Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Land(line) Ho!

As all couples do, Steve and I have our occasional differences of opinion. Over predictable things, like the correct household temperature. 76 degrees for sleeping in the winter! Toasty, I say! Might as well just set fire to $100 bills, Mr. Frugal says. 68 degrees for A/C in the summer? Refreshing, I say! But we don’t need it on at all, he says, sweat dripping from every pore (going into Steve’s office on a sweltering day is like entering a Finnish sauna, which bothers him not a bit). 

Not too hot, not too cold. Just right? Never!

We also have differing ideas about the urgency of this or that home repair or yard maintenance project. I have been asking him to do something about the dingy family room walls for eons (what, were you going to suggest that I paint them? That’s hilarious!); hubby prefers to spend his precious non-working hours trimming the hedges, over and over and over again.

Lately, we’ve been going round and round about our telephone landline. Yup, we still have one. Nope, we never use it and rarely check our messages. Steve has explained to me why he wants to keep it going several times, but I haven’t been listening, so as far as I am concerned it’s a total waste. The robocalls now come in on our iPhones too, so we’re not escaping those in any event. And every now and again when we DO check voicemail, we hear an invite to some long-past soiree, or birthday greetings for the one who celebrated that milestone six months ago. If anyone is reading this and knows our landline number: don’t use it if you intend to actually communicate with us. I mean it.

Our landline. Don't call us on it!

We also—get this—still have an AOL account. I think they are finally free now, but for the longest time we paid. This I understood (sorta) because it ( was the business email address, and Steve thought it’d take forever to make sure our contacts were updated. We are finally up and running (, by the way, if you are interested in a terrific children’s theatre production. You aren’t? Carry on, then). This afternoon I was looking through my old emails to find a certain message when it struck me: it might be in my AOL mailbox instead! So in I signed. I currently have 75,000 unread messages, 99% junk I’m sure. After a desultory search, I decided I didn’t really need the message that much after all. But I digress.

41 years into this Voyage of Discovery called Marriage, we take these minor disputes in stride, and marvel at how little we actually fight. Our quirks seem to balance out (remember Rocky’s romantic assessment of his relationship with Adrian? “She got gaps. I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps.”) So on we sail, Steve and I, adjusting our thermostats up and down, making our peace with a few different priorities. Agreeing on the most important things, especially our love.

But I swear. Next Saturday, I’m hiding the hedge clippers.

Is it? Can it be? Rocky and Adrian!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Inna Sagrada Familia

All smiles in Barcelona!

Those who know me, know that I am a very impatient person when it comes to making things. If a craft project has more than two steps (one of them being, “read directions”), forget it! Gardening has always struck me as endless waiting for a merely possible result. Even with things I love to do, like cook, my favorite recipes are Rachael Ray’s 30 minute wonders. Now, contrarily, I refuse to go the fast food route. That is just cheating! I want to do the work (and reap the compliments), I just want that work to be finished lickety-split. 

But I have always been fascinated by huge projects that took years, even centuries, to complete. You know, The Pyramids. I-95. That sort of thing. Especially when the people who began the work die before it is done. I think about my load of unfinished business-- church odds and ends, partial essays--and cannot imagine anyone taking up the projects after I am gone to the great beyond. It will all land in the trash I am sure, and I certainly can’t blame my loved ones for pitching it. After all, it is “my thing” and not theirs.

Which is why I was so struck by Sagrada Familia, the Catholic cathedral-in-progress we visited in Barcelona. This architectural wonder was conceived in the late 19th century to honor the Holy Family. It is a gorgeous blend of traditional and modern elements, from stained glass windows that are just blocks of light-catching colors, to the altar crucifix - which hangs from a huge chandelier, and incredibly detailed sculpted exterior. Architect Antoni Gaudi plotted everything out meticulously, and made copious drawings. These came in very handy when his colleagues and students took over in 1926, following Gaudi’s untimely death in a traffic accident. They embraced his vision as their own. Construction has continued (despite destructive fires set during the Spanish Civil War), and the church will not be completed until 2026. Indeed, the day we were there scaffolding could be seen in several places. Magnificent music from the organ rang out over done and undone alike. We fell in love with Sagrada Familia, exactly where it is right now. It is a living work of art, and if we never make it back to Barcelona, our not seeing the finished product will in no way detract from its profound effect on us.

So. Back in the USA, where entire developments of McMansions spring up within months. Beautifully made? Built to last? Who cares? We want it done yesterday! As for me, inspired by Gaudi’s gradual masterpiece, I will try to slow down and take my time on my next creative endeavor, be it an essay or a stew. I will learn to appreciate the value of each step, and take pride in the process. Life is so unpredictable, after all, that even a “rush job” may not ever get a chance to be finished. Therefore, what’s the big hurry? Answer: there really is none.

Just the ticket!