Friday, October 31, 2008

Clap your hands

I became enchanted tonight. For a couple hours I fell into a world that has intrigued me since I was a child. Peter Pan and Neverland.

I watched the movie "Finding Neverland" and while the movie was about how James Barries created Peter Pan and his inspiration, I still heard the echoes of Mary Martin. My first Peter Pan. I even could picture the Disney Peter and the fairy dust sprinkled around the room.

Peter Pan is the boy who won't grow up. The very spirit of youth, he travels from the enchanted isle of Never Land to London just to hear Wendy Darling spin tales about him and his adventures. While his ego may seem inflated at times, even his arch-nemesis, Captain Hook, knows that Pan's no ordinary boy. Time makes little difference to him. Life is nothing but fun, whimsy, and adventure when you never grow up. That is what life should be. Fun, whimsy and adventure.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of watching Mary Martin as Peter. My eye big and round and then jumping on couch and chair with blonde hair and endless energy. I tried so hard to fly. I have to say, I think I may have done it. For a second or two in the time between leaping from the couch to the chair there was that almost timeless moment of flight. I told my father I never wanted to grow up. I wanted to be a Lost Boy. Neverland would be just a wondrous place to live.

There is an entire generation just like me. Baby boomers that grew up with this stagy but magical production, somewhat like the Cinderella stage production that was filmed and shown on tv and starred Leslie Ann Warren and the guy that went on to be Dr. Quartermaine from General Hospital. I remember that one also. Singing "I Won't Grow Up," "I've Gotta Croooow," and "Neverland." It's hard to know what sophisticated CGI youngsters of today would make of it, but their parents will gladly sit and watch with them. I can still sing the songs and remember the lyrics.

I had a great Peter Pan costume one Halloween. Only I couldn't go trick or treating. I had fallen and hurt my ankle just a couple days before. No, I had not been trying to fly exactly, but I was trying to show my Mom how many porch steps I could leap off of in one time. "Watch me Mom, watch me!!!!!" I was trying to be the Evil Knevil of our house.

My Mom had me sit on the porch and hand out candy. So I handed out candy -while in costume which made it fun, but still not as much fun as running from house to house. My mother had made my outfit and it was cool. Of course she made all of our costumes. I lovaed that we didn't have store bought and may have even snubbed our noses at the silly masks and plastic that was supposed to be a costume. Not realizing that for some it was all they had (what snobs we kids were.) Mom's creativity and ability to what is now called 'think outside the box' was a wonderful plus to our family. I am lucky because my Dad was very creative also. It made life in our family interesting. I try to follow in their footsteps.

I have finally learned that adulthood is inevitable, and the world is not the Neverland that I imagined as a child. I was speaking to some friends the other day and we talked about how we have changed from when we were in our 30's till now and how subtle it has been. I think it was when Jim died that I had to 'grow up'. While we were a team, there was still some small hint that Neverland could be found - that house with a yard that we were searching the net for in April 2007 so when his transfer came thru we could move. I mentioned this to my Dad last year and he said he was sad to hear that I was losing the magic of Neverland. Of course, then I was sad. He told me it was okay to be an adult and still remember the magic.

"I won't grow up!"
When Jim died there seemed to be no choice. As we grow older, we discover that there is pain greater than the cuts that we used to cry about when we were children. Sometimes the pain can be so bad that the only thing that can seem to end it is if we end our very existence. And we wonder why. It is then that if we are lucky, and have some fairy dust sprinkled on us, we learn that there are friends and family that can support us in our time of need and help us stand and be strong when the feeling comes to just lay down and give up. Our friends and family are the 'tribe' that works together.

I can put my hand on my chest. I can close my eyes. I can hear Peter whispering in my ear "think of a wonderful thought" and I can feel the heavy weight lift a little.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday before Halloween

I spent the evening filling plastic bag pumpkins and carving real ones. My friends around the corner are getting ready for the trick or treaters. We don't get many on my block, so I am going over there to fill my treating need.

My halloween costume this year is probably going to be something simple like a pirate or a jedi knight. I have always made my own costumes. A tradition my Mom started. I love halloween for the simple reason that for one night, everyone around me is also in costume. A wonderful night to let the inner fantasies come out. Be a Pirate, or a Witch or a cute little kitty. Anything goes!

