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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sweetheart's Dance

The conclusion...

A few days before the dance, Ray himself had a bit of a shopping trip. He bought a new white shirt to go with his best suit, and a tie with gray and burgundy in it to match Livy's outfit. He was pretty darn proud of his choices, thinking he wanted to look his best for his wife.

He'd been talking to Hank, too. He'd always been like an older brother, and Ray found it easy to confide in him. Naturally, he was wondering how to proceed with Livy, to truly become her husband. It was such a different situation from most couples. They had done everything backwards. Complete stangers when they'd married, but sort of 'courting' for the last several months. Now it was time for them to take that next step...to consummate their marriage, and to celebrate the love they had discovered in each other. This was where Hank's advice was so welcome. For not only would this be their first time together, but Livy had just given birth. Hank told Ray that Livy would likely feel embarrassed by the changes in her body...that it was only natural that she would feel hesitant -- bound to have doubts about her husband finding her attractive. (Ray was relieved when Hank brought this up. He wouldn't have betrayed Livy--that she'd told him this was exactly how she felt.) Ray argued, trying to tell Hank that he found Livy very attractive! Hank just laughed and patted him on the back.

"I know, I know. But take it from me. Just reassure her...tell her how much you love her, Ray. That's all..." Ray nodded, and he searched for the words to tell Livy that he – that they – were ready for the next step in their relationship. As it turned out, no words were needed...

Saturday, February 17, 1945

Livy had just finished feeding Danny when Ray paused in the doorway.

"Liv? You need help with the baby?"

"Oh, please Ray...he was taking his time eating, and I'd hate for us to be late!" Ray smiled and joined Livy by their bed, looking down at Danny, who gurgled and made his parents laugh.

"Relax, Livy...we're fine. Ok, little man...let's get you dressed for the trip to town." While Ray changed their son, Livy went to the closet. Ray looked up to ask her about Danny's pajamas, but stopped when he saw her take her robe off. Though she was in a full slip and stockings, he'd never seen her look so...desirable. She turned towards him with her clothes in hand and smiled.

"He's getting to be a handful, isn't he, Daddy?"

"Uh...yeah...yes he is," Ray chided himself...a grown man, tongue-tied as a school boy! He finished dressing Danny and propped pillows beside him till they were ready to go. He'd started out of the room, when Livy put her hand on his arm.

"Ray, could you...?" She turned her back so he could zip her jumper. He held her shoulders, their eyes meeting in the mirror.

"You look beautiful, Livy..." Livy studied their reflection. She thought her new clothes flattered her, so she felt confident. But it was the look in Ray's eyes that made her feel special. He rested his cheek against her hair.

"Mmm...you smell good, too" She reached up to take his hands, then turned in his arms to smooth the lapel of his jacket.

"You look quite dashing, yourself, Mr. Singleton. You'll be in high demand as a dance partner tonight!"

"Livy, you're the only one I want to dance with -- ever," He held her close for a moment, then smiled down at her.

"We best be going. Ruthy'll be itching to get hold of Danny and I know the boys will want to help with him, too. I'll get the beet box warmed up and come back in for you and the baby. Bundle up...it's really cold!"


Driving into Wilson, Ray commented how bright and brilliant the February Snow moon was, how starry the sky. But Livy couldn't take her eyes off of her husband. This felt like a date, a date with a man she loved dearly. He looked so handsome and she knew they were going to have a wonderful time. When they got to town, they parked alongside the church. Ray smiled at Danny as he scooped him into his arms. The baby's wide-eyes suggested even he knew it was a special night for his parents.

"Let's go in through the church and down the back steps instead of walking all the way around the building." Livy nodded and took Ray's arm. Ruth was waiting in the vestibule, grinning.

'Hey Aunt Livy! I'll take him, Uncle Ray. We have the rest of the little ones down in the Sunday school rooms." Danny gave Ruth a gummy smile as she started down the steps with him. "Come on, sweet boy...I've got you now."

