The Chair

My long suffering husband, Mitch, is no wimp. He’s not afraid of too many things in this world. I’ve seen him stand his ground among men a lot bigger and stronger than he is and come out ahead. In his youth his father taught him to box in order to fight back against school bullies, something he’s carried over into his adulthood. But there is one thing he is terrified of, me. I can instill terror and panic in Mitch in less than two minutes flat. I know that’s bold statement but I can prove it.

Last Saturday I had him take me to Nebraska Furniture Mart to buy a couple of accent chairs for the living room. He didn’t really want to go, you know how exciting furniture shopping is to a man, but nevertheless he went. As we were walking into the building he commented, “So we’re going to get a couple of chairs to match the couch?” (Mitch likes everything to match, coffee table and end tables alike, sofa, loveseat and matching chair, you get the picture)

I shook my head and said, “No, I have something else in mind. The room would be very drab all the same color, no I want some punch in the room. You know, I want something with a bold pattern and some contrasting colors.” He turned and looked at me, eyes a little wider, like someone who’d just been told they had cancer.

“Colors, patterns, what colors and how big a pattern?” This while his left eye started to twitch.

I said, “Oh I don’t know, maybe red or orange, something bold. I’ll know it when I see it.” The twitch got more pronounced. Then I said, “I was thinking of buying two different chairs not a matching set. Something to give the room more punch.” His eyes widen and he sucked in his breath trying to picture the unbalanced room in his mind’s eye. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

As we wandered around looking at the variety of chairs, Mitch kept trying to get me to look at brown or beige chairs and I pointed out all of the chairs with wonderful patterns and colors other than brown or beige. He would sit in the ones I would point to and say how uncomfortable they were, like he would ever sit in it anyway. I found one chair that was a sort of barrel shape and had very large red and brown circles covering the chair. Mitch looked at it and I could swear he sort of clutched his chest and looked skyward as if to say, “Look out Martha this is the big one! I’m coming home!”

He said, “Do you really like this?”

I said, “Not especially, I just want to see you flinch.”

About an hour later I finally found a chair that I really liked. It was a cream colored fabric with red and brown and black writing all over the chair, almost like old envelopes and cancelled postage stamps. It had a low back and sloping arm rests, the perfect size. I could see that Mitch wasn’t sold on it, so I decided that I would look around a bit more and found another chair that was also cream colored with dark brown butterflies stamped all over it and proclaimed this was the one. Given the choice of either butterflies or antique writing, he went with the antique writing. Butterflies was just way over the top for him, I think it would have given him nightmares.

When I suggested that we buy both, Mitch was convinced that the room wasn’t large enough for two chairs. Funny, if I was going to buy matching solid color chairs, there was enough for two, but two different chairs were way too big for the room. In order to not send him to the hospital with a coronary I found a round ottoman that I liked and bought it to go in the room with the chair. This way, I have one chair and the ottoman can be used another place to sit. Genius.

Poor Mitch, what he has to put up with.

We Broke Them

Up bright and very early Monday morning, I could only stand it until about 4:30, I had to get up and out of the torturous bed. You would think that after two days of walking over six miles a day across uneven terrain, up and down hills, tripping and yes falling flat on my face that I would be so exhausted I could sleep for at least five or six hours. Not so, that bed was the most miserable experience I have had since my bilateral mastectomy a year ago. That bed may actually have been much worse than my mastectomy, at least when I was in the hospital I was given good drugs. I crawled out of bed and turned on the coffeepot, put in my contact lens and turned to look at the dogs. Both were still sacked out on the bed, neither one jumped up ready for breakfast.

I dragged out the dog food bucket and began filling each dish with dog food. At least the dogs lifted their heads to watch me, so I knew they were still alive. Both dogs just waited patiently for me to finish and bring them their dish. Not excited about food, who were these dogs? I think our dogs love food more than us sometimes. Wow these guys must really be tired. Charlie moved forward and sort of melted off the bed onto the floor to get his breakfast. I turned to Orso who looked at his dish then me then back to the dish, took a deep breath and halfheartedly stepped off the bed for his breakfast.

Each step Orso took reminded me of an old war movie where the Nazi soldiers goose stepped when marching. He would extend his right leg straight out in front of him then gently set his paw on the floor stop, lick the bottom of his paw, then repeat the process with his left leg. His right paw was especially tender and wouldn’t put much weight on it. I grabbed Mitch’s small flashlight and turned it on as I gently spread his pads apart to look for lacerations or any foreign objects stuck in his foot. The pads were fine, with no tears or cracks, but the skin between the pads were raw and inflamed from running around in the dry grasses and corn stubble fields. Orso’s nose and the bottom of his jowls were also red and raw looking. After two steps he laid down and didn’t move. Orso didn’t even look up when I put Charlie’s harness on to go out and pee. That was one pooped pup because Orso never lets me go anywhere without him.

