Why We Do It

My husband is a very unique fellow. He is passionate, driven, once he sets his mind on something he gets it done no matter what. These are awesome qualities – until they are utilized inappropriately or with impatience in the mix.

Josh recently bought a Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle as a second means of transportation in addition to our car. All the good points of this purchase were very plausible. Low gas mileage, less “time juggling” with not having to share the car, and best of all, more freedom for me. I no longer had the intense pressure of  getting him to and from work, picking him up on his break, and running daily to the grocery store to pick up stuff for the restaurant all in between my own ever-increasing tight schedule and the baby’s needs. Still, I was rather apprehensive about this purchase even though we had been talking about it for months.

He had originally said he wanted a cruiser body style rather than a sport bike. In fact, he had started with a very specific price range and idea of what he wanted, but as is often the case with people, (but especially men) his idea was not materializing into a reality as quickly as he wanted, so little by little he “modified” what he was looking for. His price range came up and his search began to include a wider range of possibilities. Since I know my husband, I tried to encourage him to wait for the right deal to come along, there was no rush. (I still wasn’t keen on him being on a motorcycle, it scared me.) The income tax money came in and he insisted he had found an awesome deal and he thought he should take it. There is no arguing with him when he gets to that point, but I was not quite sure. I just knew he was going to want a cruiser. This sport bike was not very big and even though he did not want to race on it by any means, it just didn’t feel completely right and I just wanted him to be happy with his purchase.

He was happy at first. After all, it is a good bike, it’s just a sport bike and it’s not good for long trips. Being it was a smaller engine size, it was not very good for carrying two people, but that was ok because I knew I would barely ever ride with him. I’m just not into motorcycles and I have a baby.

I saw how happy he was with it those first few weeks and I was starting to see how nice it was to have the freedom of going where I wanted without worrying about him. I could now go spend the weekend with my mom and his, each a two-hour drive, and not have to rush back and pick him up or drop him at work. To be honest, I started to think this was the best decision we ever made.

However, little by little he started to get a bit discontent with it. After one trip to my mom’s on it he realized that not only was it a bit uncomfortable to ride that long, but it was so light that a passing truck on the interstate made him feel like he was floating and he felt less control at the higher speeds. He didn’t feel comfortable going 45 – 50 mph in a 70 mph zone with every one around him doing 75 and even 80. He was liable to get run over, and back roads weren’t really an option time wise.

He started to search for a different one and he posted the Ninja on Craig’s List. I was not happy about this. Since he works so much, he had to squeeze this search time into the tiny bit of time we are supposed to spend together. Every waking moment it seemed like he was glued to the computer and I have to admit, my nose was out of joint. By this time I was very attached to my new schedule and freedom, I didn’t want it to get messed up if he sold his bike and couldn’t find a different one right away.

I will leave out the month of  searching, price adjusting, negotiating, bickering, sulking, re-negotiating, etc. I’ll just say that by the time he found a buyer for his old bike and a new bike to buy, I was ready to be done with this whole headache. I was tired of every conversation being about motorcycles.

Fast forward to yesterday  morning.

I got up at 6 am after a week of extreme busyness with my art, house cleaning, and preparing for my mom to come down for a visit. I had to pick her up, drive her down to Bowling Green to babysit for me, and drive her all the way back the very next day – not a very big deal, just a lot of driving. As I was getting ready to take her home, Josh told me he had a buyer coming to get his bike that day. (He had somehow forgotten I was taking mom back to Willisburg.) He was going to make the transaction on his break, but he would need a ride back to work. I would have to drop Mom off two hours away, have just enough time to change the baby and give her a bottle, and turn right around and get back so he could get to work. Then, the very next morning we would be driving to Tennessee to look at and purchase a different bike. After two days of being in the car, this was not the best thing I could have heard, but I wanted this to be over and I didn’t want him to be without a bike for too long, so I rushed on home.

