Thoughtfulness

I have cut Sid’s hair for almost 25 years now.

With clippers.  It isn’t like I have hair-cutting skills.  I just put on the guide and push the switch to “on.”  I won’t go into detail about the once or twice . . . . . .eh, possibly three times . . . . . that I put on the wrong size guide and shaved a long strip down the middle of his head way shorter than originally planned.  So using the clippers requires making sure one has the correct guide before making the first cut —- check the guide twice, cut once.

As my health spiraled, Sid began to help me by doing the first shave himself.  Though he is losing hair, it still grows thick in the spots where hair does grow, so it takes a bit longer than one would think.  Then I take the clippers in hand and spiff up the hairs he missed and clean up his neck.

The other night, I happened to notice a new technique — shaving directly into the dustpan.

I thought it ingenious and cute.

And good grief, that is a lot of hair in the dustpan.  I swear he still has more hair than me.

This is the point at which he realizes I am taking pictures of him on his hands and knees over a dustpan.  See the look on his face.  He doesn’t say a word to me, but I can interpret the look. —

First, it is surprise —- “What is she doing?  Why is she taking pictures of me cutting my hair?”

Second thought —- “Wait!  Will she put this on her blog?”

Third thought —- “I don’t know how I feel about that.”

Last thought — “I’ve lost this, man.  If it makes her happy taking pictures of me on the floor shaving my head, then I’m going to let her do it.”

Putting on his pants

Early Saturday morning, I lay in bed, groggy, trying to wake up and get my body to move in slow stretches under my mountain of blankets.  I have convinced myself that this is legitimate exercise.  It buys me an extra 15 . . .er . . 30 . .  . maybe 45 minutes of guilt-free bed time.  I’m doing my exercises, I say.

My husband is getting ready for the day.  I feel a small earthquake as he sits down on the bed.  He has been my morning earthquake for 24 years.  And did I mention that he is a morning person, so he likes to chat in the mornings?  Sometimes, he even philosophizes.

In the morning.

Chattiness, for a non-morning person like myself, is difficult enough.  But philosophy?  “No, no, no” non-morning people everywhere wail.

Blithely oblivious, Sid asks his philosophical question,

“You know that saying . . .’He puts on his pants like everyone else — one leg at a time’?”  

He is incorrigible.  I whimper under my blankets.

(dramatic pause)

“Well, I don’t put on my pants that way.”

One part of my brain scrambles to process this data, while the other part struggles to determine whether I have the vigor to engage in this conversation.  I never know where these dialogues will go.

“Well, how do you put on your pants?” I finally ask.

“I put both legs in at the same time,” he states in a manner that strongly suggests that is the only reasonable way to pull on pants.

Then the image comes to me, one I have seen many times but never thought much about before.

“You sit on the bed, lean back, balance, and pull up both legs at the same time?”  I ask, incredulity tinging my voice.

It just now strikes me that this may be odd, both his pants-putting-on habits and the topic of this conversation.

But now, I am wide awake, contemplating how my large husband puts his pants on in a way that now strikes me as childlike.  He probably views it as efficient. Why take time to put in one leg at a time when one can do both legs at the same time?

Either way, he has won.  He puts his pants on more efficiently, AND he succeeded in bringing me to full wakefulness —- which I strongly suspect was his goal all along.

The Return of the Coffee Dog

We don’t eat a lot of hot dogs at our house.  And when we do, I am picky about buying BEEF hot dogs, as I am completely turned off of pork and the idea of a compressed mixture of turkey, pork and beef and the processes that must produce such an unnatural product is something I try hard not to think about.

The children get to choose their birthday meals, and a couple times of year, someone will request cheeseburgers and hot dogs.  So hot dogs are considered a rare and delicate treat by the children here.   And there are rarely leftovers.

