pooh

I had a hysterectomy because my uterus grew a monster …


I’m 46.



Overall, it’s a good age to be. I’m mostly taken seriously, people have long given up on telling me how to dress or wear my hair, and they’ve stopped assuming I’m going through a phase. With being 46, comes some weight gain, a lifestyle shift to a more sedentary pace. I’m tall, curvy, and mostly happy with how I look.


Mostly.


About 2 years ago, things stopped fitting, and I mean everything. I was coming off a bad Achilles injury that all but halted my running regimen. Getting back into the swing of things was easy enough but I wasn’t losing weight like I used to. In fact, I was slimming everywhere except for my belly. None of my corsets fit – yes, my dozen or so $300 corsets. Clothes looked awful on me. Nothing hung on me that didn’t accentuate the belly I couldn’t seem to lose. Running was even problematic because I couldn’t go distances without feeling wiped out or worse, needing to pee every quarter mile, which really affects your pace. I invested in more (cheap) corsets and shapewear and began a subtle shift to bulky t-shirts and sweaters.  Didn’t stop me from buying cute clothes, but it did stop me from wearing them – I looked ridiculous.


My former doctors just diagnosed me as being overweight with a high BMI and told me to stop eating, smoking, and being fat. I was concerned that maybe it was visceral fat since I do have heart disease, but “nah,” said the old doctors, “you’re just chubby and could stand to eat more salad.” Fine. I did exactly that, more salad, found a trainer, did more exercise, added weights – but the belly never went away. My doctor thought I probably wasn’t being truthful about the exercise and diet so I did what I should have done several months prior – I changed doctors.



New doctor figured I might be entering a phase of menopause, changed some of my medications and did something Old Doctor hadn’t bothered with in years – an actual physical that went beyond bloodwork and a lecture.


The first time she laid hands on me she felt it. It took all of a minute. Right beneath my ribcage. She said, “you’ve got something in there.”


“It isn’t visceral fat?” I asked. She told me that type of fat would feel watery and loose. What she felt was unyielding and bulky and she scheduled an ultrasound.  It confirmed what she already suspected and set me up with a wonderful GYN who would handle the rest.


I wasn’t fat. My last two physicals didn’t have pelvic exams, and this could have been caught so much sooner. My menopausal symptoms – excessive sweating, heavy bleeding, longer periods, clotting – were due to a non-cancerous tumor, a fibroid, grown by my very own reproductive system and thriving happily in the crawlspace between my uterus and bladder.


I named it Bill. We suspect Bill had been around in his present form for at least 2 years, but as fibroids go, cultivating much longer. Things moved quickly after that. Ultrasound, renal x-rays, blood tests, I had a date for surgery within three months of initial diagnosis, 2 months of scans and test, less than 4 weeks between gyne appointment and operating table. Bill had to go, and sooner needed to happen yesterday.


Kill Bill? Don’t mind if I do.

To give you an idea of scope, here is me the night before my surgery. I’m not puffing out my pouch and had I tried to suck it in it wouldn’t have made much difference.


Meet Bill

For the last year, I’ve been using shapewear and corsets to hide what I thought was just me tubbing out with very little success. I couldn’t even look cute. I hated the gym because my clothes wouldn’t stay in place and staying hydrated meant taking bathroom breaks a lot. I was presenting at 24 weeks, meaning, as you can see, I look 6 months pregnant. I got asked if I was. Many times.


Don’t do that.


On July 16, at 8:30 am, I went under for a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy (TAH-BS). That means uterus, cervix, and fallopian tubes hit the bin. I’m keeping my ovaries for the free estrogen.



You know that scene in every movie and TV show with a hospital surgery ever where they have the patient count back from 100? I don’t remember that. I do remember getting wheeled down the hall and into the OR. I remember how bright it was and all of the equipment. I remember the masks and floating smiling eyes. I then remember waking up, being wheeled into my room, and then being poked and bled every 6 hours.