Saturday morning,(yesterday)  instead of enjoying some much-needed sleep, I was up at 6am to get the baby ready and hop in the car ….again. We had to be on the road by 7am because he had to be at work around noon or a little after. Faith didn’t complain much, which was a relief, she mostly went back to sleep the whole way. We had to go about an hour south of  Nashville. The drive there wasn’t too eventful, it was raining a little when we left, but cleared up before we hit the Kentucky/Tennessee state line. We talked about stopping for some rain gear, but rather foolishly didn’t prioritize it since the weather cleared right off the bat.

The motorcycle we went to see turned out to be way out in the boon docks. A good-ol’-boy  in a trailer home with a couple of pit bulls greeted us when we pulled up. He had a little shed out back where he housed his ’98 Harley Davidson 1200 Sportster. I thought it kind of comical that everything looked a little worn out, (well-kept, just old and a bit hand-me-down) every thing, that is, except the Harley. He had put a lot of custom work into it, a windshield, sissy bar, chrome, saddle bags. He was letting it go for $3,500 and all the stuff came with it, including two half helmets and a leather riding jacket. The bike was in mint condition, brand new tires, it started right up – it was beautiful. I am not a motorcycle person, but I have to admit, I really liked what I saw. It was just what we were looking for, it had everything we needed, even an extra helmet – and it was a real Harley. We gave the man the cash and headed back towards home just as it started to rain.

At first it was a lighter rain, but it soon became heavy and soaked Josh through. He had planned to stop at the nearest Wal-mart and get some rain gear, but by the time we were even close to one he was so wet that rain gear would not have helped in any way. There was nothing to do but ride. We didn’t know anyone in the area where we could leave the bike and pick it up later.

By the time we got back on I65 outside of Nashville the rain had subsided to a mist, but he was wet and it had to be cold. I followed close behind him to keep an eye on traffic and make sure nobody got too close. There was more traffic coming back, but since it was Saturday the regular week day traffic was not an issue. I was glad, it was bad enough. The road was very wet and there was a constant mist in the air making visibility worse. It’s never good to have to drive in the rain. I listened to the weather on the radio and they announced there was a tornado watch in effect. I thought, “Great, because this is already super safe and a piece of cake,” but I didn’t tell Josh, he had enough to worry about.

Thankfully the rain stayed light all the way through Nashville, but it started to pick up as soon as we were outside the city limits. We stopped for a rest at a gas station about 20 miles from the state line and I tried to give Faith her bottle, but it was cold and she looked at me with a look that I swear said, “Really?! I haven’t eaten for several hours, I’ve been really good, and you give me this ice-cold milk? C’mon!” She didn’t cry, she just stared at me for like five seconds and wouldn’t drink it. We were running low on time, so I left her to play with it in her car seat and we started to get  back on the road.

The weather was really wearing on Josh, he mentioned the possibility of leaving his bike parked at the gas station and picking it up in the morning. I felt bad for him, I really did, but I was not about to let him leave such an expensive new purchase unguarded, almost fifty miles from home, at an old truck stop that had a big sign informing people that trailers left over night would be towed. I think he knew that I was right, but he was cold and soaked and when I snapped out “absolutely not!”, he got aggravated at me and huffed back to his bike. We got out of there pretty quickly, he just wanted to get home and he was going to be a little late for work.

It continued to rain pretty good all the way to the state line and beyond, but we passed Franklin and then came up on exit 20, the Natcher parkway. It was in sight, and two miles from that was the first Bowling Green exit, we were almost home. Relief and anticipation were just crowding my mind when Josh slowed and pulled off on the shoulder. He played with his bike for a minute, I thought he was just so cold he needed a break or something. We pulled back onto the interstate into traffic, went about 200 feet, and he pulled off again. He was out of gas and the previous owner must have left the reserve tank on so all the fuel was burned up instead of being able to flip a switch and have a little extra. (His motorcycle doesn’t have a gas gauge, most don’t.) We had been in such a hurry at the last stop that we didn’t even think about gassing up the bike, the car had enough gas. Now we were literally in sight of a gas station and out of gas. At least I was right there with him, he didn’t have to flag down help.

