Monday, August 30, 2010

Almost heaven

Monday morning of a mini vacation. I took Friday, Monday and Tuesday off of work and spent the weekend enjoying that time with some friends. Today is run around and do errands and such kind of day. However, it hasn't started yet. I have been very relaxed and not moving this morning. But that's okay, that's what a vacation is relax a bit.

On Saturday the three of us drove down and along Skyline drive. It was beautiful. I loved seeing for miles and miles and miles across the Shenandoah Valley and across acres of beautiful trees and more mountains. The drive thru the National Park was spaced with "overlooks" where you could pull off and pull out the binoculars to take a look.

We stopped atone of the overlooks and it was filled with Butterflies. There was one guy sitting on the edge of the curb and I lowered my finger down and he stepped on it. Sort of like when you offer your finger to a bird. Anyway, I raised up very slowly and my friend took this pic. I hope you see the feeling of wonder at holding something so beautiful in my face. I tossed my hand up and he flew away. That feeling was with me for most of the trip. To feel the cool air on my face as we drove about 30 mph, to be so high up that there were clouds below us and to share this with friends was really nice. A good day was had by all.

Throughout the day John Denvers song "Almost Heaven West Virgina" kept playing through my head. Skyline drive is technically not in WVA, but we travelled through to get there and it just seemed a very appropriate song for the feeling of the day. I had wanted a day out of and away from the city.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Early Morning

The 29th rolls around again.

I was visiting a friend this weekend. She knew Jim and the three of us often hung out together, had dinner, went to movies, helped each other move, and such. She has been a supportative friend in these past years.

This morning I woke up and somehow in a early morning, not really awake haze started talking to her about Jim. We had watched 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. It is a great romantic comedy but there was a couple scenes that really hit me hard and had me missing my Jimbo. The tender kissing and the love that you can see that Adam's character is giving Drew's character. It was what I felt when Jim gazed at me in a special moment.

I think the movie is what had me talking about Jim, and now, to be honest I can't remember what I said. But it was just an early morning moment.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I never thought about it much, but sort of always assumed back in the pre widow days, that those that have gone through the loss would know what they were doing and how to handle it.


I guess, you would think after experiencing the death of my husband…I would be one of those people who knew what to say when someone else was going through something similar. That I would have some magical words of comfort. That I wouldn’t be as stupid as some of the people I have encountered asking those questions we widows or those that have lost someone dear always hate to hear.

Yup. You would think.

But because of the experience I’ve been through, it makes me more self-conscious than ever that I’m going to say the wrong thing. If there’s one thing I know by now it’s that what one person finds comforting will make another person want to smack you. So, most of the time, I just try and keep quiet and let them talk. I am not very good at that. But I try.

About a month ago a neighbor down the block lost her son. It was a very sudden death and very violent. Most of us on the block knew him but hadn't known that he was "in with that crowd". He was around my age. It was shocking, to say the least. And not knowning what to say to his Mom. She had been friends with my Mother in Law but I didn't know her well. A woman I knew from nods on the street and the annual block party. I watched people go up to her and say "it's good he went fast" or "the pain will pass" and other stuff. It brought back memories of my own.

I went up to give her a hug and told her that I was sorry and that my husband Jim had always enjoyed talking to her son when he was much younger. She smiled at that and said she remembered him talking about Mr. Jim. Then something happened. I started asking my neighbor questions about how her son and her history on the block here and how long they knew Jim's family, and such.

And then something interesting happened.

My neighbor’s face suddenly lit up (as much as it can when you’re fighting against the rip-tide of grief) as she told me about her husand and her moving here. About Jim's mom and her dragging their husbands back from the bar at the end of the street one night. She talked about Jim's siblings and her kids and the fun they had growing up. She shared stories about raising their kids and talked about the relationships they had with everyone in the room. I realized something.

We all just want to tell our story. She just wanted to talk.

Not about his death. Not about what had happened. But about the life. And about a person who would never be forgotten.

In everyone’s attempt to “say the right thing” in times of grief they’re ignoring a very simple fact that would save everyone a lot of aggravation. They don’t have to talk at all.

They don’t have to worry about whether saying, “I’m sorry” is going to annoy someone. They shouldn’t even attempt to look at the bright side and say, “Well, at least he went quickly.” They shouldn’t make a pathetic stab at philosophy by saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Or the ban of a widows (or anyone that has lost someones) existance....“He’s in a better place now.”

They just have to ask one simple question about the person who is gone. And listen.

