Tin or Aluminum?

Jacquandor did this lovely tribute to his wife on her last birthday. Being an unrepentant thief, I thought I’d steal it for Carol’s and my 10th wedding anniversary, which is today. But I won’t get to 100 points.

1. The first movie we saw together was Speed, which probably has some metaphysical significance.

2. She was, at our old church, chair of the Membership Committee. Part of that involved being welcoming and that’s what she tries to do. I was chair of the Council on Ministries, which included Membership, so we were at a number of meetings together.

3. First time I met her whole family, it was Thanksgiving 1994. It was a foreign concept to me, all four adult children in their late 20s and early 30s, coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. I haven’t been at my parents’ home for Thanksgiving since 1971 or for Christmas since 1996, and that was rare.

4. Even more foreign, the Olin Family Reunion every year near Binghamton, NY. Carol’s mother had seven siblings, and one of them, Warren, traced the family back over 320 years to an indentured servant named John Olin who jumped the boat, hung out with Indians for a number of years before marrying Susannah Spencer. Carol had over 30 first cousins on the Olin side alone. Meanwhile, the Yates and Walkers on my families’ side had sporadic events. And because my parents were both only children, no direct aunts, uncles or first cousins.

5. She grew up in Greenville, NY, not that far from Albany, but she liked the country and thought Albany was too big. She’s since altered her position on this.

6. When we went out the first time, then broke up, I was still in her brother Dan’s wedding, and she was good with that.

7. Why did we break up? These things are always complicated. But certainly one factor for me was her ability, now thankfully greatly diminished, to, as a lawyer might say, “assume facts not in evidence.” Years later, only one example sticks out. We were cooking at my apartment, and she put a hot pan on the counter because she assumed it was heat-resistant; it was not. It melted the paint and left a cooking pot-sized burn mark. I probably did not react well.

8. Even though we weren’t dating, I rode a bicycle in the snow to pick up medicine for her. She had that effect on me.

9. I found that I missed her a lot, though I’d see her a lot, including at a weekly year-long intensive United Methodist-driven Bible study called Disciple that took place usually in her home. Read the whole Bible in 34 weeks, including the parts not required for the discussion.

10. There were a couple of failed attempts to get back together, the less said about the better.

11. I’d do lots of things to be around her, including a trip to the Washington County Fair with a Bible buddy, me, her and her (idiot) boyfriend. Not recommended.

12. When I started to woo her again in earnest in August 1998, long after she’d broken up with said boyfriend, she was oblivious to it until October, when we went for a walk at Five Rivers nature preserve and I gave her a big kiss.

13. She helped put together a JEOPARDY! watching party for me in November 1998, but she wasn’t there; her job in the insurance industry, which was well-paying but frustrating, had her in Madison, WI.

14. We got engaged at a restaurant on Lark Street in Albany called Justin’s in mid-January 1999.

15. We waited to get engaged because her brother Mark was getting married on 1 January 1999. I DJed that reception, BTW.

16. She quit that well-paying but frustrating job in February 1999 so she could see me more often, help plan the wedding and get ready to go to graduate school.

17. We went to Portland, ME in March 1999 as her birthday present to me. We got snowed in and had to stay another day. Awww!

18. I razz her every St. Patrick’s Day about the dress incident. The term “toning the bed” has a specific significance to us.

19. She developed a bond with my father, initially, over the fact that they both liked painting trees. His work on arranging the design of our wedding reception, including the flowers, sealed the deal. Since he died a year and a half later, I was always grateful for that.

20. Whereas I developed a bond with my father-in-law over baseball. I’m guessing none of his sons could identify Jim “Mudcat” grant – former Minnesota Twins pitcher. He and I have gone to several minor league baseball games. One, at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown earlier this decade, Carol attended to and conked her head on a beam.

21. Carol and I we danced to At Last by Etta James at our reception. It may be a cliche now – it may have been one then – but it definitely seemed appropriate.

22. The timing of our wedding was driven in part by our trip to Barbados which I won on JEOPARDY! We didn’t want to be in the Caribbean when it was too hot and/or during hurricane season, and we wanted to use the trip as a honeymoon.

