Aug 222013

We know.  We’re remiss.

Please understand that we’re not being gratuitously rude.  We enjoyed the food, fellowship, and/or cards in your house.  We would like to reciprocate.  We will, eventually.

damageMost of the problem right now is that we’ve been raising Nathan’s puppy in the kitchen, and there are three to five examples of isolated but still rather substantial property damage as a result.  These languish because she’s still not quite there, so there’s no point in fixing them.  When that bitch darling little fuzzball finally moves outside, I will require most of a weekend to restore the area.

And once I do, the hilarities shall once again ensue.

We are, though, for a little while longer, constrained by a canine enfant terrible.

Thank you for having us.  Thank you for understanding.


 Posted by at 8:18 pm
Aug 222013
  • If you haven’t done so already, head over to Rocket City Mom and check out my review of Sunrise Pizza & Cafe.
  • Mostly steady as she goes with the back-to-school week, though we had a little bumpiness ahead of piano lessons last night. Hang in there, guys.
  • If you have relatively high-drain devices that take coin cell batteries (CR2016, CR2025, CR2032, and so forth), know that you can buy them a dozen or two at a time on for 30 or 35 cents apiece.  That’s about 10% of what a single one can cost some places.
  • Picked up some Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Imperial IPA last night.  It’s a top-notch product like everything from Sierra Nevada, but at 10.4% ABV, it’s a sipper.  Wow.  You’re not drinking three of these with dinner and driving home.
  • One of my dinner companions on Saturday night referred to Hall & Oates as a “guilty pleasure.”  When it comes to music, I don’t believe in guilty pleasures.  If it makes you happy or otherwise stirs you, it’s valid.
  • Cadillac has done an excellent job developing and deploying its design language, and they’ve never been better cars than they are today.  I could see myself leasing one someday, if there is ever a someday on which GM isn’t owned by the government.
  • I’m now reasonably confident the self-inflicted wound on my right arm isn’t going to get infected, which would have necessitated an embarrassing confession in a doctor’s office.  Here is some free advice:  amateur dermatology is a bad idea.
 Posted by at 12:01 am
Aug 202013

kisssmallWhat’s your definition of “date night”?

Over the years, as I’ve told the following story and evaluated reactions to it, it has become increasingly apparent to me just how unusual Lea and I were/are in some respects.

(And, as God is my witness, we did exactly what I say we did in the following paragraphs.)

When Lea and I were dating, we followed a schedule.  On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, we had a standing date, with no confirmation necessary.  The only discussion was whether I would go to her house (usually) or she would come to my apartment (once in a while).  On Sunday, we usually had a date, but it wasn’t standing.  Sunday nights had to be confirmed.

On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we had nothing to do with each other.

And I mean nothing.  We didn’t talk on the telephone.  We didn’t email.  Texting wasn’t a thing then, but if it was, we wouldn’t have.

We are systematic people, and this worked very well for us.  It increased the value of the time we spent together.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.  But it also afforded us significant, reliable time in which to do our respective own things.

Understand one other thing, too.  Lea moved straight out of her parents’ home into her own place, living by herself.  I did the same thing.  We had each lived as a dependent child, and we had each lived alone.  Neither of us had ever had a roommate.

And on May 10, 1997, we stood under the pavilion at Burritt Museum and declared, among other things and in so many words, that we’d now be roommates forever.

When you get married, there’s love, and commitment, and respect, and all that.  But you know the first time that roommate aspect of it is really rammed home for you?  When you’ve had just about enough of her crap, and you idly think “when is she going home?”

She is home, sport.

And so are you.


You know, a lot of young people don’t particularly want advice.  Us oldsters (heh) keep giving it because we know that as long as we do, there’s at least some chance it will be heard.  I give very consistent advice to any young person of either sex who is looking for a mate:

When you are truly all right by yourself is when you are best equipped to be with someone else.

Intimacy is a superset of vulnerability, and it must be a voluntary transaction.  You have to decide to roll over and expose your soft underbelly.  Doing so says two things to your partner:

  • I’m trusting you not to rip me open; and
  • I think we can grow something bigger than just the two of us added together.

That “something bigger” is, I’m convinced, among the most profound wonders that we can experience in our earthly existences.  I am a better man for Lea.  Of that I have no doubt.

But see, I brought a strong hand in.  So did she.  What of those strong hands?

Guess what?  Even in the healthiest marriages, it is perfectly reasonable to want to get away from each other once in a while.  Even in the healthiest marriages, you can have a (gasp) sense of self about you.

