Waiting on Eggs.

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Some women wait for roses.

Some wait for jewelry or expensive date nights.

Me? I wait for eggs.

Our first date was in January of 1993, and I can’t recall exactly when Easter fell that year, but I know I must have said something about Cadbury eggs. Or else he saw me hoarding and devouring them, which is a distinct possibility. Either way, he remembered.

By the time the next Easter had rolled around, we were already married (yes, it was quick), and I thought it was sweet that he thought to bring me a couple of Cadbury eggs when they first came out in stores that spring. I expected he was looking to impress me a bit; after all, our relationship was still fairly new. “Give it a couple of years,” I thought. “He’ll forget.”

But he hasn’t. Every year when spring rolls around, he’ll come home from work one day and slip me a couple of Cadbury eggs. I put them in the freezer because I’m weird like that and nibble on them when I’ve got an hour to kill and a good book to read.

The last several months have been touched heavily by sickness and death and the aftermath of each, and the fact that we are still together after so many years and so much struggle seems almost impossible, yet here we are. I haven’t been expecting much lately because I think we have both been on autopilot for a while, pushing ourselves through day to day routines as we recover from dual family funerals just before Christmas. Actually, I hadn’t even realized Easter was so close until last week when someone asked me when my kids’ spring break was going to happen. It struck me then that for the first time in more than two decades, I hadn’t gotten any Cadbury eggs.

I didn’t say anything about it. There’s been so much going on, life is busy, and we are still trying to get everything taken care of since his mother’s death. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of it all.

Twenty-one straight years of getting eggs was a pretty good run, I thought. Besides, I’m working at eating healthier and though I’m not certain what actually is there in the center of those delicious chocolate eggs, I’m certain it’s not broccoli or carrots.

Last Saturday night we had a family game night. I made tacos, my teenage daughter had her boyfriend over, and my husband picked up one of his brothers to come hang out with us and play a few rousing renditions of Old Maid. (Look, I know the game says for ages 4 to 9 but we are all immature and plus that game is just plain fun. Don’t judge.) I was busy cooking when my husband arrived home with his brother, and he caught hold of my hand and asked me to follow him out into the hallway.

“What’s up?” I asked, thinking whatever it was had better be quick before the taco meat started to burn. I mean, it’s not like my family isn’t used to me burning meals, but I was making special effort not to do it that night.

He grinned. “Got something for you,” he said. “But you’ve got to find it first.”

I waggled my eyebrows. I know how this game goes. We’ve played it a time or two over the span of a twenty-three year relationship. I detected a waft of singed beef coming from the kitchen.

Rolling his eyes, he stuck my hands in the front pocket of his hoodie, and I found two oval-shaped goodies for me there.

Eggs. They were my Cadbury eggs.

“I’ve been looking all over for these!” he said. “The dollar store only had two left when I stopped there tonight, so I grabbed them both.”

I squealed, thanked him, and stuck them in the freezer.

I ate the first one Monday night, while I was reading a great indie book, Forbidden, by Lisa Clark O’Neill. (I’m name dropping this here as a subtle hint for you to buy her books. They are great. Support indie artists!)

Twenty-two years straight of Cadbury eggs.

Who needs roses, anyway?

The Spaghetti Principle

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The truth about mistakes is, I make a lot of them.

Especially when it comes to this writing gig. I can look back over the last few years since I’ve been writing seriously and want to just kick myself in the face, but I can’t because I’m forty and my hips don’t swivel the way they used to.

The truth is, I often feel as though I’m just flinging spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks.

Sometimes, the pasta that stuck stays there a couple of weeks, and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes I think the way it stuck there at first was nothing but pure luck, and I should just scrub the wall and start all over again, new pot, new spaghetti, new wall.

Looking back, one of the biggest mistakes I probably made was working backward.

I started this blog, and then I went forward from there. So I’ve got this blog with a decent amount of followers and I love that you guys stop in and read and leave me comments and all, but I should have started with a website.

I started the blog, and then I wrote books, and then I made a website which I later deleted, because it was frustrating to have it separate from the blog. And the blog name is not my name, so it doesn’t always come up in searches. Now I seriously need a website, and I’d like to set it up so that this blog is attached to it, and eventually since I’ve got more books out now, start a mailing list. But I suck at techy type stuff, and I can’t even seem to get my gravatar on the blog to change, even though I’ve changed it six million times, so the thought of starting a website on my own is intimidating. (side note: anyone willing to help me do this, I would love you forever and gift you ecopies of all three of my books).

