Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
We also have a bet on who will remember to say happy anniversary first on the 12th and 26th when we celebrate, respectively, our first connection by e-mail and our first date. This also focuses the mind. Lots of times I will have good intentions. I will remember the anniversary several days before and send Teri a colorful bouquet of flowers, on the 12th anyway. That's my routine. The night before I will remember the anniversary and be ready to do the right thing, first thing in the morning. The next morning, though, the actual date of the anniversary, my mind will be on completing my exercise routine, a storm moving in, finishing out shopping for the Christmas list, catching up on Facebook, finishing the laundry, any number of things. Teri will beat me to the punch. Now, with the new bet in place, I have extra incentive to remember our anniversaries.
Even after marriage, we may go several years before we live together full time. That's not ideal. But we're OK with that if that is necessary, thanks to job and family obligations. We are just glad to share what time we can, and also to promote a vocabulary of sharing.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
One example is the river walk. We enjoyed a river walk along the Umatilla in Pendleton on our first date, Oct. 26, 2008. A year later found us celebrating our anniversary in Bend, where we just happened on a great river walk along the Deschutes. A tradition was born. This year we had less time off from work and decided to go to Richland and the Tri-Cities for a river walk along the Columbia. It was terrific. Rainy weather was predicted, but we got sun bursts and even rented single-speed biycles for a 10-mile roundtrip. Later, we walked to a nice seafood restaurant with a river view for great food and conversation. The accomodations were great too with an upgrade to a suite with a harbor view -- for no extra cost.
Traditions are important, no matter if you are celebrating for the second time or the 50th time. The annual RiverWalk gives us something to plan for and look forward to. It gives us a chance to remember what is right with our relationship, and commit ourselves to another year of fun , learning and love.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Teri roots on her beloved Seattle Seahawks of the NFL and the Oregon State Beavers of college ranks. She'll even occasionally root for Jeff's alma mater. the Oregon Ducks. With their high-powered offense, and No. 1 ranking in the nation midway through the 2011 season, it's hard not to dance around the house every time they score. In the Ducks' come-from-behind win over Stanford, we danced up a storm.
I'm already looking ahead to the next time we are lucky enough to share the same TV screen or, better yet, be at a Duck game in person. When Oregon scores a touchdown, I'll ask Teri to do the Duck Dance with me. It's easy to learn. Just let the inhibitions run free. Twist in circles like a little kid and raise both arms high in the air. Spin until you're dizzy and giggling.
Guaranteed, you'll feel 40 years younger in no time.
Friday, October 1, 2010
"Live well" is about looking for opportunities to give, knowing that the more we give, the more that will be given back to us. "Live well" is about choosing to be happy. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
"Live well" is also about making good choices about lifestyle. It's turning 30-year lifestyle problems into 30-year lifestyle solutions, about building good habits into each day, week, month and year and reaping over time the cumulative benefits. For example, taking lunch to work and having a good mix of complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins with each meal or snack, grazing not gorging. "Live well" is a choice and an adventure that Teri and I share.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Part of loving much is saying I love you, a lot, in speaking, in writing. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Whether we're together or apart, in the beach condo and the mountain cabin, we say I love you when we get up in the morning and when we go to bed at night and many times in between. Just because.
Our time together, though, is limited. Some mornings we are busy doing other things, maybe even sleeping -- or driving 75 miles to work. The phone rings. An unexpected visitor arrives at the door. Excuses. Excuses.
In these cases, we can revert to the Oz 1. That's just one major stretch done back to back. It brings us together, like a reverse energy hug, and helps us get a good start on the day.
On her Yahoo.com personals site, she mentioned she liked stories with twists. Humor is all about doing the twist. It's a dance with words, situations. And Teri knows how to do the twist with the best of them.
A trip to the store with Teri can have all the entertainment value as a trip to Disneyland. You just have to be ready for the unexpected. The only thing you can be sure of is you will have a good, healthy laugh when she hip-checks you into the bananas.
Life is a daring adventure or nothing, Helen Keller said. Signing up for Yahoo was the first step of the biggest adventure of my life, and I'm eternally grateful to Cupid for giving me the courage to try.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
This small action can have big consequences as just one more part of building a relationship that will flourish not just today, this week, this month or this year but for a lifetime.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
But mostly I've written about what people can do, ways they can think about things and solve problems, how they can reduce stress and put things in perspective, to make their own lives better, more enriching. If I can sprinkle on a little humor to help the medicine go down, it's all good.
