Gasp!

Offering my most abject apologies here for the wasteland my blog has become lately.  There is so much going on in my life right now that when I do have a free minute – all I want to do is relax and not think about anything. I’m hoping things will slow down a little soon, because I do feel better when I write and I love hearing from my readers and blogger friends and relatives.  I also desperately need a vacation, I haven’t had any significant time off since the holidays.  So I’m taking this opportunity to write quickly; as I found an opportunity to surface for a quick breath of air  (“Gasp!”)    I’m due to go under again in just a few minutes,  so sending you all love and big hugs!  I’ll try to post snippets and some pictures if I get the chance. Right now, I’m taking care of me and listening to my inner voice- which is telling me to relax and do nothing  whenever I get the chance.  Please know I love you all and really appreciate all the friendship and support you offer me every day.  You lift me up. Hugs again  (One can never get, or give, too many of those!)   Best,  Donna

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Tales from the Northland: The Wedding Chronicles

Its been awhile since I wrote about our journey to wedded bliss. I thought to do a bit of research to see what actual Viking wedding customs entailed and discovered, to my delight, that some of them actually have been passed down into modern wedding traditions. For example, carrying the bride over the threshold of the new home. It was considered extreme bad luck for the bride to trip or fall when entering her new abode and beginning her new life. In olden times doorways were considered portals to the otherworld and spirits were thought to gather there. The thresholds of these olden homes were raised and people had to step up and over in order to get into the house. So a Viking groom was expected to avert disaster and carry his wife over the threshold so she would not trip and fall and bring bad luck to the marriage. The woman must also consent to the wedding, and to marry without this (a forced marriage) was thought to bring disaster upon the groom. I was also fascinated by the fact that the groom had to basically grave rob a sword from one of his ancestors, and the rings were presented to each other on the hilt of that sword. For further reading, I highly recommend this article by The Viking Answer Lady.

When last I left off, the Viking and I had just gotten engaged. We had tentatively planned a wedding for late September of 1985 – or about 15 months after getting engaged. I was still living “at home”. with my mother. The Viking and I decided, about 3 months after getting engaged, to look for an apartment and move in together., which we did in January, 1985. We viewed it as “the test drive” – You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a spin first so why not move in together and see how compatible we are/were. This caused some not entirely unexpected ripples within the family. Particularly with my father, and with my maternal grandparents. Dad heartily disapproved, and refused to call me at the apartment. He’d take my calls, and call me at work, etc but he never stopped by the apartment or called while we were just living together. (although he did buy us a washing machine as an “early” wedding gift). The wedding itself was tentatively set for late September, as I mentioned. My mom’s mother was not happy that we were living together and not married. I jokingly said one day in April of that year,. “Well, Gramma, we’ll move up the date if we can have it in your backyard.” She took me up on that immediately. My grandparents had a beautiful yard, with gorgeous roses and a brook running along the back edge. So we moved the date up to June 21st.

The Viking is not Catholic, and I am, so this presented a bit of a conundrum. He did not want to marry in the Catholic church, so we agreed to a civil ceremony by a Justice of the Peace. My mom and I went shopping for the dress in late April. We found it on the closeout rack at Steigers Department Store. Off white lace, cocktail length, kerchief hemline – PERFECT, and I think it cost all of 40 dollars. Neither The Viking or I had two cents to rub together then, so we economised however we could.

June 21, 1985 dawned sunny and warm. We did in fact unknowingly follow ancient Viking Tradition and marry on a Friday. (Frigga’s Day) I laid out on the side lawn at my mother’s apartment -where I had stayed over the night before- and got a bit of a sunburn in the morning. What I remember most about that day is my inability to put on nylon panty hose without ripping them with my fingernails. I’d managed to grow my natural nails out to a wonderful length for the wedding (haven’t been able to do that since) BUT – EVERY SINGLE TIME I tried to put on my nylons I managed to puncture them with my nails. My poor soon-to- be stepfather made I think 4 trips to the convenience store just down the street to get new pairs of nylons for me.This gave me a bad case of nerves, so I was given a few drinks to steady them – just enough to take the edge off (and I wasn’t driving anyway, hehehe)