Charlie was just as tired and showed no interest in walking very far. He quickly went about his business and turned around to go back to bed without any encouragement from me. So much for a half day of hunting, the only way Mitch and I were going to get anymore hunting in was to get new dogs. We decided to pack up, leave the hotel from hell and head home. Neither dog lifted his head all the way home.

Day 2 – The Continuing Saga of the Hotel Room from Hell

Thankfully Mitch brought soap from home so at least I could be clean and not forced to use the used bar of soap, which I threw in the trash. I finished my shower, put on my makeup and fixed my hair. Yes I know, I’m going to walk around in the field carrying a gun, tripping over roots and stepping into badger holes, maybe even get shot by a fellow hunter, but at least I have on makeup and under my hunting hat my hair had been washed. All dressed and ready to go I left Mitch to shower and get ready and walked around to the front desk to check out the free complimentary breakfast.

There were frozen waffles, prepackaged cinnamon rolls cut in half, whole wheat and white slices of bread, a couple of apples, four packets of instant oatmeal and a choice of either raisin bran or frosted flakes cold cereal. Carb city, yummy. I popped two frozen waffles in the toaster and poured a glass of orange juice for Mitch. I buttered the waffles and poured syrup over the lukewarm waffles and carried them back for Mitch. After unloading the waffles and orange juice I headed back with my own oatmeal packet from home. I searched for hot water, but no hot water was not an option. How do you make hot oatmeal without hot water? My option was to add water from the faucet and put the bowl in the microwave to heat it up. Of course the only bowl offered was Styrofoam which meant I was going to get all of those bad nasty Styrofoam chemicals transferred from the bowl to my oatmeal. I don’t know how true that is but I figure why push it.

As I turned to walk back to our room Mr. Happy came up to me to tell me that the dogs couldn’t stay in the room if we weren’t there with them. I asked what he meant and he said, “You in 112?” I said that I was, he said again, “Dogs can’t stay in room if you are gone.” I assured him that the dogs would stay with us. How much fun would we have walking around in the field searching for birds without our chief sniffers? I walked back to the room finished up breakfast, loaded up the dogs and headed out for a day of communing with nature.

I had my fingers crossed for fresh towels, clean sheets and Kleenexes, but I wasn’t holding my breath. We got out in the field about nine a.m. and had really good luck in the morning. Orso turned out to finally get it, that he was a bird dog. We called it a day about 4:30 in the afternoon and headed back to the luxurious suite of our dreams. We walked in and saw that the bed looked the same as we left it, the sheets pulled up and the comforter pulled over the pillows. The sheets hadn’t been changed. I walked into the bathroom and saw towels folded and stacked into the slots for the towels. I don’t know if they were clean or just refolded. I looked on the back of the toilet and saw a new package of soap, that wasn’t opened yet. I could just imagine how busy the housekeeping staff was with seven rooms occupied.

But guess what, still no Kleenexes. There must be a world shortage.

Orso – Who Knew?

This was our first hunting trip in two years and the first time I would carry a gun in three years. Last year we didn’t go hunting and two years ago we were hunting quail. Quail are hard for me to shoot, they fly up so fast that by the time my heart stops racing and I realize what flew up the little birds are long gone and way out of range. So I carried a camera two years ago and had much better luck capturing the moments through the lens than with a gun. Two years ago was also the last time we had AJ, our black lab, to help us search out birds. We lost him the week after we came back from that trip. Now we’re down to just two dogs, Charlie, our ten year old german shorthair/lab mix and Orso, our eight year old chocolate lab. Charlie is a good hunting dog, great nose and fast. Orso on the other hand, has preferred to walk behind us letting us beat down the path for him enjoying the outing rather than getting out there looking for birds.

Saturday morning brought clear skies bright and sunny with a fairly strong wind out of the north that felt quite biting. Our group consisted of six hunters, Mitch, me and longtime family friends that spanned four generations. The oldest in our group was eighty-nine and the youngest was fourteen, a wide range indeed. We thought that since Charlie is now ten he might be a little slower and Orso was just along for the ride. Even though Mitch is ever the optimist, saying this might just be the year that Orso gets it, I am the skeptic saying, remember we only have one dog that hunts. We started off working a long strip of tall grasses, Mitch on the outside edge on the left, me just to his right in the grass and the other four spaced out to the right across the expanse to the outside on the right to block any birds from running out and escaping unscathed. The dogs ranged back and forth between us trying to pick up that elusive wonderful scent of the pheasant.