You would think it was ok, we would just get gas, fill up the bike, continue on home without much delay, but no. On that particular stretch of 65 between Bowling green and Franklin there are no exits. There is only about 13 miles of interstate and there isn’t even a turn around, only concrete barriers all the way down. We bought a gas can and filled it up at exit 22 and then we had to drive down to exit 9 or so, turn around, and head north to where the bike sat on the side of the road. Needless to say, by the time we finally made it home, Josh had just enough time to scramble into a hot shower to try to reverse the last 2 hours of  driving with icy wind chill on soaking wet clothes. He got dressed and rushed out the door, over an hour later than he’d wanted to be, but he was still able to get everything done, including the preparation of food for his employer’s engagement party.

I was so tired and mentally drained from staying alert for six hours and watching traffic in the rain and him driving home, but Faith had slept most of the time so there was no nap for me. I was finally able to fall into bed later that night when Josh got home from work and I slept like a rock.

I put a status up yesterday afternoon on Facebook. “The things a woman will do for a man are remarkable.” Why do we do these things? This is the question I asked myself over and over yesterday, but it was answered by Josh himself. He looked over at me before any of this had even happened, while we were still on our way to pick up the Harley. He said, “Honey, I love you. I am only a tolerable husband because you are such a fabulous wife. Thank you for doing this for me.”

That simple acknowledgement and thank you warmed my heart and made it all worth it, all the rain, trouble, driving, silly motorcycle obsessions – all of it. Love is why we do it, why we all do it.

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Life Goes On

 I haven’t written for a little while and I find that I am very busy these past weeks with a little of everything. I guess it is time to implement the “short little update post”. I find that even when I have a moment to think about something to write, I don’t have the time to get embroiled in a long post.

I have been painting lately, of course, and this past weekend marks the very first time my work has been publically displayed in a local event. I’m looking forward to showing my work again soon, there are several art fairs coming up and I’m excited to set up a table and reach out to a wider spectrum of viewers and potential buyers.

Besides art, I have an amazing little eight month old to keep up with. Faith continues to grow way too fast and has started saying some words. Mama, Da-da, bite, and ba-ba are used quite often and are now distinctly recognizable. I sat her in her high chair earlier and Josh, who was at work, had parked his motorcycle on the back patio. She could see it through the sliding glass door and she got all excited and said, “Da-da!” while jumping in her chair. She is so sweet. She LOVES her Daddy.

The rest of my time has been dedicated to gardening, driving, house keeping, driving, yard work, healthier eating and a new exercise regime, and driving. We continue to live in the car a lot as my wishes and obligations take me all over Kentucky and into Tennessee. Thankfully, I usually don’t mind a nice drive and Faith loves taking trips. She is the best baby when it comes to car rides, she barely ever fusses, even when she’s been in her seat for hours and she’s over due a feeding of some sort. I couldn’t ask for a better little trooper.

I had the pleasure of an over night visit from my mom and Nevada the other day. My mom hasn’t been able to get back down to Bowling Green since the day we moved in. (About 7 months.) It was nice to have a little visit in my own home and I had fun cooking meals I don’t normally cook. My drab, leftover odds and ends, cold out of the fridge, were not to be seen for a whole 24 hours. Instead we had Cranberry Mandarin Chicken Salad, Home-made tomato soup from home-grown tomatoes, fresh home-made goat cheese, (courtesy of Mom) chess pie, and for breakfast I made a spinach and bacon Quiche. I love to cook, but since it’s usually only me, I don’t find the motivation to go through all the fan fare. Josh’s work hours keep him from sharing meals at home, so any cooking I do is usually Sunday or sometimes Tuesday. It was nice to pull out the stops and get my hostess game on.