Ray took Livy's coat and hung it up. Before she could follow Ruth down the steps, Ray steered her to the right and opened the doors to the sanctuary. The scene that greeted her took her breath away. For filling the pews were all of their friends. Martha and Hank stood up front with Reverend Case. Ray leaned down to murmur in her ear,

"We said we wanted to repeat our vows...this all right with you?" Livy turned to face him.

"Ray...you did this?" He nodded.

"This is how it should have been, the first time..." Tucking her hand in the crook of his arm, they proceeded down the aisle. The church was beautiful, lit only by the glow of dozens of candles. Mrs. Case began to softly play 'The Wedding March' and Martha handed Livy a small pink and white nosegay. She and Hank took their places beside Ray and Livy as once again Reverend Case led them through the ceremony. When it came time for the ring, Ray grinned, and proudly produced a shiny gold band to add to Livy's diamond. This time, there were no awkward moments. This groom didn't hesitate to kiss his bride, and did so with his heart full of love...

Livy opened her eyes and tried to catch her breath. She was able to focus on her husband's face, the tender look he was giving her. People were hugging them, surrounding them with congratulations on the renewal of their vows....but Livy heard only a dull buzz. Her husband's kiss was all she could think about. This kiss had been different. It was an affirmation of all they wanted in a life together, of the love they had found in each other. That he had planned this ceremony told her all she ever needed to know.

Finally, the crowd thinned, and as everyone began to make their way downstairs, Livy and Ray had a moment to themselves. She sat down in the front pew and reached for his hand. He sat beside her, fingering the wedding ring he'd just given her.

"Ray, I don't know what to say. I can't believe you did this. We'd told everyone we eloped and ..."

"Sweetheart, when we took our vows, I meant every word. But now, I really know what they mean...and it was important that we say them again. It's funny, because Mrs. Pratt and Miz Parker have always said what a shame it was that we were married without all of our friends. That just kind of stuck with me...." He smiled.

"What better time than Valentine's Day? So, I asked around, and everyone thought it was a great idea -- to surprise you with a 'real' wedding. It's ok, isn't it?"

Livy wrapped her arms around Ray's neck.

"Oh Ray, you have no idea how 'OK' it is...thank you!" Ray rubbed her back for a moment.

"Well, then let's get downstairs. I want to dance with my wife."


Applause broke out as they entered the church hall. Livy was deeply touched to see the room decorated with wedding bells, hearts and flowers. There was even a small wedding cake at their table! As Slim and the boys began to play 'Always', Livy and Ray walked to the center of the floor to lead the dancing. Livy glided into her husband's arms and was once again grateful for the way her life had turned out.

The evening passed in a blur for the young couple, who might as well have been the only people in the room. More than one person nudged another with a smile of delight to see Ray Singleton happy again. No one deserved it more...it was indeed a magical night in the midst of an ordinary life.

It was after midnight when they turned onto their road. Once they got back to the house, Ray carried Danny upstairs. Livy took a few minutes to nurse him for his last feeding while Ray let Franklin out and banked the fires. He came back up so they could tuck Danny in together, the way they always did. Leaving his door ajar they went to their room.

Livy stood at the dresser, removing her earrings and pin, loosening the bow on her blouse. Ray stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame, watching her...reluctant to leave, even though he knew he should give her some privacy to undress.

"Liv...want me to fix you some tea or something...?"

"I'm all right..." slipping off her shoes, she turned and slowly walked over to face him. She reached up and loosened the knot of his tie, then helped him out of his jacket and laid it on the cedar chest. Neither of them spoke...they were barely breathing. He took her shoulders and turned her gently to unzip her jumper. She lifted her hair for him and this time he gave into the urge to plant a soft kiss at the base of her neck.

"Mmm...Livy?" She answered the question in his voice by leaning back into his arms. She sighed as he kissed her neck, nuzzled her shoulder. Finally, Livy spoke.

"Um, Ray? Let me go change...I'll be right back, ok?" Ray nodded.

