Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage


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Izy Kitty

Enjoying the warm sun on an afternoon garden stroll.

Twenty years ago my little family of four became a family of five. One summer afternoon Mom loaded Ian and I into the family’s signature blue and tan “house van” and drove us to the Humane Society. Sufficient time had passed since the family cat “Pip” had passed and we were all feeling the familiar need for four furry feet in the house.

Since it was prime siesta time all the kittens were dozing peacefully. All of them except for one – a wiry and rambunctious gray and white kitten with pink ears, pink pads on her feet and the most adorable pink nose that looked an awful lot like an eraser.

This kitten tore around the metal cage, dove into the stinky litter box and did everything in her power to get our attention. She had chosen us.

I think we held several kittens that afternoon but this little gray and white cat with ears much too big for her head was the one. Papers were signed, a check was written and our newest family member was christened “Izy Magargee,” with one ‘z’ because our family likes three letter cat names.

Tiny pink eraser nose.

In the Magargee household all pets are valued members of the family and are treated with love and respect. A holiday never passed where the family cat did not get a tiny stocking filled with fresh toy mice and tasty nibbles.  Just like humans get regular checkups at the doctor, so did our pet. Friends always inquire on the family pet because they know they are just that – family.

Izy was a part of our family for 20 years. She was mom’s best little fuzzy friend who was often found dozing in her lap and “assisting” while she worked on crafts and sewing. She was my dad’s back yard adventuring pal who insisted on daily walks in the garden. She was my brother’s “head bonking buddy” who was so intent on being close to him that she would drape herself over the computer monitor while he played War Craft. She loved to stalk and attack my skinny legs sending me bouncing away.

A “head bonk” given to Dad’s knee.

Izy brimmed with personality and light. She had many facial expressions, a vast vocabulary and body language that always conveyed what she wanted. She was feisty and sassy and never one to be ignored.  Even in her aged years she would demand attention, play, snacks and snuggles and did not like when these demands were not met swiftly.

Izy loved stinky wet food. She had an affinity for Publix deli meet and once hauled off with a bag of it and gorged. She enjoyed my mom’s peppery tomato sauce and licking the final drops of ice cream from our bowls. She was a messy little eater who required trays and paper towels under her food bowls.

For years Izy’s favorite toys were the plastic rings that came on gallon milk jugs. She adored toy furry mice, which she gnawed on with primal glee leaving behind gross piles of wet mangled mouse for naked feet to find at night.

Even at the ripe old age of 20, the shed was still an exciting place to explore.

Izy was always curious, even in her final days. She loved to explore, poke around in bags and sniff new people. Despite her age and arthritis, she would still rocket out of the cat box some days and zoom through the living room with reckless abandon, surprising everyone with her sudden athleticism.

She had a howl that could, and often did, wake the entire house. Later in life her howl changed to an old lady screech that still commanded the same respect and prompt attention. Her purr was warm and rumbling and could easily be started with a simple caress of her cheek.

Last week our family had to say goodbye to sweet Izy Kitty. I am so sad I could not have been there, but am glad that she was with those she loved most – my parents. To the little cat that tortured my legs for years and filled my adolescence with fun and sass: I hope your next life brings endless bags of lunch meat, a plentiful supply of furry mice to gnaw and a garden that is always filled with new adventure. You are greatly missed.

*Photos by my Dad during a summer stroll though the garden in August of this year.


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A Different Kind of Adventure

It’s no secret this blog has been neglected for a long time. I’ve had friends and family inquire on the silence and I always respond with some kind of joke about how marriage is not very adventurous after one year.

This is a lie. Life has been adventurous, just not the kind of adventures that make for stellar blog posts. I casually mentioned my PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) in yesterday’s post as a way to stick a toe out of the proverbial closet. I did not expect this toe to prompt two readers to email about their PCOS and infertility journey.

“I couldn’t help but see your comment about PCOS and just wanted to let you know that my sister and I also have PCOS…” wrote a distant relative. This opened a long conversation about our infertility journey, and provided a rare opportunity to express our frustrations with someone other than our poor husbands.

Prior to this post I have leaked hints of my infertility on Facebook during National Infertility Awareness Week. Each time I go a little more “public” I’m find at least one email from a friend sharing her lonely and stressful journey through infertility.

The feelings relief and sadness when I learn that someone else is going through this are indescribable; I’m relieved to know I’m not alone and so very sad to know another woman is feeling the same devastation month after month.

According to Resolve.org, infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S., meaning 1 in 8 couples is struggling to conceive. Pardon my French, but holy shit this is a a lot of women. Why on earth are do we feel so alone? Probably because we are all hiding behind fake smiles and dodging inquires into when we are going to start a family.

