Reflection

Reflection

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Seeds of Uncertainty


un·cer·tain·ty

Uncertainty: The lack of certainty. A state of having limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state, a future outcome, or more than one possible outcome.


I could say that all is well, that I'm brimming over with happy thoughts while preparing for the holidays.  I could say that but in honesty I would be fibbing.  For any of us who has faced loss of family, friends and pets, I won't even say of recent days, as any one of us can draw in a sharp breath when remembering that loved one regardless of the passage of time. 

Seems that a trigger started up for me.  Father-by-marriage broke his hip in November and while his surgery mended his hip it has worsened his mental capabilities which was bordering dementia.  Now he is considerably frailer physically and mentally.  Listening to my Love and his siblings having to make decisions of what to do brought up the anguish of the years my mom became unable to care for herself.  That ugly fear of not wanting to watch a parent fade who it seems just yesterday was out having a life of independence.  The letting go, of knowing that you can't stop time, you can't go in reverse, you can only be there fully, and do the best you can for them.  Some days will seem like you didn't help at all and other days you will feel like perhaps it is enough.  


My middle daughter's beloved kitty has entered into his next phase, dying.  He became ill but is not responding to new medication and all the loving attention given him.   He has always been the fun kitty.  Unusually looking (he is a Devon Rex), very playful, annoying, inquisitive, smart, and a kitty who stole our hearts from the first time we saw him.  Watching my daughter tend to him is just as heartbreaking as watching him fade.  She sleeps next to him at night, helping him when he tries to use the litter box, giving him fluids needed subcutaneously, dispensing his medications.  She carries him in a kitty bed out to be with us all in the kitchen.  Last night she was knitting, the kitty bed in her lap, Agador bundled up with a ball of yarn next to him.  Such a sight.  Him not attacking the yarn but instead watching her and dozing every so often.  Most unkitty like.  For those of us with pets, we can well remember as an adult getting our first pet.  We didn't have to ask our parents permission and the joy of raising the little bundle of energy taught us a lot about life, including the aging and then the passing to death that happens.  





I know that this is my personal discombobulation.  Most of the time I can talk and allow myself the extra TLC to move forward.  


It's hard to feel joy when the heart is heavy.  Some people seem to be able to do this with ease but there are those like me who under the smile feel blue.  


                                                  * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Agador passed away last night.....tears fell as we bid him goodbye.  Peace is with him.....


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mass Transit ~ Life as one travels




10:30 PM
 
Our flight has landed and we are heading home.  Rather than pay long term parking at the airport we opt to take mass transit to and from.  Gliding down the escalator with suitcases in tow, we see the Bart train at the station.  We don't know if this is the train we should get on and we hope it stays till we can stand on firm ground.  I see a flash of a woman with a rolling carry-on bag boarding, then I see the door close, her arm and bag outside the door.  For the brief moment my mind assumes the door should open, that it would sense an obstruction, but no the arm and bag are caught.  Then her arm disappears and all that is there is the bag.  Magically the door opens and she is able to pull the bag in and we have time to find out where this train will go.

I'm drowsy with the subtle movement on the train, strange however, since it is a noisy ride with screeches, squeaking and other sounds that leave you to wonder if it is normal for the train to sound like this.  I hear a male voice near me and glance up.  There is a lady who has been sitting next to us since we got on being very calm while a man hovers over her talking.  They weren't together as he has come on after our third stop.  She is attractive with dark complexion and long, straight, dark hair, mid to late 30's, with her tablet in her lap and a large tote bag on the floor.  The man is wearing cream colored slacks, a white lizard skin belt, white shoes and a pumpkin colored turtleneck shirt.  He is maybe in his early 40's and African American with a neatly trimmed mustache.  He is speaking softly with a monotone voice and it is slightly hard for me to understand him with the noise of the train.  What I do hear is his flattery towards the woman.  "You are very beautiful", "You are lovely", "I haven't seen a woman like you" and so forth.  For every flattery sentence she calmly says "Thank you" just as monotone as his voice.  I'm not sure what to think.  Is she being harassed?  She seems quite calm through all the interaction.  "I would like you to go out with me" he says.  I don't hear her say anything.  "Sometime then we should go out".  Still nothing.  He walks away.  She sits as she has without response to my eye contact.  I close my eyes and drowse off once again.

As we get closer to the city center of San Francisco more people get on.  Young people in their late teens to twenties mostly.  A group are sitting and standing nearer the other exit, laughing and talking.  Two African American girls pass through our car chatting up a storm and checking out who is in our car before moving to the next car.  Both wear khaki colored pants with two orange, stiff, narrow ribbons hanging out their back right pockets.  One has the most lovely ringlets of strawberry blonde dyed hair that goes down the middle of her back.  Within five minutes they pass through again.  I wonder what the ribbons are from.

A young woman four rows back wearing earphones plays music so loud it is as though she has no earphones on.  She will regret this when she is old and can't hear anymore.

We're almost to our stop and I text our house-sitter who will come and take us home.  I look up and see a young muslim woman wearing a hijab.  She sits down next to another young woman with long light brown hair.  They look very similar in age yet such contrast.  The light brown haired women is relaxed while the young women in the hijab is stressed.  As she sits down she clearly has asked to borrow the other woman's cell phone.  I see that she has come with a backpack that is full, heaping even, with a folded up blanket at the top.  She also has a small rolling suitcase.  She is talking on the cell phone and her face seems so pained in expression.  She looks near tears and it breaks my heart to see this in such a public place with no one with her.  The light brown haired women sits quietly and I wonder her thoughts.  The young woman with hijab passes the phone back and her face reads such turmoil.  You can see her mind is overwhelmed.  Our stop comes and we depart along with the light brown haired women.  I wonder where the young woman with the hijab is going.  I hope all will be well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grace


My step-grandmother Grace was a strange one.  I didn't know how to place her in my family at age five. We didn't see her often as she lived in another town not nearby.  At home I had my Nan whom lived with us.  All warmth and love.  Grace, well she was a bit stand-offish as well as having a brooding way about her.