"Sure Liv....hurry?" She smiled back at him as she went into the bathroom. Ray nearly groaned aloud when he heard her running a bath. He ran his hand across his face, then hurriedly got ready for bed. He turned the quilts down, he paced the room, then went downstairs. If ever there was a time he could use some of Daddy's blackberry wine, it was now. He went to the kitchen and poured himself a small glass, then took it in and sat by the fire. He'd been waiting for this night since the day he'd married Livy, hoping that one day they would come to love each other. Now he prayed he would say the right words. That he would be the husband she deserved...that she dreamed about. He turned out the lamp, and ran his fingers through his hair as he rounded the doorway.

"Ray?" He looked up to see Livy at the top of the stairs. She took his breath away...a vision in a pale blue peignoir. She looked ethereal, the moonlight from the window backlighting her...making the gauzy gown seem like an aura. And unbeknownst to Livy, it outlined her body, leaving little to the imagination.

"Ray... when I bought this, I...I was thinking of you...of a special night with you." He was still trying to find words as she rushed on.

"I mean...now, it's kind of like our wedding night, and...." His heart melted -- she looked nervous and unsure of herself. He slowly climbed the steps, his eyes never leaving hers. Tonight, he would tell her how incredibly beautiful she was. He would show her how much he loved her, wanted and needed her. As he reached the landing, she extended her hand to him.

"I love you, Ray...come to bed"

"I love you, Livy," he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her...kissed her until there was no doubt in her mind that they were meant to be together....always.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

For Us “In TMoODers”

Couldn’t resist the little play on words with the title of this song. Not to mention the fact that it is the music of Ray and Livy’s generation. And with all the speculation going on in the fan fiction, it is possible they enjoyed this song on several occasions.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra performs the recording of this Swing Era tune. Until recently, I was unaware that lyrics were written for it, too. So when I read the lyrics and thought about them, I wondered, “It may be Livy’s will.” That is…when she realizes she’s in the mood. Read the lyrics and decide for yourself. You all know the tune. Enjoy!

In the Mood
Who's the lovin' daddy with the beautiful eyes
What a pair o' lips, I'd like to try 'em for size
I'll just tell him, "Baby, won't you swing it with me"
Hope he tells me maybe, what a wing it will be
So, I said politely "Darlin' may I intrude"
He said "Don't keep me waitin' when I'm in the mood"

First I held him lightly and we started to dance
Then I held him tightly what a dreamy romance
And I said "Hey, baby, it's a quarter to three
There's a mess of moonlight, won't-cha share it with me"
"Well" he answered "Baby, don't-cha know that it's rude
To keep my two lips waitin' when they're in the mood"

In the mood, that's what he told me
In the mood, and when he told me
In the mood, my heart was skippin'
It didn't take me long to say "I'm in the mood now"

In the mood for all his kissin'
In the mood his crazy lovin'
In the mood what I was missin'
It didn't take me long to say "I'm in the mood now"

Glenn Miller (#1 in 1940)
- words by Andy Razaf, music by Joe Garland


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sweetheart's Dance

Part 1

Sunday, February 4, 1945
The Sunday potluck dinner was over, and the ladies had finished cleaning up. Livy was happy to see that Danny was sleeping peacefully next to her chair. She'd gone down to the nursery to feed him, and afterwards Ray carried one of the basinets back to the hall so Danny could nap while Livy visited with her friends. Today, all the talk was about the upcoming Sweetheart's Dance, to be held on Saturday, February 17. Every year, the church sponsored a Valentine's dance. It was a rare occasion for young parents and married couples to have a 'night out'. The teenage kids even provided babysitting for the little ones. It was one of the most anticipated events of the year, a festive night in the midst of the long, dreary winter.

