Monday, April 25, 2011

24 Years

It’s our anniversary today. Who knew that we’d be married for 24 years? I think we both did. I’ve liked my husband for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved him for a long time too. We get along very well, and when we don’t, we have a system in place that allows time to cool off, retreat to our own corners, and usually agree that both sides had a valid point.

I see others that don’t get along with their spouses and I feel bad for them. I wish everyone could like his or her spouse like I like mine.

Maybe we get along with each other because we’ve both been very sick and realize how lucky we are to have gotten better from our illnesses. I remember last year around February I didn’t even know if he was going to make it. A couple of nights I was so worried that I didn’t even know if he would make it through ‘til morning.

I’d have to say that 2010 was a pretty difficult year… January started out poorly and the year got progressively worse. Finally in August, he started to feel better, and life started to get back to normal.

So when I see others not treat their significant other with love and respect, it makes me want to say, “Life is too short to be spending it mad at each other.”

I’m sure there will be times when we forget how hard 2010 was and we’ll have some sort of disagreement about some minor thing. And, I also know that we’ll go to our corners and pout, and rethink the small stuff and get over it.

I’m hoping for at LEAST 24 more years of time together (but let’s just not do the math.)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keep this Coupon

I have a problem. I don’t know why, but I always find the part of the raffle ticket that says, “KEEP THIS COUPON” from long ago drawings. Do you think it’s because of the terse statement telling me I must KEEP THIS COUPON? I find various colored tickets in the obvious places – all kinds of pockets, desk drawers, change containers, wherever I can stash the ticket so that I will remember where it is when they call me with the news that I’ve won whateveritwasIboughttheticketfor.

Thing is, they already have my name and phone number, so why do I need to keep the ticket? Maybe to confirm that I actually won whatever the drawing was for. But, sadly, I’m never called as the lucky winner.

I guess I should keep all of the KEEP THIS COUPON tickets and make a collage out of all the tickets I’ve collected. Then they would be doing something useful.

Perhaps they should change the text on the tickets to “Retain this Coupon Until the Drawing if Over” then I would be able to throw them away and not break any rules.

Summer Memories... the Pool and Nancy Drew

We started hanging out with Cindy when her family got the in-ground pool. We weren’t friends with her before the pool, but after the pool came, we hung out at her house almost every day. I practiced and practiced until I could dive off the diving board and swim under water to touch the far end, make a turn and swim under water back to where I began.

We made up all kinds of games and practiced different dives. And when we weren’t swimming, we were in her screened-in garage that was set up like a living room (people did that in our neighborhood) and played all kinds of games.

One of our games involved playing “library” when we were forced to take a break from swimming. This game involved borrowing books from Cindy and reading them in her garage while we all hung out. We would have to check them out (but couldn’t take them home) with some type of system she devised.

I usually chose her Nancy Drew books. I was an avid reader and loved how Nancy was always finding some mystery to solve. But those who know these books, know that the mystery is usually solved in the last couple of pages.

Because of how each story ended, I would try not to let Cindy see where I was in the book. I didn’t want her to know that I was almost to the part where the case would be solved, because I knew (great detective that I was) that she would come over and grab the book from me and RIPPPPPP the last page out of the book. Each time I’d read one of her books, I’d attempt to keep my place in the book a secret from her so I could attempt to finish whatever mystery I was reading about.

I’d always go home disappointed that I didn’t get to finish the story because the last page was always torn out before I could finish the page. I think the only way I ever finished any Nancy Drew book was when I was older and reread my younger sister’s collection (in secret.)

I guess we put up with Cindy’s bad behavior because even though she was a bully, she was a bully with the only in-ground pool in the neighborhood.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Bedroom Incident at the Slab Ranch

The house we bought is very similar to the one I grew up in. Even though I had great memories there, I did NOT want to live in a slab-ranch house. Our definition of slab-ranch is: a little ranch house that is on a concrete slab. No basement to keep your junk, washer and dryer, and you know, the stuff you drag home from every sale you go to.

