So This is Love

Three years ago or so, I ‘met’ a blogger online through Dude Write, a blogging competition for men that sadly no longer exists.  I suppose, in a way, the end of this story can be credited somewhat to the founders of Dude Write, Youngman Brown and Wily Guy …..so thanks, gentlemen!

But I’m jumping ahead!  You’re probably thinking, “What ending? What’s she talking about?”

Let me tell you the tale.  I met Michael Walker of Defying Procrastination at Dude Write.  He even sponsored me once for a Dudette contest week there.  I considered him a casual friend back then.  He was engaged at the time and I was, well, in my own little world.  We kept in touch through comments on blogs and occasional emails and tweets, but that was pretty much it.

Skip ahead a bit to me starting this blog and tweeting to let everyone know about it. Michael congratulated me and somehow we found ourselves messaging one another on Facebook.  At first I thought, “Hmmm, this guy is awfully chatty with a single person of the female persuasion, for a man who’s married” –until I realized he hadn’t gotten married, that his relationship had ended.

A few Facebook messages turned into daily Facebook messages that turned into messaging all the livelong day. Phone numbers were exchanged and we switched to texting.  At one point I remember being shocked to see by how much my text messages had increased…I went from 254 the month prior to us starting our text-a-thons to 1,632 the next month.  Seriously!

Phone calls began slipping their way into the madness and somewhere in the progression of messages, texts and calls, feelings changed and I was suddenly thinking of this casual friend I didn’t know all that well as something more.  My heart that had been dormant for, ahem, quite some time, shook off the dust and cobwebs and, without my explicit permission, started beating to the tune of Michael’s words and voice. I was a bit unnerved…but it’s amazing how much control one little organ can have.

When we finally moved to Skype (thank you, Skype, for existing!) I couldn’t deny that an actual relationship was forming…yes, without us ever having met in person.  I know it may be hard for some to understand, but the quantity and quality of our video chats were greater than most face-to-face dates.

One moment really stands out to me that made me realize that this was much more than a blogging friendship.  I told Michael that I had been snooping around on his blog and that I really loved a particular post of his called “Michael.”  It described his life and all he had experienced, but also how the one thing he was missing was a special kind of love.  When he replied that the post had actually been his bio on a dating site, I remember thinking that had I read it in that setting, it would have surely drawn me in.  I also thought, “I think I might be that special love he’s been looking for.”

So by the time I went to visit Michael in-person, it was no shock to me that I didn’t for a moment feel like I was meeting someone for the first time.  Instead, I felt like I was seeing someone I cared about after a long separation.  We quickly confirmed that we had a connection unlike either of us had experienced before and we knew that this was a relationship we both wanted to pursue.

Michael and I at Natural Bridge Caverns...our first adventure together :)

Michael and I at Natural Bridge Caverns…our first adventure together 🙂

Michael and I at hockey game

At a Texas Stars hockey game. I know…I’m at a sporting event…it MUST be love!

The trip was amazing and fun and all the special things that being with someone you love can be.  This man has an Excel spreadsheet for planning and he’s not afraid to use it!  Michael spoiled me…by buying my favorite chocolates online so I would have them at his house…by having  a bouquet of my favorite flowers waiting for me…by treating me to one fantastic meal and activity after another.

One night I met twelve of his friends who all came out because they loved him and were eager to meet the new lady in his life.  That alone said so much about the kind of person he is.

My trip only confirmed what I already knew…I love this man. It turns out, he is exactly what I needed at this exact time in my life. He has qualities that I never even knew to dream of in a partner, but I’m so thankful for every piece of him.

Fast forward to now and I’m sitting here looking at a bunch of empty boxes that will be soon holding my favorite belongings…because I’m moving to Texas to be with Michael!  We know there’s still more to learn about one another, but we also know enough to realize that we want to start a life together…and we need to be in the same place to do it.

So at the end of March, after Michael comes to Michigan to meet my family and friends, we will be loading up my things in a truck, including my dog and three cats (yes, he is a prince, he’s never even questioned that the furry ones would ALL be coming along as well) and heading home together to Texas.

I can’t imagine anything better.

Michael and I at airport

Michael posted this selfie of us at the airport right before I left with these words: “She’s not even on the plane yet and I’m already missing her.” How can you not love a guy like that?

 

 

Neglect and Motivation

Well, so happy new year twelve days later!  I don’t really have much of a post today, but wanted to share a link for any short story writers out there…

Writer’s Digest is having a short story competition.  If you are interested in finding out more, click here. But hurry if you want to participate…the deadline is this Friday!

