Category Archives: About Marriage and our Book

What About the Book

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It’s time for an update on our book. But first, here is a message from our sponsor…marriage. This past week our daughter Elizabeth, and her husband Brad, celebrated their tenth anniversary. We helped them celebrate at an out of the way place near Cambridge, Ohio called the “Bear’s Den”. Our six month old grand baby, Adeline came along for the ride. She spent dinner trying her go-go gadget arms on everything within stretching distance on the table. She obviously thinks she is ready to sample everything. Unfortunately, her mom doesn’t agree.

Dinner was great. Liz and I each ordered the Greek chicken. Our tastes have always been similar. Brad had a specialty burger and Crystal went with the beef and noodles. But this isn’t about dinner; it’s about marriage. Liz, as all of our daughters, calls from time to time, to vent about the complexities of life. There are job problems, money problems, people problems, insurance problems, medical problems, etc. There is the unfairness of living in a world where people do and say stupid things. The list seems to go on and on.

I sometimes stand in awe of the irony in life. Crystal and I have somehow made the metamorphosis from “you people” (as our eldest daughter was fond of saying) to a potential source of direction. Sadly, we have no ultimate solutions, just suggestions. As parents, we too struggled.  Struggle is just part of life. It really doesn’t matter if you are married or single. Life equals struggle. However, if you are lucky, as Liz and Brad obviously are, you can at least share the struggle. You have someone with whom to share your triumphs and to console you when you face failure. Marriage done right adds meaning to life. Happy anniversary Liz and Brad.

As for our book, we have hired a consultant, and will be spending time in beta testing and editing. This book may never make any money. But I know with certainty that it will be a blessing. I am confident that it was God who led us to write it, and He will use it to accomplish His purposes.

Crystal’s Corner:

I agree with Ron that life is full of struggles and challenges, but life is also full of celebrations.  Spending time with Elizabeth and Brad and with Michelle and Alex and with Lisa is a great blessing to us.  Our family is growing and fortunately, we are close and caring and happy.

As for the book, I think this is just another part of the journey.   We have edited the book to the best of our abilities, but we need the professionals to help us.  I believe that this book will become even better as we work on it.  I also believe that we will be published and doing book readings, workshops, and lectures about memoir writing.

Writing a book together was not something that we planned ahead of time.  Now both of us are working on separate books and articles.  We have many discussions about publishing, editing, and all that goes with it.  In some ways it is like raising children.  Ron and I have different points of view on some issues, but we know how to use each other’s talents and abilities to accomplish this project.  Being parents of adult children and grandparents also has its challenges, but also rewards.  To watch these two little girls (Ayla and Addelyn) growing up in two very different households is fascinating.  They are so cute and so much like their mothers.  It brings back a lot of memories which we share and cherish.

 

Dinner at the Bear’s Den 2017. Happy Tenth Liz and Brad!

 

 

The Evolution of Family

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Jack says to his fiancée, ‘nice dress Jill.’ What he is really thinking is, ‘Wow Jill’s a real hotty life is goood’. Jill looks longingly into Jack’s eyes and says ‘thanks, I’m so glad you like it’. What she is really thinking is, ‘I wonder if our children will have his deep soulful eyes.’ Not wanting to escalate the situation Jill adds, ‘we better go up the hill to get that pail of water for your mom’s fish tank’…..The rest is history.

That’s how it starts. You get some water then fall head over heels. There is little you can do with what follows. I’m a guy, so by definition, a little bit dense. Somehow I never saw it coming. I grew up with very limited family. There was mom, dad and me. On rare occasions, we would go to New York, Florida, or Europe and visit other relatives. When I met Crystal, I couldn’t even keep all of her relatives straight. At family functions, I would stealthily ask, ‘now who’s that again?’ Crystal would say something like, ‘Oh that’s my third cousin Leopold on Aunt Martha’s side, and that’s his girl friend, Sally.’ That would usually be good enough until I met a couple more people or slept.

Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think this could ever happen to me. Oh, Crystal and I talked about how many kids we would have, even before we were married. She said four and I grudgingly went with two (although I knew one was the perfect number). The funny thing is that, none of those iron clad guesses meant anything, as the years rolled by. Once we started trying, the rest was kind of up to God. He apparently thought three was a good number.

The way things turned out, I was OK with that and so was Crystal. The part I didn’t anticipate was that the girls would decide to make more people. Also, there are in-laws and friends. Even the grandkids have friends. Who could have predicted such a predicament? Again, I am overwhelmed by abundance.

Please don’t think I am complaining. In fact, in some ways I find our daughters absolutely amusing. Our two oldest daughters, at one point, like most youths, thought they had everything figured out. They could do this parenting thing better. Now they say things like ‘I don’t know how you did it.’ Or they call and ask our sage advice. Michelle, who just had her first child, some four months ago, asked, “when does this fear of bad things happening to your kid go away”.  I told her, I would let her know if, and when it happens.

