What I'm thinking archive

Racing like the wind

Yesterday we finally got to race our sailboat, after weeks of cancellations for either too much breeze or not enough. The wind started out strong enough to make me nervous, rattling the sails when we hoisted them and clanging the lines against the mast. Once we got the sails up everything quieted, and we rocketed out of the harbor into Sandy Bay.

Our boat is a 19-foot one design called a Flying Scot, and we race other boats of the same type, and there are three and sometimes four different classes of boats racing at the same time. It makes a beautiful sight from the shore, all those white sails against the blue water. I work the jib and David works the tiller and the main sheet.

The wind was strong for most of the race and there were some serious gusts, probably 20 mph or so. You can tell when there is going to be a gust, or puff as sailors call them, because the water ahead looks rippled and darker. I've learned to spot them myself, but David is better at it, and when he sees one he calls out "Puff ahead!" I tighten my grip on the shroud line and the boat tips and lunges while David fights to keep it upright.

There was a lot of splashback on the upwind legs but for once I didn't mind-with the temperatures in the high 90s it felt good. The downwind legs, when the spinnaker went up and boat moved a lot slower-were hot, especially with a life jacket on. But as soon as we rounded the big yellow mark things changed instantly-the boat took off again, and we got fresh wind and welcome spray of in our faces.

We came in third--there are two boats in the fleet that basically trade first and second between themselves, and the rest of us fight it out for the other places. The last leg was incredibly exciting. We were behind some friends who looked liked they were going to take third, but friendship is put aside out on the water. "We're going to pass them, just watch," David muttered. I didn't think it was possible-we were too far behind. But David put out every bit of sail that we had and willed the boat forward. Passing them near the finish felt like a swallow of champagne, heady and sweet.

International relations

July 16, 2019, Rockport

We hosted a 19 year-old young lady from Germany a couple days ago and what a nice time we had (NOT without incident, but more about that in a minute). She is visiting the farm where we stable our sweet Chandler, and is a friend of the barn's trainer/mentor. Her name is Elisabeth, and she comes from a small town near Hamburg. Her family breeds and trains Hanovarian horses and owns seven of them. She is helping with barn chores and is riding several of the Riverrun horses, Chandler included. I brought her out to Rockport so she could see some of our beautiful coast, and also hang out with my Tessa and best pal Molly. Her English is better than that of many Americans, and she was a sweet and easy houseguest. The girls took her to Old Garden Beach during the afternoon on Sunday and then we all piled in our 19-foot Boston Whaler for a nice cruise around Gloucester Harbor. Or tried to, as about 20 minutes into the trip the engine quit. Repeated attempts to restart it were unsuccessful, so we called the Gloucester Harbormaster and then hung out for an hour or so while they made their way toward us

Honestly, it wasn't a bad gig. We were perfectly safe, tied up to a lobster pot and just off of Ten Pound Island, with plenty of boat traffic to keep us company and lots to look at. The girls put on life jackets and jumped in the water while I cooled my feet off of our little ladder platform. The harbormaster boat arrived eventually and the captains secured our boat to theirs and ferried us to Brown's Yacht Yard, where we left the boat for service. On to Captain Carlos for Elisabeth's first lobster and fried clams, then home.

We started the next morning with strong coffee and toasted Anadama bread toppled with raspberry jam (amazing Jamboleo, made in Beverly by jam maker extraordinaire Marlana Patton).  We went for a bike ride through the quarries and around Andrews Point, admiring the houses and gorgeous flowers. I'm still chuckling about our lunch at the Cove Café in Lanesville, where they hey do a wonderful BLT. I suggested splitting one, and Elisabeth enthusiastically agreed.  As we were waiting for it asked "What's a BLT?" Love that adventurous spirit!

It was wonderful to have such a sweet visitor and great fun to show Rockport off to an appreciative international guest. Hopefully we have her back for kayaking before she goes home at the end of August.


July 20, 2019

So, it's going to be hot in the Boston area today. Very, very hot. Scorchingly hot. Mind-numbingly hot. Curl-up-die-like-the-shriveled-leaf-you-are-soon-to-become hot. The media gets extra silly at times like this. TV and news people have lots of advice you would never think of yourself. Drink lots of water! Stay indoors! Don't take your dog out! Go to the mall! Sit in a darkened room! Don't go outside UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

Personally, I love it when we have a few days of actual heat around here. We have so much cold weather, so much rain, so much grey during the rest of the year that I embrace whatever bit of true summer that we get. I open the screen doors and windows as wide as they will go, leave the ceiling fans on, stock up on ice cream. We have one small window air conditioning unit that we use at night in our bedroom when the temperature climbs into the high 90s, but most of the time we prefer to go without.

