Fiftieth Flowers

My parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary was yesterday.

Fifty.  Years.  Y’all.

I’ve written about my folks here before, about how extremely cool they are, and how I have a lot of prep work to do if I’m supposed to emulate their idea of “retirement,” which so far is roughly twice as active as my “working” years.   I’ve also mentioned their courtship, which was unique in many respects and also might explain a few things about my own ideas of romance.*

So how do you indicate how happy you are that two of the most amazing people you know have managed to stay married, to each other, for fifty years?  And how pleased you are that they stuck to it at least for the first ten, because otherwise you wouldn’t be here to express that happiness?

One traditional way is with an enormous party.

But to be painfully honest, even with guest lists provided by their schools, I have trouble planning two-hour pre-packaged Activity Center birthday parties for the children who live with me.  So engineering a fiftieth anniversary blow-out from two states away was never going to happen.

Luckily, my parents aren’t enormous party people in any sense of that phrase, bless them from the depths of my social ineptness.

Another tradition is to send something suitably fabulous for the occasion.  But what?

Most of the family thought an edible arrangement of chocolate-dipped fruit on stems would be perfect—and it would be.

But odds were Mom and Dad wouldn’t be at home for the delivery, because they’re the busiest people I know, which means the delivery person would leave it at the front door,** except my parents never use the front door, so the delivery would sit there for heaven knows how long, even if I told them to look out for it.  Plus, their house is surrounded by woods containing, as they do, woodland creatures who would literally jump—fangs out, claws extended—at the chance to snack on chocolate-covered pineapple daisies.

And having celebratory food items delivered to one of Mom’s Curves locations seems . . . wrong.

Flowers then. Even I could manage to order flowers.

So I did, online, after going over several websites that convinced me gold has become a terrible metal to associate with a marriage, unless that marriage is plastic, overpriced, and/or tackier than you could possibly imagine.  If that’s the secret to a long-lasting relationship, I don’t even want to know.

Instead, I found this a week ago:

Color Your Day with SunshinePerfect.

It was available in my parent’s area for a Sunday delivery, so I ordered it, added a message, received confirmation, and went on my merry way.***

What with one thing and another on Sunday, I didn’t check my phone until late afternoon.    I had three voice mails.

The first was from the flower shop—as you were probably expecting, because I rule at this foreshadowing stuff—saying that my delivery couldn’t be made because the specific arrangement wouldn’t be available until Monday and to please call as soon as possible.  The second was a repeat, except in tone, which was more of a please call us please, our reputation is at stake, here, lady, please.

While I rummaged around  my e-mail messages for my order confirmation number, I listened to the last message, expecting an ultimatum, possibly with tears.

Instead, it was my parents, telling me how gorgeous the flowers were and how much they loved them, and me.


I called Mom and Dad.  “You got the flowers!”  I said.

“Yes!” they both said.  “They’re wonderful,” Mom said.  “We love them.”

“Great!  Um . . . What do they look like?”

“Well, they have these colorful things called petals, arranged mostly in loose circles” Dad said, “and they’re on these long green things called stems . . .”^

Mom intervened, thank heavens, and described the arrangement—which sounds complicated and lovely, though perhaps not very yellow—and confirmed that our names were on the card.

And I may have scored a couple extra The Thought That Counts points when I described what it should  have looked like.


Mom and Dad had a great anniversary—it was one of the few they’ve actually spent together, apparently, which may be the actual answer to marital longevity—and decided on a mutual gift to each other.

“We figured out that in fifty years, we’ve only had three mattresses, including the old, sprung one we started with,” Mom said.  “It’s probably about time.”

I told ’em to enjoy it, but that I didn’t need any details about how, please.^^  Some secrets to marital happiness I prefer to work out on my own.

But at least I know what I’ll be sending them on their anniversary twenty-five years from now:^^^ a new mattress with a diamond pattern in the stitching.

There.  Done!~


*Nature and nurture both had a crack at that one, believe me.

**Because Philander Chase, Mom and Dad’s dog,  has staked out the back door as his personal “You Shall Not Pass” territory, anyway—think Gandalf and the Balrog, except reversed—and few delivery people or meter readers want to challenge him on this.  He’s of uncertain lineage, except we’re pretty sure all of his ancestors were Very Large and Loud. No idea if the sock-eating thing is nature or nurture, but Phi has a way of indicating that he might take the foot as well, for extra protein.  Sweet dog.  Probably.

***I did, however, leave a message on Mom and Dad’s answering machine, warning them to keep an eye on the front porch.  I don’t trust deer any more than I trust raccoons.

^Dad’s sense of humor is an area that tends to veer right off the nature v. nurture debate smack into the dread of heredity.