I’m working to finish mine before Friday.  It’s kind of break from not working on my novel.  Why would I need a break from NOT writing? I guess it’s more of a break from stressing about not writing my novel. Poor lonely, neglected novel.  I hope to be a better writer and stop hurting its feelings and go back to it soon.  I’ve read a million (perhaps an exaggeration, but only by a hundred thousand or so) quotes and tips on how you just need to write…that there is no waiting for the right moment, the right mood, the right time.  I believe it, I’ve just yet to put it into practice.  But like it or not, come February, I will be back at it, because my lovely friend Michael Walker and I have an agreement that will start back up where both of us will commit to writing 1,000 words each week towards our novels.  Here’s hoping the buddy system works in writing as well as it does on field trips and working out!

And in the event the buddy system fails, this is my backup plan:

Kodi disapproving

Okay, okay, Kodi, I’ll write my novel!  There’s no way I could hold up under that kind of a disapproving stare.  Feel free to borrow it if you’ve been slacking on anything 🙂

One Last Surprise

As Christmas quickly approaches, it is the perfect time for a favorite holiday memory blog hop hosted by Janie Junebug and Cherdo on the Flipside!  I confess, I didn’t even start to ponder this until the last minute, but as I thought about it, I don’t think I can come up with a better memory than one I posted a couple of years ago on my old blog.  If you’ve read it before, I apologize, but if not, I hope you enjoy it:

 

My dad was a master present-giver.  Every year, without fail, there was always a bounty of presents under our painstakingly-decorated tree.  No matter what else was happening, no matter how poor we were, and we were definitely poor at times, he always found a way to Santa-tize our house.

On the really special years, his signature move came after all the presents under the tree had been opened.  He would sit there, looking dissatisfied, until we asked him what was wrong.  He would reply that it seemed like something was missing.  Then, sly grin on his face, he would reach into a hidden spot, saying, “it looks like there’s one more.”  And then he would pull out an amazing, surprise present for each of us.

The Christmas after he died?  He managed to do it one last time.

He passed in November that year and I was still living with my step-mom when Christmas rolled around.  We hadn’t put up a tree or decorated and didn’t really plan to do much celebrating.  It was hard to have holiday spirit when the one who carried the Christmas torch was missing.

We each had bought a present for the other and sat down in our bare living room to open them.   After I appreciated my new purse and she her new sweater, my step-mom said, “‘Wait, there’s one more.”  She reached behind the end table, and pulled out a small box.

“This is from your dad,” she said.

I stared at her, about to ask how that could be, when she continued, “He ordered it for you before he died.”

Instantly tearful, I took the box from her, and opened it.  Inside was a bracelet to match the necklace my dad had given to me for my birthday that year.

 

 

From a jewelry line based on the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, it had a little heart with small footprints walking through the center.   All I could think of as I gazed at the bracelet was the last line of the poem:

“…My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

My dad had died unexpectedly from a heart attack, so he hadn’t bought it knowing how meaningful it would end up being to me.  He had just been doing what he loved to do…buying me a special present.  Even through my tears, I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined my dad sitting there with us, smirking in satisfaction at pulling off that last, surprise Christmas gift.

 

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

 

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Painting the Poochie

Have you heard of Painting With a Twist?  Is that a thing outside of Michigan?  If you haven’t heard of it, it is basically an art studio where you can go and learn how to paint a painting.  The best part is it’s for anyone with any (or no) level of skill.

In their traditional class, everyone in the class paints the same picture.  The instructor tells you paint stroke by paint stroke what to do.  I have had friends that have done it and their paintings have all come out great!

I had been meaning to give it a try when a friend of mind asked if I wanted to do their pet painting class. I immediately said yes, which won’t surprise you if you have any clue how crazy I am about my dog.  Paint my puppy’s portrait so I can hang my punkin on the wall?  Yes, please!

The only problem is, once I agreed and we signed up, I started to get a little nervous.  I had never actually painted a painting before and I hadn’t taken one of their regular classes…how in the world was I going to pull off an elaborate painting of my dog?

For the pet painting class, you send in a picture of your pet ahead of time, they sketch it out on canvas for you and then it’s up to you to paint it.  They give the entire class basic instruction and come around to help individually, but because everyone is painting a different picture, it is more of a challenge than their normal classes.

Nerves aside, I was really looking forward to some art therapy that night as I was a bit out of sorts from a not so happy day.  But my mood instantly improved when I walked in and saw my prepped canvas.  Their sketch from my picture looked so good!

