb with Garfield 005

The screen door at the top of the deck opens and the Bearded One clomps back down the steps with a Coke.  He stops at the hut and peers in, inspects the two finished bags on the table again and raises his eyebrows.  “Yes sir, a matched pair if ever I saw one.”


Ruby Slippers


She lies in the woods just 100 feet from the house, under the crook of a young cedar which branches from an old nurse log. I can see her vertebrae she’s so thin.  The lumps on the side of her neck are thick and growing.  Her stomach rumbles very loudly, almost without end.  She woofs out air to clear her lungs.  Everything is going at once.  Besides that, she’s calm and serene and deeply tired.


Two days ago Ruby entered this cave, after two weeks of not eating.  Yet still she breathes, and occasionally opens her brown eyes.  She’s an old dog and is dying and we are caring for her, but not trying to rescue her, and it’s hard. Planes rip across the dawn sky.  Coyotes scream in the night.  We visit often to stroke her bony head and rub her ears and paws.

*   *   *

“Where’s Ruby?” the Bearded One and I began to say to each other last week in greeting.  In the high weeds under the plum tree?  Behind the hut in the salal?  Under the house?

The Bearded One knows dogs.  He used to train sled dogs in Alaska, and he has had to put dogs down with a gun.


If Ruby shows signs of pain or distress, I’ve asked him — after he offered and after studying the euthanizing options — to take her into our woods just off the nature trail where we’ve already dug her grave next to her brother Jake and shoot her with his gun.  She adores the Bearded One.  He is her person.  This is her home, and there’s no place like it.  He has agreed to this.

But neither of us believes it will come to that.  She is too far gone.  “She’s trying to ride it out,” he tells me, and I get an image of her galloping into the sunset.  In fact, the one thing Ruby seemed to enjoy this last week, before instinct pulled her under the log, was lying in the sun.


*   *   *

Our daughter the nurse knows about dying from up close and knows how long it can take.  “She’s dying, but not dying fast enough,” she says.  I laugh at this raw truth and take a breath.  Dying is a process as consuming as marriage or divorce or graduation or any of life’s big transitions.

*   *   *

Saturday we helped our neighbor Brooklyn Man harvest his 53 meat chickens.


Weasels killed all of ours, 58 total, in just two hours in broad daylight on June 29, but Brooklyn Man escaped the weasels and he gave us 10 birds as a thank you for helping with the 6 hour harvest.

chix harvest 003

Momma Goose wasn’t there.  She’s in her own empty-nest transition to some new life and, fingers-crossed, a job with her brand new license driving truck.  Maybe a crane.


Their son, Jonah, was there, his new golden wedding band twinkling in the sun.  He got married two weeks ago.

Our oldest daughter gets married in two-and-a-half weeks and I have finished the 235 half-pint jars of 4-berry jam she’s giving all the guests.  The Bearded One has about 70 labels to go.


He also made the sign holders for the reception out of plum and alder and cedar cross-sections.  Earlier he finished the 9-foot arch under which she’ll take her vows.

*   *   *

My reoccurring college nightmare forever, which thankfully I have just once or twice a year, is the Bearded One refusing to marry me.  I beg and beg and he won’t do it.  And of course I had it last week, on Thursday.  I woke up crying.  Weddings bring it back.

“Will you marry me?” the Bearded One whispers in my ear in the kitchen that afternoon.

Tears spurt from my eyes and drench my eyelashes, then my glasses, then drip down my cheeks onto my lips.  I click my heels together and say “Yes, yes, yes.”  So what if we’re not in Kansas anymore.


*   *   *

Ruby died at about 6pm, August 6, 2013.

The Bearded One was with her at 5:30pm.  He held her close and sang her the Dogsology.  He put an ice cube to her parched lips.  We loved her and her litter mate Jake very very much.

 Born 2/23/2001 — Jake died November 17, 2009


Hairway to Heaven

There’s barely enough room for the two of us, woman and dog, in the shower.  I kneel on a hand towel which blocks the drain.  Ruby sits and leans against the wall while I work to adjust the water temperature and soak her with the hand-held shower head.


Golden Retriever hair lays flat and repels water like Goretex, which keeps the dog warm in the 50F degree waters of Puget Sound, but it is near impossible to get wet in a human shower.  I have to pull it sideways to find any skin.  Ruby loves it.  She may be twelve-and-a-half, but it’s me who’s getting too old for this.

My hip is already starting to protest, and I keep bumping the water handle from freezing to scalding hot lava.


It’s been almost five weeks since I bathed the dog, and that’s not because she struggles or gives me any grief.  She freely walks into the shower when I have everything ready, or think I do.