A 5.5” vertical incision was made beneath my naval, and for 3.5 hours, they wrestled with Bill and my bulky uterus. For surgery that usually takes 90 minutes, there was a lot of swearing. One of my surgeons recounted the surgery to me later as if it was the most exhilarating fight of her life. Give me a surgeon that tackles a challenge head-on with fire in her eyes!


I had setbacks. My hemoglobin dropped from 11+ on Tag/Type day Saturday, to 8+ before surgery, to 6+ after surgery. That’s a measure of the white blood cells in your blood and the lower the number the harder your heart has to work to move that empty blood to your organs. My blood was pumping but my organs were starving. I needed a transfusion (2 units) that day. That story of my transfusion saga is one for another day.



I got my transfusion and stayed overnight, then I spiked a fever and stayed another night, and then they held me just to make sure I wasn’t going to die. I was on a liquid diet the first two days, then a regular diet, which frankly isn’t much better.


“Breakfast” So. Much. Prune juice.

I passed my time by sleeping or scrolling through the endless hospital channels. I got asked a lot by nurses if I’d passed gas, which is important because when they play in your insides, they manipulate your bowels, and passing gas is a sign that everything is okay. For the first few days, I had nothing. No food meant no gas. Then on Thursday the gas hit, and hard. First, the pain as it moved through my system, then the smell as it silently exited. I knew it was bad when my roommate’s family kept asking from behind the curtains, “what’s that smell?”


I wanted to crawl out the window.


Lovely view from my hospital room of the Memorial Garden. At night I could watch the moon trek across the sky.

I felt well enough to change out of my hospital gown and into my pajamas on Thursday (Day 3). Brushing my teeth was a religious experience. I washed, sort of, and took my little walks to the memorial garden near my room. I had a roommate who needed a sitter, so I was grateful I’d brought earplugs and an eye mask. She was mostly active at night and being hard of hearing her sitter asked her questions at a level reserved for rounding up children at a playground.


I was discharged on Friday, July 19, smelly and sore, but grateful.


The ride home with Henry the Elephant

I’ve been home three weeks now, and it took some getting used to since my home bed doesn’t adjust like a hospital bed. D has been wonderful, keeping me fed, clean, and comfortable. It’s not easy being a full-time caretaker, but he has done an amazing job.


Couch nest

I have a nest on the couch made from a tv pillow, a beanbag chair and whatever other pillows are handy. I sleep with six pillows, elevating my knees since sleeping on my back in my only option right now. I shuffle when I walk, I get up slowly and sit even slower. It hurts when I sneeze and coughing feels like I’m being murdered. I am sore and achy, but I no longer have a parasite living in my body, so I’ll take the tradeoff. The pain will pass.


Sent by my sister and approved for home use

I have had lovely out of town company stop by and connect me with the outside world, helping with shopping and the often interminable feeling of isolation. I have daily walks of up to a km. I have stopped taking the Norco and stick to Mortin when I overdo it – and I overdo it more than I should. I wear an abdominal binder about 12 hours a day and I carry a squishy plush dog or clownfish with me over my belly. Crow is never far from my side.


Crow and my recovery guardians

I am 6 months to a year from running, again. I miss it, but I won’t jeopardize my health by jiggling my insides. I’ve just had major organs removed. It will take time for what remains to resettle and acclimate to the roomier digs.


Thank you to everyone who has checked in on me and D. I am recovering and taking it as easy as my nature will allow. This was my first surgery, and it was a doozy.


Oh – Bill? Well, Bill was taken to Pathology who determined he wasn’t full of teeth and hair and malignancies. Bill was 20cm x 20cm x 11 cm (in inches, that’s 10″x10″x9″ – the size of an actual infant). He weighed 4.5lbs. Bill was sent to the bio bin and incinerated. Goodbye Bill.


Finally – women’s health around the world is often considered an afterthought. Women’s pain and medical needs are aligned with men’s and consequently, we’re often dismissed. I thought I had great doctors (men and women in the same practice), I had them for 20 years, but as my body got older and my complaints and concerns mounted, in their eyes, I became a hysterical whiner who was dismissed. I was growing a tumor but was told I was fat. Never let your concerns be dismissed.