One visit she came with a cassette player and while I can't remember how it came to be of me listening to her talk on the tape she played, it had a lasting impact in my memory.  She was convinced that she had been reincarnated as well as being involved in channeling her previous lives.  I must have been near 10 years of age by this time and listening to the cassette of whom she had been had me terribly confused.  I wasn't brought up to believe in reincarnation but I'm pretty sure this was the first time this concept had been tossed at me.  Grace seemed a bit self-centered without regards to how her words and thoughts might have an effect on a child.  

What did I think?  What did my parents think?  It seemed like they were all polite in listening to her speak of this and to listen to the cassette, but they didn't react either.  More politeness.  I'm sure my Nan was holed up in her room crocheting or some other handwork. I don't think they hit it off those too and this surely didn't bond them.  

For me it opened up a kettle of worms in my brain.  It confused me as then I wondered if I too had lived before.  What other time might I have come from?  I began having vivid nightmares of people dying, especially of my Nan dying.  I would wake up and sit outside my parents bedroom door, rocking myself quietly.  Why I didn't knock to be let in or why I didn't go to my Nan's room I don't know but perhaps leaving my room, listening to the quiet of the house knowing they were in their beds and alive settled me enough to climb back in my bed with a light on and fall back to sleep.  

By the time I was near fourteen I was fascinated with the idea of reincarnation and how that would mean to me, that I would not die but return in some other form.  Certainly far from my Presbyterian church upbringing.  I was still having the death nightmares occasionally and slept with my radio on to go to sleep,  often leaving my light on at night after a disturbing dream.  Death, such a mystery, that I felt I needed some explanation to settle me into knowing my loved ones would be okay and not in some creepy, spooky, graveyard.  The thought that they and I could come back and somehow channel ones memory into the future life, well, that sounded more comforting to me than the line that I would go to hell if I didn't read the bible everyday or if I didn't follow the Christian rules.  

My parents divorced shortly after and I never saw Grace or my step-father again.  If the idea of reincarnation was a comfort to her, I hope she found what she was seeking.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Scarf

           I've been cleaning computer files, updating, moving items around and found this in my "document" files.  A story I wrote for my dearest niece upon her 40th Birthday.  I'm so glad I found it and could share this....she is one very special young woman.  

                             


 She gazed out to the farthest point to sea as the sun began its slow descent towards the horizon.  She was middle in the cup of the bay, with the craggy steep cliffs to her left and right.  Her eyes closed softly and her ears opened to the laughter below on the beach.  She thought she might have heard her sons voices amidst those of the other children playing on the beach or in the gentle methodical waves. 

   She listened intently upon the waves that almost mimicked her heart at that moment.  The pause as a wave gathers offshore. That quiet, yet momentous moment before it spills over and rushes to the shore.  She sees in her mind as the sea devours the sand and lashes out to bare toes, then feet, then ankles, then calves and knows the little scream one makes because of the chill the water brings.  A smile forms and she opens her eyes. 

     Her scarf flutters over her eyes shielding the view that she wants to see of what she was thinking.  She wants to see what she hears of the children.  Was she not a carefree child not more than it takes for a wave to melt a sand castle?  She pulls back the scarf the color of indigo blue and sand.  It was as light and wispy as a lazy kite in the sky. 

     She inhales and the acrid smell of seaweed lying on the beach hits her nose.  The smell brings up memories of dragging large seaweed ropes along the sand.  Or the time when they all pretended it was a large slithering snake and how her children jumped away as she ran after them with the bulbous end that might “bite” them.  She laughs slightly to herself of those times.  This is a place of joy, a place of memory making.

     The sun slips down closer to the sea almost to the point where it will be ablaze in shades of red, orange and yellow.  She knows that her family will want her there with them as the sunset begins and hits the surface then dissolves into the deep blue sea.  It was voted upon to stay at the beach till the first star twinkled in the sky.  What that really meant was till the sky was filled with stars.  They would all lie on the big quilt looking upward to count the stars and find the constellations.  Times like this made magic because of her husband.  Stories would abound as he talked.  She knew he would reach for her to cuddle close and she would listen as the boys discovered the Milky Way. 

     She begins the walk down the rocky cliff trail careful not to slip.  Her scarf is wild in the breeze that blows up to the cliffs from the beach.  She wraps it once then twice and finishes it by making a soft over under slip as though she was tying her shoelaces.  She recites to herself as she sinks her toes in the cooling sand that squishes and squashes beneath her.


i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
 i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)



(Poem i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

               by E. E. Cummings) 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

And so it goes......

My dining room is beginning to reappear.  It's been missing for the past nine months.  Removing the last personal effects from my mom's home, stuffing it wherever I could find a table, under beds, closets, and sadly even the floors when there were no other options, just getting it out of her home and closing the door forever.  Bit by bit I'm reclaiming my home and the dust that lies beneath all those boxes and table tops.  Dear daughter's bedroom....that will take some time to deal with.

What does one do with a framed honorary degree when my mom didn't go to the college but was generous in giving to the school?  I can't even begin to say how many plaques I threw out.  What would I do with them?!  If I deemed it worthy of saving for some historical family pass down, then I saved it.  Clearly my parents were movers and shakers in their social time, yet to hold on to these framed, engraved, and even a statue, I had to draw the line.  I'm proud of all the honors bestowed upon them, I just can't have it become needing of it's own trophy room.  

With months going by and my wandering in the room occasionally, I have had the chance to think about whether to keep the tall, single, glass, candle holder.  Today I decided to let it go.  It is lovely but doesn't go in our home.  Still it has taken me nine months to make the decision.  I wish I had kept the decorative asian brasier I sold because I didn't know where to put it in our home.  She would put orchids in it but wouldn't it have been entertaining to have used it the way it was meant to?  No I kept the stupid tall glass candle holder.  Those rapid fire decisions we had to make when her home sold with a 30 day closing still haunt me every once in awhile.  Then I sweep the thoughts away knowing they were just material items without any family heirloom title of how they came to be in her home.  