Teri studied the calendar and suddenly popped up, "How about 9-10-11? It's on a Saturday, and will be easy for people to remember." I immediately felt that was a good idea, especially since it would give us an 18-month engagement. There was no rush. We needed time to plan the wedding, and save money to pay for it. We also needed time to continue building the relationship.
Besides, it's not like, just as soon as we get married, we'll be offered great jobs in the same town and be able to live full-time in the same house. Could happen. But it's not likely. Of course, living together full-time is our ultimate goal. How we get there, however, might be quite unusual. Stay tuned.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
We want to stay active. That way we will feel young. That might mean something as simple as parking to car at the far end of the lot at Walmart. In the long run, this habitual behavior will help us be sharper, clearer, more optimistic, happier.
I have taken the fitness regimen a step further with the Younger Next Year program, which I began in earnest on Aug. 1, 2009. It's a major commitment. It involves 45 minutes of aerobics four times a week, 45 minutes of weight training two times a week. The results have been remarkable. It's a small investment in time for such big dividends.
Teri, between work and family obligations, is not on board yet with the Younger Next Year program and may never be. That's fine. As long as most of the time we make good choices regarding fitness and nutrition, we will be OK. By supporting each other in getting fit and maintaining fitness, our relationships grows ever stronger.
Many couples get into money wars. Of course, sometimes it's laughable how little ammunition they have in their arsenal. The man will go hunting. The woman will go shopping. In retaliation, the man will buy a new set of graphite golf clubs. The woman will go on a Girls Weekend to the Coast. Or they'll shop until the man drops.
Teri and I came into the relationship both as survivors of layoffs from dream jobs. We know what it's like to lose almost everything and start over financially, to be frugal, to be thrifty, to repair a pair of pants three times rather than to throw them away. But that's not enough to stop us from getting in a big fight over money. So what we've done is to come up with a family meeting to discuss all purchases of more than $100. It's a work in progress, sure. But we're confident that while we may still have a skirmish from time to time, we'll avoid the biggest episodes of passive aggression, the biggest battles where both sides dig in and can see no way out.
And our peace talks, we've determined, won't be words only. We won't just make idle apologies and move on as if all is OK. We'll agree in our family meetings to specific actions to take that will help us to grow closer over time.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Next August 29 - 2011 - my brother and sister-in-law celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. His daughter, my niece, has already celebrated her 6th wedding anniversary. My younger brother and sister-in-law have been married nearly 20 years... see, I have lost count... but I know they have managed to survive the test of time,
My parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2006, except for the fact that my mother passed away all too soon in 2003. Mom and Dad had been together since 1951 and they married in 1956. All of these married members of my family have enjoyed such happy times, persevered life's struggles and endured mutual heartache. The thing is... they got through all this together.
I find it amazing that my two younger brothers will have celebrated decades of marriage and family life and my oldest niece will have celebrated seven anniversaries ALL before I have been married one minute.
I know that with this kind of track record and me finding THE right person for me, I will eventually celebrate anniversaries, even ones marking a decade or two or three. :)
I figurtively slapped myself in the face. Wake up, moron! No robbing the cradle. If I was going to date, I would have to find someone if not my own age at least residing in the same zip code, as in 50-something zip. A quarter century had passed, and women my age now had wrinkles, body fat, dyed hair. Some had grandkids. Yikes! Then I looked in the mirror and made an honest evaluation of what i saw. I had wrinkles too. My hair was turning a lovely shade of silver. I had lost my metabolism years earlier and was fighting the battle of the bulge.
I had to retrain my brain to look for a companion my own age. I needed to find someone who had seen life in the trenches, who had recovered from layoffs and illnesses, who had lost people close to them and who had recovered to come back stronger than ever. I needed to find a character with character.
When I went on Yahoo personals, in late September 2008, I was absolutely delighted when two weeks later I found a person, Teri, almost exactly my age. It was uncanny. A miracle. A bit of unexpected synchronicity. As we got to know each other better, we discovered we had even more in common than first imagined. We had both seen life in the trenches. We had both recovered from severe challenges and come back stronger than ever.
OK, so Teri is seven weeks older. At least it's not me who is "robbing the cradle."
I had a second chance at romance and wanted to make the most of my opportunity. I contemplated what had worked and what could have been better in my 24-year marriage. I thought about how, even in the best of relationships, couples begin taking each other for granted. Perhaps I could find a way to circumvent that.