But Livy was frowning. She would love to have a night of dancing with Ray, and of course Valentine's Day was the most romantic time of all. But she didn't fit into any of her nicer dresses. She was having a hard time accepting her "new" shape since she'd had Danny. Oh, she knew it was to be expected, but it was definitely an adjustment. She felt a blush creep over her cheeks and glanced around to see if anyone noticed. The doctor had just seen her for her six-week check up and assured her she could "resume all marital activities". She knew exactly what he meant, but wondered what he would think if he knew that she and Ray had never... She looked across the room at her husband. Though he was listening to his friend Jack, his eyes met hers, and he gave her a quick wink. She smiled back, then bit her lip...if he only knew what she was thinking! Ray was well aware that Doc had given her a clean bill of health, but they both seemed a bit unsure about taking their relationship to the next level. It was as if neither of them was willing to broach the subject, even though they’d been sharing the same bed since Danny’s birth.

Over tea with Martha the next day, the talk turned to the dance and Livy's lack of a suitable dress. They decided to go to La Junta on Wednesday, leaving as soon as the kids were in school in order to enjoy a full day of shopping.

Well, the trip to Bea’s dress shop was a success! Livy found a lovely smoky gray jumper with burgundy piping. It was simple, but the elegant cut hid her new ‘curves’, making her feel comfortable and stylish. Martha selected several blouses for Livy to try on and they both agreed that a pale pink one complimented both the jumper and Livy’s coloring to a T. It tied in a loose bow at the neckline, and Livy knew that a pearl pin her mother had given her would be the perfect accessory.

Valentine's Day
Wednesday, February 14, 1945

Ray couldn’t help grinning as he drove up the lane. He loved coming home now...the house was always so warm and inviting. Nearly everyday, Livy had dinner ready and a smile on her face when he came in the door. Well, today, she’d REALLY be glad to see him. After all, this was their first Valentine’s Day and he wanted it to be extra special. Who knew? Maybe tonight...well, he said a small prayer that things would progress between them.

As he came in the house, he heard the radio playing low and Livy cooing to Daniel. Ray was a little later than usual, so the baby had been fed and was being tucked into his cradle in the front room. Livy came out by the stairs as Ray was hanging up his coat. He grinned at her, and leaned over to give her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Happy Valentine’s Day, Liv..." She smiled up at him.
"Ray, you’ve told me that at least four times today, but thank you. You’re sweet!" He brought his hand from behind his back.
"Here you go! I got this for you..." He handed her an enormous heart-shaped box of candy, all red satin and white lace. He was so proud of himself...he'd bought the biggest box he could find, knowing how much Livy loved chocolate.

"Ray -- what? Oh no...!" Livy promptly burst into tears, and covered her face with her hands. Ray was clearly puzzled by her reaction. He took her in his arms, lifting her chin to talk to her.
"Hey now...I'm sorry, Sweetheart! I know, it's just a box of candy...I wanted to get you roses, but I couldn't get to La Junta today." Livy just cried harder.
"It's not that, it's...Oh Ray, how could you? I'm trying so hard to watch what I eat, to try to lose this weight! And now...now...the last thing I need is candy!" So that was it, thought Ray. He led her into the kitchen, sat down at the table and drew her onto his lap. He didn't say a word, just let her cry until she was finished. Finally, with her breathing still a little hitched, she spoke.
"Oh Ray, I am so sorry, I know you meant well. I just...just...it's so hard! I feel like I am in another person’s body sometimes, all these changes I’ve gone through. And I feel so...lumpy! So fat!" Ray just smiled and shook his head.
"Ah, Livy, you've got to realize--you just had a baby! It’s going to take a little time, that’s all. This is all new to you, I know, but honestly...you have never looked more beautiful. Ever..." She looked up at Ray, thinking he was humoring her, but she saw nothing but love on his face. He tucked her hair back, and wiped a tear from her cheek.
"I swear, Livy." She put her head on his shoulder with a sigh.
"I don't know, Ray. My emotions just seem to take over sometimes, and..."
"Shh...it's okay, I understand. Hey, Martha told me your new dress is really pretty. I can't wait for the dance on Saturday." She gave him a shaky, embarassed smile.
"You mean you still want to take me?" Ray grinned,
"Hey, you're my best girl....of course I do!" She gave his neck a quick hug, and reluctantly went to dish up his supper. Both of them were sorry to see the moment end, not sure what to do next...but that would happen in due time.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ray's Awakening

