January 30, 2008

The Valentine's Day Gift

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of telling the story about the year Don gave me a fifty gallon gas tank for Valentine’s Day. Whatever made him think that I’d be bowed over by his generosity and slobber kisses all over his face or hug him silly over a gas tank, I don’t know. I am the practical type and I’ve liked my share of practical gifts, but this was just a little bit too practical and, well, too macho male. I’ve never expected anything out of the truck I drove back in those days other than to have it start when I turned the key. I wasn’t into add-ons---flashy or practical---plus we live in an area of 600,000 people and we have gas stations at very predictable intervals. A fifty gallon tank seemed like over-kill to me but Don is a guy and sometimes male logic defies a woman’s ability to answer that burning question: What was he thinking?!

The next winter I found out what he was thinking. My brown Chevy short box and I became the 'gas station' for all the other trucks on the mall where we plowed snow. “Yes, sir, Texaco Woman has arrived to pump your gas!” It makes my teeth chatter, now, just thinking about hopping out of a truck to stand in the cold, winter nights pumping gas. I also carried all the extra oils, windshield wipers and hydraulic fluids, so I was in demand. I was a regular little traveling bomb shell, and not the blonde kind with big boobs. I was really worried someone would side-swipe me and I’d go up in flames. Ca-boom! There goes Jean! No more snow angel drills where we’d all park our snowplows in a circle and lay down in the snow, flurrying our limps. No more snow bunny union either; we girl snow plowers once wrote up a contract designed to keep the guy drivers from peeing on our tires.

Thinking back over the thirty-five years of Valentine’s Days we’ve been a couple, Don has taken the sweet, the sentimental, the traditional, the girl impressing route many times. I’ve gotten Joy perfume, the heart-shaped candy boxes, fancy greeting cards that come with their own boxes, plus an assortment of artwork. Don was at a disadvantage, though, when it came to buying flowers for me because I could buy them wholesale for the first twenty years. Even after I quit the floral business, I didn’t care if I saw another flower for several years afterwards. By the time I did start putting them on my wish list again, the die was cut: Don didn’t buy flower. Old dogs don’t learn new tricks.

Years ago, Don and I took a little neighbor girl to the rodeo with us. It was an event our home town sponsored every year and that year Dale Evans was the featured entertainer. This five year old had the biggest crush on Don and she wasn’t too happy when she found out that I would be going to the rodeo with them. Her mom had the solemn job of trying to explain that I was the girlfriend; Don and I were a package deal. Earlier that year, she also got her cute little nose out of joint when she found out that Don had bought me a bigger heart-shaped box of candy than the one Don and I had bought for him to give to her for Valentine’s Day. Debby is 30-something now and she says she still has that heart-shaped box. All little girls should get a cool Valentine’s Day gift from their first crushes. And all big girls should get one big turkey of a gift---like a fifty gallon gas tank---so she can good-naturedly rub it in for the next hundred years.

Jean Riva ©

Painting: Romeo and Juliet by Sir Frank Dicksee

January 29, 2008

The People's Media Awards for 2007

Last February I submitted an article for publication at Associated Content, an on-line media site with over 100,000 registered members (include 23,000 published content producers) and nearly a million site clicks each day. It was about my husband's massive stroke and how it affected our lives. I just learned that it won a $1,000 People's Media Award for being one of the best text articles submitted for 2007. This is a prestigious and coveted award from a site that publishes literally thousands upon thousands of articles. This year alone they gave out $10,000 in prize money split between the nine of us winners. I'm very proud that I could write an article about my husband's stroke and have it so well received. Having the topic of a stroke showcased in this way can, hopefully, help give the general population a better understanding of how a stroke turn lives upside down. And that is good for all of us in the stroke community.

In the right hand column, see the 'PMA Awards' section for links to my winning article, How my Husband's Stroke Changed my Life and to my acceptance speech, What It's Like to Win One of the People's Media Awards at Associated Content. The third link is to the announcement article that includes a list of all nine of the winners in the 2007 awards. ©

Jean Riva

January 24, 2008

Lost at Yahoo Questions and Answers

It's embarrassing that it's taken me so long to update this blog. I have but one excuse. I've become seriously addicted to answering questions at Yahoo. Oh, yes, it's like eating pop corn in a movie theater---so hard to stop the mindless action! No matter how fast you can type, it's humanly impossible to keep up with the endless and daunting flow of questions on everything from politics to relationships to disabilities to you name it. In a short period of time I've racked up 7,146 points and replied to 1,604 questions. It's like playing the slots, hoping your answers will get picked for the extra ten points as THEE best. My time on the computer goes so fast at Yahoo. But all good things---and I use that term lightly here---must come to an end. Or in other words, I've decided it's time that I get back my pre-Yahoo life where I spend my computer differently, where I'm not so entranced staring at the monitor that I don't even want to get up to go to the bathroom. Help! Is there a ten step program for people hooked on Yahoo Questions and Answers?

When Don came home from the hospital (after his aorta aneurysm surgery) he bounced back fairly fast. He's had his post-opt CAT scan and blood work done and all looks well. We still need to get him started back up with his exercise program. He's lost most---but not all---of the improvements he'd gained through the aquatic pool and land therapy this fall. Thankfully, though, we did that work to build up his core body strength before the surgery. Without it he would have had a much harder time in the hospital.

I've slowed down since the surgery. I guess those crazy-busy months we've had beforehand finally caught up with me. I'm worn out but slowly rejuvenating, coming out of my fog. If the temperature outside would just get warmer, that would help. I'm so tired of being cold. But that's another story and I've been bitching long enough. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm back and I plan to stay. In a few days I'll have some exciting news to share. Come back then and I'll tell you all about it.…..©