That wonderful man of mine

June 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, )

Anyone who has an account on Facebook is aware of the number of personal quizzes, or memes, that are making the rounds.  I don’t usually bother with them, but one of my favourite bloggers, Heather Armstrong of, brought one over to her blog and it was hilarious.  It asks several questions about your life with your significant other, and I thought I’d duplicate it here to give you a peek at the person I’ve chosen to spend my life with.  Many of you probably don’t know a lot about Malcolm. That is about to change…

What are your middle names?
My middle name is May, after my paternal grandmother.  Malcolm’s middle name is George, after his father.

How long have you been together?
We dated for 2 1/2 years, then took a 7-year break, then got back together and lived together for 4 years.  We’ve been married now for almost 17 years.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
We knew each other for the full 3 years we attended high school together, but we didn’t actually go on our first date until about 2 weeks before graduation.  That sign on my forehead advertising my availability?  I guess I should have used bigger letters.

Who asked whom out?
He asked me.  There was no trepidation.  He finally saw the sign and knew I was a sure thing.

Where was your first date?
He picked me up at 10:00 after my shift at the grocery store where I worked after school.  We drove to Fredericton, about an hour and a half away in those days, and found this little restaurant called “The Cabin”.  I have no idea what we ate, but I remember we talked for hours.  When he drove me home, we sat in my parent’s driveway and talked even more.  And we still find so much to talk about all these years later.  Oddly enough, he doesn’t find that nearly as endearing as I do.

How old are each of you?
I’m 48, he’s 49.  There are only 6 months between us, but it amuses me to no end to constantly point out that he is indeed older.  In fact, when he turned 40, I wrote a poem and had it published in our local newspaper, complete with his photo:

He’s up before dawn to deliver the milk
In summer and winter without any help.
The animals love him, they all know him by now,
The dogs, the cats, and even the cows.
But today’s his day off, and so he’s at home
With the TV and remote, sitting close by the phone.
This special man will be quite embarrassed
But on this day, I couldn’t care less.
The love of my life turns 40 today
And on this occasion I have one thing to say:
You can cry and whine and beg and plead,
But Malcolm my darling, you’re still older than me!

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Malcolm is the second of six kids, I’m the oldest of three.  Although several of them live fairly close by, his brother is the only one we see on a regular basis.  He is our mechanic, and between Malcolm’s milk truck, the half ton, and my cars, we more than do our part to keep him in business.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Malcolm likes to be places on time.  I do as well, but I am a procrastinator.  I will put off everything until the last possible minute.  I am also a lousy estimator of time.  So if I think I need a half hour to get ready for something, I really should have allowed 45 minutes.  But I’m working on that.  I’m always working on that.

Are you from the same home town?
No.  Malcolm was born in a small community outside Saint John called Musquash, but moved to the city when he was still very young.  I grew up in the rural outskirts of Saint John and didn’t move into the city until I moved out on my own at 18.

Who is smarter?
We have actually discussed this on occasion and agree that we are very balanced when it comes to intelligence.  We each have our strengths, which make up for the other’s weaknesses.  Malcolm’s strengths involve dealing with people, working with numbers, and building and repair, in both construction and auto mechanics.  I am very strong in logic, spatial thinking, and communications.  Malcolm is the king of the quick wit.  But I have learned at the feet of the master, and can now often out-wit him, much to his surprise and chagrin. 

Who is the most sensitive?
With a long-term relationship comes the intimate knowledge of how to hurt your partner.  With maturity comes the ability to speak without inflicting pain.  One of the most powerful things about love is the willingness to lay yourself open to the possibility of being hurt.  And one of the most rewarding things about love is the knowledge your partner is sensitive to your needs and will never intentionally hurt you.  Malcolm and I both possess this knowledge and practice it daily.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Every Saturday morning we have breakfast at the local Legion.  Every Sunday morning in the summer, we have breakfast at the restaurant in the campground where we stay.  Special occasions are typically celebrated at the Reversing Falls Restaurant, where we like to reserve a window seat in the Chandelier Room.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Cancun, Mexico.

Who has the craziest exes?
Malcolm has an ex-wife who we are both friendly with and see quite often, especially when the grandkids are visiting.  But she’s not crazy, so there’s no problem there.  I, however, have a psycho ex-boyfriend from a relationship that ended 23 years ago.  Over the two years we were together, he threatened me with physical harm, threatened to kill me, and left me with emotional scars that have taken years to heal.  So I guess I win this one.  Or maybe I lose.

Who has the worst temper?
Malcolm and I are both very even tempered.  Although occasionally he’ll accuse me of PMS-ing.  Yeah, that’s helpful, like adding lighter fluid to a fire helps put it out.  But I generally get over whatever’s bothering me fairly quickly.

Who does the cooking?
I do the majority of the cooking, although Malcolm is more than capable of putting together a decent, tasty meal if he has to.  Also, he is the definite king of the barbecue.  No one, and I mean NO ONE can turn a piece of tender, fall-apart-in-your-mouth steak into a hunk of toughened, charred meat faster than I.