With Thanksgiving mere months away,  I'm determined to get the dining room emptied and cleaned.  Polish the silver that has been slowly turning blue-grey.  That will take some serious time to bring back to a sparkling clean.  Speaking of silver, what does one do with unwanted silver?  I have too many large trays.  I mean LARGE!  Who buys this stuff anymore?  Who uses this if they have it?!  The silver will be the next project of what I will keep and what will be sold.  Then E. will have her room back.  I laugh about this as I still label my children's rooms even though they don't live here.  I should say, we will have a guest room back that one won't trip over the multitude of boxes under the bed and around the room.  The closet will be another project if I don't forget what is in there.  I sort of have.....

I thought I should check the boxes on one side of the bed and low and behold I found a box full to the brim with table linens.  I thought I had absorbed it all with my linens.  Clearly not.  I put the lid back on and pushed the box under the bed.  It can wait.  I brought two more  boxes, filled with wine goblets, that I placed side by side with the other boxes with the last available space.  My conclusion being that wine glasses always seem to break and I can just replace as needed with these.  

The Asian clock is keeping me busy.  It doesn't like to stop.  If it stops and I rewind it, it gets goofy by being off by 15 minutes.  Even without fiddling with the pendulum.   I correct the hands, making sure the hour chime is right, only moving the minute hand, and it still will be off.  It takes me multiple times of correcting and finally changing the pendulum to have it working perfectly.  I had no idea it would be so fussy.  No matter, I do have a fondness for it and the quirkiness of it is probably why.  A couple of weeks ago the hour hand had come loose and was just swinging if touched instead of being firmly attached to the small square piece that it and the minute hand are attached to.  I sort of panicked, fearing I might break it if I pushed it back on.  I let it sit a day and then decided that I'm in charge of this clock and I will fix it.  I can do this!  Carefully I pushed it slowing and tentatively back in place.  It held!    Bless my mom's housekeeper for keeping that clocking working all the years it was in her home. 

And so it goes on this beautiful Indian summer day.  Trying to empty out a room and resting off and on to hopefully get rid of a lingering virus.  



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Dance Amongst Words

I'm trying to find the magic time to write when my mind is open and the house is quiet.  One would think with only two in the house that it is quiet.  It just seems that I have been doing the humdrum home care as well as enjoying the time while my middle daughter E. was visiting us.  One's children fly home and that is the time to savor with them.  My time will come.....

I've been reading blogs of others I've neglected.  I use to be able to read them with my morning coffee and then the past year swept that time and my heart away.  Sort of like listening to the radio in the car and singing with gusto.  I'm still enjoying the quiet of sitting in the car.  I find this odd but I'm going with it.  It's sort of comforting to drive along hearing the subtle sounds my car makes which isn't a lot as it is a hybrid.   I still sing at times, but I'm getting annoyed with the radio stations when they start playing the same songs that I hear a bit too much of.  Yes,  I could bring the iPod.

What thoughts transpire these days.....

I am amazed with the fact that my son is so far away.  Yes, I of course!  He is in college!  It's just such an odd feeling, me the mother of four,  the last one gone and I am just swirling this around and around in my head of how this affects me. 

I wonder if he misses us.

Does he think about us?

What does he miss most of all?

When I left home I was ready and packed as soon as I had a place to go.  But I had a Dr. Jeckll and Mr. Hyde mom that on one hand could be loving and dear and then be all over me over absolutely nothing.  So yes, I was ready to get out of the house.  I choose to go to a nearby college and since my Papa was a Developer and his business was also managing apartments that they owned, I moved into one of his apartments when I graduated from high school.  Quite the big step and we picked out furniture for the apartment from a recent closing of Model Homes that his company had built.  One special piece of furniture did not come from there.  My Love, my boyfriend all those years ago, had made me a lovely round oak table with claw feet.  

I knew nothing of cooking.  Thank goodness for my Love and his mom who had us over for dinner many a night.  That and the many afternoons I would go to her house, have tea and have the best woman to woman talks.  I cooked strange combinations of food.  Certainly not balanced.  My parents would take me out as well from time to time.  I had a lot to learn of being on my own.

My Love and I had a love nest.  It was wonderful to be with him in the evening, sort of like I imagined married life might be.  I would do my homework and he would be reading in bed.  Then I would turn out the lights and snuggle with him, night after night after night.....

My time away from home is far different than my son and that is fine by me.  

The writing....I want to dance with my thoughts!  Like having a waltz playing and my fingers and thoughts are like a dancer's feet, they tap and are ready.  Who will take my hand?  Out on the floor I will step and be caught up in the motion that will sweep me along.


Like the song "To Be Surprised", that I will be....whatever flows will flow.

Very soon we will be back East, exactly where we were two years ago to the date of our daughter K. and her hubby B.'s wedding!



I'm looking forward to walking in the field they were married in.  To see the changing colors just as we did and let my mind fill with the sweet memories of that whole wedding trip. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Choose Love



Without children living at home, the new title of empty nester still quite new, my thoughts swoop to places uncharted.  Only fifteen days without R. in the nest and fifteen days of being a "just the two of us" with five of those at a family wedding.  Stop counting Ellen.  That is me, the one who logs down emotions and thoughts, calculations of living.  I can't help it. 

So what one may ask, is transpiring in those thoughts?  A lot.  Given that it has been a year of extreme lows and extreme highs I can't help but think these thoughts belong on a trapeze.  Swinging back and forth, being caught (God I love my husband for holding me tight), swinging out freely on my own (God I'm grateful for my self-stability and trust in myself), then from lofty heights I fall into a soft net of my loving family.