You won’t get relief when she goes home, because, yeah, she is home.  Wow, is that ever an adjustment in the first year or so.

But it’s absolutely all right, from time to time, to be happy at opposite ends of the house for the evening.  She’s a human being.  He is too.  Both have foibles.  Some of them respond to a concentrated examination, but some don’t.  Some are things you’re resigned to tolerate work with long-term.

When, acutely, this evening, you’re not going to get to (at least) détente on one of those things, then off to your corners, and it’s all good.  We’ll pick back up in the morning.

I’ve said for some time that a cornerstone of a successful marriage is the absence of perceived alternatives.  When you are both on that same page, and you understand that however you solve the problem, you believe in your soul that you’ll solve it within the framework of you staying together, then you’ve gone a long way toward not contributing to the ridiculous divorce rate.

When you’re operating in that framework, then you almost can’t fail.

 Posted by at 12:38 am
Aug 182013

…at 5:07 this morning.

I sat up in bed, trying to clear the fog.  Did I hear that?  Or did I dream that?  It seemed rather real.  I’d better go check that out.

Made sure I was legal, if not exactly decent, in case I had to open the door.  Padded through the living room.  Turned the porch light on, and didn’t see anything.  Looked around for a few more seconds, turned the light back off, and turned around to go back to bed.

“Did I wake you up?”


There’s Lea, sitting on the couch reading.  I had walked through the living room, passing less than a foot from her, without seeing her.  I look at the spatiality of it in the light of day and can’t believe it happened.  But it did.

It’s kind of been one of those days.  Nothing bad going on, but I’m living it through a membrane or something.

 Posted by at 2:01 pm
Aug 162013

I decided to get the bulk of my steps for the day at Parkway Place, the other enclosed mall in Huntsville.  As an ancillary interest, as I walked I considered whether I had another mall post in me.

You’re reading it, so I did.  (And isn’t it funny how my interest in malls tends to correspond directly with my interest in regular exercise?)

I say without hesitation that Parkway Place is healthy.  I counted eight vacancies, but four of them are watch battery/costume jewelry/cell phone case sorts of islands of 20 square feet or so.  So, only four in the mall perimeter.  None of those are together, and none of them are in the food court. (Apart from the sheer quantity, those two characteristics are the most damaging when I consider the ones at Madison Square.)  Here’s a shot of the Parkway Place food court at lunch today:

foodcourt2You can eat at these three thoroughly mallish places at Parkway Place.  You can’t at Madison Square (and oh wow, do I miss the Madison Square Chick-fil-A). Is it really still a mall if that’s the case?

placestoeatI thought these mannequins at Express were unsettling.  Just when I get used to faceless or headless ones, you decide to leave me half.  What would you call this?  Hemispherical cephalectomy?

mannequinsThe gold standard for mall failure in the Huntsville area—maybe in the Southeast—is The Mall, which used to be on the northwest corner of University Dr. and Memorial Parkway. Its extended decline was so fascinatingly and horribly splendid, you couldn’t look away.  At one time, rather late in its death march, it contained—simultaneously—a pet store, a gay bar, classroom space for the local community college, a Books-a-Million, and a Toys R Us.  (The latter two were located at the southern end and had their own entrances, so you didn’t have to use the mall to use those stores.)  I think Books-a-Million is still there, though now adjacent to Home Depot and Costco.  Toys R Us moved to Bridge Street a few years ago.

Understand it contained these things, and The Mall still functioned as a mall, when it was perhaps 80% empty.  It was beyond bizarre to walk through the place late in its “life.”  I’ve never had another experience remotely like it.  Fortunately, an extensive look at The Mall is available on a favorite niche blog of mineCheck out this piece for a lot of great information (and memories, for those of you who remember it).

Madison Square has a long way to go before it’s as pathetic as The Mall was for its final decade-long Thorazine shuffle.

But today, as I type, it’s not ridiculous to consider the notion.

Particularly after walking through Parkway Place today, I don’t understand that at all.  Parkway Place and Madison Square Mall have the same owner—CBL and Associates.  Parkway City Mall (as which Parkway Place was formerly known), when it received its extensive renovation, looked about like Madison Square does today.  CBL stepped up and found Parkway Place a path.

Where is such an effort for Madison Square?  What’s happening to this mall feels like inflicted apathy.  Come on, folks.  Roll with it.  Let’s find some viability for this property.

 Posted by at 4:25 pm