In retrospect, I guess we did a passable job parenting. That’s right, it is pass/fail. If your kids live and have enough life skills to live on their own and have healthy relationships with other humans, you pass. Grand parenting is considerably easier. You show up to some events. Help out as possible. Set a good example. And finally, at the end of the day, you pass the kids back to their parents and go home, watch reruns, in a peaceful environment. Life makes sense again.

Thank you God.

Keylan’s 17th birthday party called for a picnic. Quite a family, as seen by a very proud son, husband, father and grandfather (I mean me).

Goodbye Mr. Carlson

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It is February 17, 2017. My father in law passed away yesterday. It was no surprise. He had been losing ground for some time. Even so he will be sorely missed. I am writing this because it helps me process my feelings and find peace.

We saw Mr. Carlson a couple of weeks ago. He seemed glad to see Crystal and me. We spent time talking about the past and our family. When we left, as always, he thanked us for visiting. I could tell he wasn’t going to be with us much longer. He was down to just over 100 pounds and periodically talking to people who weren’t in the room (according to Larry). As a nurse, I have seen that happen before. I believe, at some point, we transition to our next reality. For years, since his wife’s death, Jim has yearned to be with her. Oh, he was as much as possible, engaged in the reality of everyday life, but things were never the same. At least today we know where he is. Our loss will be Heaven’s gain. He and his Mary Jane are once more reunited.

I remember the first time I met Jim Carlson. He smiled and shook my hand. He looked at his daughter and his expression changed. He never gave me the lecture, but I could tell. He might as well have been cleaning a firearm and explaining how important it was that no one should hurt his daughter. However, the scowl didn’t last long. He could tell that Crystal was in love with me. And worse yet, I think Mary Jane knew, and told him to give me a break. He always listened to Mary Jane. Between the two of them there was some kind of unspoken balance. Together they worked.

It was only a few months later that I asked him for permission to marry his daughter. The scowl returned, if only for a moment. Both of us knew that wouldn’t last. Crystal had laid the ground work. While our relationship hadn’t always been perfect, we were in love. She talked about me all of the time, and quoted me as if I were the second coming of Niche. He told me about the importance of the commitment and how much he and Mary Jane cared for Crystal. I reassured him that he wasn’t losing a daughter and I would do my best to care for her. He relented and I have felt part of their family ever since.

Though the years my relation with Jim has been special. I have learned a lot from him. He has always been there when I needed advice or reassurance. Of course when it came to his daughter, all bets were off. When Crystal and I argued he would always take her side. His best advice to me was, ‘your wife is always right’. On the other hand, Mary Jane was usually more understanding. She told Jim to stay out of it and then helped Crystal to calm down. Most of the time that was all the help we needed.

Ironically, in these modern times, both of my married daughters’ husbands came to me prior to their engagements, to ask for my permission or at least my blessing. I acted as if I had learned nothing from Jim. The first I warned that I thought my daughter was too screwed up (from a previous relationship) to marry anyone. The second, I warned that we considered marriage a lifelong union and I worried about his level of commitment. Fortunately, both ignored my warnings, and currently have my daughters popping out more grandbabies. Not to bury the lead, my daughters are both happy.

Over the years, Jim has always treated me like a member of the family. I know he thought of me that way. I helped when I could. It was little things; shoveling a driveway, a little yard work or shopping.

What he gave me was far more valuable than a few odd jobs. He showed me what it meant to be a real man. Jim always put the needs of others before his own. Whether it meant helping friends and neighbors or being there for his own family he was always trying to help. I still remember sitting with him during one of Crystal’s surgeries. The surgery was supposed to last six hours, but wound up lasting nine. While he tried to reassure me, I could tell he was more nervous than me. Somehow, watching him squirm while trying to read, and asking me every fifteen minutes to check with the nurse, helped me to relax. I knew he cared as much as I did.

He loved his grandkids as well. Those feelings were mutual. One time, when we lived in Greensburg, our wives abandoned us. It was a cold day in October and Crystal and her mom were at a quilting show in Kentucky. Jim and I were left to hold a garage sale and take care of the kids. I stayed outside while he stayed (smartly) in the house. The girls, along with several neighbor kids, went back and forth. When they were out we threw a football, or they just sat with me and talked. I will admit to some evil thoughts about my wife (the sale was her idea) as the snow flurries began. But the girls helped. At one point, I had three of them sitting on me on top of the old chair we were giving away. I was finally warm. When they were in the house, I knew they were safe, playing, watching TV or talking to Jim. Every once and a while, he would check on me to make sure I was still alive and not covered with snow.

I’m also so pleased that Jim and Mary Jane agreed to be in our memoir. The first time he met her was during WW2 at the Kenosha USO. He saw her across a room and immediately was drawn to her. When he arrived at her side, he knocked over a lamp which Mary Jane caught. Together, they were a testament to what marriage should be. I don’t mean the love at first site bit. That never lasts. It’s the part about when one person knocks over a lamp the other will always be there to catch it. Through fifty-five years of marriage, Mary Jane and Jim never lost that.