After watching my mom lose herself from Alzheimer's, with urgency I wish to live more fully.  I want to do it all.  I want to go everywhere, NOW.  Not later, now.  I want to smell every flower, touch the softness of every petal and hold it's delicate blossom knowing soon it will fade.  It's not that I am thinking of my own demise, though those thoughts certainly have come up when you lose your parents and wonder "what now?".    Rather than take that step to that door, I choose life and that other door called living.  

Sometimes my thoughts travel back to when Papa died and that turning point where I knew my mom was dying, figuratively, because she gave up on ever being truly happy again.  Fourteen years of living but not wanting to be living.  Then the last three + years where her brain became emptied unvoluntarily.  I've wondered if her ability to love was only for him.  What might cause one to abandon the essence of loving?   One can give and give your love to someone who has given up on love and in doing so you can become weakened and can find yourself hurt, angry, and in the end with my mom I became empathetic.  Deep inside I knew there was nothing left that I could do to help her.  

I'm blessed to be married to this man, my Love.  He has loved me through every stage of my life and I to him.  We both yearn to see the world and to be with our family whenever we can.  I'm ready to allow myself to be silly, something that has been lost to me for quite some time.  Laugh at myself, love myself, discover who I am and whom I shall continue to learn about.  



Time is precious.  Neither of us want to waste a moment to live in happiness.  We can't avoid the days that surely will come of grief or sadness.  Slump days will happen, illness will happen, days of utter delight will happen.  Balance.  Karma.  Yin-Yang.  

What I'm observing in myself since R. has left is the renewal of the amazing relationship I have with my Love.  It's sort of like dating all over again.  And that is pretty darn fun.  I'm learning to listen with intent and not with "uh-huh" half heartedly.  When you are in a relationship that spans as long as we have you can sometimes not listen with both ears.  I've done this and he has too.  I'm ready to woo and be wooed.  So what that we have been married for 37 years?  Let's begin again and again.....

 I choose Love.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Going. Be Brave.




It's Sunday, the day before we leave to take R. to college.  He is packed, the earliest I've ever seen him pack up to go anywhere.  I showed him how to fold a dress shirt and gave him a lesson of how my mom would pack her clothes.  Lay the garment button side down, take some tissue doubled and lay it flat on top of the garment, fold to about 2 inches to the neck down the body of the shirt, folding sleeves carefully in the body on top of the previous fold, fold again in half.  My mom for extra measure to prevent wrinkles would add extra tissue before the fold.  Sometimes she would then lay the garment inside a dry cleaners bag before putting in a suitcase.  It worked.  Prevented some serious wrinkles.  R. won't be doing this but the pearls of wisdom must be shared if only for me to talk out loud with motherly advice.

My Love is wandering around, bringing items to R.'s room.  Something he normally does not do.  He took a long bike ride and a short nap but then he was looking for what he could do to help.  Clearly R. needs no help from us.  We have passed this on over the years leading up to this day.

And I, what do I do?  I was great this morning.  Happy and cheerful.  I went to my gym and all was well until the folding advice.  Then it started, the thoughts of him being away and my tears that run down my cheeks, come and go.  I have a hard time with goodbyes.  Even when I know that I will see a loved one again.  It's the goodbye.  I washed the last few items he was going to pack and laid them on his crumpled bedsheets.   When R. was little I taught him how to make his bed and explained that it was a chore that he was responsible for.  And he did make that bed every day except Friday when it was sheet changing day.  He has always been responsible.

Then he became a teen and the bed chore sort of passed.  Having had the three girls before him and all the difficulties of what to push with teenagers, I chose to let that go.  Pick your battles.  A bed not made is not a big deal.  I don't sleep in it and it is out of my view.  The one day of the week I make it is sheet washing day.  I did it lovingly because I knew there would be a day he would not be here and this room would languish in a slumber that empty rooms do till someone needs that bed.  

His room use to back up to ours from birth till near 4th grade when we moved him back to one of his sister's former rooms.  We got a queen bed instead of moving the twin knowing that he would be growing.  That queen bed gave him the ability to sleep diagonal which I never could understand.  It gave him the ability to make the duvet go sideways and the sheets pushed to the foot of the bed unused.  Pillows all over the place but always on the bed.  Frankly I couldn't sleep that way but for his teenage rest it was heaven.  He does like that bed and now he will have to resort to Twin XL.  From four pillows to two.  From mom changing sheets to him doing it all.

Quiet day, heavy in the air of departure.  Lost parents not knowing which way to go.  Not knowing what to say to each other because any possible thought could send us both into an emotional trigger of tears.  "Be brave", my mommy mantra of the day that is said calmly in my head and heart.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who Knows Where the Time Goes



Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
Oh but then you know, it was time for them to go
By the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I do not count the time
for who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
Sad, deserted shore
your fickle friends are leaving
oh, but then you know it was time for them to go
But I will still be here
I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time
for who knows where the time goes?
I know I'm not alone
while my love is near me
I know that its so until its time to go
All the storms in Winter and the birds in Spring again
I do not count the time
For who knows where the time goes?
who knows where the time goes?
who knows where the time goes? 



Last time I posted this song it was on my other blog A Walk into Oblivion and it sang to me of my mom and Papa being gone.  It was sung by Sandy Denny who sang it with a longing of past days that were no longer.   My heart ached knowing my parents would not be around for all the happy times ahead or even the times of sadness that inevitability come.

When I heard this version it felt different.   Not full of melancholy, but of life moving forward.  We can't escape times past yet ever we move forward with fond, dear memories.  With R. leaving a lot of emotions well up in my heart.  He is leaving home earlier than originally as he is joining a Fraternity and they move in a full eighteen days earlier than the dorm he was to go.  Oh me, the mother in me counting the days till my fledgling leaves the nest.  My excitement for him is full indeed but let's be real.  We all remember when we first left home.  Coming back to mom and dad's home was different because we were different.  We separated and begin our own life, our own story that was just beginning.  So many new adventures, new faces, new places, new struggles but through each new beginning the home we remember living in was fading.  The child, now grown, takes flight with wings and eyes wide open.  

