My wife: her smart, nay brilliant solution

I started getting nervous

smartIt was the day before I retired. My wife was done with school for the semester; she’s an ENL (English as a New Language) teacher.

I got back home from the allergist, with plans for us to see a play that afternoon. She asked me if I would help her move the sofa so she could vacuum underneath. I say, “No.” Actually, I said, “NOOOOOOOOO!” I had a stack of time-sensitive tasks to do involving making sure my insurance, and HER insurance, were in place on July 1.

My work-related insurance would term out when I went on Medicare, and I was dealing with three different insurance vendors, plus the Social Security Administration. I didn’t finish the process until the following week.

So I started getting nervous. She’s going to be off all summer. I am too, for the first time since 11th grade. How is this going to work out? I’d heard stories about clashes between other married couples when she was not working outside the home and he retired from his job.

I have boxes of “stuff” to sort through after a quarter century of employment with the same entity. Where am I going to put those extra books? What do I keep and what do I chuck?

Then my smart wife did something brilliant: she left me. And she took our daughter. It was only for three days, July 2-4, to New York City, but it was long enough to get through a pile of paperwork, write a few blog posts (including this one), and start the decluttering process.

I don’t know if it was a strategic move – she DID invite me to go with them – but it was extremely helpful in getting settled in the post-employment mode. I also got to listen to the music at a slightly higher decibel than would be suitable in a family setting.

So, thanks very much, dear. I DO need your help putting up the pictures, because my eye for putting them up straight is quite terrible.

And happy birthday!

Married one score: the first year was the hardest

Carol and Roger
Carol and Roger, June 2018
Carol and I got married 20 years ago. Maybe a decade ago, I told her I thought the first year was the hardest, and I’ll stand by that.

After we got married, we moved into the first floor of the two-apartment house she owned. One of the very few things our then-pastor said that turned out to be sage is that we should move into another place that was ours.

Carol didn’t understand. She was making room for my stuff. But that was just it; she was making room in HER place for MY stuff. And not all of it; a love seat I had purchased only a couple years before, one of the first pieces of real, new furniture I ever bought I gave away.

Squeezing my stuff in was tedious. I had a dresser on top of a dresser, after some cable station guy – maybe on HGTV – said that to fit everything in, you must build “up, up, UP!”

In July 1999, she went on a trip to Scotland with her college friend, an excursion she had planned before we were engaged. I encouraged her to go. But being alone in that space, with its specific creaks and noises was rather unsettling.

We had gotten married at our United Methodist Church. But by February, after “the troubles” had taken hold, we spent two weeks at Emmaus Methodist with the Hispanic gathering that had booted out of Trinity, against the specific wishes of the congregation.

Then, since the Trinity choir was still banned from singing, I started sitting in at the choir at First Pres. But Carol went back to attending Trinity, keeping up with the gossip.

Meanwhile, we were house shopping. We found a house we REALLY liked in the fall, but the hidden water damage in a wall caught in the inspection made that a no go. Finally, the house we now live in went down in price and we bought it.

i went to the closing, without Carol, but with a cashier’s check. Our lawyer had miscalculated the amount due and I was $1800 short; talk about angina. I borrowed money from somewhere, maybe a credit card, to close on May 8, 2000, a week shy of our first anniversary.

After surviving that first anxiety-prone year, I figure we can get through anything. Happy anniversary, my dear.

Cash is queen in our household

When the electronic systems go kablooey, operating with cash is a great way to go.


One morning in June, the Daughter needed $50 to go on a field trip to New York City. The earlier she turned it in, the more likely she could go. Oh, and it had to be in cash.

I almost never have such bills on me. Nor did my wife, but she DID have some envelopes with cash for her hairdresser, and for the groceries, that she could borrow from.

She generally pays for the groceries with cash because writing a check is too expensive, and it surely is. I pay with my credit card – where IS my checkbook? – because I like getting my rewards dollars and hate carrying a lot of cash.

When we first started going out, she had several envelopes filled with bills of various denominations, for every expenditure in her life at the time. I found this most unusual.

She also never uses an ATM card, which I still don’t quite get. If I had needed to get money for the Daughter that morning, I would have just walked over to my bank branch, a block and a half away, and just taken out three $20s.

