Tuesday, February 16, 2016

art, mostly

Last week, or maybe it was the week before, Mary and I spent some time one afternoon at one of my favorite places, the Milwaukee Art Museum, or MAM as we refer to it. I never get tired of going there, and even though we've visited it a thousand times over the past few years, every time we go we discover something new and extraordinary that we had somehow overlooked on our previous visits. 
Now that the 2yr renovation and remodeling of the place is complete, we have more incentive than ever to visit and rediscover our favorite artworks displayed in new galleries. The world outside disappears for the time we seek sanctuary within the walls that are adorned with such marvelous proof of man's ability to inspire awe in all those who view their efforts. 
Our conversations as we wander through the galleries are always about the art in front of us. There always seems to be something new to say, even about our favorite paintings, some new insight that we feel compelled to share. So I was somewhat surprised when Mary was uncharacteristically quiet while we stood in front of several of the most amazing paintings showing the colors of nature in the wondrous light of the Southwest. We were in the Georgia O'Keefe gallery, one of Mary's favorite painters. I was sure she would have something to say about the new exhibit because the paintings were hung with such loving respect that the aura created in that gallery pulled you into the environment of color and light that Georgia O'Keefe alone was able to create on her canvas. Such forms, such composition, such suggested shapes defined by her impeccable understanding of light and color, and how each defines the other showcase her incredible talent. Whenever I see one of her paintings I appreciate her body of work more and more.
Basking in that aura that surrounded me and seemingly caressed my soul, I waited serenely for Mary to make an enlightened statement about what she was feeling in the presence of such greatness.
"Oh, shit. I forgot to buy radishes for our salad."

just reward

It was yesterday afternoon when Mary announced, "I have to run to Costco for a couple of things. Can I trust you to behave and not do anything stupid while I'm gone?" She seems to think that I can't wait for her to leave the house so I can do all the naughty things I have stored up on my bad things to do list. I admit I have occasionally taken advantage of her absence to get something done that I know she would object to if she caught me at it.
"Why can't I go with you? I need some Velcro." I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. I know that sounded pathetic, but the truth is, I really did need some Velcro.
"I hate taking you along because you never behave in the store. You are constantly disappearing on me, making me worry all the time, wondering if you're lost and hurt. I always panic when you pull one of your disappearing acts." I can't say she was totally wrong. I do tend to wander, but I always tell her where I will be. If she isn't listening, that's her problem.
"How about if I don't use one of the driving carts? You know I'm not fast enough to get away from you if I walk with you so I won't be able to disappear." She bought it.
"Ok. You can go along as long as you promise to behave. If you so much as think about wandering, I will call the police and have you arrested for spousal abuse." I think she was serious.
When we got to Costco she insisted that I take one of the driving carts. She knows I don't have the strength or stamina for a prolonged shopping trip. She was just looking out for me and thinking of my welfare. She was also putting me in a very tempting and for me, irresistible position. This may have been a test. If It was, I aced that sumbitch.
I followed her so closely in my getaway cart, that she told me to back off. Ordinarily that would have been my excuse to take off and head for a more interesting part of the store as soon as she turned her back on me. But I resisted the temptation to scram, and clung to her like lint. 
"I told you I wouldn't leave your sight for a second and I am keeping that promise." I wanted to make sure she noticed my good behavior. I needed the husband points.
"I noticed. So far you have been a good boy. If you keep it up, I may have to reward you." I figured she was teasing me, trying to distract me from all the temptations surrounding me. Her subtle gambit worked. Instead of checking for escape routes I was thinking about her mention of a possible reward down the line. At the top of my imaginary reward list was a reward that is none of your business. Sprinkled in the list were a new skew for my lathe, a shirt that I had seen at Kohls that was obviously made just for me, and a new sharpening belt for my tool sharpener. There were several others that I placed on the list in the "not likely to get in my lifetime" position. 
When we finally finished with Mary's shopping list and were heading toward the checkout line, she suggested hat go ahead and wait in the car for her. She knew I was tired and was taking care of me again. At least that's what she wanted me to think. But I know she was trying to distract me while she bought my "good behavior" surprise.
There were several items on my unwritten list that could be purchased at a store like Costco, but I knew that little sports car wasn't going to make the cut. I was trying to see what she was carrying when she approached the car, but was unable to discern any unusual package that might hold a special gift, a reward for me for being so well behaved all afternoon. Apparently I was going to have to wait until we got home to be rewarded.
Once we parked safely in the garage at home, I hustled to unload all the goodies from the car, keeping a sharp eye out for what was awaiting my greedy, but deserving hands. All the bags and boxes were inside the house, but there was nothing that I could see that might be construed as a reward. Nothing!
I was thinking that she really was teasing me back in the store, making promises she had no intention of keeping, when she bounced happily into the kitchen with a bag that she proffered to me with an excitement that indicated "little red sports car," but instead contained a little book accompanied by another small box.
"I found something for you that I know you will enjoy. It's a reward for your excellent behavior today. I was very pleased that I didn't have to worry about your disappearing on me, wandering away and hiding." She was absolutely beaming as she handed me the "reward."
The bag in my greedy but deserving hands indeed held a book. A coloring book. An "adult" coloring book. Not that kind of "adult" coloring book. A book of elaborate and complex drawings that will require a careful and adept hand to stay between the lines. The small box contained pencils, colored pencils. Fifty of them. Count em. Fifty. All a different color. 
Her gift for me is really quite touching. The fact is, I will enjoy coloring those designs. It will be good therapy for me and she knew that, too. While a coloring book is not as awe inspiring as a sports car, the good heart and soul that shines through her gift is more revealing of my wife's loving and caring for me. I am so lucky to have her taking care of me.
Oh, yeah, I never did get Velcro I so desperately needed.