Yesterday I hinted at the adventures of the past year; today I will lay it all out on the table. Don’t worry, I’ll leave out the gory details about cervical mucus, invasive procedures and stirrups.

Bird and Belle’s fun and quirky adventures in marriage have been overshadowed by 20 months of doctor appointments, hormonal roller coasters, invasive procedures, and ridiculously expensive injectable medications.

I wish that I could conclude that sentence with a joyful pregnancy announcement, but I can’t. As we close in on the two year mark of trying to start a family we are faced with more of the same. It’s been a long, hard journey for both of us. Especially Bird, who spends his days juggling math and trying to keep his wife from breaking down, or worse, verbally accosting the pregnant passerby.

I hope that by opening up here I can bring a little awareness about infertility to our readers. I hope to spark more positive discussions between myself and other PCOS/infertility sufferers. What I don’t want is ridicule and suggestions to adopt, nor am I looking for pity or prayers (although the prayers certainly could not hurt!).

More than anything, though, I hope to wipe away the dust that has settled on this blog and return to regular posting, because buried under all the hormones, tears and loss has been a lot of personal growth and more than a few hilarious adventures.

If you would like to talk more about our journey or PCOS, please e-mail me at SMagargee@Gmail.Com. 


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If video killed the radio star…

Photo by Belle. Chickens at the family farm.

… did Instant Messager kill the telephone conversation?  And did Facebook kill the lunch date? And did texting kill the written note?

My quest to be more with less has spilled over into social media. There was a time that I chatted with friends and family on the phone daily. There was a time that lunch or meeting for a glass of wine to catch up was a normal, weekly occurrence. It seems that in recent years these personal forms of communication have been reduced to quick “how are you” via instant messenger. Lunch dates with a friend to catch up have been replaced with a peek at their Facebook page and a quick post to their wall.  A paper invitation to a party has been replaced by an impersonal text message. A phone call with a family member has been replaced with a short, poorly composed e-mail.

While social media can be an absolute God-send to the busy schedule, it can also be stifling to a relationship. We are human beings with mouths, ears, hands and eyes. These are meant to be used together to communicate, not just one or the other.

While I know my life has changed since the carefree days of my 20’s when work was not as much a priority and I was not married, I am still the same girl. Why should I be communicating in such a drastically different way. Has all this technology made me a more complete, whole person? I suspect it has not.

What can I do about this? I can sign out of instant messenger and pick up the telephone. I can remove family members from Facebook and encourage them to phone. I can send a paper invitation for brunch rather than a text. I can bring back Wednesday dinner dates and Saturday lunch.

I can ask you to hold me accountable. Call me. I’ll answer. Write me a letter. I’ll respond.

I challenge you to consider how you communicate today vs. 10 years ago. Do you feel whole, satisfied and complete with your social media communications? If so, right on! If not, join me. Let’s do lunch.


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Project 333

Lately I’m becoming increasingly aware of the material things that surround us. It shames me to think of our daily abundance when others scrape by to meet basic needs.  It shames me to think that the money used to purchase things that ultimately do not enrich our character could have been used to fund a meaningful trip to see family and friends. It shames me to think of the resources and energy that went into creating all these things that sit largely untouched in our home.

Do all these things make me feel better? Do they make me feel stronger and more empowered? Do they improve my health? Do they make me whole? No matter how I spin it, the answer is always “no.”

But how on earth do you change 30 years of habit? How do you begin to sift though the piles of things and pare down. The thought of radically changing our lifestyle overnight is overwhelming and the possibility that it might not work is near crippling.

Instead I am taking baby steps towards this ultimate goal: I want my world to be filled with purpose, pride and efficiency.

My initial closet purge was the first step. This week I’m taking the next step by carting that box of acquaintances to the consignment shop (I have not missed them in the least) and starting Project 333.  I first read about this challenge in January and it has haunted me since. Such a noble experiment! But I could never do it… or could I? After reading 333 success stories I have decided to try.

I carefully selected 33 pieces of clothing to wear for the next 3 months. Choosing just 33 pieces was HARD and I’m still tweaking the list. Doing this in the summer is particularly challenging because my summer wardrobe has never been one that mixes and matches well. I hope that come fall I’ll be better organized and able to gather 33 pieces that can be rotated around and layered in unique ways.

Project 333 rules include accessories in the count. While ready to take next big leap towards minimal living, I’m really not ready to commit to a small handful of accessories. I am, however, going to do a Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers with my accessories to weed out things that are rarely and never worn. I know someone else would enjoy them far more than I. Maybe by fall I’ll be ready to embrace the full rules. Time will tell!

