Yesterday I wrapped up a bunch of stuff that allows me to step into the rest of the year with a clear conscience and the happy knowledge that nothing is waiting for me to finish up. That’s right. My instructors allowed me to take the final exams early, and that’s done. I’ve been noodling away on a project for a couple of months that the final stitches, a wash and a press were completed so that’s done. I have a project to work on for The Fella, but it’s the sort that isn’t weighing on my mind, though I’d like to get it done because it’s the sort that’s a lot of fun and can be worked on as Christmas cookies bake. So my mind is clear and all I have to do is pack.

I am feeling very satisfied at the moment, even though it’s 6:15 in the a.m. I’ve been awake since 4:30, and up since 5:07, had 2 cups of coffee thus far, and many plans for the next 2 weeks. SO GOOD.

You see, sometime today The Fella is coming here to pick me up, so I can leave both cars here for the Fine Sons to use while I’m gone. I’m going to spend a few days at Happy Hollow (his place), ignoring my responsibilities (which are few, now that The Fine Sons are grown-ass men and can deal with their own stuffs) and mentally preparing for The Holidays as I soak in a hot tub and occasionally eat a steak cooked on a grill that’s been lit with a flame thrower.  Does it get any better than that? NO! I DON’T THINK SO! and also get to spend time with The Fella, which is always a lovely thing.

Come Wednesday morning, we’re driving a few hours South and to the West so as to spend several days with his parents and family, as Thanksgiving is when they all get together, eat oysters and turkeys and hams, and watch The Iron Bowl on Saturday. You see, they are all apparently University of Alabama alumni/alumnae, and as likely the sole representative of Auburn University I will be On My Own except that thus far they have been very gracious and (according to The Fella) his father is going to do something lovely like have my own beer shelf in the fridge or something. (for those of you who don’t know. The Iron Bowl is the annual U of Ala/AU game, biggest rivalry in the SEC and possibly the NCAA.) I am looking forward to it. Having watched a game already with The Fella and witnessed first hand the sort of excitment that is possible, I anticipate a roaring good time, regardless of who wins.

So yeah, settling in and mentally preparing for the time of the year that can either be really wonderful or go horribly wrong. As long as The Fine Sons behave themselves, I think all will be well.  I am leaving my cars here so they can get up to Himself’s parents (3 hours north of here) for Thanksgiving, thus relieving my guilt (which is minimal now that they’re grown-ass men) (but it’s still there because I’m still their mother) at not being here with all the food. Though I did leave a pan of dressing made by Himself’s mother and passed to me because she knows it’s my favorite food in the whole world. I consider it extreme generosity to give them permission to eat it. Yes, I know how to make it but you know how that goes. That sort of thing is always better made by the original person.

One of the things The Fella and I are having to figure out are the general preferences. Last night I asked him about Cranberry Sauce. It is a divisive subject in some relationships. “Jellied” he said. “Oh.” I replied. I don’t generally do the canned stuff. My grandmother gave me this recipe and it’s how I like it. He is willing to try it. I’m passing it on to you, because Grandmother didn’t believe in keeping recipes secret. “If you share the recipe, they will think of you every time they make it.” So think of my Grandmother when you make this.

Cranberry compote

1 bag (1 pound) fresh cranberries

1 cup orange juice

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

pinch of salt

Put it all in a pot, turn it on to simmer and put a lid on it. Leave the lid cracked because if it overflows it makes a sticky mess. I know this from experience, because I do it every time I make it.  Stir it occasionally and when the cranberries pop open, remove the pot from the stove, put the lid on it, and go about your day. You can make it a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate. Lovely stuff.

I’m absolutely willing to open a can of the jellied stuff if he prefers it. I don’t hate the jellied kind, I’m just a Food Snob (I admit it) about making things from scratch.  I won’t be snotty about it, because he cooks me steaks on a grill lit with a flame thrower, piles grilled rock lobsters on a plate with a ramiken of melted butter, and keeps my favorite gin stocked in his liquor cabinet. So…yeah, being snotty about cranberries would be…not very classy.

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I ate an oyster and almost liked it.

I spepnt the weekend in South Carolina with The Fella…I won’t call it a lovely weekend, because it wasn’t. But it was very informational and productive.  No, we haven’t broken up. Quite the opposite. But I learned a lot that needed to be learned and because I am Calvinist, I will be thankful for that unpleasantness.

