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Random thoughts from a woman in love

Category Archives: Family

Steve and I are taking ballroom dance lessons. *sigh* Not an easy thing for a woman who was officially certified as a klutz by her ballet-dancing sisters and who is so shy, she blushes at the thought of dancing with strangers.

At our second lesson, we “warmed up” with a cha-cha.  Ummmm…that’s not a warm-up, that’s a guaranteed way to get me to quit. It was too much like…exercise!   Five minutes into the warm-up and I was sweating.  Steve was grinning from ear to ear, dancing his big ol’ heart out.  Being the trooper (read: sucker) that I am, I continued cha-cha-ing with gusto.

Finally, the music stopped.  I was tired.  Already.  How on Earth was I going to keep dancing for the next 50 minutes? Steve smiled and leaned over to whisper in my ear, “I am so happy right now. I’ve wanted to do this for 36 years, and I finally have someone who wants to learn with me.  You are doing great!”  Okay – that’s how.  I couldn’t quit after hearing those words from him.  And he did look very happy.  He had such a cute, goofy grin on his face and his blue eyes sparkled.  He was in his element.

The instructor yelled “Gentlemen, grab your partner.  Let’s waltz.”  Steve grabbed my hand; put his other hand on my back, and, whoosh!  I was in his arms.  The music started, and we were waltzing.  The man can dance.  I followed him, trying my best to look graceful.   I forgot I was tired and just enjoyed sharing the music with him.

I got to waltz with him for a whole 2 minutes, and, then, the dreaded “Switch your partners!” was called.  Steve handed me over to the man next to us with a quick, “Bye honey!” as the woman to his right eagerly stepped up to him.

Wait! I’m not ready!  I stepped up to my new partner – my shyness-gene went into red-alert status.  Stranger danger!  He smiled and said, “Hello, care to waltz?”  I blushed, as I tend to do, and gingerly placed my left hand on his shoulder as he took my right hand.  Okay.  Breathe. This will not kill me.   The music started, we began to dance.  1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3.  Hey!  I was dancing! With a stranger, no less.   And the world had not ended.

For the next 45 minutes, I danced with every man in the room, except Steve.  I was learning new steps to combine with that 1,2,3 box step, and I was “getting” it, to a degree.  I hadn’t stepped on anyone’s toes, I was tired, but I felt good, and I could do the reverse turn quite well.

The call for last dance came up, and we got to go back with our “mate”.  Finally!  I scurried back to where Steve stood with a gaggle of women who were flirting shamelessly with him (happens all the time – he’s hard to resist).  The gaggle scattered and Steve took my hand.  “Ready, baby? Let’s show them how it’s done.”   (See why I love this man?)  Up went his right hand, forming a perfect bridge, his left hand pressed firmly on my back, elbow out.  The music played, and we danced and twirled across the room as he led me through the new steps we had learned.  Brilliant!  It was as if we had waltzed together all of our lives.  I was in heaven.  The music ended much too soon.  Our instructor smiled, pointed at the two of us, and said, “Ladies and gentlemen – please watch this couple dance.  Their feet understand the music. Lovely!”  He played the waltz again, and we danced for our class.  Look ma! I’m dancing!  I am not a klutz anymore.

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HTML!  That’s how I greet the love of my life when I send him a text message.  It means “Hi there, my love!   He said he loves that I do that – it makes him feel good and it’s “code” – every guy loves secret codes.

It’s hard sometimes to put into words how much I love this man.  He’s a gentle giant. His plate-sized hands are so large that I have to hold three of his fingers rather than his whole hand when we walk together (mind you – I am 5’9″ tall – not exactly a petite femme).   His physical presence is intimidating to many people, especially the teenage friends of his son, which makes me laugh inside because he is such a kind and gentle man.  Our two cats adore him, to the point where they follow him around the house and yard like puppies, tripping over themselves trying to be the closest one to him. Even my dog loves him – hard not to love the one who “accidentally” drops that forbidden piece of bacon on the floor next to you…

He’s a hugger-extraordinaire.  My friends tend to come back for “just one more hug” from him before they leave our home. His baritone laugh fills the room, and his smile makes my heart skip a beat.  My sisters all think he’s the best thing that has happened to me since…”Forever”, to quote my younger sister.  They have seriously questioned my choices in the past when it comes to men (they were right to do so – I have made some HUGE mistakes – HUGE, HUGE, HUGE mistakes.) All 3 of my sisters  adore him, of which he reminds me constantly.  Well, of course they do – He bakes them fresh sourdough bread and cinnamon raisin bread whenever we go to visit them.  Bribery with food works on my family.

He has kind, happy blue eyes complimented by deep laugh lines.  I noticed the other night (I discover new things about him daily) that he doesn’t have a frown line. Not even a hint of one.  Amazing! So, silly me – I commented on it.  His response was, “It’s been destroyed by all the smile lines you’ve created for me.”  No wonder I’m truly, madly and deeply in love with this man.  I told him I am keeping him.  Like it or not. He’s mine. Mine, mine, mine.

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Happy dog post-walk

I woke this morning to sunshine streaming in through the glass door in my bedroom. Lovely!  It’s been awhile since we saw sunshine here in “sunny” California. Not that I’m complaining.  We needed the rain.  I would definitely prefer gentle rains rather than these torrential downpours that tend to cause land slides and flooding…but Mother Nature has her own p.o.v. on that.

The hills surrounding the valley are a gorgeous emerald green now and the fruit tree buds have popped.  Our street is decorated in pink, fuchsia and white blossoms (allergy alert…) and the Calla Lilies seemed to have bloomed overnight.

