Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Secrets of a Happy Marriage

There is an abundance of guidance on the Internet, in bookstores, magazines, newspaper advice columns and talk radio about how to keep your marriage healthy. I’m not going to criticize the tips often touted by experts because they are important and I don’t want to disregard this valuable wisdom but there are things that no matter where you research get glossed over.  First, let’s go over a few of the more common suggestions.

Be your spouse’s best friend since the initial chemistry and heady lustful desires eventually cool down, hopefully to a warm steady burn. You want to be able to also be friendly outside of the bedroom. It’s important to marry someone you like too.  I did…this time.

I’ve been told that just allowing yourself to be playful with one another brings you closer together. My husband and I balance buckets of ice water over doors the other will be walking through. Recently I put black shoe polish on the eyecups of his binoculars. In turn he rubbed Limburger cheese on the manifold of my car. I wouldn’t recommend doing these things unless you are truly best friends like my husband and me.

Communication is important.  If we find ourselves bickering, I try not to have the last word, I let him have it and it’s usually, “yes dear.” My husband and I have daily conversation, texts, email but the most imperative question to be answered each day is, what do you want for dinner?  In the time we have been together we have never had to wonder about what was being served as our evening meal.

Don’t take your spouse for granted is usually at the top of the advice list and I do realize how important this is. I have the courtesy to look up from my tweets when my husband walks in the door.  I smile. Since we work on music together we try to be positive, respect each other and offer compliments. Sometimes we don’t succeed but when that happens we make ourselves a gargantuan ice cream sundae.  Ever notice that the world seems like a sunnier place while eating ice cream? No matter how many root canals you get.

Okay, so it’s easy to find these valuable marriage tips and many more involving money, religion, raising children, but as I said before, the genuine, deal-breaking difficulties that cause more marriages to fail are rarely mentioned, so here are a couple.

Paper towels are a chief necessity.  “Messes Happen”, says Brawny, and that handsome lumberjack advertises them, but I find they are just too rough.  My husband prefers them but I like, “The answer to life’s little messes”.  Viva is soft enough to wipe away a tear of gratitude for having such a wonderful marriage. What kind of paper towels do we use? Viva.  My husband brought home a roll of Brawny once and I used it as a base for my silk gladiola centerpiece.

I believe I saved a marriage once with a very simple suggestion. Some friends of ours, a very levelheaded couple, constantly argued over what type of toothpicks to buy. She liked the round ones and he preferred the flat ones. We avoided dining with them so that we wouldn’t get caught in the crossfire of this dilemma. Unfortunately, we eventually wound up at the same dinner party. Just as expected they began arguing bitterly over toothpicks. I finally offered, “Why don’t you buy both kinds?” They looked at each other as if they had just won the lotto. I never heard them argue about it again. By the way, buying two works with toothpaste, body soap, shampoo and mouthwash as well.

Another struggle is which way should the toilet paper roll…over or under?  This debate has been going on for years but there is a science behind why over is right. Hung in the over position, the paper flows freely and tears where you want it to, one-handed. Under has a tendency to hang up and unroll by itself, leaving a pile of unsanitary paper on the linoleum floor. This is preventable by installing the roll properly. Don’t let hanging it under ruin your marriage.

Do you have any comparable marriage threatening issues?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Knead for Success (In Life or Dough)

If you’re an ambitious hands-on person and you can’t wait to get your hands on your starter program, you are well on your way to integrated success. However, I must warn you, please don’t be disillusioned if your first attempts are not King Arthur quality.  It takes a seasoned, skilled and warm environment to score a full Banneton. In time, the massaging, folding, squeezing and shaping that you press into your efforts will surely pan out and you will be well on your way to the upper crust of your golden, aromatic experience.