It's busy in my head with lists of items to get when we arrive in his new city to live for the next four years.  What will he need in the fraternity house different from the dorm?  Won't know till we see the room and that is fine.  I could order items at Bed, Bath and Beyond in a registry and they will have it ready for me when we get to Washington but in the real world for me right now is we don't have time to go wandering in a big store for useful and needed items when we leave in such a short time.  If truth be known, if there is a closet, a small dresser then he will be fine.  I'm making a list of what I know will be handy.  I'm good at making lists.

 I hope he will take it his guitar.  I've noticed he isn't playing as much as he use to which was constantly, but to imagine him without a guitar I just don't know.  I don't know if I could wander into his room and see all the guitars left behind, idle, and collecting dust and going out of tune.  I just don't know.  And what of the calluses he has from years of playing?  Or the length of his nails that he has grown for playing his acoustic guitar?  Will he cut them?  Most times his nails look far nicer than mine.  I'm encouraging him to bring it and his sister has as well.  We shall see.   When I hear him play my heart swells with joy.  This I know that music will always be with him and if he doesn't bring the guitar now then maybe at his Thanksgiving break.  Maybe he'll ask me to mail it up to him and I will.  Oh I will!  

I'll leave this post on a high / happy note.  A song that from the moment I heard it reminded me of R. and his future days....


I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds
Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh (Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh)
I stretched my hands out to the sky
We danced with monsters through the night
Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh (Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh)
I'm never gonna look back, Whoa-Oh
Never gonna give it up, No-Oh
Please don't wake me now
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-i-ife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-i-ife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) Whoo
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
I howled at the moon with friends
And then the sun came crashing in
Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh (Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh)
But all the possibilities
No limits just epiphanies
Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh (Whoa-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh-Oh)
I'm never gonna look back, Whoa-Oh
Never gonna give it up, No-Oh
Just don't wake me now
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-i-ife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-i-ife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
I hear it calling
Outside my window
I feel it in my soul (Soul)
The stars were burning so bright
The sun was out 'till midnight
I say we lose control (Control)
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-i-ife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my life
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-i-ife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) This is gonna be, this is gonna be
This is gonna be, the best day of my life (Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
Everything is looking up, everybody up now
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh)
This is gonna be the best day of my liife
(Ooh, Ooh-Ooh, Ooh) My li-i-i-i-i-ife


 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Letting go



There have been many thoughts going through my mind these many weeks since we came back from vacation.  It's now August, almost a year since my mom passed away.  That is one deep abyss of confusion still of her the mom and the woman.  

Then there is the coming time when my son, my heartbeat these past 18 years, will leave our little nest to begin his life separate from us, his mom and dad.  We may have had four kids, but with R. it has felt like we had an only child since the girls have been out of the nest for quite some time.

It has been bliss.  Truly.  Amazingly.  Bliss.  



A paradox in my life right now of the year anniversary for mom and the beginnings for R. but also for my Love and I too.  Beginnings can be quite unsettling.  How to feel?   I go from weepy eyes and choked up throat to excitement (alone with my Love for the first time since 1980! WOC ~ without children!), pride (so very proud of my R for being the honest, kind, intelligent young man he is), scared (letting go of R...I knew this day was coming but how to let go of my sweet boy?)  

I will.  I'll let go.  

I remember all the walks R. and had I with his little hand in mine.  Soft childish puffy little palm in mine.  I can remember tracing in my mind that a day would come when he would not want me to hold his hand.  Big boy.  Me do it myself time.  And you have to let it happen.  Parents have to let go so often that it begins to blur when and why, only that you do and the child is learning to be their own person, separate from you.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Guest blogging ~ Tim ~ Thoughts on Robin Williams

       My hubby has some thoughts he wished to share of his time working on Mrs. Doubtfire as an extra.  For two weeks he was at our local restaurant Bridges which was completely shut down, fenced off and even tented in some areas to make it look like nighttime while filming.  Tim worked the oddest of hours.  When they said to show up he did.  It could be in the middle of the night, early in the morning, late afternoon, etc.  Robin Williams makeup took hours to put on.  He sat at a table adjacent to the family table and heard and saw it all.  Truly a memorable experience.  Here are some thoughts he had with the death of Robin.......                     



                                   The Power of Observation

    We all have known people we've had constant contact with family, friends, school mates.  They have opinions on all subjects and influence us through those opinions.  What about those who influence us whom we have never met?  How much can they shape your thoughts?  Some of those people are in the news and media.

     I had the great pleasure of being an extra on the filming of Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 at Bridges Restaurant in our hometown of Danville, California.  This was to be 15 minutes of the film and take 2 weeks to film.  Robin Williams was of course the one to watch.  Sally Fields and Pierce Bronson were also there acting and observing Robin in action.  This part of the film was unscripted dialogue, therefor many takes were stopped because of their attempt to keep the movie from being an R rating. Also because  the uncontrollable laughter by the whole crew would ruin a take.  The extras were under strict orders to keep quiet, which we did. 

     Watching Robin was a unique experience, and my time there felt like it was a private performance rather than filming of a movie.  Bouncing from one sketch to another occurred constantly.  His death reminded me of his genius as well as his vulnerability.  Robin, who was married to his new second wife at the time,  showed his vulnerable personal side for all to witness.  The crew did not like her being there.  He needed her, and we could see his personal side.  His off camera self was not aloof just very human.

    Robin gave me pleasure in Mrs. Doubtfire and through all his performances, but I could see then, and more recently in his now cancelled TV show, an underlying cloud in his persona.  This troubled side was becoming more visible. Something was lurking off camera, that was now in this new show, affecting him on camera. The comic genius wasn't even funny. Something was up. Now we know.

     So what did I learn from Robin Williams life?  He was publicly upbeat, but privately dealing with demons.  Don't we all have a bit of depression in us? Demons of our own? Haven't we all medicated ourselves with the available alcohol and drugs?  Haven't we also used humor as a way of coping?  Burying ourselves in work, exercise, etc?