I thought about the what ifs. What if I took an average day, my Groundhog Day, and added features that kept the relationship nurtured? A morning and evening kiss? An evening walk? A family meeting when needed? What if I found a woman who wanted to be the subject of this Grande Experiment? What if she wanted to join me as this lifestyle adventure evolved?
Some relationships implode because of 30-year lifestyle problems. Many more relationships thrive, because a healthy lifestyle is part of the template. I wanted to build that template, one that could evolve for the rest of our lives.
Teri turned out to be the kind of intensely creative soulmate I needed to find to make the Grande Experiment a reality. If life is a rut, why not make it the best rut possible? That's the challenge ahead for Teri and I. The Grande Experiment continues.
Part of a good groundhog Day is to have a future trip -- whether that be a full-scale vacation or a mini-vacation -- in the planning stages. The Oregon Coast. Puget Sound. Canada. Central Oregon. Timberline Lodge. Crater Lake. The Wallowas. Yellowstone National Park. Wherever.
A big part of the fun of any trip is the planning. What to do. Who to do it with. Finding a great place to stay. Finding great bookends -- beginning and ending events to cap the trip, to give it definition.
The full-scale vacation is more expensive. It's a chance to get away for a week, to visit friends and relatives, to walk on the beach through huge flocks of pelicans, seagulls and cormorants. To see an OSU football game or go to a Heart concert. To wander through the Painted Hills, and marvel over the lunar-like landscape of McKenzie Pass.
The mini-vacation can be and should be taken more frequently. We aim to take a mini-vacation once a month. This might involve a long weekend where we go on a photo expedition to restock opportunities for Teri's Oregon desk calendar. It's a chance to get refreshed, see new faces and places and be energized by the endless variety of Oregon scenery.
Regardless of where we go, Teri and I are firm believers that it's the journey that is important, not the destination, although in the Northwest there are many great destinations to contemplate. Some moments of each trip will be more poignant than others. Yet if we keep going, if we keep traveling, sparks will eventually fly, and forever memories will be forged.
Sprinklers hiss on in people's yards. We watch praying mantises make flight plans. We hear owls off in the distance questioning our identity. We say hi to other strollers out enjoying the evening ambiance. Sometimes we even stop to enjoy blackberries along the roadside.
Sometimes we go for a walk earlier, when it is still daylight. Together, in silence, we watch the sky change color. Mother Nature's fireworks prove to be endlessly fascinating.
Other times we go for a walk after dark. We hold hands, We talk about our 9-10-11 Wedding of the Century. Family barbecues. Future vacation trips. Future mini-vacations. Home designs. Whatever strikes our fancy. It's a great way to reconnect while getting fresh air and exercise. We strengthen our legs and our relationship under the full moon.
A sign on my living room wall encourages us to live well, laugh often and love much. The phone calls reflect this mantra. They let Teri know that I'm thinking about her and wanting to spend quality time with her. Sure, there are some dull moments, some awkward pauses, some harebrained utterances. But it's important to not hang up before the miracle. If we talk long enough, good things invariably happen. We strike a chord. We hit a nerve. We make progress in our relationship building.
It's amazing to think that at one point, before Teri came into my life, I was phone phobic. My blood pressure would shoot up every time the phone rang. I would have to work up the courage, give myself a pep talk, before answering the phone. Some of this still runs in my family. We are hermits by nature, and would rather eat onions raw, walk on a bed of hot coals barefoot or wrestle badgers than talk on the phone.
Teri and I have made great strides in helping me overcome these tendencies. We have permission to talk about anything. We can even have family meetings on the phone, where we solve tough problems by defining the knowns and unknowns. Defining the problem in depth implies a solution. This way, we don't allow problems to fester or grudges to take hold.
Before we part we share a phone hug and kiss and wish each other blissful sleep and sweet dreams. We may not be able to share physical space, some evenings, but we are able to remain important parts of each other's lives, even when we are 90 miles apart. We hang up figuratively having tucked each other into bed, another day behind us well lived.
The second time, this time, for Teri and my September 2011 wedding, I wanted to do things differently. Perhaps there is no right way. Still, I wanted to do things in a more traditional manner -- and not rush anything. I wanted to show more gumption and pick a friend of character who could help guide me through the challenges of engagement, relationship building and marriage. Ernie fit the bill. He is my golf partner, and I know through our time on the links that he can deal with the frustrations golf deals out and still see the bigger picture of what's important -- enjoying the day, being outdoors, getting exercise and socializing. Ernie is also a retired yet still practicing Methodist minister, but I won't hold that against him. He delivers meals on wheels and helps people get to hospital appointments. He helped me immensely during leg and neurogenic bladder surgeries, when I was all alone and desperately needed help.