I realized that the most healing time I had when Jim was gone, was just sitting around with friends while we talked about special memories and moments about us and our life together. Even in my darkest hour, I enjoyed strolling down Memory Lane with anyone who would take the time to listen. Don’t we all? I LOVE it when people ask me how I met Jim. It's a great story. There is fun in remembering what we all did as a group and cons we went to or costumes or parties. I love it when someone looks at pictures of us; Jim, me, them, other friends and we can talk about what was happening in the pics. I love it when we talk about things we had done with them, our friends, together.

I started this blog to share those memories. So that they wouldn't be forgotten and it has helped in my healing process. I thank those that have read this for years for allowing me to share Jim in this way. I thank my friends for listening to the stories when we are just sitting around remembering the past. For not be afraid to mention his name or bring up those memories.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Not a typical Friday night.

The city put a dumpster up the block from me. It allows the residents to toss old furniture and trash and such into it. Things that have been building up in the yard or basement and they couldn't take to the dump because many don't have vehicles.

I have seen them before in the neighborhood (and used them) and one thing, they fill up very quickly. So I came home from work and started gathering some of the stuff that has been layng around the house waiting to be taken out. I do have a car so I could take to the dump but if there is a dumpster a block away, I will use it.

The shelves that have been in the backyard gettting moldy, some wood boxes that were broken and splintered, a couple containers of old flower pots that were cracked, some old plastic containers - I think one still had noodle in it. A major thing was the big old foot rest in the living room. I tossed that and now there is space in there. I took it a step further and wiped the floor and now it all shines.

I think tomorrow will be a relaxation day after all that. Maybe Sunday I will get to cleaning the laundry room up.

Not sure where these bursts of energy and cleaning are coming from, but the house is looking better and better.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sex therapists

I went thru a bag of costumes the other day. My friend Thomas was there and he helped me sort thru them. Some I kept, some I tossed. Many were Jim's, but a few were mine. The costumes are ones that we wore on various occasions to Halloween parties or Star Trek conventions.

They brought back good memories and it was fun to tell Thomas about them. The Star Trek Sex Therapists was a story. Two gold shirts in the original series Star Trek style. I found them at a thrift store. Jim came up with the idea of being part of the medical group and being sex therapists for crewmen that couldn't handle being in space for so long without getting any. We would help them "handle it", so to speak. I used a friends bra and stuffed it so I had about a DDD cup size for the night. That was cool. What was nice was that they were such simple costumes that we didn't have to worry about anything and we could move around and dance.

There were some other costumes in the bag and I did a pick and choose sorting. What held the fondest memories and what will I not be sad to let go of. It is not easy, but it can and needs to be done.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Figaro has been a member of the family since 1992. Jim got him when the kitty was just about 7 weeks old. The smallest ball of purr you can imagine. And fiesty too.

Figaro is going to the vet tomorrow and it looks like it will be his last trip.

He was really Jim's cat. Especially since we moved back here and he became an inside cat. Jim was the one he would go to and cuddle up with and he was happy to, very cat like, totally ignore me.

We got him from a local shelter. I was working and Jim went there one day and went into the 'kitten room'. This is a room where there may be a dozen kittens running free and playing with each other and people can go in and choose one. Well, all the kittens fled this large man. Except one. Jim sat on the bench in there and Figaro came right up to him, climbed up on the bench and then along Jim's shoulder to sniff an ear. Jim brought him home.

Figaro is a tuxedo cat - black with white chest, paws and a white chin. He also has a loud voice. A big mouth. Even as a kitten. We named him Figaro because he looks like the cat from Pinnochio. And because he talked a lot.

He has a habit in the morning of "singing for his supper". He says "ahlloooww" in cat meowishness that makes it sound like he is saying hello. He will do that outside the bedroom door until I get up and get him some breakfast.

Figaro came into our family and we had the Shadow cat already. Shadow was about a year or so old and Shadow was a very pretty but not quite all there cat. He was a big grey ball of fluff that Jim got me as a present one year. I think Jim liked having pets because he never had them as a child. They had dogs, but those were his dads hunting dogs and they weren't to be played with.

I realized tonight that I have had Figaro longer then I had Jim. I sat tonight with him and I couldn't get him to sit on my lap like he did with Jim, but he lay beside me and let me pet him. The first six months after losing Jim he wouldn't let me do that. I was just a non-entity that fed him. Not worthy of attention and he patiently waited to hear the door open and Jim come thru the door. We all did. Fig finally came around and for the last couple years would cuddle at the back of my neck on the couch while I had a dog on either side of me.

I think Fig never liked that he and Shadow had control of the house and our attentions and then we got dogs. First it was Gryphon then Merc and Tigger. He never fought with them but he was never really happy with them too much. He was his catlike self.