The heat there begins in the early spring and lasts well into the fall. The temperatures are routinely in the 90s and the humidity is extreme. Every day is a bad hair day. You move from air conditioned space to air conditioned space, but that gets oppressive. Going running in Maryland in July taught us that what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger, even if you can't believe a human body can produce that much sweat.

Seven years in Maryland really did acclimate us to hot weather. We actually are those obnoxious people who say "You think this is hot? Try Annapolis in August!" Right now I'm sitting on a lawn chair under the shade of our big rum cherry tree, watching my cat hang out on the stone wall and listening to the chirring of the cicadas. I'm wearing a tank top and shorts. I know it will get hotter later but I'm not worried. I'll drink water, but I won't go to the mall and I definitely won't stay indoors. Because honestly, if you think this is hot..


July 30, 2019

The ordeal

It started at 1 a.m.

"Mal, wake up."

My eyes sprang open. My husband David was standing next to the bed, doubled over.

 "Oh my god, what's wrong?"

"I think I've got appendicitis or something," David muttered. His voice was low and shaky.

I started to get up. "We've got to go to the hospital. Let's go."

David lay down on the bed but he couldn't stop writhing. "Wait, let's just wait a little."

Somehow I fell back to sleep, and David dozed fitfully for a brief time, but at 4 am he woke me up again. His face was white. "We need to go now."

The hour-long drive from Rockport to the hospital in Newburyport was a white-knuckle nightmare, me driving as fast as I reasonably could, David moaning beside me. When we arrived he was barely able to walk. There was only one doctor on duty.  We waited, David rolling on the stretcher while I slumped in the hard chair or paced furiously.

After almost two hours, the doctor finally came in. He was young and calm, and did his workup with kind efficiency. A gallstone was his first thought, and David was brought for an ultrasound. More waiting.

The ultrasound showed nothing. A cat scan was ordered, and blessedly, pain medication. David stretched out and slept a little, finally out of pain. More waiting. It was almost noon when the doctor returned with the news--a kidney stone, which was now on its way out.

We walked out of the hospital into the hot, bright day. David was smiling and joking. We went for ice cream. We drove back to Rockport and I made him a ginger ale float with mango slush. I overcooked his macaroni the way he likes it.

I saw my husband in unimaginable pain. I had some dark and scary hours.  But he's at work today.  And we get to keep doing all the things we always do-- cuddling in the morning, squashing together on the same couch in the evening, sharing frappes, spending a million hours together and never getting bored. We don't have to change anything, we don't have to swear to do better, because we're already good.

And for that, and for my husband's continued health, I am so very, very grateful.

Saturday, August 10, Rockport, 

Flying Scot fleet race, aboard Talk like a Pirate

The wind was high, gusty and unpredictable but we were managing.  My youngest daughter Tess was with us. It was very unusual for us to have three people in the boat-I've never actually done it before, but she was visiting and with the windy conditions it would be helpful to have a third person aboard.

Tess thought the rugged conditions were great, me not so much. We were on the second downwind leg with the spinnaker up when suddenly we were hit by a rogue wind, not a gust but a sustained blast, probably 25 knots. The boat took off like a rocket and didn't stop. I was at the helm and David was controlling the spinnaker and other sails. We roared through the waves and I knew if we were to capsize at this speed we would be thrown out, possible trapped under the boat, badly hurt or worse.

I held onto the tiller for dear life, praying that I could keep the boat going straight. There was one moment when a line tangled and we all fought with the boat to keep it upright. By this time we had been blow far off course.  David leaped to the front of the boat and after a huge struggle was finally able to wrestle the spinnaker down.

"We're done, this is too dangerous," I yelled. David nodded agreement, but it was a still a fight with the wind and waves to get the boat back into the harbor. Tess had pulled her phone out right before the wind hit us and snapped a picture, which I show here, but it doesn't capture the drama of what happened next.