something stupid

We were just lying in bed the other night, she with her iPad, me with mine, laughing at the posts on Facebook, getting angry at the posts on Facebook, cursing and screaming at the idiots on Facebook, and then oohing and aahing
at the antics of kittens and puppies and other exotic creatures that seemed to be bred just for Facebook. All things considered, a typical late evening in Bob and Mary's bedroom. 
"Speaking of idiots," she didn't have to poke me or even look in my direction for me to know that her remark was meant for me, "you haven't posted anything on Facebook for awhile." 
"That's because you haven't done anything unusual or stupid lately to inspire me." In retrospect I probably could have, should have, left the word "stupid" sitting on my tongue. But sometimes (ok, most of the time) my mouth engages just a nanosecond before my brain has the opportunity to censor what is spewing out of my mouth. Having realized that my misbehaving mouth had once more gotten ahead of my brain, I braced myself for the onslaught of verbal and physical blows that were certain to rain down on me. I tucked a pillow as unobtrusively as possible between us to absorb some of the physical blows I was certain were about to begin, My other pillow was held tightly against my ear so I wouldn't to have to listen to the very creative use of vulgar language that she only uses on me and that she claims she learned from me. I felt I was relatively safe and ready to fend off the physical punishment I was sure was imminent. 
However, she remained calm and serene while I scrambled around the bed preparing my defenses.
" Aren't you going to even discipline me? Scold me? Tell me how disgusted you are with my behavior? Throw a pillow at me? Throw me out of the bed and onto the couch?" 
I was nearly begging for a caustic rebuke. Can you believe she was treating me so unfairly? Here I went to all that trouble building a nearly unassailable defense and she wasn't even going to mount a token attack on me. This was a new tactic that she added to her arsenal that I would have to learn how to deal with.
"No, no, I'm not going to rip your heart out and feed it to the jackels as you so richly deserve. Why you ask. Because you are right for once in your life. I have been so boring and bored for the past few weeks. You deserve a better
effort from me. I'm sorry I've been such a bad companion, such a bad wife, and that I haven't taken care of you as I should. Just let me get my mojo back and I will make it up to you. All will be right with us."
I'm not sure if I was hallucinating all that. We will just have to wait and see what she comes up with to inspire me. You'll be the first to know.