Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Email Bloopers

Today I accidentally sent an email designed for a former coworker to Teri instead. I am happy to announce that I wouldn't mind if Teri read everything I wrote, even if that would most likely cure any insomnia issues she might have. It's good to not have secrets, and to not have secret agendas. It's good not to be on whispering campaigns, to tell one person one thing and another person something entirely different. I hope that anything I say, living most of the time 90 miles apart with different sets of coworkers and friends, will be suitable for Teri to hear, and anything I write will be suitable for Teri to read.

Of course, there are a couple of moments when the cats misbehaved that I'm glad Teri was not on hand to witness my temper. Otherwise, I would be happy to share the movie of our time apart with Teri. Of course, she may find it to be a snoozer, but an honest snoozer, at least.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You Can Bank On It

Here's a test for newlyweds. Join finances. Teri and I are in the process of combining our checking accounts. Now we will be able to track our every financial move, however modest. I want us to be able to combine resources while at the same time not having our styles cramped. We need to have a family meeting if we want to make any purchases of more than $100. Sure, we have to maintain two homes, and that is a major expense. But I think that by combining resources we will have more spending power — and more peace of mind.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Comfort food

Teri was feeling sub-par Sunday, but that didn't stop her from making a fabulous marionberry cobbler. Now that's comfort food.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Power of the Wind

Yesterday the wind was howling. We were pretty much held prisoner in our own home. Go outside and you risked being skewered by sticks, sheet metal and other flying debris. Cats, dogs and small children were at risk from tumbling away from bus stops and front porches. We could have gone for our normal power walk, and felt the power of the wind, but at the cost of being miserable and having our hair separated forcefully from our head. Instead, we sat home and started a movie marathon and had an Idaho Potato Pancake Festival thanks to a Christmas gift from our niece, Natalie, who lives in the state capital, Boise.

What could have been a boring day turned out to be a lot of fun thanks to my creative wife. Her percolating mind never fails to pleasantly surprise me.

I hope at some point we can take a walk in the wind, to soak in the power of Mother Nature. The after-dinner walk is an important part of a good Groundhog Day. Yet we have to know when it is time to go to Plan B, and yesterday was one of those days. Plan A got blown to Idaho. No Problem. Unless Plan B involves B movies.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shop Til You Drop ... Five Pounds

Going grocery shopping together is a gas. I sprint around the exterior of the grocery store like my pants are on fire. Teri lingers. I grab and go. Teri compares product. If there is a stack of five items, she looks at each one to determine that none is defective and which is the best quality.

Despite our differences in technique, when we get to the checkout line it is hoped we would come away with similar products. As the "Younger Next Year" authors say, good nutrition starts in the supermarket, not in the kitchen." I worship at the Younger Next Year shrine, Teri not so much. Either way, we both try to follow Dr. Henry S. Lodge's fifth rule, which is "Quit eating crap."

The reason we do it is so we can have many happy and healthy years together. If broccoli turns out to be our comfort food, so be it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Of butterflies and blue herons

A big snowstorm is expected over the weekend. Mother Nature is winding up to give us a roundhouse punch to the right temple. It may be her last blast before spring begins to show itself with crocuses and daffodils popping up through the mud. There are no guarantees. And the calendar is mostly a suggestion, not a rule. But the season of butterflies and blue herons is not far away, and both are extremely meaningful to our relationship.

Butterflies give us Helen blessings. Teri's mom was a big fan of the swallowtail butterfly, and when we see one we consider it to be Helen letting us know that we are on the right path. Seems strange. But it works. Last July, just as I began the 18-mile ascent of Beartooth Pass in Montana by bicycle, I encountered a swallowtail that seemed to tell me you trained for this, you prepared for this, you can do it and this is the place you need to be.

Blue herons are important to us too. On our very first river walk, at Pendleton along the Umatilla, on our first date, a blue heron carved a perfect circle in the sky above us. It seemed to sanctify our relationship, to tell us we were right for each other, to take the chance and see where this great adventure might take us. Ever since we have been on the lookout for other blue herons. Each time we see one it is a blessing on the relationship and tells us we are on the right path.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Emotional Resilience

I am currently reading Dr. Andrew Weil's book "Spontaneous Happiness." The main purpose is so that I can maintain equilibrium and not often bring work problems home to Teri. Of course, we don't mind providing other counsel. But I don't want to bring up the same problems over and over again if there is no real solution. When my head starts to spin with unresolvable problems, I want to have techniques ready at hand to get off the mental merry-go-round.

