Archive for December, 2004

Quotables 2004


Happy Holidays 2004 to you!  I hope this letter finds you all well and happy.  This year has gone by too quickly!  Our year has been fun, interesting and complete with ornery children, convalescing parents, visiting relatives and wild and crazy friends, not to mention all the political brouhaha that has gone on in the state of Iowa this year.  Oh, wait…that was just at our house!!  One of the things we all can be truly thankful for this holiday season is that all the television political ads are finally finished!  Let us give thanks…

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.      Henry David Thoreau

Mike and I both descend from grandmothers who believed in cooking with LARD!  Ah, those were the good old days!  Of course, those relatives left us early to go to the great bakery in the sky, but surely they are deliciously happy there.  As a child, my maternal grandmother spread butter on my sugar cookies for me and would say, “Well, bless your heart, it’ll help them slide down a little better!”  Why worry about the cookie landing on your waist when that just meant that there was more of you to love?!  In keeping with the early food traditions started for us by our grandmothers, we took a vacation to Florida and Disney World in August (what heat?) which actually morphed into the search for the perfect sandwich.  How’s that for an enriching family experience?  Early in the year we saw a show on Iowa Public Television entitled something like, “Sandwiches of the United States” and it made us salivate.  Usually our family trips revolve around national park historic sites and we did visit Kennesaw and Lookout Mountains, Andersonville Prison, St. Augustine, FL, and Jimmy Carter’s Plains, Georgia home; but frankly we had different priorities for this trip!  I tell you it was all about the meat and cheese!!!  By the way, we learned in Georgia that you can say, “All y’all” in the same sentence.  Funny, I thought the “y’all” took care of the “all”, but then again I wasn’t an English major, so what do I know?

The Disney trip was exhausting, yet fun but the best part of the trip for we adults was the Hot Brown sandwich that we found in the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY.  Have you ever had one?  Well, quick! git yerself to Lou-a-ville!  Boy howdy, it was worth the two hundred miles we drove out of the way to get there!  For the recipe for a hot brown see this website:

Familiarity breeds contempt – and children.     Mark Twain

Our kids are busy growing up and seem to be fairly normal people, which is sort of a shock when considering who their parents are!  Abby, who is a six year old, first grader said to me the other day, “Mommy, I am afraid of learning to drive when I grow up, how will I ever learn to do paralyzed parking?”  Ten year old Emily has been busy with basketball, student council, choir, and Girl Scouts and she continues to harangue us to get a pet.  We recognize that both girls are future members of Mensa, Phi Beta Kappa and they will obviously work for the Peace Corps and various soup kitchens in their spare time.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.   Proverbs 22:6

This year in a cruel twist of fate and as payback for the one of us, who shall remain nameless, (I’m so sorry Mom!) we became parents of a teenager.  Will’s recent challenge to us as parents went something like this:  the note from the teacher said, “Mrs. Gries, I am your son’s language arts student teacher and I want to tell you that I am concerned about his behavior. (He had a 98% in the class) We were doing a grammar worksheet in class and I was letting the students watch the election returns on the class TV. Your son could not concentrate on his grammar sheet and he also failed to complete the homework assignment due for November 3rd.  He may have been too caught up in the election.”  You’re kidding!??  My son who is a (now recovering) Fox News political junkie??? Should I have told her that his father himself was plastered to the couch yet springing back and forth to the computer to analyze county by county the incoming Ohio precincts until 2 a.m. eastern time?  Would it help to know that it is genetic?  How about if I said that Will currently wants to be a political science major in college?  Would he get extra credit points in his language arts t.v.-watching for that?  Of course I did what any responsible parent would do and I said, “Yes ma’am, I’ll get him right into the political junkie recovery wing of the Betty Ford Center!!!” Whatever!!  So while Mike was relaxing at work I had to set this student teacher straight.  Why does it always fall to the woman to do the real work?

Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.     Bob Hope

Mike, whom I like to refer to as, “Mr.-Salt-of-the-Earth” because of his responsible and admirable qualities (sounds like a Boy Scout, doesn’t he?), turned 40 this year and has marked this milestone by starting into his narcolepsy stage. (Soon to be followed by the strange hair-in-your-ears-stage and the “Pull my finger stage”)   Mike has serious problems listening to boring engineers speak.  Listen, if he wanted excitement in his profession he should have been a race car driver or something.  Anyway, I have actually seen his eyes roll back in his head as he drops deep into a church nod.  Mike tries to accomplish the eye roll while feigning interest, an interesting accomplishment if done professionally.  Apparently he thinks that a violent head jerk denotes serious interest.  Well, Mr. Salt recently invited me to an engineering social event where an engineer dweeb guy was droning on in an endless monotone to him about genealogical research in early Belgium.  As Mike was standing there with his face pointed slightly downwards to avoid eye contact, I recognized the glazed look in his eyes; when just as I jumped up to rescue him, Mike’s narcolepsy kicked in and he fumbled his beverage.  In a monumental save and as the liquid was still spiraling, Mike caught the glass and continued smoothly on with the conversation as if nothing had happened.  One would think that the corresponding splash would have been the dweeb’s first clue, but he yammered on.   But ah ha!  The wife always knows, doesn’t she?  Great for him that at 40 his reaction time is still good!

I love being married.  It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.     Rita Rudner

Love!  Peace!  Joy!  This fall Mike and I celebrated our true and unwavering love for each other with a knock down, drag out fight about the status and importance of the computer in our home.  In the end, we found that we both have a mutual, deep love for the stupid thing.  This was proven to us when we had several days in November when we were unable to connect to the Internet due to “technical difficulties”.  One afternoon I had very shaky hands and cold sweats and I called Mike at work and said, “AAaaaargh!  I can’t take it anymore!  Life without the Internet is so miserable I can’t continue!”   The conversation continued like this, “I don’t care what you have to do or how much you have to spend, just get that computer up and running!”  His response was like, “Yes, my Darling,” or something.  I don’t quite remember now.   It turns out we had some spy stuff cobbling up our system and the computer was dying a slow and agonizing death.  So was I.  I was in deep Internet withdrawal and Mike was in severe irritation with me and my antics.  Look for my room down the Internet-Detox wing of the Betty Ford Center.

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed though life trying to save.        Will Rogers

To help repair the blistering damage done to our marriage by the computer debacle, Mike and I have decided to celebrate our 40th birthdays (mine is coming this next year eventually too, I guess) by taking a western Caribbean cruise the week after Christmas.  He always complains that I plan these historically enriching, yet fatiguing summer vacations jammed full of sightseeing activities when all he wants really to do is just hang out and relax.  No way, are you kidding me, that is not a vacation!!  That is cruel and unusual punishment!!!!   But since supposedly marriage is all about compromise (and that is up to some debate around here) I’m going to be forced to try a vacation his way.  Far be it from me to criticize, but lying around and calming down for a few days is out of character for me, but I’ll do anything for dear Mr. Salt of the Earth.  Isn’t our love for each other and the depths to which we will go for each other truly inspirational?  Well, I wonder what activities I can sign us up for on the ship?

Happy Holidays from the Gries Family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!