The Rain Today

February 22, 2014

This is a favorite Note from “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love letters And Life Stories”. As you see in much of my writing I use weather as part of the point I am making. I especially like the last paragraph.

The rain today was certainly a torrent wasn’t it my dear? It came in many ways. It poured down on us, it came horizontally at times, and it welled up as run off that made us drive even slower through the low spots on our way to work. Finally it then tapered off and sprinkled itself to an end ultimately.

This cycle of the rain and weather ebbing and flowing is sort of like life isn’t it? The types of rains certainly are like different times of our life, either when viewed across the hazy and wide expanse of the long decades prior to now or across the short and many times emotional view of a few busy days. And the lightning and thunder too plays their part. Remember the low growl of the thunder as we left for work this morning? And the bright forks of the many lightning bolts as we went through the intersection at I-35W?

Those events too are like life. The rain one might be compared to the overall stream of events that make up the timeline of our existence. The thunder and its parental bolts, like Thor’s Hammer, surely can be compared to the many major events that also sometimes come unexpectedly. The sudden flash illuminating all, the rolling thunder echoing across the landscape afterwards. Likewise are the effects caused by some major or sudden event that is part of our past and its enduring or lasting effect upon us or our families.

As we remember memorable storms and floods like we probably will today’s, we also remember many things in our pasts that made impressions upon us. Hopefully we learned from these events, whether or not they were good or bad. And therefore adapted for the better based on the lessons learned from such deluges of life. In the same way we learned from experiences as children that taught us to come in from the rain to avoid getting hit by lightning or getting drenched by a downpour. Staying inside where it was dry to watch and learn from the rain as it passed over us.

So to me, the cycle of a line of thunderstorms is like the line of our lives as seen on the temporal radar screen. It comes and it goes, waxing and waning and giving definition to the day and night, but in the end the rain does ends. As do our lives, which oscillate back and forth in their own rhythm of good and bad until our torrents of love emotion, grief, happiness, hope and fear that make our own storms of individuality pass into the calm of eternity.

Jeff To Stephanie October 15, 2007


Granddad Harry’s Spaghetti

February 18, 2014

Last Saturday when I was helping my son pack to move to a new apartment we as always talked about food. One thing we chatted about was his maternal grandfather’spaghetti recipe. I wrote about it in “Notes To My Kids”. And here is my tweaked version of the recipe too if you like to cook.

2 1.5 pound packs of ground turkey
One box of fat free beef broth
One large can of tomato paste – 20+ ounces *
2 packs of McCormock Italian-mushroom spaghetti seasoning *
Garlic – chopped, two tablespoons
Oregano – one tablespoon
Basil – one tablespoon
Sage – one teaspoon
Red chile flakes, to taste
Salt to taste *
Two bay leaves
One cup of DRY red wine
One half white onion, chopped
Olive oil
One half stick of butter *

Brown turkey & onions in olive oil.
Add ALL seasonings and stir.
Add tomato paste.
Add one can of beef broth.
Add red wine.
Stir, bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer.
Simmer for one hour.
Check salt level, modify if needed.
Add butter and stir until combined.

* = original recipe ingredient, which used hamburger meat not turkey

To Roger:

Your MeeMaw and Granddad Tom cooked a lot, and Grandmama cooked some too; but your Granddad Harry cooked one thing alone— spaghetti, just that and nothing more. While that was his sole culinary feat, it was something to behold.

It was a special dish. Not for having a huge set of exotic ingredients, but simply because he loved it so, and it was simple to make. It was his favorite meal. He liked it more than his old US Army favorite, the much and wrongly maligned “shit on a shingle.” It was his love of that meal that made it good.

Most Saturday nights he cooked it. We would go to your grandparents for dinner and see him by the stove stirring away. He first browned the meat, adding some spices. Nothing fancy mind you—just some salt, pepper, garlic, or maybe some Lowry’s, but that was all.

After that, onions would go into the mix, and then the canned tomatoes. Nothing more would go into the pot, it just simmered away. That was it, simple as simple could be—a meat sauce with maybe six or seven ingredients.

But it was more than just those few things in the pot. It blended into something much, much more. Those few things turned into something that was simple in construction but complex in result: A tasty and filling unity of victuals in our bowls.
In the bowl it went over the noodles. A slice of French bread was by its side. We would sit down together and scoop it up and be filled up quite well.

There was desert, too. What I remember more than ice cream or cake was your granddad having a smoke in his chair with the TV on after a meal. His belly was full of the sauce he made and he was content as could be, as he pulled a drag on his cig with his dark framed glasses on. With a cold Miller Light on hand, he sat content on his throne, and seemed well with the world for a time.