Equally important, Ernie knows how to make a relationship work through personal experience in his 18-year marriage with Neva -- and through counseling others. He has performed many weddings, provided pre-marital counseling. He has watched a few marriages disintegrate and many others that stand the test of time.
Sometimes I agree immediately with Ernie's advice. Other times what he says takes a while to sink in and make sense. The point is, asking for help of any kind is a challenge for me. I have evolved, somewhat. I can get poignant advice from my best man, and it will make all the difference as Teri and I go forward in building our relationship.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Happiness, though, is not a destination. It's a way of life. If Teri and I waited for things to be just perfect before we got married, we might wait forever. We live 90 miles apart. The gas price has risen to $3.05 a gallon. The economy is in the toilet. The house market is reeling. No matter. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." And as elaborate surveys say, above the poverty level, happiness is not dependent on more money.
Of course, we'd love a big house, all paid for, that we could live in together. But because we are contrarians we can enjoy the challenges thrust upon us. Even after we get married, on 9-10-11, we may be forced to live a nontraditional life. We will make the best of each day. We will know that each problem implies a solution.
Both of us survived layoffs from great jobs, and landed on our feet, me through moving 2,000 miles from a dream house in Wisconsin back to our beloved Oregon, Teri from going back to school and retraining to become a graphic designer, a job she loves. Both of us survived devastating losses of family members -- my dad, her mom. Both of us survived health crises.
We know that no matter what life throws at us, we can survive and thrive. Everything happens for a reason, and that is to make us stronger. If we step through whatever windows of opportunity open, we will be fine.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Since meeting Teri, I, too, have adopted the swallowtail and seek out Helen's blessings. Swallowtails, like Santa Claus, seem to know when I've been good or bad. Now when I go for a lunchtime walk at work, or on one of my four times a week aerobic bike rides, I sometimes see swallowtails and think of Helen giving a thumb's-up or a blessing for that activity. The graceful swallowtails never seem to appear when I am eating ice cream right out of the container, or downing a whole order of starchy, salty fries. The swallowtails never appear when I am munching an apple fritter or contemplating mayhem on another driver who has cut me off in traffic.
Now when I go out for an aerobic bike ride, or when Teri and I go for walks or bike rides together, we keep an eye peeled for a swallowtail flitting from flower to flower or tree to tree. They are magnificent fliers. As Teri does, they love color. They love darting to and fro on the summer breezes.
And when I hold a door open for a stranger, or say hello just because, and a butterfly cruises past right there and then, I think of Helen and feel she is blessing our relationship. She is telling me "Well done, young man," and "Take good care of my Teri." The swallowtail is just one more element that makes our relationship stronger.
Friday, August 6, 2010
More positive energy comes from this summer's nearly daily interaction with blue herons along my drive to work. On one magical day, I spotted 19 blue herons. That included one group of 13, a lucky number for us contrarians, taking off into the brilliant morning sky.
Even more positive energy came from a closeup spotting of a heron on my April vacation to the westside of Washington. My mom and I were hiking the trails at the Nisqually Nature Preserve near Olympia, and I came across a blue heron totally entranced with fishing opportunities and unaware of my presence. Usually, blue herons are extremely shy. I took the opportunity and got a spectacular closeup photograph that even includes the heron's top knot shadowed on its back.
Blue herons inspire dreams, promote creativity, instill energy. They give our relationship the Power of Blue.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
The Oz 7 and now Tea Time with Teri serves as bookends on the day. Tea is relaxing and contributes to good health. When we are living apart, I try to call Teri each evening about 9 so we can stay in touch and build the relationship. At the same time I try to have several cups of tea to start winding down on the day. When we are together, on weekends and during vacations, we get to do the Oz 7 and have Tea Time together.
Both Oz 7 and Tea Time are works in progress. We are still incorporating them into what is evolving into, slowly but surely, a great Groundhog Day.
Someday Oz 7 and Tea Time could be as much a part of our day as enjoying the sunrise and the sunset.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Nearly two years together, so far....
....and our wedding is less than 14 months away.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A lot of gatherings, events, mini-vacations have taken place since I last posted. I'd like to think that was in MAY, but I have found out it was in late APRIL.
Well, since then, we've celebrated Jeff's birthday with a family dinner at a local restaurant and a trip for us to Hood River for a photo shoot and exploration. We had great weather, discovered some micro-brews at Full Sail and Big Horse Brew Pubs. We thoroughly enjoyed the area. A place we'll visit again.
