Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I got my driver's permit at age 14. That was in 1979. That same year my parents bought a brand new 1979 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon. The old one was the one pictured to the left. It became my first car when I turned 16. Wow! Lucky me! Actually, I was lucky. Many of my friends didn't even have a car, let alone have one given to them at 16 years old. I was finally free from having to ride the school bus every morning. I was free to leave the school during my study halls and lunch breaks. Free to go out with my friends on Friday nights. Free to haul around my younger sister and two younger brothers to all of the places they needed to go. Looking back, it was the least I could do for my parents. After all, they DID give me a car.
The big brown boat of a car sat for the 2 years between the time they bought the new car till I got my license. In that time the fuel gauge quit working so every time I went somewhere I had to poke a long stick into the gas tank to see how much gas was in it. I could only fill the tank with enough gas to read about 6 inches on the stick, otherwise it would leak out onto the ground because of the rusted hole about half way up on the side of the tank. The memory of that car that stands out most in my mind is the smell of the inside. Gasoline mixed with the smell of raw pizza toppings. I got my first job at Happy Joe's Pizza when I turned 16. After getting off work in the evening, I'd toss my sausage and pizza sauce smeared apron into the back seat and didn't take it out till my next shift several days later. Funny how you never forget things like that.

My next car was this one. A 1966 Plymouth Fury III. I was DONE with driving that stupid station wagon. My Grandparents had bought the Plymouth from some friends of theirs who had bought it new in 1966. I'd made a deal with my Grandfather. I'd pay him fifty dollars every two weeks on payday until I had the entire $600.00 paid off. A sweet deal! This car had only 66,000 original miles on it and was in near perfect condition. It even still had the original spare tire in the trunk! Luckily, I never had to use that spare tire. After sitting in the trunk for the better part of 17 years, I doubt it would have gotten me far if I'd needed it. That car was dripping with chrome inside and out. I was so proud of that car. It was the first car I'd bought and I bought it on my own. I remember polishing till I could see myself in every square inch of the paint and chrome.

No matter what car I own at any point throughout the rest of my life, this one will always be my favorite. My 1969 Camaro. (Yeah, I may have been a bit of a motor head back then) I will never forget the day I got it. It was May 16th, 1983. Graduation day from high school. School had always been a challenge for me. I hated it. Getting good grades required a real effort on my part mostly due to my non-interest in school. My parents tried everything to help me including promising me a car if I would just graduate high school on time. That promise was made to me when I was in 6th grade and was never mentioned again. I'd completely forgotten all about it. Fast forward to that day in 1983. We were back home from the ceremonies where I'd received my diploma. My parents had invited the entire extended family for a graduation party. I was standing in the front yard with my parents greeting people as they arrived when I noticed this car turn into the driveway and park. I noticed for two reasons, obviously the car was AWESOME and I'd recognized every person who had arrived so far except this middle aged woman driving this totally rad car that looked like it should have been driven by someone much younger and likely male. I watched with my parents as she walked up the driveway toward us. My eyes must have grown to the size of dinner plates when she reached her hand toward my Dad and dropped the keys into his. I was in shock and all I can remember saying was "No, no, no way!" The memory of that promise made to me so many years before came back to me and hit me like a tidal wave. Any other 17 year old guy would have been paralyzed with embarrassment, standing there in front of everyone in his huge, extended family crying and hugging his parents, but I didn't care.
I drove that car for several years. That car caused me more trouble, mechanically, than any other car I've owned, but I didn't care. I loved it. When it finally had reached the point where driving it daily just got to be financially to much, it was time to get a more reliable and efficient car. I still couldn't bear to let it go. My grandfather owned a farm with several outbuildings. He agreed to let me store it there until I had the time and money to get it out again and restore it. That was my plan. 4 or 5 years later I was buying my first house. I really needed to come up with some money to help out with closing costs and the one thing I owned that was worth anything was my Camaro. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to bring myself to do. I had to resign myself to the fact that life goes on and it was really unlikely that I would ever find the time and extra money to put into that car. It was time to let it go. I sold it for $3000.00. Even after being stored for so many years and in less than desirable condition at that point. It helped a little knowing that the car went to a guy who loved old Camaros as much as I loved that one. He picked it up and hauled it home to begin the restoration process that I'd always imagined I would do.
Today those cars are very popular with car enthusiasts and very rare. It makes me cringe with regret when I see them for sale for anywhere from $15,000-$25,000 today.
My memories, however, of that car and that day will remain priceless to me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Andrew and I went to the tree farm on Friday to find the perfect tree for the living room this year.
I think we found it.
What would Christmas be without Christmas poodles?


Thursday, November 15, 2007


November 22nd, 2002. Little did I know then, that I would be sitting here 5 years later in our family room writing this. At the time, I lived in Cedar Rapids, he lived in Waterloo. 60 miles apart. Andrew and I had chatted online every day for a week or so. I knew one thing; I wanted to meet this guy to see if he was as sweet in person as he seemed online.
This is the picture I was looking at as we chatted that week. Who wouldn't have wanted to meet this guy??

The first date was planned. He would drive down to my house and we would go out for an Italian dinner. ( I know, I know, the whole garlic thing)
He got to my house on schedule and when I met him at the front door I couldn't have been more nervous. He was perfect! Oh my God, this guy is WAY out of my league. My thoughts were, "Are my online pictures really THAT much better than I look in person, or does this guy just feel sorry for me?"

He was wearing a short sleeved, light blue, button-down shirt that fit him perfectly. The light blue against his tanned, olive skin was dreamy. The sleeves were just long enough that the tattoo on his right arm could just peek out as he took off his jacket and handed it to me. (Only later did I find out that the tattoo around his left ankle was the one that would really turn me on) I think we sat down to chat and had a glass of wine before we left to go eat. After dinner we came back to my house. I built a fire in the fireplace and we sat on the sofa and talked and had another glass of wine or two.

Since then there have been many trips together, many holidays spent together, a few moves to different houses and several more Italian dinners. I can't even begin to count all of the times that I've been surprised with plane tickets, show tickets and planned road trips in the past 5 years. He has such a knack for that. I can never keep a secret that well. He always figures it out when I have something planned to surprise him.

5 years.

Wow. In some ways I can't believe it's been that long, in other ways it seems like forever.
Is he still that same sweet guy I met online? Yeah, but even better than I could have imagined then. Sure, we have our little spats and there are times when he still thinks about killing me in my sleep. (Oh, he's told me so.)

The traditional gift for a 5 year anniversary is wood. *snicker*
What the heck do you give someone as a gift that is both made of wood and romantic? I've given this a lot of thought but I've come up with nothing. I already gave him two tickets to see Evanescence in concert on November 29th. Of course that's kind of for both of us but he is the one who REALLY wants to see them again so I guess that counts as a gift. Wait, the tickets are paper. Paper is a form of wood, right? Ok, maybe that's a stretch.

I wouldn't trade the past 5 years for anything.
Happy anniversary, babe! I love you.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Sunday evening Andrew, Kyle and I celebrated our friend Sue's birthday. Remember last year when we celebrated Sue's birthday?? We kept the vodka away from her this year.

Andrew made a wonderful pot roast with home made gravy and mashed potatoes.
Bailey thinks he's a lap dog.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Guess what I'm making for breakfast this morning?Mmmmmm.........Happy kids.

When asked "who makes the world's best french toast?" Naturally, they both pointed to me. (Mouths were too full to speak)


Apparently the company I keep is a little more distinguished than I'd imagined...

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(Thanks to Rick at Palm Springs Savant for the link.)