They say simple things are best in life. That is true. A simple bowl of spaghetti cooked by someone that loved you embodies this important truth. Such things are remembered better than an expensive gift like a ring sometimes. Now that sauce lives on in the same way–a small, yet simple thing, that lives large with me still. So when you make spaghetti one day hence, remember Granddad Harry well. I think he would approve.

Another Busy Weekend

February 16, 2014

What couples do on the weekend…..this is from “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”.

Another very busy weekend is now done and we are back to work my dearest. And it was a good weekend; we got a lot of things done. And we did have some time to ourselves in between things. Especially Sunday morning and midday Sunday (Mrrroooowww !!!!

We THREE times….). Well, I digress as usual. But onward to more significant, and public, discussions now.
The point of my ramblings is that as we ourselves discussed, we enjoyed each other’s company while doing work and chores. The highlight of these things was of course “The Sunday Odyssey On Our Roof”. Yes, doing roof repairs can be something fun when done together. That one thing shows something wonderful about our relationship as we observed more than once in our almost un-ceasing talks the last two days and before. That is, we really like being with each other pretty much all of the time and can turn even the obvious drudgery and tedium of repairs and chores into something we can enjoy with one another.

Certainly another sign, actually proof, that we are absorbed with one another isn’t it? I, for one, do not mind being this way. It is wonderful and shows what a marriage can be. Even at our “advanced” age, right? Each of us is a “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” (a Blue Oyster Cult song whose title I have used to refer to those of us who have “fought” in the “wars” of middle aged adult dating). But we have survived the tribulations of that emotional battlefield and can enjoy each other in most any setting.

Unlike many adult couples our age. And we also have endured all of the trials life has thrown at us since we most happily got married last Halloween. As Martha Stewart (who you like and who I despise) says “it’s a good thing”. On this one subject I will happily agree with Martha. But I won’t buy her towels and sheets.

Jeff To Stephanie March 5, 2007

Colors Of the Rainbow

February 15, 2014

Rainbows can be more than reflected rainfall. They can paint the pallet of the colors of who we are. This is from “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”.

Colors of the rainbow. You have more than one time my dear compared our personalities to the colors of the rainbow. A visible spectrum of behavior if you will. You said you were, and saw, the whole spectrum of light. Thus you saw people and events with more shades of grey than I did. While I was the mostly the ends: black and white. But with a ray of red down the middle, thus explaining my usual tendency of having one way or the other views but also showing why I have an almost inexplicable off the wall side (like my weird sense of humor) that cropped up from time to time.

Our personalities are therefore alike but yet different still. We share some colors, but many we do not. There is much we have in common but there are still enough differences to create great interest in the other and sometimes great frustration as well. These differences, and common traits, also ferment great passion in our love life and create a sense of wonder about the other most days.

In nature, a rainbow appears after a storm. It is luminous and shiny after the dark and rainy event that gave birth to it. Likewise with each of us, events both dark and stormy, but also ones that are bright and full of life, have made us who we are individually, and in turn who we are together as a couple.

The colors of our relationship rainbow really do blend together to create a close and exciting marriage that is also full of contentment, safety, and predictability for both of us. That way, as life’s storms do rage around us, and the rainbows appear, we are consistent in our love for one another always.

Jeff To Stephanie February 28, 2007

Cabals And Clicks

February 14, 2014

Clicks in groups are one of those things that makes life “suck” sometimes. They are everywhere. Here is a tale about one at a school district (I’m not going to say which one….). It is in “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”.

Cabals and clicks: groups of people without enough productive tasks to occupy their small, pathetically inept minds. Unfortunately you are beset by one such group right now at the other school. These “groupies” as I sometimes call them seem to view you as a threat, projecting their inner disdain of their own manifest and pervasive inadequacies, onto you to create angst in your life.

It does make one angry to have to waste one’s productive time defending one’s self against their insidious and mindless assaults. These attacks are the work of people who are less than honorable and also less than competent. Why else would they waste time doing such things? The more they make others look bad, the less other people might look at them and discover their many short-comings.

It seems most groups of people are populated by such human lemmings. We have seen that recently of course with Commode…err….Code Blue. Mindless ninnies who wanted to cast doubt on our relationship when they knew nothing about it. They themselves in some cases were unhappy in their own worlds and thus felt no one else could possibly possess a happy existence. Surely such thoughts are those conceptualized by self centered morons. And endless waves of such dolts seem to batter our shores on a regular basis right?

Without sounding like some broken record, surely such actions are a cautionary tale teaching us to keep our distance from people in many cases, and of course to defend ourselves against the vicious psychotic blitzkriegs that they launch seemingly from nowhere against our ramparts guarded only by ourselves and our morals and upright actions. So my love, we must always tighten our helmet straps and prepare for the worst but always hope for the best. Such is the fabric of life in a universe populated by people who are even more imperfect than we are.

