Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TMI? You Be the Judge

Today, I am paying homage to a previous blog written by my husband Chuck, on his 55th birthday: A Double Nickel's Worth of Facts about Chuck. He asked me to follow up with a list of my own. If you have the curiosity, and the stamina, you are welcome to peruse these yourself, but mostly, this is for Chuck.

1. Born in Chicago, Illinois, I spent all of my childhood in Virginia, and all of my adulthood in Utah, until my life came full circle, and I found myself living in Illinois last December 24, when I flew to Chicago to marry Charles Bruce Bennorth. I just love A Good Circle Story

Tahquamenon Falls, Upper Peninsula, Michigan

2. Fall is the most wonderful season of all. A year ago, Chuck and I met in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, and this fall, Chuck took me to Upper Peninsula Michigan to enjoy Mackinac Island and the fall colors of Michigan and Wisconsin.

During a three-week run of no-school snow days during Virginia's icy winter in 1978, I believe.
3. There is nothing quite as exciting as a snow day. When I was a kid, we gathered around the kitchen table in Shipman, Virginia, listening to the radio during breakfast during any sign of snow, praying for a snow day. In my 31 years of teaching in Utah, I only had ONE day off from school for a declared snow day, and the snow all melted, and we didn't even get to play in it. Now that I am retired, I can't help but wish for snow days because Chuck gets to work from home. Yahoo!

4. I am deaf in my left ear. "Huh?" was probably the word I uttered most as a child. I miss the punchlines of most jokes, and important information on TV, unless the closed-captioning is on. I tend to sit on Chuck's left side so I can hear him better, and I rely on reading lips to fill in the gaps.

5. Speaking of TV, I don't own one in Utah, and the television Chuck and I have has only been on in my presence about four times this year. We watch Dr. Who with Zack, and that's about it. When the Nielson Ratings TV company came to my house in Joseph to sign me up for their program, they weren't quite sure what to do with me. There is only a TV at the house when Bridger wants to play video games. They left me with contact information, in case I ever want to be a normal person with a TV.

6. Downton Abbey is a different story. I have watched every single episode of Downton Abbey on my laptop.

7. My favorite drink is water, followed by coffee. I take my first cup of coffee with half and half, and the second one also has a scant spoon of stevia added to it. My favorite soda has changed nearly every year, but this year, I have essentially given up my Diet Dr. Pepper in an effort to eat and drink healthier. I miss it, but not as much as I thought I would.

8. This year I made it 23 days into the Whole 30 program, and had to stop when I was sick for a week. I was amazed that I could give up white sugar and flour, dairy, and processed foods for that long, but my results were impressive, for only three weeks. I couldn't believe that I could eat fats (avocado, coconut oil, and nuts) at every meal, and still lose fat.

9. The longest I have gone without any of my trigger foods is 30 days. I went from October 19 - November 18, 2015 without any white sugar, cookies, ice cream, brownies or cake. On my birthday, Chuck and I split a small piece of birthday cake, and I sent the rest of the cake to work with him to share with coworkers. (My birthday gift to myself was losing the 10 pounds I gained after Chuck and I got married.)

10. I'm not much of a jewelry wearer.  I wear earrings if we're going out. My favorite pieces are my diamond ring and wedding ring, and my white agate necklace Chuck chose for my wedding gift, and an Italian charm bracelet my oldest gave me.
Our Smokey Mountain Vacation 2014

11. I met my husband on Facebook, and then met him in person three weeks later in the Smokey Mountains. We were engaged by the end of that week, and married two months later. Best decision I ever made.

12. I always try to say yes, especially if it might involve some fun, and if it isn't illegal, immoral, or deadly.

13. My biggest fear is outliving any of our children.

14. If I have a little spending money, I most likely will spend it in thrift stores. Most of my wardrobe in the last year was purchased at Goodwill Industries and a second hand consignment shop in Geneva, Illinois. Illinois has AMAZING thrift shopping. My closet finally contains some of my favorite clothing labels: L.L. Bean, Chico's, J. Crew, and Lands' End. I bought a lavender cashmere sweater for six bucks! Oh, happy day!

15. Minimalism is something I aspire to. I am not attached to things, unless those things are part of a loved one: cards, letters, poems, or photographs. I have no problem parting with furniture, books I've read, extraneous kitchen wares, or clothing.

16. If I had to choose which of my belongings is my favorite, I'd have to say my MacBook Pro. I love to write and read, and stay in touch with family and friends. It is my window to the world.

17. Chocolate is no longer my favorite flavor, unless it encases one of my current favorite flavors: peanut butter or caramel. I would rather just have peanut butter or caramel. I also love coffee-flavored, and lemon-flavored sweets. Caramel apples and caramel corn are some of my favorite goodies.

18. I would rather eat dessert than any other food. Ice cream. Cookies. Brownies. Cake, not so much, unless nothing else is available.