 

Kodi sketch

Aw, there’s my baby!

 

The instructor told us the first step was to do the background color.  I started blending something kind of teal-ish and off I went, surprisingly easily.  I realized later that this part of the painting process falsely led me to believe that this whole portrait painting business wasn’t going to be so hard after all…

 

kodi sketch background

 

The next step was to do the ‘medium’ colors.  They explained some brush stroke techniques, which I promptly forgot and I started smooshing medium colors onto the canvas.  I was really worried about losing the lines, but ‘fear not,’ my instructor said, so on I painted.

 

Kodi medium colors

 

The next two steps were the dark colors and the finishing touches like the nose and eyes. There are no pictures from this stage…because holy heck!  It was hard!!  I could not focus on picture-taking when Kodi’s nose looked like a big blob of brownie batter and I was afraid to even start the eyes.  Thank goodness one of the instructors came by and saw my pleading face.  He swooped in, helped me paint the nose (read: he painted the nose) and gave me some tips for the eyes.

 

painting class2

Teach teachin’

 

I posted some pics on my Facebook page and I think a few people thought I was using false modesty when I said I really struggled.  I swear, I’m pleased with how the painting turned out, but I also know how much I struggled.  Happily, though, with the help of the instructors, I was able to come away with something I’m not ashamed to hang on my wall.

 

finished painting at class

There he is, sassy glint in his eye and all 🙂

 

Now whether Kodi is ashamed for this to hang on my wall, is anyone’s guess.  Or not…I’m thinking it’s not hard to guess…

 

kodi with his painting

That look on his face does NOT say ‘way to go mom.’

 

Bridesmaid

If you don’t know already, I’m 44.  This is not old-old, but it’s not young and springy fresh, either.  By this time in my life, I had thought I had long passed the call of duty of being a bridesmaid, but, if not that, then at least, at least, I never imagined I would have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress again.

Until I got the text a couple of week’s ago.

My oldest friend, Jordan, who I’ve known since 5th grade, asked another friend and me (we’ve all three been friends since high school) to be her bridesmaids in her wedding.

Okay, I thought, that’s really sweet and an honor, and the best part was I knew I wouldn’t have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress, because we had had this discussion on multiple occasions.  We were way past that stuff.  Maybe a color scheme, definitely a pretty dress, but no official bridesmaid’s gown.  Yay!

Until that text.  The text where my friend turned on me and Pam and asked if we were free to go bridesmaid’s dress shopping the Saturday after thanksgiving.

Wait, what?  Bridesmaid’s dress shopping?  We are going to be wearing bridesmaids dresses?  But, but, we agreed!  We said no bridesmaid’s dresses!  But…  Noooo!

But what could I do?  Of course I just had to say yes.  Of course I couldn’t complain.  I had to suck it up and deal with the fact that I was gonna look like an aging prom queen.  Sigh.

So when Jordan texted to confirm early in the week, I answered with a less-than-enthusiastic, ‘Sure, no problem, whatever you want, blobbety blobbety blah.’  Our friend Pam did likewise.

But then, the most wonderful thing!  A reprieve!  Jordan shared with us that the dress shopping was going to be for her bridal gown.  Woo hoo!  Now that was something I could get excited about, so I texted back enthusiastically, ‘Oh, yay, that will be so fun!  I am so excited to help you choose a dress!…yay, excitement, girl shriek, yay!’

Apparently it was obvious to Jordan that my friend Pam and I were a teeny tiny bit happy about this fortuitous turn of events when she responded to our over-the-top texts:

jordan text

Of course, this hasn’t gotten me out of wearing a bridesmaid’s dress, but I will take a reprieve when I can get it.  I’m definitely not a just-get-it-over-with kind of person.  If I can delay the inevitable, I will delay that sucker for as long as possible.

But in the meantime, we had so much fun.  I am a romantic, so watching her try on beautiful, feminine dresses made my heart happy and my eyes teary.

 

Wedding gowns

She tried on lots of pretties!

 

wedding gown from rear

She has a great booty, doesn’t she?

 

I imagine in a couple of months, you’ll hear me crabbing about bridesmaids dresses again, but for now I’m good. For one thing, she promised she won’t make us wear something ugly (but I’ve heard that one before…)  Plus, helping your oldest friend to choose a wedding gown kind of softens you up a bit.

And she did find one!  I can’t put up the pic here, but trust me, it is completely gorgeous.  Like she will be.  Aw 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving! And A Video, Too!

