We have the privilege of knowing good people. The best. And this weekend, we said goodbye to two of them, one a friend of mine and the other an associate of Dah’s, respectively. By that, I mean instead of us trying to both attend two memorial services on Saturday as a couple, we each attended one and met up later to talk to each other, grieve, and basically just listen and distract and support one another. We woke up Sunday to high winds and a snapped rope that led to a fallen Ham antenna, and spent most of the afternoon rigging another rope to help lift a wire off stuck roof shingles, not without struggle and ingenuity. The important thing here is that we work together in good spirits, which makes it all enjoyable. – Dit
We saw this on a Goodwill together weeks ago so it became out Valentine’s Day project.
We exchanged other gifts as well. He got me vice grips per request (he even explained some of the history of the company and that he’d chosen these ones carefully, for lack of malocclusion), very nice cup cozies, which are kind of my thing, and also a mini Zen garden which he explained was “small enough that Squeakers wouldn’t confuse it for a little box”. There was also a .15 cent opened bag of dry fruit from Big Lots big clearance deal shelf, but I’m not sure if those were part of the gift or just happened to be near where he’d laid the other things out. He had a nice card for me too, which stated, “Roses are red.” And the star of the show: A page of three poems composed at the Smith Corona script typewriter, with explanations that it was producing inconsistent line spacing, and that the paper he typed on was one of the last remaining sheets of Strathmore 75% linen. He had contacted the company when he lived in New Hampshire and was told they had discontinued production of it when the century old machine used to make it finally gave out.
I’m touched that he used one of his last sheets for my poems, and that he chose precious highlights from our life.
I, in turn, gifted him a variety of sweet treats including Chocodate almond-stuffed, chocolate-dipped dates, with and without coconut, shards of a prototype sugar cookie made by my friend Christina, milk chocolate bulk coating that was on sale, double chip cookies, a frosted croissant, and overripe pears from a different store’s clearance, and fresh strawberries since we hadn’t had them for a while. And I brought my electric fondue pot so we could make a melty lunch of it, which went over quite well with the addition of a shared banana. I also made us a grilled cheese and onion sandwich in the Foreman grill and we shared a Clausen pickle, as he mentioned them in his poem.
My poem for him too the form of a vintage PPG Valentine. I also read him a few more in draft for from my travel notebook.
After lunch we retired to the couch and did our respective social media stuff, then feel asleep sitting up hugging each other while attempting to watch Logan’s Run.
Really, I couldn’t ask for any better.
Finding what we’re looking for is certainly worthy of reflection. We can add gratefulness, thankfulness, and all those things we should take cognizance of. A simple project with Dit was a perfect example. Simple, because frequently relationship matters involve complicated issues. Or they’re too simple; what makes a difference in a relationship should be more than watching a movie and having pizza.
When I bought my house a couple of years ago, the lamp fixture on the lamp post on the front lawn was smashed, and I was tired of looking at it, so it was time to get it working. Dit listened to my tale of making sure there was power to the post, and suggested a huge quirky lighting showroom that had good prices and amazing variety. We spent a pleasant hour and selected a lamp that didn’t look like it was made in 1914 and we had a good meal after.
A few days later, we pulled apart the old lamp and installed the new one. Like many house projects, this was not straightforward. Some parts were removable with both of us having to be creative in pulling it apart. For others Dit figured out how to retain a tiny part of the old so the new would fit. I did the electrical, which required more hands than I had. Fitting the top without breaking the glass was another cooperative effort.
This is part of what I have always valued in a relationship. Sharing experiences is vital, and building something together has many rewards. When two people can work together, that says a lot not only about compatibility, but about how much they value each other.
And I can think of this whenever I see the lamplight. – Dah
Last weekend was the first Hamfest of the year, in Waukesha, WI. It was barely above freezing, but not as cold as it had been last year! I remember because in 2017 I had taken on some crazy thought of walking a mile each day, even in the fricken cold, and Dah came along with me for half a mile in about the coldest weather I can remember. I think it was somewhere around – 10 degrees last winter, but we got there early so instead of waiting in line outside or waiting in the car, we walked the perimeter of the Waukesha Expo Center parking lot. So cold!
This year, we got there right at 8am when they opened, and filed inside with the whole rest of the herd. There were more vendors this year thank last year, so some were set up on the balcony, which was cool. Never used to be a fan of heights, but somehow now – at least under certain conditions – I’ve come to enjoy the perspective from the higher levels. The balcony there was warm, so I took of my jacket and sweater, leaving only 3 layers. That’s Milwaukee winter for you.
Dah bought a couple little things, one of which had pretty jeweled buttons- nut when he got it home he found it was in much worse shape than he’d hoped. Salable anyway, he thinks, but not as good as investment, I guess, and he had hoped.
I bought a wireless doorbell! Leave it to me to find the one useful non-Ham item deal and bring it home. I almost bought a cute blue Acer laptop too, but passed on that after I tried typing something at length and didn’t like the size or feel of the keyboard.