Jim and I went to one party as the classic Star Trek officers. In our gold shirts and black pants. One year we went to the party as Batman and Poison Ivy. He worked hard on the Batman costume and it was great. I was in a party store and found a Batman mask at half off. It completed the outfit. A much earlier halloween an ex boyfriend and I went as hooker and cop. He found a Queens borough Police shirt at the thrift store and we bought some fake handcuffs. That made for some laughs and fun times when we got home. A few years ago Jim and I went as the perfect 50's couple. Nice clean cut and wholesome. I didn't tell anyone but him that June Cleaver was wearing a thong!

So what to do for tomorrow night. A gypsy woman would be pretty easy. I just have to pull out a couple of old skirts and some scarves. I could pretend to read people's palms and tell futures.

As I write this I remember the fedora I have. I could go as a 40's Journalist. Stick a little piece of paper that says "PRESS" on it and take my old camera. I can hear the kids now asking me what does press mean and why aren't I texting the news in and taking pictures with my cellphone. Oy. I think I may go with being a pirate.

The following are costumes Jim has done thru the years. He made all of them and never had sewn before doing these. He planned them out months in advance (as opposed to me who throws them together on the day before) and I was quite proud of him and how the costumes looked.

Duffman from the Simpsons


Green Lantern. One of his first costumes.


Clark Kent

And so of course -Superman

Batman (this is a favorite of mine)


Batman and Poison Ivy, an evil seductress

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

16 going on 17

Smiling Jim. The only way to remember him.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I bought myself the new tmobile G1 phone. Well, it is a HTC (whatever that means)and while it is a phone, it also can go on the internet to look things up, view my bank account, has a gps, it lets me know when I have new emails, there is a camera and all kinds of other bells and whistles.

I am having fun learning things it can do and figuring out how to get it to do what I want it to do. It is a 'touch screen' which means my finger can move things around. A neat feature is that the screen flips and then you have a keyboard to type out emails or searches or put in contact info. I thought I would not be able to type on this very easily, but it really is simpler than I thought. The keys are very responsive.

I am looking at it as my birthday/Jim's birthday present. Combining like that makes the price a little easier to take. One thing I love if you are in my contacts/phone list I can take a picture of you and save it to your contact info. Then when you call...your picture pops up and I see that it is you! It is so neat. Simple pleasures right?

The system is google and tmobile married to android. Android being the name of another system that will allow software downloads really fast and easy. I was able to download a program that lets me scan a barcode and find out how much it would be if I bought it online and another program that can take music/songs I have and create ringtones from them. Okay, none of this is really critical, but it is fun and makes the phone more interesting.

It makes for a neat new gadget to play with this fall.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Made me smile

I was smiling as I drove home from my cinema clubs Halloween meeting last night. Driving to the meeting I wasn't smiling so much. But something happened there that, well it still has me smiling.

Our meetings are a lot of fun with social time, a movie and then more social time. Well, Halloween there is always more social time then other meetings. Let me start at the beginning though.

What to wear as a costume? what a dilemma. I love costumes and yet couldn't figure out what to wear. Last year I went as 'TiVo girl'. I made the shirt and antennea following the pattern of little Tivo guy that is the mascot/logo. It was just felt glued onto a black teeshirt, but it worked. I made the costume and I think it turned out pretty good. The funny thing is that most of the guys there didn't get it. They don't have Tivo and are movie buffs and not tv geeks. It was amusing how many members just didn't recognize the logo.

So here I am trying to figure out what to wear when I remember Jim's "Security" shirt. It's a bright yellow shirt that says 'security' across the front. I figure I can be a bouncer. Easy to do right? I went to the dresser where the teeshirt was and pull it out. Along with it comes the flannel shirt that I wore and wrote about yesterday. Memories flooded my tactile starved brain. Memories of Jim wearing it and the feel of it my cheek when I put my head on his shoulder. I drove to the party trying to recover from that overload.

The party/meeting was a success and it was good to see friends again. As the meeting ended, Rick came over to give me a hug. He said that he and a couple of the other guys were talking about Halloween a couple years ago when Jim wore his Duffman costume (a character from the simpsons) and he walked up to one of the members and asked what her costume was. Rick said it was great because, she wasn't wearing a costume, it was just her normal outrageous NYC style clothes. Rick said it was remembered as such a 'jim' thing to do.

I smiled because I remembered that moment, I remember the chuckles that both he and the woman had after it (yes, she took it well) and him talking about it on the way home.

I know I have written before about how much it helps me to know that other people remember Jim and the touches he made in their life. Hearing Rick tell me about how they mentioned him was so heartwarming because I wasn't around when they said it. It wasn't me saying "remember when....." or "well Jim and I used to...." So yes, oh boy did it make me smile to hear that.