I decided to post a Thanksgiving video today.  I really have no idea why, except that I was playing around with my computer’s camera and it seemed like a brilliant idea.  It’s probable that I won’t agree tomorrow, but whatever!

So if you feel like watching it, here ya go (don’t worry, it’s short):

 

Oh, and yeah, that’s my normal, curly hair.  I am virtually never as fancy as that picture I have up of myself.  But Janie Junebug told me to do it and I will forever listen to Janie’s advice 🙂

If you don’t feel like watching it, no worries!  The written word is still the highest currency here.  So for those of you in the United States, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I hope you are enjoying yummy food and even better company.  And for those of you that don’t celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to have a blog and to be able to express myself through writing.  And I am even more thankful for everyone I’ve ‘met’ through doing this!  So many lovely friends, all for me!

Now off I go to deliberately stuff myself beyond any measure of comfort.  It makes no sense, but that’s just the way we do things round here.

Good Night, Love Ya, See You Tomorrow…

My dad died in November 17 years ago.  I was shocked when my step-mom reminded me how long it’s been.  But in another way, it seems much longer than that.  I miss that guy, even though he was “a handful.”  Oh the fights we used to have 🙂  I began to experiment with eye rolling as a teen and you can guess what behavior would send my dad from 1 to 10 in .5 seconds.  So of course rolling my eyes became my favorite thing to do.

He was a bit on the controlling side (my brother will laugh at the understatement there) like, if we didn’t know our weekend plans in advance, say on Monday or Tuesday, it was a major fight to get out the door on Saturday.  But, seriously, what teenager knows what they are doing on the upcoming weekend on Monday??

And the Christmas tree.  Oh, the Christmas tree.  There were rules.  Like these:

  • All ornaments must hang; they could not rest on the branch below them.
  • No ornaments could hang from the string of lights, they could only hang from the branch.
  • Two ornaments of the same color could not dangle next to one another on the tree. Never, ever.
  • There could be no obvious “holes” in the tree.  You had to start on the inside of the tree and work outward to ensure that said holes would not exist.
  • Tinsel could never, ever be used, unless you were willing to put it on the tree one strand at a time.

It has made putting up my own tree interesting, as I find myself purposely breaking the rules, while simultaneously feeling guilty for breaking the rules.  Ah, parental issues.

And, oh, the issues from his ‘teasing.’  It could be a bit warped, like the time he hung my favorite doll from my bedroom light. Still so mad about that!

But in spite of the challenges of growing up with my father, I loved him like no one else. He was the one who taught me the passion of reading a good book.  He indulged my love of animals, all the way back to the night when he brought a stray cat I had wanted to save against my mom’s wishes in from outside and snuck it into my bed. He was smart and funny and underneath the bluster, a big softie.  No surprise that smart and funny are at the top of my list in looking for a partner.

Yeah, I miss him.  One of the things I miss the most is saying goodnight.  Even though we weren’t an especially emotionally demonstrative family, we always ended the night with a kiss and me saying, “Good night, love ya, see you tomorrow.”  In later years, his response would be “Spaghetti” because he swore I said it one night while half asleep, but I think he made that up.  Still, I wouldn’t have liked saying goodnight any other way.

dad and us 2

And there he is…

 

Good night, love ya and see ya tomorrow, guys!  (well, not really tomorrow, but just go with it)

 

P.S.  Not too long ago, the lovely Janie Junebug passed on a list of 50 questions that she answered on her blog.  I decided to add them to my About Kinley Dane section, for those that want to learn all kinds of completely useless information about me.  So if you are feeling particularly bored…feel free to peruse: About Kinley Dane.

The Name is Bond. Jane Bond. Or Not.

I have some very, very sad news.  It was a hard week for me, once I came to this realization.  Because I found out something important about myself…

I will never be a super secret spy. sad face

 

I had already had given up my dreams of being a princess (no pedigree) or a ballerina (not so gifted with the gracefulness).  I also accepted that I was not going to be a scientist (let’s just say math and I are not on the same wavelength) nor a truck driver (Yes, I wanted to be one!  But I think you have to have some sort of spacial awareness for that, yeah?).  But darn it, now I’m not going to be a super secret spy, either!

Before I was born, my dad was in the CIA.  So I always just imagined that should I ever have the inclination, I would be a natural, right?  Because surely I inherited the genes.  But I didn’t!  In reality, it turns out I would be more of a Maxwell Smart-type (old people like me will get that reference) and I’m just so dejected.