23. The worst part of our honeymoon – leaving an all-inclusive resort to return to the “real” world.

24. When we got back home, which the first floor of the two-family house she’d bought in 1992, there were so many unopened presents – and nowhere to put them – that it took a week just to try to do the thank yous.

25. In the pre-wedding session, the minister said we ought to get a place that was ours, rather than hers. This became evident in the attempt to get all my stuff in that apartment. Dresser on top of a dresser, the idea of some TV home designer who said when you have limited floor space to “build up, up!” She did try to make the space mine.

26. Before we were engaged, she had booked a trip to Scotland with a college friend in July 1999. We both acted as though we were really cool sophisticates who didn’t mind being apart for a week a mere two months after the wedding, but this proved to be untrue on both sides of the Atlantic.

27. Being alone in “her” house, I suddenly heard every creak, every noisy neighbor.

28. We started looking for houses in the fall. There was one house I really loved, and she liked, which once belonged to an acquaintance of mine. Lots of built-in book shelves, etc. Unfortunately – or actually fortunately, in the long run – our inspector found water damage under the stucco which would have cost too much to repair, and the owner wouldn’t budge on the price. So we walked away.

29. The house we ultimately moved into we saw early on in the process, indeed, before the stucco house, but it took several months for the price to go down enough for us to make an offer.

30. It is almost undoubtedly true that if it weren’t for Carol’s fiscal prowess, I would be a homeowner. Whether that’s a good thing or not – I had been a renter since I left the family domicile – remains to be seen.

31. Part of what I hate about being the homeowner is fixing things because, frankly, I’m not that good at it. In most areas, she is more handy than I.

32. I have, thou
gh, been ceded the areas of computers, which is pretty laughable, since I don’t really know what I’m doing there either. But I know just enough – how to burn a PowerPoint presentation onto a CD, how to cancel a print job, and, related, how to reboot the DVR.

33. I’m also mostly in charge of the heavy lifting – the manual lawnmower, the snow shoveling, though she helps when it’s severe.

34. A couple weeks after moving into the house in May 2000, I stepped on a nail in the back yard. I hobbled to the front of the house, rather than tracking blood into our new old house, walked in the house, and called, “Carol!” She said. “I’m upstairs!” Undoubtedly, I was too calm sounding. Ultimately, she drove me to the urgent care place.

35. Carol started grad school to become a teacher of English as a Second Language in the fall of 2000; I was living with a coed!

35. I got to read every one of her papers looking for not only typos but consistency of idea; she’s said repeatedly since then how much she appreciated that.

36. A few weeks after 11 September 2001, I suggested we get away for the weekend. She said we could get away while staying at home; this is a fiction. When she’s home, she’ll always find something that needs cleaning or fixing or tending. So we went to a B&B in a place called Cherry Valley, NY on Columbus Day weekend, only about an hour away, but it was wonderful. Things I remember from that weekend: Mark & Leanne’s daughter as born and, in the only world news news I actually heard – there were no TVs – the U.S. war in Afghanistan started.

37. She denies this, but we’re often late because she’ll take on one last thing – doing one last load of laundry, pick up a few things. I’m usually late because i just lose track of time reading.

38. Speaking of laundry, even before the child came, she was doing it several times a week. I was more of a weekend launderer in my single days. she washes at a temperature one notch colder than I would. She also fills the machine less full than I tend to.

39. She thinks I have too many pair of underwear. This comes me usually from doing laundry every three weeks – therefore, 21 pair. I think she has too few.

40. In 2000, Carol’s older brother John, my greatest ally in wooing Carol back, starts dating a woman he met online, discovers he has colon cancer, and gets married to Cyndi 31 December. It was supposed to be the day before, but a massive storm that blanketed that part of northern NJ with 26 inches of snow. The actual wedding the attendees were my parents-in-law, Mark & Leanne, Carol & me. (Dan was home with Tracy, who was eight months pregnant with twins). And the reception more so, with Mark & Leanne getting lost and never making it there, so there were two cakes for the happy couple, four attendees and the minister and the organist.