I should note that her cash economy isn’t as rare as most of us would think. According to Pymnts, “an estimated 24 percent of U.S. citizens make all their purchases using cash.” Moreover, “in the U.S., cash usage grew by 4.7 percent per year between 2000 and 2015.”

When she does pay with a credit card, she often goes to the store to pay off the balance, usually in cash. I used to do that at Sears when I shopped there in the 1980s and 1990s, but I forgot that it was still an option.

As Dustbury pointed out, when the electronic systems go kablooey, operating with cash is a great way to go.

This is why we have three checking accounts, hers, mine, and ours, which I almost never use. It insures domestic tranquility.

Did I mention it’s her natal day? Maybe I’ll give her a couple $20s, a $10, and… some miscellaneous other bills.

Hey, 19, it’s anniversary

When she goes out, she sometimes says “Don’t miss me too much.”

From https://www.etsy.com/listing/502738012/19th-anniversary-coffee-mug-6935-days
Like all good marriages, after 19 years, my wife and I have developed a division of labor. I know all the Cabinet secretaries in this administration, difficult because they’re so changeable. She knows what’s in our office secretary, amazing because I can’t find a damn thing.

I know all of the birthdays of the Beatles. She knows how much the mortgage payment is each month. (To be fair to me, the payment is made automatically from our bank account.)

I’m sure that I have inspired her interest in the areas of being aware of the news, of progressive causes, and the issue of inequity. She has pushed me to be more fiscally responsible; for good and ill, I wouldn’t own a house without her.

When went to see our investment adviser in 2017, she was excited and fascinated. Meanwhile, my eyed almost literally glazed over. But she helped point out that we were better off financially long term than I realized, hard to see when the day-to-day bills arrive.

This Blondie strip about housekeeping is absolutely true of her.

Sometimes, we get into that groove where one of us is talking and misspeaks, but the other one says, “Oh, I know what you mean.” This saves an inordinate amount of time.

We very seldom fight. I don’t know if that is a good thing or bad thing, but it is our modus operandi.

I see her family far more than I see mine. My nearest sister and niece are a thousand miles away and my parent are deceased. Meanwhile, her parents, a brother, sister-in-law and two nieces are less than 75 minutes from us. I used to be jealous, I suppose, but now I appreciate the comfort of the love from the in-laws, who are, to a person, generous of spirit.

I haven’t done the math precisely, but, at 19 years, I think we’ve been married longer than the length of time I went out with everyone else I ever dated, combined. Hmm.

When she goes out, she sometimes says “Don’t miss me too much.” I won’t as long as she come back.

Family Health Report: October 2017

The Daughter missed three days of school in September

Chuck, Heather, Fran, this blogger. (c)2017 Chuck Miller
Early in October, my wife slipped on some stairs, getting a nasty bruise on her hip . It turns out there was moss growing on the top step. We would have probably sued the property owners, except they were us.

Yeah, we replaced our front steps when we redid that porch. But the back steps are in dire need of repair, something that might have made this year’s list of things to do until the boiler conked out.

The Daughter missed three days of school in September, until we found medicine that could help her with what ailed her. When she got ill the week of Columbus Day, I was home with her and called her primary physician’s office.

The person, not the doctor, who treated her last time said I COULD bring her in again. But her lungs were clear last time, so she wasn’t sure what they could do for her. She expressed ta theory she was stressed about homework; well, she wasn’t before she got sick again, though she sure is now.

More than being irritated, I’m frustrated that I don’t know what to do for my child. My wife took her to the allergist the next day, who tested at 25 – 25 what, I don’t know, but it was extremely low. The allergist gave her a combination of meds the primary’s office told her not to take together. A week later, her breathing score was 100, which is good.

I’m just tired. Stayed up talking to an old friend until after midnight one day, and the next met with some Times Union current and former bloggers, then worked on the Albany Public Library Foundation’s gala for some hours, planning Black History Month at church, extra choir rehearsals for our Randall Thompson performance, et cetera, et cetera,, et cetera.

I have probably more topics I want to write about but don’t have the time than any point in this blogging. Writing relaxes. Not writing gets my subconscious mind working in overdrive.

I WILL have days off on Election Day and the day before Veterans Day. Any port in the storm.