Who is the neat-freak?
Malcolm likes things neat and tidy.  I do too, but I am essentially lazy when it comes to housework.  Which doesn’t mean I don’t get things done … it just means I typically hear some grumblings before I eventually get it in gear.

Who is more stubborn?
Malcolm.  I can be stubborn too, but I typically give in after thinking about the issue for a couple days.  I used to fear I was simply acquiescing to his will, but now I know in many things he is right, and it just takes a bit of time for me to come around to his way of thinking.  I hope he never reads this.

Who hogs the bed?
Malcolm.  I have woken numerous mornings, right on the edge, grasping the nine inches he indulges me with.  And that’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

Who wakes up earlier?
Malcolm.  He gets up for work at 1:00 in the morning.  I, on the other hand, being retired, enjoy the luxury of waking sans alarm clock, usually around 9:00 a.m.

Who is more jealous?
Malcolm doesn’t have a jealous bone in his body.  In fact, he feels a sense of pride when he sees other men checking me out.  Me?  I used to be over-the-top jealous.  Now I’m learning that when I’m feeling threatened, I can immediately discuss it with him.  Within seconds, he can bring me down from a state of irrational fear to a rational calm, where I can forget about it and go on with my life.  And the best part?  As my self-confidence soars, these attacks of jealousy occur less and less often.

How long did it take to get serious?
Five weeks the first time.  But after the seven-year break?  Only about three weeks.  Then he moved in with me.  I wasn’t taking any chances of losing him again.  Still took him another four years to decide he wanted to marry me, though.

Who eats more?
Malcolm, but only because of his job; he’s so much more active than I and therefore has a much higher fuel requirement.  I, however, am the queen of chocolate.

Who does the laundry?
I do the majority of the laundry, although Malcolm will occasionally do his own clothes.  Never mine, though.  He claims he doesn’t know how.  He has this belief that my clothes need special care or something (they don’t).  A couple years ago, I hit on an idea to make everything so much easier.  Since a large portion of my time was spent sorting the clothes before I even walked into the laundry room, I figured if we had three hampers, we could sort the clothes as we took them off.  And to make it even easier, I made signs to go above each hamper, listing what each one was for.  Somehow however, it all went horribly wrong, and I ended up causing more confusion and frustration than what was there before.  Although the concept of separating the whites/lights and colours was clear enough, when I broke it down one step further and indicated light grey sweatpants and sweatshirts should go in one hamper with the whites, while the navy, black, and burgundy ones should go into another with the colours and darks, well, that was almost enough to make someone’s head explode.  Because he figured they were all sweatpants and sweatshirts, regardless of colour, and should therefore go into the same hamper.  Eventually I admitted defeat and now we use the one-hamper system again.  And I sort all the laundry on laundry day.  And it takes longer to do it.  But at least I don’t have to listen to the moaning and whining about The Signs.  THE SIGNS!!!

Who’s better with the computer?
Well technically, my 16 years as a programmer, followed by three years putting content up on the company’s website, would indicate that I am better.  However, with no computer training, Malcolm has no fear of exploring new things, and therefore it could be argued that he is better.  But when it comes to electronics in general?  He is definitely better than I.  He used to comment that he couldn’t understand how I could write 15,000 lines of code to run complex billing systems, and yet I’d come home and couldn’t figure out how to work the VCR.

Who drives when you are together?
Malcolm.  He drives for a living, so I feel very safe when he’s behind the wheel.  Even though I like to tease him on occasion that the older he gets, the more he drives like an old man.

So there’s a bit more insight on my wonderful husband and our life together.  Feel free to answer any or all of the same questions about your significant other in the comments, or leave a link to your website if you prefer answering there.


Permalink Leave a Comment

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

June 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm (Stuff that's on my mind) (, , )

I just returned home from visiting our wonderful friends Shellianne & Dougall in Halifax, and spending part of two of those days with my dear friend Ralph, who was also there on business.  I’ve mentioned Ralph before when he was here about six weeks ago, and I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with him before he flew back home.  However, after spending time with him during this visit in Halifax, I feel strongly there’s something that needs to be said.  And I’m going to try to do it with as much tact and diplomacy as possible, and hope I don’t hurt anyone in the process.  So here goes…

Why is it that our society places so much importance on physical appearance?  Is it really that important?  Is it important at all?  Are we so shallow that we can’t see beyond a person’s height, weight, or looks?  And what if someone can’t get beyond his own perceived outer imperfections to see the wonderful inner qualities that make him who he is?  You know, the qualities that really count.  Ralph has more of these qualities in his little finger than some people will ever have in their entire bodies.  And in order to make my eventual point, it’s necessary to detail some of them here… 

Ralph is a very intelligent man – not only in terms of what he does for a living, but he is also well-read and well-informed.  He is not a sheep following the masses; he reads up on topics that interest him and forms his own opinions.  And if you disagree with his point of view?  That’s okay too, because he thoroughly enjoys a lively exchange of ideas and opinions.  And he has opinions on a wide range of topics – from volunteering at animal shelters vs. homeless shelters, to politics, to the current economic crisis.