Those last ten or so years, after Mary Jane’s passing, were never the same. Each time we visited, Jim was glad to see us. We spent hours just talking, watching his favorite westerns or playing pinnacle. Often Crystal and I would cook a nice meal or take him out to a restaurant. But we could tell, he was different. He had lost the love of his life and longed to be with her again. Today, that day has come. While their legacy will live on through their children and those who loved them, Mary Jane and Jim are together again. Praise God!

Also today, February 17, 2017 our latest granddaughter, Miss Addelyn Macenzie Klein, entered the world. A healthy baby girl, Liz and Brad’s latest, serving as a reminder that life will continue. Love will go on.

Jim at Michelle’s college graduation in 2008.                 Liz and new baby Addelyn

 

Why God Why?

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I’ve been told I have a great sense of humor (or corny if you ask my daughters). Psychologically, humor could be used as a defense mechanism. It can be used to hide a deeper inner pain. It could be an escape mechanism, because life is too serious without a sense of humor. It could demonstrate an overdeveloped need for positive feedback. I’ve also heard that a good sense of humor is a sign of intelligence. Let’s go with that one.

As much as I would like, humor isn’t always possible, even for me. Life can get very real, very fast. I love our Wednesday Bible study. While I always learn from the study part, it is not the largest part of those two hours each week. That is always reserved for prayer, praises and concerns. Unfortunately, the list of concerns always seems to come out larger. We listen intently as each concern, worry, suffering is revealed. An occasional positive story helps bring life into perspective. When the list is complete we begin a time of prayer.

Lately I’ve been asking for prayer for my middle daughter, Michelle or Mishel as she prefers. She married her long time friend and companion, Alex. They had a great honeymoon: Europe and Mexico. While they had planned on having children, Michelle’s immediate pregnancy wasn’t planned. Life is all about adapting. Sometimes it’s harder to adapt than others. Late Friday night, with Alex and her sister Liz present, in a Columbus hospital, she lost the baby.

There are no jokes for that. There is no period of time that will erase the horrible experience. There is only life and another in my growing list of questions for God. Oh time will pass; and the pain will seem less. Eventually, at the right time, they will try again, and be successful. If there is one thing I know about Michelle, it’s that she has so much love to give, and will be an amazing mother. I’m equally certain that, much like me, when the time comes, Alex will rise to the challenge.

Yes, he will be the first to steal the baby’s nose. His heart will fill with pride as he uses his best football carry to transport his new little bundle of pride and joy. In a little while he might even teach his child something akin to my flying baby trick. It always elicited smiles from my daughters and a scrupulous stare and moan from Crystal. I enjoyed her reaction almost better than my daughters’.

Oh there will be times when their young child will terrify them. I remember when Michelle was three and she went into convulsions. We got her to the hospital in time. Even then, she smiled and enjoyed the attention. Then there was the time when she got lost at a large fair we were attending (my fault if you ask Crystal). I covered a lot of ground at a rather high rate of speed. We found her by the concession stands, looking for a handout. In second grade, her teachers were mean to her. She came home crying every other day. We wound up homeschooling her for a year and then sending her to a Christian school we really couldn’t afford. When it comes to your kid, it’s never about money.

For years Michelle was my jogging partner. She always got more exercise than me though. Somehow girls can’t run quietly. I think it takes a lot more energy to talk while you’re running. Somehow I think the talking, or processing of life, was her reason for running. Of course, I enjoyed the company and one on one time with her.

When I see my girls go through life and its associated challenges, I marvel at their resilience. I like to think they got some of that from Crystal and me. While I am sure they probably each have their lists for God, they will continue to endure. At times they will even thrive. Other times, like today, they will grieve. Even God acknowledges; for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

That means that, sometime, hopefully in the not too distant future, I will again find something funny about life. I hope it is soon.

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This was three year old Michelle later on that trip when she had convulsions.

♫ Do You Hear What I Hear? ♫

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Yes the holidays are over; and no this isn’t an attempt to relive them. For better or worse (only a slight reference to wedding vows), this web site is dedicated to supporting the institute of marriage. There are probably hundreds of theories on why marriages succeed or fail. However, to one extent or another, I believe at some level, most stem from problems with communication. There are various theories on how communication occurs. Most involve a sender, a message, a receiver, and often feedback. It sounds simple until you realize that interpretation is involved. All too often, what the sender intended to communicate is misinterpreted by the receiver. Then there are compounding factors like the honesty, motives behind the message, the emotional state of each party, frames of reference, and expectations. There is also a notable difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is the physiological response to sound. Listening involves processing the sounds into thoughts.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of books dedicated to the subject of communication. To narrow the focus a little, we will confine our discussion to men and women within the confines of marriage. My first communication problems with Crystal actually began before our marriage. The summer before my last semester at Bradley University I was at school; and prior to her senior year, Crystal had a summer job in Chicago. There were one hundred and fifty miles between us. Somehow it seemed like a lot more. I had a great summer; Crystal, not so much. I was seeing old friends, partying, working and going to school. Crystal was back home and having a rough time of things. Somehow every time I would talk to her I would say something wrong. When I wrote to her, it would be even worse. It was like we were two different species. I didn’t understand her and she didn’t understand me. The reality was that this was the beginning of a long discovery process about our differences.