Because some of you are too polite to ask but you really want to, I’ve saved you the trouble and embarrassment, and hidden Bill behind this link. It’s graphic and it’s a little grotesque and not for everyone. Click on it at your own risk. Please don’t be a dick and share the image without permission. I shouldn’t have to say it, but some of you are assholes.




pooh

An abandoned headstone and a mystery: a relatable Poltergeist Post


I caught a story this morning (@Local4News) about a headstone  – like a cemetery headstone – abandoned at the Southfield Police Department in Southfield, MI. The Parks and Recs Dept is keeping it safe until an owner can be found.



The headstone belongs to a little girl who died over 100 years ago: Maria Eulalia Sahagun, Born December 14, 1912, died June 9, 1914.


The local reporter in this human interest piece (@JasonColthorp) said he did some research on her. He also said he “came up empty.”



Her gravestone is on Find A Grave as well as where it used to be and where it (likely) should be now – or at least near there.


People who have seen the story on @Local4News left “flowers”, so “came up empty” is a poor choice of words, reporter. Not a dig (heh, punny) just a fact.



Link to Maria’s Grave


If you follow the link of the abandoned/defunct Calvary Cemetery, you learn that it’s now Calvary Memorial Park (San Diego, CA). The headstones were removed but the remains of its former residents are still interred at the Memorial Park.


“Presently known as Calvary Pioneer Memorial Park, this cemetery has been known by various names throughout the years: Catholic Cemetery, Calvary Cemetery, Mission Hills Cemetery, Old Catholic Cemetery, and Pioneer Park.”



Further research pulls an article about the headstone memorial within Calvary Memorial Park.


“…in 1968, the Catholic Diocese executed a quit claim deed, abandoning the property.”



“In 1968, through a municipal law, San Diego declared Calvary Cemetery to be abandoned and soon commenced to remove and dump the tombstones into a ravine at another local cemetery, Mount Hope.”


(An unassuming cemetery in Mission Hills)


This is clearly not the Catholic Diocese’s finest hour.



There are roughly 1,510 souls still interred at Calvary Memorial Park. Maria Eulalia Sahagun is still there. Her headstone probably ended up at the bottom of the Mt Hope ravine or int he back of someone’s car.


Either way, not a good look, San Diego.



The “trunk of a car” theory is likely, but headstones are heavy and this one doesn’t appear small. I can’t see the family (especially a Catholic family) hauling a headstone all over the country for sentimental reasons. (screengrab from @clickondetroit webpage).



Maria is still buried at Calvary Memorial Park/Calvary Memorial Park, San Diego CA (West Grave, Lot 2, Row 3, Section 4 (Children’s Section)). Her headstone is in Southfield, MI.


I’m a horror writer. You can see why this POLTERGEIST-style mystery would appeal to me.



Her parents were Ramon G. Sahagun and Maria Bellarino, both born in Mexico. I don’t have any other information on them, but I hope they eventually found peace.



By the way – all of this research took me less than 20 minutes because if I’m going to tell you a story, I’m going to give you the whole story. It’s not rocket surgery.



I’ve contacted some folks at a San Diego archive, so hopefully, they can assist on getting little Maria back where she belongs.


I swear folks, if you want poltergeists, this is how you get poltergeists.





pooh

It’s quiet – TOO QUIET *dusts off blog*


If there’s one thing Facebook has done for writers it’s made us neglect our blogs and websites for the instant gratification of social media.


Nearly everyone I’d originally connected to on LiveJournal, Blogger, and innumerable webrings has a Facebook profile, an Instagram site, and we have conversations without ever having to leave the site. I no longer spend hours surfing the webrings of various blogs and websites finding tangential webrings and connecting to new bloggers. Now I can spend dozens and dozens of minutes scrolling down down down, hopping into discussions (arguments), liking pics and rolling my eyes at the same meme shared over and over again.


God, the memes.