It’s like this. You can tell the quality of a person based on their response to stress. I won’t go into details but he had ample opportunity and reason to completely blow his top and go all blue-faced Celtic Warrior on a couple of people, and didn’t.  There were reasons many people would find excusable for really scary behavior and epic retribution, and he didn’t do it. He walked away. Yes, he was very upset and that could have cast a real pall over the whole weekend, but I was able to see the sort of person he is under tremendous stress and that was a very good thing.

A while back, when I first started looking into the dating situation, The Pastor’s Wife told me I needed to see how a man reacts to stress. “He needs to show his butt so you know what happens when you have a fight.  He needs to see you show your butt, too.”  I didn’t show my butt this weekend, but I am sure the time will come.

There were a few really good times too…he made a pot of chili that was completely different from my chili and I realized I must be grown-up now because I let him do it his way without any input and even ate it the way he does too (on crackers with some cheese) and it was delicious. If it’s cold one time when he’s down my way, I’ll fix chili too and we’ll watch maybe an Auburn game. Likely by then it will be basketball so maybe not.

We watched the Alabama-LSU football game and I hardly made any comments about getting hives from watching Alabama play, AND I wore an Alabama shirt, without any  much commentary.  I wrote recently about his window-rattling laugh.  Well…he ain’t quiet watching football either. Some people call it clapping, but when he does it, it’s more like he’s high-fiving himself.  I’m pretty sure if he could jump up and chest-bump himself he would.

There was a point when we were having a conversation about something and he said “Huh. I’m more like you than you are.” and I actually understood what he meant.

We went to worship together. After the stress of the previous day, it was necessary and while it would have been easy to say “oh let’s don’t.” he took lead and said we should, so we did and I am really glad we did. The service spoke to both of us in different but very meaningful ways.  One of the qualities that is very important to me is having someone who will take lead like that. I am finding out if I can trust his judgement, and I can, so letting him lead will be a joy, not a grudging submission.  (spare me the feminist lecture about what I just said. I have my reasons and they are valid, and work well for me. Also, my blog, my opinions.)

He got me to eat a raw oyster. I still say it was akin to a giant cow booger texturally, but with enough horseradish, and on a cracker, not too bad. I don’t know that I will ever crave one, but I ate it and didn’t throw up.

It’s a peaceful place where he lives. Quiet and out in the country. I want to plant a bunch of pansies in the beds lining his walkway.   My dog, Rusty, is getting used to his cats and know where he can go outside.

So, we’ll see how the future works out. Right now things are pretty good and if I know anything, it’s that life can change in an instant. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the prospects.

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All that and a pack of crackers

Hereafter, this person I met and with whom I am making long-term plans, shall be referred to as The Fella.

Perfect, he isn’t. Neither am I. Compatible, we are, ridiculously so. The relationship is new enough that we don’t know everything about each other, but we finish each other’s sentences in our heads (because we aren’t quite close enough to do it out loud) and say things like “that’s what I was going to say”. Which is a very shallow and silly benchmark for a relationship, but it’s one that the world recognizes.

This past weekend, I went up to his place (to investigate), and the 2 of us drove to Alabama, so he could meet my parents and see The Hillbilly Compound. He loved them and it.  They are obviously fond of him, Dad found someone who speaks his language, and Mom someone with whom she was immediately comfortable. #3 was understandably cautious (I mean, he’s pretty protective) but warmed up when he saw how The Fella was with Grandpunkin.  #3 informed me that “What matters is not my opinion, but how you feel about him, how he treats you, and if he ever hurts you I will whup his a** ” Later on he said “I’m ok with this, he’s good with Grandpunkin.” and “As the Pater Familias of *my* family, the influence he would have on my son is critical, and I think he’s going to be fine.”

It is nice to be loved.

The Fella got to experience Saturday Night at The Hillbilly Compound, and spent the entire time looking over at me and saying “This keeps getting better and better.”  The evening involved BBQ ribs and grilled sausage, platters of potatoes and cole slaw, a couple of cases of Corona, a few extra people who’ve been adopted into the family, lots and lots of laughter, off-color jokes, some firearms, and an intentional explosion. Pretty much a typical Saturday when I’m over there.

And he loves my house, the gardens, and the workshops. His place is similar, though not as spread out, and more developed in several areas. So he saw the potential and has wheels turning in his head. I know this because when I saw his place, my wheels began to turn. I know wheels when I see them.

I think the thing that works between us is the ability to say what we think, and how we think it. He understands the concepts immediately, and can riff off of my ideas to develop them. I can do the same. There’s a lot of “what if we did (this)” and “I think if we took (this) and developed it (that way) there would be an improved (whatever)” and he GETS IT without me having to explain it. And he doesn’t have to explain it to me. That saves a lot of time and frustration.