Ray was in deep thought when he had to come to a halt on the road to Wilson one Tuesday. He had to stop to let German POW’s cross the highway. Ray watched each man as they passed by. A guard motioned for him to go on, and soon Ray was in deep thought, more like daydreaming. He was thinking of Miss. Dunne, which he found himself doing most of his time. He laughed to himself as he thought about last week when he was plowing the south field to get it ready for the winter wheat. He was thinking so hard about Miss. Dunne that he plowed one row longer than all the others. Ray was not sure what to do about these feelings he was having for Miss Dunne.
As Ray pulled up to the Mercantile, he thought to himself, "Who am I kidding? She’s at least ten years younger and she’s from Denver."
Ray had gotten the items he needed from the mercantile to stock his kitchen and he headed over to the school house to pick up Ruth. Ray didn’t mind picking up Ruth from school on Tuesday, especially now. He may get a distant glimpse of Miss. Dunne. This brought a smile to Ray’s face. "Am I a grown man or a teenager?" Ray tried to reason with himself.
Ray pulled up to the school and as always, Ruth was not anywhere to be seen. Ray did something he had never done before. He opened the beet box door and got out. "I’ll just have to go see about Ruth." But what he really hoped for was a chance to see Miss Dunne, from a far distance, of course. Ray’s face blushed like a lovesick school boy. "What am I doing?" Ray thought as he opened up the front door to the school.
Ray found his way to the library. It had been along time since he been inside the library. Ray opened the library door, and moved right inside, to the side. He had not seen Miss Dunne in the hallway, as he had hoped. Ray closed his eyes and rested his head on the wall and let out a slow breath as he thought about Miss Dunne.
"Hello, Mr. Singleton. How are you?" he heard a tender voice ask. He opened his eyes to find Miss. Dunne before him.
"Fine......(clearing throat). ….. thank you." Ray had been caught off guard.
"We've been missing you at potluck lunch at church." Miss. Dunne said so confidently.
Ray did all he could…..he just smiled slightly and nodded his head. He cleared his throat..."I've got a lot of things to do around the farm to get ready for plantin’."
They smiled at one another. Ray wished he could think of another response, but he could not. It was like he was frozen. Hard for him to breath, hard for him to think, hard for him to speak. If someone asked him his name, he would be unable to give it. Ray could feel the blushing of his cheeks. He just hoped that he didn’t sweat as he always did when he was nervous.
Ruth walked up. And immediately apologized for losing track of time. Ray nodded.
"Good bye, Miss Dunne. See you tomorrow." Ruth said quietly.
"Bye, Ruth. Study your notes for the test tomorrow." Miss Dunne said without any thought.
"Good afternoon, Miss Dunne." Ray was able to muster up.
"Will we see you at Sunday's potluck?" Miss Dunne asked politely.
Nodding his head yes, Ray replied as best he could, "Yes, ma'am."
He and Ruth headed out the library door.
On the ride home, Ruth rattled on about her day at school. Ruth didn’t need any responses…just someone to listen. And that’s what Ray usually did. But today he was thinking of something himself. He thought about all that had transpired in the library.
Was Miss. Dunne just being nice? Had she really missed him at the Sunday potlucks? Did she care if he was going to be there this Sunday?
By the time Ray got to Hank and Martha’s he had decided that Miss. Dunne was just being nice. She was a city girl and she knew how to make conversation. She was a teacher as well. She knew how find something nice to say.
Ruth led the way into the house. Ray ate with Martha’s family every Tuesday. Ray enjoyed eating with the Stewarts each Tuesday. It was one less meal he ate alone.
But Ray found himself lonely that night even at the Stewart’s dinner table. He looked at the empty chair beside him and for once he didn’t think of Danny first. He thought of Miss Dunne.
Ray hoped that these feelings he had would soon go away. He had no time to waste on such useless thoughts.
But they didn’t go away. They only got worse. Ray thought about Miss. Dunne when he woke up in the morning, when he was out on the farm, when he ate dinner, when he listened to the radio, when he worked on his farm books, when he read his Bible, when he closed his eyes at night.
Ray went to potluck the next Sunday as he said he would. Martha asked Miss Dunne to sit with them. Going through the food line, Ray caught a few stolen glimpses of Miss. Dunne. A few times Miss Dunne caught his glimpses. She smiled at him. Ray could feel his cheeks blush. At the table, Miss Dunne sat next to the ladies and Ray sat next to the men. The whole meal, Ray had wished he had enough courage to sit next to Miss Dunne. He could think of nothing but her his entire meal. The men talked of crops and weather. Ray said nothing. And the men didn’t seem to notice.
Ray tried to look at Miss Dunne out of the corner of his eye. But Ray had to face reality. Miss Dunne is a fine and talented woman. One who would not find the company of a beet farmer magical, but ordinary. Ray knew that Miss Dunne was far from ordinary.
Ray noticed how quickly Miss Dunne left the potluck. She said bye to him, but she never looked him in the eye. She thanked Martha for asking her to sit. And she quickly left the luncheon.
The next Sunday, Ray stayed for potluck. This Sunday, Hank sat down next to the lady folks. He mumbled to Ray, that it was something that Martha had asked him to do. Hank always liked to please Martha.
Ray was nervous. He had already decided that Miss Dunne was too good for him. He could never give her anything that she didn’t already have or want. He sat at the table and didn’t make much conversation with anyone. He felt foolish for allowing himself to think of Miss. Dunne in any way but an aquaintence.
Ray thought of Miss Dunne all of the time-morning, noon and night. It didn’t matter. Ray’s heart throbbed for Miss Dunne. Mostly because he knew she would never be with him on the farm. The place he found most comfortable and himself.
One afternoon, Ray was working in the barn and he heard a car pulling up the rode out in front of his house. Ray walked out to see who it was; he had not been expecting anyone. He didn’t recognize the car at first. But the closer it came it was obvious who it was, Miss Dunne in her fancy convertible.
Ray immediately began to blush. What did she want? Ray’s mouth became dry. He could hardly swallow. "Don’t act like a dork!" He thought as she pulled to a stop.