When we moved to a small town outside of Boston, Figaro loved it. We lived in a low key rural street on the edge of town and he could be an inside/outside cat. It was fun to go outside with the dogs and see Fig sitting on a low hanging tree limb watching us. He stalked and brought home his prey. He was a magnificant cat and in his prime. He was a king among cats. Shadow was still given the same choice to come and go but he was an inside cat. He was happy to let Figaro wander and come back and tell him about the great outside. Shadow passed away while we were there and Figaro became an only cat.

At that time the cats were allowed upstairs in the bedroom. They never slept with us at night but could be found there during the daytime. This changed when we moved and we shut the door on Fig. He didn't seem bothered he just slept on the couch and annoyed the dogs by taking what would have been one of their spots there. You know the term "alpha dog" in the family. Well, he was "alpha cat". Well alpha cat after mommy.

Up until this past year Fig has always been very a healthy, happy and no problem cat. It saddens me to see him this way and my friends that visit have commented on it also.

Fig is going to the vet's because he is suffering severe weight loss and fecal incontinence. He will lay down and when he gets up there is stuff left there and he doesn't seem to realize it. He stopped using the litter box and just goes where ever. It has been hard. I have been trying for many months to battle it. Trying different food, different litter, visit to the vets a few months ago said all the blood work was fine (no cancer, diabetes, kidney problems).

This is tough because it is close to a year to when I lost Mercury. And two years from when I lost my Dad. And three years from when I lost Jim. I thought I could get thru this year with no deaths, but Figaro is in a bad way and there is no choice. My friend said this is another milestone for me. One I could have done without.

Figaro will find his way to Jim's lap and keep on purring and loving that he found him.

It is going to be very very quiet around here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A different kind of bucket list

I am about to start a bucket list. For my house. Things I want/need to get done.

I started thinking about big things to do because my brother said he would come out to help me. Then when I started that list, I also started walking around and looking. Then I realized there were lots of little things that I have been ignoring.

That may be my life right now. Focusing on the big and ignoring the small. Big? figuring out how to pay mortgage/car loan/bills. Small? changing that light bulb in the hallway that keeps burning out on me. Big? getting someone to look at my knee which is aching. Small? getting my hair cut as it is slowly driving me crazy.

It seems like there is a lot of stuff that has piled up. Issues that need to be worked out and problems to solve. Heck it took a week just to get the cable straightened out. A week and a 2 hr visit to the cable offices and a 47 minute wait on the phone to have a 4 minute solution fix it all.

One thing I am doing though is trying. I am trying to keep it all together and get the things marked off the list and have my home be a better home for it.

The bucket list for the house has become almost fun because I am just writing down whatever I can think of or have thought about in the last 8 years. Shelves here, this taken out, that painted, roof fixed, bathroom redone....I will prioritize and maybe figure out which I can do and which will take the most man power and time. I am not going to have many free weekends over the next couple months. I think I will like the end result though.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boston legal tears

Who would think watching an episode of Boston Legal would end in a crying jag which is the ending to an otherwise really good weekend. Maybe it was due.

I was watching Boston Legal and it was a very emotional episode. The end of the series and Carl proposes to Shirley. It just was in one second, a flood of the memory of when Jim proposed to me and then the tearing in my chest and then the tears and me wondering why.

The dog helped clear it up by licking my chin, nose and cheeks. The cat helped by arching his back and farting in my general direction. He does that a lot lately (he is almost 19 yrs old now). Ultimately I had to hug them both, which neither liked but they put up with it.

It hit me because I did a lot of things this weekend around the house and feel really good about it. But I was alone. I don't have anyone to say "hey man, look at this room now. I got a new rug and put all the darn clothes away. I am on a roll". And get the pat on the back and hug and smile for achievement. It sounds whiney - and I am proud of myself with or without that pat on the back, but the smile would be nice. And so I sigh and look around and think okay I can get past it. Others have. I can.

A lot of clean up and reorganizing was done yesterday and today was a nice day spent with good friends. I drove out to a friends with another friend and we went shopping and then she made crepes for the three of us. Nice savory crepes with cheese, ham, sautueed mushrooms and other stuff. Yummy. A couple hours later it was fruit crepe time. With a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a splurt of whipped cream. Yep. Double yummy. It wasn't till I came home and watched the emotional thanksgiving episode of Boston Legal that things went awry.

Writing has helped. And I am starting a new list of things to do next weekend.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Funday Saturday

Ever have one of those days where you get to the end and you think "that was a good day".

I had one today. I had a lot to do and yet not much to do. I had a cable guy coming out to work on a problem so I had to wait for him. You know the old "they will be there between 10-1" deal. I started cleaning in the morning and kept going since I had to be there anyway. I couldn't use the excuse that I always used to use "I need to run out and do errands" and get away from the house and not clean. So, I cleaned up and then waited. And waited. And waited for him. Finally he comes, just as my friends call me to tell me they want to take me to lunch. Oy. It works out timewise anyway and the tv works and the lunch was fun.

