A Pastel Pumpkin Field and My Rib Shack

Illinois Pumpkin Fields Canned Pumpkins

So my wife and I went on a mini road trip a few weekends ago to visit an apple orchard two hours from home and then another 45 minutes to The Bar-B-Q Rib Shack in Galesburg, IL. On our way between the orchard and the rib shack we were surprised to pass two huge fields filled with what barely looked like pumpkins.

The pumpkins were so pastel I couldn’t believe it. I had to pull the car over and go in for a closer examination. How could someone mistakenly planted a huge field full of an unseemly variety of seed. My wife suggested they were for canning, which made more sense. But had we stopped our adventure right there, I’d have seen just about everything.

Pumpkins for Canning Illinois Fields

But we didn’t. We continued on to the rib place I’d talked up to my wife since we met but only fantasized taking her. Now the time had come, I imagined, where she might appreciate the unique charm of this place. When we first met, I was relatively certain, however, that she’d have found the neon sign, the mere idea of ribs, and the community seating a little more than off-putting.

To me, this rib shack is just about everything. The food is phenomenal. And the seating, unique. The small town picnic table seating, when packed, has you enjoy your meal side-by-side with complete strangers or soon-to-be new acquaintances.

The Rib Shack Neon BBQ Pig Sign

I was a little nervous. I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to everything I remembered and relived since I’d eaten there last. I was really hoping that their glory was real and not existent only in my head created by time and wishful thinking. The Rib Shack Galesburg IL Community Seating

Luckily, my fears were completely unfounded. It was everything I’d remembered and more. The lady who waited on us made us feel at home. The ribs were beautiful. Succulent, zesty, and not a bit greasy. I was proud as a peacock that my baby lit up and enjoyed herself thoroughly. She loved the slaw and she loved the ribs. I don’t think she would have appreciated The Rib Shack when we met but it made me feel good that she did now.

BBQ Ribs The Rib Shack Galesburg IL

B-Q Rib Shack on Urbanspoon

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My Kickin’ Knit Alpaca Beanie


So I am one lucky guy. When we were out in Eugene last Christmas break, my wife and I picked up some deep green alpaca/wool yarn. She planned on knitting me a beanie to help keep my ears warm if we moved back up to Illinois. We’d picked out a free pattern online that was simple and we thought would look good on me. Now it was just a matter of time.

Over the thanksgiving break I went to visit my family and she stayed back with her’s. On my return drive, she said she had a surprise for me. I asked if she knitted my hat for me. She said no. I was then hoping she’d baked chocolate chip cookies. I don’t think she ever has for me, so it was more likely she’d somehow decided to start and finish a beanie in two days. She was hooked on Dexter so she blew through the hat while enjoying three seasons of the tv series.

I was thrilled she got to enjoy her show and time spared from my family and I will have a fancy little alpaca beanie to keep my ears warm and show off my green eyes all winter long. She is currently teaching me to knit and pearl so hopefully with a bit of practice I’ll be knitting some of my own things in the not too distant future.

My Wife’s Glass Art Birthday Vase and Potted Iris

My wife’s brother had gotten married this summer, and their godmother had gotten him and his wife a big purple glass vase with two big glass lilies to go in it. Though I wasn’t impressed, my wife was jealous. When we’d gotten married three years ago, it was right before we drove off to Louisiana. Everything we owned that we thought we’d need we fit into our little prizm. Everyone knew we were hitting the road light, so we received money in thoughtful cards to cover the cost of our diy wedding and backyard reception.

My wife’s godmother said that she’d wanted to get my wife a keepsake for our wedding but wanted to wait until we we’d be in one place for a while. Apparently it looks like that time is now, because they went out for dinner and snazzy glass shopping for her birthday.

My wife said a lot of the glass was pretty. Outside of the context of the glass store, however, she said one would be apt to not think much of them as underwhelming pieces from the 60’s and 70’s.

She found three pieces she really liked and two of those, she loved. The first, was a small, deep cobalt blue vase, but she said it’s solid color made it loose its self.  The final two were a contemporary large green vase with black swirling and an artsy little glass iris growing out of a dreamy Van Gogh glass pot with sky blue pebbled glass soil. Her godmother graciously bought my love the both of them against her protests.

My wife said she thought her godmother was a little surprised my wife was drawn to the contemporary vase. She imagined her godmother thought she’d pick one of the more traditionally feminine pastel vases. My wife was as proud as a peacock with her artsy glassware. Her face was radiant and she was banking I’d approve of her taste.

They’re both awesome pieces we’re pleased to enjoy and both fit her well. I never would have known she’d have chosen the vase she did. But she’s a surprising, feisty lady and that draws me to her.

She appointed the flower her writing muse. During the day the sun gives it life through the old farmhouse window. At night, it quietly inspires our efforts while basking in the warm light of our little desk reading lamp.

My Wife, My Little Yard Bird

So I love to cook. I love to grocery shop to get good ingredients to cook. When we first met, grocery shopping was not on my wife’s radar. I imagined us spending a fun bonding hour each week in the grocery store seeing the foods and imagining what we’d cook that week. It didn’t happen for the first three years.

In Baton Rouge it’s hard to get affordable food. Most produce isn’t too appealing but it’s expensive relative to the rest of the country. Tragic for a locale whose climate would easily enable it to grow just about any produce its population would desire consume.

But then again there is a lot of pollution here and last year my wife decided it was worth the added cost to buy mostly organic food. A little switch flipped. Over night she loved grocery shopping. She could put into action all the health articles she’d read. We’d help her asthma and our overall health.