“Sweetheart!”  My voice echoes around the walls and over the top of the shower door, out of the bathroom and through the den into the living room where the Bearded One lays towels on the floor and readies the hair dryer next to the rocker.  “I forgot the little white ear rag!”  I have to trust that he can hear me since I can’t hear anything with the water running.

Ruby cringes.  My voice is loud and Ruby is close to deaf, but she can feel my agitation. This is supposed to be a time of comforting, not a chore to endure. She’s been off her food for a couple of days, and this morning she turned down cat treats.  Even Garfield has noticed and has taken to following us on walks, at least for a quarter mile or so, herding Ruby.  This could be her last bath, I think.  She is slowing down.


“One soft little white rag,” the Bearded One says and drops the tattered cloth over the top of the shower door.

“Thank you,” I say tightly.  Then I reach up to turn off the water.  My knees press into the drain as I slide Ruby’s fifty-five pounds of hunkered-down dog around like a bean-bag chair.  I can just reach the shampoo.

It’s a new bottle and I can’t grip the slippery teeney tiny tab on the safety seal to open it.  “Honey!” I yell.  “Please help me get this DAMN shampoo open!”


The shower door opens a couple of inches and I hand the bottle out.  The Bearded One hands it back, opened.  Surely he must notice how pathetic we look, old, deaf, soaking wet and sitting in the swirl.  The door closes and I massage a handful of shampoo into Ruby’s hair.

Then the Bearded One walks back into the bathroom.  I can just see a shadow of him through the textured glass door.  He’s carrying something, and he appears to be sitting down on the toilet seat with it.


There’s a lay-dee who’s sure….

He plucks his guitar, the first six notes of “Stairway to Heaven,” which he is learning to play and knows that I love.  He plays the little intro again — it is all that he knows so far — and I laugh and shiver with delight — and then he moves on to his usual repertoire starting with his own masterpiece, “How I Miss You Baby.”

Ruby can’t hear it, but she gets the pleasure through my hands.  I gently scoop wax from her ears as I listen.  I massage her old body and she leans into my naked belly.  I focus hard on trying to make her feel good.  “All that glit-ters is gold,” I sing softly, “and she’s buyyyyying a staaaairway to heaaaaven.”

Then, after I finish and the Bearded One towels her off, she trots out the open front door and down her own stairway,


and into the backyard to roll happily in the brown grass like a puppy.

Ruby 001

The Lost Hat


“I have lost my hat,” says the Bearded One.  He stands by the empty hook on the wall near the front door where his ancient, stained, filthy and beloved Tractor Supply Co. hat usually hangs.  I do not feel sadness or alarm.  This happens roughly once a week.

I’m at the kitchen sink doing the dinner dishes with hot water I heated on the stove.  Our hot water heater finally bit the dust this week, but not before melting something in the breaker box, thus requiring the services of both an electrician and a plumber and stretching out the ordeal for a week.  We’ve learned to help each other take surprisingly satisfying pioneer baths, which has greatly helped me in my efforts to not view this as a real hardship.


But I am keenly aware of cleanlines, and the Bearded One’s hat is easily the dirtiest thing allowed in the house.

This afternoon he wore it to our neighbor’s graduation party.  Granted, it was a backyard picnic, but the Bearded One has a clean new Tractor Supply Co. hat sitting in our closet specifically for shindigs.  Neither of us thought of it.  I should have noticed before I was standing in front of Edeltraut as she fumbled with her camera — “I got your heads anyvey!” she said.  I apologized to her and assured her that he usually doesn’t wear this hat to parties.  And that it certainly was not allowed at our kitchen table.

The Bearded One has now searched the entire house to no avail.  All of the great outdoors awaits.  He stands behind me and says nothing.


I turn around and see how hang-dog he is working to be.  Blatant flirting.  He’s not even interested in the ripe strawberries I’m cleaning in the sink, or the gorgeous pile of just-harvested kale, broccoli, and snap peas piled on the counter.  He only has eyes for his hat.

Strawberries, 1 week old chix 003

“Did you leave it up at the meat birds?” I ask.  Our 60 Cornish meat birds arrived last week —

Chicks arrive! 002

— the same day our hot water heater and breaker box made the melting-down smell.  One or the other of us has been up at the brooder every few hours or so during the days since then, refilling water and chick feed starter.

Chicks arrive! 012

They have already doubled in size.

Strawberries, 1 week old chix 016

Strawberries, 1 week old chix 019

It’s unlikely the Bearded One would even take the hat off up there, but where else could it be?


He doesn’t respond.  He stares into space, pretending to think hard.

“The last time I saw it it was full of eggs,” I say.


“One was decorated with a crust of chicken poop.”