Men and women, while not different species, are different. One thing I learned while studying nursing is that anatomy (structure) determines physiology (function). Our brains are not the same; our chemistries are not the same. To expect us to respond exactly the same is not realistic. These differences can either add to our marriage or drive it into the rocks. The better we understand these differences, the better we can make them strength.

When my three daughters call us, they will generally ask to talk to one of us. When they ask for mom, they need to dish. In other words, women need to talk in order to thoroughly process their thoughts. That is one reason women, on the average, speak so many more words each day than men. When my daughters ask to speak to me, they generally ask a very focused question about a specific subject. Should I take that job or what is wrong with my car? They know that, as a man, I am very task and results oriented. If they try to process thoughts with me, I will cut them off with solutions and suggestions (although I have gotten better over the years). Therein lies the problem.

I can assure you that at some point, every wife has thought that her husband and she were in total agreement. She was then shocked when he denied having the discussion? On the other hand, at some point, every husband has the experience of his wife insisting that he agreed to something that he had no clue about? Well the mysterious truth is that they were both right (refer to hearing vs. listening above). As I have said, on numerous occasions while writing these posts, I am no expert. If you want an expert, ask Dr. Phil. I just know what I have observed. When Crystal and I sit in our living room and watch TV, we talk. Actually, Crystal talks and I listen and occasionally chirp in. Sometime later, we have a discussion about what was said, and how I agreed to, disagreed with, or was informed of something. I earnestly have no recollection of said discussion. The problem occurs when Crystal starts using me to process her thoughts and then segues into an action oriented item. At some point, her ability to speak exceeds my ability to actively listen. While I may have made a gesture or grunt of acknowledgment, it should in no way be later used against me.

In addition man vs. women differences we have differences as individuals. In my case, as a kid I suffered with ADD. While I have learned to control it, I never totally got over it. For example, on the rare occasions that I actually join Crystal in watching Dr Phil, he will say something like “It’s not like I just fell off the turnip truck”. To the average watcher, I’m sure the implications are obvious. To me, however, I begin analyzing the statement. Does he mean that he isn’t a turnip (assuming turnips are stupid)? Is this a slur on migrant workers? Is he saying that if someone fell off a turnip truck they might land on their head and become disoriented? Why did he pick a turnip truck and not a garbage truck or a potato truck? At any rate, by the time I return to the show, generally two guests are yelling at each other for some dumb reason.

So what is the answer? If I were a wife, when I needed my husband’s attention for a decision, I would grab each of his ears with my hands and stare straight into his eyes while engaging in an important discussion. However, as a man, I would really object to being treated in such a manner. So the bottom line (a man term) is, I have no answer to resolve a problem which has existed throughout history. My hope is that, simply being aware of the difference will help. It should! It’s not like you just fell off the peanut wagon!

Crystal’s Corner

Doesn’t Ron talk like a scientist?  I am not a scientist.  I tried to do experiments in my high school lab and ended up with the table on fire.  While Ron makes some good points I have a slightly different take on our specific situation.  When I talk about sports, his Dad, the car, dinner or something that he is interested in, then he hears me.  Well, not always when I talk about plans with his Dad.  But if I am talking about the girls and their problems, my problems, a movie I want to see or a book I want to read, then he doesn’t hear me.  Even when I get his attention and he looks straight at me, he still won’t remember later.  There are times when I have written him letters in order to get a point across.  That does actually work.

It is also a problem to me when he is watching TV or just tired and I have something I am excited to tell him, that he tells me to talk to him later. In the first place, I am excited now.  In the second place, I will forget about it later. We have progressed somewhat in our lines of communication. But just today we had an argument (or loud discussion) about two laundry baskets.  The baskets were both in the big bathroom.  One of the baskets had the clothes I wash by hand in it and the other one had the clothes that either he or I will wash by machine.  He had put the wrong basket in the hallway on its way to the laundry.   When I saw it, I told him, “you have the wrong basket.”

He said, “No, I don’t”.

I said, “Yes, you do.”

This went on for awhile until I showed him the other basket that had the machine washable clothing in it.  I am glad I caught it or my sweaters would shrink when he washed them.