     We must be sensitive to those around us and the depth of their needs.  There are limits to our abilities and powers to help others with  issues, or for that matter even notice them. On the other side, allowing others into our private world to help us is also an obstacle. We show vulnerability that we are trained not to show.  Apparently he did and still didn't make it.  Robin however, still gave us laughter as a great way of both escaping and coping in a healthy way. Lets all laugh more! That at least, is a start.
    
   

Monday, July 14, 2014

Come visit me on our journey to Tulum!

Hola!  The family is on vacation in Tulum....stop by my other blog  Snapshots on my Journey where I share some of the trip......


Friday, July 4, 2014

Writer's Block ~ Creative Juices ~ Vacation Bound!

     My writing has been on a long, too long hiatus.   I didn't mean it too but it happened.  One week drifted by, then another and months came in like a cloud cover over my thoughts.  It became easier to just let the blankness fall around me.  

     I've wondered if this is what "Writer's Block" is.  I'm feeling confident that this is exactly what has happened.  Mom's death and the issuing months that followed of cleaning out her home left me little to give towards my creativity.  The emotional impact of closing an estate or in my case waiting for the estate to close (it will take some time) made me protective of my inner being.  

     I think I'm ready to step forward and let the creative juices flow.  I want to let go!  I want to take photos with the eye I once had.  Maybe a new start is just waiting to be released.  Whew......


     We leave on vacation in another week to a place I said I would never, ever go.  Mexico.  I know, I know, people keep telling me how beautiful it is.  I've been worried about getting sick because I've had this happen to me once, many years ago on my first trip to Europe (back in the late 70's).  I've never forgotten that because it didn't happen just once.  We are going to Tulum which is south of Cancun by about 2 hours drive.  Trying to find a destination that all the family would like to do had proven harder than I anticipated.  I was searching on the internet till by eyes and brain began to go on serious overload with an unhealthy headache pounding away.  I think we had four other ideas and Hawaii was on top with a great house picked out in an area we had never been....let it go.  The Tulum idea had been there as I was feeling desperate.  I just wanted to get away!  Why is this so hard to do?!

    After I made the bold decision of saying "Let's just go to Tulum", it all came into place.  What had appeared to be an impossible puzzle to put together, suddenly every piece fell into place.  I found many 'Villas' for rent and for very reasonable prices (probably because it is off to shoulder season / hotter than Hadas /  & more humid than a steam room).  Still there was some juggling of schedules but the trip was put together.  Yeah!!!!




   The 'Villa' (as they seem to call the homes South of the Border) looks amazing!  Hope, hope, hope it really is as beautiful as the photos that we saw.  I had two prerequisites ~ it had to be on the beach and it had to have a pool.  Check and check!  My reasoning was that while a beach is nice it is hard to be out in it too long (the same could be said for a pool).  The pool at the house is surrounded on three sides by the house and a courtyard with plants and vines that provide shade.  Check.  I maybe sitting in a pool on a float an awful lot.  I may become a shriveled up prune but I will attempt to remain cool.  



    I bought two pool floats and two water bottles ( I will use bottled water of course) that have an insert which can be freezen in hopes my drinking water will not be hot enough to make tea while I float around in the pool.  I think Tim is secretly laughing at me and my silly purchases. 



    My search for cool summer clothing has taken on a life of it's own.  Having lost so much weight, my summer skirts all were too big.  I don't do shorts.  Linen is my friend in the perfect pants I found at The Loft store.  I've found some fun maxi length sundresses and of course the hat the has to be worn.  I've decided to bring my Japanese parasol as even though a hat covers the head, it does not cast much for shade.

     We plan on going to some ruins that are nearby and also an overnight stay near Chichen Itza so we can beat the crowds that flood the place mid-morning.  We're staying in a bungalow (please let this look like the photos too!) at a hotel right next to the ruins so we don't even have to drive to get there.  Just walk to the gates and go in.  

   I'm imagining lots of bright colors (once again all the photos I've seen via Google images), deep blue skies, incredible cloud formations, turquoise seas and white sand beaches.  Photo heaven.....

   Guess I will be taking back the "never, ever" about Mexico.  My dear husband will be seeing a way to head that way more often because he loves Mexico.  

    

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp




The few times I noticed rhubarb in the produce area at the market I couldn't imagine it was edible.  Well yes, it does look like red celery and I don't have anything against celery but then I'm not the most daring of vegetable eaters.  Over the years I have spread my wings and have tried new vegetables with glowing appreciation.  Some not so well.  Like kale,  that I have tried in salad and have enjoyed but cooked I'm not going there.  Rainbow chard is a new favorite and I adore snap peas quickly stir fried in coconut oil and just at the end tossing sesame seeds in to finish.  Coconut oil is wonderful to use for stir frying!  I thank my daughters for their patient ways of teaching me about some new foods.

Back to rhubarb.  On the occasion we have been out to eat and have ordered a dessert to share,  we have tried a rhubarb crisp and I did enjoy it.  Especially with some vanilla bean ice cream on top!  Something different about it's flavor of just the right amount of sweetness and a tad of tart and the crumbled topping of oats, butter and flour.  

I was out shopping last weekend and I saw some fresh organic rhubarb.  I bravely picked a bunch up and thought to myself "I'm going to make a crisp.  I can do this!"  I bought some lovely strawberries and then of course thought "now I need a good recipe".   Of late when I look for recipes I do a Google search by image.  My thought is, if it looks good it just might be a great recipe.  So far that has worked for me every time.  I found a couple that looked good, then I read the recipes and picked one that sounded the best.

As so often happens, I didn't consider how much rhubarb to buy and I didn't have enough, at least by what the recipe said.  I had already started working and I was not willing to go back to the store and buy more.  It looked like enough for the amount I wanted to make so I just changed up the recipe and created my own.  It was wonderful!  I would make it again and not change a thing.  Here is my recipe and I hope you give it a try with the same success!