Just a dream

"Just A Dream"

It was two weeks after the day she turned eighteen
All dressed in white
Going to the church that night
She had his box of letters in the passenger seat
Sixpence in a shoe, something borrowed, something blue
And when the church doors opened up wide
She put her veil down
Trying to hide the tears
Oh she just couldn't believe it
She heard trumpets from the military band
And the flowers fell out of her hand

Baby why'd you leave me
Why'd you have to go?
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
I can't even breathe
It's like I'm looking from a distance
Standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream

The preacher man said let us bow our heads and pray
Lord please lift his soul, and heal this hurt
Then the congregation all stood up and sang the saddest song that she ever heard
Then they handed her a folded up flag
And she held on to all she had left of him
Oh, and what could have been
And then the guns rang one last shot
And it felt like a bullet in her heart

Baby why'd you leave me
Why'd you have to go?
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
I can't even breathe
It's like I'm looking from a distance
Standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream

Baby why'd you leave me
Why'd you have to go?
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
Oh, now I'll never know
It's like I'm looking from a distance
Standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream

Oh, this is just a dream
Just a dream
Yeah, Yeah

I heard the end of this song on the radio this afternoon and had to find the lyrics. Sung by Carrie Underwood, it really touched me, especially when I heard the chorus.

Baby why'd you leave me
Why'd you have to go?
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know

I ask Jim or God or myself this question a lot. Why did you have to go? Why did you leave me? What am I supposed to do with the dreams we had as two? I sometimes I ask very softly, sometimes I scream it, no answer had ever come that satisfies me.

I can't even breathe
It's like I'm looking from a distance
Standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now

Tunnel vision has been a problem for the last 16 months, 26 days and 2 1/2 hours. I feel like I am standing far away looking in at my life with a telescope and wondering and amazed at how that person that is me is continuing.

This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream

A dream. If only.

I know some of this rush of feelings came because I opened a box of winter clothes and found some of Jim's flannel shirts. I am wearing it now and just by putting my arm up to my nose and cheek I can feel Jim and close my eyes and remember. The shirt I am wearing now was one of his favorites. I have photos below of him on the couch with all the animals around him and he is wearing this shirt. It was taken in February 2007. I am glad I have this small source of comfort. I mean, it seems any of his shirts make me feel closer to him. A t-shirt he wore or a dress shirt that I now roll the sleeves up and wear to work or the flannel that just is so typical of Jim and I can see him in it in my mind.

This first pic was sort of a 'caught off guard" picture, in the second one he had time to look a bit grumpy at me for taking the picture.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Long legs

Yep that's me. I saw this pic and immediately thought "oh my god no one should see this" and then thought "but wouldn't it be fun if everyone saw it". Then I looked at it again and thought I looked like I was in a carnival hall of mirrors. But no, just my front porch.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesdays and such

Today was a pretty busy day on several levels. At work it was good to get a project finished and two more started. At home it was good to finally hang curtains. At the computer it was good to get some accounts moved from one email address to another.

I spoke to my stepmom for a few minutes tonight and we were talking about our men that were gone. I mentioned that it was Jim's birthday yesterday and that I may have been the only one that remembered. She said that was how it was for my Dad's (her husband) birthday just a couple weeks ago. I told her how it seems that pretty much from now on these special days that were shared, will be just ours and we have to hold onto our memories. She said she knew I would understand and it made me sad to know that I do. We made a date to go to dinner at Outback, both Jim and my Dad's favorite place for birthday gatherings.

My little brother turned 43 today. He is four years younger than I am, all the siblings are 4 years apart, there are 4 of us and my parents were 4 years apart. So, he is 43 today and I am 38. Yep and he is 4 years younger than me. Enough said!

Here is my Dad, me and my brother. And our family dog Red. Sometime in early 1970?

Here is my Dad and my brother 35 years or so later.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 20th

Happy Birthday Jim.