On our walk this morning, my dog seemed to pay less attention to the ground and more attention to the floral scent along the trail (or was it the squirrels taunting  him from every tree?) He walked nose-up the entire trek – 4 miles without once stopping to smell the “messages” left by other dogs!  That’s a first.  He’s a happy boy now – laying in a patch of sunshine on the hardwood floor, freshly exercised and his tummy full from breakfast. He’s starting to drift off into his mid-morning nap. I love watching him relax – he’s so very good at it.  He could teach a masters program in relaxation.

But, I digress (again). It’s a beautiful day today – that was the point of this blog.  1) I woke up breathing. ALWAYS a great way to start the day; 2) The sun is out, and the clouds have moved East; 3) I am loved by a truly remarkable man; 4) I survived meeting his ex-wife yesterday and actually like her; 5) The sun is out (I know – I said that already, but it’s REALLY REALLY good). I am now going to go enjoy the sunshine for the rest of the day.  I have packed a picnic lunch, and we are going for a bike ride up into the hills.  Should be lovely in the hills, a bit muddy, but no worries.

Enjoy YOUR day, regardless of the weather.

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I am in love with a big (65 lb), fluffy (understatement) Sheltie named Beethoven. I melt when he turns his milk-chocolate eyes up to me, eyebrows arched, one ear perked and the other flopping over, smiling that Sheltie-smile.  *sigh*   He’s the smartest dog with whom I have ever shared a home.  He knows people by name, and not just the folks who live with him.  In a room full of people, I can ask him to bring something to Auntie Joyce, and he does it!  I don’t point to her, she doesn’t call over to him.  He just KNOWS.  If I ask him “Where’s Jeff?”, he’ll go to the front door, bark and wait.  Jeff is his boy.  Jeff is grown now and has moved out on his own, but Beethoven checks his room almost daily – I think he’s hoping Jeff will magically appear on the bed.  I sometimes join him in hoping Jeff will magically appear…I, too, miss my boy.

When I rescued B, he was on death row because he was considered “dangerously people-aggressive”.  I took him home with the knowledge that he would be euthanized if I couldn’t get him to change his ways within 3 months.   I took his muzzle off,  massaging his tummy as he lay with his head in my lap.  Poor thing – he wasn’t mean.  He was terrified!  His previous owner beat the crap out of him – that is bound to leave a psychological mark or two, ya think?  Three months of consistent discipline and more love than any one dog should be able to handle, and he was a different dog.  He passed the Canine Good Citizen test with flying colors, and the County exonerated him of all previous transgressions.  Whew!  I don’t think I could have handed him over if he didn’t pass – we’d probably be hiding in Canada right now!  We’ve been a happy team for 7 years now.  He is my friend, confidant, bed warmer and all-around buddy!  Now if I could just get him to stop stealing the fresh loaves of bread off the counter…he’s quickly making himself an enemy of Steve, the bread baker in the house.  I swear I saw Steve googling dog recipes the other day…

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I went to a memorial service yesterday for my Uncle Chuck. He’s not really my uncle, but he is.  I’ve known him for 43 years, during which time he has been my second dad, the great maker of Mickey Mouse Chocolate Chip pancakes and the man from whom I inherited my passion for all things BASEBALL (despite his misguided love for the American League and THAT Oakland team that won the World Series in 1989…damn them!)  He introduced me to the wonderful bands of the 40′ and 50’s and showed me how much fun it could be to dance to the “old” stuff.  He also taught me that you need to expect and welcome happiness every day, otherwise it would feel unwelcome and leave with someone else.

Uncle Chuckles had a booming voice and a wonderfully contagious laugh.  He was always so happy.  Madly in love with Aunt Lee and their 3 girls.   I loved the way he looked at Aunt Lee – a blend of adoration, happiness and passion.  They were married for over 50 years.   His daughters are my best friends.  We refer to each other as sisters, and, after all these years, still get together to talk and giggle all night long, lounging around in pajamas and listening to music (the only difference is our beverage of choice these days is a good Cabernet Sauvignon rather than Coca Cola, and, sadly, we don’t listen to Jethro Tull or Bruce Springsteen very often anymore).

The last time I saw Uncle Chuck was this last Christmas Eve.  He was walking around his house, hooked up to an oxygen tank, dragging an oxygen hose around with him while he cuddled his little poodle, Beau, in his arms.  “You look so happy, Dolly!”, he said to me when we hugged.   I introduced him to the love of my life, and he whispered to me, “Oh – Now I know why you look happy.  I like him –  Look at the way he looks at you.”  I whispered back that Steve looks at me the way HE looks at Aunt Lee, and he chuckled. “Yup – he must know you are the perfect woman just like Leelee!  He’s a keeper, Dolly.  You deserve it – say hello to happiness.”

We didn’t chat much after that because, as usual, there were dozens of people in the house waiting for his hug .  He settled down in the big chair in the living room, and folks gravitated to him throughout the night.  He was in such great spirits.  He was surrounded by good friends and the women he loved and adored.  As was  his way, he chose to say hello to happiness rather than allow self-pity for his health or regret for things he couldn’t do anymore creep in through the window.

I heard his laugh all night – sometimes a chuckle, sometimes a roar of laughter at something his grandkids were doing.  It was such lovely music.  I can close my eyes now and hear him laughing.  There was not one tear shed at his memorial service.   Instead, the house rang with the laughter of over 50 people celebrating his life and sharing stories about him as they drank wine, ate pasta and basked in the love we could still feel from him.  That is what he wanted.   “Hello Happiness! Come on in!”

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