As long as we have to work, there will be problems. In fact, as long as we live there will be problems and we will be searching for solutions. The important thing is we be satisfied with where we are, but also be open to better ways of doing things should we discover them in the future.

For now, retirement is not an option. And we have to face a hard fact: not all co-workers will be universally pleasant. Some co-workers may even try to deliberately sabotage our peace of mind. They may not be on the same wave length when it comes to standards of excellence and what is necessary to achieve a quality product. No matter. The important thing is we find ways not to recycle negativity but to break free of it as quickly as possible and return to our optimistic emotional set-points.

Easier said than done. Dr. Weil, though, has some excellent advice on meditation techniques involving breathing and mantras that could work to make this process go more smoothly, and for that Teri and I both can be thankful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


People sometimes ask how I manage to stay so slim, when Teri is such a terrific cook. The answer: e-treats. Every morning, as we start work 85 miles apart, me in La Grande, Teri in Walla Walla, we send each other e-treats.

Today's e-treat from Teri was especially tasty. The email had me hankering for more.

Hi Sweetie.... Here's to a good day for both of us.

Now, about your e-treat....
A generous Oregon Hazelnut and Cinnamon e-Latte a lovely Spiced Pumpkin Dessert... oh, dessert for breakfast???? That's the great thing about e-treats... we can have ANYTHING we want.

Make it a good day....
Teri ;)

E-treats are a great way for us to connect. It also helps us remember such traditions as "always kiss me good morning" and "the day's first dance." Best of all, e-treats cost nothing but time and are calorie-free.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Eastern Front

Not too long after my first wife, Tina, died at age 48 of complications of diabetes, her cousin, Sandy, entered my life. Sandy, in her late 60s going on 27, had read a column I had written, which had been sent to her from Tina's Aunt Mart, in Minnesota. Sandy lives at the opposite end of the country, near Washington, D.C., and we have been emailing back and forth ever since. We are the odd couple: me in the mountains of rural Oregon, she in suburban Virginia. I consider her my mentor and, even more so, the big sister I never had. Sandy played an instrumental role in getting me through grief recovery and gave me good advice as I launched back into dating.

Even today, almost five years later, Sandy is still there for me on the other end of emails and the phone. She seems almost as amazed at my relationship with Teri, and my good fortune, as I am.

Today Sandy was commenting on Teri's love for cooking and creativity and on her blog, "Channeling Mom."

"She (Teri) is remarkable and both of you are so lucky to have one another. I still think it's a miracle that you found one another.....a beautiful miracle. I love the framed picture you guys sent me for Christmas. It makes me so happy to look at it and it's hanging with my other family photos in the hallway."

Thanks, Sandy, for your part in giving me the courage to move forward with my life and for putting some wind in the sails of this great adventure.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday driver!

Teri and I like to grab the cameras and go for Sunday drives. Only this time we were taking pictures only with the cameras of our minds. That's OK. The days are getting longer, and what better way to enjoy waning winter than to check out the wildlife congregating along the South Fork Walla Walla River. Turkeys, mule deer, cougars, oh my! Well, we didn't actually see cougars, just silhouettes of brush that looked like cougars. No matter.

Sweetie Pie can see the spots on a fawn 500 yards away, and I can usually pick out all five fingers on my hand if I hold it close enough to my face. Opposites attract.

Teri enjoys jumping in the car and exploring. There is no agenda, no set plan, no timeline. Sometimes we try to chase down rainbows. Other times we try to see elk grazing on Northeast Oregon mountainsides. Either way, it's fun to get out and see the treasures of our wild Oregon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Color My World

Teri and I love color, and we want to surround ourselves with beauty. One long-term goal is transforming the mountain cabin from its original snow-white (now off-gray walls) to vibrant colors. We want to paint at least one room a year until the entire cabin is claimed anew as ours. Last summer we painted the master bedroom hydrangea blue. The next room on our agenda is the kitchen, which we hope to paint a golden wheat color.