Ralph is a father, and if you want to see his eyes light up and his face glow, ask him to tell you about his child.  It’s so obvious when you see him come alive and hear the pride in his voice that he’s a very connected, loving and caring dad.

Ralph has a dry humour and a very quick wit.  I can’t count the number of times he has made me laugh out loud with his lightening-fast responses to my emails, and his unique way of looking at the world.

Ralph is intuitive and empathetic.  When I was feeling so lost after being given my early retirement, he sensed my need to talk it out, and actually listened to what I had to say.  He told me that as bad as I felt, he thought I was doing amazingly well, and that in the same circumstances, he probably wouldn’t have even been able to get out of bed for two months after going through something like that.

Ralph has so much compassion for other people, and when I saw an example of this earlier this week, it almost blew me away.  We were strolling along the streets of Halifax after dinner one night when we were approached by a homeless man asking for money.  Ralph stopped and turned to face him, gave him validation by looking him in the eye, quietly listened to his story, saw the desperation in his face and heard the panic in his voice … and then gave him some spare change from his pocket.  When I asked why he did that, he replied that the guy was clear-headed and obviously not drunk or on drugs, but also quite simply, because he could!  What an eye-opening experience to witness that!  I’m ashamed to admit that when approached by someone looking for money, I avoid eye contact, mumble something unintelligible and hurry away.  And then feel guilty that I have and they have not.  I’m fully aware that I was taught this because my parents were raising three girls and were concerned for our safety, but still, the next time it happens, I’ll definitely remember Ralph’s example and perhaps react differently.

There are so many more great things about Ralph, but to detail them all would turn this post into a novel, so I’ll just summarize them here.  He is honest, thoughtful, polite, and courteous.  He is kind, fair, charming, and gracious.  He is great fun to be with, loves to tease, and can make six hours fly by so fast they seem like only one.  He is everything any mother would wish for her daughter, and everything any father could hope for in a son.

But here’s the difficult part of this post … I’ve known Ralph for many years, and it absolutely kills me that he doesn’t see beyond the reflection in the mirror.  He doesn’t see the person who I see and have come to love dearly.  (And for anyone who has a problem with that?  Relax!  There’s a difference between loving someone and being “in love”.)  Will he ever be on the cover of GQ magazine?  Not likely.  Will he ever work as a male model?  Probably not.  But you know what?  That’s okay because those things aren’t important.  Those things only deal with the outer packaging.  But do you know what are important?  All of those qualities that I just listed above.  That’s right, all those things that Ralph possesses in abundance.

And let’s be honest here for a minute … I think we all know at least one person, male or female, who’s got the pretty packaging, but then blows the entire picture as soon as they open their mouth.  To put it another way, they’re all flash and no substance.

I’ve also been asked what I see in Ralph.  Let me put it this way … a man can connect with some women by how he looks or the lines he uses.  But you want my attention?  Appeal to my brain, my intellect.  Pretty looks fade and smooth lines get old, but I’ll always be drawn to someone who engages my intelligence.

If I could wish anything in the world for Ralph, it would be that he could see himself through my eyes, and be able to embrace all the wonderfulness that makes him, well … him.  He’s a regular visitor to this site, so I hope I’ve given him food for thought so he might look past the mirror, and begin to appreciate the wonderful man he really is.

Knowing he’s a very private person, I asked, and received, his permission to post this.  Thank you Ralph.  Although written for you, I believe it contains a message we all need to be reminded of.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The sound of music

June 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm (Stuff that's on my mind)

I just booked my ticket to see Ernie Haase and Signature Sound in concert in Portland, Maine next month.  But before I did that, I asked Malcolm if he wanted to go with me. 

He had attended a Gaither Homecoming concert in Saint John with me and our moms a couple years ago and seemed to enjoy it, despite having to watch the concert on the giant screens because our seats were so far back in the upper bowl, we had to be careful we didn’t bang our heads on the metal roof support beams when we stood up.  And that’s only a slight exaggeration.

However, when given the opportunity to attend the EHSS concert, he declined, offering quite an assortment of excuses reasons:

  • he had already attended one concert, and they’re all the same;
  • he’s already seen it all because he sits beside me, waiting impatiently while I watch The Gaither Gospel Hour every week on TV;
  • he doesn’t want to spend the time / money / effort to travel to attend a concert he’s already seen

As mentioned in an earlier post, I listen to a lot of Gospel music at home, sing along in harmony, and I use my headphones if Malcolm’s home too.  However, the full extent of how one lone harmony part would sound to someone else, especially without the benefit of the melody or background music, was never made more obvious to me than during the following exchange:

Malcolm:  “No, I don’t want to go to this concert, but I’m glad I went to that first one, though.”

Me:  “Oh really?  Why’s that?”

Malcolm:  “Because now I know what those songs are supposed to sound like!”

Permalink Leave a Comment