Most of the time, we communicate pretty well, but like most couples, we have our moments.  I would recommend the book, Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars, but I wouldn’t try to discuss it with your husband while he is watching TV.  Maybe they only have TV on Mars. Anyway, happy communicating, and Happy New Year 2016.

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There’s my wifipoohe and a calf (wife on right), along with a great fall picture of dad by the Scioto River.

 

Wedding Surprise!

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Today’s topic is wedding surprise. There were a lot of things which didn’t surprise me at my daughter Michelle’s wedding, earlier this month. First and foremost, was the wedding itself. Michelle and Alex have been together for a long time so the wedding surprised no-one. Alex actually asked for my permission. Trust me, no one does that without being certain, I mean death and taxes certain, they were getting married. I asked my father-in-law while he was cleaning his gun (kidding).

The wedding was great. No surprise there, Michelle and Alex are both great planners. There was a short, but meaningful ceremony followed by really excellent food (even a carving station). My dad, who has eaten in some of America’s best restaurants, was really impressed with the prime rib. After dinner there was good music, toasts, dancing, and games. They even allowed me to pray before the meal. That meant a lot to me.

I believe I was one of the few, including my wife, who was not at all surprised when the bride and two bride’s maids (our other two daughters) were the last contestants in the game of musical chairs (out of eleven). Other contestants didn’t stand a chance. Competitive nature was not a rarity in our household. I once thought there might be bloodshed over a game of monopoly. And if I ever have to listen to another debate about who the best softball player was, I just might hit myself with a bat. Unfortunately, I taught them all how to play, and was at many of their games. When the debates begin, I’ve learned to smile and nod (better than duck and cover). I haven’t always been so wise. At one point, a long, long time ago, I thought the right thing was to give my honest opinion. My wife and three daughters quickly taught me that the only acceptable response to such queries is one of unconditional love or no response. Girls are actually OK with a non-responsive dad, as they seem to have no trouble continuing a conversation in perpetuity (with or without my input).

My big wedding surprise came at the discretion of the wedding DJ. He decided to play the little anniversary game. You know the one. First you get all of the married couples on the dance floor dancing. Then you start to eliminate them based on time served, or rather time married. First, everyone who has been married less than one full day may be seated. Of course that eliminated Michelle and Alex. Then he went to one year, five years, and then ten years. At that point my oldest Liz and her husband Brad were seated. The game continued and I was anxious to find out which of the older couples would be left once we were eliminated. To my extreme surprise, when the DJ got to thirty-five years, Crystal’s brother Larry and his wife Linda left. Crystal and I were alone on the dance floor…….I was shocked…….When did we become the old married couple? I masked my amazement by spinning Crystal a couple of times. I was trying to subliminally communicate with everyone there that we were still young. I’m sure they could all see that.

Since that day, I’ve had a little more time to reflect. This was a rather small reception of only about fifty people. Our thirty-seven years really wasn’t that much. After all, my knees and hip stopped being sore some time the next day. That doesn’t make me old, does it? Of course not! I have already figured out the solution. Whenever it’s Lisa’s turn to get married I’ll just have to help out with the guest list. Crystal and I know some older married couples who would love to attend a wedding. Problem solved! The moral of this story is that satisfaction in marriage, and for that matter in life, is all a matter of perspective…and occasionally, strategic denial.

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The happy couple.

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This is just before the last irrelevant contestant is eliminated.

Station Identification

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The term Station Identification probably ages me a bit. It was the term frequently used when live television shows were going to a commercial break. But really, who did they think they were fooling? Everyone knew those words were just code for they were going to try to sell us something. It was time to freshen our beverages or get a snack. When you think about it, what would be the sense of stopping a perfectly good TV show just for the station to be identified? Back then there were only three or four stations and you always knew which one you were watching.

Nowadays, all such pretext has been eliminated. Shows just break at numerous seemingly random times for commercials. Some seem clever the first ten or twenty times you watch, but then just add to the ever growing buzz of meaningless information in your brain. It’s no longer a good idea to get a snack during each commercial break unless you want to end up on “My Six Hundred Pound Life”. Instead, we long ago discovered the wonderful mute button. While I find the silence a refreshing change, Crystal frequently uses the time for one of her own commercials. (television inspires her to talk to me.) She generally has so much information to give that it sometimes spills into the returning program. Fortunately, there is a pause button for that. Oh, sometimes I get to say something too.

No matter how you have adapted, about a third of your viewing time is filled with sales pitches, more if you are watching Dr. Phil or a show where twenty-five men pursue one woman (or as I like to call it “Last Woman on Planet Earth”). By the way, while there are many good suggestions in both our book and on this web site about seeking your lifelong mate, appearing on some dumb reality show wasn’t included (for good reason).