Today we went to Home Depot, where we have many gift cards from our wedding, in order to choose colors for the rest of the house. It's fun dreaming about seeing the project come to fruition, and it will be great doing all the hard work together. One room at a time we claim the house as ours and see the future as bright.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Big Trip

Half the fun of a vacation is in the planning and anticipation. That's why, by mid-February, I have already signed up for all four weeks of vacation for the year. And I have big plans.

In March, Teri and I plan to go to the Oregon Coast for our annual beach getaway. Sure, with all the excitement over wedding planning, we missed a year. But I don't intend to let that happen again. We both love the ocean, and Oregon has perhaps the best and most accessible coastline in the nation. Around every corner is another treasure waiting to be discovered.

In July, I'm planning to go on a bicycling adventure with friend Bill where we will circle the rim of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in North America at almost 2,000 feet deep and one that fills an old volcanic caldera where the volcano blew its top hundreds of years ago. The rim road is about 40 miles and has lots of ups and downs but averages about 8,000 feet above sea level. Crater Lake is Oregon's only national park, and a real gem.

In September, Teri and I are planning a second honeymoon trip to Canada. This time we'll probably focus on eastern British Columbia, a mountain paradise. We're hoping to also make a Canada trip an annual affair. Teri once lived and worked in Canada, and we both love getting away to see this gorgeous part of the world.

And in late October we'll be going on our fifth annual River Walk. We did the Pendleton river walk on our first date, and since have done river walks in Bend, the Tri-Cities and Boise. This year we plan to give Spokane, where Teri went to college, the honors.

In the meantime, we get to anticipate all these trips — and the joys of new discovery.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekends Were Made for Love

Remember the slogan "Weekends are made for Michelob"? I think a better slogan is, "Weekends are made for love." Sure, I love my beer. But I love my life and my wife a lot more, and I want to be around for many years to enjoy both.

Studies show that bingeing on beer once a month (that's just three or more beers) can take six years off a person's life. I'm now in the middle of a lifestyle campaign to no longer bring beer home — and to no longer binge. It's all part of my Gray Seals and Younger Next Year programs to see just how far I can go and how good I can feel. The empty calories of beer (each can is equivalent to a Twinkie) are not wanted or needed.

I'm fortunate that several of my best friends are recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. They've already quit and are living rich lives free of substance abuse. They are role models for me as I pursue a life of quality and quantity. I'm not saying I'm an alcoholic or drug addict. I'm just saying my history of bringing beer into the home has given me more calories than I need, and could lead to health complications if I don't nip the habit in the bud.

I'll still have a beer out on the town from time to time. Sure, buying beer at a restaurant seems more expensive. But now I'm into quality, not quantity. And bringing beer home in the long run costs more, not just to the wallet but to the body in health complications. Let someone else's weekends be fogged by Michelob. I choose to be clear, sharp, vital and alive so that I can see just where this crazy exercise program, and especially this crazy love, wants to go.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Month

OK, so everybody celebrates Valentine's Day. It's a wonderful holiday, full of Cupids, dark chocolate, balloons and bouquets. But why stop at just one day? Why not make the entire month of February Valentine's Month? Or the entire year Valentine's Year?

Sure, only Ted Turner or Bill Gates can afford to send flowers every day. But all of us can send our love through one of the five love languages: affirmations, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch. The love languages fit any budget, whether we are dirt poor or can afford to have empty rooms in the house and a gas piggy that squeals from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds.

Celebrating Valentine's all year long requires making the relationship the top priority. It must be more important than the dog, the cat or the bowling league. It must be more important than hunting elk or wearing a cheesehead and rooting for the Green Bay Packers.

I think Teri and I are on track to celebrate a really great Valentine's Month. That's true only because we are trying to create for ourselves a great Groundhog Day. Like in the movie by the same name starring Bill Murray, we are doing the same day over and over, like so many couples, but our goal is to not to hear the grinding routine but instead to let that day evolve and to eventually get it just right.

We want to create a good Groundhog Day, a good Groundhog Week, a good Groundhog Month and a good Groundhog Year. If and when we do, Valentine's Month and Year will take care of itself.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Norman Rocks!

I'm a big Norman Rockwell fan. He painted fun slices of Americana, poignant moments off the beaten path. I feel our wedding photographer, the incomparable Amanda Smith, captured a Rockwellesque moment on 9-10-11, Teri and my wedding day. Amanda took a picture of my bride and I sitting on a bench outside an old farm house. We are straddling the bench, facing each other, about to kiss. Behind me, standing on the bench, is our flower girl, 3-year-old Cadence, covering her eyes, as if horrified by such a public display of affection. Teri used the picture to design our wedding thank you cards.