Anyway, I’m thinking about firing up the coffee pot (my newest favorite coffee hour is between 7pm and 9:30pm) since the baby is down for the night and I can finally relax after a very long day. I’ll have to tell about our adventures today, (buying and picking up a motorcycle in a thunder-storm with a tornado watch in effect from 2 hours away in Tennessee) but I’m just too pooped to get it all out right now. Let me just say….. fun – no it wasn’t.

Roots

It is Sunday afternoon. For the past three weekends I have taken up my nomadic habits and traveled west to Livingston and Crittenden Counties, the home of my husband’s ancestors and present extended family. I say ancestors because there is not a town in that part of the country to which he cannot directly trace his lineage on either his mother’s or father’s side. We have often driven down roads named for one Croft or another, and he has told me how he is related to them and how they settled this area. For an only child, his family is impressively extensive.

Josh has lived in Livingston County Kentucky all his life, up until just a few years ago when he moved to Louisville and married me. He also spent some time in Florida and Nashville, and he has run the rodeo circuit a time or two, but his home base has always been Ledbetter and Salem, sometimes Paducah, and now Marion. Three of these four places are tiny towns, Paducah is much bigger, but even Paducah has a small town feel. It is definitely not a Chicago, or even Louisville.

It is almost strange ( in a pleasant way) to experience this system of deep, rich roots. I have felt like a tumble weed for so many years –  since I was nine. Even as a little girl in Florida we were constantly moving to new neighborhoods, towns, houses. I have been moving since I can remember. I never really had a problem with this. I’ve always been rather adventurous in the sense that I embraced every new place I found myself. Since I didn’t have many close friends, it didn’t bother me to leave them. Even now, as I drive on a really nice day in the spring or summer and I see the changing scenery outside my window, I get a little itch to just keep driving right past my destination. I am usually tempted to head west. The Western states continue to call my name softly, every so often, for despite everything I’ve been through out there over the years, my heart always wanders back at some point.

Aside from this periodic itch to wander, I am very pleased that I have finally started to put down roots. My parents have settled in a town only two hours away from where we live and Josh’s family is also two hours away, but in the opposite direction. We live right in the middle and this is nice. My daughter will have the comfort of family roots and that sense that no matter where she may wander in life, she will always be able to come home, and to the state she was born in.

These past three weekends of visitation were rather unplanned. Each one had a reason of its own, but they are always welcome, both by me and the family. It is always nice to find an excuse to drive out that way. I am extremely blessed that my in-laws love me as if I were blood relation and I love them the same way, every single one of them. We often laugh about Josh being an only child and having the larger number of people in his family than me, the second of eight. Perhaps I have just as much extended family as him, maybe even more, but my family on both my mother’s and father’s side are scattered quite literally to every edge of the country and all in between. Josh’s seems to be concentrated in one end of the state and that makes it seem bigger.

My parents and siblings.

New Jersey, Arizona, Nebraska, California – these are just a few places my relatives live, demonstrating the scattered-ness. I don’t even know half of them beyond their names, and I’ve never met some of them. Being the nostalgic person I am, you can only imagine how comfortable it is to have married into such a close family, geographically as well as their relationship bonds. 

Nanny (his maternal grandmother) is quite the matriarch. She is the oldest of three girls and everyone gathers at her house on Christmas Eve and other holidays, but always on Christmas Eve. Everybody in Salem knows Anna Sue Harmon, she is a bustling, jovial, sweet woman who looks at least ten years younger than the seventy-two that she is. She is very community oriented and an active member of the Salem Garden Club. She is your typical country grandmother, it doesn’t matter who you are, related or not, there is always some yummy morsel in her fridge and she won’t be satisfied until you’ve eaten some of it while you visit. Even if you’ve only stopped for a moment, you must at least try a cookie or have a glass of sweet tea.