Now we enjoy the ritual. And so does she on her own. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a libra, always trying to maintain balance without even realizing it. I found myself hurrying her through the grocery store. Let’s go. Let’s go.

Upon realizing my dream of us enjoying grocery shopping together, I started to pull her without cause. I immediately recognized this and made myself step back and enjoy her enjoying herself. I’m lucky and I appreciate it. I have my dream of our food-buying couple ritual.

I love her. She’s so cute. At the store, she developed her routines. She starts off meandering through the produce and picks out her apples. She walks over to the soups. Stirs and smells each one. Sometimes we  indulge in the cost-prohibitive tortilla soup. She heads to pick out her free range high omega-3 eggs. She loves eggs.

Then peruses the salad bar. Slowly imagining each offering. She lets herself be tempted by  the bakery goods and deserts and but doesn’t really consider such untouchables. Only for looking. All along the way her journey is punctuated by samples.

She is the cutest. I hate to say anything. Even describing to her what she does that makes her so cute, makes her feel self-conscious and like I’m making fun of her, which will make her stop enjoying whatever I described making her cute. It’s a little tragic I have no one to share how cute she is and she can’t quite appreciate it with me.

Friday a new comparison hit me. She was recounting her day’s adventure in Baton Rouge and her lunch stop at Whole Foods and I couldn’t help but seeing her as a yard bird. She’s like a free range chicken at the store. Meandering, pecking. Taking in the sights and sounds. Happy and content as any yard bird ever was. She said she especially liked the warm Indian offerings at the lunch salad bar they had that day. I love my yard bird. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

Friday night we had cause to return to BR and found ourselves having a date at the grocery store. We enjoyed a couple playing live blue-grass over dinner and sampled the gelato. The Aztec chocolate was hot and rich. My wife settled on the kingcake and cheeseckae and I coffee and basil-pineapple. It was fresh and surprising: my tongue throughly satisfied. Spring has arrived. Life as a yardbird, I’m beginning to see, is pretty sweet. 

Spiderman Veins She’s Attracted to Me Cause I’m Spiderman

So one of the initial things that made my wife dig me–aside from my neck piercing–were my spiderman veins. I flash my veins with my cheekish grin and she lights up. Flashes me her porn star smile and its on. Just a tip, work the veins.

My Wife, the Cutest Little Painted Turtle Ever

So my wife was born in the year of the ox. And she is a little worker. Saturday mornings we’ll wake up, she’ll be so sleepy, the sun breaking into the room, the warmth of the down cover and I’ll wonder how I could make it so we could lie like that forever.

But just when I’m thinking it will last, a light clicks. No relishing the warmth of the bed, no us time to mess around. She looks at me so serious, maybe with a little smile, and says we have so much to do today, and is ready to hop out of bed and start getting everything done.

I have two choices. I can climb out with her, make some coffee, an omelet, and be the best mate ever. Or I can try and hold her in bed. Tell her how beautiful she is, try to activate a little sexy switch.

What a lamentable situation. Every part of my soul wants to make her so happy and join in her zeal for getting stuff done. But nine times out of ten its just not me. I can’t. I have to make a hail mary for sexy time or do-nothing-and-enjoy-it-time-in-bed.

If I try to stall, my brain flashes images of someone’s hand holding a turtle  above the ground. The person may be trying to connect with the turtle. But the turtle lives in a little world we can’t understand. It has much to do and waves it arms and legs trying with all it has to continue its business. I feel inhuman. Holding her back from the day. From greatness. So after a try or two, I succumb to my better self and join her in the day’s many obligations and I think about the reward of seeing such a satisfied little turtle at the end of the day. And then I will be a hero.

Photo courtesy of the Dakota Amphibian and Reptile Network.

Cockroach Boots

So while my wife and I were working/living in Buenos Aires for a while after college, she would frequently run for her dansko shoes anytime she saw a cockroach. She hated the cockroaches and would ferociously insist that I quickly come and kill them. I hesitated at first because I couldn’t imagine that she was serious. It was so cliché, it was surreal. Anyway, being the savy, self-preserving and relationship-preserving man that I am, I learned to quickly come and kill the cockroaches.

Even though the threat had passed, the shoes stayed on. And stayed on. It drove me crazy. When we were out walking in the city, she would trip and nearly roll her ankle on the uneven sidewalks. When we were home in the apartment, it felt like she and the shoes had become synonymous, like no woman had since the Wicked Witch of the East. It felt like her hostility toward the cockroaches was spreading to me. I implored her to shed the shoes and again join the ranks of the loving and the mortal. But with the threat of cockroaches, she stomped around in the safety and power that only the cockroach boots could provide. Damn the relationship.

Fast forward five years. My wife has been encouraging me to get a pair of comfortable  shoes for work. I had been keeping an eye out for something, when I learned that the Acadians wore clogs they learned to make from the Dutch before arriving in Louisiana. Now, admiring Coonass culture as I do, I that would be the perfect solution for my new pair of shoes. I could be cool like the Cajuns!

I bought my pair of dansko clogs and my wife could have died. She was incredulous and brought up her scarred memory of the cockroaches and really hard time I gave her FIVE years ago. How could I have possibly remembered my opposition to clogs? Turns out, it wasn’t a problem for her!

Opossum Smile

So my wife has this thing when I say things that aren’t okay, she smiles. But she’s not really smiling. It looks like a smile. Almost like she thought I was funny. The side of her smile is uncomfortably showing her molars and gums,  like an opossum playing dead, or one actually hit by a car. Anyway it is sad to realize that instead of being funny, I’m in a little bit of trouble. Its really cute, and definitely turns me on. So I have no incentive to stop saying bad things.

Photo courtesy of and copyright Johnruble, 2006.