So in short order (because we’re both in our 50’s and know what we want) we’ve gone from “Hm…” to “Ok, here’s a workable 3-year plan”.  That’s the difference between being 20 and looking for someone, and being 50 and looking for someone. It’s far easier to weed out the non-contenders and know when you found the fit.

Also? He’s growing out his bodacious beard. He’d shaved it off for the dating site picture, but had a couple up on his profile with it on. As soon as we started talking a little, I asked if he’d be willing to grow it back, and he hasn’t shaved since.  So, maybe a tad scruffy at the moment, but by Christmas he’ll be full-on bearded and by Spring probably approaching Duck Dynasty stunt-double status. Which is FINE BY ME. I know that look isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, bt it’s mine with scone on the side.

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he even smells good!

Ok…well, y’all…I had A Weekend With The Fella. and it was…Wow. I couldn’t have found a better match if I’d made a custom one from the McMaster-Carr catalog. No seriously. The compatibility boxes are all checked except for one.

He went to University of Alabama. 

But, I can get over that since he isn’t holding it against me that I went to Auburn. So I’m not holding it against him… except for the Iron Bowl. (that’s the Auburn-Alabama game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving). Since that hasn’t happened yet I’m not sure how it will go, especially since I will be spending that Saturday with his family, all Alabama graduates. I can either be obnoxious and wear my AU gear, or be sweet and not. Being obnoxious comes more naturally.  It’s not really a thing at all, but there has to be something wrong and that’s the most obvious one I could find.

And GET THIS…guys. Y’all. (seriously…I’m mildly verklempt)…he stayed at the Preacher’s House and even allowed himself to be subjected to The Inquisition by the Preacher’s wife. That is equivalent to a parental inquisition from Dad sitting on the front porch cleaning his shotgun. THAT IS SERIOUS BRAVERY.

Also? He changed their broken front door lock and took them a jar of honey FROM HIS OWN BEEHIVE.  HE HAS BEES.

He lives way out in the country on a plot of land, has an assortment of shops (blacksmith, woodworking, etc) (HELLO), the aformentioned bees….

Ok but it’s not about what he has. It’s about who he is.  He grew up in the same denomination I belong to (a very small one, Presbyterian Church of America…the super-conservative one), we share the same beliefs about God and redemption and Jesus and praying together and going to church and all those things that make people equally yoked (Christian-ese for believing the same things thus compatible) He understands about Himself, and how I will always feel about him. He has a window-rattling laugh, gets along with my boys and treats them like intellectual equals, treats *ME* like an intellectual equal (very important, as I will NOT be in a relationship with someone who is either condescending or can’t keep up with my train of thought). We share a like for shooting and blowing things up. (he hunts. I don’t, but I like to process deer and make sausage, etc). That’s a really big one because in my family, it’s what we do and if someone can’t handle that, then they aren’t part of my tribe.

All weekend long he kept speaking my language, without even trying. NO ONE DOES THAT.

Strong as the proverbial ox, hard working, same priorities, same sorts of interests, same type of curiosity about the world, and a nice truck with a cattle guard on the front because he lives in the boondocks and there’s always deer.

Like I said, I couldn’t have put together a better match if I’d ordered one custom. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.


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Big Step

So yeah, been doing the online dating…only now I seem to have found a fella. He’s coming here this weekend (TODAY!! EEK!), we’re spending tomorrow in Savannah and on Tybee Island, and going to church with me Sunday. AND…so as to not Risk My Reputation…staying at the Preacher’s House.  A far cry from Moneybags who tried several times to get into my pants (unsuccessfully…but the steak was mighty good.).

Wish us well.



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Does this picture make me look stupid?

Oh, the curiosity of online dating.  Dating is so different from 35 years ago, when I would go out with someone after getting to know him due to similar circumstances (in the same organization, working together for a while, that sort of thing).  It’s different when your 52, instead of 20.  EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT…even how I feel about it. All of it is different.

And…there’s landmines around which one must tread carefully.  But the scammer types, the ones who are trying to do whatever it is they’re trying to do…they’re so stinkin’ obvious about it…to me, at least. Talking talking, flurry of emails full of compliments and WOW YOU’R SO INTERESTING… and gradually get more personal and sweeter and start in with the endearments like “oh sweetheart, you seem to be exactly what I’m wanting” and “Oh this is amazing I hope I don’t do anything to screw this up” and yet, there’s no real personal information there.