At any rate, all of that has nothing to do with today’s topic. It has been a while since we have given a progress report on “One Hundred Fifty Years of Marriage”. Our roughly 200 page memoir was completed over a year ago. When I say completed, I mean researched, written, rewritten, and reedited about four times. The whole process took the better part of five years. The hardest part wasn’t the interviews or research or even contacting our government for military records (fun with a capital F). It was my typing. Picture Andy Dufresne tunneling out of Shawshank Prison with a small rock hammer (ps. that took 19 years). My next book will be “Two finger, Stare at Keys Typing”. It will have to have a chapter on changing the computer key pad as this typing method is apparently hard on them (I went through two of them).

So where are we now on this project? Crystal and I are in total agreement. We can go no further without some expert direction from our future agent or publisher.

As far as our publication efforts, first we want to assure our ever growing group of discerning, brilliant, and sophisticated blog readers (Yes, You!) that, eventual publication will happen. Self publication is a final option. We still believe that the right agency is our best bet. Crystal has done a great deal of research. We have also completed a rather extensive proposal of over thirty pages. The handful of suitable agents we have contacted, while positive, have other commitments or lack resources. Yet the few comments have been very positive. Some of the agents have been unresponsive (discouraging, but apparently normal).

Another factor, not to be overlooked, is timing. We believe that this work of historical nonfiction is timeless. So there is no rush. While we have no promise to give readers, we continue to research and wait for God’s direction and timing. However, from a practical point of view, this may not be the right time. We currently spend a lot of time with my dad in Columbus, our kids/grandkids and occasionally visit Crystal’s dad in Cincinnati. We also are getting ready for Michelle (#2 daughter) and Alex’s wedding. When the book publication actually occurs, we want to be 100% dedicated to its launch. This could involve travel, book signings, radio interviews, etc.; Oprah will probably want to meet us; then there is the Pulitzer Committee. I may be exaggerating slightly, but you get it.

At any rate, for now we will be patient, continue to do research and wait for time and opportunity. In the meantime, Crystal and I are enjoying working together in putting together a continuing body of quality work in the form of this Web site. We have also been writing articles and trying to get them published. Now that this break for “station identification” has come to an end, we will return to your normal programming.

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I have no pictures of station identifications, but sunsets and old barns, I got a million of them.

Discouragement and Encouragement: Crystal’s Corner

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There are times when I get very discouraged not only about getting the memoir published, but about life in general.  Dealing with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and more illnesses is discouraging.  There are days when I can barely walk around, I don’t have any energy, and have pain.  Then I take the pain killers and that makes me even more tired.  CFS causes exhaustion which cannot be helped by resting or taking a nap.  Fortunately, I read a lot, write some, make crafts and sew. Some of these activities I do even lying down.  I also always feel fortunate that I am a Christian.  Nothing can separate us from God’s love and help and also we have a Savior.  I have a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  All three are comforting to me.  Also, God leads me and Ron in many ways and we follow.

What encourages me is the beauty of the earth.  I go out on our large porch and swing on the swing.  There are many birds around which are usually singing and making noise.  We have starlings, robins, sparrows, doves, and even hummingbirds.  A humming bird comes to our petunias hanging on our porch.   Sometimes I see it from the living room.  I also am very very creative. I am making original origami designs: birds, flowers and more.  I am considering doing a book or at least a magazine article.  I make 3D cards, beaded hangings and more items using origami figures.
Right now I am sewing a purple satin dress for Lisa for Michelle’s wedding.  It is a challenge, but I enjoy sewing and so far my sewing machine and I are friends.  I am also working on a dress and possibly jacket for myself.  I have also been making some clothes for myself from some of my mom’s clothing.  My mom made many of her dresses, blouses and skirts.  I am redesigning some of them so I can wear them.  The fabric is still very nice so I can use it in my clothing and/or quilts.

I get great satisfaction making crafts and also baking occasionally.  I am also de-cluttering.  I am going through bags of mail, magazines, books, etc that have accumulated around the house.  It is like going back in time.  Most of it, I am recycling, but I am finding letters, cards, designs, and some money.  It takes time and is tedious, but I am making a difference.

Ron and I help each other not to be discouraged.  Usually when one of us is down, the other one is up and can help.  We also laugh everyday so that helps.  I have been reading three books by the same author.  They are Jesus Lives, Jesus Calling and Jesus Today.  They are devotional books with Bible verses.  You can read one or more a day. The author has written about her life and her Christian walk in the beginning of each book.  These writings are very powerful.  She is a gifted writer.  We also like Daily Guideposts and Guideposts Magazine as well.

I also like to watch funny TV shows and movies.  I especially like Doris Day movies and Meg Ryan movies like You’ve Got Mail.  I watch meTV because they show That Girl, Carol Burnett shows, Love Boat and other good shows from the past.  I remember watching these shows with Mom and Jeannette when we were growing up.  They are good memories.  I am including some Bible verses with this blog that are encouraging also.