Facebook is a closed system. We see in the moment thoughts and feelings of very specific people, and now even everyone we’ve connected to. We no longer search or find new people to read and interact with because we already have connections with 300, 400, 900 people (and many of those people we don’t even like. Sharing is instant and maybe there’s a sentence or just a word “THIS.”


It’s easy – too easy.


Truthfully, I kind of hate that. I miss the blessed solitary confines of thoughts in a single posts without little buttons asking me to check in or tag people announce exactly what I’m doing.


MontiLee is feeling 😇 while 🏃🏽‍♀️ to the 🚽


It’s a little … much.


I miss typing out long posts and not being concerned with how many likes or shares or if my mom is going to see me swearing (again). I miss the joy of writing without someone raging about the politics or the subtext or complete strangers mansplaining.



Now, I’m not saying I’m gonna be posting here more – because lies make Baby Jesus cry, but if there’s one thing my blog has always done for me is get me writing and get me thinking (okay, two things). Some of my best ideas were discovered blogging about weird news. My novel, The Caretaker came from one of those capsulized News Briefs you see in the columns of newspapers (remember those!).


If you miss me and needed to see me at least once a week – fine my writing on Film Obsession where I talk about movies I’ve seen and stuff I have to giveaway – who doesn’t love prizes! Recently I’ve seen FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDLEWALD and I’m about to give away some cool BABYLON 5 swag From Comet TV and CHiPS branded sunglasses from Charge! Tonight I’ll be at the MGR Grand Digital Cinema in Troy to catch the Press screening of GREEN BOOK. I haven’t heard great things, but I’m keeping an open mind.


 




pooh

I married a Cardboard Cutout, says the Jailbait Bride


(if this looks familiar, it’s because I post a version of it every year)


It was 22 years ago today that Douglas Stormer married MontiLee Points in Las Vegas, Nevada.


You’d never believe Las Vegas Blvd was roaring behind the photographer

We had saved up our money for over a year, planned two and a half days on the train, three days in Vegas and one week in Santa Rosa, CA. We had our license, our chapel, my mom.


My dress never arrived, but this is Vegas and you can get anything. We rented our spiffy outfits from San Francisco Sally’s, a wedding rental joint on LVB. For one day (and $175.00), I got to be a princess.


The dry-cleaner accidentally sent my dress to Detroit, ME (who knew, right?), which resulted in me renting this little number

Inside the chapel reception area, there was another couple a tall, leggy Blonde with a shorter, balding gentleman. We all exchanged nervous, embarrassed looks. She wore a white mini-dress, that was summery without being slutty and she gushed over my gown. I said she looked nice too, and she told me that this was all so sudden for her, but sometimes you just know when it’s right. I nodded. She said she couldn’t stop throwing up, she was so excited. I took a small step back. There was a $500.00 deductible on the dress that I couldn’t afford to pay should something happen to it.


There were flowers waiting for us from Doug’s brother Jere. It was like his family was there with us, too.


When we arrived, we were ushered into the back area to prepare – my dress, my shoes, my veil, my mom. It was like my prom all over again – new underwear, new stockings, a garter that matched the dress that neglected to follow us from Detroit but would work okay with this one. My mom helped me get zipped and primped, pinned the veil in place, and cried a little. That got me started and we were bawling before we made it to the chapel doors.


I still have what’s left of those roses in a box in the garage.

There is always that moment before the service, when you seriously begin to think about what you’re about to do. What if this isn’t the one? What if I can’t live up to what he needs? What if…? What if…? Then the music starts and all you can think of is putting one foot in front of the other, and


goodness was it always this warm in here …

that arrangement looks like we just won the Belmont Stakes …

if every man would wear a tux every day, dating would become obsolete …

the earth is spinning without me …


getting down the aisle without tripping on the dress. The event was being videotaped, so whatever stupid move I pulled would be recorded forever and ever, played back for family and friends and blackmailers for eternity.


Doug whispered to me, “Don’t cry – we’re happy,” and we were. We are. As the manly men on the TV say after big wins in sports, “our eyes were moist.”