Belle’s Project 333 – Summer:

  1. black cotton dress
  2. orange sun dress
  3. tan sun dress
  4. black maxi dress
  5. black and white maxi dress
  6. multi colored maxi
  7. Anthropology dress
  8. red and white striped top
  9. pink floral button-up top
  10. white crepe top
  11. cream lace top
  12. slate blue T
  13. green floral button up
  14. white T
  15. black tank
  16. white tank
  17. olive-green tank
  18. dark blue jeans
  19. denim shorts
  20. khaki pants
  21. khaki skirt
  22. seersucker crops
  23. red skirt
  24. long teal skirt
  25. white jacket
  26. aqua sweater
  27. cream sweater
  28. pink sweater
  29. denim jacket
  30. black flat sandals
  31. white wedge sandals
  32. cream heels
  33. red flats


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One

One year ago I made the best decision of my life – I married Bird.

Despite tremendous hardships, illness, tears an an unruly herd of cats we have made it 365 days. I feel overwhelmed every time I look at this amazing man and realize that of all the women in the world, he chose me. Despite my ability to fill a year with lengthy posts on food, cats, travels and moldy oranges, I find myself  with only one word when I think of our first year: perfect.

I love you Bird. Happy anniversary.

Song (Wintah, summah, snow er shine)

BY PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

Wintah, summah, snow er shine,
   Hit’s all de same to me,
Ef only I kin call you mine,
   An’ keep you by my knee.
Ha’dship, frolic, grief er caih,
   Content by night an’ day,
Ef only I kin see you whaih
   You wait beside de way.
Livin’, dyin’, smiles er teahs,
   My soul will still be free,
Ef only thoo de comin’ yeahs
   You walk de worl’ wid me.
Bird-song, breeze-wail, chune er moan,
   What puny t’ings dey’ll be,
Ef w’en I’s seemin’ all erlone,
   I knows yo’ hea’t’s wid me.


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Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers

I have been on a bit of a minimalism kick lately. Everywhere I turn there are items we never use and it drives me crazy. We don’t need two pie servers, one is just fine. And while I’m thinking about it, we really don’t even need one because I rarely make pie and when I do a fork and knife do the trick quite nicely. I’m tired of drawers that are brimming and closets that could be considered a OSHA hazard. It is time to weed out.

I am ashamed to admit that the place needing immediate attention was my closet. The amount of clothing that had accumulated is embarrassing and something I’m not proud of. There were things I bought and never wore, hand-me-downs that don’t fit properly and things from college that I REALLY should not still wear.

I decided the best way to tackle this project was to take the approach discussed in a book Bird has about living with ADHD and separate things into three categories:

  1. Friends: Those things you love and use frequently. For example, my dark blue vintage-style jeans (currently wearing) and my adorable red flats (also currently wearing)
  2. Acquaintances: Things I wear sometimes but feel no real attachment too.
  3. Strangers: Things I had forgotten about or constantly pass over when choosing my outfit.  Those things that when I put them on, I promptly take them off and think, “Um, no.”

The Strangers pile immediately went into a “DONATE” bag and then I turned my attention to the Acquaintances and Friends, which were still quite plentiful. I picked up each piece and thought: does this item make me feel like a Million Bucks when I wear it?  I should not keep things that make me feel gloomy about my shape or size. I should not keep things that make me feel like a “Buck-Fifty.” When I’m dressed in something that makes me feel good my entire day improves. If it’s not a “Million Bucks” piece then it has no business being in my closet.

My No. 1 and No. 2 piles were shrinking and my No. 3 pile was growing. I applied the same formula to my drawers. I opened the sock drawer, which was filled with cute printed socks that I never wear. Now that I walk or bike to work and spend my evenings working out or practicing yoga I only wear white ankle sports socks. I really can’t remember the last time I wore my Halloween or coffee socks. Why on earth are they taking up drawer space? Strangers. Out they went.The purge continued through pajamas, undies, t-shirts, accessories, scarves, belts and hand bags. Drawers were opening up, and things were hanging neatly in my closet. It felt good.

And then I did something that some folks might not agree with – I took that large pile of Acquaintances, put it in a storage tub and slid it into the attic where it will hang out for three months. In three months I’ll pull it out again and reconsider. What items have I missed? What items have I completely forgotten about owning? I suspect I will not have missed any of these pieces and then they will go the same way as the Strangers – to the thrift store.

As I put the Friends back in my closet and drawers I felt great relief knowing that everything was something I loved. It makes me happy to know that every morning I will feel like a Million Bucks because all my Dollar-Fifty things are gone. Simple as a closet purge seems, I think it is a huge step towards my goal to find peace and balance in my life. I want every day to be filled with light and hope even during gloomy times and my new, clean, junk-free closet is a great place to start those days.