Isaiah 41: 10  So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let  your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

1 Peter 5:7  Cast all you anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 

Ron’s Perspective

I believe discouragement is part of life. No one lives a happy life only happy moments. As Crystal vaguely points out, what you focus on gets bigger. She doesn’t spend her days saying woe is me. She does what she can, and does it well. She is seldom discouraged for any length of time. Neither am I.

In our marriage, Crystal plays the flower and I am the bee. Even though retired, I seldom stay in one place, but am constantly busy. I could complain about doing more work around the house, running errands, or the stress continually making and breaking plans based on Crystal’s health. Instead, for the most part (believe me, not always), I am grateful that God has put us together and made me the healthy one. I don’t really mind taking care of Crystal because I am the lucky one. Besides, marriage isn’t about keeping score, it’s about helping each other.

Yesterday we took a three hundred mile round trip to a national quilt exhibit at the Dairy Barn (no cows, just a name) in Athens, Ohio. It is an art quilt show called Quilt National which happens every other year and Crystal, as an art quilter, wanted to see it. She enjoyed the show and I drove around exploring and taking pictures. We stopped at a new Mexican restaurant on the way home and talked about various topics on the trip. It was a great day.

Another source of encouragement which could otherwise discourage us is our book. It is really very good. Someday, in God’s time, it will be published. Our next post will be the 87th on this web site. It is an update on our progress. Until then remember, how you feel about your life depends on what you focus on. As much as possible, focus on the positive. Also, each day, go out of your way to help encourage someone else.

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This is the roof of the Dairy Barn. I just thought it was interesting.

Woman in Gold

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Last week Crystal and I got away for a couple of days. It was my anniversary gift that we rented a cabin near Old Man’s Cave (Ohio State Park near Logan). So for a couple of days there was no computer, no cell phone (or reception), and only DVDs on TV. I know what you are thinking, how can a couple survive without all of the modern conveniences? Well we did just fine; thank you very much. The hot tub on the porch was very nice. We grilled some steaks and hot dogs, hiked in the woods, saw rustic streams and waterfalls, cooked some marshmallows by the campfire, and in general, just relaxed. I would recommend this kind of getaway for any married couple at least annually. If you haven’t lately, start planning. Every couple needs to plan and do things together on a regular basis.

Getting away is great, but another necessity for a good marriage is regular dating. It’s a time for reconnection and distressing. There have been times when our schedules only allowed going out for breakfast and a walk or drive. It’s still worth the time. Just like your car, your marriage needs maintenance. Of course, movies are an important dating activity. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good movies to see. Still, Crystal and I try to see one or two a month. If nothing else, we can agree that movies today suck, and why did we see that one. We saw Jupiter Ascending and agreed it was, quite possibly, the worst science fiction movie ever made. When you keep looking at your watch, even though it’s too dark and you are not wearing one, you know it’s bad. However, if you love action fantasy with a convoluted plot, and don’t care about plot, acting, humor (or lack thereof), or any semblance of reality, I highly recommend it.

On the other end of the movie spectrum, a couple of days prior to our trip, we saw a new movie, The Woman in Gold. It is based on a true story about the struggle of a woman and her friend’s son (a lawyer) to recover a famous painting stolen from her family by the NAZIs during WW2. The movie goes far beyond the modern day (around 1998) legal struggle between the protagonists and the Austrian government. This movie is a personalized history lesson about WW2, Austria, and one family’s fight to escape the extreme persecution and prejudice targeted against the Austrian Jewish population at the time. It is the story of how the niece of the portrait’s subject and her fiancé risked everything, tearfully leaving family to almost certain death in their escape to America. I have probably said too much already. See the movie!

Of one thing Crystal and I were most certain. This movie, based on a memoir, is certain proof that there is still a great market for our memoir. This entire project has been an amazing experience. Both Crystal and I feel totally enlightened by all we have learned during the research and interviewing process. We have been amazed at the lives and times of our parents. We are now more determined than ever that this book and project are worthwhile and the stories have universal and timeless appeal. We both feel led by God to continue our efforts. I have started to work on an outline for a screen play. Who knows, maybe the movie will come out first.

Crystal’s Corner:

Our recent getaway was in a cabin in the woods in Hocking hills.  We had stayed in the very same cabin back in 2003. The owner, who lives in a house not far from the cabin, remembered us.  Thinking back about 2003 is kind of scary.  It wasn’t a good time for us.  Ron lost his job in Coshocton after only 3 and ½ years of working there. We thought this was the job he would have until we retired.  We were having major problems with Elizabeth that was turning our whole world upside-down and it was taking its toll on our younger children and our marriage.  I remember feeling much calmer at this cabin in the woods.  It is very isolated, quiet and comfortable.  In 2003, we didn’t have cell phones or very many DVDs either.