We got up to my Grandparent’s and then had to wait for my Dad. He thought we were starting at 6:30, not 6 – so he wasn’t there when I expected him to be. More stress. But he got there just in time to whisk me down the stairs, through the back porch and out to the rose garden. Which was in full, glorious bloom at the time. My Grandfather said many times that that was the best year ever for his roses. They never bloomed as beautifully or profusely afterward – and he always said they did it for me. Grandma earned the nickname “Flash” at my wedding because she was literally everywhere at once, making sure all was in order. After the obligatory picture taking and congratulations, we all went out for an intimate family dinner. Then, we returned home to our apartment. One of my husband’s friends showed up a few hours later wanting him to go out – and didn’t believe his excuse that it was his wedding night. I showed him the rings, and the license, and that shut him up and left us in peace. 😉

The Viking’s Grandparents were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary the following month, so we had decided to go out to Tacoma, WA and make that part of our honeymoon. Brent’s parents got us out to Washington on the pretext of surprising his grandparents for their anniversary., on July 13, 1985. They got Brent’s Grandparents to their house on the pretext of surprising us with a wedding reception. It worked beautifully all the way around, and all of his family was there, including members from South Dakota, Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest. My head was spinning with so many introductions, and my right hand actually swelled up from shaking so many hands throughout the day. This was also the same day the Live Aid concert was performed and broadcast on MTV. I can distinctly remember sneaking indoors to watch Queen and the Led Zeppelin reunion. Freddy Mercury was amazing, I can’t listen to “Radio Ga-Ga” anymore without thinking about that stellar, show stealing performance! Then, we traveled south to visit with his Aunt and Uncle who lived about 20 miles from Mt St Helens at the time. As a wedding present, they gave us an airplane tour over the mountain. (the “Volcano Tour”). Even 5 years after the eruption the damage was incredible.  We had room for one more passenger, and so took his then 8 year old cousin Amanda with us. When we attended her wedding in 2000, she made it a point to tell us she remembered going with us, and how much she enjoyed it. Her brothers made it a point to mention how mad they were that they didn’t get to go… 😉

When we returned my mother threw us a “reception” party on August 5 – so we refer to the summer of ’85 as “Our Wedding Summer” Truthfully there is much to recommend this. Nothing’s happening all at once, so you can stop and savor the moments completely. Here’s a picture of two serious seeming young people, who were, actually, scared and extremely nervous when this was taken, 27 years and many many wonderful memories ago. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away……

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Tick-Tock, Tick….

I had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about today until I was almost home. I have a half hour commute each way and I generally get a lot of thinking done on the way to and from the place that owns me 8/40. On the way in,  I plan my day. On the way home, I plan my evening.  If I haven’t posted at lunchtime, the ride home is when I consider what I’m going to write about.  I’ve made a commitment to write daily, and I’ve been able to keep that since I started my blogging journey.  And how wonderful that journey has been so far!  So first, some appreciation to those who think what I have to say is valuable. Thanks so much.

But I still really didn’t know what I wanted to write about this evening. Its 15 miles from work to my driveway.   “I puzzled and puzzed, till my puzzler was sore…”  Then my gas light came on while  I was still on the Mass Pike. Fortunately there’s at least 10 miles left in the tank when that happens – and I was close to my exit.  So I stopped for gas at the station down the street from home.  We actually bought our house from the owners of said station; and my oldest was in Choir with much of the family.  The Choir Director is their mother and an absolutely lovely, lovely person, jsyk.  Anyway, one of the older boys waited on me at the pump and we made some small talk.  Corey’s graduating in 2 weeks and he mentioned that he couldn’t believe how fast the time has been going.  “Wait’ll you have kids and get to my age”, was my response.  Bingo!  Steve Miller started singing in my head as the light bulb went on over it.

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle

There have been several points in time in my life so far where time has seemed to stand still. Between ages 8 and 13, summers pretty much lasted forever and not much changed. Life was pretty good, for the most part.  Then I hit high school, the gears shifted, the wheels started turning and things went into fast forward mode.  I pretty much stayed in fast forward until getting married.  The Viking and I had seven years together before Miss Chaos arrived. Seven years of sitting at the top of the Ferris Wheel, figuratively speaking.  The view was grand, and I love that we got to know each other so much better than most couples do before they start their families.  Having children changes everything. I’ve been living life at warp speed since the age of 31.