David said that if Tess hadn't been with us we would certainly have capsized. Her presence, her extra weight made the difference between staying upright and going over. I'm so grateful that she was there, grateful for David's cool head and sailing expertise, and thankful also I now know well enough how to do my part and not panic. Definitely not a quiet Saturday on Sandy Bay, but certainly a learning experience.

The Encounter

I was coming home from a bike ride through the Rockport quarries yesterday, navigating a tricky bit of road near the downtown. I always ride on the sidewalk there because it's so dangerous--there is virtually no shoulder and the cars go scary-fast. I saw a pedestrian ahead of me and decided to swing through Rowe Point, a beautiful condo complex, for a moment to give the walker time to get to a place where I could bike past them easily and safely.

There was a "Private" sign on the open gate. I rode past it. That was wrong of me. I am the most law-abiding person in the world, other than doing the occasional 10 miles over speed limit on the highway (and that's just keeping up with traffic, and well, I do have a BMW...).   I basically cry if I even THINK I've done something wrong, or hurt someone.

I swung up and around, was in driveway that loops around the complex for about 30 seconds. As I was approaching the gate to leave I heard an incredibly loud horn, like something on an 18-wheeler, right behind me. Stunned, I stopped and a red Cadillac pulled up. An older man with a very red face was glaring.


At a momentary loss for words, I just stared at him.


His absolute fury provoked an uncharacteristic rudeness in me.  I stared some more, this time pretty insolently. "Yep, I do. Sorry."

"I DON'T THINK SO! I DON'T THINK YOU KNOW WHAT PRIVATE MEANS!"  He was yelling over his wife, in the passenger seat, who looked uncomfortable.

I looked at him for another moment. He was practically foaming at the mouth. I shrugged my shoulders. "Look what do you want me to say? Sorry, won't happen again. Have a good day."

I put my foot on my right pedal to push off. I honestly wondered if he was going to get out the car and come after me,  but after glaring some more he finally turned away and drove off, very slowly. I biked out, equally slowly.

Yes, I was in the wrong.  I shouldn't gone in there.  But what a sad horrible man, to get so angry over something so small. If he said, "Hey, excuse me, this is private property," I would have immediately responded with an apologetic: "So sorry, no problem, won't happen again."  We would have nodded pleasantly at one another, and both gone on with our day.  However, the absolute outrage this guy displayed sparked an equal --and inappropriate--wrath in me.  

Interesting how anger provokes anger, even in the most peace-loving among us.

The Quarry

I went to my favorite little quarry on my bike ride yesterday. You would think I would be leery of going into private places after last week's episode with a Very Angry Man (see The Encounter, What's Up archive), but apparently not.

Anyway, there are no "Private" or "Keep Out" signs, but there is a rope across the entrance and tools around--it is obviously someone's privately owned, small working quarry. Which is pretty cool.

This is the first time I've visited it this year. It's just a short distance off the main trail to Lanesville that I ride all the time, but it's difficult because it's hilly and there are large embedded rocks half hidden by long grass.

I felt brave yesterday so I girded my proverbial loins and went for it, putting my bike into the easiest gear and scanning for every rock. I made it past the most difficult ones and breathed a sigh of relief-- and then nearly crashed as my front tire went into a gully. I pulled out, heart pounding, and then I was at the top.

This little quarry is tiny compared to Steel Derrick or Big Parker, but it is absolutely lovely. You walk downhill to get to the water's edge, and it's very quiet, just crickets and birdsong. It's surrounded by big ledges of flat rock and is filled with pink and white pond lilies. I have never managed to get a picture that comes close to capturing the peace and beauty of the place, but I always try.

I nearly crashed on the ride back down on some loose gravel, but I pulled it out again and arrived triumphant back on the main trail. I'm not a crazy risk taker or thrill seeker, but I seem to need these moments on my rides when I'm moving fast and it's not certain whether I'll stay upright. I love the jouncing of the bike on the rocky trails, and then the ease of the smooth, hardpacked stretches, everything sun-dappled and shadowy--I love it all.  At these times I say a quiet thank you to whoever, or whatever it is that allows me to be part of all this. 

The new friend

August 30, 2019

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting a new friend and fan of my writing, and she couldn't have been nicer. Gillian has sent a number of kind emails about my column, and when I suggested we meet for lunch she invited me to her lovely home. She lives near Newburyport in the most extraordinary cottage along the tidal marshes of the Rowley River. She has an amazing view of the river as it winds beneath a railroad bridge, with boats and long waving grasses in the foreground and banks of trees in the distance.