Despite the fact that our house is small and there’s no storage, it doesn’t stop me from antiquing almost every weekend. That summer of the “bedroom incident” I was trying to figure out what I would be hunting for during my next trip. My husband and I decided I would look for a dresser. OK, I thought, I can do that. I can put a dresser on my list of things to look for. (I’ve found that you need a plan when you are a shop-a-holic or you’ll come home with WAY more stuff than you need or have room for.)

Saturday 6 a.m. - Mike kisses me goodbye and leaves for his weekend camping trip with his buddies somewhere in the Adirondacks. Soon after, his sister shows up and we leave for the antique show in Syracuse. Within minutes of arriving to the outdoor show I see IT. Yeah, a dresser…. did I mention, it’s with a 4-poster bed, wide dresser, tall dresser, 2 nightstands and a mirror? It’s beautifully refinished and FABULOUS! I begin to have a conversation with myself in my head, “I HAVE TO HAVE IT!” “Will it fit?” “I dunno.” “How much is it?” “I don’t care.” So I strike a deal with the owner and he tells me he will deliver it to my house in the next couple of days.

I walk away from that buy, high on life, high on my purchase. Kathryn looks at me and asks, “What’s my brother going to say?” I reply, “He told me to buy a dresser.”

Saturday 4 p.m. – I walk into the cool house from the sweltering heat of the antique show, and down the hall into my tiny ugly bedroom that I’ve HATED since I moved in. The ugly bedroom with the antique white paneling, the hideous carpet and decide… it all has to GO and GO before the furniture arrives.

I march down the short hall and out through the back porch to the garage to find some tools. I find what I’m looking for, a hammer, a crowbar, a utility knife and walk back into the bedroom “armed for bear.” I look around and figure out what has to be done first. The mattress – that’s gotta go. So I strip the bed and drag the mattress out into the hall, the box spring and the frame follow and I get to work.

Saturday 5 p.m. – I start cutting the carpet into one-foot strips and roll them up and put them out on the back porch. I then look at the paneling with “the eye” and a nod, and say, “You’re next.” I try the first piece. Crap, those idiots who lived here before me (the idiots that put paneling everywhere) glued it AND nailed it in a million places.

Saturday 7 p.m. – I remove the paneling piece by piece and some of the glue sticks on the wall and some of it pulls the wallboard off. Oops. I drag the huge 4x8 foot sections down the hall and out into the back porch, and wonder, “How am I going to tell Mike about this?” Finally, around midnight I am so tired I can’t see straight. I’ve been up since five that morning, out in the sun all day looking at antiques, followed by gutting the bedroom all evening.

Sunday 7 a.m. – Ugh, I can’t move. I have to get up off the couch and try to patch the holes in the wall before Mike gets home.

Sunday noon – There is no way I’m going to get this done. I need to come up with a story. Nah, the truth is the best. It’ll be ok.

Sunday 4 p.m. – Oh my God, he’s home. Oh my God. He’s pulling around to the back yard. Oh my God, he’s coming to the back door.

I greet him with a big hug and hello! “Welcome home!” He’s all scruffy from his trip and I notice that he spots the mess. “What’s this?” “What?” “All the junk in the back porch!” “What junk? Oh, the paneling?” I pulled it off the wall in our bedroom. “What?” “Yeah, you know how you told me to buy a dresser?” “Yes.” “I did.” “Yeah?” “It came with a few other pieces.” “Where is it?” “Oh, the dealer is going to deliver it sometime this week.” “What?” “Yep, next week.”

I follow him down to the bedroom and he looks around and looks at me and shakes his head. “Well” he pauses, “Did you measure it to see if it will fit?” “Uhhhhh, no.” “What if it doesn’t fit?” “Well, it all won’t fit, I can already tell.” He is flabbergasted. “You do know that I have to start that class on Monday and it’s all day, 5-days a week.” “Oops.” I start talking fast. “Well, we can sleep out in the living room until we get the walls done and the new carpet”…. “New carpet?” “Of course! We can’t put the new furniture in here on that crummy floor.”