You measure your time by their milestones. First smile, first steps, first words. First day of school. You go about your days – or at least I did – in robot mode. Putting one foot in front of the other. Time is measured by the school year.  Before you know it, its Halloween, then Christmas, then spring vacation. Then summer. Summer, that was endless when I was a child – is now only 8-10 weeks long. Back to school in a flash.  And do it all over again.    Not to say that I haven’t stopped to smell the proverbial roses.  I have, and had lots of fun.  Those good times go by even faster than the monotonous everyday. I still haven’t figured out why that is, but they do.

You stop by to see your parent one day and there’s a really old person sitting where your Mom is supposed to be. That’s always a shock.  You say goodnight to your father when he leaves your house after dinner one night in early June half a decade ago, and 24 hours later the police are at your house informing you you need to get to the hospital ASAP. It’s THAT quick folks. I confess to getting a bit melancholy at this time of year; I miss my father very much. And then there’s always that lovely morning where you look in the mirror and see crow’s feet and grey hair. Thats OK though – supposed to happen.  I don’t feel any different inside than I did at 25, I actually think I’m much healthier now.  I weigh a helluva lot less than I did then, certainly. But I feel the  press of passing years differently.  My view-screen has changed.

I’m still keeping time by the school calendar – that won’t change for at least 10 more years. Having my girls later in life than most has kept me young, at least in spirit.  I’ve also come to realize over the years that I can take time for me without feeling guilty about it.  I continue filling my life with meaningfulness rather than monotony.  I can choose, I do choose, to live that meaningful life. Enjoying the moments, minutes, or hours with my family and friends whenever I can. Making a difference in whatever small way I can.   Flying like the Eagle, as Steve would say.  I’ve hopefully got a long ways to go before I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on that banana peel. But I’m off to enjoy the NOW.  Because  “time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin into the future…”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The Greatest Joy on Earth….

.is to LOVE, and Be Loved in Return. I am absolutely dumbfounded at the biased, nastily rhetorical , narrow-minded, and completely UN-christian things I have been seeing and hearing as regards same sex marriage lately. I know, it shouldn’t surprise me – there’s a lot of hatred and suspicion out there, unfortunately. However there was a bright spot to my day while I was pondering all this kerfluffle. I am not a Barack Obama fan by any means – ask anyone who knows me – but today I heard that he did get something right. He “came out” (pun intended) in favor of same sex marriage! Way to go, Mr President! The only “criticism” I have is that he didn’t do it sooner. That said, I’m happy his opinion is “finally out of the closet” and strangely, coinciding with my own.

Photo Credit: p.twimg.com/AsgAPE6CEAEyrPo.jpg (found on Twitter today)

For the record, I’m straight. I consider myself a Christian (self-titled “New Age Catholic”). My family tree has many religious branches including Judaism, LDS’, Lutherans, Evangelical Baptists and RC’s, so I’ve been exposed to many different points of view over the years. I’ve long had issues with what I consider very outdated Catholic Church doctrine and its practices as they concern women’s roles in the Faith. But there is also much that I agree with with in its teachings. Teachings that boil down to this one simple, profound idea – “LOVE ONE ANOTHER“. This is Christ’s greatest commandment to his followers.

In any religion marriage is a sacrament and any religion has every right to decide who can and cannot marry. In the Roman Catholic faith couples are required to take “Pre-Cana” classes; and the priest can decide not to perform the marriage if he feels the parties are not ready – for whatever reason. Granted, it doesn’t happen often – but it does happen. A Church has every right to expect its members to behave according to its doctrine, and I support that wholeheartedly. After all, if I don’t like it, I have the option to leave. Where I have the issue is when members of any church or religion decide to apply or force their code of behavior on the world at large. I have trouble reconciling the loving God I am most familiar with – with the terrifying spectacle of a vengeful petulant God that religious extremists envision. Extremists scare the daylights out of me with their black and white “if you disagree with me you’re going to hell” or “if you disagree with me I’ll blow you up” view of the world. It’s not that simple.