The day before I had posted my very first published column from 2015 "Using the good china," on my blog and Gillian greeted me with the assurance that she was, in fact, using the good china for our lunch (but I'll bet she would have done that anyway, because she's that kind of lady).

We sat at a beautifully set table on her screened back porch, drinking iced tea and eating delicious sandwich wraps, with pistachio gelato for dessert. I knew a little bit about Gillian's past from our email correspondence, but now I got to hear more about her children, and how she raised her family (along with a whole menagerie of animals) while simultaneously running a successful book publishing company in Newbury. We had a lot to catch up on, and not surprisingly found many similarities in our lives as we talked, including our shared love for old-fashioned Siamese cats (she is lucky enough to have two of these gorgeous creatures, Daisy and Gatsby).

Too soon it was time to leave, with a full stomach and promises of another visit soon. Sometimes, like I did yesterday, you are lucky enough to meet someone who you know instantly is a kindred spirit, and you can skip the boring preliminaries and begin sharing stories and confidences, the real meat of friendship.

As far as I'm concerned, you are never too old, or too young, to make a new friend. When you meet the right person, you are always exactly the right age.

My new midwestern family

I pretty much adored my daughter-in-law's mom Shelley and the rest of her family from the first moment I met them. Laura and my son Hunter had been dating for about two years and Shelley and I had texted and talked on the phone but not yet met.

It's not clear who came up with the idea first, but we were all anxious to meet and we ended up booking a big AirBNB house outside of Cleveland together.  Later the kids confessed that they were incredibly nervous about how this was going to go, fearing the possibility of a long and awkward weekend.

Laura's birthday was coming up soon after our visit and I had gone to my favorite little jewelery store in Newburyport and picked out a pair of small pearl earrings as a gift.

My husband David and I and Hunt arrived first at the dark, cozy restaurant in a section of Cleveland called Little Italy. When the Kooistra family came in—Laura, Shelley, father Bill and younger brother Dave—we all stood up and hugged, then started talking like we had known each other for years.

When I gave Laura the pearl earrings, everyone exclaimed over them and Shelley said wryly "Way to make the rest of us look good, Marilyn!" We all cracked up and I was hooked. The whole weekend was so much fun and I felt like I was meeting people I hadn't known that I was waiting for—yet here they were.

Fast forward to 2019 and Hunter and Laura's wonderful wedding in Rockport. Suddenly there was a whole extended clan that was now MY family. Laura's sister, her husband Tyler, her aunt Kathy and uncle Bill (who invited us to their daughter Taylor's wedding in Chicago despite barely knowing us), more uncles, aunts, cousins, a grandmother.

I remember thinking in amazement during Hunt and Laura's wedding ceremony (and the next day as we all hung out and ate and played yard games at our cottage), wow, these people are my people now.

There's an old saying that you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family. How lucky am I, that I got the family that I would have picked as friends?  And as an added bonus, because they are from the midwest, they have introduced me to ramen salad which I absolutely adore.  Still waiting for the hotdish (hot dish? hot-dish?), though.

The midwestern fam relaxes at my Rockport cottage after the wedding

Little cat, big attitude

"Merr-ow. MERR-OW!"

Okay, okay, I'm coming, I mutter, as I get up from a comfortable seat on the couch to let Toast the cat in or out. It's not at all clear who's in charge here. Or maybe it is...

I'm okay with that. I'm a cat person and I always will be. I grew up with Siamese cats and hope to have one again someday, but right now we have Toast, a little tabby adopted from a local crazy cat hoarder lady. I like to say I rescued her from the mean streets of West Newbury.

She has a pretty big personality, shaped by her hardscrabble background perhaps. Last spring, when we were still letting her roam free, I saw her chasing a coyote. You read that right. It was the first warm spring day and I was sitting on my back deck when suddenly a big reddish grey coyote comes tearing out of the woods and races across the back lawn—followed in hot pursuit by Toast. YES, THE CAT WAS RUNNING AFTER THE COYOTE. 

 They pelted over the grass and then back into the woods and I sat there stunned, with no clue as to whether I would ever see her again, if the tables turned. She showed up a few hours later, none the worse for wear and looking understandably complacent.

