Mistress of the Mix: Home Is Where The Heart Is

Three years ago, my junior high boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed, and I turned him down.

Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending, I promise.

It was a beautiful evening on Maui. We’d just been to a luau, and as we walked across a footbridge over a beautiful pool with a waterfall and glowing lights, he suddenly dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him.

Technically, I didn’t say no. I said “Not yet.” I didn’t think we were ready. I gave him a couple of great excuses, mainly the fact that we lived and worked in different states. It’s a five hour drive from his place to mine, so we only see each other on weekends. At his place, at my place, or we meet somewhere in the middle. I thought it was important for us to know if we could live together before getting married, and living so far apart, we had no idea if we could stand each other for more than about a week at a time. I just felt like we should share a home before we shared the title of Mr. and Mrs.

He took it pretty well, for a guy who had just been turned down. He said, “OK, fine. But just so you know, I’m not asking you again. Next time, it’s on you. And fair warning, you’re gonna have to ask me twice. Because I’m gonna turn you down the first time, just so you know what it feels like.”

I laughed, and immediately asked him to marry me. And he laughed back and said “Nope.”

And since that day, we’ve just continued on, me waiting for the day that he decides to move to California, and he waiting for the day I give in and ask him to marry me.

A lot has happened since then. We’ve really gotten our money’s worth out of our shared Verizon plan. We became godparents to a friend’s children. I saved his mother’s house from an illegal foreclosure perpetrated by one of the biggest banks in the country. He taught my daughter how to drive. And how to dive. And he made sure he never missed a dance recital or a play. I’ve done his taxes every year (and he keeps pretending he’s going to pay me for it), and he’s power washed my patio (without even the promise of money). I was by his side for every company Christmas party at the Elks Lodge in Brookings. I watched him stand up at a funeral and sweetly, poignantly and perfectly honor the co-worker who’s last effort in life was to save my boyfriend’s. He watched me stand in front of a thousand people on stage and declare that I was going to kiss George Thorogood if given the opportunity. We came up with a secret signal for party exit strategies. I started loading him up with sandwiches, not just for the drive back, but for the next 3 days of work. We each gained about 10 pounds. Maybe more. “Food just tastes better when I’m with you,” he says. And I realized that after five years, he still whispers “I love you” in the middle of the night, whether he thinks I can hear him or not. And just like otters, we hold hands when we’re sleeping. In five years, we haven’t drifted away. We’ve gotten closer. We fall deeper in love every single day.

I realized, finally, after five years, that home does not mean my house. We make our home wherever we are. In the big house where I cook for him in California. At his little place high up on a mountain overlooking the place where the Chetco River meets the Pacific Ocean. We have made our home in my sister’s old bedroom at my parent’s house. In the little apartment over his sister’s garage in Coos Bay. We have made our home in a hotel room in Bend while visiting his son Jesse. We have made our home at The Pinehurst Inn, far from tvs and cell reception, and in a makeshift tent at Fish Lake. In an old VW Westphalia parked outside a cabin up on Mount Hood. We are a family now, and our home is not four walls in a specific place. It is what we create every time we are together. It’s a non-tangible thing that we have created together that requires the energy of two people who love each other the way we do.

A few weeks ago we created a little home in the tall grass on a hillside overlooking the beach near Brookings, snuggled in, just watching the waves in the bright afternoon sun. It was a sweet spot. We had a little bench carved out of an old tree, a bottle of red wine, and my dog was happier than I’ve ever seen him. I swear he was smiling.

Eddie never forgets to capture moments like these. He pulled out the camera, took a little panoramic video of the beach and us and the dog, and said life didn’t get much better than this.

So that’s when I made my move. Because I knew maybe it could get just a little better.

And of course he said yes. He was so excited that for one crazy moment he even said he’d take my last name (he came to his senses about an hour later).

People keep asking “So is he moving here? Are you moving there?”

Neither. We’re keeping things just the way they are, because the way we see it, not only do we have two homes (my digs in the city, where he can do all his shopping, and his getaway at the beach), but we have managed to make ourselves at home wherever we happen to be. And things seem to be working pretty well just the way are.

I know it’s a total cliche, but home really is where the heart is, and that’s probably all the explanation today’s playlist – or our marriage – really needs.

Check out the playlist directly at Grooveshark.


  1. Home – Jack Johnson
  2. Home – Philip Phillips
  3. Far From Home – Gabe Dixon Band
  4. You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To – Julie London
  5. Home (Naive Melody) – Talking Heads
  6. Home – Michael Buble
  7. Two Of Us – Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
  8. Carry You Home – James Blunt
  9. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  10. Baby Come Home – Led Zeppelin
  11. I’m Going Home – Charlie Musselwhite
  12. Home Is Where The Heart Is – McFly
  13. Come Home – James
  14. Bring It On Home – UB40
  15. Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
  16. I’m Going Home – Jack White & Friends
  17. Home Is Where The Heart Is – John Butler Trio
  18. Come Home – One Republic
  19. Take The Long Way Home – Supertramp
  20. Home – Zero 7

Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for over a decade, and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and an adorable West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. 

She’s often spotted driving around town singing at the top of her lungs to new wave hits from the 80’s, but at work Valerie hosts the afternoon classical show Siskiyou Music Hall (at 90.9 FM in Shasta County or streaming at ijpr.org). 