19. Number 17 is the cause of number 18: I have struggled with my weight most of my adult life. I hit an all-time high of 224 when my youngest was three. ("Mom, you have boobs on your back, too," said the then-three-year-old.) That's when I started lifting weights, running, and eating more protein and vegetables, and limiting myself to indulgences on my free days. It took me three years, but I lost 80 pounds. Yep. I got down to 144, and a size 4. That lasted about a week, and then I was able to maintain a size 6-8 for the next ten years or so. When I hit 50, I relaxed on my efforts, and my weight slowly increased. These days I'm thrilled when the size 10s, and an occasional 8, slip on effortlessly.

20. I detest broccoli; to my knowledge it is the only veggie I don't like. I love salad. When I eat salad, I dip the tines of my fork in the dressing, and probably use about a teaspoon of dressing that way.

21. The beach is my favorite place for vacations. This year I went to Fort Walton Beach in Florida with Chuck to meet our grandson, and spend time with Chris and Amy, and Bridger and I went to La Jolla, California to spend a weekend with Sierra. I added nine sand dollars to my collection while we were in Florida!  I look forward to introducing Chuck to my favorite beach in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach.

22. Hiking is my exercise of choice. The ground is kind of flat in Illinois, so I enjoy walking around St. Charles, and look forward to riding my bike.

23. I'm not a fan of chocolate fudge, but while we were on Mackinac Island, I discovered I love caramel apple-flavored fudge, but I only had a taste.

24. Every morning starts early (I rarely sleep past 4) with a big drink of water, and a half a pot of coffee. I love my coffee light and sweet, so I add half and half and stevia. "I Have a Bean," from Wheaton, is my favorite roaster, and I feel absolutely spoiled when there is a bag of it in my cupboard.

25. I was the first-born of three, and gave birth to three children of my own. Dylan, Sierra, and Bridger are amazing adults, and I can't believe my good fortune in being their mother. They are smart, funny, independent, and resourceful. I am so proud of them.

26. After marrying Chuck, I became a stepmom to three sons, and they have been so good to me. I appreciate so much their texts, messages, and Skype calls. The boys have their dad's wit, and they have all been blessed with intelligent brains and good hearts. We are lucky parents, indeed. A sweet bonus is getting to be a step-grandma to the cutest little baby boy, C.J. He just started crawling!

27. I put my Christmas tree up on Halloween this year, with Chuck's support and help. The passing of fall always makes me feel a little melancholy, and adding the glow of Christmas lights to our house lifts my spirits.

28. My "guilty pleasure," if that's even a fair assessment, is country music. Our house is filled with instrumentals and classical music most of the time, but when I'm alone, at home or in my car, I almost always listen to country.

29. My phobias include claustrophobia, falling from heights, and being startled. I am NOT afraid of spiders or snakes. My fear of mice has been fading over the years...

30. Chuck has many nicknames for me: Beautiful Bride, Mrs. B., Beautiful, Country Mouse...but my favorite is Stuart, another mouse reference. If you've ever read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you might understand how this distracted woman could get named after a mouse.

31. My hobbies are photography, writing, and reading. Marrying Chuck, a wonderful photographer and my mentor, has helped me make great improvements in my photos.

32. I love to bake, but because I'm married to a diabetic, and I am trying not to lead myself into temptation, I'm trying to become a better cook, and less of a baker.

33.  As a child, (okay, yes, and even as an adult) I was sneaky when it came to Christmas presents.

Up until about six years ago, I have to admit that I had been known to open presents before the holiday, and rewrap them. These days, I wait. Do I have any regrets about shaking, poking, and peeking? Yes. Being caught. ;-)

34. In 1978, when I was a junior in high school, I went to Chicago as Virginia's representative at the National 4H Convention as the state's citizenship winner. Since then, I have not been very involved in government, and am not affiliated with any political party. I tire of the presidential debates, and seeing political rants on Facebook.

35. My house almost always looked like a disaster zone when my children were little. If you are a young mom, don't despair that it will never get better. It will. Eventually, the kids will move out, and actually end up doing a darn good job keeping up their own homes. Mine did, anyway.

36. I love weather, all weather: sun, rain, snow. I even like watching hail accumulate, and lightning storms are amazing!

37.  The cardinal is the state bird of Virginia and Illinois. One day I hope to photograph a cardinal in the snow. I have a picture in my mind of what I want; meanwhile, I keep trying. Here are two cardinals having a standoff in our backyard in St. Charles; my first cardinal sighting in many years was about a year ago.

38. Even though I grew up in Virginia, I've never had much of a southern drawl. (In college, I had someone guess I was from Arizona. What kind of an accent do they have in Arizona?) Being raised by Yankee parents had its effects on my speech, I suppose.

39. On April Fools' Day several years ago, I wrecked my new Sonata in a three car pile up during rush hour traffic near downtown Salt Lake City. Driving in big cities now gives me great anxiety. 

40. I never met a recipe I couldn't tweak. I love trying to boost the nutritional values in foods; adding fiber, protein, or replacing artery-clogging fats with heart-healthy ones. 