We looked and felt like kids playing dress up
We looked and felt like kids playing dress up

I made it down the aisle without tripping or throwing up or passing out. Mom gave me away, witnessing her eldest daughter’s wedding. The minister made my name sound exotic, and I had never been so happy to be saddled with it. There could be no other name that rolled off his tongue like warm honey.


Only good looking people are allowed in my family

We did it. Said our “I Do’s” witnessed before my mom and the minister, and whichever god wasn’t dozing in the warm April sun.


Afterwards there were pictures, and the photographer complained (half-heartedly) non-stop about my train. Us girls and our trains were going to be the death of him, he said.


Never has a Hummel figurine been more adorable

Because everything is a gimmick in Vegas, as thanks for choosing the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas Nevada (**see note below), we were given two etched champagne flutes – one says Bride and one says Groom – and a chilled bottle of Champagne. We still drink from them every year.


The chapel sent the negatives of our photos a year later, claiming that there was a storage issue and we could either keep them or toss them. I’m glad we kept the proofs because they only managed to send us the negatives of 7 of our photos – the other 5 are of the couple married behind us.


I hope they are as happy as we are.


Somewhere someone has the 11×15 of this

We’ve now been married longer than most people I know, including my parents.


The Stormer Ark of the Covenant - holder of the VHS record of Happy Weeps
The Stormer Ark of the Covenant – holder of the VHS record of Happy Weeps

The last twenty-two years haven’t been a completely ant-free picnic, and lord knows there are days where it just doesn’t seem worth it.  You get complacent as time goes on, take things for granted, and you can forget that the person spiritually bound to your ring is a human being with dreams and fears and hangups that are going to drive you crazy. Sometimes, it feels harder than it should be. Marriage is compromise. It’s also saying yes, because it makes the other happy, and saying no, especially when it breaks your heart to do it.


This union isn’t perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be, because perfection is complacency, and I appreciate something more when I have to work for it. I may not always like the work, but the rewards like a smile or a laugh or a soft sigh more than make up for the callouses.


We take it day by day and appreciate everything we’re given, because not everyone is as fortunate. Love is loss and sorrow and saying hello to a face that has shown you tears and smiles and anger and joy and fear, and being certain the day you’d have to say that final goodbye would break you into a million pieces.


1000879_10201689411187631_713506854_n
Taken at the
Christie 20th Wedding Anniversary Party
Cliff Bells, Detroit, 2013
Photo Credit: Kristi Pietryka

Incidents of War Merging our two passions - The Civil War for him, and great photos of me for me Photo taken at Gibson's Photographic Gallery, Gettysburg, PA
Incidents of War
Merging our two passions – The Civil War for him, and great photos of me. 
Photo taken at Gibson’s Photographic Gallery, Gettysburg, PA

Tiger Games are becoming an Anniversary tradition. It's chilly, but still fun.
Tiger Games are becoming an Anniversary tradition. It’s chilly, but still fun.

Getting his den Dekker Negro League hat signed took road trips to Toledo, but we got it done.

**In 2002, the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel burned to the ground. It has since reopened under new Ownership as the Mon Bel Ami, and we’d like to make it out there one of these years and do it all over again. I looked at the wedding packages and our package (now with silk flowers) costs the same $250 as is did 20 years ago. If I want the real flowers, it’s only $50.00 more.  We’ll probably make serious plans.


Twenty-two years, and counting…


Not us, but we’re still getting it done.



Stabby

A guy walks into a bar, but he was short and nearly clears it



Last night at the theater before walking into see WONDER WOMAN, I’m ordering drinks at the bar for me and my sister. A wee little man with something to prove (maybe that he was short and needed validation, I dunno) walks up. He asks about the Coco Banana. My sister holds up her drink and says it’s not too sweet. He tells the bartender (who’s still making my drink with two more pints on deck) to make him one. He picks up his popcorn and tells *me* “Order me one of those, I’m getting more popcorn.”