Strawberry Rhubarb Cardamom Crisp

Filling
2 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, 1/4 inch slices
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, small pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/2 to slightly heaping teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of ground nutmeg

topping
3/4 cup old fashion oatmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

For filling:
Spray ramekins / custard cups with Pam (or like).  Combine all ingredients, stirring to blend.  Let sit for 15 minutes to let juice form.

Divide rhubarb mixture among prepared dishes.  This recipe seemed generous and could do 8 dishes.  I only made 6 and had leftover filling.


Heat oven to 375 degrees

For topping:
Mix first 5 ingredients.  Add butter using your fingers or cutting in with pastry cutter, until small moist clumps form.



Sprinkle topping evenly over the rhubarb mixture in the cups.  Set cups onto baking sheet ( to catch the juices, it will bubble over) and bake for 30 minutes or until filling is bubbling and golden brown.  Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream


Friday, March 14, 2014

Grief 101 ~ Is this it?

     I've been doing some reading about grief as I'm perplexed by my silent mood.  I'm not depressed or at least it doesn't feel like what depression sounds like.  Still, I can't fully shake this feeling that perpetually is here following me like a shadow.  

     Each morning before I rise I lay there hearing Stewie shake is collar and the tinkle of the dog tags tell me "Get up!".  The day begins and I pad quietly down the hall, dark with the change in time (of which I hate to lose that extra hour of sleep), let the pups out, wake the computer to see the new mail, let the pups in, feed them, let them out again, and then make Ryan's lunch.  Day in day out.  I can't help but think that while all the years of doing this haven't always been the same as some years it was rising to pick up a hungry baby, or being woken by the jumping on the bed of our children, or the running down the hall of little feet,  but it is I who rises in the early morning to begin the ritual of a day.

     Somehow this death of my mom has tip-toed in my thoughts of how many years I have before I too have aged and can no longer do this early rising.  I don't have plans this will happen and actually once that thought creeps in I firmly tell it to go away.  What is happening is the essence of accepting that time is ticking on whether I want it to or not.  My parents are gone.  The quiet is deep and these days it is a place I do not enter on any level.  It's not that I don't want to think it over in my head, I just can't even enter that place.  I can't tell if the door is locked or open it's so dark.  The other night I couldn't sleep and I got up to have a bowl of cereal, read the paper, then back to bed.  I had turned out the lights in the kitchen and going back to our bedroom it was pitch black.  I reached my hands out so I wouldn't bump the walls or furniture and softly felt my way down the long hall and back to bed.  That is the dark I feel.  I keep reaching out so that I don't bump myself.  Maybe I'm suppose to though.  Maybe if I bump myself the grieving will move forward and away.  I don't know.






   This was from a web site : http://www.connect.legacy.com/inspire/page/show?id=1984035%3APage%3A3305  called Legacy Connect.  The article was titled "The Work of Grief".  Yes, this made sense.  The opening paragraph explains this:

 
As a griever, you need to appreciate the fact that grief is work. It requires the expenditure of both physical and emotional energy. It is no less strenuous a task than digging a ditch or any other physical labor. The term “grief work” was coined by psychiatrist Erich Lindemann in 1944 to describe the tasks and processes that you must complete successfully in order to resolve your grief. The term shows that grief is something you must work at actively if you are to resolve it in a healthy fashion. It demands much more than merely passively experiencing your reactions to loss: you must actively do things and undertake specific courses of thought and action to integrate and resolve your grief.


 

 I read this and it felt like what I was feeling: 


 Sometimes the death of a loved one brings up not only grief for what you lost, but also grief for what you never had and now never will have. For example, if you had a very conflicted relationship with your mother, when she dies you may grieve not only for what you have lost, but also for the fact that you never had a better relationship with her, that she never was the kind of mother you wanted her to be, and that now you will never have even the hope that it could change and you could get what you want. In such a case you grieve for the past, present, and future.


  
How long will my grief last? 


In another article from Legacy.com I found this speaking of time.  Grief can be measured in Chronos time, as in weeks, months and years but also in Kairos time which is "The time within which personal life moves forward". 


What matters is kairos time. What insights have I had? What have I realized? What meaning am I making of this terrible loss? We each have our own “entelechy”—to use a term from anthropology—that means our own “immanent force controlling and directing development.”

Well this helps.  In some odd way then I don't have a date at which I will be over this grief.  I need to work through and seek my path, this journey of letting go of what I can not change.  Does this give me hope?  Yes.  Does this take pressure off of me?  Yes.  Is it easy? No.  I do better with directions and I'm unsure what will reveal itself as I "work through my grief".  




Friday, March 7, 2014

Topsy Turvy Days

I'm a bit topsy turvy these days.  Throw in a bit of lost, add some smiles, add some drifting daydreams, add time, stir gently and then pour slowly into bed at the end of the day.  Some days I forget to add more smiles, and I intend to blend in sweet memories that pop in my mind too, but there will be another day to do just that.

I'm amazed at times how tethered I was to my mom for the bulk of my life.  Without her here I have more time that I realized I would.  Perhaps it is only that since her passing I was thigh high in closing her home and busier that I expected.  Coming down from that frenzy just days before her home closed and everything needed to be out before the passing on of the house keys, I suppose I should have expected a let down physically and mentally.

It is good, really.  I'm good, really.  But I'm still sort of lost.  It's been years since the phone would ring multiple times of the day from my mom.  Odd calls that I think she just needed to hear a voice.  I'd like to think she needed to hear my voice but really I think she knew she could call me and say anything, critical or trivial, and I would be there on the other end of the line patient and polite.

I'm not sure of my thoughts or if I need to.  At times I feel like I'm emerging from a cocoon to be transformed with whatever possibilities I choose.  It's sort of scary too.  I'm not wanting to change "Me", I guess I just want to be me without the anxiety of waiting for the phone to ring, or trying to please my mom.  Seems silly thinking this way but even with her not being herself the last 3+ years, without her being able to call me or the inability to communicate at all, that presence of her was there.  Sometimes I'm still that little girl who is not confident in her own skin.