Jeff To Stephanie June 1, 2007


February 8, 2014

This is one of the more personally emotional Notes from “Notes To Stephanie; Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”. In short one sees the power of a vivid dream about a loved one.

Well, you had some vivid dreams you have told me about. And last night I had one. In it, something had happened to you, you were dead and gone. I felt lost and of course very upset and sad. My mom and sister were in the dream, trying to comfort me.

But that did not help, all I wanted was to get you back. In the dream I went outside. In my hand I was holding what appeared to be a small cereal box. On its back was a photograph of you. Your hair was a bit different, shorter and a bit curly, but it was you with your big pretty eyes, maybe looking a bit younger like you do in some of the pictures in the box out in the garage. I kept looking at it knowing you were not there.

Then somewhere away from my mom and sister I looked up to the sky streaked with cirrus clouds and kept crying out in tears “Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie”. “Please talk to me Stephanie”. “Why are you gone?” Of course you never answered back from The Great Beyond. I cried out to no avail, death being final and without a return. I just kept looking at the picture of you on the box, feeling my world was gone.

Truly, emptiness filled my mind and heart in that alternate, conjectural world, one unfamiliar but yet still recognizable even though totally unreal. Thankfully I woke up, this was about 1:30 AM, and went into the kitchen and got a drink of juice and shed a couple of little tears.

The dream really shook me up my dear; it was hard to get that picture of you from the dream out of my mind. But I went back to sleep and awoke with the alarm of course to find you still by my side safe and sound as you had been all night in our cozy bed that is usually used for sleeping curled up with each other and making passionate love.

Now what does this dark visage from Dreamland mean? Who knows, maybe my subconscious mind was reacting to the combination of the latest turmoil with my kids and to us loving each other more than we ever did after our recent trip down south. Things being good with each other, does my inner self fear that I might lose you? You even asked recently if I ever got a feeling something bad was about to happen. Regardless of what mental currents made this flow forth from the sea of my deepest ego or id, it makes me realize even more that we should always enjoy each other and find great joy in the little things we see about each other. Every day we are together should be a celebration of what we have with each other my love of all loves. Even amongst the sharp thorns that that the darker rose bushes of life may shoot up into the quiet garden we tend together in marriage. Indeed, we have finally gotten it right haven’t we? We should treasure this fact without hesitation, and enjoy the coming years we will have with one another.

Jeff To Stephanie May 25, 2007

You Said You Had A Fear Of Being Left

February 7, 2014

The poet Maria Rilke Ranier had some words in one of his books that has always touched me. The theme he wrote about is found below. This is from “Notes To Stephannie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories”.

You said you have a fear of being left, due to the Papa Charlie et al literally dropping you off at ACU, death, and other things you experienced during your life. I can understand why such things weigh on you my dear, the few times you had some sort of stability it ended abruptly. Now in the present time with the old house issue you have a fear in the back of your mind, driven by those events that left you empty and not cared for, that I might leave you if something bad happened in reference to that.

Well, not to worry my Stephanie dear. That won’t happen ever, at least until I die of course. Being married to someone means you do stick by them “for better or worse” you know. It does if you really love the other person. And I really do love you. So I am not going away. And I will not forsake you. Life provides a variety of ups and downs, which will always be true. People who are not true blue are the ones that might wilt like a flower in the hottest sun on a summer day, but not me. I have a bit more fortitude than that. Besides being loyal to you as your husband, might I not need your support one day when something befalls me personally? The assurance that your spouse will be by your side is one hallmark of a good marriage. We have that as
part of our relationship my Stephanie. Always remember that.

Both of us have been through trying times before my love. And both of us have survived such trials, and have been made better persons as a result. Even bad times can bring good times when they are past. The night becomes day as it were, or there is no sunshine without the rain as you have said many times. Thus, one must always keep this cyclic nature of life in mind as you live day to day. You have to remember that difficult times seldom remain present forever so that you can continue to live each day and not be troubled unduly.

Remember this quote I have told you about before, and maybe written to you about as well? “Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave”. In other words, even something bad may have something good within it, or around it. At least that is what I think the poet Maria Rainier Rilke meant. And lo and behold, you were asked to interview for the vice principal’s job today. Right before your eyes now there are things that are both good and bad swirling about. Perhaps the poet was on the right track.

Therefore, one can look forward to better times ahead even though the present may also bring doubt and uncertainty. Together we have a good life, even though rotten things happen that beset us. And together we always have our love which binds us and brings us happiness. Truly that will conquer any force that may try to bring unhappiness to us and we too will become “beautiful and brave” for the rest of our years.

Jeff To Stephanie May 21, 2007