 



You already know what I’m thinking.

could you not



 



He walks away and I mutter, “What am I, your fucking maid?” My sister heard it, chick at the bar heard it, and for a few minutes we wondered aloud about the size of this guys balls and who exactly he thought he was. Ego? Entitlement? I mentioned that I should go ahead and order his drink, and then put our drinks on his tab. I am enthuisiastically encouraged by the women around me. We hunt for overinflated egos in cooperative packs.


I chose instead to “forget” his order and pay for just the two drinks. I’m gathering up my own popcorn, Icee, and the mixed beverage (Rocket, if you’re curious), when the wee little man wanders back. “There was something else I was supposed to be doing, but damned if I can remember what it is” I mutter (which I now realize isn’t as quiet as I think it is), and head into the theater. I didn’t look back, but I could hear the other woman at the bar laughing.



 



PRO TIP: When flirting conversationally, try not to make demands of women you don’t know. It’s not cute, it’s not “take charge,” and we’re all laughing at you.

all of the fucks




By the way, if you’re on the fence about Wonder Woman (in theters June 2, 2017), check out my review over at FilmObsession.com, and then let me know what you thought of it.





pooh

Hunt A Killer Box #2 – Unboxing


About a month ago I joined the Hunt a Killer subscription service, not because I had any illusion I was Clarice Starling or Sarah Linden or even Trixie Belden. But I enjoy puzzles and I enjoy figuring stuff out and I realy enjoy weirdos writing cryptic messages to me.


I don’t really enjoy that last part so, you know … don’t.


Last month, in conjunction with Film Obsession, I started doing live unboxings of my Hunt A Killer service, and it’s going well. These are a lot of fun. and if my videos encourage you to pick up a subscription service of your own, please use my referral code for 10% off your first box!



What are your favorite subscription services?


Use this Referral Code for 10% your first box! https://huntakiller.cratejoy.com/refer/Monti-CZOOPDQX


Follow along with the movie reviews, giveaways, and fun athttp://filmobsession.com/author/mstormer/


(Disclaimer – I pay for all of my subscription services out of my own pocket I’m not endorsed for my enthusiasm or my time.)




pooh

I married a Cardboard Cutout, says the Jailbait Bride


(if this looks familiar, it’s because I post a version of it every year)


It was 21 years ago today that Douglas Stormer married MontiLee Points in Las Vegas, Nevada.


You’d never believe Las Vegas Blvd was roaring behind the photographer

We had saved up our money for over a year, planned two and a half days on the train, three days in Vegas and one week in Santa Rosa, CA. We had our license, our chapel, my mom.


My dress never arrived, but this is Vegas and you can get anything. We rented our spiffy outfits from San Francisco Sally’s, a wedding rental joint on LVB. For one day (and $175.00), I got to be a princess.


The dry-cleaner accidentally sent my dress to Detroit, ME (who knew, right?), which resulted in me renting this little number

Inside the chapel reception area, there was another couple a tall, leggy Blonde with a shorter, balding gentleman. We all exchanged nervous, embarrassed looks. She wore a white mini-dress, that was summery without being slutty and she gushed over my gown. I said she looked nice too, and she told me that this was all so sudden for her, but sometimes you just know when it’s right. I nodded. She said she couldn’t stop throwing up, she was so excited. I took a small step back. There was a $500.00 deductible on the dress that I couldn’t afford to pay should something happen to it.


There were flowers waiting for us from Doug’s brother Jere. It was like his family was there with us, too.


When we arrived, we were ushered into the back area to prepare – my dress, my shoes, my veil, my mom. It was like my prom all over again – new underwear, new stockings, a garter that matched the dress that neglected to follow us from Detroit but would work okay with this one. My mom helped me get zipped and primped, pinned the veil in place, and cried a little. That got me started and we were bawling before we made it to the chapel doors.


I still have what’s left of those roses in a box in the garage.