To me, it is the signature moment of our wedding. Norman Rockwell would have approved, then painted the scene.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Baby She Sent Me a Valentine

Before our first date, Oct. 26, 2008, I was driving over the Blue Mountains from Cove to Pendleton when Joe Cocker's "My Baby She Wrote Me a Letter" came on the radio right at the summit. How appropriate, I thought. Ever since Teri had responded to my personals wink, on Oct. 12, we had been communicating back and forth with longer and longer emails. She had wrote me a letter and then some, more like "War and Peace" only with a better plot.

Today we celebrate Valentine's Day. It's one of our favorite holidays since the day is also Oregon's birthday and we truly love our home state with its infinite diversity, its sea level to ski level, its rain forests and high deserts. On Feb. 14, 2010, we got engaged at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla, celebrating ourselves, love and Oregon. The year before we traveled to Salem to help the state celebrate its 150th birthday and then on to the magnificent Oregon coast.

Now Teri sends me Valentines all sorts of ways. One of my favorites is through text messages accompanied by photos. Love, of course, is more than just a once a year occasion. It's an everyday thing that never gets routine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fancy Dancing

Since we didn't get to have a first dance at our wedding reception, we decided to have a first dance sometime during each day we are together. It's another part of a really fine, super terrific A1 Groundhog Day. It's also a lot of fun. The first dance might happen at 5 in the morning (God forbid!) or at 10 at night. It might happen while walking on a sidewalk in downtown Walla Walla or in a grocery store aisle, much to the disgust of younger people half our age who think the AARP set should be heard and not seen.

This morning, as I got ready for my oh so early 5:45 departure for the 75-mile commute to La Grande, we started to dance. Knowing time was of the essence, I led us in a fast dance. We both laughed and had a good time putting new dents in the Beach Condo rug.

While I am no Fred Astaire and Teri is no Ginger Rogers, we enjoy these stolen moments moving in harmony. And to this point there have been no major medical issues. We still have the use of all our toes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spoiled Rotten

I am the luckiest man in the world. No, I did not win the Powerball lottery or adopt a button-nosed rich kid. I did not have a million dollars land in my lap, or win employee of the month three years running. What I did was marry the woman I call Wonder. She's the kind of person who loves to experiment in the kitchen and post pictures of her creations online. And guess who gets to sample all these culinary delights? Me. Who would have guessed, in my year of self-imposed exile from dating, when I was in grief recovery, the year after my first wife, Tina, died tragically at age 48, that this kind of treasure would be in my future? I am truly blessed — and life is much sweeter than it might have been. I am loving every minute of being spoiled rotten.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shop Til You Drop

Ah, Valentine's Week. My Sweetie invited me out for a great breakfast at the Maple Counter Cafe on a rainy Saturday morning in Walla Walla. We shared a Danish cherry pancake. The atmosphere was great. The service was terrific. The coffee cup never went dry. Afterward, while Honey Bunches of Whole Wheat Fruit Loops paid for our meal, I wandered over to window shop at Goodwill, the much maligned store carrying lots of well used merchandise and the occasional treasure. There, much to my astonishment, I found an amazing painting, in a nice frame, by my favorite artist, Norman Rockwell, depicting young lovers and their dog in an all-American scene of romantic unconditional love. And for $7. What a steal!

When we wandered inside to pay for our masterpiece, we also spotted an Oreo bowl for $1.99. Viola! Teri, in her first email to me, made a joke that I probably dunked my Oreos in beer. Ever since Oreos — alas, not beer! —have been an important part of our shared family history. No, we do not indulge ourselves regularly in Oreo sugary-sweet simple carbohydrate goodness. But it is fun to have reminders around the mountain cabin and beach condo of this important bit of sassiness that set the tone for our relationship.

I always encourage Teri to "shop like a man." In other words, keep up a pace in the store and grab stuff on the go. Of course, she does just the opposite, even when shopping at Goodwill.