This summer she did it again with a big dog that came into our yard in Rockport. She was on her long line and harness, as she always is now, when a black lab came nosing onto our property. Toast gave a shrieking war-cry and launched herself after him to the limit of her leash. The dog took off like a rocket, obviously thinking the world had suddenly turned upside down. Toast looked pretty proud as she settled herself back on the warm stone wall again after he was gone.

I pity any foolish dog that thinks he's going to get the better of this feline because she has courage to spare. Apparently no one told HER that a 9 lb cat is a poor match against a 50-100 lb. canine.

We could all use a little of that confidence.

I'll have the aspic please-
Thoughts on an old cookbook

One of my favorite Twitter friends @MarcyJMiller posted this morning about her mom's American Woman's Cook Book, and my goodness, what a wonderful start to the day that was.

I immediately pulled out my own mother's copy of the AW Cook Book (they use two words) and sent back a few tweets and pictures, including a shot of a platter of petits fours which is featured on the book's inside front and back covers. I spent hours as a kid gazing at this picture, trying to decide which petit four I would choose. Would it be the pink square with the graceful yellow flower? The white one with the intriguing rounded dome? Or the shiny all-chocolate tower with the silver dot on top? I was never actually able to make a firm decision—I wanted all of them.

My copy is from 1947 but the first edition was printed in 1938. This is no Silver Palate Cookbook with whimsical drawings and fanciful chitchat. Cooking is serious business here. Reading it is also like taking an express train back in time: "The Formal Dinner or Luncheon, served by the household staff, will be found thoroughly discussed on pages 64-82" Also: "Many women can manage entertainment without the help of a maid. For most, however, there are distinct limits to what should be attempted for pleasant and dignified results." Wow.  Ladies, don't try this at home.

I spent a lot of time (too much time, as I was a chubby kid) making the fudge recipe in the candy section, as well as the sugar cookie recipe. My mother's classic blueberry pie recipe comes from this cookbook. But there is a LOT of weird stuff here.  In the meat section  we find recipes for Calf's Brains and Oysters, Braised Brains, Tripe Patties, and Reindeer, all on the same two-page spread.

Yikes, let's move on. "Braised Tongue with Aspic Jelly." Uh-oh. The bread chapter should be safer. Oh no-"Water Toast: Toast bread until crisp, dip bread into boiling water briefly, then spread with butter. Serve immediately." Dear lord.

Well, it's a big cookbook, and just because it has recipes for Pigeon Pie and Potted Pigeon is no reason to let it spoil our enjoyment of things like Rich Cinnamon Cookies, Maple Syrup Cake, and Apple Dumplings. The pictures are both horrifying and incredible. Here's a sandwich loaf, frosted with whipped cream cheese to look like a cake but filled with ham salad, EEK, but wait there's a three-tiered Neapolitan thing filled with three flavors of ice cream in a delicious crumb crust OMG WANT.

I can't help but wonder what the no-doubt kindly but stern Ruth Berolzheimer, director of the Culinary Arts Institute and the book's editor, would think of today's Taco Bell culture. I'm pretty sure she would shake her head, lips pursed, an expression of well-bred but unconcealed disapproval on her face.

"Grubhub?" I can almost hear her say. "GRUBHUB? My life's work...and this is what people are reduced to in the future?"

Okay, Ruth, okay—I'll give the Potted Pigeon a shot, if it makes you happy.

The glorious tray of petits fours in the American Woman's Cook Book

Connecting in Las Vegas

I love Las Vegas for about a million reasons but one of them is that I can talk to people, and they talk back. Everybody wants to chat in Vegas, and that makes me happy. People are on vacation, they're excited, and inhibitions are down. Nearly everyone will strike up a conversation standing in line for some delicious food item or sitting at one of the zillion bars.

One morning we chatted with three handsome young men from LA at 5:30 am sitting on stools at Eggslut (ugh, that name, but it was the most popular place in the hotel).  It was the day of our kayak/bike trip, and these guys couldn't believe we were up so early of our own free will. They told us they hadn't been to bed for 28 hours. We bonded over egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches served on toasted brioche buns. We wished them good luck at the casino and they wished us fun on our bike trip.

Waiting in line at Pok Pok Wings, I chatted with a gal about how amazing the chicken wings were there and she told me how amazing the Pad Thai was. She said she had visited Thailand several times and the dishes at Pok Pok were comparable to genuine Thai street food.  We exchanged sincere wishes for a good meal and a good vacation.