You would have been 55 today. This was a year you were looking forward to for a couple of reasons. You may have been the only one I knew that would be looking forward to reaching this age. Your games with asking about 'senior' discounts would prove more true and the AARP membership I got you would be more important. The truck would have been paid off. Your daughter is 38 and your son 35. At 55 you would have been working at your government job for 3 1/2 years and would have passed the point when you didn't have to worry about retirement anymore. I know you wanted to retire and write. I still have all your stories and hope someday to do something with them more than just have them sit in a box. You would have seen the great new movies you were looking forward to - Batman, Ironman, Indy, Simpsons. I remember how excited you were when you heard about them coming out. Jim you were just 53 1/2 when you died, but you had lived a pretty full life. You told me a long time ago that you went thru your mid life crisis very early - age 35 instead the usual 45 or 50. I think and can hope at 55 you would have been settled down more then you had been in a long time. That was one of our goals. This birthday would have been a party at your sisters with as many family and friends as we could squeeze into her house. I would have tried for a surprise, but you were good at figuring the surprises out. I am going to have some cake in your honor - your favorite, coconut pepperidge farm. You could eat the whole cake yourself. I remember fighting you for the corner pieces. Jim, I dreamt of you last night, and it was a good dream. It seemed to last awhile and you were laughing with me. I think it was because it was your birthday.

Happy Birthday love.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Today was really the first day of Fall we have had so far. It was a cool crisp and sunny day. The leaves were changing colors and the neighborhood was getting ready for Halloween.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the cool air, no humidity and still some sun. I really find this temperature comfortable. It was interesting yesterday as I noticed a few trees around me had started to change for the fall. "To put their fall dresses on" is what my grandmother called it. She was Pennsylvania Dutch and I know her favorite season was also the fall. The harvest of the summer and the getting ready for the winter.

The trees in my neighborhood were getting ready. You could see an almost all green tree with a spot of orange or a hint of yellow. One or two leaves on a branch and it's like a flag. I was noticing trees and then more and more colors and then it seemed by the end of the day even more. I felt like just in one day a difference was made.

There is the beauty of fall to be found.

The bright leaves - a rainbow of a fall palate - green, brown, gold, orange and red. They make the day pop with intensity. There are trees that look like they are on fire and sometimes while driving on a particular road the whole mountainside looks to be burning. I know they say you can predict the type of winter by the colors in the leaves. And also more scientifically you can determine whether there is too little of some chemical in the trees that year. But I like to just look, and see, and enjoy the colors.

Of course there is also the fun you can have with the leaves. Raking was never a favorite of mine, it seems like a waste when they would be good for the ground cover and snow would be coming soon. That sounds good anyway. The fun found in raking was to rake them and then just jump in or run thru or somehow mess it all up again! Leaves flying all over and getting in hair and shirts and shoes. To have a few minutes to be a kid and just soak up the simple pleasure. To make a mess and have it not really matter because either you can just leave it or you can rake it up and start over again. Have you ever made snow angels? I love to do that in the snow. I also love to make leaf angels. They don't come out as good and I think more leaves stick to me than the ground, but it is just another way to remember kidhood.

Fall brings on pumpkins and apples and cider and the search for the mittens. Yep. I like fall.

The photos are from the time when Jim and I were in Boston.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I took a plunge today and pulled some money out of the account that was Jim's life insurance. I am going to pay off two of my largest credit card bills. Bills that were around and helped to grow by Jim himself. This will help with monthly bills and leave me some breathing room. I don't know how smart or not it is do and use the insurance money, but I figure that is partly why he had it. To take care of things.

Today I sent into the city a copy of Jim's death certificate to have the title of the house switched solely to me. Imagine, after 1 yr, 4 months and 18 days, I am just getting to this. It is another plunge.

These are both admissions that Jim is really gone aren't they?

And yet. As I sat on the couch last night, I was tired, I was sleepy, I was warm and had a dog on either side of me. I dozed into that half sleep. And I felt Jim there. I mean on my left side like he was standing there looking down and touching my hair. I woke with a smile and the feeling that absolutely he was had been in the room with me. It makes me very happy.

A few months ago I gave Jim's Total Gym exercise machine to a friend. When it was going out the door I felt dizzy and a sense that something spiritual was leaving. I felt the house was empty since then and often worried that Jim had left with his exercise equipment. I am glad to have felt my honeybunny near me last night.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jim and Gryphon

My friend Sophia is an artist that creates fantasy portraits. If you want to be Captain of the Enterprise or part of the Rebel Alliance or a Faun, she can make it happen. She did a portrait of Jim and I many years ago with me in a Darkover Lady of the castle outfit and Jim in his Captain of a starship. It was two worlds meeting and we were in love. It has hung over our mantel for 10 or more years.

I asked her to take this photo of Jim and our first Dalmatian, Gryphon, and to make them special. Gryphon died in 1999 and he and Jim were best buddies. I think she did a fantastic job and just wish I could capture it better in the photo. It blew my socks off when I looked at it.