I come back from lunch, play around with setting up season passes and such (I love tivo!!!) and go upstairs for a quick nap.

I got up and went outside to social with some of the families on the block. We will hang out on our stoops in the twilight and chat, compare qossip and share food. My neighbor decided that she would help me move my new (beautiful) Freecycle rug upstairs, but only if we did it right away. That meant moving stuff out of one room, into another, lugging the old rug downstairs and the new one upstairs. Phew.

It looks great in the room. I don't want to move anything else in there. However, all the stuff from there is in on my bed so to sleep tonight I have to keep on going.

Tomorrow will be a day of sloth.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Greeting cards

At the drugstore today getting some shampoo.

I wandered down the aisle of greeting cards and looked at a few. I realized what I was missing. It hit me like a lump of clay in my stomach. I was missing something I really enjoyed that gave me great pleasure and that I could give as well as receive. An I Love you Card.

Jim and I gave them to each other throughout the year and not just on special occasions. Just to say I love you and let the other know they were being thought of at that time. I have a box of them that I came home and looked at. I cried a little at this part of my life that is now gone. Gone with Jim.

The cards were sort of like the flowers he would often surprise me with on fridays. One more way to say I Love You.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I am pet sitting this week. Two of my neighbors, seperately, asked me to watch their pets while they were away on vacation.

One is a dog that I just need to look in on in the morning, give her some food and let her out. She is easy because someone else is walking her in the afternoons. Also, she is scared of me so she just hides upstairs, peering down the stairs till I leave.

The other is this gorgeous orange and white long haired cat that needs feeding and some human interaction. His name is Vic and he is a very aloof cat. I have tried to talk to him and pet him but he is not having any of it. He will get up on the couch with me and look at me....but that is it. It makes me smile. Now there is the chance that as the days go on and he realizes that Keith is not coming home, that he will start to want some attention. I figure he is a cat, he will do what he wants.

Both of these pet sittings are done pro bono. And that will mean that when I go away to see family - yep - I have someone that I can call if needed to care for Tigger and Figaro.

It is interesting because that just shows one more bit of my neighborhood as a small town. There are definately some of us neighbors that are very interactive with each other. Much more so than you would find in a normal city block. Oh yes, there are other that just go to work, come home go inside and we know nothing about them. Luckily about half the block watches out for each other and talks, shares recipes, helps on saturday and of course, gossips.

I have keys to three of my neighbors homes and I know Keith has keys to me and another neighbors, while Becca has keys to mine and the lady's whose dog I am also sitting (Becca walks Gracie in the evenings). I am perfectly fine with this.

The petsitting is just a nice way to be a good neighbor, but it is also a good way to show that the big city does not have to be an isolated place to live.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Giving Space

I can't remember if I have ever blogged about this, but I want to tell you how proud I am of my husband. My husband, the man who couldn't say no to anyone in need.

My best friend and I fell out of touch for a bit because her husband was friends with my ex boyfriend and I didn't want to see him and he was always around their house. So, I only saw her a couple times a year for a year or two. It was much more complicated then that, but I will stop there.

Anyway, one night she knocks on our door (I was married for about a year then) and asks if she can spend the night. She had been crying and said she was leaving her husband and didn't want to go to any of her friends that she knew he knew she might go to. I was actually touched she thought of me and she stayed for six months while the divorce went thru. She gave us rent money and food money and had no problem with cleaning chores. Yes, it was cramped but it was okay. She has since remarried very happy and has a son. We have built on our friendship and she has been a wonderful support since I lost Jim.

This happened again years later in our marriage. We had a woman we pretty much barely knew come to live in our finished basement for almost a year. She was in her 60's, had no children, belonged to our church and her husband had died, she lost her house and literally had no where to go. She moved into the basement with all of her belongings. I mean it was jam packed and looked like a hoarders room. It wasn't, it was just all her stuff. She did give us some rent money but not for a couple months. She did however cook dinner for us. That was nice and to help someone in need, well, we didn't have kids, we had the space that wasn't being used, so Jim said "why not?".

I have tried to continue that giving spirit but I think he did it so unconsciously it is hard to duplicate.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1

I took two months off of the blogging. I am going to be back stronger this latter half of the year.

The last two months have been a whirlwind of events wrapped around me doing nothing with my leg propped up on the couch. Lots of doctor visits and ice packs. I learned that both my knees have arthritis. My right knee is much worse off and is constantly swollen and has a torn meniscus and such. I am taking steps to strengthen it and be prepared for possible surgery.

It has taught me a lot about taking small steps, planning out moves to make during the day and making the most of the netflix streaming account.

Tomorrow I will talk about my nieces wedding.