A few weeks ago, the boys were involved in a 4-day choir camp at the local Baptist church that culminated in a musical performance.  Performance Day was exciting and busy with 3 hours of practice, and I got this rare, crazy idea to feed the kids hot dogs for supper.  This was really lazy-mom-needs-a-quick-meal-to-get-the-kids-out-the-door-by-6:15 pm, but with proper presentation it turns into “hey kids, y’all have worked hard and I am treating you to hot dogs!”

So I made hot dogs on that fateful Thursday afternoon.  In our rush to get to church on time, I left kitchen clean-up until later.  We returned home after bedtime, and I began clearing plates and scraps.  To my surprise, there was a half-eaten hot dog and bun left on a plate.  We usually wrap and save every possible leftover, but I felt uncomfortable saving a piece of meat that had sat out for 5 hours, so I tossed the dog and bun in the prep sink on top of the potato peels and veggie scraps I had processed that day.

It was late and I planned to give the kitty a surprise hot dog and bun the next morning when I hauled the scraps out to the compost pile.

I got up the next morning and set water on the stove to boil.  I put away clean dishes that had dried on the counter overnight and turned my attention to the prep sink.  I reached for the hot dog and bun . . . . . . . . . but, what was this?  The bun was empty.  I glanced in the sink, thinking the hot dog had rolled out of the bun and nestled with the potato peelings, but . . . . . . .no hot dog.

The children were still sleeping after their late night, and there was only one other person who had been up before me.  I had a suspicion, but . . . . .no . . . . . .surely not, I thought . . . . . .

I picked up the phone and called my hard-working husband, my busy, busy husband who is up at 5 am every morning, who works 12- 14 hour days, and whom I try to be sensible about calling.  In fact, I would say I am sparse in my phone calls, preferring to interrupt his day as little as possible in hopes that he will get done quicker and home to us earlier.

However, some things are important enough to rate a call and risk that I am interrupting an important meeting between my professional ditch-digger and a client or engineer or Mr. Important Whomever.

I dialed.

“Hey, sweetie.  I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I called seeking reassurance from you this morning.   Um . . . . . . . . . well, you see . . . .there was this half-eaten hot dog and bun that I threw in the sink on top of the slop last night.  I was going to give it to the kitty this morning, but I can only find the bun . . . . . . . . .the hot dog is missing . . . . . I, um, was hoping that you could reassure me . . . . . . . . . . . .”

He waited it out.

He was going to make me say it.

“PLEASE, please, tell me you didn’t eat it this morning.”

“I ate it.”  He sounded cheerful.

Deep breath.  I had to plan my next words, careful with the placement of emphasis.

“Okay, let me make sure I am understanding this.  You picked up a half-eaten hot dog that had been IN THE SLOP PILE ALL NIGHT  and ATE it for breakfast?”

“The hot dog wasn’t touching any of the slop.  It was in the bun.”

Pause.

Did he HAVE to sound so reasonable?

“Okay.  I can make this work,” I said hopefully.  “You probably came behind me last night and picked it up out of the slop . . . . . . .  like only 5 minutes after I had tossed it in and you put it in the fridge until this morning.  Right?”  Somehow 5 minutes in the slop pile sounded better to my desperate mind than the whole night in the slop pile.

“I picked it out of the slop this morning.”  He sounded like he was on the verge of laughter, like . . . . . . . .like he knew something I didn’t.

A deeper breath.

“It’s okay.  Just give me a minute.  I called seeking reassurance but am finding that my deepest fears were true all along.  I just need some time to wrap my mind around this.  I’m sure I’ll be fine and ready to greet you properly when you get home.”

Then, THEN he dropped the bomb, what I had sensed he was holding onto through this conversation.

“Honey, I enjoyed coffee with that hot dog this morning.”

“YOU.  DID.  NOT.”

I could FEEL the silent smirk across the phone line.

TWENTY years.  We’ve been married almost 20 years, and I thought I had nipped THAT atrocious habit in the bud.

But it is true.  History is doomed to repeat itself.