We hadn’t gone fifty feet when Charlie stopped and went on point off to my right in front of the father, grandson combination. A pheasant flew up and caught the wind to fly across my position, the grandson fired off a round and winged the bird, I shot right after and helped bring it down, with Charlie racing hot after the downed bird to make the retrieval. After two years, nothing has changed, it doesn’t matter who shoots the bird the dogs always bring them back to me. A good omen, finding a bird so quickly.

The big surprise came about twenty five yards farther as we walked the field. Orso stopped and stood stock still with his ears cocked up and forward staring at something.

I gave the command, “Get him Orso, okay.” Nothing, Orso just stood there looking at the form in the grass. I gave him the command again, this time with more emphasis, “Okay Orso, get it up!”

Orso moved forward and the bird flew up and to the left trying to catch the wind. Three shots rang out winging the bird but no one got off a clean shot. The bird flew down the hill across the road and into the trees on the other side. Mitch ran toward the spot where the bird went down with Orso following behind him. They crossed the road and worked their way down into the draw where the bird went down. The rest of us stood where we were not moving, waiting for Mitch to resurface. Charlie even came and sat down beside me waiting, taking a rare rest break. About five minutes later I spotted Mitch coming back up out of the draw fifteen feet farther west than they went in and next to him was Orso carrying the bird. Orso had rooted the bird out hiding in the grass next to a tree, went in and grabbed the bird, just like a seasoned hunting dog. Orso trotted back up the hill straight to me bringing his prize, head held high.

After eight years Orso was finally a real live hunting dog. Miracles do happen.

The Hotel Room from Hell

Once a year maybe two if we’re lucky, we head to central Nebraska to go pheasant hunting. For the last five years we’ve stayed in a little town in central Nebraska at a national chain. The rooms have always been clean and the staff very friendly. Last year we didn’t go hunting because I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had my surgery about the time we normally go hunting. When I called to reserve our room a man answered with a very heavy accent that made conversation a struggle with a lot of repeating on both our parts. I was just hopeful that I had actually made a reservation and there would be a room for us when we got there on Friday evening. It turned out that we would have been better off if we haven’t gotten the reservation. The name had changed and was no longer a part of the chain. The man at the front desk was the same one I spoke with on the phone. In person he was not very friendly, I don’t think he ever smiled in his life. He spoke loudly and repeated everything I said. Granted I had a difficult time understanding him. I tried but I am not good at accents. He gave me the room key cards and pointed to the direction of the room.

We drove around the building found the room and started unloading. Evidently the new owners were economizing. The room was tiny with one bed, my mistake, I usually ask for two beds but having missed a year I forgot. There was a piece of cardboard taped to the wall presumably covering a hole. Spackle and paint must be very rare in this part of Nebraska. There was no in-room mini coffeepot, good thing we brought our own. The towel bar over the sink had no bar, just the two mounting brackets supporting the missing bar. The sink stopper was lying on the sink next to the sink, not in the drain for some reason. There were two bath towels, two hand towels and two wash cloths. One roll of toilet paper and no Kleenexes. There was a small refrigerator that sounded like it was on its last leg. Mitch’s favorite thing about the room was the hand written piece of paper with the new name of the hotel taped to the telephone in the room. Vary classy.

The bed was a full size bed, not queen size bed mind you, a full size. At least the television worked. I walked back to the front office and asked Mr. Happy for a roll of toilet paper and a box of Kleenexes. He handed me a roll of toilet paper and said that I had to wait for housekeeping the next day for the Kleenexes. I said that there were no Kleenexes in the room now and I wanted a box today. He said that I had to wait for housekeeping tomorrow. Customer service 101 was a class he evidently skipped. I walked back to our room toilet paper in hand and started to get ready for bed when I realized that I forgot my contact lens solution. Mitch offered up a bottle of water for me to use. Thanks but I don’t that would have worked. I jumped in the car and buzzed across the highway to the Walmart for contact lens solution and squirt cheese for the dogs to hide Charlie’s pill in. I should have bought two pillows and pillowcases, but I hadn’t seen the pillows before I left the room.

While I was gone, Mr. Happy knocked on the door of our room. It took Mitch a minute to answer thinking it was me and that I forgot my key. Anyway when Mitch finally answered the door the dogs bounded out in front of him and out the door before he could stop them. Mitch always thinks that everyone loves dogs. He looks at our dogs as big friendly dogs that love everyone, he forgets that a lot of people are apprehensive around dogs, especially large dogs. Mr. Happy was a few feet away from the door with a plunger in his hand thinking that because I asked for a roll of toilet paper I must have clogged the toilet and we were under water. He took one look at the dogs romping toward him only seeing giant brown monsters with poisonous venom dripping from three foot long fangs coming to eat him. He waved the plunger back and forth in front of him like a light saber warding off the evil creatures of darkness. Of course by waving the plunger at the dogs Charlie saw it as a threatening act causing him to bark and growl at the man. Orso just wanted to be petted by someone new and just kept moving toward the man. Mitch got them under control and shooed back into the room and turned to Mr. Happy. He asked if we needed a plunger to which Mitch politely declined.