Going to see the waterfalls in this area is a very nice experience.  You do have to do a lot of walking and some of it is uphill.  I am not that good at walking uphill.  I am mainly a flat or downhill walker.  But there weren’t any elevators to get back up.  We took many photos, but also just sat down on a bench or some flat stones and relaxed.  There is something about the forest that calms me down and makes me more hopeful.  Ron and I both feel this way.  Ron takes different photos than I do.  Before I had my current camera, I would have to debate with him to take the shots that I wanted.  He likes scenery, cows, old buildings that are falling down, geese, heron, and other birds.  I take photos of flowers, trees, groups of branches that look like a design, rocks, and the sky.  I see more opportunities that I could later use in designing quilts, clothing, and other projects.  I also take photos of him in various situations.

Talking about the movies that we go see, I liked Woman in Gold very much.  The painting is by Klimt; and I like his work.  The movie is based on two memoirs and is done very well.  The other movie, Jupiter Rising, has great music and that was the only good thing about it. After seeing it, I wanted to go home and watch Star Trek Next Generation reruns and Star Wars and remember that there are some really good sci-fi movies and TV shows.  When we go to the movies, there is always time to talk before they show the movies and we discuss the new movies that are coming out.  Some I will want to see and some he will want to see.  There aren’t many that we both want to see.  I enjoy the time that Ron and I spend together no matter what we do. After 37 years, you would think we would get bored with each other, but we don’t. He is still the best boyfriend I ever had and the funniest one too.

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Crystal on a walk, and a waterfall near Old Man’s Cave.

 

The Wedding Cliff

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OK while a lot has happened with dad, as far as I know, nothing has yet been resolved with his much publicized taxes. Our lives are not on hold though. The main purpose of this blog is to promote our memoir and offer support to the institute of marriage. Let’s continue with this glimpse back to Crystal and my past.

The conditioning starts early with little girls. I know; I raised three of them. All of those nice fairy tales end happily but too early. The camera zooms into the castle. Beautiful flower arrangements dominate the room. You can almost smell them. The room is full of splendidly dressed guests. Then the camera zooms in to reveal the handsome smiling groom. Finally, as anticipation peaks, here comes the lovely bride all dressed in White (a symbol of her untarnished purity). The words “happily ever after” are spoken and the camera fades to the sky or a book, etc., etc.

Yes Virginia, this is a fairy tale. It’s not that I’m against weddings: it’s the happily ever after syndrome I can’t condone. All too often, there is this big buildup toward “the happiest day of your life”. However, reality soon rears its ugly head. It’s a lie. No matter how much time, effort, planning and money you and your spouse, his or her family put into its planning and execution, a wedding is just another day. The clock will strike midnight and life will continue, with nary a glass slipper in site.

I met Crystal in college, and one of the things which attracted me to her was that marriage wasn’t in her vocabulary. Well, to be more precise, marriage was in her vocabulary. She was practically a straight A English major. Many words, words I didn’t even know, were in her vocabulary. She just wasn’t in college to get her MRS degree. Trust me, many girls were looking for that perfect, make my life complete, “first” husband. Early in our relationship, she outlined her plan to graduate and then move to an artist colony in Oregon to become a famous writer. A husband never entered her plans.

It wasn’t love at first sight. We met at a party. She didn’t trust me. Sometime later, she was the seventh person I had asked to the semiformal dance. We both had a great time at the dance. However, even then things moved slowly. After she finally realized that God had different plans, and Oregon might have to wait, we got engaged (I had to ask her twice). We started talking about our future together. While she had few preconceived notions about the wedding, she started to save and would pay for it. While we would share in the planning, she would make most of the important decisions. It seemed fair to me. I was responsible for the honeymoon. We were both happy with the arrangement.

Then that one fateful phone call occurred. She was crying. I, like 99% of all men, can’t stand it when a woman cries. She couldn’t find any place to have our wedding reception on or around April 1st (that’s right we are a couple of April fools). I told her not to worry, I would find a place. ‘Really?’ she said in disbelief. I assured her that she just needed to tell me what she wanted and how much she could spend. She stopped crying (thank God). I dedicated myself to the search. I talked to friends, visited restaurants and banquet halls, one after another. Finally I found one which seemed perfect. Crystal was thrilled.

To this day, our wedding is still the best one I have ever attended. That includes the reception. Part of the formula is, and has been ever since, we work well together. With the exception of our basic Christian values, Crystal and I aren’t the same type of person, not even close. However, we complement each other well. I am great at organizing, Crystal is extremely detail oriented. I may be writing the article this time, but I know that she will be around shortly to edit and fix my grammar, as needed.

So in short, yes we had our “happiest day”, but not really. Yes the day was great, but it’s not how I would evaluate our marriage. Before we ever got to the altar, we already had an idea that we worked well together. Over these last thirty-seven years since that day, we have had many ups and downs. But we have gone through them together. Our real strength was something we discovered while planning our wedding. We realized that, while neither of us is perfect, together we could overcome any of life’s challenges.

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Crystal helping our oldest daughter Elizabeth with her dress. She looked a little like a princess…at least to me.