He takes a big deep breath and walks out of the room, to the back porch, and out the door to get his camping gear – and starts to put it away. I have no idea what he is thinking, because he is quiet. He starts to ask a question, and stops. Sometimes mutters. Sometimes he’ll ask another question or make a statement. “You didn’t measure.” Nope. “The price was right. Remember, I checked out dressers at the furniture store? They were as much as this whole bedroom cost. I’m sure we can sell some of the pieces if we need to.”

Following week – Mike takes on the job. The bedroom walls get fixed and painted (he picks pink), the bed and dressers fit (including the mirror), a new carpet is installed and I feel like a queen when I’m in my, oops, our room.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Painting

My sister-in-law and I take a week vacation in August to go to our local antique show in Bouckville, NY. We usually start on the Sunday before the big weekend and spend the week scouring the fields daily. Typically, (I don’t know why) I make a statement about what I want to find – I don’t know if it is to “put it out there” in the universe or what… but that year I stated “I want to buy a piece of art – cheap.”

And… almost the first booth I went to, I found a piece of art –an oil painting that was on the ground propped up against a plastic box. I picked it up and looked at it and thought it would look good in my living room. It didn’t have a frame AND it had a small hole in it. It was a beach scene in Hawaii (I guessed this based on the information on the back of the canvas), and I thought it was from around the 1930’s. I brought it over to the owner and asked, “How much?’ After he grabbed it out of my hands, he said… “Oh, I’ve got to get $20 bucks for this!” Since I already was holding a small beaded bag that he said I could “have” for $35, I asked if he’d “do” $50 for both. He said yes and I handed him a $50 bill. We put the painting in two small plastic bags (one on each end) and I tucked it under my arm and went on my merry way.

A little while later, while I was walking around with the painting still tucked under my arm, I heard a weird buzzing sound and then SMACK, a bug hit me in the center of my forehead! (I even had a baseball hat and glasses on.) I started to freak out because I thought it was a Japanese beetle, and flicked at it and it landed on my shorts… and when I when looked down and I saw that it was a ladybug. I scooted it off me and said, “Ladybug, bring me some good luck, help me find something good.”… I didn’t know I already had found it.

When the day was done, I opened the back door of my car, and tossed my $20 painting in the back seat and went home.

A few days later I started to wonder about the artist. I thought the painting looked like it had been painted by someone who know what he/she was doing. I “Googled” the signature and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had bought a painting by a famous American artist!

My husband and I did more research about the artist and decided that we couldn’t keep something so potentially valuable – and make sure it was properly cared for. So… I contacted a few auction houses in New York City and Brunk Auctions in North Carolina. All three agreed to sell my painting. I decided to use with Brunk Auctions, because they gave me personal attention and I knew up front what the costs would be. I sold the painting in January of 2006. We watched the auction through a live auctioneering site. It took only 28 seconds for it to be sold for a lot more than my $20 investment.

But that isn’t the best part of the story…

After the sale of the painting, I thought, “Now that I have this money, I want to make sure I’m around to enjoy it” and called my doctor’s for a regular checkup and a mammogram.

My mammogram was scheduled for February 8, 2006. After my mammogram, I sat in the waiting area for a long time. I don’t remember how many women came and went while I was still sitting there. Finally the technician came in and told me the doctor wanted a ultrasound because he saw a cyst. The ultrasound showed a mass right next to the cyst. A few weeks later, I had a biopsy and it was confirmed – I had breast cancer. This was very difficult news to hear and realize that even though I felt fine, there was this evil “thing” lurking in my body. I had a couple of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And, one and a half years later, I was finally “done.”

Using the word “done” isn’t a word that I use lightly. I don’t know if you are ever “done” with this type of thing. I try to keep a positive attitude, but you know it can come back and “smack you in the face” again. I am choosing to believe that I did all the necessary work (surgery, chemo, radiation) so that I am, in fact, “done” and that I won’t be sharing my body with cancer again.

So… that’s my painting story. I truly believe that if I hadn’t sold the painting in January, I might not have scheduled my mammogram until later in the year and my diagnosis might have been worse. I was lucky – and I think the ladybug did help me “find something good.”

Note: It’s now five years after this story began. I make sure I get my mammograms yearly and continue to shop for more artwork.