^^^For those of you who just said, “Wait a minute,” I invite you to click all the links about my folks that I’ve scattered through this one.  If anyone can make it to their seventy-fifth anniversary, they can and will, in the most casual and natural manner possible, and why all the fuss?

~Still won’t want any details, though.  Just sayin’


Random Thursday: Libraries, cellos, and a very big bang

Tuesday was the twelfth anniversary of my hire date at my present library, which means I’ve been a professional librarian for fourteen years and a month.

That’s a third of my life.

No regrets yet, though if I’d been given the option of independent wealth, I might have been tempted.


As a child, my number one best friend was the librarian in my grade school. I actually believed all those books belonged to her.*

—Erma Bombeck


 It all started with an innocent (probably) question:

“Hey, honey?” asked my husband.  “Have you ever visited”





 Well, I have now, thanks . . . 


 Libraries are absolutely at the center of my life. Since I couldn’t afford to go to college, I attended the library three or four days a week from the age of eighteen on, and graduated from the library when I was twenty-eight.

—Ray Bradbury


Why didn’t anyone tell me The Big Bang Theory  was so funny?

Was it the time suck?  Because giving me a heads up right after the pilot would have meant losing 30 minutes a week, instead of the hours and hours I’m going to lose catching up on four and a half seasons.



The first time I walked into a library, I got so excited I almost wet my pants.**

—Roy Blount Jr.


Janie has decided she wants to learn how to play the cello for her school’s Lower School string ensemble.

Why not the flute?  Or the violin?  We’ve got a couple of those shoved in the back of the closet.  Her hands are too small for the bassoon under the bed, but so are mine and we got along all right.

But she’s been experimenting in music class and she loves it.  I blame all that Apocalyptica I’ve been playing on our commutes.

We’ve compromised on one semester—she has to practice at least fifteen minutes on piano and cello, and if she can’t keep up with her homework, too,  then she’ll have to wait a bit.

My husband isn’t sure—and my MIL really isn’t sure—but the rental fees for the kid-sized instrument aren’t that much, we received a school fee rebate that will more than cover the cost of the lessons, and an ensemble might teach Jane more about working as a team.

Plus, when I asked her why she wanted to add an instrument, she said, “Because I like music.  I’m just like you.”

Sniff.  Good one, kiddo.


Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.

—Hazel Rochman


*They did.  All library books belong to their librarians, in loco parentis, heavy on the loco.  We choose them, we care for them, we tape up their boo-boos, and we preside tearfully over their passing (and exact revenge, when necessary).

**Cool.  So did Sunny.


If you’d ever like to talk to both of my parents at the same time, good luck to you, but the odds are best on Friday evenings around five central.  Dad will most likely answer the phone chewing, but will reassure you that they’ve just finished dinner and Mom is even now heading for the office extension.

Yesterday, after the usual catch-up and mandatory exchange of cute grandchildren and animal stories, I asked them what they’d done for their anniversary last week, besides listening to me sing the ‘happy anniversary song’ through their answering machine.*

Mom had spent the entire day at work** and Dad had been at a scouting thing with his troop.  This inspired several lame jokes—see?  Genetics!— about minimum face time being the true secret to a long marriage and happy anniversaries.

“But your Dad did buy me a great gift,” said Mom.

“Good!  What?”  I asked.

“Two heavy duty toilet plungers. One for each Curves.”

“That’s so romantic, Dad,” I said.

“I know.”

Mom laughed.  “No, it was—he drew little happy faces on them with markers and everything.”

I asked her if she was going to make earrings out of them, and she said, “No, I’m going to plunge toilets with them.  The pipes are having problems at the eastern Curves, and our little plunger doesn’t work very well.”

I asked Dad if he’d received a gift.

“Sure,” he said.  “I don’t have to drive across town with our heavy plunger and fix their toilet anymore.”

“He gave himself a gift this year,” said Mom.  “Two gifts— he also gave me a little ratchet kit so I’ll stop borrowing his.”

“You know, Dad,” I said,” traditionally, when a man gives himself an anniversary gift, it involves lingerie.”

“She doesn’t need lingerie,” said Dad.

“I need plungers.  He gave me what I needed—I think that’s pretty romantic.”

There was a moment of silence and all three of us said, “Plungerie!” at the same time.

Nature versus nurture—you decide.

Regardless, I would like to nominate the following word for possible inclusion into the vernacular:


(noun, pl. plungerie)

A needed, practical gift (such as cleaning supplies, kitchen tools, or gardening equipment) given on a romantic occasion, with or without the appreciation of the recipient.
Example:  “As the trauma center staff attempted to remove the blender, Chet realized his mistake in giving plungerie to Vanessa for Valentine’s Day.”

And yeah, I know it sounds a like a little number in satin and leather with more neckline than garment , but there might be rare times when a polite term is needed for situations like these.  Or even an affectionate one.

