LAT= Living Apart Together: A Surefire Way To Make Your Marriage Last, At Least Through Dinner

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Unless the meatloaf is burned, LAT, an acronym for Living Apart Together in separate residences, is a surefire way to make your marriage last. Clear through dinner, maybe. If you don’t see a person’s face from, say, right after dessert, until you are sipping a cup of latte twelve hours later, your union will be golden. People will envy and admire you for your peace of mind, your emotional stability, your genius with the opposite sex, the fact that you are still in bed at 11am, and that there are cracker crumbs strewn around you and your pillow.

Marriage has been around for a long, long time, until sometime just after the first sexual encounter occurred in 1832. Another encounter would not happen again for more than a hundred years, in 1962, on the steps of Sproul Hall at UC, Berkeley. When older people saw how much fun the younger set was having, they tried to make it illegal without the express approval of the US government.

Occasionally, someone will try to get rid of marriage, and individually, they succeed. A person here and there will not be married, but they are generally curmudgeonly old men, who probably tried it at least once, usually with an American woman. This woman refused to pick up one more pair of underpants, or be told who she should vote for, so she moved out.

They didn’t get divorced, but instead maintained separate residences. Hers may have been in Cleveland, and his in San Antonio, but still. They were getting along for the first time in forty years! Yes, this marriage could be saved!

Married people who live in separate residences is not an unheard of thing. First of all, you are hearing about it here. Secondly, my hubby and I actually do this. Strictly speaking, we have walls that are attached, but the two residences have separate addresses, living rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens. In short, if someone other than he moved into his place, they would have all the privacy guaranteed to them under the Constitution. Unless I steal their mail and read it.

Our living arrangements happened sort of by accident. I say ‘sort of’, because I didn’t load up a U-Haul and then lose control of it in front of the house, crashing through the living room walls. (Although that is a good way to ‘get’ a man, in one way or another). I had sold my house in California, and my guy suggested I move near him. We’d known each other for many years, and I loved the man, so I said yes.

His daughter and her family, and his sister and her family, who both lived in the other domiciles on this compound, which is just like the Kennedy’s, only without the wealth or views of the ocean, had unilaterally decided to vacate the premises, leaving the main house and the little one in back, empty. My son and I moved into the main house, and my hubby stayed in his bachelor pad next door.

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Occasionally, he’ll think about moving in here and renting out his little apartment, but I remind him that the dog sleeps on my bed when I decide to sleep in it. I divide the week up so that he gets the lion’s share of me, but my dog gets two days out of the week. She also gets to sleep with us both on Saturday night. He has a smaller bed, and she’s a bed hog. Plus, sometimes he’s up and down many times during the night, so I presumably get more rest when I’m in my own bed. I say presumably, because I’ll use the opportunity to get really degenerate. I read late and watch TV.

We are going to move into one household eventually, and this will require sacrifices on his part to blend our belongings and routines. Alright, alright. I’ll make an effort, too. Its not going to be easy. We are long time bachelors, both of us. I don’t want a garage or closets, so there will be no room for saving things we no longer need.

We’ve been together now for more than eight years, and it appears to be working. When I first moved in, we had a lot of arguments. True to my nature, I stayed mad longer than he did. He did not have to suffer the slings and arrows of a pissed-off woman, but I did not get the satisfaction of totally ignoring him for three days.

I would slam and lock the doors to my house, and we would not have to see each other until we were ready. Genius! I had discovered something that would keep the wheels of civilized society rolling along as smoothly as a banana daiquiri, and the bonds of family stronger than the combined powers of the Justice League.

Some buzz-kill is probably thinking that this was childish behavior, and we weren’t forced ‘to work out our issues’, or ‘resolve our differences’, blah, blah, blah. Go back to your own house, I don’t want to hear it. Most people I know are childish, self-involved dweebs and should all have their own rooms to sulk in for as long as they want, surrounded by their own stuff. So neener, neener.

I’ll talk to you about it when you are ready to see reason.