We celebrated Father's Day with my Dad in grand style. We made him breakfast, took him to a movie and later had a wonderful strawberry shortcake with homemade biscuits like my Mom made and fresh strawberries. YUM.... OMG were we full!!!
We took a bike trip... loaded up the bikes and headed to a nearby town to ride on their river path.
We attended a high school graduation where my Dad awards a scholarship in memory of Mom. Later that day, we were guests at a beautiful garden wedding. Yes, we took notes, besides had a great time.
We again took a mini-vacation to the Columbia River Gorge... Yes, I'll post a few photos... that's what this is for, right. See... I did post a photo.... :)
I finally got to go spend a few days with Jeff at his home in Cove. What a retreat. That was the 4th of July weekend. Can you say BBQ... each evening meal was cooked over the coals. YUM... the leftovers were great too. That very weekend we got the news we were hoping and praying for. My nieces husband, yes, my nephew, arrived home from a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan. Talk about a great day to come HOME! We heard their 2-year-old daughter follows him around a lot... even to the bathroom door. "Daddy, are you in there?" She just does not want him to get away.
Last weekend, we went to Athena to take in the sights and sounds of the Caledonian Games, a very Scottish celebration. Both Jeff and I are of some Scottish ancestry which made it all the more fun. While in the park enjoying the shade we saw my cousin walking through to go assist his wife with some tasks related to the celebration. We stopped him...and was greeted in his usual manner... a joyous smile and a big warm hug. I had the pleasure of introducing Jeff to Delbert and Kayla... two of my favorite people, three including Jeff of course. We asked to meet them at their church later. You see, Delbert is a minister, besides being a wonderful man and an oh-so-terrific cousin. They showed us the church and the amenities and we asked Delbert if he officiate our wedding... and the steps it would take for us to make this happen. With formalities out of the way, we commenced to having a most enjoyable and fun visit, but that's how it is with wonderful people who just happen to be family. Jeff had just met Delbert and Kayla and felt right at home.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
We celebrate the day Teri responded by e-mail to my first wink (the 12th), the day of our first (10 hour) date (the 26th) and now also the 10th. That's our Pre-Anniversary. At this writing, we are 14 months away from the wedding day. What makes the July 10, 2010, Pre-Anniversary celebration more special is that we met with Teri's cousin, Delbert, and tentatively chose a wedding venue, the church where he preaches in Athena, a small town named for the Goddess of Nearly Everything. I'm especially excited, as a person dedicated to lifelong learning, about Delbert's requirement of six pre-marital counseling sessions. We both enjoy his company. We'll be entertained as well as enlightened. We have done a good job already establishing a family meeting structure where we can talk about anything and everything, especially the tough issues, and come up with satisfactory compromises. We also are realistic enough at this late stage to know puppy love and a crush from a deeper form of love, and we also know that our relationship needs constant nurturing and will continue to evolve. But an objective outside voice of wisdom can help supply other building blocks for a foundation that will make the marriage more storm proof.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
When I proposed, I suggested to Teri that being creative people we could continually evolve our Groundhog Day, Groundhog Weekend, Groundhog Week, Groundhog Month and Groundhog Year into something special. After all, a long-term relationship involves one day at a time. You get up each morning and do it all over again. The challenge is adding some diversity and variety into the mix. Teri is big into twists. I knew with both of our contrarian spirits we could keep things fresh and interesting. We could make a trip to the grocery store into a grand adventure. We could make watching an OPB special on penguins into a party. It's all a matter of perspective, of choosing each day, as Abraham Lincoln suggested, to be happy and have fun.
The same is true of our monthly adventures. Whether they are close to home, or many miles away, we can make the most of whatever environment we find ourselves in to keep the relationship fresh and lively.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Our Groundhog Day is constantly evolving. When we are apart, in our separate homes 90 miles distant, we e-mail throughout the day from work, and each evening I try to call Teri and check in. We share the highlights and lowlights of our days, discuss pressing issues and laugh a lot. We share the same moon, and are close in our hearts.
When we are together, Groundhog Day can start with pillow talk, a whispered I love you, a 44-second energy hug, a special moment at 4:44, our lucky number, an OZ 7 stretching/Yoga routine to start the day, a 20-minute-plus energy walk to end the day and so on.
Groundhog Day involves making good nutrition choices, most of the time, sharing chores whenever possible to make the work go quicker, having fun in the grocery store hip-checking each other into the bananas and checking out the other shoppers and some of their more peculiar choices. It involves being present in the moment.