Happy Valentines Day to everyone!--much love , SF

I am posting this for Mandeh who should get the credit for this idea. She got this from a chain email. However, we'll be different (right, Mandeh?) yup- no forcing to pass this around or you get bad luck, instead, this is going to be the TMoOders' good luck charm for the day. It's already worked for Skeet (so glad you are finally back in the work force) so consider this his gift to you. The only requirement will be -- you just have to stare at it every chance you get for it to bring good things to you.

Thanks, Mandeh!


Saturday, February 11, 2006

October 1945

October 1945

Saturday, Part 1

It was Saturday, and next weekend would be the harvest fair. Livy recalled her first harvest fair last year. Ray had invited her to go, and at first she resisted. This was something entirely new to her, and since she didn’t plan on staying here on the farm with Ray she wasn’t sure that she wanted to go. But she did go, and she enjoyed it very much.  There was lots of produce and baked goods on display that you could buy later in the day. The children had put on a play, and that was very well done and so enjoyable. They partook of some games and had a lot of fun with Ray’s niece and nephews. So today as she busied herself in the kitchen, listening to Slim and the boys on the radio, a smile came over her face thinking about last year. She and Ray were like strangers then, but not anymore. They had come a long way in a year.

Just after lunch Daniel had been very energetic, getting into everything he could. He was still crawling, but made many attempts to walk. He would hold onto chair legs and pull himself up, and then try to take steps away from the chair. He usually accomplished one or two steps until he realized he had no support, and would plunk down on the floor. At this point, he would revert to his trusted method of travel: crawling. Livy was trying to put a roast in the oven for supper. She was at the sink trimming the roast when Daniel crawled over to her and used her leg to try to stand up. One of his finger nails was very sharp and scratched Livy. She was used to him using her leg to try to stand up, but this time it hurt. She yelped, and Daniel started to cry. She quickly washed her hands and bent to pick him up. As she consoled him, she decided to take him upstairs for his afternoon nap.  She then went to the bathroom and washed the blood off her leg. It was a long scratch, but not very deep, and had already stopped bleeding. After that she went down to the kitchen and put the roast in the pan and put it in the oven. Her cooking still was not as good as Martha’s, but Ray never complained.  