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The Fighter Pilot and the Figure Skater: Life On The Edge

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I’ve been digging out old family photos from the boxes where I keep them. I do this at least once a year, to remind myself I did indeed have parents at one time. My mom was a self-taught figure skater. She was gorgeous, and possibly fifty feet tall, since there she is, holding that Braniff airplane. She is striking a classic superhero pose, casually showing off her superhuman strength.

My dad was a fighter pilot, who may have spent all his spare time trying to get that white scarf exactly right, the cap snugged on at a jaunty angle, and the collar of the jacket turned up. We almost lost the war, because the pilots were spending so much time in front of the mirror.

My mom had been living somewhat independently in Los Angeles from her teens until her early twenties being a ‘mother’s helper’. She consistently skipped school, taking her skates with her to the local rink. She never had any formal lessons; she taught herself to skate well enough to get a job with the Sonja Henie and Dorothy Franey ice revues.

sonja-henie.3She had some not-so-flattering stories to tell about Sonja, who is in the picture above; she didn’t tell them to me, so I have to disappoint you fellow scandal hounds. I will not be revealing ancient celebrity gossip.

In the 1940’s, streetcars were the transit system of choice in LA. The subsequent demise of the electric railway system was a huge scandal of that era attributed to GM, but is the subject of another story. Mom was riding one of the streetcars one afternoon on her way to the rink, and was clearly not in school, when she ran into my grandfather. He looked at her sternly, but since I believe he was somewhere he shouldn’t have been, in the company of a strange woman, my mom escaped censure for that day.

Regardless of my mother’s academic peccadilloes, and my grandfather’s romantic ones,  my mom was hired as a figure skater right out of high school. She had gone to Dallas with the ice show, and had been written up as ‘Hot on Cold’ Diana Stinson, the best solo of the evening, with feet of lightning.

mom hot on coldShe was lounging at the hotel pool where the skaters were staying one afternoon, when a young man approached her. His pick up line, ‘Did you go to Dallas High?’, had hair all over it even then, but something about the young man captured the ‘shapely’ blonde’s attention, because they were married not long after. I asked her once if she regretted getting married young, and if so, when she realized it. She told me ‘after about a week’. Good thing she stuck it out, or I wouldn’t be here. I’m the third child.

She was with the Ice Follies at the time, and they were union, possibly an independent union, or a part of SAG. They were on strike when she decided to marry my dad, and she said they wouldn’t hire her back. I don’t know all the details, but apparently the union lost that battle, if skaters couldn’t return.

mom and dadOr perhaps, like the early days of being a flight attendant, a skater couldn’t be married and be with the show. Being a housewife, a mother, and married, even to a devastatingly attractive pilot who gives you gorgeous children, never came close to the glamor of being an ice skater. She always said Dad married her for her money; she was making about $200 a week skating, and he was making $200 a month managing a movie theater. He saw ‘Gone With The Wind’, which was a new movie then, at least 90 times. He had to have known who won the Civil War.

ushersMom wouldn’t skate again until the last of the four of us was at least twelve, about eighteen years later. Once in a great while she would hit the ice for a spin, but it wasn’t until we moved to Portland and she began to skate at Lloyd Center that she really got into it again. She was approached to teach someone’s child now and then, but she was really just interested in doing her own skating, although she did design a line of skating outfits.

skating outfitShe approached William Morris to broach a deal with their client, Peggy Fleming. She thought Peggy would be an excellent choice to put her name on a line of skating wear. The agency thought this was a great idea, and not long after a newspaper article came out talking about how Peggy had overcome her ‘shyness’ and decided to endorse a line of skate wear. My mother was never mentioned, and was completely cut out of the loop. Ever since then, I have never, ever, taken anything the media says at face value.

Besides his important work in the theater, namely helping people find a seat, Dad was in college when they met, but quit after a year to join the Army Air Corps. He was a tail gunner, then went to flight training school and flew B-25s. He brought his plane back once with so many holes, it was a sieve. I believe the mess hall used it to drain pasta, after that.