There is always that moment before the service, when you serious begin to think about what you’re about to do. What if this isn’t the one? What if I can’t live up to what he needs? What if…? What if…? Then the music starts and all you can think of is putting one foot in front of the other, and


goodness was it always this warm in here …

that arrangement looks like we just won the Belmont Stakes …

if every man would wear a tux every day, dating would become obsolete …

the earth is spinning without me …


getting down the aisle without tripping on the dress. The event was being video taped, so whatever stupid move I pulled would be recorded forever and ever, played back for family and friends and blackmailers for eternity.


Doug whispered to me, “Don’t cry – we’re happy,” and we were. We are. As the manly men on the TV say after big wins in sports, “our eyes were moist.”


We looked and felt like kids playing dress up
We looked and felt like kids playing dress up

I made it down the aisle without tripping or throwing up or passing out. Mom gave me away, witnessing her eldest daughter’s wedding. The minister made my name sound exotic, and I had never been so happy to be saddled with it. There could be no other name that rolled off his tongue like warm honey.


Only good looking people are allowed in my family

We did it. Said our “I Do’s” witnessed before my mom and the minister, and whichever god wasn’t dozing in the warm April sun.


Afterwards there were pictures, and the photographer complained (half-heartedly) non-stop about my train. Us girls and our trains were going to be the death of him, he said.


Never has a Hummel figurine been more adorable

Because everything is a gimmick in Vegas, as thanks for choosing the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas Nevada (**see note below), we were given two etched champagne flutes – one says Bride and one says Groom – and a chilled bottle of Champagne. We still drink from them every year.


The chapel sent the negatives of our photos a year later, claiming that there was a storage issue and we could either keep them or toss them. I’m glad we kept the proofs because they only managed to send us the negatives of 7 of our photos – the other 5 are of the couple married behind us.


I hope they are as happy as we are.


Somewhere someone has the 11×15 of this

We’ve now been married longer than most people I know, including my parents.


The Stormer Ark of the Covenant - holder of the VHS record of Happy Weeps
The Stormer Ark of the Covenant – holder of the VHS record of Happy Weeps

The last twenty-one years haven’t been a completely ant-free picnic, and lord knows there are days where it just doesn’t seem worth it.  You get complacent as time goes on, take things for granted, and you can forget that the person spiritually bound to your ring is a human being with dreams and fears and hangups that are going to drive you crazy. Sometimes, it feels harder than it should be. Marriage is compromise. It’s also saying yes, because it makes the other happy, and saying no, especially when it breaks your heart to do it.


This union isn’t perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be, because perfection is complacency, and I appreciate something more when I have to work for it. I may not always like the work, but the rewards like a smile or a laugh or a soft sigh more than make up for the callouses.


We take it day by day and appreciate everything we’re given, because not everyone is as fortunate. Love is loss and sorrow and saying hello to a face that has shown you tears and smiles and anger and joy and fear, and being certain the day you’d have to say that final goodbye would break you  into a million pieces.


1000879_10201689411187631_713506854_n
Taken at the
Christie 20th Wedding Anniversary Party
Cliff Bells, Detroit, 2013
Photo Credit: Kristi Pietryka

Incidents of War Merging our two passions - The Civil War for him, and great photos of me for me Photo taken at Gibson's Photographic Gallery, Gettysburg, PA
Incidents of War
Merging our two passions – The Civil War for him, and great photos of me. 
Photo taken at Gibson’s Photographic Gallery, Gettysburg, PA

Tiger Games are becoming an Anniversary tradition. It's chilly, but still fun.
Tiger Games are becoming an Anniversary tradition. It’s chilly, but still fun.

**In 2002, the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel burned to the ground. It has since reopened under new Ownership as the Mon Bel Ami, and we’d like to make it out there one of these years and do it all over again. I looked at the wedding packages and our package (now with silk flowers) costs the same $250 as is did 20 years ago. If I want the real flowers, it’s only $50.00 more.  We’ll probably make serious plans.


Twenty-one years, and counting…


Not us, but we’re still getting it done.



pooh

Be kind.


I did a good thing, today. I’m not mentioning it for kudos or validation, but I wanted to mention it because it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I did it because it was the right thing to do.