While Daniel was asleep, Livy took the time to tidy up the house from the efforts of an active child. She then poured herself a cup of coffee and went out on the porch to sit in the swing. She looked down at the remnants of her garden. It had done well this year, and she was thinking about plans for next spring.

After her coffee was finished she went into the house. There was smoke coming out of the oven. She ran over, opened the oven door, and smoke billowed out. She opened the back door and some windows and started fanning the smoke in the direction of the door and windows. Finally she could see the roast, and took it out of the oven. She wanted to cry. Why was this such a tough thing for her to do? How hard could cooking be? Well, she reasoned to herself, obviously too hard for her.

She trimmed off the burnt part of the roast and saw that she could salvage the middle part. Livy had hoped that the roast would last for more than one meal, but now she had to make other plans for Sunday lunch.  Slightly depressed about another failed attempt to cook a roast, she went into the living room and flopped down on the couch. She wanted to cry, but felt that was such a baby thing to do. She held off crying for as long as she could.

She must have fallen asleep because the next thing she heard was Ray opening the front door. The smell of smoke was still in the room.  He and Franklin went looking for Livy and found her in the living room. He had that silly half grin on his face. Livy sat up and said, ‘Don’t laugh, it's not funny.’

He came over to her, sat down beside her and put his arm around her. Livy couldn’t help herself, she started to cry. Franklin put his head on her lap, and looked up at her adoringly with those big brown eyes of his. She patted his head, and he lay down on the floor at their feet. Ray tried to console her as best he could. ‘Livy,’ he said, ‘I see that you could save part of it,’ and raised his eyebrows and said, ‘That’s good.’

‘Yes, I know, but I wanted to have roast beef sandwiches for lunch tomorrow, and now I will have to wrack my brain for another idea,’ she said.

‘Don’t worry about it, sweetheart, we’ll think of something,’ he said consolingly, ‘And I’m sure Franklin would enjoy chewing on the burnt bits, as long as its not too badly burned.’  

Livy sighed. ‘You know, Ray, I’m an educated woman, and I can’t cook. It’s very frustrating,’ she said, ‘Why can’t I manage one meal a day without a disaster?’

Ray knew to tread softly and slowly around the subject of cooking, so said, ‘Its okay, Livy, really. I could give you a break tomorrow and do the cooking.’

Livy knew he was trying to comfort her, but he already had a lot of work to do, he didn’t need to cook for them also!

‘Was your mother a good cook?’ he asked.

‘Well, now there’s a thought,’ said Livy, ‘When Abby and I were barely in our teens, my mother took on more committee work at the church, and she hired a woman, Bertha, to clean our house and cook the meals. Her husband was the caretaker of the church, and since my father was too busy at church, he took care of our lawn, and shoveled the snow in the winter.’ Livy paused and then said wistfully, ‘Mother would spend her spare time with us in her flower garden, not the vegetable garden or the kitchen. Maybe she should have spent time with us in the kitchen, or at least suggest that we help Bertha out and learn how to cook.’

They sat in silence for a few minutes, Ray still had his arm around her, and she enjoyed the comfort that he offered. Finally Livy said, ‘You know, before I got pregnant and came here to you, I spent a lot of time taking classes, and studying, writing exams, doing projects and experiments, and research. I only had two more courses to do,’ she said wistfully.  Livy paused for a moment and then continued, ‘And before I could get my degree we had to go on an actual dig. I was right in there with the other students, planning, organizing, and raising money for our trip.’ She sighed and said, ‘I never spent any time in the kitchen, no wonder I can’t cook.’