Groundhog Day is about nurturing the relationship and making it fresh squeezed daily. With our combined creativity, our Groundhog Day holds promise to continue evolving forever.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
I missed Teri a lot, during the ride. But it was a good test to see if our relationship could endure more than just our normal weekly separation at our homes 90 miles apart. The answer was a resounding yes.
Maybe someday I will get Teri to ride a big adventure trip with me. Maybe not. Either way, we are happy in encouraging each other to pursue our dreams. We are close together in our hearts whether we are in the same room or 1,500 miles apart but under the same moon.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Right away, Teri needed to get a fresh crab fix. She urgently needed to walk on a beach. Visit a lighthouse. Look for whales. Take enough pictures to fill the Tillamook Cheese factory.
We engaged in a potlatch of gifts that weekend. It's an old Native American tradition where each person tries to outgive the next. The more you give, the better you feel. Among other gifts, Teri gave me the blog classic, "The Daily Coyote," a book written about a young photographer raising a coyote from puphood in northwestern Wyoming, where coyotes are not exactly held in high esteem.
That weekend helped our love grow up to a stronger level, like that of the Pacific, the world's largest ocean.
A concept I wanted to introduce early on into Teri and my relationship was that of the family meeting. It's not a new idea, certainly. But it is a one that can spell the difference between a functional and dysfunctional relationship.
Teri agreed that we needed a forum where we could talk about anything, bring up any issue that was troubling us, without fear of retribution. My idea? Set aside a few minutes. Get a snack and a beverage. Make the family meeting part of our tradition. Topics can range from vacation planning to boundary issues. The possibilities are infinite.
I wanted to avoid a relationship where passive aggression rules, where the parties stay quiet just to keep the relationship alive, and everyone is tiptoeing on eggshells. Regular family meetings can help a couple avoid food fights.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I was miserable for a long time dealing with grief after my wife, Tina's death in September 2007. Sometimes I felt as if I would never crawl out from under that cloud.
Still, I enjoyed as time went on reinventing the house in a way where it would run most efficiently. Everything in its place. Order rules after years of chaos.
And I did begin to enjoy my newspaper job again, after months of going through the motions like a journalistic zombie. Finally, I saw the light at the end of a long tunnel. I saw hope.
I knew I wanted more. I needed a companion that didn't bark or meow. I needed someone to do things for, to do things with. I knew I might live another 30 years. It was too long a time to spend alone. Life is meant to be shared.
Friday, May 14, 2010
At first, though, all I had were a landline phone and a calling card with an extremely cheap rate per minute. I was a technophobe stuck in the 20th century. Even at my "cheap rate," costs mounted. Teri, who is much more techno savvy, came to the rescue. One day in February 2009 she, her dad Al and I went to the phone store, geared up and joined a cost-effective cell phone family plan. Now we could call anytime we wanted, and talk as long as we wanted, for the same low rate. The two-year contract we signed was our first contract together, but it held promise, for me at least, that our relationship was secure until far into the future.
I thanked my lucky stars that a cell phone tower had been built on the ridge near my house shortly before Teri and I met, in October 2008. Some might complain that the tower desecrated the natural beauty. For me, the tower brought much joy.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Sure, it's good to dream big. But it's equally wise not to form unrealistic expectations and then be disappointed at less than optimum outcomes.
Preparing for my first "date" in 25 years, and as one of the 40 percent of Americans classified as "shy," I decided it would be a healthy distraction to take along some props. Mine was a tape measure I carried in my pocket. I had joked in our e-mails about Danish Americans' need for extraordinary personal space. While researching this topic, I discovered the following rules of thumb: acquaintance space, up to 8 feet; friend space, up to 4 feet; intimate space, up to 2 feet. That way, a person can gauge how they're doing based on comfortableness when inside those circles.
What would be my own comfort zone with Teri? We had developed such good rapport through miles of e-mails and rivers of phone calls that our immediate comfort zone, when we arrived at the Tamástslikt museum, put us within the friend/intimate range. Sure, there was no need to rush intimacy. Being close and comfortable, though, seemed natural from our first face-to-face meeting.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
As we drove up to brother Stuart's country home, my apprehensiveness over crowd dynamics was palpable. Where would I sit, or would I need to mingle? Who would I talk to? Who would talk to me? Would I have to go out to a field and shoot targets to prove my manliness? Would there be drinking? Dancing? Irrational exuberance?