On the way back, we stopped at several Goodwills, and met with Stephanie P. for lunch. I had offered her a pretty dress that didn’t fit me right, and I think maybe she will wear it better. If not, that’s fine. One less extraneous garment in my clutter, hooray! Plus it was a nice excuse to see her and get lunch at a place she suggested: Grinderville in Menomonee Falls. The food was hit-or-miss and the service a little awkward, but still a good time. There were so many things that sounded good that I had a hard time deciding. I would go there again.
I got a steak grinder on wheat, which I found exceptional. Dah got unimpressive broccoli cheese soup. Stephanie got a sandwich, but I can’t remember what kind. she left some of her french fries untouched, so I wonder if there was something unpleasant about them, but I didn’t say anything, figuring she was just done. They mentioned having sweet potato fries when she ordered, which I might want to order next time.
Part way through our meal the soda fountain stopped working and no one believed us, except when other patrons started complaining about it too. Then they must’ve done something because it started to work again. Even though when Dah brought it up, the manager said it looked like everything was full and working correctly, which it clearly hadn’t been.
In the past few weeks, Dah started to seem concerned that he hadn’t been hired for any audio book narrations projects. I remember the same thing happening before at the end of last year, and reassured him of this, warning that then there would be a sudden influx of offers. Now he’s working on five projects, but short ones. Good for him to have work, but I thought I was going to have more of myself to him this January for a minute there. That’s fine though, because I’ve picked up a couple projects of my own: storytelling at Ex Fabula’s New Year Spectacular next week, and at the end of the month participating in Woodland Pattern’s Poetry Marathon. I’m also gearing up for my Mom’s 81st birthday this Friday. So if Dah thought he’d have more of me to himself this January, he was also mistaken.
It’s like the Free Time version of The Gift of the Magi. But we both like to keep busy, so it’s all good. – Dit
Happy 2018! I won tickets from a radio station to go see a NYE concert, so Dah and I went to that last night. Below freezing temperatures and I was dumb and didn’t bundle up sufficiently. Never thought we’d find street parking, then miraculously we did, and walked a few blocks to the venue so I was frozen but we were in good spirits and Dah had such an even keep attitude it helped me just tough it out and laugh it off. Speaking of laughing, he got me in hysterics when at one point he referred to the headliner as The Hedgehogs. It was Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. Ha! The concert was great! Bluegrass, with two openers and a massive balloon drop at the midnight countdown, falling from a huge net draped beside the grand antique chandelier. There statue of Apollo (or Vulcan?) stood modestly endowed holding his golden lyre behind it, above the stage. I got panicky on the freeway in the way home, afraid there might be drunk drivers. Dah was driving and I knew he was probably tired. The windows were pretty much frosted over. He left the freeway so I could calm down over a gas station lemon slush and pancake and sausage in a stick. He ate a corn dog. We took a slower but safer way home to his house. The New Year’s tradition amongst Ham radio enthusiasts is what they call straight key day, meaning rather than using digital or voice they use their classic manual telegraph equipment and bust out Morse code. That is Dah’s thing, and though he offered to wait until the next morning to try to make contacts, I expected he’d want to try, so I offered to keep him company in his ham shack for a while. He connected with someone! But I was talking asleep in my chair, so I got into bed. Neat how comforting it is to fall asleep too the beeping of the telegraph keys. I slept deep and had good dreams. Got to spend most of the day with Dah then he drove me home and we had dinner with my daughter. Life is good! – Dit
We (Dit & Dah) live in SE Wisconsin, near enough to Milwaukee to frequent events in the area quite often, and take advantage of many good deals! One of which is the annual bike donation deal put on by Milwaukee Bike Coalition, in partnership with the Lake Express ferry, which, for those who don’t know, travels between Milwaukee, WI and Muskegon, MI across Lake Michigan several times a day except in late fall and winter.
In exchange for donating a bicycle to their bike drive, the Lake Express mails out vouchers for a round trip voyage on the ferry. I took this trip solo last year, donating a bike I wasn’t using just to make room in my garage. Since Dah and I had met early in May, that was my plan all along, to take a day trip alone. Just me. I was single and determined to not let lack of a partner keep me from enjoying life.
Of course, then I met Dah the week after and we hit the ground running, joyously hand-in-hand, in our new relationship, consistently finding fun things (or not so fun things – see previous post) to do to spend time together. At the end of summer I’d almost exhausted my calendar of possibilities for such travel, so I booked my voyage the day before my kid went back to school, and rode to MI like a nautical hitchhiker. Then I made my way around MI by bus, and, in part, as a literal hitchhiker! In fact, when the bus I was waiting for at the beach didn’t come as planned, I would have missed the boat home if it weren’t for flagging down the people I’d sat next to and made conversation with at the beach-side restaurant. Notably, my first ride was offered right out of the gate when we got in, by the aunt of a dancer/choreographer from my home town, Oak Creek, who had recently had a television appearance, and it was legit – I looked it up later.