I didn’t want to spend over 8 hours fiddling with a cable hookup I didn’t fully understand. I didn’t want to undo someone else’s confusion. I didn’t want to untangle wires in a cold apartment in dim light. Something inside shoved all of that aside and stopped to help someone else in need.


I didn’t do it thinking I could have been elsewhere or how much time I was spending, in fact time became irrelevant. I did it because if it was me, if I was disabled and disconnected, I would want someone who could assist without complaining, without reminding me how grateful I should have been, without making me feel like a burden.


My neighbor was relocated briedly while her apartment was renovated. Her cable, her phones, and all of the wires were disconnected while a new floor was put down and the walls painted. When she and her son were moved back in, they were left on their own to reconnect everything. She’s older and disabled and her son is dependent on her. He’s able bodied, but very dependent. They needed help and family was unwilling to assist. They are shut ins. They have people come in to clean and do laundry.


I was about to go on a run, my first in a week. I was finally feeling better, the weather was warm and I had new shoes to break in. Her son poked his head out as I was about to leave and asked if I could help. I was irritated (I am that person, after all) but I agreed to take a peek. How long could it take?


It took 5 hours, and that was just yesterday. The cables were connected, but in a confused snarl, the wires were doubling back, nothing was getting a signal. I untangled and tried several ways to connect. I managed to get one of their two TVs connected, but not her landline. She’s on Life Alert and needs that line. 2 of those hours were on an ancient simple cellphone with no volume control with the Internet company. Several techs later they insisted the boxes were bad and the phone was likely fried from the recent power outage. They would send a tech out to swap out the boxes (an expense she couldn’t afford) but it would take a week to get there. She would have to buy a new phone. More money.


I admitted defeat after those 5 hours, but promised to pick up a new phone for her and return after work to see if I could get it working. I hated that he would be without TV for a week. I made her swear she wouldn’t fall before I returned the next evening. I left feeling tired, discouraged and defeated.


I went back after work today. I picked up a new phone for her and set about getting it connected. I still couldn’t get the phone working. If she’d fallen, or her son needed help, they wouldn’t be able to do anything but knock on my door, and he is very shy. I pulled up the cable company chat on my phone and asked a question I probably should have asked yesterday.


See – there is one cable outlet, a modem, a cable box in the front room, a line run through the wall to a cable box in the back room, and a phone. One coax cable was in the main cable outlet, but the splitter was connected to the TV. I haven’t had cable in years, and I’d never needed a splitter.


While the chat tech was sending signals I asked, “does the cable box run through the modem, or does the modem run through the cable box?”


“Neither,” she said. “There should be a splitter run from the outlet.”


Lord, bless me. I’d assumed it was the one thing connected correctly. If this were a movie, it would be the obvious thing the audience complained about.


I undid absolutely everything, re-ran it all from the splitter connected to the outlet.


The phone received a signal. I figured out the Life Alert set up and tested it. The cable boxes were grabbing a signal. She could watch her basketball, and he could be in the other room and watch Syfy. They were safe.


You have never seen two happier people, reconnected through cable and a phone. She called her brother and she sounded like Christmas came early. They could call off the expensive tech and save money. They could watch TV. They could call for help.


I’d finally asked the right question. I was wrapped up inside of an hour (on top of the hour spent reworking the problem). They were grateful and I accepted their thanks graciously, but refused any money. I was more embarassed it took as long as it did, and that was my failing, not theirs. I offered to take back the phone to get her $20.00 back, but she liked the new shiny blue handset.


She said there was a blessing with my name on it.


I will never turn down a sincere blessing. I was kind and it really cost me nothing. I can spend 7 hours watching bad movies and eating cookies. These hours were better spent.


One day, our Gods willing, we’ll be older, but maybe isolated and afraid. It happens. May we always have someone willing to lend a hand.


Be kind.




pooh

Bento Polenta


This is a quick carb for bentio wgen I just don’t want a bunch of rice or noodles. I give them a quick fry in the morning, to brown and add color.