Of course, not everyone can find romance in the everyday, especially after forty-eight years of marriage . . . but I’m pretty sure that’s the real key to making one last that long.


*This is their punishment for not being home.

**I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but she owns two Curves locations.  Curves is a franchised circuit-training gym for women.

Random Thursday: Duck Tales!




Today is my parents’ forty-ninth wedding anniversary! 

How about some applause?

They met at Miami University, in Ohio—both were school teachers taking a summer graduate course.  They sat next to each other in class, but hadn’t spoken much.

One day, it was very hot in the classroom, and flies kept buzzing in through the open windows.  My father, being a man of many diverse skills, killed the flies that landed on his desk by flicking them with his pencil.  After each kill, he would take the corpse and place it on Mom’s desk.  She was either too embarrassed to protest or was trying not to laugh, depending on whom you ask. 

By the end of the class, Mom had a small mountain of dead flies and Dad had a ride back to Cincinnati.  Their relationship was strictly platonic, at least on Dad’s side—he was dating someone else.  Mom only says that he was very good-looking, if a bit slow on the uptake for a guy destined to be a psychologist.

Mom drove him back and forth throughout the entire summer,  until it finally dawned on Dad that he was having more fun with her than the girl he was dating.   So he stopped dating her and started dating Mom.  Finally.

The rest, as they say, is history and a lot of hard work.

Congratulations to the two coolest people I know!  Thank you for setting such a high benchmark!


For those of you who didn’t choose the fourth option in today’s poll, here’s your chance:



Sixteen days until the (arbitrary) deadline for my first draft of Pigeon.^   There’s a lot to do, but I know I can make it.

This isn’t another shipwreck.   I finally know how it’s going to end.^^  I know whodunnit and why and how.

I’m almost afraid to tilt my head in case the last chapters fall out of my ear and the twists unravel and the logic balloon collapses like a soap-bubble.

Please let it work. 

Please let it work.


A Fanfic Recommendation.  No, seriously.

My friend Siobhan (she of the double dog dares) has been on bed rest for the last two weeks of her pregnancy,* which has given her a lot of time to cruise  Fanfic is her alternative to daytime television, because, as she says, some of the stories are actually good.

She’s particularly fond of strange crossovers and alternative universes—because she doesn’t have to stew about canon—and sends me links to the weirdest things, like the stars of Supernatural as dolphins fighting demonic tuna, or something.**

But I have to admit, she finds some awesome stuff in there, including a story she sent me two days ago.

If you enjoyed the BBC’s Sherlock series, or at least the original stories, and have read Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon’s Good Omens, then I highly recommend this story,  in which Aziraphale and Crawley feed some rather unusual ducks.  Ducks who behave completely in character.***

It’s eleven in a random (hey-oh!) series of BBC Sherlock shorts by a talented and extremely well-read writer who goes by Silver Pard.

C’mon—humor me.  Give it a try.



Janie thanks everyone (with blushes and giggles) who congratulated her on passing the third grade and agrees that she was a cute baby, though she thinks she looks better with hair.

She would also like for me to hurry up and post this, so she can play Barbie Fashionista Grand Prix, or whatever it is.

What’s the magic word, kid?


^Yes, I am counting today, because my main writing sessions are in the evenings, after the kids go to bed.

^^With a $#!%load of editing, right.  Besides that.

*They had the date wrong, apparently, and pushed her due date back an extra three weeks.  I’m not sure she was told to stay in bed for the baby’s sake or because her OB was afraid she’d seek revenge.  And neither is her husband.

**No.  No.  I’m making that up—but I promise you someone out there is working on it already.

***No duck slash, I promise.

Unnecessary Revisions

“. . .  this seems an apt moment to speak in memory’s defense. As Confederate battle flags flap from truck grills and monuments, as tourists gather around pigeon-stained statues of dead rebels baking under the Dixie sun, as Southern apologists seek glory in acts of treason, and as all of the above studiously avoid coming too close to the heart of the matter, to its cause, it is worth remembering that their forebears were not as circumspect.

To the contrary, they said clearly and without shame that they fought for slavery.

If that makes someone uncomfortable, good. It should.

But you do not deal with that discomfort by telling lies of omission about yesterday. You do not deal with it by pretending treason is glory. No, you deal with it by listening to the hard things the past has to say and learning from them.

This nation took so much from the men and women it kidnapped. It took dignity, it took labor, it took family, it took home, it took names. In the end, the last thing any of us has is the memory of ourselves we bequeath the future, the reminder that we were here.

And to their everlasting dishonor, some of us want to take that, too.”

—Leonard Pitts Jr., “A Conspiracy of Amnesia,” Miami Herald, April 12, 2011