41. Various members of the Powell family, including Carol and me, make regular trips to NJ to see John who seems to be getting better, then not so much. He died 12 February 2002. Carol, who just doesn’t generally do that, was compelled to write a poem for the occasion; it’s very touching.

42. In her first year in this house, the second of Carol’s grad school, the big expenditure was a new kitchen faucet. It would wobble like a car’s standard transmission on acid.

43. We used to watch TV together more than we do now: American Idol, My Name Is Earl. Now she watches her shows (figure skating, Dancing with the Stars), I watch mine, Lydia watches hers (though one of us generally watches with her). Carol and I eventually will watch those unwatched eps of Scrubs, the Office and 30 Rock. (That whole bit in The Office where Michael goes off on his own? We haven’t seen it yet; don’t tell my wife.)

44. Carol’s a decent cook but a better baker. I think it’s part of that 4-H thing she grew up with. My cooking tends to be limited to a half dozen things.

45. In 2001, we got a new kitchen floor and a new dishwasher. The old dishwasher had damaged the old floor. With the dishwasher, I did something I seldom do: read the manual. I often rearrange the dishes Carol places in the machine. Just last weekend, only 7.5 years after getting the machine, she agreed that I load the dishwasher better than she does, that my way creates far fewer dishes that need to be hand washed.

44. In the summer of 2002, we had a bat in our bedroom – the flying variety, not baseball variety. Being a country girl, she figured to leave it alone and it’d leave us alone. Wrong. Ultimately, we ended up getting rabies shots, which almost derailed her trip to Ukraine.

45. In the fall of 2002, we got a new refrigerator. She likes a full larder; I like to see what’s actually IN the refrigerator.

46. She does most of the food shopping. When I go, I usually buy multiples of things on sale. She used to think having four boxes of Cheerios was silly; now, I think she understands the strategy.

47. When we discovered Carol was pregnant in the summer of 2003, we kept it a secret from everyone, not just because we’re supposed to, but because we enjoyed having this delicious little secret.

48. We found out about a resort in Poland Spring, ME that only allowed adults, so we went there in August 2003; we didn’t know when we’d have a chance again.

49. Carol giving birth to Lydia in March 204 was amazing; she was very strong, probably a function in part of the Kegel exercises that she was doing on the Bradley method.

50. That was why when she had the jaw surgery that went not well last year, I knew it had to hurt tremendously. The most physical pain I’d ever seen her in. Not surprisingly, I HATED it.

51. We both felt out of our element with a constantly crying baby until we slowly started figuring out together.

52. There’s a division of labor with the child that’s evolved over time: I drop her off at day care, Carol picks her up. I generally dress her (and if necessary , slowly wake her) in the morning, but Carol does her hair, etc. Carol picks her up and makes dinner before I get home. We trade off on medicines and the like. But I read stories and sing songs. These get thrown off when Carol has evening meetings or I have choir.

53. She has become more politically aware. Partly it’s that she watches and listens to and reads more news from a variety of sources than she did when I met her.

54. We share a common gross irritation with litter as an act of royally selfish people.

55. The best thing about our recent vacation sans child is that we had a good time alone together while not talking about said child all the time.

56. She loves Norman Rockwell, so when we went to his museum last year, i looked at the graphic novel stuff, and she – OK, we – looked at Rockwell.

57. She likes Lindt’s chocolate truffles. She gets them for every major holiday: Mother’s Day or our anniversary; her birthday; Christmas.

58. I used to be the guy up half the night, but she has (grumble) converted me to a morning person.

59. (stolen from Jaquandor) Why don’t we play mini golf more often? We both love mini golf. The Daughter loves mini golf. What gives?

60. she’s one of the only people I know who doesn’t think I’m kidding when I say that I’m basically shy.

61. It used to bother me that she didn’t read my blogs, not even the one for the newspaper. In fact, for that one, her colleagues would tell her about my recent post. Now occasionally she’ll surprise me with “I read that on your blog.” I wonder how long it’ll be before she discovers THIS post? Shhhh!

Happy anniversary, honey!

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