B-25I owe my existence to union strikes, and an enemy missing it’s target. He went on to serve for twenty years, but it wasn’t the Air Force until two years after he joined. I remember wishing he’d applied to the airlines when I was young. I think he applied to United, but the airlines didn’t want maverick fighter pilots; they wanted staid transport pilots. No flying under bridges with a 747, or doing loop-de-loops and spilling passengers’ drinks up their noses.

loop de loopMy dad left the Air Force with a medical disability after he broke his leg in a Jeep accident in the Philippines. He went on to become a helicopter pilot. I remember his participating in an event that required keeping a helicopter aloft for several days. They strapped boxes of eggs to the landing skids to make sure of it.

He was Portland General Electric’s only helicopter pilot from 1968 to around 1982; they did have a corporate jet pilot who Dad kind of looked down on as a semi-underemployed bus driver. Dad’s flying was world class. The German air force actually hired him for a few weeks in the 70s to go over and teach their helicopter pilots nap-of-the-earth techniques.

Nap-of-the-earth does not mean lying down on the grass, and dozing off, as I had initially suspected. It is a technique of flying a helicopter where the pilot follows the curves of the earth, and stays below radar. It is a very demanding form of flying.

nap of the earthHe flew Hueys, but when he was going back east to pick up his new helicopter, a Messerschmitt, I went with him. I was nineteen, and this was the ultimate road trip. We flew the helicopter back in a horseshoe pattern, down south, across Texas, up through California, and back to Portland. Once, when he wasn’t sure where he was, he flew down by the highway signs to read what they said. I thought that was cool, but my mom hated when I told that story. That must have been the map-of-the-earth technique…

The husband of one of my mom’s best friends remembered flying with PGE’s helicopter pilot in the seventies, but didn’t remember his name. Since they only had one then, we realized it was my dad. I reprinted his reminiscence below, and here is what he said about my dad’s flying:

“I well remember your dad’s flying skills. PGE had a twin diesel engine Messerschmitt helicopter. Boy, was it one maneuverable machine and your dad could really make it do it’s thing. I remember when we took off, he literally turned it on it’s side so that I was looking straight down at the ground. Sure glad they had good seat belts. I wasn’t sure if I should be afraid or just start praying. I wished for a long time I could have another ride with him. And I remember he was a lot of fun to be with also. We stopped somewhere up the gorge for lunch but I forget where. The ride was the most exciting thing.”

My brother told me he had a dream about my dad’s flying and being with him in the helicopter: “That was Dad. He did the same thing to me a number of times. It must have been the re-remembering, but last night I dreamed of him hovering and doing a 360 barrel roll. I thought it was incredibly stupid – “Don’t you know you have to have forward motion for that maneuver?, I was thinking in my dream. He was a really good pilot.”

What cracks me up is that my brother is correcting us even in his dreams. Occasionally, my dad would fly the helicopter home, and land it in the field where my horse grazed. We were the only kids on our block to have a helicopter on a pad out back, and when my horse would graze a pad around the helicopter, it was like a true-to-life sculpture on technological advances in transportation.

Dad had enough stories to fill a few pages of this blog, and my mother did too. I know my dad walked away in one piece from a few accidents. Why didn’t I hear about all this? Were the stories kept for strangers and acquaintances, or just too old to talk about by the time I came along? Probably the latter; I’ve never told my son my crazy stories about flying.

My brother  pointed out to me that should an airplane do a loop-de-loop as I have fancifully described herein, centrifugal force would prevent drinks from spilling ‘up’ into passenger’s noses. Thanks, bro!

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Dear Red States, We’ll Take California And The Blue States

With the 2016 election heating up, I am re-posting this:

Dear Red States:

We’re ticked off at the way you’ve treated California and we’ve decided we’re leaving.

We intend to form our own country and we’re taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren’t aware that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.

We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs.

You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro choice and anti-war and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home.

We wish you success in Iraq and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country’s fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95% of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

We’re taking the good pot too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.


Author Unknown in New California.