Monday, June 28, 2010

Bananas and linoleum

For some reason that I may never understand, I have a terrible sense of smell. Pretty much always have. And it's only gotten worse since I crash-landed on an icy sidewalk and concussed my poor "Sarah Bellum" two winters ago. On the bright side, a lack of smell can come in pretty handy (ie, picking up doggie deposits and such).

But there are 3 times in my life when my sense of smell roared to life. Ladies, you probably know what I'm about to say. My ability to smell rivaled any perfume tester's -- when I was pregnant.

On our 30th anniversary last week, Mr. B and I were reminiscing about this oddity (my ability to smell things, not being pregnant, although that is a rather odd state of being when you really think about it, but I'll leave that tale alone for now).

Six months into our marriage, I was a news reporter for the Houston Chronicle, covering a 4-county beat. Mr. B, much to his chagrin, had to drive 75 mile each way to his place of work on the outskirts of of Houston, because one of the conditions of taking my job was that I needed to be a resident in my beat. We settled in a little town in the Texas hill country called Brenham, home to some very happy cows.

One night, after making his 75-mile trek home, Mr. B. prepared dinner. He's always liked to cook, and on this particular evening he made kung pao chicken. And egg rolls. With peanut butter inside. I found the addition of peanut butter a bit peculiar, but, figuring I was lucky to have a husband who liked to cook, I did not make any remarks.

Another thing Mr. B. liked was his aquarium. I take that back. He LOVED his fishies, and he purchased brine shimp (aka "sea monkeys") for them as a special treat, which he kept in the freezer. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The morning after (hint hint) the Chinese dinner, I opened the fridge to grab something for breakfast.  I took one look at the leftovers, the gelatinous kung pao chicken and the (YUCK) peanut butter egg rolls. And before you could say, "home of Blue Bell Ice Cream," I experienced (hmmmm . . . how to put this delicately) a tsunami of nausea engulfing me.

So much for breakfast.

The next day, I began to detect a very strange odor that I can only describe as the combination of linoleum and bananas. And every time I opened the fridge, same thing. Linoleum and bananas. Clever girl that I was, I checked my calendar and realized that something was amiss, or more precisely, something was missing.

Really, I thought? But we've been so careful. Just to be on the safe side, I made an appointment with the doctor. Mr. B came with me, I gave the nurses a little sample in their plastic container (why are they clear?) for proof positive, had an exam, and I received the happy tidings. I left the exam room in shock. Neither of us could say much as we drove away from the clinic, because, yes, I was very very very much pregnant.

And I could smell things. Terrible things. Horrific things. Things other people could not detect in the slightest.

We went home, and Mr B, as he is fond of doing when life feels out of control (and it was feeling so that day) went to the fridge and opened the door to look for a snack. Again the tsunami rolled in, chasing me all the way to the ladies' room.

After wiping my brow with a damp cloth, I stared at my pale face in the mirror and I made an important decision: The fridge door was was simply going to have to stay shut.

And so I made Mr. B promise that he would never never never ever open it again until Baby B arrived or the roiling seas settled. So for the the next few months, we stored perishables in an igloo cooler. (I'll bet there are stranger things pregnant women have requested, but, yes, this was way weird -- and absolutely essential if I was going to hold down food for the next 8 months or so, or until the roiling seas settled.)

About 3 months later, when I was just beginning to experience a morning here or there of freedom on the high seas, I leaned over the sink in the ladies room and applied some color to my cheeks. Now mind you, I was standing in a location that was as far away from the fridge as a person could get in our home.

All of a sudden, completely without warning, it hit. The smell, bananas + linoleum, the tsunami, the panting, the knees on the cold tiles, the wet cloth applied to my face. The profanity. I screamed a profanity that is very unlike me to scream. YOU b-----d!!!!! I shouted in a hoarse voice. You promised me!!!! You PROMISED me!!!

As is turns out, Mr. B had eked the freezer door open a smidgen to sneak out some brine shrimp for his fishies for whom he was feeling very sorry. How big could that be? An inch, maybe two? But no sooner had he done so, when he was assaulted by the faraway rantings of a hysterical, out-of-her-ever-loving mind, pregnant woman. His bride. Me.

He apologized profusely, telling me he was sure there was no way I'd be able to tell he'd opened the freezer compartment because he'd done it so quickly. And he was shocked at the speed between Point A (opening the fridge) and Point B (the profanity). Milliseconds. Maybe shorter. Seriously, how fast can odors travel? I still wonder if they set some kind of record that day.

The fridge was not, I guarantee you, opened again for months. At least not until the 2 friends who came to help us move back to Houston were pressed into action cramming the remaining half of our belongings into boxes, loading them into a van, driving them 75 miles, then unloading the unmarked boxes into our new apartment wherever they could find a place.

Because in the oh-so-familiar ladies' room, on the day of the move, I experienced a new sensation, which was not a tsunami, but rather very convincing evidence that our EarthDoctorSon would soon be making an appearance.

I came home 5 days later with the squirmy bundle to an apartment that looked like it had exploded with boxes. (But that's yet another story.)

The shiny new fridge door could be opened, a new life had begun, and I would not smell linoleum and bananas for another 18 months.

Truly, a blessing!

Image 1 from For the Love of Perfume blog, Aug 22, 2008 post, "Only the pregnant nose knows"
Image 2 from mainevelophile
Image 2 from

Monday, June 21, 2010

One of these is not like the other

And I'm not talking about the vase.
Yep, after 30 years, Mr B and I,
 independently, mind you,
bought the same anniversary
card for each other!

Happy 30th solstice together, Mr B!

(You should have seen the look of confusion on my face when he opened his card first!)

The text on the card reads:
"True love? No question!"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I swear I could hear his spirit fly

"People won't remember what you said
 and people won't remember what you did,
 but they will remember how you made them feel." 

- Maya Angelou


I saw this quote in a weekly newsletter published by Marcia Hyatt --a wise woman,"coaching goddess," and owner of an art gallery in Lutsen, MN, one of my favorite places on earth, a place I shared with Kay and Ron, a place where I realized that I wanted Ron to be my father-no-papers, a request he granted.

This morning, at 10:26 am,
Ron Harrist drew his last earthly breath, with his beloved Kay at his side.

At that very moment, a thousand miles away,
I swear I could hear his spirit take flight.

How did Ron make me feel?


Like family.

As if I, too, could fly.

Thank you, Ron.

Thank you,Kay.

I love you both.

(And thank you, dear friends, for all your prayers.)

~A summer morning in Lutsen~

Image 1 by Macomb Paynes
Image 2 by Kathleen Kimball-Baker

"All this hurrying soon will be over.
Only when we tarry do we touch the holy."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Image by outlier*

Friday, June 11, 2010


"Most of us assume that
brave people are fearless,
but the truth is that
they are simply
more comfortable with fear
because they face it
on a regular basis."

From the Jun 8 Daily Om


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

'Are we there yet?'

Ginsberg at 5 months
 Taken after an hour of running in the dog park in temps in the 80s.
I think he was hoping we were headed to the Yukon!
That's ma (Alaskan Husky) boy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remembering the three things

To Live in This World
By Mary Oliver

Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Image by Steven C


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