My first inkling of my less than sneaky skills was when I ‘friended’ my brother and his wife on my Kinley Dane Facebook page.  Seems innocuous, but it took me a few days to realize that if friends and family on my personal Facebook were to see that my brother ‘liked’ or commented on something on my Kinley Dane Facebook, they would know about Kinley Dane and my super secret alter ego would be exposed!

So I regrouped my spy skills and banned my brother from liking and commenting.  When I posted a picture of myself on my Kinley Dane Facebook, I think my text to him was, ‘Whatever you do, for the love of God, DON’T LIKE OR COMMENT ON MY FACEBOOK POST!’

But then I found myself commenting on my brother’s posts in one persona and then continuing the conversation in the OTHER persona.  Multiple times.  And I couldn’t blame him for that, much to my disappointment.

The final straw came when I posted the same video on both of my Facebook pages.  I took this silly video of my pets in my bed (if you want to watch it, go here) and tried to post it directly to my personal Facebook from my phone.  After a while, when it still hadn’t appeared, I tried to post it again.  And, oddly enough, it still didn’t work, so I decided to try another way and posted it to Facebook from You Tube on my computer.  That time it showed up, so all was well.  Until I logged onto my Kinley Dane Facebook page and saw the darn video posted twice there!

So that was it, slapped rudely in the face by my own ineptitude.  But there’s good news on the horizon!  There’s still one more childhood dream job I haven’t explored, yet.

I’m going to be a lion rescuer!  Or an orphaned monkey caregiver.  OR a goat keeper.  Yeah, that is definitely one I still want to be.  I mean, what could go wrong, right?

 

goats-on-trees-in-morocco-5

 

Is The Candy Gone? Is It Safe To Come Out, Yet?

Woo, Friday was a tough day, food-wise for me.  It started first thing in the morning at work, because everyone decided to put their treats out right away.  I stayed strong the first part of the day, eating my normal breakfast and determinedly trying to focus on work and ignore the siren calls of the junk.  But by lunchtime, it was all over.

To preface this, you should know that about 5 months ago, I completely changed my diet.  I primarily eat a plant-based, whole food diet now.  I’ve lost weight, I look better, feel better and all that fun stuff.  I definitely treat myself now and then, so I’m not completely inflexible, but generally I try to keep my treats to one meal or dessert. And normally, I honestly have no trouble sticking to it.  But on Halloween?  It was an all day food orgy of the junkiest kind.

 

hot dogcakecandy wrappers

 

There was more, but those are the ones I paused long enough to take a picture before I stuffed my big mouth with them.  It might not seem soooo terrible, but consider this: I no longer eat meat, sugar or processed food.  Which pretty much exactly represents what I ate that day.  Saturday and even Sunday were TOUGH getting my raging food hormones (are there such things?  it sure feels like there are) back under control.

Halloween night was actually a reprieve.  Because our weather was awful this year, my brother and sister-in-law decided to take the kids to the mall for trick or treating.  I had no idea malls even did this, but apparently, it’s a thing!

I figured it would be crowded, but people, I had no idea…

mall halloween 2

The kids had to wait in these HUGE lines to get their candy:

mall halloween

Which meant there was not a lot of candy to be had.  Fortunately for the kids, they have the most awesome aunt (me!) and grandparents who brought them some extra candy to make sure they had their proper allotment of Halloween goodies.

And, okay, I did kind of pull a pathetic aunt move by buying the girls organic suckers, instead of the ring pops I was also considering, but thank the candy gods,  my brother told me the next day that the girls loved them.

organic suckers

I wasn’t completely pathetic…I did get them some other fun suckers and I got my nephews giant Hershey bars and other chocolates…

Halloween suckers Hershey barcandy bars

 

…AND now I want junk food again. Great.

Okey dokey, I better get myself out of here until the scent of sugar has dissipated.  Feel free to stay and snack, but just be sure to take the empty wrappers with you!

Oh, and p.s.  I do allow myself a few pieces of chocolate every night, because chocolate is one thing I’m not gonna give up.  I just make sure it’s dark & organic and I take these tiny little bites so I can savor it.  Here’s my absolute favorite brand!

Salazon-Chocolate-Co-Dark-Chocolate-Bar-Organic-Natural-Sea-Salt-850225002002

Cue angels singing. No, seriously, it’s that good.

What We Wouldn’t Say

Great, grey beasts holding secrets in their trunks, startled when I shouted, “Enough!  We can see you.”

Trumpeting, they left, spewing truths around the room.  We scooped up brittle pieces, examining them while they crumbled.

“Were they always this fragile?” we wondered.

 

I am participating in Yeah Write’s Gargleblaster.  To find out more, click the button!