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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28 Responses

  1. Avatar Nina G says:

    Wow! Congratulations. That is just the sweetest thing I've read in a long time. Enjoy.

  2. Avatar Janis Logan says:

    Love this article! Congratulations Valerie.

  3. Avatar Delynda says:

    Val, I am so very very happy for you and Eddie! May you have a long healthy life together. Much love to you both… delala

  4. Avatar Carey says:

    "They are one person, they are two alone, they are three together, they are for each other."

    I am so thrilled for you both, to have love come full circle is even sweeter!


    P.S. Aimee Mann and Michael Penn singing "Two of Us" is icing on the cake 😉

  5. Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

    Carey, that's a sweet quote, what's that from?

    • Avatar Janet says:

      the quote http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/147992/
      apparently not a Crosby, Stills and Nash fan?

      • Ah, thanks. I have to admit I'm not all that familiar with a lot of their music. So it's not that I'm not a CSN (&Y) fan….I just haven't had the opportunity to be one really! I learn about new music every single day of my life. It's one of the joys of doing what I do.

        • Avatar Gary Tull says:

          The quote is from "Helplessly Hoping", a Stephen Stills composition. It can be found on the first CS&N album, released May 29 1969.

          The album proved very influential on many levels to the dominant popular music scene in America for much of the 1970s. In addition, it was a very strong debut for the band, instantly lifting them to stardom.

    • Avatar Carey says:

      It's a verse from a Crosby, Stills and Nash song.

  6. Avatar Cheri Davis says:

    Beautiful and inspiring, thank you. You have such a wonderful gift of writing and bringing us all into the journey with you and Eddie, and doggie too. It is so easy to see and feel the love in your family!


  7. Avatar Dana says:

    Your love is inspiring. It's something achievable by many but for whatever reason is achieved by so few. When you see one another the joy of your reunions are palpable, whether the separation is days or minutes. And you both have a history for bucking the system, so redefining home makes all the sense in the world. We couldn't be happier for you (or us)!

  8. Pass the Kleenex, please.

  9. Avatar Victoria Graham says:

    Just beautiful Valerie. You've got a rather emotionally intelligent (and clearly patient) man there. Wish you both a happy continued life together filled with more of what you already have!

  10. Avatar CoachBob says:

    Home, home on the range (and I don't mean the cook stove)

  11. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    My first thought? A SUNNY DAY ON THE BEACH IN BROOKINGS, OREGON??? Now, THATS an omen!! And a good one at that!

    Blessings on you both and all you hold dear.


    Thank you for including Buble's HOME. You could even go really far out and include Going Home from Dvorak's 9th Symphony.

  12. Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

    AJ, you always amaze me with your suggestions! Good one!

    • Avatar `AJacoby says:

      Oh . . . and my favorite, HOMEWARD BOUND – S & G (not to be confused with S & H as in shipping and handling)

  13. Avatar 2R's says:

    Sounds great You Perservered thru the challenges of Distance and other things and Your commitment Made it happen..Well Done to you Both..LOVE is All you need…Congratulations..!! <3 <3 <3

  14. Avatar Patti says:



    I always like to add just one more 🙂


  15. And I love that you do!!!!

  16. Avatar Cheryl (Paul H' says:

    Congratulations, Valerie! This is wonderful news!

    Nice playlist too!


  17. Avatar Cheryl (Paul H' says:

    Here's another awesome 'home' song . . .

    "Feels Like Home" by Melissa Etheridge & Josh Kelley from the movie "Brother Bear 2"

  18. Avatar Sally says:

    I've always felt this is exactly how your love story would progress. You are making fun and great choices. With wishes for continued love and happiness for you and your family – including Casper!

  19. Avatar Canda says:

    Wow, I didn't expect my eyes to be leaking, but they are. What a beautiful love story. Congratulations you two!

  20. Avatar Judy says:

    Downright thrilling. I love romance!!

  21. Avatar 2r's says:

    From Deepak Chopra..

    Expectations in love, as in all areas of life, determine how we evaluate our success, failure, our suffering and our joy. When you set your expectations of a loving relationship with the standard that it should bring you someone with an “awareness of the beauty of real love” that is identical with your awareness, you are assuming that having a partner with an identical perspective and experience of idealized love is the good and right aim to aspire to, and if actual relationships don’t meet that ideal, then something is wrong. I would suggest that you open yourself to the possibility that the right loving relationship is not a perfect picture that you try to attain. But rather the right love is a journey of conscious experience of whatever relationship (or lack of relationship) you are going through at the moment. This is because loving awareness is what is guiding your life while it grows and matures. The partners you find yourself involved with do not need to share your vision of love, they need to reflect the hidden areas of your heart that need to grow and expand, just as you do that for them. That is how love expands even through the uncomfortable episodes of intimate relationships. These relationships can be considered good and right even if they don’t last a lifetime or if they aren’t always smooth sailing. What’s important in a loving relationship is always find a way to let go of your old, limited version of your self-interest for the sake of a more real loving self that knows its true value independent of anyone else.



  22. That's profound and deep. Thanks for sharing. I believe this was true for us, although I also believe that we were also very to have two very important things going for us that's helped our relationship develop into what it is today: excellent, open communication skills and the willingness to reciprocate.