OK, so we got in and out of Goodwill fairly quickly with our newfound treasures. We may not have shopped like a Real Man, or until we dropped, or until we had to declare bunkruptcy and pitch a tent under a bridge. Still, it sure was fun going on a Valentine's Week treasure hunt with my Sweetie and celebrate love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Beach Beckons

Half the fun of a vacation is in the planning. Teri and I are in the final stages of selecting a home base for our trip to the Oregon Coast in March. We're leaning toward Cannon Beach. From there we'll explore the far northwest corner of Oregon — Seaside, Astoria, the Astor Column, the Peter Iredale shipwreck, Lewis & Clark's winter headquarters and much, much more. We both love Oregon, and have many places that we each have been separately but have not been to together. Many adventures await.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oregon Celebrates the Big 153!

Oregon's birthday is a big deal for Teri and I. We love the Beaver State. We think there should be a state holiday called Pioneer Day, a little like Massachusetts' Patriots Day, except with more fireworks.

Oregon this year is celebrating the big 153. We became a state in 1859, and that event just happened to occur on Valentine's Day. This makes Oregon a state for lovers.

Virginia claims this slogan now, but I think it is one that can be shared with a state 3,000 miles to the west. There is a lot to love about Oregon, from sea level to ski level, from the rainy and lush Willamette Valley to the barren high desert of Eastern Oregon.

Teri does a desk calendar each year in celebration of Oregon's diverse beauty. The calendar is also a tribute to her late mother Helen, who died of leukemia in 2003. Helen loved Oregon, and took the three kids on educational tours of the state every chance she got. Her love was passed along to Teri, and I am the beneficiary of this geographical passion.

Oregon is for lovers, no doubt about it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hedonism 101

The travel show on TV featuring geeky and effervescent Rick Steves was doing its usual quick romp through museums and Saturday markets. Then, without warning, the host let fly with the following: Bagpipes symbolize hedonism. Eureka! Teri and I thought. We just on 9-10-11 pulled off a most hedonistic wedding. We do pamper ourselves with the raucous and bedeviling sounds of our ancestral home, the Scottish Highlands. And the "victory lap" led by our bagpiper, Steve Pyles, will be a cherished forever memory.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cabbage Stew

Thank God for fog lines — and for guardian angels. This morning's drive Over the Blues was a great adventure. Fog filled the bog at Milton-Freewater and attempted to climb the infamous Interstate 84 six mile, 6 percent grade up Cabbage Hill just east of Pendleton. I crept along in the fast lane carefully watching the fog line and the freeway ahead for taillights. I'd go in the slow lane, but that is reserved mostly for semi trucks and trailers creeping up this notorious grade.

The tendency in fog is for drivers to speed up. Occasionally, I'd check out my rearview mirror in hopes no one was gaining on me.

All I could say was, Well, it sure beats black ice. Then again, if it was black ice, I hope I would have the good sense to just stay home and try again when the ice on the road melted. Better safe and have 30 or more years together than sorry.

As I emerged from the foggy stew at the top of Cabbage Hill, I said thank you to my guardian angel for helping me, one more hair-raising, central nervous system-testing time, get Over the Blues.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Team Spirit

We're in the process of slowly combining resources. In fact, this week, for the first time ever, both our checks were deposited into a shared bank account. It takes a lot of trust. Over time we've built the trust that neither of us will run out and buy a shar pei dog, or a pet opossum or badger on credit, or gamble away our limited funds at Wildhorse casino. We'll call a family meeting if either of us plans to make a purchase of $100 or more. And both of us can monitor the account online to make sure we have enough of a cushion to pay needed bills or have a little fun.

Over time, we're hoping to find a way to pay off all our credit cards so we get on a cash basis. Of course, we know there may be a time when a medical or some other emergency causes us to go into debt. We'll deal with that then. For now, we are trying to be disciplined and get our financial house in order so that what money we do have stretches as far as it possibly can.

The important thing, for both of us, is to be comfortable with this new arrangement. We need to continue paying our bills and having a little fun without constantly looking over our shoulders or walking on eggshells. We work hard for a living, and we need some rewards for that effort.

Working together, and blending our financial resources, we can make each other's lives just a little more pleasant. And in the end that is what matters.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Life is a Beach

We call the Milton-Freewater home the "beach condo" even though it is 300 miles from the Oregon Coast. Both of us love the coast. We wish we could spend more time there. However, reality demands full-time jobs, mine at The Observer, a daily newspaper in La Grande, and Teri's at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Hence, we have to bring some of the coast to us, and have decorated the condo accordingly with replica lighthouses, paintings and other souvenirs that remind us of past travels and give us hope for future adventures.