I wish that I had saved every interview I’ve ever done about writing, but I didn’t, because organizational skills are a thing that I’ve always lacked. I wish I had been more organized about the things I did save, instead of saving things randomly in weird places, because now when I try to find them sometimes I cry a little.

I wish, I wish, I wish…

I wish I was a more linear thinker, but I’m not. I’m a creative thinker, and my thoughts are usually everywhere at once, and this doesn’t seem to be anything I can change. I cannot force myself to write only in one genre, though that’s what all the marketing articles stress I should do. My brain is impulsive and always has been, and science has come pretty far in recent years but not far enough that I can swap my mind out for another. I cannot go backward and undo this blog, though even if I could, I probably wouldn’t, because I’ve met so many cool people through it.

I wish I could get back every article I’ve given away my rights to, especially the ones I didn’t get paid for. What was I thinking?

That’s just life, I guess. You try things and learn and cringe about your ignorance, and try more things and learn.

I’m not certain what forward looks like from here. I don’t think I’ll delete this blog. I do want to get a website up and running. I am going to delete my ello account, because it does nothing but make me feel stressed that I’m not paying enough attention to it.

I will eventually set up a mailing list. In the interim, I’ve started a reader’s group on Facebook. You are welcome to come on in and join Valarie’s Voracious Readers. https://www.facebook.com/groups/931457066949510/

I wish, I wish, I wish…

That all the spaghetti would stick.

When Spring is Just a Memory

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I’ve lived all my life in the middle of Michigan. Forty winters.

Unlike many people who have opinions, I actually enjoy winter. Perhaps because as a child, my family was big on outdoor activities. We did a lot of sledding – not the typical oh-here’s-a-little-neighborhood hill type sledding. I mean the sort of enormous hills generally found in the area known as “Up North” Michigan. The kind so big your legs start to wobble as you drag your sled up to the top. The kind you start to regret sledding down as soon as you take off from the top, because you realize you’ll probably die by the time you get to the bottom. And while we were trying to murder ourselves sledding down enormous hills, my folks would hang a couple lines on trees, toss a tarp over them, and start a fire. We ate whatever Dad could fit in the snowmobile saddle bags, and generally that was a couple packs of Koegel’s hot dogs.

Snowmobiling was another thing we were big on. Most Fridays after school and work, we’d head Up North to the cabin and spend the winter weekend out on what my dad affectionately referred to as “the sleds.” I learned to handle my own snowmobile when I was ten, and huge groups of us would take off early on a Saturday morning and remain gone the entire day. Regardless which trails we took, eventually we always ended up at a place called Timbers, where everyone ate with their snow pants on and we needed an extra table to set our helmets at.

Even though I have so many fond memories of winter, there’s a point every year right about the end of February and beginning of March when I start to feel a little panicked. It seems there is always a long, drawn-out blizzard right around that time that leaves me staring out at the bleak, snow covered world and thinking it will never end. Never ever ever ever. We’ll be trapped in the house, the kids will never go back to school, the snow will cave in the roof and we’ll suffocate in a mountain of fluffy white death.

Two weeks ago, my kids had a four day weekend for their mid-winter break. Went back to school for two days, we got blasted by a few feet of snow and they ended up with Thursday and Friday off. Went back to school on Monday this week, and then we were inundated with another blizzard. Snow days for yesterday and today. Even all the government offices have declared a state of emergency and closed down. My dogs had an appointment at the groomer today but it had to be rescheduled because none of the employees could get down their roads and in to work.

It feels a bit apocalyptic to look out the window and see no activity out there. Few vehicles are braving the roads. When I take my dogs outside, there is no noise. The snow has silenced our neighborhood.

It seems as if spring will never come again. Logically, of course, I know it will. It always has. In a month or so, we’ll be running errands without having to wear heavy coats. A month after that, we’ll be hauling out our flip flops. But right this second, it feels like winter is here to stay, a never ending nightmare of unfit roads, school closings, and sniffly-nosed, coughing children.

We’ve all heard that saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and I know it’s true. I haven’t survived forty winters without learning a few life lessons.

Whatever your winter is, whatever you are struggling with today, remember, spring is coming.

It always has. It always will.

We just have to wait out the winter.