Oh! You’re a contractor? What’s your current job? Answered with a flurry of vague “have to go talk to my workers now I’ll get back with you later”

The most recent one…he had to go to Dubai (it’s always Dubai…) for a final job… Because Dubai is going to hire a private contractor to build a bridge and road…and he will be there 2 weeks because that’s how long it takes…


His final email said something along the lines of “Oh darling, would you please UPS me some sunscreen and cookies because I don’t have anything to eat and everything is in Arabic here”

ummmmmmmmm. no. But I will google a bunch of pharmacies in Dubai that carry everything in English so go get your own damn cookies.  Asshole.

Image result for do i look stupid to you

But no! What about the one in a nearby town?  He seems nice! But still vague. And strangely, the town of about 5000, where his business is apparently based, has no record of his existence…sooo….hmmmmmm…I wrote him a terse letter as well, telling him that unless he could provide compelling evidence he actually exists as he says he does, he can take a short step off a tall cliff.

But…what about the most recent one? We talked on the phone and he asked “so, how’s the online dating thing going?” And I told him. And he said

OK! Here’s my address, you have my phone number, my cars are (this) and (that) and if you want to send your sons over to check me out I’d be happy to have them. You see, (he said) I am a retired police officer, and have dealt with scammers and their mess, so I want you to be comfortable with me.

Then he said the “widow” word on my status was a magnet for those types. I reassured him that even though I am a widow, I am competent and well-armed. (HA!) as well as fairly smart. I have not given away any really personal information except my phone number to him and Moneybags (who I scared off with a brief discussion of the arsenal). He doesn’t even know my last name or address yet.

Well that’s certainly refreshing.  We’re still going to meet in a public place for coffee, though.

So why did I give him my number? I had an epiphany. First of all, he gave me his number first. And email address. I still felt cagey about it all. Then, #4 came home and said he got a girl’s number at a party. That marinated in my brain for a bit and I thought OH!…that’s how it’s done! And this guy gave me his number and I essentially called him a “stalker until proven otherwise” which is kind of rude, really.

So I sent him a text message, apologizing for responding weird, and said he could call me. Which he did, and we talked for about an hour. Which was really nice. So, we’re going to meet for coffee, or a coke, or something…next Saturday. And he didn’t say a single thing about dumping his girlfriend because she hit menopause, so he’s already one up on Moneybags from the other day.

So for now, we’ll see if we can be friends, since he’s not a contractor on his way to Dubai.

At this point, the online dating thing has become a psychological exercise. I wish I were working on a PhD and could make this some sort of dissertation because it’s kind of fun, since my boundaries are thick.

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So, tell me more!

This online-dating adventure is nothing less than fascinating.  I am getting some very interesting e-mails, from some very interesting (and some not-so) men.  Generally the first one or 2 exchanges are polite, cocktail party “so, what do you do” sorts of things.  After that, I try to be a bit more forthcoming, a bit of my story, so to speak. Mainly because they ask things like “So, what is your story?”. And then…many of them don’t tell me anything…it’s all just glitter and smoke screen.

Have you met me? Do I seem like the glitter type to you? And I don’t smoke.

I’m also 52, and not a fool. If you can’t tell me anything (and I don’t mean phone number or address) about yourself…stuff along the lines of “I grew up in Des Moines and got out of there ASAP” but only say things like “Your such a lovely lady and I want to throw glitter at you for the rest of your life and here’s another smoke screen” then I am not going to talk to you anymore. Even if you say you’re a Christian. Because no…I won’t.

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

On the other hand, I have time for you if you tell me verifiable things like “I worked for thus and such a charity for years, then retired” (and the charity exists) or tell me you grew up in Europe and said “I read for architecture at <European university with an acclaimed architecture school> but decided construction was more fun”  Yes, I know that COULD be a falsehood but just by saying you read for it, rather than you have a degree in it, kind of goes a bit toward your veracity on the subject.  If you tell me about yourself, however humble you might think those things are, I’m going to listen/read.

I will never ask for any information from you that I am unwilling to give about myself.  What was your childhood like? I spent mine in the woods with my dog. What’s your family like? Mine’s a bunch of slightly weird creatives who will try anything. Do you have children? I have 4 overly protective sons.  and so on. (with more detail than that)

No one is completely story-less. I know what sort of person with whom I will be happy for the rest of my life. Mind you, I am not trying to find Himself Pt 2…that would be impossible.  But I would like to find someone who can talk the talk and carry a conversation to it’s logical extreme without thinking it’s strange or getting uncomfortable.  Smart, free thinking, a Believer in Christ, with a silly streak. I’m not so fearful for my future that I’m willing to settle for less than that.

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