Like all things in life, the beach condo is a work in progress. One thing we try to do when we get the chance is to buy particularly artistic kitchen implements or living room accessories. For example, we got a tower lamp and a tower vase for the living room, and bright red spatulas and soup bowls for the kitchen. These may or may not have beach themes, but they are items of beauty and inspiration.

Home, to us, is an art gallery. We are of modest means, but when we do get to purchase something, we consider its function and form. We are looking first for something that works and second for its eye appeal. Both form and function are important. It is comforting and uplifting to surround ourselves with beauty — and to feel transported, upon coming home from a challenging day at work, to the restfulness of the beach.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Baby, She Sent Me a Photo

You've heard of the Joe Cocker song "My Baby, She Wrote Me a Letter." The song was on the radio as I drove over the summit of the Blue Mountains heading for Pendleton and my first date with Teri, on Oct. 26, 2008.

Now, at least in my heart, I'm singing another song. It's titled "My Baby, She Sent Me a Photo." This morning Teri "texted" me a photo of herself posed in her office with a big smile and a message "I love you." What a beautiful woman. She made my day, and rarely is a day made so early in the morning.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Year

You've heard of 'Groundhog Day,' where Bill Murray is a cynical TV weatherman who gets snowed in, in a small town, and gets a chance to relive a day over and over until he gets it right. But what about Groundhog Year? Our Groundhog Year is a work in progress. For now it includes birthday mini-vacations. Another Honeymoon trip each year, to Canada; an annual Oregon Coast vacation; a 10-26 river walk in honor of our first date (in 2008). It's quite a list. If we accomplish this much each year, and grow deeper in love, we will be satisfied. Our Groundhog Year may never be a masterpiece by Hollywood standards, but it will grow over the years to be a labor of love, a work of enduring beauty.

Happy Groundhog Day

We're celebrating Groundhog Day today. Despite its not being listed on my desk calendar at work, Groundhog Day is a major family holiday. For one thing, it's my favorite movie. Bill Murray plays the cynical weatherman who gets a chance to do one day over and over again until he finally gets it right. For another thing, Groundhog Day played a big role in my marriage proposal to Teri almost two years ago this Valentine's Day.

It started like this. When I got a second chance at romance, after my first wife Tina died of complications of diabetes at age 48 in 2007, I decided to make the best of it and in the Murray tradition try to do things right. First I had to spend a year getting over grief and getting my act together. Next I had to meet someone special. When I did, I wanted to try an experiment. What if I could create a good Groundhog Day, a good Groundhog Week, a good Groundhog Month and a good Groundhog Year?

First, though, I needed to concentrate on Groundhog Day. One day at a time. I wanted a good day with positive habits that I could repeat, one that through incrementalism would build romance over time. I think it worked.

Our Groundhog Day, of course, is a work in progress. If together, we have pillow talk, do some tai chi-esque stretching, have a first dance, give and get a 4:44 energy hug, give a back rub and kiss each other goodnight. If apart, we send e-greetings and treats, the occasional text message and email, and finish the day with a nightly phone call.

We celebrate Groundhog Day both once a year and every day. Once a year we celebrate with a decadent Family Holiday Sausage Feast. Every day we celebrate Groundhog Day by continuing to incorporate good daily habits that build the relationship.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Quality Time

One of the five love languages is quality time. (The others are affirmations, gifts, acts of service and physical touch.) Being that Teri and I are in a Living Apart Together, or LAT, relationship, quality time becomes a big deal. The way I manage it when we are 90 miles apart, me in the mountain cabin in Cove and Teri in the beach condo in Milton-Freewater, is nightly phone calls. I try not to call until after 9 p.m., when I know Teri should be home from her dad's, where she often checks in on weekday evenings, makes sure Al is OK and cooks them dinner.

Our conversations ramble all over the place. They range from the joke of the day to how work went and weekend plans. Basically, we just enjoy each other's company. I try to remember to give her an energy hug and kiss her goodnight. It's not the same as in person, of course, but it does help us build good relationship-growing habits over time.

Sure, 90 miles is 90 miles. But through the phone it feels as if we are sharing time, space and dreams.