Nanny’s sister Linda lives there in Salem, as well as Linda’s daughter Tina, and the youngest of the three, Janice, lives there too. They each settled with in a mile of where their parents lived and their own children didn’t go very far. The ones who don’t live in Salem are only a few miles away in Marion and Smithland and other tiny bumps on the map. It only makes sense to gather in this little town for all the holidays. When our daughter passed, it was only natural to bring her tiny casket to this place to rest next to other members of the family, including Nanny’s first husband and her third child Tanya, who lived only six hours after birth.

I have always felt welcome here. One of the first times I made the pilgrimage to Salem was 2006 for Thanksgiving. I believe we came a couple of weeks earlier one Sunday for church, but I remember Thanksgiving best. It was rather awkward because this was the second time I had ever met Josh’s mom and Grandmother, and the first time I had met his other family, and we had just announced our engagement. I know every one was very surprised. Josh had moved to Louisville in June, and now just a few ,short months later he was engaged to some girl they’d never met. I wasn’t even someone he’d known from highschool – I wasn’t even a Kentucky native. Nobody showed their surprise that day, I was accepted right in and treated like one of the family. I know everybody thought he was crazy, which is fine because I thought we were crazy, and my family thought we were crazy. We have all talked and laughed about those first impressions since then.

Josh and I were married the very next month on December 23, 2006. We spent our honeymoon in Paducah, his mom gave us her house to ourselves for the few days we were in. We had consolidated our honeymoon and the Christmas holiday. Again, it was rather awkward to meet most of his family for only the second time and we were now married.  Since it was all so sudden I had not had time to even think about Christmas gifts for anyone. I didn’t really know everybody and we were rather tight on finances. We had spent the little money we had on our wedding and still had to have the help of my parents and his to make that small affair happen. We had decided we weren’t even going to get each other gifts, we had gotten each other wedding rings, that was enough.

Our first Christmas at Nanny's.

I was truly surprised and humbled when I was presented with gifts that first Christmas. His family had given us cash at our wedding, and these gifts were totally unexpected. I remember feeling very bad because I had absolutely nothing to give anyone. Upon mumbling my apologies with a red face, I was assured that it was more than ok, they wouldn’t have expected it at all, but they couldn’t let me sit and watch everyone else open gifts and not include me. Since my family hadn’t celebrated Christmas for a very long time I tried to insist that it wouldn’t have bothered me at all, but it was no use, I was to open and enjoy my gifts. This is just the way it is, the hospitality and welcome is overwhelming at times.

It has been more than three years since that first Christmas. With every passing year I have more love for my husband’s family and they are now just my family. We’ve been through so much in so little time, we can’t help but be close-knit. Faith is perhaps the strongest fiber in this tapestry of love. She has brought more joy and smiles to every face, on both sides of the family tree. One of these last weekends, on Easter, I got a phone call at my mother-in-law’s where we were recovering from a vast meal of home-cooked, country goodness. The voice on the other end of the line (Linda) asked if we were still there and how long would we be in before going home to Bowling Green. I told her we would be there another couple of hours and she teasingly said “Well, we’re (Linda, Tina, and Tina’s daughter Sarah) coming by in a minute to see Faith, not you, just Faith.” I laughed and thought how nice it was that there are so many people who love my daughter.

Ah, roots! That’s what it all boils down to. I think we all long for them in one sense or another. Even the wandering souls like myself like to have a home base. Who doesn’t want to love and be loved? Those who say they don’t need love are the ones who want and need it the most. I’m very glad to have so many people who love me and my family. I’m glad that after years of wandering and searching I can settle down in one place and have not only my family, but my husband’s family to visit fairly often. I love that my daughter has all her grandparents in one state, close enough to see whenever we wish. Like her daddy, she is the only child in the house hold (at least for now) but she has so many cousins and aunts and uncles to love and be loved by.

I thank God for roots, for family – for love.