41. When it comes to food, I am pretty adventurous. I've tried sushi, raw fish, and even Rocky Mountain Oysters. I love buying exotic fruits and vegetables I've never seen before to give them a try. So far, I have enjoyed nearly every cuisine I've experienced, and Indian is my current favorite. 

42. I love a good joke. My dad and brothers are great comedians. I did not inherit those genes. For the life of me, TELLING a good joke is not something I can master. Why can't I remember punch lines? (Mom, I blame you. Ha ha.)

43. As a child, I went through boxes of Bandaids like crazy. I'm a little accident-prone. More than once during hospital preps for surgery as an adult, I've had nurses ask if I needed to report any domestic violence. Um, no, never, but I run into open dishwashers, car doors, and cabinets ALL. THE. TIME.

44. Since Thanksgiving is approaching, Black Friday is on my mind. Only once did I arrive at a store at some hideously early hour to take advantage of some ridiculously low-priced item. I will never fight the crazy crowds again to buy a gift. Most of my shopping is done online, and that suits me just fine. 

45. My ancestors all came from Germany. I am 100% German-American. Hearing Grandpa sing O, Tannenbaum at Christmas was a fun tradition I miss.

46. My husband and I stand out in a couple ways at our church. We attend a church with a predominantly Asian-American congregation.  We are both taller and quite a bit older than most of our friends there. They love us, and make us feel so welcome. They tease that they understand that we are still learning their names since they all look alike. (We were told we Anglo people all look alike to them, too, except for hair color.)

47. I wish I could play the drums. I know about four chords on the guitar, and I reluctantly took piano lessons for two years in elementary school. The percussion instruments look like the most fun to play.

48. English is my native language. I minored in French in college when it was evident that I was never going to successfully become fluent enough to teach high school French. I only took one semester of Spanish, and could kick myself for not having studied that more. I could have used it so many times as a teacher and traveler. 

49. Whenever we go shopping, I have to touch everything. I'm always hoping to find textures that are smooth, soft, cushiony, and thick. I love soft socks, blankets, throws, sweaters, sheets, and towels.

50. Speaking of socks, "I love socks." Silly ones, cushy ones, no-shows, anklets, bobby socks, knee socks, slipper ones, holiday socks.

51. I have a weakness for coffee mugs. I know I only need one, but I just love them. And if there is an inspirational or significant saying on them, even better!

52. My hair is fine and flat, by nature. I have to have it processed (highlighted, colored, permed) to make it do anything besides stick to my skull. The baby picture at the top is me at the age of 3. Yeah, the perming began that early.

53. Reading is an enjoyable way to pass the time for me. Currently, I am re-reading the New Testament, Women of the Word, and we just finished reading Wired for Love. I lean toward non-fiction, but I did enjoy Lisa Wingate's book, The Prayer Box last month.

54. If I have the opportunity to hike a slot canyon, I hate to pass it by. It is so nice to hike through a stream, or in the shade during the heat of the summer. Little Wild Horse Canyon is my favorite slot canyon, so far. 

55. For the last couple of years, I have selected a word of the year for my focus. Brave was my word for 2014, and discovery was the word for 2015. It has been a year of discovery for me...a new marriage, living in Illinois, photographing Renaissance Faires, weddings, and the Great Lakes states. I'm learning so much about photography and marriage and life with my husband. It has been a great focus for a year full of opportunities.

Addendum for 2016: My word this year has been INTENTIONAL.

***There you go, Chuck. Mayhap more than you even cared to know, but I promised. I love you.


  1. Wonderful writing. Heartwarming and insightful. Thank you for sharing so much of your beautiful soul.

    1. Thank you, Susan. Your words made me start my day with a smile.

  2. I don't know how long it would take for me to write such a list! Now I'm ready for a trivia quiz about the other Denise. I knew about your disability, but I don't know as I've ever asked you about how it impacted your teaching. I'm not ready to give up baking, so I'll eat your share of cookies.

    1. I won't be GIVING up baking, but I definitely need to scale back for my diabetic husband's and his overweight wife's sakes. ;-)

      My hearing did impact my teaching, but mostly in a good way. I tend to fixate on sounds; you know, those annoying pen clicks, etc., so it was to my students' advantage I didn't hear EVERYTHING. At the beginning of every year, I would let my students know about my left ear, so they would understand why their whispers always had to go into my right ear, and why I seemed so adamant about their reading loud enough to be heard, without covering their mouths. Other than that, I think things went pretty well. ;-)

  3. Wow! This is quite a list, Denise! We share many paths, triumphs and struggles. I'm anxious to see what your word for 2017 will be. :-)

    1. I'm beginning to think about my word, too. ;-)


Thank you so much for stopping by Randomocity. Like most writers, I enjoy interacting with the wonderful people who read what I have to say, so please, if you would like to leave a "blogment," I would love to hear from you!