He is bereft.  Lobotomized.  The loss of the hat is a deeper hardship to him than hot water.  I hope he finds it.

And within seconds he does.  “Found it!” he says, ecstatic.

I turn around to see where, but he’s already popped it onto his head.  The color returns to his face. As if he has had a pail of luscious hot water tenderly poured from the bucket of the finest bath wench ever seen.


“Where was it?” I ask.

“Under the kitchen table,” he confesses, “on the fourth chair where I put it during dinner.”

No wonder he couldn’t find it.  The hat is not allowed at the table.

My Hissy Fit in the Costco Parking Lot


I have the receipt in my hand, officially checked with blue highlighter by the attendant, as we wheel our two loaded carts out of Costco.  We get to the truck and as the Bearded One opens the tailgate, I glance at the receipt and the total seems high to me.  We did buy the champagne for my little sister’s 50th birthday party this coming weekend.  Still…

And then I see them.  Mega This-or-That Vitamins and Fish Oil Supplements, two entries totaling over $50, and I snap.  Not physically.  I look perfectly normal, for me.  But I can’t breathe, or move, or think.  It’s all feeling in the initial shocking moments of deep personal assault.

I fish the two plastic pill bottles out from under my carefully selected steel-cut oatmeal and organic cane sugar and match them to the sums on the receipt.


Meanwhile, the Bearded One is dutifully unloading our monthly supplies, one gigantic boxful after the other.

My hands start to shake.  I want to weep.  Like when I seeded the sweet peas this weekend, the worms are all coming to the surface trying to breathe.  Everything that has made me mad for the last decade about the entire profit-driven food and health industrial complex is right here.  How I detest all this stuff.  My efforts are for naught.  I am defeated.  Hell, I’m insulted.  Who needs good food if you can just eat vitamins!


“I am soooo mad,” I choke out.  I stomp to the front of the truck, open the door and slam it shut.  Then I open it and slam it shut again.  The truck rocks.  “I want to go home!”  I grab my purse and turn to march back inside the accursed big box store with its loud flashing screens so as to cancel my eye appointment scheduled at 1:30, in 35 minutes.  I take a few big steps away.

The Bearded One toots the horn.  My heart stops with the sound, and I turn and see him sitting in the passenger seat.  Come back to me, he is motioning.  You are in a crazy place.

I’m standing there alone in the empty parking space in front of our truck, at the outer edge of a parking lot the size of an airport.

And there he is, behind the windshield in the 1991 Toyota 4-Runner that is our sole transportation and that he dutifully took to Virge the village mechanic this week for a brake job.

The anger in my body stops rising.  I am mad, but I am breathing, and I can talk now.

And we do talk, and I do a bit of yelling inside the truck with the windows up.  Health insurance, our budget, my healthy cooking and the endless pharmaceutical ads for high blood pressure and cholesterol.  How on most any other subject, I’m comfortable giving him $50 leeway.  It takes me most of the half hour to get over this breach.  It’s just too much money, I say.  He has no strong feelings about the purchase and says he weights my discomfort heavily.  He’s willing to just go ahead and die years earlier.  He grins.  Damn him.  He offers to return the supplements and I insist on it.

We get home over an hour later, and I’m still weak, but the eye doctor was absolutely a sweetheart and the Bearded One did the rest of the grocery shopping alone while I got the eye exam.

He even checked his blood pressure at the grocery store and it was fine as per usual.


I park in the driveway and see Ruby behind the gate.  Garfield sits on the deck railing.  And there is Sweet Tart, our new hen who is recovering from a dog bite, scratching and pecking, not a care in the world.  They are all getting along now.  Sweet Tart is the only chicken ever allowed in the back yard.

In fact, I have the distinct impression that the dog and cat are actually protecting her after the trauma this weekend when a bald eagle snatched our littlest banty hen right out of the lower pasture.  I saw it from the window, the stark white of its head and neck sticking up in the middle of the flock of chickens, who were
frozen in place as their only defense.

I watched with my somewhat blurry distance vision — soon now to be corrected with new glasses — as the huge bird that Benjamin Franklin so famously mourned as our chosen National Bird took off across the berry patch with Dusty in its claws.  Ben said the eagle was “a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly.”  Ben voted for the turkey, but it just wasn’t majestic enough.


“Ruby and Garfield are protecting Sweet Tart,” I say.

The Bearded One nods and bear hugs me from behind.  He says a few things, but all I hear is, “I’m sorry.”

“I had a hissy fit,” I say and smile just a little.  “I’m sorry, too.”

“After we unload the truck, I’m going up to the barn and start carving you a wooden ladle as a gesture of good will.”

“And I’m going to order you your own personal blood pressure cuff from Costco.”

Ladle 003