Here is the photo she started with -

Here is her work -

Thank you Sophia!

Here is a shot from a step back. The flag there is the one in honor of Jim's time served in the Navy. You can also see a reflection of the flag hanging on the front door.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What a weekend

Family gatherings are certainly both fun and exhausting. We held a memorial service - a celebration of life - for my father this past saturday.

There were many friends and many relatives. Relatives that I had not seen since I was much younger. Cousins and Aunts and it was just great to sit and chat with them. That time travel feeling. Here is cousin Ken and in my mind there is the memory I have of him at 17 and the reality of him at 51 merging together. It also seemed interesting because I was the only one of my family that recognized him, and yet I was the youngest when the last time we saw him. My Aunt Sue from Texas was there and she was the same chirpy lady that I remember.

My brother spoke at the memorial about his memories and thoughts of our father. As he was speaking I was crossing things off of my notes as he touched on them. I got up to say a few words and the words were much fewer. I found that I speak much better on paper (or in blog) then I do out loud. My remenirences were of my father's artistic gift and the beauty of this that he passed on to me. As an artist and an architect he taught/showed me the wonder of looking at things with a different eye. I love to take photographs and capture this.

My cousins had me come back to the hotel to hang out and socialize more. We played UNO and they had beers (I don't drink) and we talked about old times and caught up with new times. At about 1 a.m. we all started crashing and I took a 'power nap'. I lay in bed with my cousin Pam on one side, my cousin Craig and Kerren in the other bed. I listened to Craig snore, Kerren smack him as he snored and the traffic outside. I woke at about 2 and realized I was just a half hour from home and what was I doing here? Driving home was easy - no cars on the road.

I thought about the day as I drove home and was very pleased. It was a good day of memories, sharing love that we had for my dad and reuniting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Missing things

You never know how much you will miss it till it is gone.

Sounds pretty sappy and such, but really, you just don't know. Yes, I am missing Jim. But this past weekend the cat got out and ran off. He is a cat that has never been outside in the city and I envisioned all kinds of horrible fates. When I was on the couch with the dogs on either side and no cat laying behind me and purring, I missed him. I hadn't realized before, while I had been bitching about cleaning his kitty litter how much a part of my life he is.

He was found last night. I went out walking around and looking and after an hour I came home. He was next to my steps waiting for me.

My car. I didn't realize back in 2005 how much I would miss not being able to drive. Yet, I adjusted and got used to it. Then I got my license back and am driving. I came out of the house today to see a flat tire. Argh. I took a taxi to work and thought about how much I missed just in that short of a time, my car.

It is interesting how the little things can be missed as much as the big things. I remember there was a particular brand salsa that Jim really liked. It was his 'perfect' brand. The store we shopped didn't stock it anymore. We had a couple weeks or so of no good salsa. Jim roamed the stores looking to see who else had it. He missed that salsa. He even went so far as to fill out a customer request form for it.

Tomorrow is the ceremony for someone I miss. My Dad. He has always been around to talk to, help me out, give me advice and back me up. He is missed by more than just me, but especially me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Cleaning off a desk that was piled high with photos, bills, old papers and cards. Woosh.

Of course the fun in this - besides a clean desk - is finding stuff! I found, a roll of undeveloped film. Real 35mm film, so it is old. I found a really cute cartoon that my Dad mailed me -no note, just the cartoon.(see above)

A note I left Jim and he then added to it.I didn't sign my name, but he added the xoxo. It was a habit we had, leaving each other notes, if one was leaving for work before the other. I often put them in his lunch bags to give him a smile.

I found a cut up credit card -in Jim's name and I think one of the first ones he paid off. Stamps- a pack of 1 cent stamps. Several cd's that have nothing written on them. Lots of pens. My Luke Skywalker Stormtrooper with removable helmet action figure. Oh, yes, the rechargable batteries for my camera that I have been looking for. The list of my family members birthdays and such, I have been looking for this for awhile. My dogs rabies license tags.

Deep down in the pile there was a photo of me from when I lived in a three story house. Just me and another girl rented the place. It was great. It was back in 1986ish?

Of course most of the bills and papers were sorted through and some need to be shredded, some organized and some just set in the organizer for bill paying.

I wonder if I let things pile up like this because of sheer laziness or the unconcious thought of how much fun it is to go thru it all when the time comes. Below is the card that has been propped up on the back of my desk. It was given to me from Jim for our 14th wedding anniversary. .