Archive for December, 2007

Christmas 2007


This year marked an important milestone for Mike and me: our 20th wedding anniversary.  Geez, time flies!  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were weathering earthquakes, enjoying drive-by shootings, and experiencing homesickness from our first home in the Los Angeles, CA suburbs?  In twenty years we’ve moved from IA to CA to MO to IA.  We’ve had the best time and met the most interesting people along the way.  Many friends met in this journey we now consider part of our family; what life would be without them we can’t guess!

2007 has been a busy year.  Abby is nine years old and in the 4th grade.  She is very excited about her basketball team, Girl Scouts and being in Encore, the school’s choir.  Emily, thirteen and in 7th grade, was in cross country this fall until she had an accident and ended up in physical therapy with a bum knee. She works now with the girl’s basketball team as a manager while her knee heals.  In addition, she enjoys band, church youth group, babysitting and friends.  Will, a high school junior, has had a very busy fall in debate and marching, concert and jazz bands.  He obtained the rank of Eagle Scout and his ceremony will be in April, 2008.  He is also involved in the Linn Mar Teenage Republicans club as a co-chair and he works for the Rudy Guiliani committee as a Linn county co-chair.  He anticipates an exciting senior year, filled with all kinds of political mess.  Help us all, here comes the political beast again!

Mike traveled to India three times this year.  He traveled to many domestic places this year as well, but nothing trumps the “fun” of India.  He also had his 25th class reunion in May and we reconnected with several good friends whom we had not seen for years.   As I sat talking with friends my back was to Mike. I heard a guy to whom Mike still harbors some irritation after all these years tell Mike that he was involved in multiple real estate deals, that he is running the local government and that he has the fattest checkbook in probably the entire class.  Well, apparently Mike felt that he had to compete with this guy and I heard him say, “Yes well, we hope to buy an acreage soon.”  (Okay, we’d like to own wooded land some day, but certainly not ‘soon’).  The next thing I heard Mike say was, “I think I wouldn’t mind raising me some goats on my land.”  You have got to be kidding me!  What the heck?  Who brags about goats to give someone a come-uppance?  I wonder who he thinks is going to slop his goats when he is in India???  No, I did not agree to that in my wedding vows!

In June we were lucky enough to travel east to Boston, MA; we explored Mark Twain’s home in Hartford CT; we visited Plymouth Rock; the JFK library; Salem, MA where we saw the witch trials museums and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables; Niagara Falls, and Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln’s home in Manchester, VT.  Then we dragged the kids to the Finger Lakes wine area of New York State.  The reason why I tell you this is to caution you to never, EVER play Trivial Pursuit with our children.  They can clean up on history, literature and geography, so watch out!  You have been warned.

Mike and I were also able to get away in October for a two week trip to San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma wine areas, the northern California coast and then northward through Oregon, finishing up at Cannon Beach and Portland for an anniversary trip.  We love that area of the country and I’m sure we will be going back again and again.  Perhaps Mike can have his goats out there on a wooded lot, nobody knows me there so maybe I wouldn’t feel bad spending my retirement years as a goat herder.  We’ll see……

In March Mike was getting impatient for spring to arrive and he decided it was time to trim the bushes.  The weather was still cold and all the doors and windows were closed.  All of a sudden I faintly heard moaning and violent expletives which, to our neighbors who are receiving this letter, I’d like to sincerely apologize again.  Mr. Graceful fell and badly broke his wrist.

I found him lying on the front side walk and trust me; it was not a scene I’d like to recreate.  The hedge trimmers were next to him and I thought he had impaled himself, so did Will when he came running.  I knew his wrist was broken because Mike almost passed out, how inconsiderate of him!  Doesn’t he know after twenty years of marriage how I handle emergencies?  I PANIC!!!!  So we spent the next several hours in the “Fast Track” area of ER.  I bet they are still recovering after I told them what I thought of their term, “Fast Track”.

And of course, as when all good (?) tragedies occur, we both looked like hillbillies.  I hadn’t showered or run a comb through my hair all that day.  Mike was wearing a ratty black t- shirt that was decorated with various beer bottle logos and he had bush trimmings in his hair!  As it turned out, we fit in very well with the folks who were in the ER.  Emergencies must only occur to the shabbily dressed, let that be a lesson to you when you are deciding what to wear tomorrow.

After several hours they rolled in a wheel chair with a 127 year old skeleton-like woman with an empty two gallon Wells Blue Bunny ice cream bucket in her lap for her convenience and God knows what else.  I told Mike that if they didn’t call him back to the doctor before that woman tossed her cookies I was going to take him home and set his dang arm myself.  I didn’t need that kind of entertainment and I didn’t care how much pain he was in!  You know, we do have three children in scouting! I completed the GSA first aid training; I’ve participated in the BSA first aid merit badge and the Camp Fire Girls first aid training.  For the love of Pete, I am a trained scouting professional!!!  How the heck difficult can a little arm setting be???  Have you seen Appalachian ER on Saturday Night Live?  Well, we were there in March!

So Mike spent several weeks in a cast and I willingly did all those things that I promised twenty years ago to do in that, “In Sickness and in Health” vow that I made.  Who knew in a mere twenty years that I would be washing his arm pit, applying his deodorant and tying his shoes for six weeks?  He recovered wonderfully well, and I went down hill shortly after that.

As best we can figure out, and really this is just a guess and a stretch, in the process of doing the “Guy Work” that Mike was not able to do, I lifted and carried an 80 lb bag of softener salt out of our van and into the house.  Well, I thought it was no big deal; I just did what had to be done.  Wrong-O!  What would the worst have been without soft water?  That our skin would have been unusually dry and horribly itchy for a few weeks?   Eee gads!   Anyway, the results of my eventual MRI showed that I had a torn rotator cuff.  Dang!  Now the shoe was on the other foot, or sling was on the other arm as it were.

I had rotator cuff surgery on November 13th, which was performed by none other than the same doctor who fixed Mike’s broken wrist.  Go figure, he’s probably enjoying his trip to Jamaica this holiday season financed in no small part from the coffers of Mike and Korky Gries.  I hope he enjoys himself.

Physical therapy has progressed to the point where I am thrilled to say I am now grunting like Venus and Serena Williams.  Oh my heavens, therapy is a challenge!  I was doing my exercises the other day and Abby said, “Mommy, are you crying or laughing?”  The answer was a little of both!!  And because of those vows he made twenty years ago, Mike has been helping me wash my arm pits, apply my deodorant and tie my shoes.  We’ve come full circle this year; we are so thankful for each other and for those vows made in our youth, tested in middle age by orthopedic challenge, and performed with devotion, laughter and grunts.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!