Their welcome was warm and comfortable. As it turned out I had nothing to fear but my own phobias.
Still, for every hour with people, the rule of thumb for shy people goes, we need to spend two hours alone or in quiet company decompressing. We need to recharge our batteries. I have learned, as Kahlil Gibran advised, to put spaces in our togetherness, so that Teri and I both have enough quiet moments to recover.
We love family and are dedicated to them, and at that First Thanksgiving I felt fortunate to be welcomed into the fold.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Both employed in different towns and not wanting to give up our day jobs we need to live apart during the week, for now. We both have plenty of responsibility at work and at home. We both have projects and outside interests. We both have family, friends and neighbors. We both have quite a few distractions and tasks that require our time. Our respective days can be long ones, yet we still make the time to remain in close contact every day. We manage to get in some quiet time to talk, laugh, discuss and share. We know that we are both ‘there for’ each other and can be counted on for anything.
We help each other work through various things – health, family relationships, work matters and our own journey. There are times when one of us takes up the slack, keeping things in perspective so we can keep things in balance. Other times, it is the other one of us tipping the scales back to center. There have even been times when we drop everything and simply ‘get away’… whether it be for a walk, a hike, bicycle ride, drive or a mini-vacation. Sometimes to keep things together you need to turn away, to revitalize, clear you mind.
Regardless, we are doing all that we can to keep our balance.
While the weather and road conditions were cold and icy; the reception Jeff received from me and my family was quite the opposite, warm and friendly.
My family truly enjoys Jeff. They see his goodness, appreciate his wit and humor. They know of his kind thoughtful ways. Yet, my family especially appreciates how he treats me, with all the warmth and caring anyone could wish for.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thousands of people had converged under the gold pioneer man who stands atop the capitol building, and there was even a wedding under way in a nearby gazebo. Just down the street was the magnificent church where Teri's dad and mom had got married. Love was in the air. The sprinkles failed to dampen the mood of the thousands gathered to salute a state of infinite diversity, a geographic wonderland that Teri memorializes each year in her calendar. Teri's excitement at being involved in this historical day in a state she loves with all her heart was contagious.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
The experts also recommend meeting in a public place for safety. That's so if the person you're dating turns out to be a Dumpster diver with huge intestinal parasites, you can leave in a hurry.
Teri and I did meet in a public place -- Tamastslikt Cultural Institute. Otherwise, though, we broke all the dating rules. Being contrarians, we would have had it no other way.
Our first date -- October 26, 2008 -- turned out to be a four-in-one special, a marathon. The cultural institute proved to be only the first leg. Instead of an hour, the date lasted 10 hours, and left us eager for more.
Friday, April 9, 2010
We made our way into the Tamastslikt Cultural Center Institute. In the lobby we looked at the exhibits and chatted with the attendant on duty. Jeff asked him to take a photo of us together – the first of many over the course of our relationship. Being a journalist, Jeff in well accustomed to documenting events, gatherings, journeys and our first date was no exception.
As with our letters and phone calls, our in-person visit was quite involved too. We chatted all the way through the
After the museum, gallery and gift shop, we went to brunch. This, my friends was no ordinary brunch… oh, I am not talking about the grand selection of food or the delightful surroundings and views we had – oh, no, I am talking about the conversation. Can you believe; we still had more things to communicate and share – one topic lead to another and another. We finally decided we had better leave, after we got another photo taken, of course. After all, we had been there for about three/three and one-half hours.
And… we were not done yet. Since we live 90 miles apart and had such great weather, Jeff suggested we go into town and go on the River Walk. We each drove our own cars to Pendleton and I followed Jeff to a parking lot near the
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Thankfully, Jeff was not arrested by the Tribal Police, and I was not pulled over and questioned as I pulled into the parking lot. In fact, I really doubt they were even concerned we were there.
Our first meeting. Jeff was nearly as I had pictured and as he had presented himself online and during our phone conversations. I learned then, and keep learning, how much more kind, considerate and thoughtful he truly is. That day he had an endearing child-like enthusiasm and still does. He had stated to me, prior to our rendezvous that he was and would be more than a bit nervous. I had thought that I might be too – with one exception. It seemed to me that we already knew each other pretty well. I told Jeff that while I thought I might be a bit nervous too, I looked at this as the fact that I was going to meet a great friend of mine and spend some time with him. So, when we met, I treated him as I do all my good friends, I gave him a hug. That could have been quite the demonstrative greeting for some, but for me it was normal.