I came back contact solution in hand and finished getting ready for bed. That’s when I realized I should have bought pillows. The bed had two pillows on it, one small pillow and one smaller pillow. The bed had a definite tilt to it. The foot of the bed was higher than the head of the bed. Sitting on the bed felt like sitting on quarter inch plywood laid over springs, not comfortable at all. To top it off, Orso was disoriented and clingy, making himself at home across the foot of the bed, shortening the length of the bed by two feet. Mitch on one side, me on the other and here comes Charlie making himself comfortable between us. A full size bed is large enough for the two of us, but add in one hundred eighty pounds of dogs and the bed gets really small very quickly. Charlie wasn’t happy with the hardness of the bed and kept squirming around flopping on my stomach. We laid there for about thirty minutes listening to the refrigerator cycle on and off. I finally couldn’t take it anymore got up and unplugged it. Between Orso at the foot of the bed, Charlie squirming around in the bed and a bed that felt like sleeping on plywood neither one of us got more than a couple of hours sleep. If I hadn’t been afraid of what disgusting things had been ground into to the carpet I would have slept on the floor.

We lasted until about 4:30 in the morning, that was all my lower back could take. I got up and noticed a puddle of water on the credenza next to the refrigerator. I looked down on the floor at the shotgun cases directly below the fridge and saw that two of the four cases were wet. Great. Neither one of us thought about the refrigerator defrosting when I unplugged it.

Mitch took the shotguns out of the cases to see how wet they were, salvaging three. One of mine, my back up shotgun took the brunt of the water. He dismantled it to dry out. I turned on the water in the shower turning the knob all the way over to the hot side in order to get the water warm enough, pulled the flow knob to shower and can only say that the best part about the shower was that the water was wet. I realized I forgot soap and reached for the bar of soap offered by the hotel. I picked up the package to unwrap it and discovered that it was already open and the bar had been used. Super disgusting.

It was going to be a long three nights. This trip was starting off a high note for sure.

Down to the Nitty Picky

This is what our remodel has been reduced to. Because of previous battles and total opposite styles in taste and décor, our never-ending long suffering remodel of this money pit called our home, Mitch is now consulting my opinion on even the minutest detail. Believe me when I say that when we first started this arduous journey, I didn’t think our marriage would survive. We argued constantly about everything. The biggest stumbling block to our relationship was the master bath. We totally gutted it down to the studs and started over from there. The only fixture that stayed in its original spot was the toilet. And that was only because of the difficulty in moving the drain. We, meaning Mitch doing the labor and me being the creative genius, have moved from room to room bringing this hodge podge house into some kind of homey updated house.

Now we are down to the last two bedrooms, laying bamboo floors and rebuilding the closets. We fought over the placement of the closets and we removed them because of poor original construction. People back then used whatever material was available and no building code was followed. I finally gave in to Mitch’s idea of dividing the one closet into two with a wall separating them and with doors opening into each room. Mitch had a genius idea of making them cedar closets which for those rooms is very practical as well as a unique idea. Those rooms are on the old side of the house, which was originally built in 1928 and added on to in 1934, which means that side of the house is not as tightly constructed leaving room for mustiness and the possibility of mold. So the cedar closet was a stroke of genius. The only thing left to argue about was what type of door to install for each closet, bi-fold or sliding, solid or louvered. Louvered bi-fold won (my idea). I bought wooden knobs thinking simple easy plain, no fuss, no muss. It wasn’t until Mitch opened the doors up to remove the hardware and prepare to be stained, that he found that each door had its own wooden knobs.

When it came down to the stain, that was another dilemma, the knotty pine planks are all eighty years old and I’m pretty sure that the stain used back then is long gone, even if we knew what the color was. Mitch went on the hunt buying about a dozen small cans of stain to try and come as close as possible to the original color. A friend suggested that we go to Sherwin Williams with a piece of one of the existing boards and have them create a matching color. Mitch stained the doors, the knobs (all four of them) and the trim. When it came down to putting the knobs on the closet doors, he called me in the make a decision, which knob did I want on the doors. I looked at the knobs and laughed out loud, they were so similar. The only difference was a slight rounded top on one and a flat top on the other. I asked if he was serious and said that he could pick, to which he said no way, I had to pick.

Which one do you think I should pick, you know they are so very different.

knob picture