Since there is no such thing as a self-starter, there are certain steps that you will need to follow to produce a crowning and thriving base culture. Your plan, like any other living staple, must be lovingly fed and toweled with care as you would an infant.  Patience is key since this must be done on a daily basis for some days, weeks and sometimes months. I understand there are those whom have tended to the start for years. There is no right or wrong in determining the length of time you set. Nevertheless, the volume of devotion you thrust into your work will ferment a process that will reward you with folding dough that will vastly surmount the size of your wallet.

It takes time for a plan to become active. When the first hint of liveliness shows itself you will be sure to have 100% satisfaction in the end, however long you delay the outcome. Yes, you are in complete control of the temperature of your poolish success, whether it is sour, whole grain or gluten-free although your starter program does not necessarily determine the flavor or direction of your success.

You are the baker of your ideas; you are the yeast and the sponge from which all elasticity rises. If you choose, you can stretch and fold or slap and punch your way though any obstacles. You will know when your plan becomes the texture of your earlobe that guaranteed rewards wait just outside the oven of completion. However, if you simply loaf, you may find your outcome to be lame and bland. You work it. You are accountable. If you find your plan lacking, pick it up, fold it up again, dust it off and return it to the starting bowl.

A final word about the crumbs that work to see you fail; just cool them on their sides. Butter them up and roll them in compliments dripping with sugar or dipping oil mixed with crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese. Kill them with the kindness of the Pillsbury doughboy. And for God’s sake don’t forget to eat what you have created. Experiencing and enjoying your success is much different from just following the recipe.

Now rise up like you are bread for Royalty! Ignore what others say or think, just offer them a rye, wry, rye smile.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Negativity Sucks and Breeds a Pie in the Face

I had a strange dream last night. I was working at a trade show. The convention center was filled with hundreds of people interacting with others in a very solemn way.  Everyone was dressed in black as if attending a funeral. It was confusing to me that not one person smiled, as if the residing emotional committee had banned smiling.

I was representing a company that had invented a new type of vacuum cleaner that could suck unwanted thoughts out of the brain. The name of the company was Naysip, a clever play on old English and a comfortable means for extracting. Several models were on display, some looked like the traditional vacuums in stand-up or canister style for home use, but the big buzz was focused on the new hand-held model that also served as a smart phone. The device would drain your brain of negativity during your conversation and prevent you from saying anything you would be sorry about afterward. Wouldn’t that be handy?

There were several people I know working with me in the booth including my husband.  Someone came up and handed me a phone (not one of ours) and said it was Ben returning my call. I went to the back of the booth and sat down on a small couch next to a man also on a phone. I proceeded to have a terrible argument with this Ben person, telling him how unhappy I was with the service he had promised me but didn’t deliver. My emotions rose and my anger flared and I found myself screaming at him. I was responding to him with infantile name-calling and making rude noises like a school child. The people in the booth as well as others attending the convention gathered around with shocked looks on their faces.  I screamed into the phone, “You’re so stupid, you don’t even know!” I hung up. The man next to me ended his call at the same time. 

I turned to him in terrible embarrassment. “I’m so sorry, I hope I didn’t disturb your conversation.”

He smiled, stared at me and then began to laugh. “That was me you were talking to.” The crowd surrounding us started to laugh too. My husband laughed the hardest. He turned to the others and reminded them that this type of conversation would have never taken place if I had been using Naysip. Had I been using our phone I would have only had access to the positive, mature and reasonable parts of my brain.

I was stunned into angry silence as I gazed around at the laughing crowd. Had I been set up with this quirky scenario? Was I being used in some secret sales promotion? Something on the display table next to me caught my attention. It was a meringue pie. Without the least bit of hesitation, I picked up the pie and smooshed it in Ben’s face. In the next moment, there were pies on all the display tables.

Pies began flying this way and that and everyone was covered with meringue, lemon, chocolate and coconut cream.  Pies were still being thrown when I woke myself laughing.

Professional dream interpreters might find symbolic meaning in the function of the Naysip, the humorless crowd, their wardrobe, my angry conversation with Ben, my husband’s actions or even the pies being thrown but I know exactly what the dream meant.

Learn to laugh at yourself.