Lets look at marriage from a social standpoint and put the religion aside for a moment. Marriage -from a societal view – is really just a legally binding social contract between two people who LOVE ONE ANOTHER and want to build a life together. So what’s the problem? When two people marry they are not taking anything away from anyone, they are creating new connections. There are no boundaries where there is love. Gender doesn’t matter, what matters is that there is LOVE, and that two people are willing to make a long term COMMITMENT to each other. In these days of hook-ups, one-nighters, friends-with-benefits, “open” relationships, and short term, disposable ones – COMMITMENT is a rare and beautiful thing. We should be doing everything in our power to encourage stable, loving, long-term connections between people. It is not loving to keep others from living full and complete lives in a committed caring relationship simply because we don’t care for their sexual orientation! And further, also for the record, I don’t believe that’s a choice either. If you are lucky enough to love and be loved in return – then you have EVERYTHING. All same sex couples are asking is for the right to go down to city hall and commit to each other. They are not insisting that any church perform the ceremony, or that any church accept them as members. This should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, a fuss is being made.

Allowing people of the same gender to marry one another HURTS NO ONE. I would submit to you all that actually it only enhances us as human beings – because it promotes a culture of acceptance and caring. I would also further submit that a truly religious person would refrain from hurtful, malicious criticism and instead lead by quiet example. I don’t believe it is my place to pass judgement on other people’s behavior (unless I’m on the jury when you stand trial for a crime) because I am fallible and a work-in-progress myself. I may have an opinion, but I can’t stand in judgement. I live in a glass house, just like the rest of the planet.  And, it really doesn’t matter to me what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home.  I don’t particularly care for excessive PDA regardless of the gender(s) involved.  (Save it for the bedroom, kids!)  What does matter to me is how people treat one another. Are they kind, helpful, and loving?  When it is time to close my eyes for the final time on this plane of existence I will be asking myself these questions: Did I love? Did I show it by my actions and words? Was I loved in return? Did I make a difference in other peoples lives?, Was I kind? Did I take responsibility for my mistakes and hurtful actions towards others, and am I sorry for them? If I can answer yes to these questions, then I have lived as a Christian Human Being. I’ll know where I’ll be headed next, and I’ll also  know there’ll be QUITE the conversation when I get there.   Peace, out.

“Dear Momma E.” 20 Things to Remember to Have a Successful Relationship/Marriage

Next month the Viking and I are celebrating 27 years of marriage and 28 years as a couple. I’m pretty proud of the both of us – nobody thought it would last more than a couple years at most. We proved them wrong in spades. Here’s to at least 27 more years together! Of course, had I shot and killed him 27 years ago I’d be getting out of prison just about now…. Just kidding… Love ya Honey 😉 ! For what it’s worth, here’s my advice on helping a relationship last:

1. You may need to go to bed angry. Rehashing the same stuff when the other person obviously isn’t going to listen to your point of view right then will only keep you awake and make you more tired. Sometimes a good nights sleep will give you the perspective you need to figure out a better solution. . .( and if not, at least hopefully you’ll have been able to sleep)

2. Don’t expect to EVER go back to your “honeymoon” phase. It just ain’t gonna happen. Those dirty clothes on the floor are still gonna annoy the crap out of you. Relationships either go forward or they cease; they never go backwards.

3. Make your relationship a PRIORITY. Make time for your partner and do things together when you can.

4. Understand that your partner is not perfect and neither are you. Be flexible and willing to listen. FORGIVE. And if you can’t forgive, get out of the relationship. Once you forgive, don’t forget. They’ll have to earn your trust again. And that may take some time depending on the circumstances. Don’t be a martyr, though (its only becoming to Jesus and the saints – not us average folk) You can’t hold someone’s faults over their head forever, but you can expect some penance to be paid.

5. Share the chores! Nothing says “I love you” like help with the dishes!

6. Don’t be sneaky. Your partner has the RIGHT to know where you are and what you are doing – usually before you do it. Yeah, you DO have to answer to them. Successful relationships don’t have secrets. If you cant/won’t tell your partner what you’re doing there’s a PRETTY GOOD chance you shouldn’t be doing it, yanno?

7. Hanging out with your ex when you’re not single is usually never a good idea – unless its 30 years or so after the fact LOL. . . (that whole secrets thing again)

8. In a new relationship, introduce your partner to your friends. If your new boy or girlfriend is cagey about introducing you to their friends – its a red flag for sure!

