Artistic, conservative, intellectual man loves travel, reading and the outdoors seeks practical, analytical and intelligent woman with a great sense of humor and similar interests for possible long-term commitment.
If theater professor Lyle Schwarz had written the above ad for his heart's desire, accountant Janet Hume could have answered it.
As it was, fate stepped in and brought them together Â—twice Â— the first time more than 10 years ago when she walked into his class at Eastern Oregon University.
Although Janet was finishing a business degree, Lyle's interpersonal communication class was a requirement. At the time, neither one had any idea how important that first meeting would eventually become.
"I thought she was a very nice person Â— a class leader," Lyle remembers about meeting Janet.
Janet says she thought Lyle was a nice professor, but at the time noticing men was not a high priority for her.
"I had been through a lot and was focused on the CPA track Â— that was my life," Janet says.
During the term, she had revealed her family had originally moved from Texas, but her husband had recently died after a battle with cancer, leaving her a single parent.
"I never would have dreamed she was going through so much Â— she always kept a stiff upper lip. I admired her for that," Lyle says.
The class ended, and the two went their separate ways. But a few months later fate stepped in again when the pair literally ran into each other at the post office, Lyle says.
"She seemed so upbeat Â— so energetic. She was excited about where her life was going," he says.
Janet says they ran into each other a lot. Their post office boxes were right around the corner from each other's, and they seemed to check their mail at the same time.
"Lyle tells everybody I was stalking him," she says, laughing. "But, honestly, I still wasn't thinking about anything like that."
One day Lyle was moved to suggest it would be nice to continue "catching up" over lunch some time. Janet agreed.
Did he plan something romantic and special for their first lunch?
Lyle laughs at the question. "Wendy's. We went to Wendy's."
He had suggested they go someplace low-key and inexpensive, so when he went to pick her up, he was surprised to see her all dressed up.
"I was just wearing some old jeans and I thought, Â‘Holy smokes! We don't match up!' But later she told me that afternoon she was beginning her first job working as a CPA," he says.
So the artistic theater professor began dating the analytical certified public accountant, and a close relationship grew despite the diversity of their backgrounds and personalities.
Lyle says some commented they seemed a mismatched couple Â— different careers, different perspectives, different ways of solving problems and challenges and Â—especially Â— different politics.
"Politically speaking, we're opposite of what most people expect. I'm somewhere right of Ghengis Khan," he says, laughing. "I used to be a liberal, but I outgrew that."
Janet, on the other hand, is a firm Democrat and refuses to talk politics. After a few heated arguments during national elections, they agreed to stick to discussing local politics where they have more in common.
But Janet says they first connected over the arts.
"I have a great passion for the arts Â— especially visual arts, performing arts. I guess that's unusual for a CPA," she says.
When she was a teenager, the first live production she saw was "The Mikado."
"Of course, that was year he was doing Â‘The Mikado.' I went to all the plays," she says.
They had been together about five years when Lyle decided to pop the question. He admits he was a bit taken back she did not immediately say yes, asking instead for a little time to think about it.
"I was very confident that she loved me as I did her, and had very little doubts as to the rightness of our relationship. I think I surprised her," he says.
"I thought he was joking. Then I realized he was serious and I thought, Â‘Oh, oh. I better come up with an answer,' " Janet explains.
She said yes.
Janet says Lyle's desire to continue to learn is very attractive to her. "He is so open to new experiences, new things. We both love to travel," she says.
Lyle loves Janet's tolerant and easygoing nature Â— especially when it comes to him and his tendencies to continually redesign their living space.
"I would go on an audit and be gone for a few days and come home and my front porch would be gone. Or my dining table was cut up to make something else with it," she says, laughing. "But, I trust him. It always turns out. And I don't really care that much about my place, anyway, as long as I have a roof over my head and a spot to cook a meal Â— even a wood stove."
Lyle says Janet loves to laugh and has a great sense of humor, but he particularly loves her "wonderfully, warm smile."
Janet says it is Lyle's compassion that she loves.
"He never, ever has a bad word to say about anyone. He always looks for the good in people," she says.
He is proud of her "extreme competence," especially her financial savvy Â—"My finances got put into shape real fast" Â—as well as her pragmatic approach to life's ups and downs.
"I wasted a lot of energy as a younger man getting angry over things that didn't work out. From Janet, I've learned if you drop it or spill it Â—well, move on. There's no sense in dwelling on what can't be undone."
A philosophy that has come in handy learning to be a parent to Janet's 8-year-old granddaughter Lydia, whom Lyle refers to as "a wonderful part of the package."
Together, the couple agreed the best thing for all of them was to adopt her and have her live with them as their own child.
"I always knew we'd probably end up having Lydia with us. I just didn't expect it would be the same day we got married," Janet says, laughing. She says part of the rationale behind getting married, for both of them, was a desire to provide a stable life for Lydia and set a good example for her.
Besides each other and Lydia, Janet says they share a passion for their chosen careers and love sharing that passion with their students.
"Lyle still has students come out to the house. They bring their own children now. Lyle never had children, before Lydia. I think his students were his children when he was younger," she says.
Another common aspect of their characters, Lyle says, is they both love hard work and prefer to be challenged. Although he has now retired after a 30-year teaching career, Lyle puts that drive into the 50 acres he fell in love with and they bought near Catherine Creek.
"There's always something to do," he says.
Lyle says Janet tolerantly and indulgently agreed to the 50-acre home place knowing full well it meant a daily commute into La Grande for her. She has her own accounting firm, in full swing now for tax season; and is a new member of the Union-Baker Education Service District board.
"When he first asked me to take a look at it, I thought, Â‘This man is nuts!' But, you know, he worked so hard for 30 years and he deserved to have the place he wanted," she says.
Ironically, Janet now also teaches at the university upon which her husband left his mark. Within Loso Hall, Lyle Schwarz Theater is a tribute to his contribution to Loso Hall's very existence.
"You know, he had his time and now I'm having mine. It's changed from how it was when we first started out. We'd go out in public and people would come up to talk to him. Now they come up to talk to me," Janet says. "I have so much I want to share and Lyle has given me that enjoyment of experience. I tend to be intense with my students, but Lyle has taught me to relax and just let the teaching be fun."
The Wedding Tree
During his tenure in theater production design, Lyle dealt with symbols.
It was natural, then, for him to want to design something unique for his and Janet's wedding ceremony. Something to symbolize their individuality and their unity. He designed an arch out of sweet-smelling old-growth cedar. Like a puzzle, each side of the arch is comprised of pieces Â— nothing holds them together but small, wooden pegs.
The bride and groom assembled the arch, taking turns adding a single piece to each side. As they did, they said something about the other's diverse background. The arch was completed and secured as the sides met when Â— together Â— they lifted the key center piece into place.
Then Lyle placed a small, gnarled tree under the arch he and little Lydia had chosen as a wedding tree for the ceremony. Lyle liked it because, at approximately 60 years old, the bonsai's age is somewhere between Lyle's and Janet's. The wedding tree is a survivor Â— a study in adversity, he says.
"The form Â—like the twists and turns of our lives Â— it all adds up to something. Also, there's a lot of care and nurturing to keep it going. Besides, it fit perfectly in the arch," he adds with a lighthearted grin.
When he and Lydia bought the tree, they had no idea it was a blooming variety, but right before the ceremony the wedding tree popped out with dozens of tiny delicate white stars.
"It was a good omen," Lyle says.