Anyway, during the winter Dah and I had acquired junior size pink bikes from a thrift store that was closing its doors, which we purchased with the express intent of donating to the bike drive should it indeed come around again the next Spring, so that we could then transverse Lake Michigan together. Sure enough, as Earth Day rolled around, I heard about the bike collection, and Dah and I took our tiny kid’s bikes down to the ferry yard, turned them in, and in exchange we received our Lake Express vouchers a couple weeks after.
We were thinking of going at the height of summer, but there never seemed to be a good time. We had a lot else to do – especially since Dah is an avid follower of HAM radio events, and almost every weekend during summer there was something going on. Before we knew it, it was August already, and my daughter’s school had upped the start date by a few weeks, so we ran out of opportunities to go on a weekday before she went back. (I have to drive her to and from school, so I had to plan around that.) Then there was the Labor Day weekend, and we wanted to avoid the crowds. So we settled on going the weekend after.
We had done plenty of research about things to do in Muskegon, even found a supposedly haunted AirBNB, but then because we had to choose a time when the room was available, our trip got pushed beyond the tourist season, and it didn’t occur to me that then the bus wouldn’t be running along the Muskegon shore. Since most everything was located near where we were staying, we had decided not to rent a car, or pay to take one along on the ferry.
Another thing we hadn’t planned for was the possibility that the ride might not go as smoothly as I had experienced the year before. When we arrived at the depot, we were offered complimentary Dramamine, in anticipation of the boat experiencing 3-5 foot waves that morning. It didn’t sound like much, but we figured if they were offering us seasickness pills, maybe we should take them. Dah has said since then that he took them just in case they’d help, even though he knew they probably wouldn’t. But he and I are both suckers for anything that’s free.
It was really weird arriving there, pre-dawn, being carded and going through a brief baggage search and then being offered pills. But I enjoyed the off-center sci-fi vibe, and anyway I’m a pushover for experimenting with OTC medication for fun, so I swallowed it down in good humor.
The humor didn’t last too long though once we got on the boat and realized how much it was rocking! I had been on boats before and never got even a hint of wooziness, but, Holy Shit! I was feeling the sickness well up as soon as we boarded. Prayed and prayed but knew that I wasn’t going to be able to win that one mind over matter.
It didn’t help either that I’d decided to finish a crochet project that I intended to give to Faith, the Wiccan host of our AirBNB. I had acquired a free spice blend from Penzey’s Spices and wanted to give it to her in a little pouch. There wasn’t much left to be done with it, but trying to concentrate on repeatedly pushing a hook through small holes is probably the last thing you wanna do when the floor is churning. I finished it, but in retrospect I wish I hadn’t.
As the boat pulled away from the Milwaukee shore, the waves got worse. Dah seemed to be all right. By appearances, anyway, at least at first. I, on the other hand, was not handling it very well. At a point not long after, a cheery young lad in a skipper suit came by with a basket of Gin-Gin mints and puke bags, the former to supposedly help settle our stomachs, and the later for when they didn’t work.
To compound all this misery, I had to use the bathroom. Like, abuse the bathroom. I got up and struggled to find a footing, as the floor was tilting back and forth enough to throw people around. Eventually I shuffled ahead and intentionally hugged the wall then crawled along it for support until I came across the handicap bathroom. The women’s bathroom was just a short way down from it, but I didn’t feel I could make it that far. Thus began the intimate battle to balance face time and ass time on the head, a.k.a. boat’s toilet. It was not easy. Nothing about that trip over was.
After I made it back to our seats, Dah said he also had to use the bathroom. I warned him about it not being easy to walk. Still, he looked ok. While he was up, the family next to us seemed to be pitting to move closer to where we were sitting so their kids could have a better view of Finding Dory, which was the moving playing on the boat ride over. I heard the mom suggest that then saw her look over to me right as I peeled the puke bag open and unleashed a dragon hurl into it with perfect timing. The family moved farther away.
Dah returned from the men’s room looking pale as the dead and as if he had covered his face and shoulders in a bucket of water, which turned out to be sweat. A woman we took to be a second mate on the ship came over to see if he was all right. I was between fits of vomiting so somewhat capable of conversation. She was very concerned about how he looked, but commented that I was just fine, my color was good. To which I replied with a fit of dry heaving then a new round of vomit that must have been sourced from some previously undiscovered reservoir somewhere deep inside.
Thankfully, albeit likely because of the immense physical exhaustion, and by some miracle, both Dah and I managed to fall asleep in our seats, truncating part of the exhausting effort to withstand the ordeal of that trip. Dah even ventured outside on the sun deck as we approached Muskegon. I was kind of in a coma, but responded to his touch when asked to wake up, grab my shit, and mercifully depart.