9. Laugh together, be spontaneous. You can re-ignite the spark that way as the years go by. Call out sick and head for the beach,or take a weekend and get away ! . . .hint, hint Brent 😉

10. Nurture your own interests , hobbies and dreams, “me time” is important, but don’t exclude your partner. Make sure that you support their interests, hobbies and dreams too. Let them have their ” me time”, but speak up if you start feeling neglected. If they can’t make time for you perhaps they aren’t worth your time. Its all about balance. After children come along, the balancing act gets trickier. Try to schedule “me time” when you can.

11. Note to husbands/boyfriends: The Wife or Girlfriend ALWAYS gets shottie if you’re driving.

12. Speak up if you feel something is wrong. Your partner’s not a mind reader. Communication is SO important.

13. Don’t hold unrealistic expectations. You knew what your partner was like when you first started dating, don’t expect them to change for you, that’s another thing that ain’t gonna happen .

14. Keep your promises, its one sure way to show you are trustworthy.

15. Just take it for granted that your significant other WILL snoop at some point. If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear. There’s no such thing as privacy in a relationship, when it comes down to it. Just deal. The only privacy you’re gonna get is when you close the bathroom door. And guys, count on your clothes getting borrowed – just saying…

16. Use the 5 to 1 Ratio. Say 5 nice things to your partner for every one criticism. That alone will drop your chances of divorce into the single digit percentages. After all, nobody wants to be in a relationship with a control freak or a shrew – right?

17. Leave work at work. Don’t bring it home with you, literally or figuratively. Of course, that’s not possible if you work from home – so in that case make sure you set a schedule and stick to
it as much as you can.

18. Spend time with your friends. Just remember the “no secrets” rule with your partner.

19. Don’t tolerate verbal or physical abuse. Get help, or get out.

20. Commitment is neither temporary or disposable. Try your best to make things work.

I Didn’t Want to Go…

My husband recently won tickets to see an Aaron Lewis acoustic set at Mohegan Sun (tomorrow night actually). He’s been bugging and bugging me to go with him.  but I really didn’t want to go.  1. I have no idea who Aaron Lewis is  2.  husband’s taste in music differs from mine considerably 3. The last time I went with him to a concert was a Motley Crue Fest and they totally tanked.  (Godsmack was excellent though- too bad they weren’t headlining) 3. my husband’s taste in music differs from mine considerably. It bears repeating because I could end up spending the evening with a horrid headache and wearing earplugs (like I did at Crue Fest).

I’m a headbanger from way back,  I was punk when it wasn’t cool, slam dancing with the best of them at Hangar One  in Amherst (down the street from ZooMass). I even played pinball with Joey Ramone. (story for another day, my friends) I’ve attended shows for the hardcore music scene  -I just stay away from the mosh pits these days and I won’t two-step or dub step or whatever other steps they’re doing out there, jsyk. My place at these events currently  is in the way, way  back – preferably at or behind the merch table.   Where I won’t get hurt.  I love rock and roll -put another dime in that jukebox baby!  I’ve got incredibly talented young musicians in and out of my house all the time. But and this is a big one – there’s gotta be some spark and talent there; some passion the performer shows he has for his craft, in order for me to have a good time at these events. This was sadly, sorely lacking the last time I went to a concert with my husband (the headliners, anyway).  So, I’ve a bad taste in my mouth about this to start – and again, I’m completely unfamiliar with Mr Lewis’ music.

However, my husband has also been quite vocal lately that we have not been spending enough time together, and the daily grind is wearing us both down. So here are the reasons I’ll be going:  1.  after 27 years of marriage my husband still wants to take me out on a date 2. I need to get away from the aforementioned daily grind, change things up a little. Spring is coming, yanno?  3. Its a freebie (except for the gas to get there – and NO I will not be gambling – thank you very much) 4.  Its an acoustic set.  5. He’s right that we haven’t had much quality time together lately.  Soo, I requested and got Friday off work as it’ll be a late night return (its like 2 1/2 hrs to Mohegan from the house). I need to use up my vay-kay time too.  My mom’s picking up the girls  so we’re leaving straight from work for dinner and the concert.  I’ll be posting how it goes – with pictures.  I’m taking my earplugs and some Tylenol though – just in case…..

Rock On