We chatted for a short while, “How was your trip”, “Have you been here long?”, “Beautiful day for this late in October.” You get the idea. Jeff recovered nicely from my hug and then presented me with some gifts… the one I remember most…. a container of Oreos. Since that’s how this all got started, how fitting for our first date.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
After my wife died, Sept. 22, 2007, from complications of diabetes and autoimmune inner ear disease, I gave myself a year before I even thought of pursuing another relationship. Grief takes time. No two people in grief take exactly the same route or the same time. I wanted to be fully healed before I gave a new relationship a try. I didn't want to be on the rebound, as so many men are, looking for a woman to heal their pain.
By the time of my first date with Teri, Oct. 26, 2008, I had received the three free therapy sessions from work and joined six weekly sessions of group therapy put on through a local hospice. I had read five books on grieving and wrote down what had gone so very right in my relationship with Tina and what I would do differently. I knew the best compliment to Tina would be to want another relationship with a strong woman, and that's just what I got with Teri, a character with character. While Teri and Tina are both incredibly intelligent, they are polar opposites in personality. I thought it was important that we got to know each other very, very well before Teri and I pursued the physical aspects of a relationship. And that's exactly what we did.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The title of my Yahoo Personals page was "Let's grow young together." Under the heading "Me and My Ideal Match," I had written, "Like golf, bicycling, photography, dogs (most of the time), cats, reading, writing, mountain hiking, watching "Seinfeld" and football on TV, hot tubbing, sharing and caring, wind chimes. Honest, values sense of humor, frugal but not tightwad, homebody. Likes quiet life, loyalty, good work ethic, balance between work, play and home. Dislikes traffic jams, tail-gaters, loud people, rap, blowhards, fighting, hypocritical behavior, excessive materialism. Not a male mystique fix-it handyman but try my best. Seeks partner who is intelligent, adventurous, loving of people and animals and a good cook for sharing accomplishments, challenges, outdoor activities, fun. Make the ordinary extraordinary. Enjoy the little things of life. Let's love, cherish and annoy the heck out of each other."
Ten days into Teri and I's e-mail correspondence, my honesty in asking for exactly what I wanted, and being extremely honest in who I was, foibles and all, was beginning to pay dividends. Teri's e-mail, written during lunch at work, struck a chord with me. The Oreos dunked in beer is a reference to Teri's initial response to my wink. The happy insomniac zombies refers to our tendency to write each other at all hours of the day or night and being extremely happy about our prospects regardless of sleep deprivation. The next Sunday we would have our first date.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 1:43 p.m.
Subject: Lunch recess stuff ... ;)
Your "let's grow young together" is taking shape. You're right, the future is wide open and ours to explore. What with Oreos (albeit dunked in beer), "happy insomniac zombies," the feeling of a "crush," which I already told my friend Helen, "Oh, no, this is so not a 'crush,' this is definitely something more -- even if nothing beyond what we have right now becomes of it, I feel we have made a deep connection and at the very least we will both have a wonderful friend. Talk about a life-altering event. Seems like we have one of those "if I only knew then what I know now" situations, a true chance to push back time with a far better chance to "get it right." I feel like a grown-up kid, if that makes sense, and it feels awesome.
Then, the phone calls began... we should have bought stock in a major phone card distributor.
We had no protection from the deluge yet did not need any... we found out we both like dancing in the rain.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
One of my favorite letters arrived at an ungodly hour of the morning several days before our first date, Oct. 26, 2008. The letter shows just how close we had grown in a short time thanks to being extremely honest and telling each other exactly what we were looking for in a partner. The letter shows the value of Teri's creative visualization and my belief that all the bad in life is eventually balanced out by good.
Thursday, Oct. 23, 6:38 a.m.
My dear Jeff: I have to tell you I so enjoy calling you Sweetheart. It feels so very right. I can't imagine a better man for me. In fact, I feel that I made a wish and you finally came true for me.
You inspire me to be better,
you encourage me to do more,
you challenge me to reach farther ...
to visualize all is possible.
You share my passion for Oregon, nature, painting an image -- no matter in words or photography. You have a wonderful sense of humor ... and somehow you "get" me. I am amazed, as I truly did not think this would ever happen to me ... and out of the blue here you are, here I am. Proves that "Timing is everything" and if you "Change your Attitude" you can "Change Your Life," and this is the best life-altering event I have ever experienced.
I hope you are having a great day. I know we have an awesome future. Please take extra good care of yourself, we have quite an adventure ahead of us.
More later, Sweetheart,