Overbearing parents, whether a mother or father, or God forbid both, is not to be taken lightly.  It isn't to say my mom was less loving because she could and was loving.  But other times it was more complicated.  If I could have one wish it would be for my parents, all of them, my dad who passed away in the mid 1980's, my papa who passed away in 1999 and now my mom to tell me me how they loved me. It would help even if I didn't like what they said.  I would like to ask my dad especially, why he didn't try to see my brother and I more, or to write or call us.  Why or what happened?    Did he ever think how we would feel because he didn't? I wish we had gotten to know each other, I wish I could remember him, how he hugged me when I was little. Did he play with me, read to me?

I wish Papa and Mom cared enough to explain the complications that might arise upon their passing.  How the heck can a loved one know how or what the process of closing an estate mean?  Why were we to be left in the dark only to feel more in the dark with each passing legal letter that comes in the mail?  I think I saw too many movies and read too many books where the attorney sits the whole family down and does the reading of the will.  He would be a kindly soul that would speak gently, clearly, and with sincere condolence to the family.  As with death the mystery of closure still drifts on.  All will be well.  I know this I just expected, and I guess there lies the problem, expecting, will go the opposite way of books or movies.  Legal ways are certainly more along the lines of the TV show "The Good Wife", as in how to make a legal blender of what can be said or written.  And because this is private, I can't explain other than it isn't just my family involved and therein lies the crux of this and the complication for us, and the slow process, and the lack of communication to us.  99% of the time I'm choosing to not let this effect me.  It will proceed.  

So why am I feeling topsy turvy then?  Because I'm adrift in becoming me.  It's a big year ahead.  My son, our last one with graduate this year and head off to college in the fall.  Another milestone.  I'll let this flow.....and all will be well.  I know this and feel this.  Whatever comes my way .....

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What we inheirit

I closed the door to my parents home for the last time this past week.  Aside from the furniture the new owner chose to buy from my brother and I, it is empty.  I didn't feel anything. 

This apathy of feelings is confusing to me as I am a very feeling woman.  Am I covering up the potential rainstorm of emotion to come once I have rested my weary body?  All the packing of bags and boxes, the countless trips to the local Thrift store in my town to donate and donate and donate much of my parents books, kitchen tools, linens, clothes, dish and glassware items was staggering.  Our families tried to absorb what we could,  yet it seemed like the drawers, closets, amoires, and cupboards seemed impossible to empty as I pulled out countless amounts of belongings. 

Time....sometimes it has felt like forever that the home would sell.  I was able to "enjoy" the holidays with my family, then back to work once January appeared.  Then mid January an offer.  The Trustee had lowered the price once more and that seemed to bring in new lookers.  In the end it sold for what it should have instead of the inflated price it started with. 

A short closing of 30 days and back I went with urgency to emptying the house.  My brother came to organize and have his items shipped to their new homes, which was to two of his sons and his home.  I hadn't emptied book shelves and thankfully the new owner was a lover of books and was delighted to keep many of the Franklin Mint books.  I was thrilled to not have to pack them up and load in my car!  The Thrift store and Friends of the Library know me as the woman who lost her mother.  They kindly say words of "it is such hard work to empty our loved ones home", followed by "thank you for thinking of us and donating!".  I'm more thankful that they are here to take all that I have brought them. 

Over the course of almost four months I have been bringing box after box home then the furniture began once the home sold.  30 days to empty three full floors of furniture.  My sleep cycle went kaput.  I would wake up with severe anxiety night after night.  How will this all get done?!  Yet here we are and the home is no longer a part of our family any longer.  The furniture is placed or will be received by the new recipients very soon.  I've hardly had time to think about what it is to have my mother's pieces residing in my home.



I hear the Grandfather clock ticking in our living room that has been in our home for one week.  The clock I have in the past connected with the ticking of my mom as she faded away as it stood outside her bedroom door at the top of the stairs.  When she past away in August I told my mom's housekeeper, who had been retained for a short time, to not wind it.  I didn't wish to hear it or see it's "eye" that went left to right with every tick-tock.  My brother was to take it but his wife really wasn't wild about it and so it came to me.  Now I am getting use to it's presence and of it being alive once more with it's chime on the hour.  My Love and I have been fussing with it's timing so that it chimes when it should.  I'm getting use to winding it, using the little key to open the tall door where the old weights hang as well as the heavy pendulum.  And somehow it fits in my living room.  As though it was waiting to be here.  In the room is the Asian chest that while I liked, my Love was marginally not wild about.  It too fits.  Of course there are other pieces of furniture that are temporarily being stored in the room.  It is quite cluttered as well as my dining room which has furniture and boxes and house plants that now have come to me.  Where to put so much of this?  I walk in the room and walk out.  I'm not ready to open boxes I've so recently packed up and to sort through.  I need to just be present in my home, to be quiet.  Tick-tock, tick-tock......

The gifting of our parents possessions feels almost wrong.  They are gone and they can't take it with them.  Someone must now become the new owner.  But these tangible gifts have memories of where they once were and when they appear in our homes, they at first seem quite out of place even when they look lovely.  Am I worthy of taking care of them?  Did I deserve to be the one to use my mom's crystal and silver that she had used on her dining table for special holidays or parties?  It all feels rather odd and a little uncomfortable as though I have taken it from her.  

When I gaze at the tall pine hutch with it's multi-pane glass doors, where inside I have placed the blue and white Chinese pottery that I adored, I can't help but feel happy to have it here in my home and at the same time I know that it would not be here but for the fact that my mother is gone.  These tangible items can never fill the void of ones parents.  They can not replace the hugs, the "I love you", the hand in ones own nor the warmth that I feel now with my thoughts.  For now I will let my heart be.  Let it rest as I rest my body.  I will get to know these gifts and someday they will become as much a part of our home as they were in my parents home.


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