Friday, February 27, 2009

The Music of Marriage

Photo at
My friend Helen is doing one of the most difficult things I can imagine: she's saying goodbye to Luke, her husband of 25 years. He has cancer. With her permission, I've posted below what she has to say about her marriage.

It's Luke and my 25th wedding anniversary on July 14th. Will he make it?
I should qualify that question: Will he make it in the flesh? I have no doubt that his spirit will be with me.

I have been thinking about marriage. It's like playing a Mozart piano sonata. You have the left hand busy with the Alberti bass, regular, rhythmic and steady, with occasional runs. The bass part is the root of the harmony, it creates the richness and depth to the melody.
The right hand carries the melody. It's the bit in the public face, the part that people whistle, the part that carries the overt feelings. It's the extrovert side.
If you have two left hand parts your marriage is dull and plodding. Two right hands and it is two people competing for the limelight, - all froth no milkshake.

So 25 years ago Luke and I started our sonata together. For the first two years it sounded good. Then we started jarring each other. Sometimes we were playing different bars at the same time. The right hand got ahead of the left, or the left got over loud and drowned out the right. Between there were enough good bars to make it worth while.
We've had times when we thought it would never come right, and we should stop playing. But when we got it right it was so good it was worth playing through to the end.

Now we are almost at the end of the sonata. We are closing with a graceful ritenuto. Winding down our marriage, speaking it through, going back and talking out the difficult bars. Apologising for drowning the other out, dragging or rushing ahead. For jarring chords and banging down the piano lid on the other's fingers...

It's the most satisfying thing I have ever done. Finishing off beautifully something it has taken 25 years to create.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Peanut Butter of Peanut Butters

Photo by

A few months ago, I browsed the aisles of the grocery section in Wal-mart. I looked up and saw Naturally More peanut butter on the top shelf. I liked the name, and when I saw on the front label that it was fortified with flaxseed and flaxseed oil, I decided it was in my best interest to try it.

Well, let me tell you. I will never willingly eat another peanut butter again! This peanut butter is far superior to any peanut butter I know of in all ways - nutrition, taste, and texture. The price is not so bad, either. (Just be sure to stir it well when you open it. Then store in the fridge. Easy.)

If you want to do something really nice for yourself for under $3, buy Naturally More! You'll never go back to what you currently refer to as peanut butter.

(By the way, Naturally More Peanut Butter is NOT involved with the current peanut butter recall. You can check out their website at

Friday, February 6, 2009

For All You Sticker Lovers

Photo by justinlai.

Do you love stickers? I do. I decorate my journal with them every chance I get. They make my pages jump up and say, "Yes! I've got something cool to say on this page, and there's a sticker on me to prove it!" And - they make me happy.

So guess what? The friendly folks at Google are giving some cool stickers away (while supplies last) to anyone who sends them a self-addressed stamped envelope by February 14, 2009, to this address:

Send me some Gmail stickers already
P.O. Box 391420
Mountain View, CA 94039-1420

(Enclose an international reply coupon (IRC) for one ounce if you're outside of the U.S. One per person, please.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Making Friends with Monotony

Photo by KaCey97007.

I got laid off from my job a few weeks ago, and I find myself rattling around in the house like one lone marble trapped in a pickle jar. It's not like I have nothing to do - I have tons to do! But, being one lone marble who prefers the company of other marbles, I rattle around and flit from activity to activity, while accomplishing not so much.

The problem, I see now, is that I float mindlessly through my day until something
outside myself (an email, a phone call, a meeting, an editing assignment) breaks the monotony for me. I check my email over and over, waiting to hear from an editor. I surf the web until a friend calls. I move from thing to thing and don't follow through unless the activity is nailed to a deadline. This leaves me with half-vacuumed carpets unless company is coming, half-read books unless it's for an assignment that's due, and half-written articles (lots of them!) unless an editor is knocking on my door. (It also leads to far too many trips to the refrigerator, which has led to larger numbers on my bathroom scale.) Something must be done about this!

The cure, I finally realized, is to make friends with monotony, the fabric of life. Monotony is the main stuff. The calls from editors, the vacations to Maui, and all the other fun things are the sparkles in my fabric. But it's mostly monotony.
Or, the commonplace, if you prefer.

So my goal for February is to strengthen my endurance muscles in dealing with the ordinary. I will choose something mundane and plain like doing the laundry, and I will finish the task to the end. I will inhale the clean smell of the dryer sheets, I will savor the quiet of the house as I fold. In short, I will practice
enjoying all the little bits that are "doing the laundry." And I will not be distracted until the task is done.

Soon, my everyday life - in all its glorious monotony - will be a thing of beauty in itself. With or without the sparkly calls from the editors.