A thought crossed Ray’s mind, and he wanted to make sure he worded it just right because he didn’t want to upset her any more than she already was.  On her first night here last year, she admitted she didn’t know how to cook. He had looked up at her in surprise. He then suggested that maybe Martha could teach her how to cook, and Livy had said, ‘No, I’m sure it can’t be that hard.’  The next day on their first trip to La Junta he got her a book from the library.  She had tried a few recipes but not too successfully, but they managed.  After their accident in September, when friends and neighbours brought over a food, mostly casseroles, they often included the recipe. Ray had noticed that she was better at making casseroles than the meat, potatoes and vegetables type meals.  Casseroles required a bit of organization, but mostly you prepared the vegetables and meat, put them together in a bowl, and put it in the oven.

Ray cleared his throat. Livy looked up at him. He said, ‘Well, one thing that I have seen is that you are better at the casserole type of dinner than the meat, potatoes and vegetable type.  I know you don’t want to make them all the time, that might get boring.’  Ray paused, cleared his throat again, raised his eyebrows and said, ‘I don’t know much about your schoolin’, other than what you told me, but maybe you could approach cooking like your school work.’

Livy sat up, and Ray thought she might get mad and leave the room so he put his hand over her hand.

‘What do you mean?' Livy asked.

‘Well,’ Ray said haltingly, ‘Maybe, uh, maybe you could approach cooking like you did, say, an experiment you were doing. I dunno much about them, but maybe organizing all the tools you will need, you know, knife, fork, cooking pan, and stuff, uh,’ and here his voice trailed off.

Livy looked at him intently. Ray started to squirm.  Slowly and softly Livy said, ‘You know, you might have a point there, Ray.’  He tried not to show it, but he felt relief.  Livy contemplated his suggestion some more. ‘It’s not easy trying to look after Daniel, and come up with exciting meals,’ said Livy.’

Ray interjected quickly, ‘I know that.’

Livy smiled at Ray softly and said, ‘I know, just hear me out, my love. Like you said, if I approach it as an experiment, or as a project, and made notes, planned it out, assemble the tools that I will need, take it one step at a time instead of overwhelming myself with the whole project all at once. Are you listening to me?’

‘Hm? Oh, yeah, sorry,’ said Ray with a sheepish smile. He didn’t want to tell her that he hardly heard a word she said because he was stuck on two words that she said, ‘my love.’  He felt his heart thumping and had an overwhelming urge to kiss her.

‘So, I think that will work. What do you think?’ she asked.

‘Uh, I got distracted, can you tell me again?’ he asked.

‘Ray! I knew you weren’t listening!’ she said, as she gave him a loving swat on the arm, and then she repeated what she had said. Livy continued, ‘I might need to get that book out of the library again, and maybe I’ll ask Martha for some help.’ Ray smiled. He knew how independent she was, and that it was hard for her to ask for help. And now he put his arms around her and pulled her close. He loved her with all his heart, and knew she loved him, too, and this time when he felt the urge to kiss her, he did.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Did you pass the Skeet test?

Answers finally revealed. There were 31 questions to the puzzle.

How well did you do?

Count the number of correct answers and see below how you rated in the TMoOD Skeet-a-meter.

No cheating now!

Correct answers:

29-31--> "I thought, maybe it'd be God's Will" --You are definitely a Skeet expert, you research with a passion considering how limited the material on him are out there.
25-28 -->"You are a fine and talented woman..." -- but still pitiful, that is.
20-24--> "Your guess is better than mine" -- a miracle it must be but you are still in good standing as a proud Skeet fan
15-19 -->"I'll be in the library" --you definitely need to Google SU more often.
10-14 --> "Oh, well, uh, the beetbox has a mind of its own." -- it's either you copied your answers or you copied the wrong answers.
1-9--> "I know, because...one day you'll forgive yourself" -- hope Skeet is as forgiving as Ray if you ended up knowing only this much about him.
zero ->"Potatoes" -- what can we say but what a shame.