Or I am doomed to my husband resurrecting his premarital coffee dog days.  Doomed to smell the nauseating mixture of coffee and hot dogs.

But maybe it is just me.  Maybe there is a market out there for this original coffee flavor and I had better post the recipe here, on my blog —– proof that my husband is the sole creator of this product.

I suppose I would find it more palatable if it made a profit.

The Original Coffee Dog

Ingredients:

1 young, unmarried male college student rooming with 2 other male college students (necessary as I believe most sensible females would halt this recipe mid-prep)

hot dogs

instant coffee

water

1 pot

Instructions:

Put hot dogs in the pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil.  Get your coffee cup ready with a scoop of instant coffee.  When hot dogs are cooked, pour your boiling hot dog water into coffee cup.  Stir.  Add cream and sugar to taste.

Enjoy (if you can) your nasty coffee with your hot dogs, otherwise known as Coffee Dogs.

Back in the early days of marriage,

I looked ahead toward our 20th wedding anniversary as something big, the kind of big that called for a special trip or . . . . .or . . . . . something out of the ordinary.

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary. 

And it is an ordinary day. 

Just as he has done for many, many years, Sid came upstairs at 6:45 am, brushed his teeth, then nuzzled me awake with his unshaven, scruffy jaw.  It is the mark of a brave and righteous man who dares to disturb the slumber of a woman/bear. 

Now, he is many hours away, working hard to bring home the bacon.  I am at home feeding and teaching  his children.  I should also be slaving to cook up the bacon by 6 pm sharp, but I . . . . .um . . . . . will get distracted, as usual . . . . . .and let my hard-working man go hungry a little longer than he should .  . . . .until 6:10 . . . . .sometimes 6:17 . . . . . . .oh ALRIGHT  ALREADY, sometimes supper is not on the table until 7 pm.

And though he will be ready to chew his own arm off by then, he will forgive me, praise me, and entertain us with a story of his day.  He will help me clean up the kitchen and direct children in chores. 

After the children are in bed, I will attempt to do this or that, a desperate attempt to get something DONE.  But he will seek me out, find me and coax me into dropping my load.

“Tomorrow is a new day,” he’ll say.  “Come walk me.  Come sit on the porch with me.  Come watch a movie with me.”

Just an ordinary day.  But I suspect it is our ordinary that is the singular experience.  I can say with certainty that no wife has been more cherished.

Thank you Lord for our beautiful, delightful ordinary days.  I pray that we will be blessed with many more.

Later . . . . . . . . . .

After supper, I got the brilliant idea to have our pictures taken to mark our 20th Anniversary.  Yeah, I’m kind of slow about thinking of these things, but Sid and I aren’t exactly professional portrait people.  I don’t know why, we just aren’t.

However, we could still get our portraits, Sid-and-Tina-style.  This meant that I lasso-ed the 11-year-old with my Canon Rebel camera strap and instructed him to take pictures of us that didn’t make ME look fat.

The photographer didn’t pay attention.

Before anyone asks, no, I’m not pregnant.  I guess I can’t expect figure flattering from a fifty cent yard sale dress.   But, hey, LOOK at that handsome man with the distinguished gray hair and scruffy jaw.

Our photographer got distracted . . . . . . .

We didn’t have those professional studio backdrops, so we chose backgrounds that show who we are . . . . . .

This portrait says that we are people of the dirt.  Sid digs in the dirt to install septic systems.  He comes home and moves dirt to build his wife a cellar.  And because we are grass-growing failures, our children play in the dirt, and I must wash all the clothes with the dirt.

More dirt.  With a little flirt.

Hmmm, maybe it is the red crocs.  Maybe that is why we aren’t professional portrait people.  Or maybe it is the chicken feathers in my hand.  I have a suspicion that a professional photographer wouldn’t put chicken feathers in my hand.

Speaking of photographers, ours got distracted again . . . . . .

Happy Anniversary Sid.