On our last day, sitting on a bench and resting our feet, we struck up a conversation with a couple from Ontario, originally from Newfoundland. We told them we had relatives in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland. They were quite stunned at that, and told us they had lived near there. What are the odds of a connection with anyone involving Newfoundland? It's got to be very low, especially in Las Vegas.

They were dressed in biker shirts and we were dressed in preppy clothes but it didn't matter. We learned that the husband hadn't wanted to come to Vegas because he doesn't like crowds, but he did it to make his wife happy.

"Without her I'd be nothing," he said, picking up her hand. He told us he had quit smoking cigarettes and weed, and had lost 80 lbs in the last couple years to combat the health problems that were going to kill him if he didn't.

"Sometimes it's hard, and I wonder if it's worth it, then I look at her and I know it is," he said after his wife had left to go into a store.

We talked for another few moments and then got up to leave. "You're incredible. I love how you feel about your wife.  Keep up the great work," I said, pressing his hand firmly.   

He looked a little surprised, then gratified. "Thank you so much," he said quietly.  His eyes glistened a little.

Mine did too.

Remaking a wedding cake, Chopped-style

October 23, 2019

The last piece of my son Hunt and wife Laura's wedding cake, which had been at the back of our freezer for the last six months, was squashed and rumpled, but I wasn't going to let that stop me. I was determined to take a page from the Food Network show Chopped and remake it into something amazing, a little gift to them on their almost six-month anniversary.

I left the cake on the counter to defrost, with strict instructions to the cat not to touch it. When it had thawed I scraped the vanilla frosting off into a container and put it in the fridge (it was still absolutely delicious. It's possible that I ate quite a bit before putting into the bowl...). I now had several sadly denuded cake chunks. What to do with them? I considered leaving them in large-ish pieces and incorporating them into the batter that way, but settled on processing them into moist crumbs.

Time to make the actual cake. I used Miss Jones Organic vanilla cake mix, which is awesome if you've never tried it. It doesn't have any of that yucky box cake mix taste, and bakes up moist but sturdy enough for handling. I made three small layers using my new six-inch pans. I tinted them pink, a little more intensely than I meant to, but whatever.

Time for construction. I made a small batch of vanilla frosting, adding my reserved wedding frosting. I frosted the first two layers and sprinkled the wedding cake crumbs on top of each, then stacked all the layers (leaving the top bare for the moment). Into the freezer it went. Then I gathered up my courage and carved the sides so that when I iced them with chocolate frosting, which I did next, there wouldn't be big gaps. Now the fun part-picking up the still-cold cake and rolling the frosted sides in a big plate of sprinkles so the entire thing got coated. Instant party.

Almost done. I frosted the top with chocolate and (rather messily) wrote in pink icing "Happy six months!). I cut a slice to show off the interior and, of course, took pictures. The whole thing came out as pretty as I could have hoped AND it tasted fantastic.

Love my newlyweds. Happy everything to them.

Sad women, harsh words

I used to know someone who turned every single conversation into an opportunity to criticize her husband. It was actually quite remarkable. There seemed to be no topic that couldn't be diverted into a complaint about him. I'm not sure she was even aware of how she sounded to others or how often she did it. It was obviously second nature to her, a well-worn track that she tread over and over without deviation.

I'm sure most people are uncomfortable with this, but I think I'm especially sensitive to it. When I was young my parents would sometimes leave us with our housekeeper when they traveled. Ruthie was a close family friend, perhaps my mother's best friend, and was incredibly kind to my sister and I. But when she stayed with us, I shivered whenever the phone rang, because if it was her husband on the other line her voice went from gracious to a snarl. The person I knew as loving and funny changed in an instant to someone who sounded frightening. I couldn't understand why she did this, and it made me sick to my stomach to hear it.

The grown-up me rails at her, and anyone, woman or man, who trash their spouse in public. "Do you have any idea what you sound like?" I say in my head. "If you're so unhappy, leave! Don't just complain endlessly to other people. You've got one life! Is this how you want to live it?"

My husband credits me with the enduring mantra of our marriage. It's something I said years and years ago, and it is this: it doesn't matter how well you treat everyone else in the world if you don't speak to and about your spouse with kindness and consideration. The woman who criticized her husband endlessly may have thought she was talking about HIS shortcomings but she was actually just painting a sad, sad picture of herself.